Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jardin des Tuileries

Below is a picture I took on Saturday at the Jardin des Tuileries, which is near the Louvre in Paris. It was a beautiful day and I took quite a few pictures. I was particularly pleased with how this picture came out. It's not great, but it's better than the terrible pictures that I usually take.

The weather was beautiful. It was cool and there were great clouds in the sky. The Parisians found it cold, but for me it was perfect.

Back in the USA

I've made it back from Paris and am home in Maine. It's good to be back. The country seems to have done ok in my absence. We didn't start any new wars and there were no major infrastructure malfunctions or bridge collapses. Not a bad week for the USA, I suppose.

It also wasn't a bad week for COA. We've been named the greenest college in the US by Grist. I'm not certain that we fully deserve the honor. (My office certainly isn't green; I have a horrible single-paned window so it's tremendously inefficient to heat in the winter, I don't have access to a double-sided printer, and I have a high Wattage incandescent bulb in one of my lights.) But it's still a nice honor. And COA certainly does an admirable job at both having a green campus and a green curriculum. Being "number one" is a little weird, though, as I think there are lots of other schools doing excellent and original green things, too.

I didn't have internet access for much of Friday and all of Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn't able to post any updates from Paris. And today I've got a ton of stuff to do before Doreen and I leave for a few days in Pennsylvania. I'll try to post more of an update later today or perhaps from Pennsylvania if I have time. But the short version is that the summer school I was lecturing at was quite fun, and I really enjoyed meeting some of the students. I also enjoyed spending time in Paris. In particular, on Saturday I had an awesome time. I went toMusee L'orangerie and then wandered all over Paris.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Brief Paris Update

I'm sitting outside at a cafe near the Jardin Luxembourg and the Luxembourg RER stop. It is an absolutely beautiful day. Crisp, partly cloudly, bright, almost cool. It's almost autumnal. I'm psyched. It would be a great day to wander around the city. Alas, I have my third marathon lecture later this afternoon.

I stayed up quite late preparing my talk for today. I think I have enough material to fill the three hours and fifteen minutes I'm supposed to talk for. The talks here are amazingly long; I don't know how the students handle it. It was fun preparing. I was energetic from some after-dinner coffee and I felt very productive.

Today I'm wearing a pair of linen pants that I had custom-made in Beijing. So far I'm quite pleased; they're very comfortable. And apparently they're at least somewhat stylish. Earlier this morning I was mistaken for a Parisian: some French dude asked me directions.

Yesterday was a day of felafel. After spending the morning working, I took a bus to Pletzel, a n old Jewish neighborhood in the Marais on the north bank of the Seine. There are great felafel shops there. I was very hungry, so I had two. I successfully asked for them without cabbage in French. A small but important victory. I then walked back to the Complex Systems Institute via Notre Dame. I had another felafel for dinner, this one from a place near the Institute. All three felafels were yummy. So it was an excellent food day.

Listening to a David Guetta mix while watching people walk by. Lots of tourists and lots of Parisians as well. A French couple is sitting at the table in front of me. They're both drinking smoothies and talking on their cell phones. A tour bus from Slovakia just drove by. I would like to spend a few hours here drinking coffee, listening to music, and watching people. But complex systems beckon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday in Paris

Things continue to go fairly well in Paris. I've enjoyed being here, and I've especially liked meeting the students who are attending the school here. I wandered around the city a little bit yesterday and I remembered what a beautiful place Paris is. There are neat buildings everywhere, small streets, cafes and boulangeries, and it is almost serene compared to Beijing. Quite likely this is because half of Paris leaves the city in August. The city feels semi-deserted at times.

Nevertheless, I found myself feeling a little unsettled yesterday evening and this morning. All the travel I've done the last week is taking its toll. Jetlag (or just ordinary exhaustion) set in last night around 10:30, and I crashed pretty hard. I slept for a while, but I'm not sure it was great quality sleep. Toward morning I had some weird dreams. I only remember little snippets from them, but they were kinda odd and so I woke up in a strange mood. The cafe at Cite Universitaire where we have breakfast is closed, as it's a national holiday. I probably should have known this, but I wasn't sure so I walked over there anyway, hoping to get coffee, only to find all the doors locked. So the morning didn't start off ideally.

