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Semiformalishmaybe

Route of Erebus

Daydream: Odd "superhero" or "supervillain" - Erebus, a blind man whose power is to suck all the light out of an area for a time so nobody can see

  • Q: How'd he get his powers?
  • A: He was exposed to a cat
  • Q: A radioactive cat? Or gene-blended with one?
  • A: No, just a cat

Day one of conference:

I am still rather sore from all the walking yesterday. Still, my bathtub here is rather nice for relaxing.

  • Woke up early, had a reasonably decent in-hotel breakfast. Not worth the price, but it was among the better hotel breakfasts I've had. Was seated by chance next to snobby family of three I noticed yesterday.
  • Oh, yesterday and today I've noticed some kind of weird "we are THE university you are just another one" thing from UNC - goofy.
  • After breakfast returned to hotel room and slept until a bit shy of noon, getting up for conference opening
  • At this point discovered that the powerpoint presentation I prepared wouldn't run on the ancient version of powerpoint on my windows laptop. Given that I'm not much for powerpoint, this was no major loss - I reconstructed it from memory in about 15 minutes, and it wasn't really any worse.
  • Cluster (Faction) meeting - for people at the conference who share the basic software we use (there are 3 other clusters). It went well, I gave a brief talk off the top of my head which went reasonably smoothly, as did most other universities.
  • Was a bit disappointed that one of the people with whom I had been friendly with at a previous conference seemed cold. Oh well. Might be their new position.
  • Met up with some other people with whom I got along very well at previous conferences, had some good conversation(!), got a ride with them to the demo/presentation location on Duke campus proper.
  • Set things up, talked with various people about my software - useful but not sexy, but still a fair number of people came to the conclusion, 「I could use this...」. A few people wanted to talk about other projects our group is doing, including some social policy professor from CMU (never met him before, was a bit of a surprise). Food was good, wine was good, labels were poor (was hard to tell what was meat in some cases)
  • Eep, was on camera for a bit. Fumbled for a bit in the middle of my presentation because of nervousness, winded up ok. Hopefully they can edit that middle bit out.
  • Wrapped up, ended up walking back to the hotel with the head of the whole government project as well as some other people I know from previous conferences. I've always liked these people - incredibly bright folk who have a deep curiosity in understanding people and the world and a passion for sciences. They're interesting people to talk to, and I think maybe in a different world I could imagine building a proper friendship with them. Sort of like the other people I mentioned getting along with here. Anyhow, after the hotel, we four ended up "getting a beer together" (in my case wine) and talking for two or three hours about various things, work, worklike, and other (with people like this, the lines get fuzzy, because funding is as seekable as a hard drive). Eventually had a delicious-but-sloppy mushroom sandwich too.
  • Back to hotel room

Reasonably happy with the presentations and stuff even though I had deer-in-headlights for part of the on camera presentation.

More general thoughts:

  • Weirded out that I seem to have some friendlike relations here, with the same suspend-resume things I've come to expect from having moved away from a place where I had friends. I'm not sure if this is because I don't have time to be seen at my worst and drive people away, or if there are just some people attracted by the conference that have the broad-and-deep intellect that I like that don't seem to exist commonly in my daily life, or if I'm just less insane/mopey when I'm on a trip. I haven't had meaningful conversations with people for a long time and have been socially isolated to the point of being jittery and always wanting to cry out, and yet I come here and I have normal human relations with a few people ... It's just odd and frustrating in a "why are things temporarily nice when my life back home is hellish" way.
  • North Carolina has neat swamps. I regret not taking pictures of the more interesting parts of geography I walked by yesterday. But then, I haven't busted out the camera once yet (or sketchbook, for that matter)
  • It's neat how savvy people here are to all sorts of things. There was a wonderful presentation on simulating IRC-bot-based DDOS attacks entirely within testbeds, yet going over big parts of national research infrastructures. Some people doing security research are doing this with real captured code.
  • Far Eastern Affairs had a really interesting (and surprisingly nondogmatic) article in a recent journal on the impact of philosophy in chinese thought over many decades
  • Hopefully tomorrow I'll manage to make it to one of the two indian places I've marked as worth visiting. For now, some quality time in the bathtub while reading about Bedouins in Syria (Middle East Journal), and then sleep.

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