Thursday, December 29, 2005

happy new year!

I'm off to Ireland in about twenty minutes to see the Prodigals and collect the best friend, so here's an early Happy New Year to everyone. :-)

A few things that have interested me on the BBC this morning:

5-6 inches might fall in "higher areas;" other areas might get 3-4 inches. This country cracks me up!

2) As of today, gay couples can adopt children as a couple, rather than individually. :-)

3) Tube strike looks likely for tomorrow. I'm really glad I'm flying out today.

Geez. Things are interesting when you actually bother listening to the news!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I get it now!

In the immortal words of Sam Seaborn: "Let's forget about the fact that you're comin' a little late to the party and embrace the idea that you showed up at all."

I now understand why Conor was going on and on about Darwin in his Hamlyn lecture ("The Crisis of Authority: Can Human Rights Survive?"), a month or so afterwards. See, I'm pretty sure he was giving us a secular response to this exchange:
"Why do we have human rights?"
"Well, because we're human!"
"But, why does that make us special?"

The religious answer is, of course, "Because God created each one of us to be special and unique and sacred (and with a bit of him/herself mixed in the pot, if you're Quaker)."
The secular answer, I think, that Conor was suggesting is "Because even if we're only here because of some random mutations of genes, it's still pretty amazing and that makes each one of us both special and vital to the continued genetic flourishing of the human race." Hence, the Darwin.

I'm not sure yet whether or not I buy that line (although I do think that the fact that humans exist is somewhat miraculous, considering everything could have happened differently), but give me another few months and I might have figured it out!

And, be proud that I'm actually doing school work!

Photos are up!

I almost forgot, but the photos are up from the European trip. People on the e-mail list also got a SEVEN page update. Phew. I might post it here later. :-) New additions to the "Europe" set start here.

A sample:
Salzburg's Aldstadt

Does this need a caption? Vienna

Demel's cake counter, also Vienna!

Europe's largest synagogue (second in the world), Budapest. And, yes, it does look like a mosque! The Ottomans invaded Budapest a few times, so the architects were familiar with the Byzantine style.

For being behind the Iron Curtain, it certainly took a long time to find some nice, totalitarian architecture!, Bratislava

Bratislava's stare mesto (old town).

I LOVE living here!

Yesterday I had one of those experiences which just leaves you with a desire to dance on the way back to the tube station; the kind of thing that makes you just go "wow! I f---ing love living in this city!"

It wasn't going to be all that interesting, actually. I was just going to the National to start reviewing notes from the past term, but found that they weren't opening until 4, presumably to give their employees a nice holiday break. I went next door to the National Film Theatre (which I had never visited before) and found that in only 45 minutes they would be showing a tv adaptation of Goodnight, Mister Tom, which is a book that I absolutely adore. I know that our favorite books change over time, but this one was actually on the top for several, several years. It is about a little boy who gets evacuated during the Blitz. His home life is horrible and involves a psychologically disturbed mother and lots and lots of physical abuse. Anyway, out in the country he ends up with the cranky, still grieving, old widower and basically they come to heal and love each other. It's not as simplistic as that, to be sure, but one of those great "kids" books that really treats their young reader like an adult.

It has been awhile since I read the book now, but I thought that the adaptation was really good! It was even in smell-o-vision, as there are several bedwetting scenes in the book/movie and the guy in front of me had an accident fairly early on. Ew. But that's really not important. Afterwards I was getting ready to leave and the lady next to me, who had smiled when I came in, leans over and says: "Can I tell you a secret?" I, of course, was wondering if she was the one who had, erm, "leaked," but instead she whispered to me: "I wrote the book." And I'm sooooo excited at this point gushing about how much I loved the book as a kid and how I thought this was a great adaptation, etc. She turned out to be a really sweet, motherly, middle-aged English woman and we chatted for about 10 minutes before she headed home to the kids and I off to IKEA. But, seriously! People can stuff Madonna or Jude Law sightings (although I'm jealous of the person who saw Clinton) if I get the unexpected chance to meet my favorite authors!

It got me thinking about how much I still love a good, challenging young adult novel and how, literally, all of my favorite books were by English authors. (Well, except William Steig & Dominic, apparently, although I had to go and look that up.) Is it any wonder I live here now?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"Once in a Lifetime," II

Heh. I've been reading some of the reviews. And I'd just like to say that I'm getting better at being a critic. Not that I should need validation for my own opinions, but it's nice to know that I'm not the only person who thought it was unfunny and slow!

I'm baaaack!


I am returned from the 10 days in Central Europe! They were wonderful and frustrating and rewarding and fun and challenging and ugly and beautiful all at the same time! It was the first time that I had ever really travelled in a non-English speaking country on my own (Iceland, where 99% of the population speaks fluent English doesn't count) and I managed safely through three of them. One thing, however did make me feel guilty. In the back of Rough Guides, they print the Traveller's Code, which suggests that you use your guidebook only as a starting point, but to interact with the locals for the most part, as a better guide to travelling. Now, I'm not a particularly outgoing person in day to day life and I have profound issues with going to someone else's country and expecting them to communicate in my language, so I didn't really do this at all. Which was probably bad, but I suppose I'm still technically a baby traveller (especially compared to the crowd at one of the hostels, where the person who was on the road for the next shortest period after me was on a three week trip...what is it about the antipodians that they travel for 9-12 months?!?).

Right, quick rundown, since I'll do a proper post with uploaded photos later. The best thing in each city was realizing that I'd get there, be cranky and tired after travelling and have to force myself to put my stuff down and get my butt out the door to start exploring, but that at some point there would be some magical moment that would force me to stop feeling sorry for myself and start embracing the new city. Happily, this happened every single time. :-)

Salzburg:I have to admit that this was the only city where I was rearing to go at the first instant, but that's probably because it was my very first stop. The bus ride to the hostel was so dull that I was starting to think: "This isn't like the movie at all!" *pout* But, then I started wandering around, toward the town center and suddenly, down a street, I could see this big steeple. Keep in mind that steeples in this area, especially in Salzburg, are not the straight kind that we often think of as proper steeples, but the ones with little bulbs and are shaped a little like a tiered wedding cake. And then I was just like: This is perfect! This is what I thought Salzburg would be! And for those of you who have seen The Sound of Music (and who hasn't), the amazing thing is that Salzburg actually still looks like that. It was Baroque and cute and surrounded by real, proper mountains (which I'd never seen before...remember that Indiana is flat, flat, flat). I absolutely loved wandering around the town and the area around it!

Vienna: I'd had a hard train ride to Vienna. No one in my Harry Potter-like compartment spoke English, so there were four hours of happy conversation in which I had no role and no idea of what was going on. It was really disorienting, although in retrospect I should have made an effort to join in, and I was feeling so entirely foreign. I wandered around central Vienna in a bit of a grump (it had also been freezing cold and raining heavily when I first arrived, which hadn't helped). My solution to the language trauma was to go to the movies, to see Narnia (not bad, if the battle was too cliched. Liam Neeson can be Aslan or have my children any day) and to not think about being in another country for a few hours. Afterwards I was trying to head to a new U-Bahn station and ended up on Kohlmarkt, a pedestrianised, very shwanky shopping street. At the end of it is St. Michael's Square, with the gate to the Hofburg (the Hapsburg's Vienna palace). I didn't know that was what it was at the time, but there was suddenly this massive, domed, Baroque gateway to something. I walked through it and found palace on the other side! (I'd already read my Rough Guide, so I figured out what it was eventually, but that didn't detract.) Massive palaces are so far out of my daily experience that they still amaze me and it was just lovely, lovely. Outside the palace is Vienna's ring road, the Ringstrasse and more massive public buildings. I loved it from the moment I found the Hofburg and even more when I took full advantage of the so-called coffee culture. I swear, you can eat nothing but cake and hot chocolate (the best ever!) in that city and be a very, very happy puppy!

Budapest: Regular readers might be a bit confused now, because Budapest wasn't orginally on my list. I sort of was sitting over a sachertorte and realized that had four days scheduled for Bratislava, which seemed like a lot from my reading and talking to fellow travellers. So, I was looking at the map, got excited when I saw how close Budapest was and how many trains there were and took off the next morning. (I later figured out why I was so excited and it wasn't because I was Hungary once in Model UN. It was because this wonderful friend of my mom's had gone to Eastern Europe 7-8 years ago and gotten me a Hard Rock Budapest shirt, which I thought was just about the coolest thing ever. If I don't still have it, it only went in the last round of clothes redistribution. And BTW, there's no Hard Rock Cafe in Budapest, they just sell lots of the shirts.) To be honest, Budapest was a bit manky, although a fascinating study of post-Communist Eastern Europe (not too many generalizations here after only two days, of course). After almost half a day, I was a bit disappointed. Then, steps from my hostel, I found the most wonderful Christmas market! The ones in Austria had been big, but very commercial. The one in Budapest was much more like a craft fair and the food was sooo much cooler and more interesting. Add the exchange rate and I really ended up buying several things for myself and for presents and I wandered around that square more times that I can say! The first night they even had folk music. I felt so much better after that (and dinner, to be honest) and the next day was also beautiful!

Bratislava: I hadn't been sure what to expect of Bratislava. My friend Megan is Slovak and when I had excitedly told her (via e-mail) that I was going to Slovakia, she responded that I shouldn't judge the whole country on that basis. I'm not sure what she meant now. Bratislava is beautiful and fascinating (although, to be honest, I was mostly in the stare mestro (old city) and a bit beyond) and I sort of fell in love with that first pink building and the steeple on the town hall (wedding cake, again). I was also really glad to have gone to Hungary, because it gave me something to compare to, in terms of new EU members/old Soviet bloc. I'm a massive fan of going back to both countries, because I'd like to explore their non-capital city areas.