But now I am at a cafe listening to a David Guetta mix and enjoying a large, strong cup of coffee. So things are looking up. I'm amped up on coffee and music and making progress on my talks for tomorrow and Friday. I've got a lot of prep still to do, but I have a good sense of what I want to cover, so I'm not too worried. And the work that I do to prepare for the next few days will be helpful for a review article that I've agreed to write.

I hope later to have more time to explore and wander. But I feel like I should get more work done before I do so.

Monday, August 13, 2007

In Paris

Well, I've made it to Paris. My flight from Newark left a little late, but it actually arrived early. There were strong tailwinds. I got some pretty good sleep on the plane, although I was still a little groggy when I landed. Things were looking good, until my bag didn't appear. I left my information with a helpful Continental airlines person and headed toward Cite Universitaire, which is where I'm staying in Paris.

I found it without any difficulty. I'm staying at the Maison des Province de France building. The room is nothing special, but overall it's a pretty nice place. More about it tomorrow, when I'll try and post a few pictures. Right now I can't get the internet in my room to work, so I'll be posting this tomorrow when I can get online.

When I arrived I wasn't optimistic that I would see my bag any time soon, so I set off in search of a change of clothes. I had been wearing the same clothes for longer than I cared to think about, and the thought of having to lecture tomorrow in the same clothes I'd been wearing for the three previous days didn't excite me. I talked to a helpful person at the reception desk of the building I'm in and she gave me directions to a street where she thought there might be some clothing stores open.

I found a quite interesting store that had discount stylish t-shirt type things and button down shirts and shoes. Tres branche. Or at least maybe a little branche. I got two T-shirts which are weird and which I like and Doreen will probably dislike. I was psyched. There was a great radio station playing, which I later found out was 101.9, "fun radio." I'm listening to it now on my mp3 player. The format is Soul and Dance. I really like the stuff that they play. Some great French soul/hip-hop stuff a la Mc Solaar, and then some good dance and electro. It's unlike any station I've heard in the states, with the possible exception of a station in San Francisco, whose call letters I can't remember.

Thus far speaking French has been an adventure, but has gone ok. Except for the interaction at the airport where I needed to leave info to try and find my bag, I've tried to conduct every discussion in French. Often people switch automatically to English, but there have been some conversations that have been all in French. Actually, calling them "conversations" is a bit of a stretch. But there has been some successful communication. The woman downstairs doesn't seem to speak any English and we've had quite a few successful interactions: she gave me directions to the clothing store after I explained that my luggage hadn't arrived and that I really needed a shirt; I checked in and got my key; and later I asked her to turn on my phone and then she told me how to use it.

One of the challenges for me is to get over worrying about being correct. My goal isn't to say things right, but simply to be understood. E.g., I really need to figure out how to make a phone call so I can find my luggage. If I accomplish this task, then my communication has been a success, even if I've made dozens of grammar and pronunciation errors. In English, at least written English, I try to be really really careful about grammar and syntax. (I know this doesn't always some through on this blog.) So entering into a conversation in which I know I will make errors but I need to do it anyway doesn't come naturally.

It is now 11:20 pm local time. I am sitting on my bed at the Maison drinking a surprisingly good glass of red wine. It's "Art de Vivre" from the Roussillon region. It's a 2-Euro, small, screw-off bottle that I got at a supermarket this afternoon. I normally wouldn't get such a thing, but it's France, and the supermarket was a small little natural foods sort of place. It's quite drinkable. Nothing special, but nothing offensive, either. But this is fine, since it doesn't have any pretensions or illusions or grandeur. It seems comfortable with itself. It's not nimble or spry, but is quite solid.

