A quick rundown of my trip to San Diego:
So the first three days were devoted to the ISME conference, which tends to be about half military people and half civilian academics. Some people in the talkback of my earlier post were wondering whether my paper would freak them out, but its actually a fairly diverse and laidback venue.
To give an idea of the range: of the two keynote speakers, one (Brigadier General H. R. McMaster) was a jingoistic, rah-rah, our enemies are evil and its a privilege to kill them type (thats an exact quote or pretty close), while at the opposite extreme the other (David Rodin) was arguing that the moral burdens on justifying violence are so stringent as to require us to accept either pacifism or a radical revision of military ethics in the direction of law-enforcement ethics. Both speakers were received graciously by the audience, but neither uncritically (most of the audience being sufficiently steeped in the military ethos to wince at pacifism, but sufficiently enlightened to wince likewise at privilege to kill). Id say most of the attendees, military and civilian alike, were Obama Democrats, whatever exactly that means these days. I think their eyes glazed over at my mention of anarchy, and as for the rest of my paper they didnt seem to find it terribly controversial. Ill have to submit something more provocative next year!
After the conference was over I switched from my Old Town hotel to one in Little Italy (both cheaper and closer to places I wanted to visit). On Friday I took a bus out to Cabrillo Monument, which I havent seen since I was eight or so. Then I headed for Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island to revisit a childhood favourite, but it was closed for renovations (something it might have been helpful to mention on their website before I walked all the way out to Shelter Island!). Since by that time I was jonesing for Polynesian I headed for Mr. Tikis Mai Tai Lounge (sounds cheesy but isnt) on San Diegos wonderful Fifth Avenue.
The next day I hit my beloved San Diego Zoo and learned an interesting tip from one of the zoo staff: the way to make friends with an ape is not to stare them in the face (which they interpret as hostile) but rather to turn your back on them and then occasionally peek back over your shoulder at them. I didnt have a chance to try it, though. I did buy a zebra for my mommy.
On Sunday I walked along the waterfront a bit, and then Gary Chartier and his wife drove down and we had lunch at Pokez (check out these somewhat deranged reviews by people whose experience seems to be rather narrow; in actuality it was a fairly ordinary place and the staff were perfectly polite, if somewhat inattentive) and then hung out for a while at Mission Bay.
Chief culinary discovery of the trip: the tonno rosso appetizer at Vincenzos in Little Italy: Ahi tuna coated with a combination of chopped mixed nuts, paprika, garlic, curry, and pepper; seared and served rare, topped with a spicy pepper sauce. Definitely recommended.