28 October 2014

Road trip to Edinburgh

Six tonnes of mud is enough to keep any palaeoceanographer busy for a while. I personally don't need to be kept busy at all; teaching is taking care of that. But we had both a Bangorian M degree (no, I'm not entirely sure what that is either) and a PhD student on the boat, and they had less distractions from research, and should be getting on with our cores. They are being kept in Edinburgh. It was clear a road trip had to be undertaken!

The organisation went a bit haphazard; James suggested a trip with all four of us, but then couldn't make it, and decided he needed Catriona the PhD student for a practical, and then decided his panacea-provider Guy should join, but oh wait these cores are bulky and we'd need a van, and these are always only three-seaters, etc etc. In the end it was Catriona, Guy, and me going, and leaving Zoe the M degree student and James behind. A most workable compromise, I'd say. The van was booked, accommodation in Edinburgh was booked, the BGS expected us, all was sorted. And then James came into my office. When we had come back from the cruise we had not managed to fit four persons plus five persons worth of luggage in the rental car, and a big trunk full of boots and waterproofs and hardhats and whatnot had been sent to Durham, along with the cores. The idea had been that James would pick that up on his next visit there, but amongst all other things occupying his mind that had slipped through the mesh. Could we perhaps drive past Durham and pick it up...?

With another 1.5 hours of driving added to our already rather substantial road trip we set off on a Thursday morning. The trip north would be the easy bit: we only had to get to the BGS in time to load up the cores. The way back would be more convoluted; to Durham for the trunk, then to Liverpool to drop of one half of all the core sections we had collected (we share them) and then finally home. I was really glad to be dragged out of my office for two days; the relentless pace of term was getting to me and I was on the brink of collapse by the end of Wednesday. But now I had no choice but to relax a bit in a van for hours on end! Excellent.

Guy might have noticed my fatigue and drove single-handedly to Edinburgh. Very kind of him! We got to the BGS at 15:30ish. The receptionist phoned our contact who appeared immediately, directed us to the loading bay, where Jenny and Claire the cruise-BGS-ladies also showed up, and minutes later we were loaded up. Success!

We were now not in a hurry, and went to have a cup of tea with the ladies. It was nice to catch up! And afterwards I had another social encounter in mind: printing a map that morning had made me realise that the BGS was only two buildings away from where my old PhD supervisors, Dick and Simon, work. Maybe they were in! I know the way to Dick's office. It was open! He was in! It was good to see him again. And he's a gregarious man, so Catriona and Guy were also glad to meet him. Simon wasn't in, unfortunately.

After this surprise visit we went to the hotel, checked in, dumped our luggage and gathered to go into town for dinner. We wandered around a bit first; Catriona and Guy wanted to buy some local delicacies for the home front, and I hadn't worked up an appetite yet since a rather heavy lunch on the road. And after successful shopping we had a pint. Why not! And after dinner we had a nice whisky; one is in Scotland or one is not! I went for a very old Islay. Lovely. But then it was time to go home and sleep. We were all tired. And the next day we wanted to set off early...

Our hotel was on the same street as this impressive building!

 Edinburgh castle all pink on a black hilltop

We gathered for breakfast at seven, and were off before eight. And just over three hours later we were in Durham. The roads along the east coast are narrow and winding! But very pretty. It was a nice trip. And in Durham we found Louise, who was in charge of the trunk, in the coffee room. And Casper, the cruise Dane, too! Lovely to see them again.

We first had a coffee. Then we retrieved the trunk, and I briefly caught up with long-time colleague Tasha. And then we hit the road again! Liverpoolward we went. Through awful traffic. It took us a while; we only got there 15:45. But only minutes after arrival we saw Richard appear, who gestured us toward an improvised loading bay. And we started splitting the cores. They were split, of course, but the separately wrapped halves were taped together, and we had to now undo that. With all 69 sections!

