mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So once again, I went to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon. I've been to every Anthrocon since the first one, so it's my 21st Anthrocon. This time though, I turned it into an 8-day vacation so I could make some side trips on the way there and on the way home.

Read more... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So that was it! My 20th Anthrocon! It's quite a significant milestone since there aren't too many things that I've been doing every year for 20 years. Geocaching and Where's George both started after the first Anthrocon. Of course, over two decades a lot has changed. The con has grown up significantly and in a sense, so have I. The con moved to another city (twice) and so did I. Can we look forward to another 20 years? I don't know. Let's take it one year at a time.

Once again, I shared a hotel room in the Westin with Marauder and Gatorman. (Well, Gatorman skipped last year but this arrangement was the same for the previous couple of years before that.) We arrived on Wednesday but this time, we stayed until Tuesday so we could spend July 4th in Pittsburgh. I didn't do too much at Anthrocon this time around. I was at the Recess fursuit games, the dances, the fursuit parade, and a couple of panels. I missed a lot of con events because the scheduling didn't mesh well with my plans or I had to go out for meals. Most of it is not the fault of con programming. However, when I answered the con survey, I pointed out that signup for the Team Fursuit Games was too early in the morning. 8:30am on Sunday morning was tough to make, especially after going to room party and a dance on Saturday night, and so I had to skip that event. That aside, the con is still very well-run. Panelists and guests were interesting and good speakers in their fields of expertise. Aside from the usual elevator line and fursuit badge line, I didn't notice any problems at all.

Sorry to say but conditions in Pittsburgh have deteriorated. This started on the day of my arrival when I saw that someone had a violent confrontation with an aggressive panhandler right outside the Grant Street bus terminal. It was an incident that required paramedic and police response. Walking around the city myself, I noticed that there were far more panhandlers than in previous years and some were more pushy than others. I heard from a friend too of an incident where he was accosted by a group of homophobes. It's scary if you're walking on your own in the city, especially at night. In addition, there was a shooting on the night of July 4th near 7th and Liberty, which is just a few blocks away from the Westin and DLCC. Luckily, I opted to watch the fireworks from the DLCC waterfront instead of going to Point State Park. However, my roomies were much closer to where the shooting happened at that time. And finally, I saw that someone had scratched my car on purpose with a coin or a key. However, I didn't notice that until the day after, when it was pointed out to me. So without further proof, I can't say whether it happened in Pittsburgh or anywhere I stopped along the way home. (Monroeville, Breezewood) My car has plenty of scratches already, so I didn't mind too much but again, it's another sign of the way things are going down the drain in that area.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
This past weekend was my trip to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon. As usual though, I went a day early and drove overnight Tuesday/Wednesday to do some geocaching along the way. However, other than a few around Breezewood, Bedford and Donegal, most of the caches I got were around Greensburg, where I saw giant flowers and Roadside Giants. The area is rather hilly, which makes for some nice views from even as mundane a location as a Walmart parking lot.

Finally got to Pittsburgh in the afternoon. The first change I noticed was Penn Avenue had become one-way to make room for bike lanes. That screwed me up a bit because I didn't know about that beforehand and had to take a detour around several blocks to get to the Grant Street Transportation Center red garage entrance, my usual parking location. The second change I saw was the new Westin lobby. It does look a lot more up-to-date, with modern fixtures, a green wall (with live plants) running way up, and a new lounge/office area. (They moved the Westin gift shop towards the back to make room for that.)

And finally, I saw the new smart elevators. These turn the notion of requesting a floor on its head. Instead of waiting until you get into the elevator before pushing a floor button, you have to tell it the floor you want and then it assigns you an elevator. There are no floor buttons inside the elevator. One obvious plus is this puts an end to that old prank of pushing every button in an elevator. The system can also optimize elevator assignments by putting people going to the same floor on the same elevator so it makes fewer stops. The downside is it isn't completely foolproof. People can make mistakes requesting the wrong floor or requesting the same floor multiple times because they forgot the elevator assignment or thought it wasn't coming. There is no way to undo a request, so that could end up calling more elevators unnecessarily. Also, the elevator assumes a certain number of people can fit, which could be way off if one or more have luggage carts. (A Westin bellhop told me about this problem.)

More... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
For the 4th of July weekend, I went to Anthrocon in Pittsburgh. Like previous years, I roomed with Marauder and Gatorman in the Westin. The fursuits I brought this time were Rakket Raccoon and Chestnut Husky. Rakket was not originally my character so I had no idea how to play him, so I went around pretend-bumping into people, did a lot of miming and mimicry, danced around, and engaged in other such tomfoolery. Some folks told me afterwards that I did pretty well but someone thought I was German?! Just like last year, there were two groups filming fursuit music videos at the convention center. I only found out at the last minute but I went to both and the choreography was interesting; the second one more so because there were multiple scenes to act out. I also went to both the "recess" and team fursuit games, and the 80s and main dances.

The food selection in Pittsburgh has gotten more interesting. As always, I had lots of Primanti Brothers, but I also tried Argentinian food, which is either new this year or something I only just noticed. In addition, Bombay Gyros / Deli across from the hotel had curry lunch boxes for takeout some days, which was rather convenient and not bad at all, even if it wasn't the spiciest. I just wish more restaurants were open on July 4th, but it's a Federal holiday so what can one do?

I didn't have very many geocaches on the way to Pittsburgh this time, at least until I got to Greensburg, which has a power trail along the bike path running between that town and Youngwood. I was finally able to visit "Names have been changed to protect the RichFather", a puzzle cache that I solved a bit too late for the Anthrocon 2013 trip. In Pittsburgh, I took Marauder and Gatorman on a walk around the downtown triangle for three geocaches after our Wednesday night dinner. When I went out on my own Thursday morning, I hit the caches along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, across the bridge from the hotel. "Allegheny Telecache" was the most difficult one but it was interesting. At the first stage, there's a horizontal pipe you look through to see where the final stage is, on the other side of the river. That's by no means accurate, so there was still some guesswork. The sign mentioned in the hint was no longer in the correct spot, so that added to the vagueness. And getting to the cache container was itself challenging because I had to climb down the river bank slope. But I'm happy to have finally completed this one after years of seeing it in the cache listings.

The only problem I heard this year was on Sunday afternoon, there was a crazy guy yelling at and chasing fursuiters near the Westin block. I didn't see this firsthand, only heard it from another fursuiter that night, so I cannot confirm the incident. However, we should remember that Pittsburgh is a city with the usual city problems, and observe the same precautions as we would walking around downtown in any other city. I did fursuit outside the hotel a bit too but not far from the hotel and only when lots of us were out there at the time, so there was some measure of safety.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, I made my annual trip to Pittsburgh for the furry mecca that is Anthrocon. It's hard to believe that this is my 17th Anthrocon, meaning I've been to every one so far. I didn't think it was as good as last year's though, but that's mostly because I got sick just hours before the overnight drive out to Pittsburgh. The amazing thing is I was operating at 80-90% the whole con, crashing hard only when it was over. I feared though that I could have been Patient Zero, so if there was an outbreak of con crud, I apologize.

What's new this year were two groups attempting to produce fursuit music videos. I found out about one before the con through social media, but only learnt of the other one at the con itself. The first one, choreographed by [livejournal.com profile] neopantyger, was based on the Pon Pon Wei j-pop song and that took place on the DLCC rooftop Friday afternoon. I knew nothing about the dance moves but that turned out to be no problem. The dance was broken up into small parts and the whole group of us did multiple takes of each part until we got it right. The second music video was arranged by Dancing Duke. There were two filming sessions, on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. I took part in the Saturday filming. This time, there was an instructional video for the dance moves. However, there were some details I couldn't get from the video so I joined the group shortly before filming to practice it. Both music videos were a lot of fun to work on, even if the dance repetitions out on the hot DLCC rooftop were exhausting. The end result should be well worth the effort.

This year's fursuit parade, on Saturday, was an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records. To keep count, they handed out numbered straps at the door to Hall A, where we assembled for the photo. Those straps, I guess, were supposed to be armbands but were instead just stuck to our badges. The parade itself didn't seem to take that long, despite there being 1300 fursuiters in it. Maybe it was simply more efficient this time. I also took part in the fursuit team games on Sunday. I was in the green team and we were tied for third place. (No prize though.) The games this time were Scrabble (get large foam letters to form a word), machine charades (whole team has to act out each word together), hoop (get the whole team through the hoop while holding hands), and the hockey relay. (use a hockey stick to guide a ball around cones and then hit it through the goal) There were fewer players this year because of conflicts with other events, which is a far cry from two years ago when I was turned away because the teams filled up an hour before the games started.

Side trips, geocaching, etc... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
From the outset, I decided that I wasn't going to do as much this year at Anthrocon and that I was going to take it easy. Well, it never actually worked out that way. Although I wasn't in the Masquerade this time around, I was in the fursuit games, which I missed last year. And the rest of the time, I took part in the continuous string of events every day from morning to night. It was a load of fun.

