I searched, yea, verily, hither and yon for another node into which I might pour reflections, wild speculation, and erroneous drivel concerning last night's glamorous and scintillating party...but hark! there was nothing. Hence I present to you this sparkling new node, redolent with that "new node smell" (kinda like bananas for some reason). Please add below as needed or inspired.

As my work day ground relentlessly onward yesterday I began to fret (as I am occasionally wont to do) that the horny e2 Portland conflagration would be (dare I blaspheme?) less exciting than my fevered imaginings had painted it in potentia.

Thank goodness I was utterly wrong.

The evening began (for my late (chronologically, not mortally) self, anyway) by meeting the throng outside the 24-hour church of Elvis in downtown Portland. After initial confusion that I was, perhaps, some sort of wandering street lunatic or even an owner/operator of said C of E, I was swept up in the milling crowd and shortly discovered that dinner plans were in the works.

A few moments of heated discussion later (during which, I might add, we blocked the entire sidewalk with a large, chatty ring of people) I headed back across the bridge with three noders in tow (in my car, actually, but they might have been in a little trailer or sidecar if it helps you sleep at night to imagine it that way). We arrived at Montage (I hope that's right), a cajun restaurant fairly bristling with ambiance.

Dinner was a fairly impressive event (what with 20-some of us seated at a loooooong single row of tables). The waiter managed to get my order correct, and I met sarahh, so I was hugely lucky on both counts there. In fact, through some bizarre, 6°-type strangeness, I discovered that not only did I attend the same college as sarahh's cousin, Ted, but I am fairly certain I actually met sarahh on at least one prior occasion. I shiver at the myriad of vectors of confluence which put both of us at the same event and even seated us next to each other. Eerie.

After a dinner of much rich and hearty food (which most people seemed pleased with, if slightly overmatched by) we convened in an adjacent parking lot (post-bill-settlement...as if we could casually sneak 20+ people out of a restaurant without paying...the very thought) and attempted to organize a convoy to the funhouse.

As anyone who's ever tried to organize a herd of cats knows, it's a task which begs certain things...like a bulldozer or a collection of nets. So too was the logistical exercise we called "going to ideath's house". After much deliberation, I took a collection of persons (more than the capacity of my car, but that's a matter we will speak of no more forever) to another adjacent parking lot (there was a lot of parking, OK? Get the hell off my back or I'll kick you in the throat.) and attempted to sort out who would be going with whom (well, with me, really, but I've always thought of myself as a "whom" sort of fellow).

After sending some of our travelling party away to walk to ideath's on foot (gasp of shocked horror) I drove back over the bridge to begin the process of retrieving cars.

prole was first, and she proved to be the most skilled vehicular tracker I have ever been tailed by. She clung to the rear bumper of my Saturn like a heat-seeking Patriot missile through some of the most irritating downtown driving I've ever seen. Why, I must ask, is it necessary to have a stop sign every sixteen feet? Are people really so out-of-control that they must be stopped that often to regulate their behavior? I ran a red light later in quiet protest.

Next out was flamingweasel jeeves (I think so I have been informed by more knowledgeable (not that it takes much) noders...I was, I'll confess, a little unsure of everyone's names at this point in the evening, and reading name tags in the dark, backwards in the rearview seemed a little too challenging) and Kenny chinchila.

This was, I would later realize, my first mistake.

As the two people who actually knew where we were going exited the car with promises to "get their car and meet up with us right here" I had a fleeting moment of worry which was, ultimately, completely justified.

With prole following, I drove in rather elaborate squares around the nearby city blocks waiting for the aforementioned pair to return with their car. When they finally rejoined us we made it almost two blocks before losing them in traffic. Though we tried valiantly to find them, they disappeared like a child's balloon in gale force winds.

JasonM's plan was to collect his car, then for us to follow him to ideath's. Seemed like a good plan at the time. I was so very very wrong.

In the ensuing hours which followed (OK, that's a little hyperbolic...it was only about 50 minutes) we saw more of the wilds of Portland than I ever knew (or cared) existed. Streets rose and fell, we laughed, we cried, we stopped to call for directions (which didn't help even one whit).

When we eventually gave up searching on the west side of the river, somewhere north of Civic Stadium and recrossed the river, I realized that, perhaps, it would have been a good idea to have gotten my own set of directions from ideath. Hindsight is a irritating bitch, to be certain.

At any rate, we eventually wended our way to the right neighborhood (after a dazzling U-turn in the middle of the street by JasonM) and found the house of ill repute with little trouble. Ideath's house, on the other hand, was a few minutes' walk away, and well worth the hike and travails on the west side.

For those noders who couldn't make it (coughloserscough) the funhouse is a gorgeous place indeed. Even packed to the gunwales with Everythingians it was clear that ideath and megan (her roommate) are in possession of a fine home.

The evening began with a rousing game of cat-poop eat poop you cat (a new one to me, but amusing and not a little bit endearing to see how lame everyone's (mine in particular) stick-figure art can be) followed by music-making, drinking tequila (last time for me...my body has reached its tequila event horizon), rummy, and eventually a movie of some kind involving cats (which I missed due to a need for sleep and returning to work on time).

I am so very glad I went.

Much as Ed Norton's character in Fight Club sleeps best after self-help group fakery and eventually, beating the snot out of other people, so too did I sleep like a babe and awake refreshed this morning as if from a long peaceful slumber. And I didn't even have to embrace anyone with bitch tits or pound anyone into hamburger. Yay!

the conflagration wrap up, or how flamingweasel learned to stop worrying and hate his stomach

i blame mojoe

The soiree' was in full swing. The candlelight was just right, the hi-fi was in the background, and the wine was delicious. (mmm...it does go well with the chicken) Well, except for the wine, of which there was none.

The evening so far had been quite entertaining. Dinner was delicious (too bad I was still full from a late lunch -- but that meant more for the quantum singularity in Pseudo_Intellectual's stomach). The Church of Elvis was, uh, wack, but in a good way. I got a bunch of really neat-o 'zines. Fun was had by all. We were engrossed in a rousing game of Eat Poop you Cat (Note: this does not necessarily mean we are causing the cat to eat cat poop. Any type of poop will do.) My mix cd was a hit with at least some of the noders (Dialogue offered to make love to my taste in music, which I can only assume is a good thing), despite the rumah sakit song which appeared to bother some of the posse.

