A benefit of being at a university again is that I get trips to research conferences paid for, without using up leave, so I'm just back from the Symposium Series on Computation Intelligence 2011. (well, I was when I started writing this last Friday!)
Before going I was in an odd place, I do really enjoy these things as it's great to learn about what other researchers are doing and usually provides some good motivation for what I'm doing, but this time I'd have to leave Jay and Naomi behind. Not that I haven't missed Jay when I've been away in the past, but I can at least speak with her on the phone which is harder to do with te 12 week old baby!
As it turns out, I had a great time - though not without missing my girls! There were a few good ideas which I've come back ready to have a shot at, and as importantly some encourgement in the form of seeing others doing stuff which is similar to what I'm doing (this is important to a researcher - it means what you're doing is important to others, and probably not as crazy as it first appeared...). I also caught up with a couple of people from my old department at RGU included my PhD supervisor and we had a good talk about a lot of things. John (as good PhD supervisors should be) has been a real mentor to me and it's always good to talk about how things are going. There were of course a couple of fringe perks to the trip too - a lovely dinner on a boat sailing along the Seine and a ride on the Eurostar. As someone with an unhealthy interest in railways I've been keen to do this (and ride on the French network) for years, I remember seeing the channel tunnel construction on TV when I was much younger and now I've done it :)
On returning - it might seem odd to someone who's not been around a child at this age - Naomi has obviously changed in the four days (really that quick!). She's become far more deliberate in her movements, grabbing on to things much more ably - getting increasingly interested in the world around her and making every more cute burbling sounds.
Good thing my next work trip isn't until August, but I'm sure she'll be developing even faster then so maybe not...