Volcano refugee blogger seeks things to do

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I have begun to accept that air travel across the North Atlantic is a thing of the past, at least for now. Europe is as distant a dream as it was a hundred years ago, a trip accomplishable only by a long sea voyage. I need to accept that I live in Boston now. I have been passing my time learning to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull properly, and rediscovering the pleasures of being back in the USA, and profiting from the kindness of strangers toward the bloggers they read. You Language Log readers in the Boston/Cambridge area and further afield: I really am touched by your generosity, thoughtfulness, and friendship. Elizabeth, Murray, Jan, Kathleen, Michael, Carla, Ryan, James, Steve: this means people like you.

I got stuck here on Thursday night, to the west of an eastward-drifting cloud of ash that this morning's maps showed completely covering Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Moldova, a huge swath of Ukraine and Russia, and slices of a number of other more northely and southely countries in Europe like Norway, Sweden, and Italy. Since then I have had a visit from a Canadian semanticist friend, Ash Asudeh, who stopped by for dinner at my hotel (he had some Big News that I'm not allowed to tell you). An invitation came in from Professor Michael Connolly to go out to Boston College and give a lecture on Friday (and me not even a Catholic; I did it, and greatly enjoyed the visit). I got an invitation to give a talk to the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium on Saturday (which I also accepted; the students were very friendly). There have been two or three other tentative invitations to give talks, and all sorts of offers of accommodation (one, for example, to borrow a beach house on Cape Cod). Today's calendar (Sunday's) was looking thin, but now a Language Log reader (bless you, Elizabeth) has invited me to a dinner party this evening.

It is frustrating to have my life interrupted like this — my day job as a department head in Edinburgh is really being neglected, and I worry about that. But I truly cannot complain. I am well housed and fed at the moment (let it not pass without remark: British Airways has been wonderful to me), and the Boston/Cambridge conurbation is one of the great intellectual gathering places of the world, and seems also to be home to an unusually large and generous clique of Language Log readers (you guys are now, somewhat narcissistically, reading a post about yourselves, I guess). I am lucky indeed to have been stranded in such a location. (It would risk offense to list some of the places one would not want to be stuck for a week without hope of transport out, but you can fill in your own worst nightmare of a place to be stranded.)

I do not believe there is any chance of my leaving the USA before Thursday night, and I could be here the rest of this week. So, since I love to work, it continues to be the case that your university could book me for a lecture this week at bargain basement prices. I have a lecture on grammars for your writing instructors and English majors that will curl your hair. I have more technical talks that will straighten it again. And boy, I so cheap. I did the Harvard gig for a beer and a plate of nachos, and was delighted with that deal. Don't bother to get your people to call my people; my people are far away, and you know how to find me quicker than your people can.

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