Very Californian, the wide roads and suburban sprawl, the scrubby little bushes and rabbit hutch apartment complexes, the brilliant shining sun over the gleaming outdoor malls, people everywhere saying "please" and "thank you" and "have a nice day" like they really mean it.
I stayed at Jack's place in an enormous shiny luxury apartment complex. With Alexf there too, it was an odd throwback to five years ago.
I took to calling the FCRC the Voltron conference, despite never having seen Voltron as a kid. Imagine, if you will, sixteen co-located conferences across wildly divergent areas of computer science, resulting in thousands of computer scientists converging on one hotel for a good week and a half.
Of course, everyone goes a little crazy after a couple of days of talks. Near the end of the week as the computer science conferences began to end, the hotel scheduled some unintentionally hilarious events alongside the computer science, including a high school sports awards ceremony and a conference on "Vital Aging".
I went to lots of talks (even some outside of theory, which made me glad to be a theorist) and met lots people and gave the same 30-second summary of my research to all of them and even learned some things that ultimately ended up being useful for my research this summer.
The first day I wore my hair down, causing many people to confuse me with my doppelganger.
I went to the beach to go surfing with some theorists, but instead of surfing I walked all the way down the end of the beach, or at least the part where the sand gave way to piles of large smoothed rocks and chunks of broken concrete, which some guys hanging out and drinking in a makeshift lounge area in the cliff told me were from WWII bunkers.
Had a fancy dinner at a restaurant of Haakon's choosing, which resulted in the consumption of some $60 bottles of wine. My wine palate is binary, so I couldn't appreciate the difference, but I guess it was an experience worth having.
California really knows how to build a beautiful highway. I love the plant cover draped over the sound walls, the dramatic ride under bridges and over ridges, the glimpses of ocean.
Drove out to the beach late at night on a semi-whim with non-Californians who wanted to experience the Pacific. The clouds were lit up dramatically with light pollution, and when a car pulled into the beach parking spots off the highway their headlights lit up the waves. When we arrived, the beach was crowded with Asian families wandering around with buckets. We asked one family what they were there for, and after some translational difficulties, we learned they were there to look for "silver fish". We saw no fish, and the families left soon after.