Print Story Broke in Taxachusetts: a travel diary
By gzt (Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:12:21 PM EST) gzt, taxachusetts, urban life, statistics (all tags)
In which our plucky hero goes to a conference and meets imaginary internet friends.

The conference had been a bit of a source of anxiety because my research productivity has, essentially, been nil and I had to present. I spent the last two weeks frantically working to get something to work that hadn't been working all semester.

I slapped together a presentation of my older stuff and rehearsed it a bit - 15 minutes of stuff. Great. New results: meh. Sic transit gloria mundi.

For better or for worse, I arrived on Saturday evening because there was something in the conference I wanted to go to on Sunday morning. In retrospect, arriving on  Sunday and skipping that would have been fine.

Because the wifing unit worked on Saturday, we decided I should stay in $AIRPORT_CITY overnight with friends and they'd give me a ride to the airport. So we did that. We had dinner and then wifing unit went home while I stayed on the couch. The father of one of them was also in town staying with them, and he was a delightful fellow. We went to the farmer's market in the morning, which is a pretty big deal, apparently.

The flight was uneventful, but it turned out that I was seated next to a couple people from $OTHER_STATE_UNIVERSITY in the final connecting flight to Boston. That was nice.

I decided to stay at a hostel because the travel grant I got wasn't large and I didn't want to coordinate with other students to arrange for splitting a room. The hostel is near Chinatown. It was somewhat nice, though I think I'm too old for this crap. The wifi didn't work and, on the first day, there was no hot water in the shower. However, it did remind me that I do like the idea of living somewhere with some kind of community. You could just go down to the lounge and there were people milling around. However, the lack of internet was bad. I ended up playing a lot of skat on my iPod.

The conference itself was generally very good. I saw some pretty good talks. The first day, I saw a session on how to give good talks, particularly statistical talks. Then I went to a reception and then something that I don't remember and don't remember as being all that good. After that, astrology! The first talk was by a physicist, so, whatevs, but the second talk was by a statistician, so it was much better. After that, I had to leave in order to catch a shuttle and hang out with imaginary internet friends.

Imaginary internet friends: it was good to meet them, it was about what I expected, which is a pretty high bar. I have unfortunately neglected much of my husimeetup responsibilities in the past, but have greatly enjoyed all the experiences. We went to a place right by the hostel and apparently one with quite a lot of Bhusi history to it. Details detailed elsewhere on the site.

The next day was the first "actual" day of conference. My session was a 10:30 and I presented at 11:30. I was definitely the worst of the four papers, but, hey, that's fine. However, the presentation also got mucked up: the session wasn't chaired terribly well and my slides got eaten. There were two things: first, I presumed that being listed for 20 minutes meant 15 minutes presentation, 5 for questions (which is how some other sessions were done) and I had done my slides as HTML5 slides (sooo modern) rather than PDF (working with Beamer is a pain). Of course, the chair was like, dude, 20 minutes talk. Questions for everybody at end. And though the slides worked in the presenter prep room where they check out the technology, they failed in the presentation. Argle bargle. All this meant is that my equations got eaten, but they weren't important. Nobody wants to see the equations. Nobody. But this flummed things up a bit. Whatevs. And the results at the end: ugh, meh.

Anyway, after the talk, the guy from $LARGE_INTERNET_COMPANY was like, 'don't include that porn image in the future, it's disrespectful to women.' and i was like, yes, perhaps not. context: I was talking about image processing, and I included several examples, including the Lena image, which I was somewhat iffy about, and which is originally from Playboy. Anyway, some people don't like it, I'm not a particular fan, but it was there, but, fine, I won't include it ever again.

Afterward, I went to some other talks. I went to some panel discussion about uncertainty in climate assessments, which was pretty good, but I left early to go to some meeting for our "statistical consulting for your community" group that has chapters in several universities. It went a little long and didn't accomplish much, but it was also somewhat of a good idea. I should've probably stuck around for the rest of the talk and then went to the "president's invited address" - which I missed because the meeting went long, but was apparently very good. Oh well. Went out for margaritas afterward. Then there were two things: student mixer, then $(my section of the ASA) Reception. Most sections have their reception on Monday evening. This made it awkward and odd that, despite that, they stopped the shuttles to the hotels at 7 on this night. Every other night they went later. I ended up catching a cab with some guys I didn't catch the names of but were apparently fairly eminent and we chatted about stuff - good convo - and they recommended I watch Evelyn Waugh's 1961 BBC interview on youtube.

