Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm so sorry!

I have been absolute rubbish at updating this thing for the past month and I'm sorry for it, since this is my main forum for writing down events that I want to remember. Today's a good start back, though. I've just dispatched my friend Eli back to the airport, but we had a fantastic visit. He's a total foodie and had a long list of different foods that he wanted to try, which was great, but I'm looking forward to eating normally again! Plus, I even dragged him (and myself, woot!) up to Brent to do some leafleting. It makes more sense when you find out that his great-grandmother grew up in London and we went in search of the places where she had of which was in the Brent East constituency. The other one was in Hampstead, so that necessitated a great wander around the Heath! We got major lost, though. They so need signs every once in awhile! Yesterday was great, with a big trip to Kew and Harrod's for the food halls. Kew was absolutely spectacular, since the orchids are all in bloom and they were getting ready for the big orchid events. I was blown away by how many different kinds of orchids there were and in some of the smaller rooms, their smell just filled the air. I finally got to see a venus fly-trap, too. They're tiny! In the pictures, they always look at least 5-6 inches (vs. 1/2 an inch) and I had visions of the Audrey II in my head!

Erm, a few weeks ago I saw The Wild Duck at the Donmar with a friend and that was great. It didn't just get a seal clap of approval, but the full-blown "someone might want to aim me in the direction of a bus stop, because otherwise I'm just going to keep wandering" awesomeness! That was also the first day that London had it's whale, so big thanks to my friend Juliana for forwarding the story to me from Chicago! Oh, the internets, you make so many things possible! We went to Battersea to see it, but it was just dusk and that's apparently when they lost sight of it for awhile. We didn't go the next day because it would have been too depressing, but it was cool that we had a whale, even for a little while. It was spotted from one of the railroad bridges in London about 8:30, almost the same time that Libby and I were making our way towards the Donmar, doing our daily run so that I could get in line for day seats. We've been very good about our runs, only missing one day in three weeks (if you ignore the fact that we don't run on days when we have classes, so Wednesday and Thursday are out). Our big goal is to run one of the UK Cancer Research 5Ks in the spring. After those hills in Hampstead, I'm sort of thinking the one through the City of London would be better. Plus, I've made us start doing lunges and those are hurty!

Finally, today is uber, uber, uber exciting because I "won" tickets to see Kofi Annan speak at Westminster Central Hall! Ok, so I applied online and joined the UK UN Society in order to have a better chance, but I'm still soooo excited! Libby's going with me and, although I don't think she's as properly excited as I am, she's still game for it. Plus, we have confirmed reports that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are in town...who knows? Condi, too, but I doubt she'd be there. Our tickets state that the dress code could include national dress and I, for one, wish that either a) Jules were here to loan me something or b) that Americans actually had a national dress. We're going with suits (and a realization that my second suit needs some serious tailoring before the Model UN conference...losing weight + short arms = unacceptable baggyness). So, expect the report! I'm not staying up until 4 to watch the State of the Union. Bush can just go suck it and there's no way I want to kill my Kofi buzz with him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kenya dig it?

First of all, I take no credit at all for that awful pun. One of the others found t-shirts with that slogan and an outline of the country. And I suspect that we'll get them. Sigh.

But, it is indeed official: KENYA & TANZANIA FOR EASTER BREAK! Woot! We leave on April 1 and come back to London on April 16. Tour info here: Kenya and Tanzania Adventure. This is going to be awesome. And I bought more travel guides! Heck, I even got an extra one (Spain) because they were 2 for 3! I think few things will make me happier than deals on Rough Guides. I think I should be their spokesperson. Also, I want a bulk buying discount. I'll take another photo of my shelf sometime; it's obscene. Or maybe funny.

In other news, I need to go do my reading, but I did promise a quick note on the essay that I turned in (under great duress) last week. I felt quite clever, however, and will be quite happy if the idea in my head managed to come out correctly on paper. Basically, my question asked whether there were essential values in human rights and whether those values had changed over time. I said yes to the values and no to the changing over time, because human rights (as we think of them today (and this part involved a tangent on Maslow)) have only existed for 60 years. We (human rights people) don't have a real history, so we've found the values that we think are essential and looked for their promotion in the past. These things weren't human rights at the time because such things didn't exist. And the values have remained the same because they're our values, not those of the Stoics or the Social Contractarians. Did that make sense? This was an incredibly difficult paper to write because a) I haven't written anything serious for a long time (em, since my thesis), b) I haven't really written philosophy since high school, and c) this was just an incredibly difficult paper to organize and grasp well enough to start/structure a paper. Anyway, I think it works better when I don't have to be all formal. Sadly, though, best friend + hard paper to write = less fun for both Joyce and best friend. But we did make it to Stonehenge and Salisbury. Yay! And Ladysmith Black Mambazo is coming to London in May (I think May)!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Kenya! Tanzania! Rubens! Oh My!