Tomorrow, barring heinous jetlag, I'll get up kinda early and try and find the place where they serve breakfast here. Then I'll set off to the Institute de Systems Complex. The first set of lectures is at 9:00am. My lectures are in the afternoon. I think I've got most of Monday and Tuesday's lectures planned. Wednesday I have off, and then I lecture again on Thursday and Friday. I'll need to do some prep Tuesday night and Wednesday, but things are under control.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Travel Woes

Alas, I am not in Paris, but stuck in Newark. My 5:30pm flight from Bangor left the gate at 7:45pm and then stayed on the tarmac until 10:05. Not surprisingly I missed both evening flights to Paris. I then waited in line for over an hour to get rebooked on the next flight. Then it was a challenge to find a hotel. There are so many stranded passengers that all the nearby hotels are full. Eventually I found a place that was a 15 minute cab ride from the airport. Time to get some sleep. I've now spent two nights out of the last four stranded at NYC metro area airports.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Home, Ephemerally

I finally made it back home around 3:15pm on Wednesday. It is now late Friday morning and in a few hours I leave for the Bangor airport. If all goes well, I'll arrive in Paris at 9:55am local time, Saturday. Will try to post from France, although I'm not sure what the internet situation will be there. I'll also have quite a bit of work to do to prepare my talks, and I'll be jetlagged and will also want to explore Paris. In any event, here are a few assorted musings on my two days back in the U.S.

  • During my time in JFK, LGA, and Boston Logan I was struck by how overweight Americans are compared to Chinese. It was pretty amazing and a little alarming.

  • It's been great to be back in my own house, in my own comfy bed, and to see my cats, even if it's only been a few days. The weather has been great: sunny, clear, and cool. A wonderful change from Beijing. Hanging wash on the line is a delight.

  • Somebody just handed me the final copy of the entire Soul-crushing Document. I haven't had the courage to read it to see what silly things people added while I was away. I'll read it over later in August.

  • Last night I made sauce from scratch from locally grown tomatoes and made a nice salad. The lettuce for the salad was from our next-door neighbors, and the salad tomatoes were from our garden. I also sauteed up some Kale that our neighbors had given us. It was great to spend some time cooking. Preparing good food in my own kitchen is something that I really miss while traveling.

  • I had an insanely yummy Green Monster sandwich at the Morning Glory Bakery for lunch.

  • I'm looking forward to Paris, but I'm also looking forward to spending more time at home.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not Home Yet

Note: This was written around 11am on Wednesday 8 August in Boston Logan International Airport.

I am not home yet. I have lost track of how long I've been traveling. I think about a day and a half. As I write this I am sitting in Logan airport in Boston, listening to Armin van Buuren's A State of Trance (Episode 306) so I don't have to listen to the airport radio which seems to be a tame assortment of pop hits from the 80s and 90s, interspersed with condescending reminders about how difficult it can be to recognize your luggage.

The trip started off fairly well. We took a cab to the airport, leaving at 10am Tuesday morning, Beijing time. There was traffic, but we made it in plenty of time and I was able to check in. I had a little bit of time in the gate. I purchased two tomato and mozzarella sandwiches from Starbucks, which turned out to be a very wise move. I might have starved on the flight without the extra food. I also purchased a Fuwa (friendly) T-shirt. It's orange and has Ying Ying, the smiling Tibetan antelope on it.

I boarded the plane and then was informed that there was an air traffic hold in Beijing, which meant we had to spend an hour on the tarmac before taking off. On the one hand, it's not that big a deal. The flight was already scheduled for 13 hours, so an additional hour is only a 7.7% increase in airplane time. On the other hand, the flight was already scheduled for 13 hours, so an additional hour was the last thing I needed.

The flight itself was fine. The food was edible, and I snacked on sandwiches so I wasn't hungry. I slept much of the time. I was quite tired, since I had only slept a few hours the night before. The plane arrived at JFK about 45 minutes late. Customs and immigration were fairly smooth, but my bag was one of the last ones off the plane, so it took a little while. It looked like I was going to make my connection, even though things were a little tight.

Then things started to go badly. I went to re-check my luggage on the other side of customs. They wouldn't take my bags, saying that my connection was too tight. (My plane to Boston was leaving in 45 minutes.) The Air China person said I should take my luggage to American Airlines, the carrier I was taking to Boston, and check in there with my luggage. I asked if this was really a good idea, and I was assured that it was. Ok. So I took my cart up an elevator over to the "air tram" shuttle and went from terminal 1 to terminal 9. I wheeled myself to the American counter where I had to wait in a fairly long line. At this point I had pretty much given up any hope of making my Boston flight, as the journey to the American desk took a while. While I was in line I was amused by a young dad and his three-year-old son. They were wearing matching brown converse sneakers, which I thought was quite cool. The dad was bi-lingual; French and English. I got to listen to some French and didn't understand too much. Doesn't bode well for my upcoming trip to Paris. I could understand words and a few phrases, but not too much beyond that.

