Orvan has a short post about Penguicon, but will say more once he has the photo gallery in place on the ACME Delivery web site. That could be a week or two. I'll likely have a few more things to say when the photos are up as well. In the meantime, here's my text version of things.
Started early, around 5 AM and jmaynard and I were on the road around 6:15 which was much earlier than last year. After starting later and arriving way later last year, it seemed a Good Idea to try to start early. It was a Good Idea. Fairmont to Troy is still a long day, however, and having to detour around a traffic stoppage on I-94 near Paw Paw, MI only made it that much longer.
We arrived, checked in (this is where I goofed), and waited for a luggage cart. I got tired of waiting and started doing some unloading of the ACME stuff by carrying the parcels in the big yellow ACME bag. When the folks using the luggage cart arrived, we had help loading it and getting it, and what didn't fit on it, up to the room. The mistake? When asked if we wanted second or third floor I replied second, figuring it'd be easier to take the stairs if we were only up one floor. Since I might be doing this in fursuit, it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately second floor was where the Smoking Con Suite was, and they had the door open at almost all times so the hallway was on big smoke gauntlet to run. Third floor, even with an additional flight of stairs, even in suit, would have been better. Hopefully that will not be an issue next year. I am not blaming con or hotel staff. This was an accident or my own slip or mistake. First floor would have been ideal, but I know better than to expect that. It would only be a convenience for me, and there are those who have genuine need.
jmaynard and I went out to breakfast at a Koney Island place that did decent breakfast and not just hot dogs. We wound up eating there for breakfast every day we were in Troy. As the Geeks with Guns folks were gathering, we got ready for the first deliveries of the convention. ESR and Cathy both got deliveries (details when the photo gallery is ready), and then Orvan took Jay's camera back so he wouldn't have to haul that to the range. I wandered around a bit, scouting the hotel to be sure of where things were, and counted the steps in the stairwell so Orvan would know when he was fully up or down.
Jay called to say that the folks from the range were going to have lunch together and I was on my own. The Koney Island place was withing walking distance, so I went there. Unfortunately they don't quite get the Chicago dog right. They didn't have the peppers or the celery salt, so the result was disappointing.
More wandering followed, and I picked up the ribbons that were ordered for Tron Guy and Orvan. Somewhere along the line the order was messed up (I think it happened AFTER it left the Penguicon folks - there were multiple ribbon errors so I suspect a quality control problem at the printer or stamper) and the yellow ribbons that were to have only the text 'ACME' in black had 'ACME Customer' instead. I wound up taking an oversized Sharpie to them to black out the undesired word. The result was ugly and generated questions. I really hope that the supplier fixes that quality control issue.
There were another couple deliveries, mainly to get them done as early as possible. Partly that was to just get them out of the way - the more I have done, the less I have to do. And partly as some items were, I hoped, going to be included on panels that might take place that evening. For example, the ACME Ale was to be delivered well before the beer tasting. I later found that it didn't matter as that wasn't how it was used, and I managed to miss the tasting myself - I thought I was early, but it filled fast and the doors were closed. I don't even know what was sampled. Seems like this is a nice idea, but it doesn't work on the scale Penguicon has has grown to. Right after those deliveries, Orvan wandered the halls offering Cow Tales "Courtesy of ACME" for a while.
Friday night I wound up staying up way later than planned. I meant to get to earlier but kept getting what seemed like innocent invitations ("It's my birthday! Come have a cupcake!") that were innocent enough, but not quite as said. I did have a cupcake. And stayed longer than I had expected. And had some mead. Then more stuff happened. I had never expected to hear a line like, "You look tired. Here, have some rum to wake up." @@@@hhhhhhh... okkay, it was good rum, and I was careful to only have a little, but I doubt it had any stimulant effect. Then I encountered Mad Mike, who can talk for some time and be interesting during that time.
I think it was Friday afternoon that I attended at least part of the 'Chocolate Ritual' which seemed to go on for longer than the joke could endure, or at least longer than I cared to endure the joke. And I came in late, and fortunately unnoticed when I did so. I'm not sure what what hollered at those who arrived late or left early, but there was that aspect as well. It was very much chocolate as (not to really be taken seriously) religion. Or a sendup of One True Way belief systems with chocolate as the centerpiece.
