Friday, November 30, 2007

the mirror crack'd from side to side

"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Agatha Christie book titles are good enough for blog titles, and that one is a good one to describe the mood on campus these days. Inevitable, crushing doom bears down in the form of essays and exams. There's only two days of class left (just one for me, as I have none on Tuesday) and so most people have thousands of words to go before they can rest easy. My load isn't so bad this time, but there's still work to do.

2. My week has been complicated by a new job - Sean and I are working for Shasta selling gift certificates for Downtown Fredericton three hours every day, Monday to Saturday. It's pretty quiet so far; I spend most of the time smiling at people as they walk by. There are worse jobs and I've had a few of them.

3. Last weekend I had a couple of quiet days; on Sunday I rearranged our home a little, cleaned a bunch, and cut a futon in half with a butcher knife to make more soft surfaces. Fun fact: those boxes can fit almost any space. Two boxes laid on their faces make exactly the length and half the width of a futon, and two of our remaining three burgandy curtains-turned-slipcovers slipped over makes an attractive and surprisingly cozy bench-couch. I wasn't sure what to do with the other half, but then I tried folding it in half and stuffing it in the last curtain and voila - instant cushion thing, which has become an instant hit with the cats, who fight over it. I hadn't realized how little they slept on the furniture before, but these new futon-furniture things work very well; even Tonks will sleep out in the open on the couch.

4. It's been a rough sort of day, so I'm going to go home and clean up (the house is messy again already!) and hopefully post some pictures tomorrow at work.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

crawling through the snow

1. I had managed to get through five and a half years of post-secondary education without ever going on a pub crawl, and now I don't think I will ever go on one again, because it just won't be as much fun as last night.
Almost everyone from the Anth society was there, except for Ellis, who was out at her annual Black Friday shopping spree, and the Ninja, who I really should have blackmailed into coming along. By the time I'd gotten to the first stop, the Cellar (a pub on campus in the basement of the SUB, not to be confused with the Social Club in the attic), almost everyone was there and pretty drunk already, playing an impressively bad round of pool. We picked up some more - Kristine and a few guy friends of hers, and Amanda with her (off-duty) campus police friends - at Mexi's after taking cabs downtown - and froze when it began to snow a bit on the two block journey to the Capital, sort of claustrophobic bar with a neat little dance bar upstairs called the Phoenix. I've never really liked the Capital, and have only really been there for shows, but I'd never been up to the Phoenix and it's rather nice. We danced like morons for a bit, mostly trying to keep Fraser from falling down and knocking someone out with his flailing.
The next stop was the one I intended to make my last stop - Boom, properly spelled Boom! but sort of awkward in a sentence. It's the closest thing to a gay bar that Fredericton has, which means that all the bar stars and awkward guys you'd normally find in a club steer clear, and they actually play, you know, dance music, not just dance remixes of the latest hits (though there are those, too). Sean and I used to go there in the days when we went out, but I haven't been there in ages - they've renovated the upstairs a bit and gotten more popular since then. They also have theme nights pretty often. The summer has a different colour theme more or less every weekend, and last night was the Blackout Party - lots of black light and free black light reactive paint, which combined with a pub crawl makes for a lot of interestingly glowy Anthropology students painting each other's faces and throwing paint at each other.
The last stop was Sweets/Rodeo, a pretty popular club called Sweetwaters sharing space with a country bar called the Rockin' Rodeo. I don't do Sweets, so I was planning to ditch the end of the pub crawl and go home to get some sleep to come in to work, but on the way out Marie and I ran into Stu, who was at Boom too, and told me that Megan Mackay (away these past days) was back in town and showing up too, so I stayed with Stu and danced with Megan for a while when she showed up. All in all a really good night. I just wish that Sean was here for it.

2. So here I am at work, and after this I'll be going home and reading James Bond and knitting, I imagine. I have no real plans except the knitting and a bit of homework until Monday morning. I might give Anne a call, but I'm a little peopled-out after last night.

Friday, November 23, 2007

the end of november

1. It's hard to believe it's almost December already and it's been a week since I posted last. Time tends to go faster and faster in the final days of a term, as papers suddenly loom and language classes pile on more and more work to try and finish all the term's work in time for the exam. Things are finishing up for the semester already; Sean's done work until January, and I have my last assignments in hand for my frosh classes.

