Aug 17 2014
I want to create a new word, ‘conxhaustion’. That feeling you have halfway through the conference where you’ve been living on 3 hours of sleep a night and realize you have days more to go before you’ll sleep normally again.
I love going to the conferences in Las Vegas every summer: Black Hat, Defcon and BSides. But I hate Vegas itself and I hate it even more now that I have to travel from London to get there. It was bad enough when I got half way through the week and was exhausted because of lack of sleep when I was in the same time zone. When you throw an eight hour time difference into the mix, even surviving a week in the desert is grueling task. But it’s the only place I ever get to see many of my friends, peers and co-workers, so it’s a necessary evil, year after year. I have to admit, RSA is just as tough, but at least it’s my old stomping grounds and a lot cooler, both physically and metaphorically.
Almost everyone who goes to Las Vegas gets their regular cycles and habits thrown off; it’s what the city is meant to do. The light and temperature are always constant inside, so you have no way of knowing whether it’s day or night. The water from the tap invariably tastes awful and anything you get in a bottle is probably going to cost an arm and a leg. And eating in anything like your normal habits is difficult to say the least, especially since the amounts are huge and the calories are even huger (is that a word? It is when referring to Vegas). Keeping hydrated and properly fed becomes nearly impossible for anyone who doesn’t want to spend more time looking for a place to eat than actually eating.
And it doesn’t really stop once you get home, at least not for me. If you’re relatively local, your schedule’s off because you’ve been staying up so many late nights and it takes a few days to recover. If you’re coming from another continent, like me, you’d just gotten used to the Vegas time zone when you’re forcing your body back to its normal time zone. Which, at least for me, takes another week to get re-adjusted.
So you’re home, you’re dehydrated, you’re exhausted from the running around and the lack of sleep and you’ve had a horrible diet for the last week. Which is why we all so often cap off conferences and conxhaustion with con flu and con crud. Oh, did I forget to mention that all those handshakes and hugs introduced your body to tons of new germs and bacteria? It’s not like people are their most hygienic during cons, since showers are optional and there’s always a line to get into the bathroom. Why bother washing your hands?
So it’s no wonder we come home from a week in the desert and spend another couple of weeks recovering from the experience.