sangre_fria: (Default)
[personal profile] sangre_fria
Potterdammerung: the end is nigh!

In honor of this, the interwebs are already reaching critical capacity; my f-list is filled with personal theories, silly ficcage, not-so-silly ficcage, preemptive squeeing, anxious hyperventilation, and threats to possible spoilers. Also, [ profile] shoebox_project brings teh lulz ftw.

Sadly, I will not be able to enjoy all of this until Tuesday, after I return from my weekend trip to Prague. I'm leaving this afternoon, and won't be back until late Monday evening. For those crucial 72 hours post-Potterdammerung, I will be striving against all of humanity in order to avoid being spoiler'd.

I'm going to have to somehow avoid the gossip on the street, the plane, and the bookstore until I have my own precious copy. Then, once this epic task is accomplished, I'll lock myself away with the book until I either emerge victorious, or die trying.

You'd think I'd be all bummed out that I couldn't be in the midst of all the excitement for this last book, but I'm actually okay with it. I'm really going to enjoy Prague anyway; and besides, this last book is special, and this situation will definitely make it memorable to me.

In the meantime, I hope you all will be rooting for me during this epic, three-day battle against spoilers.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-20 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Your weekend trip to Prague?!? Do you understand how AWESOME THAT SOUNDS?!

Oh, I'm just going to kip off to Prague for the weekend, darling, be back later. *Dies*

One of the most beautiful cities in the world... fantastic! Have fun, see everything for me, OK? <3

Don't worry, we won't let it slip that Harry turns into the Giant Squid at night-



I'll be rooting for you. I suggest avoiding all contact with the intarwubs.

Oh shoebox project! How I love you! <3 That made me laugh.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-20 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The Dark Lord is made of pastry creme? Oh, how lovely, I love pastries!

GOOD LUCK CASSIE! I AM SO RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. I work two twelve hour shifts this weekend, I'm almost positive I just.. won't be reading until Monday.

THATS OKAY. At least you and I get like, I donno... prolonged anticipation, right? So its like... the fun has extended? Am I right? Can I get an amen? A cricket chirping? Anything? There is a bright side!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-25 10:07 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Bugger)
From: [identity profile]
Plenty of "amens" over here, dear. There's no such thing as "instant gratification" in our world, is there? But there's always a bright side. : )

I miss you, and we need to hang out when I get back.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-25 10:02 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Doctor Who- Bigger on the inside)
From: [identity profile]
Isn't it beautiful to already live on this side of the ocean? You're already over here, so it's incredibly cheap to just flit off somewhere. And the sad thing is, I don't think anyone here really appreciates that.

Pastry creme? Genius.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-23 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The internet can be your greatest friend or your worst nightmare. I actually had to battle my way through my e-mails reading one word a time, covering up the rest of the screen in case I saw the word "Harry". Oh and forget reading the news. The world government could have been collapsing around me and I wouldn't have heard about it.

I'm sure you've had a great time in Prague. Did you happen to play any games of "Leap Prague"? No? I just had to Czech and make sure. See any doctors to give you a Prague-nosis? I think Prague-ter and Gamble has an office over there. Be sure to tell me all about it.

Well if you've survived those puns I just wanted to make sure that everything is okay. I heard that there was flooding in the area of Oxford and the Times made it sound really bad.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-25 10:13 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, Chris...Those puns were absolutely amazing.

I've survived the flooding as well, though the river beside my college has turned all the nearby fields into one huge lake. I haven't seen the news reports on it, but I suppose the flooding really is as bad as they say, but luckily I'm living on Iffley road right now, so my street is fairly dry.

It did rain again today, though. We'll all just have to keep our fingers crossed that the weather remains dry for the rest of the week.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well that's good. I'm glad that you won't have to change your research to "The Affect of Massive Quantities of Water on Drosophila".

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-23 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lock up your computer. And if you are going to Prague, then not knowing the local language might help you avoid spoilers!

Enjoy Prague: it is a beautiful, in a very rare way. :)Watch out for the silly people engaging in hen nights and stag fests, though. Are you going on your own or with friends or family?

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-25 10:32 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (pic#)
From: [identity profile]
Ha! To be honest, there seemed to be more Americans in Prague than natives. (You've probably noticed, but they've descended on Oxford as well, like some kind of biblical plague. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't loud, rude, and generally a nuisance. I'm an American, so I suppose I have "the right" to insult my own kind when they're so badly behaved...)

