This post may be a little late but I finally have some free time after returning from Hawaii to write down my thoughts about the event (I’m at the laundromat and I can’t leave due to the Great Clothes Theft of 2012). (May 18: well I may have sat on this post too long. It’s not the 2014 SAA meeting yet so I guess this is still kind of timely. Anyway I just wanted an excuse to show off my Hawaii photos so please continue on!)
Overall I thought this year’s conference was better than those in previous years, even accounting for the wonderful location. The convention center was very convenient, except for the lack of free wireless Internet, though now that I have a smartphone this issue is less important to me. The layout of the convention center was efficient, with a main hub with coffee shop and hallways that branched out from it. Taking the grand tour around the building yielded some neat art installations and open-air areas that blur the line between indoor and outdoor.
I saw on the map of the building that there was a garden on the fourth floor. All ways of access were blocked on the first day, however. I was happy to see that the floor was open on subsequent days. The rooftop garden turned out to be a really nice introduction to notable local plants. There were also many lizards in the foliage, which makes me wonder how they got to the roof of the convention center.
I should also mention the giant poster area. Unlike previous years, each poster had a buffer of several feet in all directions, which allowed for a pleasant browsing experience. I saw some great posters, but my companions and I did remark on an unusually high occurrence of poor methodology, such as the use of p < 0.05 as a strict division between statistically significant and it's opposite (I have an upcoming editorial in a nursing journal on this issue!).
I saw most of the talks with some combination of Andean prehistory and bioarchaeology. Specialists in these areas seem to have better slides, meaning clear and interesting, than researchers in other fields, based on the limited sample of other talks I attended.
But enough about the conference. Hawaii was a blast! My travel buddy and I stayed at a hostel in Waikiki, just two blocks from the beach. We hiked Diamond Head Crater, went to the aquarium, took in some local culture at the farmer's market, and took in some distant culture at the 31st annual Scottish Festival (!).
Back to the conference, I signed up for the special archaeologist lu’au at the Bishop Museum. Around 200 archaeologists got to roam the grounds after hours and peruse one of the main exhibit halls (the other big hall was closed but I think it has robot dinosaurs (doh)). The hall we did get to see had a lot of cool exhibits on Hawaiian culture, including instructions on how to gut someone groin-first with a shark-toothed sword:
Here are the rest of my photos. I will probably sit out the next meeting in Austin, but San Francisco seems like a pretty sure bet.