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PLDI 2013 trip report, part 0: prologue

My advisor decided to send everyone to PLDI in Seattle this year, which lined up nicely for me to take a vacation in California afterward. My main vacation goal was to set up a blog, so naturally my first posts are a trip report. This post covers the day before the tutorials start, so if you’re only reading for technical content, you can stop now.

On the flight from Boston to Seattle I happened to sit next to two postdocs from Harvard’s Center for Brain Science. Unfortunately I don’t recall their names, but one was a physicist turned neurobiologist and the other studied both neurobiology and genetics. After the obligatory “what do you work on?“, we discussed how to stay aware of research being performed in large labs and avoid siloing. (My thoughts on the matter will be part of a future post.)

Jonathan Ragan-Kelley, another student from my group, was on the same flight, and we shared a cab into downtown Seattle. The cab driver got up to 81 mph in a 65 mph zone, tailgated, and honked at another cab. Also, he took my request for a receipt literally, handing me a blank receipt slip. How’s that for service?

I stayed at the conference hotel, the Red Lion on Fifth Avenue. The room was reasonably comfortable. While it was close enough to the elevators to hear their dings, noise wasn’t an issue, even at night. The detachable showerhead in the bathroom was strangely mounted at chest height, so I had to hold it in one hand while washing my hair; the first time I showered I managed to get water all over the bathroom floor. The room also had a Keurig K-Cup coffeemaker, which impressed me with its design, though the provided Starbucks coffee was unremarkable.

Not feeling very adventurous, I decided to get fast food for dinner. Google Maps directed me to a McDonald’s in the nearby Westlake Center, but while Google claimed it was open until 10:00pm, the mall was already closed when I arrived around 9:00. I then walked towards another McDonald’s about 0.8 miles away, but on the way there I found a third McDonald’s that Google Maps didn’t suggest. The cashier complemented me on my “badass wallet” (his words). I returned to my hotel room without incident.