lundi 28 février 2011

Anna will be two years old in March. She is quite unlike her bigger sister, whom she adores.

She actually will do what you tell her to (so far at least).

She is quite a mama's girl.

It's quite funny (for me) to hear baby talk in French, though I do remember a time when Manon and I were about at the same level (and now she is correcting my accent, sigh).
dimanche 27 février 2011

Here is Toby, 5 years old today. He is the sweetest little kid.

He speaks Thai like a Thai, loves music, and is very active.

Happy Birthday Tober!
(I guess I should mention that his actual name is Tobias, but I call him Tober)
samedi 26 février 2011

Well, I guess I'll finish up the month with pictures of all our (4) nephews and nieces.
This is Rudy, the first grandkid, my brother's son. He is much older than this now, but I like this picture a lot.
He was our Ring Bearer and got along great with Manon, even though neither of them spoke the other's language (which is okay though, because they both spoke kid).
vendredi 25 février 2011


Schools in the South of France are now on break. (one of their many)
Which of course leaves parents in a conundrum of what to do with their rugrats while they are at work.
Easiest (and cheapest) answer of course is..

The Grandparents!
Our niece Manon is staying with Alain's parents for a week.
His parents and Manon stopped by his work yesterday to see him and to see his workplace.
Alain brought me home this-

de la par(t) de Manon pour Megan.

I thought at first it was a four-leaf clover for good luck.

Then I took a closer look and guessed "Broccoli taped to a piece of paper?"

It is, apparently, a flower that lost all its petals.

I'm wondering if this is the kind of thing you have to be effusively enthusiastic about receiving as a aunt/uncle/parent/grandparent.

I'm thinking yes.

"Why thank you honey for the dead flower taped to a piece of paper! It's what I always wanted! I will put it on the fridge RIGHT NOW!"

But seriously, I am touched.

So, to the exams next week, apparently I am taking (besides my suitcase full of books)

My four-leaf clover socks that I've had since high school and only wear for times when I need luck

My necklace with a gold-dipped aspen leaf and Alain's and my rings

And my broccoli taped to a piece of paper.

Hey, sometimes you need all the luck you can get. (And it worked last year for the CEIPI)

Adding a new label to my blog: Rugrats

jeudi 24 février 2011
In my preparations for my exams next week, I am doing the past years exams. For these exams, the Examiners usually prepare fairly technically simple and amusing "inventions".
The one I am working on this afternoon is a bird feeder to be hung or put on a pole with a guard for protecting the bird food from squirrels.
In the invention, the guard rotates, so that the squirrels slip or jump off.

So I'm having very amusing thoughts in my head of squirrels being flung off a madly-spinning disk, like some bad redneck game, "Squirrel-flinging contest".

Glad this isn't the topic for my exam next week. I'd be giggling in the middle of the examination room, with all the French wondering what is so funny.

I dislike squirrels. Alain doesn't understand why I dislike the disease-ridden rats with furry tails. I think it is because he didn't spend enough time in Vuhginny.
Come to think of it, French seem to like squirrels in general.
Perhaps it is because there aren't any around.

Past examination topics- a prostrate cancer radiation device, a toilet for grinding up waste, an egg shell breaker, a letter carrier.
Where do they come up with these topics?

Found this on Youtube (warning, do not watch if you like squirrels)

Okay, back to studying with images in my head of squirrels being catapulted into the next county.

Here is a picture of my brother Doug and his wife Patricia.
This is one of my favorite pictures of them. It was taken in Dec. 2006 at my cousin's wedding.
mercredi 23 février 2011

Here is a picture of my dear sister Leah and me at my wedding. I was so touched that she was able to come, all the way from Thailand with a 3-month old in tow.

Wow, I just realized how much we look alike. No wonder dad mixes up our names any time we are all together.
mardi 22 février 2011
Here are my parents. This is one of my favorite pictures of them.
This picture was taken in West Virginia, where my brother and his wife have a cabin.
lundi 21 février 2011

Here is one of my proudest moments.

Graduation from VMI, first in my class of Electrical Engineering.

Sen. John McCain was our graduation speaker.

This is General Bunting, our superintendant, giving me my diploma.
And no, I did not have to do military service after graduation. All cadets however have to take four years of ROTC, and I chose Navy. I was offered a Navy scholarship (4 years) with a five year commitment, but turned it down (as I had an academic scholarship instead). For the first year or two I thought about commissioning anyway, but then decided not to. Four years was enough for me.
Instead, I went to graduate school at the University of Virginia. Which was like a real college experience.
dimanche 20 février 2011
This is an interesting picture.

The winter uniform (for parades) consists of grey wool pants with black stripes down the sides.
The summer uniform is thin white pants (called white ducks).

Usually in March, (I guess this picture was taken March 23, 2001)
the entire corps of cadets switches from the winter uniform to the summer uniform.

For the seniors graduating in May, there is a ceremony of burning the grey woolies in the sentinel box in the middle of the courtyard of barracks as these pants will never be worn again.

Each cadet has two pairs of these pants, and each senior usually throws in one or both pairs. I think I only burned one pair and kept one for posterity. Actually, I kept almost all my uniforms, which are currently taking up space in my parent's closet.

The entire barracks stinks of burnt wool for about two weeks afterwards.
samedi 19 février 2011
Here is my best friend from college, Rachel. We roomed together three years.
A week after graduation, she married another VMI alum. Theirs was the first alum-alum wedding. The paper in Richmond wanted to cover it. She refused.
She wanted to have her reception at the Alumni Hall on campus, where a lot of other male alumni had their wedding receptions. The Hall was mysteriously "booked" for nothing.
She was a cross-country star and on a four-year athletic scholarship, and after VMI went into the Army reserves for several years, and is now teaching middle schoolers (which probably takes more courage and inner fortitude than going to VMI).
vendredi 18 février 2011
Here I am with my own rat, Anthony,
class of 2004, at his breakout.
(end of the ratline, crawl up a muddy hill. In the freezing cold. After having been worked out for a solid week beforehand).
I certainly came out of this one a lot cleaner, though he was cleaning mud out of his ears for a solid week after.
jeudi 17 février 2011

Here I am, with my date, at the formal ring presentation ceremony. Each 2nd class cadet and their date are announced, walk through the saber arch and then the big ring, and their date puts their ring on their finger. (And every once in a while, a ring gets dropped, to the horror of the cadet).
After that, there is one formal waltz, then lots of pictures, and that is pretty much it (followed by a weekend of partying).
mercredi 16 février 2011
This me and a picture of "Uncle" Van, a VMI Alum class of 1942. Unfortunately, he passed away last year, so this post is in loving memory of him.

He was quite a history buff, and used to come every year to give a speech to all the new rats about the history of VMI. (The first week, when we were all sleep-deprived, smelly, and wondering "what the hell am I doing here?")

My first year, after his speech, he picked me out of the mass of dirty smelly rats and called me over. He gave me a pep-talk, of the "you can do it girl!" kind.

He continued to keep in touch, and every time he came over for events at VMI, he would stop and see me, and often take me out to dinner or give me candy. Candy! Real food! And most importantly: The hell away from here for one night!

He was so proud of me for making it through. He called me "Miss Meg" in true Southern style, until I got married, then it was "Missis Meg".

So here is a picture of him, proudly sporting his ring, and me, with mine. (I actually wasn't supposed to be wearing it at this point, as we weren't supposed to wear it until after the formal ring presentation ball that night.)

Miss you Uncle Van.
mardi 15 février 2011

This is my mother-in-law's (Josée's) favorite picture from our wedding. She teared up when she saw it. I think I look a bit funny, as I am biting my lip, but it is a good picture of Alain. Actually, he usually has good pictures taken of him. I hate that. I have to dig through pictures of us to find okay ones of me.
Anyway, happy 36th birthday my favorite French!
lundi 14 février 2011

Here I am, with two guys Britton on the left and Bill on the right from my class, second class year. (the years count backwards: 4th (or rat) is freshman etc. until 1st = senior)
It was the presentation of the class ring ceremony, one of the most important events in a cadet's life. The rings are incredibly huge, as big possible. Actually, the rings we are wearing are the everyday rings, in titanium I think, versus the gold rings, with the same design, for special occasions.
ETA: These are the "combat rings". It took me awhile to remember what they are called. Tradition has it that you are supposed to throw it against the radiator in your room so that it gets its first nick.
The design on the rings varies every year, one is the "institute side" and has the date of founding 1839, and one is the class side, and has each class year. You are supposed to wear the class side facing in towards the rest of your body (closest to your heart) until graduation, and then turn it around to the institute side after graduation.
The traditional stone is a red garnet for the school colors, red and yellow, but many cadets don't get garnet now.
I got a sky blue topaz because it was tradition - my first class mentor (steve, in previous picture) had a sky blue topaz, and his mentor did, etc.
I also have a minature version of the ring. The main gold ring is way too huge, even though I got the smallest weight option available.
dimanche 13 février 2011
I wonder whether everyone is getting sick of seeing my pictures.

Anyway, this is a picture of me the following year (a bit more hair). It was such a pain to grow out.
At first, the administration didn't want to let the women grow their hair out. Then they said that it could be grown out, but couldn't touch the collar, and we couldn't use more than two barretts on the sides or one big one in the middle.

Yeah, it is clear that a bunch of military men thought that one up all by themselves. They obviously never had to deal with hair this length, plus taking on and off hats all day long (as you go in and out of buildings). It gets to be a mess. They finally relented and decided we could go with military regulations (gee, why didn't anyone think of this before?!) wherein it could be grown out to any length, but in uniform had to be braided, in a bun, etc. such that it didn't touch the collar and looked okay.


So here I am, my hair a bit blonder than natural, in an awkward hair growing out phase. My uniform (the coattee, used for dressier occasions) also appears to not fit me correctly. The stars are for academics, meaning I had above a 3.5 GPA.
samedi 12 février 2011

Here I am, the coldest, most exhausted, and dirtiest I have ever been in my life, but extremely happy.
Anyone want to postulate why?
VMI= Virginia Military Institute, a 4-year military college.
Actually, it was my choice to go, my parents tried desperately to talk me out of it, as it was the first year that women were accepted.
vendredi 11 février 2011
Thought I would change from baby pictures (also, am running out) so I thought I would post my (surprise!) military school pictures.

I suppose this picture will get some reactions.

Yep, that's me as a VMI Rat at 17 years old.

As said before, Dad loves my hair short.

After graduation from high school, I had my hair cut short (though not quite as short as this), to get used to having it short before I got it shaved off here.

Actually, I didn't mind it so much.
1) You're not really given time to shower, wash your hair, etc. so it might as well be short.
2) There are a lot more important things than hair.
3) It does grow back.

Some of the girls shaved their heads completely bald, along with the rest of the guys in their company. They all got in trouble and were confined to post until their hair grew back to regulation length. Which was longer for the girls than for the guys, so slightly unfair. But the girls had started the head shaving party, so I guess it was mostly their fault anyway.

It was odd because one of the girls looked rather cute, even with her head completely shaved, while the other just looked like an alien. Fortunately, I think I look at least presentable with short hair. But anyway, see number 2 above.

I didn't shave mine. This was pretty much as short as it got. Though it did have the tendency to stick straight up from time to time (toilet brush head).

That's why I'm not too fussed now if I get a bad haircut.
jeudi 10 février 2011
I do have a mother. I swear.
It's just that she is usually the one that took the pictures.
mercredi 9 février 2011
Thought I would show all my grandparents, though you can see my diapers in this one.

This is my Grandma Esty (for Estelle), who absolutely LOVED BABIES.

Which I guess is good, considering she had eight of her own.
mardi 8 février 2011
Rocking Chair.
Part of a lamp shade.
What more is there to say?
lundi 7 février 2011

Here is a picture taken with dad, most likely in East Germany.

It looks like we are having a very serious conversation.

dimanche 6 février 2011
Here is a photo of my grandparents (mother's side) on their wedding day.
Grandpa John and Grandma Eleanor.
Do I look like my grandmother?
Perhaps the coloring no, but I think the eyes yes.

He called me "toilet brush head" as a baby, and would slam doors so that I would wake up from my naps whenever he came to visit.
(so that he would be able to see me)

She came and lived with us for several years in South America after he was gone.
If we have a daughter, I want to name her Eléonore (at least as a middle name.) Alain says no. We'll see about that.
samedi 5 février 2011
Here is one of my dad's favorite pictures of me.
You will notice that my bangs are very short.

That is the unfortunate consequence of deciding to play beauty salon with a neighbor kid a few days before school pictures. Mom was really mad and dragged me to the nearest real hairdresser to try and repair the damage. It looks like they put a bowl on top of my head and cut around it.
vendredi 4 février 2011

Here is a picture of my beautiful sister Leah and me. This was summer of 2003 or 2004, age 23 or so, when I went out to visit her in California (before she moved to Thailand).
Can you tell we are sisters?
PS The correct response to yesterday's name guessing game was:
It is an old German name, pronounced (get this) Al-o-wish-us.
My grandfather promised his fortune to whichever of his kids named a grandchild after him. Nobody did. Probably for several reasons:
- There wasn't much fortune
- He was probably joking anyway
- Who wants to name their kid Aloysius nowdays?
I remember once we were having a family reunion when the phone rang.
"May I please speak to Mr. Smith?"
"Which one?" (there were about 10 Mr. Smiths present in the room)
Hesitant pause. "Al-oy-seee-us?"
"Dad, it's a telemarketer for you!"
So congratulations to chcmichael from Our House in Provence !
jeudi 3 février 2011

Here is a picture of me and my Grandpa Al (father's father) in his favorite position, lying on the couch, in East Germany early 1980's.

And if anyone can guess what name "Al" is short for, they will get an Official American in Provence postcard. (which is pretty much just a regular postcard from Provence)

Hint: It starts with Al and is not Alain.

mardi 1 février 2011
National Blog Pictures of Megan Month

Well, I guess majority has it. I was going to go with option 3, but then figured I would just be wasting my time copying out the questions and answers, as everyone would just skip over them anyway.

The answer to yesterday's questions was:
B- 20 years from the filing date of the European application.
(In case anyone was dying to know)

Here is a picture of me, about age 10, and our dog Sunny (short for Sundance Kid) - male golden retriever. Taken in our yard in Ecuador.

(and no fair comments re. who is who?, or snipes about dogs and their masters looking alike)

As my exams are a month away, I don't have much to say.
So I can either post pictures or patent law questions and answers, it is up to you.

Option 1) Pictures from my life with comments

My first passport picture, on dad's lap. Loving the shirt dad.

Option 2) Patent law question

A European patent application was filed on 3 March 1990 claiming priority from a German Gebrauchmuster filed on 10 April 1989. The patent application was published on 17 October 1990. The European patent was granted on 5 October 1994. What is the last day on which the patent provides protection for the invention?
A) 10 years from grant date - 5 October 2004
B) 20 years from filing date - 3 March 2010
C) 15 years from priority date - 10 April 2004
D) 20 years from publication date - 17 October 1990
E) None of the above

Option 3) Both!

Option 4) Neither! If you don't have anything interesting to say, don't say anything at all.

(which is rather against the whole point of blogging, but oh well)

Please vote in the comments section.

PS: You might get stuck with patent law anyway. In which case, I really do hope most of my readers come back in March when I return to the regularly scheduled program.

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