San Diego, 2006

Another BIRN all hands meeting...

Sunday October 22/06

Despite my grand plans to be packed on Saturday night so I could go climbing on Sunday morning, I ended up running around like mad doing laundry and cleaning up the detritus from sewing part of my Halloween costume the night before, and packing, on Sunday morning. I finally rushed out the door at 1:10 to catch the 1:18 bus, and ended up waiting at the stop for a little bit, sweltering in my hoodie as I'd expected it to be much cooler. I stuffed it into my backpack and was more comfortable for the rest of the trip to the airport. The silver line bus wasn't too crowded, I had room for my pack and my suitcase without having to sit them on me or vice versa. Got there just in time to check in with Mike M., and Katie was just behind us in line. Despite doing online check-in, I still had to go through the line to check my bag, and there was a bit of a wait for the tags. I got through security with just my purse and pack being rescanned, and then picked up a bagel for my missed lunch. I went back and got a pizza for the plane ride, not trusting to the buy on board. I settled in with my book and waited for my group to be called. It was good that it was a direct flight, but it was still 6 hours on a plane. Katie was in the aisle seat in my row, Shawn was in front of her, Mike was further back, as was Dave (the MGH crew). The woman between Katie and me ordered two bottles of chardonnay as soon as the drink cart came around, and got two more over the course of the flight - I found out later that she hated flying. Katie knitted, and I read and listened to my book on cd. I'd picked up a pair of cheap noise cancelling headphones and they made such a difference. We were right behind the engines, and it cut out a lot of the white noise, plus most of the voices in the cabin, plus I could keep the volume on my discman lower than otherwise. I ended up watching the second movie they showed, "X-Men Last Stand" and it grabbed me emotionally again, though they cut it before the end of the credits. Not too much turbulence, though I only got up once when the whole row did a bathroom break.

We landed right on time, and walked slowly to the baggage claim area (my legs were pins and needles, the seats weren't comfortable). I called Brian, in town from Montreal for the weekend, while waiting for my bag and he said that he'd come pick me up and we'd go to dinner. By the time I got my bag and made it outside, I just had a minute to wait under the American sign and he pulled up with Heidi. He followed the promptings of the built in navigation system and we made our way to old town, to Casa de Reyes restaurant. We were eating outside, under a tend made of canvas and wood, with propane heating torches scattered around. We tried to get one a bit closer, but every time the waiter tried to move one, it would go out. I just ordered quesadillas from the appetiser section, and could barely finish them. A tiny bit cheese heavy, but good, and I had the raspberry iced tea. It was good to catch up with Brian, and to see him relaxed and happy (he always seemed stressed out when he was posted to Boston for work). We left just as the strolling band started singing for the table next to us. Brian dropped me off at the airport and I only had a couple of minutes to wait for the shuttle to the airport. Checked in, in building C. Went back out again to hot tub, but they'd locked the gate at 10 and it was 10:40. :/ So, just read for a bit and went to sleep.

Monday October 23, 2006

I woke up with my right thumb and index finger tingly-numb. :/ I'd sleep on my arm in such a way as to aggravate my ulnar nerve problem, and it was a bad start to a fairly crappy day. I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, that went quickly and I had a good fruit selection (no bananas even though I forgot to ask) and yoghurt, though the tea was a selection of bagged. Fresh grapefruit juice was great to have again, though. Took the shuttle over to UCSD to find that they'd provided breakfast after all, despite it not appearing on the schedule. Grabbed some water and tea and said some hellos. We were in the multipurpose room, no power for laptops, so I took notes on the pad of paper in the goodie bag. This day was the mBIRN breakout, and this session was to give summaries. It went long. An hour and a half long. We totally missed the coffee break, and I was up in the back (bad choice) where I couldn't sneak out quietly for a bathroom break. Others snuck out loudly, though. The meeting leader didn't have a list of updates, everyone just had to go up when they wanted, and he forgot to ask two people, so even when we thought we were finished, two more wordy ones got done.

