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We thought we were ready. We thought we knew everything that could go wrong. We were fools... FOOLS!

Jim McGinley, Blogger

May 27, 2009

10 Min Read

4 Days of TOJam #4 by Jim McGinley
Thursday   Friday   Saturday   Sunday
300 feet of Ethernet, Brown Clouds, and no Water

"If you have infinite money, running a Jam is easy."
Jim McG, 2009

"We have no money."
Jim McG, 2009


Friday morning keeners Credit

TOJam #4 officially starts today at 10:00am. Totally regretting that decision now. At 9:45am, Andrew phones me to ask what door to use. Crap. I've been gathering TOJam supplies for 4 hours, yet still need another 15 minutes. My lists need lists. Tell Andrew to entertain the hordes, we arrive at 10:15. Find 5 people waiting, thankfully still smiling.

Learn that organizer Rob is physically moving today. He had no choice. He hired movers (and Tessa) so he could still run the jam. If asked, believe Rob would offer first born as TOJam Door Prize.

~15 large white trucks line both sides of Eastern avenue. 2 guys are spraying random bricks of our warehouse partially white, no idea why. They're definitely filming something...

Rob brought printer for Em, all it's missing is the USB cable, unique power cable and paper.
Em is crippled and we've just run out of extension cords.

Expedition 1: Cables for All.
Chris and I head back to my house. We grab a USB cord, power cable that looks similar, and then head to Canadian Tire. Discover that outdoor extension cords are much cheaper than indoor. Purchase 8 bright orange 25 foot cords. Need more sponsors. Canadian Tire sells printer paper - there really is more to Canadian Tire than tires. We return heroes. Ran into Jerry. He was parking the coolest motorbike (and coolest bike helmet) of all time.

Em is back in business. People can now sign waivers.
i.e. If we murder you in cold blood, it's not our fault. Sign here.

Last ditch Internet attempt. Nelson loans us his deactivated Rogers Portable Internet Modem - a savings of $99.95! Rogers reactivates for $50.00 (shameful), and charges $40.00 for the first month. Need more sponsors. Works well for one, we'll see what happens with 90. Hook wireless router up to modem, but it only covers large Bullpen. Team Anykey heeded the call of last night's Hail Mary e-mail, and brought a 300 foot ethernet cable and second wireless router. They run the cable down the hall and hook up their router to the end of it. TOJam finally has Internet access! You can't cook an egg on it, and you wouldn't want to cut a watermelon with it, but you can get e-mail. Experience on par with 56K modem. Win!

Unfortunately, you can't leave 300 feet of Ethernet cable dangling in the hallway. Jerry begins duct taping it to the baseboards. You also can't leave those long extension cords flopping around. Once people start sitting, and things look more permanent, Rob begins taping the cords down. This takes all morning.

People are finding improvised locations for their garbage.
I collect it all and manage to fill 2 bags.

I visit the boardroom to see how the 12 people there are doing. Despite the fact we covered the skylight last night, it's surprisingly bright. Looking up, I realize that's due to the fact the skylight is no longer covered. In fact, all skylights are no longer covered. I send Michael Todd back to the top. Despite the toilet lids, the tarps have blown away (but are still on the roof). We grab more lids, and I tell Jerry we neeed "the swap" - he knows what I mean. Michael mummifies the skylights, and gives them toilet lid shoes. The covered skylight casts the boardroom in an eerie shade of blue, complimenting the orange chairs nicely.


She's turning up the heat... Credit

The heat is on, but we are ready. In the hallway, I open ancient, dangerous windows and point 2 fans toward the round table room (thank goodness it's cold outside, May 1 a genius decision). The breeze is perfect, and the noise is mitigated by the distance. Add fan near the floaters and another at the main entrance. Things circulating nicely. Too nicely. Dead bugs rain down on Em as the new wind dislodges their forgotten carcasses from the ceiling light fixtures. Thank goodness we're married.

In the other hallway, I fan full blast into the vast Bullpen. Half the bulls are in heaven, but the west side studs feel nothing. Luckily, those disenfranchised campesinos have a descending stairwell that leads outside. I open the outside door and place a fan at the bottom of the stairwell (thank goodness I didn't cheap out and buy 20 foot extension cords). The fan doesn't turn on. I triple check the cord and try a different socket. Nada. I try a different fan... Bingo! Windows troubleshooting skills payoff yet again!

Unexpectedly, a brown cloud of dirt and sawdust is born, growing in size and power as it ascends the staircase. At the top, Team Sushi is greeted by real life particle effects. Incredible and disgusting! I turn the fan off and spend the next hour sweeping the stairwell. Thankfully, last year's dead mouse is nowhere to be found. Win! I turn the fan on and we're back in business. The only nagging issue is zombie mice. Alas, the stairwell amplifies the noise of the fan - after 15 minutes we're forced to turn it off. The wind from outside is enough to compensate. It's like Mom always says, "What's bad for the tarps is good for the stairwell."

