Here I am, writing this blog post, after an extremely busy Christmas period involving AGU, a holiday in Colorado and the VMSG conference in Norwich. In my last post (Sightseeing in San Francisco before AGU) I blogged about some sightseeing I did involving visits to Muir Woods and the Golden Gate Bridge. In this post I said that Alcatraz really didn't look that far away, insinuating that it really should have been easy! It turns out, however, that the tides are so strong it would take a miracle to time the crossing correctly. Indeed, there was a group who presented at AGU, who modelled the flow conditions on the night of the infamous escape and concluded there was a very small time window to enable successful escape! A summary news article can be found here. Anyhow, I managed to get a bit more sightseeing done in San Francisco, including a group of noisy seals at Pier 39, a submarine (a common theme from my overseas conference visits - and all by mistake!), and a closer view of Alcatraz (all in the pictures below).
AGU is certainly one of the biggest conferences I have been to so far and my first in North America. The poster halls (above) were of very grand proportions. I certainly enjoyed the afternoon poster sessions along with beer on tap which really made going round and discussing peoples work a relaxing and productive experience. The exhibit hall was also present at a significant scale, with companies such as NASA and Google giving demonstrations of their available technology and techniques. There was even a full-size model of a shuttle type craft, but I cannot recall the model - maybe shuttlex. I gave my presentation on the Wednesday at the conference, and for those young researchers and students who have given a presentation at EGU/AGU (or any conference really) before will know that the nerves can build up a bit! AGU is certainly one of the most tiring conferences I have been too as it is pretty full on for 5 days but something I have learnt from previous conferences is that you don't have to go to everything! In fact, you can be much more productive if you don't, it's important to set aside time to reflect on what you have heard or follow-up on any new connections.
After a thoroughly relaxing break, it was straight to VMSG in Norwich for a much smaller but equally valuable conference. Indeed, these conferences can sometimes be more valuable, especially if the conference is of a relevant theme. I must admit I was a little skeptical of a conference in Norwich, mainly because of the reputation the city has within the UK! However, it was a very well-organised event in a unique venue. Although, for some inexplicable reason the vast majority of restaurants and pubs seemed to be shut on the Monday - importantly the Belgian Monk pub which was reputed to serve good food and even better Belgian beers, oh well, till the next time. Instead we found a very nice vegetarian curry place. The conference dinner this year was at Norwich City FCs football ground, Carrow Rd, and it was certainly a very cool location for a dinner - although I was a little disappointed that Delia herself didn't come out of the kitchen gesticulating her scarf around shouting "let's be 'aving you!".
2015 means one thing for me at the moment, I am currently 3 months into my third year as a PhD student, which means I only have 9 months left to write my thesis, I guess I should get writing sometime soon then...