Is that enough for now? I think so!

Monday, December 12, 2005

New link

I added a link over there on the left. taking down words is all about Indiana politics, from a lefty. I'm amused, at least, and I do dearly miss my quota of Indiana political gossip!

All my stuff is moved (woot!), but the other guy hasn't vacated the flat yet, so I'm staying on my friend's massive couch. Before you feel sorry for me, please note that this couch is much bigger than the beds in Butler's Wharf! Eeesh. Anyway, its been fun...much in common with a slumber party!

I leave tomorrow for Austria. Sadly the friend I was going to meet up with in Vienna has had to go back to the States early. :-( So, I'm on my own. Which I think will still be fun and I'm really looking forward to it!

One final suggestion: Christmas and figuring out how to get presents to the US is really, really stressful! Boooooo.

I suspect I'll have something of actual interest to write when I get back!

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Theatre

Tonight a big group from one of the halls (and a couple of us who happen to be "in" with their social secretary) went to see Patrick Stewart's one man Christmas Carol. Now, I will be the first to admit that I think its a rather dull story that only actually picks up when Scrooge decides to share the limelight a little and we get to meet the Crachett family. Anyway, not a huge fan of the story itself, but he did a really good job! Of course he did, you say, he was Jean Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise! I say, of course he did, they don't let complete idiots into the Royal Shakespeare Company (although, trying to "remake" the Lion in Winter? WTF! You're sooo not the awesome and amazing Peter O'Toole. Anyway). I think it might have been harder to settle into if you hadn't had previous experience watching people talk to themselves on a speech team. Woot!

The other thing that I noticed, and frankly, this throws me everytime I leave my little South Bank haven and venture to the proper West End, is the difference in style. There's gold. There are tons of ushers trying to sell you ice creams and candy. The auditoriums feel MINUTE and the stages even smaller. The lobbies are non-existant and the theatre basically spills you on to the streets outside. I know it sounds like I think these are all bad things, but I honestly don't. The West End has its own very special place in London's theatre world, I've just realized how different it is from the subsidized theatre at the NT and in some ways, the Donmar, which is also a fairly stark place.

On the other hand, tonight's gold and gilt made me realize something that might help explain why I spend so much of my time at the National Theatre. Those of you who have known me long enough know that for many years, Clowe's Hall, on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, was absolutely my favorite theatre in the entire world. It was probably my first theatre, when I begged my mother (at the age of 3) to be taken to see the Nutcracker at Christmas. Apparently I had to promise to behave (and did!), even though I wasn't even heavy enough to hold down the seat at the time. Later, I even danced there (heh), in my ballet school's production of the Wizard of Oz (I was a winkie, if you were keeping score). Sometime in middle school my mom couldn't get us tickets to something or other on ice and substituted tickets to see The Sound of Music, which was part of Indianapolis' Broadway touring company circut that year and that happened to be in town. For three or four years after that we were season ticket holders, and it was a really special thing (more so than I even realized at the time). It was our girl's night: giggles about the same lady with the big hair whose season tickets were right in front of us (ack!), me always making sure that I had enough money saved away to buy a program, and becoming absolute experts at getting in and out of that parking lot as quickly as possible! We sort of slacked off when the renovated Murat Theatre opened downtown and we didn't like going there nearly as much or the year that the series kinda sucked. But, the point is that I loved Clowes; it was my theatre home. (Incidentially, I'm pretty sure that the revival of Carousel that we saw originated at the NT.)

The thing about Clowes is that it is a supremely ugly building: angular and concrete both inside and out. It's sparse, but with big common spaces and a sense of community and excitement. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but the NT and Clowes have an awful lot in common. Maybe this is part of me connecting happy memories of my parents to my life in London, even when I do it subconciously? On the other hand, I already knew that my mother was the one who turned me into a theatre-goer/lover and that I honor that legacy that she passed on to me every time I decide to take advantage of an opportunity to see a show.

In less philosophical news, I'm moving tomorrow! Ack! Must pack!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Once in a Lifetime

So, I'm pretty sure, from reading my site statistics, that someone at the National Theatre knows how to use google to find out what people are saying about their shows. So, regarding Once in a Lifetime in the Olivier: if I'm sitting there thinking, "Gah, I really should be using this time to finish that chapter from Eichmann in Jerusalem for Thursday," it probably isn't a very good sign. Or this: THBBBBBBBB! (That was an all-American raspberry.)

I should have figured it out from the crowd; if the average age for Coram Boy was in the late 20s (guessing here), then tonight's average age was closer to 50. And, sadly, it was far better attended than those early Coram Boy's that I saw. I can see why the show isn't often performed, it was HORRIBLY dated and, frankly, slow as heck. I did have to supress a few yawns (when I wasn't worried about people falling off/down the stairs or ready to kill the next person who appeared out of a door). Good job on the American accents, though; ususally fake ones just jump out and kill me. It was the kind of show that should have had the audience smiling as it left the theatre, but most people looked like they'd just been to a rather routine church service. And maybe its just because theatre at my high school was of such good quality or because we did Anything Goes many years ago (and an AWESOME production at the NT, btw), but this felt very, very high school to me. Which is fine if you are a high school, but I felt kinda let down by the National. Which sucks.

That's very negative of me, but it really was a blow after the awesomeness of Coram Boy.

Pooh. I'm going to go read Arendt now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A mystery solved!

Because Alice Shrock is a goddess among Quaker Historians (especially on subjects related to Earlham through the Gurney Family), I give you this explanation:

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, also known as "The Liberator," was an MP who succeeded William Wilberforce in leading
the parliamentary fight for the abolition of slavery. The liberation of slaves in the British Empire was approved in 1833 and went into effect in August, 1834. Both Buxton and Wilberforce were later honored w/ life-size statutes in the nave of Westminster Abbey.

Buxton's mother was Quaker and Buxton spent much of his youth at Earlham Hall outside of Norwich. His correspondence makes it clear that the Gurneys instilled imp. Quaker values in him which shaped his career as a reformer. Although he is most known for his work against slavery, he also worked w/ EG Fry in prison reform and for the abolition of suttee in India. Buxton and Joseph John Gurney were the best of friends, and Buxton married into the Gurney family when he married Hannah, sister to EGF and Joseph John.

Buxton's income came from his work managing a brewery on or near Brick Lane; the name Truman Hanbury Buxton can still be seen on one of the buildings, I think. Also, EGF lived in the East End, and is buried at the burial grounds for Barking Meeting.

So that, I suppose, is how an East End school and street would be named Buxton, and how it would connect to Quaker Street. Your historical instincts were "right on!"

Now that I'm completely sober...

I thought that maybe I should expand just a wee bit more on stuff. You know...stuff!

After I dropped Earlham friend from France off at Waterloo, I went up to the East End for the Sunday markets. Let me tell you, l thought these things were supposed to start early! Silly me. I was there around 9 and people were still setting up. By the time I left, some of the "upmarket" (the artsy stalls) weren't even done setting up. Ah, well. The Bagel shops were as good as promised and darn cheap! Can we say 15p for a fresh bagel? They're not even that price in Indianapolis, although the experience did make me miss our wonderful Indianapolis institution, Bagel Fair. Otherwise, I'd say many things about the Brick Lane area markets were a bit dodgy. You sort of got the feeling that if anything of yours ever got stolen, this is where it would end up. Too many bikes, empty bags, and mobile phones for sale.... On the other hand, I would have gotten more things if I'd had more money (so its probably good that I didn't) and this amused me:
Look! It says "Quaker St.!" (For those who are wondering, Brick Lane has an amazing history. It has been the center of new (often poor) immigrant communities for centuries. The bagel stores are because it was once the center of the Jewish population (and there's lots of architecture to reflect that fact) and it now forms the heart of Bangla all the streets are labeled in both English & Bengali. I should ask Earlham's Quaker history expert why there's a Buxton St. leading into Quaker St.)

There are a few other new photos on Flickr. They're from wandering around London with Earlham/France person and from our attempt to tour Westminster Abbey. That didn't work out so well, but we did go to their Evensong. I loved the choir, but it all felt a little too institutional. If I had to pick a favorite service, after my "extensive" experience on this matter (ha!), I would have to say that St. Paul's is the best. Seriously, they gave me warm, cooshy feelings when they prayed for the UN. Awesome. I was put off by Notre Dame's insistance that only Catholics could fully take part. St. Paul's is very inclusive and all about people coming up for "blessings," even if they aren't taking/can't take communion and starts by welcoming people from all faith communities (or not). I'm an avowed secularist, so even I am amused by having an opinion on this topic. But, see, there's a big holiday coming up and I'm determined to go to some midnight services, mostly because it sounds cool! I had to pick and I think that St. Paul's is the answer. Also the closest for walking home, since the tube will probably be shut by the time services are over.

Right, back to the regional human rights bodies.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Awesometastic news from London! My friends here have gotten engaged! Woot! This makes me happy. :-)

And this only days after she told all of us about the pressure that they've been getting from all sides to get married and how it wasn't going to be happening for years! Oh, the irony. :-) So, yes, the Churchill Housewives League did sing happy birthday to our very special man and then one of us moved a step closer to housewifeness. Anyway, yay! What a great end to the weekend, which also saw an Earlham visit from Paris.

