Hello from the deepest darkest depths of Melbourne Conference Centre. I’m delighted to report that no deadly animals have yet taken their toll on me, I haven’t been murdered or mugged, and no-one has said “G’Day” at me. On a number of other counts, however, I have not been so fortunate. So, in the firm belief that any performance review should go ‘good news, bad news then good news’, let me provide the filling to this little update sandwich.
Things which have gone wrong since last posting:
1. Lacklustre conference. The registration fee for this thing was over 500 quid. The level of organisation has left something to be desired, the usual level of conference goodies has been notable only for its absence, and for the first time in my academic career I appear to ahve found a geology conference with no daily beer allowance. (In any normal geology conference, the cogs of collaboration are oiled by at least one daily provision of free beer – a standard care package for any geologist away from home. Beer is the lifeblood of any serious geology-based activity, whether it be evenings after a hard day in the field, or illicit home-brewing in offices. A conference without beer is like a car without wheels).
2. Perhaps more spectacularly, I was presenting a research poster today. It was basically a bit of a cheeky ‘everything I can’t fit into my proper presentation on tuesday’ type affair, and being as it was located really badly (pics will follow) I wasn’t expecting any serious attention. A few people walked past it, some read it. A friend came by who I stood and chatted with for a while. In the mean time a couple of guys had wandered up and were reading it while chatting to themselves, but mostly it looked like they’d picked it as a convenient place to stand while having their own conversation. I stood a little way off so they could see I was there if they wanted to ask any questions, and it appears that they do.
“Ah, Pete Rowley” says the shorter one in a French accent*. “We emailed last year”**
“Did we?” say I with a smile. I’ve had quite a few corresponences with people over the last 12 months, and this guy had his name badge covered. I rack my brain trying to place his face. He looks at me funny. I look at him funny.
“Yes” he replies looking slightly bemused.
“What was that about then?” I ask.
“A postdoctoral project.” he says. My heart goes cold as realisation dawns. He’s had a hair cut and a shave. This is the guy I spent 18 months corresponding with about setting up a joint research project – the same one we’d talked about resubmitting for this year. The one man absolutely vital in getting the whole thing to work. I Must Not Fuck This Up.
The next 5 minutes are filled with stumbling conversation as I try to regain my wits. I manage to tell him I’m doing a talk on Tuesday, mere seconds before realising that he’s the one chairing the session and invited the talk in the first place. I couldn’t get this out of my head:
On the bright side the coffee here’s quite good. Will that do as a finishing good point? It’ll have to.
* Clue 1.
* Clue 2.