Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lab Day One

First off, now that I'm in control of my senses after the travel nightmare that was the weekend, I need to thank my mother-in-law for sending me off with a proper Italian lunch. She made a nice lettuce-tomato-mozzarella salad with olive oil and balsamic, along with a perfectly marinated grilled porchetta, smashed potatoes, and squash/zucchini side, followed by sweetened-strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. WAY better than whatever they were trying to give me on the plane. So thanks, Mary! You got me in the Italian frame of mind and I appreciate it.
Lab Day One started with free breakfast at the local Cafe Peppe - either a cornetto (Italian croissant) or yogurt AND either cappuccino or juice. They have a list of our names and we sign it. If we want extra, we pay. At least it's not a softball roll (see 2004). Tram...bus...EUR. We started at 9:30 for our first "lab day." The morning (9:30-12:30) consisted of...no lie..."learning" how to cut and paste, and how to re-size pictures you "borrow" from the internet. I almost poked my eye out with my new EUR pen. 12:30 brought a decent (read: free) lunch with wine and dessert. They gave us an hour for lunch (way too long) and an additional 1/2 hour to "check email," which is totally stupid since everyone has a computer in their apartment and most of us brought laptops. But we also got our 200-euro meal refund that we are supposed to spend on lunches and dinners that are not included in the "tour." That was a good bribe, since the next TWO hours were spent with the assignment of making a 500-word (minimum) searchable database of Latin words on Excel so that we could use those same words to create crossword puzzles that were, in the instructor's words, "rotationally symmetrical." At one point, someone asked what the heck that meant. Me, being a big fan of symmetry as many of you know, knew what it meant but not necessarily what it might entail in creating a Latin-word-based crossword puzzle. At the end of the day, I had a 1/2 finished crossword puzzle and a huge headache, and I didn't really see A) the point of it all OR 2) the educational value it would have in my classroom teaching. To sum up...I didn't learn very much even though the entire day, from 9:30 to 5:30 was spent in a computer lab. In Rome. Can ANYONE feel my frustration?!?!? I think I may feel a stomach bug coming up on a lab day...soon. Enough complaining since I'm sure you all are like, "You're in Rome...stop your b**ching..." Okay then. Next: Went to the discount-beyond-convenience-store-but-not-quite-supermarket that is under our apartment building. For 11.55 euro I got: a nice size melon, a packet of prosciutto, a box of tea, 1/2 pound of sugar, 10 rolls of TP, a pack of dinner napkins, two boxes of tissues, a bottle of red wine (and that was 1.59 euro, btw), a 6-pack of 1-liter bottles of water, and a dozen cornetto (that's croissants in case you weren't paying attention yesterday...). Oh, and one plastic bag to carry it in (they charge for that here, and I really believe that's coming to the US). I was worried about the dollar/euro thing until that outing. Now I know I can survive, lolol. A little rest from 6:30 to 7:30 and eight of us met for a dinner outing. Somehow I've become a bit of a leader/expert on the area although I'm trying very hard to downplay my experiences. Either way, seven other people were relying on me for their evening plans and I had in mind to go to the Piazza at Santa Maria in Trastevere because it's relatively close (one tram ride, no transfers) and it has character. Some of you reading were on the EHS Rome/Paris trip and perhaps remember the piazza with the fountain and the guys throwing torches and most of the adults had a fabulous dinner mostly involving seafood??? Well, that's the piazza. We had a pretty good dinner at Sabatini (although the dinner on the EHS trip was WAY better...). The waiter offered us a "special" typical Roman antipasto which five of us ordered. It was a few slices of prosciutto, a Jewish-style artichoke, a fried stuffed zucchini flower, and a slice of grilled bruschetta with tomatoes. I was thinking 10 euro tops. No one bothered to ask...well, we got taken for 21 euro each, and that was just the app! Luckily for entrees we all went modest with just pasta. Mine was spaghetti con vongole (with clams) for 17 euro.. Others ordered fisherman's risotto, amatriciana, roasted chicken, carbonara, and linguine with pesto. Add in the bread, wine, water and service charge and the seven of us who ate (one was just there for company) spent 327 plus tip. So it's looking like I may plan a dinner party and shop at that discount market one night, which I think may be much appreciated, lol. But it was fun, and we had a great time people-watching in our new neighborhood. We were home by midnight (we all agreed we needed an early night after last night's outing) and that's that. Love the fact that I am writing this on my bed with my shiny new laptop and don't have to deal with the Italian keyboard. Hope all is well in the US and ciao for now. Love, A

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