I think it was the champagne, but I'm not feeling too inclined to type a great deal just now. Big news this week is the impending visit of my very best friend in the whole world and the seperate visit of a cool Earlham alumni. My review got published in The Beaver, but they both cut off the last paragraph and managed to leave off the byline. It becomes difficult to show one's writing prowess off to the world when you can't prove that you even wrote it. Speaking of which, the National's other new show for the Olivier goes into previews tomorrow and I think I'm gonna skip sushi with the kids to go. And I'm slowly discovering new music, which I realize isn't new at all, but what's new is me being a fan. I know that Marjorie tried so hard with us in our British Music Class, but now I'm voluntarily listening to classicalish things. At the risk of sounding supremely dorky, I really like Elgar. And I have some very, very small opinions on such matters. I also really wanted that disc of the King's College Boys Chorus at the market today, but didn't have £5 on me. Booooo.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I'm back from a great weekend in Paris with the Earlham kids! It was so uber-wonderful to see my close friends again, and I was grateful that they "looked after" me, speaking French so that I wouldn't have to make nasty, pidgeon attempts. The best part is that I have definite plans to see both of them again: one before Christmas in Vienna, the other next spring when he comes back to the UK. It is always, always sad to say goodbye, but so much easier when you know that another visit is already planned. Plus, it has been decided that another dear friend will be coming at the end of January...I love that I'm not even being allowed to get homesick between visits from friends! This friend gives absolutely the best hugs of anyone I know, something I'm looking forward to in the land-of-no-hugs.

In some ways, though, it was a bit odd this weekend. I loved seeing my friends, hanging with the Earlhamites, etc., but I did realize two things. 1) I've adapted fairly well to being out of undergrad. I think my situation has really made the distinction between undergrads and former undergrads very clear. I was sad to graduate from Earlham, but it really was time for me to move on. Don't get me wrong, I love being a "kid" again, but I can simultaneously feel the distance from those days.

2) I realize how well I've adapted to life in London over just the last couple of weeks. I think that the turning point was sometime after Muppet stopped through London the second time. It was sort of a realization that this is my life now, that I can't simply keep turning to old friends, but that I had to find a community here in which to belong if I was ever going to be happy and sucessful in this degree. I feel like I've done that recently, which is so amazingly wonderful. At the same time, it felt a little weird to be going "back" to Earlham...a chapter of my life that I feel like I've been able to bring closure to in recent days. I'm lucky, I think, because I've got another community to take EC's place.

Alright. Enough of that. Paris rocked! It snowed when we were atop the Eiffel Tower and then even more the next day at Versailles. Actually, we'd gotten to the glassed in part of the top of the Eiffel Tower and noticed this gigantic cloud coming at us from one direction. We ran upstairs (outside) to see the view before it was obscured and then waited in the freezing cold until the cloud surrounded us and started snowing! You couldn't even see the ground at that point, but it was so much fun to be that high and right in the middle of the snow!

The "Cloud of Justice" moves in....

Afterwards, though, there was a fantastic light. You could even see the Tower's shadow on the dense air. This was my favorite:
And we even managed a 45 minute trip to the Louvre, on free night. It worked because I only wanted to see four things, all in the Mesopotamia gallery that had been closed the last time that I went to the museum. So, check these off: the victory stele of Narum-Sin, the lamashu from Persia, Gudea's statues, and the Code of Hammurabi! I was a very happy puppy! Still could have spent longer, but I'm totally spoiled by Britain's free museums.

The next day was the Earlham class trip to Versailles. Two people took turns translating for me, which was great. The Hall of Mirrors was completely covered this time for the renovation, instead of only half as it was last Christmas. At least I wasn't disappointed because I knew what to expect. Afterwards, there was a massive snowball fight in the gardens and a snowman was built. Please meet Francoise Pierre Escargot le Premier and a bunch of Earlhamites:
Evan awesomer were all the tourists who stopped to take a picture of him, too. And the fact that one of the builders actually had a carrot with her, in her bag. Randomness! That night we went to vespers in Notre Dame, which was beautiful and smelled nice.

I'm going to give props (unsurprisingly) to French food. There were crepes, Senegalese food, Vietnamese, cheese, baguettes, and putin (the Quebec "specialty," according to my favorite Canadian)...all of which were great. Oh, and pan au chocolat. Yum! I don't think I've eaten more food since I've been in Europe, these past months. Needless to say, I brought back cheese, chocolate, and wine. And, in the wine department, yay for finding Chinon, which I really liked at Christmas but haven't been able to find anywhere in the US or the UK since then. Sunday, after doing this grocery shopping and having a cold picnic with the girl I stayed with, I met up with friends at Sacre Coeur. Their service involved singing nuns, which was so beautiful. I loved wandering Paris with such good friends, especially when the French people made fun of us for taking a photo under the hammer and sickle that make up the Aeroflot logo:
Oh, guys, you made me laugh so hard!

No worries, though, I still love London best.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I guess its time for one of those posts. I've called my grandma and my godparents and my best friend (because her birthday is this weekend), but lots of other good things have happened that I think should be noted. And because tomorrow/today is thanksgiving! I'm still hoping that a pumpkin pie will materialize somehow, but I'm also off to France tomorrow to see the Earlham kids!

1) My review of Coram Boy is being published in next week's edition of the LSE Beaver. Apparently there was some editing, so we shall see.

2) I was by-elected to be a Model UN Officer for the LSE United Nations society (we're combined with the UK-UNYA branch). And the Beijing conference sounds like a better and better idea.

3) The plans for Duchie coming to visit are sounding firmer and firmer. Can I emphasize enough the YAAAAAY!!!ness of this? I miss my best friend!

4) I went tea shopping today at the tiny Twinings store on the Strand. I can't believe that I hadn't purchased any of my favorite vanilla tea before this! I also bought some loose tea, a tea strainer and rose tea in bags. And then I had to get a National Theatre mug from...the National Theatre. Juliana will be proud. She's a tea snob and has issues with teabags.

5) Everyone sounded great in the phonecalls, especially grandma. My godparents are relived that this can be a happy holiday and Duchie's (evil) cat is likely to hide under the beds upstairs all day tomorrow to get away from her young cousin.

6) I feel like I belong here. I'm so lucky to have had this opportunity (although, obviously, I would give it up in an instant for the alternative). I do miss my Mommy and Daddy, no matter how it seems.

7) I bought an orange for lunch today that was so big I couldn't physically finish it. I really like that fruit stand right outside Temple Station and it seems to be the only way to ensure that I have fruits and/or vegetables in my diet.

8) My tutor liked the dissertation topic. By the end of our chat, I think he was even excited about it.

9) My International Criminal Law seminar is absolutely great! Its taught by a barrister [ed. shut up, Juliana!] who specializes in this area and he's just really engaging and gets everyone involved in discussion. I asked one of my classmates later where she'd gone to law school and she asked me the same question. She seemed shocked that I'd know enough about law to keep up after only undergrad. I really liked that! Also, she went to Oberlin undergrad and had, therefore, heard of Earlham.

10) I might have a bank account someday soon. Then I can work on moving out!

I think that's what I can think of right now. Must read about Rwanda. Le sigh.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Well, I'm back from Cambridge, where we had a Model UN. Can I just say that I loved wandering around Cambridge and that it's a really cute market city and the various colleges are just amazing? I can't wait to go back (preferably in the spring when its not as cold)! On the other hand I'm going to rank the conferences as the worst one I've ever been to, personally. I'd say it was mostly because of our chairs, who decided to completely ignore the rules of parliamentary procedure. I'll admit to being quite good at manipulating parliamentary procedure and it makes things really awful when those rules are ignored. Plus, they used them to arbitrarily limit debate in ways that were really frustrating. Other than the chairs and the sort of overall disorganization at the conference, I had a great time meeting new people from around the country (and some of the international delegations), plus getting to know the LSE group. Seriously, in my old age I've started to cherish the non-conference parts of these things more and more. :-) Next up will be LIMUN in February, maybe NAMUN if I can convince LSE to go or decide to go by myself (although that's a lot of class to miss). And there's WorldMUN to think about in Bejing. Anyway, here are some photos from the tourist parts of the trip:

Kings from the Backs (literally, along the River Cam). The Chapel is amazing and going inside is a priority for that next trip!

This is the oldest bridge across the Cam and its part of Clare College. The Cam is beautiful and there were people punting along it, even now!

We also "snuck" inside Trinity Hall College to find Newton's apple tree, which Ghalib knew was still there. I honestly thought that story about the apple falling on his head was an urban myth, but apparently not! I'm telling you, these places make you want to do a PhD even more!

Anyway, back to the reading, since I've got a group presentation meeting tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fingers crossed...

I'm not trying to get anyone's hopes up too high, but I might have found a flat. It's somewhere on Tower Bridge Road (which is fairly long, so I can't be sure where the flat is, but is also less than a block west of me), which would mean getting to stay on the South Bank. This area's got fantastic transportation links and I am unwilling to leave the South Bank (or even to move too far inland). Call me stubborn, but I'd rather stay in Butlers Wharf than move too far away from this area that I love. Of course, if someone wanted me to be closer to school and the National, I wouldn't object....