Then, moJoe and his entertaining friend Osarch (look, just do everyone a favor and pronounce it "Ozark", like the mountains, 'cause everyone except for him apparently prounounces it completely wrong when they try to say it like he says it) brought a bottle of my arch-enemy:

Tequila

Evil, in a bottle. You always start shots of tequila thinking, "Okay, just this one and maybe one a little later, 'cause last time I had a bunch..." Yeah, right. I had two in the house, then moseyed out to the porch to discuss very important matters with the people out there -- moJoe, iDeath, Girlface, LordOmar, Dialogue, Prole, and prolly a few others I'm missing.

Then moJoe brings the tequila outside. And encourages, nee forces me to have three more. Once my logic centers were sufficiently anesthetized, I proceeded to have a bunch of beers, and...

i blame mojoe

Well, I haven't been this sick in years. Yow. Had to take off from the Funhouse early because I was officially no fun being sick every 20 minutes. Still, it took me about 3 hours longer than it should have to get back to Sea-town, what with all the short naps, and stops on offramps and rest stops.

Anyway....I'm a bit better now -- these saltines and juice are staying down pretty good.

So. Mad props must go out to ideath for dealing with the mob in her house so well, even taking a little time to throw a blanket on me when I had laid down on my part of the floor. Send her cash prizes, in small unmarked non-sequential bills, c/o the Funhouse. Ah, what the heck:

I blame moJoe

yes, i was joking about mojoe. he's a cool guy -- i'm a dumbass.
pictures, yo: http://www.flamingweasel.com/hornycon/
Being that this is only my second experience with a large group of everythingians I found myself in both a comfortable and happy place.

Prolouge: My day started early, I left work at lunch time, and met down town with ideath, we wandered to Rice Junkies where I dined on a delicious Curry Bento with chicken. Checking our respective timepieces we decided that it would be best to entertain ourselves a bit in the hour before we were destined to meet with the prolific Pseudo_Intellectual. We meandered over to Finnegan's Toy Store and performed bawdy shakesperean scenes with the hand puppets.

At precicely 3:21 PM March 12th, 2001 we entered the main portland Greyhound bus terminal. It came as little suprise to me that, depite the limited physical description, and having never seen a photograph, I was able to easily identify our Canadian friend.

And so it begins: Exiting the station we found ourselves standing next to Girlface, who also rapidly identified her fellow everythingians. It was not long (indeed the time between introducing myself to girlface and this point has been lost, I blame the infamous button hat, for it's hypnotic effects) until we were met by Diolouge and prole. After a bit of a fight with the parking situation, and the realization that we had an hour before we were expected to make an appearance at Pioneer Square, we went on what would become the first of two trips to Powell's. It was during this trip that I would load my cart with the remaining Discworld novels that were absent from my collection, as well as a bound collector's edition of Ringworld, and an overpriced edition of The Lord of the Rings, and then place them all back on the shelves and leave without spending a dime.

Off to Pioneer square: Let me say at this point that few of us, at that time, fully realized just how many people would be showing up. We arrived at Pioneer Square to se a group of people upon the steps with a sign, written on the back of a Portland city map reading "" (apparently this is one of the most blasphemous combinations of letters ever to find it's way onto the steps of the square, as a police officer asked that they remove it, although he did state that someone could hold it, just that it could not be taped to the square itself, however by the time this happened the sign had served it's purpose).

Powell's II: The Sequel This time it's really expensive: The mob made it's unruly way to the City of Books. The trip gave me some time to talk to a few fellow noders, make a few jokes and catch up with those noders I'd seen before. Powell's was, well, Powell's is always a unique experience. I tailed mojoe who began his inquiry as to my literary background, he gave his strong reccommendation for several books. Of which, I purchased three (thanks a lot joe, I can't seem to put A Confederacy of Dunces down, I'm already about a quarter through the book, and I just started it last night, and LadyOmar has already enjoying Youth in Revolt), having been to Powell's earlier A few of us wandered to some other nearby bookstores, where I purchased two graphic novels featuring Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Dring this time I was also plagued with cel-phone difficuties, dropped calls and all probably stalled the arrival of two evrythingians, Jason, who met us at Powell's and Ninja-Lad who finally joined the group at the 24 hour Church of Elvis.

Missing Elvis: I was amongst those who decided to remain outside the Church of Elvis while those from out of town filed in. You see, I remember the original 24 Hour, Coin Operated Chuch of Elvis, all powered by a commodore 64, which was forced out of it's old location, in the move losing it's coin-op aspect. Outside though I talked with mojoe and others, pondered tipping cars, and mused about when the police would ask us to disperse (fortunatley this did not happen, although my theories as to the effects of tear gas and rubber bullets on everythingians goes untested). Emerging from the "Church" we began to discuss dinner, the main argument being what establishment could handle 20 people showing up unannounced and actually be able to seat us moderatley close together. The answer should have been expected...

The Montage: This punk-cajun eatery gone yuppie is well known to portlanders and well hidden from tourists. It has the reputation of being a primarily "late night" hot spot so our 6:30 dinner time worked to our advantage. We were seated at a long table and like the warriors of Valhalla, we ate, drank and made merry. I was delighted to have the house biscuts and gravy (called "Bobo" by regulars), wich turned out to be a bowl of molten cream swimming with lagre chunks of sausage and biscut. Delicious. Diolouge joined me in the selection, and we both failed to finish off the entire dish. It was an observation made by many that the more "social" noders ended up at one end of the table while those of the "shy bent" of the group were at the other, however everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Getting from the Montage, to ideath's funhouse proved to be more difficult then anticipated.

Welcome to the House of Fun: I was amongst the party that walked from the Montage to ideath's place. Truth be told, even though I'd already walked further that day than I do in most weeks, I was among the lucky ones. The walk to ideath's was filled with song and merriment (and also gave ample time for digestion). Conversations with Brain and Flamingweasel about The Simpsons. A brief sojurn into Weird Al with Diolouge later found me sitting on the floor of a spacious living room (I say spacious, but it's all relative). We had tea, we talked, we waited for those in cars to arrive. I must say the lateness of some is partially due to my bad directions. I recieved two phone calls during the time the car-bound were lost, the first adding to the problem, and the second resolving it. This I must both explain and apologize for. Portlanders are seeming obsessed with the terms NW, NE, SE, SW when we refer to streets. This is due to the fact that we have multiples of just about every street. It is vital to let a Portalnder know if you are on the east side or the west side. Although my common sense should have guided me into giving you guys better directions. For that I am indeed, truly sorry.

