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Monday, February 16, 2004

Conferences I am not attending this week 

The second-largest mystery convention, and one that's growing in numbers and popularity, is Left Coast Crime, held annually in a westerly state. Starting this Thursday (February 19) publishing types, authors and fans will congregate at the Doubletree hotel in Monterey, CA, where perhaps the best-regarded Bouchercon was held back in 1997. The same folks who organized that particular B'Con are holding the organizational reins for LCC this time around, so hopes are high that it'll be just as well-run. In any case, the attending authors list is fairly substantial, with heavy hitters like Lee Child, Jan Burke, Laurie King and SJ Rozan expected to attend.

The thing about these conventions is that for months leading up to it, the mystery lists I subscribe to and message boards I frequent are full of people's plans for get-togethers at the venue, what panels they will be attending, and a general excitement about the prospect, leaving those not attending somewhat envious (the "I can't wait for BCon" fervor begins, oh, about June.) However, reports will stream in when available, and I do believe the prodigiously talented Donna Moore will be submitting an official report for SHOTS, which I'm looking forward to--if anyone can suss out what's going on behind the scenes and who to look out for, it's Donna. When it's posted, and if others weigh in with their thoughts, I'll point you to it.

In more professional matters--well, for me, anyway--the 56th American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Meeting starts tomorrow in Dallas, and runs through the end of the week. I attended last year when the meeting was held in Chicago, and was impressed--both by the meeting and Chicago, which I'd never visited before. Granted, that city in February can get rather chilly, but for a Canadian, it wasn't such a big deal, and the Magnificent Mile stacks up to any major metropolis urban downtown area, with something extra: perhaps my favorite American-based chocolatier.

But I digress. The meeting covers all areas of forensic science: criminalistics, jurisprudence, and everything in between. My main area of specialty, forensic biology, falls under the criminalistics section, so I spent much of my time listening to presentations on the latest developments in the field--some so esoteric that it could be years, if not decades, for practical applications of such research. It was also great fun to see some of my classmates give presentations based on their thesis research, and in looking over the schedule this year, several former classmates, professors, and other forensic scientists I know are slated to present or give poster sessions. When I wasn't flitting from session to session or looking at posters, I was in the dealer room, where companies tried so very, very hard to interest the registrant in the latest technology, much of which would never be validated for forensic use. But new toys are always fun to see--as are the bizarre folks who ask if you want a manicure as you walk by. Evidently that company's a staple at the meeting, but no one I asked could give me a straight answer as to why they were there....

I'm sorry to miss out this year--can't do everything--but I suspect I'll have a grand time at next year's Academy meeting, which will be held in New Orleans. It's a city I've yet to visit but want to at least once, and a tax-deductible conference is perhaps the best reason to do so.

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