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Insulated from the world

Passover has come and gone. Bec and I celebrated our first Seder just the two of us. It was good, although it did miss having other (small) people there. I made my own charoset. It was easy and yummy.

The Easter break was anything but a break. I spent the weekend laying insulation under the floorboards with Bec. Almost finished with it. We have also replaced a couple of floorboards. We have finally done something constructive!! I also spent a lot of time working on my talk for a (then) upcoming talk.

Tuesday I finished up my talk and showed it to PR. He made a couple of suggestions and it was ready to go. I got home, finished packing and then I was on my way. After dining in Cowbridge, we stayed at a hotel near the airport. A short night's sleep later and it was 4:30. Time to get up and be on my way.

I got to the airport without any problems and the flight to Amsterdam was uneventful. I quickly transferred planes and was on my way to Rome. I had planned to practice my talk, but instead spent the trip chatting to an old Sicilian bloke. I touched down at 12, as expected. Unfortunately, while I got on the plane at Amsterdam, my bag didn't.

I spoke to the person at the baggage desk, and, between her answering the phone and chatting while I waited, we eventually found out that it was due in a while later. I neded to get to Naples, so I made arrangements. Or thought I did.

I then just missed one train because of queues for tickets. Half an hour later, I left for Rome central. I did a practice on the train, but I was quite annoyed over the bags and it may not have been that great. I just missed the train in Rome and had to wait an hour until the next one. The next one was hot and unpleasant and the blind wouldn't go down. The train broke down and it ended up taking longer from landing in Rome to arriving at my hotel in Naples than it took to get from Cardiff airport to Rome via Amsterdam.

But I got there tired and smelly and just in time to make it to the welcome reception. There, I got to catch up with Lucy and Manuela and several other friends as well as meeting some new people.

First impressions of Naples. I like it. It has - ummm - character. It is an adventure. Although crossing the road feels like it was inspired by Frogger.

We then went for dinner before I went back to my hotel. There, I found that, even though it was just after the time my bags were supposed to arrive in Naples, the phone line was closed. And, of course, despite promises to the contrary, they hadn't called the hotel.

Thursday, I got up and tried calling the number I'd been given. It didn't open until 8. With the way the conference was set up, the only way to get there was a bus in the morning. I still couldn't get through before I had to go, so the hotel said they would find out. I called the hotel during the day, and they had spoken to the airline. My bag arrived in Naples as expected, but hadn't been couriered until the morning.

The first talk was titled "the pleasure of bein wrong." It was a very enjoyable talk. I saw a couple of other talks through the day, but was mostly focussed on giving mine. One good talk, given by a friend of mine, J. Maia, did some quantifiably bad experiments to demonstrate some of the pitfalls of (mis)using the technique.

In the break before my talk, I checked the slides and went practiced while no one was there. I felt good and ready. In fine voice. I actually did the practice without the slides, and still felt good. I was ready.

Two talks to sit through (one was really good) and then it was my turn. Normally, I am a really harsh critic of myelf after a talk. I thought I did really well. The audience was receptive. They laughed where appropriate, asked questions and I had a couple of requests for the code I use for analysis. I was really happy with it and was told that I did well. Even though I had presented in old, dirty clothes.

I went back to the hotel in a good mood. One not even the nonappearance of my bag could dampen. I went for dinner and was joined by some French rheologists I had met during the day. I went back to the hotel and contacted the airline. I was informed that my bag was in Naples and had been given to the couriers (along with 200 other bags) and it would either arrive that night or in the morning.

Friday morning. By the time I had to leave to (just) make the bus, my bag still hadn't arrived. Joao kindly lent me a clean shirt, and off we went. I saw lots of good talks and caught up with (and met) quite a few people. I even asked some questions.

I'm now on the bus back to the hotel. My bag should have arrived. I'll find out very soon. I am an optimist. At the hotel, it will be a very quick turn around (hopefully shower and change, otherwise just drop my bags and go).


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