Sunday, June 18, 2006
Went to the Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics last week in Seattle, and took a course in population genetics with Kent Holsinger (my academic grandparent) and Bruce Weir. The course made my brain hurt, but I do think I got some good information out of it. Much of the analysis I was seeing for the first time, so having never tried to apply it, it wasn't always clear why the methods wouldn't always work or be robust. I have a lot of brushing up to do in the future.
Seattle itself is very odd. I had few preconceptions other than overcast and coffee and flannel and hiking boots. The overcast and coffee were certainly true (though it only really rained for about an hour all week, and was warm and sunny from midday to sunset every day). We spent most of our time in the University District, which is crammed with resale shops and ethnic restaurants and coffee and music stores and is everything a university district *should* be (hear that, UIC??). There are also a lot of crazy people in the District, people who look like they are professionally crazy. If I were casting a movie and needed colorful street nuts, these are the people I would hire. Reminded me of Monty Python's Village Idiot sketch. There were also a fair number of scary people, and sometimes we would turn a corner from a busy touristy area and suddenly feel very alone except a handful of idlers who started angling towards us from different directions. We also encountered a college-aged guy right in our hotel hallway who was most certainly high on something, asking very personal questions and wanting to be our friend and claiming to have been knocking on all the hotel doors to see if the rooms were actually occupied or the office was lying to him. Sorry, buddy, but you're creepy and we need you to go away so you don't see which room is ours.
The University of Washington itself: not much to say. It's very pretty, a mix of old Gothic/Romanesque that reminded me of Northwestern and brand-new that reminded me of nowhere I've ever gone to school. The Health Sciences building was a maze of lettered wings of varying heights whose elevators and hallways didn't all connect in an orderly way. I think our class of ~50 probably used 10 different routes to the classroom each time. Ours was pretty efficient though it involved a freight elevator.
Sightseeing: we walked from campus to Lake Union for chowder; from campus to the Arboretum and Japanese Garden; around Pike Street Market and Pioneer Square. There is in fact a decent bus system, but they don't want anyone to know about it. It wasn't hard to figure out, but don't bother trying to figure it out until you're actually there. Downtown is a mix of shabby and shiny, with fantastical hills where two blocks away the cross traffic is about 6 stories above our present position. We spent a good hour in a lovely bookstore in Pioneer Square, Flora and Fauna Books, http://www.ffbooks.net/. Amazing store, like the best-stocked botany and ecology library you'll ever see outside of a museum; we could have stayed all day. I felt bad about not buying anything but I seriously could not carry another ounce, unless maybe it was in my stomach. My Baja steak salad was very easy to carry home. :)
Pike Street Market is crowded and exuberant. The fresh flowers were to die for; I kept stopping to stare at mixes of deep purple irises and orange poppies and wishing they could make it home safely with me. The fish and crabs smelled fishy and unpleasant but I suppose I was pretty much the only person there who thought so. The famous fish-throwing was sporadic at best but did not deter a semicircle of tourists from hovering with cameras ready, hoping somebody would place an order. We never did make it to the waterfront; the downhill would have been a breeze but the return trip, with luggage... yeah, maybe next year.
Pictures are here: http://www.bintgoddess.com/Seattle/FrameSet.htm