Happy days are here again

March 7, 2003

It's good to be back to Vienna. Spring seems to be a little late this year, but one feels it is around the corner somewhere. You are looking forward to your Wiener schnitzel, although in most places it will be pork, not veal. Well, I am basically looking

It's good to be back to Vienna. Spring seems to be a little late this year, but one feels it is around the corner somewhere. You are looking forward to your Wiener schnitzel, although in most places it will be pork, not veal. Well, I am basically looking forward to some Italian restaurants ? and their wines.

As often happens, my plane was delayed. I was on a Tyrolean Air flight, which used to be among the better airlines in Europe. Now it is owned by Austrian Airlines and passengers are treated according to AUA's standards, getting yesterday's newspapers for in-flight reading.

I love talking to taxi drivers and getting their view of the world. I have found that there are two different kinds in Vienna: drivers from former Yugoslavia who do not know or pretend not to know their way. Then there are the Austrians who often comment on the state of Austrian and international affairs in a manner incompatible with polite diplomatic phraseology: the voice of the people. Listening to them, I wonder what happened to the threats of a boycott of ECR by some colleagues three years ago. Whom would they like to boycott today? I have not heard any outcry this year.

Anyhow, we have happily arrived in Vienna.

In former times I used to get extremely stressed by congresses. I remember one congress where our department had 19 presentations. It was one big strain that was topped by a minor detail: my rental car was stolen in front of the hotel.

In Vienna I use the subway. It is easy, convenient, and I could not care less if a subway train gets stolen.

Another of the advantages of holding the congress in Vienna is the lack of a special kind of harassment: the American-style breakfast meetings. I hate those six o'clock gatherings at the annual meeting of the RSNA where people who are still sleeping ? and smell like that ? try to discuss the contents of the next six to eight issues of the scientific journal with the dark blue cover, or something similarly important. I prefer to have breakfast in a leisurely mode, reading a newspaper in a kaffeehaus, and then take off for the meeting.

Although the Austria Center seems to grow a little bit every year, the ECR has the advantage that it is difficult to get lost; at least not as lost as you can get at the RSNA meeting. On the first day, there is a kind of morning confusion that is balanced by a touch of expectation. You are looking forward to getting new impressions and information about the developments in the field and to talking to people you have not seen for a year or even longer.

I had the impression that the main hall was even more crowded than in previous years. Let's wait for the official count of the number of participants.

How else do you recognize that it is the first day of the conference? People are dynamic and have fresh faces: hangover time starts on the second day.

I heard this joke today: How do you tell it's four o'clock in the radiology reading room? Answer: The radiologists are pointing out the lesions with their car keys.