As I begin my final semester at MIT, my thesis (and the accompanying research) seems to have become the focus of my life. This isn't really true, but it definitely feels that way. So I'm very excited to get to do something different for a few days, interupting my usual routine with what will be a chance for new information, new and interesting people, and some quality conversations and discussions.
This is my second trip to the TRB Annual Meeting, so I know a bit of what to expect. For instance, I know that last year I carefully planned out all three days, weighing different committee meetings, presentations and poster sessions for each time slot. All of that immediately went out the window as soon as I received the actual paper guidebook for the conference. Somehow, looking at all those same sessions and workshops on paper completely changed my priority for each period, rendering all my preparation pointless. Knowing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again, but expecting different results, I put much less effort into scheduling this year. I'm sure I'll find plenty of sessions of interest when I arrive.
That first trip to TRB ended with a rather significant snowstorm. Given that D.C. seems to shut down at the slightest hint of snow (keep in mind I'm from northern Wisconsin, so my definition of "a little snow" is relative), my fellow students and I were all stranded after the conference for what turned out to be two very sunny, pleasant days in our nation's capital. Darn.
Due to that extra time to be tourists in D.C., we decided that this year would be a good time to explore nearby Baltimore instead. So I'm off to Baltimore for a day, to see what the Ravens' hometown has to offer while they're in Foxboro battling the Patriots. After spending the day there, Amtrak will take us into Washington for the start of the conference. It'll be good to focus on something other than very detailed data analysis for a few days.