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All travel. I barely slept, either at home (sleep around midnight, awake at 2am, couldn't get back to sleep) or on the plane. We arrived around 4:30 and declared Texas way too flipping hot and humid for anyone to live here and actually get anything done. After checking in to the hotel, we went and got our badges, and then decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory. We had to find the bus stop first (turned right when we should have gone left), and then it was a good half hour bus ride away. It was so delicious, as usual. We got back at like 10:30 and I was sooooo ready for bed.


Mum and I declared it a casual costume day, so we didn't wear any haha. Just wore normal clothes. The halls opened at noon, so we went over around 11:30. We got into the hall at noon, where the con chair opened the fun by riding a mechanical bull. And then, anyone else could sign a waiver and ride it too! Alayna did it, and then I waffled for a few moments, but decided to do it too. If I'm going to ride a mechanical bull, I might as well do it in Texas.

There were a few panels I saw, and also was when I discovered that the convention centre is air conditioned very well, and I was actually cold for most of the afternoon. Mum, Alayna and I had supper around 5ish at the mall before going back to the con for other things. I know I took in a panel about getting the most out of writing workshops, since I had one the next day and had never attended one before. I'm pretty sure I was the first one into bed lol.


Jedi day! Headed out somewhat early (10ish) to get breakfast and go to panels. My robe is, sadly, a little small. It doesn't hold together well in front and the arm holes are tight. But I wore it ALL DAY, even when I was tempted to change. The robe was great for wrapping up in when the rooms got too cold! I took in panels for a few hours before coming back to the hotel to read my workshop stories again and then do the actual workshop (more on that later). Afterwards, I had dinner with my family again, and then back to the con, where the last panel ended at 11pm. Maxwell and I hit up the con suite for a few minutes for food and drinks (ended up being more like an hour, at one point with a full table of other con-goers and me the only girl in the room).

Upstairs Mum helped me pin up my hem in preparation for hand-sewing in the morning, and then it was bedtime at like 1am.


Woke up at 6am, actually got up and started sewing at 7am. The skirt didn't take long but all the buttons on the jacket did :/ There were only 8 of them, but it took so long... With showering and makeupping, I ended up being ready to go exactly when I said I'd have to be (10:30, to have enough time for a coffee run and get to my first panel). Took in some writing panels and wandered the exhibit hall for a short time, and then while I was getting food, a gentleman stopped me and handed me a hall costume award. I did attend a couple of panels that Ms Gail was on, but boo for me, did not work up enough courage to approach her and show it off (I have a hard time approaching people to start with, and also to say "look at what I did, validate me!" is extra hard in person...) My last panel was at 6, a reading by Brandon Sanderson that Joe twisted my arm into going to, which I quite enjoyed. He didn't use a mic but his voice still carried through the room, he is a rather good speaker. After that was over, I was QUITE done with my corset, and went to change. Mum joined me at the Mexican bistro downstairs while I ate dinner and she had dessert (SO DELICIOUS), and then I spent some time in the lobby writing. It was an early bedtime night again D:


I'd waffled on whether or not I wanted to go to a panel at 10am, and woke up early enough to get dressed (no costume, I couldn't bear to put the corset on again :( ), get coffee, and go. And I was so glad I did. It was so worth it (More details later). After the wonderful first panel, the rest of the day was a mish-mash. I browsed the art show for a short time, and then wandered the dealer's hall again. I'd been doing well on my budget so I could maybe buy a couple extra things, but there wasn't a lot to convince myself to buy. Book prices have evened out a lot, and most of the ones I looked at were only a dollar or two less than Canadian prices. My luggage is pretty packed and books weigh a lot, so I was reluctant to buy them there.

I decided to get food because it was now 12:15 and I hadn't eaten yet. I wasn't really hungry, but I ate everything I bought... Took in a panel on building a costume library, then one from a guy who works for Weta (the special effects company who did LOTR and the Hobbit), then one on how much research one might need to do for a historical novel. Finally, I took in one called "You can't cosplay that!" which was billed as addressing social issues facing costumers and cosplayers. It was pretty good, the panelists were all cosplayers and well-immersed in the community, but the audience just would not let them talk. It would have been fine if they had questions, but most people just wanted to interject a comment. Pretty much everyone agreed about everything that was being said, which is great, but why interrupt all the time?. Maybe it's just that I'm the kind of person who won't say anything if it's already been said, but it was really uncomfortable for me to listen to it.

We went to dinner, first trying to get into the Rainforest Cafe but it was an hour and a half wait, so we tried the Hard Rock Cafe, which was only a 20 minute wait (in reality, it was only 10). The music was WAY too loud, but the food was good and our waitress was utterly delightful. I could hardly believe that there were so many people around downtown the past couple nights. I guess I shouldn't be, since it IS a tourist area, there are three cons in town, AND it's a holiday weekend, but it still surprised me.

We settled into the hotel for a short time before getting dressed for the steampunk ball. I didn't want to dance, I just wanted to listen to the music and show off my tangerine gown. You should definitely check out Postmodern Jukebox XD I laughed quite a lot when Macklemore and Psy came up. We left after about an hour, probably before the party really got started.


Got up at like 9 to get ready for a 10 am panel on summer blocksbusters, and then an 11 am panel on novel writing presented by 4 authors, including Paolo Bacigalupi (mentioned solely because he had a very compelling presence on the stage). The short answer was that there was no one true way to write a novel. At the end of it, I had decided to make a declaration and made it on Facebook, so I will repeat it here:

It is very unlikely I will be going to London for next year's WorldCon, but I am definitely planning on going to Spokane in 2015. After all the inspiring panels I saw and the incredibly helpful workshop I did, I want to have a novel fully edited and prepared for shopping around by 2015's WorldCon. It won't matter if I have shopped it already, or have not yet done so, but it must be ready to send out queries by then.

The rest of the day was spent with one last tour of the hall, and then I watched an advance screening of Lakeside: A Year with Jay Lake. I came to hear about Jay Lake earlier this year when Gail Carriger posted about acts of whimsy in his honour, I think it was in March? There was a Kickstarter-like campaign going on to help raise money to fund genome sequencing of his aggressive cancer tumours and also pay for some of his living expenses, since he is unable to work during cancer treatments. They raised over double the campaign in the end, though at the time they were hovering right around the target amount and other authors and artists were pledging "acts of whimsy" to help raise awareness of the project, which had stretch goals up to $100k. I believe the final tally raised was $48k.

A videographer friend of his had started making a documentary on his cancer treatments and how much better he was doing when he got the news that he had new tumours, and the documentary started to follow the treatments and doctor's appointments and other news as he got it. It was utterly heartbreaking, and I have to give him mad props for holding it together so well through most of the footage. There was one segment that was close to 14 minutes long where he talked about how he hadn't yet been diagnosed as terminal but he was pretty sure this would be the last time he'd be treated for them, and how he hadn't told his daughter yet about the facts he did know because he still wasn't sure what the options were going to be and he wanted to give her concrete information. He talked about how he was 48, and he was unlikely to live to see 50, let alone 51. He ought to have 15 good years left in him, followed by 10-15 mediocre years after that. He WAS agitated about it, but he still held it together remarkably well. Mad props, Jay. I hope the genome sequencing helps.

After that, it was time for closing ceremonies, and the con is over :( Sad faaaace.

Went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner (we made reservations yesterday heehee) and then I spent the evening internetting, reading, or sleeping.

I can't wait for Spokane :3


We took the half-hour river tour, which was quite pleasant. Then we went to the Alamo and looked around for an hour and a half or so. We decided to have lunch at the BBQ restaurant that was recommended by some locals as the best we're gonna find downtown, and it WAS pretty tasty. I was suuuuper full after. Then, for some reason, we decided to take a walk, in bright and sunny 43C (with humidity) weather. I was very tired when we got back ._. The rest of the day was spent packing and relaxing. I was so full all afternoon from the BBQ that I wasn't hungry even when we went to Denny's at 10pm for a last meal.

