The first thing that happened was that I realized I had forgotten my box of business cards, so I had to drive back downtown from Monroeville. I love that part going over the bridge where you have to cut right across three lanes of traffic while half the cars on the other side are trying to cut left. Whoever designed that traffic pattern should be shot.
So anyway, after I snag my cards I head out of town. While exiting 376 to get onto the turnpike, I took the exit a bit too fast, and while braking to reduce my speed by one half went into a skid. Luckily, the common sense part of my brain was working, and it's advice, "Let up on the brake, stupid" was just what I needed.
My drive to DC was mostly uneventful. The only interesting thing was that after a while I realized that it's not so much that I like going fast, but that I like passing people. At one point I got stuck in traffic behind a huge line of cars in the left lane (of course none of them would pull right because they all wanted to get past the truck first, assholes). I was starting to get really pissy about being in all this slow traffic, then I realized that the whole line of cars was doing 75. Not bad, for traffic.
When I got to DC, I realized that I had no idea how to get from the highway to the hotel. I just kinda got off the highway, and wound up driving down Georgia Ave. After a good ten minutes of this sort of thing, I decided to call Dan and ask him for directions.
"Driving down Georgia Ave."
"GET OUT OF THERE"
Anyway, so Dan gave me directions to get over to the hotel (Thanks again, Dan!) and that was that for my exciting drive.
The conference was really cool. It was really friendly, like you could sit down at anybody's table and just start talking to them. Which was good, because I knew about five people out of the 2,200 attendance. The exhibition floor was really lame. There must have only been about 30 companies there, and more than half of them were translation services. The seminars were pretty cool, if mostly a little dry. I didn't really learn about anything I hadn't heard before, but it was helpful to find out what the rest of the field (that being the technical communication field) thought about these things.
The craziest thing about the conference was how fucking crowded it was. All of the really popular seminars would fill up really quickly. Like, there was supposed to be a half hour break in between sessions, but if you didn't go straight from one session to the other, you wouldn't get a seat. People would also skip out on q&a sessions at the end of seminars so they could be at the front of the line for the next one. It made everybody very rude after a while.
I was totally dead for must of the week, since I had to get up at 6am in order to make it to the free continental breakfast. During each of the three meals and two breaks I would drink at least one cup of tea, coffee, or coke. I felt like such a caffeine junkie. Also, it sucks to smoke your first cigarette of the day at 7:15am.
Sunday night I got to see Dan & Allison's apartment. They'd set it up for a big dinner party, but there was barely anybody there. Dan talked me into trying some chili beer. I was hesitant, but this beer was okay. The beer part was pretty blah, but the chili part was REALLY present. It was actually a spicy beer. Weird.
Wednesday afternoon, I ran out of cigarettes, and knew that I was up shit creek. I had no idea where there are any tobacconists in DC, and was expecting to have to take the Metro out to a mall or something. So I looked up tobacconists in the yellow pages and found one right south of Dupont Circle. Yes! During lunch I took the metro for two stops to save time (hah!) and went over there. It turns out that Greybeard's of London is being sold, so they were clearing out theri stock and had about 10 packs of cigarettes in the whole store. Suck. The clerk tells me I should try JR Tobacco, which is "a short walk away" (Hi Dan!). So one medium walk later I show up at JR's, and the guy looks at me like I'm a space alien because they only sell cigars. "Not a cigarette in the the place," he says, "they're bad for you." He gives me directions to tobacconist number three, and I start walking again. This walk takes me past the White House and Treasury building, so it comprises about half of the actual sight seeing I have ever done in DC. In fact, this little trip is probably the most walking I have done in weeks. Who says smoking is bad for you? So anyway, this store (Draper's, or something) has my cigarettes (Nat Sherman's Virginia Circles, for the trivia inclined), and I buy some butane too because my lighter is empty. The store turns out to be about a block away from Metro Center, so I get back to the conference only a half hour late for the first afternoon session.
Wednesday night, the night before I left, I went out to dinner with Gray, Dan, Nancy (a coworker of mine), and two random people from the conference. Dan recommended this Caribbean restaurant, which for some reason started a big discussion about if we should eat there or go somewhere else. Now, in a group of people that *know* Dan, this wouldn't have been surprising, but half of us had never met Dan before! What the fuck? Dan, do you just inspire this kind of behavior in other people naturally? Anyway, so after all our big discussion we just went in there and had dinner. Dinner was excellent and tropical. I had chicken fricassee, Dan had GOAT.
The next day, I met Faisal for lunch on my way out of town, then gave him a ride to work because it was on the way to the highway. Earlier in the morning I had been lamenting to myself about how I only had brought one tape and was going to have to listen to it five times before I got back to Pittsburgh. Luckily, Faisal left a tape in the car by accident! Talk about good karma.
On the way out of Maryland, almost near Hancock, there was an accident not *on* the highway, but *near* the highway. Seems that some guy was trying to pass over the highway, and kinda missed the overpass. Traffic stopped for almost an HOUR while emergency vehicles came through. I've never stood around smoking in the middle of a highway before. When we got up to the wreck, I saw that it wasn't even blocking the road! It was the emergency vehicles that were blocking the road. Luckily, after we got past the wreck there was almost no traffic at all right up to Breezewood.
When I got back to Pittsburgh, I must have only had about a cup of gas in the tank. This was the first time I'd ever let a car run down far enough to have the little red light come on. It was enough to get me over to the gas station, though.
Since I was going to need the car for five days, the rental place had to charge me for a week, so I kept the car the extra two days since it was already paid for. It gave me a chance to actually go to Ikea and buy some fucking furniture. I also bought nine pounds of polyester fiber fill to stuff a huge stuffed animal shell that my mom bought me a few months ago.
On Sunday, I drove the car back to Monroeville. Then Bean and I walked over to the Mall and hung out for a while. We tried to take the bus back, but of course the 67A stops in Wilkinsburg on Sunday. Suck. Luckily, we were passed on the street by a coworker of Bean's who gave a us a short ride up to the Braddock/Forbes intersection so we knew where we were. We decided to not wait for the bus though, and just walked home from there. Of course, we were *not* passed by a bus during our little walk.
All in all, it's been a very hectic week.
Quiz to follow.
| Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans
[The Dan&Eric Limb]
[The Grafted Branch]
[Elliott's Home Page]
[The Dan & Eric Home Page]