Two plans


in Daily updates, Toronto, Travel

On the morning of September 12th, I need to be in Toronto.

Between now and then, however, I actually don’t have any firm commitments. This raises the question of how to spend the time.

Plan 1: Safe and responsible

Move and apply to doctoral programs

I need to move to Toronto and applications to doctoral programs for the fall of 2012 are due this fall. I could stay in Ottawa and put together a research proposal. I could chase down people to serve as references. I could visit Toronto to look at apartments, choose one, and ship my things over.

I could also work on the great many semi-complete tasks that tend to get buried underneath trivial day-to-day stuff while I am working.

Plan 2: More adventurous


I could also push the moving stuff into the smallest amount of time possible and get myself a 30-day unlimited Greyhound ticket. I could go to New York City on my way to New Orleans. I could take photos, visit the campuses of schools I might apply to, and take advantage of the longest unstructured span of time I have had since Oxford.

Lately, I have been feeling a bit untethered and uncertain about what I should do with myself. I am dispirited by the way recent efforts to drive action on climate change have failed so completely in North America in recent years. Having some time spent in solitary travel could allow me to think things through, and perhaps reach a sense of clarity about how I should spend the next few years.

This would probably mean pushing back doctoral applications, but it might be unreasonable to aim for this fall anyhow. I need to write the GRE and do a pile of work. I am also not totally sure if a doctorate is really what I want to do.

So, readers, which plan do you endorse? Do you have other ideas?

One element that is common to both plans is my intention to go to Washington D.C. for the Stop the Pipeline Sit-In being organized by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and others. As well as being a good opportunity to see climate change activism in person, it could provide some contacts and empirical data for subsequent academic work.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan August 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm

P.S. Does anybody have any ideas about where I could stay in Washington D.C. between August 20th and September 3rd?

alison August 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I realize it’s antithetical to the whole sit-in component, but I could come down to DC for some part of that.


Milan August 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm

There is a video chat about the sit-in tonight at 9pm Eastern time.

dp August 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm

“30-day unlimited Greyhound ticket”

How much carbon does a Greyhound emit in 30 days?

oleh August 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

The 30-day adventure sounds like a great opportunity. These opportunities do not come around too often. I suggest that route. (I wonder if that might include a swing by Vancouver).

Sarah August 4, 2011 at 1:28 am

Go adventuring. Moments of freedom like that are few and far between.

alena August 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Washington D.C. is a wonderful place in the summer. My artist friend Nurieh Mozaffari lives in Bethesda. (You have one of her paintings) I am sure that you could sleep in her home. If you are interested let me know. I leave for Korea soon.

Byron Smith August 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

a good opportunity to see climate change activism in person
From which side of the fence? Are you planning on joining the action or simply observing?

Milan August 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Getting arrested in Washington D.C. would not be very smart, given the good chance it will result in being denied access to the United States on future occasions.

During the video chat, McKibben encouraged Canadians to turn up and volunteer, but not intentionally get arrested in protest.

Apparently, there is going to be a simultaneous action in Alberta, and an action in Ottawa in about a month.

Byron Smith August 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Fair enough – that makes sense.

Milan August 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

How much carbon does a Greyhound emit in 30 days?

Less per passenger kilometre than flying the same distance, I think, but still not an insignificant amount.

That being said, it is a relatively low-carbon way to travel and I have not done much travel in recent years.

The trip will also serve some useful purposes, particularly in terms of the event in Washington D.C..

Sarah August 5, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I will also throw open the suggestion that if you’re in the DC area and could find a way West then you’d be welcome to visit me at Ohio University. I’ll be there from early September onwards, and should have some free time at weekends. The house I’m sharing does have a spare room, but as yet I have no furniture for my room, so the bed situation could be complex – or might just involve buying an inflatable mattress from Walmart, which I suppose isn’t very complex.

Milan August 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I will definitely keep that possibility in mind, thanks.

All the logistical difficulties of moving – along with the fact that leaving immediately would leave me unable to say a proper farewell to people I know in Ottawa – have somewhat sapped my enthusiasm and energy for the Greyhound plan.

Maybe if I can get everything in boxes, say goodbye to the critical people, and tie up some loose ends in the next couple of days I will be able to do a less ambitious trip.

oleh August 8, 2011 at 2:59 am

I look forward to vicariously experiencing your journey through your blog.

Milan August 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm

The ride board gives a sense of how many places people are heading to this Washington event from.

Milan August 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm

The preferred dress code for the Washington event is business attire – ideally a suit and tie.

Bringing all that stuff to Washington by Greyhound would be a big pain. It would also not be very comfortable to wear outside for long spans of time in Washington D.C. in August…

RR September 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm

you totally chose the better option

Milan September 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I agree. I had some rather interesting and unexpected experiences.

oleh September 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

Well done on choosing the more adventurous route. I felt I was part of that adventure through your blog.

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