Look around, smell the flowers and cheer up

I landed in San Francisco at 10:15 this morning, a bit groggy after waking at 4:30 for an early flight. I'm in SF for Web2.0 Expo, one of the premier internet conferences of the year. There's something about arriving in northern California that always puts me in a good mood - the fresh air, the beaming sun and the fond memories of the years I spent living here. On this occasion though, I'm a little under the weather, so the mood is tempered by congestion and a runny nose. I sat down for lunch on a park bench outside the Metreon a few minutes ago, enjoying the gorgeous day, and a few minutes later, an elderly Irish-American woman sat down next to me. Quickly striking up a conversation, she discussed the plight of American education in light of the Va Tech tragedy, the 2008 election and then, after discovering I lived in NY, she shared how the best years of her life were spent there, gushing at the creative energy the city exudes. Then, just as she arrived, she said, "I better be on my way," stood up, gazed in wonder at the pink and purple flowers behind us and walked away. Now, it's my turn to get up. And I'm walking into the afternoon session, much happier and excited about the opportunity to be here.