This past weekend some folks went to ConFusion in Michigan. Other folks went to Further Confusion in California. Jay and I, and some others of course, went to ROFLThing in New York. jmaynard attended ROFLCon in Boston last year. ROFLCon was a success and the organizers have kept things going by having a ROFLThing in various cities every so often since then. This past weekend there was one in New York City. Neither of us had initially planned to be there, but various events (and random luck?) changed that and we both wound up there.
Friday started early as it was a travel day and we had a morning flight. The alarm had been set for 5 AM. We got up at 4:30. Jay scored an upgrade to first class and I did not, but I had the row to myself and a couple of the $5 snack/drink coupons Jay had from early dealings so I had an almost first class experience anyway. The only downside was that there were only stinky catfood (tuna) snack boxes on that flight, no chicken salad. I sent the tuna up to Jay, perhaps to the amusement of a flight attendant or two. Had I known a bit more about what was ahead on Saturday I might have held onto that can for a while.
The hotel was somewhere in
Brooklyn Queens and the room seemed slightly larger than the upscale (pardon me, "high touch") closet we'd been in a few years back in Manhattan. But we didn't spend much conscious time there. More time was spent elsewhere, including walking to and from the subway stations and on the subway. This visit I didn't have any trouble with the subway system or folks representing it telling us things that reality did not bear out - a concern I had from last time that still has me distrustful of the system and the people that run it. The first impression has been made.
Not having anything particular to do until the supper (I guess it was dinner in the big city) and not knowing of much around, we spent a fair amount of time walking in or near Central Park. We looked at a few of the statues and monuments, saw the horse drawn carriages and noticed the varying dispositions of the horses. Only one seemed to be at all nervous, which is impressive considering the environment. Jay needed to sit to rest, I needed to sit down to get sand grains or the like out of my shoes but otherwise I preferred to keep moving. My cold tolerance isn't so great anymore (hopefully from shedding a significant amount of insulating blubber). We also stopped in at a drug store to pick up batteries for all the el-wire in Jay's suit - which he did not wear on Friday.
The dinner was quite good. Actually, it was very good. Good food, good wine, and I probably had a bit more than I should have of both. I didn't really know anyone besides Jay, and I was of course a complete unknown there. Jay was recognized, which is a bit unusual for him when he's not wearing the costume.
There was some after-dinner plan to move to bar not far away, but since our day started as early as it did and was already getting late we decided neither of us needed to stay out later or have more alcohol. Our trip back to the hotel was pretty uneventful, once we figured out the alternate subway routing we'd need to take that late at night. We got back to the hotel around midnight and pretty much collapsed.
Saturday did not start quite as early, though I think we were
up awake before the alarm - which I had not realized had been turned down fully so all I heard of it was a soft click if that. Arrangements were made to meet bronxelf_ag001 for breakfast brunch. We arrived a bit late as the train we would normally have taken was out of service due a signal problem and so we walked to another station and took another.
Evidently elf hadn't realized that when Jay said "we" it was me with him. It could not have possibly been me, as big cities and especially NYC would make me nuts. I will say that I can visit such places, preferably with a guide, but I wouldn't care to try to live there. Elf was quite happy to see us and surprised (surprisingly happy?) to see me. She seemed outright bouncy, which was a very good thing to see.
The brunch at Max Brenner ("Chocolate by the Bald Man") was very good. Jay and I both had the "Norwegian" omelet which did seem a bit odd to come from MN to NY to do. This was an omelet with salmon and some not-quite-sour cream. It worked quite well. The hot dark chocolate was also quite good. It would have all been too easy to have eaten way, way too much. I managed to forego any significant dessert, though it was not an easy thing.
