Saturday, October 20, 2018

Oh Canada

This week I visited just about every University in Canada. It was a trip! Some initial issues were encountered (did you know you need a visum? that you pay for online? Like Australia and Disneyland, it's better to order online well before going... I hadn't). So some stress getting to the plane. No bourbon brought along for my Canadian friends.


I forgot Queen's University isn't in Toronto. Google lady tells me with great authority that it is downtown and so I am late to my own talk. Swell. My host, Stephane Courteau is gracious and improvises a very nice visit. Beautiful place. Fun group and astronomers. I talked about overlapping galaxies. Stephane egged me on to publish the dang results already. The place comes highly recommended. Next time he organizes a conference, I should go. Back to Toronto I drive (2.5 hrs...)


York suffered a catastrophic electrical failure. I blame squirrels. The black ones that are everywhere. So there was some more improv and a giant generator truck and I managed to give a talk anyway.
Adam Muzzin was a solicitous and entertaining host. Wonderful visit. Interesting discussions (mostly with Adam, some reminiscing of Leiden times). My talk was about super-8s and M-dwarfs.


University of Toronto. The Dunlap institute. Clearly one of the flagship places of Canadian Astronomy. Renee Hloszek was my host and in between a clearly very hectic schedule she managed to get me where I needed to go and I got to talk about LADUMA.
I managed to chat to Brian Gaensler (score!) and I had a wonderful lunch. One of the other astronomers pointed out that Margaret Atwood was sitting right behind me. Sure. ok. NBD.
Then came the drive to LONDON (Ontario). Canada is built to a different scale people.
There I met up with Pauline Barmby and her charming family. She has a whole teenager now. Tried to learn something about managing that while at dinner (poutine! I have heard much about it).

sidebar: I had heard so much about poutine that it had been built up in my imagination. There is also a brown sauce Dutch people put on fries, the Thai Sateh sauce. Yep fries and spicy peanut sauce.
I may be biased but I like Dutch brown sauce much much better than poutine. I may never be able to enter Canada again after posting this.


Talk at Western University. So many people to talk to. So much interesting science ideas to kick around. We chatted about the UGC 2885 project with Hubble. Plan to write All Teh Papers. I talked about Super-8s and M-dwarfs but considering how many people worked on nearby galaxies, I should have given a talk about overlapping galaxies. Ah well. Next time.
I chatted with Els Peeters, who I know from her Groningen Days. Her postdoc was working on something with PAHs (surprise! no surprise) and I may have a science idea there too. Hotel was a 1925 venerable building with lots of quirks. Like another power outage. Fun.
Chatted to several of the students. The astronomy and physics building is a lovely renovated old building with a cover courtyard. Very nice.


And on Friday, I drove to Waterloo, parked, walked 15 min to the Perimeter institute (why did they tell me to park here?) and then walk right back after I realized the talk was at the physics department. Part of the physics department had been burned down. And now they are getting a new building.
Maybe something to suggest to my physics colleagues. How inflammable are their experiment anyway?

Gave my talk about overlapping galaxies. Donna Strickland wasn't there but I think I spotted her at the Perimeter institute. Chatted to Brian McNamara who had been a postdoc in Groningen. And he informed me that Prof Strickland is now a full professor. All done with proper paperwork. Should have been a short discussion with the Nobel Prize in Physics and whatnot.

Then it was on to a quick maple syrup purchasing stop and Toronto airport, drop off car, navigate the check-in/customs/etc fly to Atlanta, sprint across Atlanta airport to make the connection in 20min, fly to Louisville and sleeeeeeep. Oh and I managed to write up three science cases for CASTOR.

This was a hectic week. Talk to someone, think up new stuff, talk to another person, try to be interesting and engaging, keep logistics in check, not forget power brick etc, move to the next topic.
It was fun and exhausting. Very happy to have visited and very happy to be home.

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