Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Buy the Oyster, Bring the Map

I met my brothers in London this weekend. We spent a fortune on public transportation, took selfies in front of Harrods, climbed the lions at Trafalgar Square, fed the ducks at St. James's Park, squinted at the smaller-than-life Jane Austen sketch at the National Portrait Gallery, walked along the Thames with a friend, and peered through the gates at Buckingham Palace. We did so many of the must-do in London things!

But we also got helplessly lost. In fact, we spent most of Saturday evening walking in the wrong direction and retracing those steps--first in search of the Spaghetti House, which was boarded up when we found it. Second, in hopes of seeing the Victoria & Albert Museum, which was closed for a private viewing. Third, on our mission to find the Paddington Bear statue, which we learned most of the locals have no idea exists. And fourth, geting home to Wandsworth.



It was rather a nightmare.

Lessons Learned in London

#1: The "Ultimate Pocket London Travel Guide" app is not ultimate. Download a real tube and bus schedule.

#2: Don't leave the London map at the hotel

#3: Do the research. Find out exactly where points of interest are (e.g. Paddington), whether they are still in business (e.g. Spaghetti House), and if they are open that day (e.g. V&A Museum)

#4: Buy an Oyster. London's public transport system is cashless

#5: Pray. Maybe this should be #1.


I hope my list saves you a headache on your holiday. This was a downer post, but every trip has its downsides, and now I am free to regale you with stories about Pavel the street beatboxer and little miss indignant at the Palace gates!




Friday, February 13, 2015

My Book Nook

My lecture/seminar schedule leaves me 3 days free every week. My housemates are jealous. My last semester self would be jealous, too.

It's Friday. I'm writing from the the third floor of the South Wales Miners' Library. I think it's going to be my favorite study spot. It's right in the Village, so I don't have to walk far. It's tucked away at the top of the hill, hidden by a campus building and the bend in the road.




It was established in 1973 as a research center. It has a valuable collection of resources about the coalfield.



It's just the perfect size to not be overwhelming. Lots of natural light comes in from the windows, the books are in good condition, and it's warm.



They had a little book sale. I bought a couple ones in pretty, old binding for a pound each.

Don't you love it?






Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye, Dusty Well

  This year has been very eventful for me, but time constraints and maybe not really having anything worthy to say kept me from posting here.

     Now I am getting ready to spend a whole semester studying abroad at Swansea University (Swansea, Wales). I probably won't be posting here in the near future. January 1st seems like a good day to say goodbye to the dusty Well in the Wood.

     In this shiny new year of 2015 I wish you all my best wishes, and I hope to see you at my new travel blog, A Long Expected Journey at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When the Odds Are in Your Favor

Windows to the Imagination: What Reading Books Does for Me
When I read, for once the ticking clock is silent. With my head in a book, my anxiety about project due dates, and my peanut butter cookie craving, that itchy mosquito bite, and my sister calling me to come look at a hummingbird feeder all become background noise.
Books, good books, shows me life through different windows and dunk me in emotion. With their settings they take me places I may never go in real life. I see the glittering lights of fabulous parties, smell the stench on a crowded immigrant ship, feel cold Siberian snows on my bare feet—I bristle when my valet criticizes my fashion sense, and then I wonder how hilariously shallow I might be. When the enemy army begins to fire I wonder, weak-kneed, if I would run. Once I taste Turkish delight, I wonder what I am willing to do to eat another bite. I become the characters, the lovable ones, the hateable ones, and the in-between ones. Their experiences teach me of hardship and of comfort, of hate and of hope, of disillusionment and dreams, of lies and of selflessness. Reading shows me the me I am, the me’s that I could be, and the me’s I want to be. When I finally pull my head out of the water, dry my face, and come back to my own window with its old view, I have to stop wondering what I would do and choose which of those me’s will be.

I think this was the first year that the local shop, Chapel Books, had an essay contest. That meant there was a small pool of entries. That was good for me! I won out of maybe 4 other entries. In addition to a Oxford paperback classic of my choice, I received a $50 check, part of which I plan to use to book shop.

Happy writing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Wind and the Waves: Poetry

    New news becomes old news quickly, but if you remember, a couple weeks ago an earthquake and a tropical storm hit Hawaii.


     A second storm, Julio, was predicted to hit my grandparents home on Oahu with devastating force. I started this poem while it was on its way, with the ending already deliberately written in my mind. "Diffraction" is on two pages but is meant to be read continuously.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Sounds of Bornovian

"How can you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen." --Colette, Pixar's Ratatouille.

Conlanging Post #2: Phonology

     Inventing a language. What comes first? Before fun stuff like calligraphy, syllabaries, alphabets, idioms, onomatopoetic words comes phonology. Language is, at its basic, sound. "Not the smell, not the look, but the sound..."
     When describing the phonology of a language, linguists use a set of symbols called The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is a mixture of the Roman and Greek alphabet, plus extra. Since sound is so foundational, I spent an afternoon last week poring listening to this Interactive IPA Chart and comparing English, Japanese, French, and Welsh phonology with the full range. Then I filled in my own charts.


     By the way, I can't keep referring to my language as "my language" or it will get really tiresome really fast.
     I've had a lot of different ideas: Krstovokjn, Davkaiym, Devkpsx, Sberyut. They're exotic-looking because they are the name of the language in the language itself. But names of languages often have history and meaning, so until I know a little bit more vocabulary, I will use the "common speech" (English) name, Boronovian.

     Lots of work still to do. Getting sleepy, good night!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Warning: Language Under Construction

    As a result of summer research, I officially decided to invent a language. It'll help me in my world-building for the Wynna and Thibault storires as well and give me a better grip on linguistics. I'm excited and daunted at the same time. I'll be working on this on my own time until I actually enroll in my senior English capstone, where I'll do it for a grade and not just for pleasure. So here is the first post in a series of many that will mark my progress. Hopefully you'll be amused or informed and not utterly disgusted. Let me know if you have any tips.

     Constructed Language (Conlang) Post #1: The Workstation

Let me introduce my tools from left to right.


J.R.R. Tolkien: a Biography, by Humphrey Carpenter: for inspiration. Tolkien was a genius linguist.

The Study of Language by George Yule: for reference, one of my old textbooks.

iPod: to look up the longest consonant cluster in Russian

Cat stickies: to make notes in a borrowed book

V8 juice: to give health to my bones while I sit in one place for long periods of time

IPA charts: to help me decide what sounds are the yummiest in the world so I can claim them

Cup: to keep hydrated


Sketchbook: to play with the shape of words

Languages of the World by Asya Perelstvaig: to keep my language from becoming English in disguise

     After reading through The Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder and In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent this summer, conlanging was starting to look overwhelming. But my linguistics professor alleviated my fears by telling me that 1) I don't have to tackle it all at once, but bit by little bit and 2) I can always change anything I end up not liking or that doesn't work.

     So, here I go. My first assignment is to develop a sound system, syllable rules, and produce a list of 20 nouns and 20 verbs.

This is who is making scary shadows at the top of the other picture.