Friday, November 30, 2007

Boba Fett or RobaFett? You decide.

I was working on an article about using robots for space exploration (link to come soon, I hope) and I came across this image in the research proposal:

I thought, "That looks an awful lot like Boba Fett." Below is a picture of Boba Fett for comparison:

All of which means that Star Wars is real, the Death Star is nigh and the government is covering it up in a grand conspiracy to keep us in the dark about the coming of the Empire.
(Image credit: I couldn't find a link to the report that it's originally from, and the one I read just references the original and must be paid for. SO, the report of origin as cited is: R. Ambrose, ROBONAUT Activity Report, NASA Johnson).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is Print Dead?

I doubt print is dead, as there will most likely be nerdy people like me who love reading printed books for a long time. Last night I spent a bunch of time reading astro stuff on my compy, and my eyes were just so very tired. However, this is cool. I heard about it on On the Media, who devoted an entire show to the state of print media. Everybody's touting the Kindle as "Book 2.0", and "the evolution of the book," etc. While I am thoroughly impressed, and agree that it will fundamentally change the way many people read, I doubt that it will kill off books and magazines in print form right away.

True, we may eventually move away from paper as the main source for distributing information, and convert most of what we have to digital form. It's already starting, in fact. But I doubt that they will stop printing paper books within my lifetime, anyways, so what the hell do I care?

Seriously, though, this is the future. I'll continue to buy books at bookstores, because I love the experience of reading them and going to old book stores, and like to be surrounded by them where I live. But man, do I ever want something as slick as the Kindle, too. Why can't we have both?

Supernovae and Antimatter

New for you to read (or not): Could Antimatter be Powering Super-luminous Supernovae?
This is the one Sciam scooped me on, but the previous story I wrote about imaging the Earth with neutrinos was a scoop for New Scientist, so I'm 0:1 and 1:1. Speaking of Sciam, they have a new video podcast based on their 60-second science series, and it is rad. It's an editor quickly and simply explaining a difficult scientific concept, and as with everything Sciam does it is pretty brilliant and funny. The first one is on Dark Matter, and there's another about Moore's Law over at their site.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Fun Thanksgiving

Though the real Thanksgiving day we didn't do anything special, Saturday was when we had our party. There was a lot of eating, drinking, and dancing on chairs. I think the 6 of us consumed more than 7 bottles of wine, and that wasn't so evenly distributed among us; needless to say, it was fun. Also, there was lebanese dancing and music, singing along to Euro-pop, and Evan serenaded us with "Ave Maria" at one point because he knows how to do these things. I made stew, and there was vegan stuffing and mashed potatoes and other such things. It definitely ranks up there with the best Thanksgivings I've had.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Real Thanksgiving

First, I worked. Yeah, I know what you are thinking: no, they do not in fact celebrate Thanksgiving in France. My friend Evan said, "Yeah, they don't thank people here. They just go on strike." I find this to be true.

I taught a couple of classes, and both went spectacularly well, actually. First one was with the bike activity, and they stuck around after class (during their lunch period!!!) to talk to me about bikes and how awesome Michelin tires are. The second one I taught English expressions to, and they did really well with it. I took a long nap in between these classes, since one was in the morning and one late in the afternoon.

I was supposed to teach our newly formed "International Club" about Thanksgiving, but no students showed. Instead, Evan and I taught the Spanish and German assistants about the treatment of Native Americans in the United States, from Thanksgiving, through the Trail of Tears, and the Dawes Act of 1948, to the shitty conditions on reservations today.

I consider this a patriotic act, telling them that though the history of our country is tainted with stealing land and enslaving people, the ideals that we hold to today aren't half-bad. I gave thanks, in a way, for the way my country has turned out, even if it still isn't perfect.

During the rest of the evening I made some stir-fry, talked to most of my family on the phone, and consumed a bottle of wine. During the consumption of this wine I read articles on white dwarf planets and neutrinos, and worked on an article on the surface age of Triton which should hopefully be up on UT sometime soon (though I will be sure to thoroughly edit it before submitting it).

Speaking of wine and astrophysics, if you want to hear just how informative and clear a description of an otherwise difficult astrophysical topic can be when the person explaining is pretty drunk, check out the last 6 minutes of the podcast Skepticality for October 3rd, 2007. In it, Dr. Pamela Gay of Star Stryder and Astronomy Cast fame – two of my favorite sources of astronomy news – drunkenly describes how we have come to understand Dark Matter. It's hawesome, to say the least, and to hear her say, "We can map gravitational effects of CRAP WE CAN'T SEE," really gets to the heart, in a very direct way, of how we have come to understand Dark Matter as it stands today.

