Monday, November 23, 2009

Informatics: The San Francisco Treat

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for the Fall Symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), pretty much the largest conference of the year for academic & research informatics. I didn't go last year because I didn't really have any funding to go, and had just finished defending my dissertation and had been preoccupied with that. One of the nice things about going was catching up with good friends from school who either have moved away for work, or who I just don't see much any more.

The conference itself was enjoyable and informative as well. I feel like I'm starting to know enough that when the presentation is something interesting to me, I can pay attention and understand a lot of what is said. And I also know enough to know when something is being presented that I don't really want/need to pay attention to. Probably not the best attitude, but with 4 solid days of presentations, you have to pick your battles. In the past, I've struggled with staying awake the last couple days, but this year I only remember dozing off once. I'm sure part of that is due to the fact that the conference was on the west coast instead of the east. Getting up at 7 am Pacific Time (8 am Mountain) is much easier than getting up at 7 am Eastern Time (5 am Mountain).

As the conference goes from around 8:30 until 4 or 5 each day, there wasn't a lot of time for sight-seeing, especially since it was already dark outside by the time things were winding up in the late afternoon. I did manage to get out and do a few things. Some highlights:
  • Saturday night after getting settled in, I ordered take out from the Cheesecake Factory a few blocks away and then brought it back to my hotel room and ate while I watched the Utah-TCU game through the magic of the internet.

  • Sunday at lunch time, I made my way over to a farmer's market where I'd heard that I could find some good Argentine empanadas. I got one with chicken and one with jamon y queso (ham & cheese). Good times.
    Jamon y Queso!

  • Tuesday morning, I identified a couple hours of the conference that seemed the most likely to be not that interesting and headed out to do a little touring. I caught a cable car a block from the hotel and went up over the hill and down to the wharf. It was still early (around 9) so most things weren't open, and I just walked around and took some photos.

    Powell-Hyde Line
    My ride

    Top of Lombard Street, but with different focus
    Taken at the top of Lombard Street

    San Francisco 2009 (AMIA) 031
    I really like the way this shot was framed by the front window of the cable car.

    San Francisco 2009 (AMIA) 035
    Fortuitous shot of a pelican with the Golden Gate bridge in the background.

    I enjoyed watching the sea lions at Pier 39 for quite a while. Then I hiked up to Telegraph Hill, where the Coit Tower is located, and where I'd heard there were good views of the city. Then I walked down the hill, past Washington Square, and caught a cable car back over the hill to the hotel.

    San Francisco 2009 (AMIA) 037
    A sea of sea lions

    This sea lion was busily defending her spot on the floating dock.

    Bay Bridge from the bottom of Telegraph Hill
    The Bay Bridge from the bottom of Telegraph Hill

    Coit Tower
    Coit Tower

    Looking southwest from Telegraph Hill
    I like the way the city seems to rise to a (dull) point at the top of this photo

    Tai Chi?
    Washington Square was full of Asians (Chinese?) doing various things. Tai Chi, aerobics, martial arts, etc.

    This guy seemed to be teaching the world's easiest line dance. To the "Macarena" of all songs.

  • Tuesday night after the conference was over, I went to see Wicked with my good friend Scott. He, having seen the show several times before, was happy to settle for balcony seats, but given my experience on Broadway seeing Phantom of the Opera from what felt like a football field away from the stage, I opted to spend a little more and get good seats. Which, by the way, it was nice to be able to get tickets at face value just a few days beforehand. Apparently San Francisco is not as obsessed with Wicked as Salt Lake.

    Anyway, I ended up on the 3rd row and thoroughly enjoyed the show, which had a cast including Patty Duke and Deedee from the Mickey Mouse Club of my childhood.

    San Francisco 2009 (AMIA) 087
    Hey! It's me!

    Map of OZ
    View from my seat
In the end, the conference was very enjoyable and I really enjoyed catching up with some good friends, and seeing a little bit of the city as well.

More photos here.

1 comment:

Hero Supreme said...

Dude, you should have told me you were going sight seeing. I LOVE those sea lions. Anyways, I didnt see any reference to your conquered crosswords.