On the practice of cognitive control

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If you are someone who enjoys good food & wine, & who also loves to cook, moving to Paris for 6 months is like having all of your dreams come true. I pondered this subject a lot when I returned back to the USA for some work commitments at IU recently. I was also astounded that living in Paris with all of this amazing food & wine allowed me to dump a couple of kilograms without really trying. How did that happen ? I realized that over the last few months I have been practising cognitive control & executive function.

I also contemplated this as I cooked a duck breast [in butter] for dinner to be washed down with a good Bordeaux on Easter Sunday evening…

Being surrounded by so much good food, either cooked food in restaurants or excellent produce at the farmer’s market & small speciality grocery stores is really wonderful. But at the same time, it also makes one think very mindfully about one’s consumption. This is something that I have always practiced – partly because as an omnivore I want to have as varied a diet as possible. Here of course this is taken to a bigger extreme. People here do seem to be doing the same thing. I have been trying to make the most of quality local produce that is only available in France. For example, when my other half was here a couple of weeks ago, I roasted a Bresse chicken [image below top right] [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bresse_chicken] – which is completely different to any chicken I have had. It is more gamy & also very muscly with really solid tendons [would not like to try to bone one of these…] probably because it grows and stays out of doors, allowing it to scratch & do things outside that chickens are supposed to do…

Now that spring is here I am excited for a number of reasons. First, it is asparagus season & now I get to have both excellent green & white asparagus while I am here. This is one of my favorite vegetables – we have an asparagus bed at home & I have been thinking about that a lot recently…

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Also, spring is the season that lots of raw milk cheeses are made – the cows finally get to go outside after being stuck in the barn during wintertime – and the new grass gives their milk a really strong & interesting flavor. So lots of soft raw milk cheeses are being made now. Because I live next to a fromagerie I am making an effort to try them – it is really wonderful!

Lots of other spring produce is appearing now too – leeks, spring onions, fresh herbs & strawberries! Meat is also good quality – I typically eat by steak extremely rare or even raw, so it is really nice to be able to get that here. I have yet to have meat or fish that is overcooked here, unlike other places in the world…

But, in my opinion, the really amazing thing here are the pastries. At home I am actually not one to enjoy desserts – they are too cloyingly sweet for me, consist of empty calories & are pretty uninteresting overall… But here patisserie offerings have fruit as their centerpiece – and the fruit flavors have been really distilled! Same thing applies for jams as well. I cannot get enough of these [& for the same reasons I like to eat lots of gelato when I am in Italy]. It seems like the sugar takes a back seat to the fruit – as it should be.

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So, after viewing all these gratuitous images of food & wine you are probably wondering what the take-home message of this week’s post is. For me it is this: if you exercise your frontal lobes & use your executive function, practice cognitive control, chances are you will probably enjoy your occasional indulgences more. And isn’t that the aim of the exercise – maximizing enjoyment? The other cool thing is that you might also end up with more small change in your pocket as well…

 

 

 

 

Overcoming jetlag & springtime in Paris

I dread having to fly east across multiple time zones because my body clock will take longer to get back on track. Going west is so easy – couple of days & I am good to go. But going east, particularly in winter/early spring is brutal – doesn’t matter if it is from Australia to USA or from USA to Europe, it is always the same problem…

This week, as always when I travel, I have been spending as much time outside as possible without sunglasses  – trying to get that body clock back on track. Good thing about doing that now is that Spring is well and truly here – lots of flowers out!

Chocolate Easter eggs are everywhere as we gear up for Easter. I have even run across a chocolate Tutankhamen – that was really quite something – it was about 1 metre high.

Needless to say I am very happy to be here with all of this chocolate. Chocolate is a basic food group in our household, so much so that I am never without Lindt chocolate in the fridge [irrespective if which side of the Atlantic I am on].

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Bought a number of bags of Lindt chocolate rabbits in to the lab at the end of this week & we all got totally wired on coffee & chocolate, as evidenced by the prolonged increase in volume level in the lab for the day…

Speaking of the lab – I went to the Musée D’Orsay [http://www.musee-orsay.fr/] with a couple of lab mates on Thursday evening for the opening of a special temporary exhibition of works in the Art Nouveau style by students of the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, or EnsAD for short [https://www.ensad.fr/]. Interesting & whimsical works, which included clothing, furniture, sketches of architecture & animation among other things which were displayed in a classical & magnificent exhibition space. We were able to talk with the students about their work, while their proud family members watched or also chatted with us. It is always interesting to talk to the artists & designers about the motivation for their work & also the processes that it went through to make it to completion. Overall it was such a lovely ‘feel-good’ event. I will bet that this is also a wonderful launch pad for the future careers of some very talented designers.