Giving the Earth an X-Ray

New article at UT: Seeing inside the Earth with neutrinos. This is a cool use for an already cool (ar, ar) telescope.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strikes, revisited

As you may or may not know, there's a bunch of people on strike in France. Like always. My classes were canceled today, one because the teacher was on strike and the other because my students didn't show. This is not to say they were on strike, necessarily, just that they thought nobody else would show so they didn't.

Here's a couple of links to what I wrote about strikes the last time I was here:

From the Greve Front (March 17th, 2006)
My school is blocked (March 30th, 2006)

All of this means that I was able to do almost absolutely nothing today. I wrote an article, did some research, took my time to write the previous post, and took a nap. I also finished viewing NOVA's documentary on the intelligent design trial in Dover a couple of years ago, called Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.

The documentary is both angering and satisfying. Angering in the sense that there are people who wish to pawn off their ideologies as science, and satisfying in the sense that these people were shut down from forcing this crap on students. I say it is crap because it is: Intelligent Design is creationism under a different name. Whether you believe in God or no, faith has no place in science. Period.

There are plenty of scientists who believe in God, or Allah, or whatever. And maybe their faith drew them to the wonder of what the believe to be God's creation in the first place: this is fine. I have no bones about this. What I do have contention with is when people of faith invoke this as science. It's not, because supernatural causes are by definition untestable, and for something to be science it must be falsifiable.

I would have no problems with intelligent design being taught in a philosophy class. None. We talked about the existence of God in my philosophy classes, and the problem of evil, and the idea of intelligent design as well. It is a philosophical and ideological paradigm that deserves debate, just like any other philosophical idea. But it has no place in the science classroom, just as astrology has no place in the science classroom, or Native American creation myths. To pass it off as science is intellectually dishonest, to say the least.

Nova does a good job of covering such a contentious issue, though I wish some of the ID proponents would have agreed to be interviewed by them. Their arguments were mainly presented through the transcripts of the trial, and Nova talked to a lot of scientists who testified at the trial. I'm assuming that the ID people thought that Nova would somehow twist their words, blah blah blah, but in the end they have no right to complain if they chose not to represent their ideas in the film. They were explicitly and repeatedly invited to do so.

Ah, enough with this heavy stuff. This is what happens when I get a bunch of time on my hands...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Flowerly Language

I read a lot of research papers. Like, a lot. This I do for my writing over at UT, and admittedly, for my own pleasure on occasion. Most people would cringe at this statement. "Why would you want to read such dry, boring writing?" they would say.

Well, sometimes it is dry and boring, and I hate that. It is rare and beautiful when researchers studying pioneering subjects in physics and astronomy can whip out a phrase that is both accurate and poetic.

What sparked this post is this, from Mike's blog.

November 11, 2004:
discussion: the quality of writing in scientific and technical writing


M: Scientific and technical writing is poorly written and therefore boring. The writing should have more active verbs and less passive and linking verbs.

K: Scientific writing is meant for its audience; it should be concise and flowerly language would distract from the meaning. The personal should be avoided.

I find myself now agreeing more with K: scientific writing is about the audience, and conciseness is pretty important. I'd add, though, that the use of passive voice has made for some pretty awful sentences in some scientific writing, like the one a friend of mine read to me last night. But over all, I'm less snobby about scientific writing now and understand it more rhetorically.

I disagree with both Mike and K. Saying that it is meant for an audience of people who like sentences purely in the passive without the use of personal pronouns really misses the fact that the people who read these articles are human beings. It also sets up the false dichotomy that something can either be concise and descriptive, or poetic and beautiful, but not both. So, I present Exhibit A from a paper I just read on cratering on the surface of Triton (no link because you have to pay to see the paper in an online science journal):

Comets are notorious for falling apart or evaporating in the face of bright sunlight. Many, but not all, are weakly welded worlds that would fall apart in the evening breeze.

This quote is sandwiched in a descriptive section between two sections of the paper that are mostly equations. The author uses alliteration, "weakly welded worlds" and has a somewhat pastoral reference when talking about the "evening breeze". Not only is this a concise, accurate picture of the composition of a comet, it's very poetic.

