Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fooled You . . .

Ha, ha, for the past two days, when you thought I was home posting More Fun With Republicans and Videos Worth Watching, I was actually at the beach.

Well, near the beach to be more precise. I was at Hilton Head Island in lovely and wacky South Carolina for a professional conference, but it was too hot (temperatures over 100 and the air supersaturated with humidity) to bother going outside to the beach. Even a refreshing plunge into the Atlantic Ocean didn't warrant the sweaty walk under the sun from the beach-front hotel to the actual beach.
After having put up and post-dating last Tuesday's and Wednesday's posts, I left Atlanta Thursday afternoon and drove with a co-worker down to Hilton Head, a five-hour car ride. The conference itself was as much a junket as a professional meeting, with lots of time off (the proceedings ended both Friday and Saturday by noon to give the participants plenty of time to golf, swim, shop, or whatever they chose to do with their free time in the sultry summer heat).

I chose to a aimlessly burn fossil fuels and possibly exacerbate the problem by driving around the island in the air-conditioned comfort of my rented SUV looking for something comfortable to do. I learned that despite my best attempts, it's impossible to get lost on the island; all the public roads curve back in on themselves, and many of the other roads are blocked by security posts for gated communities. However, I did see plenty of open marshes around the island, shady streets, and trees dripping with spanish moss, and eventually found a Starbucks to relax in for a while.

This was the closest thing to a vacation that I've had since the year began. While I'm not the biggest fan of meaningless leisure, I have had to postpone any time off from work for now as I try to reboot my career. Since I've joined the new firm, I've been more focused on new projects, meetings, and conferences (such as this one) than vacations.

This was the view outside from my hotel window:

The drive back home took a lot longer than the drive down. Somewhere between Savannah and Macon, Georgia, the entire highway was shut down due to an accident involving a 16-wheeler and eight passenger cars. All traffic was halted and directed off the highway and onto local, two-lane roads, before being allowed back onto the highway about five miles later.

Later, as we approached the metropolitan Atlanta area, the traffic inexplicably slowed to a crawl for 20 or so miles before resuming normal speed. There was no apparent accident or other bottleneck slowing traffic down - the slow-down appeared to be merely the result of a combination of high traffic volume and low driving competency. I did eventually make it home, however (obviously), but only after stopping for a few beers at a Midtown brew-pub so that my passenger and co-worker could meet up with her boyfriend and catch a ride to her home.

I've been attending this summer conference on the coast for a number of years now. The venue's been changed from year to year, but I've attended the meetings at Saint Simon's Island in 2004, and at the same Hilton Head resort as this year back in 2005. I believe I was in attendance in 2006 as well, although I apparently didn't blog anything about it, but was absent from 2007 through 2009. This was my first year back after a three-year hiatus - it, and I, hadn't changed much since then.

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