Traveling yesterday was mostly uneventful; Danny and I had schnitzel and spargel at an airport restaurant before parting ways, him to Mallorca and me home. I was all prepared with my Economist and the Great Gatsby and a backlog of Melvyn Bragg to media away the plane flight, but instead I sat next to an interesting French nuclear physicist and we talked about accelerators and bilingual schools. Pictures today are from the nice neighborhood in Mainz, including a newly architectured eco-mansion with a turret and its own sheep. They are completely normal from a point-and-shoot except they have had the “Dramatic Effects” filter applied.
Back in Berkeley and wicked jetlagged, so I watched TV and did laundry until Seth woke up and we could go to Guerilla for salmon and croissants right when it opened. It was great because I am currently obsessed with eating outside, probably because of Spain, and this morning was beautiful. As my punishment for nothing, I have beamtime starting at 4pm, where I will do linear dichroism on my Co2MnGe, because that way I can set long scans and come home for the night.
Current favorite joke:
“Sorry, I can’t hear you, I’m dead. Get it?”
Danny got us a night at the Hilton to celebrate the full moon, my summa, and his birthday, so we went for a long walk on the Rhine past the fake beach and over to Mz-Kastel for overpriced döner. Thursday I failed to do paperwork at both the Bundesministerium and the Dekanat Chemie but he got some hours in at Nokia but Friday I at least managed to submit the request for my diploma (which has to be done separately?) and print out extra copies of everything in the universe before I had to be filmed by a pair of Germans with a fancy camera who want a nice English speaker on record saying nice things about the Graduate School of Excellence.
My best night in years was sitting at Claudia’s kitchen table with Danny, a kilogram of jamón serrano, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart”.
Dr. Dr. Jenkins, at your service. The two least helpful responses I received when announcing my public defense were (1) WOW that is a hard committee! and (2) The worst defense I ever saw was (story). If she can pass, you can! Not helpful, kids. Anyway, I have spent 3-5 hours a day for the past month reading real papers and understanding real concepts in preparation for my defense, then panicked and spent the last two days Wikipedia gaining upper level undergraduate knowledge in everything I could think of. The half an hour I spent with Stas learning a page full of optical spectroscopy and the three minutes I spent directly before rushing out to memorize Maxwell relations turned out to be the most relevant 33 minutes for the whole defense, because I got to sound brilliant answering a question about the magnetocaloric effect and regurgitating some band structure sketches line-for-line as I explained the experimental method for quantifying polarized light interactions with matter.
I got a summa anyway, and so did not have to climb the horse.
A cultural panda am I! I went to La Arriaga to watch La Flauta Mágica…..sung in German, spoken in French, with overtitles in Basque and Spanish. It was fine except for the brain explosion, and wasn’t there supposed to be more than one piano? Never mind. Europeans are too damn casual with the opera, anyway, some bitch with a folding fan kept fanning me, some old lady a few rows back kept shining a really bright flashlight at her program to see where we were, and two people had cell phone disasters and forgot to be embarassed.
Saturday I went to the Guggenheim because they were screening Matthew Barney’s *whole* Cremaster cycle (highlights: “Aimee Mullins as a leopard-woman; topless chorines; the Chrysler Building used as a maypole”). I only stayed for like half of number 3, but the inside of the museum is good too, with a whole big exhibit about Chaos and Classicism (Kaosa e Klasicismoa), which more or less means inter-war Europe. Worked in my room for the evening; practiced a talk and watched Doctor Who. Adios, nice Bilbao. Little Mainz tomorrow.