I would not say that it is "flowery". Surely it could be stated in a less poetic manner, but why do so when stating it thusly would provide no more accuracy in describing the subject, and leave out the grandeur and mystery of comets?

And now I present Exhibit B:

...for some perverse reason that I have never understood, editors of scientific journals have adopted several conventions that stifle good prose, albeit unintentionally – particularly the unrelenting passive voice required in descriptive sections, and often used throughout. The desired goals are, presumably, modesty, brevity, and objectivity; but why don't these editors understand that the passive voice, a pretty barbarous literary mode in most cases, but especially in this unrelenting and listless form, offers no such guarantee? A person can be just as immodest thereby ("the discovery that was made will prove to be the greatest..."); moreover, the passive voice usually requires more words ("the work that was done showed...") than the far more eloquent direct statement ("I showed that"). – Stephen Jay Gould in the introduction to Henri Poincaré's "The Value of Science"

Gould goes on to essentially say that if you write your research for the science community, it will only be read by the science community. He gives the example of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," which was written to the level of the intelligent layperson. Evolution is arguably one of the most important revelations of humankind, and he chose to present it in a manner that was accessible to everyone.

I agree wholeheartedly. It does no damage to introduce language into science writing that is both descriptive and artistic. Sure, statements like, "We discovered such and such and it was totally AWESOME!!" have little meaning, and are definitely to be avoided. But the more accessible something is, the better chance it has of being understood by the general public, which always benefits from increased knowledge and understanding.

Indeed, it is the purpose of science to reveal the secrets of nature to us, and it is the right of every person to have access to these revelations. The audience for these ideas is ultimately humanity itself, which has little patience for crappy writing, and rightly so.

Exhibit C is not so much a quote but a general example: Scientific American. This magazine is rigorously scientific, and is directed at both the scientific community and the layperson. As such, they take the editorial stance that the passive voice is to be avoided, and authors of articles in the paper explaining their research are to credit themselves with a personal pronoun. You never see writing such as, "it was discovered by the researchers..." when an author is talking about a research team that he/she was part of. Instead, the much more effective, "we discovered" is used.

In addition to being simpler, it also gives weight to the credibility of the researcher. Instead of distancing herself from the research that she has spent so much time on, the researcher gets to take credit, and the reader is assured that this article is written by someone who has participated in active research on the subject, so should know their stuff.

Again, scientific knowledge is the property of humanity, and as such should be presented in a manner that is broadly accessible to everyone without "dumbing down" the subject matter. People need to be invigorated and awestruck by the wonder of science, not bored silly by it; to do so is a disservice both to your audience and to the absolute magnificence of science itself.

Back from Brest

Rode the Motobecane to Brest this weekend, and didn't get lost on the way! It was m-fin' cold, though, but I'm pretty used to biking in the cold. No frostbite or anything, just some numb feet and a blurry spot in the vision of my left eye for part of the day (my eyeballs got really, really cold, and that happens sometimes when they're cold for a long time).

Brest was nice and chill. Emma and I just kinda walked around on Saturday, and then made guacamole to take to a soirée with some other assistants. It was a good time, and it was nice to meet some new people and get out of Morlaix a bit.

Sunday was pretty lazy. I got up at 9am and worked on some of my UT articles, and Emma got up at 10 and we had breakfast. Then we proceeded to just lie around and do absolutely nothing until like 1pm. We went and saw "American Gangster" in ENGLISH, and it was wonderful. The film is spectacular, and you should go see it.

It rained all day Sunday, so I rode my bike to the train station and got a rooster tail on my jeans. Ah, well, that is the life of the cyclist.

Tomorrow: there's a strike!! I know I don't have my afternoon class, but am suspicious that my morning class teacher actually wants to come to work, so I might have to work one hour tomorrow. Sigh.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cosmology At Home

Check out Cosmology at Home. Remember how SETI set up this neat program that was your screensaver, but while it was displaying neat little graphs and junk it was calculating information important to SETI's mission? This is like that, only without the screensaver and much, much cooler. You download the program, sign up for projects that interest you and while you are surfing away on the internet or downloading porn or whatever it is that you do with your computer, it uses your compy to run programs that calculate stuff for protein folding databases and climate analysis.

Then you can say, "Look at me! I'm doing astronomy without even trying!"

On another note, I am riding my bicycle to Brest tomorrow for the weekend. Cross your fingers that I don't get lost.

