Debconf6 day 5: Formal dinner.

May 18th.

The fifth day of Debconf6 started for me with a very detailed overview of the debian installer. I have already been quite familiar with the system, but did not really know how to debug the debian-installer system, which was a good part of today's presentation.

Many were still tired from yesterday's evening's "testing" of international hard liquors. (Or the pancake party?)

At the lunch I discovered on my own skin how hard it was to announce something in the restaurant where we were having food - the room had very high ceiling with high an thick separation beams, so the acoustics of the place were just terrible. I had almost enough volume to fill the room, but after many reflections it was incomprehensible. I had to revert to walking around the tables to remind people about the group photo next day and about the place to meet for today's formal dinner.

The rest of the day flew by fast and it was soon time for the dinner itself. People slowly gathered at a parking lot behind the hotels and idly chatted while waiting for the boarding call. After a while people stopped minding me and that resulted in several good portraits.

We boarded the bus and went to the place of the formal dinner. The place was a large hall where local volunteers had placed the tables in the form of a swirl. That was a very nice touch. People wondered round and round 'till they choose a place they liked. AJ sat at the very inner end of the swirl and I somehow got to sit at his right hand. Not that it matters.

At one moment some person took a crown of Ted's head and rushed to put it on AJ's had. Many photos were taken at that moment (most of them very blurry), but I feel this one to be a bit of an irony: CLUE hanging over Ted, but he doesn't quite get it. But enough about him - there was enough fun at the dinner to satisfy anyone.

After a while of nice chatting time food started to appear. First the glasses came, then there were the huge 3l bottles of Cola. I managed to avoid the Mexican version of Cola before that, but now when I tried it Mexican Cola tasted very much like the Estonian version and slightly different from UK's or USA's versions. I guess the sugar type used and the water might be of the difference.

Few attempts at simulating a spiral "Mexican" wave along the tables were conducted. Only when AJ personally controlled every part of the way by running along the length of the table, the wave succeeded. :)

A Mexican band came in to lighten up the mood. They were met with a huge wave of applause and a burst of flashlights. The music was great - lively and exciting. Spanish speaking people knew most of the songs and sang along. But after a short while the music was started to being drowned out by the sound of a rain hitting the roof.

Soon after the food was served I heard scream of surprise with a hint of fear. When I turned, I saw that one of the wall of the hall strangely turned into a waterfall - gush of water was streaming from the roof into the building. People looked at the water, took a bunch of pictures, made a few water related jokes, picked their bags up from the floor and ... continued with the fun. I must say that I was slightly scared, but although others might have been scared as well, most did not show it and the event just went on with a half of the hall having a couple centimeters of water. Water also dripped down on some parts of the tables, so people shifted from there to other places.

Meanwhile, outside the rain became stronger, wind became faster, thunder became louder and came closer.

The climax of the evening was the sudden loss of power. I was jsut standing on the stage when all the lights inside and outside went out at once. For a moment there was a bit of confusion and the evening became slightly scary in a single instant. Then people took out their mobile phones, PDA's and other devices and lighted the place up with the light from their screens. Some others had handlights, and others made slightly more light for a shorter moments by taking flash photographs, for example, of the ceiling. In a few minutes the emergency light went up and after 15 more minutes the main lamps started coming back on.

For most people that was enough excitement for the night, so when the rain calmed down and Gunnar announced that first buses are ready go back to the hotel if some people want that, two buses were overfilled with people wanting to get back. Some stayed.

More fresh food was cooked then, including some cooked cactus leaves and some grilled meat after which a desert followed with a rollcake that included a swirl of some red jam. Very Debianish :)

After a quick local-optimal packing session the hall was left almost empty in a few minutes. The packing algorithm was interesting - one person was collecting all forks, other person was collecting all spoons, other people were only folding tables, while others were handling chairs. The work division was very effective and allowed people to share the work without any kind of central coordination.

And we went back .. to work.

On the way to the hotel I noticed pixie sitting in the walkway in a very careful was - it turns out she got one of the kittens to trust her and was holding it in her lap. It was sooooo cute. Kawai!

Ted: Many questions were raised about Ted, the "fight" at the formal dinner and the following expulsion of Ted from the event and from the Debian project. An I have a unique perspective on that as I was sharing a room with Ted and talked to him and his friend John after the dinner, but before the expulsion notice.

I barely noticed the, now widely speculated about, events at the dinner itself. I noticed that at one point in time the lump of people around the door became a bit bigger and that Ted and John were in the middle of it. I heard no screaming and saw no struggle or fighting and did not see anything strange regarding Ted except this and the other event described higher above. Ted was siting by his table with a woman that I for some time believed to be his wife because of the very caring way he was handling her. After considering that he was from Canada, I assumed (with a though of the twisted humor) that she might then be his Mexican lover (either paid or not), but I did not care enough to find out about it or to raise any conflict about it. I remember thinking that it would sound quite funny in context of his latest blog post about killing of prostitutes which might also be the reason why people where very ready to believe the joke that one of Ted's companions said of the woman being paid to come here with Ted "or maybe not".

After the event I wane to sleep to be awaken around 5 in the morning by a discussion going on in my room about the dinner. I went into the discussion slightly irritated with a simple argument - inviting people to a party without an explicit permission of the organizer is a bad thing to do. That point sank in quickly and Ted soon was ready to apologize for that. After that a discussion about individual people and motivations went on for another hour. Ted's action were deeply rooted in the confusion of terms with "bravery" and "cowardice" versus "aggression" and "non-confrontational behavior". Ted's motivation was clearly based on avoiding anything that could be considered to be cowardly and putting emphasis on brave actions, however the most of the rest of Debian project is much more in line with the modern world and prefers non-confrontational behavior to any action causing trouble. Most of the time such behavior is essential for comfortable survival of any geek living in non-geek environment.

The difference in values between Ted and the rest of our project was just too immense. When I was walking out of the room at around 7 in the morning next day my final sentence was "Ted, even if you spend rest of the Debconf apologizing and making friends, I do not see a future for you in this project." and the most important was that Ted and John seemed to agree with me on that.

I soon found out that DAM's agreed with me too and took action just when I was talking to Ted expelling him from the project. He was also advised to leave the Debconf to avoid any further confrontation. It was harsh, but kind of expected for a long time. This event spoiled my mind for a few hours, but ... the Debconf must go on!