So my company flew me down to San Francisco on a business trip. It was fun to finally meet people to whom I’ve only talked via mail or the phone before. I like the direction we are going with our products and the roadmap for future releases, but meetings like this are more than just technical instructions — it’s also about meeting and networking with people. And since I don’t drink at all, it was also very funny to listen to drunk people. At one shindig, I listened as a guy proclaim that “every New Yorker knows that 9/11 was an inside job.” I had no desire to turn a nice meal into a political bash-fest, but I’m sure if I were to ask him about “squibs” he could have gone on at length over currently-suspended BYU Professor Jones and his demolition theory.

There were lots of posters about the anti-Bush rally set for Thursday, but almost every one of them had been ripped down. I think people were more cheesed at people gluing stuff to their building walls and worksites than they were eager to support President Bush. I just can’t believe there’s a huge support base for President Bush in San Francisco, but there have to be at least a few people, because I saw one flyer for a “protest the protest” rally. As far as I could tell from what I saw on Thursday, the anti-Bush rally was a big fizzle. Since corporate policy says we must use our corporate credit card for taxis, and very few taxis accept credit cards, we ended up walking a good 5-6 miles that day going to conference sites, having lunch, and walking back to my hotel. During all that time, I saw only one lonely protester holding a sign. I’ve been checking to see if Zombie has anything from the Oct. 5th rally, but so far there’s nothing on the site.

One morning while looking up directions for the day’s conference location, I noticed three people in uniform nearby. They had the Navy-like ranking structure, but their shoulder boards had a symbol on them I’d not seen before. Two had the thick-thin-thick strips of Lieutenant Commanders, but instead of having the normal gold star above the stripes like the U.S. Navy has, or the gold shield of the U.S. Coast Guard, they had a vertical caduceus and a horizontal anchor. After I got home, I did some searching and discovered that they were part of the U.S. Public Health Service. You can see a representation of their ranks at UniformInsignia.net. I had thought the third person was a Vice Admiral with two stars, but I had forgotten that the Vice Admiral rank has three stars. Eh, I’m an Air Force brat, so Navy-style ranks are not all that familiar to me. Incidentally, there are seven uniformed services in the United States. Before today, I could have easily named the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard, but I wouldn’t have been able to name the U.S. Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned corps.

All in all, it was a good conference, but not having a constant internet connection was a pain. The few times I had between meetings to jump on the net were spent keeping up with work-related stuff, and that’s not much fun. Time to catch up on all my online comics and the news. Anything big happen while I was gone?

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