As most of you already know, I made two trips in the past two consecutive weeks to the west coast. First trip was to San Diego for the International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation where I presented my work on magnetic photonic crystals as a well as lead an outreach to find new users for the DoD supercomputers as part of my job. This particular trip was sort of rushed on my part due to me not wanting to push my luck on the travel budget, so I didn't get to see as many sights in San Diego as I wanted. On day one (7-8-2008), I did however get to meet up with KL2, one of my undergraduate friends who had just happened to be vacationing there with his girlfriend, so I meet up with them for dinner on Tuesday. We got some sushi at Ra Sushi, which was sort of a contemporary-looking sushi place, and cashed in on the last five minutes of their happy hour to enjoy some cheap but really good sushi. KL2 had a travel book with him and after dinner, he suggested that we go to a dessert place that the book suggested called Extraordinary Desserts. And man...the desserts there were very exquisite and extraordinary indeed. In honor of DragOnfruitS (and since I'm a sucker for chocolate), I had myself a slice of Viking, which was surprisingly not as sweet as I expected from looking at it, but it was still a really good cake. After desserts, KL2 and his girlfriend called it a night, so I headed back to my hotel to meet up with Kira, who had just gotten out of his Chinese class. Since Kira didn't live in downtown San Diego, we just strolled around downtown and talked about random stuff. We also went back to my hotel room so that I could show Kira the presentation that I would be giving the next day, and somehow I got to show Kira around Facebook, which seemed to draw some interest to him as he seems to update his Facebook profile pretty regularly now :P I have to mention though that this hotel room at the Westin was pretty awesome. It was on the 21st (or was it 24th?) floor and had a really nice view of the city and the waterline. The highlight though had to be the dual headed shower, which for whatever reason was really comfortable to shower in :)
My presentation was at 8 am the next day (7-9-2008), so I got up early to head over to the Grand Hyatt where the conference was going on. When I finally found the room where I'd be giving my presentation, I was sorta shocked at how large it was (probably fit about 100+ chairs), and they had a 12 foot screen behind the speaker for his/her slides. So this was definitely the biggest crowd that I'd ever spoken to, but once I got started, the nerves went away and the talk went pretty smoothly although I have the tendency to talk ahead of what I'm thinking. The chairman of the presentation group that I was in acknowledged to me later that he was impressed to see the results that I presented, so that felt good to hear :) Afterwards, I attended a few talks and managed to find some new potential users, but I was dead tired by mid-afternoon, so I went back to the hotel to nap for a bit. After waking up, it was around dinner time, but I didn't feel like going out to a restaurant by myself, so I ordered up a burger from room service, which turned out to be pretty good, and watched my new vice, So You Think You Can Dance, to hold me over till AI starts again.
The next day (7-10-2008) was pretty much spent on travel, so nothing much to report on that day. But I definitely want to return to San Diego again another day since there were a bunch of museums to the north that I didn't have a chance to visit, plus maybe I'll go catch Shamu at Sea World.