Friday, July 3, 2009

Griping about paradise

Tomorrow I reluctantly leave Japan to attend a conference in Italy. This enforced participation means that I will be staying in an abbey set in the Tuscan countryside, set halfway between Rome and Florence and ... No, I'm not gaining the sympathy of my audience, am I?

Let me amend slightly by saying that Italy is a beautiful country and a delight to visit. It's just that, being European, it's not currently quite as exciting to me as Japan. Since outrageously I am expected to work during the week here, my first narrow-eyed gripe comes from having to give up a couple of weekends I'd like to spend stalking Prince of Tennis cos-players exploring Tokyo. The day I fly back is also my birthday, which will be 7 hours shorter because of the time difference. Very sad!

No, I'm still feeling a radiant "lucky bugger" coming from you all. Let me continue...

The talks during this conference run from 9 am until 8:30 pm at night. Aha! I hear you say, but that's because there's a HUGE lunch break for you to zip out and run around the whole of Italy, right? Indeed, you observant critters, there is a siesta period that includes lunch from 1 pm - 4:30 pm. But ...

... the abbey is in the middle of nowhere ... I'm sorry, I mean "far from the noise and haste of everyday life" (as the webpage assures me). The only way to reach civilization is via the conferences shuttle bus.

Well, feh! You might cry. You're a scientist, since when have you ever needed real people to socialise with?

The conference information continues: "Internet access will be at €3/hour. There is no option of a flat rate for the week."

This is now starting to sound like something from "The Shining". None of you will leave until you've solved star formation. None of you ...

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