Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Opening my email earlier this week, I was excited to have been invited to Interphex 2014, the biggest biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology convention of its kind.  It was just as exciting as you'd expect.

I was definitely outnumbered by men, and by a lot.  There were two girls in teeny tiny club-type dresses teetering on 6 inch heels handing out cards advertising something.  Someone at my job's booth asked me where my dress was.  I laughed a little but suddenly felt keenly aware of my presence being a novelty.  I wondered if the girls worked for one of the pharma companies or were hired, like how Budweiser girls hand out crappy Bud Light keychains at bars.  Either way, I did get a kick out of all the men caught gawking at them and then, as their gaze came back to me, visibly being ashamed for me having caught them.

One booth was playing Caddyshack on a TV screen right next to their name.  It's an interesting marketing technique but I'm not sure how many customers actually looking for integrated automation systems it attracted.

The whole thing was a display of the gluttony and extravagance in the pharmaceutical industry.  Where financial institutions have been criticized for publicly showing off their excess in the wake of the economic collapse (that they directly caused, mind you), the pharmaceutical industry has continued to thrive without nearly as much of the stigma.  It's a lucrative business and there was no shame here in showing off.  I saw a holographic woman discussing her company's recent initiatives and many, many big cool looking tanks filled with liquids that changed color or had holograms appear in them without any other purpose explained.

There was also this racecar simulation thingy, although I'm not sure what it was doing there.

I considered stopping to get my shoes shined but held back.

It was an exhausting day full of small talk and introductions and making sure I held my coat in my left hand so my right palm wouldn't be sweaty when I needed to shake someone's hand.  While I appreciate the change of pace from my regular workday, the sensory overload here was intense.

Plus, I didn't even get to talk to the people at the GE booth about my broken refrigerator!  Next time.

Check out that comically large badge.  Picking out something to wear was tough and I was glad to see people at the convention apparently had the same problems: people in full suits stood next to those in t-shirts and jeans and I was happy to be somewhere in the middle in a silk tee, cashmere cardigan and skinny ponte pants with flats.  

I forgot how much I missed walking everywhere, and fortunately for me the convention center was a nice, long walk from the nearest subway.  

Passing this art on the way home reminded me why I'm glad to be in science, even if it means spending a day pretending to be excited by tablet presses and online process analysis.  I know this is art of some kind, I just don't get it at all.  Can anyone help me out?

I'm happy to be home and winding down with a Hemingway Daiquiri at a newly opened and really, surprisingly good restaurant dangerously close to home.  Maybe I'll be off my tequila kick soon and move on to making different kinds of daiquiris - another drink I used to always drink frozen but have discovered that I love sans the blender.  

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