It’s Too Italian Here

I promised a big post about my family’s trip through Italy, with lots of beautiful pictures. That will happen. Just not right now.

Here’s a post about why Italy sucks.

My final in Sustainable Energy I was on January 12. It wasn’t really what I expected. I spent the week prior to it acting like I would study for it. Which means I studied for a day and a lot of the night. Where I came into the exam thinking I would basically give an overview of what I learned in relation to fuel cells and distributed generation, I was actually asked a couple of pretty specific questions, each with several parts. During this final, which accounts for the entire class grade, I was asked about subjects that accounted for probably less than ten percent of all the different things we were taught. So, basically, if you don’t know everything equally, it’s easy to get lucky or unlucky, on this test. I got a 23/30.

I can retake it this Tuesday, but I really don’t think I care that much.

If you read the news, you may have heard about a huge cruise ship disaster off the coast of Tuscany. If you don’t know the details already, you probably don’t care, but that gigantic ship, the Costa Concordia, was actually on its way to the port in Savona, right next to the hotel that my family used there.

Ah, the beauttiful Mediterranean.

From a kind of engineer-y perspective, I have to comment on one thing that I read. The average cruise ship has doubled in size in the last decade, and that means a whole lot more passengers and crew. How do you get all these people safely off a ship during an emergency? Why, don’t have an emergency, of course!

Rules passed by a large, international passenger-ship organization, in 2006 or so, specify that all large passenger ships must be designed to never sink, no matter what. That’s their entire solution. Really. Now, the Costa Concordia was built before those rules went into affect, but still.

This would be no problem for a newer cruise ship.

For a particularly short anecdote and aside, I’ve now seen another result of the Eurozone crisis. All the bus drivers were on strike in Genova when I had a meeting to get to. In protest of some of them losing their government jobs. They’ll probably see more of that if they keep pissing off potential customers, such as myself. They’ll never see another cent from me.

Later that day, I got a hint of the genius of Italian regulation. It is illegal to fire someone for economic reasons, without the express permission of the government. Wrap your mind around that for a minute. Pretty strong disincentive to hire, isn’t it? And oh God, have I been looking for an excuse to post this:

Ryanair doesn’t operate in America. I already checked. Getting back to Charleston for about $200 would kick some pretty major ass.

I made it another week and a half without anything stupid happening. Then my room was inspected, and it was learned that – horror of horrors – I had my own fridge and toaster. Yes, this is a bad thing. Of course, I had to argue, so I subsequently learned that I should have known better, because having my own fridge in an apartment with other people is “not normal.” Yes, anything that is not normal is obviously bad and wrong.

So now the fridge is in the little research trailer. It only fits in one place, and it isn’t plugged in. I ran the cord for the power strip under a doormat, so someone else unplugged it. No need to piss off a coworker, but it’s a pretty massive paperweight as it is. And there is some chance I get expelled from university housing, in which case I will then be living in America.

In hindsight, as a purchase, the fridge and toaster still made a lot of sense. The only reason I got into university housing when I did was likely the insistence of my employer. I was originally going to be living in a different building, which was being renovated for a long while. The fellow student I met at the seminary just moved into it last Tuesday. No way in heck was I going to be able to eat out every meal for that long.

The day after I had to move my fridge, I got a questionnaire from a nice lady at WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Benjamin M. Statler College of Blah Blah Blah, asking me about my study abroad experience so she can make some student profiles for advertising WVU’s engineering program to students who want to do interesting things. Of course, this happened:

How do you plan to use your experience from study abroad in conjunction with your engineering education?

Having a wider experience with other cultures is great, and will serve me well if I end up in a job that requires international dealings. Additionally, it has given me more reason to appreciate America and the great culture we have, comparatively speaking.

I blame the seething rage. Of course, I gave this nice lady a link to my blog, which she may have followed to find a pleasing picture of a toilet. I may never hear from her again.

I’d really rather not end the post on that note. We had a small earthquake Friday. That was fun.

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