Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grüessech aus Thun!

So, another post is in order, albeit a bit late (it's been four weeks since my last post). In the meanwhile, I had a four-day meeting with the Fulbright board in Washington at the beginning of the month. The flights were interesting, but that was about the extent of it--and it's great to be back in Thun!

1. Research

2. Montreux / a new friend

3. Gurtenfestival

4. Train schedules via SMS?

1. My research continues to go well. I finally got to use the big microwave system in the lab the week before I left, and I'm now learning how to write a program that automatically generates a heating pattern to be fed to the machine (rather than manually feeding a heating pattern in). The model I wrote of the microwave appears to work, but I need to compare the results of my simulations to actual physical data collected during heating (we're able to do this by means of a nifty infrared camera and thermographic film that's part of the microwave setup). I was excited to find an accurate way of modelling thermographic film in the package we use--it's something I'd never seen before!

2. Like some of the others on the blog, I spent a while at the Montreux Jazz Festival recently, and saw a few awesome performances and got really excited by the atmosphere, but regretted being restricted by the train schedule (it'd have been worse, though, if I hadn't made a friend in Lausanne: I had two friends from Finland visiting and one of them knew an Irish M.Sc. student who's working at EPFL for the summer). I had a great time with the Finns and Irishman on the night we went to Montreux, and then we wandered around Lausanne for the first half of the day, and Bern for the second half, afterward to cap off the weekend.

3. And since we all had such a great time at the festival in Montreux, I figured the fun shouldn't end there--so although the Finns have been back in Finland for a week or so now, I invited the Irishman to the Gurtenfestival in Bern last weekend (just Friday night, couldn't afford much more!). My favorite act all evening was the John Butler Trio, a band from Australia that plays bluesy rock tunes. The festival was much bigger than I had imagined in a city of Bern's size, and the atmosphere was energizing and nice. One of the coolest things I saw was the train going up the Gurten---it's hauled up and down the hill by a chain on the front, connected to machinery at the top of the hill. At around 2 a.m., we made friends with one of the conductors on this train, and he said that if we came back next weekend, he'd let us in the building at the top to see the actual machinery inside--more on this if it actually happens (:

4. I learned something cool this weekend: if you want information via SMS on the next two trains running on your specified route, then you just text the departure and destination points to the number 222, and for the price of a regular SMS, you'll get the departure and arrival times of the next two trains. For example, I'd text something like this: "thun bern" (without the quotes) to find trains going from Thun to Bern. I just think that's so cool.

Well, that's it for now. Hope all's well with everyone, and I'm looking forward to the meetup in Bern on Thursday!


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