I do like night museum sessions – the museum has a very different feel to the daytime. The Musée D’Orsay is particularly different, given how much natural daylight comes in through its open structure. There was also a performance event – a concert given by a DJ, Prieur de la Marne, whose specialty was electronic music. He included work by local young musicians – including that of a friend of one of our group. His performance took place on the museum’s ground floor – in the sculpture gallery. This was a really nice way to round out the visit to the museum.

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Afterwards, we went our separate ways out in the wind & the rain – had to hang on tight to my umbrella as I walked to the Metro station – so typical of Paris spring weather. On the Metro back I decided it was way too late to rummage up dinner at home, so I took myself out to dinner at a great sushi restaurant near my abode. It is open until 11 pm for dinner – nothing better for someone who is jetlagged & wants to eat late…

That night [of course] at 3 am I was wide awake. What to do? Instead of stressing out about not being able to sleep, I began to websurf local restaurants so that I could choose a place for dinner for Saturday night. [My cousin is coming to Paris with his girlfriend. We have not met up for aeons, so it will be terrific to catch up.] Cool part was that I was able to book it online too!!! Who needs to count sheep, when you can count forks, plates or Michelin stars instead? 🙂

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Back to the other reality… albeit fleetingly…

This week I had to return briefly to the USA – 2 of my students successfully defended their doctoral dissertations – a very important occasion for them & for me as the Chair of their respective Dissertation Committees. It is also a testament to the wonders of modern technology – our regular Skype meetings in the lead up to the defenses made the long distance across the Atlantic almost non-existent. The scientific world will have two newly minted PhDs in cognitive science & social neuroscience! But those events, although very positive ones, are not the subject of this post.

It seems to me that right now I am living in 2 very wonderful realities – my Paris one & my Indiana one. There are some interesting bridges between the 2 realities. Here is one of them: a great espresso!

With respect to my Indiana reality, obviously I have sorely missed my significant other & the cats [a.k.a. the editorial assistants]. So there was a lot of cat-ching up to do 🙂

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But I also realized how much I missed the faculty & staff at IU in the USA when I was back at work for the week  – it was great to see everyone & catch up with so many people. Indeed, it was hard to get work done with constant knocks on the door & people coming in to my office to say hello. I also got a kick out of the double looks I got when walking in the corridors of our building – clearly I was an unexpected sight! I also tried to check in at some of my local haunts in B’town [FARMbloomington; Feast Cellar & Market; C3] to connect with special people there also.

In one relatively quick moment I was in my Parisian reality & the next day in my Indiana one – indeed my last post was sent from Chicago O’Hare while I was waiting for a delayed flight home after my significant other had joined me in Paris for Spring Break.

The funny thing is that now I was back in the USA, I also started thinking about missing people in my neighborhood in Paris & my colleagues at work there. The sensation was augmented by the continuing emails crossing the Atlantic related to the research project we are doing together. It is a strange feeling – being ecstatic to see people that I have not seen for a few months [in one reality], but also thinking about people close to me in the other reality.

There is another bridge linking my two worlds right now: Late season snow! It snowed in Paris as we flew out & it has been snowing in B’town this week – happily this spring snow will quickly melt because it is not that cold outside. Our garden looked like a winter wonderland – I have to say I do like the snow: it covers the ugly brown deadness of everything in the yard right now. There is nothing really green in it yet – grass is brown, all the plants are dormant, although our first daffodil has just come out!

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So it snowed Tuesday/Wednesday in B’town & Indianapolis. Today – Saturday we are having snow/sleet/hail/rain – yuk! Am going to take myself off to the YMCA to use the indoor track today… Thursday was a gorgeous, bright sunny day – a perfect window of opportunity to get the snow tires removed off my car! So it will be waiting for me with summer in mind when I drive it on my return after completing my sabbatical :).