At the Thing itself we checked in pretty quickly, getting a "swag bag" of small items (paper bag with a few stickers, a program, a can of Brawndo [My one jolt of caffeine for the day], and a couple of the [in]famous ROFLcondoms). Jay changed into the Tron suit and we stuffed our coats into the suitcase that had held it, and then found someone who placed the suitcase in an undisclosed secure location. A few things Jay wasn't comfortable with leaving behind that way. That's how I wound up wearing a watch (his), two cell phones (one mine, one his) and carrying two wallets. Fortunately that didn't seem to attract any attention at all. But then I wasn't wearing spandex and el-wire, and I was pretty much anonymous - though I must make it clear that I was not Anonymous.
A few folks allegedly from Anonymous were there. They seemed to contribute little to the Thing except to (mildly?) disrupt some of the presentations. The cheering for each time anyone said "internet" got old pretty fast and one of the presenters even had to remind them he'd said it after a while.
The introduction was amusing as the Tron Guy image was added to many of the slides (or slide-like images, anyway): a typeface character, a parade balloon, and a couple others.
As there were two tracks, we only saw some of the presentations. The first was the "You Suck At PhotoShop" guys who didn't talk much directly about sucking at using PhotoShop but at how the thing seemed to take on a following and life of its own.
Then it was the story of Sockington the Twittering cat, by Jason Scott. Sounds dull, doesn't it? But it was anything but dull. He dealt with at least one of the "Anonymous" folks rather adeptly. He also explained that it was just, "Let's see if anyone follows the supposed activities of a cat." And that he expected maybe a handful of followers, and that happened for a while, but then there bursts of growth.. and then a very recent explosion of followers. Twitter had put Sockington on their recommendations page. He also tried to see what could be done as a sort of rating meter since following on Twitter might mean that someone signed up, added Sockington, and forgot all about it all. Getting e-mail or photos was easy. Getting cat toys failed the first time, but worked the second when there were many more followers. He does realize this won't last as he's seen and experienced the cycle before. The expectation is that other microblogging services will appear and do something better and siphon off Twitter users - or perhaps Twitter will do something stupid and wind up chasing some folks off. But whatever happens, it won't remain a single unified thing for all that much longer. Jason had a really good Venn diagram about people's perception of what was cool and what wasn't, and I'd link to it if I could find it. That might wind up being another post.
The guy behind Improv Everywhere told of some of his, or their, exploits. I'm not sure what to think of it all as some while they try to not be truly disruptive there is some of that by the very nature of the thing. But there were also some truly neat bits they did. Usually they're pretty low-budget but one done as a TV pilot had network backing and involved a Goodyear blimp, a portable jumbotron setup and pro sportscasters at a Little League game. Alas, the show hasn't happened so they only had a big budget that once. What I found interesting was not just that they did this or that it was copied, but some TV show (CSI NY?) copied the 'Frozen in Place' bit they did right down to some of the poses. Hollywood truly is out of ideas and lacks an imagination.
We missed the one talk Jay wanted to see most, that of revision3. Why? Interviews. First one was scheduled with the hope that at least part of the talk could yet be seen. There were delays for setup and such, and then other folks doing interviews came along and time went by fairly quickly.
It didn't go by quite as quickly as it should have as one crew set up in the hallway in front of the restrooms and tried to wave off folks who needed to use the restrooms. That was easily the worst spot to set up. It was also the only spot left in the area that was still indoors. Outside was too cold, but it was used by some anyway.
By the time the interviews and picture taking on the stairwell (which was illuminated with strips of blue LEDs) was over, the revision3 talk was also over and the fellow behind Comic Sans was speaking. I missed most of that as it was too crowded to get in and so I went back downstairs where things had finished up and talked with, or least listened to, various folks. I had an interesting time talking with Jason Scott who wondered what I did and what ACME Delivery was. (The name sticker read "Hello, my url is" and I filled it out appropriately.) So I explained that and who I was and was with, and we talked for a while until things upstairs ended and folks started wandering down again.
Somewhere in all this, near the end of things, some guy carrying two beers offered one to Jay, who declined. As we made our way to go downstairs I overheard someone say something like, "Dude, did you just try to roofie the Tron Guy?" After some recent events, that sort of thing was on my mind.
