I flew USAir. This was the airline that promised me a $200 flight voucher and gave me nothing. They announced on the way back that the stop in Phoenix was actually a plane change for the people going through to CA. The airlines started doing "stops" rather than layovers because people hated switching planes -- too often they wouldn't make their connection and they were twice as likely to have a canceled flight.
As people boarded the plane, USAir was confiscating carry-ons, telling people that the plane was full. One guy was almost in tears -- he had a case that was full of glass. He boarded without it. The plane was not full. Not nearly. Nor were the overhead luggage racks. I've heard airlines use this to hurry people on planes before. I wonder what the next tactic will be when this one wears out. This "plane is full" stuff came after they called all of the stand-by passengers up to the podium. The lie was bare faced.
I don't mean to hate on the airlines; businesses are machines. Things devoid of soul aren't worthy of hate. But I'm trying to piece together thoughts on what happens when humans don't or aren't able to stand up for themselves.
From what I'm hearing on IRC, other people's experiences were actually legitimately bad, not just annoying. It rained somewhere so flights got canceled left and right. People barely made it home in time to eat at The Cracker Barrel.
The travel days are interesting. Between the bus, taxi, plane, and airport, it's nearly an all day affair.
I'd live in Columbus. People were laid back and earnest. Bikes represented well. College town was bursting with interesting establishments. Awesome old buildings of brick or wooden things with elaborate roofs with gables were all over, far outnumbering the new structures. It felt like a place that people cared about.
The whole time, people complained about the heat. I think it was mid 70's but muggy. I felt extremely comfortable to me -- I could roll naked in the grass. Okay, the chiggers might not be so comfortable later. Shirtless or scantily clad students were jogging, playing basketball, or walking around.
The Perl community... oh boy. Recent years has brought a push to organize. The Perl Foundation has been doing more and different things and recruiting people into roles doing specialized things that programmers generally can't do. I was steeped in organization and volunteerism for a different cause. I went around YAPC wearing my TBAG (Tempe Bike Action Group) shirt for two days. Smelly shirts go well with eye bags. It was interesting to see how well I do not function with extended lack of sleep. I had the stupid, bad.
The Perl community is full of misfits, freaks, man-boys, server room dwelling shut-ins, gimps, maladapts, rejects from other cultures, and the curiously alternative, plus the suspiciously normal looking, and I love them. It took me a few years but I learned that I can talk to nearly anyone there and have my mind blown. It's exciting to see and hear about the things everyone is working on. Every now and then, we make someone doing something especially nifty feel like a rockstar. It would be like going into a Hollywood studying and seeing a movie being made, if I actually cared about Hollywood. Some of the talks are riotous.
My "hey, look at me, I'm weird!" instinct is dying down. People know all about it for one, and secondly, I should be paying more attention to the ways other people are weird. Also, I've pretty much failed in making people hate me which is always an easy way out of social situations. Perhaps I should have taken lessons from buu. It just isn't as rewarding as it was.
It looks like the cluster going down was due to a power outage. The machines that survived on battery (laptops with longer battery lives) shat themselves when the initnode went down and laptops with shorter battery lives died before that happened, leaving notices on the screens of the other laptops that they went down and left the cluster. The last minute errand of putting new batteries in the old UPS saved my ass. While I was giving the talk, one of the machines went out. This old APC600 has a serial port on it. I guess I should see about actually plugging it in to something so I have some idea of what's going on when I'm remote at least. Clearly the service level needs to be bumped up. I might have to break down and do the Cox Internet thing, as much as I hate those fuckers.
Perl is still assimilating just as it always has. Perl 5 and Perl 6 are doing that concurrently. When Perl assimilates something, the community usually aggressively embraces it, even to the point of silliness. I kind of wish mixing in some strong typing had been embraced but what are ya going to do. There's a lot Perl does not have. PyGame, for one. Because so much has been coming from outside of our own camp, it concerns me that we might be forgetting that we can start memes too. I want to resurrect the old clustering meme, and in a lot of ways, Perl and Perl programmers are perfect for it. Perl has infrastructure for working with Unix primitives and processes beyond what most languages offer. forks, the threads API implementation for forks, comes to mind. And a lot of us are cranky old sysadmin types.
Just sitting around coding socially is something I really don't get to do in Phoenix, working from home. The coffee shops don't offer much in that way either.
I showed YAPC a photo of myself from Phoenix, the day before I left for Ohio.
It was good hanging out with beppu again, a man I admire and draw inspiration from.
I have code I started for my presentation that I need to finish still.
I got to put faces to coworkers.