Prague was incredible, and has definitely become one of my favorite cities; I took an almost ridiculous amount of pictures, which should show up here on LJ sooner or later. I went with a few friends of mine, and we did all of the planning ourselves. It was a completely unique trip in that way; I'd like to think of myself as a mature adult now, but it still feels a bit strange to do major traveling without my parents.

By the way, how was Italy? I've been so caught up with my own wanderings, that I never got the chance to ask about yours. I'm hoping to travel there next summer with a few friends; is there anything I should know or be aware of before I go?

Stupid Comment Length Restriction: Part One

Date: 2007-07-26 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I must confess that I rarely find American tourists a nuisance. ;) But I'm biased - they speak a weak form of English, which is most advantageous when lost and in a foreign country. Especially when you realize that despite America's commercial dominance, not everyone knows basic English in Europe. And their habit of being loud and unsophisticated (I'm sure that excludes you, of course) is very useful for noticing the English-speaker in a crowd of tanned Europeans.

And when they are in Oxford, they allow me to feel a sense of smug entitlement: I have a Bod card (I actually don't right now, I lost it. Eep. Must get another. This will be the third time I've asked for a new Bod card in two terms. Supposedly, if we lose them too often, the authorities may refuse to give us a new one. I do hope not; well, I'm sure they can't do that. It would be vile.) so I get in free to colleges. Ner, ner, ner.

Travelling without parents is a good way to build up confidence - especially if you get lost. :P I did my planning a week before I left, so it was more a lesson in how NOT to travel abroad for me. :) I got lost on my first day. Before I got to a hotel. Fun stories will probably emerge on my journal etc. in due course. As will photos - speaking of which, it'll be great to see your photographs of Prague once you upload them to the web! :D

Now, onto the big foot of Europe: Italy.
i) Don't go in August. Firstly, it will be too hot. Near the end of trip this month, I found it quite impossible to walk through town between 12 and 2. In two weeks, I didn't see a single cloud. (Which I was a tad disappointed over - one of the places I saw was a tower mentioned in Dante's Inferno (wonderful rhythm structure in that, by the way). My guidebook told me to stand under it and watch clouds go over it, for the tower will seem to fall upon me. For the three days I tried, not a single cloud appeared in the sky at all. When I came back to Britain, it was raining. Rain was a shock. I'm still wondering where Italians get water for their crops from. And how an army could ever have existed in Italy. If I were a Roman soldier, I'd mutiny.)
Oh, secondly, August is when Italians holiday. Ergo, buildings shut themselves up. I went in July (obviously, as I lack a time machine despite being called 'futurelessons'.), and I would recommend going in either July or September. Assuming you are not one of those peculiar yet dreadfully numerous lipid-filled, photosynthesizing creatures who love to soak up the Sun (aka a sunbather, which I'm not), I would recommend September or June/early July. Not late July or August.

ii) If you're a vegetarian (I'm not but I like diversity of animal produce), you may find a decent lunch problematic to find, depending on where in Italy you go. I went to Emilia-Romagna, which loves its animals. On a plate. And its cheese. On a plate, again.

iii) The Italians smoke. A lot. Everywhere. People will reek of smoke. The streets will be filled with it. You will grow to hate their smoking habits. Unless you smoke yourself. (I don't: it is a vile habit. TOBACCO WAS INTRODUCED TO US FROM THE STATES, I might add. ;) :o)) If you do smoke, you'll love it. They have machines in the street selling tobacco, they have shops dedicated to tobacco in even the smallest town. They smoke on railway stations, they smoke in restaurants, you will love it.

iv) No-one knows any English. (This is an unfair criticism, I must add.) And some will be quite rude to you if you go up to them to ask for help in Italian. At least, more rude than the Spaniards, probably less rude than Britons (I'm allowed to insult my own nation too. :P).

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 12:22 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Merlin- Destiny's bitches)
From: [identity profile]
Yes! I've finally found someone who talks as much as me! ; P

I admit that I can be loud and unsophisticated sometimes, but it's mostly when I'm excited about something. But I do try to keep it toned down on a regular basis. I'm much more likely to make very bad jokes, I think...

The Bod card does give one a sense of power, doesn't it? I don't think my college gives a limit on the number of cards, but they definitely charge a fee every time you have to replace it. I'll be sad when mine expires next year, but I know I'll always keep it; what could be a better memento of my time here?

