Friday, May 27, 2005

Chronicles Book Club

I have added a new link to my sidebar, and I thought I'd explain about it. It's to an online book club (called Chronicles) that my friends Paul and Christina recently started (recently being about a week or two ago). They had thought that they wanted to start a book club, but they had lots of friends they wanted to invite to be in it, and those friends were scattered near and far across the globe. So they decided to do it online. For our first book we've been reading Animal Farm by George Orwell and discussing it. It's been loads of fun! Feel free to check it out, and if you're interested in joining, send an email to either Paul (which you can find at the book club site) or me.

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It's been a long time, and I'm avoiding writing on my dissertation, so I figure this is a good way to while away the hours.

A few days ago I went to Harrogate to watch The Pirates of Penzance, performed by the local Harrogate Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Harrogate is a nice, pretty little town. Nice enough that I would live there. Plus it's close to be Leeds and York, so it wouldn't be that hard to get to some decent shopping. (I think about these things when I travel. It's probably a bit odd, but I do it nonetheless.) I got blisters on both feet, since I dressed up a little for the show and wore my dressy shoes for a full 72 hours.

Anyway, the show was nice. Very fun, as that show always is. I think my favorite part was the policemen -- their dancing was hilarious! They got a bit carried away with the sexuality of the show (most of you probably never even thought that G&S were sexual, but in today's world everything is sexual, so ...). And Frederick was just a little camp. (That's a great British word meaning that he seemed a bit gay.) But it was great fun. I kept thinking about the last time I saw that show performed, in Springville with my friend Elizabeth, with more people in the cast than in the audience. Good times!

Other than that ... I've been stressing out the last few days about the upcoming Enrichment night. Much more so than the last few I've done, since February. Last night we had a Presidency meeting, though, and that helped a lot. For one thing, I'm starting to feel like this really is coming to a close, and that makes things much more bearable.

The other day, we took a little church history tour for Institute, which was also fun. We went to Hale, where John Taylor came from, and then drove down to Downham and Chatburn, some tiny little villages where Heber C. Kimball had an especially spiritual missionary experience. When he told Joseph Smith about it later, the Prophet told him that ancient prophets walked on that ground and dedicated that land for the work of the Lord. I thought that was especially interesting, since it's right by Pendle Hill, where the Pendle Witches came from. After that we went to Preston and walked down to the River Ribble, to near the spot where the first baptisms in England took place. No one knows exactly where those baptisms were, but we have a good idea of the general area, and that's where we went. On the way home we stopped for some fish and chips. Yum!

As I said earlier, I am avoiding working on my dissertation, and that's about how that whole thing is going. I was going to go Edinburgh today, but decided to stay home instead. I thought I'd do some work. And have done basically nothing. Nothing productive, that is. So that's pretty much where I am right now.
Some people stay far away from the door if there's a chance of it opening up. (3 points)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

reporting for duty!

And though before my fall I was captain of you all, I'm a member of the crew. (16 points)
So, this week I went to Portsmouth. Well, not for the whole week, of course. But I ought probably to start with the weekend, when I went to Huddersfield.


I don't know if you may have heard of Huddersfield, but it was a very important town in the Industrial Revolution, though not so important as, say, Manchester or Birmingham. Anyway, that basically means that there is really nothing there to see, even though they try to pretend they have a cultural heritage. I went out there to see a performance of "The Yeomen of the Guard," a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, by the Huddersfield G&S Society. It was lots of fun, as always, though the first act lagged quite a bit. However, both of the finales were good, and that's very important in G&S. It was a bit depressing for G&S, too: of the 3 marriages at the end, 2 of them are not very happy ones, and there's even a jilted lover, which never happens in G&S. The story ends with the jilted lover falling dead to the floor as the happy couple set off, cheered by the chorus. Ee.


My great-great grandfather grew up farming in a little, bitty village community called Bucklebury, in West Berkshire. (This is on my Dad's side of the family.) So on my way down to Portsmouth, I stopped at Reading and took a bus out to see Bucklebury. There was basically nothing there -- the actual village consisted entirely of an old Norman church and a few cottages scattered about -- but it was sure beautiful country. (For those of you familiar with the Idaho Falls area, it was very much like taking someone to see Coltman or Ucon.) I had a nice little walk from the bus stop down to the village, and took some public footpaths through the field along the way. I felt a lot like Elizabeth Bennet, walking the three miles to Netherfield and in the process getting her petticoats soaked "six inches deep in mud" (7 points for that quote, though I hope you all know it). It had been raining on and off all day, and so my pants really were soaked through by the time I got back on the main road. I took some lovely pictures of the countryside, which I will put up on my website ASAP so that you can see them. By that time, though, I was worried that I wouldn't make it back to the bus stop in time to catch the last bus back to Reading (there are less than 5 buses to Bucklebury per day), so I didn't linger long in the "village." And on the way back, I did something really daring and ... hitch-hiked! (Gasp! Oh, horror!) I think the guy was rather surprised when I told him I only wanted to go a mile up the road to the Bladebone Inn. I'm sure he would have taken me all the way into Reading if I'd asked him to, but it was probably best as it was. (He was a very nice, middle-aged man in a nice, clean car, on his way to a business meeting, apparently, so I would have felt comfortable going that far with him, too ... but I'd already paid for the return to Reading by bus.)