At that point, we had half an hour before lunch, and they'd decided to scrap the specific meetings for the afternoon, so it was all messed up. I sat up in the designated meeting room by myself and caught up on some stuff, then went down for lunch, swapping airline horror stories with the BWH crew. Wendy and Sandy were doing the fMRI tracks. I finally found out where I should go in the afternoon, they got a bigger room for the serial sessions, which ended up being a basic pipeline demo that I was familiar with from oh, five years ago, despite the new version. And then the groups kind of split up randomly and I was left at a loose end at around 3pm. I interviewed Anders about Freesurfer file formats (all the while, he thought I was from UCLA or somewhere, not Brigham), then went looking for an ATM to get cash to get a smoothie (he and Christine had them). It was hotter than expected, and I had my laptop in my backpack, and I started to get hot and cranky and almost lost, as despite asking two people where the ATMs were, I walked past them due to construction fences hiding them. I popped into the bookstore while I was in the area and got a paperback dark future book for supplementary reading. Txted Adam, but no response. Finally found the atm after being ignored by the box office person I was trying to ask about them, and finally getting decent directions from a coffee tent gal. Lots of alternative looking people manning the free sanding coffee tents, the one near IT^2 is all decorated for Halloween. I settled in at a table in the hallway and worked on slicer3 while waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel. Shawn and Mike were in it, keep running into them. Called Cris and chatted for a while, then tried to sort out dinner with Brian and Heidi, but her food restrictions made it impossible to find a place she could eat in La Jolla and I wasn't feeling up to making my own way into SD to join them where they ended up going.

I caught a taxi from the hotel to downtown La Jolla (at lightspeed, it felt like, but not unsafe for some reason), and got dropped off at Spice and Rice on Girard. It smelled lovely when I walked in, and I took a table in the open air section. It had tons of lanterns and heliotrope (? air plants) on the burnt umber textured wall that went up two stories to a pointed roof, it was gorgeous. The staff were all really friendly and the prices were reasonable. I was tempted by the red curry in a fresh coconut half, but went with the pineapple fried rice in half a pineapple. Heidi would have had problems eating here after all, the menu warned of meat broth in the veggie selections. But it was all so tasty. I had the deep fried spring rolls to start, they were tiny things, piping hot, and the dipping sauce was great. I tried calling my taxi driver when I left the restaurant, but my phone was low on batteries and refused to dial out. I walked down Girard back to Prospect and waited on the corner (after two cabs went by as I walked up) for a while until I was able to flag down a cab (none went by, I had to call out to one that was going right by - luckily he had his window open). Back to the room, and decided to skip hot tubbing tonight as there were two guys in there already, and I'd only have a few minutes before 10 anyway. Caught up on my travel diary, LJ but the wireless in the room isn't stable enough to ssh into my server to get mail. Here's hoping I don't have nerve problems tonight.

Tuesday October 24, 2006

I decided to brave the breakfast on offer at the conference, so got up a bit later and took my time getting ready. Mistake, as I ended up walking quickly for the shuttle and it pulled away as I was turning the corner. By the time I go to CALIT^2 and collected a plate of breakfast burritto and a bagel with cream cheese, and then went back for water and hot water for my tea, it was almost 8:30 and time to go in. I dallied a bit and ate a bit too fast, sitting at the tables set up outside in the courtyard, but went in without food/water and full enough. The reports took up the morning, and ran late, and then I scarfed down lunch and had a working meeting to attend during lunch. Which bled right into the afternoon's meetings. I got to see Steve demoing the bits of the query atlas that I'd fixed the colours in, that was neat.

Then they corralled us for the group picture and then directed us to sit and hear the keynote speaker, who gave a somewhat rambling and incoherent talk (he flew in from NYC that day) on ethics and doping in sports. And then they shuttled us over to Roosevelt College (I think) for the evening social. I was almost fried by then, and needed food, but our shuttle driver took us the long way round and we got there after the party that had walked. Who promptly descending on the food before I could get to it, I kept getting nudged to the back of the sushi line, trying to juggle my chopsticks and a plate and a napkin. I finally got a few mouthfulls, but the plates were decimated by the time I got back to them. I settled for a glass of pinot grigiot and found myself talking with Anthony, and then we didn't stop. There were more seats than diners, so we ended up at a table with only one other person, who sat a seat away from me, and didn't participate as we nattered on about books and music and movies (he's a big fan of the Princess Bride too). I had some red wine with dinner as well, and babbled a lot. Harry says that he caught a picture of us that bounced back from my email filter, I'm curious to see what that was like. We were some of the last ones to leave, the chocolate cake put me in a food coma after I managed to finish it - reminiscent of the decadent creations that Finale puts together. I grabbed the shuttle and felt silly for it as we just went straight down the hill to the hotel, but I still had my backpack + laptop with me and it was doing a number on my shoulders even during short walks.

