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27 June 2006

Slept better today, getting into more of a rhythm. Though, of course, we are still in a foreign country and so our "every day" is still pretty wild and unusual for us. Katie's cold is much better, though she's still asking for the nasty tasting Sudafed elixir daily.

Everyone got to bed too late last night to join me for breakfast, though I did see them before I went to class. Today's challenge was, "Find the bridge in Oxford that copies one in Venice. Picture it!" And they did return with pictures of themselves under the Bridge of Sighs.

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CS1316 was good. I got the JDK running on everyone's laptop, and they followed along doing the same things as we did methods, for loops (both traditional and ForEach), and while loops. Tomorrow, we'll do returning non-void, the traditional "public static void main," and start on Turtles.

CompFreak was better than yesterday, though the scuttle-butt is against us. Katie the student (not my daughter) who's in both 1316 and Computational Freakonomics said that she was shocked by the programming in CompFreak, too. Sarah, who's in 1316 but not CompFreak, so that her friends were complaining that they want to drop but can't at this point. <sigh> Anyway, we discussed Chapter 1 today – on cheating schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers, and a fascinating study of people who cheat the bagel guy. Some slow parts, but in general, a good and active discussion.

Just before class started, Katie and Jenny ran into the room and brought me a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Very sweet.

After class, I gathered everyone up (eventually – post-Polly-Pockets and post "reading hour") and we went to Oxford Castle. It's really quite close to us and was closed when we were here two years ago.
The tower on the right is the last parts of the Norman-Saxon castle there (originally Saxon, then the Normans built on top of it), St. George's Tower. To the right is a mound that used to be surrounded by a moat.

What we didn't know that the story of Oxford Castle is mostly the story of the prison that was built on top of the castle. We started out the tour in the crypt below the castle, which has been dated to 1061! It just opened three weeks ago, so were told that we are among the first of the general public to stand in the crypt in centuries.

Then we worked our way up into the castle. We had these cool little gadgets, wherein you punched in your location, and then it gave you audio-and-video (including actors) telling you the story of the prison and the several centuries it was there (dating back to the British Civil War) and the people who were imprisoned there.
The prison is pretty scary looking, and has been used as a movie set. Cruella de Vil was locked up there in 102 Dalmations, and Brad Pitt was in a Chinese prison camp there in Spy Games.

I was really impressed with the kids – I found it pretty dry and boring in parts, but the kids loved it. Jenny was even rattling off names and stories that she thought were particularly interesting. Wow!

We rushed back to make a 3:30 (for me – 10:30 am EDT) conference call that...didn't happen. So the girls and I did a grocery run up to the Sainsbury Local, and I walked to the train station to make sure that we didn't need reservations for using our BritRail passes to get to Cambridge on Saturday. Wegot back in time to meet a 6 pm faculty group that was planned for heading out to the Turf Tavern. It turned out to be Jason Seletos (who administers the Oxford program, under Dr. Carole Moore's directorship), Richard Catrambone (our housemate), and the four of us.

The Turf Tavern is a really cool pub. It's squished in between a bunch of buildings near the center of Oxford – across from the Sheldonian and the Bodleian, near Trinity College. You go into a "street" (read "alleyway") under the Bridge of Sighs, and twist and turn through passages that Katie said, "were Fat Man Squeezes" like at Rock City. Finally, we got to the Tavern. We sat outside and had really good food. Katie had cheese pasta, Matt and Jenny had chicken tikka masalla, and I had fish and chips (I hadn't yet, and it seems required). Jason and Richard were terrific at telling kid-friendly stories and listing to their stories. The kids had a super time and were laughing and talking about the great food and fun tavern on the walk home.

We played soccer for only about 20 minutes tonight (Matt and Katie vs. Jenny and me – we got slaughtered 4-1), but it was still fun exercise. Everyone got to be on-time tonight so that I can get them up at 7:30, we can all go to breakfast, and then head to the Wed. Open Market at 8:30 before I teach at 9:40.

Last modified 28 June 2006 at 2:31 am by Mark Guzdial