Friday, September 12, 2008

Swiss Missed

(wrote the below last week)
I am in the later stages of the 10 hour train ride from Martigny to Bremen. The trip began with a recap of the trip I took yesterday, 45 minutes from Martigny to Lausanne, where I co-chaired a special session on signal processing in BCIs at the EUSIPCO conference. I had the same experience as I did around Thun. I was happily gawking at the scenery when we suddenly encountered a lake that took it to another level. This lake was much bigger and I should look up which one, but there is a certain added charm in ignorance. Knowledge demystifies. I had a similar thought this morning when I opened the curtains at my hotel and had to catch my breath. I wondered when the novelty of that view would wear off, but evidently 5 days was not enough. Perhaps I am getting out at the right time.

But then, as the train passes north of Frankfurt, the terrain grows steadily flatter and thus less heterogeneous and thus less interesting. This is not the first time I thought this. The first couple train rides that took me between northern and southern Germany were engaging, but now that it wears off I start to realize, as I did before, that northern Germany sucks. Just because you get used to something doesn´t mean it doesn´t matter. Reduced novelty implies reduced impact – not none. I took the beach for granted for most of my life. I wonder what else I won´t really appreciate until it´s gone. But I doubt this will plague me heavily when I leave Bremen. Aside from the personal connections with some students, and of course the voluminous and exceptional work I did there, I really doubt I will miss it. I had the same feeling in Atlanta, and 3 years after leaving there, I feel the same way.

(on to new stuff)
Since my return to Bremen, things have been remarkably busy and dynamic, but I can't really post most of it for political reasons that readers know well. I also survived the last 2 weeks, which I knew would be difficult, and now life will get easier. I was planning on leaving on Tuesday for Graz, but will instead leave tomorrow for Tuebingen. Then to Graz on Tuesday, and then I fly to CO on the 26th for a month. This will be the longest vacation of my life, and I am thoroughly confused about it. What the hell can you do with a month of vacation time? I'll figure something out.

Monday was the return of the weekly Pub Quiz at Hegarty's in Bremen. It had been suspended since June for Euro 2008, but I rallied the team and we took third. This was nice, because we usually do very well until flopping miserably on the music round. I think the quizmaster was annoyed at announcing our prize; I chose the team name The Sixth Sheikh's Sheep.

Bremen weather has been quite good, and it has been pleasant walking along the river in the evenings. The city is not without things or people I will miss, it's more a question of how good it is relative to other opportunities. Graz and Tuebingen both have pleasant rivers running through them.

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