The short report: Simultaneously our best and worst year.
By the time con started I was already calling this “the year of everything hates me.”
And it was book-ended with food poisoning.
The year had a lot of serious and unique challenges. It seemed like the nightmare started about the time we learned that the GSR was going to cut our space in half and there was nothing we could do about it, and then just got worse from there. For the record, I hold no grudge against the GSR for their decision. It’s all just business, and so was our leaving. They had to do what they felt was best for them and so did we. That being said, the venue change caused at least 80% of our major problems. Although it was certainly better than having only half the space at the GSR, our space this year really sucked. It was cramped, simultaneously hot and cold, and full of useless and annoying mirrors. There was NO WAY to lay out our space that truly worked. Although, there were definitely some VERY nice things about the new venue (Internet service, woo! cheaper rooms, woo!), there is no way in hell that we would have moved if we hadn’t absolutely had to. We are trying for better space next year at the Nugget so keep your fingers crossed!
Everyone keeps asking if we’re staying here — yes. We will be at the Nugget for a few more years at least (welcome to your new home, guys). Hopefully our time here works out well. We always have to “break in” a new venue and at least that process is over (“no, really, we don’t shut down at night”), so going forward should be much easier for everyone involved.
I want to remind you, the reader, before I really get into this story that this wasn’t written primarily for you, it was written for me. This is a narrative of my experiences and all the memories I can scrape together so that in a year or more I can read it and pull these memories to the surface again. I do add explanations and back story for those non-me readers that I know exist, but I don’t really expect very many people to read this. It’s long. I talk a lot. For some reason there is interest from others in these write ups. I’m told it’s enjoyable. I enjoy reading it because I wrote it and I experienced it. I’m happy that there are people who want to read this and I do my best to make sure it’s up to my standards before releasing it into the wild. I assume some people like to see con through my eyes but I don’t really know. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Starting on Tuesday . . .
I got off work on Tuesday a bit later than planned so that I could be sure all my things were handled. I remember taking a breath as I got in my car — work was over, time to get to work. I had full intentions of pulling a double-all-nighter again. I had a long todo list but plenty of time to do most of it. I wasn’t stressed about it but I was determined.
Sam and I had things to buy so we went out shopping shortly after I got home. River, our German Shepherd Dog, insisted that she go with us — she ran outside and refused to go back in the house but would jump in the car. Screw it — we took the dog. We figured we’d work on that training issue after con.
First we went to Smith’s to buy energy drinks and dinner. They had a sale — $1 Rockstars. I bought 9, which was all they had of the Punched (the only one I like). We also got some grocery-store fried chicken and a bake-in-oven garlic bread. The details of dinner are sadly important to the story.
The guy behind the counter was an idiot. We asked for 4 wings, 3 legs, and 3 thighs and he kept trying to ask what we wanted and how we wanted it broken up (like a 10 piece or like individual pieces? White or dark?). I was getting annoyed with him and told him that I didn’t care as long as we got what we wanted. How much more specific could we have gotten?! My voice dripped with annoyance as he kept asking us questions about what chicken we wanted. Eventually he got it figured out correctly.
While we were at the store, various con staff came and went from our house. We had accidentally, but luckily, left the back door unlocked. After hitting three stores and buying pretty much all we needed we headed home to find only a Llama remaining. Eventually there was also a Tasha and a Katie at the house helping get things done. Llama, Tasha, and Katie are the reason that the schedules were stuffed and the majority of the badges were laminated before con. As much as I do enjoy getting the laminating done myself, every year I do less of it because of other responsibilities. This year I did none of it.
As the evening went on, I hit a wall of tiredness where I couldn’t get anything done without either a nap or an energy drink. I chose to take a nap rather than an energy drink — I had two nights, after all, and I had just done an all-nighter a few days before and a double-all-nighter a week before that. A nap seemed the best choice. I was relatively low-stress and on-track so I figured it would be fine. Last year, 2014, I was high-stress that close to con so I figured that I was far more on top of things OR I was forgetting something massive. Either way, I could afford a nap. So at 10:30pm on 10/27 I took a 3 hour nap. I woke up at 1:30am, 10/28, to find a lone Sam still up and doing things. By the time I got up, everyone else had gone home. I honestly felt bad that everyone had been working while I slept and left before I got up. However, if I’d known that they had left I would have slept longer. I had only limited myself to 3 hours in an attempt to get out of bed while there were still people at my house.
Sam still being up was impressive. He rarely stays up because he tends to get “blackout drunk” tired. He was right on the edge of that when I got up. He then stayed up even later helping with easy things. Sam, although “drunk tired,” assisted with organizing the badges and other minor tasks while I worked on the rest of my todo list. Sam went to bed around 3am-ish. In the morning he didn’t remember the last few hours of the night or what he had done but even in that state he had still been very helpful.
When I again hit the wall of “I’m still awake but not getting anything done anymore,” I decided on another short nap. I went to bed at 6:10am with a plan. The plan was to sleep for the absolute minimum amount of time I felt I could get away with and then immediately start the day with a Rockstar.
I was out of bed by 8:30am on Wednesday morning. I was fuzzy but conscious and stuck to the plan. I started my morning with a Rockstar, 240mg of caffeine. It was a slow start but the caffeine kicked in and I was working again!
