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.