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Technical conference survival blog

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Survival log, Day 1, hour 1


Despite my best efforts, I’ve found myself stranded. The lure of ‘quick and easy’ PDHs has again proved to be a spoon too shiny to dismiss. Our journey, though arduous, proved gratefully short. We even managed to survive an ill advised rest stop in the treacherous Ga-Al-Tn triangle. We emerged with modest casualties.

I considered myself well provisioned, but fear that I have underestimated the extent of our sojourn. Inadequate Internet access have left our Django download in a devilish limbo, and I have exhausted today’s allotment of Candy Crush only halfway through the first speaker.

Even more troubling is the fact that my wife failed to pack my phone and pad charger. The wench will likely say something along the lines of challenging my age and experience with a snipe of ‘you should have packed your own damn self last night.’ I will deal with her insolence upon my return, if I should be so fortunate.

This land of choo choo trains and water moccasins and its people are strange to me. Some do wear a shade of orange that is unfamiliar to me, but they seem less dangerous than those of blessed home who wear the dreaded color of blood.

Perhaps not all is lost. After interminable hours on something called sustainability, I do see a break is scheduled. Perhaps I shall survive to the loving embrace of an oatmeal raisin cookie and some form of coffee.

Survival blog, day 1, hour 3


Our hopes of oatmeal raisin salvation were dashed upon the shoals of a diminished snack selection. We are now forced to suffer through ‘The Effects of Solar Forcing on Subtropospheric Temperature Deviations 1942-2011’ with nothing more than a can of co-cola. At least it’s icy coolness provides some respite.

Again, we are forced to survive on the promise of the future. We are told the ‘reception’ has been delayed by a half hour, and we must suffer the indignity of a cash bar, but the promise of roast beast and shrimp cocktails has placated the mob, for now. I can make no promises towards tomorrow, should the staff again fall short.

A small victory, however, as I’ve discovered a charging cable at the base of my rucksack that may serve to allow my phone to leach precious electrons from the laptop. I feel the tablet may fail in tonites viewing of Django, but hope springs eternal.

I shall endeavor to record our ongoing tale if there are any survivors in tonite’s dinner selection contest. I’m told to expect a gruesome affair, but I have survived The Olive Garden, and I like my chances.

Survival blog, day 1, hour 10


There may still be hope.

Despite a disturbing lack of bruschetta and boiled shrimp, the reception was not a complete disaster. There was sufficient horseradish for the roast beast, and I’m told that the mini egg rolls were sufficient to assuage the growing mob, and the copious liquor did quiet their complaints.

Additionally, I was able to use my learned survival skills and not inconsequential masculine wiles to convince the fair maid at the desk of this establishment to acquire a charger for me. I can only imagine what debauchery she was suggesting by ‘deposit and return’, however I will endeavor to remain faithful to my wife, despite her treachery in failing to pack sufficient saline solution for my contacts.

Dinner was not a failure, as had been a concern. Wagyu makes a sufficient beef patty, however, the caramlized onion compote was a disaster and had to be removed.

Our trial has not yet ended however. I’m of the understanding that tomorrow’s activities include a presentation on "Periphyton and Macroinvertebrate Responses to Ranges of Suspended and Bedded Fine Sediment". May God have mercy on our souls.

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Survival blog, day 2 hour 18

Sweet rest was fleeting and rare last night. While the pillows of home are sufficiently large and comforting, these appear to have been modeled off a five pound bag of flour, in both size and suppleness.

Additionally, the natives appear to have advanced the clock by an hour in order to appease some heathen eastern god. I shall take this as a sign that conversion is necessary, by gunpoint, if not by guile.

That stolen hour of rest would have been welcomed during the long dark of 'water quality effects of herbicide applications at the Alto experimental watersheds.'

As it stands, I have broken my fast on Dr. Pepper's famed elixir and a ham and egg croissant, and I hope and pray that it has provided sufficient pep and and sustenance to survive the oncoming onslaught. Scientists and engineers wield the opening presentation joke with clumsy and casual devastation. I expect the losses to be substantial.

Survival blog, day 2, hour 24

It is with great regret that I must pen the words that we have suffered a tragic loss. R. Johnson was a learned man, with knowledge from both book and application. It is also my understanding that his family held him in some regard. However the ways of the collective are fixed and immovable and retribution for violation of these precepts is swift and terrible. He will be missed.