Eventually I became hungry.
Although it is highly possible that I had some sort of virus, I believe the chicken was the cause of me soon being very, very sick. Let me timeline the chicken for you. We purchased the chicken around 7pm. We ate some of the chicken around 7:30-8pm. At around 1:30am (after my nap) we put the chicken and the remaining garlic bread in the fridge. The chicken stayed there until I got hungry around 3-4amish. It then stayed outside the fridge until I decided I was hungry again in the morning. Food tends to have lifespans like this at our all-nighter events and I thought nothing of it at the time but this was the ONLY suspect food that I ate.
At some point Wednesday morning, maybe 9:30am or so, I was hungry and I finished off the last of the chicken. I worked fast and productively until around noonish when I began to slow down again. I had only finished about half the Rockstar so far, so I drank more. I never finished it. In spite of the Rockstar in my system I was still hitting a wall. At roughly 12:40pm I noticed that my back hurt. I figured I must have been sitting in this chair for too long, and for some reason my stomach was starting to really bother me, too. I figured it must be the energy drink messing with me — that happens sometimes. I got out some very old and mildly stale cereal to snack on to hopefully calm the stomach ache.
It didn’t work.
Unhappy and not feeling terribly productive, I laid down on the couch for a while and watched a bit of TV. I asked Sam to rub my back since he was up at that point, but I don’t remember when exactly he has appeared. I think I made it maybe 20 minutes before I decided bed was the best plan.
At 1:30pm I left a HipChat message in the admin room “Pretty sure it’s just a matter of time before I vomit” followed by the saga of me getting really pissed off, spending about 20 minutes forcing myself to vomit until I finally threw up something substantial, and then going back to bed, extremely angry but still not feeling any better.
My last message in HipChat was about 3:30pm when I finally gave up. My stomach had won. I could not move, I could not do anything other than roll back and forth on the bed while my back ached terribly, and my stomach did the same. I could only be in a position for about 10 minutes and then I would get a sharp pain in my back as if I’d been laying still that way for an hour. I would then have to reposition myself to minimize the pain.
I feel the need to point out that at this point I had almost an entire Rockstar in me. These things last roughly 12 hours for me and that is almost EXACTLY how long it was from this point before I got any sleep. I was awake and in significant pain from 3:30pm until 3:30am when I finally vomited my final time and then finally started passing out for small periods of sleep in increments of about 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
The whole 12 hours was pretty much a blur, but I do remember putting some serious thought into whether the ER was a good idea. I was pretty sure it was just food poisoning, though, and would pass soon enough that an ER trip wasn’t worth anything. I also could hear people coming and going in the front of the house doing things. They were attempting to tackle my todo list. I remember Tasha repeating “I just don’t know what she wants!” and honestly at that point, I didn’t care — I just wanted things done. I wanted not to be sick. I wanted to work on my own todo list.
I also remember hearing a conversation where Tasha was explaining to the room the difference between serif and sans serif fonts and was pronouncing serif wrong. Or at least some ancient archaic way that no one says it now and it bothered me. She also said she didn’t like serif fonts.
1. I favor serif fonts unless I have a reason to use sans serif (sometimes I do).
2. SEHR-if, not Sehr-EEF. I really, truly, desperately wanted to scream out from my bedroom SEHR-IF!!! I didn’t really have the will. I did get to rant at her later on, but the fact that I couldn’t rant at the time will probably tell people who know me just how bad off I was. Couldn’t work on con. Couldn’t do HipChat. Couldn’t even yell. It was a sad state.
At about 6am I finally was able to sleep solidly. Sam unfortunately had to wake me up at about 10:30am. It was setup day and we had shit to do.
It was now 10/29 — Thursday, and I’d lost my entire Wednesday of prep.
I felt terrible, still, but slightly better. I was able to eat a quarter of a piece of toast, and then later a whole piece as we were leaving for Costco. I only really remember sitting and wishing I could go back to bed. At some point I put together an @all message in the staff HipChat room explaining that I had had food poisoning. I felt it necessary to warn everyone that I was sick, and behind on my things because I was sick. The staff was very understanding, and I greatly appreciated it. I still felt bad. I have a responsibility to my staff to get my shit done and I just couldn’t.
We took River to our vet for boarding. We forgot her pillow so had to go back for it, but otherwise it went smoothly. Someday I hope to bring River with us to con but this certainly was not the year to do it. She’s not ready and neither are we. Maybe when she can get through an obedience class without barking we’ll consider it. As it was there was someone bringing a dog in behind us at the vet and that caused her complete and total meltdown. At this time she can’t follow our dog policy and Sam and I need to be able to watch her at least between the two of us. We just can’t do that yet.
We dropped off her pillow on our way to Costco. The Costco trip was misery. I usually love the final Costco trip — it’s rather fun to just binge-buy food. It was very un-fun to have to walk and look at all that food feeling as bad as I did. I walked very slowly and we got out of Costco far later than Sam had intended. He was trying to rush towards the end — “are we done?” “No, we still need to get things on the next 3 aisles.”
