Fastest elevator in the West
The elevator in our hotel drops from the 22nd floor conference area where we have our nightly “CyberCafe” to our room on the 8th floor so fast my ears pop. I’ll have to time it tomorrow.
Today was our orientation & practice day. After a pretty nice breakfast at which the coaches of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology came over to introduce themselves to “the son of an alumn,” we had our Opening Ceremony. Replete with a full orchestra, nonetheless. Felt like the Olympics, minus the part about the home countries actually caring. The Opening Ceremony wasn’t really much about us, the competitors, though. It was mostly about IBM and the ACM congratulating and thanking eachother at length. Not a total wash though, as IBM did show us some cool projects they’re working on.
Next up was lunch in Hemisfair park. The Baylor alumni staged a mini fiesta for us, complete with mariachi band. (Baylor is the university hosting the event, as they are the headquarters of the ACM.) They even forced some cheap sombreros on us. And by forced, I literally mean they walked around and put them on our heads. The Russians seemed to like them a lot. They also liked the straw cowboy hats we got yesterday. Not really sure why. Brings up an interesting point… I’m not sure how much the other countries here are enjoying the events that we’ve been doing, but for us in America, they’re a bit on the cheesy side. Especially the wranglers, who are literally dressed up as cattle wranglers, and spend their days pointing out the next direction we need to go to reach our destination. We wanted to ask the guy who directed us across the crosswalk half a block from our hotel where the hotel was, just to see if he was serious. Unforunately, I think he was. How retarded do you think I am, that I’m going to get lost on the next 200 yards to a 22-story hotel with Hilton Palacio del Rio in 20-foot letters on the side? Did you miss the memo that this is a competition of the smartest nerds in the world? Bah. Comic relief I guess.
In the afternoon we had two practice programming sessions and a brief informational meeting with Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the Computer Science honor society, which Madison does not have a chapter of. But they’re giving us money, so that’s cool. The first practice session saw us nearly disqualified for the second time. We had to write a simple program to sum the numbers from 1 to N, inclusively. It’s about 3 lines of code. We were too excited/distracted by the situation I guess, because it took us 43 minutes to get it right. Holy awful. The worst of it was, we accidentally read the wrong problem letter off the sheet… groups of about 10 teams were assigned to letters A-J, and although were were in group I, we submitted our solution to problem J. Then we got yelled at later for not reading the directions closely enough, which clearly specified in bold, italicized text, that we were not to submit solutions to any problem other than the one that our team was assigned. Oops. Our bad.
Then in the evening we had supper at the Alamo, got to tour that, watched a cowboy performer do lasso tricks & gun twirling. Pretty cool stuff. Only downside is that I managed to spill ice cream on myself. Twice. So I had to wash my “here’s your contest shirt, wear it for the next three days straight” shirt in the sink, and dried it with a handtowel, which was then returned to the hotel stained red. Sorry about that…
I think I’m going to wrap Day 2 up at this point, because I’m actually finishing this entry the evening of Day 3. I’m not doing so hot on keeping up to date it seems.