Saturday, March 17, 2007

And We're Back

... from Denver. Actually, I've been back for a week, but I've had a bad cold for all of that time and just haven't been up to posting.

I want to talk about the NCAA tournament (KU plays Kentucky on Sunday, Joy.), but first I want to mention a few things about the trip, which, as you may recall, took me from DC to Denver to Holyrood (KS) back to Denver to DC.

  • The trip started out uneventfully, as I walked up to the United Counter at Former-Republican-President-Capital-City-National-Airport, where I was informed that my flight had been canceled and that I was a really bad boy because I was too late arriving to board the flight which left an hour before my scheduled flight. So they gave me a $58 cab voucher and sent me on my way to Dulles, where I got a direct flight to Denver, meaning I didn't have to stopover in Chicago. It also gave me time to have a leisurely breakfast at Dulles, rather than a quick lunch at O'Hare, so I was more than satisfied. United, I suspect, lost out on the deal.
  • Acre for acre, the flattest country in the world is in — Eastern Colorado. Denver, famously, is 5,280 feet above sea level. So, claims its sign, is a town 100 miles to the east on I-70. (Sorry, forgot the name.) On any 100 mile stretch of I-70 in Kansas you're going to change altitude by at least 1,000 feet. So don't give me any of this flatter than a pancake crap.
  • Nevertheless, I love the plains. When I picked up my rental car at DEN, the clerk looked at my driver's license, saw I was from Maryland, and said, “I lived there, once. Too many trees.” I agree. Between Denver and Salina, when you do get to the top of a hill, even an overpass, you can, indeed, see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.
  • Kansas was windy — how windy, you ask? So windy that everyone complained about it. I don't think the wind dropped below 30 mph from Thursday through Saturday. Sunday was a bit better, but I was driving back to Denver, then.
  • Just after you pass the “Denver 100” sign on I-70, you can see Pike's Peak. Impressive. It's only 50-60 miles away, but still. Then you get to see the whole front range all the way into the airport.
  • Denver's not a bad town. 16th Street is set up as a mile-long open mall, and it's reasonably easy to walk. The best restaurants, though, are off of 16th. Ask where they are at your hotel, because if you wander too far off of 16th you get into some pretty rough areas really quickly.
  • Denver has one of the greatest innovations in city planning I've ever seen: the caddycorner cross walk. At busy four-way intersections, once in every stoplight cycle all traffic lights turn red. Then, if you look across to the far street corner, you'll see one of those little white men shinning at you. You're then allowed to walk directly across the center of the intersection to that corner. This cuts down dramatically on jaywalking. I hope other cities adopt the practice.
  • The meeting went pretty well. The session where I gave my talk was populated by old friends, so we had a lot of friendly discussion, back-and-forth, and catfighting. A fun time was had by all, and we might even get a few papers out of the deal.
  • Flying back was surprisingly uneventful, except that I couldn't watch the movie (A Night at the Museum, I believe) because the headphone connection on my armrest didn't work. Oh well, it will be out on pay-per-view shortly, anyway.
  • Of course, the DST time change meant that I went through a 3-hour time change, meaning that I was totally jet-lagged. On top of that, a came down with the aforementioned cold, so I've been completely wiped out for the last week. I only revived about 10 minutes into the first half of the KU-Niagara game, when it became apparent that KU was actually going to get to play on a weekend in March for the first time in three years.

So that's what I've been doing lately. More on basketball tomorrow, and maybe we'll even get to computing sometime next week.