So, like all middling-to-average things, seis matters must come to an end. A little like the Liberal Democrats will in 2015.
Like I have said throughout the last couple of weeks, the tour has been great fun. I have met some very nice, welcoming people, who have gone out of their way to make my time as enjoyable as possible. The talks have gone OK, although giving presentations to such mixed audience is, I think, the most difficult thing a ‘scientist’ (no laughing at the back…) can do. When lecturing to students, the majority of them have sufficient background to follow the material and, if you’re lucky, actually want to be in the room. At a conference, people typically choose which session they attend, thus there is a good likelihood that they will follow your material. On the tour, there is a huge range of ages and interests, far broader than that I have ever encountered before; this made every talk a challenge, but one that I hope I met. The tour is tiring for a number of reasons; flying everyday is tough, living out of a suitcase becomes dull, and getting fired-up more-or-less each day to talk also takes it out of you. However, if the question was “would you do it again?”, the answer would be a resounding “yes!”. Sign. Me. Up.
In terms of the US, I have learnt a lot. Like I said above, there are some unbelievably friendly people, many of whom are very, very aware of what the global perceptions are of America and Americans. This was very surprisingly, but hugely welcome. On the flipside, there was the dude on the plane with the gun sight. I guess this could happen anywhere, but maybe it’s less likely in some other parts of the world and, in fact, in other parts of the US. The people I spoke to about some of the US political ‘hot topics’ were very insightful. The gun debate rages on, and I must admit that I was very surprised that highly-educated, non-hunters still feel safer having a loaded gun in their bedside drawer. And I was even more surprised that some people still have a huge fear of immigration, despite the fact that the US is, like many countries on the world, founded on immigration. Actually, having typed this out, I guess none of this surprises me, although I have to admit it does disappoint me. Luckily, these people were in the (very small) minority.
Writing this blog was fairly enjoyable, but very hard work. Like I said in my very first post, I previously saw no point in Facebook, Twitter or the like, at least for me. For the hardcore users of those social media ‘tools’, I really felt like they are (digitally) ‘shouting into the ether’, unsure of whether anyone is listening or, if they are listening, actually giving a shit. This is what writing this blog felt/feels like; you get intensively paranoid about what you post; e.g. it needs to be mildly amusing at times, but not comical as you are bound to fail; there needs to be some facts but, because everyday life is really quite dull, not too many. I’m not sure how I did, but I know that I will never do this again. A couple of people emailed me to ask if I now would join Facebook having done this blog. I have to admit I probably do understand it a bit more now, and I certainly have massive respect for people who write well thought-out blogs. However, life is still too short…
To finish, I thought I’d hit you with some facts; at the time of writing, the blog has 22 followers and there has been 1945 views of different posts. The total number of visitors doesn’t seem to get recorded, but the average is around 40 per day, with an all-time high of 86. The blog has been visited by people linking from Twitter, scienceblogging.org and from standard Google searches, with visitors coming from all around the world (see map above). I still maintain that I do not know anyone living in India, Turks and the Caicos Islands(?!) or Taiwan! In any case, if you forwarded this on to people, “thanks”!
Seis matters, signing-off.