From: Faun Otter

 Luxury ...

 Of course we had it tough....

 I had to get up two hours before I went to bed, drove for three and a half
 weeks each way without stopping to use a restroom even once, ate a
 handful of cold gravel and gummy bears on the way, only managed to say,
 "Please put your name and phone number on the top of the ticket and keep
 the other half" to most of my fellow BCers....

 But seriously --- WOW --- What an awesome experience. In no special
 order, since I am still somewhat sleep deprived, here are some quick
 impressions of Julie Fest:

 * We were, as a group, a wonderfully average (but not mediocre) collection
 of normal humans. The demographics of those present should be a point of
 worry for GOP pollsters. I heard time and time again how people had been
 suddenly shocked into political awareness by the brazen and shameless
 actions of the far right.

 * Noted with pleasure the presence and support of staff from Buzzflash, Ampol,
 Allhatnocattle, DU, MWO, Bartcop E! and Bartcook! (and those were just the ones I met)

* David Brock, who made a career of bashing our 'side' until his recent book,
 was greeted warmly and respected for his honest and very public
 revelations about his past. I suspect that Freepers bear a grudge far longer
 and more deeply. He was apparently worried about coming to the event
 because of how he might be treated. I won't bring up old misdeeds - go and
 read his book, "Blinded by the Right" for details.

* The number of lurkers. No offence meant but I was intrigued by the proportion
 of folk who attended but are 'read only' forum members. Go on, say what you're
 thinking - you are amongst friends and it will make you feel better.

* The extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by some who were there -
 driving or flying huge distances or using savings that had been earmarked
 for home renovations and so on. The daunting travel arrangements award
 must go to Chines - more hours spent travelling than spent in DC, no sleep,
 had to rent a car and drive back and forth to Baltimore's airport, living on
 adrenaline and snack food until she finally found an eatery that was open
 some while after midnight. If you see her in chat, give her some encouragement
 in her bid to stop smoking - very sensibly set to start Thursday since everything else
 seems to start on Mondays..... or did I misunderstand that!

* Putting faces with handles. I won't name names but some of you look like one might
 expect from your writing style and handle, others - hah!, you had me fooled.

* Instant conversation. This was the easiest mingling I have ever managed
 at a public function. I'm not a shrinking violet in social settings but this was
 so easy - just start talking and it was an instant bond of common interests.

 * How fast time passes when you are having fun. I was mixing chat with
 T-shirt/raffle ticket selling and only got the briefest of time with some
 people with whom I have had long and interesting web exchanges. It will be
 a few days before people manage to regroup after this effort but those who
 were not there, keep your eyes open for a sale of the very limited number
 of T-shirts that were left over.

 * The number of volunteers. You have read the names of the main figures
 and I applaud them for all they did but want to also thank the others who
 stepped up to the plate to make this happen. From web stuff to tickets,
 from photos to videos, from chocolates to hand drawn signage, Crossfire
 planning to arranging lunch; the list is long and I throw out my gratitude to
 everyone for adding so much to the experience. (Step up to the plate,
 throw out my gratitude - see? It's not a mixed metaphor, as if anyone cared)

 * Special personal thanks to Slipz, J-P and A. Onehandle for their help on car pooling
 from Jawja. Steve - Thanks for splitting a room, hope your trip on to NY was a success.

 Faun (JF #188)

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