For some reason, I seem to have a pretty good sense of direction. I really don't get lost, but I suppose I make up for that by always having trouble remembering people's names. Travel stories are one of the best kinds, and I have quite a few of my own; a picture and story exchange it is, then. : )

i) Lucky for me, my Floridian youth has made me immune to warm climates. From what I've heard, Italy has a kind of dry heat that seems refreshing compared to the humidity of a Floridan summer. The temperature is probably more or less the same, but your sweat-soaked clothes wouldn't be clinging wetly to your body and refusing to dry. As a child, I was always taught not to play outside during the hottest part of the day, so I as long as I plan my days around that, I should be fine. I've been planning to read some of Dante's work for quite some time now, but I never really had the chance. For the time being, I've been reading a biography of Cicero, and it's definitely put me into the mood for seeing Italy.

ii) Thankfully, I'm not a vegetarian. My thoughts on the subject are generally along the lines of "My ancestors did not drag themselves to the top of the food chain so that I could eat tofu." Nothing against it; it's just not for me.

iii) Urgh. I hate the stench of cigarette smoke; it's absolutely pervasive. You only need to be around a smoker for five minutes to start utterly reeking of it. But I'll soldier on, if it means getting to see Italy. I managed to live through certain areas of Paris, so I'll survive somehow, I'm sure. Though a handkerchief dabbed with some sweet scent might be in order...Do you think anyone would be offended if I whipped it out to cover my nose while standing near them?

iv) One of the friends who'll travel with me is already learning Italian in his spare time, apparently. And I'll try to desperately memorize key words and phrases when my school schedule allows. I'll be as polite as possible when asking questions, and definitely be liberal with the use of "scusi", "per favore" and "grazie". That's all I can really do, and just hope for the best. (And I've found Britons to be very polite on the whole, so I suppose I've just been lucky. ; P)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay, people who talk a lot! :) (I have a Livejournal, what do you expect? ;))

Excitement is always a valid excuse for loudness! And for jumping up and down!

I was gutted when I lost my first Bod card; it had been everywhere with me, swiped me in and out of so many places, and it had me at the sweet age of 18 on it. That said, all my newer editions were both free and with the original photo on them. However, the number changes if you lose it - that can be a pain to memorize.

Speaking of memory, I can never remember people's names. I intend to try harder in the future though; I've realized that some people get really offended by such unfortunate habits.

Italy is terribly dry, yes. I realized that when I got off the plane: I inhaled the air and thought, "Warm, yet so perfectly dry. I do hope their wine isn't like this." On the downside, having your sweat evaporate away does mean you lose more water. Hence my bemoaning the cost of drinks. (But at least I stay dry! Best not talk about the lack of laundry on my trip near the final days :looks elsewhere and whistles:) I, lacking the warmth and bourbon of Floridian experience, was ingrained with the idea that the early afternoon was the best time to get things done. And then I was left wondering why I was feeling so fatigued and unable to keep up my motivation.

I read Danté's Inferno to his tomb, ducking the tourists who just wanted to go in there, stand next to his tomb, come out, and have their metaphorical 'Been there, done that' photograph. (Vile). I also quoted Virgil at Danté, but that's simply because I adore Virgil. Ah, the Divine Comedy, mixing my two favourite pre-Renaissance poets. It was like being in Heaven. Or Inferno with a splash of Purgatory, given the heat.

Erm, Cicero? CICERO? I only scream out loud because I actually read Cicero's Phillipics in Italy. Even though I was in the part of Italy that was 'Gaul' in his day. But then, one of my passions in the Fall of the Roman Republic, so I was bound to read Cicero. And his speeches mentioned the town I was staying in for part of my sojourn.

I see a lot of myself in him: being indecisive, timid, yet having a love for certain ideas&institutions and refusing to see them die. He's terribly rude though - I was taken aback at him calling Antony a catamite and making repeated allusions to him being a woman! Unfortunately, Antony did kill the poor bugger for penning that. These days, all we have is Cheney swearing at Senators and nothing more. Oh well, at least it's more polite today.

Smoke is absolutely pervasive. And it's a pain to get it out of clothing - esp. fine clothing.
Though a handkerchief dabbed with some sweet scent might be in order... Such manners! I was at first afflicted by similar manners as yours. After exposure to rude Italians and several near-misses from their uncaring cyclists, I decided to forgo my better nature. Faced with smoke, I would brandish a small hand and flap it away quietly but perceptibly under my nose. (Before reminding myself that Italy was a somewhat democratic country and that if they lacked public smoking legislation, then I had no right to impose my islander morals upon them.)

