Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Sessions in SacrAMWAnto

It's been a few weeks since the latest AMWA Annual Conference, but there are a few things I've been wanting to get down here!

Tell me all about them!

Oh thank God, Gerald, I've missed you. Even lists are too time-intensive this time.

Gerald > gerunds.

Well, I wouldn't go that far, but you do allow me a certain amount of freedom of expression.

Plus I'm way more fun.

There is that.

So what do you have to get off your hairy chest?

Well, should we talk about the girls now or later?

Now! Now! NOW!

Okay, I'll save girl talk for later.

I hate you.

I'm being professional! I'm going to start with the professional stuff. Like meeting famous people.

Whooooooo did you meet?

Well, I didn't meet Neal Baer, but he was the keynote speaker!

I've never heard of him.

Have you heard of ER, Law and Order: SVU, and A Gifted Man?

Yes, yes, and what?

He's a writer/producer on all those shows!

Very cool! What did he talk about?

He showed a lot of clips from SVU and talked about how he was able to weave in relevant medical topics and social issues. By having attractive female lawyers discuss them in REALLY DRAMATIC ways.

Those female lawyers are attractive. Meet any attractive medical writers?

I told you, that comes later.

Rats. Mmm, rats, now I'm hungry.

You're always hungry.

Truth! Go on.

He also used social media to help spread the word, and he found that his work had real, definable impact. An episode about untested rape kits resulted in all of the untested rape kits in Los Angeles being tested. An episode of ER that featured a surgeon's checklist resulted that checklist being implemented in hospitals across the country (the creator of the checklist bemoaned the fact that said checklist had been in the literature for years, but it wasn't until it was on A TELEVISION SHOW that people began using it). It was a wonderful reminder of the fact that stories do have power, stories are important, fictional tales can have an effect on reality.

Aw, that is pretty cool.

I know! I actually stayed awake and everything, and that's a feat.

So who did you actually meet?

Mary Roach!!

Ew, I hate roaches.

She's not an actual roach. She's a science writer.

Ew, I hate science.

You do not.

Can you eat science?


Oh, okay, I love science!

She was the recipient of this year's Alvarez Award, and she gave a very entertaining talk at the luncheon about her adventures in researching. The talk didn't really seem to have a point, per se, but it was as fun as you'd expect from her books. I was glad I'd done my own research, as I appreciated her stories even more.

I'll bet you had a question for her.

I had two. And one of them was sort of similar to a question that the woman before me had asked, so I began by stating that I had two questions, one trivial and one non-trivial, and the non-trivial question is actually a nice follow-up to that one, not the trivial one but the one that had just been asked—

I'm already scared.

That's what she said!

...I don't get it.

No, literally, that's what she said.


Anyway, during lunch, Ms. Pond and I were chatting about the fact that Packing for Mars didn't fit the title pattern of Mary Roach's other books: Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and the upcoming Gulp.

Ms. Pond? Would that be the cute girl you met at Asilomar? Who thought you were "interesting" because you don't cross the Golden Gate Bridge but you watch Veronica Mars?

Yes, yes, her, it was nice to see her, and now we're Facebook friends.

Ooh la la!

She's in Seattle, hush, you. Besides, it's not like that. I said no girl talk yet!

Boo-urns. Continue.

ANYWAY. It had been bugging me too, and I figured that, hey, Mary Roach was right there, why not just ask her and put the mystery to rest? Four whole syllables, WHAT IS THE DEAL. It turns out they really couldn't think of a snappy one-word title to match theme of her other books because most of the good ideas were rocket-based, and her book was about the human side of space travel. So even one of my suggestions, Orbit, didn't really work. Her best suggestion was Floaters, which was a double entendre about poop (this is Mary Roach, Gerald), but they were not having that.


Yes, poop. I also asked about her research methods, and she said that she used direct sources as much as possible because even books could be wrong; she'd run into some trouble where books had information that wasn't properly cited or backed up. I told her I raised my eyebrows at her citing Wikipedia in her books, but she noted that she only did that for the jokes.

And you met her afterward?

Aw, cute picture.

I told her that I had enjoyed her books as someone who also uses humor when talking about science. I also told her I was friends withactoplasm, who had interviewed her, and once I jogged her memory with "Roseville Borders," she remembered it being a fun interview. She could picture where they were and what questions he had asked.

Very cool! Meet anyone else famous?


All right, let's—

Not yet! Let me throw in some more professional notes.


Tough cookies.

Mmm, cookies.


I hate that guy.