Saw The Constant Gardener tonight with coursemates. Anyone (Diana) remember how I was after Hotel Rwanda? That's seriously how some of them were after this movie. I was slightly bored and annoyed that they changed so many things from the book. Am I totally callous? Perhaps. I feel bad not being more affected, but I think that knowing it was a novelization really sort of ruined it. (Although Isadore said that everything was true later, and he's worked in the areas of Kenya featured.) Afterwards people needed to debrief and we ended up trying to figure out what made us "special" from other people (which in some ways really reflects the smugness of human rights activists that Conor mentioned in his Hamlyn Lecture last week). Some of us could identify a trigger moment, others couldn't. Me, I think it was getting to know people who had actually lived through things that had threatened their human rights, making me aware in a way that a girl from Indiana probably couldn't have experienced herself. (Did that sentence make any sense?) It was nice to sit and chat, but in some ways I felt less human rightsy than everyone else and feel sort of like the POLS major amongst PAGS majors that I am at heart. Plus, some people are reading things for class that depress them because of the factual events they deal with. What a revalation! My readings are all theory, which I love, but I do forget that these things need to be applied. Or do they? I can understand how the "who cares if HR have a foundation; isn't it enough to know that I think they exist" viewpoint makes so much sense to the people who will be doing HR work in the field, where theory doesn't matter. Me, I still need more. Did I discuss Koskennemi's view? Because I should if I haven't already.

Finally, I did a practice LSAT today. Not so great. I bombed RC (the heck?) and one of the logical reasoning sections. They were the first two sections, so I wonder if it just took my brain awhile to get into it. Next time, I'll warm up a little. I am happy to note that I rocked the games! Knock on wood, but I got through all but two of the questions in the 35 minutes (which is HUGE for me...I'd been getting about half to two-thirds done) and all of those were right! If only I can put together the whole package in a couple of weeks.... Wish me luck! Oh, and I poked around Paperchase for Duchie's birthday present (she assures me that I don't need to think of something other than their notebooks for presents) and found a little one for myself, for thoughts related to my dissertation. It's this: The little one, but in black and with colored pages Obviously, I'm not telling what else I picked out. ;-) I love Paperchase. I wish they had stores in the US, but those of you who are massively jealous can also get their stuff at Border's.

Monday, November 14, 2005

One other note...

Before you think that I'm a freak for seeing Coram Boy again, consider the fact that I spent seven hours straight studying in the NT's lobby today. I think that's what qualifies me as a freak.

It's getting bad when practicing for the LSATs qualifies as a fun break.

Speaking of which, this weekend's class. I do think that they did a good job. I think that most things I had gotten, at least in part, from the Powerscore books. It was nice to figure out that fact, though. What cracked me up more than anything was one of the fellow students. He was probably late 20s, early 30s, makes more money than he knows what to do with (let's discuss the casual mention of multiple homes, cars and motorcycles) and was at least three of me in size. Such the UGLY AMERICAN! New Yorker through and through, also very Jewish, kinda skeezy, convinced of his own correctness. Think Jersey mob and I think you're there. Anyway, the guy (and his girlfriend, of course) have been in London for a year, since he was sent by wealthy investment company and HATES it. (WTF? How can you hate London?) All he wants to do is go back to New York.

I think this story is illustrative. He asked where I lived, since we were the only two from London. I don't expect people to really know what I mean when I say I live at Tower Hill Tube (we talk in tube stations if we really don't want to get into the details), but when I say that I live across from the Tower of London and next to Tower Bridge and still get stares, I'm worried. Especially from people who've been here for any length of time. No wonder the guy hates it: he hasn't seen any of it! I was flabberghasted that someone could live here so long and a) not fall in love with the city and b) not see any of it outside of home, the office and the pub. Oh, and Covent Garden...because its the only place to get a decent sandwich. The hell?

I wrote a whole rant on this once, but wisely have left it on my harddrive and nowhere else.

*End rant*

Hi Choir!

A bit shout-out to all the Coram Boys and Girls who keep stumbling across the blog. You guys are amazing, really! I have a new rule of not going unless with someone else, but my friend Libby turned to me tonight and whispered (after the Messiah at the end): "Can you imagine singing this every night?" And, yes, she was totally speechless afterwards. The choir and the entire company rock!

I can't imagine the show would get good reviews, but best of luck tomorrow night. As we used to say in high school: Break some legs, but not your own! If there's any luck, my review will get published in the LSE paper, The Beaver. And, yes, I'll note that there are factual "issues," if the editor gives me a chance to make some changes. Also, there's no more Hallelujah chorus, any longer, and that was kind of a major thing in the review.

So, yeah. I wanted to respond because none of you leave e-mail addresses! (Can't blame you, really!) Thanks and keep up the great performances!

Friday, November 11, 2005


There's been the most amazing and wonderful news I could ever have hoped for from home:
teb's page
Some of you may remember that my (god)sister Tricia has been battling cancer since May.

I just can't stop crying right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

This is a post on acadmic have been warned.

I have two major topics to discuss this evening. Both may be "intellectual masturbation," as someone referred to the lecture we were supposed to read by Derreda for class today. (Did I spell that correctly? Does that reflect badly on my lack-of-finishing the article and not really getting it, other than thinking that he was actually probably doing some basic concepts under all that french?)

1) Foundations of Human Rights
Conor, our program leader, gave one of the Hamlyn Lecture tonight, entitled "A Crisis of Authority; Can Human Rights Survive?" In it, he talked a great deal about how the traditional foundations of HR are crap, how they're largely irrelevant to our current conceptions and not really the best place to start if we think that these things are important. Which I'm totally good with; I'm here mostly because I wasn't satisfied with the things that everyone seemed to be pointing at as the basis of human rigths. In the end, however, Conor (like Professor Klug last week) sort of decided that we didn't really need to know or even to pretend to have a foundation for human rights. He returned to Rorty's idea that human rights are superstitions and noted that superstitions are not necessarily untrue and may be entirely true. Klug, last week, basically told us that we didn't need to know the origins as long as we could tell other people that "this is what I believe. If you want to know why these values are important, look around you." I'm really not happy with these explanations. I can believe that human rights are important just because I think they are, but I can't believe that this is an arguement that I could use on anyone who wasn't already predisposed to believe in the concepts. I'm rather practical and I'm not sure that such a theory is useful. As my coursemates noted afterwards, I'm either too much into the theory or too much of a positivist. Maybe both are right.

2) New Thesis Idea
Did I mention the last one on here? If not, good. If so, ignore, it was kind of crap and didn't actually have anything to do with human rights.

So, the new idea comes out of the discussions that we've been having about pirates in classes (same professor in both and he's currently very interested in the metaphor that the pirate can represent in current society). In LL423, we talked about how pirates could be defined as people who are both a) outside the international legal system and b) nevertheless subject to the political decisons that the international order makes and universal jurisdiction. And, then, I was thinking, well isn't that how we practically define stateless persons? And, come to think of it, why do we think it's ok to treat the stateless (who may be stateless through no fault of their own) as criminals? Who protects their human rights if states are the bodies charged with protecting human rights? So, I think I'd like to examine this intersection between criminalization and statelessness and, perhaps, try to come up with a new framework for thinking about statelessness that doesn't make stateless persons on par with criminals.

And interesting side-idea would be the transition from "pirate" to sovereignty. Gerry (said pirate professor) said that it has happened, in history, that pirates would become respectable and found states. So, is this process similar from the formation of states by former "terrorists?" When do those states stop being outlaws and become members of the international community? How? I'm thinking about the KLA and the fomer PLO, but....

Yeah, that's enough for now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Awww, cwrap!

So, I went to see Coram Boy again and it was just as wonderful, although not quite as scary this time. Now I've got the Messiah stuck in my head and one of those funks whereby I wish I could sing/dance/act/be involved in theatre RIGHT NOW! I'm going to have to move back to London someday, if only for the National. In the meantime I sulk, so send me suggestions for getting out of it.

Also did work all day at NT. Gah, that one article took me hours. And I've got more to do now before a group meeting tomorrow. Oh, and I bought my tickets for Paris...then realized it might not have been my best idea ever. Ooops. Oh, well, there can't be another two weeks of rioting, right? As the French are probably saying: le shit!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Christmas plans!


I've got a plan and tickets for the first part of break!

Dec. 13: Fly to Salzburg, Austria

at some point visit Vienna, also Austria

move on to Bratislava, Slovakia

Dec. 23: Fly back to London

I'm SOOOOO excited!!

Excuse me while I go e-mail Megan with this great news...she's Slovakian, after all. And her dad's an honorary consul, don't you know?

Guy Fawkes Night

...was yesterday. There were great fireworks in Battersea Park, where I went with some of the others from my course. Also, a huge bonfire, but no burning of Guy Fawkes in effegy. I was saddened by this last point; how can you not burn Guy Fawkes, I ask?!? First of all, I was very much looking forward to the bad-assness associated with my first effegy burning. And, I know from a close reading of the assorted adventures of Paddington Bear that burning the Guy (especially if he's wearing Mr. Curry's old clothes) is absolutely essential!

I've heard that the fireworks on Bankside (shot off from Millenium Bridge) were also great. Which leads to the part of the story where I might be joining the College Democrats after all. Basically, here, it's a bunch of cool Americans who hang out with each other. Given that half of my friends are already members, I might as well, right? Yup.

I'm not up for another extensive review but I went to the matinee performance of Pillars of the Community on Saturday (wanted to see Coram Boy again, but it would have involved missing the fireworks). It's Ibsen and one of those talky-dramas that I protested against at the end of the last review. Silly me. It was also excellent! They kept the tension high throughout and made some great points about community, leadership, the role of women, and America (their word, not mine)/the promise of the New World that were just as relevant today as when Ibsen wrote them. The old gentleman who was behind me in the day seats line said that he was finished with Ibsen, "because everyone always has flaws and when you get to be my age they just seem too much like a biography of your own life." I could sort of see his point, although very little of my life has looked like that so far. Anyway, excellent acting, odd set choices, and a crowd that made 60 seem young. Ahhh, that was a long line to turn in the hearing aid things as I left!