Air Dropped Donkeys and the death of Pseudo_Intellectual: While not quite the script for a movie directed by David Lynch, the game of eat poop you cat proved to be one of the more interesting aspects of the evening. Having never played the game before I found it to be most entertaining. During the game mojoe arrived with a gallon of Tequila which would become the focus of the rest of the evening for some of us. The rest? Well, they have their own story to tell.

What do you do with a drunken noder?: Those of us who smoke found our way onto the front porch, the conversation was lively, most of us had already indulged in a bit of tequila by this point. I got to know prole and girlface and enjoyed conversations with Diolouge (a non-smoker, but we don't discriminate), mojoe and flamingweasel, who I'd met at a previous gathering. We mused about the other noders, and were glad that everyone seemed so cool, observing the fact that we'd hang out with just about everyone there wether they noded or not.

The last shot, and mojoe's latent homosexuality: Indeed the highlight of the later portion of the evening had to be MoJoe and Osarch's "body shot". This led to a wonderful photograph as a touching moment was shared between childhood friends. However it left us out of alcohol, a situation which had to be remedied immediatley, prole and I dispached for beer, and returned to much celebration.

Oservations on a drunk LordOmar and The Writeup contributed to by the most people: here I must state that I have a not-so-unique ability to be plastered and not have it be obvious to a third party. having already imbibed more shots of tequila than I should have I sat down at the typewriter with a beer and made a contribution to The Writeup contributed to by the most people. It became some sort of stream of conciousness, drunken observation of the cameraderie felt between noders. I do hope that whoever posts it does a bit of editing. After making my lengthy contribution (and enduring much suffering at the hands of ideath's electric typewriter). I sauntered back to the porch for more nicotine and conversation. It was here that some noders learned why you never ask someone who was in the military wether or notthey killed anyone, I got a call from a distressed LadyOmar (I said I'd call, why didn't I call?). I stayed and talked a while longer. It took me a while to say goodbye, and arrange for the next morning's events.

Over for some, but not for all: Around noon the following day ideath called and said that she had eight hungry noders ready for breakfast. Half an hour later my miniscule residence was overflowing with noders who entertained themselves with tapes of The Muppet Show while I prepared a brunch-feast. Bacon, Sausage, Honey-Wheat Pancakes with boysenberry syrup, Eggs scrambled with cheese and tomato, hash browns and enough bread to intimidate even Talkie Toaster were consumed by noders who were most appreciative. Your round of applause moved me to no end, and your tahnks still echo in my brain. thanks to Kenny for showing up and preparing a pineapple for all to enjoy as desert. My only regret was being so caught up in cooking and cleaning that I could not enjoy the company more.

Summation: By far noders make up some of the most interesting and overly "cool" individuals in the area. I thank all of them for showing up and making the time off of work well worth the cut to my paycheck. I feel richer for having spent my time in such a manner. To those of you not addressed by name in this writeup I apologize. rest assured that I remember each and every face vividly, even though names may escape me (I really need to get that mental hole boarded over). Each and every one of you are welcome to call me any time you're in the portland area and have a few free hours.
Well, I must say, this E2 gathering was quite enjoyable. Arizonans and Washingtonians we're as entertaining as my hightest hopes expected. My fellow Portlanders were as enjoyable company as I remember. It is better not to speak of the Canadian. Actually, p_i was quite cool, with a stomach that I can truly admire, and an Islamic terrorist look that I can only fear. Finally, thanks in particular to ideath for lodging, MoJoe prole and LordOmar for booze retrieval, and to LordOmar for tasty morning-after grub.
Next time: E2 Southern California Beach Party?
There's a splosion of daffodils on my kitchen table, in the sun, in a Wendy's cup. There's Godiva chocolate in my cupboard and - yes! - beer in the fridge. There's rad music in the CD player, a night sky of kosher salt on the black tabletop, and limes in the kitchen. The makings of the writeup contributed to by the most people lie next to the stereo, waiting to be transcribed and giggled over again - definitely the largest experiment in collective drunken noding to date. I've left my jews harp out on the turntable.

Every host should be this lucky, the day after.

We sure felt like a huge host, a veritable gang (of possibly questionable menace), when there were seven of us swarming down the street. We joked about the massive amounts of trivia with which we would be able to stun hapless opponents. But as i crossed the bricks and slowly processed the sight, i was the one stunned.

Surely these can't all be noders!

But they were. Even the gang clustered to the right on the steps, of whom i recognised a total of none, turned out to be of us. We quickly became one group. We were no longer a gang, really, we were a swarm of something far more literate than locusts.

It might have been the light of dusk, as we made our way to Montage, or the giddy glee of finding friends, but i was impressed by how beautiful everything was. The lights on the water as we crossed the bridge. Broken glass glinting on the ground. Clean lines of industrial/warehouse architecture. Prole's leopard-print glasses. Dialogue's singing voice.

There is music in my house. There are people on the floor. qousqous is on the phone for an hour, or some long amount of time, as he's passed hand to hand. Through the TV window, there are smokers and non on the porch, intoxicating themselves. The night extends well into morning, what with a contribution to the city's public art collection, and Brain and Srkorn's great grace in the dark. Er, folks, that means, we played frisbee (until 5 am). They can jump! I put flowers in p_i's beard and he didn't complain. Ah.

I love this town. I love noders. You make me grin.

Come back!

Portland, glorious city of greenery, hills, volcanoes, and incessant sogginess, is the wondrous land that I am proud to call home; however, the whimsy of Kismet has drawn me to the frozen midwest, Minnesota that is, to attend an institution of higher learning. Alas, said institution's springtime pause and my resultant return to my homeland occured just days after the horny E2 Portland conflagration; time has yet again taunted me with its treacherous linear nature. Nonetheless, I, qousqous, thanks to the miracles of modern telephony, was able to vicariously attend this marvelous gathering.

