Frank (ljtourist) wrote,

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LISA '06 trip report

LISA '06 was a blast. I've recovered from sysadmin work, but my employer was kind enough to pay for my trek this year, as a way to connect with our user base. That said, this is my personal diary, so I'm largely going to skip over the technical content.

Since I wasn't attending the training sessions, I didn't arrive until Tuesday evening, which meant I was out in what I called "Mordor Tower" (aka. the "other tower"), quite a walk from the main areas. The room was very nice, though.

Had my usual Sea-Tac airport breakfast of clam chowder (bizarre, I know, but tasty) and yogurt+granola. Left SEA early Tuesday on NWA, layover at MSP, and landed at DCA. A largely uneventful journey, which is how I like it. I continue to be very happy with the MSP airport.

Took the Metro to the hotel, arriving just after the alphabet BoF, and texted a few people in search of dinner companions. Found rwgill, ted_badger, bjarvis, and someone WNLJIKO, and headed off to Open City for food. I had the meatloaf as well as a giant macaroon for dessert, which were both very good. Since there was NO HOTTUB (when the hotel was selected, there was a pool and hottub, but they started remodeling, and sort of forgot to rebuild them), after a brief showing at the LOPSA After Dark suite I called it an early night.

Had an early breakfast on Wednesday with rwgill, jss1113, and Moose. Good selection, but expensive, and not the best quality. Meh. The pastries were good. Skipped the keynote as I had to put together a job poster for work. Ran into a friend and ex-coworker; got to see pics of his family, and catch up a bit, which was great. Attended the papers on spam, and then it was time for lunch. Shortly after, right in the middle of yesthattom's talk on being Googly, I was called away on an urgent matter.

After dealing with that, I missed all the other presentations and such, but went out with a bunch of people (including rwgill, ted_badger, yesthattom, and jss1113) to an Italian place called Dino's. Had some pretty good food, but dessert was vanilla gelato "drowned" in espresso. It was even better than it sounds.

Headed back to the hotel, and wandered over to LOPSA After Dark. Got to join kazmat's bear harem (consisting of manley1, snowboardjoe, and ocelot_flavored) on the bed, which was quite the experience. Talked with jkhedron for a while, and got to meet his boyfriend, which was nice. He and I wound up having a truly surreal conversation, and I unintentionally freaked him out a bit. Oops.

Got up waaaay late on Thursday, and headed down to the vendor expo. Nothing really earth-shattering down there, but it was nice to see a lot of new small vendors coming out. The big disappointing surprise was the disappearance of NetApp; other have disagreed, but I think that losing that major vendor has to hurt. I guess the Google booth/sponsorship must make up for it.

Grabbed a pretty good cinnamon roll and coffee for breakfast, and went back upstairs for the next Google talk, this one on their software development practices. It was much shorten than it should have been, and Google was being their usual secretive selves, so it was also kinda short on detail. Still was interesting, just not fulfilling.

Lunch was decent Thai with rwgill; great having some one-on-one with him, but Seattle has really spoiled me when it comes to Thai food.

Symantec did a talk on the next generation of generic high availability, which was really fascinating, and they did a great job
of not making the talk a commercial. Last that day, I went to the talk on privacy, which was kinda cool, but mostly was a promo for a book on creating "translucent databases". Sounds interesting, if a little impractical. Further research may be warranted.

Dinner that night was at the reception, this year having a carnival theme. Now, past LISAs have had some atrociously bad receptions, but this year was definitely above average. Decent food, if badly organized, and some actually fun games. Hung out with the bear brigade: manley1, snowboardjoe, and ocelot_flavored. I did not win anything in the raffle, being just one number off. Argh. The night ended, as usual, at LOPSA After Dark. Had some very good conversations, and some terribly good booze.

Friday found me at a cool if frenetic "Black Ops" talk, which had some good tidbits. Some of the stuff reminded me of the research stuff from my Lumeta days. Followed that up with a presentation on zombies and bot nets. There are some very clever if slightly frightening people out there, apparently. Organized crime has apparently gone high-tech. Yikes.

Had a surprisingly good lunch at Chipolte, of all places, along with rwgill, snowboardjoe, and someone else. The fajita burrito was a new item, and by far the best thing I've had there.

The home stretch was taken up with a decent talk on corporate security, and last, but not least, the "improv for sysadmins". Lots of neat tricks from that one; I'll have to try some. The whiteboards at work will have some new topics, oh yes.

The big event that night was a big group going out to dinner at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle (yes, dinner in a bookstore). I should have ordered the huge plate of meat (which several others did), but my crab ravioli was fantastic, if a much smaller portion than I expected. Definitely worth the trip. I know it's cheesy, but the best part of the whole trip happened on the Metro back to the hotel: ted_badger and I held hands. *swoon*

The Dead Dog was held in quite the suite this year, and I got to try several scotches, but none are going to appear in my collection any time soon. As usual, tons of cool, interesting people. Truly an appropriate capstone to the event. Talked with ted_badger and snowboardjoe late into the wee hours.

Got up late Saturday, packed, checked out, and hung out a bit in the lobby with several people. Went for a big breakfast at Open City to brace for the coming day, and try to fend off "con drop". The place was *packed*, but worth waiting for, and felt pretty good. Took the Metro out to my cousin's place, where she, my Mom, and my Aunt Marion were waiting for me. Socialized a bit, and they got dressed up and went off to see some USO show.

bjarvis was kind enough to rescue me, as he and cuyahogarvr picked me up, drove to their friend Jeff's place, where we met up with ken4str. The five of us had some very good tex-mex food, followed by some Coldstone Creamery ice-cream. I ordered the medium, not expecting it to be served overflowing twice the size of the container. Must remember to only get the small. Got back to my cousin's place around 11pm. But, a very good time was had by all. I need to arrange a visit back soon.

Sunday, we all went out to the Officer's Club at Ft. Belvoir. My cousin is a civilian contractor for the Army, and this sort of access is somehow one of her perks. It was astoundingly good. Only $20 for a champagne brunch with *all* the trimmings, set overlooking the Potomac River. Very good food, and a very good view, and not something that many people have the opportunity to do.

We next took some time to drive around the D.C. area, taking in some sights. It was a surprisingly pleasant time, as my mother and aunt were subtly sniping at each other, kind of taking the pressure off of my cousin and myself. Still, a good overall experience.

My flight home was pretty good. Got to stop in MSP, and pick up some Caribou Coffee for cow. Called cpj, since I was passing through his area, and he'd been on my mind, but our chat was sadly cut short as my flight started boarding early. Landed safely back at SEA, where cow generously drove me home.


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