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10 July 2006

What a day! In terms of having adventures in Oxford, it was a quiet day. In terms of having a job in Atlanta while being in Oxford, it was an exhausting day. The kids didn't see much of me at all today, but they were such troopers! We're planning a museum trip tomorrow to make up.

I was the only one up this morning for breakfast, and they barely got up before I went to teach. CS1316 is working on their first linked list assignment (make music with multiple weaves and repeats, then draw the resultant structure). Computational Freakonomics is working on their first serious analysis assignment. Both classes had lots of questions about the assignments as well as today's lectures.

After class was office hours. I had three people working at our kitchen table, two from 1316 and one from CompFreak. The kids had just finished their lunch, while watching Singing in the Rain.

After office hours, I had one hour to spend with the kids. We worked on the three challenges I set for them.

  • For Jenny, who's been complaining that we have had no tacos here, her challenge was to take money (with the others to help) and get the things we need at Sainsbury to make tacos. She did a fine job: she got mince (ground beef), taco shells (soft!), a small jar of hot taco sauce (all they had), seasoning, and an onion. (We have gobs of wonderful British cheese at home.) I helped them with that, and then headed home while they solved the others.

  • I posed two challenges to Matt and Katie. One was, "Find the walk in Oxford that's named for an old cemetary that used to be nearby." I had to help them a lot, but they finally found Dead Man's Walk behind Merton College. It used to be the walkway between the Jewish synagogue and cemetary in the medieval age. There's another story that it was the path that a British Civil War prisoner was taken to the gallows, but Carole Moore tells me that the first story is more credible.


  • The other was "Take a picture in front of a college that had a Nobel prize winner." Katie immediately assumed, "Christ Church," and they got the below photo. But then we checked. She lucked out – there was one Nobel laureate from Christ Church, but only one. Several came from Magdelen and other colleges here.


(The photos are courtesy of Matt, of course.)

As you can see from the photos, it was a cold, rainy day in Oxford, which was fine for me.

  • From 3-4-ish, I was on Skype with my co-organizers of ICER2006 making final acceptance decisions. That went fine. (Both of our papers are in – yay!)
  • From 4:30-5, I had a conversation with Bob Sloan of U. Illinois-Chicago who represented our "Media Computation" approach at an important meeting of CS department heads (called "Snowbird" for where it's held) which occured the week while I was here. He said it went well – too well. He said that people are making all kinds of wild claims about MediaComp. He said that it's clear that we're not doing it – our papers are careful and recommend other approaches, too. But CS department heads are so panicked about declining enrollment rates that they're grasping at straws, and MediaComp looks like a possible straw. I just hope that too high of expectations won't come to bite us in the butt later.
  • I took the kids to dinner at 5:30, but we were turned away, so we came home. Matt and Katie had leftover spaghetti and beef stroganoff, and I made more sausages for Jenny. (And salad, Mommy – don't worry! :-) My CompFreak students started asking me questions while I was waiting with the kids at the dining hall.
  • At 6:30 was my faculty meeting. I get to be embarassed and read (badly) a Latin prayer at formal hall next week (sigh).
  • On the way back at 7:30, I stopped by the lab and worked with a half-dozen students briefly. (This is what residential college is like – it's intense but fun.)
  • At 8 pm, I had an iChat call from Tom Pilsch, a colleague at Tech, while my parents called the kids via Skype, and I got IM requests for help from students. At 9 pm, I had my weekly conference call via iChat video with all the instructors and advising staff at the College. All in there, I had numerous email and IM help requests from students.
  • I put Jenny to bed just after 9, and after getting Katie to bed at 9:30, I headed up to the lab to help the last three students asking for help via IM. (Again, it's residential college and that's what we do here. :-)
  • Finally, I got Matt to bed at 10 and have had a few minutes to write this, fold laundry, and finish the day's email. WHEW!

Last modified 10 July 2006 at 6:40 pm by Mark Guzdial