Sunday, December 24, 2006

Trip prep and current events

I got my grades back from last semester. I managed a 3.25, which is much better than I expected. For a while I was worried that my grades weren't going to be good enough for me to make the Ireland trip, but that concern is now safely behind me.

Getting ready for the trip has been a bit interesting. Mostly, I'm jus trying to decide what to pack (I need to go clothes shopping, it seems-- I've lost a bit of weight lately) and doing my best to keep up with the news.

The biggest deal is what's going on at Stormont* right now. I don't understand all (or even most) of what's happening, so apologies in advance if I get something horribly wrong and make a fool of myself while trying to explain it. Basically, there's been a big hiccup in attempts to impliment the Good Friday Agreement**. the Northern Irish parliament was suspended earlier this year. The various factions there are working together to try to get new elections called sometime around seventh March(?), but right now there seems to be a lot of contention over paramilitary activity and the cessation thereof (which is one of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement). The secretary of state just issued a Christmas message that reiterated his dedication to the process, stating that 'a new parliament and executive is the best gift politicians can give Northern Ireland.'

Meanwhile, rabbid anti-catholic loyalist*** Michael Stone has been remanded after trying to walk an incindiary into Stormont during these talks. He got stopped and arrested, and is now claiming that it was an act of 'performance art' designed to highlight the necessity of the peace process. So yeah, he's just like our local DC loonies. I'll feel right at home.

Speaking of home, it's Christmas Eve. Our family exchanged gifts earlier this evening, which went a long way towards reminding me how much I'm going to miss them when I'm abroad. I think I'll head back downstairs to watch my brother play his new video game now. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all and sundry. Here's hoping for a peaceful, productive new year for the land and people of Northern Ireland.

*Stormont is the Northern Irish parliament building.
** The Good Friday Agreement was a major step forward in the peace process. It was signed on April 10, 1998 (Good Friday), and endorsed by most of the political parties in Northern Ireland. You can read more about it here.
***Loyalists are people committed to maintaining N.I.'s membership in the UK (as opposed to Republicans, who favor severing ties with England and joining the Republic of Ireland). The term 'loyalist' is occasionally used interchangably with 'protestant,' but that's not entirely accurate (and no, the vast majority of them are not batguanoloco like Stone).

Edit: I was corrected on my definition of 'loyalist' by a local friend over on LJ. In her words: "Actually, 'Unionist' is the term for those who want to continue in the UK. Loyalists are the violent version of unionists. Similarly, Nationalists want to join the Republic; Republicans are the extremists ("

Friday, December 15, 2006

*tap tap* Testing... tesing one two...

This is just a requisite "new around here" post; more of a placeholder than anything else.

My name is Annalee, and I'm going to be spending the Spring 2007 semester in Northern Ireland. I've created this blog so that friends and family can keep up with my travels. I've also got a few things on my plate now that might benefit from a better web-presence on my part, and love Livejournal though I do, it's not exactly something you can put on a business card (we'll leave aside for a moment the fact that blogger isn't exactly the world's most professional tool either. If it's good enough for Miss Snark, it's good enough for me).

I chose a blogger blog because I like the customizability. I'm sorry if the lack of an RSS feed is inconvenient... I've always personally preferred atom feed myself (I know it's proprietary, but I like that atom feeds put the whole post into my feed reader (livejournal, in my case) so that I don't have to see three lines and click through for the rest). For those of you on livejournal, you can get my posts to appear on your livejournal by subscribing to the lj feed.