The phone was passed from noder to noder as I sat on my bed, watching the snow out my window. I chatted with those ranging from noders I had never heard of to names I had seen in the list to those I am happy to consider friends. I impressed all of them with my earth-shattering lack of brilliance as I regaled them with tales of unfortunate scheduling. I encountered the fair Iowan Girlface, whom I invited to the upcoming Midwest E2 gathering. And I contributed the first line in the homenode contributed to by the most people, typing from over a thousand miles away.

As I talked to more and more Everythingians, hearing in the background laughter and revelry, my disappointment mounted. Thirty-two minutes on the telephone were not what I had hoped for when I first heard of a Portland E2 gathering. Damn your black heart, Chronos! Next time, this summer, in Vancouver, I will be there. Next time, at last, I will attend.

The minutes of the HE2PC, and beyond (as taken directly from my trip journal):

3/12/01 4:00pm* - The Arizona bunch parks in downtown Portland, and its members make their way to Pioneer Square.

4:30pm - Jeeves points out another tourist looking at a map of Portland, then suddenly realizes "Hey, wait a minute... that's the Nodespotting T-shirt!" We approach him and it turns out to be flamingweasel. Joining the group, chronologically, are Brain, moJoe, sarahh, and then a large group containing P_I, ideath, chinchila, LordOmar, prole, Girlface, and possibly others (sorry).

5:10pm - We arrive at Powell's City of Books after a brief walk through downtown Portland. I'm unable to take in my surroundings fully enough to anything but stare slack-jawedly at the enormosity of the store, until ideath asks me what kind of books I want to look at, and leads me to the Psychology/Linguistics/Religion wing of the building (which is roughly as big as an individual bookstore back in Tucson). After a drawn-out internal struggle (resisting the urge to spend over $60 on books), I settle for buying Psyche and Symbol by Jung and The Owner's Manual to the Brain.

6:10pm - 17 noders make their way to the Church of Elvis, where the most ambitious (myself excluded) go inside to watch some kind of "weird" performance. No one gets married. Also, Ninja-Lad shows up. We then walk across a large bridge and arrive at some cajun restaurant, apparently the only place in town that will accept a group of 18 (which would constitute an unruly mob back in Tucson). Everyone buys expensive but tasty food, after which we leave for ideath's house.

?:??pm - We arrive at the Funhouse, less some of the people who drove. Travel stories are exchanged, followed by a game of eat poop you cat, during which moJoe and a friend of his go on a tequila run. As the results of the game are being read and exchanged later on, the group seperates roughly in to the non- and the drinkers, the latter of whom move outside after 10 or 20 minutes of Jeeves and me banging away on our acoustic instruments. Pseudo_Intellectual joins in the cacophony on kazoo, jawharp, nosewhistle, etc., and earns colossal applause for an amazing performance of the Peter Gunn theme. The drinkers eventually come back in and start playing cards.

1:00am - 'Black Cat, White Cat' is place in the VCR. (you should find a copy and watch it for yourself, preferably not while trying to fight off sleep)

3:00am - People start leaving, and the rest of the desert-dwellers express interest in getting some sleep. We five set up sleeping bags and lie down. When it is clear that I'm not at all tired, ideath invites me to join the small group of conscious, present people in the kitchen, who are planning an excursion. Soon, ideath, (her roommate) Megan, Pseudo_Intellectual, Brain, Girlface and I set out to commit petty vandalism, making sure to produce some highly self-incriminating evidence.

4:00am - Upon returning to the house, P_I goes in to get some Z's, while the rest of us walk to the park to play frisbee. Brain is very good (apparently he played a lot in high school), and ideath somehow knows how to throw the frisbee in such a way that I can catch it (sometimes).

>5:00am - I go to sleep in the living room, while Brain and the three girls go upstairs to play Spin the Bottle (or so I can only assume)

10:00am - I get up, use the WC, and start cleaning my fingernails with my pocketknife. Shortly, ideath comes downstairs and we return to the scene of the crime, with flamingweasel in tow. We stop to buy some OJ, then return to the house for two hours of waiting for lazy people to get up.

12:00(?)pm - We (down to only 10 people now) meander over to LordOmar's house for an exquisite breakfast and several hours of watching episodes of the Muppet Show (damn, but those Portlanders are hospitable!). Finally, the Arizonans summon up the nerve to leave this wonderful oasis and get on with the last leg of our journey.

9:00pm - The Canada-bound Six arrive at an IHOP in Bellingham, WA to meet with a local noder, KesperNorth. Four out of seven simple-minded fools have nothing good to say about the food.

11pm-ish - I wake up in the car just in time to comment on the Canadian speedbumps and watch us arrive at the Canadian border. Here, we are throughly interrogated by five levels of Canadian counter-intelligence (ha, ha). Particularly, Delvan is forced to explain in detail the plot behind Sailor Moon after a picture of the Sailor Scouts is discovered in his wallet, and Pseudo_Intellectual is asked to demonstrate that he isn't trying to hide any American apples in his beard. After snidely remarking that one of the customs agents has a snub-nose and funny accent, Jeeves is dragged out into the street and beaten.

12:06pm - We finally enter Canada. P_I points out that the speed limit of 100 is in kilometres/hour.

(return to Jeeves and Srkorn's Excellent Adventure)

* Most times are given in Mountain Standard Time, making them an hour earlier than the times perceived by any accomplices who joined us along the Pacific Coast. But some times might be PST as well.

I am a dark goat demon.
Apparently. I'd settle for Pan.
Confused? Talk to the ungodly host.

The event began, for me, with a most auspicious launch, albeit one leading to subsequent problems. The night before I had hied myself (in the company of Zarah) to the venerable Vancouver East Cultural Centre - aka the 'Culch' - to subject myself to a program we had been anticipating for almost a half-year: The Little Chamber Music Series That Could presents Green Eggs and Cam - a Cam Wilson Retrospective. Including: the House of the Rising Sun Variations, Addams Family Opus 111 1/2, Carnival of the Animals (that Saint-Saens Never Got Around to Writing), Playground Rhymes for Grownups and (as announced in the program:) (If you liked the last piece and you continue to clap incesantly, it will be necessary for you to endure the only version known in Vancouver of Queen's classic tune for piano quintet and electric violin obbligato) -- that is, Bohemian Rhapsody performed in an utterly straight(-faced) classical style up until the guitar solo towards the end, at which point Cam busted out from behind the curtains burning out the blistering solo on a shiny (and... almost sexy) black electric violin. Rock on! Rock on!

