Thursday, November 04, 2010

LJ Idol Week 1: Here There Be Dragons

LJ Idol Week 1: Here There Be Dragons

my left wrist has become a ragtag collection of bracelets. there are four of them so far. three of them have maintained their colour and their shape well, even though they've been dangling from my dominant arm for anywhere between six months and a year and a half. however, one of them has become thoroughly dingy and stained.

HERE BE DRAGONS -- 26C3 -- 27.-30. DEZ 2009

it was lemon yellow when they put it on my wrist last year at the registration desk on December 26th of last year. that's one of the few memories i have of the con itself that's not clouded by massive sleep deprivation, massive sensory overload, or massive consumption of delicious German beer. i waited in line for two and a half hours, since they only pre-sold tickets to members of the Chaos Computer Club last year. since i'm not German, there's not a friendly neighbourhood branch of the CCC for me to join. i was stuck waiting.

i have very few specific memories of waiting in line, except for a brief exchange with one of the guys at the help desk...and the entertaining aftermath. i had let it slide to the guy at the help desk (his name, i never got...) that i had checked the line earlier and judged it to be too long--only to come back later to see the line doubled in length. he laughed at me almost but not quite like Nelson Muntz, the bully from the Simpsons..."HA-HA!" i giggled; this twenty-sixth Chaos Communication Congress had been my first, and i was learning my lessons the hard way. however, every time i ran into help desk guy at the con, he broke out in this big smile and went "HA-HA!" i wasn't even immune from this when i was sleeping. i was an "angel", a con volunteer, and was taking a quick nap in "heaven" (the angels' lounge and command centre) before my next shift. i woke up, and noticed a strip of tape affixed to my jacket. written on it was "HA-HA!".

i got to the end of the line, paid the entrance desk the eighty euros cash that i had left in my passport wallet from the previous summer for this specific purpose, and they gave me the bracelet. American hacker cons generally give out badges that hang around the neck; any European con i've attended has given a badge in the form of a fabric strip held around the wrist by a crimped piece of metal. i moved the metal ring to loosen the bracelet, put it around my wrist, and adjusted it to the size i thought i wanted. i made sure the text was facing me; my bracelet from the Dutch hacker camp i had attended the previous summer had the text facing out, and that continues to bother me to this day. then, i let the angel at the registration desk crimp my bracelet.

i realised it was too loose, and i could actually slide it off if i tried. however, they would not give me a new ring. loose it would stay.

from then, the weekend was a blur. i didn't give a talk at this con, but i stood up and introduced four or five different talks. i wandered Berlin for lunches and dinners with hastily-wrangled groups of hackers. i worked the info desk a few times, although the fact that i didn't speak German made me less useful than i could have been...and even irritated quite a few of the people coming to ask for information. i partied late into the night. i hung out in the hackerspaces area, where the more-productive-than-i were working on projects.

Berlin never really slept, and i tried not to as well; i subsisted on Club-Mate, döner kebab, and the occasional wink of sleep back at the hostel if i was particularly delirious. i'm sure if i were asked more pointed questions about specific things that happened at the con, i'd be able to recall more details.

my memory may be as dingy, worn, and blotchy as the bracelet has become...but that's okay. i was there. time hasn't vanquished that bracelet, and time hasn't vanquished all of my memories of the Congress.

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