Being at a conference: useful. Getting back from a conference: priceless, and worth every one of the premium chocolate-covered almonds that I scarfed down as a reward when I got home.
My paper went well, as did the other obligations I had at the conference. Secret message to panelists in the session I chaired: thank you for presenting your papers in the time allotted.
Secret message to people who congregate outside the open door when a session is going on: yes, we can hear you. No, we don't want to hear you; you're drowning out the panelists. Go away or shut up, please.
Secret message to the person who sat behind me and coughed and coughed and choked and coughed and coughed, only to leave momentarily, return, and begin coughing again: I know you want to hear the panel, but the rest of us do, too. Please reconsider sitting in the audience instead of standing by the door.
Is it a compliment to hear someone praise a point you made in the previous session if that person announces the point as though it has just struck him at a new idea? Is there such a thing as oral plagiarism?
Did you ever noticed that for some people you see at conferences, you only have about 5 minutes' worth of conversation and after that you don't have much to say, even if you like them?
The best part: taking a long walk through the city in absolutely perfect weather, seeing all the signs in a language that I couldn't read, smelling the fresh and dried fruits that I couldn't identify, and watching the people going about their daily lives because it's not Fabulous City to them; it's just home.