The food for this year was $400 and the candy was $400 (I hope we never do this Halloween con thing again). I overbought on candy by about $100. The food was an okay amount. Next year fewer bananas, and more oranges. I bought about the right quantity of apples. Once the cereal was opened people ate from it, but no one wanted to open the boxes. Also, I need to hide away things that come in twos. BOTH the Nutellas were opened when we could have saved one for next year, easily.
I think we went home after Costco to do the final load-up in the Ex(pedition). I don’t remember much about that. I think I pretty much sat and did nothing, again. I remember trying to help a little bit because I felt guilty that Sam was doing everything but I didn’t do anything particularly substantial. I gathered up badges and put them in our badge box. I called my parents since I had a missed call from an unknown number. It hadn’t been them, but now that I was on the phone, I had to talk. I told my mother about the food poisoning. She kept saying it could be norovirus. Okay, well it could be. The symptoms sounded exactly the same. I didn’t feel that it particularly mattered one way or the other.
Then we were on our way to Reno! Late.
The goal had been to BE at the truck rental place by 3pm since that was our appointment. We left Carson at 3pm. I kept getting HipChat notifications from logistics people wanting to know where we were. I had told everyone we were leaving late and the continual questions began to really annoy me. We’re late. I’m sorry. Get over it.
We made it to the truck rental at 3:30pm. We almost missed the guy — he was getting ready to leave to take care of some stranded customer and saw us pull up.
I feel it’s relevant to mention that we had to pick up the truck from a different Budget Truck than usual. This was the year of “everything hates me,” after all. Early on in the food poisoning I had been in bed and I got a phone call from Budget Truck. Something something accident. Something something different location. I called out to Sam and had him take the phone and deal with it. I was not going to deal with a phone call while sick. It was a good move because I really forgot about the whole thing until we were on our way to the truck place — I would have completely neglected to tell Sam if I hadn’t had given him the phone at the time.
There’s an annoying amount of protocol when renting a truck. I have to wait for paperwork to be done, sign a few things, wait while they inspect the truck in front of me, sign a few more things, then finally the truck is ours for the weekend. The whole process takes somewhere around 15 minutes, sometimes longer.
Once the necessary rental crap was handled, Sam took the truck and I drove the Ex. We hit the table place first. 80 tables was quite a bit more than we’d gotten in the past and it nearly filled the truck. I had apparently forgotten to tell logistics that we were getting more tables than usual. It was in HipChat, but I don’t think Sam was in the merchant room where the table count was being discussed. Oops.
Sick, I didn’t even bother helping. I simply paid for the tables and waited in the car. While I was waiting I started talking to Nathan on HipChat. I think Sam had asked me to check on the easels, or something. Nathan had rented the easels from a different location. With our short timetable Sam made the decision that we (the truck) would not be going there. Nathan (or someone else) would have to get them. They didn’t get picked up until sometime Friday as a result.
A quick note on the easels — I’m rather annoyed that we rented easels at all. Had I known that we needed them I would have purchased them because they aren’t terribly expensive and they would have paid for themselves in a couple years. We are very used to the venue providing easels, so no one mentioned it to me and I didn’t think to ask until it was too late. For 2016 we’re probably buying like 30 easels. We used all 20 we rented from the place. We were supposed to also get 10 from the venue but no one I spoke with saw anything of that. I hope we didn’t get charged for them because it was supposed to be $10 each.
After the table place we went to storage. Again, sick, I didn’t really do much of anything. I mostly sat in the sun and waited. Storage took significantly longer than I remember it taking in the past. Do we have more things, or did we have fewer people? Sam said it seemed normal to him so maybe it was only because I was just waiting. It was hours. Or at least it seemed that way. I’m not really sure anymore. Sam told me he thought it was 45 minutes but since he was actively working I think his time perception is warped in the opposite direction that mine was. Either way, I felt like crap and I was cold, and it took FOREVER.
After the sun left I waited in the car. It was annoyingly cold but luckily there was a blanket in the car. When we were finally done at storage the Ex was pretty much empty. Everything had been moved to the truck — the plan being that we’d only have to back the truck up once in the loading dock and not the car. All that was left in the car was money and badges I needed for reg. Through HipChat, I coordinated with reg staff at the venue to meet me. My phone was on the last bit of battery it had so I needed to coordinate fast.
I was going to call or HipChat people when I arrived, but as I drove past the entryway I recognized some of the reg team waiting by the elevators. I parked and then shuffled my way slowly to them with my arms over-stuffed with reg supplies. I noticed Nyandrew and Rika pass me in their car as I worked my way though the parking lot. When the reg people saw me they opened the doors for me and they all grabbed the things I had been carrying by myself. Yay.
On the way from the parking lot to reg we ran into Christopher Escalante. Something about the hotel moving his room? That was a bit confusing since he only checked in that day. I still don’t entirely know what was going on with that. As Chris distracted me, the girls left me behind. I understand they were probably in a hurry to get things to reg, but I don’t like being left behind. It wasn’t a big deal, but I complained at them when I caught up. I honestly didn’t think I would catch up but they weren’t too far in front of me and I just needed a large enough area to get them back in sight (and yelling range).
