I have nothing against SODA. The conference has strong papers and researchers. Algorithms is an important area of theory. But algorithmic results just don't excite me in the same way that a beautiful complexity result does. I don't mind a good algorithms talk every now or then but I don't think I could take three straight days of them.
When I applied for graduate schools my boss in Cornell Computer Services tried to talk me out of being a theorist. "Do you really want to spend your life shaving log factors off of running times?"
"Yes, I do," I replied. But in fact I don't and I didn't.
I have had two SODA submissions, both accepted to the 2003 conference in Baltimore. Right before SODA that year I was visiting Bill in College Park, south of Baltimore. As I drove back to New Jersey I pondered taking a right off the highway into the conference. But then common sense took over and I drove on.