Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The above sentence being about half of my French vocabulary at the moment, and this sentence a good representation of how screwy my English grammar has become, I conclude therefore that I have been in Germany for a very very long time. And then I must now admit that I am not, in fact, in Germany at the moment - rather, I'm in Italy, somewhere near the Mediterranean, although I never know exactly where I am when traveling with my family.
My last day of teaching was August 4th, and on the 5th I took a train to Geneve (la Suisse), where I met up with my family, as well as two really cool people named Alan and Laura that y'all might happen to know. There are pictures from this meeting, despite the weather being generally dreary, but they aren't on my camera, so I leave it to one or more of these super cool people to post them. hinthint. As for the weekend, it was spent walking around the streets of Geneve, touring CERN, and eating smuggled roquefort instead of sleeping.
In other news, like I said, my last day of teaching was last week, and I'm now on vacation. The last two weeks of my teaching program went very quickly and very nicely. The kids were the youngest we've had all summer, so I feel like I haven't gotten to know them quite as well, but they have been remarkable as students and pretty fun to teach. I had one particularly memorable student - if you've ever read Anne of Green Gables, this kid is my Paul Irving. He was just the most remarkable boy... and Alan, if you read this, I mean remarkable as in special, not remarkable as in able-to-be-remarked-upon.
I've also brought the llama song over to Germany, where the younger kids have loved it, as you can probably tell by the pictures I have sent out to the group. Here's another one for good measure (President Obama-Llama was their favorite). I have also taught them the PTERODACTYL game, which caught on more with the older kids. The thing with that game is that you have to be bad at it for it to be fun. Ah well. C'est la vie. (The previous sentence being the other half of my French vocabulary).
This summer has been super awesome. I've learned a lot/changed a lot, I think. On the serious side, my German is much much better, I have some clearer ideas of what I might want to do with my life, I've networked a bit, I've done a lot of teaching and a lot of learning, and I've met some really really amazing people. On the less serious side, I am approximately four orders of magnitude less mature than previously (I blame my team) and have embarrassed myself more times than I am able to name/count/whatevs. Ah well.
I return to Geneva in three days, FRA in four, BOS in five, and DTW in five and a half, or something like that. After that I sleep for a day, go counsel at orchestra camp for a week, relax for a week, and return to campus. I'm very excited to see everyone!
Love and mussels,
Monday, August 8, 2011
- As I was reading along in my book, finding the story to be convoluted at best, I found myself thinking: "If I were a mermaid sitting on a rock, I could say 'alas' with a straight face!" Thank you Davie.
Before thou readest on, consider well thy motives. If thou desirest knowledge of the epic adventures of Fair Eireann of Brien, look no further. Many a minstrel might tempt thee with myths and faery songs, but only I speak the truth. If thou hast a pure heart, may these words guide thee in thy quest, but for those who would seek to harm, be warned, thy deeds shall haunt thee...
Our tale begins in magic and mystery. One day our heroine undertook a great journey across the time zone vortex in search of her family. She had been sent to a far away land to find her way in the world (hers was a very progressive Midieval family), but she new that this was a time that she must return and accomplish noble deeds in her own magnificent kingdom. I can see in thy mind's eye that thou hast already been told the story of her treacherous voyage through the skies and some of her other battles, so I shall tell you only of those seemingly little-known things which art held in greatest secrecy...
When Eireann found herself back in her lush homeland, not far outside of the Emerald City, she immersed herself in the doings and culture of her populace.
She went dancing with her mother and wore her enchanted yellow shoes... they even braved the mud and lightning of a thunderstorm to perform.
She discovered that her father, a gifted healer, had been taken as a pottery apprentice and shown himself to be exceedingly gifted. He gave her as a token a bowl and cup that were wondrously beautiful and through some inherent magic of the art seemed to make their contents taste better.
She attended the wedding of her gorgeous cousin and now cousin-in-law... they are very happy and Eireann was glad to admit that the whole thing couldn't have gone any better :)
She and her friends (those who had been inducted into the secret society) braved the ancient annual rite of consuming large quantities of overly-hydrating fruit with a significant amount of pain but a great sense of accomplishment, despite the distractions caused by a noisy squirrel that took her cracker and a family of six deer who probably had no interest at all in crackers.
She lamented her lack of a personal transport, especially as she experienced first hand her younger brother's pseudo-expert handling of said transport for the first time.
She began the great undertaking of a personal quest to discover the secrets of music. One Sir Ben J. came to teach her the ways of improvisation and the blues scale. That and a trip to her roots with Celtic duets and an entire afternoon flew by. The next phase of her quest is yet incomplete, as she prepares a performance piece for a certain elite group she is a member of back in her far away land.
She was reminded of how much she loves little children.
She survived the grueling experience of having what was left of her wisdom removed from her mouth (though it is to be hoped that it had already dispersed throughout the rest of her body, as she prefers to be not terribly foolish). It was not so grueling after all. She didn't even have to use her prescription anti-pain potion, and only took the ordinary one for 12 hrs. Eireann was absurdly pleased by this fact.
