lundi 28 juin 2010
On Sunday, Alain and I went to his annual karate club end-of-the-year Paella. The main karate teacher, who Alain knows for about 20 years now, has a large non-constructible piece of land, in the middle of the vines outside Pelissane. There is a small cabanon on the lot where they have disco night (luckily far from other houses) once or twice a year. No toilets. Fun. I avoid as much as possible.
So Sunday morning Alain dropped me off at his parent's house while he went to play karate, then came back around noon, took a shower, and we went to the paella.
Spent the afternoon drinking beer, wine, pastis, and coke, chatting with others and waiting for the paella to finish cooking. I am not a huge paella fan. I usually surreptitiously pass about half of what is on my plate to Alain (octopus? mussels? unidentifiable meat? what could be part of a mouse? here dear, you eat it).
After the paella, some rounds of boules were organized, for the yearly championship. When I signed up, I thought it would be just for fun, throw some leaden balls around, hope to not hit any small children, and have fun. But I under estimated Les Provencaux. This was serious stuff. Bring-your-own-set-of-boules stuff. Some poor woman got stuck with me. "Vas-y doucement, doucement, essaie de ne pas toucher ma boule qui est le plus proche. Ah. Bon. La prochaine fois alors."
We lost the first round 13-2, then played against Alain and his partner and also lost, though closesr this time, around 13 to 11. I didn't really pay attention to how the scoring worked or anything.
Honestly, a hot summer Sunday afternoon, in the middle of vines, pine trees and olive trees, listening to the cicadas cricking away, drinking rosé wine and playing boules.
Can anyone think of how it could be MORE Provançal?
vendredi 25 juin 2010
I did it!!

All those months of studying, all those weekends spent either in class or on the train, all those times I did something other than study (read a book for leisure, watch tv, take a nap) and felt guilty about doing something other than studying, and it all paid off in the end.

Found out this afternoon that I made it.
Not valedictorian (I knew it was highly unlikely but felt a very very slight twinge of hope) but I think I did all that could be asked of me.

Honestly, international intellectual property law in a language other than your own, is not as easy as you may think.

They didn't announce the results as I had been told, they simply posted two lists one for Patents and one for Trademarks (maybe in a few years), and everyone rushed over to try to find their name on the list.



Oh no!!!! No Po....
Frantically trying to see through everyone else in front, seeing that I am clearly not under Po....
and then thinking, well maybe my maiden name...

Yep there it was
Smith, Po.... Megan.

Oh thank god!!!

Pretty much everyone who was there got it, I didn't say any tears of unhappiness. I guess those who were pretty sure they wouldn't get it didn't come.

I spent today exactly as I wanted. Went to the park and read my non-patent book for a few hours, then came back and had a big bowl of ice cream and three pretzels, then took a nap, and went to the ceremony.

After the posting of the results, there were some speeches by the professors, and they announced who had the top grades. For the patents, all three were in the accelerated group (my group) one woman had the top spot, and a man and woman shared second place. Good for them. After that, some champagne (should not have drunk those two glasses right away) followed by orange juice and some nibbles. Everyone started dispersing around 6 pm- I thought people would be going out to celebrate, but I think everyone was wiped and just wanted to get home and see their loved ones.

Goodbye Strasbourg, I've enjoyed you and sure I'll be back.
mercredi 23 juin 2010
When ALL YOU CAN BE is just slightly better than average.

Seriously, that is all that is important to me right now.
After about a week and a half of non-stop studying (plus about 10-20 extra hours a week since September) I am ready for this all to be OVER.

I don't care if my final grade is 10.00001 (out of 20) and I am last in my class (of those who are accepted). I'm not aiming to be First Standing 1st Classman, or Distinguished Graduate, or Validictorian (le/la Majeur in French).

Well, I wouldn't turn it down if offered to me, but I think it is highly unlikely to happen due to my 5th grade level French writing skills.

No, maybe 8th grade level now after months of private courses.

Anyway, it's like aiming for a "D"- you're not proud of the fact but, Damn, don't have to take that class EVER AGAIN!
mardi 22 juin 2010
June 21st is, as anyone living in France will tell you, the day when anyone and everyone can go out in the street and play music, or just put out a boombox (geez, does that date me?) and play music really loud, or basically anything that might pass as music.

I get enough bad street music 10 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday thank you very much, I don't need a special day dedicated to it.

When the warm-up screechings outside my window started up around 7 pm, I realized all hopes of studying for my Oral Exams Thursday were shot. I grabbed my boxes, headed to Appart A'Tart, ordered dinner and a 25 cL pitcher of wine, and proceeded to study and drink wine in the relative quiet of the restaurant. Left around 9 pm, and took a brief detour through downtown to see what was happening. Musical groups, big and small, professional and very very not, with no attempts to be out-of-earshot of each other.

