charloween: (Default)
Once upon a time, four grad students went to DC... clickez for fotos )

It was a phenomenal six days. Two of those days were spent driving, but we had the audiobook of Dreams From My Father for the way down and the audiobook of America: The Book for the ride home. Many thanks to our lovely hostess for the fantastic bed, the warm reception and the chauffeur-to-Metro. Everyone we met was kind and wonderful (except for the waitress from hell, but even she was comically horrible), and it seemed like the entire city was made up of ridiculously happy people. We made new friends, remade old friendships and had a darn good time.

I'll have more pictures when I meet back with the other four and we exchange photo files. But no pictures can really replicate or even hint at what it was like to be there. Pictures can't replicate the feeling of sunlight (finally peeking out from the clouds) warming your face after 6 hours of sub-zero windy weather, knowing it's another two hours before Obama is even supposed to arrive.

Pictures can't tell you what it was like to hear the middle-aged black women behind you in the crowd of millions repeating over and over again, "We did it, I can't believe we did it, praise the Lord we did it," and knowing that you have no way to understand - being too young, and too white, too Canadian, even - the magnitude of what you're witnessing.

Pictures can't describe going to someone else's county to watch their leader take some ceremonial oath of office and being moved to tears by politics. Of all things, tears of joy over politics.

The entire thing was equal parts surreal and fantastic (but more on that later), and I'd never been witness to so much unbridled Americanism. We're so lucky that we had this chance to head down there, and to be a part of it all. I'm going to sleep for 36 straight hours now, and leave my email for the morning...



(a woman and her niece were collecting signatures on a bedsheet to take back home)


Edit: score one for women in academia, 'cause Jill Biden was introduced not as Mrs. Biden, but as Dr. Jill Biden. I looked her up on wiki, and they say she earned her doctorate in Education.
charloween: (goaty grin)
In a few hours!

Getting excited!

And caffeinated!

Which is not helping!

*points to icon* I'm making that face! :D

*bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce*
charloween: (Default)
I'm house-sitting! There is much television being watched. Cats being snorgled, fireplaces being enjoyed, cookies being baked.

The whole thing about 5000 channels and nothing to watch? Not true! I have discovered that Gordon Ramsey bounces like a little boy when he's excited about something. Like salad dressing. Between the Food Network, BBC Canada and all the movie channels, I am constantly entertained. There's a whole French package (my brother-in-law's from Quebec, they have French channels), so if I get bored with English-language programming, I can watch francophone cartoons.

I have to remember to see my family at Christmas. And not watch television clean through the 26th without a break. :D

It's a fair trade-off for how autumn has been. I didn't watch much television in September and October 'cause I was busy with school, and then November and December were crazy for other reasons (Cardiff, the strike, Lego Batman), which all means I'm enjoying watching BBC Canada. And actively Not Thinking About papers that will come due when the strike is over, CFP deadlines I've missed because I left my academic hat somewhere back in October, and what the heck I'm going to do in January when Ryerson's classes are going on and I'm not in them.

It's much easier to think about just watching BBC Canada.

Edit: why does Top Gear exist? I guess I'm glad that if you're into watching people drive a modified-to-be-amphibious pickup truck across the English Channel, then you've got a show made just for you. Is it a guy thing? It must be a guy thing. Though I'm more scared of Discovery Channel's show Shockwave, which seems to be about the greatest explosions in history. Anything that crashed, exploded and was caught on tape is fodder. Television is strange, man.
charloween: (arty TARDIS)
Heading to Wales again today (well, overnight flight to London today, by tomorrow afternoon I'll be in Wales) for my academic debut, presenting at a proper academic conference.

That said, it being an interdisciplinary pop-culture conference (looking at Doctor Who and its spinoffs), it's an international geek fest, with more nerding than you could probably shake a stick at. And, you know, critical discussions of a long-running television series. People are presenting papers on colonial identity, gender politics, fandom, Lacan, nostalgia embodied in the Sarah Jane Adventures... Me, I'm talking about electronic music. \o/

And I'm going shopping, oh how I'm going shopping.