At reg the computers were still being set up. Logistics was already moving along, too. I don’t remember how it happened but since my phone was almost dead Haku took it to charge it for me. He offered to fix my cracked screen at some point. I had dropped my phone in the parking lot about a month before con and because it was before con I was too busy to get on the phone and deal with it. I do pay for insurance so it should be no big deal to get fixed, I was just too freaking busy pre-con. Months after con and I still haven’t fixed it. Now it’s more of a laziness issue.
We brought out the badges and Sammich took out the list of the VIPs. There had been a lot of behind-the-scenes issues with the hotel this year and we had issues knowing who was VIP and who wasn’t because we had to rush so much at the last minute. As such, we had left a substantial portion of the badges unlaminated because they could maybe possibly kind of be a VIP? Maybe?
The instructions we gave were to sticker the badges on the list and laminate them. We did not explain it any further than that. It is important to note that there were no managers involved in this process who knew about the list and why we were doing it the way we were doing it — we were all dealing with our own things. Sammich was trying to make the reg system work. I don’t remember what I was working on, but I was working on something else. The group of people doing the stickering and laminating, laminated all the badges, not just the VIPs because they didn’t know the remaining badges were still “maybe” VIPs. It was discovered far too late.
The unfortunate decision was that we would sticker the outside of these laminated badges and I would sign the back so that Rovers would know they were legit. I signed about a dozen VIP badges that weekend. I worried though — what would happen if I wasn’t at reg when they needed a VIP badge signed?
While that was going on I was running around trying to get things figured for the VIPs. VIPs got a 2014 die and some coupons for $5 off T-shirts and Tabletop’s Paint & Take. They were also supposed to get buttons but that didn’t happen due to the unplanned rush. The T-shirt coupons either weren’t created or weren’t printed so I ended up writing on the Paint & Take coupons and told them to bring that tab back for a real coupon later. Apparently some did.
At some point Sam had set up his computer in reg with one of the Brother printers. Fairly early on in the night I got the T-shirt coupons out as fast as I could — there had already been at least 5 people with T-shirt “coupons” written on the Paint & Take coupons so I needed them out quickly. He had also brought the HP printer which Sammich took to hook up to reg. To my knowledge it was the next day when it actually was set up but reg did become a printing location — hooray!
In between running around to get VIP stuff together, I assisted with training people on the reg system and mostly just handling manager issues along the lines of “No, I’m sorry we aren’t taking any cash tonight” and “No, I’m sorry but only your group leader can pick up your group’s badges.” I needed reg people to know that staff received a staff letter and VIPs received two coupons and a die of their choice. I drilled this as best I could and kept people stocked with staff letters and VIP items as best I could. My original plan was to have staff and VIP bags ready to go in advance. Nope — food poisoning ended that idea.
I remember being thirsty and people getting me water. I remember the water going empty and as much as we called the venue and asked it to be refreshed it never was until about 8am the next morning. Unacceptable.
As we were trying to set up reg we unloaded the new T-shirts. I regret the purple color. I should have gone with the original lighter shade. They still looked cool but as the designer I get to be annoyed at myself for the decision. We also unloaded our first-ever hoodies. They were terrible! The screen printing job was just flat out poor. What happened? Fuel was always so wonderful before. The T-shirts were all fine but the hoodies were pure crap which really sucked since I intended on buying one for myself. Damn. I planned to email Fuel during con about the issue but ended up handling it after con was over.
At some point things in reg were handled enough that I felt safe to go get the rooms checked in. Sam had been hanging around reg a bit and had been updating me on things and basically shadowing me. I invited him to come with me — or maybe I insisted, but that’s the same thing I suppose. I remember him commenting as we went down the escalators that he liked just following me around doing things for me and would prefer to just do that if he didn’t have all these other responsibilities.
Checking in rooms went fairly smoothly. I had a ton of rooms. Throughout the evening I had had several people asking me about rooms. Susana had her luggage sitting behind Reg, Nyandrew was wandering around, and I think I’d seen Origami as well.
Because the standard room prices were so low, the dorms went fairly unused this year which worked out well for the four people who chose to take advantage since I try to split the sexes up. It’s not because I expect anything to happen or think the staff can’t handle coed rooms, but more for the similar things they bring and convenience. Girls tend to be more okay sharing beds so if I put 4 girls in a two bed room then there’s a good chance that all 4 people sleep in beds. Guys tend to sleep on the floor or anywhere to avoid sharing beds. There’s also similarities in the toiletries they bring and whatnot. And when I say “tend” I mean something like 60% of the time — these aren’t hard rules or anything, just what I’ve observed.
Regardless, everyone got their own bed this year because one room was Susana and Katie and one room was Origami and Aidan.
As I was checking in the rooms I remembered that I had turned in Nyandrew’s as his own room so he could check it in. Since he paid for a whole room for him and his wife as if it were a 4-person room, it simply made sense to me to just put his name on it so he could come and go as he pleased. I forgot to tell him that however, so he’d been waiting on me. Oops.
When I was done checking in I remember looking in the little folders they give you and noticing only like one key in each. Crap. I was only about 6 feet away from the desk and turned right around. I needed 4 each! I was glad I checked the folder before getting all the way to reg or I would have been pissed.