Our final Wednesday in San Antonio was largely spent in travel. We went to the airport at 10:30 and arrived home at 7:30. It was a long, absolutely full flight with several small children making lots of noise. I was really glad to be home :3
totchipanda: (Default)
Having a lot of fun in San Antonio, full report to come later :3 It's ridiculously hot and humid, though I'm finding the AC in the convention centre a little TOO enthusiastic (which was nice when I wore Victorian yesterday, I was not cold once, and only slightly overheated). I do need to replace my corset though, I have decided it is just too uncomfortable.
totchipanda: (Default)
(I apologize for missing words and leaps of logic. Englishing and braining is very hard right now.)

I was hoping, hoping so hard that this year's first two months of plagues was going to be it for this year, but I am not so fortunate. We took my dad to the hospital a couple weeks ago because he looked and felt terrible (just a flu, but at least us taking him there and staying until 2:30am made him realize that he really does need to stay home and rest when he's sick, even if he's the only one who can do parts of his job), and then of course this past weekend was Animethon (small-ish con areas with around 4k attendance) and on Sunday I was with three people who'd spent their weekend with someone who had a cold, so I have no idea where I contracted Plague #7, but I did. I don't think it was my dad, as I have no fever (if anything my temperature is LOW; lowest was 36.1C, normal temp is 37), but I could have gotten it anywhere. Woke up yesterday feeling just "wrong", and by this morning my sinuses were super-congested. My ears feel plugged a little too. Thankfully I have tomorrow off so hopefully I can shake the worst of this by then.

WorldCon is coming up really really fast. As in, 2 weeks from RIGHT NOW, I will be in San Antonio. I've made a preliminary costume list that I REALLY need to finalize ASAP so I can pack appropriately, and also get my ass in gear for sewing. I still need to make a Jedi outfit and the bits of a new Victorian gown. I'm trying to avoid wearing a corset for too long too many days in a row.

Thursday: ??
Friday: ??
Saturday: ?? / Evening - Tangerine ballgown.
Sunday: New!gown
Monday: 11th Doctor.

We're also staying a couple extra days to take in the sights around San Antonio, so that will be fun :3 I have to time my savings bond redemption next week so that I have some spending money (which, as usual, will likely revolve around eating lol).

Also in WorldCon news, I decided to apply for a slot in the writer's workshops :3 I initially was on a waiting list, about 5th in line, and replied that I was fine with that. I didn't expect to get in. Then last Monday, she emailed me saying that if I could get my story in that night, I might be able to get a spot. Holy cow!! [ profile] mew_infinity helped me a lot to get the summary and scene down, so I submitted it. Then I heard that all the stories had been read, and to wait to pay the fees since the website was acting funny. I finally heard that that was working, submitted payment, and it's official. I have a workshop on Friday from 4-6 :D So excited! And also terrified, because I've never had anything I've written professionally critiqued before. I hope I can get my brain around remembering that a critique is not a personal attack. And I have to read and prepare my critiques for the other 2 stories in my group.

And just today, I've accepted another writing project due on August 26th (right before I leave). Whoops? LOL. I wish I had more brains right now, they've been forced out to make way for snot :/

So my current to-do list for the next 10 days is as follows:

Jedi outfit (have robe, planning on boots and leggings, borrowed belt. Just need underlayer and outerlayer and underbelt)
Victorian bodice and overskirt
read and critiques
short blog post about novel plotting
figure out other costumes

Deep breaths. I can do it.
totchipanda: (floppy panda)
On Wednesday, we took a 2 hour cruise across Lake Tahoe on a large stern-wheeler paddleboat, the M.S. Dixie II, which goes across the lake and into Emerald Bay for a look at Vikingsholm, and back again. It was a lovely ride, and very hot (as usual, by this point). Afterwards, we dropped ourselves in the lake, of which the sand was BURNING hot (I could feel it on my feet still, later that evening) and the water was VERY VERY COLD. But it was so nice. Somehow, Mom and Maxwell got sunburnt from when we sat on the water's edge for a time, but I didn't. No idea how that worked.

After that we finished by driving around the entire lake (I fell asleep :( ) and then ate dinner and went to see Conan the Barbarian, fulfilling a silly dream of mine to go to a movie in the States. It was a pretty terrible movie, but the eyecandy was nice.

Then Thursday was a lot of driving... We cleared all of Nevada and made it to Pocatello, Idaho in time for dinner. Friday was MORE driving, a brief stop in Island Park (?) where the general store/bar we stopped at had a fenced house next door whose fence sign read "The fence outside this house is not a bathroom for dogs or humans!". I looked into the yard cuz they had a cardboard sailing ship set up, and was terribly amused watching one of their chickens chase dragonflies.

Made it to the Montana entrance of Yellowstone National Park around... I guess 12:30? We got to Old Faithful about 1:20 and it had just finished erupting. It began again at 2:25, and finished spewing about 20 minutes later. We ate lunch there and we had planned on going around to some of the other geysers nearby, but decided that it was getting too late and so we just headed out instead. We did do a tour of Firehole Lake, and a set of waterfalls, and then drove north up past the Mammoth hot springs and exited on the south Montana exit through Roosevelt gate. I saw a buffalo trundling up one of the mountain paths we drove, and several elk herds.

Made it to Great Falls VERY late. We tumbled into bed very shortly after reaching the hotel at 11:45. Left the next morning with a brief stop at Target for mint M&M's (no luck; anyone wanna mail me some?) and at the visitor's centre, and then we were on our way. Crossed the border just before noon, and I was home at 7:30 :3

It was a wonderful vacation despite the many personal issues I had (some things you just shouldn't know about your parents, especially what they may or may not sleep in) but I am very glad to be home :3
totchipanda: (floppy panda)
I'm not really sure Reno can count as a Day 5, as we didn't spend Sunday at the con at all. We figured we might as well do other touristy stuff while we're down here, since the likelihood of us ever returning is not high. Instead, we drove out to Carson City to take their steam train up to Virginia City, as it only runs on weekends.

Initially we planned on wearing Victorian dress on the train, but decided that since the weather is FAR hotter and drier than we're used to (more hotter than anything), we'd go in comfy clothes instead. Which is kinda too bad, because Virginia City is utterly adorable with it's main street of buildings almost all built in the 1860s and 70s, or if anything later was put in, it looks like the rest of the town. It still has a boardwalk outside the shops. There was tons of stuff to see and do. We saw a herd of wild mustangs on both legs of the train journey, I picked up a pair of granny boots, I had some delicious ice cream, I drank almost 2L of water before 6pm and still managed to pick up a slight heat-related headache.

Monday we left Reno and took the "back way" up to Virginia City to do some of the things we missed out on the day before. It's really steep and twisty XD We toured the Fourth Ward School and the Chollar Mine up to about 400ft in D: And also did a stagecoach ride :3 A team of 4 horses takes you around a short loop, and at the end they get up into a full canter. I kinda missed out on the stagecoach experience itself because I was too busy hanging out the window watching the horses. SO COOL to see them in a full gallop. (And all 4 were beautiful paints :3)

As we drove down into Carson City, we caught sight of the wild mustang herd again and started up a road to get pictures of them. The road also led to a bunny ranch, where there was a second herd hanging out. After that detour, we headed back on our way, and got a late visit in to the railway museum, where they have some beautiful old steam engines and a short ride on a hand cart. Then it was out to the hotel, and then dinner at Carl's Jr, cuz I looooove their $6 burger, which was only improved with the addition of guacamole and bacon.

Today we tripped out to Lake Tahoe and spent most of the afternoon hiking down to Vikingsholm and back up again. Vikingsholm was built in 1928/9 by a very rich lady (you had to come to dinner in a dress, or black tails for the gents) and was inspired by medieval and 17th century Swedish and Viking architecture. It was really, really lovely. Dipped our toes in the lake, hiked up to Lower Eagle Falls, and then Mom and I hiked back up the way we had come down, which is a rather steep switchback trail a mile long, and Maxwell took a 1.7 mile hike that let out at the campground. On the other side of the bay. He started hiking up the highway back to us, which was 2 miles away and up and around another steep switchback road, and he tried to catch a ride via hitching, and was finally picked up by a police officer who brought him back to us. It was really really hot in the sun, although if you could catch a breeze, it was very nice.

Now we're just chilling in the hotel again, relaxing off the hiking lol. Tomorrow we're taking a tour of the lake on a paddleboat, and then spending some time IN the lake itself. After that, Thursday is driving, Friday is a brief stop at Old Faithful in Wyoming, and I should be home Saturday. And some time after that, I'll get pictures posted, though I've been doing that sporadically if we're friends on Facebook :3
totchipanda: (floppy panda)
On Friday, I wore Ashura. A few people took my picture, and a few more commented. I think they probably thought I was a Generic Elf, but that's ok. Saw the art show displays, went to a talk on Urban vs Urbane Fantasy, one about travelling with horses, an interview with Tricky Pixie, tried to sign up for a small, very limited attendance "panel" with [ profile] gailcarriger but it filled up first of all the 24 authors they were signing up for this morning, so I got a reserve slot :( Eating tiems, then a couple more panels on the romance of sci-fi before it was romantic (uhm. Essentially, why was steampunk sci-fi fiction popular when it was contemporary) - the guy moderating this panel had a VERY loud voice and continued to speak loudly into the mic, while one of the panelists had a very quiet droning voice even when miked; I wound up playing Angry Birds to keep myself awake - and then one on elements of romance in speculative fiction. Came back to the room to putz about on the internet and we went out for dinner after the sun went down, and then I read for a few hours.

Today, I went down early to see if I could get into that limited-attendance "panel" and I could not, so I went to see a short (45min) independent Star Wars film which was rather predictable, but I couldn't fault anything else about it (well I could, but that would hardly be fair since it was independent and it was actually quite good), and then went to see 2/3 of Tricky Pixie and then Vixy and Tony in concerts back to back to back. It wound up being kind of a big love-fest between them all XD I enjoyed it immensely. I was very happy we ended up seated on the side of the cello player, Betsy, because I love cello, and she plays it amazingly, and it was wonderful to hear almost three hours of fantastic cello lines. After that it was time for a quick, final jaunt through the dealer's hall since we're heading out to Carson City tomorrow and will miss pretty much everything (including autographs of the one author I actually might have cared about to stand in line for) and then a still-small-but-allowed-larger-attendance "panel" with the same author I missed earlier. (It wound up being 15-ish people, where the morning session was a strict 9) She ran it in the same fashion, kind of an open-table discussion where we could ask anything we wanted and she'd reply as best as she could (keeping in mind some of us weren't caught up on the series, and to avoid spoilers as best as possible. I only noticed one, but I already had a stroooong suspicion about that without having read the book yet, so for me at least it wasn't a big deal). And then I decided that I'd had enough of the con and my corset, so here I am, writing this instead ;)

I'm planning on going to the pub for dinner again; the chicken strips were AMAZINGLY delicious. If you're ever in Reno, Foley's Irish pub is highly recommended by locals and this tourist alike ;)
totchipanda: (floppy panda)
Last night, I showered and put my hair up in pincurls in anticipation of wearing my Victorian dress to give my hair more body. I didn't bring my hat, but oh well. Got up way too early, lazed about in bed reading for a few hours, uncurled my hair into a giant poofball of curls, which I still have, ironed my dress, got ready, and headed down around 12:30.

