Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Habittrails for Humanity

The USENIX LISA conference in Atlanta last week was a tumbling cascade of experiences that is difficult to recount without producing an hour-by-hour log a la Bridget Jones. Were I still at LISA I would have said something here about the priority levels of the syslog messages and people would have either laughed because it was a joke or not laughed because it wouldn't have seemed like a joke at all and then we would have laughed about that. And then random friends would have rolled their eyes and reminded me once again that however much I deny it I am "one of us".

In fact there was a lot of "we" and "us" at the conference. Part of this is because for several years now I have been in more or less continuous email contact with the friends I know through LISA, about matters both personal and professional, which leads to the sort of faux-intimacy of online friendships. Except then we see each other, making vrai the faux, and this I find very pleasant and comfortable. Maybe "comfortable" is the key here, as we spent a lot of time just being comfortable around each other.

Instead of a day-by-day account I offer a generalized paradigmatic Steven's Day at LISA:

6:30am-7am: Rise and shine in plenty of time to pick up the NY Times at the newstand in the nearby enclosed mall (accessible by means of a series of second-story tunnels), eat a leisurely breakfast, and greet people arriving for the first technical session of the day at 9am. "How can you be so energetic this early in the morning?" they'd ask, but I wouldn't reveal my secret that I'd been up for two hours already.

9am: Find a seat near a friend or two for the first session of the day (other friends stumble in as they awaken). I attended 9am talks on Grid Computing, System Administration and Sex Therapy, and Digitalization at CNN.

11am: After socializing in the break area and singing to Elizabeth Zwicky's eight-month-old daughter for a while, skip out on next session and go back to bed for a while.

12:30pm: Awake, find lunch, fool around in the break area with geeks from around the world.

2pm-5:30pm: Generalized repeat of 9am block, twice over. Among the talks I attended was one on the LiveJournal backend, during which most of the attendees were posting to their livejournals about how they were posting to their livejournals during a talk about LiveJournal. I also attended yesthattom's fine talk on his experience leaving his job to work for the Howard Dean campaign. Between talks: Fool around in the break area with geeks from around the universe.

5:30pm-7pm: Dinner, which rarely requires leaving the building or the enclosed walkways. Many, many people milling about whom I would have loved to have had the opportunity to spend more time with, but dining out doesn't scale very well.

7pm-10pm: BOFs! Attendee-generated technical, social, and silly sessions. The SPAM poetry session was a big hit, and next year I may put together a cabaret act called "Songs of the Sysadmin".

10pm-2am: Hottub/pool time, lobby bar time, party in hotel room time with geeks from across the dimensional warp. All conversations must eventually lead to discussion of some aspect of system administration, or perhaps some actual work. Here is me at 1:30 in the morning at a LISA conference, taking notes. Also here.

Then to sleep for a few hours, only to greet the next day bright and early.

Doesn't that sound like a fine time all around?
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