Off Topic

April 25th, 2008
Look what I came across on the internet :

Politically incorrect ? Hell yeah, I god damn hope so :D


Skirmish Paintball !

April 24th, 2008
Remember the paintball session on January 19th ? Well, on April 19th we did it again ! This time we went to the probably biggest paintball site in the USA: Skirmish, in Pennsylvania. I started organizing this event about 3 to 4 weeks ago, and I somehow managed to gather 34 people from Siemens, mostly interns. When someone reserves for a group of at least 20 people, the group gets a private field for the day. I convinced several people by telling them stories about out last paintball event and by showing them pictures.

I had to pay everything 14 days in advance, so I collected all the money and then I booked the field. Sounds easy, but believe me, it’s not that trivial :D This is how much we had to pay in advance:

The field is located about 100 Miles away from Princeton, so we met at 7:15am at Siemens on a Saturday morning. Quite an unusual time to get up, on a week end. We split the cars and took the 2 hour drive. Surprisingly enough, only 3 people were late that day (yep, the 3 French guys… how did you know ? :D ) and everything went as planned. I checked in the group, people rented their camo suit for the day and everyone dressed up, and then I ordered the paint balls. I was asked if I was planning on going on a war when a guy in the line saw me buying 35 000 paint balls for more or less $1200.

Our referee showed up, he was very nice and after 15 minutes of safety instructions, we were on our way to the fields. Everyone got his paint gun and goggles, and then a photograph took our group picture: Despite thousands of other players, the organization was very good and we did not have to wait or anything.

We went to the fields and the game could start. My purple team (the best team ever, by the way - except Silvana, the team killer girl *g*) won the first rounds. We had a lot of fun, and the fields at skirmish are really good, especially the urban ones with lots of infrastructure and buildings. We had 5 girls with us: Silvana, Julia, Didi, Wendy and Katherine ! Some of them should definitely wear army suits more often :D Most of the players had never played before, and except Julia who decided that Paintball was definitely not her thing, everyone enjoyed it. Julia took the role of “dedicated cameraman”, after 3 rounds she traded her gun for a camera. She wore the yellow reflective vest I bought for that purpose, and this is why we have LOTS of in-game pictures (see the gallery).

The players were obviously told not to shoot at her :D We played all day, and the weather was really nice. In fact, it was way too hot because of all the protections we were wearing. It’s a good thing we had those protections by the way, some of the more experienced players like Michael tried to be heroes and got shot over 8 times, leaving lovely marks on his back :D It’s a shame that paintball isn’t that popular in Europe. It does exist, but it’s very expensive. As someone once said: “Paintball is a sport for rich people played by poor people” :D We spent about $85 for the whole day, including gas and food. It’s still expensive, but it’s the kind of thing you don’t do every day. We are already talking about the next session …

I guess most of the people will join us again :)


Delightfully tacky yet unrefined

April 20th, 2008
So on my journey to become more of real American, I went to Hooters. Not alone, but with 30 other Siemens interns :D . Every Wednesday, it’s “all-you-can-eat” Chicken Wings day. If in addition the wings are served by hot waitresses, what else could a man possibly need more ?

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We got a special room for our whole group in the back of the very crowded restaurant, and it took ages before we got served. Only one waitress was available at this time, a second one joined her later on. Anyway, almost everyone chose the unlimited chicken wings, which were available in 5 different sauces: Mild, Medium, Hot, 3 Mile Island and 911. Silvia chose the latter and it was really very hot (the wings, not Silvia :D). We shared all the flavors and tried out everything. It’s probably not the most healthy food out there, but it’s definitely worth the experience.

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Everyone had fun, and for $9.99 it was not too expensive. I even got my own picture take with “Cat” (that’s what her name tag said), the tiny waitress !

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The end of my internship … NOT !

April 5th, 2008
Suprised ? Me too. So I’ll make it official: I am staying here ! Time just flew by during my stay in the USA, and before I knew it, it was April 5th and I would fly back to Europe. When I first planned to do my internship here, I also wanted to write my final paper (diploma thesis) in order to finish my studies. As it turned out, the internship I was given was not really suited for a thesis, and now it’s over and I still have not written my thesis.

I spoke to another intern’s supervisor who happened to be looking for a new intern about a month ago, and after a couple of interviews, I got the position and I would start in april ! Not only would I change department (from Automation & Control to Software Engineering), but I would also get a very interesting thesis subject and two very nice supervisors. I took care of all the extension paperwork I had to fill out, and one downside of all this is that my Visa would expire in May and I won’t be able to leave the country until the end of my internship (unless, of course, I got a new Visa … but I could only do this outside of the USA - go figure).

Anyway, here I am for another six months, until september. That way, I would have stayed one whole year in the USA. It’s actually a good thing that I could extend my internship, because there are several things I have not seen here yet (including the west coast). Plus, I really enjoy the casual lifestyle here. For some personal reasons it has not been the most easy decision I had to take, but I think I took the right one after all :)