leaving flu at home / ed, troff / hotel mess // 18-3-12

Warning: unstructured and probably useless thoughts of a bored, flying author ahead!

Today I went to Bilbao, to attend the Imaginenano conference related to my job. I'm working at a lab not doing a lot of nanomaterials stuff, but there's probably more to come, and the conference we're hosting at my institution coming June has the general topic of micro and nano stuff.

On one hand, I'm looking forward to it, because not only the topic is interesting, but I will also have a look at how the guys in Bilbao run the thing. Our conference will be smaller with a focus just on Switzerland (nevertheless we're expecting people also from elsewhere in Europe), but you can always learn!

On the other hand, I feel rather bad about it, because my wife and my elder son suffer from some kind of flu — I guess, because most of the symptoms fit. Anyway, they're not in best shape, and I was hesitating a lot this afternoon! They'll get some help from our parents, and without that, I would have renounced in going there. I do hope they're getting better soon! And I hope I won't develop symptoms while away... :-/

Some moments ago, we flew over my home town in the twilight; I've never seen it that nicely! I took a picture to show it to my sons later. It's amazing how good GPS reception with my tablet is in the plane! I remember about ten years ago, when we went to New Zealand and I had a handheld GPS receiver: it was really difficult to get a stable signal. Probably the electronics advanced quite some...

Another reason to feel bad is the fact that I'm adding a lot of CO2 and other pollutants with that trip. Yes, we do have a car, although seldomly used, and riding the train of course also is not for free, even in Switzerland where most of the electricity for the trains is coming from hydroelectric power (at least as far as I know — sorry, no references). But flying for sure is much worse. So you could say I'm leaving my family sick at home, and I further pollute the world where my sons will have to live. And everybody I know probably would say that's in principle correct, but nevertheless silly. But still, it doesn't look all correct to me.

I'm typing this in ed, fullscreen in the 48 rows times 170 columns console, although there's X running on my laptop, because Ubuntu just wants it that way. I never understood why people need to install special distraction-free typing programs, when everything required already is under the hood of any halfway usable Unix system.

The discussion about Gopher formatting and troff got me thinking. Does there already exist a Markdown to troff/nroff translator? If I can't find one, I might be tempted to tackle that toy project, after the recent disappointment in pursuing my idea of a portable ed wrapper. Then I could modify my glog/phlog/blog package into using troff/nroff instead of lynx, for generating the Gopher text. Should be fun to reactivate those ruins of troff knowledge!

I will look up what kind of troff/tbl/eqn documentation I still have, and put it onto my gopherhole (unless it's just the standard manpages).

Impressive, what kind of mess some people leave at hotels!

When I opened the door to the hotelroom I was given, I found the bed used, towels laying around all over the floor, and the remainders of a chicken in a cardboard box between scattered beverage cans.

The receptionist apologized several times, saying the cleaners mixed up entries in the room booking system. I didn't mind much for my experience, but for the bad education of the other guests.

I guess cleaning personnel in hotels can tell interesting stories!