She continues to help attach siding to the exterior of her families unfinished castle... it is beginning to look most pleasingly castle-like... while wild bunnies hop through the dusk and a dratted squirrel takes up roost in the attic, tauntingly poking its head out of ventilation holes from time to time, but so far nigh un-catchable.
It is rumored that soon Eireann and her family will embark on their journey to The Lake and back, and that not long after she will take a visit from one of her friends from far away (who was even farther away this summer), for which she is very excited. Also to come hopefully before she departs back to her alternate home is a viewing of Harry Potter... finally.
So it is here that I leave thee, faithful listener, in this tale of Lady Eireann. Many things thou hast heard, still more things will be left unsaid, but even more things are yet to come, for she plans not on ending her adventures for many a year...
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
but let's jump back a month-ish and briefly summarize the rest of my adventures:
-Kuala Lumpur: 7hr bus ride (2hrs waiting at sg and malaysian customs) fun times wandering around malls, trying local food (curry laksa soup is delicious), succeeding somewhat in bargaining for clothes in central market, getting lost in the cramped aisles of fake junk in chinatown, swimming in the infinity pool at the hotel, and shopping some more..
Here's a picture of the inverted dome at the Islamic art museum, which was quite gorgeous.
From the asian civilisations museum: this is a modern artist's take on the actual terracotta warriors that were on display..
The art and science museum had some exhibitions on Van Gogh and the Tang dynasty shipwreck. The National Museum had an exhibition on watchmaking (so many elaborate pocketwatches..)
Toy museum: soo adorable! Picture walls of teddy bears, shelves of small figures of robots, spaceships, tintin, mickey and the gang, tom and jerry, daleks, and so much more.. (I think I still haven't seen the sword in the stone, so that should be remedied when I get back.)
-Pulau Ubin (sorry I don't have pictures): island off the east side of sg (I stayed near the SW side) so we took the MRT, bus, and then cute little riverboat ferry to the island, and went cycling for a few hours, gotten eaten alive by mosquitos, harvested these random leaves growing along the side of the path, which were apparently edible (I don't know what they are in english, but they're called "la lơt" in vietnamese) and then my cousin proceeded to make dinner for us with the leaves the next day. I can report that we are all alive and well, even after eating these mysterious leaves growing on the side of the path. They did taste good though when you wrap up ground beef with them.
Other miscellaneous-ness include:
-July 4th was uneventful: they didn't sell marshmallows or graham crackers at the grocery store near campus, so I was unable to make microwave s'mores :[
-Meeting with Dean Hastings at NUS
-Kayaking in MacRitchie reservoir=bad tan lines (which have simply just gotten even worse -.-")
-HP7: There was a distinct lack of audience participation (i.e. commentary, obnoxious laughter, etc), but still fun and enjoyable. Also chinese subtitles :P
-sg food festival+black sesame ice cream: tastes kind of weird-not necessarily bad, but not my favorite..
-Chocolate lava cakes, lemon meringue pie, and deliciousness fox cookies: not all in the same day..
(also my cousin's birthday is on friday. She wants me to make some sort of special type of cake that's purple or pink colored for her (and not too sweet!!): any suggestions? Erin, do you mind sending me your pink champagne cake recipe if you still have it?)
-Lunch other international students from Caltech and Imperial College, London.
-Chinatown and little India
-Shopping and eating.. repeated a few more times..and then some more.
-Trekking through many park trails for a few hours..
And now, my time here in Singapore draws to a close, and I begin the traditional exiting ceremony. I had a phone conference with Lilly-NUS regarding the cortisol analyses last Thurs and bid farewell to all the researchers, clinicians, neuropsych raters, coordinators, and all the other kind people I've gotten to know these past weeks. (although I still have some work left to pass to the Lilly-NUS people, but at least I can do it at home.) I wistfully say goodbye to all the delicious food that I won't be able to exactly replicate or find in the states.. (koi bubble tea, mango sago, grass jelly, chili crab, fresh noodles, dragonfruit, guava, papaya, longan, rambutan: I will miss you..but this won't be goodbye forever. I promise. but I will most certainly not miss you: durian smell.)
and I end this chapter of my summer adventures in SE Asia with my trip to Vietnam. :]
It rained much of the time I was there, so the weather was actually fairly cool in comparison to sg, but usually it's just as hot.
First order of business: visiting family- I stayed at my cousin's house: she's actually on my dad's side, so she took me over on her motorbike to see my mom's side, who live in a different part of Saigon, but only a 15min drive away. My grandmother's older brother is 90! and he totally ate way more food than I did, when I had lunch with them on Monday. Yeah, he's that cool- and you'd never know he could eat that much since he's as thin as a stick! but still very healthy. albeit somewhat forgetful, since he didn't really remember who I was for awhile, but by the end, he did remember. :] Unfortunately this may be the first and last time I see him, since I don't know when I'll get the chance to come back.. T.T I was very happy to meet everyone and hear all the funny stories about my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandmother from long ago. I tried my best to talk/answer their questions, but my vietnamese is quite limited, although I think it's gotten a bit better from the past couple days?
