Sunday, September 28, 2014

And the cold comes...

Not that kind of cold. I'm seeing plenty of posts on Facebook about autumn-y things in the States (I don't know I've ever seen so much pumpkin worship), but the weather is gorgeous and still decently summery here in London. 
But I've had a very quiet move-in process...I'd been fighting a sore throat for about a week before getting into the flat, but as soon as I dropped my baggage off, I managed to contract a full-on fit of coughing and sneezing. It's all been quite impressive. By which I mean that it's warranted cancelling a bunch of meetups with mates and quarantining myself in my nice new flat. I think perhaps my body objected to the constant changing of bed, town, and country all the summer and decided to tell me off at the earliest opportunity. ;)
I am slowly on the mend, I type as I cough into my sleeve whilst on the Tube (sorry, commuters). I'm headed to Heathrow Airport to pick up Micah, the fantastic founded and director of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. They're planning a tour of the UK for December that I'll be helping with. Micah's here for just three days to do some prep work...and happily, I know have a bed for him in London to crash on!
So...back to life we go. Thank goodness for cough drops. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Flat!!

I now officially officially live in London...which is to say, I've slept one night in my flat of temporarily permanent residence, received a piece of mail, and put my books on the shelves!
Slowly exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods, which are all quite lovely. 
I'm on the Tube now - my first commute to university from my new place! Also exciting is the fact that I have just purchased an Annual TravelCard on my Student OysterCard...I can now travel around central London to my heart's content. 
I am doing one-on-ones with all of the new Marshalls in the next few weeks to get to know them better. First round of lunches, coffees, and dinners is today. I'm also meeting with the PhD tutor at King's. And maybe eventually I'll actually do some academic reading during this whole "doctoral study" thing. ;)

Monday, September 22, 2014

British Museum Members' Night

I have just had an excessively delightful evening. Thanks to my new Membership at the British Museum, I - and a guest! - are invited to monthly Members' Nights at the Museum. Doors open at 6:15 for "Night at the Museum"-esque experiences. The dinosaurs don't come to life, but the Rosetta Stone is sitting all by its lonesome so you can actually see it:

The special exhibits are free to Members, and they do an evening of special lectures and crafts around the exhibits. 
Craig, my mentee from Michigan State who has just arrived in Cambridge as. 2014 Marshall Scholar, trained over to join me. We had a lovely catch-up over dinner at the Museum Tavern and then went to catch an exhibit on the art of the Ming Dynasty in China. And, even more epic for me: "Ancient Lives, New Discoveries"...eight Nile area mummies and Egyptology!!!
From about 200 years ago, the British Museum stopped unwrapping mummies in its collection, recognising the inevitable destruction of the scholarship. Thanks to that foresight, we now have a decent collection of mummies as preserved as they can be. And we now have the technology to examine those mummies, in quite amazing detail, without unwrapping. The physical anthropologists at the Museum are working with CT scanning technologies and then some serious modelling software to scan the mummies at really high frequency and create 3D models of the insides. They're able to distinguish and peel away layers - so we can see the bones, soft tissue, bandaging, amulets, etc. all separately - and make conclusions about the life and health and occupation etc. etc. about each. 
Craig and I got to poke around in an interactive exhibit on the mummies for a it and then attended a fascinating lecture from the Museum's Head Physical Anthropologist on how they developed the exhibit, key findings, the way they collaborate with other teams and labs to do this kind of intense work, the moral issues inherent in studying and displaying human remains, and what he hopes they'll be able to do in the future. Truly amazing stuff going on. 
Perhaps one of the coolest: They discovered that one of their unwrapped mummies is buried with gorgeous amulets. Rather than unwrapping to get at them and thus destroying the body, they were able to do detailed enough scans to make 3D prints of the amulet. So they now have the objects for study and display without actually damaging anything. So, so cool. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

One last Edi weekend

I had a final few days in Edinburgh before properly moving into my London flat. 
Thursday was The Vote. Scotland voted to stay part of the UK - but the vote was fairly tight, and certain parts of the country (most notably, Glasgow) did vote in favour of independence. Conversations about the future of the UK are likely to keep being instigated by the certainly sparked a lot of debate about world and domestic politics! But I won't be needing my passport to cross the border anytime soon. ;) I was on the train from London when the vote was officially called; they made an announcement on the train. 
This Friday, I spoke with incoming students at Edinburgh's Law School about my year and my work with Edinburgh Law Connections. That night, I joined them for the Kickoff Wine Reception - and found a few students with common research interests, a new friend from London to tease, and some fellow "Lord of the Rings" nerds (I wore my Evenstar so as to encourage them to come out to me...).
I had lunch with a friend from Norwich who is now working up here Saturday The Elephant House, naturally!
I'm now headed back to London, essentially for good. I move into my flat near Victoria on Tuesday!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


With great celebration, pomp, and joy, the 2014 Marshall Scholars have arrived in the United Kingdom!!
We met them in Leicester Square last night after a full day of redeye flight and information orientation from the Marshall staff. Took the exhausted darlings to dinner, out to a pub, and got most of them home by about 10pm. 
Today, they meet a Member of Parliament, tour Westminster, hear from current Scholars, meet the NHS, and then have an evening reception at the Foreign Commonwealth Office. I'll join them for the FCO...which may well involve a good deal of discussion about The Vote. 
Happy voting day, Scotland! It's Referedum time, and folks living in Scotland are voting on whether or not the country should be an independent State. Reasons for and against are complex and involve a lot of future guesswork. Either way it goes, it'll be fun to watch the shakeout!
Tomorrow, the Scholars bus off to their various unis. I am training to Edinburgh to speak at their Orientation. 
For this afternoon,'s time to enrol at King's College London! :)

Update: A photo of me and two Marshall Scholars whose applications I was vaguely involved with at the Foreign Commonwealth Office!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bright Futures!