Let’s hope that spring is just around the corner – just like in this image of the first crocus in the garden from a few springs ago…

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… and so back to the other side of the Atlantic I go. The next post you will read will come from Paris.

An afternoon in Marie Curie’s space

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Musée Curie [http://musee.curie.fr/]  – a museum devoted to the life & work of the Curie family – Marie, Pierre, daughter Irène & son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot. These 4 individuals won a total of 5 Nobel Prizes over the years – a staggering achievement – with these accolades signalling just how groundbreaking & important their work was. The museum is housed in the Institut du Radium in the 5th arrondissement in Paris.

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This space includes the original laboratory & adjacent office of Marie Curie. [Apparently it took a lot of effort to make the lab safe for visitors – all residual traces of radioactivity had to be removed. I wondered about how difficult it must have been. The wooden floor looked old & there were a lot of cracks in it… …lots of cracks in which to trap radioactive substances.]

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I was surprised by the light & airy space that the lab provided (see image above) – the sun was streaming in when we visited there. There is also a nice garden right next to the lab & office for strolling & contemplation… Marie Curie’s office (see image below) was right next to her lab & was easily accessed through a connecting door, allowing her to check on the assistants working in the lab.

MuseeCurie_OfficePano_smallOther exhibits in the museum feature old equipment – including a Geiger counter, a cloud chamber & curiosities such as water urns that infuse radium salts for drinking, as well as cosmetics that purportedly contain radium & thorium…

Overall, the museum was a very inspiring place to visit, to be sure – particularly because of a year long exhibit celebrating 150 years since Marie Curie’s birth [which runs from mid-2017 to mid-2018].

As I wandered around exploring the museum I couldn’t help wondering about what it would have been like to work as a scientist at that time. What if we practising scientists had been born 150 years ago? If so, what kind of science & work would we have done?

Neuroimaging, where ‘lab work’ is performed in front of a workstation as we know it today did not exist in Marie Curie’s time. There were no computers. There was no ability to perform immense mathematical calculations on big data. Roentgenology (X-ray technology) was in its infancy, and electroencephalography was yet to be born. If it was not possible to work in neuroimaging, what branch of science would we have pursued? Perhaps we might have been based in a wet laboratory or in labs involved in chemistry or physics. Indeed, work in the Curie labs was on the borderlands between chemistry & physics. That was what made it so groundbreaking – their discoveries required them to be experts in a number of different fields. The experiments required specialized measuring equipment  – quite a bit of which was built & designed with technical assistants in the basement of the building…

One thing that is certainly very different from those early times is our focus on occupational health & safety [& rightly so]. Back in Marie Curie’s time the effects of radioactivity on living tissues were not initially known. The precautions that we know to take today with radioactive substances [fume cupboards to handle radioactive liquids, lead aprons to shield the body from radiation] were not taken. Marie Curie paid the ultimate price for her research work – the longterm exposure to radioactivity caused her death in 1934. Apparently, Marie Curie’s papers are still radioactive, are kept in lead drawers & must be handled while wearing protective gloves & clothing. Even her cookbook is supposed to be radioactive! [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie] In contrast, today, in every branch of science, occupational health & safety is important. It also includes training of lab personnel, the wearing protective lab gear & specialized laboratory procedures designed to keep everyone safe.

From what I could see from my brief sojourn back 100 years or so, I do not think that scientists were that different from those of the present time. Why? A major research direction for the labs at the Institut du Radium was the exploration of the effects of radiation on living tissue & as a treatment for cancer. The image at left below shows an early focused therapeutic radiation emitting device & the image at right below a government poster advocating vigilance for signs of cancer & not waiting to seek medical advice as early detection of cancer would allow for more effective treatment.

So the work at the Institut du Radium was devoted to improving the lot of humankind. In a similar fashion I think that most of the scientists I know today want to make the world a better place, for not only the current generation, but also for generations to come. I also wonder what scientists of the future will think of the current times & the scientists of today?

Marie Curie was a truly inspiring figure – a role model for others in so many dimensions. I have always admired her greatly & the visit to her museum was one that I had wanted to make for a long, long time.

So, which scientist from the past do you find most inspiring?

