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My motto for the day! It's been snowing for much of the night and all day so far here in Ottawa, but it isn't too bad. Normally I would have just stayed home with a lovely pot of tea, but a good friend of mine from out west is visiting relatives here, so we planned to meet for brunch.

I missed the bus I was planning on taking (so I thought) because a man came to fix the draft in my balcony door (huzzah!), but when I got to the bus stop, thinking I was running late, I saw about twenty or so people waiting there alongside really backed up traffic. I think that there was an accident at some point, but the road conditions were really terrible - slippery, poor visibility, and so on. I heard from other people at the bus stop that some had been waiting for forty-five minutes for a bus to come by. They normally pass every ten or fifteen minutes. 

Then, I spotted a cameraman across the street. He was interviewing people at the opposite bus stop, but then came across to talk to us. I may or may not appear on the news at some point as a short soundbite. We were asked where we were going, if our days were disrupted, how long we'd been waiting, and so on. I said that I was thinking about walking the half hour to my appointment, but said that I would be fine because I had decent boots: "There's no such thing as inclement weather, only inappropriate footwear!" The cameraman laughed and asked my name, so perhaps that'll appear somewhere?

Nevertheless, I ended up jogging along in my lovely new snowboots and managed to get to my friend in twenty minutes instead of half an hour. I was really starving by that point: those eggs benedict never looked so good! :) Still, as long as you're dressed appropriately - particularly with regards to footwear - you generally don't experience many problems.

In any case, I never feel so Canadian as when we have extreme winter weather. We're way friendlier and more likely to help people, I find, especially as pedestrians. You can always make a quick quip in the street or at the bus stop about "what a beautiful day" it is today, and that same joke will always get a quick laugh. Terrible weather is one of the things that really brings us together: it's something that we all have in common.

On a slightly different note: the canals are awesome in Ottawa. Last week I skated to school twice along the canal, for extra Canadian points. :3

Life stories and history roundup post!

Hello, all! I blinked, and suddenly it's nearly February. It's scary how time flies. (Or flees from my grasp?) 

This semester has been crazy theory-based, but I have one less gigantic research project to write than I did last semester, so there is that... though scrambling to apply for internships feels like a whole new class in and of itself. 

I've been feeling incredibly restless because I stopped bikin everywhere as soon as the snow and ice came in earnest at the beginning of December (it doesn't matter if it's -20C if the bike paths are clear, but as soon as there's snow, that's enough of that), so now I feel absolutely lazy. I've taken up a twice-monthly free yoga class offered by the grad student's association, which is now one-third history people because w stick together, but it's not quite enough. Sprinting for the bus and/or waiting and shivering in the cold for fifteen minutes when you invariably miss it isn't the same thing as powering up the hill and being at the archive in fifteen minutes. :P

BUT all is not lost. The canals have been freezing over properly in the last week or so because of the sudden dip in temperatures, and I've been following the ice conditions avidly on the modern miracle that is the internet. As of this morning, all sections of the canal system are open for skating with fair conditions. 

This means that I'm going to break out the skates and start ice skating to university along the frozen canals I am Canadian

In other news... I have sort of been updating my research blog, mostly because I'm thinking about this kind of stuff anyway and it helps me work through my thoughts on certain subjects. Here are some of the highlights:

How to describe photography in 1838 to someone who's never heard of the concept. Surprisingly poetic!

Edwardian street life, in video and photos.

Inspiration from the trenches, about a First World War soldier's notebook I had the opportunity to examine and photograph at the Canadian War Museum's archive last November.

One of the greatest plagues of modern travel... Edwardian bitching about packing too much. (I have heard from an insider source that this quotation, which appeared in the research essay I wrote for the Canadian Museum of Civilization, may be appearing in their 2014 Empress of Ireland exhibit!)

A soldier's day - a musical parody of camp bugles, recorded in 1918.

Happy New Year Everyone!

I'm writing this post a bit early here in Western Canada - it's just before 10pm - but I know that much of the globe has already celebrated the turning of the new year (they're in the future!). I wish everyone a happy new year. I hope that you've enjoyed 2012 and will have even more fun in 2013!

Retrospective 2012:

This time last year I was chilling with friends in Rouen, France. I had an amazing time in France, and I would go back in a heartbeat. I miss my friends there, the lifestyle, the atmosphere, the French, the French pastries... Though I do enjoy speaking my native language in daily conversation. I do not regret my time in France. Though I may have come back fiscally poorer, I came back all the richer in friends, French speaking ability, confidence, and in many other ways. 

I had a lovely summer at Fort Edmonton again. It gave me the opportunity to brag endlessly about my newly acquired ability to drive cars from the 1920s, which I swear will come in useful someday. (Maybe I'll be the next pretty timetravelling assistant in Doctor Who? ;) ) I made connections, learned a lot, taught a lot, and had fun. 

