30 January, 2008


Mmm, delicious pub chips. No, for the zillionth time, I did not have fish. I don't like fish. I don't care if it's traditional. All I wanted were the chips. :)

And they were delicious. Simply lovely.

My tuition fees are due tomorrow and I'm not sure yet how I'm going to get those paid. Is a puzzlement.

29 January, 2008

A shared kitchen: reflections

Those of you who know me might be surprised, but I have become very, very tidy in the kitchen. There are 20 or so people who use the same kitchen, so courtesy is what makes it work.

I always, always do my dishes right away, unless they're up in my room. The only way I can avoid guilt over dirty dishes is to make sure I never, ever leave any. The sink is quite often full of dirty dishes, and I know I'd eventually start feeling guilty about them and clean the whole mess. But if I always clean up, I know for certain that nothing in the pile is mine. Saves me work in the long run.

That said, I also really like having surfaces clean, and it really bothers me when people leave crumbs or smears of sauce. So I end up doing a certain amount of cleaning up after others anyway, but only when it directly affects me, because we have a cleaner who does the counters and tables.

In other news, my house is going out to the pub on Monday. There's a local place that hosts live folk music every Monday and Thursday, so we're going as a group. I have also emailed Heather Dale about it, because she is always looking for new venues and I know she's touring the UK this year. Woot!


I have now been to both my classes. I'm definitely in the right Latin class, and I think I'll be happy in this palaeography class. My advisors don't understand why I'm so fixated on taking palaeo, but the course instructor understands - she's been to UofT.

And now I'm off to my job interview! I'm kind of hungry, so I hope my tummy doesn't rumble embarrassingly.

28 January, 2008

Saved from embarrassment by incompetence

Now often does that happen?

I got up nice and early to go to my first class, couldn't find anyone to walk with, and hoofed it down anyway, hoping that I'd be able to find the class when I got there. But when I got to the library, I couldn't find it, so I sat down to see if the details were in my email.

Only to discover that the class in the morning is not the one I was aiming at, and the one I'm supposed to be in is, in fact, in the afternoon.

So now I'm going to walk back a bit more leisurely and get a bike helmet. Then I'm going to nap or eat or both before heading back - on bike - this afternoon.

Go me!

27 January, 2008

Bikes and Re-focusing

Today I got my bike back together with help from one of the guys in the house. It was really, really easy and I'm glad I didn't pay for it. Well, I paid for a set of allen keys, but they will be useful more than just this once. My bike was designed to come apart easily and be put back together easily. The seat just pops off and on, same for the front wheel. The pedals screw on, don't even need a screwdriver. The only bit that required real attention was the handlebars, and oooh scary, I had to tighten three bolts. I love my bike. Now I just need to make sure the tire (tyre?) pressure is good, and buy a helmet. I think I've found the local equivalent of a Canadian Tire.

Today I also did the final editing of the paper I delivered back in November, with all the last-minute changes. It was good to re-focus on what I want to do. My advisors thought I was a little too focused, when we met on Wednesday, but I'm not sure. I think there's a huge wealth of material out there, but I'm just not that interested in literary studies. I don't know the answers, but I have a very clear idea of what my questions are.

25 January, 2008

I just want to gloat a bit...

Remember how I said it was -20 when I left?

It's +11 here.

Yes, England Is Wet

People have asked me, "Is England really as wet and rainy as the stereotype?"

The answer is yes.

I present to you:
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C
Exhibit D
Exhibit E
Exhibit F
Exhibit G

I've been told there's a bar here that's particularly susceptible to flooding. Apparently it's something of a gimmick, and people think it's hilarious to go drink beer with their wellies on.

24 January, 2008

Settling In, Day the Fourth

This should be the almost-last of these posts.

I got up again today and went down to campus, armed with a photo. I got my school card! The background picture is a duck. I took lots of duck pictures.

I registered at the campus clinic.

I found the Graduate Students Association dining hall. I also found the GSA office, and the Overseas SA.

I found the chaplaincy office, but he wasn't in.

I returned the ethernet cord I bought. The free one was short and made life difficult, so I asked if I could have another free one. I made some packing mistakes, but a fortunate whim was bringing my ethernet connector/extender. Ha! Take that, 20quid* cord!

I tried to open a bank account, but I didn't have an original offer of accomodation (because it was emailed to me), so I had to go to CMS and ask God to draft me one. Being full of awesome, she did.

I found St. Wilfrid's, the closest Catholic church to me.

I also took a lot of pictures of stuff. This is Clifford Tower. I think it was part of William the Conqueror's castle. I'll double-check. This is part of the old city wall. They call them "bar walls." The gates (which I thought I had a picture of but don't) are called "bars." This is an old church in the middle of the city. I'm not sure how old it is, but it looks cool. It has a courtyard in the middle, with some columns. There is an old Roman column that was dug up and re-erected, but I don't have a picture of that yet either. I do have a picture of the old Roman wall that was part of the original settlement. It was called "Eboracum" back then.

