Manic Ramblings, Delirous Ranting, and Full Color Photographs
re: OTFCC 2003

I woke up around 7am, my usual time to rise for work. Only no work today! I had some Krispy Kreme donuts left over from the day before, happily for me -- otherwise I'd have been starving. Others weren't as fortunate, so, being one of the relatively few people with a car, I gathered some folks -- Steve-o, Windy, Mon/Doug, and... crap again, I'm forgetting someone again -- and we headed out for some reconnaisance. We headed north, north, north... and finally found a single, lonely Dunkin' Donuts, where everyone got some breakfast. Then we drove south, south, south, south.... and finally hit a small oasis with a Subway, a Dairy Queen, and a Wendy's. Also passed a Denny's on the way down. And that was just about it for the weekend's eats. Slim pickins.

Plans had at one time called for heading into town for a mongoid excursion to the various museums south of the Loop; I had been particularly looking forward to the Shedd aquarium. Several circumstances conspired to kill the festivities, however. The first was simple inertia. As we gathered en masse in the atrium....

...nobody could seem to decide when, where, and how we were going. The second was the myth of preregistration. Prereg opened at 1pm, and GODS HELP YOU if you were late. The consequences could be dire. Pre-registrants who weren't in line by 1pm were known to have terrible fates befall them; among other things, many of them wound up not getting their pre-reg packets till 2 or even 3pm. Others suffered the indignity of not having to stand around in line for hours. Oh the carnage! Good thing we just stayed put. It gave Hoop the chance to go drop a bomb in the midst of those lining up almost 2 hours before pre-reg even started. Witness his triumphant return:

More importantly, however, Steve-o and I had collectively agreed to retrieve our roommates Dal and Kilby from the airport and bus station respectively... but we had no clue when either of them were getting in. Kilby called around 12:30 or so, and we headed over to the station. Poor Brian had gotten some rather bum directions from either me or someone at the bus station, and was schlepping all his stuff through this horrid suburban wasteland when Steve-o finally found him:

Dal called while we were waiting, as well. We dropped off Kilby at the hotel, then headed over to O'Hare. Per Dal's explicit instructions, we were in search of "Baggage Claim 5". No problem, eh?

Wrong-o. BIG problem. O'Hare, being a huge-ass mongo-sized airport, has 4 completely separate terminals, each with its own baggage claim areas, and all swarming with people and traffic. There's an entire HIGHWAY that does nothing but carry people to and from O'Hare, and it was fully busy as we approached. Steve-o and I circled once, took a wrong turn and got ejected from the airport, made our way back, and finally decided to start with International flights. I dropped him off.... waited... got kicked off the curb... ended up parking... and finally retrieved Steve-o on foot. Our next trick was to take the in-house train from one terminal to the next till we found him or till he called us again... which finally happened after we'd checked the second terminal. He was at the fourth one, it turns out. We got the car and finally collected him (I had to circle the airport one more time). Oy!

So it was probably 2pm by the time we finally returned to the #wiigii! mass in the atrium. Various new toys started showing up, such as Swift's hypnotically noise-making Overload:

General Scavenger put in appearance at this point, and found Overload to his liking -- so much so that he attempted to make off with the trailer:

With some unscrupulous help from Monzo, he managed to combine with the trailer and bend it to his evil will:

When I caught up with him, he was demanding Rollout's lunch money:

Poor Rollout had scraped knees and was bawling his eyes out. I think Scavenger would have actually kept the trailer if I hadn't made him give it back. Then they had to shake hands and promise to play nice. This was rather difficult since Rollout doesn't actually have hands, and in Scavenger's words, "These claws were made for crushing."

Well, after a few hours of this, as the dinner attendees made ready to spruce themselves up, someone finally stepped forward to offer leadership to the remainder of us: the mighty TONYFITZ, better known to one and all as Ant. At his behest, a group of six detached from the main group on a voyage into the wonderful city of Chicago. (General Scavenger opted out, citing a lack of adequate transportation in the absence of my backpack and camera bag.) Ant, Windy, Ken/Ytse, Kilby, Spy/Rob, and myself trekked through this inviting mess: the train station...

...and, for a buck-fifty, we were on our way!

Onwards to Chicago!