Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Technical Difficulties

Ahhh, technical difficulties at home are one thing, abroad they are inevitable!

The difficulties were on two fronts: communications and technology.

The communications difficulties were partially due to my forgetfulness/laziness in either buying a new phone card or adding more minutes to the cell phone I am borrowing (topping up, as the Scots say). The third part of this woe....the wireless network was down here on campus until mid-morning. So, not internet service. I did, however, get a free 1.5 days of internet access for free to compensate. The manager on duty at Reception happens to be a computer geek (certified at that), and hooked me up.

The technology difficulties have to do with the voltage differences here. At home in the US the majority of our outlets are 110 v, with the few odd 220 v for big time appliances. Here in the UK, everything is 220 v, even my little electric tea kettle (no wonder the water boils in a second!).
I brought an adapter for my computer, as it is self converting (thank goodness, the older technology some kids brought is making weird humming noises, but not my fresh new Dell!). It did not even occur to me how I was going to charge my camera batteries (obviously I brought along the charger, but it is 110 volt). So, I borrowed Caren's converter and adapter, plugged in my charger and watched. The lights indicating charge came on for a few seconds then went out. I immediately turned off the outlet (each outlet has its own switch -- ubernifty). I smelled it, and it had a faint acrid smell -- I am hoping I didn't burn out the charger, but have no way of knowing that until I am back in the states -- mid-July. So, today I headed out to buy a new battery charger (after I took my students to the fabulous National Museum -- less than 10 years old and WOW! I can't wait to take John there!). I happened upon one at the Pound Saver (Pound being kin to our dollar, and the store is much like Big Lots!) for 7 GBP ($14), including 4 batteries. So they are charging now and we shall see how they do. Hopefully good enough to get me to Rome and back to London.

Of course I cannot download any pictures from my visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens yesterday (another fantastic place I am going to take John), so you will have to wait till the charge is done for more pics. Oh, the camera batteries decided to quit on my just as we got to the memorial to the Queen Mother -- a beautiful grotto decorated with shells and pinecones -- you will have to see the pics for yourself! The RB Gardens were so pretty, it made me think of all the people in my life that would truly enjoy visiting such a uniquely British place. I hope you will stop back for pictures later or tomorrow.

Now I am off for my afternoon tea, and to grade all those exams I gave last night. Grrr............ Oh well, it pays the bills right?!?


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