Baltic Trip Photos: First Installment

[Photo removed, 23 December 2005]

A stuffed orangtutan in Sarah’s mother’s living room, in Radlett.

Children we followed to the Town Hall Square

A group of reflective children Sarah and I followed from the bus stop to the Town Hall Square: nexus of Old Tallinn.

Warning sign near a hole

Warning sign outside the most intriguing hole we discovered in Tallinn.

The House of Parliament

The Estonian House of Parliament, in the Toompea.

[Image removed at the subject’s request: 23 December 2005] §

Sarah relaxing inside Kiek in de Kök; one of the medieval cannon towers.

Happy Birthday Nick Ellan

Lauren Priest with a gun

Today was spent ponderously, in pursuit of refreshed memories. Camera in hand, I walked through the village and up the familiar but neglected path to my high school. Initially unwilling to go inside, I just circled it warily, walking first to the corner store that gave character to our inter-class breaks and then back up to Cleveland Dam – noting with alarm how low the water level in the reservoir is: a fact only evident by day.

Later, on the sofa in the kitchen and by window-light, I read several chapters of The Great Fire, finally passing the half-way mark. Somehow, the tone of the book has changed for me. With a stack of reclaimed books in my room, I feel a new urgency for finishing it, tinged with shame at having taken so long so far. With the book now in my mind more as a task to be accomplished and less as a thing to extract beauty and understanding from, the prose flows much more rapidly from eyes to brain.

Tonight, we are to celebrate Nick Ellan’s birthday through drinks and general socializing at his parents’ house. It is my hope that Sarah will come to join us. The lack of her company has been more biting than I would have expected for myself, though all such thoughts are heightened in the anticipation of my departure.

Nick’s party was relatively low key, with Jonathan, Neal, Maya, Emerson, and Lauren turning up. While I shot a large number of megabytes of images, I am not in the best shape for judging which among them best captures the event. I shall therefore provide one and allow those with sturdy imaginations to extrapolate the rest. 

Many congratulations to Nick for another successful orbit.

Tomorrow night, I am going for dinner with my family and to a play. Since my mother will not be in Vancouver for my Oxford pre-departure party on the 17th, we will be having a familial celebration tomorrow, albeit sans Mica. We are seeing The TJ Dawe Box Set at the Arts Club Theatre, heavily influenced by the good review it received from The Georgia Straight. Beforehand, we will be having dinner at the vegetarian Foundation Lounge at 7th and Main. 

PS. Look how ancient, how medieval, Wadham College looks.

PPS. I decided, less than a week ago, to stop eating factory farmed meat. The reasons are threefold. In short, it is unsustainable as well as ethically and hygienically repulsive. The newest theory about the emergence of BSE (see Alan Colchester in The Lancet) powerfully underscores the third point.

News on Multiple Fronts

Today started out as the most trying day ever at Staples. I had three blatantly rude and incredibly aggressive customers in a row. I tried to hide from them; they hounded me; they complained to managers; the managers sympathized with me. One note to those people out there who feel that shouting abuse at a minimum wage salesperson with no commission will get you faster/better service: you may want to re-examine your reasoning. Luckily, all the ugliness ended by about one. Today is the first day when many West Vancouver private schools are open, so it was a never ending parade of ties and pleated skirts this afternoon. It was a spectacle that I observed in a purely journalistic context, as your faithful blogging correspondent.

This morning, I also discovered that GMail had cruelly concealed an absolutely vital message at the bottom of a neglected ‘conversation.’ My increasingly desperate plea to know what kind of financial documentation Wadham College wanted was answered on Friday. Today, I duly sent them promises of C$87,600 and a healthy kidney – if required. Anyone who has spoken with me lately will know how much anxiety the outstanding issue of my application status had been causing. Not being able to compile and send the message until I got home at eight was very trying, even though I know they won’t be up and reading emails over there until at least midnight tonight.

The next two pieces of excitement relate to my walk home. Firstly, I walked while speaking with Viktoria – who I’ve been without the conversation of for far too long. Since last we spoke, she has left her old job as a provincial bureaucrat and taken up a new one organizing conferences and things for U of T. Amusingly, Tristan will almost certainly end up going to several of the events she coordinates. Since I spoke with her last, her mother also got married – during the Labour Day weekend. While I’ve never actually met anyone from her family, it was good to hear her happy and excited about the whole matter.

Also during that walk, I noticed that the Capilano Road Staples had a Canon A510 going for $229, due to an old sign still being up. Hearing Tristan praise the device yesterday as the best camera he has owned (and this is a Nikon user talking, mind you) definitely sealed the deal in my mind. Since I was resigned to buying one anyway, getting one for $50 less than I expected was an obvious choice. It is equipped with a 512MB card now, and I will purchase a case for the thing when I see an appropriate one. It’s nothing beside Nick Sayeg‘s uber-fancy new Digital Rebel, but it will allow me to photoblog from Oxford. I am planning to put up a photo or so per day for the first while I am there, to introduce whoever cares to see to the city, even as I am discovering it for myself. A very fine piece of equipment: my EOS Elan 7N will definitely also be coming along, for those film-photography type moments.

During my lunch break today, I made the move official: I shifted my subscription to The Economist to: care of Wadham College, Oxford. Sarah Pemberton tells me that such messages will find their way to a graduate student pigeon hole for me.

PS. No word in a long while for Kate or Linnea. I suppose they are very busy or sans internet right now.