Time flies when you're having fun but it also flies when you aren't.
This is Toulouse. Toulouse was eight (nine?) days ago and yet it feels like it was a month ago. Heck for work I'm already making plans for the 18th-19th and that feels like it's tomorrow and that the month is almost over but in reality it just began! November is always busy, there are always random deadlines, random things to attend to.
Is it really only the 2nd today? Really? Can I have some extra filler days? Like day 2b and 2c and then maybe I'll also need a 10a, 10b an 10c, same thing fore the 14th and the 17th.
( one more of sunny Toulouse 'pour la route' )
Today in France is mostly known as "la rentrée" which means that even though many came back to work earlier this week or will be coming back next week, quite a few were back today. I was one of those... Ah. The joys of work. For kids I'm not quite sure what the coming-back-to-school day is, for the "kids" (they're all 20-22 years old) that I may have the pleasure of teaching, or at least passing by in the hallway, that day is next Monday.
Anywho. I discovered my commuting route. About 20 minutes of driving (a bit more coming back because the sun is face on and it's distracting), 34 minutes of train, 15-20 minutes of walking. The train ride is still rather awesome, after all not everyone gets to ride along the French Riviera every single work day!
And in other news, it highly amuses me that when there is Mistral the planes have to make a detour to land and they actually pass close to the house. If I could just get dropped off right above it would save me that hour long trip to the airport!
BTW, carnifinda thank you so much for the card! Yay!
( 2x2 more photos - something else I got in the mail and 10 year old film! )
Last Wednesday, on our yearly summer work outing we went to eat at Perho which is the restaurant of the Helsinki culinary school. It's on Mechelininkatu 7 if you're ever tempted and you happen to be in Helsinki... but I think you probably need to call beforehand to know how it all works.
What can I say about that experience? Well, it's a culinary school so obviously the same service as at a restaurant shouldn't be expected, they were just learning how to serve wine and there were some spills and some broken glass but I didn't master the art of derivation on the first try either back in school either and serving wine with one hand without spilling a drop will probably be forever out of my reach.
The food... hum. If you want my honest opinion, the starters were rather good, they were the usual buffet starters, fish, some exotic pork meat (I think it was the neck), salads, bread, etc.
( photos of the food and further thoughts )
The lighting wasn't exceptional (and I was seated in the corner furthest away from the windows) so the photos ended up rather funky. I should learn to stick to one setting because it seems that every single photo is in a different shade of yellow or green, ah well.
Yeah... try going up all the damn time. Isn't there a story about someone who tried to go to fast and then they ended nowhere? I remember the story of the guy who tried to fly too high and ended up crashing... but the other one. It wasn't really the hare, the hare just went super duper fast and then ended being tired. Oh well. I sucked at those stories anyway.
(Btw, the above photos are from a hike I went on while in Montreux, further photos under the cut, it was really lovely but walking up all those damned stairs killed me and I could barely walk because muscles I didn't even know existed started hurting.)
The point is that today I went to a meeting for international staff about some new stuff at our "new" university. For those who didn't know, three universities in Helsinki joined forces and became "Aalto University". Why not University of Helsinki? Because there is already one... so they looked for another name and what exports well besides Muumin and Marimekko? Alvar Aalto. Plus the name starts with a double A, try beating that to be the first one on the list.
Anywho... as previous seen it really looks like they're doing everything too fast! I remember that when I came to TKK a little over two years ago there were just starting to talk about Aalto University. It became a reality about a year and a half later and it seems like a huge mess! We didn't get any clear answers! We still have no idea about the tenure tracks, who'll finance them, what are the specific areas, etc. And now they also announce that the university will not be three schools but six because the current "School of Science and Technology" (ex-TKK) will be separated into four schools based on the current faculties. Bah.
I have a feeling that when I leave to do my year in France everything will change again. I'll come back and I won't even recognise Otaniemi! Alright, so maybe not to that point but still so many things will change and perhaps a tad too fast.
I really hope that they're just really bad at presenting stuff to people and that they know what they're doing because it would be a shame to lose great people who could have come to work for the different universities in Finland.
That was the "Gali must complain about something work-related at least once a day" part of the post. Now let's go back to Montreux!
( Read more... )
Oh yeah and the fun part is that I just found some more photos of food from Shanghai I haven't posted. I really should get around to that!
When I said spring isn't here, I might have lied a bit. Doesn't change the fact that tomorrow the maximum temperature should be 5C.
