by brian d foy

Randal picked me up at the airport, and then we went to the Marriot to register and pick up our badges. After going up and down several escalators, then trying a couple of elevators, we found the right combination of rooms and people to pick up speaker badges on the 16th floor and my press kit downstairs.

Some things are new this year. Gone are the associates of O'Reilly & Associates, and the big story is where they went. The latest rumor has them buried Jimmy Hoffa style under the new O'Reilly campus. It is now O'Reilly Omni-Media. No, wait, that's Martha Stewart Omnimedia. It's just O'Reilly Media, Inc., and they have a new book: Tim O'Reilly in a Nutshell. It's a real book that is a collection of essays from Tim. It doesn't have an ISBN, so this might be only a conference giveaway.

It looks like the conference will be packed this year. The hotel is smallish, and I hear that there are around 1,500 paid attendees (and various hangers-on like myself) which is an increase from last year. All of those people will compete for wireless signal and power outlets on the conference floor. Maybe this signals an improving economy.

We met a bunch of people in the registration room. David Adler (NY.pm reigning despot), this year's White Camel Award committee chairman, won't let on any advance news about who gets the trophies this year. Paul Blair (Portland.pm founder, now of Wisconsin) grabbed a bunch of people and herded them to the sports bar in the hotel. I ended up between Randal and Vivek Khera, and across from Jim Brandt (this year's YAPC::NA organizer). Jim and I mostly drooled over Lance Armstrong's bike and the latest line of Trek carbon-fiber road bikes. Jim chided me for ordering the pub's buffalo wings. Andy Lester (Phalanx despot, testing guru, "How to Get a Job" speaker) showed up, but sat on the other end of the table.

I hung out with Randal for the rest of the night. The sports bar party fragmented, and part of it (including Paul Blair, former Portland resident) moved to a local pub where Randal wanted to recruit people to help with the Stonehenge party on Wednesday night.

The Stonehenge party is always a huge event: last year, Bill Harp (Stonehenge's event planner) managed to get live alpacas into Bar 71. This year the party is going to be even more insane, but Bill is not letting on with his secrets. He does have a room full of boxes for the party giveaways, and it looks like he's expecting close to a thousand people. He won't let on how much it costs, but I know how much business Stonehenge has to book to cover the costs, so I can make a guess. To get any fancier, he'd need Dennis Kozlowski's level of decadence. It's free liquor and food all night and into the morning, with free luxury transportation from the hotel to the bar, so there is no reason not to go. Bring your conference bag so you can carry away all of the freebies.

Randal and I split off from that group and made one more stop before heading back to his place. He needed to get even more people to help with the party, so he stopped at his favorite pub in Beaverton (right next to Portland). Somehow he starting explaining the Schwartzian Transform to one of the waitresses, starting with "Imagine you have these teddy bears...". I hope it's just conference fever, otherwise these might be the waitresses who know the most about Perl without actually using it.

So much for Day -1. I did get to see a lot of the local area.