I also found the Staples and got some cheap pens and located the bic mechanical pencils. Victory! But I'm buying a bunch next time I'm in Canada.

And then I came back and made chana masala and it was delicious. Very delicious. I think I'm going to try it cold in a pita tomorrow for lunch, perhaps with a bit of yoghurt dressing. Mmmmm.

Yeah, I'm hungry again. And I have reading to do. But I've brought you up to date!

* "Quid" is easier to type than £.

Settling In, Day the Third

On Wednesday I went down to main campus, making a few stops along the way, and getting a little lost as well. Fearing to go without contact another night, I bought an ethernet cord on the way down. When I got to campus, I realised I hadn't brought a photo and couldn't get my student card. But I went over to computer services and discovered that they give free cords to students in residence.

I also paid my residence fees. Then I had a few mouthfuls of lunch (the same awful couscous, but I felt guilty about tossing it). Then I hightailed it back to King's Manor to meet with my advisors.

That meeting went well, and I am now registered to a Latin class and a palaeography class. I'm not sure if they understand exactly what I'm trying to do or the background I'm bringing to this, but I smiled and I'm keeping an open mind. Of course, I am going to expend a lot of effort trying to prove that what I want to do is, in fact, doable and necessary. I hesitate to say that they are displaying the same blind spot to Disability Studies that has been in place for decades, but they're willing to keep an open mind as well. So I think this will work. Please note that I am not interested in physical disability right now, nor am I interested in "madness" as it has been traditionally studied. I am bringing entirely new constructs to the table (not that I created them, I'm just in a place to apply them). I'm excited about this challenge. And yes, keeping an open mind.

We also discussed other professional activities. There are a number of lecture/reading groups, and I am looking to get involved with the Religion Reading Group and the Household Seminar. I also got some (a ton!) of reading material to start slogging through. I will do so, dutifully, though I hate reading Chaucer. Maybe there's a modern translation so I can skim for the important bits?

After that, I came back to the house to change my shoes and try to get online. My computer was being stubborn, so I left it and went to get proper groceries. They have vegetarian haggis. Tell me that's not TOTALLY AWESOME. And tell me, oh you meatetarians, that you don't secretly think that you'd prefer vegetarian haggis.* Lettuce is hard to find. Mostly all they have is iceberg (ew) and teeny tiny little expensive heads of organic. Cheese good. Bread expensive. Booze very cheap.

Then I made haggis because I was STARVING. And a salad. And crumpets. Margarine here is scary. It's too bright. I think I might splurge on organic butter next time.

Then not much happened because I was exhausted and passed out.

* I've had the real thing. Twice. I'm allowed to talk.

Things I Have Learned

  • Watch out for buses. The side mirrors are dangerous.
  • British people really do like to queue.
  • "Mince." Thanks, Ramona!
  • Mock the Week, the bizarre love-child of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? and Royal Canadian Air Farce (Jon Stewart, for you Americans)
  • Vital wheat gluten is almost unheard-of here
  • British people hate Bic mechanical pencils. Or at least, they don't like stocking them and they charge a lot for them.
  • There are indeed a lot of ducks on campus.
  • Ugly campus art is universal.
  • "Salad cream" is gross and proper salad dressing is tough to find.
  • The peanut butter sucks.

I'm sure I will add more to this as time goes on.

Settling in, Day the Second

Even though I set my alarm (for 0800), I slept in. After a day and a half of travelling, and a red-eye with no sleep, I needed it. I woke up around 1100, got my head sorted out, double-checked my shopping list, and headed over to King's Manor (my academic building). The first-year PhDs were having lunch together, so it was perfect. It was nice to meet my year-mates. We're going to be here for 3 years together, so we better get to know each other.

Then C. showed me the computer room and I got myself enrolled. I looked some stuff up, checked my email, and let people know I was still alive. Pondered the different banks. I wrote initially that I'd take care of that first thing, but I'm only going to get to it tomorrow. Ah well.

I went over to the Centre for Medieval Studies building (at King's Manor but separate from the main building) and introduced myself to the secretary, God, who was very nice and helpful. She called the residence people and asked about my linens, showed me around the building, and found me a city map. She also helped me locate a bike shop and a sundries shop. There's a study room and while I don't get an office I do get a bookshelf. A bookshelf of my very own!

I then set out to get my shopping done. I was armed with a map and thus full of win. I went past Yorkminster and stopped in. Gorgeous! I'll have to stop by for evensong one night. I saw where Constantine was proclaimed emperor in 306 - which explains my residence's name, I guess. I enjoyed tromping through the streets, and I found a Boyes (sort of like a Saan or Giant Tiger). I got nearly everything I needed (including a new sink plug!), but it took a while. They had every sort of cord but ethernet cords. I wish I knew where I could find something like Radio Shack or Best Buy here.

I got a mug - a mug that is mine and only mine. Can't be home without a mug.

