Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On the road again: Portland, day 3

The Internet connection here is really getting on my nerves. I understand that the hotel is teeming with geeks who by day are attending SC09, the supercomputing conference here in Portland, and who by night are consuming all the available bandwidth with their work and personal pursuits, but surely a modern hotel can plan for data-intensive guests. Or not; this place, which I generally love, clearly chose the not. So, at night and in the early morning, my email flows like chilling molasses, and I recall with dread the dial-up days.

In addition to client meetings, I spent some time today at SC09, and it was quite interesting. The increasingly widespread availability of awesome numbers of compute cycles to scientists is changing the face of many sciences, with simulation and brute-force exploration now key tools on the utility belts of many science mystery fighters. The trend will only continue, because Shakespeare was right that there are more mysteries in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. The activity at this show makes it clear, though, that many are working diligently to reduce the size of the universal mystery list.

Business life ate any chance of a good meal out tonight, so when we finally finished grappling with the day's pressing problems and it was nearly ten o'clock, we decided to walk to a nearby theater and see Pirate Radio. Predictably, I loved it, but that's all I'm going to say about it for now, because I want time to process it. I'll discuss the film more in a later post.

Outside, it's raining, taxis and late travelers are splashing down the water-covered streets, and ambulance and police sirens penetrate my fifth-floor window all too often. Inside, though, it's warm and dry and bright with lamplight, by which I shall now return to Children No More and another part of a very rough bit of Jon's young life.

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