JEC Composites, Day 1

SMS guest-posting continues…IMG_7136

Day 1 of the JEC composites conference started out with a Criossant and an hour train ride jam packed to Tokyo standards. The JEC takes up 2 large exhibition halls in the Parc des Expositions near CDG airport. It is full of composite materials manufacturers, tooling manufacturers, and composite part manufacturers. There are some lectures. We attended ones on electric cars, structural simulation, and fireproof resin. There were a lot of booths and we covered most of them the first day.  One thing that stick out to me are the thermoplastic composite parts. They are made with re-meltable plastic as opposed to traditional composites that set and cannot be re-melted.


IMG_7112Also noteworthy were the companies with bars in their booths. You won’t see that in America.


On the way home, I stopped in to restaurant Augustin near the hotel. It ended up being upscale. I had a 3 course meal that was more than filling. The Filet Mignon I had was the whole fillet, not just a medallion American-style. They somewhat forgot to cook it and, because it was so thick, came out very rare for my taste.  I should have got the duck because it is typically not done well (or at all) back home but I think America has steak nailed pretty well.

Sunday Soliloquy #7

  • Instagram FOMO is real!  Sometimes, I read articles where people are whining about how perfect everyone else’s life seems to be on social media while they are falling apart and I think, “Get over it!” But, I know I’m missing out when I see a friend of mine cheering on runners at a local race with an enormously oversized cutout of Meb Keflezighi’s head.  That is amazing!!!  I had to miss out because I am on call and there were too many road closures to risk getting stuck somewhere if I got called in.  So I guess I will have to FOMO myself all the way to the bank when I get paid!
  • My family has wrapped up an insane few weeks of travel!  Mom and Dad were in Japan visiting my sister.  Ed and Meg also visited although they were traveling with a troupe that seemed to go throughout Japan, including Sapporo.  Apparently, a postcard is on the way and I can’t wait!  Finally, SMS was in France and one guest post is already up.  I need to move it and edit the second so that everyone can get caught up and be sad for me that I wasn’t there (FOMO!).
  • This past week, I hosted a great book club where we discussed My Year of Rest & Relaxation.  It was a great meeting.  Then I ripped through On a Cold Dark Sea for the other book club I go to and that was also a lot of fun.  It was pretty hilarious how one woman just flat out that book.  She’s a librarian so I’m always interested in her thoughts and some of her library/book world gossip.  Give me that knowledge!  Now I am reading Early Riser by an author who I really enjoy even though his absurdity can get almost to the point of tiresomeness…but not quite!
  • Oh!  I also went to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, a comedy (surprisingly?) put on by the Generic Theater of Norfolk.  It was good although I had some hopes for the plot that weren’t realized but maybe I can write my own version?  Also, the woman’s mother had amazing lines but had such a breathtakingly fast whipsaw between being completely unaware of her similarities to her daughter while complaining about her daughter and having an implied reconciliation scene (sorry, spoiler alert) at the end.  It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen but…eh.

When In France…


Which I’m not :o( !  But you know who is?  SMS!  Yes, as part of start-up life, he is in France this week!  The trip came together just a few weeks ago and unfortunately, my work schedule was already set because otherwise, I would totally have invited myself along!  As an alternative to being there, this post features the first ever guest post from none other than SMS himself!  Without further ado…




After an uneventful flight to Paris we took a quick train to Gare Du Nord where my colleague Adam and I met up with our business partner and driver, Mr X at Paul bakery. A Pain au Chocolat and espresso later we were off in his Mercedes to St Malo in Brittany.  Darkness fell as the hours rolled by and we stopped yet again at Paul bakery for a pick me up.


Several hours into the drive Mr X was markedly fading. I suggested we swap drivers and despite the strict rules regarding who cannot drive the Mercedes, we decided our lives were worth more than the rules of the rental agency so Adam took the wheel. Mr X was fast asleep in the back seat before we even rolled away.  An hour of darkness and blinding rain later we arrived at Hotel Escale Oceana. Mr X started off with the receptionist in impressive French but at one point switched to English because he was just so tired. “No” he was cut off mid sentence and back to French it was.


The next day we awoke to a view of the sea from the hotel lobby and a continental breakfast including crepes. Then it was off to work.  The streets and parking lot made it apparent that a small car is an asset in France.


We can now skip to lunch followed right by dinner.  Hosted by our business partner Simon. Lunch was in Le Bistrot de Solidor.  It is located on the leisure harbor where you can go sailing or just enjoy the sights. The water was a beautiful blue green glass color that the Britanians have their own special word for.  Something like verglas.  The highlight of lunch was the dessert. While not needed, I could not pass up the chance to taste an AOC kougin amman. Delicious. Imagine a Krispy Kreme donut but more dense and covered in salted caramel sauce and salted caramel ice cream. Everything in Brittany is salted and salted butter is a staple.



Dinner was in the walled city center which was just perfect quintessential old Europe.   The restaurant name was Absinthe. The others started off with Chat Malo beer and then we moved on to some Burgundy wine and a couple of courses. The wine is less sweet than California wine. Seafood is also a specialty in Brittany.


