Last week I was in Orlando, Florida to attend a conference (The 2007 International Symposium on Collaborative Technologies and Systems (CTS 2007)). I was there to present a paper my group wrote on one of my projects. It was a cool paper on a neat subject, so I had no problem with the presentation. I had fun with it, in fact. My slides were mostly pictures, and while it did have some animation, it actually had a purpose an didn’t slow down the presentation. I spoke for exactly as long as I needed to, even though I hadn’t practiced at all in advance. After I was finished, quite a few people had questions, and I was able to answer them all easily. After that a line formed of people wanting to talk to me personally. It was a great experience, especially for a first time presenting a paper at a conference. I’m ready to graduate from the minor leagues and move up to the major leagues with the bigger conferences and maybe even some journals. Some things I took away from the conference are that the projects I work on at the lab are really cool, that they have so many dimensions that we could continuously write papers and always say something new, and that I often take for granted all that I have at the lab. I do stuff that’s years ahead of most people and do it so often that I’m casual about it and don’t think about the state of the rest of the world. I really need to get what I do out to the world more.

My entire time in Orlando was not dedicated to the conference, however. In the evenings I escaped to explore Buena Vista and all that it had to offer. Technically speaking, I was in Buena Vista the whole time, not Orlando. BV is where all the theme parks are, so there were plenty of things to do, restaurants to try, people to see. I toured Ripley’s Believe it or Not one night after some great sushi. Another night (and then the following night) I went to Disney Downtown and discovered that on both coasts my dancing makes people’s jaws drop in a good way. It was practically impossible to find people who could swing or do much of any ballroom dancing, but the regular club dancing was fun enough. I also spent a day at Kennedy Space Center touring around.

In all, it was a neat experience. I learned quite a bit at my first conference as a presenter, and I had some fun in the Florida sun. I am absolutely positive that I will not live in Florida, though. In fact, I don’t think I’ll live anywhere that has no change in elevation. It drove me nuts to not be able to see further than 100 yards in any direction. I definitely prefer to have a mountain or mountain range or even a hill or river visible in the distance.

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