Public Fursuiting: It seems lots of Pittsburgh locals know about Anthrocon now and there was a crowd of people on Friday and Saturday night hanging out in the Westin lobby, outside the Westin, and at the corner by Tonic, chatting with the furries and getting pictures with fursuiters. I thought that was amusing so instead of going to the dance, I fursuited out on the sidewalk in front of the Westin. It was a good, fun crowd. It reminded me of mascot gigs I've done, except this time, the adults rather than the kids were the excited ones.

There's one in every crowd: On Friday night, I was approached by a young lad who said he was not a furry but wanted to know about diaper fetish within the furry community. I wasn't even sure how to address that or if I should even say anything, so I told him that there may be some furries into that but I personally had nothing to tell him about it. Thankfully, that ended the conversation.

Tag Drama: For a number of years now, Anthrocon has issued special plastic tags to fursuiters. The design on the tag is different every year and it's a neat memento of the con. On Friday, I started hearing rumors that they weren't handing out tags to those wearing partial fursuits. One fursuiter actually started complaining to me about it, as if I had anything to do with that decision. Anyway, I took a look at who wasn't getting the tag and it was someone who wore street clothes and sneakers with just a fursuit head and gloves. Geez, if you're going to do that, at least try to have clothes that could be part of a costume instead of just the ordinary. However, I don't envy anyone who has to decide what is and isn't a fursuit. No matter where you draw the line, there'll always be borderline cases and judgment calls.

Slapband Story: We need to come up with better ways to secure con badges to our person. Three times this Anthrocon, I found a badge on the ground and returned it to its owner. On one of those occasions, the dorsai asked me to step aside. I was wondering what was up because he was writing down my badge number and name in his notebook. Then he put the band on my arm. (I was in fursuit at the time.) The "Dorsai Approved" slapband is apparently this year's version of the fursuiter ear tag. In previous years, the dorsai put ear tags on fursuiters, pretending to track them. (just like researchers tagging wild animals) Because there was only a limited run of tags, those became collectors' items. This year, the dorsai used numbered slap bracelets instead. From what I've heard, they didn't just give those out to any fursuiter. Some begged, some performed tricks, some were exceptionally cute, and one had to pee. (I'm not sure I even understood that story!) So the trick I performed, apparently, was to return a con badge. :)

Read more... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton blvd)
Had a lot of packing to do on Monday morning. Then came the worst part of the con. With everyone trying to get their luggage down to the lobby at the same time, the elevators were full. To make matters worse, people were pushing the up button, in addition to the down button, to catch elevators on the way up. That makes things slower because the elevator has to stop twice on every floor. I decided to wait in my room for a bit until the elevator traffic cleared. So it was a bit late when I finally checked out and got going.

The other problem was the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed because of a bus crash. The turnpike was reopened shortly after noon but I decided to do a few things before entering the turnpike to allow time for traffic to clear. I went to the Monroeville Eat 'n Park to get a free slice of blackberry pie. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] athauglas for the coupon. After a few geocaches, I had a bacon and egg sandwich at Primanti Brothers. I hadn't tried the Monroeville location before. The food is the same but prices were oddly a bit higher than the Strip District location.

A few more geocaches later, I hit the turnpike. The sequence of events was similar to last year. I ran into the New York group at the Somerset Service Plaza even though I thought I was late getting there. This time, I stopped at Breezewood. Leaving and reentering the turnpike adds a bit to the toll but I was curious about the area. It was pretty much what I expected: A bunch of restaurants, truck stops, and hotels packed into a section of US-30 surrounding the turnpike and I-70 interchange. I was there, however, because I noticed a billboard ad for Hardee's. So I had chicken and fries for an early dinner. I also found two geocaches that were right in town. After leaving Breezewood, there was only one eastbound cache to do in the vicinity of Harrisburg. Then I left the turnpike and went home via Lancaster.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (coyote3)
Started Sunday with an omelet breakfast at Hanlon's. Then I returned to convention space in the Westin to do the geocaching panel with [livejournal.com profile] jbadger. It was a lightly-attended panel. We were hampered by the lack of a sound system but we used the projector in the room to play some geocaching videos with my netbook. Also talked about a few geocaching topics. My schedule was open after that, so I finally had a chance to browse the art show and the dealer's room.

