(See part one)
I was at the conference all morning and all afternoon, and had lunch with Jess at the Metreon food court in between. I won't bore you with conference-related stuff, but the opening day was special. The first general session, where they welcomed us all, was very cool in a "relax and geek out" kind of way.
Side note: It was very difficult to balance the two vibes this trip had for me. On the one hand, you spend all day with 15,000 other geeks doing geeky stuff. During off time, there is tons of geeky amusement to be had, which I almost completely skipped to maximize my time with Jess and in the city. It led to some minor feelings of time and energy conflict which took some getting used to.
Moving on: the conference went to 7:00 PM and by then I was pretty wiped out. I didn't feel like doing anything ambitious, so we went for a walk to a nearby Indian cafe that gets rave reviews: Chaat Cafe. The reviews were right: awesome affordable Indian food. Very fun, very relaxing, and my only complaint was that the service was awful. The story here is that they are very busy at lunch, where you give your order at the counter, fight for a table, and scarf down your food with no real service. At dinner they seat you and take your order, but they really don't "serve" you that much after your food arrives. Not much in terms of drink refills, and it took forever to get our check.
Probably my best day at the conference; lots of interesting sessions, with a convenient one hour break where nothing interested me too much. I grabbed lunch at a noodle place in the Metreon food court and got primo seats at the first session after that. Interesting content, kind of hit my tech groove.
This was the day Jess braved the subway and went to the zoo, which is her own story to tell. Still, way to go Jess!
After the sessions we hopped on the subway and made our way to the financial district, where we had awesome Greek food at Kokkari's. We were a little underdressed; most of the people there were still in their "I work in a bank or ad agency" uniforms. But our waiter was awesome. He made us feel totally at home, answered all our questions without a hint of condescension, and basically made us feel like the only customers in the place. Awesome from top to bottom. On the way back we walked through a neighborhood where wild parrots hang out in the trees, and poked around through various parks and such before heading back to the hotel.
Side note: obviously underlying all these little stories is the current of "city" experiences. Street musicians, pan-handlers, homeless people, insane crowds, busy traffic, stopping in random cafes for soda/coffee/tea, etc. I don't bother to add that in but it was part of the whole experience for us and one which we don't get that often.
A very busy conference day, with no real breaks at all. I created one, though, and spent a little time exploring the vendor booths on the floor, because otherwise I would have felt cheated.
Side story: I had an amusing encounter with a "booth babe." There were not many of them, and even these were not true "booth babes" but probably just "attractive sales/marketing people." Still, it was obvious what this girl's job was, and she did an okay job of it. Now, I was interested in hearing about the product, but really I could have just grabbed their flier and reviewed it later. But I got completely sucked in. I thought I was above this, but once she made eye contact and smiled her huge pretty smile, I was like a deer in headlights. Yes, tell me more! That's fascinating! No, I haven't heard of your product before. Ah....yes, I see how that would be useful. Anyway, the story has a happy ending: I snapped out of it was she tried to hand me off to an engineer for a more in-depth demo of the product. I made my escape and grazed the other booths for minor trinkets, handouts, and brief sales speeches.
All part of the fun.
I don't remember what, if anything, we did Wednesday after my sessions. But we had dinner at a place we had walked by a dozen times, Max's. Their tagline was something like "everything you ever wanted to eat," and it was always crowded. The food was well-executed middle-of-the-road fare, with a slightly quirky but very "safe" atmosphere. The drinks were not the best, though, and the portions were too big. I hesitate to count that as a negative but it's hard not to -- our soups could have been meals in their own right, and each of us left half our dinners uneaten. Still, they were decent dinners and it was a fun, laid back time. We were able to sit in a booth where our seats were kitty-corner from each other, with good views of the streets outside. So we could people-watch and chat about the day.
I think I was pretty beat at this point, but there was one more day of "work" left.
The vibe of the conference changed on the last day; the vendor booths closed up, the late-night sessions stopped, and I said goodbye to the various EMC folks I had met from across the country.
Side note: I met lots of interesting people at the conference, just random people you'd start a conversation with in line. Where are you from, go anywhere interesting yesterday, etc. Nice times. I am not really an extroverted person but it's interesting to see the contrast between me and truly shy people. I got involved in a 3-way conversation where one guy was really outgoing but the other was totally quiet. It was odd watching him just get quieter and quieter as the other guy and I kind of took over the conversation. Random humanity :).
The general session on the last day was the "here's the future" session, and it was pretty cool and inspiring in its own way. I hit all the sessions I could on the last day, again with no real break, but skipped the last session of the day so I could be out by 3:30. We made plans to meet at the movies at 6 with Ura and another EMC guy
named Steve, and that was that.
After checking and seeing the movie didn't start until almost 7, Jess and I grabbed dinner before the movies. We ended up at a Mexican place that was actually part of a chain, called Chevy's. Still, huge high quality ritas, fresh tortilla chips, spicy delicious food, and Mexican music added up to a great time. We hit War of the Worlds after that, and then wandered around the city with Ura and Steve, ending up back at our hotel bar for a couple drinks and some vague work-related discussion. A solid evening.