robotech_master: (Default)
Well, since I last posted about this, there have been Developments.

I spent the last couple of weeks stumping for a carpool to GenCon, and didn't have much luck. One carpooler wanted to leave Wedsday at noon, to get there early for registration. I was barely able to get Thursday and Friday off; I didn't want to try for Wednesday, too.

One carpooler looked promising; I even went down to a game store to meet him. But then one of his passengers decided he wanted to bring his son, and I was bumped off of that ride.

Another one wanted to leave Thursday evening, which was a trifle too late for me; if I'd wanted to do that I'd not have taken Thursday off too.

Meanwhile, all of last week I put in a lot of extra overtime, to make up for the three days I'm going to be on unpaid leave this month (for Archon and GenCon). By the time it was over, I'd worked 16 1/2 extra hours, which nicely filled the gap plus a little more (especially considering the 2 1/2 hours I'd put in a couple weeks earlier).

It's been getting down to crunch time, and I had just about decided to bite the bullet and rent a car; I could have done it for about $200, gas included, if I only rented one-way to get there on Thursday, then one-way to get back on Sunday. But in the nick of time, it turned out my friend's circumstances had changed (in ways that really aren't mine to relate here), and he would be open to carpooling after all.

So, what I'm saying is, I'm going to GenCon! I expect to be leaving at 6 a.m. Thursday morning, hitting Indy a little after noon.

If you want to get in touch with me, email me for my cellphone number, or, during the convention, you can use LJ's interface to send a text message to my cellphone with yours.

If you're going, I hope I'll see you there!
robotech_master: (chop stamp)
Well, about to go to bed for my last night of sleep in my own bed until Monday night. Wow, I'm psyched. In 24 hours, I'll be sitting on board a big grey doggie just about ready to pull out of the doggie-station, and nervously wondering if I'll be able to get any sleep at all on the trip. I'm still undecided as to whether I should take a blanket to go with my travel pillow (on the one hand, it'll just be one more bulky thing to keep track of, I don't know for sure whether I'll need it on the way in, and I definitely won't need it on the way back; on the other hand, it might help me sleep better on the bus). What if I've packed too much stuff? Which bag should I check?

What's more, I have to worry about the Linksys router I'm getting in tomorrow. I need to set it up as soon as I get home, so it will be fully-functional for the trip when I won't be home to reset it, and I'm concerned that the couple of hours I'll have for the task might not be enough. Ah, pre-trip jitters…

At least I've got the latest version of Xjournal on my Wallstreet (well, the latest that will work on OS X 10.2.8, anyway) so I can livejournal from the event if I find a place to plug in and set up. But more likely I'll be using the LJ phone-blogging feature to drop in some audio chats. If I do, it would be nice if someone would transcribe them for me, but I won't hold my breath too hard.

Got a call from a City of Heroes friend (well, actually a pair of them) a couple hours ago, we talked for ten minutes. They're already at the con, were disappointed I wasn't. Oh well. The important stuff from my perspective doesn't happen 'til Friday anyhow. I'll be seeing them then.

Well, time to go get in bed, and dream about forgetting important things on my trip.
robotech_master: (Default)
I love the "exanimate" mood marker. It sends people scurrying for dictionaries to figure out, "Just what the heck kind of mood is exanimate?" And when you drag yourself back home from a long afternoon of biking around in the hot, hot sun, it just seems so applicable.

After work, I bussed down part of the way and biked the rest of the way to the Army Surplus store way way out west of town. I figured that if I wanted a good, sturdy, big backpack for cheap, I would find what I needed there. The back-to-school backpacks offered in Kmart would be too small and shoddy, and the camping backpacks there would be too big and expensive. For what I needed, only something milspec would do.

And they had just what I needed. A big ol' olive-drab cotton canvas knapsack, with backpack shoulder straps that could snap together into a single over-the-shoulder strap, sized to fit plenty of snack food and convention swag, priced at only $18. A polyester belt pouch at $13 was probably less of a bargain, but it had lots of pockets for miscellaneous little gee-gaws (camera, microcassette recorder, dice, etc.) and the main pocket was just the right size to conceal a 20oz water or pop bottle, meaning that I can stay constantly hydrated throughout my con-going experience.

