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Boulogne and related
Sorry it's been a while. I hate to leave you on tenterhooks, but I have been a tad on the busy side. Anyway:
We got to Dover, and, after purchasing travel insurance, caught the ferry to Boulogne. We then spent the weekend in the French countryside, where we did basic touristy things and Bec practiced her French. After a teary farewell, we left Kerryn at the train station to make her way to Paris while we headed home. (In addition to Bec doing all the speaking, she also did all the driving. I've never driven on the wrong side of the road before).
The day after we got back, I went to my staff orientation. The opening talk was by the Vice Chancellor, who told us how he wanted Swansea Uni to become a world class institution. When I get around to it, I will write about how to turn Swansea University into a world class institution (the legal way). I have some very clear ideas on that point, and I doubt they are the ones the VC plans to use. (On a side note, if anyone wants to turn their institutions into world class ones, I would be happy to make targetted recommendations on a consultancy basis. More than happy: I'm looking to buy a house at the moment). I asked him a question. I wasn't satisfied with his answer.
The rest of the day was quite good, although it reinforced my perception that the UK suffers a crippling burden of bureaucracy and Swansea is no exception.
Back at work, and I have gradually been calibrating and understanding my equipment. I think I can now make it do what I want it to do, which means that it won't be long until I am getting experimental results. Yay me!
On the Thursday of that week, I got a call from someone in the staff development unit telling me that there is an interesting course on and would I like to come. "Sure. When?" About 15 minutes later. It was a brilliant course on different ways of asking questions as a lecturer and ways of getting student response. While I am not a lecturer at the moment, I hope to one day be one, and it was quite useful even for non-class-based lecturing situations.
As I said earlier, Bec and I are looking to buy a house. To that end, last weekend was spent driving around different areas in Swansea to look at houses and get a feel for neighbourhoods. We also spoke to several real estate agents. House hunting is far, far, far easier back in the Old Country than it is here. Just little things. Such as professionalism. I'll save any posts about it until we are actually settled in a new home of our own though.
Last week, I continued testing my equipment, and it is not far off being ready. I may still be young, but I am well versed with the way research is conducted. Never put off celebrations until you reach real, significant milestones, because you might never celebrate anything at all. So, to celebrate, I am putting on a morning tea for the (cringe) stakeholders in the project. I want to welcome the future collaborators, and I want to thank the people who have helped get the equipment up and running. So I went down to speak to the technicians who had helped so far, and they asked me what they could do for me. I asked, "Is that the only reason anyone ever comes down here? To ask for something?" "Yeah, usually." "Ahh, this time it is different..." And when I invited them to the morning tea, their faces visibly brightened.
The other major notable occurrence this week was that I actually had a conversation in Welsh. It wasn't a long one, but it was my first with someone outside of class, and I think I undestood most of what was said. Yay me! The question has come up in class, "why are you learning Welsh?" We have just done the unit on talking about the class. While I usually dismiss the question with a self-evident "Why not?" because it seems polite to me: move to Wales, learn Welsh, I do like to give different answers occassionally. Occassionally, I will throw in (in English, so far): "To lead Wales into glorious secession free from her oppressive neighbours". Something different anyway.
This weekend, Bec and I have actually looked inside a few houses. Unfortunately, the one we wanted to look at had just sold, but that's the way it goes. We saw five places today; each significantly different from the other. All were asking optimistic prices to some extent. Some more than others.
Comment from Revi
Indeed, never put off celebrations until you find something big and significant. Celebrate each step as it comes, particularly the steps that were difficult and labour / thought intensive.
Many results tend to be answers to open questions, in one way or another. They may not seem so interesting once the answer is found. Even so, they are worth celebrating because they mean that if they are not interesting then you can move on to something that is.
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.