teaching machines

SIGITE 2012

In October I had the good pleasure to visit Calgary, just east of the Canadian Rockies.

The purpose of my visit was to present a paper on Paul Wagner’s MOBILE project. We wrote this paper not certain where to publish it. In our literature readings, we noticed much related work came from SIGITE. It was very refreshing to start with writing instead of a particular target conference. My relationship with my wife started in a similar manner. We were good friends for three years, and our marriage just sort of fell out. I like not evaluating something based on what I can gain from it.

When I landed at the airport, snow greeted me. I climbed onto the city bus at the airport. A few minutes later, airport personnel started launching snowballs at the driver. Canadians are very familiar people.

The next morning was foggy.

The Calgary Tower obscured by fog.

But the fog didn’t hamper me from my first plate of eggs benedict ever. I’m not sure what hollandaise sauce is.

My first plate of eggs benedict, a la the Blue Vinny Diner.

Sadly, the conference was a bit far afield from me. I wanted to hear and talk about code and algorithms and cool software that I could use. That’s not necessarily what IT is about. Coupled with the fact that I was presenting someone else’s work, I was nervous and eager to get the presentation behind me. The talk went okay, and several people gave me their business cards to learn more.

I got a good dose of downtown.

The grateprints in the sidewalk were fun. I wasn’t wearing heels, but if I had been…

It takes a big brain to construct buildings so tall.

Near my hotel was a house that had been turned into a public house—if you know what I mean. I learned it was a hipster dive, just the kind of place that I go to feel awkward in. The place was full, so I sat awkwardly at a table with a girl whose mother was Canadian and whose father was Japanese. Our conversation was awkward. Once again I heard the theory that Canadians were so nice because the cold drove them together into solidarity. After an awkward half hour, she kindly informed me that if I wanted to order something, I’d have to go up to the counter.

The Hop In Brew Pub saw more cardigans than did public television.

I figured this might be my last meal before getting eaten by a bear in the Rockies.

On Saturday morning, I escaped early from my hotel, picked up a rented car, and sped away to Banff National Park, by far the highlight of my trip. I left so early that the sun still hadn’t come up by the time I arrived. Neither had the park gate attendant. Admission was free. I began a good five-hour hike. My feet were soaked in the first fifteen minutes. I was about four hours in before I saw any other humans.┬áIt was beautiful.

Everything awesome in one place.

I tried to climb up Fairview Mountain, but my tiredness overcame me and I hiked back down. Later I read in a guidebook that I should have passed up the first trail I saw that went up through the scree. The second one would have been much more passable. Oh, well.

The fair view from Fairview Mountain. The clouds were monsters.

The park has an interesting scheme to keep animals from becoming roadkill. They lined the roads with fences. But to avoid cordoning off sections of the park, they also installed over- and underpasses every mile or so. These are also lined with fences, so the wildlife can roam freely but never reach the roadways.

Animal crossing. Roads are for cars, not carcasses.

Thanks, Canada.

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