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In this issue:
People: A Year Away from Home
Seen Around SLAC: Yellowjacket Traps

SLAC Today

Wednesday - August 4, 2010

People: A Year Away from Home

Terri Lahey and Steve Smith at their temporary home. (Photo courtesy Terri Lahey and Steve Smith.)

Steve Smith and Terri Lahey disagree about which decision they made faster—their choice to move to SLAC 21 years ago, or their choice to move to Geneva last January. They also disagree about whether it was more difficult to get out of California or into France; they were both a lot of work. The move would be for only one year, so the couple had to find a house rental in the crowded area around the French–Swiss border, and simultaneously find someone to rent their home in Half Moon Bay. But there's one place where they both chime in with the same answer right away. What's been the best part about living in France for the past six months?

"The food," said Lahey. "Mostly the cheese," said Smith. "And the pastries. And the wine."

They admit they may have been bragging a little too much to their friends and family in the U.S. about the wonderful cuisine, and things like their close proximity to skiing the Alps. But the adventurous couple can't help but love their temporary location. They live in Thoiry, France, just a few miles from CERN, at the base of the Jura Mountains—a range dwarfed by the nearby Alps, but still larger than many mountain ranges in the U.S. In their free time they go hiking, skiing or just enjoy fresh bread, cheese and produce from the open air market in Thoiry.

In the French-speaking region near the border of France and Switzerland, the couple encounters small cultural differences on a daily basis. Some of the differences, "are so delightful," Lahey said, while others "are so mystifying." Things like traffic circles, "priorite a droite" (whereby a tractor or other vehicle arriving from the right, even on a smaller road, has right-of-way), and the snow took some getting used to. (Although Lahey describes shoveling their driveway as "charming.") While the CERN community converses mainly in English, the surrounding communities speak French. Lahey said she and Smith tried to learn a little French before arriving, and have since been expanding their vocabulary.

"We know enough to get by," she said. "Enough to order [food]. But sometimes you feel like a bumbling idiot and you just have to laugh at yourself."  Read more...

Wasp traps are available from the Facilities Department by request. (Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Seen Around SLAC: Yellowjacket Traps

Summer at SLAC brings hot days, brown hills and a resurgence of pests. But while most of the local pests want to stay as far away from us as we from them, one is a little more brash: wasps.

The wasps, a species more familiarly known as yellowjackets (Vespula pensylvanica), are quite bold and would like nothing more than to separate you from your lunch-time hamburger. If you feel the wasps are causing a problem in any particular location, you can request a wasp trap, according to Eugenio Alvarado of the Facilities Department. Submit an online request or call the Facilities Service Desk (x8901).

The traps are for yellowjackets only. They do not attract honeybees.

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