My tremendously friendly yet deeply scary Slovenian supervisor has popped out for a meeting, so I figured I'd take a little time to update y'all on recent trials and tribulations.
I hate airports. Actually, I think I hate any place where the main objective is to get as many people through that location as quickly as is humanly possible. It seems like having that as your guiding principle leads you to stop viewing customers as people and start seeing them as items on a conveyor belt that must endlessly be kept running. Any attempt to speak, to ask for help or clarification, and you will be immediately classed as a defective part who must be dealt with severely, so as to force you back into the system, that you might piss off again as soon as possible. I heard for years that Londoners are objectionably rude, and I've had some experience of this, but looking back it occurs to me that all my negative experiences have been in train stations, tube stations, or bus stations. It may well be then that I simply suffer for having to travel to London, and thus invariably the first people I meet are of the "human beings are cattle to be herded and eventually shot" stripe. Certainly, it turns out that several of the airport staff in Newcastle are egregious dicks, too.
On a more positive note, I am delighted to find that the acrophobia I suffered from as a child has now vanished. Given the seemingly endless capacity possessed by my brain to generate new and crippling phobias apparently at random, finding out they can disappear without reason too is quite a nice thing to learn. The one thing I still can't do, though, is read on an aeroplane if I can see out of the window with my peripheral vision. Something about trying to scan lines of text whilst clouds pass beneath you causes a short-circuit in my brain.
Slovenia itself is beautiful. I spent some time observing Western Europe as I flew over it, and it pretty much just looks like home. The same networks of roads, the same patchwork of arable fields. It's not like I was expecting volcanoes and glaciers, or anything, but the lack of variation was still a little depressing.
This is just like home, I said to myself.
Then we reached the forests, huge forests that stretched to the horizon. They were broken by valleys and towns, but there was no question as to who was boss. The only things that didn't seem to be menaced by the trees were the mountains.
Fair enough, I thought, this is new.
Ljubljana looks just as nice when on the ground. Forests, hills, nice buildings, clean streets. Plus an almost unbelievable number of outrageously attractive women. The only eyesores are the ubiquitous posters for various parliamentary candidates that are spread throughout the city. I am reliably informed that the predicting the extent of the upcoming political reshuffle is very difficult, since a recent scandal has erupted over the Slovenian government buying Finnish weapons and one or other government receiving bribes for making the deal, bribes currently being held in Austrian bank accounts. It's all very confusing, apparently.
I am assured, however, that there are no upcoming wars to worry about. This may be for the best, as I am unsure as to how much faith should be invested in Finnish weaponry.
The place where I am staying is ludicrously roomy, easily the size of my flat back home, which is pretty cool considering it's only little old me living there. On the other hand, unless I can get the internet in my living room to work, I am liable to go mad with boredom. One can only read for so long on any given day without losing a grip on one's sanity, especially when so much of the work day is taken up with perusing academic papers and deciding what can be safely stolen.
That will do for now, I think. This is taking loner to type than normal since Slovenian keyboards swap around the "Z" and "Y" keys (do Czech computers do that too? I've forgotten), so my already limited skills of touch-typing have surrendered entirely.
More to come later, but I'm getting back to the maths...