30.7.06

[new york, new york]

Although almost in a coma due to the long flight, delays, crazy cabin crew (they liked the seatbelt sign), and wee hours, I managed to find the strength and dexterity to open my bag, dig out the camera bag, unzip it (that was tricky!) and shove the camera to the window. This is what I came up with:
view of new york roads and traffic from the plane window
view of new york roads and traffic from the plane windowview of new york roads and traffic from the plane windowview of new york roads and traffic from the plane window

29.7.06

[blogher, california]

I'm here in San Jose at the BlogHer conference sitting poolside with a friend's laptop. The two day conference is coming to a close (it is 00:40 after all and even blogHers need to sleep!) and I'm feeling strangely guilty for not blogging about day one right away. If only I have a proper little portable laptop...next purchase after the web cam etc...

I arrived here Wednesday night and crashed as soon as I found the bed. That was such a relief after delayed flights and crazy 30-degree US customs (what the heck I'm Canadian!!!???). Sue thought I'd need a day to recover my jet lag so I was lucky and had the whole of Thursday to myself. I enjoyed an amazing breakfast buffet in the hotel cafe (my very first public meal on my own!!) with the Wall Street journal for company. I thought I'd be lonely but in fact I met a local architecht an a silicon valley lawyer. Whew. That was enough to convince me to venture outside into "downtown San Jose." I made my way to the light rail station and as I was fumbling with change and trying to get a ticket out of the machine I met a fellow blogher! Her name is Adrianna and she works and lives in New York. We decided to ditch San Jose and train over to San Francisco. The train ride over was a sign of the adventures we'd "enjoy" the rest of the day. We had a crazy guy wave to us from the upstairs seats throughout the trip. Then we had another guy who billed himself as a construction worker who has lived all his life in California and hates gay people and thinks gay marriage is the devil's work and wants a woman to propose to him and thought I was married with my engagement ring...and the craziness goes on. The train conductor came through the carriage looking for tickets and that scared off this crazy boy.


We arrived in San Francisco ready to see the sights. Instead I just saw a sea of homeless people. This is something you do not see in Toronto (most areas), you do not see in Burlington (ontario - we my folks live), and even areas of England like Hindhead and Haslemere where I live. It was a real shock. Especially when we're all crammed on a tram because we didn't want to trek up the massive hills in the heat and we're all leaning into one another and a crazy guy with massive dreads listening to loud LOUD rock on his ipod starts screaming to the "bitchs" blocking his (imaginary as far as we could see) bike! Bizarre. We managed to enjoy the rest of the day taking in sights and avoiding other crazies.

Day One of Blogher was devoted to all things techy. This was the day I was most looking forward to. After both days, I feel most disappointed by this day. Before the conference I rated myself as pretty mediocre vis-a-vis techy know-how and was ready for some advanced blog primping and tips....nothing. We were taught how to upload flickr photos and add calenders to blogs. Useful for some but because I thought it would be more advanced I was slightly disappointed. Also, I expected more use of the word women and gender and in day one I didn't hear it once. Of course there were lots of positives and seeing all these women here all interested in blogging and creating and maintaining a strong online community. This is where day two was extra wonderful. We actually talked about women blogging and how it has changed some women's lives and their economies etc. Very thought-provoking and this is what I'm still thinking about. The closing keynote was amazing and as it's getting late I'll finish up with a quote from Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post: "Women's greatest fear is failure. I failed lots and lots and nothing happens." I think, if anything, this is an important lesson for women, perhaps most so for women involved with technology. It's ok to make mistakes, they're learning experiences and it's not the end of the world. More on this later...

25.7.06

[blogher]


Can't believe how time flies. Tomorrow I leave for the BlogHer (geddit?!) conference taking place in (wait for it...) SAN JOSE, California!!!! I'm so lucky to be able to go. I can't wait to meet other women blogging and find out their stories; why they're blogging and how they started. The conference is set to be an exciting learning experience especially given that day one is all about hands on practical stuff. I'm looking forward to learning how to primp my blog and add video to it. This does mean I'm really going to have to buy a web cam or something of the sort. I'll just have to check out famous Frys then! Day two begins with a yoga session (oooh, how California) and then we settle down for a series of talks ranging from topics such as Mommy Blogging, blogs for business, blogs as political acts, and (what I'm most interested in) group blogging. This last one ties in nicely with Nancy White's talk last Monday. Lucky for me, Nancy will be presenting twice at BlogHer, once on "Getting Deeply Geeky" (sounds promising) and then on building blog-based communities. Both of these talks along with the whole of the BlogHer conference should also fit in nicely with the next generation of the Narrative Laboratory: NLab 2.0.

24.7.06

23.7.06

[amberley]

So it was Steve's choice today: what to do on a Sunday. Walking of course!! Although it certainly isn't one of my favourite first choice's I am getting into it...I really enjoyed today's 6.5 hour trek! We did stop for 30 min. for nice home-made paninni and ice tea but the rest of it was walking. Up and down hills and in hot hot sun. After all that though I felt like I accomplished something; that's the point says Steve. We followed the South Downs path from the picturesque village of Amberley, doing a circular route through Houghton, North Stoke, Canada, and back to the car park at the eastern edge of Amberley. The walk offered stunning views over the Arun valley, hills, and the River Arun. The view is from the top of Rackham Hill and the other is a wild poppy we saw along the way (which reminded me of our cottage).
View from Rackham HillPoppy for Poppy Cottage

22.7.06

[walk down the road]

We haven't yet spent too much time exploring our new local area so today we decided to have a little stroll before supper. We were amazed with these views along our busy road (the A287). It seems like the middle of nowhere, especially with the citing of horses, but it's actually always bustling.



