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Core dump September 16, 2008

Posted by dorigo in personal, travel.

Not a post about computing, as the title would seem to imply, nor about physics. I have been very busy during these last few days, and the blogging has suffered from it. So, to get back into a regular posting rate, I will just use this space as a real diary for once, detailing some of my errands, thoughts, and items in my agenda during the last few days.

Friday, September 12th:

– back from Geneva to Venice. To get to the Geneva train station from CERN, I hop on a bus which is just leaving, with no ticket. Nervously look around at each stop, pondering on whether I should rather step down, get a regular ticket, and take the next one. Stay in, I like a risky life. Train stops at Avanchet, where one has to take the tram for the second half of the trip. To expiate, I buy tram ticket worth twice more.

– I sleep during most of the train ride. Needed sleep! Thursday evening in Geneva had visited Gino and Petra, and three bottles of very fine wine had accompanied the home-made gnocchi di patate (see picture below). Wine prevents me from sleeping well, even if I was not really drunk.

Saturday, September 13th:

– Horrible weather in Venice. Summer ends abruptly with thunderstorms lasting all day. Resist all morning at home, then kids become unbearable. Decide to bring them out despite bad weather. Visit my mother, leave kids there, go to furniture shop with Mariarosa to check out a new cupboard for our home. Dinner at my mother’s.

Sunday, September 14th:

– Spend day at home running odd errands (such as repairing a tent which could not hold Ilaria’s full weight in Tarzan’s style). Prepare for trip to Pisa. Leave to Pisa at 6PM by train.

– In train, I have dinner between Bologna and Firenze in the Restaurant car. Lousy food, but nice conversation with two other travelers about LHC. I realize I am in Firenze when train is about to leave, rush out, realize I have not paid for the dinner, rush back in, pay, get out a second before being caught for a unwanted extra trip to Rome.

– In Firenze station I look for the restrooms for a impending number one. Restroom has automatic doors and would only open upon inserting 80 cents. But all machines are dead. Sorry country.

– Get to Pisa at 11PM. Get out of train simultaneously with charming lady to which I had asked an information about the ride. Rush to catch a taxi. Get into only one taxi waiting. Taxi is about to leave, same lady approaches, taxi driver says he’s going to call another one, lady smiles at me, I smile back but do not offer to share the ride. I spend rest of trip thinking I’m such a moron.

– Set alarm of cell phone to 7.20AM -meeting of National Scientific Commission I is at 9 at University,not far away, but I decide to take more time than needed. Go to sleep.

Monday, September 15th:

– Wake up with odd feeling, realize phone has wrong time, at 8.40AM. Rush out cursing phone, pay, head to Department. Cannot find right way, lose ten more minutes asking for directions.

– Enter INFN meeting room at 9.20, when INFN group 1 coordinator Fernando Ferroni is well into his introductory talk. I try to sneak in, but Ferroni loudly addresses me mentioning my sexist post on Lisa Randall. Answer back in kinds (should remember he’s a full professor next time). People around is perplexed. Later, at coffee break, I approach him in the crowd always lingering around him, acting as if I am looking for him while loudly telling to myself “where is that funny guy who speaks with a nasal voice?”. People look at me in dismay, but Nando has a sense of humor. Funny exchange about Randall and sexism.

– Later try to manouver into getting funding for irradiation line at accelerator facility near Padova, and for a clean room in Padova University. Small change, but INFN has already decided to dump the projects. Get funding for CERN car which had originally been denied. Rest of day is spent listening to people jumping at each other’s throats about lack of funds for CERN service duties in CMS.

– Throughout meeting, work at review of CDF paper on top mass measurement using neutrino phi weighting. Took responsibility to send in comments on behalf of Spokespersons Reading Group. No other reader this time but Kevin Burkett, who diligently sends me his notes. Collate them to mine.

– Get ride back to Padova from University colleagues, who manage to put me in Padova-Venezia train leaving at 21.29. Arrive in Venice at 10.15, have quick dinner. Go to bed.



1. carlbrannen - September 16, 2008

It’s even worse when you’re visiting a country with a foreign language. A certain friend of the family had an urge to do number 1 while sight-seeing in France. So she used a bush.

Perhaps the Palace of Versailles has improved its amenities since then.

2. changcho - September 16, 2008

Ooh…home-made gnocchi di patate…my grandma used to make the best! She hasn’t made them in a while, but I hesitate to ask her since she’s pretty old now.

You know Tommaso, you write well…why don’t you write a popular book about particle physics (roughly same style as your blog)? Can’t let only the theorists write all the popular physics books…(I assume you count yourself as mostly an experimentalist particle physicist?)

3. dorigo - September 16, 2008

Hi Carl,

for some reason, although in Italy bars and restaurants have by law to serve as public restrooms (but I suppose France is not much different, although I remember several portable restrooms in Paris), nobody knows it, partly because if you get in and ask for the restrooms without ordering anything you are looked at like an alien.

Hi Changcho,

yes, gnocchi are warm memories of many of us. Let me give you an advice. Learn to do them yourself. It is fun, and it is a tribute to your grandma, a way to remember even when the bad day comes.

Also, thank you for your compliment, which I cherish -as you may imagine, I write well because I like to write, and if somebody notices it makes my day. Yes, I should write a book. Maybe I am already, who knows ?


4. byen - September 17, 2008

“When Nature calls..THAT CALL MUST BE ANSWERED!”

Yes, “do number 1” is about biological function (post processing). I was in China for the solar eclipse 1 month ago, & had the unfortunate incident of pooping all over my train bed (I was in a sleeper) TWICE. The 2nd time, there was goo all over my backpack & on the floor! CRAP!

5. nige cook - September 19, 2008

‘Taxi is about to leave, same lady approaches, taxi driver says he’s going to call another one, lady smiles at me, I smile back but do not offer to share the ride. I spend rest of trip thinking I’m such a moron.’

Well, that always happens to me, too. Whenever I’m out looking for a potential girlfriend, I can never find one. But whenever I’m completely distracted by work or by a serious problem that prevents me thinking romantically, I find women wanting to chat in a friendly way, yet then I’m too distracted and can’t concentrate on what to say until the opportunity has passed by!

6. dorigo - September 19, 2008

Well Nige,

in my case, I was not thinking romantically – as you know, I am happily married. However, I do hate to behave un-gentlemanly.

If you can use an advice, maximize your exposure if you cannot increase the device’s efficiency. That means _always_ being ready for engaging in flirts.


7. nige cook - September 19, 2008

Thanks! I’m beginning to suspect that most women have the most interest in men who are not trying hard to get a date. Maybe that’s why men who already have a wife or girlfriend find it easier to chat up other women, than singletons. It reminds me of the application of the uncertainty principle when searching for the position and momentum of an electron in an atom: the harder you try to minimise the uncertainty in position, the greater the uncertainty in the measured momentum. Similarly, the more available I appear to women, the less interesting I appear to them. As far as their logic is concerned, if I am single then I can’t be interesting (if I was interesting, by their logic I would already have a girlfriend/wife). This is the very opposite of the simple logic which says that girls should be interested in single guys. I think that this problem also exists for women, which is why resist telling whether they are single. They’re worried that if they come across as being single and on the lookout for a boyfriend, they will have an unattractively low social status.

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