So perhaps this is a good time to consider the many supercomputing people who won't be joining the hordes in Seattle this year.
I wrote in one of my earlier SC11 diary entries: "... it is wise to not forget the many people using, supplying or supporting HPC products and solutions that won't be attending SC - in many cases because they are not even aware of SC11 and what it offers" and went on to talk a little about those people who did HPC or who could benefit from HPC but weren't aware of SC.
But as well as these unfortunate folk, we must bear in mind the even more unfortunate people - those who are only too aware of SC but who will be relegated to watching from afar. Some will have been in previous years, but it is not their turn this year maybe. They will linger around the home office, watching their email streams quieten, their phones calls and voice-mails contain only tantalizing messages of "are you in Seattle - shall we meet you for a drink?" They will grudgingly have to trust colleagues to handle meetings with customers, prospects, collaborators, suppliers, etc. Maybe they will try to keep up via twitter, blogs, news outlets, etc.
Perhaps even now they are painfully being asked to help with the organization of their SC11 booth, demos or meetings. Only to never see for real the effect of their work.
They will be adrift from the casual conversations and chance encounters that really create and shape collaborations and new deals. Even career opportunities.
They will be forced to only dream of the most wonderful banquets, exquisite entertainment and palatial venues that you will enjoy every night [yes, it does look that way from afar, even if from close up on the night it looks less like the marketing brochure promises :-)]. And yes, I know it's "work" or "networking" - but with a glass of wine in each hand and cheeks full of tasty snacks, you're not so convincing on the "it's work" thing :-)
Oh yes, they will be missing out - professionally and socially.
So, when you arrive in Seattle, knackered from long hours crammed into economy
Someone remind me too, as I try to persuade my body to ignore it's natural clock stuck at the wrong end of the day (aren't timezones fun!).
On the other hand, away from the professional impact - a week not at SC11 is a week not being away from the family.