Yes, this is the annual, now almost ritualistic, pre-SXSW Interactive post.

And yes, much of the pre-SXSW preparation has been the same, but everything feels a little different, a little off this year – in no small part because of the preamble. See, most years, I’ve had a weekend trip to DC (usually by car or rail) the weekend before SXSW begins, but I spend most of the week leading up to the conference in the office. This year, though…well, you be the judge:

  • Thursday, 3/5: Fly from Newark to San Francisco
  • Thursday, 3/5 – Sunday, 3/9: Review committee meeting at Google in Mountain View
  • Sunday, 3/9: Drive to Sacramento
  • Monday, 3/10: Review committee meeting in Sacramento office

Notice the difference? It tallies to the tune of about 3,000 miles. It was, at this point in the itinerary, that I was presented with a choice – prior to flying out to Austin on Thursday, I could fly home for a grand total of one day, in which I would have no time to do much of anything, or stay in California and work out of the Concord office for two complete days. Using a complex decision engine (by which I mean I determined which option would be less expensive for my company and excluding my personal well-being and/or sanity), I opted to stay on the left coast and fly to Austin from San Francisco.

The added seven days away from home presented a new set of logistics issues, primarily having to do with packing and laundry. Largely, things have worked out – I shipped my warmer weather gear to myself in Concord before I left NJ (27lbs outbound), and earlier today I shipped most of my cooler-weather gear, along with my suit and dress shoes, back to NJ (40lbs outbound – why is dirty laundry always heavier?). I had a minor scare when I noticed that the box had a big gash down one of the corners, but a quick inventory reveals only a pair of socks absent. I can live with that.

The hours haven’t been working in my favor either. And for once, I’m not talking about the time difference, or the switch to daylight savings. I worked about 43 hours in three days – which would explain why I ended up locking myself in my Sacramento hotel room and crashing on Sunday. Trying to get back to a normal routine after that, even for a couple of days, has been challenging.

There was also the somewhat selfish aspect of the extended trip, which was to see some of my Bay Area friends in their native environments. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me that my Bay Area friends would be in the middle of THEIR mad dash to pack for Austin. D’oh.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to make a mostly-clean break from the office – the work that absolutely had to get done has been done (for the most part… *ahem*) – and I’m officially off-the-grid as far as the world of scholarship administration is concerned.

And with all that out of the way, I can turn my attention to the following pressing concerns:

  • Some of the best people you could ever know
  • Shiner Bock
  • Fascinating conversation
  • Shiner Bock
  • Genuine nerd fun
  • Shiner Bock

If you’re going to SXSW, I’m looking forward to seeing you – even if I’ve never seen you before. (Don’t try to work out that logic – your brain may explode.) I’ll be updating this space over the next week with my exploits, hopefully with photographic or video evidence of the geek finery. You can also check out which panels (and, yes, parties) I’ll be attending by clicking the sidebar link (or by clicking here). You can also get the lowdown on all things SXSW over at the Baby.

A quick aside – if you’re following me on the various social networkamajigs, most of my updates over the next week will be SXSW-related in some way. If you won’t be at SXSW, or could care less about SXSW, I apologize in advance – come back in a week or so, and I’ll be back to ranting about pop culture, or politics, or IKEA furniture instructions, or whatever the hell is bouncing around in my cranium.

Next stop, Austin! Yee-HAW!