Bioanalytical Sensors (Part 2/3)

And so we continue the story of the Gordon conference shenanigans, where we were all very much hard at work conferencing and doing conference things and being all conferencey. Just so you know, going to conferences includes going to the beach.


Day 2:

So during the evening presentations of the first day, Adam and Peter both left early to catch up on sleep since they had woken up early to catch our flight and apparently can’t function on little sleep. On the morning of the second day, Peter skipped the presentations again, though this time to work on his own presentation, which would be in the afternoon (he’s a last-minute worker). Adam came late to the presentations and then opted to stand in the back so he wouldn’t fall asleep.

After the presentations came the poster session, during which Adam, Wenhan, and I presented. Adam apparently thought his poster was a little boring and considered Wenhan’s poster more exciting and opted to present Wenhan’s poster for a while, abandoning his own. Wenhan was just lazy and looked around at other posters. I didn’t really have an optimal location for my poster, being located in a back corner (we were ordered alphabetically), but I still got a few interested onlookers. It was a bit difficult to both stand guard at my poster while also trying to see other interesting ones. After the poster session came lunch, and then the last few student presentations, one of which was Peter’s. Adam and Wenhan made an effort to pay attention to Peter’s talk, but I think I might have fallen asleep. And so ended the GRS!

We had free time after the presentations and spent it doing the Cliff Walk, which is apparently a thing in Newport, and headed toward the beach, along with Westley and Lauren, whom we befriended. Wenhan commented on being able to enjoy the nice Pacific Ocean, to which Peter replied he was close but also totally wrong. Westley brought spike ball to the beach, which is a game I had never heard of before and somewhat resembles a cross between volleyball and ping pong. Two pairs of people face off against each other in teams surrounding a small circular net lying low above (and parallel to) the ground. One person serves a ball, bouncing off the net, and the opposing team has up to three hits to hit the ball back into the net, where it must then bounce off after which the starting team then continues the trend. A lot of diving and running around and faceplants into the sand happened here.

When we got back, it was time for dinner. I was dying with all the food. I got too greedy again and couldn’t finish everything. First world problems, man, when there’s too much good food that you can’t eat it all. One of the desserts was an extremely dense flourless chocolate cake that was super rich, maybe even too rich. Adam’s response to that was “do you know what cuts the richness of cake? MORE CAKE.” It was also at this point in time after I had gorged myself silly that I discovered the frozen yoghourt soft serve machine and ice cream station, complete with ice cream sandwiches and waffle cones. It was like omg why I’m already fat and full. Naturally, I got a bowl of swirled French vanilla chocolate frozen yoghourt, two scoops of ice cream, and an ice cream sandwich. I’m pretty sure I got cookies and cream and s’mores ice cream, but I had apparently not cleaned the ice cream scoop thoroughly enough and everything just tasted like cherry mint chip. At least I wasn’t the only one eating too much, as Adam popped a button off his shorts and Peter had to go up a belt loop.

The GRC started after dinner and began with two keynote speakers. These two speakers were actually extremely excellent and I really enjoyed the talks. The first focused on epidermal electronic systems, so basically sensors that you can stick on your skin like a temporary tattoo. The speaker showed us how he had one on his arm, mentioning that he got through airport security just fine (imagine having a security agent see it and freak out, thinking it’s a bomb). The second talk discussed the development of a sensor for arsenic in water for field use in Nepal and Bangladesh. Did you know that in Bangladesh they have millions of water wells, a fifth of which are apparently contaminated with arsenic? There’s a huge need for help in this area and the speaker’s presentation was very interesting. It was especially enlightening to see all the extra work that goes into the actual development and implementation of a device in the field as his group actually went out to these countries to talk to the citizens and see what they wanted and needed.

At night we played cornhole again and I started getting better. Peter and I partnered up against the old married couple (Adam and Wenhan) and while I admit that Adam and Wenhan were better (getting more points), the rule was apparently that if you get over 21 points (the aim is to get exactly 21), your team automatically loses. Well, jokes on Wendam, they lost twice from that rule!


Day 3:

I got up for breakfast for once. To be more exact, I woke up pretty much at the end of breakfast and got the last remainders of food. Adam overslept and missed it, however, to nobody’s surprise. Breakfast was fairly uneventful, with dry scrambled eggs and ham (I much preferred lunch and dinner fare). The morning talks were interesting, with this session being likely the most relevant to my work. Presenters were mostly good, with some very savage questions and comments by the audience. One audience member mentioned that they didn’t think a certain presenter’s work would be at all useful. Ouch.

Lunch consisted of Mexican food! We had these nice tortillas with which to wrap our excellent seasoned beef and fillings, but I forced too much into it that I couldn’t wrap it like a burrito and had to eat it like a taco. Unlimited guac! Sour cream, beans, cheese, salsa, pico de gallo, beef, chicken, and more! So many toppings. I was in fact full when I finished my plate but really wanted a second one. Peter told me to do it, Wenhan advised against. It was like evil devil vs. good angel. I decided against getting a second one. And then against my better judgement I changed my mind and gave in and got a second one. And then severely regretted it because I was so stuffed. I couldn’t even finish it, which was very sad.

Every day of the conference had about 3 hours reserved for free time, with various activities planned each afternoon. This particular day, the boys and I had signed up for a wine tasting. Now, if you know me decently well you’ll know that I very rarely drink. I’m not morally or religiously against it or anything, but I just don’t like the taste of alcohol. Wine is no exception, but I figured it might be nice to try it out since I had never gone to a tasting before and, well, I also didn’t want to be left behind. It was actually pretty interesting to get a tour of the vineyard and facilities and learn about how they make wine. For the tasting, I tried two whites, a rosé, a red, and a dessert wine, liking the specialty Pinot gris best. I didn’t even know they made Pinot gris wines (I’d only ever heard of Pinot noir before). I also tried a bit of a port, which I was not a fan of. At least I got to feel fancy. At one point when we were walking off, I accidentally dropped and broke my glass, which apparently happens all the time according to our guide who was nice enough to give me a new one. That’s my version of the story. As Wenhan likes to tell it, I got drunk and threw the wine glass onto the ground, shattering it and ruining the poor guide’s day by forcing him to clean it up and making him give me a new glass.

The rest of the day was uneventful, except in the evening when we played cornhole again, we learned that the rule wasn’t that you automatically lost when you went over 21 points; you would just go back down to 15 (Adam and Wenhan liked this new rule a lot more). The bartender was also very nice and brought us free beers at some point in the night (none of which I drank). So about halfway through the conference and having lots of fun!


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