Also, although it was 400 very smart people, almost none of them are able to find their way out of a paper bag, which leads to a LOT of frankly baffling questions. Like: "Should I eat lunch before or after I put my suitcase on the bus?" Dude! You pick! Are you hungry now? Do you want to stop dragging your suitcase around? Both options are fine!
Overall, it was awesome. The Mount Washington Resort is fantastically beautiful, and the staff was unmatched by any other venue I've ever worked with, and the agenda worked super well, and our attendees were, in general, well-behaved, even if clueless.
On the other hand, we had a handful of prima donnas who threw dramatics over minor and soluble issues, which was a definite downside. My favorite was the fellow who, outraged, insisted he was going to fly home to California if he was going to have to share a bathroom. (Some of our guests were staying in townhouses with some shared bathrooms.)
But the highlight for me was that it was kind of a victory lap for me. This is the event I've run every year in my role as "Minister of Fun" at athena, and this group is sort of my "home base" group at the company. I was given pretty free rein to institute a number of programs that made their lives at work better and more fun, so they really like me a lot, and they're geeks, so of course I love them.
They surprised me with a thank you ceremony that involved a giant cake reading "So long and thanks for all the fish", and a set of gifts that included a fancy pair of noise-canceling headphones, a set of five gorgeous metal dice, a Star Trek sushi-making kit, an 8-bit mug, a useless box, a plastic crown and scepter, a velvet cape, and ... a drone. Oh! And an air cannon. And a truly absurdly decadent donut covered in frosting. And they said a lot of nice things about me. It was incredibly heartwarming and affirming.
Later, I sang karaoke by myself for the first time ever ("You Don't Mess Around with Jim" by Jim Croce -- with thanks to regyt for the suggestion), because I realized I was there with a group of people I truly didn't mind making a fool of myself in front of, and one of my colleagues told me she hopes her 8 year old daughter grows up to be like me, and another one told me that I make everything I touch better.
So, that was all super nice, and really well-timed, because outside of work, things are pretty sad and hard for me right now, but I have a lot of good friends, and my family is awesome, so I think I'll get through.