I stopped in at the local Indian/spice shop on my way to the bike shop, and I like it there. They sell chilis and rice and spices, ghee, noodles, etc. They carry Laziza brand spice mixes, so I asked if they could get me the Bombay Biryani. I also asked about taro, and the shop guy said he'd see if they could get it in from Leeds. But the really cool thing about the shop is that they will custom-mix various curry pastes for you. Being in a biryani sort of mood, I got that. It was fun watching him snip up the chilis and plop in the paste and add the spices on top. No dried plums in the mix, Ramona, so maybe I'll toss in a couple snipped apricots and see how it goes. I forgot to check for saffron. Darn. And a chai mix, or at least some darjeeling. Where's a Bulk Barn when you need one?

The bike shop can't reassemble my bike until Friday morning, and they want 60 quid. I need to double-check that, because that's a heck of a lot. Someone in the house might be willing to help me reassemble it instead.

I finally found a computer shop for a cord, but they were closed! I grabbed a couple other small items to make dinner when I got back. I started cooking, but screwed up the couscous. It came out less than ideal, as a result. But I ate it, and some leftover curry, because everyone had been cooking strong-smelling food and it made me want something savoury.

My sheets had arrived, and they are crap. Rubbish. I know I'm a bit of a fabric snob, but really! At least I have them for now, and I'll bring myself back a set in May. Top sheets are an oddity here, but it feels wrong not having one. Thank heavens I brought a proper quilt and my nice pillow.

And then I read far too late into the night and slept again.

Settling In, Day the First

C., who let me in, showed me my room and the basics of the house: kitchen, bathroom, common room. I started unpacking and discovered I had no sheets. I'd ordered them, but they were not there. Cranky me.

I mostly unpacked, and my room is small, but I've had a lot smaller and I will be fine. There's enough storage and space, or there will be once I get my bike unboxed. The sink plus was unbelievably grotty.

Honestly, I felt pretty wretched. With my linens undelivered, I had to shower with only a t-shirt to use as a towel, I knew no one, I couldn't use the phone (needs a phone card), and I couldn't get online. Plus, I was getting hungry. I did use the shower, because that's just plain essential after travelling, and went down to the kitchen and made myself a pot of tea. I parked myself in the common room, and so got to meet other residents. They all seem nice so far, and one even offered to show me the take-away curry. I was lost and hungry and she didn't feel like cooking, so it worked out very well. She also showed me the corner store and I got a few things for cooking with. Back at the house, we shared the curry around. It was not bad, but I've had better, and the room full of us watched "City of Vice." Hilarious.

Around 10, I gave my dad and Brent a call, having finally figured out the phone. I made myself a shopping list and used Excellent David's converter to plug my alarm clock in. I read for a short bit, and fell asleep.

(To be continued...)

Across the Water

Hello from the other side! Yes, it's taken me this long to get to my computer. Well, I managed yesterday but I was so tired from all the walking around the city that I just went to sleep. But I am awake today, despite my walking, and so I am going to post! I wrote a bunch of stuff down earlier, before I had net, so the thoughts are still fresh!


I pretty much freaked out the entire way to the airport. My dad started off driving reeeeally slowly (understandable since he was driving a big, unfamiliar vehicle) but it freaked me out. I am so paranoid about being late for things like flights, and I still wanted to visit my mom in the hospital. We did make a far-too-short stop at the hospital so I could say good-bye and collect a hug. She was doing really well, and I'm glad I knew that before I left.

It was -20°C when we got to the airport. A good way to leave, honestly! All told, I had packed more than 30 kilos over the weight allowance for the flight. I expected that, but I figured it was cheaper to bring it over than to buy it again in pounds sterling. The check-in guy nearly gave me a heart attack when he said it was going to cost $500, but he'd forgotten that I was allowed 20 kilos free. Then Brent and I ran circles trying to get my bike checked. With that accomplished, I headed through security. I had very little with me, but it was jumbled all in a mess, since they'd made me check my carry-on and I'd had to do a rapid sort and re-pack.

The Duty Free does not carry screech. Bastards.

The plane ride was good, all considered. It was quite empty and so I had my whole half-row to myself. I read for a while, then enjoyed dinner: chana masala and a tasty salad. The flight attendant was wonderful and brewed extra tea so I could fill my travel mug and enjoy it longer. Airplane mugs are so tiny. Snack was a carrot sandwich, which became less mystifying when I discovered it had hummus, too. Apparently when you tell people you're vegan (no ovo-lacto vegetarian option was given) they put tasty hummus on your sandwich instead of nasty butter or mayo. I couldn't really sleep, but I tried. Next thing I knew, we were landing in Glasgow, and I got my first look at Scotland!

We landed in Glasgow at about 0800hrs local time, early. But Manchester was cranky and wouldn't let us arrive there early, so we sat at the gate for an hour and a half, doing nothing, not even allowed off the plane. It was gloomy and rainy in Scotland, but distressingly empty of sheep. Still, pretty.

Landing in Manchester went well, though a little bumpy and even gloomier and rainier than Scotland. All my luggage and my bike took up two carts, which I - with a skill that would make an octopus jealous - navigated through the halls to the train station. They changed my train's platform at the last minute and about a half-dozen of us got on the wrong train. We got off at the next station and had to sidetrack over to Manchester-Picadilly station to catch up with the proper train. A kind gent helped me with my bags. He had to get to Leeds, just one station before York, and he helped me through all the transfers.

(Lost in Wilmslow)

(Manchester Picadilly Station)

One station short of Leeds, the trains got stalled because of flooding in a particular tunnel. It's been raining here a lot, apparently. We sat on the tracks for an hour. My companion was cranky, but I just sort of passed out a few times. 1600hrs local time, I get to York station. I got my bags (but not my bike) on a cart and couldn't find another one. I just kind of stood there in consternation, trying to figure this out, until a station operator saw me and helped me re-stack them to include the bike. MAN, those guys can pack! He also helped me out of the station and got me a cab. In the dark and rain, I picked up my keys and went to my res. I tipped well.

My key wouldn't turn, so I rang the bell and someone answered. She let me in, introduced herself, and explained that the keys work, but are tricky. Then she showed me my room.

(To be continued....)

20 January, 2008

Sick to my stomach...

Okay folks, going to the airport in an hour.

Wish me luck!

To-Do, 20-01-08

  1. Church (noon at St. Raph's)
  2. COBS
  3. Visit mom
  4. Clean room
  5. Finish packing
  6. Trade car for van
  7. Pack van
  8. Double-check paperwork !!!!!
  9. Airport
  10. Freak out (this item could really go anywhere on this list)

I'm tired and more tired and yeah. This is going to be kind of rough. I love you all, and I'll post again when I can.

18 January, 2008

To-Do, 19-01-08

  1. Credit Union re: banking options, line of credit I love my credit union.
  2. CAA for another round of traveller's cheques
  3. Visit mom
  4. COBS for delicious baked goods - will do after church
  5. Set up webcam
  6. Reduce cell plan to cheapest possible option
  7. Still more packing panic
  8. Clean room - oops.
  9. Freak Out
  10. Ceilidh time!

To-Do, Friday 18-01-08

  1. Dig out cell phone receipt
  2. Call optometrist re: exam fee
  3. Doctor's office to pick up medical records and X-ray results
  4. Waterloo! Yay! (Don't forget MS Studies book)
  5. CAA for traveller's cheques
  6. Take cell phone receipt to FIDO and exchange phone
  7. Photocopy papers
  8. Future Shop to take advantage of extended warranty package on mic
  9. Visit mom
  10. double-check packing

Time's getting short...

Hey look! A productive day!

17 January, 2008

To Do, Thursday 17-01-08

I've got a lot to do tomorrow, so once again, I'm posting a to-do list. It's my blog, and I'll post as many as I want to. Nyah!

  1. See mum off to the hospital (0615hrs, please say a prayer for her surgery!) It went well!
  2. Haircut
  3. Salon
  4. Grocery store to buy berries for flying
  5. Call PC Financial re: account forwarding They say they can't do that and I need to be a resident of Canada to maintain the account. I smell something fishy.
  6. Visit credit union re: the same
  7. FIDO to put my phone on hold and cancel the voicemail while I'm at it
  8. Call OSAP re: Confirmation of Enrolment form They dragged their bleeping feet mailing me the form, so I call to get them to forward it to England and they can't because they mailed it today.
  9. Chiropodist (1330hrs, don't forget the shoes) Bastard. The orthodics guy screwed them up again and I have to send them back, which means I won't have them when I travel. At least he's going to have to pay the postage, not me. Sucker.
  10. CAA to buy traveller's cheques (Curse you, Canadian markets! Couldn't you have tanked next week?)
  11. Photocopy paperwork
  12. Optometrist (1545hrs, wear contacts and bring specs) ZOMG AWESOME DOCTOR!
  13. Lenscrafters I can SEEEEEE!
  14. Visit mum She's doing good, what a relief!

Busy day. Will be tired at the end of it. Tea and pyjamas.

Dear You,

You're not online, so I'm leaving you a note. The ticket is yours! July 29th: you, me, the Doctor, Hamlet. It's a date.


Dress Excitement!

My mother finished my dress! It is lovely, and the pictures simply do not do her handiwork justice. The colours are deeper, richer, and less shiny, and the dress isn't so... lumpy-looking.

But, without further ado:

The underdress, from the front.

The underdress, from the back. I love the lacing.

The dresses together, from the front.

The dresses together, from the back. I am loving the train, inconvenient though it may be.

A close-up on the neckline.

What can I say? Costumes are fun!

16 January, 2008

Blogging Against Aversives, 14-01-08

Mike Reynolds at Uppity Disability started this the other day. I'm a bit late to the party, but I'd like to chime in, because this is important.

At several institutions for "troubled" youth in the United States (and, I imagine, elsewhere), "aversive therapies" are employed to correct behaviour. The "therapies" include withholding food, isolation, and electric shocks. The behaviours range from self-injurious to "nagging." Many of the children and youth imprisoned at these "schools" are autistic, mentally disabled, abuse victims, or any combination of the above.

