The Daily Grind

While Mike’s been off in Newfoundland enjoying some much needed down time, I’ve been keeping busy here in Halifax. Unfortunately, unlike Mike, I haven’t had the chance to have too many adventures. There are less than two weeks left to my job so I’ve been really busy trying to get all my work done before I leave. So far my time has been spent waiting for the bus, eating lunch at the park, walking by the citadel, going up the escalator and down the elevator, eating fresh fruit, hanging with Derwood, and bumbling my way through breakfast (yes, it’s true, I can’t even boil an egg properly). On paper it all seems pretty drab, but I think these pictures show that there can be beauty in the mundane, you just have to look for it.

katie

Natal Day

Last weekend Halifax was a buzz with Natal Day festivities. Although Mike and I tried to avoid most of the events (neither of us are fans of big crowds), we did not miss the waterfront fireworks display on Saturday night. That night we walked down to the harbour, claimed a small piece of dock as our own, and enjoyed some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen. Here are a few shots taken from our view at the harbour – the tall buildings that surrounded us and the fireworks that lit up the night sky. We usually would take more pictures at an event like this, but I think we were both too busy enjoying the view.

katie

Photo an Hour

Today Mike and I took the “photo an hour” challenge. We did pretty well, although we did forget one hour (sorry 3pm, we’ll get ya next time). Over the next few days we plan to elaborate on the story behind some of these pictures, but for now, here’s a quick photo journal of how we whiled away our Saturday hours.

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Maine

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It’s been while since our last post but not for lack of news. This long weekend, for instance, we’re on our furthest road trip yet to Portland, Maine. Both Katie and I are here for business as well as pleasure – Katie is scoping out the law school at the University of Southern Maine for a potential exchange, and I’m meeting with a local architect about a potential internship.

On the pleasure side, the trip has been amazing. Both Maine and Portland are beautiful and, contrary to the forecast, we’ve been able to enjoy some sun and the blossoming parks. Always interested in food tourism, we’ve gotten to try the likes of The Holy Donut and Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream (which apparently was a stop of choice for the president). Venturing a little ways outside the state, I got to see the Phillips Exeter Library in New Hampshire, a very famous building in architecture circles (though closed for our visit). On our way back we took the scenic route, checking out a few beaches and coastal communities.

At the moment we’re hold up in a coffee shop while the long-awaited rain is coming down outside. The perfect time to look through some photos and post a few words before my meeting this afternoon.

Wish me luck and an ironic Happy Canada Day!

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Overexposed

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Recently, Mike took the time to teach me the basics of how to properly take pictures with his camera. I’ve always been the “point and shoot” type of person, never really taking a second thought about light, shutter speed, or lens type. This resulted in a kind of hit or miss photography, which over time became more and more frustrating.

Now that I know a little more about taking pictures my error rate has improved significantly. I still need lots of practice, and I still do get a little frustrated, but I’m happy I’m developing the skill.

All that being said, I must admit, I still like “imperfect” pictures. I think an overexposed photo (like the ones above) can be just as awesome as a perfectly lit one. Sometimes blurry and bright can be beautiful! The great thing about learning a little more about photography is now I can take “imperfect” pictures on purpose.

katie

Rainy Day

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Tropical storm Andrea provided the perfect excuse to take the day off today. It was nice being inside as buckets of water poured down our windows. Katie and I ate a relaxed breakfast (of peanut butter, banana, strawberry french toast sandwiches – pretty much exactly how it sounds) before settling in to read and work on a few projects. I think Derwood enjoyed having both of us home. If you’re in the storm’s path today I hope you can find ways to make the best of it!

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Buckets of Rain

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This Saturday marks mine and Mike’s 2 year anniversary. He promised me for our anniversary he’d let me get a picture of the two of us together (he’s notoriously camera shy), but when we woke up it was pouring down rain outside. Being the amazing guy he is, he still kept his promise – holding a mini photo shoot in the pouring rain. Just another reason why I love him so much!

katie

PS: Blog post title courtesy of this perfect rainy day love song.

Der

Last night our cat, Derwood, refused to let me sleep. Well, I could sleep, as long as he could sleep directly on top of me. This is less than comfortable seeing as he purrs as loud as a motorboat, and he’s almost as heavy. After some coaxing, I finally got him off and he settled at the foot of the bed. As annoying as Der can be sometimes, I seriously wouldn’t trade him for any other cat in the world. He never fails to put a smile on my face, even when I’m in the deepest “funk.” His medical issues may make him a  handful, but he’s worth all the fuss.

