LUG Radio Live USA (Part 1)

LUG Radio Live USA 2008 was two weekends ago now and I’ve only just got around to posting about it, being kicked into action by Emma’s memories of the same event. It is I suppose appropriate to start at the beginning, which for me was at Heathrow Terminal 3 on the morning of Wednesday 9th. (This account omits the months of stressful preparation, e-mail and conference calls leading up to standing in Heathrow.)

Departure board at Heathrow

Because I was going out to LRL as videographer (as well as crew head, AV & video liaison guy) I had quite a lot of kit with me. I usually travel as light as possible, but on this occasion we had what was described as a “girls amount” of luggage. We ended up being seated in different parts of the plane, but this was probably a good thing.

Having tucked into a cooked breakfast (how I managed to only put on a couple of pounds over the whole trip, I don’t know) we made our way through security. Well, most of us did. Adam had walked past the big signs and three bins full of the water bottles people had had to dispose of before going through security but must have thought this didn’t apply to the two he had stashed in his bag. Cue a full search of every crevice in Adam’s bag and a chemical swab of his laptop. Mr. O’Bacon, thinking such idiocy a comic moment worth preserving decided to whip out his camera and take a photo of the search in progress. As he pulled his camera from his pocket in one fluid move, the world became like The Matrix. In slow motion we hissed “Don’t take photos in security….” but before we could complete the sentence Jono’s flash had fired across Heathrow. Within five seconds of this, five people descended on our little troupe ensuring the photo was deleted and checking the contents of the camera for anything else nefarious. (I am assured that there is plenty of nefarious content on Jono’s camera, but not of the type in which security services are interested.) It was at this point that being seated away from the liability twins seemed like a good thing.

The flight itself was largely uneventful. Long and dull as these things are, the only highlights were the entertainment system with an impressive array of films but which kept crashing showing that it was running Linux and taking some potential publicity photos of the gents at the rear of the plane. After a minute or so we started to attract some interest from people who thought that a minor rock group was traveling economy. Right.

We checked into our hotel. The hotel. It was clean. That just about summarises the good points. There was one room on each floor which didn’t have wired ethernet. We were in one of them. The wireless didn’t reach the top floors either, and when I tried it from the lobby, it didn’t work. The advice on the key card was to lock and bolt the door when in the room, and not to answer the door to unknown people. But then the hotel was in an area of San Francisco described as a “marginal ‘hood” and referred to as Crack Town (by me at least). There were swan and seabird murals painted above the picture rail in the rooms. In the hallway was another mural painted directly on the wall, with a frame hung around it. I would have taken some photos of it, but I feared that brandishing something with as crack-resale-value in the halls of such a hotel would have been a bad move. (Mum, Dad stop panicking, I exaggerate for comic effect. A bit.)

The First Evening, which earns its capitals by being that significant evening when one tries not to fall asleep to kick one’s body clock into a new time zone as easily as possible, was spent in Biscuits & Blues, a rather nice club where we were outnumbered by a large crowd of basically French people. It was a surreal evening with everyone fighting the urge to fall asleep in their high-priced fishcakes. Much silliness was had.

The second day saw our trip to Alcatraz. What happened on the island is veiled in mystery but we all made if back out again. Some of us caught the sun. We did not get thrown off the island, contrary to rumour. The trip was followed by a very late lunch and rounds of drinks in the Hard Rock Cafe where we came up with some very funny and frankly ridiculous ideas for promoting LUG Radio. I suspect that one or more of these might actually happen, so watch out. We were joined by a couple who had come from Spain to attend the event. We spotted the guy as he was going in to the toilets wearing a Red Hat jacket and sent Adam in to ask if he’d heard about LRL. Adam seemed the natural choice for accosting men in public toilets. Don’t know why. A great, if pricey, afternoon. This was followed by the inevitable crash out as the weather was unseasonably hot (the hottest in 30 years for the time of year, apparently) and the jetlag demanding more sleep. Plus we had to be on fine form for the following day.

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    One Response to LUG Radio Live USA (Part 1)

    1. emmajane says:

      Oh the airport memories!

      I selected the worst possible time to fly out of YYZ (Toronto). 8:30AM with a check-in time of 5:30AM. I live approximately 2-3 hours away from the airport. With the threat of freezing rain in my home town the night before my flight I opted to drive down to Toronto and … yep … sleep in the airport. I thought I’d get to check-in way early and snooze at my boarding gate. Except the check-in people don’t arrive until 4AM. Which meant being constantly half awake for fear of sleeping through my check-in time. At 4:30AM I passed through security. Then because I was *so*early* for my flight I was selected for a “random search.” Which wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But they did swab my computer with a special cloth wand looking for lord knows what. Once through security I was looking forward to sweet, sweet sleep, but it was not to be had as I was locked out of my flight’s boarding area (again). I hung out for an hour before asking someone official-looking who in turn sent me on a wild goose chase which resulted in someone scratching out the boarding gate listed on my pass and with the instructions to, “monitor the boards for your new loading gate.” The hour of minor panic while I waited for the notification boards to be updated was for naught. The doors into Gate 81 were opened shortly before my flight. Good thing I went back to check them… I did manage to catch about an hour or two of sleep on the plane (finally) but then I woke myself up with my own snoring and for the sanity of my seat mate stayed awake for the rest of the flight.
      head cold + airplane sleeping = the classy.

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