So, I actually didn't do any shopping last week. I was at the humongous math meetings in Seattle. The closest I got to being inside a store was to go to the book exhibits, which happen in a giant room that seems to go on forever and ever. Book sellers from all kinds of different publishers (although mostly academic presses) come to convince people to buy their stuff. There are also all kinds of software vendors, and also math toy vendors, and even people offering massages.
But my favorite part of this exhibit hall isn't the books, etc; it's the art exhibit. I grew up hearing people make jokes about easy college courses by calling them "basket weaving" classes, but mathematical basket weaving is actually stunningly complex and impressive. I didn't get a close-up, but these were fabulous pieces.
There are a lot more than basket sculpture work; there are paintings and beadwork and prints and sculpture. My own mathematical work looks (sort of) at how we look at lines -- in particular, how a bunch of straight lines can come together to make curved things, and how those curves look when you smoosh them onto flat things (for example, by taking photographs or looking at reflections in a mirror). So two of the pieces I totally loved were these ones, below.
But buying them, well, even if I had been in a buying mood, the art wasn't for sale.
(In fact, I did amazingly little buying of standard travel stuff. My college and my professional organization are kind enough to cover about half the cost of my airfare, hotel, and meals; plus, I'm on so many BigShot committees this year that I only bought my own lunch once and my own dinner twice, so my expense reports are going to be easier to write).