From there I hit reg to check on things. I ran into Nyandrew and told him the situation and he could check in his own room. I don’t remember why but I was stuck in reg for a short while. Then I headed up to check out the rooms with Sam and Sammich. We looked in each room and discovered several were conjoining. Awesome.
Some rooms were only good through Sunday and others Monday. Some had two beds and others one. Sammich was extremely helpful for figuring out the room assignments. In the end we put Sammich and Thomas (who were originally in my room but since we had some unused rooms I gave them their own) next to Sam and me which conjoined with the food room. Susana and Katie would be across the hall conjoining with a so-far unused room and Origami and Aidan would be next to that. We also had one more unused room on the 4th floor. I would need to add a day to Susana’s room since that room checked out Sunday, but I could take care of that later.
Yay! We got something done!
Sammich had to go home to get things so I believe he left pretty much right after that. I went to reg and distributed keys. After I was done distributing the keys Nyandrew came and found me. The hotel wanted a credit card. Fuck. This was a nightmare at the GSR when it happened. Well, let’s see how it goes here. We went down to check-in to see what I could do.
Well, at the Nugget the credit card thing turned out to be an amazingly simple issue to fix. We walked up and I said Nyandrew’s room was supposed to be on the master account and the guy behind the counter said there were no notes on the room but asked us to hold on, then he went into a back room. After a minute he came back and he said his supervisor approved it and it was all taken care of. Woo! Back to reg. I left Nyandrew to continue checking in.
I don’t quite know what I was doing in reg at the time, but Sam and I had planned on heading home to get more things. As I was finishing things up at reg I remember stating that I wanted soup. Yay — I was actually hungry for the first time since I got sick! I was offered Soylent which I’d only ever had small tastes of before. It was bland enough my stomach should handle it. It did. I finished nearly the whole bottle in like 10 minutes . . . or less. As much as I’d needed the food this filled me up very quickly and my stomach was annoyed at me. Not mad, but annoyed.
Since reg was slow and the urgent things were handled Sam and I headed out to Carson after tracking down where Haku had plugged in my phone. As much as I would have preferred to just stay in Reno I felt that it would be beneficial if I went home so that I could put eyes on things I needed because Sam wouldn’t know and I couldn’t remember.
Although I’m pretty sure I was awake for the drive home I don’t remember it at all. I barely remember being at home. I only really remember when we were getting ready to leave and Sam was not wanting to take more things. At my request he packed up my computer anyway. I went through every room in the house grabbing items. I never made it to the garage, but I was tired and Sam was done. He needed to sleep and that was that.
On the way out we stopped at WalMart. I needed a voice recorder. We had to hunt every aisle of electronics but I finally found them on the very last aisle. They had two. One was $30, and the other was $60. The $30 one looked like it would more than handle con. It claimed some 80-something hours of battery life. We had 55 hours of programming. No problem.
I fiddled with it in the dark in the car. I put the batteries in, got it turned on and I thought I got it recording while we were driving along in the dark. I didn’t actually get it recording but I didn’t discover that until I was in reg a couple hours later. As we were driving I occasionally I used the lights on the road to see the little screen since it had no backlighting. There was a sliding switch on the side. I thought it was a hard on and off switch since I had to slide it to get it on. I learned well after con that the off switch was actually on and off/hold. If I’d looked at it in a lit area I might have noticed that. That would have been useful to know. Oh, well.
On our way back to Reno, Thomas sent a HipChat trying to figure out what was happening in ops because reg was closed and he was by himself. There wasn’t much I could do about it on the road. I figured I would let it sort itself out.
When we arrived back at the Nugget, I grabbed the things I needed immediately, Sam grabbed the camera, and we headed to reg. I don’t know what happened with Thomas, but when when we arrived at reg there was a Sammich and Gopher in the room at least. It had indeed sorted itself out.
From reg, Sam went to bed and I went to his computer. I insisted that I had to get certain things done before I crashed — things I would have had done if I hadn’t spent a day sick. These things included putting together the guest bags, printing the staff/attendee incident report forms, printing volunteer slips, getting Phone.com working, and other basic maintenance crap I usually do right before con.
Gopher was hanging around and offered to help. There wasn’t a ton he could do to help me but I did have him fetch some badges for me out of the badge box. We bullshitted (complained, mostly) while I did things. He filled me in on random things like how he was helping Ryan in the Erotic Twinkie Eating Contest and that Tabletop got giant pocky instead of regular pocky (giant pocky is terrible, BTW). He disappeared off into the night after that. I think he said he was going to check with Abe but I don’t remember.
I was going through the guest files and making sure that any guest who had an appearance fee or per diem got their checks cut. I did the first one by hand and then remembered I not only had the accounting computer in front of me but it had a printer attached. I was being dumb and there was a much easier way of handling this task. I cut the remaining checks out of QuickBooks and printed them in one batch. Yay saving time! It also saves future time because now I won’t have to enter those checks into QuickBooks — they’re already there!
I asked Sammich to make sure the “special instructions” field was displayed on the registration check-in and I made sure each guest bag had special instructions set so that there would be no question about where their bag was if I wasn’t at reg. There were only a few special notes — mostly guests and one special attendee bag which totaled to something like 7 bags, but they were important bags.
