Wednesday, March 16, 2005

SXSW - End of the Conference@ Bruce Sterling's Party

I had always planned to go to Bruce's party. In past, I would sit in the audience as he invited everyone in attendance to his house. However, the weight of the conference would take its toll and I would succumb to exhaustion. This year I was exhausted from all the brain food from the last four days and actually felt full. Brain full, like the fullness you feel after eating too much at Thanksgiving. But I changed clothes and decided I had to make the effort or I'd regret it next month and the feeling would grow until next year and the fear that there wouldn't be another Bruce Sterling party, as this year it wasn't at his house, but rather at the VFW Hall.

Bruce is teaching industrial design out in California. He may be too busy next year to make it back to Austin. He may be too busy running full-scale dinosaur 3D files through the ABS plastic printer.

This was to be the year I had to go.

I arrived a little after 7:15 p.m. The sponsor, WIRED Magazine had several people putting last minute touches on everything which indicated I was a little early. Not knowing what to expect, I wanted to get a good parking place and did so right up front. I went into the beer tent and grabbed a glass from about 20 that were ready available. As I made my way through the VFW Hall, only about ten people had arrived. They had the look of joggers preparing for a party marathon. Easy steps, not saying much, pacing themselves for the 26.2 miles that would later come.

As I made my way through the dining area three people were talking and drinking. As I glanced over I caught the name of Steven Wozniak on the SXSW pass. I did a double-take thinking someone was playing a prank with the badge. Maybe the theme was to come as your favorite geek or sci-fi writer. When I glanced at the face, it was Steve Wozniak, one of ten people to arrive at the party early.

I approached the group of three and Steve was holding up a sheet of two-dollar bills, stitched together and was discussing his use of them to a WIRED editor and friend. Steve offered to trade the editor a sheet of the bills for her non-stitched cash but she was reluctant. Basically, he offered two $2 bills for three dollars. A great trade but she was still reluctant. I offered Steve $5 for the two bills, a gain of $1 for Steve. Steve said that wouldn't do and offered a whole sheet of four $2 bills for the five-dollar bill. A gain for me and to made a trade with the incredible Steve Wozniak was precious in itself.

As some friends arrived and joined the conversation, we somehow went from the stitched bills to Segway Polo, a sport Steve is very active in, out in California. It seems to be catching on out there and Austin may become the next franchise for the sport. However, after hearing the repair cost for a Segway headlamp, it may be some time before I get to participate.

By this time crowds had filled the various rooms and even the large room upstairs. This is where Bruce was attending a table distilling wine into brandy with an interesting little still powered by three tea-light candles.

The party was well worth it and a great ending to the SXSW conference. Something I'd always heard.


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