Sands of Time

So this last couple weeks have been a frenzy of preparation for the CAU Holiday Sale. (along with preparations for SC in Austin and Christmas in Hawaii [although Debbie is mostly handling Hawaii*])
Anyway, I had list after list of things that I needed to remember to handle taking up little bits of paper in my pockets, among which was a note to get some butchers paper in which to wrap the sales.*** I remembered from a past life where I worked in a book bindery that they used to give out the ends of the rolls of paper (endrolls –clever, eh?) to people who wanted them. I thought that as it was a greener time recycling places may have worked deals with them, but I hauled myself on over anyway.
I walked in to an empty reception area and caught the eye of a guy standing in the hall. He looked familiar, but for me, who doesn’t? As he walked up I started to say, “I used to work here a long time ago and remembered you used to give out endrolls.” No sooner did I say this than my brain clicked and I recoginzed one of the women standing in the hall as one of the girls who ran the collator when I worked there. Time did that funny thing where it rubber-bands back to an earlier time and flashes around for a minute. Suddenly it was 20-ish years ago when I worked there all the guys would have chased her, but she was queen of the ‘you creep’ stare down. She was one of those girls who wouldn’t give anyone the time of day. I asked her once, because I really wondered what time it was. She gave me the look, turned and walked away. I knew she was out of my league, I really just wanted to know the time.
Then time snapped back and the weight of two decades whalluped me. I was completely floored that someone I still knew worked there, the job just wasn’t that promising. She still had the same haircut even, and I would have been hard pressed to admit they weren’t the exact same clothes when last I saw her, so maybe change wasn’t her thing. The guy I started talking to told me to drive around to the loading dock, “you remember where that is, right?” I had to admit I didn’t because the old printing house is now a strip club a few blocks away. They moved a few years after the bindery and I parted ways. He told me where it was and I beat a hasty retreat. I don’t know if I could have withstood another timefugue.
I picked up three rolls of good paper. I’ve got to remember to check out more production cast-offs for supplies more often.
* good thing I didn’t need to subreference again**
** doh!
*** if any

All over but the cryin’

The booth is in a pile awaiting packing, My room is in order for the final stowage and I’m about falling into bed for the last sleep before I can go home. It’s funny how every year I look forward to this week, and it stays elusive and unreal until it falls on me, then before it’s over I can’t wait to get back. It’s worse now that I have a family than before, but even then the whole conference thing wears a little by Thursday morning.
My dad worked for a company that contracted in the aerospace industry and spent a lot of time at conferences. We were always excited to see what he’d bring back for us from his trips, and a lot of my memories from my youth involve the excitement of going to the airport Friday nights to pick him up after he was gone all week. I used to imagine going off on trips like he did and flying all over the world to some conference, but I never believed it was anything more than a dream. I can’t really imagine doing more than the one a year, but I make up for it by bringing home more schwag.
Tuesday I was walking back around town and I saw a star on the sidewalk with a name that somehow rang a Patsy Cline-ish bell in my head. Paying it little heed, I eased on down the road. I ran across another star that said Sandra Day O’connor. I mused on this somewhat more as I walked towards another star. Mean Joe Green was printed on this one and it stopped me in my tracks. My head nearly burst trying to make some sort of order of the three before I hit the pressure release valve by deciding it must just have to do with Texans. It was almost as surprising to see how many different recognizable names there were on these markers, as it was to see the back-street way in which they are presented. Arguably having them around the convention center gives them exposed to the tourist traffic that would give them more notice, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more gum-spotted and pigeon-flecked nondescript thoroughfare in my limited travels.
I suppose there is more to tell, but I’m still mulling over the events I’ve not quite sorted through yet, and it’s midnight, so I suppose I ought to sleep some. I wouldn’t want to doze off on my flight.

