Day 0 -- Saturday, January 16, 2010
Well, against better judgment, I woke up fairly early on Saturday. The dead Blackberry 8800 was on the bed next to the pillow, still rebooting itself without end, slurping electrons from my MacBook Pro and doing pretty much fuck all else. So, I did the sensible thing, and carted the MacBook nano down to the lobby, and found the nearest T-Mobile store. Three miles away... yay. I then did an ill-advised thing and grabbed a cellophane-wrapped pack of donuts off the shelf for "free continental breakfast," and went back to the room to take a shower. By the time I got out of the shower (using, as always, coral-colored Dolphin shampoo from many years past) the donuts had basically detonated in my guts and I was delayed in my departure for the T-Mobile Store. I won't go into details.
At the T-Mobile Store, which was dead-on where Google Maps said it would be (more about that in a future episode) I was possibly the best, easiest customer any phone sales droid ever had.
"Christie," I said, after she came up to me three feet inside the door, "I've got a bricked 8800, and I want a 9700. Let's do it."
She almost seemed disappointed she couldn't show off her sales training, but we sat at the counter and less than 30 minutes later I walked out with a brand-new Blackberry Bold 9700 with my SIM and my 2Gb microSD in it. I put the bag in the passenger's seat of the truck, and no sooner had I set it down than the phone rang. I figured it was some sort of automated call from TM checking to see if the phone worked. I was wrong.
"One of Dolly's kits is dead!" Nora was sobbing into the phone. "I found him outside the nest, and I brought him in and tried to warm him up the way Ginger said, and I couldn't do anything..." Dolly, our big, spectacular Flemish Giant doe, holder of a score of ribbons, Grand Champion, had had three kits the Thursday before. I had discovered them. Now, one of them was gone. I was 913 miles away and could do nothing to help. I was just glad the battery in the 9700 was half full right out of the box. Nora and I talked for a while, and she and I cried a lot.
It's like that with these wabbits. You just don't understand till you've met them.
We eventually ended the call, and I got in the truck and went to a nearby Steak'n'Shake for lunch and to figure the camera out. The MacBook nano had a very complete but accidental backup of the dead 8800 on it, because I had been using the nano to charge the 8800 the previous night in Georgia when it had died, and it had backed it up without me. Waiting for my burger and chili, I plugged the 9700 in, introduced the 9700 to the nano, and hit Restore. Except for the theme (which was a very nice Magmic OSX theme specific to the 8800) everything came back pretty much just where I left it. I took a short video and a couple of pictures to try out the new camera, which was impressive, ate lunch, and then went back to the hotel.
Now, every year on Saturday I have a decision to make. How much energy do I reserve for what I know is going to take place in the next 36 hours? I mean, here it was, about 1:00 on Saturday afternoon, the sun was out, and a part of me said, "go on over to the show, man! See who's around! See what's going on!" Another part of me said, "in two hours, you have to go to BALD. Five hours after that, you have a Gonzo Lotusphere Gathering to deal with at ESPN. And you still have slides to do for a show in 29 hours, and then after that is the Beach Party. Rest your sorry ass."
I listened to the second voice. I sacked out for an hour, and am enormously glad I did. I was in good shape when I carted myself and the 9700 -- I decided not to take any other cameras or devices -- over to Big River to meet up with the BALD crew. All the usual suspects were on hand, including Kitty Elsmore bearing insane fudge which I wisely did not eat but which I admired. In many ways, BALD was just like taking up after IamLUG last summer in St. Louis... most of the same faces (Francie, Kathy, Duff, Mary Beth, you know the culprits) and many other longtime heroes like Wes, Bruce and Alan. People filtered in and out all afternoon, generally bothering the normal tourists and getting the waitstaff all confused. Michigan State beat Illinois for the second straight year on Lotusphere Saturday, and all was well. (Sorry, John)
Among the highlights of BALD was Yancy Lent announcing Chris Toohey as the Blogger of the Year for the PlanetLotus world... alas, Chris was not actually AT the Sphere this year, so we clapped politely. We should have a scholarship program to make sure guys like this make it to the Carp, OK? At least one unnamed attendee shouted, "hey, MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN!"