We were a well-oiled splitting machine, and soon we could go in for a coffee. I went to find Hugh, as I hoped to catch up with him too! I found his girlfriend too. And Guy had found Fabienne, an old colleague. All seven of us enjoyed a brew with the amazing view Geography in Liverpool has to offer. And when Fabienne, Hugh and Amy had to get back to work Catriona and I had a brief project discussion with Rich. And after a hug we hit the road. In the middle of rush hour traffic!

The view from the Geography coffee room, with the Anglican cathedral dominating the view

It got dark while we drove along the North Welsh coast. Along the way we had established that although there was a village fair taking place in Menai Bridge, and the School of Ocean Sciences is slap bang in town, we could get to the core storage. Fortunately! I swiped the door open and promptly set off the alarm. Oops. Forgot about that. But Guy managed to switch it off. It was not as if it made the village any more noisy! 

We unloaded. Then Guy offered to bring me home. Bike and all! We now had an empty van, after all. That was nice. As we had stopped at a supermarket along the way as all that would be closed by the time we would get back, my bag was very heavy. So by 8PM I was home and could shove my newly purchased pizza in the oven. The end of a tiring but successful trip. We have the cores, they are in the right building, we have the trunk, and we've seen the BGS ladies, Dick, Louise, Tasha, some more Durhamfolk, Rich, Hugh, Amy and Fabienne along the way. Success! But I was due a lie-in...

26 October 2014

Mustache party

I've been moaning a lot about my enormous work load lately. And then there's a post with "party" in the title! Suspicious. Surely if I have time for a party it isn't so bad? I admit it could be worse - I DID go to that party. But all that work, especially in the weekends, makes me a bit lonely. I've not made that many friends while I've been here. It's only been six months, and two of these (and then some) I was away. And most of the time here has been busy! So when my lovely office mate Juan invited me to a Mustache party I accepted the invitation.

After our day in the field I went back into the office. Then I went home for some food, and then it was time to give acte de presence. I was so funny in the head that I walked! It's half a mile! Normally that is biking territory. But not tonight.

Near Juan's address I saw Paul, one of my other office mates, so we arrived together. We were the first! Not that I expected anything else. We were greeted by Juan who sported a monkeytail for the occasion. Special!

 Paul and me; I think I have the best tash!

Paul had been growing a mustache for some three days (Juan's plan for a party had been a bit last-minute). I hadn't been able to, evidently, but I had come prepared: I had brough t a mustache kit. It comprises of a pair of scissors and some glue. Not proper skin glue for theatrical purposes; I hadn't had time to buy any. So a glue stick from the office had to do!

I picked two dreadlocks with nice curly ends and cut some two inches off each. And stuck them on. It didn't work very well! I had to hold my tash. And I couldn't smile or talk without running the risk of losing my newfangled facial hair. Oh well. When the glue set a bit it got better. I looked damn good, though!

After a while two more people arrived. And then a few more. And then my last office mate with her house mate. We were complete! Office-wise, at least. And Paul was completed; Stella didn't think his mustache was sufficient and gave him a fake one, which very charmingly made him look like Hercule Poirot. He should keep it!

And then lots of people arrived; time for me to go. This way I could still be in bed at a reasonable hour, and in the office relatively early the next day! Sad to miss most of the fun, but it was great to have some two hours of company, beer, and relaxation. And a tash, but somehow that wasn't the best bit...

22 October 2014

Field day recce

I'm not only lecturing about glaciology. I have to show the students in the field too! But teaching in the field if you've never been to that actual field isn't easy. And it wouldn't be necessary! James, who normally leads that field trip, even when he's not teaching the module, would show me. And we would bring Guy along, the lab chap, who is in charge of all the kit we need, and a girl who'll probably be temporarily taking over Guy's job while he focusses on imbibing the knowledge of one of our technicians who is about to retire. We don't want that chap to take all his knowledge with him! So we might get Jess in addition to Guy for a while. And with a bit of luck she'll come to the actual field day.