The next day for lunch we tried galettes and crepes at Creperie Solid’Or.  My recommendation is to not order the super local andoullie. One bite and our Simon kindly offered to switch galllettes which I quickly accepted.  I was wondering how I was going to get through the remaining three andouilles.  Turns out French andouille is tripe. Not my favorite. I was glad to wash it down with the local cider.  We finished off the meal with butter sugar crepes. A bit more work and Adam and I struck out on our own to Paris by train with sandwiches and more local cider.

Sunday Soliloquy #6

  • I have updated my Destinations page with click through maps for California, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Italy!  I now have a more organized layout (I think) for finding place-specific blog posts.  I still need to figure out the best way to organize itinerary/top recommendations so that people can use my site for a little more practical help with trip planning.
  • I am getting so excited for my Japan trip!  My parents just left and I cannot wait until April (although I have a few work things that have to get done between now and then so I don’t want the time to go too quickly!).  My Japan Rail pass voucher came this week so I’m very happy.  I don’t know if I will maximize its value since I plan to hang out in the Tokyo area for the most part but I don’t care!  Now that I’m out of SOFA status, I want to revel in my ability to have the quintessential tourist ticket!
  • I’m starting to make a wish list for things that sound like fun in Japan.  They might not happen but at least I can weigh different options.  Items include a mini-trip to the art island of Naoshima, a mini-trip to Kanazawa, a baseball game, a shopping tour with Hillary and her Mom on 4/22, and a two night stay at the New Sanno (the last two are both definitely happening).  I am also excited to explore more of Tokyo since I didn’t go as much as I’d like because I was on call a lot when I lived in Japan. Another idea I had was to head north and see the late Sakura but IDK how motivated I’ll actually be for that.  Finally, if the snow conditions are really good, heading out to Nagano for Spring skiing could also be fun.
  • I am currently reading Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, which is a weird, not-so-little book about traveling, travelers, and the fleeting moments and intersections within lives.  There are a lot of vignettes and even a few snippets but it’s so lyrical that I can’t stop reading.  But I either need to pick up the pace or put it aside because I haven’t started my book club book yet, which is “due” Tuesday night!  That book is My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, which I just opened on my Kindle and it’s only 300 pages.  Phew.  I can get that done since I read quite quickly, as long as the work isn’t professional reading.
  • I recently watched the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix.  OMG, what a disaster.  I had not been super-interested in watching it until I heard on The High Low podcast about Andy King, the breakout star of the show due to one particularly memorable scene and the memes (“me me”) it inspired.  I might watch the Netflix documentary series 7 Days Out… which is about successful event planners 1 week before a big event.

    Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 12.17.19 PM
    Screenshot from follow-up interview

Hangout Fest 2018!


My sister has been in Pensacola, FL the past few months and earlier in the year, we decided to meet up for Hangout Fest, a three-day festival in Gulf Shores, AL.  There were several bands I was excited to see and I knew that at a festival like that, I’d make several new-to-me discoveries.

I flew in Friday morning and took an Uber to her house.  After I made sure that their bulldog Peaches wasn’t too disturbed with my presence, I let him out of the bedroom and gave him a few pats.  He was so happy, I received a drooly shake of the head.  Brady came home for lunch and we packed the car for the Fest.  I went to drop her off at work but good news- her afternoon class was cancelled.  Hooray!  After a stop at the Mini-Mart, we were off to Alabama!  We picked up some Everclear and dropped off our shuttle passes for resale by StubHub, which were successfully sold later that day.  Yay!  

We stayed at a group house rented by one of her classmates.  They were a really great group of people and a lot of fun to hang out with.  Brady and I stuck together all weekend while the group slightly shifted depending on who wanted to see which act.  There were several overlaps where choices had to be made.  Brady and I were pretty happy with our chosen line-up!


Friday was the highlight day for me, which was why I had taken the day off.  We saw half of the Cold War Kids set, Portugal. The Man, Zedd, and the Killers.  I really liked Portugal, who had a more modern rock sound than their radio single would suggest.  Zedd was a surprise as he ended up DJ’g a huge party on the beach.  It was so much fun.  Finally, although I love the Killers, I feel like Brandon Flowers’ vocals have been better.  The band was good, though.  Maybe I’m just snobby since I’ve seen them with excellent shows in smaller venues.


Saturday featured Anderson.Paak and the Free Nationals, Poolside, Halsey, and St Vincent.  I really liked Anderson.Paak- his energy was awesome.  Poolside was a bit more mellow and I didn’t realize that a band, rather than a computer/synth, made their sounds.  Brady and I spent an hour on “Corona Beach,” one of the three beach access points.  Swimming and taking a quick snooze made for a fantastic break.  As the evening approached, Halsey was awesome and way better than her radio singles would suggest.   Finally, St Vincent put on a great show, which we enjoyed rather than seeing the Chainsmokers, which we were both “meh” about.


On Sunday, Brady dropped me off at the Florabama bar since my flight left at 7, which was too early to make going to the concert worth it.  I sold my ticket to a friend of hers and then spent the afternoon sunning, swimming, and drinking Bushwhackers.  It was a relaxing afternoon.

Then, it was off to the airport.  Although all the flights went through, there were massive delays I didn’t get to my final destination until 4:30.  People were going through TSA for the morning flights by the time we arrived.  Yuck.  Work was a little rough since I had such little sleep but it was worth it for an amazing weekend!