Desierto norte de Chile

Friday, January 30, 2009

A (tabbed) window to my world

Today I spent time prepping for a lecture on fog & clouds, and I found myself hunting for images, animations, explanations, etc. online - all to augment the lecture and give it a more multimedia feel. Around 1:30 pm, I realized that Firefox was moving slower than normal. While waiting for an image to load, I decided to check my hotmail email, which was already opened in the first tab. So I started scrolling back to the left among the tabs to get to Hotmail. I immediately found out why Firefox was moving so slowly: I had 50 (fifty!) tabs open in one Firefox window. That, combined with the 2 Excel spreadsheets, 5 powerpoint presentations, and Outlook & Paint programs I was running, seriously contributed to the slowdown.

Guess I'll have to go close some tab windows now - although I could see just how much longer I can go before a crash!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A day trip to Washington

Saturday January 24th I went to Washington DC with my roommate, his girlfriend, and their friend from Aberdeen (MD). We drove toward town from Annapolis, parked at the New Carrolton metro station, and took the metro into downtown. We visited the Smithsonian American History museum, ate lunch at the Old Post Office, and went up the viewing tower to get a view of the center from one of the tallest points around. Afterward I drove back to Annapolis and visited the Cor9 service of Mariner's Church and hung out with some folks afterward in Glen Burnie. Enjoy some pictures below.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A few inaugural thoughts

A few thoughts on the inauguration:

1- I taught this morning from 0855-1145, so I figured out how to get the feed into my classroom, and I setup a "dual panel" on the display to show my powerpoint in upper-right and the live video feed in lower-left. I'm not sure my students paid too much attention to me, but honestly, I'm not claiming to have been the most important thing going on at that time anyway!

2- Why did Rev. Warren pray for such a LONG time? I mean, Obama himself only talked for ~ 18 minutes; Warren went for at least 4! The best prayer of the program, by far, came from the guy who gave the benediction: he spoke from his heart and delivered a communique to God that was eloquent, witty, and straightforward. Warren tried too much and, in my view, failed. His words themselves were forced: why was he the only one who mentioned that Barack Obama was the first black president? I think the world already knew that. I think ministers shouldn't "preach" while they're "praying", which is what it seemed that Rev. Warren did.

3- There are thirty-five words in the constitutional oath of office (Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 8). You would think the Chief Justice would have them memorized, eh? He cut off Obama, and then messed up the only inaugural oath that will be stored for posterity (he relocated the world "faithfully" to the end of the first phrase). Oh well, they caught it and finished fine.

4- What a crowd!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life in Annapolis

So I think I've gotten pretty settled here in Maryland. I came up to Annapolis a few days before Christmas to sign paperwork with Human Resources, meet with a couple of my colleagues on the faculty, and find a place to live. All were accomplished reasonably well, so when I drove back here on the 28th with my Civic loaded to the hilt, I was able to start the settling process right away.

Last weekend I visited one of the local spanish-speaking churches, and I think tomorrow I'll go visit another spanish service. In addition to looking to connect with other believers in the area, I'm excited about sharing life and practice spanish with them. I met lots of SalvadoreƱos (people from El Salvador) last Sunday, and they invited me to eat lunch - a chicken and rice dish flavored Salvadorian style - with them after the service. Even though many are immigrants, most of them have lived here (in MD) longer than I have, so it's been fun to ask them questions about life here!

This week brought the much-anticipated start of spring semester classes, and my 3 sections have all begun well! I have about 60 students split between the three sections, and I think the biggest difference so far (as compared to my classes from Oklahoma or Austria) is that the students are in uniform and have to use more formal language ("yes sir", "no sir", "Professor Barrett", etc.) And they are all in great shape physically, with many playing varsity or club-level sports. I jogged around The Yard on Thursday after class, guided by one of my students who offered to show me the 4-ish mile perimeter route.

I've also already run into the (in)famous gov't bureaucracy: the ID card is important for faculty members to gain access to various parts of campus (although I can get most places by my driver's license), but to get the ID card, you have to be "in the system". Of course there is no easy way to find out if you are "in the system" - and I found out that despite completing the paperwork on Dec 22nd, I was still not in the system on Jan 9th. By "find out", I mean that I was informed of my absence from "the system" when I showed up for my appointment. I reckon I'll get the card eventually?!

I also found out that bicycle helments are required on campus (I don't yet have a bike helmet), so I was kindly "asked" to walk my bike, until I got to the exit, by the campus police. (Why is it that, regardless of what campus you're on, the campus police are never far away? Actually, the police forces in Graz and Santiago were refreshingly quiet.)

Thursday night I stayed up to watch the OU-Florida BCS game, and I think it can be best described as a disappointment: many fewer points than I thought, and of course, the Sooners squandered 2 great scoring chances inside the 10 and lost. My personal sports focus now shifts to basketball, where hopefully UNC can recover from their dismal conference-opening *home* loss to BC and win a few games into March/April.

Finally, I celebrated New Year's Eve with a friend from UNC. It was the first time I've ever jogged across a state line (he lives in far northern Deleware, and our Jan 1st jog took us into southern Pennsylvania). It was great to reconnect with him and share stories from the past years. I was surprised to find out that he might accompany me on a trip for Spring Break, which would be a neat thing for us both to travel together again!

I'll try to get some photos up soon -- I know I owe lots! If only blogger were as easy to upload as Facebook was (my pics are mostly already on facebook).

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