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Here’s some glamour shots I took of him during  a particularly bad day I was having this week. Watching him pose for the camera instantly cheered me up. As you can see, the camera loves him (and he loves it right back).

katie

Navigating the Writing Process

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This term I elected to take two major paper courses. I thought this was a good choice seeing as during my undergrad it felt like all I did was write papers. The only problem is that in law school a major paper is usually around 30 to 40 pages, not the usual 10 to 15 I’m used to. The thought of writing two big papers in a couple of months seemed completely overwhelming at first. However, I’ve realized that despite the length, the basic paper writing principles still apply. What principles am I talking about? Well, over the years I’ve developed some key rules to recognize when writing a research paper. They are by no means exhaustive and they may not work for everyone, but in my own experience I’ve found them to be extremely helpful.

Here are my 10 rules to write by:

1. Pick a topic that interests you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on this paper, so make sure you write on something that interests you. Don’t pick something you think your professor would like or something you think will be easy. Take it from someone who once chose to write on obedience in 16th century Benedictine monasticism, you’ll enjoy the writing process much more if you are actually interested in the topic.

2. Develop a research question. Before you start researching you should try to narrow down your topic and then phrase it in the form of a question. This question will guide your research so you don’t waste time looking up things that are irrelevant. Over the course of your research you may find you need to tweak your initial question. Go back and redefine your question and then complete any secondary research you need.

3. Meet with your professor. Before you get too far into your paper it’s important you make a point of seeing your professor. The professor will let you know if you’re on the right track and may even be able to recommend some good avenues to explore or sources to check out.

4. Be choosey with your research. Try not to check out every book in the library that is remotely connected to your topic. Only select ones you think will help answer your research question. Remember that not all sources are created equal. A primary source document is much more credible than an article you found on the internet by some unidentified author.

5. Craft your thesis. After you’ve completed your research, you should be able to answer the research question you developed in #2. The answer to your research question will be your thesis. Knowing your thesis off the bat is important because it will structure the rest of your paper. Remember, everything you write needs to tie back to your thesis.

6. Write an outline. An outline is the skeleton of your paper. It doesn’t need to be too detailed, it just needs to be some kind of road map to go off of. I like to write my outline on notecards, using a different card for each section I plan on including in my paper. On the back of the card I write sub-sections that I think would go well with that main section. Using notecards is great because I can play around with where each section could possibly fit.

7. Keep the rough draft rough. I’ve always been the most successful with papers when I’ve let myself write freely. I don’t spend hours trying to get each sentence perfect, I just focus on getting it all out of my head and onto the paper. The real magic happens (for me at least) in the editing.

8. Source while you write. This one can be tricky (especially considering #7), but it’s really important. Although it can be a huge pain, you need to source every idea that’s not your own. I’m not going to get into plagarism here, but it is definately not something to take lightly. If you’re not sure whether you need to cite something, or don’t know how to cite something, check with a librarian.

9. Edit, edit, edit. Editing can be a really long process, so make sure you budget time for it. Go through your paper and check not only for spelling and grammar, but also for organization and coherence. Play around a bit to see what works best. Make sure your writing is “point first,” that is, that your conclusion is stated in the first sentence instead of at the end. Don’t make the reader work to try to figure out what your conclusion is, state it clearly at the beginning of the paragraph and use the rest of the paragraph to explain why you came to that conclusion.

10. Get a second opinion. If you can, try to grab a friend who will look over what you’ve written. If you can’t find anybody who’s willing to grab their red pen, try reading your paper out loud to yourself. This can help you pick up on things you may not have noticed during editing.

Writing a paper is a long process that can get really old, really fast. Take lots of coffee breaks and don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to remember how good it’s going to feel when you finally press print!

katie

The Posts That Weren’t: January

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January was a busy month for Katie and I. We celebrated new year’s, tried some new healthy recipes, did our first giveaway, worked on school projects, and dealt with job disappointments. In between all that we also did a bunch of other things that didn’t make it onto the blog. We like to dub these, “The Posts that Weren’t.”  If we had more time we would have loved to tell you about the new beers we tried, the delicious mussels we cooked, the chickpea burgers we invented, the nights we spent snuggling with our cat, our adventures in downtown halifax, and the waffles we smothered in syrup. Unfortunately, it’s already February and we have even more posts we want to write about. So for now, we hope you’ll settle for these pictures and our good intentions.

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