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Okay, here we go.

The Sunday before last was wonderful. A friend of Franklin's mother came into town, and he usually visits with a family that lives here in Oxford (the Smiths), attending their church service and then taking them out to lunch. Well, I was invited to come along. I have to say, I was amazed. This man, David, was the embodiment of courtesy. A true gentleman, in every sense of the word. He was over eighty years old, but he was as lively as ever and just so kind. I was able to see the inside of St. Aldate's, which was lovely, and the lunch afterward....Let's just say that I hadn't eaten that well in more than a month. Not only that, but it was delicious. I tried venison for the first time, and we all sat around after lunch, drinking tea/coffee and discussing the current state of the world. After so much time on my own, it was refreshing to be taken in so warmly by the Smith family, and being treated....well, like an adult.

I suppose I'm used to having strangers react to my babyface, and then learn afterward that I'm both older than I look and a very spirited conversationalist. I'm not saying that to compliment myself, trust me; I've just noticed that adults don't really believe that you're mature until you manage to bring up a point or two that they hadn't considered before. Which is only natural, of course.

David had actually brought presents for everyone, including me. This man had never seen me before in his life, but I was still handed a big box of (very expensive!) chocolates. And they were probably the best chocolates I've ever had; that's saying something, guys. I was going to walk home by myself, but David insisted that he call a taxi and drop me off himself. So he offered me his arm, and we strolled down the street to an area that cabs frequent. A few minutes later, I was dropped off at Hilda's, with David telling me that "It was a joy." No, I don't think I did anything special; I just think he's a sweet old man.

On Thursday, it snowed. A delicate white powder coming down all day. It was too warm to stick, but it was so nice.

Friday was a crazy lab day. I had two lectures in the morning from nine o'clock until eleven, then the lab practical scheduled from eleven until five o'clock. Yeah....Who makes up schedules for these things, anyway? Ada and I had to take lunch in shifts. The lab was cool, though. Okay, we now know that cellular membranes are made up of a lipid bilayer; just two layers of lipids to make up one membrane. Well, way back when, they thought that there was only one layer. So to test it, they extracted the lipids from some erythrocytes (red blood cells) and estimated number of cells and the surface area of each cell. Then they compared the amount of lipid to the estimate of the surface area, and the ratio that they came up with was almost perfectly 2:1. And the world finally understood that it was a lipid bilayer.

Here at Oxford, they seem to have a thing for having us recreate famous old experiments, so that's what we did. They gave us some sheep's blood that had been stored on ice (sangre fria, indeed...) and let us get to it (though our estimation and lipid isolation techniques are a bit more accurate). You might be wondering why we were using blood, as opposed to just any cells in the body. Well, red blood cells don't have nuclei or organelles, so the lipids from a nuclear membrane and organelle membranes wouldn't shift the results by adding more lipids than were being considered in the experiment. So there you go; science + blood = discovery.

On Saturday, I got up early and joined a protest that marched through the streets of Oxford. Remind me to tell you more about that later.

Ideas for [livejournal.com profile] our_resistance have been beating me over the head lately, so you might be able to expect something from that end soon. I just hate it when the plot bunnies declare war; they even go so far as to attack while I'm in the shower. Cheeky little buggers...

This afternoon, I was sitting innocently at my computer when Katie knocked on my door. She was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

"Have you seen outside?!"

"What?"

"Go look out your window!"

Oh. My. God.

It was a blizzard out there. (Well, maybe not a blizzard, but it was coming down fast and hard.) This was the warmest morning we had had in a long time, and then suddenly it was snowing like crazy. I just couldn't resist; so I threw on some extra layers and grabbed my camera. Katie and I ended up doing all the cliche winter things that I've never done before: catching snowflakes on my tongue, having a snowball fight, making snow angels, and just running through it like mad and listening to the satisfying crunching sound. I got plenty of pictures, and even some video. Most Floridians scoff at snow, but I'll let you guys see so you can make your own call.

My verdict? Best afternoon ever.
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Thursday: Our second day that the ChCh regatta. The current in the river was so strong, one of Merton's shells crashed into the bank and had to have people rescued. (We passed by the accident site later, and the shell was complete wreckage.) Because of that, our race was delayed an hour. So we sat out in the freezing cold, in a boat, fighting the current for an hour. Two (Irina) and I had to constantly row so that we could stay in the same place; I'm not kidding. Then it started to rain (freezing rain) right before our race. By the time we finally started our race, it had started absolutely pouring. We couldn't even see, and we could barely hear our cox, even though she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Halfway through the race, hail started to come down on us. Chunks of ice, about the size of marbles. The wind made the current so bad, we almost crashed into the bank like the other crew. And, of course, after our race they had to cancel the rest of the regatta for the day...

