Big news of the week!  They served frog legs in the cafeteria!  They were huge!  All of the natives were a little skittish, so I steered clear.  I’m willing to try frog legs here, but I feel like I should try them in a place that isn’t a cafeteria.  I’m really enjoying the cafeteria, everyone has lunch together every day, and the food varies enough from day to day to keep it interesting.  I’ve been trying, but I haven’t been able to go over five Euros yet (that’s $7.50 two weeks ago, and like $0.03 now that Greece crapped it’s pants and is making Germany clean it up).

Riding the train to work has been entertaining – I’m totally overdressed for work, but not for the commute to work.  Parisians really bring it – even the hobos are well-dressed.  I swear I’ve had people ask me for change while wearing nicer Oxfords than I am.  Hats aren’t very popular in Paris, but everyone has a scarf on.  Parisians tie their scarves in crazy knots that I haven’t exactly figured out.  Thankfully I brought three scarves with me, in daily rotation.  I’m blending in on the train well enough that people keep asking me for directions and such.  Too bad for them.

Everyone rocks pointy toed shoes – the LeCroy guy came yesterday to demo an oscilloscope (they will replace us all one day) and the pointy shoes made him look like a leprechaun.  I think you have to be careful with your height to shoe length ratio, otherwise you look like you just fired Charlie Weis

The attire at work is standard physics fare, you’ve seen one physics dept you’ve seen them all.  Although one of the labmates is heavily reminiscent of Zoe from Firefly, only less cowboy hat.  I would say the biggest difference is that maybe 50% of the lab smokes, a much higher percentage than what I’ve seen in the US.  The “this will kill you” label takes up like a third of the pack here, which is pretty awesome.

The big thing among the teens these days seems to be black vinyl puffy jackets – I keep thinking of the Missy Elliot Rain video, from like 1997.  I’m curious if they jump across the pond.  It’s always funny to see the trends that live and die in Europe versus the US.  I remember going to Israel in 1999, and Jellies were huge with middle-aged men.  Rollerblading in Paris has not died the death it has in the US, and I keep seeing both adults and kids on Razor scooters.  Razors seem to be a legitimate mode of transportation to work for people.  What, is your unicorn in the shop?

Have I mentioned that print ads for the most awesome Orangina ad ever made are everywhere?  You felt a little dirty watching that, didn’t you?  That’s not even the half of it – this is posted at every RER stop along my commute, usually ten feet tall!  Last night it was the only thing out the window for twenty minutes – there was “un accident grave” at one of the northern RER stations, and the train stopped at the Gentilly station for a while.  For those of you keeping score, my commute is between Cite Universitaire and Le Guichet.

My graduate advisor, M. Gallagher as he’s known here, arrived on Wednesday for a month of sabbatical at LAC, with a fresh new haircut.  Although three days late due to snow, Gallagher seems happy to be here, and has already committed me into giving a colloquium in March for LAC.  Thanks, boss. 

Everyone keeps asking what I’ve been eating for dinners.  Last weekend I bought what I thought were a box of dates.  Taking the time to read the label when I got home, I realized that I in fact bought date pate.  The rest of my weekend was spent pondering what to do with a 1kg block of date pate.  Build the pyramids?

I’ve been slowly working my way through the date pate with the help of mini-baguettes and an AOC wheel of Coulommiers cheese, with fruit from work and a few Haribo for dessert.  Lemons into Lemonade!

Otherwise, things are slowly getting settled.  I’m starting to learn my way around the new lab, and everyone is super helpful and nice.  My bank account is almost all set up, I picked up my debit card today and I just have to receive my passcodes in the mail.  My apartment requires me to get two (two!) letters from a doctor, confirming both my physical health and my “fitness for community life”.  Don’t we just roll that into your credit score in the US?  Once I finally have my bank account set up I can set up my french cell phone contract, so hopefully within the next week or so I’ll be sending out the much awaited “Josh in France Contact Info Email”.

Ok, it’s bedtime for me!  Another big adventure lies ahead tomorrow!