I picked up a few words in Italy: si, non, dove a, scusi, averrideci(sic), grazie. That's it. But knowing the language allows you to exchange ideas and get to know Italians for their minds, rather than their tobacco and nose-picking habits. Which arguably is an important part of travel, and one that I regrettably missed out on.

To which part of Italy are you planning on visiting? And for how long?

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 04:11 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Bugger)
From: [identity profile]
I really enjoy reading about ancient civilizations, and Rome is always dramatic. Cicero is one of those historic personas that's so intriguing because, despite being involved in huge historical events, he still retains all of the flaws and vanities that make him human.

Readers today can relate to him simply because he's not perfect; he's sometimes stubborn and narcissistic, and he has moments when he panics, vacillates, flatters, insults, fishes for compliments, and ends up putting his foot in his mouth. His writing makes him more than just a marble bust that you can look at and think, "So he did this and he did that and then he died." Through his writing, you can see his mind, and it's absolutely fascinating.

If you haven't already seen it, I'd recommend watching the BBC series Rome; the events aren't always accurate, and the personalities of the characters show some creative license, but the traditions and culture of everyday Roman life is very realistic, and the Fall of the Republic is such a riveting time period to explore.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Your user-icon amuses me. Hee.

You're absolutely right. There's nothing I can really add to what you've said except to nod. Characters such as Cicero or even Marc Anthony are fundamentally flawed and human. They think like us and we can read about them and sympathize with them. They are human, like us. Too often, we assume that people in the past are different to us but they have the same emotions and desires and fears as us. They are not a different species of animal to us. You just have the strip the pointless differences (forget the Senate, the chalk-lined toga, class difference or even the oddity of translation) and realize that they existed. And were human.

Part of the reason the late period of the Republic means so much to me is that we know so much about the characters themselves. Not in terms of their actions, feats, and achievements; but rather, in terms of who they were. Propaganda (and Philippics) aside, you get a feel for who Antony was, or who Cicero was, or what sort of character Marius may have been. They are personalities separate from their achievements - like characters in a beautiful novel.

I must say, [ profile] sangre_fria, you've slightly inspired me. :) I've obviously read the biographies by Classical authors of Cicero, Caesar, and so on but it never occurred to me to read modern biographies of such characters. (Instead, I leave it to my own mind to sort out the inconsistencies and plain lies. And I have a hatred of gossip-monger Suetonius, ssh.) I should do that - it might prove interesting!

Speaking of which, I really should continue to forge ahead in my various interests. I become content too easily; I don't push myself once I've reached a certain level. I need to push myself, be it in my knowledge of the Roman Republic, old withered interests such as astronomy, new ones such as operatic music, or even my use of mathematics as a tool. I need to acquire the thirst of my youth once more and not be content with mediocrity.

May I ask who wrote your biography of Cicero? I'm tempted to seek it out and read it.

Oh, and I do adore HBO's Rome. I've seen the series so many times that it's unhealthy. The errors are negligible too.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-27 03:24 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, do you read/watch Bleach then? (Because that's what the character in my icon is from, and it's a great series.)

The modern biographies are really comprehensive in that way; they explain what we don't know, what we do know, and what may be biased because of the personal opinions of ancient historians. In the biography that I'm reading, there are quite a few mentions of how Plutarch may have tweaked some things.

I used to be obsessed with astronomy; in fact, my wall back home still sports a huge circular map of the constellations and their relative positions during the year. I wish that I had the time to pursue all of my old and new interests at once, but at the moment my formal education is taking precedence. As it should, considering how much I'm paying for it... : P

But my summers are always spent investigating at least some of my personal hobbies, one of which is to teach myself Japanese. Slow going when I have so much work to do, but enough progress to actually be called "progress".

The biography that I'm reading is called "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician (" by Anthony Everitt. And apparently the same author has published a biography of Augustus (aka Octavian), which a friend of mine is currently tracking down and I can't wait to read. : )

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-27 09:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Alas not, I do not read nor watch manga. I tend to be so busy that I can barely watch TV or read these days. (Poor time organization, rather than actual busy-ness. Though I like to think otherwise.)

Re: biographies. Excellent, modern biographies are comprehensive, I see. Thanks for linking me to Cicero. I shall definitely get it one day and read it. :) Did you know there's a little bust of him in the Radcliffe Camera? Though it doesn't look like any other statue of Cicero that I've seen, so I haven't a clue what the sculptor based it on. (Nor does it look like the adorable David Bamber, unfortunately. O, woe.) He does look rather emaciated - and not very emanicipated - in it.