So the conference coach connection was kind of bizarre because the hosts basically talked for half an hour and then there wasn't really much time for me to connect with anyone or say anything, which was okay I guess since I was really tired. It was great to run into people I knew, of course, like NoDe and Jimbo and, to my surprise, Faith (also from this year's Asilomar, like Ms. Pond). Thursday's breakfast roundtable was led by NoDe, in fact, and I learned about how to run an effective document review meeting. After the keynote speaker, I stuck around for a good talk on FDA Safety Communications, and that one I did fall asleep during (and I sat behind Jude). The anatomy/physiology workshop on Thursday was pretty fun, and I gained a whole new understanding of "form follows function." The pharmacokinetics workshop on Saturday was good, although sometimes hard to follow. I know I learned a lot of that stuff in grad school, but it was nice to be reminded of it.

And then there are the open sessions you put together!

Three of them! Although I couldn't attend one of them. The "How to Talk to Your IT Department" session wasn't super well attended, but I think the people who were there did get something out of it; I chose a couple people from my own IT department to lead it, and they found it rewarding. The "Genetic Testing: Today and Tomorrow" session got a lot of acclaim; several people told me afterward what a great session it was. I got a few people from Stanford, and all three were very good speakers. I was really proud of that session because I worked really hard to find the right people, and it sounds like it paid off. And although I wasn't there, my moderator, Jenni, told me that people loved the eSubmissions panel.

Good job, you!

Of course, I don't think I went to any other open sessions. I was spending all that time preparing for my workshop.

And how did that go?

It went pretty well, actually! As usual, I actually remembered more than I thought. People had good questions and seemed interested and seemed engaged. One guy specifically said that he understood how doxorubicin worked a lot better after the goofy live demonstration where I made people pretend to be nucleotides. Everyone has different learning styles! It may seem obvious to me, but you never know what will make it click for someone else. And this was the first time in years where I apparently went so fast as to have enough time to go through almost all my bonus slides, which I don't have memorized as well.

So you're a rock star?

Dude, you don't even know. Throughout the conference, people kept telling me how much they had loved my workshop, years later, how it was still one of the best workshops they'd ever taken. It was so weird.

Now is it time to talk about the ladies?

I guess.

Get more excited!

I guess!

So tell me about Mari, that cute blonde Canadian chick you met a couple years ago in Milwaukee!

Well, apparently you know all about her.

I do read your LiveJournal, you know.

You and three other people.

We few, we hungry few.

Mari e-mailed me before the conference to ask if I would be there!


Well, you spend a few hours talking in a bar and eating popcorn, I guess you bond.

Those are the connections that last.

We met at the Welcome Reception and hung out there and talked to a woman named Mary who had had a brain tumor and now had some short-term memory issues (she tried to give Mari her business card twice). I ran into Mary once or twice later on.

Mari and Mary!

Well, her name's not really Mari.

Let me have this, Sunil. Let me have this.

Also, Mari is married.

Married Mari!

Her name's not—


I was super hungry and ready to grab dinner, but Mari wasn't that hungry. I convinced her to join me anyway because she was on business and wouldn't be paying anyway. We stopped by the AMWA NorCal booth and scoped out nearby restaurants and settled on Ella, which was only a few blocks away. She was excited by the oyster bar and the "exhibition-style" kitchen. We wondered whether there would be naked chefs.

Were there?


Naked waitresses?

It wasn't that kind of establishment, Gerald!

Too bad.

Our waiter was fully clothed. And when he arrived at our table for two, he began, "First of all, are we celebrating a special occasion tonight?"


It is kind of funny how often people see me with a woman and think we are on a date. Newsflash: I am never on a date.

You met that girl from OKCupid that one time.

I guess that counts.

And then a second time. This time in public! Dana approved and everything!

Yeah, and then I never saw her again. Fine, there is a 0.5% chance I am on a date, okay? Fuck you.

Geez, I was just saying.

Well, don't, let me wallow in my self-pity, for fuck's sake.

Hey, look, just get back to your non-date with Mari.

I have better times on non-dates anyway.

So were you celebrating a special occasion?

"Yes," I replied, "we're both attending a conference."

Smooth, man!

Although later she said we should have said yes, and we might have gotten a free dessert or something.


And it was our anniversary! Of meeting two years ago!

Aw, how cute. So how was the food?

Mari loved oysters, and I was ambivalent, so we got two of her favorites (something East Coast, I think) and two of the waiter's favorites (Kusshi). We liked the Kusshis better.

Ew, oysters are so slimy and they taste like ocean. I hate the ocean.

I was too intrigued by the pan-roasted Monterey Bay sardines not to try them. They were much bigger than I expected! And they were full of bones. And they tasted fishy. Not bad, though.

I hate the ocean, but I do like sardines!

Really? That's surprising.

I pretty much eat anything, you know.

You're like a fire-breathing trash compactor.

