Weekend of 09JUL11 This weekend was Connecticon and pre-birthday partying; a rather amazingly fun weekend full of good times and nerdy pursuits. Connecticon is a gaming/anime/nerd-culture convention held in Hartford CT every year, right around my birthday... figured I'd get a crew together and check it out again this year. Friday - The weekend really started with my friends birthday party. Technically it started when I got out of work... but the intervening time was pretty dull, I'll admit. Allison, Big T and myself were planning on leaving for Connecticon early on Saturday morning, so we were all going to meet up at Brian's and then crash at my place that night. Plans fell apart pretty quickly though when Allison got sick, and T found out he needed to drop his car back in his home town... so this evening it was just T and myself checking out Brian's party. I met T at his place around 10:00, and we busted down the door to Daniel's place a bit before 10:30. The party was in pretty strong swing by the time we came in, although the fact that we announced our presence by dropping (and exploding) a bottle of beer did hamper the introductions a bit. The rest of the night was pretty much standard-issue though; some cool drinks, a few games of beer pong and flip-cup, and two birthday cakes (one vegan provided by Stef, and one awesome provided by Daniel and Brians older sister). Around midnight-thirty or so I started getting bored, and so T and I jumped ship and headed back to our places to crash, and prep for the weekend. Saturday - T woke me around 8:00, using the scream of my cell phone to tear me from an amazing dream-massage; administered by Megan Fox and Kate Beckinsale of course... damnit. I pulled myself from the bed and slowly got everything together; I had packed the previous thursday, so there honestly wasn't much to do. I called Allison, hoping to hear of her miraculous recovery (she hadn't), and jumped in the car to start the drive down to Hartford. I made amazing time but T arrived first anyways, and started scouting out the convention ahead of me. Unfortunately the room I had reserved wasn't cleaned yet, so I parked the car and headed down the convention myself. After about 45min waiting in line to get a ticket I finally got in and met T in the dealers room... nothing too interesting to be honest. The one upside was that I got to talk to Ryan Schomer of Blind Ferret entertainment; the guy who writes two of my favorite webcomics. I was hoping to talk him into sponsoring my trip, but unfortunately we didn't have the time to really discuss it, thanks to the people mobbing the booth. Thus: I'll email, and make some plans then. Before heading out to the hotel, we stopped by the fencing tournament to register for the next competition... 2:00, just enough time for some food. T and I headed out to check into the hotel and grab some food. Checking in was unfortunately unsuccessful, since the room was still (!) being cleaned, but we did get our keys, so thats all the really matters. For food, we headed into downtown hartford to find ourselves a brewery for some burgers and beer. The place we settled on was a Steam Brewery with amazing Bison burgers and excellent dark beer. After finishing up our food (and T asking the waitress out to dinner, unsuccessfully) we headed back to the convention to join in on the fencing competition. After parking the car and walking back over we warmed up with a few quick bouts against each other, and some random folks who were already at the competition. I squared off against a guy named Dan to practice; turns out the kid was an extremely good sabre fencer, national-competition grade. So of course, my first primarys match was up against him... and I got creamed. I did disarm him at one point though, so... yay for me? T, on the other hand, did quite well for himself, and was actually able to claw his way to the finals, where he squared off against Dan again, and took home second place. Impressive, to say the least... I've got video's of his matches, and I'm going to get them up online ASAP. After the competition we hung out for a bit and visited panels, all the while a headache was slowly forming in the back of my spine... pro-tip for people attending conventions - Drink lots of water... I'm pretty sure this was a dehydration headache that I was strapped with. I ignored it for a while though, and we were able to attend some rather amazing panels; "The Art of Griefing" and "Haters gonna Hate" by the Nerdfit network were the two best by far. Those guys are hysterical, and the fact that one of their guys was dressed as "The Internet", when combined with the fact that their griefing had actually been mentioned on The Daily Show, made for an amazing panel. In between events we did finally head back and check into the hotel, grab a nap and some food, but overall the evening was spent hanging out, gawking at the cosplay costumes, and having a blast waiting for the rave to start. One of my favorite parts of any convention is the "electronica dance party" event held on Saturday evenings. They don't like using the term "Rave" thanks to the drug use associated with it, but... lets be honest, we all know whats going on here. To say that it was amazing really doesn't do the place justice; the music was loud and excellent, the people were dressed amazingly entertainingly, and I had brought tons of glowsticks that I handed out constantly. T and I had a blast; I ran into an old friend and chatted for a bit, and then we headed into the main dance floor and started rocking out with the first group of cool-kids that we met; three guys in full-on raver outfits, a girl in a tiny tutu (and not much else), a rocked-out raver girl, and a girl dressed like a spaztic neon dreadlocked cat. Yeah... interesting group. But the girls were smoking hot and quite good dancers, the guys were cool, and the night was young, so we stayed and rocked the night away... even joining in on a conga line a few times for giggles. Around 2:30 the rave broke apart, and after a failed attempt at finding an afterparty we all headed back to our hotel rooms, worn out from an amazing night of fun times and sick beats. Overview - wake up, relax, head out connecticut Connecticon - arrive hotel check in... denied check it out, waltz around, talk to Schomer fencing... fucking A panels, first one sucked but met a cool girl relaxed and got ice cream tactics... cool stuff, mostly about game theory and basic "why you're doing it" stuff, but cool Art of Griefing... damn the NerdFit guys are hysterical - X-23 = SMOKING headache gets back... nap time fireworks haters gonna hate chill out, meet Braggings Attempted sneaking into the rave rave = fun, kitten girl, hot dancer girl, tossing T at girls, Damara look-a-like try to find the party... fail give up, chill outside for a bit, head back, crash Sunday - T and I had planned on getting up quite early, going for a swim, getting breakfast, and then heading to the morning panel by NerdFit... but that obviously did not happen. Instead, I woke up with about 30min to spare before it started, ran downstairs to swim a few laps, hauled T out of his bed, and then ran over to the convention without bothering with breakfast. The Panel was... less than what was expected, mostly since "The Internet" wasn't in attendance (hungover, duh) and the few people who did attend were hungover as well... just slightly more coherent than a hungry zombie. Never the less T and I hung out for a bit, laughed at the few gems and sighed at the many horrible jokes. At one point we all decided that the correct path forward was, of course, writing a group song from audience suggestions... the song actually came out quite well, even though none of the lyrics synched up together, and the rhyming scheme was... sporatic, to say the least. After that panel there really wasn't too much else to do, so T and I headed out to grab some quick breakfast before the next couple panels were up. We couldn't find a D&D (Duncin' Donuts), but we did find a Burger King... "Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast!". Yep. Yummy. Not healthy, but I've gotta say, BK's shakes are by far the best I've had so far, definitely solid. Anyways, so we walked back to the center and chowed down while oogling at the scantily-clad ladies and trying to guess who was cosplaying as what (Hint: the favorite female costume this year was "Slut"). After we finished up we took a quick walk around the Dealers Room where we ran into some Avatar (the series) cosplayers, chatted for a bit about random stuff (T tried getting a few numbers, and succeeded at a couple), and then headed upstairs to the panels; "How to expand your social circle and talk to people" and "Traveling Around the World". The first Panel was shit. Shitty shit shit. "How to talk to people" consisted of an asian frat-boy talking about "being yourself" and "just being cool"... all the shit that geeks DO NOT NEED TO HEAR. Seriously. Everything this guy said hurt my brain, from "no, we don't sit around playing HALO and drinking Nattie Ice at the frathouse, we sit around playing Guitar Hero and drinking PBR!" to "Uhh... what do you mean 'pickup artists' and 'ice breakers'? You mean the gum?". The guy talked about nothing for about 10min, and then quicly ran out of things to say... after which I started talking, asking leading questions and answering other questions that he couldn't think up replys for. Then and there Big T made me promise to host my own panel as soon as I return from my trip, whenever that may be. Deal. After the shitty panel of hell, T headed out; since he had driven his own car he was going to go drop it off with his folks, and have a nice family dinner with them. I went over to the "Traveling the World" panel, expecting to pick up one or two good tips from a dork who's been to England "that one time in high-school". Wrong. This was a fully-accented New Zealand guy who was leaving in a week to BIKE AROUND THE WORLD, with a grand total savings of... $3,000. Yeah. The guy had some EXCELLENT tips, I'm going to admit, and I really enjoyed the presentation. He had a solid slideshow to keep the basic premise moving, but we all chatted a lot about personal plans, worries, goals, and tricks we had learned along the way. As everything wrapped up we all exchanged information and blogs and email addresses, promising to follow each others trips and trade tips as we learned them. Once the panel was over I headed downstairs to quickly buy one or two things from the dealers room (warhammer figurines, 35% off!), then headed back to the car and started the long drive home. On the ride I called Allison, then actually swung by her place to bring her back into Boston for a few hours before her Dad finished up with work (he works ~5min from my house). We hung out and cuddled for a few hours, and then after she left I booted up the computer and played a quick game or two with my Dad on StarCraft II. With the badguys defeated and our armies victorious I headed to bed, hoping to somehow get enough sleep to make up for the complete lack of rest I had all weekend.