Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Over the River and through the Woods: A Tronkie Travellogue, 1 of 4

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go!
Today was the first day of my 4-day trip to Iowa State for the Atanasoff Symposium.

0745: Rise and shine! I brushed, dressed quickly, checked on a few Targeted Excellence loose ends, and - as my folks were packing their suitcases - packed up a few computer odds and ends such as my obligatory length of Category 5 cable (with RJ-45 connectors) and three telephone cables (with RJ-11 connectors). I usually bring a power strip, but figured I'd be too tempted to hook it up to my new Vector 175-watt automobile power inverter (which has only one plug).

0840: Mince, peel, go! Off to campus to see to the information security proposal. I signed the master copy, got to Durland at 12 to the hour, dropped off one copy at the Engineering Experiment Station, took the other up to Don Gruenbacher's office, and was in Nichols for a final consultation with Yahoo! Maps and the online Symposium program by 0905. I took the opportunity to print 10 black-and-white and 10 color copies of my poster.

08:40 CST: A close-up view of my Autumn Glory maple, Telperion:

0915-1115: Let's get this glitch to Mt. Doom! We hit the road running and I drove first. No trouble ensued until about 2 hours into the road trip, when I discovered that my mom reads "DETOUR 29/35/71" as do not go here if you are trying to get to 29/35/71 and my dad believes that KDOT never, ever changes the roads. Hrm. Oh, well. I could have yanked the car across four lanes of Interstate 70, but decided not to try for some Terminator 4 footage, even though it is good aerobic exercise. We needed a stretch break, anyhow.
1115-1200: What was supposed to be a 15-minute rest stop turned into a full meal (at McDonald's, some TEUNCs will be sorry to hear).

11:45 CST: A poster outside a British Petroleum filling station in Kansas City, MO; Gondhir needs just 248 more... the caption alone was picture-perfect, nesupasu? 'Ware the balrog!

1200-1520: And Shadowfax shall show her the meaning of haste! An uneventful three and a half hours passed, in which my mom demonstrated superior haste. We got from Kansas City to Ames rather quickly considering the traffic jam on the I-35 North on-ramp. Fortunately, the Mean Value Theorem is not admissible in traffic court, or so my students aver. :-)

1520-1530: Wrestling with maps... My dad made me fulfill my God-given duty as navigator by checking the route to Durham, where Joseph Halpern was set to give the first talk in the pre-symposium workshop. I really wanted to hear the talk, and was more than happy to oblige. I also called my grandma on my mobile phone to let her know we'd arrived.

15:35 CST: Here's the view on the way in to Durham Computation Center...

1535-1635: Wow, and after 6 hours, we got there less than 5 minutes late. Nice. Halpern's first talk on epistemology and conditioning was good, but his next one on decision theory and probabilistic reasoning was probably more closely related to others of his that I've heard at IJCAI and UAI. In any case, I decided to call my uncle back because he had called during the talk. (I usually mute my cell phone during talks but had forgotten to after calling my grandma - I did, however, immediately mute it - with some embarrassment - when it started belting out "Fur Elise".)

1635-1730: We headed over to my grandmother's place, which is just one block down from my uncle's. My uncle and aunt are going off to Korea in the morning, so they invited us to dinner tonight. Well, I had originally figured I'd attend Gordon Bell's keynote talk, but I decided to skip it. Big kahunae come and go, but family is forever. :-)

16:55 CST: Grandma coming out to greet us:

17:10 CST: My grandmother and mother in the foyer of Grandma's house:

17:25 CST: Outside again...

1730-1800: We went over and sat with my aunt for a bit at her house, while my uncle went to refuel their minivan. My aunt explained that the Ames City Council had declared Thu 30 Oct 2003 17:30 - 19:30 to be the period for trick-or-treating, as Friday nights were too iffy for a campus town. Well, that was just when we were going to dinner... The upshot was that this year I gave my grandma a lot of chocolate and none to kids in either Kansas or Iowa!

1800-1945: Dinner was at Hickory Park, a decent restaurant with a cornucopia of ribs, to mix metaphors. I was made to stretch my hobbit metabilities to their maximum, by consuming a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, half a rack of beef ribs, a tub of fries, a bowl of mashed potatoes, a large bowl of coleslaw, and a glass of Mountain Dew in about 40 minutes of sheerest gluttony. Well, let's just say the quarter chicken went into a take-home box. $15 buys a lot of food at this place.

19:15 CST: A Hallowe'en pumpkin:

1945-2100: Here I am, mailing photos to myself and other TEUNCs using my new PCS Vision service. It's addictive, I'll grant them that.

20:30 CST: My grandmother painted this one about ten years ago, when she was a sprightly young woman of 80.

2100-2300: What we have here is a failure to communicate. The built-in modem in Numerramar is said to be an Agere modem that AOL 9.0 won't recognize. The gentleman at AOL says to call IBM, the gentleman at IBM (who says "good day" and is apparently in India) says to call Microsoft, and I think I will refrain from calling Microsoft to hear them tell me to call on Melkor, Giver of Freedom and EULAs. Vingilot has no DVD/CD drive (I did not bring its half-broken one), and copying the AOL CD to my SanDisk 256Mb CompactFlash is proving to be a long and involved affair. Early to bed and early to rise makes Banazir healthy, wealthy, and half-wise. With that, I shall retire.


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