The link to Uppity Disability (above) has more details and many more links, because yesterday was "Blogging Against Aversives" day. I don't have the stomach to rehash it all, so check them out if you're not sure what I'm talking about. Odd One Out has an excellent summary of the situation, complete with a list of issues a 2006 noted with the Judge Rotenberg Center (the most well-known "aversive therapies" school). Not Dead Yet includes a rather chilling conversation with one of the founders of the electric shock "therapy."

Let's start with where I stand on this issue: Electroshock as an aversive is outrageous. I'm shocked that it isn't illegal.

Where I work, we have aggressive and self-injurious residents. We have autistic residents. It's illegal for us to even withhold dessert. We're not allowed to defend ourselves from attack, except in strictly non-violent and ministry-approved ways. And I'm not about to divulge specifics, but if we can hack it with the behaviours we get, there is no excuse for anyone to be using electroshock.

There are other ways to deal with problem behaviours, even serious ones. Many of these centres forbid the use of medications. Some of the kids there have behaviours that can be positively altered or even eliminated by very common and effective drugs. Rather than punishing kids for acting out, counselling and actual therapy should be used to get at the roots of a problem. In extreme cases where self-injury is an issue, environment modification can make a person safer.

Now, one might be tempted to dismiss such behaviour as "medieval." An it's certainly true that the infamous Hospital of St. Mary Bethlehem could be compared to the JRC. Yet St. Mary Bethlehem was a post-medieval institution, and the widespread segregation and seclusion of mentally impaired persons seems to be a depressingly modern institution. The (admittedly sparse) literature on the subject locates the mentally impaired person outside the hospital. As far as we can tell, they were not segregated until the early-modern (rennaissance) period.**

What are we doing? Why do we permit this? What is wrong with us, as a society, that we seem to have regressed in our treatment of troubled children? Even the worst criminals in our prisons are not tortured like this. 1,000 years ago, right in the middle of the so-called Dark Ages, children were not treated like this.

If you live in a state with one of these abusive "schools," please write your governor. Sign the petition online. Write your senator. Write your congressman. This is absurd. This is a shame on all of us.

** Tim Stainton. “Medieval Charitable Institutions and Intellectual Impairment.” Journal on Developmental Disabilities. 8 no. 2 (2001).
M. Carlin. “Medieval English hospitals.” The hospital in history. ed. L. Granshaw and R. Porter (London: Routledge, 1989), 21-40.

15 January, 2008

I'm at the startin' line of the rest of my life...

The song I mentioned the other day was in my head all day today. Particularly the chorus, which runs:
I'm at the startin' line of the rest of my life
As ready as I'll ever be
I've got the hunger and the stars in my eyes
The prize is mine to see

It occurred to me this evening that this is probably the last time I'll live in the house I grew up in. It's been almost 22 years, and it's always been here, been home, even when I lived away at school. But now I'm moving far away, for a long time, and my parents might not even live here by the time I get back. I'm just a visitor now. This is... painful. It's a hard thought. The rest of my life, indeed.

Aside from that, today was quite lovely. I got my bike boxed up and shoved a few more items into my carry-on and my suitcase. I figure I'm going for broke on the baggage weight limit anyway, so I might as well make sure I have what I need. Moving is not cheap.

Went out for a round or two at the local pool hall/bowling alley with my dad. We played a game of snooker (I really, really sucked) and a game of pool (I didn't suck so badly). Apparently I have a pretty good hold on the cue, just need practice. And aim. Dad taught me how to sink a ball when it's lying flush on the rail. We spent time together and both of us really enjoyed it. I smiled the rest of the evening.

The rest of the week is really busy. Tomorrow I do tons of little errands and make some phone calls. Check in at Oaklands, pick up a paycheque, and see if some of my friends on staff are there. Call my sister. Wednesday sees more errands, and tea and talk with Laura. Thursday I'm going to get a hair trim, orthodics, eyeglasses prescription, and new eyeglasses. Friday going to the city where I did my undergrad to spend time with a friend (possibly two). Saturday will be full of last-minute packing, cleaning, vacuuming, and the Rabbie Burns ceilidh (complete with haggis)! Sunday: church, lunch, flying.

After that, I'll be incommunicado unless I hit a wireless hotspot or am remarkably lucky setting up the residence internet service.

Ready as I've ever been!

14 January, 2008

More Travel Prep (With Bonus OSAP Note!)

My apologies to anyone who's getting thoroughly sick of all the lists of travel prep details. 6 more days and we'll be into the funner* stuff like Eaquae's Travel Mishaps and Unintelligible Accents. I warn you, the amount of Latin whining is going to increase dramatically, though.