My main purpose in going on Saturday was to give myself a chance to take a practice LSAT all the way through (those suckers take a TON of time). Good results, I'd say. Didn't get through all the Logic Games (le sigh), but rocked out with Reading Comp. and have made massive improvements in Logical Reasoning since the last time I took this test. Still can't do the parallel logic ones to save my life, though. Blech. However, if I did as well as I did on Saturday, I'd be a happy camper. I'm signed up for a weekend course next Saturday and Sunday.

There are also secret plans in the works for the evening of November 30. They're dorky and involve singing to a very special Englishman. Heh. Girl's night out!!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mish Da. Mish Ma.

(scroll down quite a ways for the review of Coram Boy...sorry)

Hi everyone! *waves* Remember me?

When last we saw our intrepid heroine, she had just returned from LDYS conference, where, frankly, a great time was had by all. Lincoln is a pretty neat town and I enjoyed my half day of roaming (sleeping bag in hand, I might add). The Cathedral had some great glass (although one of the rose windows was covered over for restoration) and I especially loved the serviceman's chapels. I maintain that the British are brilliant at commemorating wars (with special emphasis on the horrors thereof) and that we should take a lesson from their example. I'm really looking forward to Armistace Day and Remembrance Sunday to take part. People are already starting to wear their poppies. Ooops, I digress. Lincoln Castle is really walls with a Victorian prison and court inside. I like walls, though, and climbed up a rather tall tower to take pictures. However, my acrophobia failed me when it came to the walls themselves and I didn't venture further. Prisons are creepy and I loved reading for subtext in the exhibit that accompanies Lincoln's copy of the Magna Carta. Ahhh, a photo:

Lincoln Cathedral from aforementioned scary tower.

Did I mention that I was a bit disappointed because Lincolnshire is very flat and I like my English countryside green and hilly? I say flat, but there's this...mountain...that one has to climb to get up to the Cathedral and Castle (my Rough Guide says the downhill is reserved for, no joke, the proletariat):

The name of this street? Steep Hill. Heh. Snark.

Oh, and did I mention that they filmed parts of the upcoming Davinci Code movie in Lincoln Cathedral after being denied access to Westminster Abbey? Totally had me fooled with the "wall paintings" that turned out to be reproductions painted on canvas. Booooooo!

But, conference itself was also great. I saw Ryan and Heather again (yay!) and made new friends, was helpful in the kitchen and by moving for closure of debates whenever it seemed necessary (also got the WTF do you mean, "closure of debate" look a couple of times...stilly MUN language), helped rewrite a policy motion that never got debated and slept (rather well, oddly enough) under a table in a church hall. Seriously, though, it was great! I really wish I were here for longer so I could get more involved with LDYS. Came back Monday and had a great time with my random seatmates...there was much innuendo and we'd only just met eachother. Le sigh. Does it say anything about the journey when I tell you that I was supposed to be on the 11:02 train but ended up on the 8:30 am that was still sitting at the station when I got to Newark. (Oh, insert your own joke about having to change trains at Newark. I certainly have.)

This week, other than the little hissy fit about housing that I made partially better by cleaning my room, has been better than the last one. Oddly enough, by not doing any work all weekend, I seem to have done a better job on doing the readings for the week that's just finished. I'm rather proud, really. I didn't get through everything on time, but got a whole lot closer. International Law makes me want to cry because none of the conceptual stuff is sinking in and I feel dumb when people ask very brainy, complicated questions that I barely understand. I'm going to make sure that I do all the reading for next week and then talk to one of the profs. if I'm still feeling the same way. Also, we talked about pirates in International Criminal Law today. Our response? We kept making pirate noises to eachother. Aaaaaargh! I wish I'd dressed up for it.

One part of Joyce's "Nose to the Grindstone Week" was a day and a half spent at the National Theatre. Yesterday I was there from 1:30 until a show at 7:30, but was amazingly productive. I decided to give myself something to look forward to (not to mention a reason why I wasn't allowed to go home) by buying a ticket for the first preview of Coram Boy, because, frankly, nothing else was even remotely appealing. The verdict? OMG!!! It was absolutely amazing! However, since that analysis is not all that complete, I give you my official review. I wrote this, hopefully, for the Beaver (it's already been sent to the editor). I knew that he had given tickets to someone to do it, but I a) wanted to think about the experience and b) not let anyone else say something potentially bad about this amazing work. It would be cool to get published. It was also a great brain exercise. I'm not used to having to think that hard about the theatre I see, but I really enjoyed doing so. The title of this post is from the play, from Meshak, a character who I'm finding more and more interesting (both in the tragic and amazing senses) as time goes on. Right, to the review (and I'd love feedback on this!):

Coram Boy, Royal National Theatre
I’m afraid that I associate Handel’s Messiah with memories of a high school auditorium, somewhere in Indiana. I remember it lasting for a very long time and I remember the seats squeaking and the coats rustling as the audience reluctantly shuffled to their feet for the Hallelujah Chorus. For tonight’s rendition, however, I would have leapt to a standing position, had Coram Boy not just knocked me off my feet.

Coram Boy, now playing in the Royal National Theatre’s Olivier Theatre, is adapted from the book of the same name by Jamila Gavin and follows upon the His Dark Materials tradition of bringing modern “classics” of young adult literature to the National’s stage. In an effort to associate the new play with the success of the past, the posters for the play and the front cover of the book itself are both plastered with praise from Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Frankly, it’s unnecessary; this work can and will be a raging success entirely on its own.

The plot of the play follows two major threads. First comes the story of Alexander Ashbrook (Anna Madeley and, later, Bertie Carvel), a young, noble, would-be composer. The other follows the so-called Coram Man, Otis Gardiner (Paul Ritter), a child slave dealer who turns a tremendous profit by promising desperate, young single mothers that their infants will be taken to Thomas Coram’s new Foundling Hospital in London. Infanticide, burials in the woods and dead babies (both with and without flesh on their bones) follow. The lives of our characters intertwine as we move between eighteenth century society’s darkest secrets and its shining achievements. Overseeing it all are Otis’ son Meshak (Jack Tarlton)—a dim-witted, scarred young man who proves himself capable of incredible acts of love—and the Gloucester Cathedral angel (Justine Mitchell) whom he worships.

The first act is both long and dark (although I suspect that the length will be tightened as the show’s run goes on). Nevertheless, the its events provide the vehicle for a tremendous showcase of talent. Ritter does a fantastic job with Otis, one of the play’s most interesting characters. He swings from promising young mothers that he will take care of their infants to burying the children in the woods in the next scene and is utterly believable in both cases. Abby Ford, as Alexander’s friend and fellow choirboy, has managed to capture the essence of a young teenage boy (all of the children, male or female, are played by girls in this production). It has been a very long time since I left an auditorium at the intermission feeling both disoriented and desperate for the second act.

The National Theatre’s promotional materials for Coram Boy state that this is a “tale of two orphans.” I would beg to disagree. The orphans in question don’t appear until the second act, when we are transported to London, eight years after the end of the first act. They’re also not particularly interesting, other than as metaphors for the deeper themes with which the play is so obsessed. This does not, I should add, preclude some great performances from Akiya Henry as Toby (a young black boy rescued from, and then practically returned to, slavery) and Anna Madeley (who happily reappears after being replaced by a “grown-up” version of Alexander) as Aaron.

There are some delightful moments and significant character developments, but the rather blah-ness of these two central characters in the second act is a bit typical. The first act left us emotionally raw. The much shorter second was left with the task of tying up loose ends and quickly making way for a happy ending that, yes, does portray the first performance of the ‘Messiah’ (Handel was one of the patrons of the Foundling Hospital and it was first performed in the Hospital’s chapel). I won’t say more, but I’m pretty sure that the tears onstage were just as genuine as those in the audience.

The performance that I attended was, in fact, the first preview and (hee!) the unofficial world premiere of Coram Boy. Understandably, there were kinks, most notably in missing costumes, but I don’t think that this detracted at all from the overall quality of the play. The set made use of the Olivier’s massive drum revolve [ed. that's like a normal revolve, except that it can also go up and down at the same time] and very simple furniture shifts to distinguish between scenes that ran from one to the next. Always present, however, is a pipe organ. It’s a constant reminder of both Meshak’s angel and the music that plays such an important role in both the story and the production. But, in general, the designers have used simple settings and lighting to great effect: it wasn’t until later reflection that I even realized that the sets had remained fairly constant throughout.

It is clear from the timing and the extra-reasonable £16 children’s tickets that Coram Boy is the National’s yearly answer to the pantomime. But don’t be deceived. This is a play that wallows in grown-up themes, ranging from poverty and infanticide to slavery and human trafficking. I suppose that what makes it a “children’s play” is the fact that Coram Boy has placed such a strong emphasis on storytelling, somewhat of a welcome break from pretentiously wordy, one-set dramas. This is an epic, produced on an epic scale and dealing with themes that are as relevant in our 21st century world as they were in 18th century England.

Anyone still there?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Back from Lincoln. It was lovely and I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to be with large groups of Lib Dems. Makes the flat seem even worse by comparison. I'm starting to think of moving out at the end of Lent Term...since I've only paid through the end of this term.