A note for posterity. If yours is the last presentation prior to lunch, and you are already 15 minutes over your allotted time, do not ask for questions.

Lunch was sufficient to quiet the bloodlust of the mob. However, the buffet style was confusing to some, and lead to both over consumption and a bizarre chimera of banana pudding and croutons.

The challenge that faces us this afternoon will be the heavy eyelids that follow the consumption of large amounts of carbs and 2 hours of unmoderated round table discussion on permitting experiences and its effect on 6 Sigma blazzzzzzzzzz......

Survival blog, day 2, hour 27

We have entered the most dangerous portion of the conference. It is mid afternoon, post break, and we are gravely behind schedule. 15 minutes at lunch has grown to half an hour. The members of our party have exhausted their afternoon cold drink, and the caffeine which was a blessing earlier now denies them even the possibility of a revivifying nap.

Several people have been seen excusing themselves to go to the bathroom, never to return. I fear we may never know their true fate.

A tablemate has given me a piece of gum, the rhythmic chewing of which offers me no small amount of comfort. Microphone feedback offers the only change in tone or inflection that we have heard for hours.

Should we survive, we will be seeking a guide from Yelp to help acquire dinner. Their reliability has been called into question, though, and we will need to be wary.

We may not make it that far, however. The next table over has exhausted their supply of mints and candies, and have been eyeing our dwindling cache with murderous intent. This carafe of tepid water may prove to be our only defense.

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Survival blog, day 2, hour 32

It is as we had feared. Despite having found success in their direction in the past, the people of Yelp betrayed and abandoned us.


The promise of a 5 star Irish pub a mere 0.9 miles from our encampment seemed an oasis in a wasteland. We made the trek wearily, but hopeful in the outcome. Visions of bangers and mash and whiskey (for those that consume the demon liquor) gave lightness to our heavy soles.

Our first indication that things were awry should have been the gutted store fronts and the surfeit of local outdoorsmen. Still, we persevered, The sign had been removed, and yet we still held hope.

Alas, it was not to be. The pub had been replaced by something called a Rastarant, which the people of Yelp failed to note. Since none of us cared for the offered herbs, we found it necessary to return from whence we came.

Fortunately, we were able to find sustenance at the Public House. We took solace in the fact that the name was not prefaced with Ye Olde. And while the steak and fried okra were excellent, we did have to suffer the insult of paying a full $2.50 on our refill of Arnold Palmer.

I have returned to our encampment for our final evening here. Should we survive another panel discussion, sweet home awaits at the end of our journey.

Survival blog, day 3, hour 42

It is good that our time is coming to a close. Our provision store must be worst than feared, for today's breakfast rations have been reduced by half.

We have been allotted a 15 minute time slot to break camp, and settle our indebtedness to the local inn keepers. I fear that this may not be sufficient time to dispute this cinematograph which has been charged to my account. It is not in my habits to view such filth, and the actors, though attractive, were clearly not classically trained. If they will not forgive the debt, then I will strive to have it billed separately, as the financiers of my journey may challenge my use of time and resources.

The only thing that prevents us from boarding the Caravan, and pointing it southwest, is something called a 'free for all' discussion on "designing initial test plans on multi-fuel boilers". It is my understanding that this contest is decided by volume and tenor in lieu of veracity. Should we survive, our next dispatch should be from home.

Survival blog, The End

It is finished. I am home.

I had been reluctant to begin my journey, but was pressed into service by a lack of PDHs. After our travel had ended, our real adventure began.

We lost things. Our way, our innocence, our iPad charger, our shame.

We lost time. The endless morass of presentations seemed to make time fold in upon itself, our only way to track its passage was the synopsis, which remained perpetually 15-30 minutes behind.

We lost people. R. Johnson, those who left for the restrooms and never returned, and poor Deanna, who thought she was coming to a junket, and was never able to recover.

But we gained, yes, we gained. Knowledge retained if not in our minds, then in printouts of power point presentations, comradeship from our walk to the edge of the world and back again, and, most valuable, 12 professional development hours.

We conquered fears. Fear of loss, fear of the unknown, and fear of the lady enforcing the two free drink maximum.

As I sit here in the comforting bosom of blessed home, though doubtless I feel that I have grown, I also feel that I shall never be the same, that these memories will, like the odor of a paper mill, linger.

And our adventure for this year is still not yet complete. 3 PDHs remain, and 3 PDHs will be mine. But first, repose

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