We'd set off on a Friday afternoon. Fridays have lunch seminars, and James needed to be there. So it was 13:30 by the time we left. But that was early enough! We figured from last day's recce (a recce of a recce, that was!) we could do this day in a downhill direction too. So we drove into Snowdonia.In convoy; James had decided to bring the dog, like he'd done on that spring day on the beach long ago. She needed only minutes to melt Jess her heart. She's that kind of dog!

 All my companions on their way to Llyn Llydaw

We walked up the miner's track, that I had followed down from the top of Snowdon. I had noticed the nice glacial features, like whalebacks (ice-smoothed rocks) and moraines, but I hadn't paid particular attention to glacial strations. And that would be the focus of this site! We'd let the students measure the striations in order to find out if the glacier that left them was topography-driven or not. Or in other words; if it had been a simple valley glacier, or a big fat ice sheet that overran the entire topography. Let's just hope the lake is low when we get there for the real field day; this recce showed us the nicest striations are rather low along the slope.

James showing me how you teach a student to measure thedirection of a striation. Pic by Guy

Penny had her own ideas of what this site was for

That was the first half done. We ate a bit on the parking lot and then went on, to the beach. And indeed; it was fine. What the students here have to do is measure the inclination of the clasts in the tills that are exposed in the cliff face. That will give them the direction of ice flow. Was this ice from the valley we just came from? And there was a nice startified unit exposed too; what was that? All very interesting. This landscape has so many stories to tell! I hope the students will be as excited about as I am. I'm glad I've now seen the sites; hearsay isn't enough for inspired teaching! And if we can find enough drivers for the actual day I think all's sorted...

21 October 2014


It was time for a new venue! I don't know where we had it from, but a plan emerged to go and find an adit of which we had a survey from the early fifties. We knew where it was; it was just that nowadays, there was no path to it, only a haphazard staggering through the woods, hoping to stumble upon the give-away spoil heaps. And then we could only hope the  place hadn't collapsed some 10m from the entrance (we knew from hearsay the entrance was still there).

On the way there, David showed me the beach site of the upcoming field day. That day has a mountain an a beach part, and tides influence which part we do first. We like to work downhill, but well, if the beach is simply not there in the afternoon due to tides then we can't, of course. He thought it would be OK, and the tide this day would be comparable to that of the field day. And it looked feasible! The beach was accessible. Good! But then we had to go on to the meeting place for our underground adventure.

We gathered, caught up, set off, and got to where we had to leave the path. We staggered and stumbled most talentedly! A clunky word but it will do. Anyway; David staggered in the right direction, found the spoil, and the concomitant orange stream coming out of the adit. Excellent! We went in.

It was clear not many people had been here! It went and went. And the survey seems to still be accurate. And we found some nice artifacts and cave pearls.

At the far end I found myself somewhere at the back of the line of explorers when we had to croutch through a low bit with lots of rubble on the floor. I could see that just before me, the ceiling went up! Something was there! And a rope hung down! All very exciting. I could see David's legs vanish up. I got very impatient! There was no space for me in there. I wanted to be part of the action!

When it was clear the others at the bottom of the inclined shaft, which was what it was, didn't want to go up they made way for me and I could follow. It was very nice! I couldn't take pictures as I had only brought the small tripod, but it was a beautifully decorated place. Phil came up too. And when I came down again some of the men were clearing up the rubble; the level continued, but with rather deep water. And the rubble kept that water there. The men had already managed to lower it several inches! But I didn't care so much about deep water, and walked in. The water, thick with ochre, only just reached my underwear. The tunnel didn't go a whole lot further.

When I was standing at the end, which was a trifurcation with all of the fork teeth only going 1.5 metre or so, I saw someone approaching and waited. I sang a bit to myself. And it sounded spiffing! How unusual! Maybe they had invented the autotune down here. These three dead ends around me gave amazing reverb. I stayed a bit!

When I came back to the rubble everyone was leaving. Clearly, not everybody was keen to get ochred up. They don't know what they miss out on!

 It was clear the water level in the bit nearer then entrance had been a lot higher...

