So IIASA has a Christmas Ball, every second year I gather; it was last Thursday, and I was here for it. Laxenburg is gearing up for Christmas too; here's a photo on the walk over to Gallo Rosso, the restaurant where the ball was held:
And here's the dining room at Gallo Rosso, just starting to fill up:
The best part was the food. To those who were at the YSSP awards dinner, this will look familiar:
And that's just the cold food; note the silver servers lurking behind, which were empty when I took these photos, but which filled with several kinds of fish, tortellini in a pesto cream sauce, chicken, beef... and they carved a whole roasted pig. Sadly, I was too busy actually eating the food at that point, and forgot to take photos. Anyhow, it wasn't amazingly unusual or original food; but it was very good. Gallo Rosso does a nice spread.
Here's the folks at my table:
That last one is of me with Sheila and her boyfriend, who I sat with. Thank goodness they were there, because I knew hardly anyone else in the room. (Most of the rest of the people I know at IIASA were also at my table: Jose and Monika. But I didn't get to talk to them much because they were at the far end of the table. I don't think Wolf or Olli were at the ball, for those who are wondering. Ulf and Gergely sat at the next table over.) It felt weird to be at a IIASA event without all the YSSPers being there!
The downside to the evening was the music. Mostly it was one guy on a synthesizer with a drum machine track, playing cheesy renditions of songs that would better have been forgotten decades ago. My friends Ariel and Suchi tried their best to rescue it with their lovely singing on some Christmas carols, but even there, I'm afraid there is a limit to how many times I can happily sit through Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, etc., and that limit is zero. My limit for Jingle Bell Rock is, in fact, -1; it makes me unhappy that that song exists at all, even when it is not being played in my vicinity. No doubt I am a grinch; but why does Christmas music need to be so saccharine?
All in all, though, it was a fun time, and we staggered off full, intoxicated, and happy. Can't argue with that!