I have solved my packing dilemma, at least to my satisfaction. Ramona's dad suggested something called "unaccompanied baggage," so I called the airline about it, and they do it, but through their cargo shipping company. When I called the cargo company, they told me just to pay the excess weight fees and be done with it. The amount I'm shipping is small enough to still fit a suitcase, and if I just take it as luggage, I pick it up on the baggage carousel and go right to customs and immigration. With cargo, you have to do all that, and then make your way to the shipping area, fill out the paperwork to get your stuff, and then go back through customs again. Plus, they charge roughly the same. (Side note: If it came down to it, Canada Post has the cheapest shipping costs by far. FedEx, Purolator, and UPS are all about twice as expensive. Whoda thunk it?)

And it seems that someone at OSAP has their head on proper. Last week, I was told that OSAP moves at a glacially slow pace. No surprise there, but plenty of frustration. Today, the paperwork arrived. Apparently someone in the office realised the extreme silliness of waiting to print, and then waiting even longer to mail. Good on you, Anonymous OSAP Office Drone! I salute you!

Which means I have almost all my ducks lined up.


*"Millennia" is not a word, according to Firefox, but "funner" is. Crazy spellcheck.

13 January, 2008


Call credit card company and notify them that I'm moving.
Call banks, ask them to forward my mail.
Buy £500.
Optometrist, then Lenscrafters.
Chiropodist for orthodics.
Buy snacks for flight - berries.
Go to ceilidh!
Give stuff away.

12 January, 2008


I have begun packing in earnest. Roughly halfway there, I am at my maximum baggage weight limit. This is bad.

I can take some of the clothes out. That's not a huge deal. Books will get shifted into my laptop case if possible - they don't weigh those. Liquids are already at a minimum. I think I can sneak a few things into my bike box.

And I'll have to pay for the extra kilos, but I'd like to keep that down if possible.

A little bit of peace

I had some country-music-inspired sobbing episodes on Thursday. More sobbing tonight. Uprooting is hard.

I'm really glad for my dad. He was wonderful and hugged me while I cried and then helped me pick a fighting style to get involved with at York. I'm going to learn ju jitsu! And we talked for a while, and I managed to find him on MSN at last. Knowing that the lines of communication and contact are that much stronger did a lot to stabilise me.

We just talked for a while, and made a date for just the two of us. I'm going to miss him.

He also encouraged me that this is not the end of the world, and if it doesn't work out, that's not the end of the world either. I promised him I'd set some concrete goals for my first month at York, to give me focus and to strive for. I arrive in York on Jan 21st, and Feb 21st is a memorable date for personal reasons, so One Month it is.

Ten One-Month Goals: (in no particular order)
1. Establish my kitchen. Find the staples, spices, and equipment that I will need in order to successfully feed myself.
2. Join the ju jitsu club.
3. Find a church.
4. Bike around campus and learn where the important buildings (admin, library, international students office, shops) are.
5. Have tea with at least two classmates or housemates.
6. Meet with my advisors and figure out my schedule (including Latin class).
7. Acquire a cheap Region 2 DVD player and Season 1 of F/X: the Series. Watch it.
8. Chase some ducks.
9. Make my room feel like home.
10. Spend at least one morning walking around the downtown.

Oh, SparkPeople, you are so timely

Today's article isn't 100% applicable to me, since I doubt I can bring fresh fruit and veggies on the trip, but I might give it a try. Pack a baggie of carrot sticks or something. Travelling is rough on a body, and I'd do well to minimize the damage.

I ordered the vegan meal on the flight (no just vegetarian option), and I think that'll be okay. Airplane meat is sketchy. Actually, given the length of the flight, and the fact that I get 1 snack and 1 meal, I'd better remember some snacks. Hypoglycemia at 40,000ft is not something I care to experience.

I often end up doing stretches on the floor in the terminal, and I usually get some funny looks. Hey, people, we're about to get stuck in a bunch of tiny tiny seats for 9 hours or so. I'm gonna be doing a lot of sitting, and I get sore. So stop looking at me funny, and sit and stretch with me. Trust me, you'll feel better!

Good Service

My visa arrived today.

Tomorrow is a busy day, but I have company!

Bike fixed up for flight.
Wind-proof gloves.
Pick out glasses.
Packing clothes and books.
Room cleaning.
Used bookstore to get rid of the box of used books.
Laundry. Lotsa laundry.

10 January, 2008

Must Be A Slow Season...

Your application has been approved and the visa has been issued. Please allow a minimum of 3 working days for your documents to be sent to you and also before tracking your package with our office.


And I've booked a flight for 20 Jan, 2008. $400 with taxes, insurance, etc.

I'm committed. Hopefully I don't have another panic attack like this morning.

09 January, 2008


Voices of Self-Determination. Why am I so passionate about disability issues and disability history? Go find out.

Update on Red Tape

My visa has made it to the British High Commission and I've received and email to that effect.

Processing of your application starts now and normally takes 5 working days for straightforward non-settlement applications. [...] If your application has been approved, you will receive further notification when the visa has been issued. You should allow a minimum of 3 working days for your documents to be sent to you by Priority Courier and also before tracking your package. Doing the math, that means it should be posted back to me next Wednesday and will not likely be in my hands before the following Monday (the 21st). That tanks the hope to fly on the 20th.