Portsmouth was just what I had expected. The worst I can say for the town is that the cabbie was pretty rude to me. But he may have been funning, I couldn't quite tell, since I could only see his eyes in the rear-view mirror. Anyway, I saw the HMS Victory, which was wonderful! I was a little disappointed that they didn't let us go up on the poop deck, but we did get to see just about everything else, so that was OK. We even got to see the Grand Magazine and the hold, so that was cool. And they showed us the exact spot where Admiral Nelson was shot, and then where he died.

I then went to see Charles Dickens's birthplace. His parents lived on the main street in town, though you wouldn't know that nowadays. It's tucked away in a little section of the old street that's been preserved (probably because of Dickens's home), while the city has grown around and away from there. The house itself wasn't that great, but it was nice to know that I was in the place where the genius Dickens spent his childhood. While there I bought a Dickens book (they had them for dirt-cheap in the gift shop), and the lady even stamped it for me so that I will know for all eternity that I bought that book at Dickens's birthplace.

In the afternoon I decided to go see Southsea Castle. It really doesn't look like much from the outside, and it isn't much on the inside, either. The former was intentional, though, while I don't think the latter was. It was purposely built very low to the ground in order to give the enemy a smaller target to shoot at. They are very proud of the fact that Henry VIII (who built the castle) watched his flagship, the Mary Rose, sink from there at the beginning of a big battle. They are also particularly proud of the fact that there has never been a shot "fired in anger" from Southsea Castle during the 400+ years that it served as an active military post. That seems a bit silly to me ... I would be more proud of a castle that had actively defended my city than one that had never had reason to shoot at anyone, personally. It seems to me that fact merely serves to point out that Southsea Castle was superfluous. Oh well ...

That evening I bought a bag at Debenham's -- which made me very happy, since I've been looking for one for a while -- and then went to have dinner. I seriously considered having Indian, but I ended up in a pub called -- wait for it! -- The Hog's Head! For you HP fans out there, you know how hilarious that is! My British friends, when I got back, told me it was rather a common name for a pub, but I still think it's awesome.


Well, back to the reason why I'm even here, eh? I went to pick up my marked coursework today, and did quite well. I had previously seen my dissertation proposal-thingy and discussed it with my supervisor, so I knew that I had done well on that one. I got 71 for that paper, 68 for sociolinguistics, and 66 for my crap class (also known as CDA). I can't read most of the comments on my CDA paper, either, since the professor was German (well, Austrian, really), and she has that loopy German writing. I got quite good at reading that writing on my mission, but it's been way too long, and I don't care enough to ask her what it means. In any case, I've done quite well overall, and that's really good to know. This means that if I can only get a 70 or higher on my dissertation, I'll have earned a Distinction, which would be great!

I had a really good discussion with my supervisor today. I've been doing some tagging work for him, along with some other stuff, and so I had a few questions about that stuff. He also gave me some more information on this program I'm trying to use to help out with my texts and my computer analysis. And then we ahd a good discussion about the reading I've been doing, theoretical problems I have to work with, and some of my concerns about my PhD program. It was very helpful, and I now feel like I can face my dissertation again. Which is good, since I really have to do so, especially tomorrow and Saturday.

Tomorrow, actually, I'm going to Kendal, which is where my mother's side of the family came from, and I'm meeing a member from the ward up there who's going to show me around a little. Saturday night is EuroVision (kind of a Europe-wide version of American Idol, or Pop Idol), so I'm planning to watch that with "The Girls." And then next Tuesday I'll go up to Harrogate to see "Pirate of Penzance," which I'm very excited for!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

parents and sushi and dreams ... oh my!


Last week my parents came to visit. We had a good time. On Tuesday we went to the Lake District, Wednesday we went to London (and Dad even came with us!), and Thursday we hung out and saw the "sights" in Lancaster (including my personal favorite, the ruins of the Roman bath-house). All in all, we had a good time. But it only took 3 days for them to start getting on my nerves. I'm starting to get worried about going home in June. I might have to take refuge at Wendy's house for a while.


I'm trying to get back to real life now. Today I've been working on tagging my James and Lily info, preparatory to crunching it through lots of computer programs to try and find something interesting to write about in a dissertation. I really should probably be reading, but this is both easier and rather more fun. Plus, I can take my reading with me on the trains more easily when I go travelling, such as this weekend, when I'll be going to Huddersfield to see a production of "The Yeomen of the Guard" (a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta).

Yesterday I helped out a friend from the Linguistics Department. Katsura's doing her dissertation in sociolinguistics, and she needed some native English speakers to get together and talk about stuff. She's from Japan, and when we were finished, she fed us all some home-made sushi. It was the first sushi I've ever had, and it was quite nice. I don't know that I'd make it myself, but it was better than I had expected. That might be because it was California Rolls, and there wasn't a whole lotta raw fish in it.


