Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jooooooooosef FALLER!

The California sun fills my pores with warmth and happy memories. It had been almost a year since I last drank the love pouring down over my home state. BCI Meeting 2010 blazes around me. I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one (which was in 2005), and yet it is far more fun than I anticipated. These conferences are evermore a reunion of old and new friends, and I spent a lot of time with both over the last few days of the conference. I coordinated a social event on the first night that went exceptionally well, and the sponsors want to do it again, so it looks like I just started a Series of Special Events that could be prepended to other conferences.

Another tradition was born. Gerwin Schalk and I, two of the (physically) largest people in the BCI Community, found it fun to yell names of Austrian colleagues, with a strong bias toward Josef Faller. This caused my voice to, um, Falter, but we kept it up on the subsequent nights. Tonight will be the last night of the conference, and we anticipate the biggest blowout by far.

Ah, the nightlife of neuroscientists. The Special Event I threw was at the bonfire area of the conference, since we paid the conference people $145 for a 2 hour bonfire. The later parties leveraged a key fact: the conference center is only a five minute walk from the beach. Some of my homies from Berlin got some beer et al. on spec on Monday night, and then I followed up and coordinated the madness last night. It was quite engaging for me – aside from the fun of the party itself, and the intensity of some of the conversations (intercalated with screaming “Josef Faller” with Gerv periodically), it reminded me of countless other beach parties. Many of the attendees had never been to any beach party, and/or never been to the US, and so it was good fun being in the middle of the mass initiation to my little world.

Here’s a further testament to the character of the BCI community. I put up $100 for beer last night on spec. This was a calculated risk, and I guessed I would get half of it back. After hosting the ten Distinguished Party Series at UCSD, and countless other happy hours and other such events, my expectations were low. I showed up yesterday with the beer and didn’t even bother with a donation jar. Further, I repeatedly rallied wood committees to drag wood to the beach for our fire, meaning I couldn’t guard the alcohol supply and ask for donations. And yet, people were surprisingly proactive in donating money to me, which I kept in a separate pocket. I counted this morning. $133. This is the first time in my life I actually turned a profit, purely because of the goodwill, camaraderie, and honor of my colleagues. I love them all the more now, which is why I sprang for $300 tonight. Again, I’d be content to recoup half of it, but am guessing I will get more.

Of course, we did a lot of work related things at the conference too. But, there are good reasons why I have this, and my official work blog on the future BNCI website.

No comments: