the woman next to me offers 5 dollars to the screaming kid to shut it up
and a drink to anyone who silences it
her husband throws the horns - we're headed to a party town
they've gone through 8 mini-bottles of Vodka and a couple of beers
she calls me "genius computer guy" and says I'm the perfect seatmate

Okay. I'm in the hotel now. Safe from the Norms.
But what is this, in the elevator?
He asks us what Def Con is
"It's a hacker convention"
"A hacker what?"
"A whole bunch of hackers get together"
"Oh man, you guys are gonna get arrested"

We drop off our bags and then pick up supplies
crossing the street frogger-style
SD Card, Red Bull, SoCo, Gatorade, Vodka
back in the room, testing the TV B Gone of the badge
plug the laptop into the alarm clock and rock out to some techno

wandering, wandering - bumping into some familiar faces
slap some high fives and then we merge with the Chicago crew
up in the room we've strewn out suitcases full of equipment
10 of us hacking - coding, soldering, and cracking crypto
one has trouble tethering the phone - re error code 67
Wild Jaku has decided that I'm his kindred spirit
"You know what I'm talking about"
We've decided to get the Legend membership to Pole Position
$4999 for a year of unlimited racing
The fire tossing guy that we see from the window briefly lights his shorts on fire

I find Cenobyte and we're talking about Physics
my head spins with a comfortable euphoria
and I start to explain bioinformatics
and we find a guy who does proteomics
He regales us regarding dangerous lab stuff
(sometimes sans pants)
listening to techno in the common area

Although I know I'm here now I feel like
Sir Real, the Knight of Day
shower and change
As I'm leaving the room our neighbor enters his, heading for bed
I sketch out a rough schedule and watch some talks

I talk with Scott (who spoke on BLAST and ASM)
and inspired me to play with SNPs and ASM
genetic and computer code - scientific crosstalk

Joe Grand and Hacking in the name of science
playing ping pong for research and dancing ninja attack

Sitting in Kevin and Marco's talk
I enjoy absorbing their energy and knowledge

Buy caffeinated mints from the vendor area
(I'm making it a tradition)
something to beat off the whore that is night

Listening in the Quantum demonstration
quite interesting but I'm starting to feel faded
in and out of sync

Visiting the skyboxen and the LockPickZone is packed too dense
In the Hardware Hacking Village Joe Grand recaps his talk
and I get a little look at the poem in the bootlooder
Making a note to check it out on the CD

watching TCP/IP and Hacker jeopardy
I'm getting drunk with hackers - Brother's thermos has rubber grips
never underestimate the necessity of viscosity in a high velocity drinking situation

Jesus calls as we recharge and so we head out
step into the mouth of fearsome noise and smoke
"I'm in hacker Hell" guy says as his compatriot starts holy wars
from Star Trek to Distros - loud and obnoxious in that endearing way
the drunk fucker that grabs your shoulder and amuses you
Circus Circus is out the window; gonna hack that clown
making fun of Vista then someone mentions a relative with ME
"Why does it keep crashing?" "Well, you're using Windows ME"

watching the guy rock the dot around last year's badge
"I'm proud of myself" he says (and it truly is a righteous hack)

and in the corner catching pockets of quiet
Claudus is talking on art and ASP

my voice is harsh and I'm low on talk
but high on listen, light-headed
with a clipboard and a hard-hat
to protect me from the linguistic gymnastics
"I've budgeted for a whore - have you played Warcraft III?"

And I observe the strange transition, how a room transforms
starting as white noise, visually veiled
with familiarity faces start to form
songs and voices become recognizable

my head is bowed to paper so I'm shifting
from neural storm to a real live party to my own personal world
I am separate but receptive - warmed by the heat of voices
someone is talking about dot net and emacs
Fish and Jesus serving drinks and the chandelier shakes precarious
soulful eyes and starry skies the night beat back with a mighty hack
see another sage, flip the page. lost another pen, I start again
circular reasoning spinning in this intellectual cul de sac

Brother is swapping stories with a goon
"My job is to make sure you have a good time"
but I don't have any good whore-r type stories to tell
"Your brother makes me a happy drunk. You are making me an irate drunk"
And so after a while I rail on my side projects
I talk of C code and biology and other familiar things
amino acids and op codes, of sequences and strings
it isn't considered interesting
not in this place at this time