The time after all the talks was pretty interesting as that's when folks talked to each other, and just in the rush of getting ready or between the main presentations. It was quite interesting, all day and later in the night, to see Jay get stopped for photos (solo or with someone) every few feet. I tried to stay out of the shot, when I wasn't holding the camera myself - which happened rather often. Jay was also given a couple items by some folks. One was a book of various cultural references, I think, with a mention of Tron (the movie) and another was a great shirt inspired at least partly by the Tron costume. I wish I could remember who made that as I think it'd be cool to have one in my size - the one they gave Jay is way too big for me, I think.
This was also the first con or con-like thing I've been to in some time where Orvan wasn't along. He didn't really fit this, and I won't trust the airlines or TSA with him. I do wonder if what I experienced is sort of what Jay experiences when he's Orvan's photographer, though Orvan isn't stopped nearly as often.
After things wrapped up at the main event, we had more than a little time to spend before the after party. We spent some of that dealing with supper, at Katz's deli where we split a pastrami on rye. Jay had an egg cream and I had a Cel-ray. The celery flavored soda does indeed go well with pastrami. We weren't the only ones from the con, er, thing that had supper there, either.
That took up some time, but there was much more. We wound up walking back to where the party would be to see the place not yet open, at least not that we could tell. There was Dunkin Donuts on the next block that looked inviting as it had hot drinks, heat, and shelter from the wind. We spent a good chunk of time there, sipping coffee and overhearing some gal talking to various folks about her presumed stolen car - with all her stuff in it, stupidly including a valet key. One or two other ROFLers showed up there not long before the party was to start we all talked for a little bit.
We got to the party about as it started, but there was some delay as Jay had to change some, reassembling the costume. Then we went into the main, downstairs, party room. He was offered the tube from a hookah and sampled it, and so did I. This was the first time I had ever smoked anything. I don't know if there was any tobacco involved or if it was just some spiced apple. I can see the appeal of using a hookah for smoking as the smoke wasn't irritating and I didn't have a coughing or gagging reaction at all, as I know I would have had I tried pretty much anything else. That is not a recommendation, by the way, as "not irritating" is not the same thing as "not damaging."
I had asked a couple people if it was gauche to order a Manhattan while in Manhattan (as it seems common that things named for places are not that common or well appreciated in those places) and was told that it was not. So I tried to get one. I suspect what I got was Jack Daniels with a muddled cherry and some bitters. One of the (not so?) Anonymous folks offered to get Jay (it was hard to miss the Tron guy with the el-wire in that dark room) a drink. He decided to get a Manhattan as well and actually got one, though it was in a martini glass (huh?). Later I tried again, and had what I should have had the first time, though again in a martini glass.
Jay and I talked with a good many folks, and someone from Barely Political made a point of getting Obamagirl to meet Jay (or the other way around) but nothing political was said there. I know I am doing a disservice to many, but I simply don't recall who all we talked to or with. Again it was hard for Jay to move very far without getting asked for a photo - and each time I held his drink so that would not appear in the photo. When asked about it, he replied, "I try real hard not to [annoy] Disney executives."
The day ended late, again, and this time Jay changed fully out of the costume so things took a bit longer there. Then we made our way to the subway (after a short chat with a couple folks outside the bar as we were leaving) and again pretty much collapsed once we got to the hotel.
Sunday was another travel day and one that did not start early. I didn't bother to set the alarm and we got up late, at least compared to the last couple days. After a typical hotel breakfast and the usual packing up, we took the hotel shuttle back to LaGuardia.
While Jay has a "Clear" card to supposedly make dealing with security easier or faster, to my surprise I made it through security before he did and had mostly reassembled by the time he got to where I was. Our flight back was much like the Friday flight. He got a first class upgrade and I got a row (or half a row) to myself and pseudo-first class with the coupons. This time, though, I was fortunate enough to get a snack box with chicken salad rather than stinky catfood.
And that's how we spent our weekend.