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The walls are lined all yellow gray & sinister / Hung with pictures of our parents' prime ministers - MrPutter: doing things the hard way, because it is there.
May 1st, 2007
12:46 pm
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The walls are lined all yellow gray & sinister / Hung with pictures of our parents' prime ministers
Two out of my three trips to Ottawa have seen pissing with rain almost the entire time, with the exception being last year's stop of less than two hours. Ottawa is in danger of going on my Shit List along with Vancouver.

Other than that it's been a blast. The conference ended yesterday, and I'm kicking around for a few days, sightseeing before going home tomorrow evening. Last night I hung out with Majed a bit, which was fun -- I haven't really seen him since leaving AUS. Today I'm thinking about taking in the national Mint. That tour sounds like it could be fun.

Ottawa has really surprised me. It is very different from my impression from previous visits, where I apparently visited all the wrong parts of town. The area east of the canal is really cool -- it reminds me in its way of a smaller version of Chicago.

I have stuffed myself full of poutine and shawarma, and really could stand to find some restraint.

Conference hi/low-lights:

  • Most amusing moment: Matthias Neufang on Enflo's refutation of Groethendieck's conjecture about all Banach Spaces having the Approximation Property: "Enflo's paper is understood by very few people. I know of two people who really understand it: Enflo and Tzafriri. But Tzafriri confided in me that he has no clue. So really, no-one understands Enflo's proof. But everyone's pretty sure it's true."

  • Most excruciating talk: A speaker (who shall remain unnamed) from Germany. Who had a heavy German accent. And a very soft voice. And a lisp. And mumbled. And kept saying "umm" or "ahh" every third word. And who talked just after lunch when everyone was full and lethargic. And went on for an hour and a half. Oh God, I understood NONE of that one.

  • Most interesting analogy: Dusko Pavlovic, who described traces in a monoidal category as a model of a captcha-solving spambot that, in order to solve captchas on a website, sets up a "dummy" porn site that seves up free images, but every so often will relay a captcha to the site, and require the user to enter the solution to see more porn. It then relays the captcha solution back to the original site, allowing it to break in and spam the forums. Hmmm.

  • Most awkward moment: talking to Dr. Incomprehensible's arch-nemesis, Dr. Lucid. I knew that Dr. I didn't have a particularly high opinion of Dr. L, however was unaware that the feeling was mutual, or that the feud was at all public. Unfortunately, I rather enjoy reading Dr. Lucid's papers, so since he was at the conference, I took the opportunity to talk to him, mention my admiration and thank him. Having introduced myself as Dr. I's student, though, I got a rather chilly reception, which confused me, until a bystander asked what my real purpose was and mumbled something about Trojan Horses and Greeks bearing gifts. Oh dear.

  • Most ridonculous aspect: not providing conference attendees any means to get on the Internets. The conference's official internet access policy: go to the library and wait around until someone forgets to log off their account, then use that computer. !!!!

  • Most potentially confusing aspect: the existence of two mathematicians, both named Hasegawa, who both conduct research relevant to the topic of the conference. Somehow I managed to be unaware of this dichotomy, and paired with speakers simply referencing "Hasegawa" (sans first name), I spent the first half of the conference very muchly confused.

All in all, it's been fun. Wish I could stay longer, but there is work in Calgary awaiting my return. The prospect of doing a PhD in Ottawa (one of the front-line contenders) is much less distasteful than it was a week ago (though it is still far from the top of the list; sigh Australia).

(Hmm: the Metros from the world quiz doesn't have an entry for the O-Train. Methinks this needs be fixed...)

And now arise... SIR puppy!
"And now arise... sir puppy!"

Current Location: K1N 6A7
Current Mood: energeticenergetic
Current Music: The Tragically Hip -- Wheat Kings
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(2 comments , Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 2nd, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
Last night I hung out with Majed a bit, which was fun
I should ask you about this on MSN sometime.

Forgot to mention to you that I got to listen to Thomas Homer-Dixon speak two weeks ago about his new book. He's as good in person as he is on paper.
[User Picture]
Date:May 2nd, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
I love the photo! Only it looks to me like puppy is being checked for a fever...
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