San Diego Trip Report

I spent a good chunk of last week in San Diego for the 2012 Joint Statistical Meetings. Some highlights:

  • Flew from GRR to SAN via MSP on Monday morning. Remarkably, I was surrounded by infants on the haul to California but, as if by miracle, not one of them so much as burped. No crying, nothing. It was quite tranquil.
  • San Diego is probably the city I’d move to were I evicted from Grand Rapids. Gorgeous weather, wonderful attractions, decent cost of living. And plenty of mooring balls for small sailboats along the Embarcadero.
  • JSM was useful. The conference pickings seemed slimmer than last year’s event in Miami Beach, but I still managed to find a half-dozen major sessions that drew my attention. Good stuff. The San Diego Convention Center is a great venue for something like JSM. Next year’s event will be held in Montreal, which should be fun.
  • I chaired a session on Tuesday morning for the Survey Research and Methods Section, about health surveys. I had seven high-quality speakers who presented some fascinating data and arguments about evaluating aggregate self-reported health data. On Wednesday morning I attended the executive committee session for the Section on Quality and Productivity, for which I serve as webmaster. Presented my social media/Web plan for the section. Seemed well received in concept.
  • Dining options in the Gaslamp Quarter are beyond excellent. I had some of the best Indian food ever and had a heavenly mocha at a cigar shop. Along the bay, I enjoyed fabulous sushi rolls and ice cream. Mmm.
  • The San Diego Hilton Gaslamp Quarter (that’s its full name) is a curious hotel — curious in a good way. Located directly across the street from the Convention Center, the hotel features a lovely modern decor, friendly staff and gorgeous rooms. I stayed in one of the Lofts on Fifth Avenue rooms; it had a desk, seating area, comfortable bed, large closet, bath with shower and tub, floor-to-ceiling windows and a nice view of the Quarter. I’d stay there again, although not if I had to personally pay the $300/night that the hospital ended up covering.
  • Toured the USS Midway during the long delay between the end of my conference activity and my return flight to Michigan. I visited the ship in 2005, when I attended the NAHQ educational conference, and found it to be an excellent investment of $18 and three hours. Just talking to the Navy retirees who served aboard the ship was worth the price of admission. It’s easy to respect our veterans but hard sometimes to picture what their time in service was like unless you listen to them tell their own stories.
  • Flew back to GRR via DTW. Delta Air Lines offers what I call “second class” seating and they call “Economy Comfort” — slightly roomier seats than the folks in Steerage. The night flight was perfect and I even got some sleep (albeit not too much). Had a 90-minute layover in Detroit, then touched down in Grand Rapids by 8:30 a.m.
  • Speaking of Delta: My gate in San Diego was near a United gate. The difference between the two airlines evidenced itself in stark terms relative to the demeanor of the gate agents. The United agent was surly and barked orders over the intercom, including chiding people who didn’t line up according to one of six group numbers. The Delta people give me tasty, tasty cookies. And don’t get me started on the number of times I heard an overhead page for “any Frontier Airlines representative” to help people at Frontier’s ticket counter. Egads.