It was upon the conclusion of this somewhat unusual concert, after a brief walk home, that my plan tumbled into motion - and with it, my First Glaring Mistake of the Conflagration: to ensure my being awake early enough to be adequately prepared to catch my 7:10 am bus departure I entered into a compact with my bed to stay up all night. This sort of behavior is not unknown to me, and it was facilitated both by the residual adrenaline pumping and baffling through my system from the concert and by the anxious heebly-greeblies regarding the colossal (for me) adventure I was to be embarking upon in a few mere hours. I doubt that I could have attained a restful sleep state even if I hadn't planned otherwise - but I was grossly mistaken in my assumption that sleep missed tonight could be caught up on during the Greyhound trip south. Being in a two-days'-sleepless state during the later meet was primarily responsible for my stumbling about in a zombie-like state of zonkification, dulling me despite occasional referential triggers from Dialogue and accounting for my being located, dazed and stunned, in the background of almost all pictures taken at the meet. In short, a foolish assumption led to a real shame, Portland and company being treated to only a pale shadow of my erudite and charuzmatic larger-than-life in-life persona. Something to keep in mind for next time.

Backpack wrapped tight around supplies which will largely go unusused (excepting a VHS tape and a bulk bag of gummi bears) I lurched from my cave in a slightly pre-dawn gloom, feeling ominously oppressed beneath an unusual preponderance of crows, passing motionless practitioners of tai chi and being ogled by what must have been every homeless person in Vancouver during the ten minute walk from my house to the bus station at Main and Terminal. I make a mental note to preserve the eerie atmospherics of the city before it becomes alive for the day for a future 3-day-novel.

The Vancouver bus terminal is beautiful but plays no significant role in my travels despite featuring vaguely humourous coffee - "so fresh you'll want to slap it!" I boarded my bus when it arrived and, to get into a suitable U.S. headspace, et up a copy of The Stranger (tragically, one of the final issues distributed on this side of the border) when it became apparent that no sleep was to be got on this infernal - but effective - four-wheeled rolling conveyance. The experience of international travel by bus seeming less of a fascinating novelty than my previous visit to my e2 brethren across the border, as we pulled into customs I would find that there were still surprises to be had in store.

Deflated and slightly twitchy on sleep-dep (I wonder if they can tell?) I am disgusted, in retrospect, by how quickly I crumple into Good Citizen mode - Yes, sir! It's right here! In duplicate! (sir!) The U.S. wants proof that your visit to their country is only intended to be a temporary one, my one-way ticket a problem given my plan to be driven back with Jeeves and company. My lack of proof of employment compounds things, and no doubt my appearance does as well. Finally it appears as though the sum of my "unnecessary" precautions - the ones my roommate laughed at my efforts to obtain, since Canada and the US share an "open" border - tipped in my favour and saw me through; the passport, ("What if you don't meet up with these Internet people? Where are you going to stay? How are you going to get back?") the $200 in U.S. currency, ("What if you get injured while in the U.S.?") the travel insurance, ... in short, those things that you never need to have when you're a clean-cut, gainfully-employed family of three going through the border crossing in your own vehicle. I recall hearing somewhere that the only people who take Greyhound in the US are criminals and the criminally poor, and wonder if my (lack-of-)choice of mode of transportation lumps me in with that automatically-suspicious lot.

The presentation of my student card seemed to baffle him more than anything yet, asking me about the classes I'd miss while in the U.S. I had to gently remind him that for us students it was Spring Break at the time, at which point he folded and made some notes. Finally, not finding any further grounds on which to block me, the customs official gave up and waved me through ("THIS time..."), and I begin to wonder whether I pulled a fast one on him - did he ultimately do me a favour by permitting me passage or was he merely being unnecessarily bureaucratic earlier? I consider rendering his trust misplaced just for spite, seeking out the first under-the-table job I could find once I pass the border, but figure it's probably too much effort to fulfil a mere fancy of emotional perversity.

While waiting for the other inhabitants of my bus to clear the process I had finally emerged from, I make plans to ensure less hassle next time. Proof of return is the biggie - having also been problematic for me on the Washington, D.C. hookup of my 1999 European trip - and I ultimately bring myself to agree that should such a get-a-ride-back situation arise again, the 12% cancellation fee on a two-way return ticket might just be worth the expense for a more-seamless and less-in-doubt transition between countries.

"Hey, Rowan!" - clearly an artifact of sleep-deprived sensory apparatus. No one there knew my name. "Hey, Rowan!" Oh, wait - my "friend" at the customs desk was beckoning me back. Did they forget to scan my retinas? Perhaps a cavity search had been accidentally omitted? The truth was considerably more benign - in such a state of shredded nerves after the grilling, I'd forgotten my passport at the customs desk. What a mess! I hoped I could pull myself together by the time I reached the Conflagration. Sighing in relief, I pocketed my passport and slunk out to the bus with my fellow passengers, now cleared, relieved that the customs officials hadn't unearthed the fact that like Netscape, PKZip and PGP, my tremendous brain is technically classified as munitions.

Heart still palpitating furiously, I sunk back into my seat on the bus and waited to calm down, but only inane worries appeared in my head: What if I lose my only pair of pants? What if Jeeves decides to go to Alberta instead of British Columbia? What if pictures of Mojoe and I in a compromising position are taken? What if I don't get up early enough to catch my bus across the border? This last concern snapped me back to some vestige of sensibility, realizing that I was in fact worrying about the possible outcome of an event which had already passed successfully. Then the realization of what I really missed struck me - the Second Glaring Mistake of the Conflagration: Damnit, I knew that something important was going to be forgotten. This was to be a subtle preparation, but one that I felt was important; in short, today was supposed to be a chocolate day!

There was simply nothing to be done for it. Perhaps such sensory hacking could be revised next time. Being now in the mindstate for such concerns of legitimate interest and importance I began taking notes as to my trials thus far, which is probably why I have been able to recount it in such detail four months after the fact. The writing calmed me down more, as it is known to do, and I reflected on the differences between physical and online exchange and commerce across international borders, examining the hassle I'd ensured thus far to get a chance to interact with international noders in face-space and contrasting it with the total lack of government interference or regulation involved in interacting with them electronically. I contemplated how sorely lacking the unpopulated database would be if similar customs procedures were applied to the online world. Would nate ever have gone through the bother to bring even Brian Eno to us?

