Sunday, October 14, 2007

Trip to Arizona

My first business trip at my job I was going to a ASSETS conference in Tempe Arizona. This meant it was my first try at trying to use the company travel reservation program. When fiddling around with the hours I rolled it around to PM without realizing that it also rolled the day back too. Of course the company bought the cheapest tickets that were non-refundable, so I was arriving a day early, without a hotel reservation. I didn't realize my mistake until a week before leaving. I felt like it was my fault so I didn't want to ask for a reschedule or have to explain an extra hotel day so I decided to play it by ear. As it always turns out my plane was late so I really didn't feel like getting a hotel.
I instead enjoyed a late night drive of Phoenix. It was weird being on the west coast again, especially a warmer climate. There were parking lots everywhere. The roads were devoid of pot holes. Admittedly it was the desert but there was space everywhere. I could not resist stopping at Waffle house for some pecan waffles that I like so much. Both my wife and my friend D. had jokingly asked me to get them a souvenir so I bought them both a small cactus from Walmart which was open.
My friend D. was writing a book about the desert so I took a drive out of Phoenix to take some pictures of the Saguaro Cactus. It was very interesting being able to watch the sunrise over the desert. The quiet calm and small breeze made it so that I could feel my stress and tension just flow away. I then came back, checked into the hotel early, and caught up on my sleep.
The conference itself was very interesting. It is about using technology for people with disabilities. As with most of these conferences I took lots of notes as ideas popped into my head that I will research later to see if other people had already thought of them. As part of the conference they had busses to take everyone over to Arizona State University computer lab. I admit that I spent most of my time in the haptics lab. While it was fun to pull off virtual colon polyps the most interesting part was the equipment that I we were able to play with. As a stroke of luck my thesis advisor had her paper accepted there so we were able to chat a lot and she was also very interested in the haptics they had there too.
In the mornings I had brought my rollerblades so I went blading to keep myself in shape. It was weird with it being so warm here and wearing shorts when it was already cold in New York. On the second morning a co-worker found out I was blading and went running with me.

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