Tonight was conference registration. Man, these folks have gone ALL OUT! As was true last year, I’m something of a minor celebrity. I’m so active on the LABMGR mailing list that a lot of people know my name. They see me, they point, they say, "I know you!!" We shake hands, and talk about how much I hate SPSS (my most recent post).
The SWAG!!! Wow. Get a load of THIS:
That’s a REALLY NICE canvas shoulder bag, a T-shirt a notebook, some "stress putty", and the card in the lanyard is a "real" plastic card! And a CANVAS BAG!! Wow!
After I registered I went into the Student Union ballroom where there was a Halo 2 LAN party. I was relieved to discover that I was NOT the worst player there.
There were a couple of tours. I took the one of their server farm and "high-tech" facilities (their Helpdesk and ITC equivalents). Some very impressive stuff.
Then it was off to a local sports bar for some food (provided) and drinks (on yourself). I ended up kibbitzing with a guy from SUNY IT. We had just gotten through commiserating about the low level of common sense in most PhDs when a guy from Cleveland–who hadn’t heard our conversation–sits down with us and starts going on about the same thing. "The higher the degree," he philosophized, "the lower the level of common sense!" I spit out my beer, I was laughing so hard. Certainly, there are exceptions to that generalization; but I think it’s true more than it’s not!
Tomorrow the sessions begin! And there are some GOOD ones!
On my way back I decided to "wing it", as I am wont to do when I’m someplace new. The map stays folded and I just drive, relying on my keen sense of direction. I discovered something else that seems to be not unique to the North Country. In many communities, especially larger ones, there is evidence of what USED to be the "center of town" existing in stark contrast to "what’s happening" now. Route 9 north of Plattsburgh is a perfect example of this. The North Country Shopping Center was where it was at until the Interstate went in and drew everyone out route 3 instead. Now route 9 is a ghost town. Mankato seemed generally DEAD to me until tonight. It turns out that the reverse is true here. The main highway–US 169–winds down on the wrong side of the Minnesota River, with "old" downtown on the other side. It turns out that all the "action" in this town is up the hill by the University! And I discovered it quite by accident while trying to find my way back to my hotel (which I did without a map, thankyouverymuch).