I passed on going out with Adam and the crew, opting instead to hot tub. One woman was in there as I went in, but went out soon afterward, and then another BIRNer came in that I didn't know, but we left each other to the contemplation of hot water and jets. I love looking up at the stars from a body of water, especially when palm trees frame the view. I took a dip in the pool after, it was disappointingly heated. I gave the other guy my review and he found it warm as well. No northern style closing of the pores for us. Showered and rinsed out my suit, then did the next Japanese lesson on my CD set (almost falling asleep).

Wednesday October 25, 2006

I was able to just miss the shuttle again today, but at least it left just before I could see it leaving. Karen and the LA crew were taking off to the airport and let me know that I'd missed the shuttle, but another one soon came. I had more time to eat breakfast this morning. More working meetings, starting off with the data provenance one where I had to go to the front and show my previous work. Then image distortion correction options, and then a very very long lunch break while I ate and then grabbed a room to type up the notes and write up a plan of attack for the next 6 months for the DP group. Finally back to the main auditorium to hear the summaries at 3:15, which went faster than I'd feared and we actually broke early. Problem was, the shuttle service wasn't going to start for an hour, but on the upside, I had a chance to chat with Allan and Dave, who were going to be driving back to LA that evening and couldn't join Adam and me for dinner. I was the only person on the shuttle, apparently everyone else walked as no one had called the service to start early.

I packed and called Cris and ate leftover pineapple fried rice to tide me over to dinner, and then Adam came to pick me up. We went over to Rock Bottom to meet Harry, who then drove us to downtown San Diego to go to Mister Tiki for their sushi. Adam and I hiked up into the mall we parked in to validate the parking ticket, I got some uber cool Nightmare B4 Xmas socks (purple barbed accents!) that I'd never seen out east. At the restaurant, we had to ask for the sushi menu, it was just a portion of what they offered. It was okay, I was amused by the sheer volume of stuff the other two ordered. The mango mai tai was just barely strong enough to make me talkative, I wasn't impressed - must have been all the ice in the hurricane glass. At least it wasn't that expensive. I was tired by the time we were done, and requested drop off service back in La Jolla. They didn't tease me too badly about it, and Harry got us there safe in his Mustang convertible. I was asleep by 11pm, alarm set for 6am, shuttle to the airport scheduled for 7am for the 9am flight.

Thursday October 26, 2006

I boiled a mug of water in the microwave and had my emergen-c but didn't eat anything, which turned out to be a mistake as I got a bit queasy in the van. Things calmed down as we stopped moving, so I checked in and got through security before getting food (glad I was expensing it, over $2 for a single yoghurt serving), both for breakfast and lunch on the plane. I'd picked the "wrong" security line, the scanner operator was taking their time, but I had a wall next to me rather than two lines of people so that was okay. I started to eat my fruit salad, but they started boarding. I was in group 2 but when I got to my row, there was a family in the aisle and middle seats with a baby in arms. Luckily, it was one of the happiest babies I've ever seen, always smiling at people and it only groused for a bit mid flight before it napped. I read the in-flight magazine for a while, then put my noise cancelling headphones on and listened to music while I read my book. I was still wiped out when I got to Boston, and took a cab home (the driver asked if I was from Florida, "arriving with no clothes"). So so so glad to be home, but Cris is heading out tomorrow to SF and then I go out to join him on Monday, and we fly to Japan on Tuesday. He asked me what I was most looking forward to about the trip to Japan while we were out for dinner, and I answered "getting off the plane."

Back to my diary page.