Athens Part 2

I took over 500 photos on my first day in Athens, so here is another set from the second half of that day. The evening pictures were spectacular, with a rainbow and sunset, then the Parthenon lit up.

Enjoy them all here.


[URL=http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2485]View of the Acropolis from Ancient Agora[/URL]


View of Acropolis from Temple of Zeus


[URL=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lycabettus]View of city from Mount Lybettus[/URL]


Rainbow looking east


At night

Again, enjoy them all here.

Boulder

I made it!

Last summer I went through the difficult decision to turn down or postpone my employment in Boulder as Southwest Research Institute and accept a Fulbright grant in Paris. At the time I thought this would mean forgoing the job in Boulder that I really wanted and gave a list of several reasons it made sense. Those reasons included continuing my research on the spiral troughs, bettering my French, more international experience, and of course the prestige of the Fulbright.

All of those things came true, especially on the research and French language side. I really did make some advancements on those fronts, and they are coming to fruition as I prepare papers and proposals based on the research. The language is more personal, but I feel a deep sense of accomplishment to have learned as much French as I did.

After all of that, including ~8 months in Paris (after the 3.5 from 2012) I was truly ready to return to the States, especially Boulder. Thankfully this opportunity came up again, and I was chosen for the job. There is a lot of work to do, and much of it along side my own goals, so I will definitely be busy here. This is good for my career and keeping me sane.

Some of the advantages of living in Boulder are already taking shape, even after less than a week of being here. Yesterday I saw a baseball game with my coworkers, and today I rode my bike to work.  The ride is easy, as it is downhill (this afternoon will be slower going), and it is quite beautiful to see the mountains at my side. I’m really going to like it here.

Paris had much to offer. Besides the things already mentioned I have developed an appreciation for museums and art, thanks to my friend Akili, and I was surrounded by good scientists, like Aymeric, with whom I hope to have a lifelong working partnership. I was also able to travel some, both in France in in Europe. I visited more of the south and west than I had before, and after my stay I was able to visit Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Athens.  I’ll always have those memories and photos to keep me going.

All in all, there have been some big changes, but I’m finally where I want to be. Let’s make the most of it!

Lonely Blog

I don’t write much these days.  It’s not for lack of things happening, maybe the opposite.  So much is happening and so quickly, that I have a hard time keeping up with myself, much less a blog.

I’m in my last two weeks in Paris.  I won’t fly home until May 9th, but I have a conference in Vienna to go to and a couple of days of vacation afterward.  I have a lot of work to do between now and then, most of it writing.  My research has been great, and we’ve got two more papers to work on.  Somehow we’ll figure out when. I submitted one in December that I hope to hear back from any day. I’ve got an abstract due in two weeks, and another paper has been on the back burner until last week.  It’s approaching submittable.

In March I was all over the place.  Flew from Paris to Denver, was in Boulder for 6 days doing a job interview and looking for an apartment. Then flew to Austin for 2 days to pick up my motorcycle and say hi to Kendall. Rode to Houston to see Forrest and attend a conference – with a lot of driving in between. Got back to Austin, the immediately drove to Dallas, just to turn around the next day.  I had almost a week in Austin before flying home to Paris.  Yep, I call Paris home now.  Isn’t home the place you go when you’re done traveling?  It is for me.

I’ve got a ton of photos to put up.  Wish me luck in that adventure!  I’ll get there one day.  Although it would be worth it to show some of Paris in spring.  It really is stunning here right now.  Of course I spent the entire day at home or at work, only to come home and work some more. Tomorrow will be different.  Akili and I are supposed to do something.

 

Signing off for now, but I’ll get some spring pictures up soon.

Vacation in the south

There is too much to update for now.  Kendall arrived on the 3rd, and I proposed marriage on the 4th – wasting no time.  We’ve been visiting a lot of Paris, especially the fun neighborhoods and museums.  After nearly 4 weeks we’re going out of the city for vacation to see some new things in Lyon and Avignon plus what every we come across along the way.  Should be a lot of fun.

In other news, work in progressing.  I’ve submitted a paper to publish (my 3rd as first author), and am working on the next two.  Paris is great, and we’ve had fantastic weather for the most part (a big departure from last year when it rained 90 of the 100 days in was here).  I’m looking forward to moving to Boulder, Co at the end of May.  That means a lot more work between now and then.

Later.

2 months down

I’ve been here 2 months now! It’s hard to believe.

Things are going really well. My research is advancing nicely. Mostly I’ve been writing and running simulations. The paper is done for the most part. I’m just waiting for edits from a coauthor, and I’ll submit. The simulations all seem to support the work I’m doing with my cloud survey, which is very nice. It’s a happy day when your simulations match your observations – at least part of what you are doing is not wrong!

I’ve started teaching myself Python. It’s a computer programming language. I’ve put off learning a language (well) for too long, and now I’ve got to get this done. Progress is good, and the book I have makes learning easy. It’s called Learning Python for absolute beginners, and each chapter introduces only a few new things, so I’m never biting off more than I can chew.

My French is coming along. I’ve been reading a lot. As my vocabulary grows I watch more movies and TV. I do a conversation exchange with a native French speaker. My classes are going fine. They are not enough though, and I will take more classes in the spring. I feel like I could learn more with more exposure – hence living here.

As far as everything else goes, my life is pretty tame. I work a lot, probably more hours than in Austin. Since I live so close to work – it’s just 100 meters or so – I don’t spend as much time away from home or work. Of course in Paris, it’s my fault if I don’t get out. Still, motivating myself to walk around along in cold, wet weather is not as easy as I would like.

The good news is that Kendall will be here soon, and we can do all of the things I’ve been saving. There are plenty of them. Plus there are a lot of things that I want to do again with her. I doubt we’ll be at home very much. Her enthusiasm is very contagious.

She will be here two months, so we’re planning a nice vacation to the south along with at least one weekend in Strasbourg, on the German boarder. They have good Christmas markets there, and she loves that kind of thing. I think she is also interested in stopping in Champagne on the way back. I don’t want to over promise.

There is not much else to discuss. Today is my mom’s 60th birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!). I’ve already called, and the post card is on the way. Thanksgiving is next week. I’m supposed to eat with the other Fulbrighters in Paris. It will be good to have people I can talk to about such an important holiday. Europeans only vaguely know about it. One colleague complains that the US stock market is closed on Thanksgiving. That’s the only reason he knows about it at all.

So, life is good and everything is progressing. I’m looking forward to May when I can start the job at SwRI in Boulder. They decided to hire me even after taking this position in Paris. I am a luck guy! Summer in Colorado should be better than winter in Paris. Fingers crossed.

50,001 Photos

Earlier yesterday I checked and found that I was fast approaching 50,000 photos.  The weather was especially nice, and the leaves are changing colors, so it seemed like a good idea to snap some pictures.

I liked this one a lot.  The kissing couple really sets up the scene.  So, let’s celebrate 50,000 !!!

I moved!

Out with the old, in with the new. I moved, basically, and the new apartment is great. It’s a very short walk from my office (detrimental actualy) but very close to the river and some of my favorite views Nothing at all to complain about. I liked old location too, but I can get there quickly enough, and I have more time now to read and study. Life is good.

Here are a few shots from the rooftop of the previous place. And yes, it was very steep, and yes, it was very dangerous. To take these I stood on a ledge not more than 10 inches wide, below that was the steepest roof you can imagine, and below that was only another tiny ledge before a sheer fall 8 floors. Still, worth the effort.

From the center of town you can see (in order) the Eiffel Tower; Opera; Sacre Coeur; Defense; Notre Dame

Then Mont Parnasse, Pantheon, and Napolean’s Tombe; and a bunch of cool rooftops

I made a panorama you might enjoy. Click this link to see. Also, click any of the thumbnails above for larger images.

 

And in with the new. This place is more modern than that last one. I’m pretty sure that the architect was a child and had never lived on his own before. The kitchenette is “small on everything but frustration,” and the bathroom only makes sense if you want a lot of water to get on your solid oak floor.

The view isn’t bad though. I can see the river, Tour Saint Jacques, and if I stick my head out far enough part of Notre Dame appears. Not bad. I’m also building my French book library. Some are borrowed, so I’ve got more than enough to read for this year.