That's what they called me in college!

Dragons go to college?

We're getting off-topic. Food! TALK TO ME ABOUT DELICIOUS FOOD.

I had FANCY FRIED CHICKEN. With housemade Tabasco! I thought it was probably the best fried chicken I'd ever had, but then I remembered ariiadne's fried chicken from when we went camping, so I don't know. It was very tasty with herbs and spices! Suck it, KFC!

And what about dessert?

Beignets with liquid pumpkin cheesecake and kettle-style pepita! (There was also applejack brandy caramel, but shut up, caramel.) The beignets were okay; I wasn't a fan of the crystallized sugar instead of powdered sugar. But the liquid pumpkin cheesecake was awesome; I wanted more of it.

And that was the last you saw of Mari.

Dude, that's a running gag from another post. I totally saw Mari again. Multiple times. We even went to a place called Tantric Bistro—


—and grabbed some coffee. I got a pumpkin latte.



Don't mind me.

Believe me, I never do.



So you saw her a lot and it was fun because you knew her and you were like friends and stuff.


Great! You had Mari and Ms. Pond as friends and stuff. Did you meet anyone new?

Well, there was Tami, a tall blonde newbie Sacramento grad student who was startlingly pretty, like the kind of pretty where you just want to say, "Damn, woman, you have amazing features," but you don't because that would be weird.

It would be totally weird. You're weird.

She was really nice and smiled a lot. We talked at the Wine and Cheese Reception before dinner and then later on. She networked with me on LinkedIn!

She wants to connect with you on a professional level!



I can't do it?

No, it's weird when you do it. Don't do it.

I met someone else at the Wine and Cheese Reception before dinner, though.

Was she a redhead? I know you like redheads.

I do! And yes. But not a natural redhead. She was actually a blonde.


She was kind of sheepish about it; it was amusing. But the color looked good on her. And, hey, she was from San Francisco!


I made sure Tronni was in our dinner group. We went to Mayahuel, a Mexican restaurant. As we waited for our table, I learned she was actually from Brisbane. I had been to the library! And seen the tiny downtown. She was pleased and amused that I knew where Brisbane was.

Well, you pass it every day to and from work.

And get this: she works right up the street from me!

Imagine that!

We sat across from each other at dinner. And I discovered that she was actually super geeky, though not exactly my sort of geeky. She was into the hacker community and more l33t cons than I knew about. It was funny because she thought I would judge her for being geeky, but I reassured her that, as a fellow geek, I would not judge her. Except when I did.

For what?

I wish I could remember! I mean, it wasn't for liking Twilight or anything like that, but it was something of that ilk, I think. "Now I'm judging you," I joked.

Geeks are geeks!

And she was also a theater person! We both gushed about Custom Made's production of Little Brother, although she was more of a fan of the book than I was. She really loved Cory Doctorow, and I wasn't familiar with any of his other books.

Hey, you like theater people!

I do! I invited her to Theater Pub.

Did she come?

Wait for it.

Fine. What kind of medical writer was she?

She was a contractor at the moment, but her career ambition was in audiology, which I had never even heard of. It's similar to speech pathology, but on the hearing end rather than the speaking end.

I hear she rides a motorcycle.

What, where did you hear that?

It's a motorcycle. It's hard not to hear it.

Well, okay, yeah. She rode a motorcycle. She actually had to drive several miles away to stay somewhere because her plans to stay in Sacramento had fallen through.

Oh, that blows!

I know! "Well, I do have an extra bed," I offered.


I didn't mean it like that!


Well, I would be lying if that wasn't in there somewhere. But if she wasn't up for the drive, it seemed like a nice thing to do!

You're awful.

You eat people.

Still less awful than you.

Anyway, she said she was fine, and she didn't think I was a total fucking creeper, since when we parted ways, she wrote down her business and personal contact information for me.

Well, that's promising.

I did see her once or twice during the rest of the conference, but we didn't really talk.

So did she come to Theater Pub?

She did! And she had a very good time at Love in the Time of Zombies, despite not liking zombies. And Dan thought we were on a date, even though, like I said, I am never on a date.

She works right up the street! You should have lunch sometime!

That's what I said! So that'll happen.


And then nothing.

And then something.

And then nothing.

She seems—

Just give up on me, Gerald.

You're awful.

I know.

I didn't mean it like that. Not this time.

This is getting too serious. You're getting too serious. What's your deal?

What, I can't have layers?

We'll see.

What was that?

We'll see.
Tags: ethicalmedical.net, gerald the magic journal-dragon, girls, i am so awesome, medical writing, personal, pictures, real life friends, theatre

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  • Comic-Con 2017: The Totally Abridged Edition

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