But that wasn't all I found: I also came across a Coca-Cola reusable 35mm fixed-focus-with-flash camera for $6, pre-loaded with film. Given that disposable cameras are about that much for a single use, it was a bargain, albeit a slightly kitschy one. I just need to pick up a few rolls of cheap film for it ere the trip. I also grabbed a pack of travel trash bags for 59 cents, and a little travel first-aid kit in a plastic case for $6. You never know when you might need it at a con, after all. Then I happened across where they were selling Clif and Luna bars, 6-for-$1, marked down from 63 cents each. They only had one flavor of each, but beggars can't be choosers and that's an insanely good price for geek solid-rocket fuel. I grabbed $4 worth (3 of Clif, 1 of Luna).

And finally, there was a USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 baseball cap that I just had to have, for the sheer obscure Robotech fandom in-joke value of it. I wonder just how many people will "get" it?

I was tempted by a few other gimmicks, like the LED flashlights, but I thought better of it; I can get them cheaper from SciPlus when/if I have the disposable income to place an order. I packed it on up, then rode my bike to the nearest bus stop where I waited half an hour to catch the last evening bus to take me most of the way home. (On reflection, I probably would have been here sooner if I'd just biked all the way, but I was overheating enough already.) Then I headed home, turned on the air conditioning and electric fans, shucked out of sweaty clothing, and grabbed a Powerade for some cool-down refreshment.

Whew. What a day. But at least all my running about prepping is by and large complete. Now it just remains to pack and stuff, and wait for the busy day.
robotech_master: (chop stamp)
Been reading some GenCon survival guides (here's one and here's another) as well as an amusing article linked from a Slashdot story. Getting more excited about going, and pondering how I'm going to get around and what I'm going to do while I'm there. Funny as it may seem, I hadn't even thought about getting in on any of the gaming going on. I'd been thinking of going mainly for the Robotech panels, maybe some City of Heroes stuff, and the dealer and anime rooms.

Now I'm wondering…should I take my long cardboard box full of all my Shadowfist cards? I hardly ever get anyone to play it with around here, I might actually find some gaming partners there. Hell, I might actually find the company that makes Shadowfist (whoever that is these days) there. Now if only I could remember how to play it.

My plan had been to pack my clothes and miscellaneous other supplies into a big duffel bag I have, and also carry my laptop computer bag with me. That would make the two items of carry-on I'm allowed by the big grey doggie. But then I got to thinking, maybe I should have a backpack, too, to tote around all the stuff I pick up on the con floor (as well as character work-ups for art commissions, snack food, etc.)? Alas my prior backpack, a Mt. Dew courier bag that I got from a Pepsi promotion a few years back, has gone missing, probably left in a taxi (though when I called the cab company they had no knowledge of it). I guess I'll have to buy another. But if I do that, it will mean that something will have to be checked on the bus. My laptop (which I won't need on the bus, given that the battery is kaput and there's no power plug-ins) or my duffel bag (which was going to contain my reading matter, space for the blanket I might take with me for bus sleeping, and so on)?

Then there's the question of snack food. I hadn't thought about that before reading those GenCon guides, either. Might be time to hit the grocery store again for boxes of granola bars, cheese and crackers, and so on. There are some guides that even recommend bread, peanut butter, and jelly, though I'm not sure where I would keep those given that I'm not going to be in a hotel. I'll probably have to resign myself to nonperishable snackies and a short walk when it comes to mealtimes.

I'm already planning to put my credit cards, driver's license, and some cash in the PDA wallet I carry in a front pocket, and leave my regular wallet packed, to minimize the risk of getting pickpocketed by the criminal element who are drawn to large gatherings of people. But I'm wondering, should I invest in a few travelers' checks too? I had expected to do most of my purchasing by credit/debit card or, if I had to, personal check (note: must remember to pack the checkbook) so I didn't think I'd need them, but on the other hand I don't know whether everyone will take cards or if I might need to withdraw some cash too. In this day of electronic banking, are travelers' checks still all that necessary?