More on conference later?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just a quick one

Because I've been ordered to bed. But, a note of things:

1) Off tomorrow morning to Lib Dem Youth & Students conference in Lincoln. I think much of this has to do with the chance to see Ryan again, explore someplace new and get out of London for a few days. This city gets to be a bit much after awhile (for all that I do love it). Let's hope I'm not too old!

2) Duchie's show at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre opens (for the public who aren't high school students) tomorrow! Silly me thought it was tonight, so I called to tell her to break a leg (but not her own). We talked for an hour, so it's probably good that it didn't open tonight! Anyway....go Duchess! And if you're in Indy, go see the Crucible! Also, the post-New Year's trip might be working out!

3) Went to a concert tonight at Queen Elizabeth Hall with a group from my course (Marjorie, who taught my British music class on the London program, would be so proud). It was by the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment. I mostly went to be social and was sort of meh about the idea of music, but it turned out to be fantastic and so much fun! The musicans were all really enjoying themselves, the music, and playing together and I think that had a big impact on the mood of the audience. Anyway, I'm at the point of being up for another evening (probably a good thing, since we may have just formed a mini-cultural event group)! Did I mention that the tickets were £4 and there were free drinks afterwards? Woot for student discount schemes!

4) I'm sure there's more, but I have to pack for tomorrow and pack myself off to bed!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Have just gotten the news that I'm going to be able to review the show at the Donmar that I wanted to see, "The God of Hell." On the other hand, I don't think I have the first clue what I'm doing (having not written a serious review since journalism class at NCHS). Anyone? Anyone? Ack. Suggestions will be welcome!


Wait, does Will's promotion mean that Donna might come back? Because thinking that we may have seen the last of her would really be too much. Or maybe she'll get hired on with the Santos campaign, now that everyone's been fired! More Donna! More cowbell!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here Today

This week's West Wing, anyone? I didn't quite cry, but there was significant mistyness. I don't want to spoil things for anyone who hasn't watched, but so awful and so painful to see that exit. Confrontations between those two are never good and always uncomfortable, but knowing that this was the last one and that things would never get patched up made it ten times worse. And the realization that only one of the original cast that I loved so much is really left in the White House(I want to qualify that statement by saying that the President doesn't count and Charlie's in a new role).... I'm going to be so utterly destroyed when this show goes off the air.

I really need to watch some old episodes. But not now. There's reading to do.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Don't Mind My Moaning.

I reeeeeeeeeeally need to go to bed. But, it's just past 2:30 this morning and I'm burdened with the knowledge that I've got loads of reading to get done. If I could just finish this one article, I'd be happy. There's a book excerpt, too, but the photocopy that someone gave me only has every two pages on it (didn't notice it was copied on both sides, eh?). That's the reading for SO424 on Thursday, too, so I'll try to do it by then. (And, for some reason I seem to be a week ahead (more or less) on all the reading for that class, even though I'm not, because everyone seems to be trying to get it done for the seminar held the next week, rather than for the lecture.) I-Law's reading is going to kick my ass tomorrow if I don't find some serious time to be reading...I think one of those articles is 80 pages long. Shite. But, there's a lecture at 1:15, office hours to go to, a LIMUN meeting at 4 at SOAS (and, yeah, I don't actually know where that is, other than Russell Square). I suspect that going to debate club this week might just be a bit of a pipe dream. On the other hand, I always feel charged's like a brain workout. We'll see.

I'm going to Lincoln this weekend for Lib Dem Youth & Student's conference. It's probably against my better judgement, but I'm really excited to see Ryan again and I'm reading for a break from London. This will, of course, be followed by Model UN at Oxford the next week. Eeeash. I wish I didn't have such an overactive guilt complex sometimes. Or just a better work ethic. I'm going to have to start hiding my ethernet cable. Or does someone want to find a program whereby I can lock myself out of the internet for periods of time.

I also noticed that it's 38 days until it's time to retake the LSATs. Now that that date is approaching, I'm starting to wonder why I was so committed to retaking them. I'm not going to be some crazy person who spends 8 hours a day taking practice exams and reviewing them (although I acknowledge that it would probably help my scores) and I haven't taken a class (which was my original reason for the retake). How much better will I really do? and where do I really want to go that didn't already admit me with the old score (*waves at the WCL people*)? Maybe its just that law school feels really, really far away right now (both geographically and temporally) and so the whole process feels weird and slightly pointless. I'm also in an academic environment where people have already done their law degrees, so they're not thinking about "going to law school" in the sense that we would as undergrads.

Other travel plans: Cambridge Model UN & a trip to Paris to see Muppet and the Earlhamites. (Note: saw the Muppet today on his way through London and I was so much happier for it!) Other ideas? I've discovered that train tickets around Britain are butt cheap if you plan in advance! Also, I now own a sleeping bag and am hoping to get my money's worth out of it!

No more rants, back to that article!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ID Cards

Now that the part that has to happen in the Commons appears to be over, would I be safe in wondering what the big deal was about introducing ID cards in Britain? Maybe I'm just so used to having to carry a form of government id (which I use mostly in place of signing my credit cards and, most recently, as proof of address to get my reader's card at the British Library), that I'm blown away by the idea of an entire country walking around without any way to prove their identity. Mostly, I'm not thinking in a police way, but this is a country in which credit card fraud is MASSIVE...wouldn't a little photo identification have helped? Being American, of course, I can barely fathom the idea of leaving the house WITHOUT my little driver's license. Also, if people in this country think that their government doesn't already have all of that data on file, then I'm surprised. Doesn't the NHS already know all about your health records? What's more personal than that? And your address, length of residence, phone number, etc. are all available on the voting register. And you've probably told at least one of the parties your voting preference. And if students are now required to show id before going into a party at the union, then wouldn't some offical proof of age be handy? Anyway. I do know that a majority of only 25 is pretty significant.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Did I mention that I love my site statistics?

I think I had my first non-English browser visit, so welcome person reading in Chinese at the LSE.

Also to the person who googled "oyster card".

I get occasional visits from people who look for stuff about William Kristol and the pie-ing incident at Earlham (one of my very early posts, as I recall).

And to my anonymous stalkers in Singapore, the Netherlands, Craigville (IN) and Plano (TX), welcome as well.

I'm feeling rather magnanimous this evening. And I went to debate society practice. We'll see, but voluntarily spending time debating with Tories and economists could probably only do good things for my ability to defend human rights in the real world. Plus, it's so easy to forget that there are views that exist outside of my sphere of human rights students and international lawyers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Dude, I figured it out...why you just can't get enough of that West Wing-y goodness. Because Aaron Sorkin writing is brain crack. No, I'm serious. I used to watch West Wing to make my brain go into writing mode and I had the same intellectual "high" tonight after going to see A Few Good Men in the West End. Alas, I don't have any papers to write for class, so this'll have to do (even if the buzzzzz is fading and I'm starting to feel guilty that I'm not working on the article I have to help discuss in tomorrow's seminar).

Basically, after the UN Society AGM I wandered down to Haymarket to get a ticket for tonight, getting absolutely soaked in the process. Even the concessions are £20, but sometimes you just suck it up and I've gotten nowhere near spending my theatre "budget" (yes, it had its own column on the spreadsheet). You may remember that I mentioned that Rob Lowe is starring as the lead attorney (the ewwww, shudder Tom Cruise character in the movie, if I remember correctly) and I've now completely forgiven him for that haircut in the ill-fated tv show Lyon's Den (don't ask me what it was about...I was too upset by the shaggy haircut in the promos to even think about watching...this was a big thing. Ask Diana if you don't believe me). Can their be a match more perfectly suited to the stage than Sorkin writing and Lowe speaking? I THINK NOT!

*Joyce watches as her inner fangirl escapes and goes skipping about the room.*

Actually though, almost all the performances were excellent, not just his. The lead prosector was someone who I'd seen in shows at the National (and, Duchie, was the one by who's range you were really impressed in De-Lovely). Lead female chick was really getting on my nerves, though. I HATE it when people can't quite pull off the American accent (as if I'm one to speak...I could never get a British accent well enough to perform it in front of people) and she totally couldn't. That wouldn't be such a big deal, except that it's Sorkin, and he writes for a very specific speech pattern/cadence that's probably hard for even the ordinary American to pull off without practice. And if you just can't get the speech patterns, then you're pretty much sunk and you lose a whole lot of what makes him such a great writer. Anyway, she's some British tv person and it was reeeeeeally obvious that she hadn't spent much time onstage.

And, sigh, Rob Lowe. I got my program signed afterwards (the man's so unassuming, I was almost shocked when he came out and seemed...normal (if people from Dayton can be normal)) and I may have to find a friend to go with again so that I can get a picture taken and not seem like tooooo much of a stalker. Oh, and I skipped random lecture to go tonight. I needed the break and after a reflection it seemed to weird to spend quality time with the director of the LLM program in Galway that I skipped in favour of the LSE.

Classes continue. I'm annoyed that my seminar for SO424 will never, ever end on time and I'm always going to be late for the LL423 lecture that's immediately afterwards. The main problem is that I've yet to be in an LSE classroom that has enough chairs for everyone and being late is going to mean spending the next two terms sitting in the corner on the floor for lecture. Blech. I interviewed for Spanish placement, as well, today and distinguished myself by the recognition that I've completely forgotten all that I once knew (little though it was) and my complete inability to conjugate in the past tense. Oh sigh. I still think I'm going to take the classes, even though my Thursdays are starting to seem really full. You know, a whole three hours of class and all. Also, that seminar may have helped cast some light on what I'm doing here. I think I'm the token red-stater in the MSc Human Rights. Yeah, you know how in touch I am with middle America. (See, that was irony, but I probably am more in "touch" than anyone else around.)

