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May 31, 2003

What comes next...

After a 9 hour flight from Vienna to Toronto, what can possibly come next? How about a one hour plus wait for our baggage? O' Canada. From European efficiency to Canadian whatever you call it. As Yuka rightly points out, better than being on Romanian time... slightly. But we arrived alive. No thanks again to Air Canada. We were bounced through over 5 phone numbers when we tried to confirm our reservations. And the number that we'd been given, for Austrian Airlines, who was actually flying the plane, politely told us that they had no reservation information for Air Canada flights. Oh, and that we couldn't book our seats in advance. No one could. So when we got to the airport, we were told that all seats had been pre-booked, except for the last two at the back of the plane. Of course others in the lineup to get on the plane told us that they were able to book their seats in advance. I guess I should give up and just stop complaining... I'm home, and that's where the laundry is."

Posted by jason at 11:28 PM

May 28, 2003

Last call

Yuka and I spent two days with the pandas. Nothing more needs to be said. Two more days with vienna, and back to the local zoo. Everything else is bright and shiny!"

Posted by jason at 11:19 AM

May 22, 2003

Everyone's Gone

Just Yuka and I left. The last of the conference folks left this morning. Yuka and I have 2 more days here before the midnight train to vienna. I think it is the orient express. Wrote some long entries on my puter, but no way to upload them. They'll have to wait. Had dinner in Vlad Dracul's house last night. We were shown about the rooms where his son Vlad Tepesh was perhaps born in. He was born in one of them. Many frescos have been found under the centuries of whitewash. The ones over our dining table were wonderful. Got pictures of them. Spent the morning exploring the shops, the top of the citadel with the old church and the sprawling cemetary. Found many back paths down the hill to the village below. Mostly used by cows and sheep it seems. And kids. Got pleasantly lost in the mazes of paths and streets. I feel like this is the wrong century. So not like any city I've ever been to. Missing friends, but not missing home."

Posted by jason at 09:53 AM

May 21, 2003

Reuters gets it right... not.

Reuters has an article on the Transylvanian Society of Dracula conference. Though rife with errors, it does mention Lokke Heiss and Alan Murdie. But it does say something about us. Seriously, it is all mostly wrong about dracula, but it is interesting nonetheless."

Posted by jason at 12:25 PM

May 20, 2003

Bored on the Borgo Pass

Not! I'd heard that the Borgo Pass (the fictional home of Count Dracula) was somewhat bland and not the sublime locale described by stoker. It is. One of the most wonderful views and drives I've seen. Though true, it is not sublime in the manner that Stoker describes it, it is wonderful nonetheless. The Hotel Castle Dracula, built less than 30 years ago, was the first building in the area with electricity and water, and I don't think that the road was paved either. Now the land is full of farms and cottages. Imagine this. Borgo was written into existence by an author who had never seen it. Then through the influence of the fans of his fiction, it now exists as a thriving community... and aside from the hotel itself, not related to the world of the Count or Stoker at all... Text is a powerful medium to create concrete reality."

Posted by jason at 10:22 AM

May 19, 2003

Off to the Borgo Pass

Yuka, Elizabeth, Lokke and Reuters and the film crew are off to the borgo pass today. Lunch in Bistritsa, where Johnathan Harker stayed... having the same meal he did, then off into the mountains to the Dracula Castle hotel. That is, we're only visiting a fictional place of a Victorian mind. And I some how find that the real Romania is much more interesting. Well, the real Dracula is more interesting than the fictional one as well, but when you stir both together, it is a potent mix."

Posted by jason at 03:16 AM

May 18, 2003

Conference Over

We found a house that we'd like to buy as the TSD's research centre. Only $15k USD. It is part of the same block as Vlad Tepesh's (Dracula) house, opposite the Sighisoara Hotel. Anyone have any change? Then we went for a tour of the place they were going to put the Dracula THeme park. Wow. It is a massive field at the top of a hill covered with hundreds of oak trees, many 400-500 years old. Luckily this is not going to happen. Yes, I have pictures of it all. And I finally have a faster ethernet connection. Thanks to the hotel. I'm behind the desk, typing away. Luckily it is quiet, so I am not too much of an imposition. We're off tomorrow for a 2 day trip of the fictional Dracula sites (i.e. the vampire), but will be back in Sighisoara for two more days before going to vienna. I have many many wonderful pictures. Pity that I can't share them yet. J PS: Yes, yuka is tired of all this conference stuff, and is happy that we will be able to get more tourist stuff done. Oh, and I have pictures of the Hollywood film crew to post, in case they make me look funny in their documentary."

