September 4, 2013

Dragon Con II - Saturday

Technically Dragon Con runs from Friday through Monday, but I gotta work, so it’s pretty much Saturday and Sunday for me with a day of recuperation on Monday.

First I booked it out there, found some good nearby parking, then hoofed it up to a good spot to see the always fun Parade.  I took a million pictures to show my daughter but I won’t post them here.  There are many places online to see professional shots of the parade.  And even those won’t do justice to the controlled chaos of it all.  They also won’t come close to how freaking hot it was.  So glad I had some bottled water in my pack because once that parade starts, you’re trapped.  There’s no easy way to just turn and walk away.  You have to wait until the entire mass of humanity starts moving as one big blob and spreading out among the hotels and other venues around the area.  I went down to the Sheraton to check in and get my badge.  This was when I realized this Dragon Con was going to be different.  Usually most people have already picked up their badges so after the parade it’s pretty easy to just walk up and get mine.  No this time.  This time they directed me to walk all the way around the Sheraton and come back in through the front and there was a long (although admittedly quick-moving line) to get my badge.

The Hilton is my headquarters because of the Science and Skeptic tracks, so I headed there and checked out the tables of all my favorite places first.  I got to buy a Sword & Laser t-shirt and lanyard from co-host Tom Merritt himself!  

Then I chatted with Dr. Nicole Gugliucci at the amazing CosmoQuest booth.  I’ve told you about CosmoQuest before, right?  Well, check out their website for yourself and do some citizen science!  Dr. Pamela Gay was there.  I also browsed the JREF table, the Skeptic’s table, and the lovely spread put out by the Skepchicks including beautiful handmade jewelry from Surly-Ramics.

The first panel I went to was Dr. Pamela Gay speaking on the topic, “You Might Be A Crank If…” It was a thoughtful and insightful talk.  One of the problems that pop up often in science and skepticism is when you make a knee-jerk reaction to something and dismiss it out of hand without taking the time to consider.  I’m not talking about ignorance either.  She admitted herself that when she heard of some astronomical findings she dismissed them (“I was a crank!”)  only to find out later that not only was she wrong but that it changed the way she looked at the universe.  The difference between real scientists and real cranks is that she was happy to be wrong and embraces the changing of her world view.  Real cranks just continue doggedly dismissing a new finding either because they don’t have all the facts or just won’t allow themselves to change their view.

I became distracted from my schedule after this because I bought a portable battery charger, but it wasn’t charging the battery on my cell phone!  Luckily the most helpful techie skeptic on the planet was there, Tim Farley.  His posts leading up to the con on tech recommendations and how to navigate the wifi downtown should earn him some kind of humanitarian medal. He quickly diagnosed the connecting cord as the problem, so I picked a new one up in a nearby mobile shop. Problem was, my detour cost me entrance into the next event I was anticipating, the live recording of the Sword & Laser podcast.  Once those recording sessions start, they lock the doors so you can’t get in.  Sigh.

I missed another event later that day because of crowding and line confusion at the Marriott.  I was going to try to see the Mythbusters there too.  I didn’t feel awful about missing that one, though, since I had just seen them live at the Fox.

There’s a new fan track called the Kaleidoscope Track.  It’s for the younger geeks and I ran across a panel with Phineas and Ferb voice actors during the same time as the Mythbusters one, so I went to that instead.  I’ve promised my daughter that I’ll let her accompany me to the con next year, so I wanted to see what kind of thing she’d probably want to see.  It was actually interesting and it was fun to see some geeky families all in one place.

Next up was another Dr. Gay presentation about the concept of the Multiverse.  I’ve seen a version of this talk before, but she’s always great and has such a passion for sharing her knowledge.

I was getting loopy so I grabbed some con food and tried to seek out the shopping area.  They’ve moved it out of the Marriott a few blocks up on Peachtree St.  I was not impressed.  Maybe it’s more space or something but it seemed even more crowded than usual and it was way confusing. I think in the future I’ll avoid it on Saturdays at the con.

After that I queued up to see the Gonzoroo II.  Since I’ve been getting back into science fiction and trying out fantasy fiction over the past year or so, I’ve been running across all kinds of fun and cool geeky performers online and hearing about them from other cons.  I decided I needed to finally make this part of my con experience.  

It was a good choice.  It was a series of geek-themed comedy and music from Paul & Storm, Molly Lewis, Joseph Scrimshaw, Mike Ferman, Adam Savage, and some other special guests.  It was hilarious and wonderful.  Bill Corbett (of MST3K fame) brought down the house with a dramatic reading of the first chapter of the Man of Steel novelization in which Superman’s mama gives birth on the planet Krypton.  The man is a genius.  You should find all these folks online and buy their stuff if you’re the slightest bit smart and geeky.  They were amazing.