Jul. 30th, 2017 08:36 am
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I got back to Louisville late Monday afternoon. I do love being at the farm, but the isolation was starting to get to me. I'm not some kind of super-outgoing social butterfly, but I do like being able to get together with friends for a game or a movie or drinks or whatever on a few minutes' notice, and I was many miles from that opportunity.

I've spent far too much time these past few days reading about the cascade of fuckups around a local convention, FandomFest. I got roped into this hot mess back in 2012 and 2013, and tales of the 2013 debacle still circulate, waiting for a Google search. This year, the con advertised its location as the Fair and Expo Center - up until about two and a half weeks before the con. That's when the actual location was announced - the hastily-named Jefferson Mall Event Center! In other words, the old Macy's space. Then, announced guests started dropping out. About 25 of them, mostly for "personal reasons." Booking agents started popping up to deflect this, making sure that people knew that their clients weren't just blowing things off - in most cases, the con hadn't gotten contracts signed or had failed to arrange flights and hotels and guarantees. In two cases, the con announced the appearance of someone who lives here in Louisville, and those locals opted to not attend after hearing about the goings-on. One of them lives about ten minutes from the event site - I've been to his house - and he still noped outta there. The site itself had problems, including a dead raccoon spotted on the floor a couple of nights before vendor setup began (Ralph the Raccoon quickly became a mascot). The con owners didn't bother to get fire marshal approval until the day before the show. According to the local FD, the con first asked for approval for 30,000 attendees, then 10K. Then they checked with the mall and its formula for occupancy of that space - 4225. The fire marshal eventually approved the space for 1700 people. From what I've heard, they've been in no danger of hitting that number. Vendors have lost big. The con organizers have run off representatives of other shows that were handing out flyers - something that happens at every con. It's just an utter shitshow.

Apple discontinued the iPod Nano and Shuffle last week. The only iPod left now is the Touch, an iPhone 5 without the cellular radio. I do love my Nano, so much so that I think I'm going to buy another one for when this one eventually shuffles off its mortal coil. Yes, I could use my iPhone, and it certainly has more storage space than the Nano, but I am no fan of Apple Music.

SYR's tonight. Four D&D games, two Call of Cthulhu, one Ten Candles. I'm getting a real hankering to play something, in addition to running my Star Wars game ... just not so much at the SYR environment.
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I am home from Origins, having had a darn good time. My passenger was a guy I knew in passing from games down at Pet Shop, and he turned out to be a great guy to have for a long drive. Lots of good easy conversation on the drive to and from Columbus, and we became each others' convention buddy pretty quickly.

Origins is a very different convention experience from GenCon. GenCon can be sometimes draconian in its policies, especially regarding exhibitors, but it's very organized, very effective, very efficient - Shit Gets Done. Origins, on the other hand, plays a lot looser, and feels antiquated in some ways. Where GenCon has a very friendly search engine for events, Origins uses a ginormous spreadsheet that doesn't see any kind of grammar or spelling check, so if a GM registers, say, a Shadorwun game, then that's what goes into the spreadsheet. And the time/date fields aren't standardized, which leads to some messy formatting - in the convention event book provided onsite, games that were scheduled at, say, 3:00PM are under one heading and those scheduled at 3:00:00 appear under another. The print file seems to pull from a weirdly sorted output, as we found headings in an order like Friday 1:00 PM -> Friday 10:00 AM -> 11:00 AM -> 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM. So, that was a mess. And a LOT of our events scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday just didn't show up in the printed event guide. They were in the spreadsheet and whatever form the online guide took, but if you were just looking for a game to get into during that period, you had no indication that something was going on. 

Columbus was mercifully free of the occasional sewer gas smell that plagues downtown Indy, so points to Origins on that front. Our hotel, the Downtown Westin was very nice, if a bit of a hike from the convention center - about 1.25 miles. Sure found plenty of Pokemon candy on those treks! The Pride Parade was on Saturday, running (or strutting, or sashaying) down High Street, and that made for some great entertainment on my way back to the hotel to meet up with Ben P.

I got to spend several hours with Rebecca and Ben that afternoon. Saw their gorgeous house, some parts of Marysville, had excellent brisket for dinner. Some of my favorite folks.

So, games and other stuff. Lots of good times, the good gamers far outnumbered the bad. Ken Hite signed my replacement copy of Trail of Cthulhu, and I got to chat with John Wick for a few minutes. Picked up a 6'x3' mat for X-Wing Epic and Armada games. Saw Ray Forsythe and a couple of Louisville people. Talked with Jim Searcy for a little while.

The Mariner ran very well, if thirstier than I like. Not much to be done there. Some good meals, and good times at them. Met and spent time with some very fun people. It's good to be home, though. The closer I got to Louisville, the more I liked the thought of sleeping in my own bed. There's some laundry to start, and once that's well underway, I'm hitting the sack and hopefully sleeping for at least ten hours.

