Thursday, May 20, 2010


The big day was yesterday. I could have used a final run through - not so much so I knew what I was saying, but so that I would be so comfortable with what I was saying (or not saying, as the case may be) that I would have enough brain space to devote more attention to the prosody type things about the presentation - rate, looking at audience enough, highlighting the main points. I think I did well enough at it, but there are still bits that were sufficiently stressful that I don't remember them clearly which sometimes happens to me.

Still and all, I thought it was pretty good: I think I remembered to say most of what I wanted to say; I looked at the audience some; I didn't abuse the laser pointer; I got generally positive comments; I didn't develop any spontaneous tics (I brushed my nose with the back of my index finger roughly 2 dozen times during the dry run. I don't recall ever doing that ever before or since, at least not more than once in a row.) Lastly, I asked our director of operations if I was still employed and he said yes. I take the fact that he was comfortable enough to slip into a postprandial doze as that he wasn't nervous about what I was saying.

I wound up having a pretty large audience. It was the 3rd paper after lunch - long enough after for people to show up, not so long that they slipped back out. The post lunch-break papers had pretty sparse attendance comparatively.

Later on, there was a free-food-n-booze reception that I had to pass up to make it to my free-food-n-booze dinner out with a vendor before heading to a free-snack-n-booze party. Apparently the free booze helps boost conference attendance... No one got too rowdy, and I tried to mingle. I chatted with people from other companies, made sure to follow up with the lady I put off during Q&A as having too long a question, and met a few students including an student who insists she spells her name right even if she doesn't :P

We got to tour a submarine at the reception last night at the Museum of Science, where there was also free-food-n-booze. Turns out the coveted bunks are on top of the torpedoes - there's space to sit up and air conditioning in there.
bunks over bo.mbsThe rest of the quarters are cramped and the ceilings are low enough to please Frank Lloyd Right. I got my 3rd try at touching a moon rock too. It's like rubbing a saint's toe*, but for engineers.

Overall the conference is decent.  I'm reminded yet again of why I didn't major in EE, but there's enough to keep me thinking.  They provide most of the food, there's that tiny time to get out and "see Portland". I would have enjoyed seeing more of the city, but I've been agitating for a couple years to get to the conference and blowing it off to buy books at Powells would just not be a good way to show my appreciation for the opportunity.  I did come out a little early, but spent that visiting friends in rural Salem.  (LAX has more exits off the freeway than state capital Salem does, if you count the 105, which I do.)

Portland's a nice little city when it's sunny.  They certainly seem more concerned about being "green" than anything I've seen in SoCal, and by "green" I don't mean "covered in moss" although it is that as well.  On one street corner yesterday, waiting for the shuttle, I saw a half dozen bikers, 3 people in life vests carrying paddles down to the river, quite a few people out walking and two walking and signing.  (I'm not a good enough signer to eavesdrop.)  I've enjoyed Jake's Seafood and the surprisingly fabulous Peruvian food place Andina and beer at Veritable Quandary so I haven't done that badly. I can recommend all these places as worth finding, should you be in Portland.

Today will be me winding down and trying not to fall asleep too much. I got this written because I was awakened at 4:30 AM with bile in the back of my throat and staying vertical seemed prudent. I don't want to end with that negative note, but I'm about ready to try and catnap until I really have to be up.

*For the saint's toe explanation...

There's a statue of a saint, probably Peter (it was 1989 and I'm not catholic), in St. Peter's cathedral in the Vatican. The big toe is almost completely worn off because people rub it for good luck and centuries of that does an ultrafine polish that adds up to lots of wear and a well polished stub. Probably people rub the toe because they can reach it. The statue and pediment are scaled so they don't look out of place in the largest cathedral in the world, so think 4 foot high "baseboards" and keep the proportion.

And the font in the picture is "Drunken Sailor". Couldn't resist even if it's not that legible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How interesting! I'd love to go inside a submarine someday. :) Sounds like a great conference, Erika! I'm glad your presentation went so well. I'd rather die than engage in public speaking, so I have the utmost respect for you!