San Diego, 2005

To USCD for the annual all hands meeting for the BIRN project that I'm on at work.

Sun Oct 16/05

The alarms work me up at 4am, and I scrambled around to turn off the two of them, their purpose successful in waking me up. I'd stayed in the night before, trying to get to sleep around 10pm, but not quite succeeding... so I was somewhat zombified. The taxi was supposed to show up at 4:30, so I prioritized getting showed, dressed and throwing a few things into the suitcase (Cris lent me his, as my small one was falling apart), rather than eating and collecting cds and dvds. When I turned on the front door light and peeked out at 4:20, the taxi was there already, so I finished up and ran out. The driver tried to chat to me a little, but I was half falling asleep (a state I stayed in until close to landing in SD), and he gave up after a bit. We took the mass pike shortcut into the airport, and he dropped me off at terminal C at around 4:45. I was surprised to see a long check in line at the United counter, but as I looked for the end of it, I noticed that the priority check-in line listed Star Alliance silver card holders as allowed to jump in. There were only a few people in it, so I entered it, thinking that I'd know soon if I should join the end of the long one. The check in clerk didn't blink, just checking me in and putting my boarding pass in a gold envelope. Score. I also picked the shortest line through security, and had time to get some juice and a yoghurt before my flight was called.

I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I sat down, nodding out and waking up through the flight to Washington. Got there okay, and went in search for the non existent smoothie place (it was hidden by the boards marking new construction), and settled on a bagel and cream cheese at the kiosk across from my gate (2.09 for that, glad for the expense account). I had the exact same seat on the outbound flight as the inbound, and boarded in the second group. I slept about half way, ignoring the movie and then reading as we started more south. I saw the end of the desert and the beginning of the mountains, but I nodded off and only woke up as we landed in San Diego.

I called the Radisson to request a van pickup as I was heading to baggage claim, and was told that I had to call *after* I had my bags. 2 minutes later, Cris' suitcase came off the belt, and I called them. To find out that the van had just left the hotel and I had 30 mins to wait - very annoying that they wouldn't just send it out when I first called - granted, I was sleep deprived and thirsty and cranky, but I was muttering under my breath as I cross the sky bridge to the waiting area. The van was a bit less than half an hour, which was good, as it started to rain soon after I sat down in one of the few sheltered places and I had to guard my bags and me from being shifted out of the way by other people waiting at the same island. I was the only passenger, we had a quick trip back to the familiar area of La Jolla, just down the hill from UCSD. Apparently, unlike what the Radisson employee on the phone told me, I couldn't use the express check in, and there were no first floor rooms ready when I arrived at around 12:30. I elected to wait until 3 so I could avoid having to stress my strained knee on the stairs (no elevators), and headed out to the mall next door to the hotel. I gave Adam a call and he said that he'd call me back after he was finished his errands and we could sort out where we were going. I found the Cold Stone Creamery but managed to resist going in, getting a burritto and a Naked Chai from Whole Foods and sitting there to refuel. I browsed there and the drug store next door, grabbing some tooth paste (another forgotten thing from the rush out in the morning) and some jasmine bath stuff. I meandered back to the hotel at 2pm or so, and the room wasn't ready, but I got my bags and sat in the lobby to read and wait. This was apparently the thing to do as they managed to get my room cleaned in 10 minutes, and I was off to Building A, next door, as it turned out, looking out onto the pool area. I resisted taking a nap, diving into my book instead and playing with the sleep number control on the king bed to try and get it the right softness. I ended up setting one half soft and one hard to experiment.

Adam came to pick me up at around 5, and we drove over past Miramar Airforce base (airshow on, I saw the stealth bomber making a turn over the grocery store) to The Great Ashkora (?) for Indian food. I was a bit out of it, and didn't even see his co-worker who said hi as we sat down at the table next to them. He told me about Jessica and we had a good catch up chat over spicy food. The mango lassi that I ordered, as usual, disappeared too quickly. He had martial arts class afterward, so he dropped me off and I had a nice long bath, talked to Cris for a bit, and read until 9 or so when I fell asleep for good.

Mon Oct 17/05

I woke up with my cell phone's alarm going off at 7am, and I stumbled out of bed in the dark to find it's blue glowing face and turn it off. I nibbled on some of my leftover food (half the burritto and the naan from dinner) and read before heading out to catch the shuttle to UCSD. Din-ying and Sylvester were in my van, and that was it. We tried the wrong side of the building to get in at first, but soon found the hidden signs to get in through the side. We grabbed a bagel and water, and settled into our respective conference rooms.