Eventually I made it to the American Airlines counter where I explained my plight. The person at the counter was friendly and sympathetic, but she couldn't do anything for me since the original ticket was issued by Air China, and thus it was Air China's responsibility to to re-book me. She couldn't understand why Air China would send me to American, and she cheerfully hinted that the Air China person might not have known what she was talking about.

So I then did the journey in reverse, taking the Air Tram from terminal 9 back to terminal 1. Terminals 1-9 are in a loop. But because of how the tram is set up, I had to go the long way again. I.e., I visited terminals 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3,and 2 on the way to 1. So the trek was again a long one. I did get to look at many planes painted in different colors as I traversed the airport, and I listened to many different languages as other travelers got on and off the tram.

Back at terminal 1, I head to the Air China counter. Uh-oh. There is no Air China counter. Their last flight has checked in, and the Air China counter has turned into an Aeroflot counter. A disheveled Russian dude is thoroughly uninterested in my situation. So then I wander from counter to counter, trying to find someone who knows how to contact Air China. Most counter people were spectacularly unhelpful, although two people at the Air France counter at least seemed to care. They suggested that maybe I could find someone down at the baggage claim, perhaps at an Air China luggage desk. This was a good idea, but it seems that Air China doesn't have a luggage desk.

Before continuing my tale, an interlude about elevators and a plea to other travelers. I was pushing around (and around and around) a cart loaded with bags that were too heavy to carry far. I could carry them for a ways -- like from the curb to the check-in counter. But I wasn't prepared for this JFK Odyssey. So I was stuck using the cart. I had to change levels often, which means taking elevators. JFK is replete with escalators. There's no need to take an elevator if you don't have to. Nevertheless, lots of people without carts or strollers were taking the elevators, meaning that on a few occasions there was actually a line for the elevator or I couldn't fit my cart in the elevator because it was filled with people. People who should have been taking the escalators. The escalators are faster than elevators, and I'd think that for most they're much more fun. So please get your ass out of the elevator and take an escalator. It won't kill you.

Anyway, at this point I'm starting to wonder what to do. There is no number to call on my ticket. Directory assistance does not have a number for Air China. I tried calling Doreen. She should have just landed in Newark (we were traveling separately), and perhaps she would have some good ideas. She didn't answer her cell phone. I looked for some general information or a help desk and didn't see one. Finally I found some airport official luggage dude or something who said I should go to Lufthansa, since they handle Air China when Air China wasn't around. I thanked the man for his help, and wondered why this information was kept secret. A small sign somewhere pointing lost Air China travelers to Lufthansa might not be a bad idea, no?

So I found the ticket counter for Lufthansa and found an extremely helpful person. I think her name is Lisette Reyes. She understood the situation instantly and knew just what to do. She started re-booking me and called an Air China representative. We tried many permutations, but it didn't seem that there was any way to get me to Bar Harbor or Bangor that day. But there was a 6:00am flight to Boston out of LaGuardia which would then get me to Bar Harbor at 9:15am. Perfect.

Then the Air China person arrived. She really didn't want me to take that flight. She tried to convince me that it would be more convenient to wait at JFK and take a later flight to Boston that would have me in Bar Harbor at 3:15. I explained that actually I didn't think this was convenient. She disagreed. I explained that I thought I would be a better judge of what would be convenient for me than her. The she said that there is no way to get to LaGuardia from JFK that early. Really? There's not a single form of transportation running at 4am in New York? Finally she agreed, and I got a seat on the 6:00am flight out of LGA. Note to anyone from Lufthansa reading this: Lisette Reyes should be employee of the month or the year or should get a big raise. She rocks. Note to anyone from Air China who might be reading this: I'm not impressed with your staff at JFK.

Air China put me up in a Ramada Inn right next to JFK. The Ramada was an odd place. It was huge -- perhaps 300 rooms -- and so far as I can tell its clientele is exclusively stranded passengers and flight attendants. This gave the hotel a rather unsettled feel. But it was free, so it was fine. I had a meal voucher with which I got a pretty good veggie burger and enjoyed it while watching the Mets game in the bar area with a cold beer. Not exactly what I had in mind for my first meal back in the US, but things could have been worse.

