Sunday, May 15, 2005

The South

Some people say that the South United States suck. They consider them people of the countryside (as opposed to the CA-NY city guys). And they would be right.

On the flight from LA to Memphis, TN (Now, TN is one of the weirdest words of mankind: Tennessee. It has 3 double letters. Gee.). I sat next to a middle-aged couple from Chattanooga, TN (only 2 double letters here). Don't ask me why all the places here have weird names guy was a pilot who is also collecting stones (old stones; like 3e8 years old). We had an interesting conversation, out of which I discovered there is actually something to see here in Knoxville. 2 hours south of here lies the biggest underground lake in the US, the Lost Sea. It's inside a cave inside a huge mountain where the first settlers and the Indians used to live when they first came here.

In Memphis you can tell right away that it's the birthplace of Elvis: musical notes on the floors, Elvis CDs, Elvis shirts, Elvis posters, Elvis everything. Seems like an interesting place right next to the Mississippi river (again 3 double letters - what's wrong with TN people?).

On the flight from Memphis to Knoxville, I sat next to a math teacher. She was grading some homeworks for her class, and she seemed quite happy with it. The stewardess observed that I was reading Angels & Demons, and made a couple of comments. She was a very bright girl: she is 21, works 6 days a week as a stewardess and the rest 25 as a waitress, while attending college. Well done.

I don't know exactly why Knoxville looks like a rich place to me. Maybe it's the series of indoor fountains (along with stones and plants) they have at their airport. Maybe it's how clean and neat the streets are. Maybe it's the lack of cars (after LA and NY anything looks empty). Maybe it's the excellent building and planning and feeling of the roads. Maybe it's the luxurious Convention Center where we are going to have the conference tomorrow (PAC). Or maybe it's just me living in South Central LA for too long...

The PAC is what I call a big conference. People waiting for us at the airport, with instructions on how to get to the hotels. The hotel people greeted us warmly and help us very nicely. The restaurant is open later and has extra meals for the conference people. Plus we stay at Holiday Inn, in a huge room with a huge bed, wireless internet and room service with Rib Eye steaks, enjoying a great view of Knoxville by night.