I had far too much fun to not make mention of my first trip to Texas and keynote.
9/16 – Hotel. The photo above was my view of San Antonio from the 14th floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Having stayed in and worked all day, it took me until the 17th to realize that San Antonio is, in fact, an actual big city. One that happens to exist to the North, East, and South of my due-West window. You can see for yourself the arrangement of the city here.
9/17 – The Alamo. My godmother's friend's great-grandfather, William DePriest Sutherland (web and local pdf copy), was a 17-year-old courier (perhaps performing the duties of his uncle John S. Jr.) who died during the fighting on March 6, 1836. After 170 years, it's still a small world (if you need more proof, I link Kevin Bacon to the Alamo in 6).
9/18 – Movie. The first full day of the conference began at 5:00 am with a 14th floor fire alarm. As a chemist (well, sort of) working in a big box of laboratories full of organic vapors, my usual inclination is to run like hell when the fire alarm goes off. Much to my surprise, the directions in large hotels are to hold still until the origin of the alarm can be ascertained (you never know what… state the guests are in). The next thing I remember was waking up fully dressed in the previous day's clothes (ready to run with nothing from the ironing board). The rest of the day was spent regretting not having taken Spanish in high school, having already regretted not taking German in high school to make my translation of German chemical journals easier. C'est dommage.
The contents of the conference are worth their own posting because, frankly, it's too important generally to bury within a slide show. So, I skip the details…
The post-conference reception featured a 9-piece Mariachi band that were getting INTO it. Click on the image to launch a 30 second snippet (you'll need a recent Quicktime. they're playing my song, as it was the only Mariachi tune I knew).
9/18 – Crossroads. Carolyn Kelley is my new favorite Greek just north of the south of the border. En route to the famed Riverwalk, San Antonio's official response to Syracuse's Armory Square, we passed by the blurred hotel in the photo. This was the hotel, according to legend, where Robert Johnson wrote "Crossroads." I need say no more.
9/19 – Javier. After the second day's meeting, the assembly retired to a late lunch where I was finally able to pull my keynote translator, Javier Romïan, aside. It's bad enough having to translate on the fly. It is a whole level worse when scientific lingo/jargon is being thrown around as part of the content. It is, further, a whole other matter to have to work around occasionally incoherent, rambling, unfocused presenters (like myself). On top of all that, a glitch with the translation headsets meant I had to give my presentation to him on stage in 30 second sound bites, making my 45 minute talk last about 1 hour 25 min (which, actually, was a really nice way to give a presentation, as I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to say for the next slide AND had to make sure I curtailed my proclivity for verbosity). I don't know what he said, but he's AOK in my book.
9/20 – Abel and Jim. I spent several minutes trying to pack my bull horns into a suitcase already replete with my toiletries (there's a big difference between personal grooming and personal hygiene. As a policy (and because crazy scientists are supposed to, well, LOOK the part), I focus on the latter) thanks to events at Heathrow (and note the timing of the acceptance of the PETN paper in ChemPhysChem). The rest of the morning featured a short interview for Univision and last-minute photo ops with Dr. Abel Navarro, my gracious host and conference chair, and Mr. James Dickerson, who made the presentation logistics as easy as turning my Powerbook on.
9/20 – Just of interest to note that American cities in-progress look remarkably like the Greek and Roman ones that didn't make it over the longer haul.