Posted Jul30/05; last updated Aug20/11
The following is my motss.con.xviii con report, or my experiences of the 18th soc.motss.con (held Jul 21-25 in Vancouver BC). If you don't like such things, feel free to hit 'n' and not read it. It won't bother me. Much.
I got up Friday morning at 6am to shower and pack up things before meeting coworkers at 7 in the lobby so they could dump me at the airport for my 8am flight. The 5:10 flight was mostly smooth, with only one area of turbulence and one screaming baby. Due to the length of the flight we actually got meal service, and the eggs-and-waffles were actually edible.
Met Robert at Baggage Claim and then John drove us to the hotel, where my room wasn't ready for checkin yet (and the reservation was for 1, not 3, nights; this has since been corrected). Chatted in the lobby with Mike and Sim and Ken, then at noon they had a room prepped so I went and dumped my luggage there. Mike and Sim wandered to the hotel restaurant for burgers, and Robert John Ken and I went to an oyster bar for lunch. (I had fish-n-chips. Food was very good, service was... "casual," to quote Robert.) Then back to the hotel for more chatting in the lobby (where I saw Arnold and Leroy and Steve) before heading up for the checking of the email (in-room network, yay! short cat-5 network cable, boo!) and a quick nap.
Around 6, I went to the lobby to start meeting to caravan over to our hostess' (Stephanie) place for the Welcome Reception. I went over with Sim, Mike, and Arnold a little early to help out. She didn't need much help, though she was (as she later said) an hour or so behind schedule, so we hung out on the rooftop deck to greet others as they arrived.
Several people expressed shock (and at the very least pretended to be happy) to see me and Terry (our other mystery guest this con; neither he not I explicitly said anywhere public that we'd be coming, though I've hinted at such here). Max, Ned, Jason, and Ann) were delightfully shocked (which was the effect I was going for, so I was happy with it). Kathryn wasn't, but she was sneaky and looked at the mailing list membership so she was expecting me. (Considering I'm on the list because of previous cons, and the list is renamed annually, this was not really the right approach, but it worked for her, so what the heck.) Met most of the folks coming to the con, though Mara and Marty decided to crash out at the hotel instead. Lots of food — bbq chicken and grilled salmon (oh my goodness, it was fabulous), potato salad, a wilted spinach salad with mushrooms, a bell pepper salad, liquor-filled candies that I think Lars brought, and homemade peanut butter squares; lots of drink — several bottles of wine and Sim's world-famous Frosted Minty Brain Bombs; and lots and lots of schmoozing with friends old and new, including a bunch of local friends of Steph's. Good times.
(I regret more and more not being able to be here for the Foodie Dinner Thursday at Lumiere. 11 people, 12 courses, CAD$230 a person for those who had alcohol. Everyone who went is raving about how wonderful it was.)
Bailed from the party around 11:30 or so with Robert, John, Terry, and Leroy, and headed back to the hotel to crash around midnight.
Woke up around 8am local time (11am biological), which is the latest I've slept in a long time. Met folks in the lobby before heading out to the aquabus water shuttle over to Granville Island. I grabbed a quick garlic bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, wandered around as the groups merged and flowed around, and wound up lunching (I had sushi; most others had Indian) with Sim, Mike, Mara, Marty, Kathryn, Ann, Jason, and Henry. Did more wandering after lunch, bought a kilo or so of fresh raspberries from one of the farmers in the marketplace (yummy!), and headed back to the hotel around 1:30 or so.
I bailed on the afternoon trip out to the Burtchfield botanical gardens. I like gardens, but not enough to want to carpool out there and walk and stand and so on. My feet hurt, and I'm feeling tired and cranky, and it was better for both my peace of mind and everyone else's enjoyment of the day that I stay behind. Instead, I napped, caught up on LiveJournal and personal email (I was careful not to log into email for my employer and not to bring the securID to log into the client's email), and drafted the initial version of this trip report.
Around 7pm, I went down to the lobby and wound up having pre-dinner drinks in the lobby bar with Arnold, Kathryn, Robert, John, Sim, Mike, Ned, and Lars before heading over in the caravan to the Aurora Bistro for dinner. Ambience-wise it was too loud, helped along by a large raucous birthday party (taking up about 30% of the restaurant space and directly behind me, but once they finally left it got much nicer). Food-wise? Well, let me just list the menu:
The items with asterisks are what I ordered, as well as a glass of a local Shiraz wine. Very tasty. The carpaccio was heavenly, the duck was perfectly cooked (sliding off the bone and not at all fatty), the steak was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the potatoes (pomme dauphin) were crispy and the cheese inside was creamy and the crab added just enough zing to them. None of the desserts reached out and grabbed me, though I did snag a bite of the ice cream sandwich (vanilla ice cream, pineapple slices, and I don't recall what else) as it went by.
Got back to the hotel around midnight and crashed hard.
This morning we met in the lobby around 9:30 to head off for Dim Sum at Floata. Steph had some issues with the restaurant (they lost the reservation, they stuck us in the back corner with the detritus from the previous night's stage show, they didn't provide condiments until asked, they tended not to serve the gaijin in the back corner with anything resembling speed), but the food was delicious and very economical (apparently CAD$10/head with tax and tip).
After only a few wrong turns (thanks to a lot of road closures), we managed to get back to the hotel in plenty of time to meet at 1:30 and catch the 2:30 boat for the harbor cruise. The cruise was fun, with a cash bar and lots of schmoozing and chatting and gorgeous weather out on the bay. Headed back to the hotel for a brief kip before meeting at the hotel bar for before dinner drinks at 6.
15 of us wound up heading to La Bodega, a tapas bar a couple of blocks from the hotel, for dinner. We ordered what amounted to too much food because (a) they were generous with their portions, (b) we got 50 dishes for the 15 of us, and (c) some of the dishes were full-sized entries not just tapas. We ordered between 2 and 4 plates of each of the following:
Even with lots of leftovers and alcohol (a bottle of wine and 3 pitchers of sangria), it still came to only CAD$35 a head.
I was pooped so I retired to bed early.
Unfortunately, I was awakened at 6:30am by an errant eyelash kamikaze. So I showered, packed up, wrote some more of this trip report, and headed down to the 9:30am Stragglers' Breakfast. Our party of 14 arrived at the same time as 2 other large parties, so it took about 2 hours, but the food was fabulous.
Got to the airport in just enough time for my flight if it had been on time, except that it was 40 minutes late since the plane was late arriving. We finally took off at 2pm Pacific (with an original 1pm departure), had some minor turbulence, at least one screaming baby and a couple of wandering unaccompanied toddlers up and down the aisles. We finally landed at 9pm Eastern, but were directed to the "wrong" (international) terminal so some of the international travellers to (mostly) Europe had a prayer of making their (rebooked) flights. At least two destinations' passengers were being delayed until tomorrow. Then we had to wait 15 minutes for a (badly-driven) shuttle bus to send us to the right terminal, where there were no signs for baggage claim so a lot of us got lost. Finally got to the right place to get picked up by my boss so he could dump me back at the corporate apartments.
I'm sad it's over. Was great seeing all the folks, and fun surprising people on Friday, but I'm missing them already.