Back from Portland

I spent all week at O’Reilly’s OSCON (Open Source Conference). It’s our flagship conference, now in its 7th year, and also the largest, with around 3000 people attending. We occupied the Oregon Convention Center for the week, with tutorials on Monday and Tuesday, two full days (8:30am-6pm) of conference sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, and a half day of sessions today.

All the while I maintained my fairly standard article production responsibilities, producing between 1 and 3 articles each day before noon and then publishing them around 4pm. This was a little more difficult than I expected come Wednesday when the geeks showed up and clogged the wireless pipe. Thankfully as an O’Reilly employee, I pretty much had access to anything—such as the press room with dedicated wired connections.

Portland seemed a nice city. I’m realizing in my post-Chapel Hill life phase that I’m pretty much a city-virgin. Being in a city kind of feels like I’m on a field trip, staring in awe at the big buildings. Most of the time Santa Rosa doesn’t really seem that much larger than Chapel Hill, so I tend to treat it like a toy-city. When I travel to San Francisco, I get this strange urge to call people back east and ask them “Guess where I am?” because I’m almost giddy with the thought that I can zip down to the city whenever the spirit moves me.

We were staying at the Doubletree, two stops on the light rail west of the convention center and just across the Willamette River from the city center. We were inside what they call the downtown “fareless” zone, so the only time we needed to pay was coming to and from the airport. Every morning I’d take the train over a few blocks and spend a good part of the day at or around the convention center. Of course bring that many people together and every night became an opportunity to “go out.” We’d congregate in ad hoc bands of hungry O’Reilly-ers and take the train in search of food and beer in the city. One night it was your typical upscale microbrewery, two nights I had Thai, but I think the best meal was lunch with Mark this afternoon.

We had some time before our flight, so we headed in the direction of Powell’s (supposedly the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi). Mark had the good sense to ask some folks where some decent food was, and they recommended against the direction we were headed. Eventually we stumbled upon the promising Jake’s Famous Crawfish. It was perfect.

After some oysters and seared tuna to pique our appetites, I had a bucket of peel and eat crawfish, and Mark had perhaps the best looking plate of etouffee I’ve ever seen.

crawfish etouffee at jake's in portland

That and a few beers, we were finally able to sit back with the conference behind us and just chill.


I love Powell’s Books. It’s my favorite bookstore evah! Glad you found Jake’s; if I remember right, there isn’t much else over there to eat that isn’t in the old-and-dingy category.

What a great day, week, time in our lives (sans article production)! That was the first, but certainly not the last, etouffee I ever had.

Mark, it’s hard to believe that was 5 years ago. For old time’s sake: What is this “Article Production” of which you speak?


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