Dvořák Symphony No. 9

Posted on 16th June 2016

The journey to Croatia was somewhat more eventful than I’d have hoped. First a train to Newark, then a flight to Toronto. While there I spent my layover in the lounge and attempted to make myself some soup, only spilling the boiling water over my hands and shattering a bowl. Not an ideal start. As I was cleaning up, my backpack split along the seams, spilling my clothes and books onto the floor. After I cleaned up from that I relaxed on an Air Canada flight to Heathrow, albeit with a throbbing sensation in my left hand. My flight was unfortunately a little delayed and that left me with a forty-five minute sprint to transfer in Heathrow and dash through the terminals to catch my flight to Split, Croatia, just as the gate was closing.

When I landed in Croatia, a bus was waiting for me and a few other cryptographers to go Šibenik, a small resort town on the coast where I would be partaking in a cryptography summer school. On the bus I met a few students from Royal Holloway, University of London, Ben, Lydia and Torben who were all lovely. Once there I almost collapsed in exhaustion, barely managing to say hi to Luke before crashing for a few hours.

The next day was fairly unremarkable, with some introductory talks given, and more sneaking out on my part to try and recover from minor illness and some jetlag. It was day two of the program that really shined. Luke introduced me to Henry, a very talented and outspoken student of djb and Tanja Lange’s. He further introduced us to a few friends of his including Isis, another person I enjoyed spending time with alongside the brits.  djb (Dan Berstein) and Tanja are collaborators of ours who do a lot of excellent work in cryptography and thus it was also quite exciting to meet the two of them. Tanja in particular had been delivering kosher, vegan, gummy candies to the lab via Nadia and thus needed much thanks for it.

A few things were really notable at the conference. One was different social circles that people mixed in. Some people definitely aligned themselves more with cypherpunk culture while others maintained more academic detachment. There were plenty of people with radical political views, mostly close to the anarchical and left leaning sides of the spectrum, and it was an interesting chance to hear their views. On a more academic side, the european’s were much more heavily focused on symmetric encryption (where you meet ahead of time to exchange a password) as opposed to our work which focused more on asymmetric (where you do some fancy maths to share something privately).

My last day in Croatia was spent on a tour of Kornati national park, composed of a series of rocky islands that we reached over the course of a three hour boat ride. It was a really nice chance to unwind and spend more time getting to know colleagues in a social situation. I read on the beach, dipped in the water, ate ice cream and climbed to the top of a hill along with friends and lab-mates. Altogether a great day.


At 2.50AM I was off on my way home. This trip wasn’t entirely pleasant either. I arrived hours too early at Split airport, where I called Celeste (more on her at a later point) to chat for thirty minutes while I attempted to stay awake for check-in. A short flight later I was at Zagreb airport with six hours to kill; no lounge, no seating and no check in. A five hour flight stopped in an unnamed country, another thirteen hours to Melbourne, twenty-six minutes from the tarmac through customs and border control and I was on a mad dash home before it got dark on Friday night. I only just made it.

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