A bunch of family on my dad's side drove a car out to the countryside to see the Cao Dai temples, Một Thoáng Việtnam: a new cultural center that has stuff from all the different regions in Vietnam and history of the country, etc., and Cu Chi tunnels from the Vietnam war.
This is the Cao Dai temple: the religion was created in Vietnam, and it might only be found here..not sure.. There were signs that directed men to enter on the right, and women to enter on the left, but it didn't actually matter which entrance you came in. If you wanted to know, we all entered on the right: all 3 guys and 6 girls.
Cu Chi tunnels: It was raining, so everything is slightly muddy, thus we ended up much dirtier than usual. The shooting range they had open for tourists to play around in nearly gave me a heartattack, and I quickly ran away to avoid any of the unpleasant sounds.
This is the much enlarged entrance to the tunnels. They slightly enlarged 100m for tourists to crawl through, with exits every 20m in case the tiny, suffocating, dark, damp enclosure gets too much for you. It's literally about as large/wide as me curled up sort of like a hedgehog. There were a few tiny lights inside, but corners were difficult to navigate. It was fun sliding down/climbing up/down through the tunnels, but I was very relieved to breathe fresh air after those 100m. Then we nommed on some steamed cassava root with a mixture of sesame, brown sugar, and peanuts, as a reward for going through the tunnels and to finish our tour there.
On the left is a mock house at Một Thoáng Việtnam, but I don't remember what region this is from- perhaps Hue?
Also, on the right is mắm nem: fermented fish (anchovies/fish chunks/pulverized fish) that's been sitting in jars, possibly for more than 10 years. sounds delicious no? ewww, that's one VNmese thing I really can't eat. If you thought fish sauce was bad, don't ever go near this stuff. The smell is not quite as overpowering as durian, (in that the smell doesn't spread as quickly) but definitely fishy-er and perhaps much more unpleasant in some ways.
and of course Saigon, the crazy city itself, with an inordinate amount of motorbikes on the road with cars, of which neither of the drivers seem to follow the traffic lights, or rather the lack of traffic lights in some cases, and crossing roads is like playing frogger, as you slowly maneuver your way through the traffic. The night market at Chợ Bến Thành was fun and has lots of cheap shopping :] since the exchange is something like 20000đòng to 1USD, but they always talk in 10- and 100-thousands..
My cousin and I are sitting on her motorbike in the alley in front of her house.
Sorry the other picture is so dark- it was in a parking lot at night, but if you can see it, there are lots of motorbikes.. so all of them on the road=craziness..
Last but definitely not least: the food. OMG food!! So delicious. unbelievably delicious- okay maybe I'm a bit biased since I grew up on all of this stuff, so if I described it, you might be weirded out or not find it as amazing- I would tell you everything I ate, except I don't know the english translation of most of the food I ate. Except pho obviously, which tasted almost exactly like my mother's <3 Also, this would be so torturous for you to read about it and not taste all the lovely flavors.. ahh, I miss it already.
Unfortunately we only stayed for 3 days, although I'd dearly love to stay longer and explore the country my parents grew up in.
But alas, now I am back in Singapore for 3 more days, wander around a bit more, and figure out how on earth I'm going to fit all of my stuff in my suitcase and have it be under 23kg >.< Friday is my cousin's birthday, and Saturday morning I embark on my journey home.
Sorry, this was very long. Anyway, I hope all your summers have been going well.
I miss you all dearly- and I'll see you soon! <3
Friday, July 29, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The two students who were asked to show me around TUD were Felix and Jonas, two aerospace majors who work for Lufthansa (the ones I played tennis with) . Since they're fantastically awesome, they arranged a visit to the Lufthansa cargo base at the Frankfurt airport for us, which happened on Friday. That was really awesome - we got to explore a 747 and some A340s - including the cockpits! After this we all went out to dinner and stayed at the bar until midnight... but we gather that this is "typisch Deutsch" behavior. [picture = yin+michelle+me in front of A340 engine]
Speaking of "typisch Deutsch" behavior, we freshmen went to see Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes - Teil 2 at midnight on the 13th - our first night in Berlin, and about an hour into the movie, the movie cut out and a black screen that said "Pause" showed up. This was very disturbing, but is apparently not uncommon - altough not common either. We asked some very bemused Germans about it. In general, I think Germans are bemused by us - I'm fairly certain that everyone we meet here thinks that we are terrifically hilarious. A group of girls that laugh and smile all the time and speak English and try to speak German? What could be funnier?
We spent the following week (our free week) running around doing touristy things in Berlin. Schedule looked something like this:
- Tuesday: arrive, do laundry, go see Harry Potter at night (wednesday morning).
- Wednesday: Museumsinsel - Pergamonmuseum, Alte Nationalgalerie, & Neues Museum (nefertiti bust). [picture = me near the Alte Nationalgalerie]
- Thursday: Technikmuseum & Musikinstrumentenmuseum.
- Friday: Berlin Wall memorial, Holocaust memorial, shopping.