It was finally time to setup my machine. It worked immediately and without incident. That's never happened before. I now expect it to explode, severely injuring me.

Find David Y. making coffee - now that's initiative. Could really use one. I thank him for bringing his coffee maker. It's not his... he found it here, used coffee grounds still intact. I suppress gag reflex (estimate grounds would be at least 6 months old). David threw out the grounds and is running a third full cycle of water to clean the coffee maker. The carafe fills with brownish water once again, similar to the leaky roof rain we collected. Connection? We hide the coffee maker, and never speak of it again.

Jammers are asking about recycling. Curse me for a fool! Totally forgot. Luckily, guerilla recycling is occurring all over. i.e. Every empty ledge has litter that can be recycled. I find a gross cardboard box and line it with a garbage bag. Attach a huge "recycling" sign. Jammers still prefer ledges.

At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, I should mention that some game makers are indeed partial to comics. At least 10 Jammers are fans of the legendary Scott Pilgrim comic. As a result, Miguel is able to identify Pilgrim's trademark coat on an actor outside...

TOJam Scoop!
They're filming part of the new Scott Pilgrim Movie on Eastern Avenue! The comic takes place in Toronto, so they're keeping it real. I no longer mind risking my life exiting the warehouse parking lot (you can't see a thing thanks to all those movie trucks). Note: Is anyone else bothered by the fact Wikipedia has entries for comics?

Once people were seated, we noticed that there was no easy access to the fridge or microwave. While Jammers are a skinny lot, many are sitting in obese chairs. We are forced to rearrange Tetris pieces around an immovable breakfast island, which forces us to shift half the bullpen (endangering many computers), which forces us to untape and retape several extension cords. This took hours and left me tired and hungry.

I trip over the only power bar that is not taped down.
It's like a traffic jam, when you're already late.
At a nearby table, Jammers with laptops don't notice.
Jammers without... notice.

The non-Michael Jordan factor.
Suddenly realize that Jordan has not yet arrived. We need to add another person to Team High Five's table! There was simply no room, yet they steadfastly refuse to let him sit elsewhere. Team High Five assures me they'll make Jordan fit, and that he'll damn well like it. Interesting approach that defies reality. Problem solved!

Mighty Benjamin Rivers informs us that he's not feeling well. Given the recent swine flu outbreak, and the accompanying hysteria, feels it would be proper to leave. He doesn't want to worry those around him, and will continue to work on his game at home instead. Benjamin is a class act all the way. We wish him good luck, and wave his dead swine flu ass goodbye.


Teh remains of teh day Credit

Polly arrives and I explain my game concept to her. "You can zoom the world in & out (like Google maps), but you stay the same size." She likes the idea, then I explain my massive technical limitations (brought about by VB6.0). She suggests a boat & iceberg theme, which fits the constraints. Polly is a genius, and begins drawing the boat.

I'm located at the entrance alongside Em, Jerry and Polly. Since all physical space is claimed, we become the default social hub. Last night, before containing the light brownish yellow deluge in a jug, the roof leaked onto an office chair near the entrance. The cushion became a giant tampon, with no visual indication that it's wet. People keep trying to sit in this trap - we keep stopping them. Should really move it...

The water stops working. No taps and no toilets. Doubly unfortunate since most people just finished eating supper. Wasted the last flushes proving the water didn't work. After several phone calls, discover that the government has decided that this is the perfect time to repair the extra toilets that have been broken for the last 6 months. Jerry tracks down the plumber who assures Jerry the water will return in 15 minutes. 90 minutes later we still have no water. The good news is Jerry has been re-assured 2 more times. Can we have a TOJam without toilets?

Jerry's friends are bringing him Whoppers from Burger King. He's been waiting 3 hours. During that time my salad arrived from Dangerous Dan's. I'm incredibly hungry and just about to eat when...

Expedition 2: Relief
Two bursting bladders need a ride to the nearest washroom. I bring them to the McDonald's at the corner of Front & Jarvis. They were forced to buy something - does McDonald's sell Depends? Right when we believed that the plumber had left, and the water was never coming back, the water came back. Life has a funny way, of helping you out... helping you out.

While eating my salad Jerry's stone cold whoppers finally arrive.
Famished, he eats them that way.

It's 8:00! I deliver the official "TOJam #4 Launch Speech" and awaaay we go. 95% of the people are here, and all guns are a-blazing. Lynch arrives and I begin gathering teams for portraits. Previous years have proven that it's best to take the pictures now. Lynch and I attempt to use the Men's broken washroom as a backdrop, alas it's physically not possible.

Someone asks me how my game is coming...

Jerry agrees to stay all night while Rob, Em & I head home to sleep. Sucker!
Before leaving, I pile up the ever increasing garbage at the front door.
We'll deal with that tomorrow.

Jerry deals with garbage!
A Brown surprise!

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