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pjf (2464)

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I run Perl Training Australia [].

I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.

I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.

Journal of pjf (2464)

Saturday December 06, 2008
09:58 PM

Memoirs of an OSCON rockstar, Day 5 (Closing plenary)

[ #38042 ]

Memoirs of an OSCON Rockstar, Day 5
This entry is about six months late. The other entries I had written on my flight back to Australia, whereas this one is being written back on the ground. It seems that the ground provides a great many distractions and demands.

Friday was by far the most memorable day of OSCON 2008. Firstly, I managed to complete one of my lifetime goals of giving a plenary at OSCON. Not only did I have the entire OSCON audience to myself (which was thousands of people), I was also giving the last talk for the entire conference, and (at least for the conferences I go to), everyone expects the last talk to be really good.

At this point I'm going to reveal one of the strange paradoxes of public speaking. The bigger your audience, and the higher their expectations, the easier it is. There's a whole bunch of mental mechanic reasons why this is the case, but they're so long they deserve a blog post of their own.

Before the talk I remember Edd being wonderful and finding me some food. While I had spent lots of time on talk preparations, I'd forgotten to find anything to eat during that time. Thanks Edd!

The whole talk went smashingly well. Everyone laughed at my jokes, even the really cheesy ones. I think it's sufficient to say it was my most successful presentation ever.

After the talk I found the Perl crowd I'd been spending time with, and went out for some very nice (and very cheap!) Vietnamese. Skud suggested I get a basil-seed drink, which was amazing, and I really need to put my photo on-line to show it off properly. Tim Bunce, hero of DBI and NYTProf, passed his iPhone around the tables and collected everyone's contact details. If you need to contact anyone in the Perl world, there's a good chance you can do so using Tim's phone.

Having finished our meal, there Perl crowd seemed to disperse. Some went home, I think some went to the Portland Beer Festival, and I joined the group that went off to Powell's book store. After a fun time looking at books, I returned to Powell's cafe, where we generally decided was our centrla meeting point. I'd picked up a book on the cultivation of wild fungi, and immediately made friends with Stacy, a friend of Schwern's and a local to Portland, who was also a mushroom hunter. Apparently Portland has big crops of Chanterelles each year, of which I'm intensely jealous.

At some point I get invited to a BBQ, and I secretly cheer inside, because it would have been rather sad if I gave a massively successful talk in front of thousands of people and didn't get invited to anything. I heartily accept.

There are some street-car (tram) trips, and Schwern offers me the loan of a bike to get to the BBQ. Having not had a chance to cycle anywhere all week, I think this sounds like a fantastic way to get around. Stacy was kind enough to volunteer as a guide to get me to the BBQ. I'm very happy for this, because every time I turn a corner by myself I drift onto the left hand side of the road, which is a great place for cyclists to be in Australia, but definitely not a good place in America.

On the way to the BBQ we drop off at a store to buy some provisions to take along. Stacy introduces me to some delicious local cherries, and then hits me with one of the most awkward moments of my entire trip: "We should bring some wine to the party. Since you're Australian, can you pick out a nice Australian wine?"

As the cool international speaker, I don't know how to admit that I actually know nothing about Australian wines. Yes, I'm a great consumer of them, but I have a huge circle of Australian friends who know their wines much better than me, and I usually just take their advice. Of the good wines that I do know, none of them are at the store, so I kind of pick something at random.

With cherries and wine acquired, we continue onto the BBQ, where I experience what is the singularly greatest moment I have ever had as a conference speaker. When I arrive, the host of the party, Lindsey (who I previously hadn't met), is actively reciting part of my talk. I remember just standing there with a huge grin on my face until I'm eventually introduced, when I discover that Lindsey is an awesomely cool person, and one of the reasons for the BBQ is because Lindsey is leaving Portland to continue her studies of Computer Science (to the doctorate level, IIRC). And then the best part of the night happens, which fulfils a second lifetime goal...

I get to play Rock Band. In a real basement. On a huge projection screen. For bonus points, we even have Adam Kennedy on drums.

As strange as it sounds, playing Rock Band was one of my goals for the trip, and I'd previously been mourning the fact that I didn't have the luggage space to bring a copy home with me. (The full game includes two guitars and a drum set, and my suitcase was rather full.)

Lindsey's party was fantastic, and special shout-outs go to Kate and Jeff, both of whom I spent much time talking to. The saddest part was it coming to a close, and me having heard the (now confirmed) rumours that OSCON will be moving to San Jose for 2009. It sucks having made so many wonderful friends in Portland and not being able to come back to Portland next year for OSCON, although I hope to find other excuses to return.

At the end of the party Schwern is kind enough to give me a lift back to my hotel. The next day I sleep in, spend a little time sight-seeing, and fly back to Australia. My feet are sore, but I really don't want to leave.

Lindsey, Kate, Stacy, Skud, Eric, Ricardo, Allison, Edd, Gina, Tim, Jos, Andy, Matt, Perigrin, Jeff, r0ml, (and anyone I've missed), and especially Shirley (our fantastic OSCON speaker liason), and Schwern (who showed me around, let me borrow his bike, and generally allowed me crash into his social circle), thank-you all for a wonderful time, and an unforgettable trip. I hope to see you all again at OSCON 2009!

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