Correction: The program for Cosmology at Home, BOINC, will run while your computer is not connected to the internet, so this is cool. Also, there is a screensaver feature, but I'm not sure how it works.

Scooped X 2

So, I've been working diligently on a couple of stories for UT. One, about antimatter explosions that power supernovae, took me a while because I was waiting for the researchers to get back to me, and then when they did get back I had more questions for them. If you had googled "pulsational pair instability" before yesterday, you would have gotten almost nothing but the research paper itself, and a couple of links to the homepages of the researchers. This is not to say the research is completely obscure, or this is no interest, just that the most prominent sources were the pages of the original source.

Well, I finished up my story at school, and went home last night to cook dinner and finish some final editing on it. And then I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Scientific American's "60-Second Science". What where they talking about? Dr. Stan Woosley and his research on pulsational pair instability supernovae. I was both bummed out and pissed off that I got scooped on this story. Sure, there's worse people to be scooped by than Sciam, and it's kinda reassuring to know that I'm working on some of the same research that an internationally renowned science magazine is covering, but still, I would have rather had the scoop.

On top of that, I found out this morning that New Scientist scooped me on this story, though I think my coverage is more general (though their detail about the Stirling engine power source makes me envious that I didn't think of describing it that way...). Again, New Scientist is in the big leagues, but it would have been nice to beat them to it.

I consider myself, after this, to be entering a higher bracket of reporting than what I was doing before, which means more is at stake, and also that I'll probably be doing more articles, which is frackin awesome.

I was working on these the other day, looking up the Stirling engine on Wikipedia and converting Celsius to Fahrenheit for the Venus article, and I thought, "How did I get to this point? I never imagined I would be spending my evenings sifting through papers about antimatter explosions in the center of stars and the Carnot efficiency of Stirling engines." It's weird; I've always been a dork, and though I had some inkling that my dorkiness would be rewarding in some vague fashion, I never thought that it would involve getting paid to write about things that interest me. I love, love, love working for UT. It's like getting paid to go to school, only it's more fun than school and my teacher is hella cool.

The supernova article is finished, but Fraser is still editing and such, so I'll have a link later today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have some more cool images for you to drink in with your eyes. The first is of the Dark Side of the Earth as seen by the Rosetta spacecraft. You can make out some of the continents by their light pollution. Cool, no? Oh, and the bright ring around the Earth is the Sun on the other side.

The second is an image of a piece of art I bought from Vera Brosgol. I've been a longtime fan of her art, for 4 or 5 years, and she has some stuff for sale on her site. Sure, I could have just downloaded the image and put it on my desktop (I did that, too), but I wanted the actual print. I like supporting starving artists on my starving science writer/teacher's salary. It's too funny, and has to do with bikes and pretty ladies, both of which I am enamored with. To top it off, the guy riding the bike is wearing "pedal pusher" pants, and has a bunch of baguettes in the basket. Also, his hair is just like mine right now, so I like to imagine that it's me pedaling the bike. I think I made that face pretty often when running Cycles...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Earthrise from the Moon

A while back I wrote a story about the Kayuga moon probe that was launched from Japan. In the article I wrote:
Finally, the probes will turn their electromagnetic eyes towards our planet to study the plasma surrounding the Earth, and allow us to better understand how our own magnetosphere and ionosphere protect us from the deadly radiation of the solar wind. One of the neatest aspects of the Kaguya mission is its inclusion of a High Definition Television camera to send back movies of the Earth from the Moon. This means that we will be able to see the Earth-rise from the Moon's horizon!

Well, here is the picture of said Earthrise. Remember that this is an actual picture, and not some doctored up photoshop pic, or artist's rendering. All I can say is, "Fucking wow."

And another, this one with even more detail of the earth. Go to JAXA and open up some of these in your browser full-size, and you will be absolutely blown away.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Liberating Students

So, this morning has already been a bit of an adventure. I took the Gitane, which is pretty well disassembled, to my first class to give them a lesson about bike parts, tools, and useful verbs when working on machines, etc. (like take apart, install, righty tighty, lefty loosey). It was awesome, and I think they learned a bit. Also, I had three student teachers observing my class, and I hope they enjoyed it. I got all greasy, showed them what's inside a hub and bottom bracket cups, stuff they've probably never had the chance to learn in French let alone English. These are technical students, too, so learning words like screwdriver and rubber mallet and threads are important.

