So AGU in New Orleans! It was pretty good. Mostly it made me appreciate Moscone, because the New Orleans convention center is stretched waaaaaaay out along the riverfront. We stayed in the Hilton right next door, and it was literally a mile from my hotel room to the meeting room for the first set of talks I wanted to see on Monday morning. (At 8 am. Ugh.)
My schedule was also ridiculously front-loaded. I initially had a HUGE amount of stuff on my calendar for Monday and Tuesday, but once I realized I had no chance of switching between different things at the same time, I started deleting things left and right. Normally I do a lot of cherry-picking exactly which talks I want to see and bouncing back and forth between sessions, which is doable when you just have to go down one floor and over to get from global change to informatics. But not when it takes 15 minutes to get between them!
On the informatics side, I saw a lot of talks about cloud computing and what people are doing to move big datasets into the cloud, which seems pretty important. I get the sense that in a couple years, it will be pretty routine for people to ask "hey, can I get this dataset in the cloud?" and I think if we don't get on it, then in about five years the question is going to change to "hey, why can't I get your data in the cloud?" (spoken in an aggrieved tone of voice).
My talk was Tuesday morning and it went smoothly and was well-received. There were no questions (I had to rush a bit just to cover everything, and that was after cutting one full set of analyses), but I got a number of unsolicited compliments later on. My talk was basically about how for this one big grant, we proposed to develop a "cascade of metrics", where you start with basic descriptive statistical stuff, and use that to figure out where to do process-level analysis, and then evaluate the process interactions, and build up to credibility analysis and a model evaluation framework based on that, and how we did the first stage of the cascade and were able to show that it actually worked, so we have managed to take the first step along that path without falling into a ditch on the side of the road. Hooray!
I felt like food during the conference was a bit trickier than in SF. Not only did I not know the area, it seemed like restaurants near the convention center were scarcer. Plus, while New Orleans has great food, it's very heavy on cajun / creole, and the two of us were craving some green vegetables before long. Most of our dinners were decent but unremarkable.
Except for Wednesday. On Wednesday, I got done and was hungry on the early side, it was the last super busy day, and we wanted to have one fancy dinner out, so we went to Cochon, which is an upscale southern cooking place about two blocks from the convention center. We didn't have a reservation, so we settled in for a 45 minute wait, but they got us seated in only about half that time. And it was AMAZING. We got an appetizer of braised pork cheeks on pureed sweet potato with fried brussels sprouts and it was just mind-blowingly good. For the entree, I got Louisiana chochon with cabbage, cracklins, and pickled turnips. Jerry got the dry-rubbed ham hock with quinoa, herbs, and goat yogurt. ("Cochon" just means "pig"; mine was a sort of pulled-pork affair.) They were both incredibly good, and it was absolutely worth the fancy-restaurant price. Highly recommended. Afterwards we went back to the hotel the long way and got Pinkberry along the way, because I love tart froyo.
The really great thing about Cochon is that attached to it, just around the corner, is a place called Cochon Butcher, which is a butcher shop but also sells excellent sandwiches. I ended up eating lunch there three days out of five, because it was really good (mmm, marinated brussels sprouts), semi-reasonably priced, and close, so I could do things like swing by there on my way from one end of the convention center to the other during the half-hour break from 10 to 10:30 and pick up lunch to go to eat later on, thereby avoiding any long lines. (I also picked up dinner there on Friday to take back to the hotel, so we could just spend the evening packing up in relaxed fashion.)
Thursday night after dinner we took a Lyft over to Adam's place (a shotgun shack under renovation in the 9th ward) and met his housemate/landlord and some of his friends and were social and played some board games (several rounds of Coup, which was fun, and a game of Boss Monster, which was not to my taste), and that was pretty keen.
The trip home was fine; we got to the airport about two and a half hours before our flight, and were glad that we did because the check-in line was already overflowing and then grew even more ridiculously long shortly after we got in line. We got through in plenty of time to get breakfast on the concourse and had an uneventful flight home. Bob very kindly picked us up from DIA (hello Blucifer!) and took us home to our kitties; they were very glad to see us and we were very glad to see them. And then there was lots of decompressing!