Sammich gave me access to the local database so I could handle some basic maintenance. We discovered that Wordsound didn’t have a badge and we would have to finagle its physical creation. There was some sort of bug in the guest system that didn’t really work for people who already existed from previous years but hadn’t yet been guests (he hadn’t). I was very glad we discovered that before he attempted to pick up his badge and have it not be there. I asked Sammich to make the badge.
We also had to remove a non-staffer from the staff system. He hadn’t done his contract and there were some behind-the-scenes reasons he hadn’t yet been purged. It was another one of those things I was going to do before con happened but then got sick so I needed to take care of it now. Although he wasn’t going to be attending I still needed to get the staff record purged. I deleted the record in the database and Sammich pulled the physical badge.
I tried to cover important things with Sammich since I was hoping to head out relatively soon and I was hoping to get his help. He said he’d be working on volunteers system all night. I wasn’t sure how much of the system he was hoping to have working by the morning but to my knowledge, none of it was.
I asked him to handle Phone.com recordings and I left him with keys to Sam’s car to get Sam’s and my nice microphone. I also asked him to handle the staff signin/out form for the food cards since that should have been a very fast project. I’d created an automated one after writing last year’s con report but we needed it modified for both check out and in because we needed the cards returned. I had neglected to link to it though, so it would be a little bit of a hunt but shouldn’t have been too difficult to find and edit.
While I was doing all this I took the time to address the voice recorder. “So it’s like 3:30 in the morning. 3:36 right now and I’m sitting here trying to get the last of my crap done. . . . I just think it’s kinda funny that I’m getting over being sick but I’m still crazy enough to [be], like, I have to get things taken care of. “
I was also determined to get the volunteer forms ready. It was the very last thing I did — revising them and getting them ready to print in the morning. When I was updating Sammich on the things I did and still needed to do he said we needed the staff badges on the volunteer form because matching signatures is a pain. I said that I’d left the form on the screen and I asked him to update it. I promptly forgot about that conversation. I think he did too as I believe nothing that I’d asked him to do was done when I got up because he was still dealing with his own things.
It was 4am when I was finally satisfied that things were sufficiently handled and I headed off to bed to sleep for a few hours. I took the guest appearance fee checks with me to hide in my room and give to Nathan at some point. Sammich was left holding down the fort. I warned him I probably wouldn’t make it for 7am open unless he needed me, and he said he’d only call if there was a situation in reg that needed me specifically. That type of situation is pretty rare because Sammich and Thomas can pretty much handle most situations without me. I headed off, knowing reg was covered. I crawled into bed (in spite of Sam taking up the ENTIRE BED) and got roughly 4 hours of sleep.
My alarm went off at 7:45am. I managed to crawl out of bed and shower. My head was pounding but I’d left my Motrin at ops so I’d have to take some later. I felt really fuzzy — I could have used another 5 or 6 hours of sleep, at least. Sam’s alarm went off as I was getting dressed so I filled him in on the status of things including how painfully strong the shower was and the fact that it didn’t drain very well.
Sadly (and annoyingly) that was to be the most sleep and only shower of the con. Although sleep is a luxury I set aside willingly and quickly, I do generally make an effort to shower at minimum twice per con and really I try for once per day IF I can get away with it. This year, however . . .
I realized at some point that morning that the cash boxes were still in the car so reg had been operating without cash all morning. I figured if they had a really big issue they would have been contacting me but so far everything remained quiet.
I headed down to reg as soon as I was ready while Sam remained in bed. Arriving at reg, I immediately went to work. Weren’t our tables supposed to go all the way to the wall? We need to move tables. We need to move the table skirting so our front tables aren’t bare. We need to get the tape lines down on the floor. We need to be using all three doors for reg lines. Oh yeah — good morning by the way. How am I feeling? Like crap — my head is pounding like crazy.
Several times on Thursday night I had spoken to cosplay staffers and I told every one that I saw to meet me in reg at 9am. It was already after 8am so I didn’t have a ton of time to get things done before they would theoretically show up. The only cosplay staffer I wasn’t expecting was SamE whom I hadn’t seen and hadn’t made any effort to reach out to. I was busy and beyond stressed all morning so it was much later when I realized that no one had shown up.
Sammich asked me about the master cash box and I told him it was in the car. He left and grabbed the cash box and the condenser mic out of the Ex so we could hopefully finish Phone.com. When he returned he let me know Sam was leaving to get some stuff out of storage that had been forgotten. Can’t put up the pipe and drape without the bases!
We had an unmanageable line building for reg. I headed back to Sam’s computer to print a map of the room with where the tape lines (and tables) should be. Before I could make it to the computer I was grabbed to approve an ID — a hunter’s license. I would have preferred Llama make that call but I approved it because it was government issued, I suppose, and Llama was nowhere to be seen. I tried to help Kmittens get set up with an empty cash “box” (bag) but he made the dire mistake of saying “don’t eat me” which if we were in a different situation would have resulted in a much more volatile response from me. I told him someone else could help him and abandoned him completely.
