Miscellany, Genève and Flanges

Genève, City of Rainbows, a view from Deux Ponts

From the silence here you may have guessed, the whirlwind has picked up here in PhysicsLand. Flanges, flanges…so many flanges. Leak checks, leaks, discarded copper gaskets. More flanges, bellows, pumps and gauges. Visible holes in weld joints…yes, seriously. Blood and sweat and tears (of joy and otherwise) but still: No beam. Not yet. It’s a long road ahead before we’re able to play with antimatter again; longer than I had truly been able to comprehend before.

So, here are just a few random stories for fun, because I’ve been neglectful, and because this is what blogs are for, right?

1. CERN may be one the only place in the world were you can take an hour long break from working with ion pumps and go wine tasting.* Caves Ouvertes is the annual Saturday during which all of the Geneva Canton wineries open up their cellars to the public. Basically, they will serve you as many wines as you can possibly desire/handle for no charge. It does make one a bit loath to return to the ion pump, however.

2. I broke a spoke on my rear wheel (while climbing) two weeks ago. I dropped it off at a sports store in France and was promised a quick turn around. After one very polite phone call from my francophone colleague, one probably impolite phone call in mangled French from me, and many sad days spent on public transportation, my American colleague and I went to the shop to gang up on the bastards. After a bit more mangled French, emphatic gesturing at my literally untouched wheel in the back corner of the shop, and barely ten minutes of repair work, I had the wheel back. Winning.

3. Last weekend, at the other, better, sports store in Annemasse (surprisingly affordable), I attempted to buy a yoga mat. I knew it would cost 17 Euros, but the woman at the counter didn’t. She phoned her coworker, he said it was 2,50.  I sort of pretended I didn’t really understand what just happened, and payed 2,50 for it. I walked out feeling a little guilty but with a yoga mat.  Winning?

4. Spotted at the sports store in Annemasse. I love Euro conceptions of ride food. Yes, that is indeed Ritter Sport Chocolate, billed as an energy bar 🙂

5. “Whoa, what did you do to the guy?” my Italian colleague asks when he sees the repaired computer I’ve just received exceedingly promptly from tech support. At about this point, typically I would seethe in feminist anger, but now that I’ve been on this continent long enough, I know that you just have to let Italians be Italians. Briefly: If you can’t understand what he’s hinting at, it’s likely something dirty and slightly offensive. But really, he doesn’t mean to offend you. I’m about to just not reply but then I remember: the tech support guy was Swedish. God, I love it when esoteric language skills come in handy.

“He was Swedish, I just spoke to him in his own language…”

“Hehe. Well, don’t mess up the harddrive, or else you’ll have to talk Swedish again.” His thick eyebrows go up and down. Freakin’ Italians. I quit.

6. As a result of my ceaseless and unfortunate obsession with proving something (I dunno what) to someone (the world!) I am beginning to truly derive great pleasure from wailing the heck out of the bolts on large vacuum flanges with more force than (some) of the boys.

7. You know it’s time to leave the experiment when you start beat boxing to the rhythm of the compressors.

8. You know it’s time to leave the blog when you admit to beat boxing to the rhythm of the compressors. Good night, Europe. Good Day, California!


*Wine tasting, yes, I did that. Believe it. I actually don’t even really like wine. Call it cultural due diligence, and it was fun.


One Response to “Miscellany, Genève and Flanges”

  1. michael9murray Says:

    Your postings are truly valued – both an insight so sorely lacking into every-day Cern life; and for the experience of life in a ‘strange’ place!

    Keep cool, keep being yourself!

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