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Chris Messina

I finally (finally!) met up with Chris Messina tonight. After, crap, a month or so of trying to match schedules (and that after a month of working up the courage to talk to him in the first place), I gave up and just started cancelling evening plans until we found a day that worked. Entertainingly enough, he thought we were meeting up for lunch (another option), when I thought we were meeting up for dinner. It all worked out okay.

After I told him I didn't mind heading up to the City (he did offer to meet somewhere in the middle), we ended up at the Grove on Fillmore in the City, pretty much near Kris' old haunt. On the way up to the City, I realized I was incredibly nervous about meeting up with Chris Messina.

Chris Messina.

Funny how that's how I think of him. Not "Chris." Maybe "Messina." But not just "Chris." Too many of those.

So, there I was, driving up to the City, definitely arriving ridiculously late (having called to let him know I was arriving late), with a giant macrame for a stomach. WTF? I haven't been nervous meeting someone in a long, long time. It was a strange sensation, not unlike just before the first point of an important ultimate game, when I haven't run off the excess adrenaline so that I can relax and play my game.

I kept thinking to myself, "He's just a person! He puts on his pants the same way every else does! He poops just like everyone else!". These thoughts were immediately followed by a long list of other things he probably does just like everybody else, none of which particularly helped me not to be nervous.


So, the Grove is a bar joint "with good oatmeal." It was a little loud when we arrived (within two minutes of each other, so he was just as late as I was, though he later admitted he hates when people arrive late to agreed upon times, which I had sensed when I called around 5:45 to let him know I'd be a bit late).

I need to say now that Chris Messina has the most amazing deep voice I've ever personally heard. It's dramatic over the phone, which will cut off higher frequencies, and damn impressive in person. I think I could sit and listen to that man speak for hours (all of which would be spent with a dumb look on my face, I'm sure).

When we arrived, he pointed out three people in the bar/restaurant whom he knew, then explained that the bar was a pre-Blogger-Business-Conference dinner location for the conference opening tomorrow, and that most of these people, and more to come later, were meeting up tonight.

Oh. Cool.

Two people back in the order line from us, indeed, was one of the people meeting up, though not actually going to the conference. After we ordered and sat down, said person, Scott, came up to talk to Messina. 10 minutes later, my food arrived (Messina opting for only a smoothie), and 10 minutes later, Scott and Messina were still talking.

So much for talking about Drupal.

I ate for a while and met some other people who came through the order line as they arrived (Molly!). Eventually, Scott went to join the rest of the crowd forming, and Messina and I talked a bit about Drupal.


He asked what I was working on, so I explained a couple of the projects Mike and I were thinking of doing. Messina thought about them, and provided feedback that scaled back the project, but make it more feasible.

Eventually, his computer came out (Mac/powerbook, oh the lack of shock on that one is palpable), and he showed me the social browser his company is working on. At first, I figured it was just Mozilla with tags embedded in it. After a few moments, however, Messina showed me some of the other features (integrated blog creation, "breadcrumbs" and a "shelf") and I became much more impressed. I'm looking forward to my download. Especially since it does have tabbed browsing. Whoo!

So, Chris Messina's current project, is BarCamp, happening this weekend, which is an open (in every sense of the word: planning, presentation and followup) answer to the Friends Of O'Reilly camp (FoOCamp), also happening this weekend. Running from Friday to Sunday (as in, pitch a tent, stay the night, geek out, meet the other campers!), the agenda is set the Friday, with full participation from all campers (if you come, expect to present!).

I asked if the talks had to be technical. When he replied, "No," I offered to bring a ton (perhaps a tonne) of ultimate discs to hand out and present the game of ultimate.

I think I'll present the 10 Simple Rules of Ultimate, followed by video of how to play, then teach everyone walking beer ultimate, the so much more party-friendly version of ultimate.

At some point during the Flock demo (did I mention I'm eagerly anticipating being able to use the browser? I hope I don't need a Flickr account, though), I noticed it was really loud in the restaurant, and asked if he'd be up for going someplace else. After chatting with the group of pre-conference goers, we went across the street for gelato (the alternative being heading out to another loud place for a drink, ugh).

While we were sitting outside, with my freezing my ass off in the streets of freaking cold city of San Francisco in August while eating ice cream (my brilliant idea, I'd like to add), Chris Messina received a text message. Two seconds later, a tall, lanky black haired man came tearing out of the Grove and across the street. He flopped his arms around us, camera phone in hand, mouth wide open, and took a picture.


I dodged.

He was quite disappointed, and tried again, telling me, yes, I was supposed to open my mouth wide, and no, wasn't supposed to dodge the photo.

Uh huh.

Even Messina dodged.

As the man ran back across the street, Messina commented, "Yeah, that's Andy. My roommate. And, yeah, he's always like that."


Half way through the ice cream, I became far too cold to stay outside, so we went back to the Grove, where it was loud, but bearable by the front door. Andy came over and asked a "how" question (crap, I wish I remembered his wording correctly) like "What are you doing with this life?"

I didn't want to answer with what I did. I mean, how boring is that for an answer? So, I said, "I'm doing very well." At which point, Andy pointed out that was a "how much" answer, he wanted a "how", a qualitative not a quantitative answer.

So I replied, "I play a lot of ultimate frisbee."

And much to my surprise, Andy replied, "Oh, I love ultimate frisbee. Except that it's ultimate, because frisbee is a trademarked name."

"Oh! You play!?"

"No. I just know a lot of people who do. I used to play."

"How can you not play in one of the two power meccas of the ultmate world?" Though, now that I think about it, the power has shifted north to Seattle.

Andy was lots of fun. Come to think about it, he might just be the poster child for Munch's Scream. Turns out, he's 21. Just turned. Chris Messina is 24, having graduated from Carnegie Mellon in fall 2003. Good lord, are all the CMU alums I know a {Ch|K}ris?

I missed meeting Chris Messina's girlfriend, and didn't quite catch her name, it was loud. Something like Eres? Eris? Ires? I have no idea, I kept thinking Idris, as in the ultimate player on Jam. She looked a lot like Nathania Vishnevsky from PDI - the two of them could have been sisters, actually.

Eventually, the noise was too bothersome, and it looked like Messina really wanted to hang out with the crowd that had formed, so I let him know I was heading off. On the way back to my car, I admitted I was terribly nervous meeting him, which he, thankfully, chuckled at. I was happy to get that off my chest.


Great pic of you Kitt!