Definitely have to remember to pack the toiletries (particularly deodorant). And probably throw some extra vitamin C pills into the ziplock baggie of vitamins I'm planning to take along. It would suck to come down with something in the middle of the convention.

What else am I forgetting?

Ah, getting ready for a convention is such delightful agony…
robotech_master: (Default)
Well, here I am back at work again, getting ready for the Big Weekend. This weekend was a Big Weekend of another sort, as it was the annual "Tax-Free Weekend" in Missouri and a lot of other states, where states voluntarily forego their chunk of the 6% sales tax in the name of Education, saving a decent chunk of change for back-to-school folks (and people who are not going anywhere near schools but can still use the same stuff). And there were some purchases I'd been needing to make anyway—my numbers of slacks and shorts have been dwindling, and my shoes were just about to fall to pieces around my feet. And there were also some things I needed to buy for trip prep. And Saturday was the only free day when the buses would be running on the schedule that would let me catch a return trip home without having to go 3/4 of the way around town to get there. So Saturday was it.

My Saturday Shopping Experience )

At work this morning, I arranged to get my paycheck this week a day early, so I can deposit it on my way home Thursday and have it officially hit the bank account Friday afternoon. That way I'll have the money in hand in case of emergencies, or in case I see anything I've just Gotta Have at the dealer room.

I've estimated the amount I can afford to spend, and I should be okay as long as I stick with it. It will probably mean passing up a lot of tempting purchases, but on the other hand I'm not really going there to buy stuff anyway. In the worst possible case, I may have to put a couple hundred dollars more on my credit card, but I can pay that off with the next BioKinetic study.

Alas, when I have to worry about conserving my finances, what a time for me to rediscover a company with which I had become acquainted in the past, a company formerly known as JerryCo but now known as SciPlus. A salvage and surplus seller, they had a newsprint catalog full of hundreds of interesting items, each of which was accompanied by a line drawing and a quirky, amusing write-up. I could spend hours reading through the catalog, about electric motors and gears and lenses and things in which I had no interest whatsoever, just to chuckle at the jokes. Their catalog is on the Internet now, but it's still got the line drawings (and color photos for some items) and the quirky write-ups. And there's so much tempting gadgetry and gimmickery there that I could easily have blown $30, $40, $50 or more on the stuff—if I didn't have to worry about the upcoming convention trip. Ah, travel frugality is such sweet sorrow…
robotech_master: (unicorn-dancer)
I just found out: I'm going to be able to make it to GenCon this year!

I didn't think I was going to be able to make it. It was always a theoretical financial possibility, given that my brother lives in Indianapolis so I could avoid hotel fees, but I wasn't sure whether I should really be paying $200 or so in transportation costs plus con fees given how frequently my financial situation swings. But yesterday a friend who works for a company that's going to be presenting there offered me a free pass, and I discovered that if I left Thursday night and returned Monday afternoon, I could get a round-trip bus ticket for $90. Then I just had to get that Friday and Monday off from my boss, which I did…and boom.

I should be pulling into Indy on big grey doggie at about 8:30 on the morning of Friday the 12th. My plan is to walk directly from the bus station to the convention center, which is less than half a mile away, spend the day there until my bro comes to get me. I'll be in town through Monday afternoon, when the big grey doggie takes me back.

I'm going to be carrying my cellphone with me, so I should be contactable that way. I'm chary of giving the number out in public spaces, so if you're going to be there, get with me with an alternate contact method and I'll get it to you. I've gone ahead and paid for a couple months of LiveJournal paid service so I can be texted via their text msg interface, too, and my phone also has AIM and Yahoo on it, though I can't guarantee I'll be signed onto them all the time…

This is gonna be a blast!

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