Had a quick Santa Fe steak taco wrap lunch at Fernando's. Then I returned to the Westin and got into the husky fursuit. Headed down to the fursuit games. Even though I was early for the event, I found out that, alas, sign-up was an hour prior and they had run out of room. No matter. I took a walk around convention center space in fursuit. Then I used the sidewalk route to return to the hotel. I got stopped a dozen times for photos just going from the Convention Center to the Westin! I guess with recent press coverage, all the Pittsburgh locals know by now to hang out there to photograph fursuiters. :)

Back at the Westin, I attended what remained of Dr. Gerbasi's furry research panel. Got out of fursuit and then went to the closing ceremony. Later in the evening, I joined Mizuhiro Neko for dinner at Hanlon's. I had a pulled pork sandwich and a slice of apple pie. I didn't see anything going on at the hotel but I got into the coyote fursuit again later on and went down to roam around, and saw that there was a Dead Dog dance taking place. I did mention earlier that the coyote fursuit is not good for dancing but I figured I should start learning to cope. And that I did. I was there until the dance closed at 2am. And that finally marked the end of Anthrocon 2011 for me! Hope to be back next year.
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
There wasn't much going on yet Thursday morning so after a breakfast at Hanlon's (the diner that took the place of Big Mama's, which took the place of Steel City Diner), I crossed the yellow bridge over to the north side to do two geocaches, Cache of the Month Challenge: April and Everybody Loves Blue 26. The former is a challenge cache requiring that I have already found caches on every day of April before I can log that cache. Not a problem since I already have all 366 days filled in my geocaching stats calendar. I was having trouble with the latter until I discovered that my phone GPS did a lot better in the city than the automotive GPS. It's usually worse. Go figure.

Registration opened up while I was out walking so I just headed to the convention center and picked up my badge. Got into the coyote fursuit again. I solved the air flow problem. It was a silly way to do it but it works. I have one of those squeaky dog toys from Big Lots that looks like a large candy. I put that in the mouth of the costume head and that props it open just enough to breathe. So now it's a coyote holding a pink thing in its mouth. However, I did remove it for some photoshoots. That evening, I went out for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] jbadger and friends to August Henry's. I had sweet potato chicken. Then the rest of the party returned to the hotel and the two of us took a walk in downtown Pittsburgh for some geocaches: Yes! We have no bananas and Market Square Nano. We also walked to two others that I'd already done.

Went to the dance that night. I was out in the coyote fursuit again for a bit but returned to my room to change to the husky fursuit because that one is better for dancing. All together, it was 3 hours at the dance and I was there until the end. It's funny because I didn't go to the main ballroom dance much last year but this year, I became some kind of dance fiend.

Friday and Saturday )
mortonfox: (coyote3)
After a light dinner on Tuesday, I finished packing for Anthrocon and loaded everything into the car. Started out at around 8pm so I had plenty of time to geocache along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and still arrive in Pittsburgh the next morning. I actually only had 8 geocaches to do on the PA Turnpike westbound so I supplemented that by stopping in Monroeville for more geocaches. There were quite a number of geocaches in that area. However, it is a very hilly area and it suffers from the problem where roads at different altitudes are often not well connected. So you can have two geocaches that are only half a mile apart but to go from one to the other, you have to wind your way through town just to get to the correct level on the hill. I decided to forgo some geocaches that seemed isolated in that way but the ones that I did do were still an interesting bunch. I also briefly visited the Monroeville Mall, which I was told was where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.

Got a little carried away, so by the time I reached Pittsburgh, it was late in the morning. I drove directly to Primanti Brothers in the Strip District since they have their own parking lot. I had a colossal fish sandwich. After that, I went to the hotel to check in but was told that they won't have the room available until 3pm. However, [livejournal.com profile] joeygatorman had arrived, so we went out for a walk in downtown Pittsburgh and did two geocaches. Then [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu arrived. By then, the room was ready. After I was done moving my stuff into the room, we went out for an early dinner at Golden Palace Buffet. I had beef in curry sauce over rice.

In the evening, I decided to fursuit a bit using the coyote fursuit I acquired from [livejournal.com profile] wildfox34 recently. Since the con hadn't begun, we didn't have name badges. So I wrote "Kinzer II" on an index card and put that in my badge holder. I didn't tell anyone who I really was, so what everyone saw was a mysterious new coyote fursuiter roaming the hotel common area. I was wondering if anyone would think I was [livejournal.com profile] wildfox34 but that didn't seem to happen. Also, this fursuit got more attention than I expected. I guess it is kind of cute. I still have to figure out a way to fix the breathing / air flow issue though.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
Got back last night from a weekend in Pittsburgh for my 14th Anthrocon. Executive summary: I had a great time. There was never a dull moment and there really were too many things to do and friends to see to cram into a few days. This is not to say that everything went perfectly but we worked around the problems when we could and didn't let those get in the way of a good time.

The rest of the story... )

The caches... )

Busy Day

Jun. 23rd, 2010 03:49 am
mortonfox: (eek)
Busy morning. Seems like all the good job leads came in at once and all shortly before Anthrocon. What I was really looking for is somewhere to use my Perl (or Python, or Ruby, if it came to that) scripting skills. I'd been doing the C and C++ gig for over 14 years and I would prefer not to go back to that if possible. I came across a few openings that fit the bill, including one that I was told allows telecommuting. So I spent all morning applying and filling out questionnaires.

In the afternoon, I went to Harbor Freight to return a faulty cell phone holder that ripped apart after only a few days. Harbor Freight has cheap stuff but quality is suspect in some of their wares. Fortunately, they have a good return policy.

Started to pack for Anthrocon in the late afternoon. My packing list is more or less the same from convention to convention, so I was done in a bit over an hour. The only last-minute items are things that I'm still using, like this netbook and toiletries. Also, there is the possibility of bringing more than two fursuits this time if I pack a bit better. Not going to bring the husky suit this time because the tail is about ready to fall off, but there was one that didn't make the cut last time that may be coming along this time.

Since the packing went so quickly, I worked on some TwitVim features this evening. I'd been holding off on adding user and list management features until after the OAuth work was done but there's no reason to delay any further. So I added commands for following, unfollowing, blocking, unblocking, reporting spam, and adding/removing from lists. Also improved the error messages for many commands so we won't have to diagnose problems by HTTP status codes any more. (r117 thru r124)
mortonfox: (raccoon)
The con may be over but the festivities didn't stop after my last post. I was able to meet up with quite a few friends in the last moments because everyone was back in the hotel and they were easier to spot in a smaller crowd. I also put on the raccoon fursuit, went to the dance at the Dead Dog Party, got into a number of photoshoots around the lobby and 2nd floor, and hung around until security finally locked up all the function rooms. 2 hours flew by just like that and I was satisfied, having squeezed out as much con activity as I could out of the last night.

Needless to say, I had a late start the next morning. Carried everything to the car and checked out of the hotel. I'd been told about the Route 28 detour at the 62nd St. Bridge so I was prepared with geocache info. That detour was perfect for grabbing a set of geocaches at Highland Park. (near Pittsburgh Zoo) Then I made a quick stop at the thrift store in New Bethlehem. Even with all that, I made it to Brookville in time for lunch buffet at Plyler's.

The rest of the trip was more driving than geocaching, although I did try to finish off the geocaches in the Bloomsburg-Berwick area. I also sampled the spring water in Loganton when I went for the "Have a drink on me" geocache. The water tasted like hard-boiled egg, probably because it had a hint of sulfur. That still isn't as bad as the water at home, which has a hint of Canada geese. :) Dinner was fried fish at A&W/LJS at the I-80/I-476 intersection area in Lake Harmony. Arrived home after 1am, which wasn't too bad considering everything I did along the way.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
Started the day with breakfast at Steel City Diner. I had a gyro omelette. I happened to sit at the diner counter right next to [livejournal.com profile] mejeep. Both he and I thought we were going to be eating alone but that apparently wasn't to be. :) I didn't have anything planned for the morning so I went to the Dealer's Room to look for Sunday specials. Indeed there was. I got a fox hat from the Furducers. I paid in all singles as usual and they gave me a special "I had exact change!" ribbon. Also, [livejournal.com profile] taren_ told me that he's a Where's George user too. I'm sure there are more than a few of us at Anthrocon.

In the afternoon, I took part in the Fursuit Games (wore the husky fursuit) over at the Convention Center. I was in the green team of about half a dozen teams. In the first game, we had to pass a stack of cans from player to player using just one hand so it was a balancing act. The second game was charades. The whole team got to act out the words for the audience to guess but for most of the words, someone got the answer before I got out there, so it was easy. In the third game, all but 3 of the team were "dying" and we had to carry them to the safe zone to be revived. Since I was bigger, I got to be one of the 3 doing the carrying. I thought this was the hardest game because even with help, it's hard to carry someone. The last game was a mini skit where we were supposed to make the audience laugh. Our idea was to trade costume parts to make everything mismatched. In addition, I went out there with my fursuit head on backwards and someone else in our team wore a Tastykake box. In the end, our team didn't win the games but it was fun to play anyway.