Meet meet meet. Break for lunch. Meet some more, moving to a more comfy room when our break out room was too small - it was sized for 10 people with 20+ in there. I was able to get my laptop connected to inseat power, and they gave us personal log ins for the UCSD wireless network, so I was able to check some software updates in when I figured out one of the colour scales. I was in one of the first vans back to the Radisson, same driver as the morning, and gave Adam a call to check on dinner plans. He was finishing up stuff, so I threw on my workout gear and headed to the fitness room. Karen came in as I was finishing up the treadmill and moving to freeweights. I ended up doing 30 mins total on the treadmill, since it took forever to work up a sweat while speed walking at the 0 incline level. There were missing free weights right where I wanted to work with them, and I almost bonked myself doing chest presses with what I thought was 25lb each and was closer to 30 I think. I did my abs and stretched out, and then headed back to my room to clean up. Adam called as I was about to jump in the shower, and then Alan called as I was in it, and then Adam called as I was trying to call him, so I just gave up on the phone thing, and threw on a skirt and tshirt, grabbed my sweater, and headed to the lobby to meet Adam, and Dave and Alan showed up soon after.

We had a bit of a wait gathering people up, as Seth and Jyl, and then Karen joined us. Adam drove and Jyl followed as we went over to On the Border to meet up with Adam's friend Jeff. We had a good dinner, our server was friendly and was spot on when he suggested the shrimp scampi. I couldn't resist the mango margarita, it was verra nice. Adam, Alan, Dave, and I decided to head down to the gas lamp district to find a place to hang out, have a drink, and ended up at the Field, after parking in the structure associated with a neat Escher-esque open air mall. I stuck with tea at first, sharing a pot, and then tried the house cider on tap, in a half pint. We were all a bit tired, and they learned some bad news about a dj in LA dying recently, so it was a bit of a somber gathering until the alcohol switched us to a bit of a manic mode and we started swapping unexpected co-worker encounter stories. We ended up heading back to the hotel at around midnight, and I fell into bed.

Tue Oct 18/05

I woke up before my alarm went off, wide awake at 7 instead of 7:45, so I snacked on leftover indian food, read a bit, and then got dressed and took the 7:45 shuttle over to IT^2, again with Din-ying. Many more people as the main body of the meeting started. Lots of overview slides, breakfast was egg wraps and nothing else, very odd. Lunch was make your own sandwiches, and Ron found the BWH table and broke some budget reorganisation news on us. I left my backpack with Adam and went out for a walk to the book store, not finding the next book by Stroud (they had two copies of book 1 but none of book 2 or later), but they did have the new Lemony Snicket book, The Penultimate Peril, so I grabbed that. The rain had broken for a bit, so the sun was streaming into the lunch area, and I decamped to the cooler and dimmer side eating area to catch up on things for a bit. Yay for 2 hour lunches.

The DB working group was useful, and we managed to get the group picture taken without much fussing (I ended up in the middle front somehow). The keynote speaker, Dr. Timothy Killeen from NCAR, showed us some worrying data on global warming and earthquake and hurricane prediction (check here for a link to the presentation). After that, the shuttles took us to the Radisson to drop our stuff (and I got to chat to Cris right after he got out of the free screening of Doom), and then onto the Birch Aquarium for the reception and dinner. We had the full run of the place, but since I wasn't all that hungry or thirsty, so after nibbling on a couple of pieces of sushi (yes, I'm evil to the fishes), I sort of wandered around looking at exhibits on earthquakes (LA really does sit on a network of fault lines) and the tidal pools. I followed Ron when he went into the fishtanks area and browsed around there for a while, waiting to be allowed to descend upon the nicely laid out tables. The moray eels tank was disturbing, three *huge* eels piled up on top of each other- they're way too snake like for my comfort. Dinner was called, and we tucked in. I ended up sitting next to an ex army brat, ex marine, who'd just been up to Nova Scotia for a holiday during the Acadian founding 400th anniversary, in Grand Pre, so we had lots to talk about. I skipped the steak part of my surf and turf, and ducked out to see the shark tank in the dark court yard after dessert, and before the non existent tea/coffee serving. At 9pm or so, we decided to duck out to the shuttles (Heidi and Michele) and head back to the hotel. I changed into my sleeping clothes, curled up in bed with The Penultimate Peril and feel right asleep. I woke up briefly at 2am and turned off the lights and went back to sleep.

