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Home via Halifax

I’m home. I’m sitting in my bedroom, in my slightly-too-short-for-this-desk rolling chair, a cup of tea in my big blue Eeyore mug to my right, and my fabulous bookshelves to my left. Oh, and my room is a mess. My suitcases lie on the floor in front of the bookshelves and TV, bulging and gravid with my life in England. I haven’t even attempted to unpack yet. I need to tidy the room first, for it has become mired in the accumulated kipple of two years’ near-continuous absence.

Missing the little things in England

Right, so, I’m going back to Canada in four days. Unlike last summer, I’m not coming back after five weeks. As I have begun to pack up my life in preparation for this move, I’ve started fantasizing about all the things I’m eager to do once I’m back in Canada. But that got me thinking about all the things I’ve become accustomed to over here in the UK. There are things I’m going to miss having as part of my daily life.

Last day teaching in England

Picture if you will: finding it difficult to get a job in your chosen profession near home, you elect to move to an entirely different country to start your career. Now, some of you might have actually done this. So factor in having stayed in your hometown for almost your entire life, including university studies, with only occasional forays to other places.

Visit to Kentwell Hall

It has been ages since I blogged. There’s plenty I could talk about: TV shows that I have enjoyed lately, the Ontario provincial election and voting by special ballot, my impending return home … and I may indeed get around to blogging about these. For now, though, let’s talk about Kentwell Hall. Last Sunday, I accompanied my landlady and her daughter to Kentwell Hall Through the Ages. Ordinarily this stately manor house has re-enactments from a single time period (often Tudor).

Amsterdam travel diary: Wednesday

When I went to Edinburgh, we took a Sandeman’s walking tour of the city. These tours are given by freelance guides who hire Sandeman’s to promote them; they are “pay what you want” tours, where one pays the guide at the end within their means and according to their satisfaction with the tour.

Amsterdam travel diary: Tuesday

I don’t like travelling. I’m not like Frodo Baggins; I’m perfectly happy to stay in the Shire. It’s nice there. I don’t relish the interruptions to routine that travelling brings, the fiddly bits required in packing, the problem of hygiene on the road. So I travel sparingly. Instead I live vicariously through others: through the stories of friends and the writing of well-travelled people.

Currently Reading

Book Reviews

Spook Country cover image

Can a thriller also anaesthetize? Spook Country tries to find out. It has all the trappings of a modern espionage story, with quasi—government agents and a mysterious shipping container being tracked by a paranoid GPS geohacker. Yet William Gibson seems strangely reticent to let the story or the characters off their leash and venture boundlessly into this world. Instead, he escorts the reader on a meandering tour of a possible present (or near-future) which ponders how recent technological innov…

On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does cover image

This is the second map book I’ve read recently, the other being A History of the World in Twelve Maps . These two books are similar enough that I could spend the entire review comparing them, but I’d rather not do that. So let me make the comparison now and then move on: On the Map is neither as detailled nor, for me at least, as satisfying as A History of the World in Twelve Maps (or H12M, as I’ll call it from now on). Simon Garfield covers very similar territory less thoroughly. I’ll give…

The Hidden Family (The Merchant Princes, #2) cover image

I rediscovered this while sorting out my overflow bin of books to read. I hesitated, because since buying it years ago, I’ve learned that the series has been re-edited and republished in doorstopper form, apparently to its benefit as a story. Still, it was there, and I wanted something not too heavy to read.

The Hidden Family picks up right where The Family Trade left off (literally, because they used to be one book). Whereas I was impressed with The Family Trade, I’m less enamoured of The Hidden…

Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It cover image

Wait, Queers Dig Time Lords? But I thought Chicks Dig Time Lords ! Who else digs time lords—small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri? Soon there won’t be any time lord left for straight, white men! Think of the menz!

Seriously though, having read three of these fandom-celebration books from Mad Norwegian Press already, I was looking forward to Queers Dig Time Lords. I should note that since reading Chicks Dig Time Lords three years ago, I’ve watched a lot of the old Doctor Who. I’m much more…

How to Build a Girl cover image

I’m not and never was an adolescent girl; I can’t understand what growing up as an adolescent girl must be like. But for a brief moment, thanks to Caitlin Moran’s writing, I felt like an adolescent girl. Beyond the humour and zaniness, it’s this raw empathy, such a powerful and important emotion, that made me enjoy How to Build a Girl.

Because we could all do well to feel like an adolescent girl once in a while.

We inhabit a society that is still largely built by and for middle-aged white men. It’s…

How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life cover image

I math for a living. I mathed, both amateurly and professionally, at school. I math quite a bit. And as a math teacher, I like reading "pop math" books that try to do for math what many science writers have done for science. So picking up How Not to Be Wrong was a no-brainer when I saw it on that bookstore shelf. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Jordan Ellenberg’s columns on Slate and elsewhere (some of them appear or are adapted as chapters of this book). And he doesn’t disappoint.

I should make one…