whereisirisnow: (Default)
Friday, September 23rd, 2016 14:16
(So, I wanted to write earlier, but then: summer holidays: Japan!, back to work! Conference! You know what it’s like…, so here a very outdated update.)

To forge a bond between all the Earth science PhD students at ETH, a PhD retreat was organised in May so that we could actually meet people that are not on the same floor (I believe I tend to be quite narrow-minded socially…). We all went to a large guest house in the Black Forest in Germany and then indulged in science and not-science :)

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View from the guest house.

One day we had an excursion (so that not all days were science-y) and I opted for the geological excursion. It was really nice on the one hand (nice nature, we also needed to go to a castle to view the rocks, which was pretty cool. And they had ice cream there), but on the other hand, it made me realise again why I didn’t choose geology: rocks! I just don’t see the things in them that I am supposed to see. Just give me some models!

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Walking up to the castle.

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The castle! So pretty!

The cherry on the cake was that I got a lot of compliments on my presentation (representing our research group). Most importantly, I apparently know the level of my audience very well, so that everyone can enjoy my presentations. Nice!
whereisirisnow: (switzerland)
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 21:54
I have been neglecting this blog (for like, the 100th time), I know. I'm sorry. Shall I name work as an excuse again? Yeah let's do that..

You see, when you're a PhD at ETH, there is apparently this thing called a 'Proposal Defence'. Before getting into ETH, I had never heard of it, as it is not common in the Netherlands. The proposal defence is one of the two major deadlines during your PhD (the other being the defence of your actual thesis): before the first year is up (but at the end of your first year), you have to present your 'proposal' for the rest of your PhD to the committee. In order to make it appealing, a mere schedule and some vague plans are not enough: you basically have to show everything you have done so far (or generate results very quickly), and give a very detailed plan, including methods, time estimation, etc. This is also one of the most likely stages where you could potentially get fired. After this, you are pretty safe. So: it's a big deal.

Needless to say, when the date for your proposal defence comes nearer and nearer you realise more and more that you actually do not have enough results to fill the 'approximately' 10 pages report. So, you go into panic mode and work. At least, that is what I did. I sacrificed a total of 3 weekends (farewell!) and worked more hours than usual during the week, although I did not work crazy hours: I know I'm not productive when I try that. In the end, I did have a report of 37 pages and some (nice?) results, so I guess it was worth it? In any case, the committee let me pass (after a discussion/question round, which made me sweat a lot. I know they should ask me things, but it was nerve-racking.. )

My proposal defence was July 11, 2016 and I started really working on it (or rather: generating the results) somewhere in May. Busy times.

Unfortunately, these two months of work coincided with a lot of travel (most of them work related), so I was (and still am) a bit knackered.

To get over this, I am going on a (well-deserved) holiday soon to ... *wait for it* ... Japan! Not sure if I'll be completely rested afterwards, but it should be at least very awesome.

Before I will post pictures of Japan though, I wanted to share my recent (work-related) trips with you.

The first trip (which was just for fun, not work) was Tatort Jungfrau during the Pentecost weekend: a detective game in the Swiss Alps (Jungfrau region), where you have to find clues located everywhere in the area. It was a fun way of discovering one of Switzerland's most beautiful scenery.

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Snowy landscapes at Kleine Scheidegg


Click here if you want more pictures )

Next trip I will tell you about is the PhD retreat in the black forest in Germany. Stay tuned!
whereisirisnow: (Default)
Monday, May 9th, 2016 22:05
Yesterday, we (friend N. and me) went to Cats - the original English production in Basel and it was a-ma-zing!! Basel has a lovely theatre: I also saw the Lion King there last summer!. It made me realise again exactly how big of a passion of mine theatre is. Unfortunately, I can't really do much with this passion here: I'm away half the time, so how could I ever play in a production? Not to mention the fact that most groups are German-speaking. Fortunately though, there are occasionally some very good (English/original) productions in Basel and/or Zürich, so I can at least satisfy some of my theatre-cravings :D (bloody expensive, though).

To commemorate this cheerful day a not-so-very-flattering-made-in-a-hurry-picture of us in front of the Cats logo.

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I will sing these songs for a looooooong time to come ;)
whereisirisnow: (switzerland)
Sunday, May 8th, 2016 14:47
Last Thursday (on our sneaky extra free day) I decided to take matters into my own hands and proposed a 'lazy people mountain day trip'. Very soon, we had established the Lazy People Group, consisting out of 4 people.

We decided to go to Mount Rigi near the Vierwaldstättersee and take the cogwheel train up to the top, instead of walking up (we are the Lazy People Group, after all). The weather was great and the views were breathtaking, so I will share my most pretty pictures with you now!

