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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Hopkins Family Circle of Trust and Orlando Code Camp: A Brief (or not) Recap

For everyone that was holding their breath in anticipation of this post, well, I have good news! You can breathe easy! Kevin made it out of the Hopkins' house unscathed and holding the heart of MamaTechNuts in his little coder hands. From our visit at my mom's to our trip to Orlando for Code Camp, this weekend was a huge success and we had an awesome time...though we were dead tired!

Our weekend adventure began around 7:30pm on Thursday night when we boarded our plane at SFO to Ft. Lauderdale (by way of Land O' Douchebag...or LAX). Because Kevin has a little "thing" for Richard Branson, we ended up taking Virgin instead of an airline that would fly us direct to PBI (closer to where my mom and the poodles live). If it was any other airline, I probably would have been annoyed by this (I mean, come on...taking a red-eye sucks enough, but then driving an hour or so after at 6:30am sucks worse), but Virgin is a beyond awesome airline and if it made the mister happy, I was happy. Besides, this gave me plenty of material to tease Kevin about his mini-man crush so there was a little something for both of us to make it worth it.

We took off a few minutes late but once we were in the air, I remembered why I liked flying Virgin so much, too. Everyone (seriously, EVERYONE) that works for them is super nice, so helpful, and their safety videos crack me up. I can appreciate a company with a sense of humor and that incorporates a little bit of sarcasm into their customer information. They also have the sweet touch system (I think it is called RED) on the planes where you can order pretty much anything you want (well, not everything...I would have loved a massage but they were fresh out). Because of RED, I filled up on my share of Coke (it kept coming and coming) and watched a lot of junk on MTV. (I can probably list every teenage mom they featured on their show about teenagers getting knocked up. Don't even get me started on that...) It was a very enjoyable flight. It was about halfway to LAX (where we had a connection) that Kevin remarked that he couldn't hear anything. (Poor Kevin is sick with a nasty sinus infection, courtesy of MIX.) Your typical girlfriend would probably dote on him and baby him a little bit. I am not your typical girlfriend. Instead, I tried to convince him that he actually went deaf by moving my lips as if I was talking to him. This freaked him out (though he won't admit it) for a bit but then he caught on. Needless to say, I was thoroughly entertained.

We landed in LAX and had about a 20 minute lay over before we left for Ft. Lauderdale. This leg of the flight was pretty uneventful for me. I drank a few more Cokes (much like the five year olds in elevators that insist on "pressing the button" over and over again, I was still quite fascinated with RED), I tried to sleep (with little success) and Kevin worked on his MEF presentation for Code Camp. (Another reason to fly Virgin: wi-fi and electrical outlets at every single seat!). After five hours we finally landed. From there we went to pick up our bag and rental car, from E-Z Rentals (which I found pretty ironic, considering E-Z is fully staffed with a bunch of asses and was anything but E-Z to work with.) After our dance with E-Z, we were finally on the a little after 6:30am.

By this time, we were sleepy, hungry, and dirty and wanted to get to my mom's house as quickly as our little rental could get us there. We made pretty good time and within an hour, Kevin was standing face to face with three poodles...and the Mama poodle, MamaOrlandoTechNuts, otherwise known as Maggie. Kevin went right in for the hug, my mom did some little awkward thing with her arms to be funny (now he knows where I get my wackiness from), and they were off to the races, so to speak. Shortly after their first encounter, my mom (who, by the way, was looking pretty hot. Age has been nothing but kind to my mom. Bitch.) left for work, and Kevin and I went to grab some breakfast at a local diner. My food was awesome. Kevin found a hair in his...and then after my prodding, finished eating it (minus the hair, of course). After his first experience with a South Florida Jewish diner, we came home and slept.

And slept.

And slept some more. 5:00 in the afternoon, finally woke up, feeling mildly refreshed.

At 5:17pm we met a gentleman by the name of Glenn. Glenn is my mom's new beau and the first man she has dated since my dad passed away two years ago. No wonder my mom had a little spring in her step...Glenn was a pretty cute, really nice....wait for it....IT guy! (Heck yes! Score one more for Team Geek!)

My mom made us all a really yummy dinner (she hasn't cooked in ages, by the way. My dad was the cook in the family.) and we all got to know each other. Kevin hit it off with everyone and my mom really took to him. The poodles really took to him, too. So much so, in fact, that Griffin, insisted on sleeping with us, and Little Ed gave Kevin a nice little tongue bath as he woke up. It was borderline creepy...but oh-so-funny at the same time.

After dinner, the family videos came out...and the fun began. Kevin got to see the complete awkwardness that is my family and my sweet dance moves in one tape from 1990. Initially, I was pretty embarrassed but pretty quickly came to realize the pure hilariousness that we were viewing. I had about three or four "signature moves", including a revised version of the Running Man (I say "revised" because I was doing some weird thing with my arms...kind of like spinning an imaginary jump rope, if you can picture that), some Vogue poses, some arm-spinning down-to-the-ground action, finished up by a move where I pretty much felt myself up. My "jam" was Step By Step by New Kids On The Block. My outfit of choice was a t-shirt I made with puffy pant flowers all over it, a huge hair-bow...and my big bunny teeth. (My front teeth were out of control.) I believe Megan, circa 1990, falls into the "hot mess" category.

But, it was funny. Reallllly funny. So funny, in fact, that I think Kevin and I are going to get the taped transferred from VHS to DVD and then put it on You-Tube...and the blog for your viewing pleasure. (I figure I have no shame so why not let my readers experience the awkwardness, too...) We might even make t-shirts and if Ellen DeGeneres asked me to appear on her show, I'd probably do it. (Just putting that out there. You know, in case Ellen reads my blog...)

