Back from REFSQ: first impressions

I am back from REFSQ. You definitively will get some more information about what happened there. This, however, will take more time. I am hunted (haunted) by several deadlines!

I always say that the most important times at a conference are the coffee breaks. Yes, it is true. The scientific presentations are great, and I usually read the proceedings after the conference to see what can be usefull for my work. As there are several parallel sessions, I must miss some good presentations.

However, as I miss some, I can also miss some more... We have used coffee breaks and sessions to exchange the latest news (who works on which continent and on which topic currently?), create ideas, alliances, research proposals and designs, papers. Also, unpublished research results are exchanged confidently.
Researchers sat in pairs and groups around laptops, discussing and typing. We for instance, have been discussing the interpretations of a joint experiment and classifying a list of requirements. We prepared our Focus Group session on Wednesday and afterwards extracted first results from the notes to present them on Thursday.

A conference is like a family meeting. We meet all those of whom we hea allr the year long (marriages, publications, mails), and see once or twice a year. In German, I would say: "Doktormutter trifft Doktorsohn". The wordplay about supervisors of doctoral theses and their doctoral sons does not work in English.

It feels good to be among people who have a high knowledge and still are eager to learn more. As a trainer, I am sometimes among people who know not much and do not want to learn more. So, at a conference, I am among equals.

Although a conference is hard work for the brain - so much input! - it is also like vacations. The prizes are even above, even if one sleeps in a hotel room that rather looks like a jail cell. I took the luxury cell with three beds and a bathroom, towels included.

Food was very good in the Netherlands, as long as I ate Asian food. While the Netherlands trade with spices, they do not use them themselves. Even salt and pepper are unknown. The food might smell good and have appealing colours, but they manage to cook vegetable until it looses all taste. The food at the welcome reception, however, was innovative. The salad shocked me at first, as I feared they served me freshly plucked butterflies. However, the butterflies are not mature at this time of the year. No, there were flowers in the salad. This is OK, I do eat flowers. It was an interesting idea to serve soup in cans. I am wondering whether I can reuse my garbage like this for my next birthday party. This will allow me to invite more guests!

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