Ye Olde Archive Archived Posts: 2004-2009

27Sep/06Off

Under the weather, over the moon.

There was a lot of coughing and sneezing and sniffling and the like among my classmates last week, so that by the time the weekend rolled around I wiped my brow and let out a brief but heartfelt sigh of relief that I had escaped infection. Of course by the time Saturday night arrived I was congested and achey. I'm surviving well enough, and yesterday afternoon I went to the pharmacy and picked myself up some vitamin C, some garlic pills, some peppermint tea and some calcium caramels. Combined with my daily vitamins, I'm expecting some sort of miracle recovery. I've never been very good about taking vitamins on a regular basis. On average, I'd take my daily vitamins weekly, and other supplements at most a few times a year. One thing I've been working on as I've been reinventing myself in terms of habits and daily practices is to eat at home more (which has been going amazingly well), and to be healthier in my diet, which includes taking vitamins.

In short, so far no dramatic sense of well-being, but I remain hopeful.

That covers under the weather. As for the other, I'm over the moon because tomorrow morning I set off for Parsippany, New Jersey to see my darling Abigail for a few brief and much-needed days. Her cousin's getting married, and close enough to me that it made sense for me to drive down. I mean, after spending a week moving from Washington to Montreal, what's a 7-hour drive? Peanuts, that's what.

Classes continue to go well, and today and tomorrow is the voting for the McGill Library and Information Studies Student Association (MLISSA) executive team. I'm running for VP against two other people, so wish me luck!

In other exciting news, I have a fancy desk and chair in my apartment now, delivered from Ikea, so I expect both my work and blog productivity to increase. I'm so far behind on my bloglines that it's not even funny, but I'm hoping to at least start reading my online info sources again, so that I may have exciting and pertinent things to share. Until then, toodles!

Filed under: personal 1 Comment
21Sep/06Off

Sunny with a chance of winter

McGill GSLIS

Today I can feel the first gusts of winter, flush with cold, though I'm sure that it's a meager herald of the coming ice age. I'm a rain-baby, you see, born and having lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I know fancy words like "rainshadow" and I'm used to more green than white, even in the winter. Granted I spent quite a bit of my youth in eastern Washington, where there is a real winter, including temperates well below zero and snow up to your belly-button, at times. But it's been awhile since then and from what I've been told the winter here will be make eastern Washington seem a tropical paradise. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to it.

Tomorrow marks the end of my first two weeks of classes. They've been going well so far. My classmates are - so far in my experience without exception - intelligent and interesting people, and though I wouldn't say that I've made any "fast friends", I've made some nice connections and shared some good conversations and conspiratorial smiles. We're all in this together, after all, for the next two years, which means plenty of time to conspire, work, and share this experience called grad school.

The GLIS at McGill is modeled to resemble real-life work in a lot of ways. It's considered a professional degree, so the studies rest much more on the practical than the theoretical, which I think is reasonable and very useful. The graded work in most of my classes is based almost entirely on group projects. Much as a real work environment, you have a project, people to work with (or you work on your own), and a completion date. Much as a real work environment, you generally have multiple ongoing projects at the same time, and you have to schedule the projects around other aspects of the job, in this case lectures and labs (which one could equate at work to time at the reference desk, or cataloguing, or other daily tasks). This is a good model for me because even though I've gotten much better at working in groups over the last couple years than I used to be, I consider it an essential part of effective library practice and it remains an area where I feel like I could still grow and learn. Working with people is always the most difficult, and most rewarding, part of the job.

I have some exams as well, and term tests, and individual projects to work on. I have plenty to work on, indeed. I'm not too stressed. Yet. Give me a couple weeks.

I'm working on creating a bibliographic database with a partner in a program called InMagic. We create fields - author, title, keywords, etc - decide how we want these fields to be searchable - term search, word search, both, or neither - and then enter records using the field information. We also have to identify our purpose and audience, and pick a subject, which for us is French Poetry. So far it's been the most daunting of the projects assigned, though hopefully once we put some elbow grease into it then it won't seem so insurmountable. For the moment, I'm just having trouble wrapping my brain around it.

Other projects involve creating a diagram describing how information flows within a library, which I'm working with two other people on, as well as creating original card- and MARC-format descriptive bibliographies for three books and comparing my records to records for the same books entered in other libraries. Like I said, I'm quite busy.

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out my Flickr photos (I added some new ones on Sunday and now there is a link over to the right), and check back here when you can. I'm going to make an effort, now that my life here in Montreal is solidly underway, to be more bloggerish. No, really!

14Sep/06Off

In case you were worried, I’m still alive.

My thoughts and condolences go out to the victims of yesterday's attack. I've spent the past hour or so reading Gill's online journal and looking at his pictures. I really don't understand what drives a person to such acts of violence, but then, I don't think I'm capable of any form of actual violence, on even the smallest level. I wish that people realized that there are other options and other ways to be. I wish we could always show each other kindness and compassion. I wish that we would respond to ... well, President Clinton was quoted by Sarah Vowell in her essay Ike was a handsome man, and perhaps he said it best (at that time at the Oklahoma City bombing memorial service):

When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death let us honor life.