Orvan had a bunch of deliveries that seemed to go fairly rapid-fire in the morning, which was ideal. Unfortunately one delivery was to a room party that I hadn't remembered wouldn't start until 11 PM. Also, there were a few items not acquired that might be delivered. I found out that one or two just didn't pan out and a third was to have been for a guest who had had to cancel at the last minute.
I attended at least part of the "Coffee Ritual" which seemed to be shorter or at least less (quasi-)seriously taken than the chocolate ritual. I've now had "High Octane" coffee - the fully caffeinated coffee made with Water Joe to up the dosage that much more. At one point the group was to face east but being well indoors the direction was not obvious. Everyone faced one direction and there happened to be a board in front of me, so I scrawled 'EAST' on it. I might have also triggered a toast to trimethylxanthine.
Jay and I had the Brazilian beef, which was quite good. Our timing was about perfect, we wound up waiting for only a couple minutes and weren't waiting in the huge line that rapidly formed. A while after that, Orvan went out not in uniform but wearing a regular t-shirt and gave away most of the rest of the candy, but now he carried it in the little basket marked "EAT CANDY, NOT CATTLE" and did get a few folks waiting in line for beef to take some candy. He did get a few comments, and reacted to them... but nobody was truly offended. The one thing I was worried about was someone mistakenly thinking he was a real protester.
Jay and I also attended at least part of cathyr19355's dark chocolate tasting. The buttons that come from someplace in Pennsylvania were quite good, but like ESR I think I preferred the stuff next to them (I forget what it was) that was just a bit more bitter.
As Eric S. Raymond's hot sauce tasting was about to start, he got his second delivery of the con. I won't go into detail here as pictures will be around later and considering what triggered it, it might be better to leave it unexplained. I did another quick change and made it back in time to sample various sauces, including ACME hot sauce. The consensus was that the ACME red sauce was just burn and heat, maybe only suitable for cooking, while the ACME green had flavor and was a reasonably good, though not great, hot sauce.
Later I attended a panel that surprised me when I noticed it on the schedule a few days before Penguicon: Mascot and Fursuit construction. I met the folks behind (or in?) Beastie here. It was a small group, but those who were there were of course interested. The folks running the panel put it (and Beastie?) together rather fast so things weren't quite as they had hoped. As the panel wound down before the allotted time was over and there no more questions, the thing moved a bit. "Is this a runaway panel?" the host asked as we made our way back to the room I was in so folks could get a look at Orvan when he wasn't out delivering.
As the last delivery of the day was late, I did visit the various room parties. Neither Sarah Shefferly nor UHACC were there, but there were others, such as the Ohio Linuxfest folks and more than a few others I don't recall. As Orvan was to show up again, I didn't drink much. I just sampled a Scottish Ale that was good and someone had an espresso Stout that I liked. Even after Orvan made his last delivery there wasn't much in the way of alcohol that seemed of much interest. There was plenty of ethanol to be had, but I think sampling good porters has had an effect: I don't find most other stuff of much interest. I think I might have made a mistake in making that late delivery a "hit & run" where I changed out of suit right away. I might have had more fun had Orvan checked out the various parties for a little while.
Somewhere in the day or evening I managed to give away a 'HUG ME' pin to one of the Free Hugs people, and found a couple Star Trek fans with pierced ears and hand them Star Trek earrings that sistaur had pointed out. I even managed to find someone who wanted the Microsoft and IE pins that I figured would be a joke.
With Saturday being Room Party Night, it was a bit of a surprise that I got to sleep earlier than I had Friday night. I did miss whatever time was Bawls O-clock and so I have yet to sample that stuff, I think. I know the stuff can be ordered, but that's a bit much. Really, one bottle is plenty to sample and then only on those times when I do use caffeine. I suppose some convenience store might have it, but I just don't normally look for the stuff. Right now (Post-Penguicon) I'm trying to only use just enough to avoid any crash or withdrawal nastiness and then be off it again - at least until RCFM.
There was some loud music, but it generally was at a reasonable level. I stayed out of the dance area, which is where most of the noise was. Some moved around in the form of an over-amplified pirate ship that was cruising the halls and "boarding" various room parties. I could get by that fairly quickly most of the time, but the one time I couldn't by fast enough it wasn't the ear that were most offended, but the nose. There was at least one pirate in that outfit that should get more familiar with water and no small amount of soap.