I took my bike back to my room and was going back to the classroom, which is by a bunch of bathrooms way at the end of the building. As I passed the bathroom door, there were some students who yelled out the window at me, "Is there someone there? Help! The toilets are blocked!!" I said, "Well, you should go to the janitor or front desk for that." Then I realized that they meant the door was blocked. They were locked inside because the handle had broken off on the interior and the door had closed on them. I let them out, looked up the word for handle and went to the desk to tell them that they should fix it because I can't spend all of my time letting students out of the bathroom. It was even more hilarious because I told them that they should go see the janitor, and they probably thought I was an idiot. Ha.

The interesting incidents in or around bathrooms seems to be a recurring theme in my life, one that I'm hoping not to continue...

Monday, November 12, 2007


This last weekend was fantastic! Friday my students were terrible in the sense that they had just come back from vacation and forgot everything they had learned before their 10 days of freedom. Blah. So I taught for four hours, basically pulling teeth to get them to talk, then took a nice 3-hour nap in the afternoon/evening and kinda chilled for the rest of the night.

Saturday I hopped on the Motobecane in the early morning and found an old rail trail really near my town that went past a lot of rundown train stations, which will be the subject of some of my photographs in the future. My friend Emma came in from Brest around noon, and we went to the market and then proceeded to make some of the best guacamole I have ever had for lunch. We walked around town a bit and took pictures, and went to a café to hang out with Josep, my roommate from Catalonia. That evening we played poker and 21 and drank wine and were crazy.

Sunday was fantastic. Like, one of the most enjoyable days I've had in France, or ever. Emma and I got up 'round 10 so we could go to this island that is just off of the coast called the Ile de Batz. We almost missed the train (this is a popular theme in my travels, by the way...) and had to sprint the last few blocks to the station, buy the ticket on the automatic machine (while hopping and saying, "C'mon c'mon!!!") and then sprint to the train. It was close, but I like living on the edge.

The train took us to Roscoff, a quaint little tourist town not far from here. We walked around a bit there, and then took a boat to the island. The Ile de Batz itself is gorgeous, with a lighthouse and a garden and the ruins of an 11th century church. While looking at the ruins of the church, which are just nestled into the side of this hill, this HUGE horse on a leash came up to try and get food from us. It was a Clydesdale, just hanging out with no owner in sight. We didn't give it any food, but I took some pictures.

Then we had a picnic on this little point overlooking the ocean which at one time housed cannons that they used to fire at invading boats in the channel between the island and Roscoff, in like the 1800s. Picnic included avocado and tomato sandwiches, clementines, a bottle of cider and some chocolate cookies that we picked up at a boulangerie. It was sweet.

After this we walked to the lighthouse, which wasn't too spectacular once you got close to it, but it was fun to see the rest of the little island. We took the boat back to Roscoff, had a coffee because the wind coming off the ocean was getting cold. The bar we were in closed, so we went to one near the station called "Le Sailor" and played billiards and split a beer, just to pass the hour we had before our bus left somewhere inside. As it turns out, neither Emma nor I can play pool with any skill whatsoever, so the game lasted just under an hour.

We had to leave, and in France you use public toilettes whenever you can find them because they are few and far between. There was some dude by the urinal who was, I thought, talking on his cell phone, so I went into the stall and started, you know, doing my thing. As I was peeing the guy went ballistic and started trying to open the door, kicking it very hard and yelling something I didn't understand. I had thankfully locked the door. The bar lady came over and told him to get the hell out of there and leave us alone. I don't think he was just drunk, and wasn't talking on his cell phone but rather to himself. It was intense, but we just left and he didn't bother us on our way out the door, though he did give me a pretty intense evil eye. I would hate to have to push over a drunk guy with my pinky finger in front of all of his friends and such...

We got back to my house to get Emma's stuff, and on the way back to the station we saw/almost stepped on a hedgehog!! It was just chilling in the middle of the sidewalk. Those things are cool, and I wasn't aware that they were native to this area. I'll be keeping my eye out for more, mostly so I don't step on/ride over them.


Right, so they blocked blogspot in this one room that I used to use for my blog writing, and now I must do it in the Teacher's Lounge, which is fine except there are lots of distractions. I may not update as often as I have been, but the updates I do write will be longer.

