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How I spent my summer vacation

Posted: 08.06.09
Dog days of summer - new orleans NOLA - Siggraph 2009

School runs, in most parts of the world, from September to June, with a few breaks for religious and political celebrations in between. And school’s out in the summer, and August is as summer as it gets in most places in the northern hemisphere.

In most parts of the U.S., other than San Francisco, it’s usually pretty hot, pretty damn hot, in August.

ACM’s special interest group in graphics, commonly known as Siggraph, has always had (and I hope always will) a strong link to the universities. The next time you go to Siggraph, spend a little time looking at the posters, and emerging technologies to get a feel for just how Siggraph is influenced, if not driven, by academia.

Therefore, Siggraph the congress/convention is held in the summer so students can attend, look for work, and deliver their papers.

In order to make the conference accessible, Siggraph has kept the entrance fees low. Back in the glory days of the late 1980s when Siggraph attendance and the number of exhibitors were high the organization made a little money. But basically it’s been a hand-to-mouth operation relying on volunteers to get it put together.

Siggraph has had to find a low-cost venue to hold the conference, and because many people bring their families with them, the site selectors try to find a fun place—usually. And with one or two notable exceptions (1980—Seattle, 1985—San Francisco) the places they’ve picked have been HOT AS HELL! Who picks these damn infernos? I remember one year in Dallas and one year in Las Vegas—Las melt-my-shoes-in-August Vegas when I thought I was going to die if my clothes didn’t catch on fire first.

This is the third time Siggraph has been in sweat city on the Mississippi. Obviously there’s no community history in Siggraph. The volunteer kids who run it get jobs and don’t come back for a few years. The exhibitors have been dropping like flies and don’t seem to care, why the hell should they, they’re inside all day in an air-conditioned exhibit hall.

The last time Siggraph was in New perspiration Orleans the air conditioners on the mile long building broke down—boy was that pleasant. But no one seems to remember this stuff except me.

Siggraph began in 1975 with the first conference in Boulder Colorado. I didn’t attend that one, but I think that’s a really swell place to hold the conference—it’s never been back.

Starting with Atlanta in 1978 Siggraph has managed to find the hottest possible places in the United States for the conference 85% of the time.

And global warming, which regardless of your religious position on why it’s happening, is not going to make this situation any better. We have got to relocate Siggraph to the North.

Now, if LA is the big attraction because of its association with the movie business, then how about Vancouver?

Aug Temperature in major US cities