The most memorable music was of course from the "singing" Tesla coils. I saw some of the show from one of the party room balconies and heard it even in the hallway. It got more impressive as it got darker out. It's really quite a sight, and sound, even if the twin coils can only really play two notes at any one time. The Ghostbusters theme in spark worked quite well.
I spent much of Sunday waiting for an item or two that Orvan would deliver just before Closing Ceremonies. While waiting I wandered some and spent some time in the dealers area and picked up a few items. I also talked a bit with mzmadmike and with las (Lucy Snyder) who gave me a signed copy of one of her books as a reply to her ACME delivery Saturday morning.
While waiting for the last delivery item and resting my feet, I sat and talked with the folks from the mascot & fursuit panel. The pirate came up again. A few fursuitters were sitting around discussing how funky that pirate was and what cleaners and disinfectants they'd like to douse him with.
Eventually Closing Ceremonies were nearing and Orvan got ready for that. Aegis had a class going on that jmaynard took part in. The class lasted several hours and also ran long, and Jay didn't have his camera with him there. The result was that he didn't see Closing Ceremonies and even if he had, wouldn't have been able to take any photos of the deliveries that happened as things were about to get started. I have found (and obtained permission to use) a couple images, but am still looking for more since those photos do not show the delivered items. The whole thing did go down quite well, with the only real trouble was that Orvan had a bit of trouble finding the steps to get offstage. There was no fall, as while he was searching, Beastie managed to inform a handler that Orvan needed help and so the steps were found and Orvan's work was done.
I don't recall if it was Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon as I was changing into Orvan that I had the thought, "Why am I doing this? It's a nuisance to get into, it's a pain to get out of, it's hot, it's exhausting..." (that I ought to shed 30 or 40 pounds probably has a lot to do with that thought, I must admit) and then Orvan was there and he did his bit. And when I changed back later it was, "Oh yeah, that's why." The deliveries go well and seem to be appreciated, by the recipients and any audience. Other schtick seems to go over. Orvan gets asked, "Can I hug you?" and "Can I take your picture?" and "Can I have my picture taken with you?" Even the 'bad' things are just folks being humorous. And I might get back to the room huffing and chuffing like a steam engine, and feeling like one about have the boiler run dry, but it just doesn't matter. Physically I might be beat, but that's all. Nothing fluids, electrolytes, and a shower can't take care of pretty quick.
A couple things happened that I noticed. I got sore feet. Orvan doesn't seem to, or at least he doesn't notice. There were a couple gals who seemed disappointed that Orvan didn't happen to have anything for them. And when he was making his way to Closing Ceremonies the sound of success was heard, "We have to follow him." Orvan and ACME had a few co-conspirators and they came up with some really great ideas. Somehow I managed to turn them into tolerable realities. This continually surprises me. I keep thinking, "Gee, I hope this isn't too lame." and either people are being fantastically polite or are just stunned to get anything, or somehow things go far better than I ever expect them to.
Things wound down and Jay & I spent some time in the con suite talking with a few folks, then we made our way to the Aegis.. compound? There, a fire was going and it was very nice cookout. I realized I hadn't been to anything like that for a couple years. It was interesting listening to various folks talk about various things. At one point there was a strange bit of theological allegory being discussed as Cathy Raymond was offering someone some bit of food. She pointed out that as things had just been cast, she had wound up with the role of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and didn't like that. Someone else said it, but I was thinking it too, "Well, you are a lawyer."
Despite our plans to get to sleep early, we didn't leave until quite late. It seemed a long drive back to the hotel, and I didn't bother doing any real packing that night.
Not much to Monday, really. Pack, load, breakfast, go... for a very long time. The place that used to be a Hardee's in Fairmont is now open as an Arby's, we noticed as we drove through town. We got home an hour or more before midnight and even unloaded the car - but didn't really unpack. Checking on e-mail and other things, and in general being used to it, we wound up staying up until about midnight anyway.
I think I'm still feeling the effects of the weekend. I'm still drinking some caffeinated stuff and I might still be feeling it in my feet. RCFM is only a month away, and I get to do some of this all over again. And you know? I'm looking forward to it.