Once out one of the men brought out a sandwich. David followed. Paul grabbed a chocolate bar. It turned into a picknick! Fortunately, Mick and David had brought more than they needed so the badly prepared shared in their food. Very cosy!

Altogether we were still back at the cars early enough for a half pint. That hadn't happened in over a month! It was nice. I hope I can keep this going; I'm turning into a bit of a weird office recluse, and my weekly escape helps to keep that in check!

19 October 2014

Teaching: more and more piling up

I knew I would have to give a lot of lectures. It would be a lot of work, but I was resigned. And MSc projects and practicals and field days were predicted too. And that was quite enough already! Although th esheer number of MSc projects I had to come up with and in what detail I had to elaborate on them were a bit of a shock. But I had underestimated the amount of work that would pop out of nowhere. Having to come up with a list of articles the students have to choose from, to give a presentation about. That would also mean: pretty much knowing them by heart in order to be able to judge the students, and being there when the presentations would be given. And I didn't expect to get an email informing me I had three MSc tutees. And I didn't expect James coming into my office, telling me he had been given many more MSc theses to mark than he had expected, and if he could offload a few onto me? And then there were the timetabling clashes, meaning I would have to assist with the same practical twice, in order to let all the students participate.

In one way I found I was lucky; nobody had told me that for my glaciology lectures, more hours had been timetabled than I had lectures, and I hadn't bothered to check if the numbers matched. This excess tiumetabling is in order to allow for attendance of conferences or project meetings of that kind of thing. Excellent! First of all: this allows me to indeed attend a project meeting without having a problem with my teaching, but it also means some of the lectures in my diary won't happen. Even the students won't like that as much as I do! I almost have all of the lectures of that series made. And with a few lectures not existing, I might have delivered them all before the time comes I have to start marking all the student essays, field reports, IPCC assignments and whatnot! And that's good; these days I pretty much work at all waking hours except Thursday nights (and the time it takes to do grocery shopping, cooking, eating, laundry and some three short runs per week) and I fear the moment more comes onto my plate. When to do that? There goes the running, underground exploration, and sleeping! Cooking won't help much; my biggest cooking talent is speed... Anyway; watch this space to see how I cope!

File:Laurentius de Voltolina 001.jpg 
What my lectures look like, except for the beard

14 October 2014

Yet another Welsh course

I started out learning Welsh in Bangor, but after only one hour I moved to Anglesey for more. But the tutor there figured I should jump ahead to a more advanced class, on the mainland again. I was wondering if she was overestimating me, but I did agree I needed conversation practice. And maybe not necessarily with her; she makes it so hard that she makes me discuss the impact of ocean acidification on coccolithophorids before I manage to have a flawless "did you go on holiday?" "no" exchange. So let's have a bit of the latter before I get back to the former!

The class she had in mind would be on Monday and Thursday between 7 and 9. And I, of course, can't do any Thursdays. But Mondays are OK! And when one Monday I was teaching on the mainland until 5PM. So that was a good day to start this new course! I went from the lecture theatre to the library to look up something related to an upcoming lecture, and then I went to a restaurant. I had some food, and brushed up on some things. And then I was off to the building that holds the Welsh for adults centre. After some confusion (so many classes there going on at the same time! Which one was the correct one?) I ended up in a small class. And there we went!

 Welsh language and Japanese beer while waiting for the food

It was useful; I really can use the verbal practice. I didn't learn any new vocabulary, but I did get two hours of putting my vocabyulary to use. And it's the same as ever: the pace was slow. Learn a foreign language in Britain and they make you ask each other about the weather for hours on end! Can we perhaps move on? I am clearly a bit fixed in my ways. I learn a language in a certain way, and if that way is not on offer I end up with daft skewed knowledge. But luckily I got the course material for the entire course this time (not chapter by chapter); now I can just work ahead. Exercises are what I need! If I can write it fast I can speak it. And once I have my active knowledge catch up a bit with the passive stuff I can just jump to the next class. There's more where that came from. And if I get annoyed at the endless repetitions that will motivate me to learn fast and get out of there! One day I will speak this language. One day...

