The End

I’m back in America. Flew back on June 20. Genova to Munich to Philadelphia to Charlotte to Charleston. Window seats all the way, so I got to watch the wing trailing edge flaps doing their thing during takeoff and landing. All that extra work tacking the Aerospace onto my Mechanical was definitely worth it.

I did actually end up getting paid, on June 6. Got the money wired to my American bank two days before I left, when a Euro was worth just north of $1.25. This was the day after the supposedly-pivotal Greek elections, in which the kinda-pro-bailout/austerity parties barely beat the newcomer screw-austerity-we-can-renegotiate-this-thing party. You can bet I watched that closely. Some were predicting Euro/USD parity at the time. Others were shocked at such speculations. Now the Euro has lost 2.95% of its value against the dollar in the last week. Germany, evidently Europe’s last hope for salvation competitiveness on the world stage, is faltering economically. Who’s going to bail everybody out, now?

That said, I’m happy with my money here in America, where it belongs.

I got to see the code I worked on forever actually get put to use in the lab the week before I left. It seemed to do what I wanted, though it still needs some work.

I jumped right back into this whole America thing with home-made hamburgers the night after I got back. Delicious! The next day was Papa John’s Pizza, which was kind of depressing. It was basically tasteless, compared to anything I had in Italy. Luckily, in Morgantown, I live a block away from an honest-to-God Italian-immigrant-runs-the-kitchen pizza place, Pizza Al’s. My faith in pizza may yet be restored.

Speaking of food, I lost more than thirty pounds in Italy. I think I’m going to have to start exercising. I like looking good, but I also like hamburgers. Life just isn’t fair.

But anyway, I’m glad to be back in America.

We, as Americans, are the descendants of people who decided that Europe sucked so bad that it made sense to get on a boat for months and strike out anew in a completely foreign land, where, at the time, if you couldn’t feed yourself, you would probably starve to death. We are the descendants of people who fought, and won, a war of independence against the world’s preeminent superpower, because we didn’t like the way they were running things.

Citizens of few, if any, other nations can say the same.

Kind of on that topic, I never really told the guys I worked with about this blog, or at least not it’s address. I don’t really know why. I did tell some guys at NETL about it, and so, the main Italian I worked for (and still am working for) found out about it. He immediately freaked out upon learning, from the About page, of the namesake of my blog, a piece of the fire control group in the SA vz. 58. He left a very earnest message on my adviser’s voice-mail, asking if I was a revolutionary, or otherwise unhinged. Luckily, I had mentioned my affinity for firearms to said adviser, who also has such an affinity, and so he was able to defuse the situation. I just learned of this from him today.

As Americans, we take for granted freedoms much of the rest of the world can only dream of.

I celebrate one of those freedoms with Italian engineering, interestingly enough. It shall serve as both a little reminder of Italy, and why America is so awesome.

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We’re all doomed!

I’m having a heck of a time getting pictures off of my phone, so this post will be uninteresting. Furthermore, a big impetus for my knocking out a post right now is largely just so every month I will have been in Italy will have posts. Though something interesting did happen today, so let’s see how this goes.

I will be leaving Italy on June 20, in three weeks. My work is going well, but I will likely still be tying up loose ends after I get back to America. Luckily, what I create is measured in kilobytes, and they ship for free. I’m supposed to be teaching an Italian undergrad how my stuff works, so she can carry on my work after I’ve become enveloped in schoolwork once again at WVU. I’ve spent more time teaching her how MATLAB works, so we’ll see how that goes.

I still haven’t been paid, besides one €500 down payment, for my work. So I’ve been spending my dad’s money since probably late October. The paperwork issues that my employer has faced have evidently been massive. And speaking generally, I’d be kind of okay with this situation. Not many undergrads have multiple cogenerating machines to play with. And, as much as I would rather pay my own way, my dad doesn’t have a problem with helping me out. But I was supposed to get paid. And then there is the Euro Crisis. And what a crisis it is!

I’ve been watching the euro/USD exchange rate the whole time I have been over here. You can check it out in the right sidebar, if you want. That’s the price in dollars for one euro, which makes the guy who decided on their naming convention look retarded. Anyway, a euro has been worth anywhere between $1.40 and $1.30 the whole time I have been over here. Except for right now. In the last week or two, it seems to have dropped a good little bit.

Why do I care, you might ask? Well, I’m supposedly getting paid in euros, in an amount I won’t be able to spend in the span of three weeks, and I wouldn’t have been spending the whole sum over here, regardless. And every time the US dollar gains against the euro, I lose purchasing power in America. So, every week I still don’t get paid, I get to look at my pay essentially draining away. And there is so much stuff I want to buy!

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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!

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EU Crumbling: Part I

If you aren’t into, um, news, you probably won’t care much about this. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, just vetoed an EU treaty. This is the first time a Prime Minister of Britain has ever vetoed an EU treaty. In all of time. Or at least since the EU was founded back in ’93.

Highlight from the article:

Jubilant Tory MPs hailed his decision as a massive step towards Britain’s EXIT from the European Union.

That was not my emphasis on the ‘exit.’ That was straight out of the article.

I get the feeling I’m going to be making a lot of posts like this.

Stuff you can read on any choice of news sites. Quoted here, so making posts doesn’t require actual content on my part. I’ll just throw out the excuse that this corroborates my latest megapost. Oh and trying to keep a respectable post rate while nothing interesting happens to me in particular.

What? You thought I was making a reference to the ongoing political volatility within my source of income, the European Union? No, no, no. My own laziness and boringness.

In that regard, I’ve made it a habit to close the window in the laundry room every time I’m in the hallway, just to spite the little Italian gremlins who open it constantly. I was seriously in the laundry room, out of it, and back in it again in less than five minutes yesterday, and in that time, someone I didn’t see opened the window that I had just closed. Definitely gremlins.

And there are honest-to-God roosters somewhere outside of my office, crowing every night to remind me when I’m up too late.

Remember, I’m not just boring. I’m boring in another country. With roosters.

Goodnight.


“What have I been doing for the last month?” and My Thoughts on Everything Else

My Italian experience has continued it’s slide into the depths of mundanity – along the lines of go to class, go to work, eat, go to sleep. That isn’t really much to blog about, sadly. However, it has been a freaking month since my last post. Hopefully, if I can find interesting things, I can get back into once-a-week blogging, or better. Interesting things have happened. Work has also been happening. But screw apologizing or rationalizing, this is my blog, and this is my new post, so enjoy it.

In the weeks since my bike was stolen, I have indeed walked a great deal. It’s forty-five minutes from the campus to the mall on foot, and I’ve now walked that at least half a dozen times. This also has put a serious cramp on trying to see the weekly attractions the city puts on in the middle of town on weekends. I walked to another street fair a week or two ago specifically because the signs I found advertising it mentioned America, in terms of American goods or American-style goods or some such. Of course, at the bottom of the sign, literally in ellipses, it said something like, ‘along with normal goods of local origin.’ I walked to this street fair and found nothing particularly American at all, so I didn’t venture further. If there were American clothes or cars or whatever, I didn’t find them, and my backpack was loaded down with groceries. Besides that, the entire 1st world wears American clothes anyhow. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.

Unless your vision of American clothing is embodied by “Why you so trashy? – Northern Carolina University.” Seriously, my father caught that on a shirt on display at the mall, as well as a guy wearing a shirt that said “Shut the F*ck Up,” asterisk and all. Combine this crap with punks tagging everything in Engrish, and one is reminded that America dominates the world culturally, if not militarily. I can live with that.

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