(Trivia: I think the Welsh word for "interdisciplinary" is "rhyngddisgyblaethol".)
charloween: (Default)
Today I:
- finished my conference presentation (but for formatting the citations)*,

- installed a wireless network with only a moderate level of "WHY WHY WHY ISN'T THIS WORKING oh, there it goes". (My previous experiences with home networking were disasters: first was at my old apartment, where my asshat landlord kept telling me he didn't know why the network wasn't working and insisted I keep running XP's connectivity utilities until months of pain ended in going down the dark path with Ma Bell**; second is at my parents' place, where my laptop refuses to connect),

- fell in love with 30 Rock***.


*Also! There's a teeny tiny chance that a TW cast member will be coming to the conference reception, filming schedules permitting.

**Not bitter.

***Holy good golly that show's fantastic.
charloween: (Default)
I've agreed to house-sit and cat-sit (house-and-cat-sit) for my sister in December. Three whole weeks in Mississauga, with a house all to myself and some insane cats to care for. My sister's going to be in Mexico with her husband and a bunch of their friends and his in-laws. ...I guess that settles the question about whether I'm getting a December metropass. They're paying me, too. That'll take the sting out of the expenses for going to that conference in Wales next month, expenses I may or may not recover because York's a bit nuts about these things.

The fun part (and why my sister is awesome) is that she put it like this: “We thought you might like to have a house to yourself and, you know, have a party.” Not "watch our house and don't break stuff" but "watch our house and do whatever, 'cause we trust you not to burn it down". I love my sister.

My little brother and some friends have agreed to come hang out for a while, making three weeks alone with cats in Mississauga less horrifying. Anyone who wants to make the trek out to Sauga for New Years is more than welcome. :D

***

In school-news, ...I'm watching VMars? )

Also in school news, it's possible that my union will be on strike as of next week. That means no classes, except for off-campus stuff and grad-level Schulich stuff. I'll probably still have classes, because I'm taking a grad-level Schulich course and a class at Ryerson. It's getting a bit ugly: the union thinks it's perfectly reasonable to ask for a wage increase in line with inflation, the employer (York University) released a statement condemning "the extraordinary cost" of the union's demands. The press release is funny because they've got lots of numbers and statistics thrown around; but when they put in bold type that the wage increases will be 15% of the total operating budget, it's not like grad student funding is currently only 5% of the budget. Because, thanks to all those lefty Marxists running around campus, our union is quite strong and historically has a pretty good deal. I'm also offended that they're referring to sponsoring research as a cost. Isn't that what they're supposed to do? Fund research and researchers?

The idea of being a graduate student is to research, learn, spend long hours bent over books, be all student-y. The idea of graduate funding is to make it possible for people who want to live this kind of crazy life to live that life, and not to be forced to work more hours per week than they spend on their studies. But we do have to work: these wage increases that are being requested (demanded, whatever) are for the jobs that students have to hold in order to make grad school financially possible. Bear in mind, these are wages that are being fought over, not free handouts. Students do have to work for this money. The idea, though, is that the University wants us to be students first, but only if we have the independent financial means to do so. I don't have those means. I'm taking out yet more debt to go to this conference next month, because if I want a career in academia, I have to start building my CV. It's all out-of-pocket, and I'll be lucky if York reimburses me for even half of my expenses.

I'm not getting rich on my funding, I'm not squirreling away extra money into investments (hell, I've still got a pile of undergrad debt that I'll have to deal with someday); according to the Canadian Council on Social Development, I - and the majority of my fellow students - are living at or below the poverty line. But I don't have to work three or more days per week to make rent and tuition payments. I'm able to buy groceries. I couldn't possibly afford to live on my own, so I have roommates. If it wasn't for the combination of York money and government money, I would have to be working more, and studying less. Researching less, contributing less to the University's prestige as its students succeed, buggering off to Ottawa to work for the Department of Heritage because playing this academic bullshit game is a lot more wearying (when you have to work retail, too) than playing the Ottawa bullshit game...