- Saturday: Meet up with Laura to run around Berlin. I think she has more pictures from this than I.
The summer programs are a bit less hectic and more like normal life in that I get back to my hosts at a reasonable hour and have time to read or relax or just reflect, which I've been doing a lot of. This summer has afforded a very amazing experience for me thus far, in part because I have met a lot of very cool/amazing/inspiring people. A partial list (I'm a fan of lists):
- Torben, one of my first students. He confused me a lot in my first lecture but was still very nice about it. He wants to be a doctor, and from the five days I spent with him, I know he genuinely believes in saving lives. He also does sailing, sings, plays saxophone, tutors, and lifeguards.
- Niklas, another one of my students. He wants to study physics and he was one of the nicest people we met at his school. What I really admired about him was that I could tell he was struggling in my physics presentations, but he didn't give up and still liked it. I really admire people who can like things they're not good at. Like legitimately.
- Chris, another one of my students, who was just very welcoming and genuinely nice to us during our entire stay. He did his fair share of laughing at us, but that's what all Germans do, and he told me how to call a taxi, and helped me figure out classroom reservation issues, and also he wants to study aerospace so I just automatically like him. btw, if it sounds like I only teach boys, that's partially true - I'm the designated physics person on the team and my students are predominately male.
- Remi, my Berlin host's flatmate. He's French but his German's very good and he made crepes one night. I asked him for his recipe - it involves "ein halb kilo farine", 200 g sugar, 1 L of milk, rum, and some arbitrary number of eggs. I mean to try it when I get back to campus. Perhaps without the rum, unless Ben will fetch it for me in his liquor-mobile.
- Anna and Phillip, my Frankfurt hosts. They are possibly the cutest unmarried couple I have ever met, and they also don't thirdwheel me, which I think is a remarkable achievement considering I'm staying in their home for a week. They are really nice to me and also have very good tea.
- Felix & Jonas. They are kind of in a really big bromance that is sort of more like a marriage. It's very (incredibly) adorable. In any case, Felix is taking double the normal courseload of a typical German student, and Jonas is taking triple, but what really amazes me is their inside-out knowledge of the workings of Lufthansa. They can tell you what aircraft are used for specific flights and how many crew members are stationed at which airports... yeah. cool stuff.
- My team. Yin, Michelle, Sasha, & Jing. I honestly don't know what it's going to be like without them now that we've spent so much time together - I feel like I'm going to get home and be lost without my four team members around me. Also, I feel like I kind of need all four of them to tell my summer stories - we've told them so many times that I feel like my stories would be missing something without their reenactment. Also, bad jokes. Lots of them. And finally, "Trig identities are sexy." [picture = team]
I have two weeks left of this program, one additional week in Geneva/Italy, and then I will be back in the states. It's only been 5 weeks but I feel like it's been like... longer. Love you and miss you all.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Je vous écris d'un Starbucks à NYC. Je viens de quitter la Californie, ou j'ai passé six semaines à travailler sur mon startup, Manifold Studios. Je suis a NYC pour visiter ma tante et mes cousins (des jumeaux de 4 mois!) ainsi que mes amis qui travaillent dans la ville. Je vais ensuite a Londres pour retrouver un ami du MIT qui travaille aussi sur Manifold Studios, un cousin, et un ami d'enfance (et peut être les parents d'Anna ;). Ensuite je vais a Paris ou j’espère retrouver Alan (fyi kebab/kabab/kebap/etc... is Arabic/Farsi/Turkish for what you ate), et puis en Bretagne pour voir mes grand-mères et mon oncle, et finalement en Pologne pour voir mon grand-père. Ça sera un trajet assez relax je pense.
On a fait beaucoup de progrès sur le jeu pendent que j’étais en Californie. On commence le quality assurance intense cette semaine et on va continuer pendent 3 semaines. La version 1.0 du jeu va sortir sous un nouveau nom, Steampunk Empires, fin Août! J’espère faire tomber le jeux dans les top 25 pour les U.S. , on verra bien si mon ambition se réalisera.
Il risque d'y avoir de plus grandes nouvelles du cote développement jeux vidéo pour moi, je vous tiens au courant, j'en saurais plus dans une semaine. Je vous raconterai aussi des histoires tirés des mes voyages.
Les vacances, c'est bien. Le startup, c'est bien. La Californie, c’était bien. NYC, c'est bien, Londres sera bien, Paris, la Bretagne, et la Pologne aussi. Mais alors qu’est-ce que vous me manquez! J'ai souvent une forte envie de crier «dîner!» ou de m’asseoir sur le canapé du TV lounge en bonne compagnie.
