Learning stuff

I had to make a tough decision today. The downside (yes, there is one!) of my exciting travel plans is that doing any study this semester is going to be virtually impossible – even though most of the time I’ll be away is during the university vacation, I’ll still be missing a week and a half of term-time, which would put me too far behind, plus it would be almost guaranteed I’d have an essay to write during the vacation (I’ve never known a lecturer to miss the chance of scheduling a due date the day term starts), and there’s no way I’d manage that while gallivanting around the world. I’ve known this ever since my name was first put forward for the trip, but I’ve been putting off actually making the decision to definitely not enrol. But this week is when I would have had to ask my boss for permission if I was going to take a paper, to be able to get the paperwork sorted out in time, so today I had to acknowledge that there’s no way I can travel *and* study in the same semester.

Skipping a semester isn’t that bad, but I’d already pretty much decided I wouldn’t take any papers in Semester 2, or Semester 1 of next year, because we’ll be full-on into convention planning. Which means I’ll actually be pushing my graduation date back by 18 months. That’s not the end of the world, of course – this degree has taken me 8 years already, and I’ve still got a couple of years to go, so what’s another year and a half? However, the thought of 18 months without any study is already starting to get the withdrawal symptoms going, so I may well take a nice easy first-year paper in July – it won’t contribute to my degree, because I’ve already done the full complement of first-year papers I need, but at least it will keep my brain from atrophying too much, without being as much work and stress as the third-year papers I should be doing.

Oh well, I can worry about that when I get back – I don’t have to apply until late May.

Actually, although I may not be taking any papers this semester, I *will* be doing some study. I got out my Spanish books last night, in anticipation of visiting Spain, and was horrified by how much I’d forgotten already. So I think I’ll be doing some serious revision over the next couple of months to try and get back up to speed. Of course, I’ll probably use about three words of Spanish while I’m there (at most I’ll probably have to order lunch or ask directions), but it’ll be good to refresh my memory so if I *do* need to use it, I won’t be just stumbling my way through a phrase book. And who knows, maybe I’ll feel confident enough to actually have a conversation with someone…

In other news, I’ve got rather stiff arms and legs today – those boxes must have been heavier than I thought!

(And to answer Kimi’s question, I was almost right – the house was grey brick).

72 sleeps to go!

Currently reading: The Amish Landscape by Robert Holman
Currently listening to: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M Auel

Meetup and moving

Well that turned into a busy sort of day. It started with a breakfast meetup at Trattorie, attended by me, lytteltonwitch, awhina, Mr awhina, meerkitten and giraffe02, and angela7715. As always, London and the Bookcrossing World Tour were the main topics of conversation, plus the clean up of the database (who knew a simple question in the yahoo group about whether the Manawatu includes Wanganui would incite so much debate!), and the usual gossip and book chat. And this time it was awhina’s turn to flash her (disturbingly hairy) breast around. A fun morning, and lots of books changing hands, plus plenty left at the end to top up the OBCZ.

I passed on Christmas Carols for Cats by Julie and John Hope and Extreme Office Crafts by Jimmy Knight and Tom Chalmers, and added Clan Ground by Clare Bell to the OBCZ. And I acquired Stillriver by Andrew Rosenheim, The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons, and Can’t You Bastards Read? by Mark Lynch.

After the meetup, lytteltonwitch and I were discussing rarsberry‘s imminent arrival in Christchurch, and decided it would be fun to leave a book on her doorstep as a surprise welcome gift. I had just the book: Tales of Long Ago by Enid Blyton, which awhina had released into *my* letterbox a week or so ago – it seems destined to travel from letterbox to letterbox 🙂 Of course, we didn’t actually know what her address was, but we knew the name of the street, and had seen some photos, so thought we could probably find it. So we headed off to Woolston, and (after a bit of a false start when a street that looked like it would go exactly where we wanted turned out to have a river in the way) found the right street. We drove along slowly, looking for the house from the photos (which I remembered as white brick), but couldn’t see anything that looked familiar. There was a pathway along the river at the back of the houses, so we walked along that, peering through gaps in the fences to try and see something we recognised. I’m convinced one day our adventures are going to get us arrested!

