It is the weekend after BLFC. As seems to be usual for me I am just starting to feel the first signs of impending con crud in the back of my throat. I am lucky in a way. I rarely seem to get sick at the convention (with the exception of the most recent MFF, where I’d caught a cold already and likely gave it to my roommate, sorry hon). I instead tend to start picking something up shortly afterwards. Anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s start back at the beginning.
This year I decided to try flying to the convention. I like to make plans early and months out nobody could give me a firm answer on what date they would be driving up so, to avoid the possibility of driving on my own, I reserved a seat on Alaska Airlines. The flight from San Jose is only about 50 minutes and not particularly busy so they’re flying the Bombardier Q400. This was my first time riding a turboprop and I was expecting it to feel like a small plane. In fact it didn’t feel particularly different from a jet aside from the slightly different engine noise. The ride was very smooth and takeoff was a lot faster than a larger aircraft.
Coming out of the gate onto the tarmac is a fun experience for a transportation nerd like me. Most airports have their gates on the second floor of the terminal so it’s a long way down to reach a tiny plane like this. In the picture above, taken after landing in Reno, you can see the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in the background under the wing. I immediately texted my friend, “Hey, I can see the con from here!”
Those who know me are likely aware that for the last 5 years I’ve been working in the Programming department for Further Confusion, usually as an executive lead. That position is a lot of pre-con prep work plus I’m usually running around all weekend making sure everything is going smoothly. Given that I consider FC to be my chance to give back to the community I use other conventions as an opportunity to chill out and enjoy myself. The thing is though that without something to do I tend to get bored and I’m somewhat addicted to helping out so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to help out the Registration lead with the Thursday rush. She’s a friend after all.
This kind of work is really perfect because I needed to do no prep whatsoever. I ended up working at the at-con registration booth from about 11am until 6pm. There were a lot of people coming through but we managed to get the line taken care of and it was never particularly frantic or stressful.
BLFC is using a style of badges that FC started using this year as well. Instead of a credit card sized plastic card that must be printed by a special card printer the badge material is pre-printed with one of a few badge designs. The attendee information is then printed on a transparent plastic label that is applied to a blank badge. For pre-registered attendees the labels can be printed on mass using full-sized sheets of labels in a laser printer and the badges assembled ahead of time. At-con a badge can be printed using a small label printer. The label printers are more reliable than the card printers and while this system is substantially cheaper it still has a very professional look.
I helped the FC registration lead put together some of the scripts used to print labels and I was really glad to see that BLFC had further automated the system. As a cashier I made hundreds of badges and it was incredibly easy to do. Still, at the end of the day I was tired and it was time to go and enjoy the rest of my con.
I have a chronic problem with socializing at conventions. There are so many people around that I can easily wander around without running into anyone I know and I’m too introverted to randomly introduce myself to strangers. I have to watch out because this can very quickly put me in a sour mood. At BLFC this year the problem was exacerbated by the incredibly poor cellular and WiFi connectivity in the venue. In previous years the hotel WiFi has made up for the weak cellular signal in the lower levels but this time it actually made things worse because even though I could connect to the access point I still couldn’t get any messages through.
This is a good opportunity to plug the utility of amateur radio in this kinds of situations. I brought a bunch of radios unfortunately the folks who also had them were too busy to be monitoring the con frequency and the folks I was looking for weren’t licensed. If it’s connectivity is going to be this bad next year I’m definitely going push more friends to be on radio.
I’m not going to dwell on the down moments though. In between bouts of wondering where everybody was I got the chance to meet some great new people as well as speak face to face with folks I’d only met online. I think I went into the weekend with really high expectations and when compared against that perhaps it didn’t measure up but there was also plenty of the unexpected so I’m going to focus on that.
Finally, I really have to thank the attendees who put together room parties. It can be as much work as planning your own convention within the convention. It seemed that people had really pulled out all the stops this year and this was what really saved the social experience at this convention.
Over all I didn’t take as many photos at this convention as I have at conventions past (aside from FC 2017 where I took exactly none due to staff work and forgetting my SD card at home). I think that after 7 years of conventions (FC 2010 was my first) I’m starting to be less interested in fursuits as subjects. The other issue is that the lighting in the GSR is very dark so it can be very challenging. I brought an off-camera flash as usual but still for whatever reason I wasn’t really feeling it this year so I only took about 100 exposures.
For this convention I did however, decide to try out something new and post my photos on Imgur. This seems a little more social-media friendly than Flickr and doesn’t require a Yahoo account, something I’ve been avoiding given their recently security issues. The full album is below. Leave a post in the comments if it doesn’t work properly for you.