 

On homeostasis, polar vortices & photography

I am reading Antonio Damasio’s new book: “The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures“. A central theme in the book is the evolution of human culture as a homeostatic phenomenon (see review in the Guardian newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/feb/02/strange-order-of-things-antonio-damasio-review) . Homeostasis more typically refers to the ability of an organism to maintain a balanced physiology during external challenges e.g. excessive heat or cold etc. This is timely, as we have dealt with some wild weather in Europe due to a polar vortex coming to us via Siberia at the end of February. This caught me off guard: I packed clothes for a regular Paris winter, not for a Moscovian one – all of my really warm clothing is back in Indiana. That said, when the cold came I layered up like a Babushka & took the Metro to work, so I have nothing to really complain about…

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But this got me thinking about when I have been really cold in the past & most of the time it usually had something to do with my passion for photography. For example, there was a trip to the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland in mid-summer. An incredible place for the very short time I saw of it.

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Literally 10 minutes after I took the above photo we were in a white out & this at the end of June. What to do? Turn back & make our way back to Basel via Interlaken…

One October I travelled to a meeting in Galway in Ireland (staying at the Glenlo Abbey, see http://www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie/). The autumn chill was definitely in the air. I took the opportunity to drive to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Not a great day for it really – very blustery with a hard cold rain coming down sideways at one point because of the wind. I really enjoyed the Guinness at the pub at the end of that day…

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After the OHBM meeting in Seattle I travelled to the Olympic Peninsula. It was mid-summer, but with chilly & wet weather – I had wet weather gear for me & my camera… It is a breathtaking place. I stayed at First Beach at La Push – courtesy of the Quileute people – a tribe of native Americans who have lived there for aeons (https://quileuteoceanside.com/accommodations/). The photo below was taken at around 9:45 pm from my cabin on the beach on the one day that we finally had some clearer weather.

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Then there was a mid-summer 2 week trip to Iceland where there is snow on the peaks & almost perpetual daylight. This otherworldly place should be on everyone’s bucket list. The landscape is like none other & the bird/animal life is unforgettable.

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There have been many other times when I lost the feeling in my fingers for a short period of time while trying to shoot pictures. Holding a cold tripod & camera in the cold tends to do that. But most recently, I froze my fingers here in Paris walking home from work during the snowstorm a few weeks ago, but this time it was because I was using my cell phone to shoot pictures & kept taking my glove off…

Ironically, of all the times when my fingers have been the numbest has probably been when I have been at home & have dashed out to shoot winter pictures in the yard. I still remember the stinging sensation in my fingers after coming inside from shooting pictures after a particularly impressive hoarfrost early one Sunday morning.

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But turning back to the original theme of this post, homeostasis. Our personal wellbeing depends on it. But our collective wellbeing is tied to the homeostasis of our planet. By now it should be pretty apparent even to the climate change deniers that the Arctic region has been destabilized due to our irresponsibility as a species. Extreme weather events are now common as the consequences of our collective carelessness – last summer’s & this winter’s storms in the Northern Hemisphere show that well enough. These will probably become more severe and frequent as time goes on. Challenges accompany these extreme weather events – particularly the cold weather ones. For example, how do we ensure that the homeless have shelter & avoid freezing to death? So what are YOU personally doing to help your fellow humankind or your planet in response to these climactic challenges?

 

A tale involving the emotion of awe & Duchenne de Boulogne

The emotion of awe is such an odd one: the face & body reveal nothing, but the internal experience is nonetheless very concrete. This week I had one of the most powerful experiences of awe that I have ever had in a very special library at the ICM [Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière]. Yet, no one else around me would have ever known that – not even my colleague Nathalie who was standing right beside me.

La Bibliothèque Charcot is a repository of around 3,500 neurological works from the 19th century, including theses. At it’s core is the personal library of the celebrated neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot [1825-1893], donated in 1907 by his son, Jean-Baptiste Charcot. The library has had a number of homes over the years, but is now housed in the ICM. [http://www.upmc.fr/fr/culture/patrimoine/patrimoine_scientifique/bibliotheque_charcot.html]. The library features a ‘book of the month’, where one or more of it’s rare tomes is displayed for all to view. This month’s book by Duchenne de Boulogne was at the heart of my awesome experience. [A pity this word is so abused today. It has lost it’s original meaning, which I am trying to invoke in this last sentence.]

