DonAithnen (donaithnen) wrote,

BayCon 2013

So it's a couple weeks late, but here's my post about my adventures at BayCon, or at least as best as i've been able to scrape together from my progressively degenerating memory since the event.

I originally intended to leave for BayCon around 2 or 3 am. But then i decided i should do laundry first and was planning to leave around 4 am, but then as usual i ran a little late and left around 5. Hit Del Taco first thing and was on the road at 5:15. I didn't really feel like stopping at any point so i made it to BayCon right around 10:15.

Day 1:

Since i frequently do what i'm told and one or two people had expressed the opinion that "duh!" a utilikilt is obviously the right choice of attire for BayCon i switched out of my shorts, and also ditched the Abney Park shirt, which had gotten kind of sweaty during the drive up, for the "My God, It's Full of Stars!" Mario shirt.

The first thing i did after registering was go to a Vorkosigan panel. Then i stoped by the info desk to see if there were any spots left in the Bujold kaffeeklattsch which i'd just found out about. It was scheduled for 9am on sunday so the sign-up was supposed to start at 9am saturday, so i figured it had probably been all full up for awhile.

When i got there however i discovered that the kaffeklatsch, and thus the opening of the sign-in sheet, had been rescheduled for 4pm!

So i went off to kill some time and wandered through the dealer's hall. I stopped by the chainmail booth to admire their wares, and it turns out it was the same booth that had been there two or three years ago, because the girl there looked at me, looked at my left wrist, and exclaimed about having sold me that bracelet 2-3 years ago. She then looked at my right wrist, which was in the brace, and exclaimed "oh no! did they have to cut it off?" I experienced a brief moment of confusion thinking "What? Huh? No, my hand is still attached." before realizing that she not only remembered that i'd had another bracelet on that wrist, but that it had been "permanently" attached.

I confirmed that was more or less what had happened and that i was considering getting getting some clasps for when i was able to put it back on again she offered to sell me some of the solid stainless steel clasps they imported from somewhere in Europe and a couple extra rings to close up the gap if necessary, which was very nice of her. (Apparently getting clasps that are actually _solid_ stainless steel is difficult in the US.)

After that i went to the Lois McMaster Bujold Q&A session, which apparently is going to be published as part of a future Sword & Laser podcast.

That ended about 3:30, and at 4:00 she was scheduled to do autographs in the dealers room. I was hoping that most of the other fans wouldn't have noticed the kaffeklatsch sign-up time and would rush off to that instead. I on the other hand rushed off to the info desk and started hovering about, and immediately noticed someone else that i'd seen at the Q&A session. Hmmm, wonder what she's hanging around for? =P

Finally around 3:50 some inquired about the state of the kaffeklatsch line, and when told that there wasn't one yet said that she was starting one, which of course caused an immediate coalescence of four other people, including me. Ten minutes later no one else had shown up to join the line and they opened up the sign-in sheet, only to reveal that there were four names already on it! ...the names of everyone who was waiting in line except for me. The other four had all shown up bright and early at 9am (that's bright and early for a con at least) before the change in schedule was announced, and the person running the info desk at the time had felt bad about them showing up for nothing, so he'd gone ahead and put their names on the new sheet before it was even revealed. I have no idea how fair or not that was, but since it meant i ended up in spot #5 (of ten) i really didn't care that much.

After that of course i joined the tail end of the Bujold signing line. It probably shouldn't be much of a surprise that the signing line had a much higher percentage of females in it than the convention at large :) I got through the line, got two books signed, then waited awhile longer until the line dwindled down and then got back in it to get two more books signed. As usual it's too bad that a lot of the more recent stuff of her's that i've read has been on Audible or Baen ebook, which makes it rather difficult to sign. However i did have a few things, including the copy of A Civil Campaign that i was reading to shelleycat while she was in the hospital.

