I’ll start out by saying that this is going to be a long, multi-part report. The main reason I write these (and so many of my other “went-here, did-this” entries) is because I find that it’s nice to be able to come back months or years later and revisit these entries and be reminded of what went wrong, what went right, who I spent time with, and what exactly happened. I invite everyone to come along for the ride, but if it’s not your thing, I understand completely.
That having been said, let’s start at the beginning, on Tuesday, shall we?
For obvious reasons I’m afraid I didn’t get much accomplished on Tuesday at work, since my mind was very much on the coming trip. I was able to get away from work at 2 PM. This gave me time to stop at Subway and grab some lunch, then go home and eat before piling part of our luggage into the car and heading to the train station for the 3:13 PM Metra train. Takaza had the rest of the luggage and was going to meet me at O’Hare, having gotten a ride from a co-worker. The train ride was uneventful, and the transfer from the train to the bus to the O’Hare ATS was very simple. I met Dan at the United E-Ticketing baggage check-in in Terminal 1 and we cruised through the security checkpoint.
The flight out was unremarkable, save that on what appeared to be a very full flight, an unoccupied row was available so Dan grabbed the window seat and I grabbed the aisle, thus freeing us both of the packed three-person rows we were in before. We got to Pittsburgh International Airport at about 10:30 PM and after a bit of an extended wait for our luggage, went out to meet the shuttle that Dan had called while we waited. The shuttle (with the World’s Most Surly Driver, who didn’t even make a move to help load our bags into the van) took us over to the La Quinta Pittsburgh Airport. It was…adequate. Definitely a mid-to-lower range La Quinta, but it was only $15 with Dan’s LQ points. We watched a bit of TV then went to sleep at around midnight.
I woke up with a coughing fit (something that was to become standard for the week) at about 6 AM and after about a half-hour of trying to get back to sleep, I got up and showered, then went down to get some breakfast and read the paper. I thought something was a bit odd with the free newspaper the hotel supplied (the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), but it wasn’t until I read the uncritical quote from a Washington Times reporter and saw Mallard Fillmore on the editorial page that I decided I needed to get a real newspaper and walked next door to the Bob Evans and bought a copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I knew I was going into a news black hole (I don’t have time to read a newspaper during a con!) so I figured I’d enjoy it while I could.
I returned to the room to find Dan already up and showered. We packed everything up and took it down to the lobby where Dan had some breakfast while we waited for the shuttle back to the airport at 9:30 AM. Once we got back to the airport (courtesy of our MUCH friendlier and helpful driver), we walked all of 100 feet down the curb to wait for the 28X bus to take us downtown. As we waited we were joined by Mach, which made the ride much more pleasant and a really nice start to our con experience. The bus let us off about three blocks from the Westin, and we had no problems finding it. We were able to check in immediately, which was a very nice surprise. We took our luggage up to the room and I got the clothes put away and shirts and pants hung up while we had the chance.
Once we were fully settled in, it was time to dive into the convention! We stopped by Operations, but except for various staff members filtering in, there wasn’t a lot going on, especially since they hadn’t dispatched the truck to the storage unit yet. We hung out there for a while, and then decided to get some lunch. Unfortunately, we found that downtown Pittsburgh on a holiday (July 4th, in this case) was a ghost town. Nothing was open, and we wound up walking about eight blocks down to Gateway Center before coming on a McDonalds that was open. Any port in a storm, I guess. We had a quick lunch, and then returned to the hotel to find that the troops had been marshaled and dispatched to the storage unit in our absence.
Dan, Kellic, and I worked to get the radios set up, identifying the faulty ones and verifying the programming on all of them. I think we wound up with a couple of duds (like last year) but overall everything seemed OK. I had an excellent discussion with Bigtig about the Anthrocon Registration system, and what he’s done to improve it over the years. I continue to be impressed with the work that he’s done, and I think he has every right to be very proud of the improvements he has made to the system. The proof is how smoothly things went this year as he and his staff registered 2,849 people. Well done!
We took a break from Ops and I went outside and hung out with Datahawk, Emrldgrrl, Artemisfur, Dancingninny, and the rest of the Dekalb crew. We had a lot of fun chatting, watching the crowds coming in, and making snarky comments. After a time, I went back into find that the hordes had come and gone and emptied the truck very quickly into the Operations office. I helped Dan get his office’s equipment sorted out, and then we started to talk about dinner.
We wound up taking orders from most of the Dorsai on site as well as a couple of others and ordering from Ephesus Pizza. Dan and I ordered a chicken alfredo pizza (with bacon!) that was delicious, if a bit salty for my taste. We hung out in Ops for a few hours, helping out here and there and sharing some of our pizza. The fireworks were quite pretty, what little we could see in the gap between the office buildings. Afterwards, we trundled up to bed and watched a bit of TV before sleep claimed us at around midnight.