My dissertation is already starting to get to me, apparently. Sometime during the night I had a dream, which I only vaguely remember, about Harry Potter. This has only happened to me on a few rare occasions. And this dream wasn't really about Harry, it was about James. I don't remember most of it, but I do recall that it had something to do with James being evil, and I found that highly disturbing. It seems like he had something to do with Lily's betrayal and death, and it really gave me the colly-wobbles. I suspect it was triggered by my thinking about the quote where JK said that James did not switch bodies with Lupin before being killed, because "James would never have saved himself and then left his wife and son to die." The dream woke me up briefly, probably because of the colly-wobbles I was getting from thinking about James being evil, and then I went back to sleep again and dreamt about something else. I hope I can last a whole summer like this.

He was her man, but he was doin' her wrong. (23 points)

Sunday, May 1, 2005


Stratford was really nice! I kept hoping the weather would be good while I was there, and I was not disappointed -- otherwise, I would have been really annoyed, since it was such a nice weekend here in Lancaster, from what I gather.

I took Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with me, hoping to make some good progress in my data collection for my dissertation. I planned to get at least through the chapter "Snape's Worst Memory" and maybe a little past. And that's just where I did get, by the time I got home. Yay for me!

Friday night, I arrived and found my B&B, then went out for a little walk. I thought I would go find Anne Hathaway's Cottage, just to see what it looked like and decide whether to go back in the morning to go inside. Halfway to the cottage, though, I found a lovely park, strewn with people walking their dogs, children playing football (that's soccer, for most of you), and clumps of summer-scented, recently-mown grass. It was just such a perfect scene, and I couldn't stand to walk through that park without stopping, so I plopped down on the grass and read for a while, then just lay in the sun, enjoying life to the utmost. I got to know a few lovely dogs this way, who were all quite happy to walking and frolicking in the sunny grass. Finally, I moved on to complete my walk to the Cottage. Just outside the park, though, I had to stop again, as I then came upon a little triangular field with a horse grazing in it. I clucked at the horse, and he came over, and then I felt bad that I didn't have anything to give him. As soon as he realized that, he went happily back to munching the grass by my feet. Continuing on, I came across a black cat, which was absolutely beautiful and let me pet it, though not too pleased about it (I could see his tail swishing). After making it to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and peeking in the garden, I decided I would have to come back in the morning and take a look inside.

The next morning I went back to the Cottage and had a nice look around, and then strolled through the gardens. I walked the labyrinth (which, to my utter annoyance, they insisted on calling a "maze"), which was rather fun, even though the yew trees outlining the path were no higher than 3 feet, so you never really felt lost or overwhelmed at all. I suppose that's just as well, since that's really not the point of a labyrinth. I finally walked back into town then, vaguely thinking that I might stop at the Shakespeare Birthplace House. By the time I got to town, the sun had come back out (she'd been hiding in the morning), and the town was filled with people eating ice cream and enjoying the sunshine. I walked down to the river, got a little something to eat, and then sat and did some more reading. Then I got my theater tickets, but discovered that I had another hour before the doors opened. So, I walked around by the Swan Theatre and found a nice spot in the grass to read some more, intermittently watching the family picnicking nearby, whose kids were playing tag with each other.

Finally, I went in to the theater. My seat was right at the very back of the theater, and I mean the back. However, there wasn't anyone directly next to me, and I found it easy to stretch out and enjoy my comfort. The play, Twelfth Night was definitely worth it. I love Shakespeare's sense of comedy, and this performance did not disappoint on that front -- Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Feste the fool, Malvolio the steward, and Maria the maid were all marvelous. The others, though, left a little to be desired, particularly Viola, which is just a shame. Sebastian (Viola's twin brother ... in the play, not in real life) was only slightly better, Olivia was rather too emotional, and Orsino -- apart from being really good looking, which is definitely a necessity -- played the tragic lover just a little too strongly. But it was still worth seeing.

I often think that Shakespeare is highly over-done, but then I watch something else of his, or I read a few sonnets, and I think, "He may be over-done, but he probably deserves to be." And there are plenty of other over-done things I can think of that I still really enjoy (Harry Potter, for example, and Orson Welles). And I often remember a student in high school claiming that Shakespeare was nothing but a bawdy old man, and then I think, "Maybe he was, but he sure could write!" For that matter, I know plenty of other artists who were little more than bawdy old (or young) men, or even women -- except for the fact that they were blessed with a great talent, which they chose to share with the world.

The journey home was probably the worst part. I had to walk from one Birmingham station to another, which was a little annoying, even though short. And then, I had to take a coach from Crewe from Preston and another from Preston to Lancaster -- the trains are still terrible on the weekends right now, even though they were supposed to be done with their work by March or April.

I kept my journal for the trip in my copy of OotP -- and every time I wrote something, it made me first think of JoAnna, and then of how apalled Dad would be if he knew what I was doing. :)

"Words are grown so false, I am loath to prove reason with them." (13 points)