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June 6th, 2009

So much to write about that I have become frozen, unable to know where to begin. So rather than trying to be complete or even clever, I will just turn on "journalist" mode and just try to get stuff down here.

For the past two weeks (since I got here from London and Prague, we've been involved in the Big Move -- carting 75 years worth of accumulated stuff out of our scattered and overcrowded quarters into a new but not really finished yet site. Our new home does not have the cachet of being the summer home of The Boss, nor does it have the same spectacular views, but no one who saw it would give us any sympathy: a totally remodelled convent at the end of a two kilometer garden, wired for the internet (heck, being wired for 220 V with a consistent set of plugs is a huge advance over where we were). All the offices are now in one floor. My office/lab is in one room, bigger than the old office and lab combined (which used to be separated by five floors.) Our living quarters are upstairs. En-suite rooms (a delight when you have reached my age, come the middle of the night). And, oh, yes, everything air conditioned. Italy in August is brutal; there's a reason why reasonable people go to the beach then.

That move has been an enormous effort. The move of the lab took place about a week ago. Last night I finally moved into my new bedroom. Room for my bookshelf and its SF collection. All in all very comfortable. (But the hot water isn't hot enough, yet. Details, details.)

And in the middle of all this, my boss and I took off on Tuesday for Geneva with The Cardinal to visit CERN. Flying with someone who is either mayor or president of a small city-state is, um, a trip. Makes my "executive platinum" status look second class. Oh, by the way, he travels economy class.

The reason we went was because he was invited by a scientist there looking to publicize some work they are doing, using accelerated protons instead of x-rays to fight cancers. So we had a tour, lunch with the director, press conference, the whole works.

In addition, we also got a private tour of the Martin Bodmer Foundation (http://www.fondationbodmer.org) -- incredible. Among the things they pulled out for us was an autograph letter by Galileo.

And the morning of the day we left, we visited a convent of cloistered nuns in the mountains an hour outside the city. Beautiful scenery, beautiful singing; even the tray of coffee they brought out for us was a work of art. (They made the tea set themselves in their kilns.) Most remarkable: of the 30 sisters living there, the vast majority were under 30 years old.

So you can see, it's been an intense couple of weeks.


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