I thought I was so prepared. I over-packed in preparation for the changeable Bay Area weather, allowed a 2½ hour cushion for the airport shuttle to get me to Dulles Airport, even had a large cache of gluten-free energy bars in preparation for the lack of food options awaiting me at the airport and the plane trip. Ah, but Bay Area weather can be capricious, like a desperate housewife at Neiman Marcus Last Call. Thirty minutes after arriving, I find out that the flight is DELAYED because of low visibility, i.e. rain. It’s San Francisco, shouldn’t there be delays when there isn’t any rain or fog? I love how they put it in all caps on the flight screen, like a psychic scream. Turns out my flight which was supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, getting me into San Jose around 8, isn’t going to leave until 10:00 PM. I weakly consider going home or trying to get a different flight, but it’s like waiting in line for Space Mountain at Disneyworld. Ultimately, there’s too much invested to walk away from the inhumanity.
Hate using airport wireless, they’re blocking OpenDNS and TOR is very slow. I consider scanning, because I have my Alfa card, but then discover my Backtrack VM is hosed. The packed, claustrophobic, flight finally arrives at SFO around 1:00 AM, getting me to the hotel around 2:00 AM.
Still exhausted, I don’t wake up until after 10:00 AM, missing the Brocade Fabric symposium. I had arranged with Gordon Lyon, author of Nmap, to record a show for Packetpushers with Ethan and Greg, so I manage to shower, eat, and meet all the delegates before that. Funny how no-one really looks like their Gravatar images.The delegates are a pretty impressive bunch, but the anxiety starts to fade away as I begin talking to everyone I know from blogs and podcasts. But I’m still incredibly nervous when I finally meet Ivan Pepelnjak, giggling like a teenager when he introduces himself, calling me the “Security Princess.” Ethan is definitely one of the most warm-hearted in the group and I like him immediately. I tell him he’s like a teddy bear, and he winces a little. Hmmm, maybe a CCIE doesn’t want to be compared to a stuffed animal. Greg has that easygoing Australian charm. It’s what made me wait until after 5:00 PM EST to open support cases with RSA, because you’d always get their Sidney call center.
Off to meet Gordon for the podcast recording. We use Ethan’s hotel room, because he admits it’s probably the cleanest and, surprise, it is. Bet his cable management is impeccable. Greg and Ethan kindly allow me to sit beside Gordon during the recording and it’s like being next to a superhero. He’s Batman and Nmap is his virtual utility belt. The recording goes very smoothly and Gordon, aka Fyodor, is funny, engaging and smart. The best part is that he disproves all those stereotypes of security professionals as black-wearing, ill-tempered Goths. He even gives us all signed copies of his book and I wonder if I’m supposed to curtsy as I would with any other royalty.
Time for dinner at Zeytoun, a little Middle Eastern place down the street. I’m told the place is open just for us and this is where the hometown gift exchange happens. Our fearless leader, Stephen Foskett, handles everything with easy aplomb.The odd collection of gifts gets swapped; arrowhead key-chains, Dr. Who pencil cases, special LED bulbs with a 22-year lifespan and there is food, so much food. As the drinks flow, the coldly-polite facades fade away. Definite highlight of the evening is watching Derick Winkworth, aka Cloudtoad, do The Robot with a belly dancer. I decide that everyone is overflowing with awesome and can’t wait until tomorrow for the event to really begin.
To be continued….