Getting high on the West Coast

Late in the evening this past Monday I arrived in Gothenburg, just as jubilant and not-so-jubilant fans were moving towards the station from Ullevi football stadium. AIK had lost. Darn! I also saw the tram I should have been on pull away from the tram stop, fifteen minutes to the next. I spent those studying a, presumably, inebriated harmonica player courting a girl, who took this in good humour. I also found that Gothenburg too has introduced SMS tickets for public transport. Very convenient. I will have to run a test soon and see if I can get through a month without any cash at all. The tram trundled noisily through the slightly chilly night city and we soon ended up at my target traffic nexus. Gothenburg by nightHotel Gothia Towers was not difficult to locate, the twin towers rising high above me. Check-in was smooth in spite of a new and inventive misspelling of my name and soon I found myself on the 19th floor, looking out over famous Gothenburg landmarks. After having admired the skyline for a while I went to sleep.

Breakfast was served in a restaurant with a little bit too much of canteen feeling for my tastes, but nothing wrong with the buffet. Sponge cake for breakfast, yum! Then I set off for the conference I had been invited to. It turned out to be be very well-organised with lots of demos, presentations in parallel sessions and I chatted with people I hadn't seen for too long. I realised I have missed going to scientific conferences. I enjoyed myself greatly.

The social event in the evening took place at Peacock Dinner Club. I walked there with some colleagues and reflected that Stockholm is much more cramped than Gothenburg where the avenues are wide and bordered by wide pavements with proper bicycle paths and often even little lawns in front of the houses. It makes for a very pedestrian-friendly city. The dinner club turned out to be a very classy joint—when I asked for guanabana juice the bartender didn't bat an eye, just reached out for a bottle and poured me a glass, just like that. They didn't have banana juice, but they offered lychee instead, which was OK by me. However, I couldn't stay too long, as I had a presentation to prepare, so eventually I went back to my room and worked till late with the view to inspire me.

My presentation went over quite well, with a Q&A session lasting almost half an hour. Some of the questions I thought were rather tenuously connected to what I had spoken about, but that just let me take a “wider perspective” in my response, i e blab on. During the coffee break, a man came up and asked: “So what was your presentation about? This technical English is really hard to follow.” Ungh! I squirmed inwards but politely gave a condensed version in Swedish. For a moment I was confused by the statement that technical English was difficult to follow—I can make do in several languages as long as the discourse is constrained to technical matters, but then I realised that that is true as long as you remain within a familiar area of technology, where the terminology is shared and known. Nevertheless, I was still a bit disappointed that I hadn't managed to get my point across, I certainly don't consciously attempt to be abstruse and I'm always upset when I've failed to explain the work which is so dear to me.

In the afternoon I decided to skip the last workshop session and instead went walking in springy Gothenburg—the sun was shining, the Emilias were pretty, and the pollen count was high. My eyes and nose ran like fountains and I sought shelter in the railway station.

On the train back I found I had no WLAN in my car. The conductor did not quite understand what the problem was, but was eager to help and let me change seat to another car where I soon was connected again. It has happened to me before that car 6 (the end car) has bad (non-existent) WLAN coverage, maybe I should take that up with the SJ network people.

1 comment:

thnidu said...

What's so strange about "Getting high on the West Coast"? ... Oh, your West Coast.