After that i spent some time wandering around before swinging by the Masquerade. As usual it was pretty pathetic. (I can't remember if i've seen a decent masquerade at anywhere other than Anime Expo and DragonCon.) A lot of the categories had only one person competing in them. It's rather sad because even though this year had lower hall costume density than normal, there were still a large number of good costumes around that weren't in the masquerade, and the barrier to entry at such a relatively small con is pretty darn low. In fact at this point i'm pretty sure the bar is "show up an hour ahead of time and say you want in."

After that i went upstairs to check out the parties there were a couple good ones. I went by the BDSM party for a bit, which was interesting, then moved over to the Klingon's Black Hole party. I'd been considering entering myself in the Klingon charity slave auction for a number of years, but was always too embarrassed to do it before because i was afraid of total rejection. This year however there were two things that were making me reconsider that. A: Avalyn. Even if no one at the con was interested in buying me, Avalyn would still want me. And B: the population at the con seemed lower than normal that year, which might mean a lower number of bidders, but might mean a lower number of slaves up for auction.

So i intentionally had two of the stronger sounding drinks at the Klingon bar (i believe they were the "Warp Core" and the "Revenge" (is a drink best served cold!)) shortly before heading down to the auction room with everyone else. I loitered around the edges for a bit until the second or third time they were calling for slaves, and when i checked there were only about a half dozen people in line, only one of whom was a guy. So i reluctantly added myself to the queue.

When i got up to the front of the line there was a scary moment where no one was bidding anything, but eventually two girls started bidding on me and i was bought at $30. Which made me the lowest selling male of the night (one other guy showed up after i'd already committed myself) but at least i sold! (I think the experience has reinforced the idea that if someone gets up there and isn't getting bid on the value to their ego in making even a minimal bid is probably greater than the uncomfortableness i feel about bidding on people.)

So i spent the next hour or two following my "owner" around. Apparently the main reason she bought a slave was so she could tell her friends "look! i've got a slave!" We went to a couple of parties, including back to the Klingon bar, then down to the game room where we ran into her husband (who had bought one slave, who then bought a slave of her own, and then ended up with a third slave i'm not quite sure how) and then we all moved out to the courtyard area to chat.

When i was released i went to check on the Eye of Argon reading, and it was _packed_! Which is a good thing, but between there not being a lot of room for an extra person and not seeing the people i enjoyed reading it with last time, i decided to bail. I went back to the courtyard to chat with people a bit more, then went over to the dance. The dance was pretty anemic. There were about a half dozen people there, and after i got to dance to three or four songs they shut it down =P I didn't actually keep notes of past years, but i could have sworn they were open past 1am before.

I went back up to the party floor and things were starting to die down there as well. Finally around 1:45 or 2 i headed back downstairs and found my way to the gaming room. There was a Cards Against Humanity game going on and i joined that for awhile before deciding at 3:30 am that i really needed to get some sleep. So i went out to my car and dozed until 8 or 8:30. (I'd checked at the front desk a couple times to see if they had a spare room, but this was the first time they'd ever been sold out and not had any last minute cancellations.)

Day 2:

I spent awhile wandering about and people watching before getting really started on the day. Also some time letting my phone charge. In addition to the regular wall sockets the hotel had also added a special phone charging station. It's a box with a credit card reader and a stack of six or seven glass doors. You don't get charged, but your credit card acts as your ID. You swipe it, indicate what kind of phone you have, and an appropriate door pops open with chargers behind it. You plug in your phone and close the door and walk away. It's a neat idea, the one problem is that the entire device is plugged into a single standard wall socket, which means several phones plus the electronics for the machine itself are all running off the same current. The charge rate was abysmally slow, with the only advantage being that you could leave your phone there and go off and do something else. I used it a couple times, but also took advantage of free wall plugs when i could find them and had time to kill.

While i was doing all this i ran into the other person who tried to buy me the night before and chatted with her for a bit. Then i went to stroll about dealers room for a bit and at 11 i went to the "themed reading" panel to listen to a bunch of authors read some of their own works. I cut out of the panel slightly early so i could go to the local In-n-Out for lunch.