Posted by jason at 11:23 AM

May 17, 2003

Still in sighisoara

Internet in the town has been down for 2 days, so I`am checking email, but not getting through more than deleting junkmail. Had excellent presentations on the biology of impailing, and the mathematical models of fear, among others. One presentation by the sole living relative of Vlad Dracula was wonderful. He`s a neurologist, and talked on how the brain deals with fear. One more day of the conference before we head off on a tour of romania. Got interviewed by Finnish TV and a film crew from hollywood working on a DVD for the upcoming movie Van Helsing.... Millions of great pictures when I can get a more stable connection... Hope everyone`s having fun."

Posted by jason at 06:01 PM

May 15, 2003

Greetings from Cafe Dracula

Hello all! I'm sitting in the cybercafe ""Cafe Dracula"" in Vlad Tepesh's home town of Sigishoara, Romania! Two days of the conference have passed, and this is the first opportunity for me to get online. This will be a short post, as I got something in my right eye on the train in from Budapest, and my vision is blurry, and the screen is not that good here, ,so it is hard to see what I'm typing. Thank god there's no romanian keyboard here, so I can type without too much trouble. Got into Frankfurt and met up with Elizabeth Miller (Barroness of the house of dracula) and flew on to Budapest and caught the 8 hour train to Sighisoara (I'll correct spelling later). and got into the hotel in the old medieval part of town, 30m from Dracula's birth place. I've got tonnes of amazing pictures, but they'll have to wait until I figure out if they'll let me plug in my computer here. On the train in, I couldn't believe Romania. Looks like a lost war was fought here. Dozens of burned out factories along the way. Amazing but depressing. The farms are the most wonderful. Everyone is in the fields working. Mostly by hand. Imaging seeing people farming, plowing fields with horse drawn plows! More horses on the roads than cars. The town of Sighisoara is a dream. I can see why UNESCO has named it a world heritige site. It is a place that should be preserved for future generations. It is untouched by tourism, yet is totally welcoming of visitors. Most of the conference is going on in Romanian, with simultaneous trranslation, which is particularly exciting. Lots of information from local Ethnographers. I've never been to a conference this small, mostly about a dozen folks at each presentation, but the quality of the presentations is right up there, and the questions are excellent. After the lectures today we went out for a visit to a fortified Church in a local village. And some young woman was found who could open the church and show us around. I've been to big and famous medieval churches, but nothing like this. It is just the local village church in the middle of a small village. Everything looks like it is out of some fantasy story. More goats in the streets and kids everywhere. There are so many young people around. I guess the G7 notion that chinldren are a major expense doesn't fit here. Children are working in the fields, playing about, and helping out all the old folks. It really feels like an organic existence, especially when you realize how connected they are. Everyone's dressed overly western, interms of fashion and all that. So you don't feel that you're in a back water in terms of culture and information, but that life is more simple and relaxed without being isolated. Strange, now. There is a small audience looking over my shoulder and poking about in the Cyber Cafe. It seems that I'm worthy of viewing. I guess it is my lack of being local. The folks here are not what I was expecting, much more dark and Roma influenced, I'd guess. But I don't understand how the local cultural et al works, so forgive my generalizations. Romania is now, or soon to be a member of NATO, but I feel like I'm in Transylvannia, whcih I am, the land beyond the forest. A land out of time... well wired, but content to be itself. So much to learn. Oh, and I just heard from Cal, the GM of the Toronto Zoo, to tell me that we will have the opportunity to meet up with the people handling the Pandas at the Vienna Zoo. Yuka will be thrilled to the nines. And I just can't wait. Thouugh of course I'm in no rush to leave this beautiful place. And I have a paper to worry about reading tomorrow. Fun Central!"