Anyway, I'm rambling (huge shocker). After Hopkins' Family Video Hour, we all retired to bed. Kevin and I were up again on Saturday morning at 4something to get ready for Code Camp. (Well, I had to "get ready". Kevin had to throw on a shirt and jeans. Bastard.) I deposited Griffin, the poodle, in my mom's discover Glenn in there, too. Super awkward and I might have thrown up in my mouth for a brief second...but I'm glad "Stella is Getting Her Groove Back". Maybe they'll reproduce and give me another brother. Kidding.

After I saw my mom in the quasi-buff, Kevin and I hightailed it to Orlando for some glorious Code Camp action. We got their a little late (fashionably, of course) and got to see some of our old buddies. I met the new Orlando Kforcers (Robin, Megan, and Brandon) and got to reunite with @devfish and Co. From there we went straight to the room Kevin was using for his presentation (MEF U...which was awesome AND really funny). We watching VS crash a few times (which contributed to the funniness) and got the entire room to complete our "Name That App" survey. Kevin (@sundriedcoder) got some really good Twitter traffic from his presentation, so it was a huge success. I got to see Danny (my little Coder baby that I met at last Code Camp and got him his first development job) and some of my Twitter buddies (@codermarc). Following the MEF presentation, I went to the cafeteria where I got my lunch-lady on...and got to serve all of the Code Campers sandwiches and collect their lunch tickets. I was kind of like a glorified hall monitor and I loved it. I loved having the power to deprive someone of their soda and Jason's Deli lunchbox. (Just kidding. I actually let a few people without a ticket collect a lunch. I'm a softy, what can I say?) One thing I found particularly amusing about the day was a lot of people didn't recognize me because I colored my hair brown. I felt like I was in disguise and I loved the surprise look on peoples' faces when they realized it was me. (Kind of like little babies when they play Peak-A-Boo...)

From lunch, we went to @NikitaP's presentation on Windows Phone and then hung out with Ryan and Carl for a bit at the Kforce booth before we went to Kevin's last presentation on Silverlight Streaming Media. He was in speaking in a huge auditorium and had a little too much fun messing around with the microphone. I think he was secretly envisioning what it would feel like to give the keynote at MIX or PDC but he never confirmed this... He gave another great presentation (and I'm not just saying this because I'm the girlfriend) and @BillReiss was also there to pipe up. (Batman and Robin comes to mind right now...)

We hit the after party after Code Camp (hence the entire "after party" thing...) and had a chance to grab a few beers with the old crew! Everyone was there: @willstrohl, @estebanfgarcia, @adamhill, @billreiss, get the idea. (For the record, @tampacoder, @josebueno, @mitchlabrador, @scottdensmore, @davidjustice: You all were missed!). After a few beers, some delicious food, and sweet tech talk, we hit the road (again) to go back down to my mom's house. We arrived very giddy (high off of Orlando Code Camp fumes). I think my mom and Glenn were caught off-guard because Kevin and I were really loopy (no sleep, colds, and constant traveling will do that to you) and even asked "what do they serve you exactly at Code Camp?" We hung out for a bit with my mom and Glenn before saying our goodbyes (we had to be up at 4:00am the next morning to catch our flight).

I've never seen my mom give anyone a bigger hug...ever. She completely enveloped Kevin in her mother arms and even kissed him (on the cheek, people). She told him how much she liked him and went on and on...and on...and told me she knows he is "the one" (no kidding, Mom, that's why I brought him home!). Since everyone was in the hugging mood, I went in for the kill with Glenn, too. (Why not, right?) After the big love fest, Kevin and I...and Griffin, went upstairs for a few hours of sleep. (It was at least midnight at this point. Kevin and my mom hugged for hours. Kidding.)

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and did the entire travel thing all over again. The only highlight was getting to be in the presence of Richard Branson again (more so for Kevin) and getting some sleep on the plane. We had a gross lay-over in LA again where we ate overpriced clam chowder and watched countless jackasses in over-sized sunglasses walk by. I'm definitely not cool enough to live in LA. Hell, I wasn't even cool enough to hang out in the airport.

By time we landed in San Francisco, we were both beyond exhausted. We were both sick. (Thank you, MIX.) We both smelled like airport and LA loser. In spite of it all, though, we'd do it all again. We had such an awesome time and it was really great to see everyone again. I knew I missed everyone but I definitely didn't realize how much until we were at Code Camp. To say that community is outstanding is a gigantic understatement. They have their crap together and put together an tremendous event (over 600 people!). Beyond being able to organize a successful event though, that group is chalk full of good people. I definitely felt like I was at home and I am so appreciative of the warm welcome Kevin and I received. It is good to know that even though we are 3,000 miles away, we'll always have a home with the Orlando development community. Seriously, to all of my .Net UG buddies, you guys are the greatest and I love you (like brothers...the "special" love is reserved for Kevin.)

Seeing my mom was surprisingly a lot of fun, too. I'm so happy she and Kevin hit it off because he is definitely going to be the last guy I bring home. We're doing the "official" move-in in three weeks and we couldn't be more excited. I'm elated to know my mom thinks I finally got it right and finds him as wonderful as I do. All in all, the weekend was a huge success and I can't wait until we get back to Florida again!

...and yes, Kevin, next time we go, we can fly Virgin. I know better than to keep you away from Richard.

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