The Beer Bash and visit to the Mothership in Cupertino went pretty well Thursday night. I purchased a few knickknacks for the kids and Tina at the company store, and bought myself an Airport Express which was discounted 25%. It was my first time at the original Apple Store, so it was pretty exciting. While I was there, my friend, Rob Marquardt, showed up. He wasn’t too interested in trying to sneak into the Beer Bash without a badge, so we settled for dinner at the Outback across the street. It was highly enjoyable as we commiserated about our experiences with the South Beach diet which we are both currently on. Rob is one of my oldest friends and it’s always great to see him.
On Friday, the conference ended at noon, so there were only three sessions an hour long each. That kind of sucked since we had scheduled our flight home for 8:00 that night specifically so we could go to the afternoon sessions. Oh well. We skipped most of the last session anyway and I spread my Zuma addiction to my colleagues as we sat around waiting for them to kick us out of Moscone.
When the last session ended, we all retreated back to the hotel to check our laptops with the bellhop. Most of us had agreed that dim sum would be the ideal final meal in San Francisco before we headed to the airport to endure the presumably long security experience. We wandered for several blocks before zooming in on the precise location of the restaurant we desired. It was OK, though, because it was an absolutely fabulous day in San Francisco. After trying to work my way around the dim sum carbs, we meandered back to the hotel to hang out in the lounge until it was time to leave for the airport. Again, the laptops came out and everybody worked their way up the levels of Zuma for a couple of hours.
When we got to the airport, the lines weren’t nearly as bad as we had imagined. Unfortunately, after waiting in line to check my baggage and then proceeding to the security checkpoint, the officer in charge of matching tickets with picture IDs refused to believe that “Mick” was the same as “Mitchell.” I was instructed to return to the ticket counter, where I would be issued a new ticket. Fifteen minutes later, I received my new ticket which did not have my name changed but instead has “SSSSSSS” displayed prominently in the middle of the ticket. When I showed this at the security checkpoint, I was ushered into the “special” security line. That line evidently features heightened security and a molasses pace. Eventually, they ran my sandals and carry-on items through the x-ray and directed me to the debriefing zone. There, I was frisked and they hand searched my bags very thoroughly.
Altogether, the whole process probably took an extra 45 minutes. But we had allowed over three hours, so we had time to spare. We settled into an empty gate and everybody plugged in and played Zuma until we were hungry. I got a burger and threw away the bun. We finished just in time to board. We were instructed not to bring any water bottles on board, even if they had been purchased within the security zone.
The flight home went smoothly. Dom and I sat in the same group of seats and were fortunate enough to have no one occupying the middle seat. So we stretched our shoulders, pulled out the laptops and played some more Zuma. One stewardess observed that there seemed to be many people on the plane playing that game. We told her we all worked together and she laughed. Soon she returned from the front and asked which level we were on because the gentleman in the front had attained Level 7. We were all shocked and jealous because nobody had even achieved Level 6 yet. The same stewardess continued to drop by and observe our levels and repeating the Level 7 achievement of Ladd, our coworker in the front of the plane.
The first thing I asked Ladd after we deplaned was, “Did you really get to Level 7?” Of course, he hadn’t. When I relayed this story to Thomas and Graham on the way home, we coined a new phrase for our household: “He pulled a Ladd” or “He’s Ladding you.” Very funny.