Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back online & Pillars of the Earth.

After two weeks in Martignas sur Jalle (close to Bordeaux) and three in Sauveterre de Béarn (in the Pyrenees), I'm back online. Short summary? Well, I gained 5 kilograms. This is not that strange with French wine and cheese around. Also, with pâté and foie gras, and more than half a baquette per day, I think I ate more than 20 meters of baguette and probably a duck or two. ;)

During the last three of those five weeks we didn't have internet so I got a lot of dissertation work done (that was the goal of being away). I probably read close to every paper in economics, political science and evolutionary biology on "cooperation" (more on this in future blogposts). Raul -
a colleague from Columbia - joined the last week in Sauveterre so we could work together. Did you know that by putting white paper behind a window, the window becomes a perfectly good whiteboard?

Fig 1. This was day 1. On day 2 the paper touched
the floor, and on day 3 we had also paper on
the wall. On Day 4 Raul was writing on the fridge.

I also read the first two books in the series "Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan. But I'm not that enthousiastic about it. The book is well written, but it was difficult getting into the story. "A Dance with Dragons" by George R. Martin was much better. The book is the fourth in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. However, the big suprise was a book that was partly related to my dissertation. I am fascinated by cathedrals and castles. One of the reasons for this, and also one of the reasons for my disseration's topic, comes from a question (maybe more a frustration) that I have had for years now: "Why are there villages now that can't get their act together and build a simple school, while hundreds of years ago people build enormous cathedrals and castles that still stand today?"

The book is "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett - a (thank you Wikipedia): "historical novel about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket. The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory against the backdrop of actual historical events of the time." It is informative and very well written. Thanks Ali for recommending it! (she's another colleague and survived a full five weeks with me).

Fig 2. The Pillars of the Earth

No comments:

Post a Comment