Sunday, August 14, 2005

conferences and minibreaks

So my big, main conference for my field is over, and DH "surprised" me (I had guessed, honestly, but wasn't certain!) with an overnight stay at the hotel where we stayed the weekend we got engaged in honor of our first anniversary, which was about 2 months ago. We've been so busy that we hadn't had a chance to celebrate it yet. We stayed in the same suite- the "executive" suite, complete with a ginormous 2 person jacuzzi tub. Heaven! DH and I definitely want one of those when we get a house. Since he's an engineer and I'm the daughter of a contractor, we're smart enough to know how problematic this could be, since you have to calculate for the weight, have the space, etc. Someday, though.

We had dinner at a little French restaurant, which was really tasty. We were the youngest patrons there by at least 15 years (much more in most cases!), with the exception of 2 girls who were around 10-12 years old, brought in by their parents. Although the restaurant was pretty crowded and noisy, the food was really, really good. Creme brulee to die for!!! mmmm.

DH also surprised me with the tank top, panties, and pajama pants that I had been admiring last week at the Gap. Yay! They're pretty blue things with ecru lace edging. Really pretty! This is in addition to my anniversary present, which is 2 21 karat gold bracelets similar to what my sister got at her wedding from my aunt. (Yes, I'm jealous! I admit it!) The bracelets are being sent over from the home country b/c they're hard to find in the US.

Now onto the conference. It was pretty good. It was held in a touristy beachy destination, which is a lot less cool than it might sound if I told you where it was. We were pretty unimpressed, actually. We did go parasailing, though, which was extremely cool, except for the incredibly I-think-I'm-funny-but-really-I'm-obnoxious boat operators. Our guidebook said that they're the best ones (and they were good in the sense that nothing bad happened, and the actual parasailing was an enjoyable experience), but I kind of wish we had gone with a less obnoxious one. First, they made it abundantly clear that they expected tips- not just by the "Tips appreciated" lettering on the inside of the boat, but also the phrase "Tipping is not a city in China!" also done in sticky letters very prominently. Then there was the row of 20s, a 50, and even a 100 dollar bill stuck under a piece of rubber on the railing so you could see exactly what was an "acceptable" tip. We were the last ride of the day, so during the ride, I saw one of the guys counting a big wad of 1s that he apparently keeps hidden, so the 20s probably weren't the norm, or were for whole families that went out. I was moderately annoyed by the whole thing, since we were already paying about $50 a person to go. It's not like these people are waiters. I'm sure they get good wages, and it's not like they did anything special. They made sure that we got up and down safely. Gee, that's what we were paying them for! We did tip them, actually- we gave $10, which was about 10%. I probably would have felt better about tipping them if they weren't so damned obnoxious- saying things like how DH and I were "the whitest people ever" and how they made fun of me for wanting to keep my life jacket on the whole boat ride, even though they were trying to round them up way early so they could go home faster, since we were the last ride of the day.

Anyway. Onto the work part of the trip. I actually did go to a number of sessions, as well as a mini-conference for doctoral students. The mini-conference could have been more helpful, since this group (which is not strictly international in nature) is putting a heavy focus on bringing in a non-US perspective, which is fine, except the nature of these mini-conferences is, in large part, to give career advice and direction to the students. The non-US academic systems are VERY, VERY different than the US system, so often, the advice is totally useless to a US student. Oh well.

The other thing I realized was that I need to get my behind in gear in a big way if I want to be on the market next year. And I do want to be on the market. In a big way. Eek. I have a LOT of work to do.

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