Thursday, July 05, 2007

Back from trip #1

So the first big post-baby conference trip/trip with Baby Jane went very well. Aside from some rough times the first couple of nights adjusting to the time change, Baby Jane traveled like a champ (and charmed everyone she came into contact with). We were lucky to be in a place that was easy to navigate with the stroller and generally easy to get around, so that was really helpful. The conference presentation went extremely well, too (especially given that I got maybe 2 hours sleep the night before the talk); there was a lot of interest in the topic, and I had some great conversations about my work afterwards. All in all, I'm really glad I went, and now that I've done one trip with the baby, I feel more confident about traveling with her in general.

Some random observations and notes from the trip:
* This was probably the most expensive conference that I have attended. At the same time, I attended less of the sessions and events of this conference than I have of any other conference. The money spent vs. time spent ratio is ridiculously high.

* Note to session chairs at conferences: If you are going to do speaker bios, do them for *all* speakers in the session, not just the ones you already know! Or don't do any at all. It is unfair and unprofessional to do otherwise. (Our session chair had plenty of time to get bios from us before the session started, but chose not to. Can you tell I was annoyed?)

* The further I travel from home, the more likely I am to run into former colleagues.

* Weirdest social interaction: The obviously drunk guy who introduced himself to me and then proceeded to tell me why my dissertation topic/field was "crap". Without knowing that, in fact, the topic/field he was dissing was my dissertation topic/field. (Low social skills + copious amounts of alcohol = uncomfortable social interactions for the more normal among us.)

* Second weirdest social interaction: Running into a guy who interviewed me for a job several years ago. We knew each other through another contact, and I wasn't 100% sure that he remembered that I interviewed for a position at his place of employment, so I just said "oh yeah, we know each other through Mary" rather than saying "oh yeah, you interviewed me for a job". Plus I thought the latter would be a bit weird. But it was a bit awkward for me.

* In addition to the incident above, I had several other "six-degrees-of-separation" moments at the conference. These weird connection thingies happen to me quite often. It's bizarre.

* Apparently Baby Jane is scared of the dark. Who knew?? We became very good at sleeping with the lights on during this trip.

* To all the strangers who did little things to help us out---opening or holding doors, helping us lift the stroller up stairs, making a fuss over the baby, entertaining the baby on the plane, smiling and giving us sympathetic looks while the baby was fussy---thank you. You have restored my faith in humanity.


liketothelark said...

Hi Jane,

Your experience reminded me of a tip I got from an experienced professional speaker, which was to always have a bio / introduction on hand when you speak or present, ideally in 14 point font.

If possible, e-mail it to the chair/conference organiser in advance.

Some people ignore it and do their own introduction ( getting the facts wrong too aargh), but it at least gives them something to work off.

Hope Baby Jane is thriving!

ScienceWoman said...

Glad to hear the trip went well.

Jane said...

liketothelark, that is a great tip! Thanks! At least with this next conference, the bio was part of the paper, so this situation shouldn't happen there. I hope.