29 June 2006
Our adventures–and misadventures–continue.
Yesterday (Wed.), I got everyone up in time to go to the hall for breakfast and then to the Open Market–just across the street from Worcester. We bought a bunch of stuff: From toilet paper (6 rolls for 1pd) and paper toweling (4 rolls for 1 pd), to raspberries, a can opener, and a cheese slicer. The girls bought themselves these cute little bouncy animals, and a necklace each.
Wednesday's challenge was to find three white and three yellow wild flowers. That was a challenge especially chosen for Jenny to participate in. Jenny wisely decided to just take pictures of them.
That afternoon, our box arrived with our projector, speakers, and DVD player (for use with British DVDs from the library, since they are marked with a different 'zone'). We decided to hold a movie night, just like at home. That turned out to be much harder than I would have guessed.
- First, no microwave popcorn at Sainsbury! We did get "popping corn" (we were corrected about our teminology), and it was recommended that we microwave it.
- I tried to microwave it in a ziploc bag. Did you know that those kernels, went microwaved, get really hot? Melted right through the bag, and the popped corn went all over the microwave. Skip that one. I ended up making three separate bowls for the kids, with saran wrap over the top.
- I had shipped myself a US power strip, figuring that I could plug in computer, projector, and speakers using only a single transformer/converter on the power strip. I plugged it in – and all appliances on the first floor turned off. Uh-oh! My fatal mistake at that point was not unplugging the power strip. I found the circuit breakers and fixed it – but it snapped off again! (Should have thought, "Wonder why that was...") I flipped it up again, and it stayed. And I smelled the smoke as I went back into the room. One fried power strip! I gave up and went with two British converters and using only the speakers on the computer.
We watched most of Jurassaic Park 2, then went to bed.
Thursday, I let the kids sleep in (they were up late with the movie), and I went to breakfast. CS1316 is going well – they seem to be getting it (from looking at their programming live in class), and still we're moving faster than I expected. We're finished with pictures and turtles, and are well into sounds. We'll start talking about insertion/deletion into arrays on Monday.
Today (Thursday) was the first coding in Computational Freakonomics. It went...okay. Some students clearly get it – Kipp was asking me about what all the meanings of "" were. Some students are way, way lost. One students just couldn't get it. "How can you be accessing the data in the file, when you're not using the file name?" "Because I already read the data into this variable, see? Then I just process the data in the variable." (Insert blank look here.) All of these students already had one semester of computer science, at least. Kind of depressing. I already have four students' assignments turned in, and they all look fine, so at least some are getting it.
I moved my office hours. They were Tuesday and Wednesday after class (1-2 pm). But then it occurred to me – in both my classes, all assignments are due Monday night. Tues/Wed. are the WORST possible days for homework assignments. Who starts a weeklong assignment the very next day after a weeklong assignment ended?!? Bleah. I moved office hours to 1-2 on Thursday and Monday, but holding them at the house (in the kitchen). One student came today – he's pretty lost, but doing better.
The challenge for today was: Pick up Allison from the Airlines bus. Allison is a Ph.D. student working with me who has been at a conference in Bologna, Italy, and is stopping off to see us on the way back. The kids definitely earned their ice cream today. They waited from 11:15 to noon and finally got her on the very-late bus.
After office hours, we decided to go punting at Folly's Bridge, a place where we haven't punted before. (It's down St. Aldate's, where we've always punted before off Magdalen Bridge.) Everyone tried punting – it was great fun.
I took the last run at the pole, bringing it home. Matt had my camera, as I'd asked him to take pictures. I had just warned him not to hold it over the water, as it was my brand new $450 camera. He put it in his pocket. And as he got out of the boat, it went into the Thames ("Isis" in this stretch through Oxford). I asked, and they told me that it was only four feet deep. Off went my sandals and everything out of my pockets, and I went into the Thames – one of the longest settled and dirtiest waterways in Western Europe. I felt around with my bare feet for smooth surfaces – in silt and muck and branches. I found a bottle, then a plate, but no camera. The boatsmen said that I'd never find it – the muck is just too soft there and things just sink forever. But a (with memory card) $500 camera is at least worth 15 minutes in mucky water. No luck. I was very sad, but poor Matt was really bummed. I walked back to Worcester, soaked, and took a hot shower and washed my clothes. Barb talked to us over Skype (a couple times a day, complete with video, for free!) and reminded me of how we lost our camera in Italy on our honeymoon (drunken gymanstics in Roman ruins). Dumb things happen. I gave Matt a big hug and reminded him that I loved him.
(And we learned that Barbara probably broke her toe! Poor Barb!)
We had dinner in the dining hall–"scampi" (but it wasn't shrimp). All the kids liked it, but there was nothing for Allison with her special dietary needs. So, we took her to Eagle and Child for a salad. (Eagle and Child is the pub near us known for being a hang-out of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their fellow writers, the "Inklings" as they called themselves.) We then took a walk around town until the kids got tired. We got home, put everyone to bed, then I finished the tour of Oxford with Allison.
Everyone wants to get up early for breakfast, because they'll have things that Allison is allowed to eat, then we'll be off for a day of exploring Oxford. We're talking about walking to the Trout, one of the greatest of Oxford Pubs – complete with waterfall and human-size chess set.
I've had some question about what I'm doing here not with the kids. I'm up late most nights and up early most mornings, doing recommendation letters, and dealing with registration problems, and helping people with classes they're developing, and answer questions about teaching techniques, and holding video-teleconferences (e.g., 10 pm here is 2 pm California time), and planning classes, and doing laundry and...Life is busy here as a study-abroad professor, and full-time director of undergraduate programs, and full-time Dad.