Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The blur that was Portland

I thought I might be able to post more often while I was in Portland, but that just wasn't to be. Here's a quick synopsis.

Sunday was spent at the Convention Center, putting up posters in the TACC booth. We had our share of surprises, successes and snafus, but for the most part, our booth was lovely (bigger than we've ever had) and very successful.

Sunday night, mom and I went to the Intel welcome party at the Portland Art Museum. (Apparently I didn't miss very much at the craft market.) The food was very good, we ran into a lot of people we knew and had some lovely conversations, and they gave out nice fleece jackets as a parting gift. My only complaint was that we didn't get to see the rest of the museum. That was kind of a bummer.

Monday, I moved to the Governor hotel where the rest of the TACCsters were already encamped. After staying in the tiny room with my mom for the weekend, it was a pleasure to have a nice big room on the top floor, complete with fireplace!

After putting the finishing touches on the booth (and stopping by a pre-opening reception), the fun began at the convention center with the opening party for the conference attendees. It was such a blur - we talked to so many people! The booth was very popular. It went on like that for three days - chatting in the booth til closing, checking out a restaurant or a party, and crashing into bed. That's how these things go every year. (I have to say, I miss the LinuxNetworx parties at the sports venues like we had in Seattle and Tampa!)

Thursday, Al Gore did the keynote address at the conference. I was debating whether to go or not - he was besieged by protesters at his speech on Wednesday, and they swore there would be tons of security, blah blah blah. But in the end, I just couldn't stay away. It's AL, after all. I love Al. I think a lot of other people were scared away... I got into the ballroom right away and got a pretty good seat up front, just left of center. It was pretty empty until right before his talk started. I was frantically texting my staff to get them to come quickly -- and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Al was great. Clearly, he has a selection of canned jokes, mostly self-deprecating, that he likes to tell. And he used an African proverb (that got retweeted multiple times), which he also recited on '30 Rock' and SNL. Ah well. But he gave a tremendous speech, showing that he knew about supercomputing and networking (whether he "invented the Internet" or not...) and issued a call to arms to the HPC community to help solve the climate crisis. It made me sad (again) that we had to live through 8 years of that other idiot... this country would be in a totally different place if Al had been President. *sigh*

The rest of Thursday - another blur. I went to the job fair and talked to some students interested in summer internships... and then I had to haul a** for the airport. I had the chattiest cab driver ever on the way there. He was telling me about his rare book collection, his latest surgery, the love/marriage advice he gave to a woman who was crying in his cab last week... and on, and on, and on.

I was so glad to be back in Austin, even for just four days.

Next stop: London!

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