I wake up with only a vague notion of what day it is
and where I am and no idea where my brother is
the other bed contains only a laptop
phone call goes unanswered
I later learn that he's alive
just never went to sleep

I spend the day in talks
knowing that it's not the talks that make the con
they frame the canvas and the canvas is the people

wearing my shirt with the phylogenic tree
go far enough back in your family tree
and you're related to rats and trees

G. Mark walks around before the talk
shaking hands, a charismatic gentleman
I'm smacked in the face with a t-shirt
"He isn't awake yet"

Sitting in the chillout area
a crack in progress to my left
to my right a pair trying to get hacked
and you have to take a vacation to get the perfect work environment
drink in one hand, DJ in the background, and thousands of smart geeks around

and then we're watching Hacker jeopardy and it's worth some laughs
Yes, sir. We have achieved epic levels of lulz.

The Chicago crew is still chewing on LosT puzzles
"I want to stab a baby now"
and the "You know what I'm talking about" meme has spread
"I don't even need to say it anymore"

I'm losing lucidity, brain bleeding
body zombie jerks
eyes open, brain shut down
stuck somewhere in the occipital

I'm tired, but afraid that if I put head to pillow
I will find out that now is the dream
because this feels better than real

You push it too hard, up 'til four or more
the sun it rises unforgiving
but "Hell Yah" it rocks
and you never quite recover
cause you keep it full throttle
as a consequence it unseats your core
(toaster computer using bread as a heat sink)
and then "Oh Noes" your eyes burst into flame
and you need to close them, to douse them with water
now I'm very light-headed - a charred husk in zombie horde
and it's totally fucking worth it
because it is universally unique and lovely beyond words

early morning
the carpet zamboni drives through an otherwise empty hallway
sitting by the pool waiting for critical mass to return
too early to start drinking?
but thoughts are more intoxicating
is it, therefore, too early to start thinking
petty truisms, but words are free and ink is cheap
take any familiar pattern far enough and it becomes novel
talk about it with someone new and get a fresh perspective
sitting by the pool - fading in and out
I notice the palm trees and my concept of location changes
I jump from Def Con to headspace to Las Vegas then back inside

sitting on a bench listening to Mouse give a preview of her talk
and I recognize the cadence - the speed and the beat
of a smart person talking on a familiar topic
and here you don't have to dumb it down

Kaminsky naturally draws quite a crowd
and we spill across the hall to see Renderman
and learn about hacking Internet Kiosks and billboards

At the closing ceremonies it is requested that I impersonate Todd
who won the Guitar Hero contest and was kicked out for Goatse
Chicago crew flashes the ceiling with their shiny Def Con ball

At the Dennys the waitress lays it thick with the honeys and sweeties
Asks if we're here for Star Trek and we rail on the "fuckin' nerds"
riding the remains of the high laughing all the while.
then my brother heads to the airport

I'm sitting on the floor
a goofy guy with a grin collecting nods
most days a hundred walk by that don't understand
but here a skull-shirt explains that java ruins the kids
and they don't consider the big oh complexity of their algorithms

the novelty has faded and the armor is down - chipped away by booze
but this guy only has a hint of lanyard underneath a beer shirt
and I fear that we're starting to hide our signs
fade back into the minority
we've a decreased density and increased desperation

I manage to receive a file through the badge
his friend says that this is nerd sex
"Was it good for you?" I ask

wandering with the Chicago crew
as they take snap shots with their wrench
hand cuffed and goon badged and smoking on a bench

They show up in my dream
hiding in a covered wagon with LED wheels
after perpetrating various wacky hijinks
"This year we outdid ourselves"

He mistakes me for a skater rather than a SysAdmin
from the shoes, I guess - I play along with a sigh inside
and that's when I know the spell has faded

Playing "Spot the geek"
it gets hard at the hotel around mid-day
and the airport is quite challenging
but STL is like a non-stop bossfight

The armor starts to come back on
a helmet to protect me from inane drivel
and plates to hide my frail geek physique

the guy sitting next to me offered me an Oreo bite
and to save my life in lieu of his son's should we crash
outside the wing it looks like Cassiopeia frames the moon
I remember thinking at some point "Fuck Kansas"
a lively birthday party behind my head
and flashes of lightning below