December 12th, 2006

amused, smiling

Aruba conference, day 2

Yesterday was fun. I presented our poster, and got a variety of quite interested questions and interactions. One poster in the previous session was a nice piece of analysis of the utility high-level linguistic variables in prosody prediction from text, and when I came over to ask questions, the author made me feel like a rock star: "I was hoping I'd get to talk to you," he said. (He's probably the only person in the world who's actually read the entirety of the tech report I co-authored, including me).

When the conference proper was over, I got to go back to the room and see boobirdsfly, who had spent the day in our insane five-star hotel. She's lovely, and seeing her after this high-energy talky afternoon was so, so nice.

In the evening, several of us went out together, and I discovered that one of the other conference attendants (actually, one with a collection of very challenging questions for me and my co-authors at the poster session) was my predecessor at Failed Speech Company, and we spent part of dinner swapping war stories from FSC, and cracking up the rest of the table. (Dinner wasn't all speech geeks, but almost: the exceptions were boobirdsfly and the wife of one of my co-authors, who were both very patient with all the statistics and linguistics jokes.)

I let myself slip into shutting down after dinner, when I started worrying that I'd offended one of the friendly people from MIT by dismissing what later turned out to be a core piece of his dissertation work, and I spent the last hour (sitting in beach chairs with empty piña coladas) being tired, nervous and shut down. I almost saw it happening -- I feel like it was just out of reach -- and I recovered, but not until after we were back in our room. This is my daily practice, to find myself when I disappear into hiding like that. I'm getting better at it. (I apologized to the MIT guy this morning, and of course he didn't even remember what I might have said; he absolved me and said he wants to continue those conversations. It's nice to have more contacts of such nice, intelligent, well-connected people in my business: in addition, they might well be leads on jobs in a year or two.)

this morning I haven't gotten enough sleep. And the conference coffee has run out, so I am on cup number 1.05; at the next break there should be pastries and fruit as well so I will get another cup when I pilfer a few danishes to take up to my lovely fiancée. I'm glad we're not leaving for some time; it still hasn't felt much like vacation yet. It's fun, but it's still work. I haven't really spent any time on the beach yet!