I’m really impressed with Williamsburg. I’m a history nut, but I’ve never been here before. I really didn’t know what t0 expect. It could really be cheesy, but it’s not. Anything but, really.
We’ve been in the conference area in the Art Museum so I figure the staff is pretty carefully chosen, but they are really good. Exceptionally good. I don’t think I’ve encountered a single staff member who hasn’t said “hello” or “welcome” and many have struck up conversations. Given that we spent most of our time in sessions means we didn’t get to do much exploring. It’s been rainy and chilly since yesterday and that didn’t lend itself todo in a lot of walking around. My knees didn’t either, truth but had the weather been nicer I think I would have been up to push myself a bit more.
So this is where the conference was held.
You’d think with the weather it’d be awfully uncomfortable to hold a conference here, but luckily we were actually underground. That building on the left is the back side of the Public Hospital building and the wall on the right is the top floor of the Art Museums. Here’s a cutaway showing how the two are connected.
I’ve spent a lot of years doing A/V support for conferences and meetings, and I have to say this was one of the cleanest, best produced meetings I’ve seen. The tech came off without a hitch. I was glad to hear both the organizers and speakers give shout outs to the crew.
This had the feeling of one of those conferences where years from now somebody is going to write a book or make a beer or do something really interesting and when they get interviewed about it we’ll find out that the seeds for that project started at this conference. An occupational hazard of being an introvert is that I tend to observe more than interact. There were several folks I’d love to have talked to, but I have no idea what I would have talked to them about. It just would have been weird fanboy awkwardness. It’s motivation for me to actually do something so I’ll have something to talk to them about the next time.
I think I’m going to be able to brush off some of my old grad school interests. Hearing about the development of industrial scale brewing and the systemization of brewing technique reminded me of things I encountered in a couple philosophy of science courses. Why, for example, did distilling adopt the use of the hydrometer to monitor the efficiency of fermentation more than 50 years before brewing? And why did cheap brown malt not fall out of favor until the hydrometer shows up. Brewers certainly had to have noticed through experience that it took more brown malt to get a given strength of beer than the newer pale malt. Why did the hydrometer settle the question? How was it that Isinglass started being used as a clarifying agent? You have to wonder what world someone is living in when saying “Hey! I know! Let’s use dried sturgeon bladders!” is sensible.
It remains to be seen whether I’ll ever make any headway on any of that. I’m not sure there’s anyone who’d want to read it. It probably won’t stop me from seeing if I can find anything out, though.
We shift gears tomorrow. After breakfast we pack up and head up to Lorton, VA to get on the AutoTrain. We have a roomette for the night and we’re supposed to get into Sanford, FL on Tuesday around 9 AM. Then it’s time for Astros Spring Training.
We’ve had an enormous amount of fun so far. Can’t wait for what’s next.