The job of experimental particle physicist is strongly correlated with worldwide travel. Paid for and self-inflicted, sure. But not exactly always pleasant, nor to exotic destinations. In fact, experimental facilities are usually located in notably un-fancy places. The Chicago suburbs, country at the border of Switzerland and France, a mine underground in a God-forgotten place, not to mention the South Pole. One learns to take it as part of the package.

Sure, conferences are sometimes located in more interesting places, but this is a rather rare occurrence. I attend a conference a year, typically, and only occasionally the place is part of the decision to go. During the last 12 years of conference-going, I have visited the Azores, New York, the Elba island, the french Alps, Cyprus, London; nevertheless, this kind of travel is a diversion from the usual business.

When I was younger, every trip was exciting to me, even if it was almost always to the same place -Fermilab, near Chicago. Now, I tend to take it as a penalty. Maybe I am growing old, but jumping on planes, wreaking havoc of my precarious sleep cycle, eating irregularly, and running around with suitcases does not suit me any more. Take this week as an example: I just left Venice this morning, am sitting in a lounge in Zurich, will land in Chicago later this afternoon, and be there for two days, a talk, and a review meeting; then to Geneva via New York (where I'll meet with Peter Woit, see link on the right), for a week of meetings. Finally back to Venice next Friday. The above tour is largely self-inflicted: I could well have decided to follow meetings via video-conference, but things would not run so smoothly in that case.

I am reminded of the way Nobel prize winner Carlo Rubbia was addressed during an infamous "Bloody Tuesday" at Fermilab by the facility's director, as in the late seventies he proposed a proton-antiproton collider to discover the weak neutral bosons, the W and Z that brought him the Nobel in 1983: "Jet-Flying Clown". Back then he was teaching at Harvard, working at a neutrino experiment at Fermilab, and participating in another experiment at CERN. Surely a lesser clown than Carlo, but the idea is the same.