I went to sleep pretty early and got a 3:15am wake-up call. I didn't have any clean shirts. But then I remembered by Fuwa purchase in the Beijing airport! So I showered, packed, put on my Ying Ying shirt and got a 4am cab to LGA. It was a humid morning and was drizzling a little. It was kinda hot in the airport and I worked up a bit of a sweat hauling my heavy bags to the check-in counter. I noted on the scale at the check-in counter that my large backpack was around 50 pounds. (In part this is because I was hauling a lot of documents and papers for Doreen.)

Slightly sticky and warm, I went through security. I didn't set the alarm off, but I was nevertheless selected for additional screening. I assumed the Christ-like position and readied myself to be wanded. Nope. I was going to be subjected to a pat-down search. Great. It was a struggle, but I maintained my composure while the TSA man pressed my nice new cotton shirt against my warm back and chest. When he was done, I peeled the shirt off my skin, restoring a slightly refreshing layer of air between me and my clothes. I put on my shoes and headed to my gate.

We boarded a little before 6:00 am. I noticed that it was raining harder outside. Then I noticed lightning. Uh-oh. Then more lightning and then thunder and then rain smacking noisily against the side of the plane. We stayed at the gate. Then they had people from the 7:00am shuttle start to board our plane. At 7:15 the storm had mostly passed by, and we pushed back. But then there was a ground control hold because of weather in Boston. So we waited. And waited.

As if to mock me, there was a long feature on Chattanooga in the USAir magazine. It was filled with enthusiastic, peppy prose about how wonderful the city is. Needless to say, there were several mentions of the stupid aquarium. I lived in Chattanooga from 1991 to 1993. Although I have some good memories, much bitterness remains, especially toward the aquarium. Everyone in the city was thrilled about the aquarium, which opened in 1992. It was a point of civic pride and evidence of a city on the rise. For me, a large building filled with fish did nothing to improve my quality of life.

While I was reading about Chattanooga they turned up the air conditioning full blast. The result was a full-scale fog machine effect. The air was so humid that water condensed into fog in the air ducts. It was pretty cool -- definitely appropriate for the music I was listening to. The lightning outside also contributed to a slightly psychedelic effect. Some of the businessmen sitting around me looked slightly confused and or annoyed. I enjoyed it.

But I didn't enjoy hearing that our flight was canceled. We rolled back to the gate and sullenly filed off. It was now around 8:00am and I had spent two hours in the plane. I was re-booked on the 8:00am flight, which was delayed and was going to leave around 8:50? Why was it delayed? Because the plane hadn't arrived from Boston yet. I was stupefied. Why not take the plane that we were sitting on to Boston? It seemed perfectly fine. It was poised to go to Boston before. Why make everyone get off and then wait for another plane to go to Boston? But I thought it best not to bring this up, so I dutifully accepted my re-re-booking for the 8:00 flight.

The flight actually left the gate around 9:20, and we then spent at least a half hour on the ground before taking off. There was some fog in the plane, but not as much as before. I read the New York Times, which was mostly depressing news about people dying in Iraq and Newark. I also read a short item which said that Thai police officers who are caught breaking rules are going to be made to wear a pink Hello Kitty armband as a punishment. The Thai police spokesman said that Hello Kitty is fun, but that it would embarrass the macho police officers who would have to wear it, and so it would be an effective deterrent. The world is an interesting place, eh? I wonder if parents will start making their girls who misbehave wear Thai policeman armbands. Personally, I'd much rather dress up like Hello Kitty than a Thai policeman.

As noted above, I am now in Boston in the midst of a three and a half layover. I believe that the airplane destined for Bar Harbor has just pulled up at the gate. With any luck, I will be in Maine in a little more than an hour.