Wed Oct 19/05

Up at 7am, made myself some actual boiling water for tea, and saw a bunny rabbit hopping away from my window when I opened the blinds to let the sun in. I read for a while sipping my tea, light streaming over my shoulder. I took the 7:45 shuttle (it was late enough that I caught it). The guy from dinner (Mr. Little?) caught me and gave me the information on his trip to Grand Pre, including the Acadian diaspora poster link. Made tentative plans with Sylvester to go exploring tonight with him and Heidi, as they have a rental car until tomorrow morning. I caught upon lj during lunch, and gave Wendy a run down of the worries inherent in being in the US on a visa.

At lunch refined plans to go to the Cabrillo National Monument to see the sunset, and then Khyber Pass to eat.

Because the last talks and the wrap up speeches went a bit long, and I got caught to install Slicer on someone's laptop, I didn't make it back to the hotel until 5:53 or so, and sunset was scheduled for 6:11. Sylvester and Heidi were set by the car, consulting maps for a route to a closer look out point, and we all jumped in as soon as I arrived. We ended up at the Sea Lodge beach, just as the sun touched the sea, and watched it sink into it, ending right at 6:11. It was gorgeous there, below the cliffs that the Birch Aquarium sits on, with a line of palm trees sparsely separating the beach from the parking lots. Mist gathered around the base of a long pier off to our right, and surfers were coming in on the small waves. We saw divers wading into the surf as we walked toward the Sea Lodge restaurant, The Shores, and a guy waving a metal detector over the sand (searching for those lost wedding rings we were all talking about a few days previously). Plus joggers and swimmers and walkers, it was a pretty busy place, but didn't feel crowded, since the tide was way out. Sylvester got lots of photos, hopefully I can get a link to them, as it was a perfect antidote to a hectic day (I'd spent time consulting on visas, fixing Ron's laptop, supporting a slicer user, as well as fixing colour scales in my module and some QA verification/debugging).

We had a bit of a wait for a table at the Shores, and then had to wait for our water, bread, and waiter, but once they recalibrated, service was prompt. I had the roast lobster tail which was presented partially ripped out the back of it's shell and resting on it, kind of disturbing. Ice tea, hot tea (a selection of bags) and a fruit tart (perfect raspberries, but the peach and pear were from a tin) rounded off dinner and padded out my expense report. We drove back to the Radisson, and I had a chance to chat with Cris as he took a break from washing dishes, and then, since it was just 9, I had time to jump into the fitness room for a warmup and some upper body weights. I got back to my room at 9:40 and decided to do a quick change and go swimming (everything closed at 10) to get my cardio workout in. I did laps with different strokes, and then joined Heidi, Dave, Sylvester and Jyl in the hot tub to soak out my aches and pains for a bit. I did it a bit too well, as I was a touch dizzy when we got out (after being told the pool closed, but we were quiet and discussing work, and didn't engender any noise complaints). Quick shower and then to bed.

Thu Oct 20/05

Up at 7, yet again, and remembered to take my vitamins this time. Just changed and packed up and headed to the CalIT2 location, in the same van with Ron, where we discussed download strategies for our software. Had breakfast, and time to dl all the software needed for the tutorial onto my usb key, just in case.

I ended up being way early, as they didn't start until 9:15 or so, and people were still trickling in at 10:30. Wide range of computer smarts in evidence. Helped out Florin with a hierarchy problem remotely, and tweaked the qa stuff a bit. Gave Christine a demo at lunch (after I gave in and had a slice of the oreo cake, bad bad idea, it was pure sugar). No tea for me today, just OJ. I was a bit frazzled, running around during the Slicer tutorial, up and down stairs, but at least we got everyone to sit in alternate rows so that I could get behind everyone. But when we hit more than 50, people went into the back row and were hard to help. Ron sat in for a while, and Adam was typing away in a corner. Sonia went a bit fast in places, and Randy a bit slow, and lots of people used my USB key chain data.