Thank you to Jay and Megan and Libby for the American pep talk. You're right, of course. Screw the LSATs. Or, after Libby's suggestion, I'll take them, just for the practice and the fun of it. Cancellation's easily done and I've already paid.

My main point of the night was going to be related to art. I got up early this morning to be at the National Gallery when it opened (more or less) for the last day of their early Rubens exhibit (which was very nice, especially after I paid the under 18 student price...£4 instead of £8 and got an audio guide in celebration). An observation, however, I don't like the funny faces people always seemed to be making in the paintings with smaller figures and NO to romanticized horses and men with weird muscles. I don't care if they're copied from classical sculpture...they just don't look right! Too many bumps! People are smooth, not bumpy! I still think that Rubens' best works are the quiet scenes, where the subject either looks straight at you and forces you to become invoved (his portraits and Ecce Homo of Jesus today) or they represent the moment of calm before the storm (Sampson & Delilah). They're the most engaging. He gets the energy across in the "action" scenes, but it always makes me ask: why? What can I learn from this that I can't get in one of your psychological portraits (real or imaginary)? More and more I want to got the Low Countries. And did I mention the Rembrant/Carravaggio exhibit in Amsterdam this spring? Did I mention that I am a big nerd?

The other HOT news is the Easter holidays. We've decided on Kenya & Tanzania and are going on Tuesday to book the tickets. I can't tell you how pumped I am about this! One of my friends went on Earlham Tanzania program a few years ago and I was so jealous of her stories and experiences. A big part of me was thinking: "I went to London, when I could have done this?" Anyway, it's my chance. There should be elephants and a trip to Zanzibar and Arusha...the headquarters of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda! How cool! I'm off to buy the guidebooks tomorrow! (I'm amazed that I waited this long, frankly.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

American? Still?

Oddly enough, my last post got comment spammed by someone who was trying to convince me to vote for Simon Hughes for party leader. I still don't know enough about any of them, but Simon's not going to be my no. 1. I've heard his name used too many times in the same sentance as "muppet" and I thought he was really goofy during the mayoral election. My guess is still on Ming. However, I have left the comment, as it would be illiberal of me to squash free political speech.

I had an essay due this past week and a a best friend to try and entertain, so please excuse the lack of postage. My goals at the moment include a couple of position papers for LIMUN, finishing season 1 of the Amazing Race and attempting to plan further travel in an effort to make myself feel like a contestant. I just had word that a friend may be going to Spain and I've offered to meet Juliet in whichever European city she has a connecting flight if her plans to visit home in May pan out. Also, my room is bearing an uncomfortable resemblance to a pig sty and I need to do something about that!

I was having a conversation with the Spain friend today about law school. I'm so reluctant to take the LSATs again, even though part of me knows that I should do so, to reapply to the pretentious schools, so that I can go on to be an amazing law professor. Part of me feels that I would have failed if I don't go that route. The other part doesn't want to take the LSATs again because they were crap the first time and I've already been accepted at the school with those scores at the school where I feel I belong. I still think that American is the place for me, but my massive stores of guilt are keeping me from being happy with that decision. Help? I know there are lots of 2Ls around....

I'm going to work on this mess, but I might tell everyone about my exciting (and bad) essay, later!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I'm back from Ireland, best friend in tow. I'd write something significant, I really would, but right now all of my writing power needs to be directed elsewhere. Sorry 'bout that.

In other news, the party's gone nuts! I first heard about Charles Kennedy's admission about drinking in the hostel kitchen on Friday, in Galway. And, now he's resigned. And there's a leadership election, where everyone seems to be lining up (myself, included, for now) behind Menzies Campbell (Ming). It's nuts, I tell you! Nuts! And the MP that I worked for seems to have had a part in all of this. I might have to go up to Brent after Duchie flys back to the States to do some leafletting and get the scoop. I'm not entirely surprised, I suppose, that this all happened. Le sigh.