Back at Sam’s computer I got my reg/ops map on the screen. I couldn’t force it to only print the tape lines so I printed the whole room. I was in too much of a rush to bother to try to figure out Sketchup. Tasha had done our tape lines last year but was nowhere to be seen. I would have loved for her to have done the lines. Now that I had a map, I discussed the layout of the room with Sammich. The admin had set up too far down the room — the server was against the column but reg was supposed to be start at the wall and stretch toward that column leaving the column tables open for volunteers and peace bonding. His best suggestion was to move it that night; there wasn’t much he could do with reg being open already. Wonderful.
“We need tape lines and we need them now. Is there anyone who’s not doing anything?”
I don’t know quite where on the timeline to put this but Cassy was stuck being an off-computer reg manager because for some reason the system couldn’t find her. We never quite figured out why. She got to spend the weekend handling the cash box and doing manager things but never got to work the reg system and check anyone in. Although it’s good to have a manager who is off the computers, it also is good to allow that manager access to the manager tools we have.
As we were trying to deal with the reg line, and trying futilely to get Cassy logged into the reg server to be able to check in our growing line, Haku came up and said something about he heard a rumor that reg wanted a projector. Well the rumors were true but I didn’t think we could accomplish it this year. There are other issues with getting video set up but there was far too much we needed to handle in the mean time. I went back into the tape lines issue.
Haku reported that the tape box was at main stage. Apparently Origami stole our box of tape to spike the stage. I was highly annoyed at this because tech doesn’t get to take the whole box — they get a couple of rolls which they then have to return. The box lives in ops or reg. Haku returned immediately with tape and Angela to handle the lines.
I showed Angela the print out and tried to explain my madness to her as best I could while Haku worked on setting up radios for checkout.
At approximately 8:40am, as I was attempting to get back to Sam’s computer to sit down and do signage, Origami popped in the room to ask if there were any rovers around. There weren’t. He needed a badge checker but volunteers department wouldn’t be showing up until 11am. Lovely. This was one of a few “why does this keep happening” moments we had this year. Origami needed some volunteers to be checking badges in the hallway so random people wouldn’t be wandering into gaming, vendors, artist alley, or main stage setup and get in the way, or worse, steal something.
I went to the reg line and called to it — “Is there anyone in line who’s intending on volunteering once you get your badge?” There was one and I pulled them immediately to the front to get them their badge and volunteer slip. However reg was apparently having a “code meow” error (what??) and couldn’t take money. I didn’t know what that meant or what was going on, but I knew Thomas was on top of it. Luckily, this volunteer already had their badge so I just printed some volunteer slips and pushed forward. I assume they were waiting in line with friends.
I wrote on their slip that they started at 9:19, I put them in the hallway, and I gave them some basic training. I was in a hurry to get back to my computer so I think I missed a few details and as much as I explicitly told them to be polite they apparently weren’t up to our standards per Llama and Nyandrew.
Soon the volunteer’s friends arrived and I had a group of 4 volunteers guarding the hallway. I sat down at Sam’s computer but almost immediately Haku stated that he needed someone to help with radios. Kay. I went out to the group in the hallway and asked who would like to help with the radios and two of them split off. I sat back down. Sam appeared. He was very annoyed that no one was helping in logistics or paying attention to the HipChat room. I offered him a volunteer and got a dismissive “sure” indicating he was far too annoyed to really care. I went out to the hallway again and pulled one more to assist in logistics. I walked them over to the truck area and gave a basic rundown, grabbed some items myself, and headed back to reg. I believe I pointed them at Sam for further instruction.
I want to point out that I used no gender-specific pronouns while writing about these specific volunteers. I really have no clue what any of then preferred except one who pointed out that he wanted to be called “he.” This is significant because as far as I could tell they were all girls. So I just used “he” for that one and then and avoided pronouns all together with that group.
Gender pronouns have been a hot topic this year. Most people who would read this know my feelings on the subject but here’s a quick rundown anyway — I don’t particularly care and I’ll call people what they want if I’m aware of that want and it’s not too strange for me (I’m not calling you a starfish). I screw up pronouns occasionally on friends who aren’t even transgender so it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll screw it up for strangers who are. Whatever. It wasn’t a big deal and I was too rushed/busy to put any thought into it at the time — I just quickly said “I’m sorry,” switched, and kept going.
Once the volunteers were placed and had their forms, I finally sat down at Sam’s computer again to get our signage done. I needed to design and order our signs from Costco. Sam had done a few while I was sick but not all of what we needed since he didn’t know the list that I had been carrying in my head. I quickly got all the signs I could think of designed. I knew I was going to miss things but it was more important to get what I could remember than to wait to ask others. I then attempted to upload them to Costco and order.
While I was working Sam came over to ask when he’d be able to move his computer. I very quickly responded that it’d be at least an hour. Trying to get him his computer added to my stress. He came by a few minutes later and asked again if the estimate was now 45-30 minutes. I ranted at him all the things I still needed to do.
Uploading the signage images to Costco seemed to go fine. Ordering, however . . . Looking back on it I think the Costco website itself was having issues. It was acting weird no matter what browser I used. I had used the service many times before and when I used it again later that weekend it was fine. At that specific point however, all I received from that website was anger and frustration. Perfect fucking timing. I was battling with the Costco website for something like 2 hours.