I'm avoiding linking to articles about it. The news is too sad as it is, and certainly easy enough to find and even hard to avoid. As for me, I'm fine, alive, and not afraid. I'm just so sad that things like this happen to people, both the victims and the shooter. Why must it come to this? It's a question with no good answer.

7Sep/06Off

Montréal, Mon Amour: Part One

I left Burlington, VT after a couple days stay with my friend Tim and headed north into Quebec early on Thursday, August 31st.  The drive was fairly short, as I had been told it would be, and I had no troubles at the border.  They looked quizzical regarding my temporary plates, since I own a new car, and the customs agent scratched his head slightly as he tried to pierce the veil of my packing in order to ascertain the actual contents sequestered deep within the dark chasms and carpeted crevices of my car's interior.  Suffice it to say that I was not able to use my rear-view mirror during my journey across the country, and that the car rode very, very low over the back wheel, as one can see here.

Upon entering Quebec, the interstate became more rural, and before long I was driving through fields of corn at a leisurely 50 kph.  Kind of like driving through  Wisconsin, only in Wisconsin the corn moved much faster.  Wisconsin corn would beat Quebec corn in a race every time, I wager.  The signs, of course, were in French where they weren't bilingual (which most of them weren't), and so I spent the drive proudly reciting signs out loud to myself, happy that, with sometimes a small amount of reflection, I knew what they meant.  "Maïze Sucré", for example, actually means that they are selling sweet corn and not that they are trying to lure tourist rubes into any unsolvable labyrinths.  

As you might expect after so much anticipation, consternation, and aggravation surrounding moving to Montreal, to actually drive into the city was a landmark event.  I had managed not to get lost so far on my trip - excluding my brief, circular tour near Toledo, OH as I searched for the Super 8 - and gave myself a pat on the back for a trip well done.  Driving into Montreal was like opening to a new chapter in the checked-out library book that was my life.  My first impression was that the city was big, that I yet had a chance to get myself horribly lost, and that at least the architecture was pretty.  I managed not to get lost, despite a great deal of construction that led me on a merry detour and made a halfhour trip through downtown take at least an hour and a half.  Finally I parked in front of my apartment building, stretched my legs, and intrepidly strode inside to claim the keys to the small 1 and 1/2 that would likely serve as my castle for the next two years.  Much to my chagrin, my apartment was being retiled and was unlivable until the next day.  Happilly, upon my confession that I had not another place to stay the night, my kind apartment manager offered me the key to an empty fourth floor apartment until the next day.  I did my best to be more heartened by his kindness than frustrated by the fact that I would have to put off unpacking, and walked out into the city to do important things (as one does).

Following the apartment manager's advice, I followed Saint Laurent south for a short time until I found the Canada Trust Bank.  I had already spent $80 wiring money to this bank, so I figured, at the least, they owed me a checking account.  Setting up my account was easy and speedy.  The gentleman who helped me, Pierre-Luc, was Francophone though he spoke English well, and he was very friendly.  Approximately thirty minutes after entering the bank, I left with a new account and debit card, and decided to continue south on Saint Laurent to see if things would continue to go so fortuitously.  In nearly no time, I spotted the Telus store across the street - which is where I had decided to get a call phone plan after a great deal of research during my stay in Burlington - and an hour later I walked out with my student plan (100 minutes long distance, including into the US, and unlimited incoming calls from anywhere!) and my fancy new phone.  The best part was that the phone came activated and about half-charged, so it was ready to use immediately.  I called Abby at work and bragged about my productivity, for which she was properly appreciative, and then went back out into the vast, vast city to explore, my productive phase at an end (being that it was now after 5 pm), and my curiosity now ready to take over.

My first exploratory excursion covered, exclusively, the length of Rue Saint Laurent.  Saint Laurent is quite long and definately thriving, packed with bars that are packed with people that are packed with booze, which in concert with the many clubs and restaurants that line the street, makes for a caterwauling sort of affair that remains yet alluring through its vibrant variety of offerings.  I kept my curiosity at street level, feeling too overwhelmed to venture into a maelstrom of drunk bodies, and by the time I got back to my night's lodging it was nearly midnight and I had walked what I suspect was nearly a total of ten miles, half of it uphill - okay, so up a gentle, barely noticable incline.  Feeling accomplished, if exhausted, I liberated the mysteriously present Ikea mattress from its resting place against the wall, layed out my pillow, spread my quilt, smoked a Canadian cigarette, and proceeded to sleep like a giant, syrupy maple log.

To be continued ... 

Filed under: montreal, personal 2 Comments
4Sep/06Off

Flickr Powr!

Hy hy, I'v got m som Flickr powr going on!  That includs picturs from my trip across th country!  Chck 'm out, and b sur to chck back for updats.

Pics from th Montral trip