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On KLM, pissups and breweries

The last day of the conference was good. There were a lot of high quality talks. After the conference, I went out for dinner with Rob, Fernando, Alexander and Alex (yes, 3 of the 5 people were called Alex). It was a very entertaining evening, including some really interesting technical arguments. I have decided that technical arguments are more fun than political arguments for two reasons. The first is that they are sometimes resolvable (I actually resorted to pen and paper to back up my arguments). The second is that it is far more of a challenge trying to defend something which is wrong.

While I won't go into specifics, there was one which culminated in us both claiming victory within what we were actually arguing (and it only hinged on a couple of modifying words...

And no, we didn't just talk shop.

Anyway, then there was the trip home. Or, more accurately as I write this: now, there is the trip home. Given the trouble getting from Rome to Naples, I thought, rather than looking round Naples, I'd go to Rome.

So I got up, checked out, went to Rome. No problems. I wandered around Rome and saw some church or another. I was filled with my standard feelings of revulsion at seeing such hugely elaborate structures representing a level of exploitation and waste just to inspire awe and maintain a religious power base.

But its my problem and I'll deal with it.

I had a meal and enjoyed the company of an American diplomat and family. At the end of the meal, I paid my bill and was talking to the diplomat when a strange guy wandered past. I saw him looking in the direction of my bags and the table, so I took half a step and had my leg against my bags. The guy stepped past me and took my change from the meal. It was only 40c, so I wasn't going to start a fight over it. Besides, you have to either admire the gumption or pity the desperation.

I went to Rome airport. No problems. The flight to Amsterdam was incident free. I got off the plane, had a bite to eat, and made my way to the gate. So far so good.

Boarding started and they announced that they were overbooked and needed some people to stay overnight in exchange for cash and a hotel room. And it's been all downhill since.

They bussed us to the plane, where we had to stand for 20 minutes in hot, cramped conditions while they did whatever they are doing. Eventually, the captain hopped on the bus and announced that we would have a15 minute wait as the cooling unit didn't work and they are getting a new one.

We got on the plane at the scheduled departure time. Unfortunately, it seems that 2 extra people did as well. Obviously, it is highly worthwhile going through all the security, passport and boarding pass checks.

They announced that they can't take off until they have the right passengers. 15 minutes after some arbitrary, but late, point, they got the passenger list and started going down the plane checking boarding passes. This might be a really simplistic analyses, but surely if there are 2 more people than seats then the two people who are standing have a seat assigned. If you go to those seats, you should find people in the wrong seats. Even allowing for people changing seats, it still ends up as a game of clockwise patience, ending when you find the people.

We are now an hour post scheduled departure time. They have been up and down the plane comparing boarding passes to passenger manifesto.

An hour since departure time. They have finally worked it out. They have doubled booked two seats. Everyone on the plane should be. They are letting the two extra people use the crew jump-seats. All sorted, and we can begin going through the set spiel they have to deliver (which they could have done an hour ago).

Done, and we can begin the 15 minute taxi to the runway for late night / early morning flights into or out of Amsterdam. We are now in the air, only an hour and a quarter late. KLM couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery.

So just to sum up the trip: Great trip. Loved the conference. Great to see old friends and meet new ones. Really happy with the talk (it seems so long ago now!). Only problems occurred when I had to rely on someone else to get me and my belongings from point to point.

Hopefully, I'll be home before midnight and will get a good night's sleep before I start at Haemair tomorrow morning.

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