( +1 )
Finally, finally, finally I am done with that mini-thesis thing I had to write for the CERN trip next week. It's such a weight off my shoulders but it clearly showed me that I do know what I want from my thesis and it will really need 150 pages to write it all out, at least.
Now I have to finish off a project on smart grids and on PV/solar thermal installations in third world countries.
And on a non-work related note, I still have to buy everything for Saturday and I have to do it tomorrow... because Friday is going to be busy and everyone will be going to Alko to buy stuff. Sparkling wine, stuff to make fruit salad (for our "very-very-early-Vappu-breakfast-dinner-
In a way I can't wait, Vappu is my favourite holiday in Finland!
Oh... and here are some nice clouds I saw the other day.
Don't mind the weird exposure/contrast going on there. Just look at the funky clouds.
I've been MIA from the online world these past couple of days because I'm busy with a non-essential project and it's taking forever and ever. Bah. Hopefully I can get it posted tonight if I can get the html to stop screwing up all the time.
In other news, due to our new volcanic friend, I had to present my paper yesterday through skype. It was rather fun, I suppose. In a way it was easier than presenting in front of people because I could just read what I had written beforehand. Actually I really did write the text as if I had been speaking it, no complicated sentences or anything so I think in the end it didn't leave the impression of a read text. Still, I much prefer seeing the response of the listeners to what I'm saying, it leaves much more room for improvisation.
I'm also starting to get tired of the freezing temperatures in the morning. In the afternoon it can get pretty warm, up to 7 or 8C but in the morning it's still below freezing.
This morning I tried my best to cheer myself up by wearing a bright green skirt. My mother used to call this one my "beach" skirt... no beaches here for a long time still! And I live a stone throw away from the main Lauttasaari beach!
Still, these days more and more people stop putting their cars in the garage. It's a sign that spring is coming!
(and the poor little cars are cold)
(oh, and the subject line comes from here, it still never fails to make me laugh)
|Oh my effing god. Why do they want to make things so complicated all the damn time. |
I'm talking about the uni I work at this time around. If you didn't know, there was a merger between three universities in the Helsinki area and now we're supposed to only use the new ppt templates and the new logo and stuff like that. But I can't find the damn ppt templates anywhere. Apparently they're somewhere on the uni wiki but that wiki was killed off a few weeks ago and was replaced by another system. I found one template but it dates back to 2008 and it's clearly not up to date.
I bet it's located somewhere that's really easy to find but I can't find it. Meh.
Also, I used to complain about the logo and pretty much everyone else complained about the logo but apparently it's seen in the design world as something grand. Professional designers are going all "wah!!!" when they see the A! A? and A". It even uses a special "aalto" font... to me, it really just looks like Helvetica.
Right. So google isn't helping and come on, I know it's there somewhere. There are supposed to be about ten presentation templates, each with a different colour and logo. I guess I'll just settle for using the background from one of our other presentations, it's not like anyone is going to care about it anyway... just don't tell the marketing/communication department that, they're really big on the whole "building a new identity", which I totally understand but I can't be bothered on a Thursday morning.
On an unrelated note, I still have about a hundred photos from Shanghai left and they're all interesting because they all have a story behind them...
One night we went to a Japanese restaurant close to the hotel. They had this "buffet" for 150 yuan which included food cooked in front of you and drinks. It was so brilliantly good!
This was mushrooms rolled in some beef.
( +3 more )
Guess what? Weather in Shanghai during the trip: heavy showers, heavy showers, heavy showers, light rain, heavy showers and that's only for the next five days... I suppose the rest of the time it won't be all that different.
Gah. It's not like we're going to have time to do much besides meetings and visiting comapnies anyway for the first five days. The schedule usually starts at us getting out of the hotel at 7:45am and coming back at 10pm or later. On average it's three meetings per day with a short lunch break... sounds like fun, ha?
I'll admit it though, I can't wait!
Also I've managed to work out a great system to keep myself motivated to do things. Or at least to do some things in between long bouts of procrastination. I basically make a list of all the tiny things I have to get done with tons of details (for example I have "fill out form" and then I have "drop off form" because "take care of the form" just sounds way too complicated for me and therefore should be done later). Also having a cute little binder clip holding everything together somehow helps... don't know how but somehow!
The usual - want a postcard from Shanghai? Send me an email/message/leave a comment if I already have your address (if I sent you one from the US and you got it, then you can consider that I have your address). Yep, I'm kind of lazy today and so no fancy poll where you can enter your address.
