Here we go again. I'm just back from a day of work at the University, and a minute ago I was finally able to get Ilaria asleep by singing to her a few children songs. Now, after this post, I will be packing a light suitcase with what I need for 9 days at Fermilab, checking that I have everything essential: keys of the house in Naperville; notebook; power cord for nb; wireless card; memory pens; passport; number of electronic ticket written somewhere - no, not on my shirt's wrist; lufthansa senator card; credit card; cash; coins for tollway from O'Hare to Fermilab - 80 cents should do; confirmation number of compact car booked at ACE; ear-plugs and sleep mask for the flight; toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, and the like; Fermilab ID card - damn it it's expired! Will have to spend some time at the Hirise to get a new one on my way in).
Hey posting this does help - was forgetting the converter plug! (last time I did forget it at home, and had to fabricate one from copper wires or I would have had a dead laptop to stare at). Also, spare battery - and I need to start charging it NOW if I want power for most of the flight from Munich to Chicago - 9 full hours.
Then a few shirts, pants, underwear, socks, a jacket; I have lots of stuff in the Naperville house already anyway.
A book (currently reading one on the first woman's climb on Monte Bianco, in 1838 - a big achievement for that time, and a true adventure).
I guess that's basically it. Tomorrow I will leave home at 7.25, jump on the boat that stops in front of my doorsteps every 10 minutes (line 51 or 41, it's the same), get to Piazzale Roma, buy two tickets for the Marco Polo airport (3 euros each), wait for the bus at 7.50 that takes me to the air terminal, be there at 8.10; queue on the business class line, struggle for a aisle seat on the long flight, get boarding passes. Run to the first class lounge, show senator card and ticket, order coffee and grab snacks. Check email on available computer, then run to gate - boarding is at 8.35. Fly to Munich.
In Munich, I have a very short connection - usually no time for the senator lounge there unfortunately (very comfortable, have real food, resting armchairs in low-lit rooms). Run to queue for passport control, then run to get myself checked by security. Will have to get shoes off, due to the idiot that put explosive into his and jumped on a flight from London to the US a couple of years ago - never fail to thank him for that each time. Will also need to get laptop off suitcase.
Finally, board A340 flying out to ORD. Nine hours - they go in no time the first time you fly over the Atlantic; to me - after more than 150 jumps from a continent to the other - they look like a fortnight. But I am well equipped: I will read for a hour, then force the least distasteful bits of the complimentary lunch (mild sarcasm here) down my throat, after which I will put on earplugs and mask, sleep if I can. When I wake up, my notebook will be my only chance to kill the remaining time.
In Chicago, I will run out of the plane, ready to queue for the INS. They will scan my eye and take my fingerprints, as if they don't know me (I recognize most of the officers there). They will at times make smart comments on my busy passport, find a print they themselves stamped on it a month ago (it happened twice - they do have a number on their stamp). Occasionally, my answers won't convince them I am indeed a physicist, and I will have to stand a real interview with a INS interrogator. He might be asking smart questions such as "what is E=mc2 ?", or "can you build a bomb with antiprotons ?" (both happened to me); in any case, for sure he would delay my schedule by at least a hour.
After retrieving my luggage on the belt, I run for the public phones outside, and dial the ACE 1-800 number to be picked up. Then at the ACE I get a car, and happy as I can be after 15 hours of travel I drive to Fermilab!
All this repeats itself roughly ten times a year. This year, however, it will probably be more than that. Here is my schedule (preliminary as it can be):
1/11 -1/19 FNAL
2/8 - 3/10 FNAL - with my family coming along
3/12 - 3/19 La Thuile (ski conference!) - also with my family!
3/29 - 4/7 FNAL
4/11 - 4/14 Geneva (CMS week)
4/19 - 4/28 FNAL
5/10 - 5/18 FNAL
5/30 - 6/3 Barcelona (CDF collaboration meeting away - once in a year. Will say more about that one day)
6/4 - 6/10 FNAL
6/13 - 6/27 Greece - Vacation!!
7/1 - 8/12 FNAL - with family for all July
8/13 - 8/28 on the Dolomites (italian alps) - Vacation!!
8/30 - 9/7 FNAL
9/20 - 9/28 FNAL
Do I like it ? Not really! But making frequent trips helps avoiding homesickness. I do 9-day trips to the US to attend two meetings of the CDF Jet Energy and Resolution working group - which I co-lead with Florencia Canelli - every three weeks. This way I am on site 2/3rds of the time, and the third meeting I follow via video link.
That's it for today - I need to run to get the stuff in the suitcase!