Southern Seeds

Aloha from Austin. Normally a picture would go here, but in the myriad of cables I packed into my backpack I somehow left out anything that will let my camera feed my laptop like an angry baby bird. I did remember the phone charger. And the camera charger. And the laptop charger. And a cat-5 cable for the laptop. And the phone USB cable. But not the camera USB cable. Or the media reader. I was sure I ordered one on this laptop, but there you go. It would be nice, maybe I’ll remember to look into it. Along with all those other things I’m supposed to remember.
Supercomputing (SC08) got underway yesterday. We landed about 3:00 and grabbed a quick dinner and set up the booth, and got back to the hotel just in time to close out the hot tub at the end of the day. It was fairly event-less, other than the usual travel complaints. Sharpie somehow got a late flight by himself going home Friday and gets in after 11:00 p.m. while we all land around 7:00. Our flight out of Denver was delayed while we sat in the plane for half an hour while they rebooted the right engine’s computer, or something like that. Several times there was a sound like a compressor-driven wrench that seemed to shake the plane for its volume from the starboard side that was a bit unnerving. We made it alright but for some turbulence that showed which of us ‘really’ didn’t like to fly. The hysterical laughing by a toddler in the back of the plane after every shimmy caused several passengers to roll their eyes. I liked it too, but then again, I suppose I’ve never had a really scary flight.
The weather here is really nice. Much better than last year in Reno, which tried to be nice, but only succeeded in foreboding the coming winter. It seems like every conference I end up finding seeds. I suppose it’s the time of the year for it, but for some reason every November I end up walking around a strange town with a pocket full of some sort of potential floral offspring. This year it started last night. We were waiting for the shuttle bus after checking in to the hotel when we noticed some pods, like gamma irradiated edamame, hanging from a small tree. Stepping on them revealed some hard reddish seeds that made my hands itch from carrying them around. I have some in my bag. Today as I detoured slightly en route to the bus I came across the biggest acorns I have ever seen. Some that looked disturbingly uncircumcised. They were lying under the scrawniest little oakling which caused me to search the surroundings for some sort of benefactor (Santa Squirrel? The Thanksgiving Bunny?) or perhaps it was just a baby sitter for some Oak who’s gone on holiday. They were as big as small eggs from the dairy section. One slipped into my bag and I was off to the conference.
There were no tutorials today that I felt compelled to attend, no matter how much I tried. The last couple years the tutorials seemed either outside the realm of usefulness or redundant to previous ones I’ve attended. I manned the booth for a bit as USU set up their portion. Really, I sat and read the news and refreshed the Iseult message board. Restless, I stowed my gear, obfuscated my conference badge and meandered back out into sunlight.
On the ride to the convention center I’d noticed we crossed a big river (maybe it’s a lake, there didn’t seem to be any current, but it’s long and narrow, so go figure). With a little aid from Google maps on my phone I found the ubiquitous Caesar Chavez St. and the waterfront. As my left hand doesn’t know what’s up on the other side I made the routine wrong turn and headed towards a seedier side of town. I was watching fat squirrels pester noisy blackbirds when I ran across what seems to be some sort of southern pine-cone. Although it does somewhat resemble a cross between a miniscule cantaloupe and a walnut. It does, however, smell of clean kitchens. Four found their way into my pocket.
I crossed under the bat-bridge. There are enough bats nesting under the overpass to qualify it as a tourist attraction, and I attest it was the squeakiest bridge I’ve ever heard. I may have to hang around till dusk one of these nights. As I meandered around I stopped at one point on a bridge and was watching two turtles compete for the world record for holding their breath in the river, thinking about the shared nature of experience (If I never told anyone about the turtles would anyone hear?) a guy came up and asked me if I would help his brother propose matrimony to the girl he was jogging with in 10 minutes. He explained that his brother was about to pop the question and they had several people they were gathering to help out. I was supposed to stand on the bridge and hand a tuxedo jacket to him as he ran by. It was one of those moments where you know you’re about to choose one of the trouser legs of time to head down but I chickened out and headed down the path where I hustled back to the convention center. I need to make a post sometime exploring my savings throws vs. adventure, but, despite the headache, I’m in too good of a mood today.
Soon friends will appear and we can mosey off to the exhibitor party and there will be more tales I can procrastinate tell. And maybe tonight I’ll roll the adventure.
Someday pics will follow.