Grad school in Ottawa has been stressful, I will not lie. But so far I have few regrets. I feel fit and confident, and while it's been a steep learning curve, it is learning curve. I learn many new things each day, even if I have trouble putting it into words (or writing) at times. I've met new friends and made new connections. 

New Year's Resolutions:

Write more. I feel like my fiction writing has fallen by the wayside, as I've had so much scholarly reading and writing to do. I want to write a little each day, even if it's just a paragraph. Practice makes perfect, after all. A lot of what I write may be terrible. But it's best to get that out of my system now and learn to write the good stuff. I'll keep you posted.

Of course, there's also the usual try to lose 10lbs, try to stop being as stressed out, and so on. I'll do my best.

Happy New Year, all!
Hello everyone, long time no chat! Grad school has literally been consuming my life. But that's okay. I'm learning to live with low-level stress and manage it. I've done a lot of knitting, particularly socks. It's a small, manageable thing to do that makes me feel accomplished. For many of the patterns I can also knit as I read really dense articles for class. 

I've also started to pace while reading sometimes, or even dance. I've been re-teaching myself the Charleston - and learning more difficult moves - through videos like this one, this one or this one, and being inspired by crazy skilled people in this video or this one, for example. The Charleston is very fun, and has been helping me exercise since I had to stop biking everywhere once the snow fell and ice stayed. I'm probably going to start swimming on campus next semester with a few friends once a week, and apparently the grad students association also offers free yoga lessons next semester? I may have to take them up on that! 

The semester has definitely been a stressful one - second-guessing thesis topics, gigantic research papers, tons of weekly readings... but I've learned a lot. It's a very steep learning curve. It got much better once I got my office. Due to inter-departmental moving and renovation  I only got an office in the first week of December (AKA the final week of class) instead of the final week of September or mid-October, as the majority of other History MAs did. It's one of the few that has a view of the Rideau River from my window, and isn't over-stuffed with grad studies. It's also the only door that can be seen the entire length of the hallway. We have thus dubbed it the "Panopticon", a reference to a Foucaultian concept. Being dorks, we have taped a picture of the Eye of Sauron on the door. Because we're awesome like that. 

I'm sorry I haven't said much on this blog - not much has been happening aside from schoolwork. For more information on the neat things I've run across while researching, see my academic blog here. I shall probably post more in the new year, particularly of my family ski trip to the Rockies. 

Happy new year everyone!

Your result for The Remarkably Thorough Harry Potter Character Test...

Albus Dumbledore

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

You are Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts and one of the most powerful sorcerers of all time. Dumbledore is coy, a little odd, and very friendly. Although he has a benevolent and peaceful disposition, he is assumed to be dangerous because of his intelligence. The ones who fear him are the ones who misunderstand him, much like Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge. He could be compared to people like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr.; while most honor and respect him, everyone else hates and ostracizes him. You are like Dumbledore in the sense that both of you are caring, open-minded, and always trying to put others before yourself. Dumbledore has his bad side, of course, what with his entanglement with Grindelwald, and so do you. You are not perfect, although you strive to be. You have a certain air of dignity about you, but you are not conceited or judgmental. Everyone seems to be drawn to your charm and whimsy, even if they’ve already decided that they dislike you. Keep doing what you're doing. It's working!

In short, you are more:

Cautious than impulsive

Mature than immature

Modest than arrogant

Weird than normal

Extroverted than introverted

Your polar opposite is Narcissa Malfoy.

Take The Remarkably Thorough Harry Potter Character Test at HelloQuizzy

And it started off as such a nice day too! Got some laundry done, watched the season finale of Downton Abbey (with a grin on my face for at least ten minutes straight), and I even got some research done! 

In fact, I was feeling so well-rested and productive that I decided to bike through the crisp late fall air along the canal to school early so I could return a few library books and sit and read in the Underhill Reading Room.

Then I got hit by a car.

I'm okay, first off. I was just shaken up, with a cut finger and some bruises. My head didn't even touch the ground. Because of the cold weather, I was wearing a lot of padding layers, including two sweaters, tall boots, jeans, gloves and a winter coat. I'm mostly okay.

Along the route I currently take to school, I only have to cross two roads: one a block away from my apartment, one a block away from campus, as I get to and from the lake and the canal, which are biking/walking lanes with no cars in sight. I was waiting at a set of lights to cross over with some pedestrians. 

I play it safe. I don't bike across on red lights, especially because a grad student was actually killed on her way to Carleton a few weeks ago.... granted, at night, on a more dangerous road, but still. It pays to be careful. 

Maybe I should have dismounted. But I watched the lights the opposite direction go yellow, then red. I looked towards my destination: walking man. So I proceeded into the intersection, with pedestrians about a meter behind me. Then a guy waiting at the same (previously) red light as us did a slow right turn. 

He had been looking left, he said. He told us after he thought he was turning right at a red light, which is a legal manoeuvre in Canada, provided your way is clear.