That weird shaped building is the Institute of the Arabic World. It’s a little odd considering that this is primarily a science institution. Still, not a bad place to live.

France woes

France can be so screwed up. Here’s the story. I opened a bank account 3 weeks ago. In the mail they sent me a “welcome to HSBC” note, a “card of familiarity,” a debit PIN, and a “secret code” for the website. Yes, they sent me 4 pieces of mail. No problem. I didn’t have a phone at the time, so I didn’t give them a phone number. Seems okay right?

Last week I bought a SIM for my phone. Today I tried to add credit. In order for them to process the payment I have to get the bank to authorize the payment, which involves them sending me a text with a secret code. Now there’s a problem. My bank doesn’t have my cell number. So I sign up for the bank’s online services. But they won’t let me add a phone number. BECAUSE THEY’RE FRANCE. I have to print a document and go to the original branch where I opened the account on the other side of town.

Never mind that, all I really want to do is charge my phone card. So I go to use an American credit card, which has a different type of authentication. AND THE PHONE SITE SAYS “YOU MAY ONLY CHARGE YOUR PHONE ONCE EVERY 24 HOURS” What is wrong with this place????

Je suis en retard

I am late in posting! Well, there is no fire, and my feet don’t feel hot, but I think I should be able to post more often.

Things are going well. Work is progressing and accelerating. I’m happy about that. Th government shutdown didn’t help. Not that it affected me directly, but my attention was too much focused on the news. I found and installed a program on my computer that only lets me read the news for a few minutes per day, so my life has become much more productive.

Since I arrived 5 weeks ago several things have changed. We’ve already lost two hours of daylight. Of course that happens a lot in Fall. The weather has changed, but not significantly. It rains nearly every day, but we also get long bouts of sunshine, which makes me quite happy. Of course I’m inside a lot, especially during daylight hours. I’m trying to force myself out of the office a little during the day. So far it’s only been a little, but if take my book with me, it’s easy enough to decompress and maybe catch a few rays. I have no idea how people get enough vitamin D here.

I’ve also become much more accustomed to living in a small space. It took me a while to organize everything so that it was an efficient use of what I have. Thankfully that worked out. Of course I move next Friday, so it is not to last. I think I’ll miss this place. The neighborhood is very quiet and well connected with buses and metros. I have access to a lot of restaurants and can walk anywhere. Those last two things will actually be more true at the new place, but it won’t be as quiet or well connected.

I eat a lot less meat. It’s expensive here, especially beef. I never was much for eating chicken. That leaves pork and fish, and I’ve really taken up eating fish. They serve it in the cafeteria several times a week, and I cook it at home pretty often. I even do vegetarian on a regular basis.

I’ve discovered a wine that I really enjoy. Not that I don’t enjoy most wines, but there is one that knocks my socks off. It’s only €7.00. That doesn’t sound like a lot to someone in the US. We’re used to paying $7 for the cheapest, run of the mill wines. Those cost less than €4 here. Really good wines can go for more, but the French would never pay €40 for a bottle, even at a restaurant. And I’d put my €7 bottle up against any $40 bottle that you can find.

I’m reading a lot. I’m about 1/3 of the way through Harry Potter #1. It goes really fast, even in French. I was surprised at how easy it is to read. I read Peter Pan before this, and it took a lot longer. Of course it was written a long time ago and translated into French early. Next is 20,000 leagues under the sea, but in its original language! I have a version condensed for children, so it should be a little easier than the adult book. I’ve got other Jules Verne as well. I’m saving those for when I’ve got a better grasp of the language.

As far as that goes, my French has improved significantly since arriving. Reading has helped, so have the 3 hours of class per week. Rosetta Stone makes me pronounce things, so I’m learning on that front too. I think next semester I’ll spring for a more expensive and more extensive class. It’s worth it if I can really learn the language. The biggest change is my ability to hear different sounds. So many words sound alike. It’s really important sometimes to hear minute distinctions. I dare you to copy this into a translator “dessus, dessous”. You’ll see what I mean.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll update more soon.