ln Ltd.

fantasai's blog

f. rainne
15. 2004-05-06

W3C in Mandelieu

The Story

Every year, the W3C holds an organization-wide, week-long conference known as the W3C Technical Plenary. This year, on Daniel Glazman's suggestion, Bert Bos as Chair of the CSS Working Group invited the quaint object generally known as 'fantasai' to attend. After hours of checking airfares and even more hours (plus staying up very late one night to catch the receptionists at their morning on-duty hours) of searching for appropriate hotels, fantasai arrived at a travel plan which would cost only around 700USD plus breakfast and dinner. (I.e. it would only knock her "for extravagances such as plane tickets and writing utensils" savings down by half.) She made the requisite arrangements (it just happened to be an unusual year in which this week was easily take-off-able), gathered such necessary supplies as a passport and electricity converters, and tried not to be terrified at the sheer craziness of it all.

And so, on Thursday the 26th of February, I took US Air flight 26 to CDG-Paris out of Philadelphia International Airport at around 8:30pm. The food and service was good, the seats were (relatively-speaking) quite comfortable, and the television had an off-button. (I would not hesitate to fly US Air again.) My attempts to sleep, however, were nonetheless unsuccessful.

The plane landed around 9:45am in Paris. My uncle Shoja lives in Paris, but my other two paternal uncles just happened to have arranged to visit him that weekend and the flight Shahrokh was taking from Connecticut would be arriving two hours after mine. No one was there to meet me when I arrived, but after I'd helped a non-Francophone co-passenger negotiate a use-phonecard-to-call-home-to-get-number-and-then-call-sister's-mobile-in-France maneuver with the French telephone system, Shapour showed up. Two hours later we picked up Shahrokh and took the train to Minou's appartment in Paris.

Where I crashed until 9pm.


Thanks to my internal clock being en remue-menage, I was awake at 6am when the alarm did not go off. Shoja took me to the train station by Metro, where I boarded the TGV to Cannes. From Cannes I took the regional rail to Mandelieu-la Napoule, two stops down. Hotel la Calanque, where I'd hesitantly made reservations, was just around the corner from the station...

And it was a charming small inn on the main boulevard, across the street from the Sea and a castle — the Chteau of Henry Clews. My room was small but tidy, and the bathroom was shiny-new and clean. It cost only 50 euros a night, and it was only a 10-minute seaside walk from the Sofitel down the boulevard.

I put away my things, took a shower and dressed, and then left to walk to the Sofitel lobby where Hixie, whom I'd only glimpsed once, briefly, in a photograph six months previous, was waiting (presumably with his laptop) for CSS Working Group members to arrive.

What I didn't know was that he'd cut his hair short and shaved his beard since the summer.

I recognized Ian Hickson by

  • his (visually) apparent age
  • his working on a laptop
  • his shoes
  • the shape of his face
  • the fact that he was looking at me the same way I was looking at him; that is, "Are you the person I'm looking for?"
  • Gecko sweatshirt

(The sweatshirt should have been a dead giveaway, but to me the shoes were more significant. I don't remember anything about them except that they seemed Hixie-like somehow.)

I showed up in full uniform, complete with boater hat. (If you know what that means, you know what it means.) It would have been painfully obvious who I was, if I hadn't had my coat on.

Ian left to go to his room a bit later, so I amused myself by putting a flyer on the floor and practicing boxes and windows until Bert arrived. Once David and Tantek came in (from SF via Heathrow), we all went out for dinner.


The schedule for that week was CSS meetings from 9am to 6pm on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with the plenary on Wednesday in a huge conference room and a few joint meetings on Thursday. I was either minuting or co-minuting half the time. After six o'clock, Ian, Tantek, David, Bert, and I, give or take a few, would go out for dinner. Bert would go home af soon afterward. The rest of us would return to the Sofitel and hang around until past midnight, at which point David and I would return to our respective affordable hotels. I'd wind up going to sleep around two.

The most memorable night for me was Tuesday night, before the plenary day, because Tantek and Ian were preparing to present on the QA panel on Wednesday. They were on stage in the conference room after dinner 'til past midnight; David and I were in attendance, all of us helping Ian with his presentation. (He insisted on using JavaScript to CSS the CSS Test Suite Documentation into an Opera slideshow.) (Tantek and I went over his presentation during lunch the next day. We reorganized it a bit, finishing just before the QA panel was set to begin.)

The most memorable afternoon was the WAI meeting on Thursday, which ran at least 100% overtime. Ian and I came out of that with a nice collection of random pictures we'd drawn on Sofitel paper (and an origami boat). We gave them to his girlfriend.


I took the 8:20 sleeper train out of Cannes on Thursday night, arrived at Francine's appartment around 8am, slept until mid-afternoon, ate and went to bed early, and then slept until noon on Saturday. I was very, very exhausted. I hadn't had so much fun in a long time. :)

The News

I am now a W3c Invited Expert on the CSS Working Group.

I am the new editor of CSS3 Text. (And I do intend to bring it back to working draft.)

Barring any paperwork difficulties, I will be working for Opera Software in Norway over the summer.