Provided your way is clear. He was turning slowly (he was elderly, I saw later, but I'm not sure what was going on in his head). I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, I shouted "hey!" I then shouted it twice more when he kept proceding. I remember thinking that it was really slow, but there was nothing I could do to avoid him. I couldn't speed up: I was in too high a gear and so the resistance on my pedals was too much. I couldn't reverse, I couldn't dodge, I could only yell. 

His car knocked me down, and he then stopped. Luckily, a group of pedestrians coming from the other direction (who also saw the walking man light) came over to help. 

I got up almost immediately, but I was very shaky. The police (and paramedics) were called. I got checked out, though I didn't go to the hospital. My laptop, which was in a saddle bag which was first hit by the car, didn't get broken, cushioned as it was by a scarf and by those library books. My bike's rear wheel rack is dented in on one side, though my bike is otherwise undamaged, as far as I could tell.

Ironically, five minutes before I had left, I'd written down info on tomorrow's bike safety info session on campus tomorrow (a reaction, I think to the student cyclist's death a few weeks ago). It includes a free bike tuneup. I'm going. 

But first I'm going to get myself checked out by the campus medicenter tomorrow, especially if I wake up feeling like I was hit by a car. My knee in particular is pretty bruised, and I think that the finger that had gotten a cut is sprained. Maybe. I'm not sure. We'll see. 

It could have been worse. I'm okay, though. I just wish my day had gone another way. 

(Not the least of which was because I totally wish I'd been able to get more reading done. Life of a grad student, eh? At least that's life.)

ow did I forget to post this two days ago? It's a Victorian Hallowe'en(?) costume of a bat.

On a related subject, I did a history-themed Hallowe'en costume this year: The Ghost of Feminism Past. (AKA an Edwardian suffragette). I was going for angry but I think I just look mildly annoyed.


There, that's better. It was really easy to do a "sexy" version of this outfit: all I had to do was lift my skirt a little to reveal a glimpse of an ankle. Saucy!
The Ghost of Feminism Past

A New History Shenanigans Blog!

Hello, all! I just wanted to let everyone know that I have started a new history research shenanigans blog.

What was the impetus for this? Mainly because I wanted a dedicated space for historical research that I could show my classmates and teachers. I will continue to update this one - it has a special place in my heart - but it will mainly be a personal, travel, and writing blog, as opposed to this academic blog. Still, if you're interested in history, please check it out! If you're not interested in history, please check it out and be hooked on something amazing!

A roundup of existing posts: 

Hello, World! (An introductory post.)
Nursing on a Sunny Day (a brief photo post so you can picture me)
Let's Start Talking about Postcards and Research Topics (the first of many MA thesis research posts)
Dr. Mary Walker Was One Classy Lady (a picture post dedicated to one of the most awesome American ladies of the 19th and early
20th centuries)
What is it about 1936? (A brief post in which I ponder why this date keeps coming up again and again while researching, instead of, say, 1935 or 1937, which were presumably also momentous years.)

AND MORE TO COME. I will likely continue to do periodic post roundups on this blog, too. :)

In other news, I began my second job as a research assistant today! I went the LIbrary and Archives Canada building and spent about four hours trolling through the early (1850s-1860s) records from the Kingston Penitentiary, searching for references to female prisoners. In fact, I may soon make a blog post on the subject of some of the crazy things I read about. Stay tuned for stories of the shenanigans of female prisoners...  
My new favourite short film, courtesy of an awesome blog post, The 10 Best Films of the 1890s

“The X-Ray Fiend” (1897)
X-rays were discovered in 1895, and became a source of public fascination in editorial cartoons and scientific exhibitions. (Scientific American ran an article in 1896 inviting people to make their X-rays at home with a simple device, which apparently saved money over visiting a public X-ray show.) So when pioneering British filmmaker George Albert Smith created his short “The X-Ray Fiend,” he was capitalizing on a minor public obsession, and turning it into what qualified as a mildly smutty joke. In the 45-second piece, a man romances a reluctant woman, until a second man with an X-ray machine enters to turn them into canoodling skeletons. Méliès had recently discovered, through a camera malfunction, that jump cuts could be used to enable abrupt physical transformations onscreen, and the era’s film pioneers used the technique for shorts like this one, where something familiar turns into something unlikely. It’s cute and eye-catching, and a lot more comprehensible than Méliès’ contemporary experiments with jump cuts in baffling films like “The Astronomer’s Dream.”

Beautiful Bits of Ottawa

It has recently occurred to me that I haven't posted any pictures of how awesome my new city of residence is. Here are a few to remedy this sad state of affairs...

To begin with, one of the most beautiful libraries in Canada, in the parliamentary building. (Unfortunately for me, most of the books are legal texts and for the use of MPs and Senators)
The Most Beautiful Library in the World

The most beautiful library in all of Canada....Collapse )

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February 2013



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