Sorry I went offline again for a while folks. I was at a conference in Austin TX.
This wasn't just any conference. My former advisor from graduate school in Minnesota was there with several of his roadies, plus old friends from that lab and lots of other familiar faces from previous conferences and collaborations. I had lots of formal and informal socializing to do and had to plan it around a very busy conference schedule (talks went from 8:30 am to almost 10:30 pm every day).
Austin has an amazing night life. The first night we were there we went to a Rilo Kiley concert at a famous BBQ joint in downtown Austin called Stubbs. It was a huge outdoor venue (weird for downtown) that was quite crowded for a Sunday night. It ended early and beer in Austin is obnoxiously cheap so we went out afterwards and had fun dancing the night away at a small bar. I got back to the hotel late, lost my way in the super-dark hotel room, and ended up smashing my nose on the bureau and getting my first bloody nose ever. Worried I would end up with a black-and-blue face for the first day of the conference, I stayed up late icing it. My poor roommate woke up but didn't remember it in the morning.
The last night we were there we had a final banquet and then we headed out to see the Spazmatics, an '80s cover band playing at the Cedar Street Bar in downtown Austin. Again the large crowd amazed me (this was Wednesday night). The cheap beer tempted us all and pretty soon all of the nerdy scientists were dancing the night away, again, on the dance floor to '80s music. I even got hit on, not once but many times.
The days were full of good talks and interesting science, and I got to sample some of Austin's finest for lunch and dinner while having useful meetings with collaborators and colleagues. In Austin, chain restaurants and businesses are not welcome so every place we went was local and unique. And the locals at the conference directed us to some of the best. A friend of mine from way back that picked some of us up at the airport took us out to some taco stand in the middle of nowhere that was delicious, and my Seattle boss took out the whole crowd to a very fancy and expensive Austin steak joint that was some of the best food I've ever had.
The only negative was the payback I was due when I finally ended the whole thing. I don't do well on little to no sleep, especially many days in a row, and started throwing up as soon as we got to the airport. This is not fun, let me tell you. I am not sure if I was severely hungover and tired or actually sick (a friend I was partying with on Sun also got sick that week) but whatever it was blossomed into a killer cold that kept me home the next day and mos of the weekend. So I have yet to go back to work. Meanwhile I'm enjoying being back home with my Studly Hubby, eating home-cooked food and watching movies and sleeping many many hours.