Pandemic Diary #69 – international travel (17 Nov 2021)

i’ve done it, i’ve broken my red line and eaten indoors with a bunch (30ish) of other unmasked people. they are all vaxxed to enter malta but still yeesh

all it took was feeling grumpy about spending a large amount of money, being surrounded by 30 other people I have spent some time getting to know over the last two days (including some wizened professors) who are willing to do so…

?? well I guess I will get tested again (for the first time!) at some point to enter the US.

but my presentation went well apparently?! and I got the sensor demo working (with lots of help / borrowed equipment)

it was nice to hang out with roboticists again briefly and just think about how cool robots are. it definitely has that feel of “these are my people” that I get a lot less of from pure CS unrelated to robotics. and, the professors here do seem like nice people

maybe i just need to actually talk to some CS-based AI for social good professors outside of my program — I guess that I must first publish a paper to do that

but also, I am running out of my self-allotted time to do so. i am in year 5 ! (jeez I have so much work to do in the next two months — it’s always like this — i should take more time to finish my 10 year backlog of side projects, as that will make me happy, but graduating on time-ish would also make me happy…)

still this is a weird feeling to remember how fun / excited i used to be about research and robots and learning about academia for the first time. i guess that actually this is my first in-person conference where i am presenting my own work, and it’s a really intimate setting (30 ish people, 3 professors who are just having a good time)

malta is surprisingly less foreign, the appearance is really cool, the signs are somehow 90% in english, it’s interesting. maybe it will feel stranger when i get outside of the conference / hanging out with conference people

the airbnb situation is okay, i realized i really like having a private bathroom even if i share the room with a family (which i was a bit concerned about in terms of COVID, but ?? the host keeps saying i can take my mask off inside lol). sadly i have not really had a chance to talk to them as i have been just barely waking up in time for conference until now

the jet lag honestly has not been so bad. mostly the first night i stayed up quite late to finish demo / slides, and then the second night i crashed and then woke up to perform daily ablutions and then was up for a while, and then got bit by mosquitoes and woke up repeatedly lol

but tonight i finally slept well!

sad to think this is the last day. maybe i will take some time in the next ten minutes to try to remember people’s names and topics and schools, i have been so out of it

and google fi was a disaster, but finally i contacted phone support and hopefully it is fixed?

the presentations have been interesting. there are some small details (like small font on axes titles, colors that don’t work well on projector vs screen), it’s nice to have gotten stuff out of way with roommates

still it’s clear that mine is a one-off paper (and that no further work has been done since final submission), perhaps just improving on the possibilities for gelsight designs, which are maybe helpful for robotic manipulation, while other people have much more a sense of how their work fits into a bigger overall picture.

it also forced me to think about my current research vis-a-vis the larger picture. i am getting pigeonholed into HT vs the broader CS community which i dislike. i think the solution is to dig into fairness, but in an applied way (not theoretical), as it’s what i spend a lot of time thinking about.

but i must do the work. in some search really excited to settle in saturday and spend ten days just grinding on research (…with side work on bank stuff = visualization work, and research work = rl agents). i feel like i made a recent restart (was stuck on database design for no reason?!) and am eager to get started