2. Shasta has hooked us up with some interesting extra employment for the winter season; between Sean and I, we'll be working six days a week, three hours per day, for Downtown Fredericton. It's all close to the house and relatively well paid ($2 over minimum wage, hooray) so it should be easy to fit it in. She's also giving us free tickets to see the Vienna Boys' Choir at the Playhouse in mid-December, which should be amazing. She's so good to me, even though we don't work together any more.

3. Sean's signed me up for a pub crawl this evening with the Anth society, which basically means all the Belize and Mexico people, plus Marie, with whom we play D&D. It should be a good time, though I'll probably bail after we're through at Boom - roughly midnight - so I can sleep and get to work at 10 the next morning. We're having a sort of mini-exhibition of Charlotte Glencross' work.

4. Right, off to Greek! I'll try and post more regularly, but I do keep saying that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I hate November

1. It's raining cats and dogs today, and I still haven't gotten my umbrella back from Anne, so I imagine it will be a wet walk home. A fitting end to a long week.
It's not that I had a bad week - there were definitely a lot of high points - but I'm tired from the semester already, and there are still a few more weeks to go, with assignments and classes and papers and translating, translating, translating. I've always had rough Novembers - I do a lot of sneaking around avoiding professors in Novembers, which is always a bad sign - and I almost always make it through more or less unscathed, but it seems like the weather, the nature of student loans, and the coursework all conspire to make our lives difficult.

2. A high point: the Dean's List Dinner. I did actually and truly make the Dean's List, which is a first for me, and very exciting in its way. Originally I wasn't all that worked up - after all, I still have the same GPA now that I did a month ago - but the difference is that everyone else gets very excited. Mom sent me money for a dress for the dinner, so we went shopping on Monday and bought a little black dress, which, contrary to what everyone believes about my wardrobe, is the first black dress I've owned since my prom dress. I have pictures, but no internet, and I even dragged the laptop down to Reads yesterday to try to put them up, only to be foiled by a sketchy connection that only lasted ten seconds at a time. I'll bring them to work tomorrow and put them up then, but I warn you - I am not very photogenic. At least I hope I look better in real life than I tend to in most pictures.
The dinner itself was fun. It mainly consisted of standing around schmoozing with other nerds (I know bunches of them now) for a while, and then we sat down at assigned tables and had a rather nice chicken dinner before the awards were presented and the guest speaker spoke. I sat with Eric, whom I know from Classics, and his fiancee, and a girl who was there with her parents, and Professor Kerr, one of my favourite professors. I had always sort of believed that he was a shy sort of fellow who didn't do much outside of university, which shows what I know, because we spent the dinner talking about his pre-teen daughter, who loves Naruto and Miyazaki films (like Totoro). It was a lot of fun, and when I went up to get my classics award (in history and archaeology) the anthropology people were surprised and clapped loudly for me. I suppose I didn't tell them? Unforunately there aren't any anthropology awards, but Steve, an extremely hard working fellow I went to Mexico with, won the third year Dean's Award, which is a huge honour, and I'm glad he won it.

3. Right, have to run off to class, but I'll write tomorrow at work!

Monday, November 05, 2007

making the List

1. The weekend ended up being longer, in an unpleasant way, than I really thought it would be. Sean called Saturday evening to say that the weather was too bad out where he was to drive in to the bus, so I weathered the storm alone with the cats. It wasn't actually too bad in Fredericton - lots of rain drumming against the window to spook me - and I passed a quiet evening watching House and knitting a hat, but it was lonely. Also, the eaves of the building seem to drain through pipes in my wall - it sounded like a medium-sized waterfall roaring through the bedroom.
And yesterday we watched Doctor Who, and I studied. We fed Megan and visited briefly, but mostly Vergil, Vergil, Vergil.

2. Today it seemed to pay off, though; I got through the midterm with a minimum of difficulty and I actually think it might have been a solid B or even better. I have to admit that it still surprises me when I don't come up blank and crash whenever faced with a Latin test.
The rest of the day has been dominated by Greek homework and Greek class. I'm enjoying it enough that I'm tempted to take third year Greek next year, just the one class, to keep my brain from turning to mush while I Join the Working World.
An interesting conversation about the Dean's List dinner has led to surprising places. I was confused to note that I ended up with a 3.8 GPA last year (not my cumulative, but for the twelve month period from Belize to last spring's exams), but didn't get on the Dean's List. As it happens, I'm invited anyway because I won a Classics prize, but Dean's List... it's a nice thing to have. Anyway, Professor Murray was also surprised and is looking into it for me (as the Dean, I imagine he has some sway over who goes on the List).