Heidi and I helped Sonia (on crutches) get onto the shuttle back to the hotel, after a UCSD person guided us to a ramp out of the building (hard to find!). We got her back to her room, and then split off to make our own ways to Spa-MD in La Jolla. Heidi's seaweed wrap and facial started before my shiatsu massage so she went ahead and I spoke briefly with Cris (Richard was over catching his breath), then took a Lush bath, changed, and popped over to the mall (found the door from the hotel parking lot) to get cash. I had a personable cabbie, as I found after waiting for a bit by the hotel lobby and talking to Ron for a bit. Traffic was bad, but I had time, and got there with enough time to change into a robe and sit in the massage chair. A woman from the Gold Coast area of Australia was there, raving about Rose's skills (comparing her to a self taught masseuse in Singapore, I think, as well as talking about her eating disorder during her Hong Kong childhood). Rose came to collect me and proceeded to poke my knots into some sort of submission. She ended up by climbing onto my back and using her knees and elbows on my legs and back. *blink* It worked though. Lots of really sore spots, mostly from limping due to the foot, and using the laptop this week.

I was back in the change room when Heidi came in, perfect timing. We both changed and paid our bills (in the boutique, of course), and I solicited restaurant recommendations from the clerk. He said French one way and sushi the other, and I'm grateful that Heidi chose French, as we ended up at Tapenade, and it was one of the best meals I've had in a while. I started with snails in pesto (served in a small egg plate with depressions that just hid the snails in a lake of pesto), and then the organic roast chicken breast which was divine (I wished Cris was there to try the skin, he'd have loved it). I couldn't resist the chocolate mousse in a martini glass for dessert, though the frozen coffee ice around the rim was just compensated for by the gooey caramel layer. We rolled out of there, happy and full and decided to walk for a bit. We ended up doing about 2 miles up along Torrey Pines, very busy road with four lanes of traffic (where it wasn't under construction), and sidewalks that disappeared under vegetation or almost slid off the cliff. We could see the beach where we'd walked yesterday. My knee protested against the downward slope, and we stopped into the Hotel la Jolla to call a cab, eventually getting the concierge to do it for us. We sat and read (I finished The Penultimate Peril) and then had the new concierge call again. Lo and behold, the cab pulled up and it was the driver that took me to the spa. He serenaded us for a bit on the way back, and remembered me. Split up, to room, some gathering together of stuff for packing tomorrow, verified flights, and reserved a shuttle for 11am to the airport.

Fri Oct 21/05

For once, I got to wake up naturally, though I had set my alarm for 9:30 as a backup. I had time to go to the hotel restaurant for pancakes (though they were billed as blueberry, it tasted as if they'd marinated the blueberries in bananas). I boiled some water for tea and packed up all my non sports clothes. I changed and went over to the fitness room to do an upper body workout, and then changed into my swimsuit to do some laps and soak in the hot tub again. I showed and finished up packing, and checked out. No free wireless in the lobby it seemed like. I got stuffed in the back corner of the hotel shuttle van for the trip to the airport with a group from Atlanta that had a ton of luggage and a huge display case that blocked us in. The driver let them off first at the other airport terminal, and then dropped me off for my United flight. I did curb side check in and the guy was snooty when I didn't tip him - I thought it was a service of United since they had the logo on the kiosk, but apparently he expected to be paid extra. Ah well. Turned out, when I got into the terminal that there wasn't such a huge line for check-in, but the security line had two snakes in it. It went pretty fast, and they opened up another xray machine as I got up near the front, so it wasn't too bad. I was at my gate an hour before flight time, and had time to grab an expensive healthy lunch (water, yoghurt, fruit salad came to nine dollars). Now packed in like a sardine in the waiting area for gate 18, but at least my back is to the main body of the crowd. 10 mins to boarding, hopefully, then transfer in Washington (another non favourite airport), and then Cris should be there to pick me up, late tonight, in Boston.

I had a young girl sitting next to me, playing solitaire with her mom on a little laptop, but in French. She kept curling up on the seat and touching me with her feet, but she'd move as soon as she noticed, so it wasn't too bad (plus she had her shoes off). A toddler was in front of me, every so often her arm would appear as she scrambled around on her seat, but she was mostly quiet, so the 4 hour trip across the country wasn't much of a trial. I ended up getting about halfway through "Wild Swans". It was crowded in Washington, as usual, but I was able to grab a milk shake and a seat and read for a while. I boarded between seating areas 1 and 2, they slurred over the Silver card holders being allowed to board in 1, and settled in. Then a woman with two young boys appeared in the seat in front of me. They were a bit noisy, but the one in front of me was very sweet, occasionally popping up to look at me, and then falling down abruptly, so it looked like he disappeared. My bag appeared quickly in Boston, and Cris pulled up just as I got to the pick up island, and whisked me home to home made apple pie and sleep.

Back to my diary page.