29 June 2004

Yesterday (28 June 2004) was the first day of classes. I'm writing this on the evening of 29 June, so we've had two classes worth.

I went running for the first time Monday morning. I went up the street past Oxford University Press into town, then went over a bridge and started down one of the old canal guide paths (where the mules walked to pull the canal boats). Ducks and geese got out of my way, until I came to a group of goslings sleeping in the path. Mommy Goose stood up and started toward me squawking loudly! I realized that there was no room on either side to go around them, so I decided to turn around.

There have been lots of hiccups in teaching here, like nothing to write on in the room where I'm teaching (no whiteboards nor blackboards), no projector (fortunately, I brought one), no Matlab (which is a real pain for the class I'm teaching for this week – that's the language I'm teaching them!), and some students who are fairly unhappy that we're sticking classes in the middle of their European vacation. Nonetheless, we started and it's going okay. I was hoarse after three hours of lecturing over 20 buzzing computers, but it was better today (less hoarse :-).

Barb's sister, Sue, and her daughter, Michele, arrived while I was teaching. After class and office hours (very nice shared faculty office for office hours!), I went with them to go punting!


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It's pretty hard to do: Stick the pole in, walk your hands up it, then use it to rudder, then pull it out and back up quickly. Too slowly and you do what I did once – lose the pole in the water and have to go paddle back for it! It's hard on the legs and back, but I really enjoyed it and hope to do it again!

We also saw all these typically English things, like folks playing cricket with Oxford spires in the background!
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We mentioned our lovely garden – here we are in it:
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The family had a dinner of chicken tikka masala that Barb made (that everyone raved about) while I went to the faculty meeting/dinner at 6:30. The food was fabulous – all this fresh fish (including caviar sprinkled on the tuna!). The stories were interesting, too. One group of female students sat on the sacred grass in the main quad of the College and were asked to leave the program and return to Atlanta! Carole Moore, our experienced leader, calmed down the upset Worcester staff, and the women were allowed to stay. There's a lot of anti-American sentiment here these days, unfortunately.

Sue and Michele left for Edinburgh on the 6:30 am train. Katie woke up early enough (actually, slept badly all night – Jenny tried sleeping on her own in another room, and that drove Katie crazy), so she and I went to breakfast with the students at 7:30 am. She really enjoyed it, and breakfast was huge (English traditional) and good.

I had office hours in the morning (and had a student visit!), then taught. Barb made tacos and had Matt bring me one over in the ten minutes between my classes.

After class, I joined Barb and the kids for a game of freeze tag on the huge football fields along the Thames at the edge of the College. Then the kids hung out at home, while Barb and I did some shopping (groceries, and visiting the covered market). It was really nice.

We had dinner with the students at 5:30. The girls were bummed that we didn't actually sit near any female students tonight, so it wasn't nearly as much fun for them – they enjoy getting oohed and "aren't they cute?!?" over.