## Monday, November 12, 2007

### Conference Blogging, Part One

Yesterday I got up at 4 a.m. so I could catch my 6:50 a.m. flight. First we flew to Chicago and from there we flew on to Reno. There were about a half-dozen people from work who were on these flights. The flight to Reno was packed, and I was seated in the middle of a row, between a man who was also going to the conference, and a 77-year-old woman who was going to spend a week with her daughters at a resort in Reno.

She was a fascinating woman, and as we talked, she mentioned that she had always wanted to learn to do Sudoku puzzles. Well, she was seated next to the right person for that! So we did the easy puzzle in the airline magazine together. I explained the rules to her, and showed her where one of the numbers went, and why. Then I periodically gave her hints as to what to look for next. She was an amazingly intelligent person, and she quickly caught on. (If she weren't 77, I might have tried to talk her into becoming a mathematician or computer scientist. She obviously had the ability for it.) She was so excited about the puzzle! Every time she'd get another number put into the puzzle, she would clap and laugh with glee. She was excitedly planning to call her sister and tell her about it, and also to buy a book of Sudoku for her flight home. I really feel like if I do nothing else this trip, I have accomplished something by giving this woman the knowledge to do Sudoku puzzles.

I took their shuttle bus to the hotel (which, like all the other hotels around here, does not have the word "hotel" in its name; it is a casino first and resort second) and checked into my room. It's pretty nice. I am on the 23rd floor, and I have a nice view of a mountain peak and the city lights below.

I took the conference shuttle to the convention center, and registered for the conference. While I was there, I looked for a dear friend of mine, who was my boss's boss at one point when I was in graduate school, and gave him a huge hug when I finally found him. I knew he'd be around, because he always serves on the committees for this conference, and in fact, he is the one who first clued me into going to this conference as a student volunteer in 2002. We talked for a few minutes, and I introduced him to my boss, who had not formally met him before, but then he had to go to a meeting, leaving me to my own devices for the next few hours before the evening's exhibitor banquet.

I was sitting on a bench, trying to stay awake, when a former classmate of mine from graduate school happened by. We sat and talked for over two hours, before he went back to his hotel. But we are going to get together at some point to go out to dinner. We were talking and neither of us knows how many other former classmates of ours are going to be at this conference. I know of at least two, but I don't think that they are people he knows.

The exhibitor party was held at the National Bowling Hall of Fame. You could bowl if you wanted, but I knew that even when I wasn't so exhausted from a long day of travel, that bowling was probably not the best activity for my elbow. I went to the party and had some food, but I was so tired that I didn't stay for long. I was in bed by 8:30 local time, and then I woke up at about 4 local time, but I kept myself in bed as long as I could stand it. I realized that I am succumbing to the cold I had been trying to avoid, so I need to be careful and take it easy if I can.

Today's plans are to go to our booth meeting this afternoon, and to the opening gala in the evening. I will try to roam around the booths and see if I can find any other friends. I'll try to keep you updated, as I do have free internet access at my hotel (thanks, special deal for conference attendees!).