Update: One more frustration. When I first got off the plane in Boston I went to see if I could get on an earlier flight to Bar Harbor. There was a flight (that had been delayed) that was leaving in around half an hour. They wouldn't let me take the flight. There were seats available, but they said that my luggage wouldn't make it. I said that I'd pick my luggage up later if it was on a subsequent flight. They wouldn't do it because apparently I had to travel with my luggage on the flight. Fine. So I spent three hours in Boston. When I finally arrived, I had a slight panic attack, because I didn't see my luggage get off the plane. Turns out the my luggage did make it on the earlier flight, and hence I could have avoided sitting in Boston for three hours. Arg.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Less than 12 hours

I leave China in slightly less than 12 hours. I'm currently in the midst of packing. I think it will all fit, but I've accumulated quite a few odds and ends -- books, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, and so on -- and it will be a little bit of a challenge. Doreen has also acquired a ton of papers from her trips to Hong Kong, Manila, Delhi, and Bangalore, and it has fallen to me to carry them. Right now it's looking like my bags will be very heavy, but that everything will fit.

The last three summers Doreen and I traveled around China for around three weeks after my summer school work was done. This year we're heading straight home. We had hoped to have a quiet month together in Maine and travel up to Quebec to kayak with the whales. For a variety of reasons -- some good and some bad -- we won't be able to do so. But we've had a nice few days in Beijing, relaxing and hanging out. And we will get to spend some time together in Maine before school starts and before Doreen jets off to Europe. She has a sabbatical from COA in the fall, so she'll be away much of the time.

We are celebrating our last night in Beijing by sharing a bottle of red wine and packing. The wine is Suntime Manes Dry Red Wine. It was chosen by the summer school's official sommelier, Professor Henry Wright. He ranks it as one of the better Chinese reds he's had. The reviews from Professor Doreen Stabinsky are somewhat mixed: "It tastes like grapes." "I'm glad we didn't waste space in our luggage bringing this home." And, "It's actually not bad. It tastes pretty good, just not like wine." I'm finding it fine. Not great, but good enough for a long night of packing.

I will try to post more Beijing thoughts when I get back to Maine. Right now I should turn my attention to packing and wine.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Getting Ready to Leave

It's Sunday night in Beijing and I leave Tuesday in the early afternoon. So my month or so in China is winding down. It's somehow hard to believe. I've spent much of the evening trying to think about mentally shifting from SFI/Summer School mode back to Maine and then back to COA. It's time to start thinking, even if only a little, about classes and other fall term stuff. I don't have a lot of preparation to do, per se. I've taught the classes before and am pretty much ready to go. But it takes me a while sometimes to get mentally psyched and ready for a new term, especially in a fall after a summer with good and different adventures.

The CSSS crowd has pretty much cleared out. My two closest SFI colleagues are gone, as are almost all the students. It feels oddly quiet and a little lonely. Tomorrow I'll have a bunch of packing to do and emails to send and a few loose ends to tie up. Today, Doreen and I went to a big flea market sort of place south east of Tienanmen. We didn't get much, but it was a fun trip. It was tiring, however. The air today was terrible, and even though it wasn't that hot, the day took a lot out of me. I had hoped to get some work done this evening, but I haven't really had the energy to focus. So I've spent the time reading blogs and then writing this not very interesting post.

It seems like at least half of the bloggers that I read are moving this month. Perhaps this is why I'm feeling a little unsettled -- I've just spent around an hour reading lots of unsettled blog entries. In academia, I suppose that August is the big moving month. Looking back, I realize that since I graduated college in June of 1991, I've moved in August of 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. Moving can be hard; it's tiring and costly and potentially stressful. It's hard to believe that it's been over five years since my last move; the memories of moving are still quite vivid.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two Lists

I will leave China in five days, and I have very mixed feelings.

Things I'm looking forward to at home:

  • My bed.
  • My cats.
  • Insanely strong coffee and good bread, warm with olive oil for breakfast.
  • Cool weather.
  • Friends and colleagues in Maine.
  • Cooking yummy food while listening to loud music.
  • Quiet Maine nights.

Things I will miss about Beijing:

  • Good Chinese food, especially eggplant. I've never even come close to cooking eggplant so it tastes like it does in China.
  • Clubs that play music that I like.
  • The local coffee shop where the staff cheerfully greets me with a chorus of "good morning" no matter what time of day it is.
  • Some great friends that I've made over the last two years.
  • The excitement of living in a city of 16 million people.
  • Eating pizza and cupcakes with chopsticks.
  • The inspiration I draw from working with and being around so many smart, creative, and kind people at the summer school.
  • The sense of adventure and possibility associated with almost everything here.