Took in a panel on the history of humourous music by Dr Demento. Danced a bit with Maxwell at the Victorian waltz and tea class. Shopped and spent more money than I thought I would, and have plans to spend quite a bit more o-o;;; Took in a panel on the history of pirates and discussion among several authors on why the age of piracy was romanticized. Started a couple others, and a movie, gave up on all, and ended the con day with a panel by Gail Carriger on ceramic archaeology and experimental archaeology, which was quite fascinating :3

Came back to the room with a bit of a migraine running. Mom came in just before 9 and "dragged" me to a book launch party by one of her favourite authors, Jean Johnson. I was lured with the promise of food (which there was) and we got there just in time for a book drawing. We stayed a bit longer through a reading and some emails she had received (the book was a future military drama, and she read two emails from soldiers serving in the US military overseas praising her book), and then she drew the "grand prize" which was a surplus backpack filled with her entire published library, which I won :3

I got a loooot of compliments on my dress today. At various times I heard "elegant", "period-appropriate colours and fabric", and "so nice to see Steampunk not tarted up". I'm debating changing my costumes around to wear it again on Saturday, but we shall see. I only have one pair of shoes to wear with it to keep my hems from dragging on the ground, and they hurt my feet :(
totchipanda: (floppy panda)

This afternoon I took in a panel by author John Scalzi about his trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which was both amusing and mind-boggling. I started a panel on how to make a costume but it was focused more on people who had no or little costuming experience so I didn't stay long. Took a quick tour around the dealer's hall and then went to the opening ceremonies. The guests of honour, including Dr Demento and Boris Vallejo, were introduced and answered a few questions, and then Tricky Pixie came onstage and performed a hilarious song about an alligator in the house XD

Went back to the dealer's hall, had a quick bite to eat, went to the Dr Demento concert, which was entertaining, and then took in the Tricky Pixie concert, which was fantastic. Then we decided it was time for dinner and chillaxing. My hair is up in pincurls for tomorrow, and I'm about ready for bed :3

This has got to be the most polite con I've ever been to. The fanbase is much older (and also more socially awkward, I think) and maybe it's just that sci-fi readers are more concientious, or something. Most people would ask me, the only person sitting at a table for 10, if they could use this one seat on the other side, or if they could possibly use the seat next to mine. It's kind of refreshing :3

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Aug. 17th, 2011 11:16 am
totchipanda: (floppy panda)
I really need to update more often :( I just saw the top line of my last post, which was about sewing. After that, I had a frantic couple weeks getting ready for the train trip and Animethon. I spent 8 hours solid hand-sewing a hat, and at the end of it, my dress wound up being partially pinned together, as I literally could not push a needle through fabric anymore. I will have to post those pictures later.

I also worked an obscene amount. Such is the nature of retail :(

Right now, I'm on vacation in Reno, NV :) The original plan had been to leave Sunday and drive down through Montana, but the week before we left, my mom got a call that my gamie wasn't doing well, so instead we left a day earlier, and drove out to BC to see her and my geepa for the day. We also got to visit with 2 of my aunts and one cousin, whom I haven't seen since 2004 when she was 11. That was nice :)

We left BC Monday morning and drove down through Washington to Pendleton, OR. The most exciting things we saw were Dry Falls, WA, the field of rocks south of Dry Falls, and the horde of cute Irish boys staying at our hotel :3 The road was very boring from the border to Pendleton. It was beautiful in its own way, but it seemed very desolate.

On Tuesday, we took a side trip to Boise, Idaho, to go to Cheesecake Factory :3 Then we continued south on 95 through the south eastern corner of Oregon. The 101-mile distance between some little town and McDermott, NV, is the single most boring highway I've ever had the displeasure of driving on. We talked to some Boise residents this morning who drove the same way, and they said there are two 25-mile stretches on that highway that are perfectly straight. There is NOTHING to see. You travel between some hills that might be low mountains, and the land is all low scrub, and there's no signs of life ANYWHERE. And the sun was ridiculously hot coming in the windows, the AC got a good workout.

Finally arrived in Reno after dark, and it's not as fancy as Vegas (not that I was expecting it to be; I overheard people in Vegas say that unless you're in Reno to gamble, there is nothing to do here.) We registered for the con this morning, and things don't really get underway until noonish, so I came back to the room (which is very nice; the Atlantis comes highly recommended :) ) to write this and decide what to wear today.

More reports from Reno later :3


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