A few years ago, we (colleagues at work) were considering starting a research programme based on the use of smart materials. I needed to investigate the most interesting topics and figure out where the frontiers of the current research were at. As part of this effort, I enrolled in a conference in Busan, South Korea. We (Bitte joined me for the trip, the first time in over 30 years), flew, suitably compensating for green-house-gasses, to Seoul, and took the high-speed train from there to Busan. The train journey was very smooth, despite travelling at over 300 kmh.
We stayed at the Lotte Hotel, which was very nice and, apparently like all international Lotte hotels, includes a replica of the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
One thing that I found less pleasing was the call sign used by the lifts. This was the first bar of Clair de Lune, by Claude Debusy, a piece of music that I particularly like. Every time the lift arrived, it was greeted by the “Pling-pling-plong”. After a few times in the lift, I feared that I would never be able to listen to Clair de Lune again.
I attended the 2020 AAAS meeting in Seattle, just before the pandemic restrictions were brought into force. Every morning and evening, while walking to and from the conference centre (they mis-spelled it over there), I passed by the Steinway piano showroom. My stops to view the merchandise became a little longer each time I passed by. On about the tenth time passing by the showroom, I could no longer resist, I had to go in for a closer look. Prices ranged from about $8 000 for an upright model, to $200 000. The expensive models, which were not on display, cost considerably more.
The sales assistant asked if I would like to try any of the models on display. I explained that I do not play the piano, but that I appreciate the craftmanship involved in their production and the skill required to play. She offered to demonstrate one of the pianos and asked if there is any particular piece that I would like to hear. I chose a grand piano ($150 000) and requested – you guessed it. The sound was absolutely fantastic, and my liking for Clair de Lune was restored.
I am so glad that I ventured into the Steinway showroom. If you ever pass by a Steinway showroom, stop and enter. You won’t regret it.
By the way, the photo on the MR Blue Sky entry was from the Seattle trip.