We did manage to make it to the finish line. When we rowed past Merton's wrecked shell, I felt like crying. It was so sad; it was a wooden one, hand-crafted and polished to a shine. Broken more ot less in two, the riggers all twisted on one side. It was a horrible crash, and such a shame losing such a beautiful shell. And we almost knocked a goose senseless, because it was just too stupid to get out of our way. Strokeside accidentally knocked it about a bit with their blades before it swam on. Yeah, geese are pretty dumb...

Pictures, anyone? I'm the bow, which for you non-rowers means that I'm the one on the end...

http://www.rowtherace.co.uk/chch05/slides/IMG_3211.html
http://www.rowtherace.co.uk/chch05/slides/IMG_3212.html

Thursday night was spent at Katie's party, which was absolutely fabulous. She had a murder mystery party, and each of us was given a character to dress up as and act the part of during the game. These mystery party games are all the rage here in Britain. It's all in a kit that you buy in party shops and such. You buy one that has the right number of characters for your party, and it contains invitations that tell everyone who their character is and how to dress. So then you get there; everyone's in character, and you put on a tape that came with it. A "detective" starts talking about the murder, and gives you clues here and there to help you solve it. Each of us gets a booklet for our character, telling us who we are, and what our real motives are; what we're supposed to tell people, and the things that we should try to keep secret. Then we go around accusing each other and questioning to figure out who did it. No one knows who the murderer is until the very end, after you go around guessing who did it. Then you play the last bit of the tape, and all the pieces fall together.

And just in case you guys were wondering who did it, I can tell you that it was just about everyone. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. Apparently, the dead Butler had been stealing the Uncle's port, and since the Uncle was pathologically insane, he put poison in the alcohol to "teach him a lesson". That would have killed him, except for the fact that the French Girl he had an affair with tried to poison him too, because he was blackmailing her. The two poisons canceled each other out, but he was feeling very sick and had to stay in bed. That's where he was shot, but the curious thing was, there was blood on both sides of his pillow. As it turns out, the Nun was his long-lost sister; when their father had died, their family became penniless so the Nun was sent to America and the brother/Butler was sent to London. Their mother later married a rich German, who already had a daughter, the Caberet Star. When she died, the money was going to go to the Butler, but he died so the Caberet Star was going to inherit it all.

The Nun was my secret lover, and I wanted her to inherit it all instead; so I was going to kill the Butler. I even had a suicide note all written up. But when I got there, he was already dead. So I left the suicide note and snuck away. The Butler was killed because the Niece's Fiance owed him money. The Butler was actually a member of a the crime underworld, and the Fiance didn't want to get mixed up in it. So he convinced his wife-to-be to actually pull the trigger. But the shot to the head didn't actually kill him. That's why there was blood on both sides of the pillow. The Nun (his sister) had come in afterward, and had seen that he was shot, but still breathing. She smothered him with the pillow; a mercy killing.

Man, it was so much fun...

Friday: An unspeakable amount of work was done.

Saturday: Errands were run, inquiries were made, and laundry was done. The dryers only take twenty pence coins, and I ran out halfway through. Despite borrowing money from a porter, there still wasn't enough to actually dry my clothes. Or the sheets I was supposed to sleep on. Or the towel I was supposed to use after showering. I'm almost positive that my annoyance could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt a chill come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me.

Sunday: Finished my last cells and genes paper a day early. I'm almost positive that my jubilation could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to laugh hysterically come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me. My clothes and sheets and towels were still wet, though. But on the bright side, the regatta after-party was that night. So I got to hang out at Filth with some of my crew, and more or less danced the night away. I ended up getting to bed at three o'clock in the morning; not because of leaving the club late, though. I actually left around one o'clock. When I got back to my room, I remembered that Biz had borrowed my extra mattress because she had had a friend come to stay with her. Of course, I didn't really "remember" this by myself; I saw the mattress laying out in the middle of the hallway. So there I was at about two in the morning; single-handedly dragging a mattress through the hall to my room. Ducking under the clotheslines still covered in drying clothes, I finally managed to shove it back on the bed. Then bed for me.

Monday: Last dissection for the term; the poor little starfish never had a chance. I turned in my cells and genes paper, but I have my last invertebrate paper due Wednesday; so it was off to the library for me. I stumbled across a book written by Dr. Speight, which was interesting (though not really surprising, at this point). He gave his last lecture this morning, so I suppose I'll just have to chat with him about it after I get back from winter break. Like most of our dissections, today's had been a bit rough on the nerves, so Ada and I took up our habit of hanging out in the college bar for a while after dinner. She doesn't like cutting things open (not to mention that she's a bit of a vegetarian), so I bought her a drink for being such a good sport about it all. Afterwards, I walked back to my building.

It started to rain, but something just wasn't right about it. The rain wasn't falling as fast as it should have, and it wasn't very wet. I looked down at my coat and got the shock of my life. I'm almost positive that my childish wonder could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to dance in the middle of a snowfall about four hours ago, then yeah, that was me. They weren't proper snowflakes, but it was still snow.


I'm in complete awe.

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