A Week in Portland

This entry was posted by on Friday, 25 July, 2008 at

Just got home from OSCON the big Open Source computer convention in Portland. This is the only convention I attend regularly, and every year my buddy Fitz and I give talks about the culture and methodology of developing software in a “volunteer driven” environment (to put it kindly.) Our clik-and-clak routine of bickering, questioning each other, and finishing each other’s sentences has become a bit of a famous gimmick at this point, though we certainly never intended that to happen. Still, it’s one the reasons we record a podcast now and then.

Normally we only give one or two talks at the conference. After all, the real reason people go to conferences isn’t to watch presentations, but it’s to hang out in divey bars with other well-known members of your field and blather gossip. (Right?)

This year we got two 45-minute talks accepted, and were also talked into doing a 4-hour “tutorial” session with four other lecturers. Quite a bit of work! However, a couple weeks before the conference we were reminded that we had also agreed to be panelists in a public discussion, and then once we arrived at the convention we got asked to do another talk at an “unconference” for newbies. And then O’Reilly asked us to do a 40-minute video interview about the 2nd edition of our upcoming book.

So in total, that makes six talks in three days. Absurd! I was so busy running around to blab, I only had time to watch two presentations! And I developed a nasty head cold in the middle of it all. After three days of being hopped up on Dayquil and talking till I was hoarse, I told Fitz that next year we were going to do ONE talk. That’s it, no more. Our routine had officially crossed the line from “fun talky guys” into mouth-flapping whores. On our sixth talk, we had the pleasure of announcing to the audience that it would be the last time we even gave our “Poisonous People” talk, ever. If
anyone ever wants to see that talk again, it’s been up on YouTube for more than a year. 🙂

We had a lot of fun outside the conference too. We got to hang out with our buddies Jim Blandy (now a Portland native!) and Karl Fogel quite a bit, as well as Bryan O’Sullivan. I took a three hour self-guided walking tour of Portland with my big SLR camera too. I’m amazed at how beautiful the city is. I’ve never felt so “politically compatible” with a city before… every corner seems to have either a vegetable stand, bike shop, or microbrewery. Free range meat is absolutely everywhere! Upon wondering into the wondrous neighborhood of Ladd’s Addition to attend an ad-hoc bluegrass jam in the park, I discovered my very first Burgerville restaurant. I had never heard of this fast food chain before; it looks like Burger King or In n’ Out Burger, but if you read the signs it’s about as food activist as one can be. Local vegetables (Walla Walla onions), local cheese (Tillamook), non-frozen beef from free-pastured Oregon cow herders. I was in heaven.

Really, truly. I could move to Portland right now. I’ve never said that about another city before. I hope Chicago forgives me.

Photos are forthcoming!

3 Comments to A Week in Portland

  1. Eric Hanchrow says:

    July 25th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I haven’t been to a Burgerville in years, but iirc, their strawberry shortcake (available only during strawberry season) is wonderful.

    I grew up in Portland and still miss it.

  2. jackr says:

    July 28th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Yeah, I always knew you were a closet “Rose City”zen!

  3. Andy Lester says:

    July 29th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I’ve always loved Portland, too, Ben, and that’s only from my visits via OSCON.

    OTOH, I hear that July is one of the three nice months of the year, and the rest suck.