One of the many flaming hoops we must jump through as foreigners and students is a medical visit in Rennes to ensure that we don't have tuberculosis or are pregnant. This happened last Thursday, and it turned out to be an "adventure". First, my roommate failed to wake up on time because his alarm clock didn't go off, so we barely (by 3 minutes!) missed the train to Rennes from Morlaix. Once on the train, it stopped somewhere in the middle of a field and they announced that there would be a delay because of traffic around Rennes. It was 30 minutes at first. Then 45. Then an hour. Finally, it moved, only to stop again maybe 15 minutes later, for another 30-minute delay because of an obstruction on the tracks. This put us in Rennes at around 12:30pm, instead of 11:00am, which was just enough time to get to our appointment.

The visit itself was fine. I got my chest X-rayed, and the nurse that took my height and weight and tested my vision thought to lecture me for 10 minutes about the importance of teaching safe sex to my students. I agreed that it was important, and that sexual education isn't as good as it could be in a country so sexually liberated as France, but am doubtful as to the place of this subject in my curriculum as an English assistant. "Ok, today we will be talking about syphilis. Does anyone know what that word is in French?" Yeah, right.

I met some Canadian guy who was doing his PhD in Electrical Engineering, focusing on WiFi technology. We talked about the possibility of using infrared and visible light in lieu of the current radio frequencies for this application (mostly because I read an article about that in Scientific American). It was fun.

Then we walked around Rennes a bit, and since I'd already spent a few days there I showed the other two assistants there with me some of the cool things to see. Our train was supposed to leave at 5:45, but alas, upon entering the station we discovered that all of our trains were "Retard indeterminée", which means that their retardedness was as yet to be determined. They were all going to be late.

Why? Well, here's something you need to know about France if you are going to be spending more than, say, a week here: they strike a lot. And protest. And burn things. Like, A LOT. As it happens, the students of the university in Rennes were sitting on the tracks and blocking the trains for a reason that I still have yet to discover. I think it is in solidarity with the fishermen in France, who are on strike and protesting the cost of oil. Or something. To be honest, there's always strikes here in solidarity and for almost any reason, and I get confused as to which people are striking for what reason. Anyway, the cops just sat and watched the students be crazy and sit on the tracks, etc., while we waited in the station for 2.5 hours for them to finally leave an our train to finally be posted on the board.

At that point I was tired of my two comrades, and wanted to sit somewhere else on the train. So, I picked a seat next to the cutest girl I could find and she struck up a conversation with me. She's a hairstylist in a town by Morlaix, and had actually been a student at my school when she was in lycée. We talked a lot about the difference between America and France, mostly in terms of fashion. I explained to her about the cultural significance (no becoming defunct) of the barber in the United States, as per Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow . It was a nice way to spend a two-hour train ride. The adventure ended and we got home a few hours later than we were supposed to (10:30pm, instead of 7:30).

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Article on UT

And again, here's a new article I wrote about researchers trying to track down teh cause of the Tunguska event, an explosion of a meteorite above stickville, Siberia in 1908. It caused the destruction pictured below.

You had to be there...

I thought about writing a bunch about my vacation, but it's awful hard to capture stuff like that for people who haven't been there. I'll make a Farisian list, because of its inherent economy of words.
1. Went to Carhaix Friday-Sunday to deliver a bike to my friend there, Gabby. Stayed there for two days, rode bikes and watched some "Strangers With Candy" and "Arrested Development" and just kinda chilled. It was nice.

2. Rennes was Monday-Wednesday, with Gabby and her two friends April and Jacob. She calls her friend April "Apes", which is amusing. We drank a lot Monday, walked around a lot on Tuesday, Wednesday went to the Musée des Beaux-Arts and ate Indian food for All Hallow's Eve.

3. Thursday-Saturday was some good ol' nostalgia time in Le Havre. Hung out with my old Prof. Responsable and watched her get smashed on Thursday night, went to some old haunts on Friday (including the Kebap where we would eat every Tuesday night: the owner, Danny, still remembered me and my order after 1.5 years), and saw my friends Béa and Jean. Received bicycle.

BTW, if you ever think that it's a fun idea to take a bicycle (and an extra wheel, a floor pump, and all of your other shit for vacationing) on both the TGV and the Paris Metro, you are a damn fool. My arms hurt, and it was not so much fun to sit in the entrance of the train for four hours to move my bike and wheels every time the train stopped so people could get out of the train. But the Motobecane is back in action (sorta, still needs some more transplant surgery from the Gitane), and I took it for a short spin tonight.

Now I'm back in Morlaix, but don't have to teach until Friday. I guess I'll try to write some astronomy articles and ride my bike until then.