LISA16—Geeks Are Social Beasts. Really.

Geeks Are Social Beasts. Really.

OK, perhaps some of the people I went to dinner with last night would object to the label “geek.” I don’t. I embrace it fully. To me, it indicates a person who finds joy in the passion of learning and working and making things, and sharing that passion with others. Labelled or not, all the people in the group I led last night fit that description.

My Dinner with Bo. And Jennifer. And Patrick and….

This is the third year I’ve volunteered to lead a dinner outing at LISA. I love doing it because it is too easy to spend all my time with the people I know. When you throw the invitation open to the whole community, you’re guaranteed to meet new people and hear new stories.

This year I hosted on Sunday night. Sundays are all tutorials, and it’s the first day. There’s not much time to build a big group, but that’s fine. Sundays are also good around Boston to find a place that can seat a medium-sized group.

Jessica (one of the USENIX organizers) publishes the invite as a Google Form, and people sign up and leave an email. Mid afternoon I emailed the respondents to meet me at the mall entrance of the hotel. Unfortunately, I assumed everyone knew there was a mall entrance. After several tweets from Betsy, the one person I knew, saying “I’m here with 5 people, where are you?” while I looked around at an empty hallway, I realized they’d gone to the hotel lobby. One last sheepish message and I saw my dinner companions coming to join me for the evening.

We went right across the street to the Back Bay Social Club. We had seven people and were seated quickly. There were burgers and pizza and some seafood. Better was the conversation. One gentleman was from Australia. We talked about how Aussies, on hearing a North American accent will ask “Are you Canadian?” Because Americans don’t get offended when you ask if you’re Canadian (not that any proper Canadian would let you know).

Another man on the end was from Denmark. He showed us the letter he has from the Danish government assuring any US hospital that they will indeed get paid should they need to serve him.

We did exchange some working war stories. Some of us are more developers, and others are “pure sysadmins.” We had a round of “I don’t code; I’m an admin” and discussion of the different meanings of “Sysadmin.” We stayed long after we’d finished eating, sipping our drinks and chatting. No one was in a hurry to leave, though I did have another gathering to go to.

LISA16 Sunday Dinner Club

It’s All Fun and Games until Someone Gets Buried in the Desert

Sunday nights for a number of years have been Board Game Night at LISA. People bring games to share and play. Settlers of Catan is a favorite. Since I’m local I brought a full laundry basket of games to play. I like cooperative games, which are good for new people because the goal is to work together to “beat the game.”

Forbidden Desert

I arrived late, but there were tables open and people willing to try something new. I ran two sessions of “Forbidden Desert" while another group played “Pandemic.” We escaped once and were buried a second time after tense struggle. The other group won their game and saved the world from disease. We all went away with new names and new people to greet and chat with during the coming week.

Watch @LISAconference on twitter for upcoming dinner invites. Boston offers great food, and LISA is made up of great people.