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Monday, June 9, 2008

Is that a Long Entry or are you Happy to see me?

Dear Diary,

Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means "to drink together") but has since come to refer to any academic conference, whether or not drinking takes place. (Source: Wikipedia)

I went to a symposium last week and had a good time.  It was easy for me to have a good time because I was given a free breakfast.  I cleaned house: I ate eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, hash browns, a bagel, coffee and a cup of water.  I was not hungry near lunch time.

Special surprise.  Haywood, an 11th Floor-ee[?] was also at the symposium.  We sat next to each other and did some people watching.  Below is a list of what I/we saw.  I saved the best for last; Haywood's favorite.

1) One guy was asleep for about half the presentations, which was a good use of his time.  Get a free breakfast and then sleep it off.

2) There were lots of typos in the slideshows.  A few of the slides were labeled as though we were in London.  Lots of parentheses were started, but were not finished.  (For example, how hard is it to remember to close the parentheses?

3) One of the presenters I thought was funny because he kept presenting to two women in the front of the room.  Occasionally he would look at the rest of us, but he was mostly infatuated with these two women.

For the annoying category there were two types of people.

4a) The first is the "side talker."  These are the people that reiterate every single point with a point of their own.  An economist was presenting about gas prices and driving in So. Cal.  The "side talker" had to make comments like, "good luck with that" or "if their lucky they won't."  Every important talking point made by the presenter was followed up by this guy with his own dorky comment.

4b) The second is the "whisper talker."  There was a gal that basically did the same thing, but instead of speaking out loud she would whisper to her colleague.  Strangely, I find that to be even more annoying than the "side talker."  When the presenter would ask a question like, "We're not sure how this will impact the mortgage industry, but we're staying tuned."

The "whisper talker" lady would turn to her colleague and whisper, "We know how it's going to turn out."  She kept doing that over and over again and I was going to go bonkers, but then we took a break and I regained my composure.

5) The best by far has to be this guy that Haywood and I both noticed.  What's nasty is that we both noticed him for different reasons.  I first learned about "shoe boy" (that's what Haywood called him) when I heard one of the loudest sneezes in my life.  It was one of those sneezes that if you weren't looking at him while he was doing it, it would scare you because you don't know what that loud noise is.

"Shoe boy" sneezes multiple times, looks at his hands realizes they're full and then looks at his table for a napkin.  Unfortunately, the bus boys cleaned the tables and the napkins are gone.  I watched "shoe boy" look at his hands one more time and then rubbed them together as though the friction would magically make the snot go away.

Later on during the presentation Haywood tapped me on the thigh, just kidding, on the arm and motioned to look at "shoe boy."  We now see "shoe boy" with one of his shoes off massaging his feet and cracking his toes.  To me, his hands have fully transformed into a mobile petri-dish.  There's no way that I'm going to shake his hand and introduce myself to him.

I don't mind all these things, though, it's fun to get free food and to watch people.  I am looking forward to next year's symposium.

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