OSAP, meanwhile, received my supporting documentation on Christmas Eve, and has sat on it since then. I called today, and the reply was "Oh yes, we got those in December. I'll update your file now." Thanks, OSAP. Top-notch service there. The papers will print this weekend. (Why not sooner? It's just hitting "print" on the computer.) They will be mailed next Thursday. (What, the post doesn't get sent out every day?) Presumably I'll get them the following week.

Your bloody slow incompetence has added another week to my waiting, OSAP. I'm sure you don't care two figs for the fact that I'm paying through the freaking nose for housing I can't use, and I won't even be on campus when the term's payment is due. I can't book my flights, and the cost is going up every day. You're a bunch of bloody-minded devils, you are!

Sorry, folks, bad day over here.

Most Excellent Airline

Not only does Zoom Airlines have the cheapest flights I can find ($229 Toronto->Manchester), and not only do they transport bicycles free of charge, they also have a rather impressive "green" policy.

My favourite highlights:

  • All of our drinks tumblers will be made from corn starch instead of plastic. On-board cutlery and hot meal dishes will be made from sugar beet and cane products; and drinks stirrers will be made of wood from renewable sources.
  • Our tea, coffee, sugar and orange juice products – both on board our aircraft and in our offices – are all sourced from approved FairTrade suppliers, guaranteeing a fair price for the commodity producers in regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America. We’re also proud to be offering a choice of beers and wines on our flights, which will include FairTrade products.
  • Environment briefings for every staff member during induction and initial training – including providing them with low-energy light-bulbs to reduce their electricity usage and carbon output at home. [my emphasis]
  • Zoom is also actively focusing on environmental issues when agreeing service contracts with our suppliers including catering companies, ground handling companies and the hotels in which our aircrews stay.

What can I say? I'm impressed. Check this airline out, folks, if you're flying. Fares are cheap and you're reducing your enviro-footprint a little.

08 January, 2008

The one seamstress with a needle*

Today mum and I went fabric shopping. For my M.A. grad, she decided to make me a medieval(esque) dress as a gift. I say "esque" because I'm not a specialist in medieval textiles, and the fabric options are limited anyway. It's close enough for my SCA purposes. I'll have something to wear if I get involved with the re-enactment society at York.

The under dress is a delicious ecru sort of colour, not what I originally had in mind (I'd planned less brown), but it goes very nicely with the dark red fabric for the over dress. It takes an awful lot of fabric (15m, together), but it's going to look lovely. I'm quite excited. (The colours don't show up perfectly in the pics there.)

Pictures to follow.


I'd love to see him act out a gerundive. Perhaps atterendus.

And also: I want to be this guy. He has my dream life.

* If you don't "get" the title, you obviously need to read more Terry Pratchett.

07 January, 2008

As V(countdown)->C...

Dentist? Check! (no cavities!)
Chiropodist? Check!
Packing begun? Check!
Cleaning begun? Check!

Jan 7th - Movie with [just me].
Jan 8th - Fabric shopping with mom. Dinner with Laura. Cleaning.
Jan 17th - Orthotics fitting.

I've started piling stuff into a suitcase. Heaven help me.

In which I babble over a new book

Today I received in the mail Introduction to Manuscript Studies, by Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham.

This is a MUST-HAVE book for anyone messing around with medieval manuscripts. I'm serious. If I had had this book this time last year, my Codicology class would have been significantly easier. This book is incredibly useful. It has chapters on the making of medieval manuscripts (four of them, including one on binding, on text, on glosses and corrections, and on tools). It has chapters (6) on reading manuscripts: general info, punctuation and abbreviation, damaged MSS, origins and provenance, description, and selected scripts. It has lists of common abbreviations, lists of unique features of scripts to help you date and place them. All in one book. It then has chapters on some manuscript genres. There's a glossary (very useful for the novice), and a section on tools for study of medieval Latin, with some books I have not heard of before but which may prove invaluable, since much of my own study will involve teasing out the delicate nuances of a single word here, a phrase there, etc.

Not only is it just dripping usefulness, it is absolutely gorgeous. Full-colour glossy with pictures almost every page.

It's a heavy volume, but I will just have to make room for it. Perhaps in my laptop bag, which they don't normally weigh.

If you have any interest at all in manuscript studies, you need this book.

06 January, 2008

Time Dialation

Time is speeding up. I'm estimating roughly two weeks before I fly, now. I've got so very much to do, and so many people to spend time with, and it feels like I have no time at all.

6th Jan - Hang out with big sister Steph.
7th Jan - Clean room. Chiropodist. Movie with brother?
8th Jan - Nothing yet. Clean room. [Visa arrives at British High Commission]
9th Jan - Doctor appointment. Optometrist. Dinner with Melissa?
10-11th Jan - Waterloo.
12-13th Jan - Rest. Clean Room. Begin packing.
14th/15th Jan - [Visa approved? Sent by courier?] Clean room. Organise books. Packing.
16th/17th Jan - Receive visa. Book flight. PACK. Panic.