12 October 2014

When not maypole, then slate

We had spent many a Thursday night sitting still, watching David be daring and executive. A fine way of spending the evening, but a subtle desire to, you know, do something ourselves too started to pop up in the rest of the club. So we left our maypole hotspot and went to the most obvious place. A slate mine! And not just any slate mine; Cwmorthin. There were some southerners around who wanted to visit it, and we thought it'd be nice to team up. David proposed exploring some flooded bits. I like flooded bits! And a few more did, so that was what we decided on. Some water-haters would go elsewhere. We'd be with too many to stay together anyway...

When I teamed up with David it became clear he had second thoughts about the swimming. Hm! It was his idea. And I had nothing other than my wetsuit to wear underneath my caving suit. I was rather committed, evidently! And when we got to the gathering place another chickened out: he had been jet-skiing and his wetsuit was still wet. That sort of left Phil, and he said he was ready for pretty much anything. We'd see!

David had a plan: some wanted to see some new rigging, so he suggested we see that first, and do the swimming later. It sounded like an attempt to make the swimming be cancelled due to lack of time, but it would indeed be best to do the swimming last! So I agreed and we all went. Almong the way we bumped into the owner, who mentioned some more new rigging he'd put in. We would go and have a look! 

The first bit of new rigging was along a slippery traverse. I don't mind that kind (it's rifts I don't like!) so I scampered along while David put his harness on. I realised once I had started I was using the old rope; a bit of a waste of the brand new rigging. Oh well, it held too! David followed my example but regretted it. Only one more came along; Hamster, one of the southerners. The rest didn't like the look of it. No problem; we'd reconvene lower down in the mine.

The next drop looked like a one way trip; David and I had no full SRT kit on us, so while we were alright sliding down ropes we'd have trouble get back up. This route better lead on! But it did. It was a nice drop. And a while further we indeed saw a familiar figure come down in incline. We had found the rest back! And we agreed on doing something called "the corkscrew". I didn't know about it, but it sounded fun. And it was! It would have been nicer to do the climb in an outfit less restricting than a full winter wetsuit, but hey ho. And it was followed by another daft traverse and then a balancing act over an old bridge. Fun!

The left-hand bit of the corkscrew, with Hamster modelling

Hamster, again, this time on the old bridge

We later scampered up another slope with some unknown rigging. It became clear an active policy of swimming-avoidance was exercised! But I wasn't having that; I didn't want to have climbed the corkscrew in neoprene for nothing. Give me that swim! And yes it would get late, but then I would just scoot off and not join for the usual Pingu cake session. David had already secured himself a lift with the other Anglesey-bound car! No way he would sacrifice cake to sleep. But so the swim happened. David and Phil changed into neoprene. And gave their bags to others; we would first go through a sump, and they didn't want their kit to get wet. Tsk!

When we got to the sump we soon found out it was a doddle! Just a few metre wade through not-too-deep water, with plenty of airspace. We walked on. And a while later we came to the actual swim. We hoped it would reach several flooded chambers. But it didn't! It only went a few metres. So much for a swim-based trip. Oh well! But now we had to wait until the others arrived with the men's kit. And time passed and passed! Fortunately, David didn't feel the need to wait for absolutely everybody. He needed to get his clothes (and glasses!) out of my car; I couldn't just scoot off on my own. But once I had changed I left. It was already 23:30! And it was a good call; David claimed to have got home at 3AM or so. Way, way too late for me! It already was borderline, but I do think stuff like this keeps me going through busy times. Bring on next week!

11 October 2014

Read the classics

I do more than teaching and going underground! Honest. I sometimes read before going to bed. And I've been focussing on classics. I figure they became classics for a reason, and they tend to be referred to in contemporary culture, and it would be nice to properly get the references. On the ship I read Doctor Zhivago, and I started Catch 22. And I just finished To Kill  a Mocking Bird. I think I might next start Terug naar Oegstgeest! And it's been good.