It's just unfortunate that the bargaining had to happen in this of all months, when the global economy is melting down. I'm not necessarily in favour of striking (I don't think strikes are useful or warranted if you're talking about such white-collar work as this), but I also don't see how it's reasonable on the University's part to assume that its students want to get second jobs while maintaining their full-time status because the job they're doing for their own school isn't paying enough to live on. *hops down, kicks soapbox to the corner*
charloween: (Default)
Hey, Canadians! Have you contacted your MP about bill C-61?

I did (using this form), and I just received the following letter (email) back from my MP (Olivia Chow!):

She says: 'In fact, this bill is worse than we originally feared: there is no evidence of an attempt to strike any reasonable balance that would protect either artists or consumers. Instead, we are faced with a full capitulation to the U.S. corporate lobby that will pave the way for the criminalization of perfectly reasonable behaviour (like format shifting of most legally purchased content).' )

There are several ways to speak out, through online advocacy groups with form letters already written. The letter I sent cc:'d Jim Prentice (who introduced the bill) and Josée Verner, the Heritage Minister.

All you have to do is type in your name and hit send. If you haven't already, take the three minutes and let them know you're not happy. You don't have to go to a rally or demonstration - hell, you don't even need to buy a stamp - just fill out the form and do your part.
charloween: (qi smarties)
1. I need more Moonlight and I need it now. It has unexpectedly eaten my brain. There aren't many shows that'll have your vampire main character bouncing up and down all giddy and happy. minor spoilers, if anyone else even watches this thing )

2. The drain in the tub is acting hinky again so I'm going to maybe have to call the super on this one. I was having such a good day, too. Grrrr.

3. The History class is cancelled on Monday, which means I can use all that time to get ahead on the Massively Evil History Paper OF DOOM (And Also Pirates).

4. I bought an SATA II drive BUT only an SATA enclosure for said drive. *facepalm*

5. The "Shakespeare in Performance" class is going to be v. interesting, because it's Shakespeare's more controversial plays as taught from a director/producer perspective, not an acting or English lit (*hiss*) point of view. Our major final project is to propose an alternate staging for one of the five plays we're reading this term... which, to me, is just like saying "Go Forth And Write A Shakespeare Xover!". The Tempest, set in the FBI! A Civil War-era The Taming of the Shrew! The Merchant of Venice in a high school locker room! Measure for Measure in the White House! Othello... in the Old West!

(Speaking of Othello, the prof was telling us about a recent British version of that play, with Christopher Eccelston as Iago. The prof wanted to know if anyone knew of "this actor" and what else he'd been in. Three guesses who spoke up.)
charloween: (goaty grin)
I was walking down Front Street today, and the giant screen on the CanStage building told me that their production of The Elephant Man stars Brent Carver and Geraint Wyn Davies.

This made me far happier than it had any right to. Eeeeeeeee Forever Knight!
charloween: (Default)
Today was full. Full of massive uni recruitment events and of [livejournal.com profile] serrico. (The second half infinitely more interesting than the first, if I even need to clarify that point). It started at Far Too Early O'Clock (6:45am) and continued with a round of Getting Paid To Eat Breakfast. Then to a full slate of Tours and Acting Perky. It was a rainy and gloomy day, all the students (like me) are stressed past the point of functionality, which caused Forced!Enthusiasm, which then bled into Perky/TourGuide!Char and enabled full-on Babble!Mode. You know when you keep talking and talking and talking and you can't freaking shut up because the mouth is somehow divorced from the higher thought processes?

[livejournal.com profile] serrico was kind enough to smile and nod for several hours as Babble!Mode wound down. (Also: it is terrifying to note that I actually do fannishly-flail in public. With arm-waving and stuff.) RL interaction and geek-talks are the perfect way to temper a hell-week.

Also: anything you order at The Real Jerk comes as a double. Just FYI if you're in the neighbourhood.

**

Youtube it up: an old clip of Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres talking about Stewart's (then-)upcoming gig to host the Oscars. Where these two go, trouble follows.

Fauxtube it up: that really old Daily Show bit about a "new" reality show called Pitch. Stewart, Carrell and Colbert should be allowed to play together more often.

Fauxtube 2 (electric bugaloo): the Even Stevphen bit where Colbert learns about Halloween. *a-splodes*
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