I think I'd sooner go back to Origins than GenCon, the gripes above considered. Far fewer people, just a different vibe, plenty to recommend it. I think I'd like to try it as a civilian, and probably not for the entire five days - more like a three-day weekend. For someone like me, who is primarily a role-playing gamer, three days of Origins is just about enough. So, we'll see where things are in nine months or so.
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UK won the Lexington regional, UofL beat 'em 2-0 to win the Louisville Super-Regional, and UofL Cardinal Baseball is going to the College World Series! I am thrilled. The first game is Sunday afternoon against Texas A&M - Go Cards!

As prep for Origins, and because I don't want to have to organize player schedules, I started soloing Pandemic Legacy. It's a damned good game, adding changing elements to the already excellent Pandemic. I can see this game becoming damn near unwinnable, but figure there have to be ways to overcome the COdA threat in the game's future. I'm of a mind to try and make a RPG setting out of the world at the campaign's end.

Today was my day for good deeds. Darryl V's raised the funds to replace his Ranger, and found a late-model Escape suitable for Uber/Lyft service. Dude's been dealing with some seriously rough times, and right now, I'm in a position to help out a little. So, got him from his apartment to the dealer, checked things out, all that, and he was able to buy the Escape.

This evening, Cassandra and her boyfriend got free from her conference, and we got together for dinner and catching up and introductions. I played tour guide, showing them some of my city's sights. Ken's a good dude, and they're getting married next summer. She's doubtless my favorite cousin, and we touched on some family history tonight - the uglier parts pertaining to our grandmother and that entire side of the family's ... acceptance or blindness or whatever regarding her abuse and hate and all of her awfulness. We are grandchildren and children of abuse, and we both have ended that cycle in our own ways.

Lighting out for Origins tomorrow afternoon. Lots of Pandemic variants on my on-duty schedule. Planning to meet up with Rebecca and Ben Saturday afternoon, and expect to cross paths with some other folks over the course of the con. Nothing on a shopping list - just going up to play games and see a new con and meet some new good people.
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Those are all either expansions for the excellent Pandemic board game or variants for it. I'm scheduled to host a boatload of Pandemic events at Origins in a couple of weeks, and I'm giving myself a crash course in all things related. I ran some of my Asmodee/FFG teammates through a game of stock Pandemic last night, and soloed a first round of Legacy this morning. I managed a win, with unrest in a few cities due to outbreaks.

I effectively gave up my convention/volunteer wrangling duties with Crafty Games after GenCon 2014. I didn't plan to attend the con at all in 2015, but wound up there for a couple of days when a volunteer flaked and didn't show - a headache I had to deal with a few times myself. Last year, I went for two days and wrecked out my beloved Focus wagon on the drive home. It's been a while since I went to the con for the con; mostly was there to see friends that I only get to see there. And even with Crafty covering my badge and room, it had costs.

Origins has been on my to-do list for a while. I've gotten less and less comfortable with GenCon's size, over 60K the last three years, and I expect this year to get close to 70K because of the 50th anniversary events. Origins saw just under 16K in 2015, and that feels a lot more manageable to me.

Yeah. Looking forward to this. And one of the 2017 cohort asked about going to a con sometime, and I figure something like Archon should be a good one for him.
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Still waiting on two grades to post. I expect Dr. Wilson is going to get message-bombed today.

The first of us has left Louisville. Marc moved back to Columbus Friday evening. Stephen and I helped him load up his truck. Marc's a good dude. One of the best in our cohort.

Also on Friday, we got the Star Wars game back underway. Things went pretty well, but problem player appeared and behaved in the manner that led to him getting the boot in the first place. Whatever. The PCs captured a Sith-influenced petty dictator and recovered parts of a holocron. We laughed, we had a good time, all was well. Next up, going to give one of the players his chance to visit Hoth before Echo Base is established.

Went to Liberty Saturday morning, planning to stay until Sunday night. Got super restless Saturday evening and went back to Louisville. Detoured through Lexington and picked up some new ships for my Armada collection. Got home, read, called it a night around 2. Not much accomplished on Sunday - reading, some game planning, job-hunting, long overdue cleaning.

This is Derby Week. Got to see one of the balloon races Friday morning - yay for living across the road from the takeoff site. A few events this week, building up to the Great Steamboat Race on Wednesday, Thurby on Thursday, Oaks on Friday, and the race itself on Saturday. And most important, getting out and screwing around until an unholy hour on Saturday night.

Got the Origins orientation e-mail from Joe P this morning. It all feels very familiar. I'm getting excited about this trip.
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One way or another, in about 29 hours, my run at a MPH will be over. Expecting grades to be posted by the end of the week. And there's the fear.

Claimed my Origins shifts. Lots of Pandemic variants for me, and some New Angeles to break the monotony. I've always pitched Crafty's pretty generous comp package when recruiting people for GenCon, but man, it must be nice to have Asmodee's money. For 24 hours on the clock over the five days of the con, I'm getting my room comped, an hourly rate, and parking and mileage reimbursed. That? That ain't bad at all.

