Imagine that my hotel, the Broad Quay, is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The university is at the top of the Matterhorn. To switch to a different analogy, imagine the university is in New Jersey, and the Victoria Room in Seattle. Thus, every morn I rise at the goddamn crack of dawn, put on my climbing gear, and begin scaling the peak that is Mt. Bristol. And because I don't drink coffee (and they don't have hot chocolate), I stuff my throat with horrible, horrible water in an attempt to re-hydrate. The secret is this: let's say you have a presentation in the Chemistry Building of 10:00 a.m. You also have one, in the other building (across campus), at 10:30. You basically miss the 10:15 presentation because you're spending that time hiking madly toward the Mills Building. That's how it works, and there ain't no gettin' around it. Also, and this is the best part, the lecture "halls" are the size of the average living room. At that size, every talk, including those dealing with the phylogeny of the Procolophonidae, become standing-room only. The distance between your seatback and the back of the seat in front of you is far less than an American airline coach seat.
And then you get to walk further uphill, and much farther away, for the poster sessions. Even these are horribly "organized:" A series of posters will occupy a very small space, arranged rows about two feet wide. All sense of personal space is lost, and shuffling is inevitable. Actually reading the posters themselves becomes secondary to avoiding bumping into other people. And poor authors have basically no room to talk to anybody, because there's a constant stream of other people trying to get by. I spoke with Bill Parker and...another guy...for a little while about two Silesaurus posters, and we were constantly shuffling around to let people through. There are three such poster rooms, all separated by hundreds of feet of hallway.
It's the worst SVP setup possible, really. This is the kind of thing somebody would have to actively work at to fuck up this badly. Tomorrow, I will have pictures of the daily trek(s) so that you can get a better sense as to what we're all going through on a daily basis. I've been told by a source who will remain nameless who was in charge of this year's horrendous layout, but I don't feel comfortable screaming it to the internets. What's worse, the talks this year aren't all that great (nothing mind-blowing), although I'm told that the always-reliable Jerry Harris had a hilarious "smashy-bird, melty-bone" talk involving a life restoration of a headless duck. I understand it generated insane amounts of laughter. I missed it, though: I was hiking back to the Chemistry building.