In the end, we gave up and went back to lytteltonwitch’s to have another look at the photos on trademe. But because the auction was closed, they’d taken down the photos. We tried various things to extract archives of the photos, but no luck. So we decided to go over to lytteltonwitch’s ex’s place to pick up a log I wanted for a chopping block, and then go back to Woolston for one last cruise along the street.

On the way we ended up behind a car towing a covered trailer. “There’s furniture in that,” I commented, “Do you think… nah, it’s a Christchurch hire company, not Dunedin, it won’t be them.” Then we were distracted by a woman with a large dog having an argument with her imaginary friend, and lost sight of the trailer.

When we got to Woolston, and pulled into rarsberry’s street, we saw the trailer again. We didn’t recognise the people in the car, but we stopped anyway, and I asked the woman if she knew rarsberry and vivarichie (except I used their real names, of course!). She looked a bit shocked, but said yes, she was vivarichie’s mother. We introduced ourselves, and helped unload the trailer while we waited for rars and richie to arrive.

They were suitably surprised when they turned up and there we were sitting on their lounge suite in the middle of the lawn 🙂 (they had the keys, so we couldn’t move anything into the house until they arrived). We helped unload the rest of their stuff, and carry it all into the house. Once we were finished, it was late afternoon, so I suggested that rather than them trying to search out their kitchen stuff they should come back to my place for tea. So we all piled back into lyttletonwitch’s car (after spending a few minutes shifting enough books from the back seat to give everyone room to sit, and then another few minutes raiding the neighbours plum trees overhanging the drive), stopped off at the supermarket for some bits and pieces to supplement the kebabs I’d bought earlier for my and MrPloppy’s dinner, and managed to put together a reasonable meal before rarsberry could fall asleep on the couch.

Not entirely how I’d originally intended to spend the day, but fun anyway (we did release the books, by the way – we lined them up below the cat flap), and great to see rarsberry again. It’s going to be strange having her up here, but a great boost to our meetups. I wonder how Dunedin will cope without her, though?

And now, Hawai’i!

Everything’s starting to come together nicely. I joined the Oahu BC yahoo group a couple of days ago, but it’s a closed group, so I had to wait for approval before I could post anything. The approval came through this morning, so I sent a post asking if anyone could host me, and got an email back almost immediately from dustyflint offering me a bed.


I also heard back from the hostel we picked in Singapore, The Inn Crowd, and they had a room available (which was incredibly lucky, because they’re very popular), so I’ve booked us in for two nights.

So that’s another two cities sorted out. And TexasWren and bookczuk are on the case to find us accommodation in Dallas and Charleston, so that means there’s only Perth left on my nowhere to stay list.

I’ve been having a bit of a booking spree, really, because after a bit of a struggle I also booked the train from London to Cardiff. The struggle wasn’t to find a train (there was one at exactly the time we wanted) or even to get a cheap fare (I managed to find us incredibly cheap earlybird fares – £11.50 each!), but to register on the First Great Western website. They had a very clever address locating function, where you put in your postcode and it comes out with your address. Of course, it only works with UK postcodes – but that’s natural enough for a British website. The trouble is, the website won’t let you proceed without putting a postcode in so that it can find your address, even if you select a country other than the UK in the drop-down country box. I tried leaving the postcode box blank, and it insisted I needed to put one in. So I put in our postcode here, but it told me it wasn’t a valid postcode. I was totally flumoxed, until I thought of putting in the Outlaws’ postcode. That worked at last, and brought up address fields with their address entered in, which I could delete and replace with my own address. Horribly complicated and long-winded way of doing it though!

The really stupid thing was that they didn’t actually *need* my address anyway, because I’d asked for the tickets to be emailed to me, not posted!

Just for a break from news about the Bookcrossing World tour, a few recent catches:

A Different Kind of Life by Virginia Williams: this one’s really exciting. I released it while I was down in Alexandra, in the ruins of some old mine workings on the “wrong” side of Lake Roxburgh, only reachable by boat (ok, technically you could walk there, but it’d be a VERY long walk! Have a look at the release map to get an idea just how far away from anything this place is). I think it’s probably the most inaccessible place I’ve ever left a book. And it got caught!