So back to the brain crack. I want more! (This, of course, being the problem with addictive substances.) A big part of me wishes I got that same buzz from school. Don't get me wrong, this stuff's exciting (even if Theory of I-Law makes my head go all hurty when they use words I don't understand), but it's a different kind of buzz and an embryonic one at this point in the year. But, never fear, Conor's doing the lecture in SO424 tomorrow and he's his very own sort of addiction. :-)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Jeffrey Sachs

I know everyone's going to get tired of me blogging all the time (after the week of radio silence, I've come back with quite a bit of a bang), but I wanted to make a quick mention of the lecture I went to tonight with some students from the development courses. We saw Jeffrey Sachs speak on the theme of ending global poverty in St. Paul's Cathedral. He spoke without notes, which gives me the more than vague impression that we were treated to an incarnation of his stump speech on the topic. Nevertheless, it was fascinating.

I'm sure some of you (who don't happen to be in Niger, although she'd be the biggest expert) have heard his ideas on the subject (although with his status as a policy developer for the UN and states around the world, I'm not sure that they're simply ideas). They can be summed up: 1) A ridiculous number of people around the world live in extreme poverty (I'm sure that's not news to anyone); 2) It isn't their fault (and it's not really even the fault of the governments that may or may not be corruptish...that's a myth that the US and other global financial institutions need to get over); 3) extreme poverty is very much a problem of environmental constraints (the countries are landlocked, have problems with droughts, and are afflicted by really nasty amounts of malaria); 4) these are all really easy problems to fix (built infrastructure; make better seeds, fertilizer, and water management technology available; give out mosquito netting and use new anti-malarial drugs); 5) it won't cost any more than the 0.7% that the West keeps promising Africa every year (and then fails to deliver).

One of the other speakers, Hilary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for International Development (and why haven't we gotten ourselves one of those?), pointed out that no one would have predicted that we'd be in a place to push forward with these goals 12 months ago. But, in the past 12 months (often at the urging of the Blair government), the EU, the G8 and international financial institutions have moved forward with plans to increase aid to Africa, forgive debt and begin to help the world's poorest states to develop from the bottom, up.

It was all really cool, especially the part where St. Paul's was absolutely filled (and it's not exactly a small lecture hall, to say the least) and really inspiring. I did revisit my old "what am I doing in London while Juliet actually makes a difference in Niger" doubts, but the Secretary of State made me feel better when he reminded us that what made all of these new developments possible was politics. I might not think that I'm cut out for the political life, but I keep reminding myself that my undergraduate study is not inconsequential. I think my time as a politics student and as a pragmatist among hippies means that I'm in a great place to understand how to make great changes happen through the workings of government. I've always thought that governments can be and are a force for good; it's just nice to be reminded of the great things they can do when there's enough political will in place.

Anyway, it was great and I'm just a bit happy to live in the coolest city that isn't Indianapolis in the world. Other things that made me happy today: the tulip trees planted outside city hall (they're the Indiana state tree, you know) and the subtle, yet cunning humour in the PowerScore LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible. After reading from the Human Rights Reader for FOUR hours, it was like watching Scrubs or some other tv show that always makes you laugh. Speaking of which...I need to get food that isn't the nutella with a spoon sitting on my desk and keep reading. I've got 90 pages to churn through before lecture at 10 tomorrow. *squinchy face*

Just planning for the day

So, last night I made soup and it was so wonderful (and easy). Yum, veggie soup with tofu and whole wheat pasta. I swear I'm not that big a health food nut; I just didn't want to defrost any chicken. Because after not being a vegetarian all my life and a year and a half of having a no-longer-vegetarian roommate, I'm still slightly scared of cooking meat products. Le sigh.

Anyway, this is mostly for my notes:

1) shower, put on clothes, etc.
2) leave here by 11, walk to the National Theatre
3) do readings for tomorrow's class (also, conveniently, it's the only reading I have left for SO424 as well), for LL423 lecture on Wednesday, continue trying to catch up on LSAT studying (I'm getting there; I did four chapters of my Logical Reasoning Bible yesterday)
4) if my head's not exploding, this would be a good time to go to the Courtald Institute on it's free Monday afternoon
4) got to school. buy books for SO424 & LL423, use library to find articles that weren't located the last time
5) Meet Hannah at 5:25 outside library
6) go to lecture at St. Paul's Cathedral on Global Poverty
7) unscheduled after that.

Sometimes it just helps to write these things down. Tomorrow, I've got class, perhaps a lecture at lunch time and debate society in the evening. Sheesh! There's never a free night!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More photos

Sarah, during our cook-a-thon

I can't believe Muppet convinced me to get the "cheese product." And this boy's been studying in France?

Thames Gateway, from the boat party

On the boat.

The "long" overdue update

I know everyone's been waiting forever for this update. Don't worry I feel the same way. :-)

So, after three weeks in the country, classes finally started! Aaaack! But, seriously, it was almost long enough to forget that I'd come here to go to school and I was getting more than a little restless. My schedule is pretty loose, considering that this is higher ed. I don't have class on Mondays and Fridays this term (next term it will be Mondays and Tuesdays). I've got one seminar on Tuesday and a seminar and a lecture on both Wednesday and Thursdays (note: a seminar is a small group discussion, a lecture is what it sounds like...with the whole class present). It's hard to know how big courses will be right now because so many people spent last week course shopping. Having made that assertion, we do know that our core human rights class will be 80 people, spread between 5 seminars. What is that? 15 each? Math makes my brain go hurty. Let's go shopping! Sorry. I'm back now.

Tuesdays are for Connor Gearty's LL469: Theory, History and Practice of Human Rights. It sounds like we're going to spend much of the term (this is a half module) talking about the origins of h.r., the critics of h.r. theory and some of the discrepancies between h.r. theory and practice in the modern world. It should be really good and Connor (despite a conversation with Welling, I can't really think of my professors in terms of "Professor Gearty, etc.") is the funniest thing ever! He's a middle aged Irish academic: scrawny, slightly unkept, and lacking absolutely none of that classic Irish charm (except that it's devoted to spreading his passion for human rights). He makes loads of jokes about himself, the Irish, academics and human rights devotees...all categories into which he fits, so the self-depreciation is absolutely delightful! It does, however, make me wonder why everyone seems to be Irish? Connor's also the director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and in charge of our program, so it's not a particularly bad thing to want to be in his classes.

Wednesday lecture is in LL423, International Law: Theory and Practice. My other ideas about I-Law courses were far more "pragmatic" than this one, which is more interested in the theory that shapes international law, its critics and interpretations, but there were a couple of selling points. One major one is that the course is team taught by three people, one of whom, Christine Chinkin, is currently on sabbatical (she'll be back for Lent term). I had really wanted to take the Human Rights of Women course with her, but it isn't offered because of the aforementioned sabbatical and I know that I wasn't the only person who was disappointed. Also, I remember writing in my personal statement that I wanted to use this year to answer my own (mostly) theoretical questions about human rights and i-law, so it's only fair that I do so. Finally, I realize that I can learn the practical stuff in law school (and that it might be the only kind of stuff that I learn) and that I should use this opportunity to understand why and how I want to do the things that I want to do. This might be my last chance to study for the sake of study and I'm going to take advantage of it (although I warn all of you that something about being a grad student makes the idea of a PhD seem even cooler...).

Thursday is for SO424, the core class for the MSc: Foundations and Key Issues in Human Rights. Basically, we have a long series of guest lecturers from throughout the school coming to speak on their particular area of expertise, all related to human rights. And this continues the scary LSE trend of reading the books, then seeing the authors in your courses. Not that that isn't going to happen at every class meeting in LL423, but.... Last class was really for the election of the program's committee. I ran for treasurer, mostly so that I could be remembered by my coursemates, but also because I pride myself on the shiny, multi-colored Excel spreadsheets and skills in looking for cheap airfares (there's a class trip at some point). I lost, but it's not entirely my fault. The other guy has a degree in mathematics from Cambridge and is a chartered accountant. Le sigh.

So that's the classes. I've got loads of reading to fill up all my free time and a secret hideout at the National Theatre (except on matinee days, when it's not so secret and infested with white-haired people). Oh, and I'm doing a Spanish language course, but I have to wait and see where I get placed based on the preliminary assessments. I joined loads of societies at the Fresher's Fair, but only went to one meeting so far. For some reason, they schedule these things during the day and have a knack for coinciding with my few hours of class. Go figure. Time is clear for MUN on Tuesday, and that's the one I really care about.

I've also dispatched the France program kiddos back to Paris. Both Muppet and Sarah arrived on Friday, so I spent much of the day collecting them. And then we went to the grocery store, so they could help me carry stuff back. It was fabulous, especially compared to my last solo attempt (which was awful). Sarah made crepes for dinner and we all trooped off to see Serenity. I think I really need to see it again before passing judgement, although I was most ecstatic over the fact that the theatre was entirely full. Go box office, go! Also, for Irma's amusement: Sarah made an unexpected detour on her way to Chester and ended up in Ellsmereport at 5 in the morning. Don't worry, she made it out alive! Cooking with a bunch of Earlhamites felt like home and I loved it! Bring on the London program or just better friends at the LSE!

