Monday, 19 November 2007

at a Starbucks in London...

... I'm just back, from almost 4 days of conferencing in California, sitting in a Starbucks near King's Cross, London, waiting for my train to York. The conference was good - managed to speak to way too many people... and went out a couple of times with some old (and some new) friends. But there's one thing I hate about conferences (well... I'm sure I can think of some other things too, but just one comes to mind right now). Soon after first coming to York, something happened (I don't know what) that left me almost incapable of remembering someone's face or their name. This means that from one day to the next I may fail to recognize someone I've been talking to the previous day. Or, I recognize them, but I cannot retrieve their name. And even with people I've known for what seems like forever, I will occasionally be unable to retrieve their name quickly enough to be able to introduce them to someone else. So at conferences, imagine the nightmare of so many people I see, whom I fail to recognize, and who must think I'm really rude for not saying hello to them. Of course, now I go to great lengths to tell people about this problem, so some of them come up to me and say hello and, seeing that I don't recognize them, explain that we've met etc. etc. I really appreciate that.

HIghlights of the conference (in no particular order):
  • An excellent Latino restaurant.
  • An excellent Italian restaurant.
  • A fantastic filet of beef at another restaurant (accompanied by a surprisingly nice red wine - I say 'surprisingly' because the wine was American - there, I've just revealed my prejudices about Californian wine).
  • A plentiful supply of caffeine.
  • An equally plentiful supply of largely interesting 15 min. talks (15 minutes is brief enough that you don't get bogged down in detail, or fall asleep).
  • A plentiful supply of shark (at the neighboring aquarium).
  • My publisher, who, contrary to widespread belief, is not The Devil.
  • A bunch of people whom I spent time with and whom I feel privileged to know.
  • The pharmaceutical company without whom I would not have slept on the plane.
Lowlights (what is the opposite of a highlight?)
  • The inconsistent quality of the coffee that accompanied the plentiful supply of caffeine (you can't fault Starbucks when it comes to the consistency of their coffee)
  • The speed of the internet service at my hotel for which I paid $25 (I couldn't read half my email because it would timeout). This said, nothing is as slow as the internet on a GNER train.
  • The quality of my room at the Hilton which, for the price I paid, should have been luxurious beyond imagination (I only stayed there because (a) it was a conference-recommended hotel, and (b) there was nowhere else - you think I would subsidize Paris Hilton by choice?)
  • The overly-abundant number of Apple iPhones being flaunted at me. (Yes, I want one, but not with the rubbish coverage provided by O2 in the UK - That said, if my publisher wanted to buy me one, and pay the monthly contract, I wouldn't complain....).
  • The 16 new manuscripts that have landed on my virtual desk at the journal
Things to look forward to now that I'm (almost) back
  • Zillions more manuscripts to process.
  • The challenge of buying a PSP for my soon-to-be (next week) 13 yr-old.
  • The challenge of buying a Nintendo Wii for Xmas, for both my 13 yr-old and my 10-yr old (don't ask me why I'm caving in to this perverse desire of theirs). If anyone knows where I can get one without selling my soul, you know how to contact me.
  • Seeing a bunch of people whom I spend most of my time with and whom I feel privileged to know (yes, that does include my two kids!)
  • Getting home.