I'm rounding out my Norfolk Tour by teaching at Holt Hall on another "Bright Futures" programme. We've 22 16-18 year-old students from Fakenham and Litcham schools in Norfolk, as well as two lovely young ladies from Norway's Randaberg College. We also have mentors from university undergrads, Marshall Scholars, and environmental teachers in the area.
The students are working on mathematics, statistics, energy usage and cost, carbon reduction techniques, leadership, teambuilding, and campaigning skills. At the end of the programme, they have the opportunity to go into their schools, primary schools in the neighbourhood, and/or community organisations and do paid work as energy consultants to work on energy saving and project evaluations.
We have had a grand time exploring the beautiful grounds of Holt Hall, roasting marshmallows, and singing obnoxious American campfire songs!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Swimming Lesson!

It has been quite a while since I attended a "lesson" in the traditional sense. I seem to have left piano, singing, and any form of practice mostly behind me. But this morning...I attended a swimming lesson!

As most of you probably know, I'm rather a fish. Swimming lessons for me are perhaps unnecessary, unless I were trying to learn synchronised diving (I am not). 

However, a certain young person I am caring for this weekend *does* still require lessons in not drowning and maritime enjoyment. And so, off Iorwerth and I went to Norwich Baby Penguins!

The earlier the better, as far as most learned skills go. Swimming can start literally from Day 1 (after all, they've more or less been swimming for the past nine months!). At Baby Penguins, infants and toddlers frolic about in the water, learning specific motions to well-known songs to practice the needed strokes. At this age, parents get to join them to provide moral and physical I stole a swimming costume from Anne-Marie, and in I went!

A grand time was had by all. I haven't been in a traditional pool in quite a while, actually...dandy dandy. 

Mummy and Daddy are in London this weekend on a birthday minibreak. So Iorwerth and Becca are having a delightful date weekend...swimming was only the start! Heaven only knows what all we'll get ourselves into. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spanish Dinner!

Tonight, Miss Anna - the new student au pair at Iorwerth's - made us a Spanish omelette, a delectable meal common throughout Spain of egg, fried potato, and onion. We also had Spanish cheese, a spicy tomato salsa on bread, and Spanish deli meats. To "help" after school, Iorwerth, Anna, and I went on an expedition to buy potatoes and eggs. And then Miss Anna chopped and cooked all afternoon while Maestro and Miss Becca read and played.
Tonight was the old student au pair's last dinner with the full family, so we had the very traditional Spanish dessert of...chocolate cake.
'Twas a very good evening, all in all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Seussian Lesson in Perspective

As we saw last Wednesday, balls in parks
*can* be used to teach parabolic arcs. 

But even more so - if such is your objective -
they can be used to demonstrate a bit of art perspective. 

For if one places a clever ball in front of one's human eyes,
One can make distant objects small, rather like a portable disguise!

So to continue this Seussian tale of educative learning,
I ask aloud where the Spire has gone, my voice all full of yearning.
But while I question, puzzle and ponder,
Oh look! The Maestro moves and something's seen off yonder. 

The ball is gone; the Spire's in range, and we've learned lots - for instance!
We've seen that seeming size can change, thanks to the art of relative distance.

So now we're homeward bound, and as we explore,
We're thankful for the world around and learning galore.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I am in one city for a solid week - to the hour!!
Into Norwich Rail Station at 4:30pm on Sunday 7 September. 
Sunday evening with Maestro and then a conference call to check-in with friends through the AMENDS Network. 
Monday I have three conference calls, some paperwork to catch up on, and Iorwerth pickup. 
Tuesday I'll be going to a strategic retreat for the Water Security Research Centre at UEA. 
Wednesday is hereby named "Friendsday", as I'm scheduling back to back coffee and meal dates with various friends. 
Thursday is currently unscheduled other than Iorwerth pickup. 
Friday I have a morning meeting, and then Iorwerth's parents are off for a weekend minibreak. Maestro and I have a date at home!!
Sunday - at right about 4:30pm - I'll leave Norwich to go teach on a Bright Futures programme at Holt Hall. 
I don't even know what sleeping on the same surface for seven days is like anymore. ;)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hello, goodbye

I am thoroughly confused by the number of hellos and goodbyes going on in my life these days.
I "moved" to London on 1 September but don't get into my flat till the 23rd. So I've been staying with mates in London and with Iorwerth and family in Norwich. 
The day I got into London, my cousin just happened to be in town for an interview. She lives in New York but has spent the summer traveling Southeast Asia. It's been years since we've seen each other properly. Just we had a nice catch-up, and then learned that she in fact got the job and is moving to London in a month. To celebrate, we quickly got on a train to Norwich, where she got much cheaper lodging before her new job puts her up for a workshop next week. And proceeding to have a grand time playing with the kiddo. Iorwerth was quite enamoured with Miss Elizabeth's scooter skills. 

Then it was up before 5am this morning for an early train to London in order to spend as much time as possible with Garrett in the 36 hours between turning in his dissertation and getting on a plane to go back to America permanently. I'll also be saying goodbye to Elizabeth, though this one is only a very temporary adieu. 
Meanwhile, prep continues for the massive round of hellos to the new Marshall Scholars, arriving the 16th. 
Someday in the not-quite-foreseeable future, I am going to have a moderately stable social group again...