05 January, 2008

The Same the World Over

I should have been more careful. I've been applying for student loans for seven (eight?) years now. I've submitted two SSHRC applications and one Ontario Graduate Scholarship. I am not unfamiliar with the arcane and draconian regulations that one must adhere to. Actually, by now I should be actively seeking out the ways in which they trip you up. 1.42" margins? BAM! Helvetica font? BAM! 35x45mm passport photo? Err...

You see, Canadian passport photos are a different size from British ones. If you see the requirement "one passport-sized photograph," naturally you would go and get a passport-sized photograph taken. You can probably be forgiven for not realising this is not the normal Canadian size. I know I never took a ruler to my old passport pics.

But alas, our photos are bigger. Too big for a British visa application.

It's a fortunate thing that your generic and sketchy mall "4 photos in 3 minutes!" photo booth takes, you guessed it, 35x45mm pictures. So all my efforts to have a decent photograph for once are in vain.

I guess I still have the pictures.

Oh, and my application has now been submitted.

03 January, 2008

Visa, visa, bo-bisa...

I submitted my visa application today, and I get fingerprinted tomorrow. Aie.

I've now dedicated ~$600 to this, and I feel committed. No backing out now. Anxiety level: high.

Alrighty, off to make photocopies and get passport-like photos taken.

International Dialling Codes

A website to help one figure out the intricacies of international dialling. Very helpful.


Well, folks, I'm in. I received my housing letter today via email! York has been fabulous with helping me get all my paperwork. I don't know who hired the admin staff, but they are doing a bang-up job, and I want to hug them all. They have gone above and beyond for me. They have faxed and emailed and expedited their hearts out. Thanks, York Admin Staff.

Anyway, I have a place to live! And it's the exact house I wanted! It's the closest one to my building. Since my building is ~1.5mi from main campus, this is a big deal. On chilly wet days, I don't want to have to travel far. Don't get me wrong - the library, all the shops, admin, and the gym are all on main campus, so I'll be trekking over there quite often. I just don't want to have to make the trip every single day.

Man, I'm so excited. All I need now is my OSAP papers.

02 January, 2008

Baffling Visa Requests

When you apply for a visa to the UK, the online form asks if you have ever had a passport in the past. When you say "yes," it asks what happened to it, and the identification number and issuing location, if possible. Problem is, if it expired and you chucked it, you don't have the information in all likelihood. And even though it says "if possible," it won't let you proceed until you enter the information.

Don't throw out your old passport, if you ever plan to apply for a visa.

Also, be warned that they ask for a huge amount of information (eg. In one field, they asked for my educational history since I was 11. My ages, my schools, the location, the years, graduation date, and what degree/diploma I earned.) and give you a teeny maximum character limit. You will be maddened.

The last time I post from work!

Last shift! Woo! I'm so very ready for a break.

It feels very fitting to be ending now, with the new year. I spent New Year's Eve at Daybreak, and it was a wonderful way to celebrate the passage of time. Despite all the unfamiliar faces, it still felt like home. The Taizé service was much too short, and had me in tears by the end, wishing that I was still a member of the community.

I've discovered in the years since I left that many people in disability services have never heard of l'Arche, and that is a darn big crying shame. Although perhaps it is to my advantage, as someone else might have been inspired to investigate my research area before now. It was telling, to me, that when I explained my ideas, people there actually listened. There was none of the usual "They were persecuted as witches right? They thought they were demon-possessed! Didn't they kill them at birth?" reaction that I have gotten over and over at Oaklands. It was quite remarkable, and very refreshing! Because of the mindset l'Arche encourages, people there didn't immediately assume folks with mental impairments were always treated and regarded poorly. I do wish more people were aware of l'Arche, and its wonderful mission.

The service felt time-out-of-time. Kairos. I can't explain it, but if you ever find yourself in Toronto on a Friday night, and are looking for a more meaningful experience than the bars downtown, I highly recommend visiting.

Moving on to a more mundane topic, I have begun making lists in earnest. Lists for things I need to do to be able to leave. Things I need to pack. Paperwork I need to copy and account for. People I want to visit again before I go. Things I need to arrange for arriving and ensuring residence. Medical appointments I need to book before leaving. Things I need to do once I am housed, in order to settle. Dominoes and more dominoes. I think this morning I will make my medical calls (dentist, optometrist (Jan 09), chiropodist, family doctor [medical records copy, immunisations and prescriptions], TB x-ray). Huzzah* for being insured again! Then, after I have slept, I will get some photocopying done (all school paperwork/letters, all ID and money-related cards, degrees, visa forms). I think that's enough for one day!

Later this week, I will be in Toronto for visa stuffs (you have to get fingerprinted) and visiting. Go me!

* Did you know that Firefox's spellcheck rejects "hurray," but not "huzzah"?