9.10.2011

Back-to-back conventions, part 1

The middle of August was occupied by trips to two convention: WorldCon in Reno and ArmadilloCon in Austin.  I helped run the Art Show in Reno and was in charge of the Art Show in Austin.  These two weeks convinced me to not be in staff or committee roles in two consecutive convention.  It's too hard on my system.

I flew out to Reno on the 16th, on American.  When I made my stop in Dallas, I ran across George and Lee Martindale, also on their way to Reno.  The flight was not nearly as full of con-goers as I expected.

I got in to Reno a little after noon and managed to make it to the Peppermill without too many problems.  I discovered my roommate for most of the convention had already checked in.  It was nice to have someone to split the costs of a room with me.  I don't work on setting up that situation too often.

I made the 1 mile walk to the convention center, got my badge and went in to the art show to see how I could help.  The next 5 days would have the same approximate routine:  Get up, eat, go to the art show, maybe grab some dinner and go to bed.  Occasionally, I'd hit a party or two in the evening.

Dinner on Tuesday, I think, was with members of F.A.C.T at Naan and Kebab, across the street from the Peppermill.  It was a pretty good dinner and good conversation.

In the mornings, I'd wake up and walk about half a mile or so to the Black Bear Diner.  Good food, good prices, and interesting waitresses.  On my last meal there, my waitress commented that on the previous mornings one of the customers had commented on my attire that day.  My trademark con attire is camo pants or shorts with a tie-dye t-shirt.  This convention saw me in that combination only once (I'm running out of tie-dye shirts), but it was the day that was commented on.  The customer questioned the waitress as to whether it was wild attire day or somesuch.  I'm glad my clothes can draw comment even in Reno.

I spent most of my time in the Art Show, seeing how one the size of WorldCon is run.  The nice thing about WorldCon is there are a couple of days of minimal panic.  For a local con, with one and a half or maybe two days of the art show, there's always something going one: set-up, auction, tear down.  The two days of minimal work were great to get to see how their software works.  I was able to come away with a number of ideas for improving my software.

Getting the opportunity to work with Elayne Pelz, Charles Matheny, Mary Jane Jewell, and others whose name I can't recall and did not write down was a real pleasure.  I think we ended up selling about $110K worth of art os, in my book, it was a success.

I ate two evenings at the Irish pub that was across the street from the Atlantis.  The second time was the Sunday night of the convention.  The staff of the restaurant was prepared for their normal Sunday night crowd and had the general manager and two waitresses.  That was not enough for the convention crowd that had invaded them.  I had to tell our waitress to slow down as she was breaking several laws of physics trying to keep up with all of the business.  We left her a good sized tip as we did not think some of the con-goers would tip her well enough.

On Saturday of the con, I realized that my schedule had me leaving Tuesday.  That was over-generous as we would be wrapped up with the art show on sunday.  I attempted to re-arrange my flights, but it would have cost about $700 on American and about $300 on Southwest.  The amount I would save on my room did not make up for the flight cost, so I stayed with my original schedule.

On Monday, after the art show and convention were completely done, I wandered around Reno.  I hit a couple of casinos for decks of cards.  The cards at the Bonanza were cheapest at 0.50 per deck and the ones at Circus Circus the most expensive at $2.50 per deck.

That evening, I wandered down to Aikido of Reno to sit in on a class or two.  They had about 16 people in each of the two classes I watched.  Seeing that sort of attendance amazes me after working in my dojo with 2-4 people on a night.

The flight home Tuesday was uneventful, if late at night.  I arrived home about midnight.  Tired and worn out.

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