Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bible Thumping

This year, I took forever to decide if I would be going to the APS march meeting in Portland or not. Finally, with only 10 days remaining before the meeting, I bought my plane ticket. With such a late decision, and with 6000 other physicists having booked long ago, I had some trouble finding a decent hotel. Now I’m not one who insists on luxury, but after hearing some horror stories about people bringing home bedbugs, I’ve been a bit more careful about making sure that the places I stay are not complete dives. On the other hand, I am on a pretty tight travel budget so I don’t want to spend too much money (and I’m cheap, just on general principles). But with help of the great Google, I did some research and found a terrific deal. For only 50$ per night, about a third of what most people are paying here, I found myself a first class room – very clean, comfortable, modern, all the amenities included (including a truly great breakfast included every day) and right on the tram-line…

… But there is a catch: My hotel is run by, and inhabited by, evangelicals, who are bent on saving my sinner soul. A large portion of the hotel is converted into a church; many of the rooms of the hotels have been converted into offices of organizations with names like “Christian Council”, and “Serving God Committee”; and the little coffee shop where they serve breakfast is called “Sacred Grounds” (get it?).

On the one hand, the workers here are extremely friendly and helpful. On the other hand, when you go down to breakfast in the morning, the awful Jesus-music is playing on the stereo, and the workers have a tendency to incessantly come over and start conversations with the customers to try to score conversions. I found this all out on the web before I got here, and decided that I needed a fool-proof strategy to keep these people off my sinful back.

So here is my scheme: My hotel room has conveniently been provided with a bible (needless to say). Rather importantly, this is not one of those mini-Gideon versions, but rather a large-print big hefty tome. So, every day when I go down to breakfast, I bring the bible with me and open it up on the table next to me as if I am deep in study. (Being that I have a somewhat rabbinical beard these days, I make a point of opening it up to something near the end [ex, Revelation] so it is clear I’m reading the new part, not the old part). Then I scribble notes on a pad of paper next to the bible. Of course, the notes that I am scribbling are my daily physics thoughts, but to the watchful coffee shop evangelists it looks like I am making notes on the word of God. So far, it has worked. They are convinced I am among the blessed, and not wanting to disturb my study, they have left me alone.

I gotta say, it really is a first class room… the breakfast is great, and 50 bucks is hard to beat.

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