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This so-called ‘box of mischief’ from Duchenne de Boulogne is one of the cornerstones in the science of emotion literature – a monograph on his studies of emotional expressions generated by the electrical stimulation of selected muscles of the human face.

Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne [de Boulogne] (1806-1875) was actually Charcot’s senior colleague & teacher. Duchenne is considered by many to be the ‘father of neurology’ [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchenne_de_Boulogne]. He was based at the L’Hôpital Salpêtrière in Paris, then a powerhouse of neurology [where the ICM is located today]. His most famous monograph was entitled: ‘Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine. ou, Analyse électro-physiologique de l’expression des passions des arts plastiques“. It was published in 1862 & was a groundbreaking & memorable publication for a number of reasons – not least that it influenced Charles Darwin’s famous monograph ‘The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals‘, which was published 10 years later. Duchenne’s monograph combined lengthy verbal descriptions of his electrical stimulation studies with photographs of the facial muscle stimulation. That is what is so astounding to me about this monograph. Photography was but a nascent art & science at the time & to use it to demonstrate a study of science was incredibly avant garde & revolutionary, not to mention being a technological tour-de-force! As a scientist & also photographer this is what has always been truly awe-inspiring about this monograph for me.

I have regularly used the images & material from this book in lectures for a number of years now – thanks to a modern source: R. Andrew Cuthbertson translated Duchenne’s tome into English, which was published by Cambridge University Press, in 1990. It is still available today in paperback.

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Some of the photographs in the monograph are quite unsettling [such as the photo on the cover shown above]. Electrical stimulation to evoke a muscle contraction can be very painful – particularly when the muscle is contracted for a prolonged period of time [necessary for taking a photograph in the early 1860s]. Duchenne experimented on his patients. The most photographed individual [shown above] was a patient who had an absence of sensation in the face. This meant that the man’s face could be electrically stimulated to produce contractions in various facial muscles without the experience of pain [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9canisme_de_la_physionomie_humaine].

The exhibit in the Charcot Library featured 2 exemplars of Duchenne’s famous monograph & the books have that characteristic smell that old tomes usually have… One of the books was actually a publisher’s proof [see image below], and that was what caused my reaction of awe.

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Looking at the tome with all of the edits was truly amazing because for a moment I felt like I was there with Duchenne, looking on as he labored energetically, but legibly, making corrections in ink. The intensity of the experience was no doubt magnified by the fact that the library is located in the grounds of L’Hôpital Salpêtrière – Duchenne’s workplace. There was also an incredible irony to the situation: my experience of awe, linked to viewing this ‘bible’ of facial expressions, was actually associated with no facial or bodily expressions of my part. This immensely rich and emotional experience all took place in my inner mental world. That is surely something to contemplate for a long-time student of the brain bases of facial movements & expressions…

Hopefully, reading about all of this just might make you smile. I hope that it is not just any smile, but a real ‘Duchenne smile’… [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smile].  :)))

 

 

 

 

How is a sabbatical different to a post-doctoral fellowship?

As I was obsessively peering at my computer screens immersed in analyzing data the other week with a tremendous sense of contentment, this question popped into my head. I have been contemplating it for a while now and thought I would share a few thoughts on the topic – despite the two being quite a long time apart for me in years… My post-doc was relatively long (turned into 6 years where I also worked as a scientist), whereas the sabbatical is relatively short (6 months). So what is similar and different about the two?

1. You arrive in another country with a couple of suitcases, a head full of dreams and ideas and not much else. Then (post-doc): You have a lot of worries and fears about the unknown. But, you are not concerned because the country in which you have chosen to post-doc has English as a main language. But it doesn’t take long for you to realize that it is very difficult to communicate because the sentence structure, vocabulary, idioms and jokes are completely culturally dependent. They are completely different to what you know. So you spend the next 3 years trying to make sense of it all. That is also about how long it takes for people to begin to laugh at your jokes.

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THEN: 1990, with Greg McCarthy taking some time off from the ICON meeting in Israel.

Now (sabbatical): There is the unknown, but it is not really worth losing sleep over. You realize that you will sort things out to the best of your abilities. You have no delusions about the fact that your French skills are just minimal. That said, you can understand others, and they can understand you. People also laugh at your jokes, or perhaps they are laughing at you? When you are older, you are not particularly perturbed by that.

