Balisage dinner adventure

by Evan Lenz

It's been a couple of weeks, so I've had some time to recover from my whirlwind trip to Montreal. What a great conference! It was great getting to see people I hadn't seen for years and for meeting lots of new and interesting people.

This conference was the first time I've ever been asked to host a dinner (sponsored by MarkLogic) and to "create some fun activity or game." Two words come to mind when I think of myself in this context: introverted and geek. So this was a challenge, but I did my best. Adrenalin definitely helped.

Due to flight delays, unplanned overnight layovers, and passport glitches (don't ask), I arrived straight from the airport at the Kam Fung Chinatown restaurant exactly one hour before our Chinese banquet was to start. I set to work distributing all the numbered place cards, note cards, and envelopes (which I had collated and licked on the airplane). All of this was for a game which I called, for lack of a better name, "How well do you know your table?" (Think the Newlywed Game, except with 10 people instead of two, all of whom you've just met.)

To my great relief, fellow MarkLogicians, John Snelson, Mary Holstege, Jason Hunter, Erik Hennum, and Norm Walsh, all helped orient people on how to play the game. Then the food came. What a menu! I was full halfway through the many-course dinner, which freed me up to MC the rest of the game. Competition was tight, but one table clearly won. Here were the final scores:

  • 44/49
  • 59/64
  • 80/81 (the winners)
  • 63/64
  • 58/64
  • 61/64
  • 91/100
  • 52/64

People were great sports about playing the game, and they seemed to even have some fun too. Either that or they were being very nice to me. :-)

Wish you were there? Check out some photos of the event.


  • It was  great fun!!  Thanks for hosting it and spending so much time designing the game.  My wife and I were sitting with a bunch of folks we hadn't met, and the game definitely helped us to be motivated to get to know them. I'm getting a "private page" error on the Flickr page.
    • Hi Chris, glad you enjoyed it! If I recall correctly, you were at the winning table too, so your work paid off. :-) I changed the Flickr link, so hopefully it works for you now. Let me know if not.