And the usual Friday fill in the blanks:
1. When I'm nervous I have a very strong urge to clean stuff, especially to do dishes.
2. My favorite item in my closet is a summer dress I bought last year I have yet to wear, a blue dress I got in San Diego which is amazingly cute and a dress I bought for 2e second hand which is my "fancy" dress. Yep, so that's more than one item. Who cares.
3. Watching corny jdramas or kdramas or doing dishes is my favorite thing to do when I need to relax.
4. My favorite childhood memory is ... okie, see this is hard for me because I had a very tranquil childhood. I don't have bad memories and I don't have any favourite memories.
5. Something you may not know about me is that I gave up on shampoo and a lot of other cleaning products last April and haven't looked back since. It's incredible just how much people waste on things that can be easily replaced by plain water or other products like olive oil.
6. A true friend will know when to stay quiet.
7. Something I hope people think of when they think of me is that I'm someone who manages to do whatever she likes in life. Most of the time.
It's amazing just how quickly everything is moving along. This morning, I noticed that the sky was starting to lighten when I was waiting for my bus in Lauttasaari. When I made it to Hanasaari, the sky was reddish at the bottom. The moment I sat at my desk at work almost the whole sky was lighter and this all happened in a very short period of time, maybe half an hour!
The sunsets are also quite beautiful on days like Monday or today. The reds are incredible!
I finally finished the six reviews and filled out all the forms. I'm drained, I really am. I read all the papers last week and all I did today is reread my notes and fill out forms and it's still really tiring. I feel like I spent the day killing bunnies or something of the sort.
My main problem is that I'm good at giving constructive criticism on papers because I have had loads of training rereading my dad's papers and being the editor for group papers... but I'm bad at wording my criticism so that it doesn't sound too mean. I prefer telling a person face to face what I think is wrong or send them a long email explaining everything. Just leaving comments on a form is not enough, or at least I feel like it's not enough but what can you do? I know from experience sometimes you get awesome reviews where everything is nicely laid out for you... and then there are reviews where you spend hours scratching your head trying to figure out what the reviewer meant.
Now I just have to reread all the forms tomorrow with a clear head and that will be the end of that.
|This morning I'm actually waiting for my Diana Mini to be delivered. Yes, they don't send those through the regular post, they send those through DHL and DHL and I are not good friends at all. Apparently they came on Friday at 2pm but somehow their site only told me that the package was being dispatched in Helsinki a few minutes beforehand so there was no way I could make it. I called them up that evening and I scheduled a re-delivery this morning... or at some point tomorrow! Thank goodness I actually have a job where I can work from home but can't they figure out their delivery times a bit like an airport taxi where they give you a 15 minute window? It surely can't be that hard!|
Speaking of work, I have five papers to review for that conference I sent in my two papers the other Friday. Five. As long as they never ask me to actually be a coordinator for one of the reviewing pools, I'm alright though.
In terms of snow updates, we haven't had any new snow in weeks and in a way it's good. The other day I got a photo of the last remaining cars under the snow, they're getting rarer and rarer as people have figured out that it's not going to melt any time soon so they might as well dig their cars out.
What really gets me are bikes left in the snow! How could one do that to a bike? It hurts my little heart seeing things like that... As time goes by the snow gets packed under its weight, it might even turn to ice if ever the temperatures rise a bit. What are the owners thinking? Some of the bikes are really nice, I doubt their owners wanted to get rid of them. I suppose they could be stolen but still...
My little bike is nice and warm in the bike shed, I should actually go check up on it eventually.
Arashi in rainbow outfits time!
I'm done! Second article finished. 6.2K words on that one. Damn, I didn't think I'd ever actually get this baby to the delivery date.
Even if these articles don't get accepted I've already made considerable personal progress.
Now I can have a relaxing week-end where the only thing I have to worry about is the book chapter to write on smart grids and the stuff I have to do about rural energy. The fun really never ends with me, it really never does.
But have I mentioned that I was done with the two articles? I'll still be mentioning that in a couple of years, trust me.
*does happy dance*
Don't tell this to anyone but I really did do a happy dance in real life and I'm still kind of jumping around a bit.
Right... so snow update: it seems that it's almost melting a bit even though it's around -3C outside.
One article is *this* close to being done, the final PDF if getting looked over. The other one... well, I still have till midnight EST. What time is that in terms of Helsinki time? Probably somewhere close to 6am. I have great faith in myself, I'll get it done!
