This week I am at the Finite Geometries: Third Irsee Conference in Irsee, Germany. It is the first leg of a 5 week trip to Europe. I am sure Gordon will be jealous to hear that I managed to use some of my frequent flyer points to upgrade to premium economy which seemed to be the same seats that they used to have in business class.

I think it is the first geometry conference that I have been to and it has gone very well. Some highlights so far have been:

- Michel Lavrauw’s talk on `Finite semifields and nonsingular tensors’. He gave a very accessible introduction (this is the job of a plenary speaker) to the topic including their importance to finite geometry and a bit of the history.
- Peter Cameron’s talk (as always) on `Geometric problems from synchronization’.
- Jonathan Jedwab’s talk on `The asymptotic merit factor of binary sequences’. This talk was superb in telling us about the development of the subject as well as some of his recent work. It included a quote from a referee’s report to a grant application that the problem was too hard and they shouldn’t waste their time on it.

Another highlight was the Lied recital by Kris Coolsaet and Jan De Buele which was also accompanied by thunder and lightning and the page turning of Geertrui Van de Voorde.

I spoke about my work with John on groups acting regularly on generalised quadrangles and it seemed to be well received.

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I sure am jealous, you lucky sod…

Think of me, stuck in an Air France economy seat with a bassinet right in front of me; by my usual travel misfortune, I ended up next to a woman travelling alone with her baby, but of course the bassinet essentially covers two seats… but obviously most people assumed I was the father and presumably wondered why I didn’t talk to my “wife” or “child” for the whole trip!