Since my access to the Internet was infrequent and brief during YAPC, I’ll bundle the whole story up here. One note: I’ve been reading P. G. Wodehouse so this journal entry is noticably more florid than others. Consider yourself warned.
I left by train on Monday, June 24 from Boston’s South Station. Security continues to be lax on trains, which means that my trip began on time. Recall that Amtrack was in the throes of a financial crisis that threatened to shut down unspecified routes later that week. Still, I like to tackle one problem at a time and getting to St. Louis was at the top of my queue that day. Besides, I had a room in the sleeper car so life was good.
A word here is appropriate on how ineffably cool a room in the sleeper car is. You get your own room with a door, two beds and shades so that you can completely isolate yourself from the rest of the car. Each room even has its own toilet. BOO-YA! The sleeper car is off-limits to coach passengers and, more importantly, their pint-sized, retilin-starved banshee-terror offspring (here’s a tip from your old Uncle Joe: elitism isn’t so distasteful when one is part of the elite). All sleeper car passengers get free meals and get to eat in the diner car first (a somewhat dubious honor). Most importantly, there is a 120V AC outline in the room and a very comfortable table on which to work. If I had brought a laptop, I could have done a fair bit of work. Of course, I would have missed the spectacular scenary of upstate New York and Ohio. In short, travel in the sleeper car will rock you like a hurricane.
I mentioned in a previous journal that train travel is a throwback to the nineteenth century. It’s a kind of protest to the fast-food society of today that demands people work on the same 24-hour-a-day schedule that machines can. In fact, many of the folks I met on the train seem to feel the same way (including someone who is an employee of American Airlines). One of the features of train trips in the early nineteenth century was shotting wild buffulo that came within range of the rails. Oddly enough, my train passed a buffulo farm in New York. Unfortunately, the porter refused my strident requests for a Winchester and a handful of shells.
I arrived in Chicago at 11 AM on Tuesday. The heavy gray sky shook with the rumors of thunder, so I stay fairly close to Union Station while I waited for the St. Louis train to depart. I did see the famed Sear’s Tower and walked over one of the bridges that crosses the Chicago river. I would like to have seen the lake front park that was just a few blocks East of Union Station. Next time.
I traveled in coach to St. Louis on a train called the Texas Eagle, a route that is notoriously late due to the passive-aggressive behavior of Union Pacific, the freight carrier that owns the lines on which the Texas Eagle runs. On this leg of the trip, I met two lovely Perl Monks, whose names escape me but whose faces do not, also going to YAPC. Sadly, I don’t think I took their picture, being short on wits as I am. We arrived in St. Louis under the cover of night and proceeded to the Holiday Inn, where our two parties had reservations.
After breakfast at the hotel I took a taxi to Washington University, whose campus was very clean and inviting despite construction crews that were busy demolishing the walkways closest to YAPC. I registered and took my seat for Larry’s talk, although I didn’t stay through the whole thing. I gather the talk was well received, but I’m afraid I’ve exceeded my quota of Hobbits and Orcs for this year. I do endorse and embrace valid point Larry was making about the Perl community’s need to accept the wildly divergent personalities it comprises. Instead, I took that time to catch up with Elaine Ashton. The campus and the day were too bucolic to ignore. I went to a few talks, like Jos’s POE primer, but I mainly played the part of a Chatty Kathy. The day ended with Elaine, Jarkko, Gnat, Schwern and I making inappropriate gestures and suggestions to a local ATM machine while Forest Park residents passed by in horror. Yes, I do have film footage of this that I will post on Taskboy.com. Ah, the joys of tourism!
Thrusday was a bit of blur. I was incidently present at the filming of Gnat’s masterpiece, but I had no part to play. This might have been a blessing, in some ways. Perhaps next year. I believe this was the day Mark-Jason Dominus gave his “Conference Judo” talk. MJD has lifted the coins from my eyes about how I should be presenting my talks. I’ve already got a few ideas for next year (he said twirling his mustache).
Allison Randal emerged as this year’s Most Upwardly Mobile Perler. Her talk on Topicalizers demonstrated her grasp of Perl6 concepts and her Dr. Suess poem showed her wit and poise. We will surely be seeing more of her in future conferences and none could be more pleased about that than I. She’s smart and ease on the eyes, what’s not to like?
That night, members of #perl were treated to the pulse-pounding action of that ax-wielding majesty that is my acoustic guitar playing. Me and the boys, Pudge, Gnat, Schuyler, MJD, and Silent Bob the Bass Player, all rocked out successfully to classic tunes from the Beatles, David Bowie, Wierd Al, and The Tokens. I attribute our unprecedent success to my beautiful rock hair, but others think the crowd simply wasn’t playing attention. In any case, WE LOVE YOU, ST. LOUIS! THANK YOU (|siv|)!
By Friday, the abbreviated sleep that normally attends conferences with me, began to slow me down. I recall Pudge’s wonderful Mac::Perl talk. Strangely, the most lasting urge I have from it is to buy an iBook. I gots to gets me that Phat Mac, bee-yatch! Damian’s talk was great. I actually remembered enough high school physics so that I didn’t get lost in his talk. Still, his crazy O(0) loops are chicanery, but I’m uncertain of the mechanism. Abigail suspects input filters as do I. That’s a standard Damain trick.
That night, I had diner with a crowd of Canadian Perl Monks. Lot’s of fun bashing US politics. It’s an easy target made easier by beer. I turned in early that night.
On Saturday, I visited the Gateway Arch, so that I could fulfill my requirements as a tourist. I then took public transit back to Forest Park and meandered through the art museum and Zoo there. That’s one groovy park!
Sometime during this trip, I had the earthly delight known as a Krispy Kreme chocolate frosted donut. As efficacious as crack cocaine, these pastries of power can cure the blind, teach the dumb to speak and perhaps even raise the dead. Great oogly moogly were those good donuts!
On Sunday, I began my trip home, which was marred by yelping children and frentic teenagers. The Cafe car’s selling out of hot dogs didn’t help either. There was one bright spot. On one of my many wanderings through the train, I was walking through a car during a prolonged period of “turbulence.” Naturally, moved like a marionette with tangled strings. When I passed the last row of seats on my way out, a zoftig, ebullient Southern woman asked “having trouble walking?” and then proceeded to slap my behind.
That’s what I love St. Louis — good people.