Sunday, December 17, 2000

San Diego

When I got off the plane it was 81o. Wow. I briefly regretted my decision to pack long-sleeved shirts. (The weather has since cooled off slightly.) I retrieved my luggage, which was at the most crowded baggage carousel I've seen. People were tripping over each other trying to get their suitcases out of there. I picked up my rental car in a remarkably hassle-free experience and hit the freeways of San Diego.

I hadn't been back since I lived here in the summer of '93. Blue skies, warm weather, ocean views...why did I leave? Ah, well. I'm happy in Maryland, but this wouldn't be too bad either. I found my way to my hotel, which turned out to be in Old Town San Diego. It's fairly touristy, but as a traveler, having restaurants and shops nearby is pretty cool.

I could hardly wait to head for one of the many nearby Mexican restaurants. Sigh. But I had the opening conference banquet in a few hours. I wandered down the street, browsed through a gallery containing a number of Chuck Jones prints and contented myself with a couple of margaritas and some chips and salsa.

After a quick nap, I headed for the banquet. When I arrived, I realized that the conference featured many nodding acquaintances, but nobody I knew really well -- none of my old Georgia buddies. I picked out a table, nodded at a few people and sand down. One, an elderly mathematician, seemed to recognize me more than I expected, given that I had not seen him since '93. I chatted with a Canuck about the different voting systems in use in the US & Canada and tried to enjoy my non-Mexican meal. Then, at one point, the aforementioned elderly gentleman referred to me as "Jeff" and asked me a question about another mathematician. I realized that he had mistaken me for someone else, perhaps 20 years my senior. I felt really awkward -- how do you point out to someone that they not only don't remember you, but they've just mistaken you for someone who comes closer to doubling your age than equaling it? I ducked and said I didn't know anything about the guy he had asked me about, which puzzled the man I was talking to, since he thought we worked together.

I spent most of the rest of the evening trying not to make eye contact before ducking out early due to jetlag.
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