Sunday, January 10, 2010

A whole new...continent or something

An overdue account of my whirlwind trip to Amsterdam:

Day one...ish. (With time change, it coalesced into one very long day)

I had never seen the clouds cast shadows on the crepe-papery Pacific, but it's an
image I won't soon forget. I have no picture but the one in my mind, as the nice people on Continental hadn't yet proclaimed kosher the use of electronics. I wonder how many people really heed those warnings anyhow. I got really quite lucky this flight around, because I ended up sitting next to a hilarious girl from Texas. We tussled around and completed a whole crossword puzzle, which is quite a feat. Between the two of us, and a few drinks, it was done before we got halfway across the Atlantic. I was thrilled.

I also managed to sleep a couple of hours on the flight, and consider it quite a feat, because of cramped quarters, tight jeans, and my excitement for a new city, country, and continent.

My first glimpses of Europe were green and grey, of fields, and sky. Came into light showers, and the most holidayish airport I had ever seen, complete with Santa Clauses and Christmas cows. Yup. And I think I was satisfied to see that Europe was not the glitz and glamour that I had associated with it. My Europe was a bit chilly, cool enough to make you remember that you in fact, are alive. Sensory nerves ignited. Euros are an interesting currency to hold in your hand. They are shorter and fatter than American dollar bills-- looks like play money, but is worth quite a sum more than our bucks, buck.

I think what Im most excited about are the canal tours, and the museu
ms. More than whores and weed... but I think I will try to frequent the Heineken museum/factory. Indubitably!! Yet it seems that what I really should spring for is some peanut butter-- chatted with a girl about it, and apparently its something to behold. Or be-taste. :)

After checking in and dancing around the Ikea page of a room for a while, I did what any weary traveler would do: I took a nap. Dangerous liasons I made with that pillow-- I almost didnt wake up until it was too late. Dinner was at an Indonesian restaurant. Interesting to see immigration patterns in different countries. In Amsterdam it's mostly from North Africa, etc. Very few Asian people. I think I saw one other one. (Excluding at the conference, enter-Asian-scientist-joke-here).

Funny how academia feels a bit like high school, where friends like Biff and Billy, Ph.D. invite their friends Smitty and Archie to these conferences, mess around, get drunk, and pontificate about the funding they're getting etc etc etc. Pretty soon, you have Delta Sigma Nu Class of 1973 at the continental breakfast table. Or worse, drunk at the hotel bar. This of course, is me after too many hours of flying, and how impressed I am with the social abilities of most basic scientists.

Schmoozing is a sport. You have to be agile, and have endurance enough to smile, nod, be attentive, and seem like you are thrilled to be there when you really quite.. arent. In the vein of happy discoveries, I have discovered that I quite like port.

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