CONvergence: An overview – I swear some meatier posts are coming your way!

I know how jealous you all are that I went to CONvergence this past weekend,* and I want to share more about the con with you.

I’ll start off with a run down of my activities. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t use any mind-altering substances (unless you count caffeine, and I use that sparingly) so the late evening events at CONvergence were not particularly interesting to me. My primary interest were the many, many panels. The panels were made up of between 4 and 7 people; usually each panelist shared something and once every panelist had a chance to speak they took audience questions.

I skipped Thursday evening because it was my grandpa’s birthday. I don’t think I missed much, but I was definitely disappointed that I had to miss the early programming on Friday because of work. But, you know, money.

Friday evening after work I lazily made my way over to the hotel, which is 15 minutes on non-freeway roads from my house. I just want to say that I love when I’m familiar with an area and don’t feel stuck on main roads/freeways. A smartphone is not a substitute for this.

After eventually finding registration, which was obscurely located, I discovered my badge aid “Felicia” instead of “Amanda.” No big deal – I bought a discount ticket a few weeks ago and the registration was transferred. Obviously the badge had already been made. The look on the volunteer’s face (who was getting my badge for me) was priceless. He actually said, “I’m not crazy…” It was fun.

Here’s something I don’t recommend: going to a convention alone. I felt mildly awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all grown up and I can handle being on my own (probably better than a lot of people, actually). It simply would have been nice to have someone to people-watch with and make snarky comments to. Yay snark!

I caught the tail end of Ask a Scientist (as billed in the program guide: Brianne Bilyeau, Lori Fischer, Matt Kuchta, Matt Lowry, Miriam Krause, Robert Smith?) where I saw a delightful Doctor Who costume. Unfortunately Mr. Fake Doctor spoke and the illusion broke. His fake British accent was just too fake. It sucked, actually. Even so, he was definitely a David Tenant doppleganger.

After an oddly timed break ostensibly for dinner during which I watched part of Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), I went to Wonder Women of the Whedonverse (some of my favorite panelists of the weekend – Mark Goldberg, Miriam Krause, Tim Liebe, Will Shetterly, Windy Bowlsby) because I love Joss Whedon.

I was slightly surprised at how well I fit in with some of the other attendees. The guest of honor was even Tamora Pierce – I was almost obsessed with her books at one point. Still, I didn’t reveal my secret – that I’ve never seen Star Wars and I’ve only watched part of one of the Lord of the Rings movies. Still, I loved Xena: Warrior Princess as a kid, read some books that fit into the whole sci-fi/fantasy thing, and I love Doctor Who and Joss Whedon though both of those are relatively new interests.

I seem to be babbling. I swear I’m about to wrap this up…

After Whedon, I decided to take notes on the panels for my lovely readers’ sake! That’s right, I was thinking of you. Feel special. I attended The Physiology of Drugs and Alcohol (Bruce Miller, Natalie Reed, PZ Myers, Maggie Koerth Baker, Anne Sauer) on Friday night**. I had planned to attend Evolution and the Female Orgasm, but got stuck in a conversation with the Freethought Blogger who writes Camels With Hammers. Thank goodness his name (Dan Fincke) is on his blog, or I’d be caught having no idea what his name is. People mumble a lot.

After a long conversation, I came to the realization that it was that time of night when everyone who is drinking has become affected by the alcohol. I left to return the next day.

On Saturday I attended (slightly late…) Alien Evolution (PZ Myers, Bug Girl, Emily Finke, Greg Laden, Lori Fischer) at 9:30am followed by Mutants! (PZ Myers, Bug Girl, Greg Laden, Lori Fischer) at 11am (regretted that decision – should’ve attended The Physics of Super Fashion). I skipped a session to go home and eat, then returned for Women in Science and Technology (Amanda Little, Maggie Koerth Baker, Emily Finke, Brianne Bilyeau, Maria Walters, I may be missing someone) followed by The Science of Evolution (Greg Laden, PZ Myers, Bug Girl, Matt Kuchta). The next session was disappointing – I had to decide between three choices: Minnesota Women Filmmakers, Matt Smith continued (Doctor Who), and Ancient Alien Debate. I went to the first of these, but left after 15 minutes. Then I went to Matt Smith, and I was so bored and annoyed after 15 minutes that I went home again. Despite having no interest in the remaining programming on Saturday night, I went back to socialize (gasp!). In a strange turn of events, I actually felt like a conversation queen. It was almost as if people (okay, they were all guys) were lined up to talk to me. I even got asked what my favorite geekdom was. XD

Sunday I woke up to go to Invisible Superheroes (Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, Heina Dadabhoy, Laura Okagaki) followed by the Future of Libraries.

After that I went kayaking because I couldn’t resist the awesome weather after that awful heat wave last week.

Quick take-aways: fuzzy dinosaurs are awesome and real, PZ Myers loves to talk, Rebecca Watson is just as awesome in person as you imagine her to be from what she writes.

*Yes, that’s sarcastic, although some of you may actually be a little envious.

** We already know I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to my weekend activities. Shouldn’t surprise you that I enjoy learning about the physiology of addiction and alcohol use more than I enjoy watching drunk people act, well, drunk.

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