Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

Main conference organizer (upon meeting me for the first time): "I thought you were older."

Me, in response: "I hope I will be some day."

His reaction: He didn't know how to react and the conversation abruptly ended right there

(Note that I am going to choose to view his comment as a compliment---in reference perhaps to how well known I am for my work. I don't actually know if that's why he thought I was older.)

In other news, our conference package included a cap (advertising the university) and a bottle of olive oil. WTF?


adamo said...

Spanish olive oil is well known.

Mason said...

Fair enough (and I figured that), but that does not mean that giving it out as a free gift at a scientific conference is the usual procedure.

Justin said...

Eh, umbrellas in Seattle, olive oil in Seville, seems comparable enough to me... Beats the heck out of the usual mug or tote bag.

Mason said...

I've never gotten an umbrella as a conference chotchke, but in March I got a USB drive for the abstracts (and then to use subsequently), which I appreciated greatly.

adamo said...

A descent USB drive costs less than $10 and you can pick it up yourself. A host giving you as a gift a product that is proud of is something very very different and should be appreciated also. Clearly Spain is not very proud of its USB stick production :)

This is the Mediterranean way of things: We give you as a present something of great value to us. And th

adamo said...

(If you can edit comments, please erase "And th" on the previous comment and then delete this one)

Mason said...

Adamo: I can't edit comments except to delete entire ones. So it's all or nothing. :)

I don't care about the monetary value of the chotchke. There's a lot to be said for immediate utility when I happen to be somebody who isn't good about being prepared about things.

As for gifts, I certainly appreciate being given something of value to the given person (or group of people). However, I appreciate even more when the thoughtfulness of the gift involves somebody thinking particularly about me. (Granted, this doesn't really apply to the USB stick example because the conference organizers probably didn't know me well enough to know that I'd really appreciate that particular brand of utilitarianism.)

In other cases---say, a gift among friends---my goal is to give somebody something I think that they will really like (ideally, in consonance with giving something of myself, which is consistent with the olive oil choice) rather than something I like. Now, the organizers clearly thought we would like olive oil, so they are well within this spirit, but I happen to not care about olive oil because I'll never use it. And I don't like wasting things. My plan is to pass it along to a local friend because I think they'll be interested, and if so all will certainly be quite well in the end. As for my own preferences, I would strongly prefer a USB drive. :)

Zifnab said...

Your latest comment suggests a solution to the olive oil "problem", though. Give it to someone else who will appreciate it! :) You get the pleasure of giving a nice gift, they get the pleasure of a nice olive oil from Seville.

Mason said...

Z: Indeed!