Monday, 30 April 2007


Since the defense, I've actually been pretty busy, if you can believe that.

On Tuesday, we ran a little workshop with presentations from each of my jury members. Krzysztof had to leave early, but Robert, Bernhard and Birger all gave good presentations, and we had a lunch afterwards, which gave a good chance to chat a little further.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we had our team retreat up in Dinard. We had some good acivities on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning trying to apply the techniques we work on to real domain problems. We also played a card game called Loups Garrous (or something to that effect - means werewolves) for a few hours on Wednesday night.

On Friday Mum and Dad headed off to Jersey for a 5 day visit to see Aliki. At my last day of work, I managed to clean out most of the stuff from my office, before heading off early for my last physio appointment in town.

On Saturday night I went out to Acigné for dinner at Erwan & Manu's place with Liz, Ashu, Nanou, and Manu's sister's family. The three little kids - Noam, and Tara & Elliott - amused us for a couple of hours, then once they were to bed we sat down to the usual Ashu feast, with Nono and Fabien turning up later on.

On Sunday I had big plans to go for a big ride, but I left my run late, and only got about three-quarters of the way out to Betton before turning around and heading back to Avenir for the cadettes game.


OK, so just to elaborate a little.

The defense was in the afternoon, and there were about 25-30 people showed up to listen: the jury of 5, plus most of our research team, plus my parents, Liz, Ashu, and Valentine.

I presented for 45 minutes, and I was pretty happy with how it went - the feedback I'd gotten on the two practices I'd done was really valuable, and I got in a better zone than I had on the Friday previous.

After the presentations, each of the jury members asked questions. Krzysztof asked lots, and the others asked a few, and it wound up taking a bit over an hour, which I think is a lot by normal standards, but I didn't feel especially stressed.

Once the questions were done, the jury retired and deliberated for a while - half an hour, perhaps - then came out and conferred upon me the title of Dr of the University of Rennes 1. They don't give mentions any more, which was disappointing because I'd anticipated it, but in general its a good policy, as they had become meaningless.

We then retired outside for champagne and nibblies, which also went really well. I was worried about how much food we would need, but as it turned out we got it just right, and the tartes were really good, and pretty much everything got eaten. The only catch was that the Australian bubbly I'd ordered got lost in delivery, so we had to settle for some Blanc de Blanc de Limoux that Dad and I had bought on Saturday as a backup.

In the evening, the jury, myself, Mum and Dad, and Pierre Alain all went out for dinner at the Taverne de la Marine, a seafood restaurant in town, which was a good opportunity to chat and relax a little.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

what's up, doc?

Yesterday morning I had a beard and no PhD. Today I have a PhD and no beard.

All communications may be addressed to Dr Steel.

Friday, 13 April 2007

holiday leave

I just noticed that I now have 68.5 days of accumulated holiday leave. France has the most generous government in the world in terms of leave, particularly for people who are paid by the government, which I am. I am entitled to 35 days of leave per year, plus 5 days of RTT assigned by my employer, and another 5 assigned by me.

The problem is that despite having all this leave, I actually only have 11 working days left on my contract, and once I finish, the leave is not paid out (as is often the case). Otherwise, I'd be able to start a holiday in two weeks and remain on paid holiday through all of May, June and July, and halfway into August. As it stands, it will just fall on the ground.

This country is crazy.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

busy boy

You would have thought that the time between submitting and defending would be calm. You'd be wrong.

In the next week, I need to:

  • Make corrections to my thesis and explain them to my examiners

  • review two papers, and write another

  • fill out administrative crap in order to placate people bent on teaching me English and presumably selling rice to China

  • polish up some of the implementation of my thesis work in Kermeta

  • organise my examiners into making their visit to the lab even more productive than attending my defense

  • try to wrangle some of my financial affairs back in oz

Its all very daunting.