Just spent the weekend at Fort Worden in Port Townsend – a vacation spot in early April it was not (frickin’ cold, actually), but rather the gathering place of our local chapter of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. There’s something about working at home that makes these conferences and even project meetings a lot more fun than they would otherwise be – a chance to reconnect with my colleagues and be social, as well as the work benefits they provide.
I like our local chapter meetings – there’s something about them that’s very different from the national conferences. Aside from being small and knowing 2/3 of the people there, the work being reported on seems much more relevant to what I need to know and much more generally synergistic among presenters and researchers.
Then there’s the casual factor – people feel comfortable saying what they really think, even it if goes against the mainstream – and admitting they have no idea yet what their data mean but knowing that people at the conference are interested enough in it to work on it and think about it with them. Not to mention the barbecues on the beach, drinking wine someone’s making on the side, dancing to someone’s after-hours band, and the tipsy half-science, half-philosophy conversations late into the night. :)
This year I had the great honor of being dragged over to a group of students by a professor I’ve always admired and being introduced as the person who changed his way of teaching by the types of questions I was always asking :D And I found myself spending a lot more time talking to students this year than usual, which was quite enjoyable.
Lastly there’s the undeniable work benefits it provides – the networking among contractors and clients, the chance to do budget and project planning at odd moments, communicate with people that are usually in other states – and even once in a while, as happened this year, meet someone new and interesting – personally and professionally.
All in all, a good weekend. Now, back to work…