After that, I attended Dr. Kathy Gerbasi's ([livejournal.com profile] drg_kcgerbasi) Furry Survey panel. It was an interesting presentation of the methodology and results of psychological surveys she did at Anthrocon this year and the past few years. After that, I went to the Closing Ceremony. The final count was 3776 attendees from 29 countries and we raised $8992 for this year's charity.

For dinner, [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu and I took the T (subway/trolley line) out to Station Square. We went to Sesame Inn (I got this recommendation from [livejournal.com profile] zyphbear via Twitter just before the convention.) and had Amazing Pork. I thought it was good although the spice had clearly been toned down for the Western palate. Along the way, we ran into a few Pittsburgh locals who had heard of Anthrocon, no doubt from TV news and newspaper coverage in the last few days. We had some interesting conversations. Also met a local furry who wasn't at Anthrocon but happened to be riding the T too.

After we took the T back to the hotel, [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu finished packing up and I bid farewell to him as he left to catch his bus out of town. And now I'm at The Zoo soaking up the post-con ambiance. Man, we ARE a noisy bunch! :)
mortonfox: (raccoon)
I woke up pretty early in the morning because I'm a light sleeper and the sound of someone showering can apparently travel through the wall. So I took the opportunity to head out to Steel City Diner before the Anthrocon crowd and have some French toast. Then I went to masquerade rehearsal. I was in [livejournal.com profile] magnusdiridian's skit, "Oh noes teh drama", with [livejournal.com profile] magnusdiridian, [livejournal.com profile] mejeep, [livejournal.com profile] aquafoxzorro, [livejournal.com profile] axelwolf, [livejournal.com profile] bondage_husky, and [livejournal.com profile] syberfoxmi. Once it was our turn, we got up on stage and did the rehearsal. There were some problems to work out but I think trying this out once helped a lot.

After that, there was a bit of a slack period. I got ready for the fursuit parade by assembling my flag pole and New Jersey state flag. I was a bit delayed by the hotel elevator so I was running a bit late but still made it to the parade lineup before they started. I was in a group with the other state flag bearers. (I'm at 3:30 in this Youtube video.) I wore the husky fursuit for the parade but the raccoon fursuit for the masquerade rehearsal and the masquerade. Nice thing about bringing two costumes is I can alternate between the two so each costume has a chance to air out between wearings. Downside is those took up all the trunk space I had. :) But I digress. Anyway, the parade went out from the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom at the Convention Center, over the skybridge, down the escalators to the Dealer's Room, and then to Hall C for the big photoshoot. Fursuiter count in the parade was 640 according to @anthrocon.

I didn't have anything planned for the remainder of the afternoon after the parade, so I took a walk out to the Strip District and had beef ball pho at Vietnam's Pho. Went back to the hotel, wore the raccoon fursuit again, and went to the green room to get ready for the masquerade. Our skit was the 13th act, which I didn't for a moment think was unlucky. It's bad luck to be superstitious. :) I thought it actually went pretty well. Got some laughs from the audience. Aside from group actions, my part was to steal a plushie. I grabbed it and ran to one side of the stage. Fun! I noticed that this is the first time I wasn't nervous about being up on stage. As always, once it started, the act was over pretty quickly and we were back in the green room relaxing. At the end of the masquerade, we were all called back on stage for the curtain call. And that was that. Well, not quite. Each masquerade performer also got a special "Performer" Lexan badge. Pretty neat piece of Anthrocon memorabilia.

Late dinner again, so I went to Primanti Brothers in the Strip District for a bacon and cheese sandwich. It was really the only option as everything else that was still open after 9pm in downtown Pittsburgh looked decidedly subpar. One of the cooks at Primanti recognized me because I'd been there 3 times this week already. On my way back, I watched some 4th of July fireworks. I think these were unofficial though. A guy was launching those from an empty lot on Penn Avenue.
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
Started the day with a southwest burrito breakfast at Fernando'sFurnando's. Then I went to the opening ceremony. The attendance figure at open was already 3,127, which is remarkable for a recession period. Then I went to the Dealers' Room to drop off my charity auction donation, pick up my Sponsor con shirt, and browse the Dealers' Room and Artist Alley. I didn't buy anything except a hat with pointy ears. Trying not to add to my clutter before the move, you know. Also sought out [livejournal.com profile] bucktowntiger's table in the Artist Alley since we prearranged to meet beforehand.

