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Saturday, June 20, 2009

HLAA - Day 2

I can't seem to escape line dancing. It's everywhere here.... it beckons to me with its siren call. A hundred people, in scattered rows, crammed onto the tiniest dance floor, hootin' and hollerin' while spinning around, clapping, stomping their feet, and having a kickass time.

Yeah, but I bet you don't wanna hear about my two left feet. Day 2 at HLAA - take Day 1, and multiply by 2. That's the amount of information that got crammed into my brain and notes, then spent the evening making even more new connections and new friends. Let's see if can sum it up before I run off to my chapter development meeting....

1) Hair Cell Regeneration Symposium. This hugely important seminar generated quite the attendance numbers! 3 major panelists spoke at length about their research into bird and mice cochleas, what their results were, what their methods have been, what breakthroughs were generated, and what cells and genes they were manipulating. What struck me was that I did not anticipate the number of people who, when Q&A rolled around, were far, far, far more intent on "when's it gonna finally make me hearing again?!" than "wow, so when you did method X, how did result Y occur?" I think I'll have to write a whole 'nuther story on my Q&A observations. I did get to speak to two of the doctors post-lecture, both were extremely knowledgeable about their field and I got the sense that they were doing everything they could to want to meet the audience's desires - however, only luck and lots and lots of money will get us to where we have to go. I've got an extensive amount of notes from this 3-hour tour, so as soon as I parse through it I'll have something more to report.

2) Young Adults panel - 4 people I've recently became acquainted with spoke to a pretty full room of other 18-35 year olds, talking about things relevant to our age group - fitting in, surviving college, and getting jobs. They all had diverse perspectives on how they approached and handled challenging situations, and I believe the audience gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and wisdom from the panel.

3) I got pulled away from another presentation to help Shanna Groves of to host her book seller and sign copies of her book, "Lip Reader." Being assigned the duty of photographer, it became quickly apparent that while I've got an eye for flair, I'm too easily distracted by fellow conference go-ers to remain on task. I learned that I've got to stay alert and ready to snap!

4) Content with Shanna's success, I hit up Advanced Bionic's reception to meet fellow AB CIers - and I met my doppleganger! Well, more precisely, apparently someone from where I live now moved to my hometown of Valencia, CA at about the same time I moved out to the midwest. So we're swapping stories about exact locations around Six Flags and Sprint HQ, and now I've helped a fellow Los Angelino know how to beat the traffic. On top of that, we've got this gigantic AB picture of all AB CIs at HLAA - looked to be about 50 of us there. Nice!

5) Ah, the birthday dinner. Delicious buffet, not so crazy about the weird old guy who kept trying to shush my table while there were various speakers going on about the passed founder of HLAA, Rocky Stone. There was quite a bit of mingling going on around us, people eating, walking around talking, and still we got that one person fixated on our table. We were respectful to the presenters and to those around us, and we were out of his view of the speakers, but still, he got really upset even when we were signing to each other! Oh, well. Then came the line dancing with a live band.....

6) Not content to just chill on the dance floor, the remainder of the evening was spent at the after-party. A not-insignificant number of us crashed a suite and sampled wine, checked out the view from the balcony, talked with some of the college kids. I ran into an old friend from CSUN who's living in DC and is part of the committee going to Deaflympics in Taipei - Nice! To put it succinctly, it's not often that I go to a room party and still understand just about everyone there - everyone there had a hearing loss and either signed, or did everything they could to speak clearly. Definitely way better than any hearing parties I've been to, blasting music and slurring their words.

Now I've spent way too much time putting my thoughts into text. I'd better get ready for a grueling day 3!

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