Wednesday, June 29, 2011

School, the Turkish way

ITAP, Turunç
JoeI am in Turunç, Turkey this week, attending a constraint programming summer school. I've never been to Turkey before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Of course, I still haven't been to most of Turkey, but I can say that the Mediterranean coast is really nice. Turunç is tiny (pop. 2400), and I'm actually not in the village so much as above it—the school is at ITAP, a sort of retreat for Turkish physicists, where they can stare at the sea and think deep thoughts at the state's expense. How did a bunch of constraint programmers wind up here for the week? Couldn't tell you, but I'm not complaining.

The wifi only works from the terazzo, so really I have no choice but to hang out there all day…
The weather's been nearly perfect, so we've had our breakfast (olives, feta, and sour yogurt), lunch (some combination of eggplant and beef) and dinner (soup, salad and chicken, with a cake soaked in syrup for desert) on the terazzo every day. There's a nice ling break in the afternoons, to either hike down the mountain to town—the return trip is draining, err, I mean invigorating—or take a dip in the pool. The national beer (Efes Pilsner) is enough better than Swedish beer to make long evening discussions entertaining. In short, it's been pretty much the perfect conference so far. (Oh, yes, the presentations have been top notch, too.)
Constraint programmers in the sun.
Today we took the afternoon off for a "blue water" cruise. We piled onto a wooden boat and puttered out to a series of lovely little coves, stopping for an extremely salty swim in each, then had a grilled dinner and drinks before heading back to port. The young turks (metaphorically, if you get my drift) stayed in the village to find a bar, while the more reasonable of us have taken the minibus ride back up the mountain to relax by the pool, discussing the network simplex algorithm to the tune of a little Vivaldi.
"Would you care for a turkish coffee?" "Oh, thank you very much!"
Oy, I'm tired. Off to bed for me.

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