Pulling out from the border crossing at last, I was still fluttery enough to laugh nervously at the driver's recycled joke as we pulled back in to a rest stop; "If the bus leaves without you there's no cause to worry - it comes by here again the same time tomorrow." Finally arriving at some complete calm - obstacle passed, there are no further impediments to my having a great time with some great people tonight - I make a mental pronouncement which later proves to be the Third Glaring Mistake of the Conflagration: Harrowing as that customs experience was, look on the bright side - there's no way the return passage through Canadian customs could ever be as involved a fiasco.

Gearing down from the second-to-second frenzy of unexpected mental activity at the crossing I settle back into a baseline mellowness which permits the passage of uneventful (or un-noted) hours (no doubt helped along by spontaneous bursts of microsleep) bringing me to the Seattle bus terminal, where I am to make a transfer to Portland. Eventually. The terminal seems familiar from my last trip South - the only difference seems to be that where the last time it smelt vaguely of urine, this time a faint aroma of vomit manifests. The same video games are in the arcade, and I observe a television set mounted on the arm of a chair being put to unusually good use as a pillow. Though we won't realise it until later (though she might have suspected something), Girlface and I sit together for a time waiting for the Portland bus to arrive.

    Something in me irrevocably wants to shift this account to the present tense, and I am not terribly inclined to resist it any further.
The bus shows up, the passengers board and looking out the window my heart skips a beat as I observe what is a real rarity in Vancouver but presumably common as air a few paltry miles away - black people! Ah, what profounder changes cultural distance renders than geographical distance... Their appearance reminds me of the reporting in the Stranger I had been consuming an hour or so earlier on Seattle's then-recent Mardi Gras "race riots." Then I found myself stricken by the observation of racial division among work types - the baggage handlers came out and were dark to a man, while on the other side of the wall all of the desk workers inside the bus terminal were various shades of less-black. Shit, Holmes, if I was shoehorned into a line of work by the caste system of my skin colour, I'd riot too.

The bus rolls out, bringing me towards my final destination, and finally calmed completely I get some reading done - finishing off Kenneth Patchen's Selected Poems; finding that despite her increased success in fiction, Margaret Atwood can write a mean poem in Power Politics; and starting Albert K. Cohen's sociology textbook "deviance and control" before noticing its soporific effect on me and supposing that this close to the gold, sleep at last would probably be A Bad Thing. Closing that final book, I gaze out the window and furrow my brows at the frequent bags of garbage lined up by the shoulder of the highway. Do Americans throw out entire garbage bags' worth of trash by the roadside? (as Jeeves later explains, yes and no: the litter tends to accumulate there on a piece-by-piece basis, where it is periodically collected and bagged by chain gangs - my heart skips another beat, how exotic!.) Washington mostly passes in a haze of the above words and as we start crossing an increasing number of bridges my heart knows Portland must be growing imminent. Instantly as we cross the Columbia the frequency of cyclists explodes tenfold and I know we have reached the halcyon fantasyland of tonight's mythmaking.

I disembark to a disappointing lack of fanfare and, presuming my Welcome Wagon has not yet arrived - though, of course, none of us have ever seen each other before - prowl around the station a few times, getting my bearings and getting a copy of The Everything Guide! from the Washington County, Oregon, Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.wcva.org) - Disappointingly, even it cannot resolve my ongoing problems with [this|pipe linking| . The third time I stalk around the perimeter of the station I find in the distance two people looking at me and grinning. Not entirely uncommon, but these grins and looks weren't like the ones I provoke in everyone else but almost as if they were the parties expecting me! Heart leaping in mouth, I make my patented hard link gesture (practiced late the previous night, replacing the relatively clunky everything salute) and their expressions of recognition affirm that These are Those For Whom I Am Here. We exchange false noder identities (me momentarily being Pukesick) and in quick succession first Girlface, then Prole and Dialogue show up and join our rapidly-growing party, little any of us realizing the ridiculous scale to which the group would soon be expanded.

Most of the actual Portland social activities have been more-than-adequately covered by the sooner up-writing correspondants. I will try to fill gaps and provide missing details only. En route to the first of many trips to Powell's City of Books we joked about the massive amounts of trivia with which we would cumulatively be able to stun hapless opponents. Team Everything2 could assuredly trump Team Prettymuchanyothercommunity(onlineoroff) in any information-based game show situation, barring perhaps Team Mensa or Team Rhodes Scholars.

$50 US at Bookland goes like hot butter - a much-expanded the collected Kenneth Patchen (from which I later learn ideath used to read to her brother at an early age, no doubt scarring him for life), The Journal of Albion Moonlight, the Collected Poems in English & French of Samuel Beckett (endorsed by the woman at the checkout whose name Laurel wanted me to spring on her - but this evening was to contain enough glorious weirdness without needing to contrive further such) and some obligatory tripe from Fritz Leiber, Swords and (Some Nonsense Or Other) to complete my Lankhmar collection.

After meeting up with much of the rest of the attendees at Pioneer Courthouse Square, we find ourselves irresistably drawn back to Powell's (and they say the quantum singularity is in my stomach - ha! I don't even have an event horizon!) ... no further books are bought by me (not for lack of funds or self-control - my backpack is stuffed to the brim) so instead some conversation is made with sarahh and girlface at the café there. I'd have been more scintillating if I'd had some sleep, but what are you gonna do? A mix exchange is made out front, girlface and I trading tapes with flamingweasel, while an old lady by the door repeatedly attempts to sell us a magazine we don't want. Skrorn appears out of nowhere and insists I accept a dollar bill from him. What's with these people unexpectedly foisting money on me? I ask. He explains it's payment for the bet he'd made with me back in the meet-organizational phase, that I would not be able to find words beginning with the same first syllable of his name for the Battle Beasts-style roster of expected parties. Numerous times brain nearly drops his blue juggling apparatus into oncoming traffic, and I am multiply tempted to utter some pithy remark regarding this revolutionary remedy for the plague of blue balls.