The Concise Encyclopedia of Dogs by Lou Sawyer Ashworth: This one’s in the “never give up” category. Released in June 2004, caught in January 2008, with absolutely no indication of where it’s been in between.

The Spoiled Earth by Jessica Stirling: The combination of a hostel bookshelf and a batch of pre-numbered labels pays off yet again 🙂

Homecoming by Belva Plain: One of the books we released in Invercargill in November.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: Not sure if this is a genuine third generation catch, or just the same anonymous finder reporting a change of plans for the book, but who cares – they’re intending to release it back into the wild, which means they get what bookcrossing is all about.

Currently reading: The Amish Landscape by Robert Holman
Currently listening to: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M Auel

O Canada

I have somewhere to stay in Ottawa! I got busy today* and joined several bookcrossing yahoo groups in the areas I’m going to, and posted messages seeking accommodation. And I just got an email from princess1984 offering a bed for the two nights I’ll be in Ottawa, and to pick me up and drop me off at the airport.

So that’s one more city to tick off the list…

(*I did do some actual work as well, honestly!)

Drumroll please…

My official itinerary:

Wed 9 April Leave Christchurch 2.35 pm
Arrive Perth 8.45 pm (via Sydney)
Thu 10 Perth
Fri 11 Leave Perth 12 noon
Arrive Singapore 5.25 pm
Sat 12 Singapore
Sun 13 Leave Singapore 10.55 pm
Mon 14 Arrive London 5.15 am
Train to Wales
Tue 15 Wales
Wed 16 Wales
(Meetup in Cardiff?)
Thu 17 Train to Bath
Drive to London with lytteltonwitch
Fri 18 London (convention!)
Sat 19 London (convention!)
Sun 20 London (convention!)
Mon 21 Leave London 7.25 am
Arrive Bilbao 12.55 pm (via Madrid)
Tue 22 Vitoria
Wed 23 Leave Bilbao 8.35 am
Arrive Chicago 6.40 pm (via Madrid and London)
Thu 24 Chicago
Fri 25 Leave Chicago 9.05 am
Arrive Ottawa 12.00 noon
Sat 26 Ottawa
Sun 27 Leave Ottawa 12.35 pm
Arrive Columbus 5.40 pm (via Chicago)
Mon 28 Road trip!
(Pick up Otakuu in Washington DC)
Tue 29 Road trip!
Wed 30 Road trip!
(Arrive in Charleston at some point)
Thu 1 May Leave Charleston 7.40 am
Arrive Dallas/Fort Worth 9.30 am
Fri 2 Leave Dallas/Fort Worth 5.35 pm
Arrive Honolulu 10.40 pm (via Los Angeles)
Sat 3 Honolulu
Sun 4 Leave Honolulu 10.50 am
Mon 5 Arrive Sydney 5.30 pm
Tue 6 Leave Sydney 8.35 pm
Arrive Christchurch 1.35 pm

The main change from the itinerary I’d worked out is that we don’t need to spend a night in Sydney on the way to Perth (though I do get a night there on the way home – hopefully enough time for a meetup to catch up with a few friends), so we get two nights in Perth now. Which means the only place I won’t get to stay two nights is Dallas/Fort Worth, but I’m arriving there early enough and leaving late enough the next day that I’ll get the best part of two days to look around.

Now I’ve got to start seriously sorting out accommodation: confirming the offers I do have, and writing some more begging PMs to people in the places where I haven’t got anything.

Hope my boss doesn’t expect me to actually do any work today! 😉

I can has itinerary?

I just got back from the pictures and it’s very very late, so I really should go to bed, but I just wanted to say that when I got home there was an email waiting for me from the travel agent, with a confirmed itinerary.


More details tomorrow.

(Between flashbacks of the movie (The Kiterunner – rather harrowing, to say the least) and excitement over the itinerary, I’m not going to get much sleep tonight anyway….)