Je vous embrasse tous très fort,
Saturday, July 16, 2011
This is still a work in progress. But a continued progress. Today I went to Dijon and instead of having Boeuf Bourguignon (since I was in the capital of Bourgogne), I stopped at Darcy Kebab and got a "kebab" which is (not really) French (as in apparently, the actual term) for Arabic/Turkish origin sandwichness (I site the pseudo resource wikipedia, but there's just a lot of restaurants in Paris and in other parts of France apparently that largely only call themselves either Turkish or Oriental and serve similar middle eastern cuisine). (The standard shish kebab in French is called a brochette - I know this because the people I work with go to the same sushi place whenever the company cafeteria goes on strike and they always order the "menu" that gives you sushi and brochettes). Yesterday I went to Grenoble and the day before I saw the 14 Juillet fireworks in Lyon which was actually really enjoyable -- they were pretty, lasted 20ish minutes, and there wasn't too many people. (Pictures: Top right is me making a weird face infront of the "ONLY LYON (LION)" sign infront of the tourism office in Place Bellecour, middle right is the fireworks on reg camera setting to give you idea of where they were happening, which is between Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere and Tour Metallique de Fourviere, and bottom right is in the fireworks setting). The metro/tram though was fully packed afterwards and while I don't think this was directly related, the tram was making very loud scrapping noises as it was trying to get out of the first stop with all of the people. Also trams and metro systems in other French cities are very cute compared to the Parisian metro/tramway. This is in part because I'm only familiar with T3 in Paris which is one of the newest trams (tram in Lyon is apparently 10 years old, it says so on all the windows now) also because the metro system is ridiculously huge and fast in Paris. But in general, there are so many more cars in a given line/tram that the 3-4 car lines in other cities is cutesy. In my opinion at least.
I went to Nice last weekend, and then simultaneously went to Monaco and Eze (a pseudo-random city inbetween the two). Monaco was impressive because it really is just straight up. Public elevators everywhere (not that the one I tried using worked though). And there's several ways to get to the train station because it's built straight into the cliff. Eze-Village is nice because it's an old fort type castle stone building ness. Eze-sur-mer is really nice because it's on the beach but it's not really nice because the rocks there are super slippery and super sharp at the same time. Thus resulting in several injuries (and lots of hobbling) which thankfully recovered just in time for Lyon-ness. Also it's an hour or so to get from Eze-Village to Eze-Sur-Mer, all the while going down a cliff-face. Not cliff side, but cliff face. Also noteworthy in a weird way is that I accidentally found and then had to awkwardly walk through a nudest beach which was next to the regular bathing-suit public beach at Eze-sur-mer because I was trying to get to this island which turned out to be a private one. Also noteworthy in a weird way is that if you walk towards Charlemagne in Lyon, you end up in the super industrial/super trucker filled part of Lyon Presqu'ile. And apparently I'm guessing truckers need lots of "ladies of the night" because there were *a lot*. A lot more than bois de boulogne. Unfortunately (not really) none solicited me this time.
Also when I was in Nice, I was asked to have some "jus de pomme" on this guy's boat. This creepy old (not really old old but very much older) guy.
So I was told that there's nothing to do in Dijon (or more specifically, that if I have seen everything else in France, then I should go to Dijon), but I actually quite enjoyed the way it ended. The actual process wasn't too great because it started raining, but I got to go to two free museums (an archaeology one and a fine arts one, both of which scared the crap out of me for various reasons). Now in further grammatical mutiny, the reason why these two museums scared the crap out of me is because one, the archaeology one had all these statues from the Roman occupation (ie the original colony Divio according to Wikipedia) of the Dijon area all in these gravelled/pebbley underground/tomb esque basement deal which after Dr Who, I could not stay in that room. Too many statues looking at me or for me to look at simultaneously. I was also alone and that room was just creepy. The fine arts museum was scary because I encountered this artist whose usage of red and green to paint resulted in some seriously creepy depictions of faces and bodies because they were all in this weird bloody red-brown tone. Did not want to preserve said images with a picture so you'll have to take my word for it. At the same time I did find some very nice paintings of which I do have pictures. (in coding terms, this may constitute as a "go to") -So the ending was great because after rushing to the train station to verify the last train back to Lyon (because earlier I thought there was another train an hour later but turns out that's only on Sundays), I then backtracked to the Jardin Darcy where there was an open air jazz festival happening throughout July or something and it was really nice. Not too many people, there was a waterfall, and the jazz actually sounded good. Hopefully I can find the artist at some point, with no leads other than there was a jazz festival in this park in this city.
The Bastille in Grenoble was a lot of fun because one I got to go up/down this "telepherique" (which costed money but student discount at least? also pictures to be posted on facebook of the telepherique, and the view from inside) and then felt super accomplished when I got to the top of the mountain where there was a memorial to the Blue Devils (mountain troops). Lovely view of the surrounding water and mountains too.
It's kind of lonely travelling alone, but it has allowed me to go to Dijon and Grenoble (and Eze and Monaco) on super large tangents because I had no idea I was going to go there beforehand. It's also resulting in lots of myspace esque pictures because sometimes there's no one to take a picture. Alternatively they come out interesting. PS I added a picture to my previous blog post about the Musee D'Orsay.