21.7.06

[ph.d meeting/writing tips]

Yesterday I had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss Chapter 2. Eek eek and tripple eek. I am happy to report that it went excellently!!! Yippy!! It was really good. I'm relieved Prof. Thomas likes what I'm doing and how I'm going about it. My critiques/analyses of web fictions (I looked at Deena Larsen's Disappearing Rain, Caitlin Fisher's These Waves of Girls, and M.D. Coverley's The Lacemaker) were apparently quite good. Prof. Thomas gave me some interesting suggestions pertaining to the "shape" of the work. For some reason, when I write in ph.d style I try to remain as distant from the work as possible and so don't really let my personal voice enter into discussions to guide the reader. I suppose I think the readers (my supervisors and examiners) don't require that kind of directing but in fact that makes good writing doesn't it? My supervisor also reminded me that I shouldn't think of my audience as just her and the examiners, I should write as if I'm writing a book and approach the audience that way. I wonder why I feel so loathe in academic writing to come out (eloquently of course) and say: this is what I'm doing and why...It's not because I'm not sure, as yesterday's meeting made clear (I think). I definitely know what I'm doing and why...I should just include more of that in my writing. A very good point I think. It was also a good reminder from Prof. Thomas, that the shape of the thesis should all fit together; conclusions should refer back to introductions and point forward to next chapters...sounds so simple but it is important and in ph.d work when we're all trying to show that we've read and understood the right people and that we're theorising academically and writing a ph.d, these kinds of things might be forgotten. These are great tips for any writer to keep in mind.

20.7.06

[webcam!}

Damn, something else to buy. Now I need a webcam for this "Hellodeo" fun:

This is from Jason Shellen's (Associate Program Manager of Blogger) blog.

BTW: the software app is free from the odeo site so anyone can use it; you just need a web cam. I'm wondering about the name though...hello god seems a bit, hrm...flagitious...

19.7.06

[Steve's Viva]

graduationYippy!!! All went very well as expected! Steve now just has to wait until next summer to get his ph.d certificate. Amazing! He's all done...can't believe it. He's so excited, I don't think he quite believes he's done it either. Apparently the two examiners were very nice and chatty. They didn't try to trick him or anything...gosh, listening to him tell me what the examiners asked and how they reacted makes me hope I (with my supervisor's help) choose the right examiners. That's key. Steve's examiners were the right people and Steve has an excellent thesis.

Now it's time for lunch with Dr. Pawley. ;)

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18.7.06

[nancy white]

Image from Robin HammanLastnight I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy White and listening to her speak. She's so chilled and gave such a relaxed talk that there were loads of opportunities for audience members to participate. She even did an excellent job of summing up key ideas drawn from audience questions (especially after that half-pint!). For details of the evening check out Robin Hamman's blog post and David Wilcox's. Thanks to Lizzie Jackson and Robin Hamman for organising the event and thanks to Sue for inviting me along!

17.7.06

[Nancy White: Blogging and Community]

This evening I'm going to have the pleasure of meeting Nancy White and I'll get to hear her discuss "What happens when you talk about Blogs and Community in one breath." It should be really interesting. I wonder if she will discuss the paradigm shift (as I see it) that has occured with blogging. I'm thinking of Rebecca Blood's article which reminds us that Jorn Barger conceived of the term "weblog" in 1997 to mean a "web page where a Web logger ‘logs’ all the other Web pages she finds interesting" (54). This sounds more like del.icio.us. Blogging instead, seems to me, to be more of a community action. We blog, we link to others, we communicate, we share information...But could this change from (almost) clinical documentation to personal reflection have come about thanks to the software which is available for blogging? When Barger thought of weblogs in 1997 there was no Blogger software to make blogging easy for "anyone" to take it up. Does the way Blogger (and other software) is set up (suggesting we have links in a side-bar, upload images, use permalinks, track entries by tags, etc...) affect how and what we write about? I wonder if web 2.0 will signal a shift for blogging? Maybe blogging squared?
image from http://www.alisonbryan.com/thoughts/2005/11/decentralisation_of_deaf_cyber.html

11.7.06

[ill]

I hate being ill. It's so boring. There is only so much terrible (absolutely horrenduous!) day-time tv I can take. At least today I actually feel well enough to attempt to blog. It won't be long...but I'm still heeeeeerrreeeeeee...... Actually,,having this virus and a long philosophical talk with my mum led us to wonder what is the difference between a virus and bacteria? Well, microbe.org answers all: viruses are tiny compared to bacteria (virus= 20 to 250 nanometers and bacteria = 1,000 nanometers), a virus only has dna or rna inside it requiring a suitable "host" to infiltrate, bacteria instead are like proper cells, they have "a rigid cell wall and a thin, rubbery cell membrane surrounding the fluid, or cytoplasm, inside the cell. In addition, it may have extra loose bits of DNA called plasmids floating in the cytoplasm. Bacteria also have ribosomes. Some have threadlike structures called flagella that they use to move." The best bit (or not) is that bacteria are smart, they can reproduce all by themselves. Viruses are, here comes the technical term, wait for it.... "moochers." They contain only a limited genetic blueprint and they don't have the necessary building tools. They have to invade other cells and hijack their cellular machinery to reproduce. Viruses invade by attaching to a cell and injecting their genes or by being swallowed up by the cell.

Enough of the science lesson...back to sleep for me.

bacteria

virus

4.7.06

[devil's punchbowl]

Ahhhh....all this only a 5 minute walk around the corner.



1.7.06

[Hayling Island]

Today we decided to make the most of the amazing heat by heading to the coast for a picnic. On days like this I can't image living anywhere else. During the 30 minute drive to Hayling Island we passed through little villages and towns bustling with smiling people, laughing children; everyone enjoying ice creams. Nice.