Other things that randomly made my day recently: the arrival of my student Oyster card for discounted travel on London's public transportation. I've now got a year pass for the tubes and buses, which involved a significant amount of capital. On the other hand, it's less than one tube journey a day (and that's at current rates...which go up significantly on Jan. 1). Trust me, this will actually save a whole lot of money! Also, falafal sandwiches at Borough market. Sarah and I walked back after we dropped Muppet off at Waterloo and stopped by the market. It was really packed, so we didn't really stay, but got falafal for lunch and ate it as we walked back. Finally, one of my Lib Dem friends was in town for a meeting last night, so we had some time to chat, which was really nice.

I think that's most of what's new!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"Big Damn Heroes!"

Most of you know that I am Lazy Joyce (tm Juliana), although some of you think that I am also bad influence Joyce (tm OCR). I am being lazy just now and posting the photos from the Serenity premiere, instead of more important details about school and stuff. But, grrrrr, the girl that I went with this to (Abby, fellow MSc student, Israeli, very into feminist theory re: Buffy) managed to buy a ticket to go to the screening. I probably would have, too, if the opportunity had presented itself. But, she's more hard-core than I am and I didn't mind all that much. Plus, I'm the one that got one of the massive cardboard posters that they stuck on the barriers. Don't know what I'm going to do with it right now, but I carried it though the LSE library (had to return another book by 9) and I'm not giving up now!



Joss' stylin' footware

Jane Hat!

Cap'n Not-So-Tight-Pants. :-( Heh. Sorry. Been thinkin' of this caption all night...probably the only reason this is getting done in such a timely manner!

Just a note...

I know that I haven't written in over a week. Trust me, it's not because I can't think of anything to say; it's because I can even begin to put into words what this past week has been like. After the initial euphoria, I think I went through a period of the homesick funk. It wasn't particularly pleasant and I'm going to give major props to j00j and Duchie for helping to pull me out. Even bigger props go to Sarah Howell, a France-program Earlhamite who called up and asked to stay here while travelling through London. I didn't know her at all, but she's great and I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have a "friendly face" for a couple of days. There's something about a fellow Earlham student that makes the world a better place. Plus, I showed her all around London and it really helped me feel like I belong here again.

Regardless, the rest of this week ought to be fun. Tonight's the Serentiy premiere in Leicester Square. Another girl on my program and I are going to go observe the red carpet-ness. They've asked us to post profiles on our class message board. Everyone's been out of school, worked for the UN, speaks 16 languages, and have helped starving orphans/AIDS victims/etc. in at least four undeveloped states. Which does make me wonder how darn good that personal statement of mine must have been! Anyway, I posted that I liked Buffy (among other things, inc. West Wing) and I've gotten two or three e-mails of affinity. How cool! So, yeah...there'll be Joss Whedon bonding this afternoon/evening. Tomorrow, Muppet gets in to London. He's scared of the tube, so I have to meet him at the train station (this boy is such a wimp!). Sarah follows the day after and we're all going to see Serenity on Friday, plus there's the hall boat party on the Thames on Thursday night!

One other quick note before I run away to class and try to finish this incredibly difficult article that I've been reading. Well, maybe two. One is that I've restocked my cool pen supply and been to Paperchase to get the same kind of notebook that I used last year. I feel like I'm at Earlham again when I use them...I think that's cool. I know that smells can revive memories (thanks, Sue!), but who knew that notebooks could do the same thing? Secondly, something I've noticed about the LSE. I remember when we went to that human rights law conference at the U of Cincinnati and Welling sold the idea to all of us by telling us that most of the people speaking were ones that we'd read articles by in I-Law. But, god, that's what it's like here ALL THE TIME! In every class, you read at least one book/article by the professor in charge and often several by other LSE teachers, who they can randomly invite to speak. It's cool, albeit a bit intimidating.

Right, must run. More on classes/Serenity premiere report later!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Induction Day!

Well, I'm pretty's my first day of having something that I have to do in exactly a week! There's a sociology lunch at 1:00 and induction from 2:00 onwards and I can't wait. Happily, Alex, the human rights student from flat 46 and a political sociologist upstairs and I are all going to walk to school together, so I won't feel like a total misfit. :-)

Speaking of walking to school...I figured out why it was taking me so long: it's a two mile walk! It's not the walk that I mind, it's just that it was taking soooo long. Now I get why, at least. Mr. iPod might be keeping me company on that walk throughout the year....

Since this is just a brief update, I think I'm just going to talk about my two other flatmates (there might still be one more). Tom is actually English (OMG!) and doing his LLM. He's the same age as me and has also just finished undergrad at Birmingham. He's very laid back and very cool. I think he's going to be very nice. Emily is a general course student, which means that she's on her year abroad. She's a senior at Southern Methodist University, majoring in IR and originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. On the cool side, she's a failed sorority girl and HATES Bush (I'll admit, I was worried). She also seems nice and I don't really mind having another American around.

These last few days have been really dull. I went running on Saturday and Sunday and managed to piss off my shins. That made for a not-so-happy walk to school yesterday. I went to the Apple store on Regent St. on Sunday and wandered down to used bookstores on Charing Cross Rd. for more Rumpole books. Yesterday I went to school, poked around the library, ate lunch in Trafalgar Square (side note: the National Gallery's hosting a Rubens exhibit later this year...hello, my favorite artist!), walked down to Westminster and read for awhile in St. James' Park. Sunday and Monday we had social events in the common room (that ended in the pub) and there's more planned for the rest of the week. I might find it fit to avoid the foam party tonight at the Union that marks the start of Fresher's Week. Ack.

Oh, and a note for j00jie: everyone I've met so far in my program (well, the North Americans, anyway) reminds me too much of Steve...and I feel that I'm am not cool enough for this! Ack. Inferiority complex shining through...!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Already the diplomat

One of the things that I didn't count on when I got here was the delicacy that might be needed to navigate among students from all over the world and from such different backgrounds. Tonight just took a two by four and smacked me over the head with reminders to be delicate.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen chatting to Katherine, the friend of Mandy my flatmate (and who I think will probably be spending a great deal of time here). They're both Taiwanese. They were eating and I was washing up when another flatmate arrived with a friend who'd picked him up from the airport. So, Pung introduces himself and tells me he's from mainland China and there's this huge SHIT bomb that goes off in my head. I've never been around anyone who's actually Chinese or Taiwanese and I don't know whether they're going to be completely normal to eachother or whether the fur's about to fly. So what do I do? Resolve to stay in the room by offering to make everyone tea. God! How English am I? The great thing to do when you've got no idea what else to do: make tea! (I remember the first day of the London program when I'd first met Clare...and I drank about 8 glasses of tea because I didn't know what else to do.)

It turns out that things were absolutely fine. I asked Mandy and Katherine about it later and they said that it won't matter as long as they don't really talk about politics. Mandy especially said that it's not an issue that really has an impact on their daily lives. In fact, they can understand eachother if they work at it a bit and it's probably easier for them all to communicate if I'm out of the room (they're all incredibly polite about speaking English for my sake). Mandy was also explaining some Taiwanese history to me and was absolutely delighted that she could do so...I think they're all amazing, considering that English is their second language, although Pung seemed less sure of himself than the girls. He's quite chivalrous and kept wanting to refill the teas. I don't know how much of him we'll see, since I've heard that the Chinese students really tend to stick together.

Later I went downstairs to the common room and met a new girl from Israel. Shortly afterwards Matilda from Norway came down and it turns out that she had spent time working with Palestinians. Tali is only recently out of the army and that all got a bit delicate. Best moment: when Sanji (I think that's her name...she's Canadian) asked whether any of us had had second thoughts about coming after the bombings. And we turn to Tali and realize how much safer she must feel here. It was actually kind of funny.

One of the things that has always struck me as odd when I come to the UK is how differently I fit into social structures. At home, I'm an introvert. I don't like to call or approach new people and I'm pretty slow to get to know people. Here, I turn into the world's biggest extrovert. I don't think that I change, but the sliding scale of sociability changes dramatically. Instead of being the one hiding in her room (hello, thesis!), I'm the one trying to force a sense of welcoming and community on my flatmates, going up and introducing myself to new people and having conversations that go beyond where are you from, what program are you on and why'd you come to LSE (anyone else remember NSO?). Granted, there are so many things to ask about people's home countries, but I still amaze myself. It's nice, but strange.

Next to finally, a summary of today's activities: sleep, ran from half way across Tower Bridge to back on the South Bank side of Millenium Bridge (and walked home). Topped up my phone, called Mrs. Black. Made dinner and averted international crises (which weren't really crises at all). All in all, a good day, although I can hardly wait until classes start and I stop feeling like I'm so completely at loose ends! This having nothing to do thing is driving me absolutely bonkers! Do I try to meet people around here? Do I do the Earlham Semester in London thing and try to prove that I can keep myself company for a year? Do I wish that I had phone numbers for all those Lib Dems, so that I could see some friendly faces (well, yes)? AAACK! Too many choices!

And finally, two pieces of good news. One: Tricia's scans were clear and she gets to go to the next round of this protocol treatment in Baltimore! Two: A very dear stamp friend has been picked to be the new curator of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum...which is the coolest thing ever! She went back and got her Ph.D. as a "mature" student and has always been an incredible scholastic mentor and cheerleader to me, so this is really, really special. Plus, she also told me that a box lid that my dad sold to her is going to be in the court of honor at Washington 2006, the really big international stamp show being held next year in the US. Arf! Arf!