PPS - I've been meaning to mention this for a really long time. The URL for this blog looks like lm FAT mit to me. Just saying.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Anyhoww.. I last posted in Lübeck right before we left for Salem. We spent one week at Salem International College (an international boarding school). To avoid too much wordiness, I will bullet the events of this week:
- Sunday afternoon/evening: we dine in the dining hall and awkwardly sit with Salem students who have no idea who we are (it's the first day back for the students for their summer exam term).
- Wednesday: In the afternoon I go to Ueberlingen, the nearby town on the Bodensee. It's pretty. It also rains and I become soaked. I teach basics of E&M in the evening for day 2 of my workshop. Fun story: when I get to the Lorentz force, I ask them, "Have you guys done cross products? Can you tell me the direction of the resultant force for v x B?" One kid then replies: "OH YEAH! You use the left-hand rule!" ????? Sasha and I become very concerned. [picture: me + yin + jing + physics class]
- Thursday: In the afternoon I go to Ueberlingen again, and it doesn't rain. I do the derivation of the B field out of the E field viewed from a moving reference frame for the third day of my workshop. The kids don't follow as well as I wish they did which I think is because I did a bad job teaching it this time. But oh well.
- Friday: I get up at 5 to walk up the mountain to see the sunrise with Sasha. This school is absolutely gorgeous, btw. In the afternoon I teach part 2 of my gyroscopes presenation in the IB physics class. Again, the kids are bright. I love them. In the evening we go out to dinner with our school contact people and the physics teacher. That's fun. [picture = sunset]
- During the course of the week we stay in Westend, one of their dorms. We befriend the boys that live upstairs, who all come from very interesting and diverse backgrounds. Fun stories abound from this acquaintance, but I don't think they're as funny when typed out so I'll just tell y'all later.
- walked around seeing the filming locations from The Sound of Music. We splashed in the fountain that Maria splashes in, ventured into Nonnberg Abbey, skipped around the hills and meadows singing SoM songs, found these creepy dwarf statues that Maria and the kids skip around, walked down the Do-Re-Mi steps, and heard the bells - they sound exactly the same as they do in the movie.
- ate food. For lunch we picnicked in the Mirabel Gardens, and for dinner we had Indian food, and then we had ice cream - the two of us split a Mozartbecher (which we think means something like Mozart-beaker). On Sunday we had a nice German-style breakfast (which means bread and cheese/jam/butter/sausage) and for lunch we had salad and pizza bread. [picture: Laura + Mozartbecher]
- watched the Sound of Music in our hostel at 8PM on Saturday. It was fun to see the movie after going to all those places, and the alternative would have been to go clubbing...
- went up a mountain to see the city from high up. It's a nice view.
- went shopping. Salzburg is the most touristy place I've been thus far - everywhere we went there were asian tourists taking pictures. This means there are lots of little touristy shops; I got Mozart Kugeln (they're a specialty here; truffles with praline and almond and stuffs) and also something for my sister.
That is all from me, and I know it's a long post, but I had 1.5 weeks to cover, and that's a lifetime (for some insects). Also because a lot happens in a week on this program; we only have a little bit of time in each place. Looking forward to more blogs from you guys! Love love love :)
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
In summary, Maine is pretty great. I will draw your attention to the middle cell, where you will find that the only things that Maine and MIT have in common are hawks, ducks, and cars. Thusly, in order to truly experience all those things that life has available, one must spend time in both places, so as to broaden one’s horizons.
You might notice a trend in the items that are found on the Maine side. This highlights those things that I find especially lacking in Cambridge. More specifically, I find the stark contrast between Cambridge’s environment full of people and buildings and Maine’s trees, plants, and other living and inviting things very salient in such a discussion.
While home, I went kayaking with my father and brother in Messalonskee Stream. It is like the Charles, except different on all important dimensions. It is a small stream that flows from a lake into the Kennebec, the largest river in Maine. It is very slow flowing, with a rather minimal current. Tall pine, fir, and birch trees stand guard around it, protecting it from the terrible influences of the human world slowly encroaching on the wilderness flowing through it.
The banks are decorated with a flourish: water plants of all kinds line the banks, but eventually give way to a layer of water lilies which act as the dividing line between the woods and the clear water. It is between these lines of lily pads that we maneuvered our kayaks, slowly and methodically.
For me, kayaking is not a sport. It is not for exercise, it is not for the fun of riding in a boat—it’s not at all about the experience of kayaking itself. It just happens that kayaks are a wonderful vehicle with which to see the wilderness. They allow for minimal impact, but for access to the most intimate part of the forest around me. This was my second time kayaking in the stream, but I had already met some of the animals there, and this time, I was visiting them to say hello, and see how my new friends were doing.
Not very many animals live directly at the boat landing. This is where the people are, and really, who wants that.
After paddling for a bit, we approached the Prince of the stream. He seems to own the entire length of it, and I assume he rules it well.
I didn’t see him at first, because he was too far ahead of us, but my father pointed him out to me. The Great Blue Heron was standing tall, resting maybe, his long neck bent slightly. When he spotted us, he was spooked, and took off, with amazing grace. With his giant gray wings (which easily span two meters), he easily took to the air, and flew over us, down the stream a bit and into the woods.