Posted by jason at 03:34 PM

May 09, 2003

Panda panda panda!

Tiergarten Sch³nbrunn in Vienna has pandas! Yuka is bouncing about with joy. I'm just contacting Cal, the GM of the Toronto Zoo, in the hopes of getting us a letter of introduction. I'm still on the Educational Advisory Committe of the Toronto Zoo. We're interested in getting pandas some day, and I'm really interested in how the Vienese are taking up the learning issues around these strange beasts."

Posted by jason at 03:17 PM

Blogs and Weblogs: Opportunities and Conceptual Firewalls

Just finished my presentation on Blogs at the Nexus conference at UofT. Small group, but very enjoyable. Here's the PowerPoint slides of the presentation, if anyone's interested. I said I'd put it up for the folks who came to listen, as we were a bit rushed for time, and I didn't leave the opportunity for folks to write down some of the URLs."

Posted by jason at 03:15 PM

May 08, 2003

A world crammed into a few daze.

I just have to blog. Just to make sure that i'm still here and haven't gotten caught in a tapeloop of some sort. On Tuesday was the last day of the Project Achieve and Triangle month long virtual reality workshop on gender and identity for queer youth. It was co-sponsored by the KMDI and OISE/UT. It was wonderful. The kids were wonderful. Patty and Jim, their teachers were wonderful. The guys at the OISE Education Commons were wonderful. When their virtual sites are done, I'll post a link, but anyone can visit Project Achieve any time they want and look around. Now I have just rush rush time. Finishing marking 12 grad papers. Preparing for the Nexus Conference, finishing a book chapter for Jim Hewitt, and getting ourselves ready for Romania et al. on Monday. Fun? Wow! I'm just going to be happy to be out of town and relaxing for a moment. So, that's where I am. You?"

Posted by jason at 07:34 AM

May 05, 2003

PizzaVille: Freedom from the ZaMan...

Anyone who's been over to my house knows that guests get two food options. Options in terms of choices I make before people get invited. Either is it BBQ weirdness, usually in the form of wild boar and assorted veggies, or it is pizza. The boar's been harder to get, and since I'm sliding a bit more vegitarian these days, it is less of a motivation, though it is probaby the bestest stuff... Then the za. I've been making pizza for at least 5 years, maybe more. And I'm confident enough to say that I'm pretty good. At least better than any pizza available in Toronto that I know about. If you know better, I wanna go and eat it. The big thing these days is goatcheese cheddar and eggplant, along with the usual (when available) mixed peppers, asparagus, green onions, watercress, all on a bed of pesto, olive paste, and sundried tomato paste, in varrying amounts. Up until recently, I bought frozen organic dough from one of the two healthfood stores, one on baldwin and the other on Augusta, at $3 a unit. With the decline in my employment, I switched to the great bread store in Kensington market. And that's where the problem started. Had a couple over for dinner, and needed some dough... Three would be enough. There was only one. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Bought it. Ran to the healthfood store. Their frozen dough was 6 months past its due date. Bought two wizzened bits of yeast. Moan. Then I got this idea. I could make dough! For a while dave used to make dough for me. He's a master cool stuff baker, and the one whose skills with the tools of the trade kept us brewing good beer. But dave moved to England. End of story. So I went to pizza therapy and checked out their dough stuff. Checked the cupboards, and lo! Dave had left me with an unopened yeast container... when he moved a year ago. I'd never touched it. I performed all the ritual magic of making dough, running back and forth to the computer. Yes, it is on a wireless network and is portable, but I was wise enough to keep it away from the flying flower and water... it still works. And at the end of 2 hours I had two units of dough. The frozen dough from the healthfood store had melted into a grey sludge. So I had no choice but to use my twin seething masses of fermenting monstrosity. And the rest, they say, was just making the 'za. Nicely enough, no one could tell which of the three pizzas was using store bought dough... that one good one that I'd bought. Now I have a new calling... pizza completely from scratch.... we have the technology."

Posted by jason at 07:20 AM

May 02, 2003

Booked in for Vienna

Just got the picture of the apartment yuka and I have rented for the last week of our trip. Apartment Lise: My sympathies to our house sitter."

Posted by jason at 07:27 PM