When i got there i discovered that the place was packed. Which wasn't really that surprising given that it was lunch time near a convention center. What was a little weird that there were tons of people from the Christian convention going on in the other part of the hotel (that's at least the third time we've had a religious convention next to us, though last year it was a ...Persian convention instead?) and as far as i could tell no one from BayCon.

After lunch i took a brief nap in my car, then went to the Lois McMaster Bujold Kafeeklatsch. These things are always Bring Your Own Coffee/Caffeine, so i brought along a can of Monster, just to fit in :)

There were lots of interesting bits from the Kaffeklatsch. I actually have a semi-audible recording of it that i'm not planning on making publicly available, but if anyone i know is interested i'd be happy to share.

(On review, i've to to say A: I talk too loud (though part of that is just the location of my phone) B: I talk too much, and B: I stutter (or at least repeat words) way too much =P)

The Kaafeklatsch lasted until just about 6:30 Afterward i killed some time wandering about and people watching and stuff. Finally around 8 i said "screw it" and ended up getting a room for the night. I was only planning on getting a couple hours of sleep, but i was starting to feel too grimey to be comfortable. So i went up and showered and then headed off to the parties.

Things were much more sparse that night. I went by the Leather Tea Party, but that was pretty quiet, there was one party that was serving pretty good drinks and seemed to be the only one with a crowd so i stopped there for a little bit. They had rum & coke, strawberry margarita, pina colada, and something else i'm forgetting. The guy serving drinks also mentioned a "creamcicle" or something like that, which was a strawberry margarita with a little bit of pina colada mixed in, so i tried that, and it came out pretty good, although the farther down the drink i got the stronger the strawberry flavor got. As in _really_ strong, almost sickeningly sweet (though i like sweet stuff, so perhaps for other people it _was_ sickeningly sweet.)

I ran into one of the other slaves from the night before and stopped to chat with her a bit about how things had gone and talked with other people awhile. When i went back for a second drink the strawberry margarita was almost gone but there was plenty of pina colada left, so i suggested he try the opposite of the creamcicle, pina colada with a dash of the strawberry margarita, which given the strength of the strawberry flavor turned out _very_ well.

After awhile more i decided to go downstairs to see if there was a dance since things were pretty calm on the party floor. There was no dance, and by the time i made it back up things were slowing down even more. I went over to the party that had good music playing but it was almost empty. There were four or five people talking and no one dancing. I went in and danced for a bit, and someone else joined me briefly. But after a song or two they wandered off and then most of the people who were talking wandered off and it was down to me and the guy whose party it was and one other person who were talking to each other. I felt a bit silly dancing under those circumstances, so i joined the conversation instead.

It turned into a rather long and very interesting conversation about what ails BayCon and about con parties in general, and i shall detail it in another post.

Eventually some more people came in and the conversation turned to Star Trek and what people thought about the new movie, and segued into Star Wars and how people thought the new ones were going to do, and finally at 2am the person whose room it was apologized and said he was getting tired and the party was closing down. So at least if the party floor was something of a disappointment sunday night, at least it was definitely geeky :)

I briefly wandered back to the party that had had the good drinks (at this point all the parties were supposed to keep things fairly quiet, so the few that still had people had the doors cracked open) where they were watching a silly movie on BayCon TV. I hadn't even realized until that night that there _was_ a BayCon TV. A couple hours earlier it had been showing Firefly: The Musical, or some such thing.

After a few minutes of that i decided to go down and check what was going on in the game room. And of course what was going on was Cards Against Humanity. I spent an hour or two playing that before deciding to head to bed around 4am.

I slept until around 8, packed up and checked out around 9, and left about 9:30. Well, i stopped and got gas and a (disappointing) breakfast at Taco Bell. (Stupid SF with its no Del Tacos!)

I actually ended up driving down rather slow because i made plans with Avalyn to meet up at her place at 4pm, and if i'd driven down at my usual rate i'd have gotten there too early. So i tried to keep it to a _relatively_ sedate pace. I ended up maintaining about a 50mpg average overall, even with the trip over the pass, and still got to her place just after 3:30.
Tags: cons, conventions

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