Now, let me explain about BALD. As unstructured as it is, it's also quite mellow because certain crazy members of the community either haven't arrived yet or are out riding Harleys around Florida and getting wind-burn and love-bugs in their teeth. What's more, it seems to be mostly Americans or people who I tend to think of as honorary Americans (liek Francie), so we tend to all speak the same language. It's also mostly a beer-driven event, because there's drinkable beer there, as opposed to ESPN, which lacks same.
So, around 7:30, most of us meandered down the Boardwalk to ESPN, momentarily distracted by a juggler who seemed to be juggling a baseball, a knife and an eggbeater with his lips or something. I can't recall now.
ESPN was already in full swing, though due to the presence of football fans (most loudly, the New Orleans Saints fans) who didn't immediately relinquish their tables to our obvious geek superiority. No matter. We don't even hand out stickers or badges any more, we just KNOW what Sphereians look like. We can just spot each other from a distance, even when our population has been diluted by drunken Vikings fans. You've heard of "gaydar," right? This is SPHEREDAR. And it's much more powerful.
We spent far too much time at ESPN, as usual, and it was amazing to meet and re-meet all the usual suspects and some long-ago missing persons. Andrew Kelly was here this year, though without Melissa, who for some reason had to stay home. Always good to see Mooney, Buchan and all the UK contingent. Heidi and Andy were out representing the Ohion Jelly Kingdom.
Side note to Heidi and Andy: on the factory floor, does the Muzak play Bob Marley's "Jammin'" a lot?
Pro tip: do not reveal yourself to be a Ravens fan when (a) the Steelers are out of the playoffs and (b) your bartender is wearing a Steelers hat. You will not get the best of service. At no time, however, did the service fall to the level of the comically-slow Copa Banana bartenders of ancient times. You know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Jeff Papows ran Lotus? Back when martinis were only seven bucks? Remember?
Seeing Declan and Terry again is always good, and there was the usual assortment of novitiates asking me, "so, what's your REAL name?" But all in all, a really grand evening and very pleasant all the way around. Amazingly, when a bunch of us left, Kimonos was still open, so some of us ventured over there to find a rolling social scene, and I did my awful, formulaic rendition of old Muddy Waters tunes with what was left of my voice. It would be the last night that week I would do so for a large audience, but it was a great and amazing audience. And Holly, it was great to talk to you.
What was left to do except go home? Stoked up on mostly caffeine, I headed back to the hotel. Did I sleep? Of course not. I drafted the beginning of A Lotusphere Diary, talked to Nora, and worked more on my still-being-reworked slide stack. I finally went to sleep about 3am, a bonus of time compared to the previous night.
One tip for future use: if you live offsite, it seems that this year Dolphin didn't care if you lived there or not as far as letting you park there. Bob B. had offered me his parking pass, but it wasn't necessary. As long as you pay your money, that gate will go up and you can park. HOWEVER, I discovered that after about midnight, the guy in the little parking hut packs up his radio and his donuts and goes home, leaving the exit gates up and unattended. Thus, if you stay late enough at the Sphere, you can park free at Dolphin.
Kinda like... 1995.
To be continued, folks...
PS: thanks for rebuilding PlanetLotus, Yancy! Good job, and good to see you again.
1. Curt Stone01/29/2010 01:07:32 PM
Excellent diary post.
No need to explain your affection for the wabbits. My wife and I are the same way with our three cats, one dog and other critters around outside. They're pure love with no hassel compared to humans.
Hope your feeling better.
2. Peter Smith01/29/2010 04:11:03 AM
Interesting about the Dolphin parking, I stayed completely (non Disney) offsite and presumed I wouldn't be able to get in. If you stay at ANY Disney hotel the passkeys look the same and you can get waved through - Y&B is no charge for resident parking.
I did try parking at the Boardwalk but was turned away from the main car park - I was allowed to park at the overflow across the road though.
That carpark is FREE and it only takes a few minutes to walk through to the Swan / Dolphin.
3. Dan Soares01/28/2010 05:17:17 PM
Missed ya this yr. Couldn't make it. We really do have to get together... been saying that for how long now? You and Nora can visit and meet our two wabbits.
Got another ol timer Spherian who lives pretty close to where I work - Russ Mullen. You might remember him. He and Steve Caudill have a session they've been doing for years .
Anyway... talk to you soon. Email me.