Thursday, December 08, 2005

As the sun rose this morning, the temperature peaked its head above -10. Still, as I walked in, there are 70 year old women practicing Kung Fu outside. They either make them seriously hardy round here or the Chinese have it all wrong and these women are only mid fourties but have aged faster due to spending so much time in this freezing
weather. There are some benefits of it getting into the negative double figures. I'm not sure what most of them are yet but certainly longjohns left on the radiator overnight become one of life's great delights!

Speaking of making them hardy round here, we had a lecture yesterday by a guy in his mid-seventies, in English. This was on the topic of coupling constants in asymptotic expansions. I plan on writing something about this topic and will make a link to it when I do and I hope to give an idea to the non-physicist of roughly what this means. We'll see.

On the work front one of the other postdocs and I are rearranging the group almost as I type. Before I get gasps that the new boy is coming in and rearranging the furniture, the head of the group seems delighted that we are doing this and has given us his go ahead. The trouble is that there are ten PhD students in the group who are all pretty reluctant to participate in anything unless firmly prodded. We want to make the group more proactive so we're doing away with Saturday morning three hour meetings which are good for neither man nor beast. We may try and run a masterclass which would be good for us too as currently I don't feel terribly masterful in anything much! We're also toying with the idea of getting everyone together once a week to a cafe or restaurant where hopefully the atmosphere should be lighter. We won't force people to talk about physics but hopefully if we set the tone right we should be able to get some interesting discussions going. We just want people to become comfortable with chatting through ideas and intriguing questions that they have. It may be a big disaster but it can't be much less productive than what we have at the moment.


After going around Chalefoo (Carrefoure) yesterday with our Aye (cook/cleaner/general help around the houser) I now have a kitchen stocked with everything from 20 pounds of rice and its own cooker to sauces I've never heard of but look forward to trying and experimenting with. Today we had our first meal which was excellent. It should make life that much easier, coming home to a clean house with food on the table before returning to the office to do another couple of hours work.

The weather promises to continue its descent with -13 likely over the next few days. Apparently it hasn't been this cold at this time of year here for 50 years. January is generally the coldest month. It's strange, even now I see people jogging around the campus to keep warm in the evenings and couples are still out with their kids playing football at 9 in the evening. I guess it's just a part of life. People don't complain about the cold here as they certainly do in the UK. In fact, people don't seem to complain about very much here. Perhaps this is partly because complaining doesn't really get you anywhere around these parts, or at least not without a lot of effort.

Anyway, on that random note I leave for the gym to try and unwind after another 12 hour day.

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