Monday, July 4, 2011

Work in Progress (Work in Progress) ~ Anonymous?

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.

Speaking of regeneration, I saw that no, there is not a monster in the Van Gogh panting from season 5(?).

Update 7-17-11:
This is me sneaking a picture of the van gogh because pictures are strictly not allowed. But photographic evidence that the painting has no obvious monster in the window corner.
Update slightly later that day 7-17-11 : Upon closer inspection, there actually does seem to be a smudge or something in that window corner. Kind of creeped out.

I'm going to bed and will continue later. Ciao.


  1. awwww wine. Do you asian glow?

  2. Apparently not -- my skin is dark enough that it doesn't look any different. Feels warm though

  3. Alan! I am going to see you in 2 weeks. Will you take me to see the cheese aisles?