I keep on meaning to sit in a garden someday in Oxford and learn the night sky. I just never do. I'm impressed that you are teaching yourself Japanese. I've always flirted with teaching myself Latin but getting the motivation to learn a language that isn't even spoken outside of churches is very difficult indeed. I can't exactly put it on my CV now, can I?
Can speak to Roman Catholic priests in their native language. And any Roman senators who fall out of a Tardis. ;) And so I can't maintain the motivation. I know, I shall aim, one day, to read Virgil in the original Latin: translation always ruins poetry, and poetry is an ideal reason to learn a dinosaur language!

My trip to Italy has re-inforced my desire, though: in museums, none of the exhibits had any English descriptions. (I shall be complaining to my MEP in due course.) Ergo, my rudimentary Latin knowledge saved me, by allowing me to translate and understand blocks of stone and ignore the Italian text besides them. Dis manibus, I say!)

I imagine with Japanese it's easier, as you can go to Japan and speak it (have you ever been there?) and also devour the news or music that comes from Japan (the only one I've listened to is Hamasaki: I don't care much for her lyrics, but the sound of her voice is wonderful.)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-29 01:46 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (pic#)
From: [identity profile]
I tend to face the same thing, though I somehow manage to set aside a few minutes every week to read the latest pages in my favorite series. It helps that they only come out once a week; I don't get the chance to use them as tools of procrastination.

I just finished Cicero's biography last night; you could borrow it if you'd like. Do you have a college pidge?

I haven't seen that bust of him, but I figured that they had to be at least one of him somewhere in Oxford. If he's looking a bit thin and downtrodden, it may be a depiction of him during his exile...

It would be easy to speak with someone who just stumbled out of the Tardis; telepathic field, and all that. ; )

I've never been to Japan, but I'd really like to do so one day. I suppose it is much easier to learn a living language; they say that the quickest and easiest way to learn is to listen to the spoken language as much as possible. All I have to do is watch anime, and I do that for fun anyway. Fantastic.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-30 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Setting aside a few minutes every day often works best, I find!

That's most kind of you: I'd love to! I do have a college pidge - for reasons of privacy, I'll send you an email later. :D (I try to keep my offline identity secret from the rest of the world, you see! It lets me scream about death and destruction freely on my Lj. And be all emo, of course.)

He looks terribly thin and abused, so it might very well be a depiction of him during exile. Aristotle and his gang all look nicely plump by comparison. They have busts of quite a few Classical characters - unfortunately, I'm too short to read the names on many of the busts so I'm at a loss to know if someone is Plato or Socrates.

Oh, the Tardis has a telepathic field? So that explains why they all speak English. :Smacks head: Where can I get a mini-Tardis for trips abroad?

Anime would be the best way to learn a language without being immersed in it. If only they could have had French anime at school. (Though they do have French comics: Asterix! Or you could just use the mini-Tardis mentioned earlier.)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-30 03:35 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Hell of a scary crack in your wall...)
From: [identity profile]
I figured that you'd want to keep your identity safe; I'm the same way when it comes to "real life" concerns like addresses or even emails, but I think I'm fairly open when it comes to my LJ itself. People that have access to my Facebook profile can find this journal fairly easily, but I don't say anything here that I wouldn't want the world at large to know, so it doesn't really bother me. Maybe I should be a bit more careful, but I do keep important info behind friend-locks, at least. If you let me know when you send the email, I'll keep an eye out for it.

No matter where they go in time or space, the Doctor and friends can speak perfectly with the natives. The Tardis is amazing, but none of it works without the Doctor. He's been referred to as the "circuit" that connects the Companions' minds to the Tardis' ability to translate; without that vital link, it all becomes gibberish.

A mini-Tardis would be incredible, but I think I'd rather just travel with the Doctor. ; ) First stop: the library at Alexandria before that accursed fire destroyed everything. (And I always laugh to myself when I watch the episode Tooth and Claw, where the Doctor tells Rose that they could go see the crossing of the Rubicon, but she decides she'd rather seen a rock concert in Sheffield in 1979...)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS Rome is not ancient! :P

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-27 02:19 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Well, yes, of course.

My only defense is that I was using "Rome" in the context of "Rome, the capital of the Roman Republic/Empire". Which would definitely be ancient by this point.

