WADE across the Silicon Valley…

Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best – John C. Maxwell

Last week I got this chance to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA. It was a great experience for me to see a new continent and of course a new culture!
I could divide my US experience into the following WADE:
* Wait
These days, being an Iranian might make you a lot of troubles, especially when you want to apply for the US visa and more especially when you want to attend a conference which has information security, knowledge extraction, computer and these sort of keywords! Actually all the keywords are reserved for Iranians because everything is related to everything so comes nuclear energy at the end!
It took me more than two months to get cleared and to successfully receive my single entry visa for US. Fortunately, entering US after this long procedure was not so difficult, just a few questions from inspector Gadget at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport before departuring and a kind welcome at the LAX airport!
* Academia
Staying in San Francisco for 5 days gave me a great opportunity to visit the world center of IT, Silicon Valley as well as a couple of top universities in the world.
San Francisco is the most densely settled large city in the state of California. More crowded than what I had imagined!
In the first day, I attended the CIKM2013 and ESAIR2013 (Sixth International Workshop on Exploiting Semantic Annotations in Information Retrieval). I met Krzysztof Janowicz and Dan Roth and had some chats on semantic annotation topics. The workshop concluded with a long discussion to disambiguate the definition of Semantic Annotation. At the end, I do not think we could come to an agreement though we all had the same meaning in mind but with different terms!

In the second day, I had a visit at IBM research center at Almaden to visit Pablo and to have a presentation on my current research work. Pablo was welcoming us very warmly and we got a set of constructive feedback from his colleagues at IBM. After having lunch at IBM, we drove around to see headquarters of big IT companies like Google, Yahoo!, Intel, etc.
In the third day, I attended the lunch meeting of prof. Michael Bernstein’s HCI group at Stanford university and visited the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research (BMIR).
Fourth day was spent in Berkeley where I had lunch with Gerald Friedland and talked to some of his colleagues (James Hieronymus and Adam Janin) on subjects related to Linked Data and Speech Recognition.
* Danger
I still cannot digest this fact that having guns will bring freedom and security for people! I was at the LAX airport on Nov 1, 9:30 am and observed a scene like Hollywood movies! People were just escaping from the airport because of someone who was shooting around!
* Enjoy
Actually in Los Angeles you really feel like Tehran (Now I can understand the meaning of TehranJeles very well!). You see many Iranians living there together with big supermarkets selling iraninan products produced in US! When walking around the Westwood, I felt I am in one of the Tehran streets browsing Persian bookstores, Iranian restaurants, traditional iranian ice creams (Akbar Mashdi, Gol o Bolbol!), etc…
In Los Angeles, you have to die if you do not have a car! Public transport is crap and Taxi fees are insane! Traffic jam and Gossips are everywhere especially if you face a wordy taxi driver! Anyways, the weather was really cool in LA, you always feel like summer. It was the fist time, I saw banana and palm trees next to the orange and lemon trees!Visiting rich Beverly hills and Holywood was full of joy too!
During my stay at CA, I also got this chance to visit Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, and many of those amazing attractions…

Delta Stanford Up in the air Squirrel at Berkeley Burger Gol o Bolbol ice cream Google Hollywood street Los Angeles

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