Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brussels Spouts

Next week, I travel to Bruxelles to meet with our contact from EU headquarters regarding our grant application. Herr Dr. Prof. Graeser, Bernhard, and I will travel there, along with several other partners from all about our group. This is a formal introduction to the EU contact and a pre-negotiation pending our larger, more formal second negotiation in March. I spent the last couple days working on my talk, and will spend the next week preparing. I asked several people who went to these things what to expect. Here it is:

I give my talk.

EU contact: Thank you! So, how about you do all the work in this grant proposal, plus more, with less money?
Us: No.
EU contact: Well, how about just the less money part?
Us: No.
EU contact: Hm. I can't help but notice one of the partners isn't here ... perhaps we could cut him out?
Us: No.
EU contact: I notice that partner X, sitting here, doesn't speak English so well. Maybe we could marginally pare his fee?
Partner X: Que?
EU contact: I said, would you like some coffee?
Partner X: No.
Us: No.
EU contact: Let's work together to find some little part that is not so important.
Us: It is all important.
EU contact: How about not testing your software?
Us: No.
EU contact: Do you really need electrode caps?
Us: Yes.
EU contact: How about communicating with each other less?
Us: No.

(4 hours later)

Us: You see? It is all important.
EU contact: Herr Doktor Professor Graeser, members of the consortium, thank you very much for joining us here in Bruxelles. This concludes the first phase of our negotiations. We look forward to hosting you again in March!

That was fun, but here is other buzz.

In addition to funding us, the EU wisely decided to fund the huge proposal headed by all the powerhouses in Europe, plus one other BCI proposal. This is particularly well timed since it can feed on the decline of the American scientific infrastructure. The Dutch, Germans, and others are also funding BCI work more aggressively. This will create BCI research boom in Europe. There will probably be some overarching affiliation among the three funded projects, headed by the biggest, which is fine with me.

So the trip to Bruxelles should be fun and educational. It is one major European capital I have never seen. I leave the morning of the 25th, and then meet my cousin John to goof off for a couple days.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Landlord decided to move a bunch of junk out of the laundry room and paint and tile it. This was a good long term move. Telling me a priori would have been nice, as a side effect was that the room was off limits for 2 weeks while inept construction workers trudged intermittently. But, yesterday, the laundry room and thus machine were available! After 2 loads of laundry, then hanging it up on those fucking outdated clotheslines, I started eyeing the broken dryer on the other side of the room. It had been on its side, covered in wood, and buckets of paint, and drywall, and junk, with a big broken sign on it. Mr. Landlord had explained that it was broken, in case I didn't understand the sign in English and German, and now that I thought about it that was a bit suspicious. And he had lied to me before. And was obsessed with saving energy, and bitched at me about how much dryers cost. Hm. Hm. Hmmmm. Now it was only on its side, covered with a broken sign and admonition from Mr. Dishonest Landlord. Soon, it was right side up, plugged in, with a gym towel and two old socks volunteering their unscorched souls as test subjects. In the absolute worst case, I figured, my landlord had understated the danger, and I would die. But in a reasonable worst case, I would not damage it more or start a fire with me standing there. 2 minutes later. No smoke. No sign of the upstairs roomie nor Mr. Landlord - who, for added fun, lives upstairs of upstairs roomie. 2 more minutes. Clothes seem warm, pretty wet. 30 minutes later. Clothes perfect. 31 minutes later: half of clohtes off of clotheslines and tumblin away. I just have to remember to only dry clothes in the middle of the night, and otherwise leave the dryer unplugged and on its side. This is much more fun than a regular dryer, or landlord.

1 comment:

Flavia said...

keep them stories coming! Very funny!