After paddling a bit longer and admiring the woods around us, including the lodge of the beaver that I saw last time we came to the stream, I spotted a family of ducks—a mother and about six young ducklings. I stopped and watched them waddle around a bit. After they decided that I was not, in fact, going to eat them, the mother waddled up close to the shore, and stepped in the water. The ducklings followed, and they started off down the stream in the opposite direction, which I believe was their original intent anyway.
Throughout the next stretch of the stream, we saw multiple hawks circling up above us, far up above the trees, and above any altitude that I would have been particularly comfortable with if I were a bird. One of the hawks came down from his tree and snatched a fish out of the stream and flew over us back up to his perch.
My favorite friends were the Belted Kingfisher. I love them. They’re relatively easily spooked, but they’re very pretty, and I am very happy whenever I get to see them. I saw two of them fighting over territory, and back toward the landing (on our way back out of their home) we saw another, the same we had seen last time we were in the stream, I believe, as he was perched on the same tree.
Other than birds and green things, Maine also has my family. I spent the 3rd of July with a large assembly of my family. Food was had, fun was had, and I did some more kayaking. It was really nice to be back home, and I will endeavor to do this more frequently.
Also, to all of you who are not in Boston because you’re home or in France or Germany or Singapore or somewhere else: I miss you. Return soon. [eom]
I will leave it to someone else to describe the awesomeness of Boston’s Independence Day celebrations, because I have to go to work now, and I feel like posting this.
I love you all, and hope that you are having a wonderful summer. <3
PS: This post was *started* on the bus, but finished later ....
Monday, July 4, 2011
This is a work in progress but I'm going to post it anyway. Right now I'm sitting in my hotel room in Cherbourg, FR after taking a picture of the sunset which hasn't really finished yet and it's almost 11pm. The EDF MIT interns and a soon to be EDF Imperial College intern are here to visit and see various things about the new EPR reactor they're building in Flamanville which is a very long drive away. For those who don't really know what's going on, think Normandy. PS Happy 4th. We celebrated by having hache' (that apostrophe is supposed to be an accent aigu) and apple tarte. Well some of us did. I actually had this chicken dish with a normandy sauce (which I'm still not sure what that means) but fries came with everything. The Normandy apple tarte actually resembled quiche more than apple pie (which is what we were going for). I'm going to bed soon because we're leaving at 7:20 tomorrow to get to the place by 8. Breakfasting at 7ish. Almost missed the train too -- myself and another intern managed to stop the conductor from allowing the train from leaving at the last second so we could board really quickly. There will be pictures soon of thisness. There are already pictures of June-adventures on facebook. Speaking of which, I have gone to a lot of touristy places in Paris and "FountaineBleau" which is like a smaller version of Versailles. I also went to visit Re'becca from the Media Lab who's back in France. We got to bike with her sister in the French countryside, going from field to forest to field lather rinse repeat.
This entire summer has been below 70's except for a couple of days where it shot to 90's-100. When I first got here in June, there were some nights that fell to 48 according to the Weather Channel. My apartment is very cold because it's not facing the sun, but if it was it would mean that it's most likely facing the cemetery that is behind the dorm building. There's left over pots and pans which is nice. Roommates don't really speak French though so lost opportunity there. I've been doing a lot of grocery shopping from Auchan which has regular baguettes for 33 cents each. However out of fear of....terrible diet killing myself, I've been opting for the multigrain for the last couple of visits. Now you know a little more about my diet here. Also cheese (ex bought a gorgonzola/mascorpone layered cheese which was kind of interesting) is kind of a big thing in Paris. Also for those who know how long it can take for me to make a decision, I was quite humored as to how long it took me to pick out a new cheese to try in the cheese aisle(s). There were about 3. I have decided that my current favorite new French cheese is this chevre that has blackish/greyish mold on it - it sounds and looks scary but it actually has a rather mild but pleasant taste.
If you haven't followed me on Facebook (don't know which would be weirder, that I have a following or you're following me), I saw three hookers in Bois de Boulogne. Also the lakes there are very pretty. If you ever have a chance to just walk around, BB is a nice place to do it. Bois de Vincennes is supposedly better but I have not been yet. Parc des Buttes Chaumont is an incredibly awesome park - it's like a mathematical topography adventure. Also 45 degree inclines and ziplining!
I have now been to the Louvre, Centre Pompidou (Dou-Dou, also many Picassos), Muse'e D'Orsay (after waiting an hour outside), Muse'e des arts et meties (saw Lavoisier's lab stuff), (now churches:) Sacre' Coeur, Notre Dame.
Concerning my actual work, it is a very combat-like terrain. Interesting relationship between supervisor and the other workers/interns and interesting work style. I'm sure not all of France is like this, but for example:
-Lunch is supposed to be 35 minutes
-Lunch is takes 1 hour
Cue coffee break that immediately follows:
-Lasts another hour
Also I have been having a lot of hot chocolate because I don't really drink coffee.
Also I don't think you've ever fully appreciated Solidworks until you've tried using/learning how to use the home-brew finite element analysis software package that was written/is being written in FORTRAN. There's a GUI but it's just an interesting thought.