But yes, we must keep all the details straight. ; P

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-27 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I shan't quibble. ;)

Stupid Comment Length Restriction: Part Due

Date: 2007-07-26 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

v) I found food to be cheaper than in Oxford, oddly enough. Don't expect to find Starbucks there, though. And McDonald's seemed sparse - though I should hope that when one goes abroad, one doesn't eat McDo's. (As an aside, I must ask: is Floridan food typical Southern food? Catfish and pecan pie and so on? I quite like pecan pie - it's so distinctive! :))

vi) If you've used British trains, you'll know that they are expensive, horrid, and a pain. Italian trains, in contrast, are a joy to use. Just remember to validate your ticket in the yellow machines that are NOT on the train or near the line itself. They are somewhere in the station. Somewhere being the operative word. Probably three flights of stairs away. On the other side of the track. And remember to rejoice at how CHEAP the trains are. Their ticket machines do work in English, so don't worry about ending up in Rome when you want to go to Milan.

vii) Learn numbers in Italian. I didn't. Bad omission.

viii) Ahem. Contraception and associated materials may be difficult to find in smaller towns. Take some from home if you are that way inclined (I'm not. Oh, how my youth flies away unabused.) In the cities, the situation is reversed: it will be far too easy to get your hands on such items.

ix) Food is cheap. Fluids are not. Water costs. Painfully so (esp. compared to Oxford's restaurants, in my opinion). One dinner, my fluid costs exceeded my food costs. That was a source of annoyed amusement to me. (It wasn't alcohol by the way; having said that, Italian wine seemed sub-standard to me. French or Australian is far superior, but then one would expect that.)

x) Take anti-perspirants from home if you have a preferred brand. The smaller towns seemed suspiciously deficient in their range - and the Italian brands stung me rather. Or maybe I'm just too picky and sensitive. :Shrugs:

xi) I found Italian food to be quite disappointing. A shame, as I normally adore Italian food. But you must try their vinegar, if you are in a vinegar producing region. It is intoxicating and beautiful. I am in love with it. Acetic acid owns my bitter heart. Oh, the smell, the grip on the throat, oh, divine soup of the Gods...

Whew. :) Do you appreciate art? If you do, there is nowhere better than Italy. I am in love with its sheer amount of art. (Plus, galleries have air conditioning.)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 03:44 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry about the delay in replying to this one; I had to work today, and my lunch break can only be stretched so far.

v) I would definitely be looking forward to cheap food. The food in Prague wasn't especially expensive, but we were running around the city all day, quite energetically, so by the last day of our trip we were constantly craving more food. Heh, I don't think I'd go to Italy just to eat McDonald's, though it would be a bit ironic. An American travels to Italy to eat American food...And speaking of American food, Floridian food isn't especially distinct. We're the most southern continental state, but we're not considered part of the "Deep South", and we lack the Southern accent. But Florida has some amazing seafood, and we eat fresh tropical fruit all year round. (Even slices of pineapple and cherries on the Christmas ham; that sort of thing.) We do have pecan pie, and it's one of my mom's favorites. : )

vi) Yeah, I've definitely noticed just how expensive the rail system is here, and a small part of my bank's soul dies every time I have to use it. It's good to know that the Italian rail system is a pleasant way to travel, and I'm going to keep that in mind when I start making plans in earnest. I suppose hunting down the validation machines is the price you pay for the bargain.

vii) Right, then. Duly noted.

viii) I'm not really interested in all that, so it's no problem for me. But I will let the rest of my friends know, just in case. Though if we're all sleeping in the same hostel room, then I doubt that's something any of us need to worry about...

ix) Yeah, I noticed that little fact when I was in Prague, especially in areas where the tourism is most intense. But I have a pitcher with a built-in water filter. Tap water goes in, drinking water comes out; everyone's happy. But if that's not feasible, then I'm sure everyone would (albeit grudgingly) pay the price to avoid dehydration.

x) I was planning on that anyway. The last time I took a trip through France, one of my friends ran out of deodorant. She finally managed to find a shop that carried some, but it was a huge price for such a tiny stick of it. Lesson learned.

xi) Yes, I've noticed that the "traditional" food served by immigrants in your own country can turn out to be more to your taste than the original version. But I will definitely keep an eye out for the vinegar.

"I may not know much about art, but I know what I like." Well, I do know a modest amount of art and art history, but I was planning to use this trip to educate myself more. I truly love the Louvre, and spend hours there every time I visit Paris. But I suppose I'm really excited about visiting the home of the Italian Renaissance. From what I know of history, Florence should be especially important to see for the art. And also, hooray for air conditioning...

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-26 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, there's no need to apologize. :D

Most Floridians lack the Southern accent? Gosh, I always assumed opposite. Cherries on meat? Sounds wonderful! Whilst we're on the topic of American food, I do lament the fact that the Old Orleans(?) restaurant on Cornmarket is so costly. It seems to be the only place to sample decent American cuisine in Oxford - and I'm developing a deep fondness for creole/jambalaya that my bank balance won't appreciate.

A pitcher with a filter? Ingenious. :)

Florence was just an hour on the train from where I was, and everyone in the galleries told me to go and see Florence. I didn't, as I was on a tight schedule, but you must! The art can get repetitive after a while, especially given the fact that Italy is a Roman Catholic nation (unlike the US or the UK, obviously). But that's only after you've seen your fifth gallery of art! I knew nothing of art or art history before I went to Italy; now, it's fired up an interest and I'm definitely going to follow up on it. Don't suppose you can recommend any concise guides to art history?

Suffice it to say, Italy's past culture makes it a rare place on Earth. I'm not sure it's achieved much culturally in the present day, alas. ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-27 02:59 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I think the main reason that Florida doesn't have a Southern accent is because it's filled with such a strange mixture of people. It started with intense Spanish roots (which still hold a huge influence today), and even now it faces a constant flood of new immigrants from all over the country and the world. Everyone wants to retire and buy a beach house in Florida, and they bring their accents with them.

Neither of my parents were born in Florida, and neither were any of my adult neighbors; only the kids in my area were born Floridians, so our accent became a kind of neutral blend of everything. As for my own accent, my mom encouraged me to expand my vocabulary from a young age, so I ended up speaking a bit more formally than the rest of my peers. And now I'm picking up bits and pieces of the Oxford accent (which is soft and neutral itself because of the constant influx of different accents here).

But anyone with a true British accent would hear me speak and think, "Ah, definitely American." That accent tends to jump out at people...

My grandma makes jambalaya sometimes, and I really love it. She was born and raised in Arkansas, and then lived a large amount of her adult life in Texas; both being close neighbors of Louisiana, you can see where she gets it. I can ask her for the recipe, if you'd like. It's always much cheaper to buy the ingredients and cook for yourself, rather than go to a restaurant.

I can't wait to see Florence; I can already tell that it's going to be one of the highlights of our trip. Most of what I know about art history came from my fourth year of Spanish (which was spent almost entirely on learning art and culture), and from the intense study of the Renaissance that I had in one of my history classes.

My view of it might be a bit limited, in that I didn't really learn much about the history of art itself (the changing techniques and "schools"), but more about what art can show us of history, and how history in turn has shaped art. Any book regarding the Italian Renaissance is bound to be full of interesting things, because the culture of that place and time was so focused on art. The very power and influence of the great families was displayed by the artists that they became patrons to, and the art that was then created in their name. Yet another fascinating time in the history of Italy.

But the same time period in Dutch and German art is definitely worth a look as well. Ah, there's so much to be learned; every time I read something in order to "culture myself", a hundred more spring up to be read. Sometimes I feel like I'll always be ignorant...


Date: 2007-07-29 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When we are doing our pre-trip checks for Florence remind me to show you my "Course Portfolio" from my Italian Renaissance class. That class really helped inspire me on this trip. It was what got me excited about learning Italian.

We started off that class with Dante, whom I absolutely love reading. My only regret with the Inferno was that we only had a week and half to read it. The version I have has Italian and English, so I only had time to go over the first chapter in both languages. You can not really appreciate the subtleties of the language in English. Every verso is specifically shaped and expertly crafted to fit into this artwork. I would love to have seen how Dante crafted it from beginning to end. Each of the books contains about the same number of chapters and has a very similar outline. I haven't read Pergatorio or Paradizo yet, but I think the description of hell has the greatest impact on man. Especially back then during the dark times they lived in it would have been a great shock for some people, if not for the descriptions of the torments that await, but for the sheer fact that Dante puts some of the popes in hell. It reflects on a theme I wrote for my final paper in that class: If not for the corruption in the Church as a social influence, some of the greatest works in history may never have been created. Kind of ties into the ends and means often associated with another Florentine Scholar...

