I write this on Saturday. My last entry was Wednesday. Thursday is a happy blur now. I know I went to some good talks, but I can't remember them now, even on pain of death. What I do have a clear recollection of is going to the Mummy Cafe with Quinn, Danny, David Blank-Edelman, Gnat and Jenine. Like the queen's tomb in the Khufu's (neé Cheop's) Pyramid, this restaurant was small, subterranean and devoid of treasure. However, the food was vaguely greek/mediterranean and so was easy to consume. Although no alcohol was imbibed there, for some reason conversation at the table was preempted as we all watched the ice cube that was impaled by David and hung across his glass slowly melt away to the point of failure.
At the time, this seemed very, very important. Maybe the food included some kind of "pharaoh's surprise."
Our troop ended up taking over the empty "O Cielo!" cafe, graciously hosted by emmigrant Italian man. I can't properly convey the un-east-coastness of the place to those who weren't there, but suffice it to say the cafe's easy elegance was both disarming and enjoyable.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at this elebrate water fountain/park that allowed visitors to walk around and through the multilayered, cantalevered waterfalls. At night, the indirect and submerged sparse lighting lent the space a faery quality.
Back at the hotel, I shared some scotch with DJ Adams, Piers Harding, and Tom Christiansen, whose wounded middle finger seemed to be responding well to its treament. I also got to hang out with Tim Allwine and some core IS hackers and got caught up on the latest office poop. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yet later still, I fell into a very silly conversation with Dave Adler and Sean Burke. I don't recall the details, but the image of Mr. Burke's flushed face gasping for air between peals of laughter is associated with that section of the evening. I assume he was laughing with me, not at me.
And then sleep took me.
On Friday, I awoke late for Dyson's talk, who went on about the origins of computer hardware (I believe he was there for much of it). An interesting talk, but not one that could trump my need for breakfast. After stuffing my gob, I sat through Damian Conway's "Perl 6 Rules" talk, which summarized the Perl5 module he wrote that provides Perl 6 grammar class-thingies. When you write a module that uncovers bugs in the regex engine, you know you're not getting out enough.
Speaking of not getting out enough, Ask Bjorn Hansen created a film of conference attendees saying wacky things. My personal favorite was this nutjob who talked about Microsoft poisoning the lunch they provided for OSCON. Nutty.
The last speaker was Milton Ngan from New Zealand who works at Weta. He walked us through some of the infrastructure used to render Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. You know the FX are slick when you can be shown how the magic is done and not lose any of the wonder for movie.
With the conference officially over, many of us headed to the Portland Zoo. I particularly enjoyed the primate section, complete with a pygmy marmoset, appeared hopped on goofballs, and an angst ridden Orangutan. Of course, the bat cave, filled with 40 or so bats, was good for a creep. When I saw the two leopards prostrated by the heat, I felt a little guilty about leaving my own cat to battle the rentless heat in Boston alone. Fortunately, I have a very short attention span.
Later, a gaggle of geeks headed across the river to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Even as a work of fiction, the script could have been a bit more respectful to viewers who know the history of technology. And there were plot holes wide enough to drive the Queen Mary through (the heroes stubbornly ignored obvious clues and portents so that they could put themselves in danger several times). And the actor who played the main villian (Professor Moriarty [yawn]) seemed utterly uninterested in this dog of a film.
Other then that, the movie was fine.
I spent Saturday doing some recreational programming and attempting to do laundry. There was a surprising amount of contention for the laundry apperatus. I jotted down some ideas for talks I might give next year. I'll try them at out on those poor, unsuspecting perl mongers near me. If any of them are well-received, I'll pitch them to OSCON 2004. I'm also considering prefacing each talk with a 2-3 minute animation that features some of my music. Bread and circus. I think I can learn flash well enough to do this. Perhaps SVG also has tight integration between audio and visual components.
After a nap, I headed out for some pasta. At the restaurant, two late-forties blonds, not unattractive but clearly experienced, were aggresively propositioning the waiter. This flirtation struck me not as a gentle call for fun, but an ugly form of power-tripping. For any server, it's ackward situation when the patrons ask for more service than you are prepared to give. However as a disinterested third party, the scene added a delightful seasoning to an otherwise unremarkable meal.
I'm beat. I write this on a bench looking across the Willamette River in the last rays of cloudy daylight. I look forward to getting on that giant metal bird tomorrow and going home. I had a great time at OSCON this year. Thanks to ORA conference staff and Gnat for once again birthing a seemingly flawless fiesta. Portland, while not the ideal venue, proved to have more than enough local conveniences to make next year's OSCON a compelling destination.
One note: on the Portland-Chicago leg of the flight, a guy in my row passed out. This necessitated that fabled cabin announcement "is there someone with medical training on board?" After a few moments of pure oxygen, the guy woke up. The plane was able to arrive 30 minutes early under the rubric of a "medical emergency." Edd Dumbill, in the row behind the afflicted passenger was involved in moving the semi-conscious bulk around a bit. Go, Edd.