3. Tonight: giving blood and probably cleaning the house. No homework! Though tomorrow looks like it will be a busy day at work.

4. A disappointed note: it looks as though Google isn't directly taking on the iPhone after all. I mean, yes, I'm excited about what they are up to, and I'm sure I will have an Android phone at some point, but... meatspace Google swag? It would have been so much better.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

when the economic solution doesn't work

1. One of the things that delights Sean about economics is the way you can use it to subtly fix problems that you can't legislate away. Taxes and interest rates and all sorts of things can be manipulated to make people do more or less what the government wants them to do. Things like taxes on cigarettes are an interesting example - how many people can afford two packs per day any more?
Reading an article on CBC about traffic, I ran across an interesting example of where this didn't work at all.

Jim Baxter, president of the U.S. National Motorists Association, says the troubles started 30 years ago. "During the late '70s and early '80s, there was a movement to make travel in urban areas as inconvenient as possible. It was motivated by fuel conservation and was an attempt to convince people to leave their cars at home and use mass transit. Traffic signals and controls were used to obstruct traffic rather than expedite it."

(When Baxter first told me this, I figured it was just another conspiracy theory, up there with those around the moon landing and President Kennedy's assassination, but then I started to see things his way. How many times have I sat in the left turn lane at my least favourite intersection wondering why there can't be an advanced green? After all, the traffic coming towards me has an advanced signal. Has a planner or a city official never driven this route?)

An interesting thought.

2. School yesterday was surprisingly low key. Latin was cancelled - the better to study for Monday's midterm I suppose - and my frosh classes were mainly taken up with discussing assignments (I get to write a critique of the UNB website, haha). When I arrived in Greek, Professor Murray wasn't able to be there, so he left a note to do the reading and a set of exercises without him (writing down the exercises as proof). It was actually pretty fun, and we finished the work within half an hour.

3. Sean was away last night, and I really don't like sitting around the house alone, so I stayed after class to attend a lecture about reconstructing fifth century Greek triremes (very fast boats with three banks of oars). It was not as interesting to me, personally, as the textile archaeology lecture last year, but well worth attending.
After supper I came back to campus to watch this week's Classics Society movie - The Holy Grail. Good times, though no one I really knew was there. I suspect they were at the post-lecture reception.

4. And here I am at work. Honestly, my work is more or less done, except for trying to hack Outlook for Amy, which I'm pretty sure isn't going to work very well, but I ought to keep it open til 2 anyway. Unfortunately the cafe seems to be closed today, so there's unexpectedly no lunch for me.
Tonight... Sean's getting home, and we may play D&D with Will if he's early enough. And the rest of the weekend? Studying. 440 lines of Virgil. So exciting.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

mea culpa

1. It's the following Thursday. Enough said. I will get the internet back soon and then all will be well.

2. That having been said, today is another big day: the beginning of November. The kickoff of NaNoWriMo. I'll let you know how it goes; so far my day has been consumed with cleaning up the house and coming in to the office to do a few internet things and pick up my paycheck.

3. My Halloween was a fairly quiet one. Most people celebrated on Saturday; I went out to Anne's house with Katrina and we watched Grindhouse, the lated Tarantino/Rodriguez project. Very silly and gorey in that classic zombie movie way, and a good night. I also got to meet Anne's son, who is about eighteen months old and has a terrific grin.
Real Halloween, my half-birthday, we rented some horror films and Megan stopped in after work to carve pumpkins and eat junk food. Ah, traditional harvest festivals.

4. I'm feeling terse; filling out student loan forms and paperwork all day makes me tight with words and sort of anxious. I'll have to find a way to get a little more limber before starting my Novel.

5. In Saskatchewan:

A key NDP election promise is to reduce tuition by $1,000, with the schools again to be backfilled the money.
The Saskatchewan Party, meanwhile, has promised to give tuition rebates totalling up to $20,000 over seven years for students who stay in Saskatchewan.
The Liberals propose a student housing credit worth $500 per year per student. They also want to change the student loan system so students won't be disqualified from loans based on their parents' income.

I suppose someone has figured out that students are impressionable and, as impulsive and reckless and destructive to society as they are, do in fact have the vote.