Friday, January 13, 2017

TRB 2017

I'm still recovering a bit from the trip to DC for the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.  It is always overwhelming (there are close to 13,000 visitors and perhaps 5000 posters and other presentations).  I didn't even attempt to go to any of the committee meetings.  I also was still fighting off the tail end of a cold, and my left ear kept closing up (which it is still doing, though I think it is getting close to being back to normal).  It didn't help that it was bitterly cold Sat-Mon.  It still hadn't warmed up much by Tuesday, though it wasn't quite as bad.  Finally, it started warming up on Wed., but I was heading out that day.

It did snow Sat., which made for an interesting landing at Reagan National, but we weren't seriously delayed.

The view from inside Reagan National

What was far more annoying is that there were major shut-downs of the subway system, and I had to walk quite a ways to my hotel.  In the end, it only snowed 1/2 inch (rather than the 3-5 inches they had predicted), so I didn't really need my boots aside from the first day.

I mostly did touristy things Sat. and Sun., and I'll write more about that over the weekend.  Sun. I stopped by the Conference Center to get my badge and spent a bit of time talking to the exhibitors, and in the evening I headed back over since the Northwestern reception was at the Marriott right next to the Convention Center.  I didn't see a couple of colleagues I was looking for, but I'm definitely glad that I went, since in the end, Dr. Koppelman showed up.  He hasn't been back to TRB in roughly 10 years, so it was a rare sighting indeed.  It was a good time overall, but staying up made it all but impossible for me to get up early enough to get to the 8 am sessions on Monday!  I settled for the poster sessions starting at 10:15 then had lunch with a former co-worker and we chatted about various things, including the jazz scene in Toronto (fairly weak, all things considered).

Monday evening was the UIC reception, and I talked to quite a few people.  The main person I went to find finally showed up just as I was leaving, but I did have a couple of minutes to buttonhole him and ask him about a couple of things related to committee work.  (This is the kind of thing that does make it worth going in person to these events...)

Tuesday morning was our poster session.  We had to get there at 7:45 to put our poster up.  Brutal.  I think we did the smart thing and just emailed our poster to Kinkos to have them print it up.  Definitely worth it.  I think it came out pretty well in the end.  We got 15 or even 20 people dropping by and asking questions.

I saw a few more sessions and posters throughout the day, then left at 2:45, heading up to Dupont Circle and to check out the Phillips Collection.  It's always worth seeing, though I was tired and probably should have just sat in the galleries longer.  The issue was that I was meeting people at a used bookstore nearby, but not until 6 pm, so I ended up with a lot of time to kill, and I didn't really want to browse the bookstore for an entire hour!

Anyway, my former colleagues and I did meet up, and then walked up to Adams Morgan for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant.  It was quite good.

Wed. I went through all the posters at the mega-poster session, then headed to the airport.  I will say that it is super convenient to go from the Convention Center to Reagan National.  While I have a lot of nostalgia for the way it used to be (the three hotels clustered up the hill from Dupont Circle), the Convention Center wasn't too bad.  It was easier to get from session to session, and I thought the poster session area was laid out well.  I saw nearly everyone I wanted to see, and I can say that this TRB was a success.  Just exhausting as ever.

Edit (1/16): I totally forgot to talk about the conference swag.  I only scored a few pens at the exhibitor booths, but I got a few squeeze toys (for the kids, really) and this nifty scarf.

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