Taking the cogwheel train up
After going to Arth-Goldau by train from Zürich, we took the cogwheel train up. This ride lasted for about 45 minutes and was very scenic. You should definitely go on this train once (even if you’d normally rather walk up the mountain), because you’ll see great views from spots you can’t always reach yourself.

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N. and F. are in the right spirit! We were very lucky when we took the train, as we were in the old, cosy train!

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Train looks cute, doesn’t it?

Views at the highest train station Rigi Kulm
This is the view you are greeted with immediately after stepping out of the train:

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More views from the train station )

Views from the hotel/restaurant
F., who was in charge of maximising the laziness of the day, soon found an elevator which took us one level up, to the hotel/restaurant with, again, very pretty views!

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Me!


More views from the hotel/restaurant )

Views from the top
After laughing a bit at our laziness with the elevator, we took the gentle path upwards (total distance ~300 m) to the absolute top of the mountain. This path was marked with a statue of an old man with a cane. Laziness maximised again! The other path, by the way, (which was shorter, but much steeper), was indicated by a statue of a fine, young, backpacking guy. Of course.

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More views at the very top! )

On our way back from the top to the restaurant, we were not really paying attention and hence missed the path for both the lazy or elderly people and for backpacking guys. Hence, we chose our own path and just walked down over grass and snow. This was the first indication that our group name might be changed eventually to the Somewhat Lazy People Group.

Hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Staffel
After a lunch at the restaurant (I had a bratwurst with fries), which was expensive but okay, and a visit to the souvenir shop, we decided to walk down to the next cogwheel train station, as that was not too far (we started to really become a Somewhat Lazy People Group).

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We hiked from all the way up there!


More views during the hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Staffel )

Hike from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Klösterli
We were (surprisingly) still in good shape when we reached the cogwheel station and we decided that we actually wanted to hike a little more; not in the least because when you hike, you see a different view every twist and turn, which is amazing! Unfortunately, the next stretch of the trail/path next to the cogwheel tracks that we had been following so far, was still snowed under, so we couldn’t take that. Fortunately, J. found a path which was even suitable for prams from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Klösterli. This was a nice 40 minute walk on a very well-maintained path (although I’m not sure if it would really be that suitable for prams, but Swiss people are special, so maybe they would be able to use it for prams after all..).

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Views during the hike from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Kloesterli )

Hike from Kräbel to Arth-Goldau
When we reached Rigi Klösterli (which was again a cogwheel train station), we decided to take the train down a few stops, because the total hiking time back to the main station in Arth Goldau was over 2 hours, and even though we were quite active so far, we are still the Somewhat Lazy People Group :p.
So, we ended up taking the train from Rigi Klösterli to Kräbel from which we walked all the way to the main station of Arth-Goldau.

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More views from Kraebel to Arth-Goldau )

It was a lovely, lovely walk. While waiting for our train back to Zürich, we had some ice cream and when we arrived in Zürich, we had some drinks in the park. It was a lovely, great, amazing, somewhat lazy day and I can’t wait to go to the mountains again!
whereisirisnow: (travel)
Thursday, May 5th, 2016 21:45
I went to my first big conference: EGU in Vienna! It was quite the experience! Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to visit the city. I did manage however, to get a few nice pictures of the city centre and the conference centre :)

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City centre + river

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Conference centre

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Stephansdom

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Beautiful fountain
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whereisirisnow: (Default)
Thursday, May 5th, 2016 21:43
One of my collegues, R., and his girlfriend live in Winterthur, which is a city near Zürich. They invited us on April 10 for a lovely dinner and a tour of their city. I came up with ‘The Winterthur-Tour’, and I will admit, I was very pleased with myself :)

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Winterthur

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If I remember correctly, this is the town hall, which was designed by the same architect that designed the ETH main building.
whereisirisnow: (travel)
Sunday, April 10th, 2016 10:55
When did this actually happen? March 19, 2016

And then, spring was finally there! While in Munich, I used this beautiful spring day to visit the Englisher Garten in Munich, which is a enormous park. It was lovely!

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It was huge! This is only a tiny bit of the complete gardens.. Oh my!

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There was a Chinese tower in the Englisher Garten, because that makes sense?!

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It was such a lovely, lazy day.
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whereisirisnow: (science)
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 15:55
When did this actually happen? March 16, 2016

I went to Munich for two weeks to collaborate with some people on one of the codes I am using (which is developed in Munich). During these two weeks, we also had a meeting of the project that I am in. This meeting was at the technical university of Munich (I was visiting the other university: LMU), and this technical university had to spent some money on art.

They made mathematical art. Mathematical art.

I’ll be honest with you: I went slightly crazy. There is of course a reason that I briefly studied mathematics: I really do appreciate good (and bad) mathematics jokes. So this university was made for me!