Also for those wanting to do energy stuff with MISTI, MIT just signed a bunch of accords with big French energy companies for future research and stuff. Susan Hockfield came and presented at the event. Also the CEO(?) of Total, a big oil company. Ministre d'education/recherche etc would have come but she got switched to Ministre de Budget the night before, apparently.
People drink a lot of wine (and smoke alot) here. First couple days at work, someone would bring a bottle of wine to share at lunch. I'm kind of used to it now. I only take enough for 10 sips (+/- 10 sips) if I'm pouring. Otherwise a lot of wine goes to waste because people think I actually drink. Sort of. Also interesting relationship between the French (and many other) drinking age (18) compared to the US. Boss was asking if I need a fake ID in the US - I guess he expects all youths (ie less than 26 here) to not survive without getting alcohol regularly. Although, how could one live without Tiramisu? Which should hopefully happen after I regenerate once I get back to MIT because I'm kind of tired from doing work and being super touristy at the same time.
I'm going to bed and will continue later. Ciao.
I have been enjoying a relative lack of activity, but not a great enough lack to prevent me from having way too much to write about in one little (or possibly not quite so little) blog post. In light of this, my news shall be less creatively written and substantially more to the point than originally intended, yet still convoluted enough to result in happy little contusions of the brain!
1. A friend of mine from way back when in homeschooling elementary is going to be coming to MIT as a transfer student next year, so my mother and I had lunch with her and her mother so they could ask us lots of questions. It was fun. We are going to be flying to Boston on the same plane come end of August, and she will stay with me for a day or two until she can check into her room. She's awesome and I hope you all get to meet her sometime :)
2. I went to my cousin's bridal shower last weekend. Pretty dang entertaining, and exciting for her!
3. After much searching, I managed to track down my old French teacher. I painstakingly wrote and proofread an email in my best French, and she wrote back YAY this means a lot to me because she was rather inspiring to me... also because prior to this I thought she had disappeared off the face of the earth.
Okay, enough of the list for now, I don't want to extend it too far and become dry and chalky (and by chalky I meant to say boring). I have recently had a hankering to explore my artistic side. The first manifestation of this common condition was sketching, and not the kind in which I'm supposed to be taking lessons from Ashley ;)
This is probably the best of my masterpieces so far.
I took a picture instead of scanning it, so it doesn't show the details at all, but you'll just have to get the general idea...
Also, Elizabeth, and I mean this in the least creepy way possible, you have really adorable lips.
And now begins the part of the blog that will be somewhat in the style of Davie, in the sense that I will be talking about nature.
I have been helping out at the unfinished house recently, and one of my jobs is to help clear trails so we can continue to walk without obstruction. In my breaks I have been discovering wonderful plants and taking pictures.
Let us start with potential noms...
Mmmm, hazelnuts, filberts, whatever you call them, maybe someday someone will discover the secret of homemade nutella.
Also, I saw one tree that had the nuts growing in clusters of 4 instead of 2, weird...
We have lots of berries. I have pictures of many of the plants, but I'm impatient and it takes a long time to upload pictures, so maybe you'll have to see some of them another time. We have huckleberries galore. We also have salal, which produces very mild berries that are a lot like blueberries, but with skin that's kind of fuzzy like a peach.
And then there are the blackberries. There are 3 kinds of blackberry growing in our area, Himalayan, Trailing, and Evergreen, and they're very easy to tell apart.
Most of us are familiar with Himalayan blackberries: Red thorny stems, big berries, grow like bushes, take over everything, and if you'll notice, they have 5 leaves per cluster or at least 5 distinct leaflet points depending on the age of the stalk.
Trailing blackberries have a slightly lower profile. They grow as vines along the ground or through the undergrowth and have smaller, more flavorful berries. They also have green stems and only 3 leaves per cluster.
Lastly, there are the Evergreen blackberries. We don't have as many of these, so I've never actually tasted one, but they are still my favorites. They just look cool. Yeah, I'm sure you get the trend but that's one to the right there.
I have also discovered that it's incredibly difficult to take a picture of a bumblebee, got a few, but mainly I'm still working on that one.
Oh gosh, this is turning a bit long-winded, but I'm relying on the pretty pictures to keep you all interested. One last thing! Friday night I went with the fam to the Drive-In to see Green Lantern and X-men. It was a great time. There aren't many left these days and I feel lucky to have one close by.
Of course, it's a little different than it used to be. Instead of speakers sticking up here and there you just tune your radio to a station that only exists within a short distance of the "theater"and enjoy. The one we go to has 3 screens, and this is the smallest (the giant screen was playing Transformers 3 this weekend, no surprise there). Anyway, if you ever get the chance to go, don't miss it, it's a one-of-a-kind experience :)
So, I've still left out a bunch of things, but that will have to do for now. It will be a good reason to write again soon. A very happy 4th of July to all of you, whether you're in a place that celebrates it or not, and keep on posting!
P.S. Our kitchen sink was plugged up when I started writing this.