The next day, I went to some talk that had some google and other guys in it, and it sucked so I left to go to some "statistics and the media" talk which was better and was standing room only, even for the "boring but somehow compelling" government guy. I mean, really, listening was like, "My voice is kind of droning, and I'm talking about government statistics, and it even looks like I'm just reading prepared remarks, but something about this is making you hang on my words." Then I went to another set of talks about statistics for climate risk blah blah blah. It was decent. Then a set of talks from people associated with the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, which is really kind of interesting. The specific problems they were talking about were how to estimate the true number of deaths in conflicts when there is incomplete data. eg Syria, or in Guatemala in the 80s. The essential idea there is that you have all these lists of deaths, and based on the agreement (or lack thereof) on these lists, you want to figure out how many people are not on any of these lists. eg you might have four lists, and some people are on all 4 lists, some are on 2 of the lists, some on only 1. Amd them there are people who are on no list. And dependence is complex, since some of the list maintainers are sharing information. And quality of information may vary over time. It's a very complicated question, but it's also important to get right. After this, there was one of the big lectures, the Deming lecture. Deming was into, among other things, process monitoring and quality control. The lecturer talked about value-added models for teachers. Basically: not very happy with those being used on teachers.

One of the themes that came up a few times in these talks is that the job of a statistician often about what is right and that it really matters.

Anyway, after this: $LARGE_INTERNET_COMPANY faculty reception (specific faculty only, faculty could invite one student). Good times. Afterward was the general $CONFERENCE reception. No open bar, but good food. The shuttles continued running.

The conference technically ran until Thursday, but I left Wednesday, and I unintentionally booked my flight for the morning rather than the evening so I didn't see anything else of the conference. It was a good time. I left early because 1. no damn way I'm staying 5 nights, 4 was bad enough 2. I had to go to Texas afterward. That will be my next diary.

On the way out, wifi worked in airports. On the way back, they decided to cripple it, I guess. ORD only lets you have free wifi for 20 minutes, then you have to pay. $FINAL_DESTINATION, where I waited a bit for the wifing unit to pick me up, has it for 45. I was there longer. This was not fun. Again, more skat. And schnapsen. Then skat again.

I really liked Boston, what little I saw of it in my limited wandering between hostel and convention center. It's a city, a real city, after all, and I miss that.

Anyway, those are thoughts rather than an amusing Cheeseburger narrative, but thanks for following along at home.

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Broke in Taxachusetts: a travel diary | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Facial and skin tones are important by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 01:52:41 PM EST
when the company you contract for wants to sell lots of devices designed to put images on paper. Almost of those applications are for advertising, though we had one short lived customer who's problem escalation warned that the images should not be distributed.

So, the IQ labs and the IQ recycling bins are full of attractive young women, sometimes Lena, mostly white, because it's mostly white men in the business. I know, racist and hetero-normative.

But, when you get IQ problems as part of being a debug engineer, you need to know what to look for. Accordingly, my old onshore partner put lots of prints on his cube wall, mostly attractive young women, never exceeding PG ratings. Rarely exceeding the Matco Tools calendar.

The HR rep had a fit. Sometimes I don't think she understands what we're contracting for.

definitely by gzt (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:24:56 PM EST
that was one of the reasons I was keeping it around - person face = important to get right. you've got features, you've got tones, and you see instantly if something is wrong.

[ Parent ]
reality and HR are often incompatible -nt- by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:08:07 PM EST

[ Parent ]
You're gonna make us GIS this Lena person? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:40:01 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Lena by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:33:56 PM EST
Oh, her. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 03:52:45 AM EST
I've seen that image before. Didn't know her name.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Broke in Taxachusetts: a travel diary | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback