Italian epilogue

Guess what? Exile at a conference in Tuscany, not so bad. Beautiful countryside and they fed us incredible Italian food since foraging for ourselves around the remote Abbey would have resulted in the decimation of the local black & white pig population they are trying to reintroduce (and possibly the starvation of the theorists).

Naturally, the pasta, pork, cheeses and hams scintillating scientific conversations combined with the Abbey's own wine selection stimulating talks made the conference a success. To my pleasure, there were a large number of galaxy focussed talks as well as ones on star formation which I'm still in denial about researching. Fucking stars.

There were also some of the best conference freebies. I came away with a backpack (particularly useful since I thought I would have to buy one before climbing Fuji), a tee-shirt (issued in an effort to keep track of us during the school conference outing), an inflatable beach ball (what eminent Astronomer doesn't need one?) and a wind-up torch which I'm using now ...

... which brings me to my current location. 11125 m above the western Siberian lowlands. I actually have a great plane seat. It's on an exit row by the toilets so the next seat is about 2m in front. The only slight draw back is that both my TV and reading light are broken and it's getting dark. In my wide awake state, my sanity has been saved by this small conference flashlight. I shall probably progress to writing a best seller and the story of its beginning will rival J. K. Rowling's coffee shop tales.

The flashlight was originally handed out to allow us to walk back to our accommodation after dark. However, the only time I tried this I was apprehended by a group of wild boar and beat a hasty retreat. This is not the first time that I've wished I'd brought my hockey stick to a conference.