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself after tomorrow night. Job search, of course, but I'm going to have free time. I can do nothing for a while and not feel bad about it. I can read more than 15 pages of a non-academic text at a sitting without feeling like I'm blowing things. I can renew the WoW subscription. I can ... play with trains. I can go somewhere for the weekend and not have to lug textbooks with me.


Sweet Christmas, I can feel my shoulders loosening up.
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I'm progressing, just not as quickly as I'd like. After my shift ended yesterday, I worked for a couple of hours in the SPHIS lounge, then played some Imperial Assault, then worked until midnight or so when I got home. Woke up crazy early this morning and went back to SPHIS around 7AM, worked for a couple of hours, then back home when I started losing focus. Power nap. Still focusing on the policy paper, since it has to be more objective than the practicum writeup. I want to be done with the policy paper before going to bed tonight, and if that requires coffee or something stronger, then so be it.

Weather has improved enough for the airshow to happen. I've heard a lot of planes at Bowman in the past couple of hours, and WHAS11 is streaming their coverage. Kinda wish I was there, but, priorities.

Got invited to go to Origins with the FFG delegation, and, fuck it, I'm going. I've wanted to see this con for a few years now. The people who invited me are some of my best friends here in Louisville, and, y'know, life's short. Details to come; I figure I'll be on Star Wars duty of some kind.
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Conglomeration 2017 has come and gone. I spent most of my time at the con in the gaming area, teaching X-Wing and Imperial Assault. Someone ran a Spycraft 1 game! Lots of usual-suspects tables - D&D, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu. I had marked down three games to try to get into, but wound up aborting out of all of them. One D&D game after recognizing the GM's name, and another D&D game and a Star Wars 1st Edition game because I really needed to be home and working on projects.

I wound up working all night, finishing things around 7AM. I didn't need to, but once I was writing, I just didn't feel like stopping. I napped for a few hours before snapping back awake and doing some laundry; starting to flag now, so back to bed before I mow the lawn, a task I'd prefer to be wide awake for.
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ConGlomeration went off pretty well. I had four players for my Friday night game, all enthusiastic and proactive, and they made the game a lot of fun for me. No players for my Saturday game, which was a slight disappointment, but it meant I got to goof around and learn other games - Splendor, 7 Wonders, and Takeneko. Attendance was up from last year, with the Friday night badge count at over 450, and better than 600 on Saturday afternoon. Good news for the convention.

Since it was in the budget, I picked up Lead by Example for Star Wars: Age of Rebellion. Pretty good supplement for the Commander-types.

Very busy week, leading up to finals and the end of the semester. Three group projects, one solo, and two finals. A week from Monday night, my first graduate year will be over, and by May I should be relieved and reinforced or suicidal.
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The plan for last weekend was to skip out for Conglomeration as soon as I left work Friday night. Didn't happen - the final hour of the day made me so incredibly angry that I didn't feel safe making the drive. Wound up going on Saturday afternoon; attendance was low, but still had a good time.

Sunday, I slept in, recovering from the parties of the previous night. Meant to do my taxes, but fell asleep in front of the computer just as I started working.

I'm going to have to drop out of my Wednesday night game. Games are good, company's good, but the smoke is killing me. I'm dealing with a nasty case of respiratory funk right now, relying heavily on the mercies of throat drops.

Tonight was my last CERT class and our drill is in two weeks. It's been a great experience. I've learned a lot and made some new friends. If such a program is offered in your area, I can't recommend it enough.
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It's Opening Night for Major League Baseball. The Yankees are currently up 5-1 over the Red Sox. The season begins for real tomorrow, and there are at least two games I'll be able to listen to during the workday. Should make things go better at 100 Midland.

I've been an utter slug today. Slept late, got in a little WoW time, slept some more. Managed to write a teeny-tiny bit, and while it's a very small step, it felt good.

Moved furniture yesterday - picked up a couch with [ profile] tegyrius  in Louisville for [ profile] elalyr  and him (and he accompanied on this godawful errand run), then down to Liberty to get a bedroom suite from my grandmother's house. It was not uneventful, unfortunately, because of family stuff - Dad threw his obligatory hissyfit when things weren't done just how he thinks they should have; ultimately, that worked out for the best as it kept him out of the way while T and I took care of loading the van. Plenty of stupid on the drive back to my place, though - random pedestrian stepped right off the sidewalk and into the street in front of us, and T reported he had a I-just-shat-myself look on his face when I leaned on the horn and the pedestrian turned to see two tons of Ford Econoline bearing down on him. More troubling (and irritating) was at my apartment, where a herd of small children were riding bikes/tricycles right into the path of every vehicle they could find. This was worth a call to The Local Constabulary, who hopefully came out and rounded up some parents. For those of you out there that do take your parenting duties seriously, thank you. These, though... damn, keep an eye on your crotchfruit. Evolution takes no prisoners.

Conglomeration is next weekend, as well as D's birthday. Hoping for a good time.

Quick hits - Cthulhu Invictus is a pretty good read, if sometimes a little bit sparse, and I'm enjoying the heck out of The Trouble With Islam, by Irshad Manji.


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