First of all, they had written the Fibonacci sequence on the wall facing a glass wall in the elevator, so that you could see the Fibonacci sequence when going up or down in the elevator. How awesome is that?

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Also, they had giant slides from the third floor to the ground floor in the mathematics building! These two slides together form a parabola *squeeeeee*.

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I had to go on them, but was a bit self-conscious. Luckily, after the meeting, when I tentatively proposed going on the slides to my colleagues, they turned out to be quite willing as well. So we went on the giant slides! They are really steep at the beginning (well, duh, it’s a parabola), so you go really, really fast! They are great! I want to go back now. Even better: I want slides at ETH!

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Me coming out of the slide really fast!

And then, when we went home, I found out that even the subway station of the university was full of geeky physics and mathematics art, highlighting lots of famous scientists. I hope we have a lot more meetings here in the future.

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whereisirisnow: (switzerland)
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 14:15
When did this actually happen? February 28, 2016

The weather was quite bad this day, so most of the seismologists refrained from skiing, actually. Instead we became the road-tripping seismologists: we decided to visit Montreux, which is supposed to be very beautiful with a lake view and mountains in the distance, and Gruyère, which is famous for its cheese, of course, and apparently hosts a museum about HR Giger and his art that some of us wanted to visit.

So, let’s start with Montreux. Well, the sad thing was that the weather was pretty crappy in Switzerland as well, so the beautiful lake view with mountain vistas was nowhere to be seen. Pity. It was still nice for a little stroll, though, and it did look very promising, so I should visit again on a clear, sunny day. I think it can be really pretty then. After our winter-stroll, we were all starving and found a very good Chinese restaurant where we had a delightful lunch. So goooood!

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The lake view in Montreux: very nice sidewalk, but unfortunately no mountains…

Then, we drove to Gruyère to visit the museum. Apparently this museum is about the guy who designed the art work for the movie Alien (which I haven’t seen) and in this museum you can see all his other art.

Good things about Gruyère: the village turned out to be a Medieval village that is a touristic place because it’s so beautiful. So the village was very cute and in between mountains. Also, they have a local speciality of meringues and cream that is absolutely delicious! I wish I could go back only for that!

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Pretty castle village!!!

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Look at it. Just look at it. Even though it’s hazy, it is still so pretty!

Bad things about Gruyère: The museum was absolutely disgusting! This is so not my type of art. I actually never do well with disgusting things, in the sense that I get easily nauseous when blood or other yuck is involved and this museum had it all and more! Horrifying experience. Not my type of thing. Yuck. Unfortunately, I do now feel obligated to watch this Alien movie (as I’ve seen all the art now anyway), but I really, really don’t want to. Maybe on a sunny day at 13:00h to prevent nightmares. Maybe…

So, all in all, day 2 of the ski-weekend involved slightly less skiing, but was quite fun nonetheless. I saw a lot more of Switzerland in any case. I am already looking forward to the skiing weekend next year!
whereisirisnow: (travel)
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 13:42
When did this actually happen? February 27, 2016

We went skiing with the research group (the skiing seismologists) in Les Houches, France (because even though we are living in Switzerland, driving all the way to France and skiing there for a weekend is cheaper :p ). Now, if you remember the previous post I wrote about skiing for the first time, you will remember that that did not go so well (and that is, indeed, an understatement).

However, this time I wasn’t the only one who had never been on skis before, so me and two colleagues decided to take a class (smart idea!) to actually learn skiing instead of slowly (or quickly) skiing to our death.

The class was freaking awesome! None of us fell! And at the end I was actually quite comfortable to follow the instructor and ski down a (I guess green) slope. It was really, really nice. Our instructor was also a really nice guy: every time we tried something new (such as letting go of our poles, getting on the conveyor belt to go up, getting in the ski lift!, doing turns, etc.), he would gladly cheer us on and scream: “See, you didn’t die! Hooray!”. He really knew how we felt.

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After our class, the three of us didn’t manage to ski down the blue slope to the restaurant for lunch where we were supposed to meet the rest of the group (we asked our instructor if it was possible to go there after our first lesson. Response? "Impossible". We were all secretly relieved…), but we had a nice lunch in the town: yes, we went back to the town and got rid of the skis. Even though the skiing was now very nice, the boots still hurt like hell!

After going back up the mountain to make some beautiful pictures, we went to Chamonix, where we strolled around, bought souvenirs and had a lovely dinner (with the rest of the group this time).

As always, the mountains were stunning!

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Being happy on the mountain

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Me and my fellow first-time skiers!

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At the bottom you can see the ski-lift we took! So we actually skied down quite a bit, huh?

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Day 1 of the ski-weekend was a big success! Plan for next year, concerning skiing: take a long weekend off together with one of my fellow first-time skiers and then take classes every morning and practice every afternoon, so that we are prepared for the next ski-weekend!