Friday, June 11, 2010


Hard to believe last Friday was only one week ago. Friday morning began on the beach, with over 100 conference attendees at the beach bonfire I mentioned before. This last one was an unprecedented blowout, with well over $600 spent on drinks that were gone by 1:30. The event was made possible by another remarkable cooperative effort among quite disparate and often novel groups, with Berlin and others getting drinks, teams from Fort Collins and Albany (and me) transporting firewood, several of us from Graz hauling leftover food that the conference people graciously let us take, and a crew of dozens on cleanup duty. And it all came together quite well, and I even made my money back. I'm already scheming for next time.

There were minor hitches. I tore something in my throat screaming Austrian names with Gerv, and it is still recovering now, but it was worth it. Chad Boulay and Bill Sarnacki hauled a huge log that would have bedrocked an epic bonfire. They put it down near the firepit, and less than a minute later, Niels Birbaumer and Herta Flor designated it for seating. I sure as hell wasn't going to kick them off their log, especially once they got going singing Italian songs with the Roman BCI team. So, I hauled another, bigger, heavier log to the fire. A pine log, with lots of little protrusions, that I carried on my right shoulder for over a quarter mile. Dammit. I learned my lesson and put it right on the fire, and it did the trick. The fire kept going, but the beer did not, which is another hitch. The Dutch people, characteristically, had a different take on when the beer ran out. "Where is the beer?" asked Erik Aarnoutse around 1 AM. I told him we were down to just Budweiser, but it was over by the fire. "No, I said beer." I always said the Dutch are a clever people.

I'm told the party went on well after my departure around 3 AM (did I mention no more beer?), and the site was spotless the next day. What teamwork! This adumbrates a bright future for the BCI community. And indeed, while the conference was pocked with a few strident arguments and flaring jibes among the increasingly ragged attendees, people got along quite well overall, with a lot of mutual respect and love. Theresa Vaughan earned a standing ovation at the closing banquet, and I know that most attendees felt it was far too little.

I started doing something I wanted to do every time: I went around and asked attendees to sign my copy of the conference proceedings. I explained that it was for posterity, or sentimental reasons. I told other people it was so I could sell it in 20 years instead of writing more grants. I told yet others that it was so I would have copies of all signatures of everyone who is senior now, and most people who will be senior later, in case I have any trouble getting their signatures on more important documents later. Also, I'll start this blog, and get their passwords when they log in to make comments. But remember not to tell anyone about it.

Most attendees of the 2010 BCI Meeting. This photo was taken on Thursday afternoon in front of Phoebe Hearst Social Hall

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