But getting back to the art, the main focus of the class was actually centered around "La Santa Maria Del Fiore" dome which was created by Brunelleschi. If we can arrange it, I suggest we start out in Rome studying the ancient architecture and works before moving on to Florence. After all, a young Donatello and Brunelleschi traveled to Rome in their youth to relearn some of the knowledge lost with the fall of Rome before creating their own works which last to this day.

Isn't learning so incredible?! I pray I never loss the desire to learn. Yes, it can be humbling to feel so ignorant, but at the end of the day the quest for knowledge that is often more fun than simply knowing. Those "Aha!" moments are what I thrive on and I know you enjoy those too.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-29 01:24 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
We really need to start working on our summer plans, but the whole time and distance difference between us right now is making that more or less impossible.

I'll be home about three weeks from now; I know that you're going to be finishing up your projects soon, but will you be back home around that time? It would be a whole lot easier to plan all of this face-to-face...

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-29 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I will be back in Melbourne from the 11th to the 16, then I'm out of town until the 20th. Then I shall be back for a few days before going off to school about a week later.

Once I'm at school after a week or so I should be set up pretty well. I'm not at all opposed to driving back to Melbourne (especially if home cooked meals are involved...) I know your break is cut short, but you are always welcome over to USF any time. There are still days left to use our passes to Busch Gardens. They changed Shiekra now so that it is floorless.

Also, Halloween Horror Nights planning should be done sometime around then as it would be most heinous to miss a must triumphant Bill and Ted's show.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-30 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, that does make sense about the Floridian accent. Having a broad array of immigrants to a state will yield a hotchpotch of accents. Especially if many of those are old-age-pensioners and not kiddies. OAP's don't pick up accents nearly as well as babies and toddlers. I've also heard many people complain about their accents changing when they go to Oxford, and then reverting when they return home. Oxford is a nice mix of people and places - it's one of the wonderful things about it.

I shall have a kitchen next year (or rather, this year) in my staircase, and I ought to start cooking new and exciting stuff beyond the student essentials. It'd be wonderful to have the recipe when you can get hold of it - thanks ever so much. :D

I've never studied the Renaissance in history, and lacked any art history education (beyond a bit on cubism and Picasso and Matisse.) It's amazing how school history can skip entire centuries - missing an array of ideas and themes. But hey, nothing stopping ME from learning about it. :)

Four years of Spanish? Besides Spanish and rudimentary Japanese, do you speak any other languages? I've only had five years of French (actually, seven years - but you can't really count my elementary school years as proper 'French'. It was all nouns and NOTHING ELSE.) Unfortunately, we focussed far too much on 'how to order a hotel room and a croissant' and left the literature and culture pieces to the sixth/seventh years, which I didn't take. If they had inverted the order, I may have had more of an interest in foreign languages. It's one of the problems of education: to get to the interesting, juicy pieces, you have to go through a mindless slog of material which deters many youngsters. It's only when you get to the end that the fun parts of mathematics, art (Oh, don't get me started on art education with its brushes and pencils.), or languages emerge; only, by then, most children have ditched the subject.

Florence is quite lucky to have had the power of the Medici's over them - especially Signor Magnificent aka Lorenzo. Nothing I could say here could do credit to their importance to the Italian Renaissance in the Florence region, so I shall stay humbly quiet. I shall say only this: Italian strife can have downsides like dear Danté being exiled and priceless buildings being destroyed, but it can also bring wonders when it comes to patronage of the arts!

I do detest that feeling of knowing that I will never know everything there is to know. Because there's just SO much I want to know. Oh, well. Best start learning everything I can in little bits and assume I'll live forever (with an eternal library at my side). ;)

I shall reply to your other comments later. :o)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-07-30 03:55 pm (UTC)
ext_104199: (I love reading)
From: [identity profile]
I actually ended up with five years of Spanish, and at one point was even considered officially fluent. But it's been three years since I've spoken it to any substantial degree, and you know what they say about languages: Use it, or lose it. Now the only thing I can officially be considered is rusty...

I haven't had the chance to pick up any other languages, sadly, though I do know a few things in a few others. But those bits and pieces aren't particularly profound. (Or even, in some cases, particularly polite.) It's definitely a shame that languages are being taught in such a clinical fashion these days, and I feel so lucky to have been taught the way that I was; my "profesora" was absolutely fantastic, and I don't think anyone would drop a language if they had a teacher like her.

I feel the same way. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a vampire merely so I could sit around and know everything. Immortal bibliophiles for the win! ; )


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