I know it’s not quite July yet, but I handed in my final assignment on Thursday (it wasn’t due until next week, but I didn’t want to have to work on it this weekend, so I put in a bit of extra effort during the week (luckily my boss is supportive and kindly turned a blind eye to the fact that some of it got done in work time…) and got it finished early), so I’m finished with this paper! (Which means only two more papers to do to finish my degree, but I’m not attempting another one until next year – one a year is more than enough while working full time – I’ll need the next 6 months to recover from this one!)
Oh, and for Yetzirah, who asked ages ago: the paper was in linguistics, specifically looking at ways theoretical linguistics tries to account for variation in language (like why do we sometimes say walking and other times say walkin’?). It’s an area that’s been mostly neglected in linguistics – most theorists try to simplify things by assuming we all speak an idealised version of our language and ignore all the inconvenient messiness of real language (so they’d say that the difference between walking and walkin’ isn’t actually important, let’s just assume everyone always says walking), while the sociolinguists are very good at describing variation (so they can tell you exactly how likely you are to say walkin’ based on your geographical region, age, gender, and social class), but aren’t usually interested in coming up with theories to say why the variation happens in the first place. So in the course we were looking at the work of various people who’ve tried to bring theoretical linguistics and sociolinguistics together, which has been really interesting (well, interesting to a language geek like me, anyway – whenever I try and explain it to anyone else, I see their eyes starting to glaze over, as I’m sure is happening to anyone who’s still reading this paragraph!)
Anyway, finally not having any assignments hanging over my head, I was able to spend today very productively. I spent the morning on some intensive cleaning, which the house definitely needed after me having done little more than the minimum of housework all semester. Then I spent the afternoon baking, because I’m having a few friends round for a birthday afternoon tea tomorrow, and being me, my plan to keep things simple by doing afternoon tea instead of a meal quickly complicated itself into all sorts of elaborate baking plans which required the whole afternoon to carry out. Or maybe it was just because I was having fun being able to just muck around in the kitchen for a few hours and experiment with recipes, instead of quickly microwaving something then getting back to my books. Anyway, I produced a seriously impressive looking chocolate fudge cake and a batch of eclairs (well, technically I suppose they’re cream puffs, because I didn’t pipe them into the proper eclair shapes, but it’s the same recipe (which was such fun – I haven’t made choux pastry in years, and I’d forgotten just how satisfying it is)) which just need to be filled with cream in the morning, and I’ve got focaccia dough quietly rising overnight which I’ll finish off and bake in the morning (I probably would have had time to make it tomorrow, but I didn’t want to risk it being too cold in the morning to rise the dough fast enough – this way I know it will definitely have risen by the time I come to bake it). So there definitely won’t be a shortage of afternoon tea goodies
I actually took a wee break from studying last weekend too, to zip down to Dunedin, where Jane Goodall (she of the chimp research fame) was giving a talk. She’s one of my childhood heroes, so there was no way I was passing up the chance to hear her speak, even if it did mean losing a weekend’s worth of essay-writing time. It was so worth going down there – she’s a wonderful speaker, and had the audience enthralled (she got a standing ovation at the end), plus left us all feeling inspired about conservation efforts, not just in Africa but also here in New Zealand. And as a bonus, I got to spend the rest of the weekend with Mum, who came down to Dunedin to join me, so we had a proper mother-daughter bonding weekend, which even involved clothes shopping! (a very rare occurrence – Mum and I were famous for our pitched battles whenever she tried to drag me into a clothes shop when I was a teenager… (of course, I’ve grown up a bit since then – now I don’t actively detest shopping, I just tolerate it as a necessary evil 😉 )) Lots of other adventures were had too – we visited the Chinese gardens, and saw a great film festival movie about punks in Belfast (Good Vibrations), and shared churros from a street stall with a very intoxicated young man (who spent a lot of time reassuring us it was ok that he was drunk, because he was 18 – actually, I suspect he’d ingested more than alcohol…), and giggled over getting chatted up by a rather creepy truck driver from Ashburton, and generally had a lot of fun being tourists in our old home town.
And, yes, I know I still haven’t posted anything about my Australian adventures – I promise I will just as soon as I’ve downloaded the several thousand photos I took – they’re still sitting on the memory card because I haven’t had time to even look through them since I got back. Hopefully now that I’ve got time to breathe I’ll be able to get on to them soon.