In the afternoon, I went to the "Fursuit Dance 101" and "Presenting Furry Fandom to the Public" panels. I also went to the "Fursuiter Meet and Greet" after changing into the raccoon fursuit but I didn't stick around for that whole gathering. Midway, I went over to the Convention Center for the fursuit photoshoot to get pictures taken of my raccoon character. This photographer (Dragonscales gallery, I think) is quite professional. He guided me through the various poses.

After an early dinner at Golden Palace Buffet, I returned to the Westin for "Fursuit Games: Recess". (Wore the husky fursuit this time.) This is supposed to be a gentler version of the fursuit games but I thought it was pretty rough in some ways too. We played freeze tag, "British bulldog", and another game that was not named. I sat out the "Duck, Duck, Goose" round. Then I went to the Artist Reception for a short time before finishing the night at the "Fursuit-Friendly Dance", where I used the moves I learnt at the dance panel. (Well, some of those anyway.)
mortonfox: (raccoon)
I started the day with breakfast at Steel City Diner with marauderosu. I had the Steel City Special. After breakfast, I headed out to the Strip District for two geocaches. There was an 80% chance of rain so I brought an umbrella. Thank goodness I did because it started raining heavily after the first geocache, Running Dogs in the Strip. It wasn't a difficult geocache because there was a clear trail leading right to it. There was only a bit of a trick to finding it. After that, I went to Pasta Lover's True Park & Grab, which is in a parking lot behind an Italian restaurant. I used Penn Avenue both going to and returning from the two cache sites. It's an interesting place in the Strip District. There are lots of markets, including a few Asian groceries. I got a bunch of bananas at a fruit market because I noticed it was much cheaper there than back home.

By the time I got back to the hotel, con registration had opened up. After freshening up in my room, I went over to the convention center to pick up my badge. There was hardly any line at the Sponsor registration table so that went quickly. Guess who was volunteering at that table and handing me my con materials. [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu! I see this guy everywhere! :)

After hanging out at The Zoo for a while to write yesterday's journal entry, I went up to my room again and changed into the raccoon fursuit. Came back down and roamed the hotel and Convention Center, including a brief trip up to the roof. A group of pharmaceutical representatives down in the hotel lobby were quite amused by the fursuiters. One of them gave me a Viagra pen. :) Some people from the hotel bar also asked for photos.

Then I went to the Rodent Party. It was at the Marriott Courtyard so I had to take a walk out on the street in fursuit, but it was only a short distance away and not particularly unsafe. I might consider staying at the Marriott one of these years if I have trouble getting a room reservation at the Westin. Who knows? I was actually a bit early for the Rodent Party. I was the only guest! But I got to see [livejournal.com profile] marko_the_rat again and show him the raccoon suit. I returned to the party later in street clothes to sample the various cheeses and play a few rounds of Blokus 3D.

After the party, I had a late dinner at Primanti Brothers. Since they're a 24-hour restaurant, I might as well use them for that. I had a ham and cheese sandwich.
mortonfox: (raccoon)
Got a few last-minute items for Anthrocon on Tuesday: the state flag and a flagpole. I wasn't planning to carry a flag in the fursuit parade but I found out where to get one close to home so I figured why not? After work, I had a dental appointment. Same as always: teeth are solid, gums are bleeding at a low level. I'd finished packing the day before so I loaded all the stuff onto the car that evening and headed out at around 10pm.

First geocache was at midnight in the Poconos. From then on, it was drive and find, drive and find, etc, in the dark. It was an interesting time. The small towns were very quiet in the wee hours of the morning, although I did see a few 24-hour stores. The only geocache that perhaps I should not have gone for in the dark was "RIN TIN TIN". It was in a swampy area and I was tiptoeing through the puddles at 3:50am. However, it was just off I-80, I had my boots, and I figured I may never be back this way again, so I did it.

After daybreak, I kicked it up a notch. Went town by town, finishing all the easy geocaches. Lunch was the buffet at Plyler's in Brookville. Found a few more geocaches after that and also shopped for a few items that I forgot to pack, of course. Good thing I knew where to find what I needed along Route 28. Checked in at the hotel at 4:45pm after driving through heavy rain and traffic. Met up with [livejournal.com profile] coyoty, who's sharing the room for one night, and [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu.