Passed this group set up on stage, no idea who they were but they were obviously important enough to warrant stage space, followed by an improptu brass band, a South American panpipe player, and a disc jockey, all within about 200 meters of each other.
I dislike big crowds, so quickly beat a retreat to my apartment. Was hoping the official cut-off time was 10 pm, but no such luck. Under the exhaustion of studying and the effects of the wine, managed to drift in and out of sleep until 1 am, until the last music group stopped.
Gee, can't wait for next year.
vendredi 18 juin 2010
Being locked (figuratively) in my apartment for a week, studying for my Oral Exams is doing odd things to my brain.

On Tuesday, I took a break from studying and went up to Grenoble for my work. Met some brand new patent engineers, one of whom will be going to the school in Strasbourg in September.
Everyone asked how it was going, and when they heard I would get the results of the written exams that day, they all asked how I could stand not checking my email/voice mail every hour (email if you are accepted, phone call if not). Um, I don't want to break down crying in front of y'all if I don't get accepted?
Figured the results would be the same whether I found them out at noon, 4 pm, or 10 pm safe in the privacy of my own home.
On the way back, I finally broke down and called Alain- no messages on the machine. Checked email and there it was- a mass email sent to almost everyone in my class (the accelerated course) telling us that we were accepted. About 90% of the accelerated class was admitted, and about 75% of the regular class. I am not sure if that bodes well or not well. Alain said "It will all come down to the oral exams then" which is NOT what I wanted to hear.

Still don't know what I got on my written exams, so I don't know how much leeway I have.
Got the schedule yesterday, and I am scheduled for both exams on Thursday the 24th, Droit Français at 11 am and then Droit Européen at 4 pm. Then done!!!!

The results will be announced, in a typically brutal French fashion, in front of everyone in the auditorium on Friday afternoon. As in:
Albert, Non.
Basque, Oui.
Camembert Oui.

Sigh. This too shall pass.
The patent dreams have started again.

It's like my brain is one big ball of yarn, and I just keep plucking strings, unraveling one at a time, trying to straighten each one out, seeing where it leads me, getting tangled up and starting over...

Saisie en douane...
Action en revendication...
Procédure de limitation ou de revocation...
Inventions de salariés...
Droit de priorité...
Convention de Paris...

Heading back up to Strasbourg on Sunday, even though my exams aren't until Thursday. It helps to cut myself off from other distractions. When I am here I tend to think "Oh, I should do the laundry, and the floor hasn't been cleaned in a month (yes, a month), and oh muffins would be nice right now, wouldn't they? Oh drat, it's father-in-law's birthday and I haven't bought him anything, I wish my neighbor would stop screaming at her children, oh yeah, back to infringement, um, Why do they keep ringing my doorbell!? dang it my elderly neighbor's TV is really loud, okay, back to, where was I?"
samedi 12 juin 2010
A few days ago, taking a quiche out of the oven, I found this at the bottom:

Nice huh? And no, it's not chocolate. It is a carbonized mini muffin.

The last time I made mini muffins? Sometime around February.

This puppy has been sitting at the bottom back of my oven, going through endless baking cycles, for MONTHS.

Alain kept saying, "It smells like something is burning."


It's been one of those years.
mardi 8 juin 2010
I took the day off from work today (actually, I exchanged it with my Free day on Friday) to go to the US Consulate and the Mairie.

I needed to go to the Consulate to get some certified copies of my passport (photocopy of the front page + the official notary seal and signature of the Consul General), and then to the Mairie to drop off my file for the nationality. I have been slowly gathering paperwork for months, and just kept everything in a big folder that I brought home from work last week.

Last night, when I took out my passport from our filing cabinets, I didn't look at it, just threw it in my purse. Mistake.

Got downtown Marseille around 8:30, had a hot chocolate and a croissant and looked at some of the new globes exhibit (more on that another post), then went to the entrance of the Consulate a little before my scheduled appointment time of 9. When I handed it to the guard, I realized it was my old one, canceled two years ago. Yikes. Hurried back home, grabbed the new one, and went back downtown, arriving at about 9:20. Went through in-processing, which always makes me feel insulted (Hey look guys, I'm an American. I'm not going to bomb the US Embassy) and waited for my copies (50$). They seemed rather suspicious about why I needed them- it's for an exam. What exam? Why? Do you have a piece of paper that says that you need this? I was getting worried that I wouldn't get to my 10:30 appointment with the mairie in time, but I finally left at around 10. Hurried back home, grabbed my file, and ran out the door.

Arrived at the mairie Annexe near our old apartment, and started shuffling papers. Eight grade diploma? No? You are sure you don't want it?
Certificate of French course? No?

I admit that I wasn't very organized. I have been so preoccupied with other stuff lately, that I didn't have time to really go through and make sure I had everything. I didn't have a copy of the oh-so-precious EDF bill, nor the original of our deed to our apartment, nor copies of my transcripts (just had the originals). Sigh. Had to come back home, get everything, then go to La Poste to make copies. Went back when they reopened at 12:45, handed her everything, and she said it would be probably between 4 to 7 months before I receive the convocation to come to the Prefecture for the French test and interview, then sometime afterwards I would receive the decision. She said it goes faster for "Diplômés", by which I understood- white, married to a French, not from a developing country, with a higher degree and a job.

