It turns out that today’s afternoon classes were cancelled so that the freshmen can be hazed. As I’m sure we’re all aware, you can’t really do a proper job of hazing new students if you have to bother about classes and school and whatnot. I’m very eager to see what sorts of things they do. From what I gather, it will be, more or less, public. So, presumably, it can’t be that bad. I just hope they don’t decide I and my students are freshmen. I wondered yesterday about my boss cancelling class on the spur of the moment for students to burn off energy. Today, I know for an absolute fact, he would never, ever cancel classes to allow hazing. We’ll probably get a TLC workshop just because I mentioned the word.
In other news, we had an earthquake. We’ve been told we’re likely to feel a few jolts in our time here and that there is a decent chance for a strong one in four plus months. The one yesterday was not strong; 4.4 about 40 miles away. I was sitting in my office and it felt like a truck had driven into the building. There was more noise than movement. I thought nothing of it as there is a lot of traffic in the area and I assumed that a truck had driven into the building. I had some students over to dinner last night and one asked if we’d felt it. Two of us had but not realized it. The student’s barber had told him about it. Those who felt it were sitting somewhere quiet. Those who didn’t were moving about. As with tornadoes, I’m torn. I’d love to feel a good, solid quake. On the other hand, I have no wish for damage and certainly not for having to invoke any of our disaster planning. I’m thinking 6.1 about 60 miles away. For Chile, that’s nothing. But for us it would be a good experience.
As I said, I had a group of students over. I’m going to try to do that once a week to stay in some contact with them. They’re spread out all over the city and I will only see them in class, on trips or when they come to see me voluntarily. I could easily miss developing problems. The plan actually worked and I discovered a problem at dinner last night. One student is not being fed in her homestay. The students live with a Chilean family (or person in some cases) and the family is paid a stipend to care for the student. Some families choose to pocket the money and not spend any on the students (they are supposed to make a profit but not without providing). Don’t look so surprised, you know as well as I do there are a lot of jerks in the world. On the other hand, some are wonderful. We’ve so far had 36 homestay encounters on this trip and 2 have gone badly. Most have ended up very happy. If you’d told me those numbers in January, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat.
The student in question is moving to another homestay today along with her Dutch roommate. I have one other student not getting fed and we’re looking for a new place for her but the one last night was news to me. Fortunately, she had contacted the homestay organizer and gotten it taken care of without my getting involved. Learning this, I filled her wine glass. You have to reward behavior of which you want more.
They stayed until nearly ten, having been trained over the last few months of homestay that, in Latin America, hours of conversation must follow dinner. Once they left, I watched the first half of the Wake game and went to bed. Which was the wise call. Good season, guys. Now hide John Collins from any scouts wandering around.
Pictures from my last astronomical outing:
Eta Carina: http://astrob.in/286324/0/