2. You know that you have a limited time to make the most of doing science relatively impeded. Then: You are beginning your career and need to make a mark in the field. You are hungry for project opportunities and will probably take on too many things. You battle with technology – such that is was back then… clunky & expensive laptops, no smartphones, chained to the lab computer doing analyses until all hours of the night. You realize that you are in a privileged position: you can do science while your lab heads have to do administration. Now: You are aware that there are only 24 hours in the day. That said, you have taken on projects that you can probably get closure on so that you can continue to remain competitive as a scientist. Why ‘probably’? Because your experience tells you that things always take longer to do than you expect, so it should be no surprise if some things may not get done in 6 months. The trick is to make sure you can set things up so that they can be completed even if you have left the lab, if need be. You continue to battle with technology, but the battle is different. For me now it is a French keyboard and a French Linux system on a PC [I used to use a PC but have had a MAC-based lab for many years because of the scientific equipment I have]. That said, my smartphone is an indispensible tool. You also relish that you have the luxury of not having to attend any faculty meetings and teaching any classes for the semester.

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3. You will make professional and personal connections that will be worthwhile and also lifelong. Then: Your peer-group consists of other post-docs and grad students. You hang out with them and go out to bars at night where you complain about the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of the various principal investigators that you have to interact with. It is really nice to keep seeing these people at scientific meetings – they have many different nationalities and also now live in many different countries (not always their home country). At the same time senior scientists are mentors and great contacts for career moves – and you value these connections very much indeed. Now: Your ex-trainees live in many other countries. Your peer-group consists of other principal investigators. These are people who you might have known for many years already, or may be people who you have recently met at international scientific meetings. You look forward to spending time over dinner or in bars where you might complaining about the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of the various trainees that you interact with. You might even write a book with one of these PIs!

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NOW: 2016, with Riitta Hari in Finland, finishing work on our book for OUP, ‘MEG-EEG PRIMER’. Image: Matti Hämäläinen

You are now a mentor for many younger colleagues, who you help to make career advances. Some of these people might be part of a formal mentoring scheme e.g. Organization for Human Brain Mapping. People who you turn to for career advice are beginning to pass away…

5. You are juggling finances. Then: Half your monthly salary goes to paying rent. You have trouble getting a credit card and even then the credit limit is low – because you have moved to another country where you have no credit history. This is absurd because you have held credit cards for quite a few years. Your savings are minimal – made even less so by a brutal exchange rate between your country’s currency and the mighty greenback. [My bank balance shrunk to about 2/3 overnight because of this.] Money for travel and culinary pleasures is not abundant, but still you make the most of it without getting into debt. As a photographer, getting film developed also adds to expenses – digital photography does not exist yet. [You also have a lead film bag when you travel, so that airport X-ray machines do not expose your rolls of film during luggage screening.] Culinary pleasures are fleeting – your finances need to stretch far, but your waistline can handle it. You develop a good sense for opportunities involving free food. Now: You have a mortgage and during your sabbatical you are also having to pay rent on a nice apartment in a great residential area. Thankfully, now less than half of your salary goes to paying rent and the mortgage. Thanks to modern day banking you are able to use your existing credit cards etc. and there is money for travel and culinary pleasures and other things. Despite taking a financial hit in transitioning from the greenback to the Euro, things are still manageable. Digital photography ensures that you can shoot thousands of pictures with zero costs. You can actually indulge in culinary pleasures – although your waistline doesn’t stretch and then go back to where it was anymore…

Speaking of culinary pleasures, the other night I had an excellent dinner at an eccentric local restaurant called ‘Les Temps des Cerises‘ (https://www.letempsdescerisescoop.com/) with a friend/ex-post-doc who had lobbed into Paris for a couple of days. We both had the speciality of the house – a cassoulet that we washed down with a great Faugères red from the Languedoc region (https://www.languedoc-wines.com/fr/languedoc-decouverte/les-aoc-du-languedoc/aoc-faugeres).

So there are differences between the then and now – the post-doc and the sabbatical. But what is the bottom line? Make every day count – enjoy the time you have and put it to good use! Also, appreciate that science is a profession where people from different cultures and belief systems interact in debates over science, but do not give each other a hard time about their respective religion, race, or politics. Now why can’t the rest of the world function like that?