Phew, a lot to tell this time! Not sure I can make it all fit into one post. Let’s see…
I’ll start with what is admittedly the main event. Last saturday afternoon, and with only 10 days notice, I took a plane from Providence to Paris (via Washington DC) in order to make an appointment with CNRS commision 47, re: possible employment next year in same.
The flight itself was ummemorable. I watched Elisabeth in French because the English track just kept skipping and it was unbearable, and then some silly toy store flick with Dustin Hoffman. I got there 20 min in advance, which is about the only odd occurance.
The appointment consisted in showing up on monday at the new APC laboratory in Paris 13ème, waiting around for about an hour and give a 15 min talk (+10 min questions) covering everything I’ve done in physics since I know what physics means. 2 posts, 80 candidates, I’m really glad i paid $600 in transport to be given the opportunity, and Someone preserve us from the intricacies of preemptive short-listing. Despite the jet-lag, it actually went okay… did my show in technicolor and only got asked one really nasty question about the influence of the neutralino’s precise composition on the coupling models. I’m guessing the guy was the theorist in the jury. Ugh.
Anyway. Once that was done, I had the rest of the day to recuperate and even visited a bookstore, from which I got away with only three comic books. Flight back was scheduled shortly after midnight.
…Or so I thought. Dad drove me there around 10, only to find the terminal deserted and my flight unnanouced. The mystery was soon solved: I am unable to read time properly. At this point I must go into a tangent and point out that this am/pm business just makes no sense whatsoever. The flight was at 12:50, you see. When I booked the tickets, I asked for a flight late on monday. When the software found something at 12:50 on tuesday, I naturally assumed this was a late night flight. This expectation, added to the fact that logic dictates 12pm should follow 11pm, lead to me standing there 12 hours ahead of time. Called dad back who was already halfway home and ended up sleeping in Creteil one more night.
With dad gone early the following morning, a taxi brought us back to the airport. The driver was very interested by my going to the States and all but invited me to his birthday party in april. I got off with his name and cellphone number and the promise to look up his kabyle music on the web and let him know how I like it. I am left wondering when and how I became such a social animal…
But. The flight. It was supposed to go through Chicago, and because of snow, was delayed indefinitely. US Airways, in a flash of insight, had automatically re-routed me through Washington and Philadelphia on a similar schedule. Tickets were issued, bags (empty when I came in but now full of imported material) were checked in, and the plane took off more or less in time. Thanks to the re-routing, I was upgraded to economy plus which means I could both sit straight and keep my knees. I was seated next to an elderly pied-noir lady, who told me all about her son The Rich Businessman married to that American harpy who wouldn’t let him come back to live in Paris next to his mother even for only one or two years. He wasn’t even happy with her anyway so she really didn’t see why this had not happened yet. I kept my limited understanding of the situation to myself.
Security in Washington was a breeze for a change. Not even any waiting line to speak of, it was almost eerie save perhaps for the finger-printing. bags were rechecked, plane to philadelphia was boarded (almost) in due time, and then we sat there on the tarmac for a little over one hour, which was a lot of fun. I think those small jets must have been designed back in the first millenium when the average size of human beings hovered around 1.50 m. We eventually took off and landed in Philly 20 mins before my connecting flight to Providence. Running ensued, more security, more running (sans shoe laces) and eventually boarding just in time. By some miracle of relativity the luggage made it too and so it came to pass that I got into a taxi around 10pm, direction Carpenter street. And that was the end of that.
We’re doing the same again in April for the second CNRS commision. We shall see if we can top this first performance. 🙂