I liked Doctor Zhivago. I knew little about the Russian Revolution, and I tend to like Russian Classics (like War and Peace, Anna Karenina and the Brothers Karamazov). So this was my chance! And of course I got confused about all the characters, but it was a spiffing book. And I thought it was interesting how it ended. (Spoiler alert!)

I had noticed the Russians have a habit of not being fooled by high romantic ideas. Think, for instance, of the relationship between Levin and Kitty in Anna Karenina; it starts out all Bronte-esque and swoony, but as soon as they get married reality kicks in. It never does with a Bronte or an Austen! So here too; Zhivago has a rather happy marriage, and then he gets to add a very nice affair to that. And then the revolution happens. Which separates him from his wife and child, and, finally, reunites him with his lover. Bliss! In many a novelist's work. But not in Pasternak's. Zhivago feels he has to choose between his family and his lover, and what does he do? He leaves his lover in the gentle care of her long-time molester, has a half-hearted attempt at reuniting with his family, and then just gives up and starts a new family with a woman he does not seem to care particularly about. A brave end! And it makes one think. In case of indignation, does one have a clean slate?

And then Catch 22. Quite a different book! It's fast, it's funny, it's painful and kicks the world as it still is hard in the shins. An excellent change from the gravity of Zhivago! But one thing I found deeply disappointing: in the entire book, women are just things you shag. Consent optional. Payment likely. The entire book! Come on. I won't suggest it's not possible that if you plonk a whole lot of twenty-something males in a camp of sorts and subject them to a lot of stress some occasions of a consumerism approach towards women would not occur, but the entire book? Not good enough. It reminded me of the Trial by Kafka. Also an undisputed classic. And again: women are just things you shag. Maybe less downright forceful molestation and less payment, but still, a woman is not a person. The Discovery of Heaven (by now also 22 years old) is like that too, except that there women are also good for cleaning. Yay! I hope you would struggle to get that sort of stuff published nowadays. And anyone who finds that censorist nonsense: try imagining a book like that with black people or jews in the place of the women. Would that be acceptable? Of course not. And of course plenty of books have been written in which either of these population groups have been written away as inferior creatures, but it's good we're done with that. And we should be done with doing that with women too.

And then I get to to Kill a Mockingbird. That was rather spiffing! People are people. And the issues this book addresses are elegantly presented. I'll keep going with my classic quest! Although it's become clear that classics, being sometimes rather old, come at a price. I quite appreciate the progress society has made in the past decades to centuries, and it can be painful to glance back into times with less of that. But well, it might help me appreciate how far we've come. And reminds me of how much there still is to do! So I'll just keep going. And now I know why that eighties band was called the Boo Radleys...

08 October 2014

Thoughts on teaching

I count myself lucky! In many ways, but especially teaching-wise. And that because of two things. First: I get to teach rather late in my career. I started my PhD in 2001; that's a heck of along time ago. I learned a lot along the way! My PhD dealt with Milankovitch-scale climate fluctuations and deglaciations, and long-distance climate connections. My first postdoc dealt with recent Arctic climate change, and took place at a Polar Institute which was teeming with glaciologists. Then I worked in sea level change for years. So now I know quite a lot, if I may be so arrogant! And I like history, so also history of science. And it's great to find out I have a solid framework of scientific knowledge, which easily accommodates new clumps of knowledge that can be slotted into place. And the whole structure often has something tangential to offer for every occasion. When I am making a powerpoint presentation on a topic I have myself not really been taught about, I sometimes think about how much harder that would have been many years ago. Today it goes so much faster, and with less frustration. And I think I stand there with a lot more confidence than I would have done back in the days! So I can imagine you learn hard and fast if you start lecturing a lot earlier, but I am glad I started late.

The second reason why I'm lucky is what I get to teach. I get to do the fun topics! Not statistics, not GIS, not modelling. No! I teach about ice, about climate records, about catastrophic climate change, about evolution. That sort of stuff! It's easy to be enthusiastic about it. And thus easy to make other people enthusiastic about it too! And it isn't without its issues; the lectures come by faster than I manage to prepare them, and there's always more work popping up. And I can't spend all my time on teaching; the research needs to be done too! But I think I already said it; by the time I'm done teaching I'll miss it. We'll see when I'll be doing it again!

