Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Rest of the Week

What a week! It started snowing in Trondheim the day before I arrived and never stopped, but the weather stayed warm-ish for my visit. The result was big fluffy snowflakes and beautiful scenery everywhere.

Here's Maggie with Adam and Hannah, sledding at school. Maggie is in her pajamas with her stuffed cat because it's reading day at school. Adam has become Maggie's best friend, and he left to return to Australia for good this week. Maggie was very sad.

Our car has studded tires which bite extremely well into the hard-packed layer of snow covering the roads, resulting in terrific traction even up steep hills. My shoes, too, have "tire chains", or Yak-Tracks as they're called, which came in very handy several times this week.

Many folks leave their wipers up overnight so they don't freeze to the dash. Some people put plastic or cloth sheets over their windshields also to keep the ice off. Seems like Norwegians have learned a thing or two about living in the snow...

The conference was terrific. I made new friends from schools all over Norway, from Bergen and Oslo and several towns with whose names I couldn't understand but which sound lovely and exotic.

I was treated to dinners each night at various restaurants. On Sunday, Pam and I joined the conference crew at the Grenaderen, a banquet hall on the river across from NTNU. Here we awkwardly joined a table of teachers from Bergen, but we quickly warmed to each other and we ended up with invitations to visit them later this year.

On Monday, I Yak-Tracked from ThIS to NTNU (about 25 minutes) listening to Norwegian lessons on my iPod. I got my new office and mingled with conference folks, happy to see the folks from my Math Trail group the day before.

Pam could not join us for dinner that evening because she was hosting a Family Math Night at her school. All but one of her students came! (Askh was sick at home). I did some juggling math for the group and got a team started making a geodesic dome out of newspaper tubes, then I had to leave in a hurry to go downtown for the second dinner of the conference. With only 15 minutes to make it there, I strapped on my Yak-Tracks and RAN, downhill on icy streets. Wow, those Yak-Tracks work well! I didn't slip once and I made it to the Brittania hotel with minutes to spare.

We did puzzles over dinner, and I woke the next morning still thinking of puzzles. Here's one for you: a stick is broken into three pieces. What is the probability that a triangle can be made from the 3 lengths?

On Tuesday I gave my talk to nearly 400 people in a huge auditorium. It was a hit! In fact, it was the best response I've ever had to a talk. On this, the final night, Ingvill took a small group of six others (Pam and I included) to the Havfruen (the Mermaid), the finest seafood restaurant in Norway. The fish chowder was exquisite, my mouth is watering as I write this! We had a tour of wines, a different kind with each course. Most very excellent!

Here's Ingvill with a bib they provide for those having Lutefisk, a horrible dried fish treated with lye. It's a national dish and popular at Christmas. I'll have to try some eventually, and I'm not looking forward to it. The bib says "Lutefisk lover... make love tonight!" (Ingvill did not have the Lutefisk!)

I awoke at 4 am Wednesday morning and got picked up by a Flytaxi to take me to the airport, and 20 hours later I found myself back in Bellingham.

It was an amazing week -- I am very much looking forward to spending 6 months learning with my new friends at NTNU.

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