One privilege of being editor is that I get to go first with recollections. Another is that I have had the opportunity to read the comments of the other officers before preparing mine. As you read this newsletter, you will find three messages repeated frequently: the Midwinter Meetings of the ARO have been intellectually stimulating; they have been useful politically and for informal exchange of ideas in the hallways and on the beach, and they have been fun! Although the weather has been variable and has included days with frost in the morning and afternoon gale-force winds capable of dermabrasion, we have also had our share of 80 degree sunshine which has brightened the outlook of our members after a January spent in colder weather, often preparing grant proposals.
My specific, "official" recollections of meetings are centered around my role as social chairman off and on over the first 7 years and as council member and newsletter editor for the past 3. In the early days, social activities at the Happy Dolphin were restricted to a gala banquet which nearly everyone attended and at which most overindulged in alcoholic beverages. Evening entertainment always included the remarkable skills of Chuck Berlin and audience participation contests with a bottle of Chivas as first prize. One year, while grading scoresheets for the contest, I realized that a tie was imminent and that I was about to be stuck with 2 winners and 1 bottle. While the counts were being tallied, I raced out of the banquet room to the nearest liquor outlet, purchased another bottle of scotch, raced back, and as the tie was announced I pulled two bottles of Chivas from the podium and awarded one to each winner.
In addition to Chuck’s yearly performance, we were also privileged to have some of our talented ARO members perform at the banquets. For very different reasons, Rudy Thalmann and George Gates stand out in this category. We also were fortunate one year to be entertained by a string quartet composed of attendees from Japan, and they were excellent. I was somewhat alarmed just before that particular banquet when one of the musicians politely asked me where he might find the music stands, apparently not realizing that they are not standard fare for hotels of a quality like the Happy Dolphin. I quickly phoned a music store in St. Petersburg and dispatched a cab driver to rent music stands, and the performance went on as scheduled. As a matter of fact, looking back, that glitch seems minor compared with our annual battle with Happy Dolphin personnel concerning the quality of the P.A. system (lousy and probably still is) and the state of tune of the piano (equally lousy; in fact one year the piano caught fire just before the banquet and caused no further degradation of quality).
The other points I would like to mention are more concerned with my role as a scientist attending the meeting, rather than an official with the organization. It seems to me that there are two ways I have benefited immensely from my attendance at ARO meetings. First, nearly every year I return to my lab having seen and heard about a breakthrough in our field, one that I probably would not have learned about in the literature for a year or more. Particularly striking for me was Bill Brownell's movie of motile hair cells. In different ways we have all had this experience and it alone makes the midwinter meeting a "must" and stimulates us to return to our labs with new vigor. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, because of the informal atmosphere it has been possible to meet and become friends with a number of colleagues. It really is true that ARO is composed of a number of nice people and it has been a privilege and an honor to be associated with it for the past decade.
Bill Clark. Editor