It's my personal tradition to only do daylogs for my birthdays (see January 26, 2000 and January 26, 2001 if you really care that much) and this one also will conveniently serve as an aftermath writeup for get your ass to Mars: an Atlanta E2 gathering (Whizbang the Second Coming). Living in Tampa and originally finding no local noders who wanted to go, I birthday-treated myself to plane tickets to Atlanta (so of course, after their non-refundable purchase Ben and Rob decided to go).

So, rather than trying to get Jon awake and functional on a weekend morning, I took the airport "limo" shuttle to Tampa International Airport, arriving about 2.5 hours before the flight would leave. I painted my fingernails blue and read about Peter the Great. The flight was uneventful, and gradually I found my way through the massive Atlanta airport to the MARTA station. The rail trip from airport to North Avenue station was uneventful, but first I got turned around coming out of the station and did most of a square around the block before finding the correct corner from which to set off for the University Village wherein Patrick lives. Then when I got there and phoned, I got voice mail. So I had lunch at the Quizno's by the gate, read more about Peter the Great, and called again, finally getting a human being.

Our host and those actually staying with at his place were out but arrived shortly after my second call. From then, more and more people arrived and filled the living room, conversing, eating those well-known mean cookies and waiting for the next phone ring to announce who else had arrived. Quotations noted during this part of the day:

"Even though I may seem like the gayest heterosexual male on the planet . . . except Chad . . ."
-- WonkoDSane

(On WonkoDSane's pronunciation of "italics") "Well, he's from Nashville, he says 'slanty letters'!"
-- Accipiter

"I wish I were powerful enough to be corrupt."
-- Iconoplast

"The sun never sets on the Wonkoalition."
-- Jethro Bodine
"That would be a good nodeshell title."
-- Accipiter
"Oh, no, 'cause then I'd fill it."
-- WonkoDSane
Around fiveish, even as more people arrived, the preparations for travel to R. Thomas started. Vilk described the outside of the place with the sentence "It looks like a flea market threw up." But the staff were very nice to the bunch of loonies gradually trickling in and adding more and more tables to the S-shape which pretty much filled one room of the restaurant. The food was good, cell phones were passed around so that lots of people could talk to noders elsewhere, and the conversation at the tables was equally fascinating. A single excerpt:
"Why didn't you kiss me in Florida?"
-- WonkoDSane to ccunning
"Are you trying to goad another man into loving you?"
-- jessicapierce to WonkoDSane
After stuffing ourselves and then figuring out all the money matters (and Ben embarrassing the hell out of me by getting everyone to sing "Happy Birthday"), most of us headed off to the massive arcade/pool hall/other, Dave & Buster's. It was too crowded, but I did play some Skee-Ball and try The Original Shocker, that thing where you sit in a chair and hold to metal bars while it is implied that electricity is run through them, but really they just vibrate really fast. Then I hung out and watched various noders play pool.

One car after another departed with its contingent for all the places people were staying, and the last few went back to Patrick's place for more talk and foosball ("Jesus, I'm sucking!" -- WonkoDSane again.) Gradually everyone drifted off. Chris kindly gave me a ride to the Econolodge where the rest of the Tampa contingent was staying, and while Ben and Rob snored in one room, Jodi, Allison, and I enjoyed girl talk for a while in another before finally going to sleep.

It was the most memorable birthday I've had since 1995 when I got to eat with Michael Moore sitting just far enough down the table to be out of conversation range.