[And it looks like it's turning into a multi-part thing. Oh well. This here is an introduction and Friday night. Next post will probably be Saturday.]
Westercon 60 was held in San Mateo from June 29-July 4 at the same hotel which Baycon was held. It was by far and away the best con I have ever been to. I know, that's not saying much, considering my con experience consists of three cons this year (two general science fiction and one gaming) and the one night at the 2004 Baycon, in which I went swimming and slept in a friend's hotel room. (Okay, and I think we briefly popped our noses in at the dance, but there wasn't much going on -- so yes, I had a badge, but it was just a night badge. But I am getting off the subject.)
Anyway, I think I have mrfnord to blame for this. He's the one that got the idea in my head of going to Worldcon when it's in Denver next year. Now, I've been looking for an excuse to go to Denver, and Worldcon is just as good as any, but I said to him, "Worldcon probably shouldn't be my first con, right?" When the answer was in the affirmative, I made arrangements to go to the local gaming con (ConQuest Sacramento, for those curious), and then things fell into place for me to be able to commute to Baycon. (My thanks again to mactavish and deyo for planning their vacation perfectly.) ;)
At Baycon, I ran into chaoswolf, who was panicking because she was in charge of volunteer staff (or 'gofers') for Westercon, and she didn't have staff to help her, let alone gofers. People tell me this is where I should have ran screaming in the other direction. But no, I try to help friends out, even when I sometimes don't have a clue as to what I'm getting myself into. And so, I ended up volunteering myself to be of some help to Chaos at a con I hadn't known *existed* before the weekend I went to Baycon, let alone had plans to attend. I told her to let me know if it was still desperate in a week or two, and I would see what I could do on my end. Two weeks later, she told me she was squared away in regards to a small staff, but gofers were still needed and appreciated, and so I bought my badge and began making plans to head for San Mateo for the second time in a month.
Observing the rites and rituals of Baycon made me remark to friends that I ought to get my own ribbon that said 'I said hi to katster' or something along those lines in order to get people to talk to me. It was the one problem I did have at Baycon -- being a n00b, commuting to con, and being somewhat shy and introverted, most of the folks who talked to me were folks that I already knew. Being as such, there were moments when I simply drifted through spaces -- I knew I was among people who would understand me if I started talking, but getting to that point was stressful. Ribbons would have broken the ice, because ribbons were the currency exchange and the hot item, and it would have served well as an icebreaker.
I found a different way to get people to talk to me. Whether it works better than the ribbon or not, I couldn't say, but by volunteering as a gofer, I suddenly was talking to everybody. :) I think that's part of what made this con so much fun.
Anyway, I arrive in San Mateo just after eight on Friday evening, which was mainly for early badge pickup. There was a few panels going, but opening ceremonies were not to be until the next day, and so it was just kind of an easy day leading into con. I picked up my badge (and a book -- Westercon attendees got one free book of three), greeted flower_cat, who was sitting near badge pickup (and mdlbear showed up soon after, so I greeted him as well), and wandered up to the con's gofer hole.
I was actually staying at con this time. The Bay Area cons have an odd but neat tradition in which they spring for a room for the gofers, and dub it 'gofer crash'. It's basically sleeping and showering space for volunteers who would like to work the con but can't afford the hotel room. A lot of times you end up on the floor to sleep (it's not the most comfortable), but it's a place to lay your head and get clean, both of which are important. And at Westercon it turned out that only two people were using the crash space, so I ended up with the bed more often than not. But I'm digressing again. Anyway, I went up to the gofer hole, where I found chaoswolf as well as Ernie and Steven, her second and third, and filled out the form to volunteer for the convention. Once I had done this, I was handed a gofer ribbon (when I get my badge photographed, you'll see it then), and was told that for the duration of the con, I was Gofer #4.
Shortly thereafter, the tech folks were in dire need of a gofer or two to lend a paw at getting their equipment upstairs and set up. So I found myself in staff-only areas of the hotel and was introduced to Mr. Freight Elevator, a huge monstrosity with scissor doors. Mr. Freight Elevator plays a later part in the story, but suffice it to say that it was a good thing I was introduced to the transport of power early in my con experience. Anyway, getting Techs's stuff upstairs to the main ballroom wasn't a big deal, but setting it up soon became so, mostly because it appeared that all the pieces to the light fixtures were not present. That said, other than that minor snafu, Tech pretty much had itself together in four or five hours, which was a good thing because the doors to the Gofer Hole (and thus the crashspace) closed at two. So after all that heavy lifting and sweaty work helping Tech set up, I got back to the hole just before two, took a shower and collapsed in my sleeping bag on the floor, as there was already somebody fast asleep in the bed.
Final total for Friday: four hours spent helping tech. Friday, it turned out, was double credit. You'll soon find out, that didn't really matter. ;)
To be continued.