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 [ 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: (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 [ 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 [ 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, [ profile] joeygatorman had arrived, so we went out for a walk in downtown Pittsburgh and did two geocaches. Then [ 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 [ 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 [ 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... )
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 husky)
Had breakfast with [ profile] marauderosu and [ profile] joeygatorman at the Steel City Diner less than a block from the hotel. The convention hadn't started yet but there was already a sizeable crowd in the hotel lobby. Hung around there for a while. Took some photos of the fursuiters and their antics and I'll be collecting those in my Anthrocon 2008 photoset on Flickr as I go along.


Then I took a walk out in downtown Pittsburgh to bag some geocaches. Two of the geocaches, Dante's Subterranean Homesick Cache and Man, Beast and Bird, were in the museum area. The other two, Mini Tribute and A Slight Inclination for the Bridge to No-where, were near the waterfront, one near each end of the Westernmost yellow bridge. That last one took a significant amount of time to find and I got a bit dirty in the process. However, that was strictly because I had the wrong idea at first of the type of hide and it really wasn't as hard as its 4-star difficulty rating implied.

I wanted noodles so I got a quick lunch at Golden Palace on my way back to the hotel. Got back to the hotel and saw that con registration had already started. (A little earlier this year than last year.) Picked up my badge and headed up to my room to wash up because I had gotten rather grimy looking for geocaches in Pittsburgh.
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
I finished packing and loading in the evening, so I started driving out to Pittsburgh at 11pm. By 1am, I had already found the first geocache of the night and made a Wawa stop. Going geocaching at night in small towns in Pennsylvania is an interesting experience. There was almost no traffic at all and the streets were dark. (no street lights in rural areas) Of course, I had to pick the geocaches carefully so as not to break any park curfews. "Moody River", however, was in a park that had no posted time restrictions and so I did that one at 4am. However, it was an easy gravel trail anyway.

Domino at I-80 rest area in Snow Shoe
I-80 rest area in Snow Shoe, PA

Lunch was the buffet at Plyler's in Brookville. I had that last year on [ profile] rcoony's recommendation and it was good, so I returned. After that, I thought I'd better hurry up in order to get to the hotel before it got too late. Breezed through Kittanning and a few other places and arrived at the hotel around 4pm. Because of the parking garage renovation, I thought I'd have trouble finding a parking space but I was early enough that there were still plenty of spaces. It'll be a problem for those arriving on Thursday.

Checked in. Showered and unwound for a bit, and was later joined by [ profile] marauderosu and [ profile] joeygatorman, who'll be sharing the room. We went to Golden Palace for dinner. After that, we hung out in the lobby and 2nd floor areas, which were already starting to fill up with Anthrocon attendees.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
Yonkers Waterfront

A crew started clearing the woods down the road from my place early this year. I'd been wondering what they were building and finally, they put up a sign. It will be The Enclave, a set of luxury villas. Haha. Either they think that the real estate market will be back by the time they finish construction or that there won't be a severe downturn in this area. Lots of corporate executives and well-to-do people live in this town so they may be right about that, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Anyway, I'm just about done packing. So I'll head out to Pittsburgh starting late tonight. 20-25 geocaches if the weather is good and I've already picked the lunch place. Remarkably, someone placed a geocache at Blakeslee Corners in the Poconos, where I stop for Wawa, so I'm looking forward to that. See you at Anthrocon!


mortonfox: (Default)
Morton Fox

September 2017

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