For dinner, [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu and I took a walk out to Primanti Brothers in the Strip District. (18th Avenue, about 2/3 of a mile from Westin) The food is a little different: They stuff their sandwiches with fries and coleslaw. I had the colossal fish sandwich, which was pretty good and quite filling. I'll definitely have to go again to try their other sandwiches.

After dinner, I wore the raccoon fursuit and went out to the hotel common area and The Zoo. I did that before the con started to get used to the costume, but it was fun because there was already a bit of a crowd and a bunch of other fursuiters out and about. The non-furry hotel guests were amused too. The design of this costume makes it easy to wear a t-shirt over the bodysuit. For maximum irony, I wore the "I'd Rather Be Fursuiting" shirt. At least a couple of people noticed and got the joke. :)

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton blvd)
... so you can go to a con while you go to a con?

I let my Mensa membership expire in 2008 because I wasn't using it much, certainly not enough to justify the annual dues. So I only found out earlier today that their Annual Gathering will be in Pittsburgh at the same time as Anthrocon! I wasn't even looking for anything Mensa-related. I was searching Twitter for Anthrocon-related tweets when I saw that Mensa AG attendees were inquiring about buying day passes to Anthrocon.

Anyway, a day pass to AG 2009 is $30 so it would not be beyond reason for me to attend AG just one day on Thursday before Anthrocon really gets going. But then I remembered that they'd want me to pay my annual dues too. Last I checked, a one-year membership is $59, bringing the total to $89. Suddenly, joining their little party doesn't sound as appealing. Instead, if it isn't raining too heavily on Thursday, I would like to take a walk 1.3 miles northeast from the Westin to two geocaches in the Strip District. (Yeah, there aren't any nearer geocaches that I haven't already found in previous years.) That will be followed by lunch at Primanti Brothers because I've heard a lot about them. That's my plan for Thursday morning/afternoon before Anthrocon pre-reg opens up.

This evening, I went to Lyndhurst Municipal Park for A Show and then maybe shopping, a new geocache near the bandshell. I couldn't resist grabbing this FTF because it was just down Route 17. By "just down Route 17", I meant 15 miles of rush hour traffic, of course. :) Got some cheap gas in Rutherford on my way back. It's 12 cents/gallon below my local gas station and it saves me from having to fill up somewhere at the top of the Poconos on the way to Pittsburgh tomorrow night.
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
ac08fs5-1

After a busy Saturday, Sunday is usually when things start to wind down at the convention. Considering that I went to sleep after 3am last night, I woke up way too early. I headed out to Steel City Diner for breakfast. I sat at the counter. Pete, a local guy who was sitting next to me, noticed that I was from the convention and started a conversation. One topic led to another and soon, we were having the most intelligent and remarkable conversation on economics and finance I've had in recent memory. He told me he'd been taking classes at a business school but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been reading some Daily Reckoning on the side.

Got back to the hotel and attended the Advanced Fursuit Performance panel. There, I got some interesting tidbits of information, such as how the Princess and Snow White characters wave at Disney World. (Okay, I'll probably never use that. :) ) Then I got into fursuit and went to the Fursuit Games. This year, it was done a bit differently, possibly due to space constraints. The fursuiters were divided into many teams, each with four or five members. Then only one team at a time was brought out to do the games. We had a relay race, charades, and an impromptu skit. (where we were judged on audience reaction, I think) For the skit portion, my team (Blazger, Dustykat, Sora, Morin Wolf, and I) did a kung fu fighting skit since Morin has had actual kung fu training.

After that, I attended the Furry Research Findings panel. The panel was conducted by [livejournal.com profile] drg_kcgerbasi, a social scientist from Niagara County Community College, who's been conducting furry fandom surveys at Anthrocon for 3 years. She shared some insights from the surveys and it was a more entertaining panel than I expected. After that, I went to the closing ceremony. We had 3,390 attendees this year, which is about 30% 19% more than the previous year, and next year, we're upgrading to a larger hall in the convention center.

After that, I had dinner at Golden Palace. Came back to the hotel and said goodbye to [livejournal.com profile] marauderosu and [livejournal.com profile] joeygatorman, who left for the bus station this evening. Then I checked downstairs and saw that the Dead Dog Party had started. So I got into fursuit again and joined the dance. About two hours into it, we formed a furpile on the floor of the hotel lobby. We must be insane! :) After some of that, I left the bunch and returned to my room to disinfect and dry the sweat-soaked fursuit. And that's it for the con. The monkey's dead, the show's over. Tomorrow, I'll reattempt the Northpointe geocache on my way home.

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Morton Fox

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