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Not an auspicious opening day

But first, the morning was good, Hgl was 118, I woke up only a little before the alarm, and this time found the hotel's free breakfast buffet, which is HUGE. My only regret was mistaking egg salad for scrambled eggs.** Juice was a techie adventure. There is what appears to be a plain water spout, with no physical on/off dial. To its left is a tablet displaying images of 4 flutes with colors and labels. Touch the orange flute and orange juice comes out of the spout. Watched some geek-FAIL as an image was pushed but no glass had been placed beneath the spout.

**I take that back. I should have left the bacon on the greasy serving tray. It came back to get me later.

Getting to the con is a straight shot on the #9 tram across the street from the hotel, but there is no ticket machine there,so I walked a block downhill to a ticket machine and 3 blocks back up. #9 schedule says every 11 minutes, but it is more like every 6, and sometimes several arrive in a row. After about 10 stops, the driver announced something in Finnish and Swedish, and people get off the tram and hang round outside. Then a passenger translates into English - something wrong with the tram or its schedule, get off and take the next one. And the next one was right there, empty, waiting for ours to get out of its way.

The rest of the trip was uneventful.

The people stationed at the front entry to registration had no idea there was a special line for participants, but there were only 3 people ahead of me and 6 registration volunteers, so the regular line was fine. But the volunteer had no idea where I should get my participant gear, so I stood in line at the participants registration which was the next line to the left, for 15 minutes. One volunteer, 8 people ahead of me. Only to be told to go to that table on the other side of the entrance hall, where they found my "howeird" name sign and panel schedule filed a couple of clicks after Kevin Standlee's. They explained that no matter the badge name, the paperwork was printed in legal surname order.

So I got a ribbon, a name card and a list of my two panels.

Did a lot of walking, finding the location of the of the Green Room was a challenge, Thursday's panel location was easy, the signs pointed right to it via stairs, the elevator was hidden down the hall and around a corner. Friday's workshop locale I did not find, following the signs got me downstairs to food row, so I bought a soda and sat down and checked my email. Message from the moderator of Friday's panel to call her on WhatsApp, which I did, and she invited me to the coffee shop upstairs where I met her brother and her husband. She is delightful, and we chatted for about half an hour. I don't think she saw that when I got up I was very unstable - major hit of low BP, which happens as a side effect of diabetes. It passed in a few seconds, but not as few as normal.

Tried to attend the first panel on my hit list, but 15 minutes before start time the room was full (sign on the door, reinforced by security person at the door). Next panel was in the now-empty room next door in an hour, I could have grabbed a seat and waited, but it seemed insane so I walked around a bit, but again when I got back half an hour before start time the hallway was packed with people lined/mobbed up to get in.

No traffic control at all, hallways were thoroughly blocked.

Half an hour before the opening ceremonies I found a seat, and the room filled rapidly. One of the minions announced that if you were expecting the opening ceremonies, you were in the wrong room, people laughed, I thought she was joking, but no, this was a panel by two physicist sci-fi authors on scientifically ridiculous ideas in books, tv and movies. It should have been a fun panel, but it was meh. And there was no escape, because they laid out the room with the panelists right by the door. Con FAIL is there were only doors on one side of the room, in a double-wide room. And Convention Center FAIL for putting room 103 across the building from 101 but making the signs look like they are together.

So I missed the one event I had on my calendar. :-(

It took a while to find the art show, and longer to find the digital display. My name was listed on the guide but not the photos. And the display was powered up but there was no USB drive plugged in.

By now it is time to look up the tram connections to the Ghost walk tour. It was not hard, take 7B one stop, switch to 7A the opposite direction, then transfer to #4. 7B became 7A after 1 stop, but we had to get off and back on and re-tag. It was a long trip - about an hour. The meetup page said we were looking for a Best Western, but the signage was all local, the hotel is owned by BW, but not branded as them.

It's a former prison, and the hotel has kept it mostly intact. Room doors are solid cell doors with keycard locks. Downstairs past the restaurant is a kept as-is isolation cell.

The tour started out okay, but quickly turned to partial FAIL as the tour guide left me and one other person behind, and we had to hunt to find the other stairs we had missed. There were some interesting stories, but the guide walked too fast, did not stop much to keep us together, and was totally blind to the photographic nature of a tour like this. I took a lot of photos, but would have taken 4x as many if I wasn't stumbling to keep from being completely left behind. An older man on the tour bailed about halfway and grabbed a tram home. I was tempted to join him, but it was the wrong tram for me. We did go by a lot of places which deserve a closer look later.

At the end of the tour we had walked so far that I was only 3 blocks from my hotel!

Instead of going back to my room, I went to the plaza behind the hotel, had dinner at a place called Memphis. Salmon and crawfish with sweet potato fries, Berry iced tea,"mud cake" for dessert. The crawfish was just the claw meat, previously frozen and still cold. The salmon was among the best I ever had. Braised and delicately spiced. Not a fan of sweet potato anything, but these were okay, especially with the cocktail sauce which had been meant for the crawfish. The tea was interesting, the mud cake was not a mud pie, it was a very small square of very chocolate brownie with a very small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and a sprig of mint. Good, but not as good as a mud pie.

Back to the hotel via the stairs in back instead going around to the front and climbing the hill. Turned out to be longer because the stairs placed me around the corner from the front door. But first, purchased two bottles of Mountain Dew (Coke here tastes off) and a chocolate bar - last night I remembered I have no emergency sugar in the room.

Plans for tomorrow:
Drop off laundry before 9
Breakfast around 9
Take my time getting to the con. Not expecting to get to any panels except the one I'm in
Check to see if the digital art is up in the art show
Meet my co-panelists in the green room around 15:30
Panel 16:00-17:00
Maybe stick around for the parties
Bring laptop & USB cable, copy some photos, Photoshop them and upload to Flickr (free wifi at the con) (?)


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March 2018


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