After the Church of Elvis (or the outside thereof, for me) and Quite Some Walking we arrive at Montage - a novelty for me inasmuch as you can't really get Cajun food in Canada. That's what we get for expelling the inhabitants of Acadia. I wonder where in my hometown I could wander in amongst a mass of 20, ask for seating for the group and get it - instantly. Nowhere with the atmosphere of this place, to be sure. I could live without the seafood shots, however. Aside from the talkers-on-one-end, quiet-folks-on-the-other arrangement of our table some card observes that we're seated roughly as we might be found in the Other Users nodelet - the high-level users, comfortable in each others' presence, gabbing away and the relatively newer users mumbling in their gumbo at the other end.

From this point on it seems that someone is always missing from our group. It may be because their cars got separated from the caravan and took hours and hours to get back to the Funhouse. It may be because they were part of the goodly chunk of the group (as much as a half of us?) who installed themselves on the front porch to smoke, imbibe and miss the feline trio of Black Cat, White Cat and Eat Poop You Cat - surely (in my eyes) rarer and more appealing pursuits than nicotine and alcohol. Perhaps I'm missing something. Maybe I just wasn't willing to remove myself from the corner beanbag in which I had comfortably installed myself.

Based on his typed and tipsy entry in the write-up contributed to by the most people, lordomar clearly needs to node drunk more often.

What do you do when you are presented with a portrayal of your own death? This is a situation with which I had to deal during the eat poop you cat, sarahh passing to me an unmistakable depiction of myself (bearded, bespectacled, button-hattified) lying on the ground, eyes X'd out, a mysterious fluid seeping from my stomach. I calmly described what I saw, passed it on and shuffled a bit further away from the architect of my demise. Later on the picture was seen in the fuller context of what came before and after it, but I never came to any satisfactory understanding of what precisely prompted that particular image. It continues to haunt me to this day.

We called it a Conflagration but we were sorely mistaken - nothing burned. Nothing even smouldered. The torch was even brought from somewhere for use in conjunction with the tea candles I'd brought and even taken out but by then I felt that the possible wielders thereof had probably imbibed a bit too liberally to be trusted in activities of eXtreme pyromania. I didn't get to know mojoe too well over the course of the night, us always managing to interact around rather than with each other, but despite that I still didn't terribly want to see his face burnt off. As a sample to those who never knew what it is they were missing, an image from our prior night of tea candle combustion is viewable at http://www.fragtopia.com/canada/files/jer5.jpg - my roommate likes to describe it as photo evidence of him urinating fire.

The Fourth Glaring Mistake I made over the course of this meet was joining in the jam with my spirited kazoo-cum-trumpet rendition of Mancini's classic Peter Gunn theme. Musically the decision was sound, but my enthusiasm in the trumpetty gurglings resulted in a thrashed-up throat - soreness and some problems talking at much length. And truly - I am nothing without my verbosity. Not that, approaching 48 hours of awakeness, I had much to communicate that was interesting or coherent. But, y'know, it's nice to at least have the choice available.

After the movie some scattering occurs; people returning home, people collapsing in supine mounds on the Funhouse floor... and what are the rest of us to do? The deer (or large stickers thereof) needs a new home in public space, somewhere, somewhere. Srkorn, ideath, Girlface, Equinoctal Brain and myself head out scouting any number of potentially-suitable locations (nook, alcove, cranny, hidey-hole) for the deer to take up residence before we decide to pay back the telecom companies for all their hard work with a bit of prominent urban fauna. Stickiness applied, we move with the moment and decide to see exactly how many noders can be fit in a phone booth. (I would tell you, but that would be denying you the potential delight in discovering the answer for yourself!) The metabolic fury from my prodigious scavengings at Montage dying down I grow chill in the Spring evening and grow acutely aware of my underdressitudinalness. brr. Our host proves that chivalry is not yet dead and gives me her jacket to wear (which, absurdly, fits.) More to the point, she plants flowers in my beard and is later seen to remark bemusedly that I didn't seem to mind since I didn't complain? Understatement as well, it seems, is not a lost art. The Fraggles were right - listen to the trash heap, for it will tell you everything you need to know. I will return for the headgear and lingerie.

There is more to the meet but I have run out of me, returned to the Funhouse and my beanbag pedestal just in time (mere seconds before falling irresistably asleep while in an upright and walking position) while the rest of our mobile party proceeds to make much merriment flinging a plastic disc in a place of the dead - seeming perhaps disrespectful on the surface but let's not hold illusions - I have no doubts that the denizens would take part if they could.

Breakfast is straightforward - following an appetite-stirring walk LordOmar prepares for our goony assembly the natural morning counterpart to the previous night's gorge at Montage, providing enough food for an army and enough Muppet Show episodes for a daycare centre. If he invites you in to take in a glimpse at his geek lair, I'd recommend taking it - an entire house's worth of geekiness concentrated into a single room, like the secret identity of a superhero or the former life of an SS concentration camp monster. Uh, but perhaps this metaphor reaches too far...

After going in and out for directions three or four times I say good-bye, good-bye, good-bye and good-bye and, now loaded up in the van with Jeeves and his Arizonan cohort, we head out into the sunset... and back again to Powell's City of Books, because apparently a member of the party forgot to take their credit cards with them during yesterday's expedition and, uh, they couldn't bear to leave Portland without the books which had caught their eye. I'm no driver, but foolishly occupying the cherished shotgun position find myself cast as navigator through the insane tangle of bridges, highways, one-way streets and on-ramps which is at the heart of any major US city. We manage to get to Powell's, closing in through ever-decreasing spiral manoevres (wouldn't want to spook it and have to chase it across town) and only have to go by it four or five times before determining that NO, there is no parking to be had for us. It's a life lesson, kids - cars and books don't mix. Somehow people are let out to procure their works of fine literature, while the rest of us circle and prowl in increasingly-foul tempers. Eventually they re-enter the vehicle and we're bound south!

South? Isn't Vancouver north? Well, yes... but the temple they have to visit is most definitely located to the south. South it is! And, I must confess, them LDSers (erk, hope hope I'm getting the demonination right here 8) certainly know how to place an impressive building in well-kept grounds. Didn't go in, but architectually I ultimately agreed it was worth the detour. Seek out a place of worship near you today and marvel at how mch more interesting it is than your local Wal-Mart!