We'll see.
Anyone want to take bets as to when I will receive the convocation? Pick a date from tomorrow until I don't know when, person who is closest gets a prize.
lundi 7 juin 2010
Barely recovered from my 11+ hours of exams the last week of May, I am trying to movitate myself to study for the Oral Exams at the end of June.

The only problem is, it is rather hard to motivate yourself to study for an exam you aren't sure you will be taking.

This is the first time in my life that I have had to study for something, unsure of whether I would be taking the test or not.

The thing is, whether or not you are accepted to the Oral exams depends on how well you did on the written exams. And not all the written exams mind you, just the "Big" ones.
Here is what I have taken so far:
Intro. to Law (1 hour) coefficient 1
Contracts (1 hour) coefficient 1
Business law (1 hour) coefficient 1
Patent Cooperation Treaty (2 hours) coefficient 1
US Patent Law (2 hours) coefficient 1
Technical Exam (6 hours) coefficient 4
Legal Exam (4 hours) coefficient 2

The last two exams, Technical and Legal, are each worth 20 points, multiplied by the coefficient, giving:
Technical Exam 80 points possible
Legal Exam 40 points possible

Now, take into consideration that it very difficult to get higher than a 15 on the Technical Exam, and it hasn't been done yet to get higher than a 16 on the Legal Exam.

In order to be admitted for the Oral Exams, you have to have at least 60 points out of the 120 possible points for the Technical and Legal exams.

If you do, then you pass the Oral Exams:
French Law (20 minutes) coefficient 2
European Law (20 minutes) coefficient 2

So these last two exams, along with the Patent Cooperation Treaty Exam, are counted as the first part, for a total of 220 points, of which you have to have at least 110 points to be admissible.

Then they take into consideration the "second part" (Intro. to Law, Contracts, Business Law, and US Law) for which you have to have at least 6 points out of 20.

Still with me? Good.
It took me about the entire year to figure this out. Which means I spent way too much time worrying about the little exams that aren't worth much.

Anyway, I won't know until the 15th whether or not I am heading back up to Strasbourg or not.

As the rules currently stand, if you pass the Technical and Legal exams but fail something else, you can keep those notes, but have to re-pass all the other exams. Ugh. So you're saying I have to take a 7-hour train ride back up to Strasbourg for a one-hour exam that maybe I have already passed? Yeppers.

I talked to our class delegate, hoping that during their annual meeting this year, they will try to get this rule changed. It would be good to at least be able to keep all notes with a passing (10 or higher) note. Anyway.


Oh, and the way we find out who made it and who did not? Those who are admitted to the oral exams receive an email saying what day they are scheduled, and those who are not admitted get a phone call. So you spend all day on tenterhooks, heart jumping into your throat everytime the phone rings.

Everytime I try to explain the exams to others, I never remember what is called, and inevitably get it wrong. Epreuve oral? Les examens oraux? Oral? Ahhh!

Oh, and going into the oral exams, you don't know how well you did on the Technical and Legal exams, so you don't know how much of a margin of error you have. I suppose in a way it is good- if you knew you only needed the minimum of 6 points per oral exam, you would perhaps not study as hard and totally mess up, whereas if you think you might need every point you can scratch out, you are more inclined to study.

20 more days to go!
samedi 5 juin 2010

Alain just got back last night from five days in Moscow. He left Monday morning for a conference there. He was invited to give a speech.

On Thursday morning, I received a panicky email from him. Apparently, his debit card wasn't working, which meant he couldn't pay for his hotel. The expiration date of the card is 06-2010, so last month he went to the bank to ask whether that meant the beginning of the month or the end of the month. No worries! You can use it until the end of the month. When the card didn't work, he thought it was because the card was expired. I called the bank, and of course the only person who knows us was out of the office until next Monday. It turns out that it wasn't expired, he had used it "too much" (since when is 200€ too much?) They asked whether he could call them and send him a copy of his ID card. Um, no he is in RUSSIA at a University and barely has access to email. I forwarded his help message to the woman, as well as a copy of his passport, my passport, and our marriage certificate. Awhile later I got a call from the bank, asking for more info, and then I guess they unblocked the card.

At any rate, he was able to borrow some money from another guy there, and has to send a check to him next week to pay him back.
On Thursday they visited what was formerly a nunnery, and then downtown Moscow on Friday, before flying back (via Prague) Friday night, getting in at 11 pm.

We slept in this morning, then he treated me to the happy news of "I think I lost my wedding ring." What?!
This is not a man who wears his wedding ring often, which I think is part of the problem. He doesn't like wearing it, only wears it when I hold him down and force it on him (like when he is going away somewhere). Apparently, his fingers swelled, so he took it off and "put it somewhere".
This was not an expensive ring mind you, about 50$ in titanium, but it was still special.
Anyway, after some searching through his pockets, he managed to find it. Back in the drawer.

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