B-15; the biggest iceberg ever recorded. It's about half the size of Wales. It is pictures like this with which I can festoon my lectures!

04 October 2014

To the top

Three (1, 2, 3) attempts to get to the end! This would be the fourth. Would we get to the top of the shaft? Within minutes we were at the bottom of the already rather rickety maypole, with yet another extension. We first thought we'd add the extension at the bottom, and in preparation for that I went up to the ridge to help lift the whole construction. David came up too. Last week he ended up doing all the work. Let's see how this week would go! But soon after he got there he decided it was a better idea to bolt the extension to the top. Where I was not keen to go! And indeed, David did the job on his own. And then the maypole was long enough. Which allowed him to go up, to where some dodgy-looking wooden beams were. He was afraid they'd come crashing down, so he wanted everybody out of the way. That included me! And I was on the ledge! And the only way down was the maypole. Upon which top David was precariously balancing! Oh dear. I tried to come down carefully but the top of the maypole was bobbing up and down like a buoy in a storm. It felt like it was going to fold! But all was well. And David bolted the top. But lots of time had passed. I didn't intend to go and have a look! Rob did, and Pingu did. And well you know they were twisting my arm and I did too. There was barely any space up there! And another shaft going up, but entirely clogged by deads and soil and whatnot. As far as I was concerned, that was it then. But David wanted to go back one day and prod the blockage and see if it would come crashing down. Oh dear! I suppose I'll be there. Let's see!

A slightly vague picture, but this is taken from my ledge down the maypole(see the rungs). You can just see Phil crouching below.

 Slightly better picture of David bolting on the extension, also taken from the ledge

Then we went out. And some had become so bored by the sitting still and waiting for David to sort everything out they wanted to scamper into some adits on the other side of the road. Oh well, let's have it! And then there was chocolate cake (there's always cake if we have Pingu) and then it was time to go home. Another day of teaching preparation awaited me!

02 October 2014

Teaching: after the initial shock

The second lecture sure isn't like the first. For one, there is the risk of complacency. And there is the risk of the initial nerves abated, and then the to do list eating big chunks out of preparation time. Which isn't the same! I had rehearsed the first lecture well. But upon coming back into the office, I had to return to our radiocarbon application, and was reminded of the fact I was supposed to submit possible titles for dissertations. The students will get to choose one from whatever all the staff offer; depending on how popular your topics are, you can get up to 8 dissertation students. And it's quite a lot to come up with 8 projects, just out of the blue! So as much as I was aware of the need to practice in order to be comfortable in the lecture, time drained away on other things. So I found myself back in a lecture room om Tuesday morning, for the first lecture on a concrete topic (the first lecture had been an introduction). I had already checked out the room! But not the projector. Complacency! How did that thing switch on? I bet there was some remote switch, but I had no idea where, and solved it by clambering onto the table and switching the thing on directly. Solved!

The second lecture proceeded with a bit less calm than the first. A result of the lacking prep! But still quite fine I'd say. And the presentation was longer, so I did manage to fill some 52 minutes. That's alright! I hope I'll find time to prepare next week's ones. There's two in a row! So quite a lot to rehearse. And it gets worse; I have two hours lecturing within other modules too. A lot on! And still all that radiocarbon stuff. Busy times! I look forward to my weekly evening off... but I can't complain! I do like teaching, and I am sure I'll feel really satisfied when both that radiocarbon application is submitted, we have an appointment with the BGS for coming to get some of our cores (I have to organise that too), and the two one-off lectures are out of the way. And, hopefully, when the lectures keep going well!

The rather iconic building I'll be doing quite some of the teaching in

It also holds a museum! A dreamy dark place full of antlers, skulls and stuffed animals...

I walk past many a weird creature on my way to the lecture room!