If there is a theme so far on this trip to Seattle for the 2005 STC Conference, it is this: Stupor.
Let me explain: as I mentioned yesterday, I got up very early to fly here, with only about three hours of sleep behind me. I don’t sleep well on planes, so despite my eye mask and ear plugs, I did not drift off on the first leg of the journey — from Montreal to Minneapolis. I almost dozed, but I don’t think I ever really lost consciousness. I was basically in a stupor for about two hours.
Then I somnambulated around the airport in Minneapolis for a couple of hours. On the second and final leg of the trip I did actually drift off for a few minutes. I only know this because I was listening to a couple of hours worth of podcasts from The Bitterest Pill, and there were a few times when I realized that I had no idea what he was talking about so I must have been asleep for a few minutes.
You can imagine what kind of shape I was in when I finally got here. Add a headache, to boot.
But it was still early, only 3:00 by the time I was settled into the hotel and hooked up on its WiFi network. So I went out to register for the conference and to have a look around.
After registering, I went into the exhibit area, where a bunch of computers had been set up in an area marked "cyber cafe." Very nice. It was essentially a line of about a dozen LCD screens with keyboards and mice in front of them. A stand-up deal, presumably so no one will get too comfortable. I checked one out and discovered that the video driver was not set to the LCD screen’s native resolution. (While CRT screens can successfully display at a number of resolutions, LCD displays have one "native" resolution where they display properly — using other resolutions will work, but the result looks awful.)
I checked a few others and they were all set incorrectly. So I set about the task of fixing them. I set a few of them to the correct resolutions, but I didn’t want to attract attention to myself so I walked away. I set a few more today, and hope to do more tomorrow.
Another stuporific thing about the cyber cafe — the only browser on the machines was IE. If the conference were to last for a full week, I would make it my task to surreptitiously download and install Firefox on them all.
Later, after an attempt at a nap that again didn’t go beyond — you guessed it, stupor — I lugged my iBook all the way up Pike Street to the Elysian Brew Pub, where the brew is excellent but they unfortunately no longer offer WiFi. Oh well. Soon after, Binky arrived, straight from the airport.
After a couple of hand-crafted IPAs, I ordered a "Hot Babe," which is a pulled-pork sandwich (slow roasted and shredded pork mixed with barbecue sauce) with tortilla chips on the side. Fifteen minutes later she delivered a steak and cheese sandwich with fries. In my stuporific state all I could manage cognitively was the following: "this is the weirdest pulled-pork sandwich I’ve ever had." When the thug at the next table complained that he hadn’t ordered a pulled-pork sandwich the mistake was clear. The waitress, bless her, exchanged my half-eaten steak sandwich for the correct one without even a twitch, although it left the other guy plateless. I’m thankful to be alive.
The final blow came at the end of the night. Binky was passed out in the other bed, sawing logs, and I was pretty much ready to pack it in too. As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t quite get to sleep. I was "over-tired." I decided to get an extra pillow out of the closet, so I stuporifically ambled over there in the dark, opened the closet, and reached up over my head for a pillow. I gave it a yank, and in the process pulled out the iron, which tumbled from a height of six feet and landed square onto the little toe of my right foot.
In my stupor, the pain took about three seconds to register, so the yelp was muffled. I tried going to sleep, but the hot throbbing in my toe was just too much. Fortunately, the bar sink (our room has a separate bar, with a sink) happened to have a bag of ice in it, so I took the beers out and went into the bathroom, where I sat on the toilet and read for a while, while the bag of ice calmed the demons in my toe. Finally, I was able to go back to bed and I finally drifted off — for maybe six hours.
Then the alarm went off and it was time to get up and get an early start — the first session started at 8:00, and Binky still hadn’t registered for the conference.
It’s been a long and stuporous day, but I actually learned a few things. Now the fog is clearing and it’s time to head out and get some dinner…