And since I'm already taking a break from work (I'm allowed to take one, been at work since 6:30am), here are some fill-in-the-blanks:
1. If I had two hours to myself today, I'd go for a run. I'm quite tempted to go running as the layer of snow isn't that thick anymore and it's relatively warm.
2. If I could travel anywhere today, I would go to Toulouse to see my sister's new house. They won't let me have my own room there, can you believe it?
3. Any given moment spent around my parents and sis is my happiest memory.
4. Sometimes you're on top of the world other times you're getting screwed over. That's life.
5. Beauty is really in the eye of the beer-holder.
6. I would be embarassed if anyone knew of my little random obsessions which take over my brain for days at a time.
7. Love at first sight is for when the fan fic writer is out of ideas on how to make people meet before they have sex.
Helsinki snow check: still a lot. Once again decided to take the shortcut to get to my house thinking that others would have already stomped on the snow enough for me to easily walk on it. I was wrong. You can see that others have attempted the wading but the snow is really deep. Thank goodness for high boots.
Other note of interest: walking in thick snow in high heeled shoes is much easier than walking in them on firm ground!
So you see kids, when someone comes up to you and says "come to academia, it's a fun place" you shouldn't listen to them. You should run away as fast as you can. I'm not kidding. Run! Turn around and run and never look back.
Oh, who am I kidding? I doubt I could have a normal job anaway but there are days when academia just seems terrible. Remember those two articles I mentioned that I have to submit for a conference before tomorrow night? I just finished one and I spent the whole day from 7am till now, almost 4:30pm, on it. I just had a short lunch break and that's it! If anyone had asked me how far along I would have said it is, I would have said 95% done yesterday and it took me that long to get it to 99.8%! I just have to reread it tomorrow and see what my co-author says about my changes.
I still have the other article to finish and that one is only about 70% ready but at least here I wrote pretty much all the text so I don't have to go back and try to reword what someone else has written because their sentence structure is terrible. I can just feel tomorrow being a very, very long day. Add to that the fact that I actually have to attend a class from 10-12.
(Photo taken at a friend's wedding)
Part A: I'm currently rereading a project we did last year around Easter time. To be honest in my memory it was much better than what I'm reading now. It's just absolute shit with about as much scientific content in it as a cup of tea. Now I understand why it was refused.
If only I could get a nine month gestation period for all projects as not to submit crappy things. Really, when you spend 24/7 in the same stuff for weeks or months in a row, you definitely lose your ability to judge if it's worthy or not.
Part B: Finally noticed that they changed all the uni's flags. Right. Have I mentioned before how I dislike the colours they chose for the new uni name and how I find the logo stupid? I really do. So far I have yet to see anything positive come out of the merger of the three schools.
Part C: Yesterday it was white outside, today everything is white. The sky is white. Not in the "it's snowing so much that it's white" sense because it's not snowing, it's just white. There is no sun, there is whiteness. I guess it's better than the perpetual greyness we had in December but it's quite scary. I much prefer blue skies.
I did go look for a couch yesterday. I went to the closest recycling center, they had about five couches and of course the only decent one was already sold. There was another great one that was about 400 euros but there is no way it could have fit.
I would have settled for one of the couches, a blue one, but if I'm going to buy a couch there and have it delivered, might as well buy a reading table at the same place. They used to have really great reading tables but this time around there was nothing. I guess I really should head out to the Espoo center.
I could of course buy a new couch, it's not like I can't afford it. Heck I can afford a damn great leather couch if I want one but the thing is, I'll probably be moving away in July and I'd much rather just give away my furniture than try to sell it. If I spend a hundred bucks on a small couch, I won't mind just giving it away to someone who might need it. If I spend 500 euros on a couch, chances are I'd want some money back at the end.
The good part about the recycling center is that it overlooks part of the bay. In the summer time it's rather gloomy but I like the feel when it's covered in snow.
I also went to Stockmann for some flowers, they did not have pretty bouquets so I settled for some potted plants. I bought a plant that originally lives in Africa but it says on the paper that it can survive in temperatures between 12C and 25C. I also could not resist buying a potted rose, the kind that dies in about three weeks. Not only is it pink but they covered the leaves in glitter!
And the UDI chapter deadline is today. We have everything done. Now I should concentrate on my article on risk management. I'm supposed to have worked on it during the holidays, for the moment I still only have a page or so written. Oh joy.