Since our known common keystone cultural experiences were scanty (music and, uh, Nethack?) conversation during the drive back dwelled primarily on the thing that brought us together (twice, now) - this, and my then-unique perspectives on it. (Well, Segnbora? Any sudden and profound reflections on what it's like to be Everything's Best User?) I reveal the dirty secret to them that most of the EBU, having been around for so long, were the inventors - or at least first discoverers - of most of the heinous aspects of e2 which plague us to this day - w invented the silly everything culture node, x invented negative-softlinking, y invented xp pack rape and z invented the "getting to know you" node. (I couldn't possibly reveal the secrets here - that would be tactless and distinctly unclassy - but corner me at a meet and see if I sing.) We dish dirt on noders whose noding styles we like and dislike, banter about reasons as to why, and more or less take e2 apart until there's nothing left - it's a long drive. Unfortunately the tape deck is broken, despite (or perhaps because of) repeated repair attempts and when the front stops talking, the back falls asleep.

I fear we shock Kesper North when we meet him for dinner in Bellingham with our sheer zombitude but a day locked down in car seats discussing everything culture will wear down even the newbie with the most radical ideas among us. If we found the gruelling journey and cabin fever were making us ornery, however, it would be as nothing compared to the grim ordeal which lay just before us, innocent and without an inkling of suspicion. Regretfully paying for our tepid meal we bid adeiu and are promptly confronted with the full extent of my third glaring mistake.

If you are lucky at a median border crossing (at least between Canada and the US, "The Longest Continuous Undefended Border in the World") you will be confronted with only a single level of interrogation: Where are you headed? Business or pleasure? How long do you expect your stay to be? Have a nice visit. Our party had to pass through five - please park your car there and form a queue in that building... - STAY BEHIND THE LINE! - then in that building... then in that building... and now we're going to search your vehicle. Perhaps we're lucky they didn't take it apart looking for contraband in the seats and bumpers. Still, over the next hour and a half (the amount of time it took to process every member of our party through every step) we were stuck with some devilish questions - exceptionally so given that at least half our party had just been woken up. Material covered with the customs agents includes:

  • - what classes they'd been taking and clubs they were in at the University of Arizona
  • - how the Sailor Moon role-playing game (which was present in the back seat of the van) is played
  • - the wholly arbitrary nature of the words "horny" and "conflagration" on our commemmorative mix CD
  • - why we were attempting to cross an international boundary in a van belonging to a friend of a parent of one of our party
  • - and last but not least, both how a collaboratively-filtered user-contributed online database works and why its members might be interested in meeting face-to-face. (phew! you thought that last one was tough to explain to your friends and family - at least you've got a sympathetic audience there! 8)
I don't believe they thought we were up to anything, but presumably the sheer power of skepticism informed their reluctance to believe that a bunch of Arizonan college students would willingly choose to spend their Spring Break coming all the way up to Canada for entirely innocuous reasons. Much like the first crossing I got the feeling that we were being let through simply because there didn't seem to be any further reasons not to, and, having the small of my back, loose pants and beard searched as a ludicrous finale we were finally permitted entrance into Canada. "Look at the sign! 'Thin km etric!'" The last thing we needed at this point was to be caught breaking the speed limit leaving the border crossing.

    Having permitted myself to dwell in the present tense, I now inexorably slip back into past. What a born rebel!
Though we had planned to be in Vancouver early enough to take in some night life, the kerfuffle at customs put our trip far enough behind schedule that there were only three important s-words in the minds of our party: stretch, shower, sleep. They install themselves on the sparkling tabhouse floor while I catch up on my e-mail well into the night. (I was not noding. I was not. I swear.) The next morning (well, noonish perhaps) we head off into Vancouver's Chinatown in search of sustenance - well met in the form of the famous simulated meats at the renowned Buddhist Vegetarian restaurant. (Ask me to take you there somewhere - they've managed to improve sweet and sour pork by taking the pork element away! Sheer genius!) As I lead them to the Dr. Sun-Yat-Sen gardens and keep a steady running patter little do they realise that I will end up taking them on a walking tour all the way across Vancouver's downtown and back. Up Granville, along Robson, and hugging Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon we spot over a dozen different species of bird, including more bald eagles in that park in a single afternoon than the rest of our group had ever seen cumulatively in the States, ever. Jeeves remarks that the streets of Vancouver look much different when they're not clogged with a quarter-million spectators. How can I argue? Hauling the winded group back to my house (I swear all that van use atrophied their walking organs) my unforgettable roommate Compos "You must bring visitors from other countries home more often!" Mentis joins into what ends up a spirited conversation about socialization, free trade and lack of faith in the public sector. It is not until too late that we realise the nuts fried rice of breakfast had been burned off during my stint as impromptu guide to Historic Vancouver and while debating the merits of various restaurants watched our top choices close one by one as we hashed over our increasingly-limited options.

Which saw us, of course, end up at the Naam - perhaps the best good-food, terrible-service 24-hour restaurant serving Vancouver's flake community. After waiting in line forever (you think I exaggerate but I'm not unconvinced some of the restaurants which had closed re-opened in the time we were in line) and failing to fall for the pitch of a creepy homeless man outside ("Hey! Do you want to hear the best poem in the world?" "Uh... no." "Would you like to hear the best poem in the world?" "Nuh-uh." "Howabout YOU?" "Nope") we were seated and stuffed our heads on only the best hippie cuisine and a conversation about colour theory (or, rather, how different colours corellate to different limited personality types) while the best poet in the world glowered and sulked at us through the window.

No mere words can adequately convey the extent of the awe which washed over my guests as they entered into the Casa Gelato the next morning prior to their departure, so I will instead mention the graffiti we passed on the way back to home base:

3 DEAD AMERICANS
- LET'S KILL THE REST

"Uh, I'm sure they didn't mean you guys."

I miss out. Not only do they leave me, but they return to Portland and the very homestead of ideath again! Insult to injury! More to the point, apparently pukesick shows up, three days late! He claims to have his reasons but I'm convinced he's just avoiding me. Their adventures continue for some time but for me things settle back down to something remotely ressembling (lack-of-)business as usual. Four days there and back is an admittedly intense experience and such high-level and maintained close exposure to noders requires some months of recovery. That said, I think I'm just about ready for another go at it.

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A tiresome account of a tiring experience. Phew!

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