September 27th, 2007

liftoff

I'm off.

Okay. I'm about to pack the car and head out. I think I found a recharger to fit my Blackberry. We'll see in a day or so if it works or if I lost my mind. I need to pack the car, run by the bank, and then head to DC. I've got the TomTom and it says around 7 hours, so I'm looking at an arrival time of 3-4 p.m. This will be a new experience with the TomTom. I've never just picked up and left without considerably more pre-planning! I'm staying at the Marriott down the street from the convention hotel, about a half mile, so after I settle in, I may walk up to the other place to see if I can get a feel for things. Something is going on later tonight, but I can't really remember what.

Incidentally, that "bonus CD" in the Book of Mormon... oh.my.god is it comical!!! So much so that when I get a chance, I'm going to make a transcript of the drivel spewed forth from Ezra Taft Benson's lips (and who is that you may be saying) and make a mockery of it that it sooooo richly deserves. It's some of the most empty-headed crap I've ever heard!
dragon

made it!

I arrived at my hotel in one piece. My TomTom was both a blessing and a curse. I ran into a roadblock on the way through DC and if I had only printed out a map from Google I would have been fucking screwed. But I was able to program in the roadblock and get an alternate route. Of course, it tried to get me to cross four lanes of freeway during rush hour to take an exit, but every time I went off the route, it recalculated for me. Making illegal U-turns are not really my thing either. I did run into a more serious problem with it. I had no problem finding the Crowne Plaza where the convention is, and according to Google, my hotel is about 4-5 blocks from there... But the TomTom kept sending me out to a different part of the city on the other side of the airport. I finally had to call the hotel and get them to direct me the last couple blocks.

But, like I said, I made it, and all is well.

I listened to The Prince by Machiavelli on the way down. And one thing was very clear to me, Machiavelli's reputation is undeserved. For one thing, he is talking entirely in this book about princes, I.e. Despotic rulers. He very clearly states that he discusses leaders of republics elsewhere. He also describes a number of different situations in which a prince might rein and he stresses two things: be flexible, and know who it is that is helping to keep you in power and be good to them--but not too good. Anyone who tries to use the advice of The Prince to run a republic is missing the point.

Anyway, I worked late last night and had to get up early, so I am probably going to veg out here for a while. Later on tonight, around 8ish, there is a "Dessert Extravaganza" to which I have a ticket! Christopher Hitchens, Julia Sweeney, Matthew Chapman, and a surprise, are supposed to be there.

Now I'm not making any promises about anything. I didn't bring my audiobook of God is Not Great to be signed (autographs are not my thing), and a room full of strangers is not exactly my forte. But I will see what I can do.

I guess my 2+2=5 t-shirt may not be entirely appropriate for that? But forget about the blazer!

I suppose I should also think about a light dinner.
blackberry

Thursday desserts and auction

Wandering around a strange city in the dark is not my favourite thing to do. By the time I walked around several superfluous blocks, I figured out where I was going. It is incredibly humid here (relative to my usual location) and the sweat was dripping off my face by the time I got back into the AC. Fortunately, I was able to find my way back more easily, so I should be okay when I go back in actual daylight.

What can I say about the event? I don't have money to throw around, especially not after getting here, so the auction was purely a spectator sport. And by the time it started, my feet were pretty unhappy trying to look over everyone's shoulders. I'm short, so I was at a significant disadvantage. The desserts were mostly uninspiring, but the chocolate fondue was nice.

I did meet someone who remembered the doll I was named after, though. And another couple from Van Nuys, CA who was there celebrating their 40th anniversary.

But you don't want to hear about them: you want to hear about the Musketeers, don't you?

When I got there, I spotted Julia Sweeney as I was checking in. When, I got into the ballroom for the event, I spotted Christopher Hitchens surrounded by people looking for him to sign their books. He looked very much liked he'd been backed into a corner. His back was literally against the wall.

Who else? Matthew Chapman was there. (Cute, actually. :)) Richard Dawkins was there, trying not to look too jetlagged. Dan Dennett was there. I do have his book with me, but, like I said, I'm not really into autographs. The woman who wrote Infidel was there (though she did arrive a little late owing to her flight and/or security). I wish I could recall her name but I haven't gotten around to that book yet. I even have some evidence. I had the sense (good or otherwise) to bring my digital camera. I'm pretty sure I got decent photos of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I tried a couple other people, but I think most of the otherd will turn out to be bad, either because someone walked into my shot, or there were just too many shoulders in the way, or something. But I will upload what managed to get once I get back.

Tomorrow there is a public lecture in the late morning on suicide bombings that I will try to go to. And, I want to see if I can hook up with the Rational Response Squad. Perhaps I will denounce the Holy Spirit, yes?

Anyway, tomorrow is a slow day, until 5ish. I did bring work to do with me (of course).