While I was battling Costco, reg was still doing its thing. We were putting volunteers to work with volunteer slips but no one knew where the contracts were or if we had any more. I wasn’t available to help them. People were starting to show up with those annoying Infinite Campus website “IDs” which shouldn’t count as student IDs but it seems that might be what some schools are doing now. Since Sam was hovering over me for his computer and he worked at a school, he became the official checker of those for a little while. It only lasted an hour or so then he had to go off to do his own stuff so I don’t know what precisely reg did after that but I assume we continued to take them.
Fun fact: as I was writing this, Sam had to attend a week-long training session on Infinite Campus. He did a little fact-finding for me because we had some students coming in stating that their school no longer issues IDs. I find that a little hard to believe but the information he received is that schools are not required to issue student IDs, so it’s probable. However, Infinite Campus recommends that it NOT be used as student ID because it’s a website and websites can be spoofed. Well gee, yathink? That’s why I don’t like taking them in the first place. However that leaves us with possibly a lot of ID-less students.
I feel like we should make a list in the wiki of schools in the area and what date they issue IDs every year and any other pertinent ID-related information along with last date of contact. That way when someone tries to bullshit us with “my school doesn’t issue IDs” we know if it’s true or not. I’m also thinking someday we’ll crack down on the ID issue and either they bring ID or they bring a parent — no more Infinite Campus. Someday.
Llama also came over to update me that our volunteers weren’t being nice enough and our hotel rep complimented him on handling the volunteers (telling them to be nicer) and said we were all doing a wonderful job. They were also looking for Nathan to do the walk-through. At the GSR, Liz learned after a couple years that I was a responsible individual who could make decisions and I started getting dragged around for those walk-throughs. Although Liz was on site she was our catering rep and was not responsible for doing the walk-through. I saw her briefly and basically apologized but I was busy battling Costco and couldn’t chat or catch up as much as I would have loved to. Liz did come by with the new rep and I believe I smiled and shook her hand and then went right back to the computer.
People just Would. Not. Leave. Me. Alone. Multiple people were asking how I was feeling. Haku came up and asked about the radio forms. Gopher came up to ask if we would accept a photo of a piece of paper with their photo, name, birth date and parent signature as an ID for a minor attendee. “No,” but I followed up that he should probably ask Llama (Llama ended up talking to the parent over the phone to OK that one). Peace bonding zip ties were missing and no one knew where they were. Something about guests. Where’s Nathan? No idea but Llama’s around — find Llama. Have we figured out the food vouchers yet? No.
Peace bonding zip ties missing became a hot issue. Some staff were worried that a specific ex-staffer may have stolen them. Well that was a possible concern but after a lot of time wasted from people looking and speculating, Sam eventually was able to go to storage, find them, and bring them back to con. We were without our branded peace bonding ties until like 3 or 4pm because he did it as part of his Costco run.
I had managed to get three signs ordered but I couldn’t get any more to work. Trying to troubleshoot and possibly work around the issue I attempted to bring up Costco on my laptop. Out of batteries. I tried Sam’s laptop. Out of batteries. By this point I was ready to put a fist — or a laptop — through the monitor. I hunted down my backpack so I could plug in my laptop. While the laptop was booting I think it was Gopher who came up to ask about cosplay repair and its schedule and if it had a sign. I just about bit his head off regarding the Costco signs. “I’m at the edge of my everything right now.”
More people continued to bother me. Cassie needed help with the columnar pad. I helped her and asked her to fetch Sammich for me. After a couple minutes of waiting I got annoyed and called out “or Thomas!” I just needed someone to enter the wireless password in my laptop. Thomas had to enter it twice as he swapped some of the words (“flying shining purple wolfhound” instead of “shining flying purple wolfhound” or something). Evan in Cosplay Repair showed up and I had to give him some idea of how to set up. Someone said something to me about staff forms? What? Oh, staff dorms — Aidan needed his room key. I found it quickly and gave it to him and went back to signs.
Thomas came over to me again in his own swirl of panic.
“I never finished the shop.”
“It’s needed now.”
“Finish it now.”
“I need 5 hours of solid work, uninterrupted.”
“Do something, Thomas, make it work! I can’t work on that now.”
He left even more anxious than when he came. I didn’t care if he used a piece of paper or wrote it on his arm. I just didn’t care — I needed to get Costco handled and people wouldn’t leave me alone and the site WOULDN’T WORK.
Continuing the trend of no one leaving me alone, Sammich came up to me to discuss Phone.com and I suggested he go help Thomas. Thomas was code silver and I yelled at him. Sammich said he would in a moment but wanted to know where to set up the microphone for Phone.com and if we wanted the sounds of con in the background. I didn’t care but the sounds of con were a cool idea.
Sam came by and told me not to rush — he was going to set up his laptop at main stage. Well there was still definitely a rush, regardless of Sam’s needs. Sammich came over to ask about T-shirt pricing. Thomas had asked him to handle something about the pricing and I just pointed him towards the database to look at last year’s prices because I didn’t remember and I wasn’t going to split off any more time or brainpower to finding it out for him. Llama came up and started rubbing my back and talking to me about positive things while I worked. Apparently Sam told him to go help me — he didn’t know how but he said I was stressed and needed something. Susana came by and asked if vendors could open an hour late. Sure, why not? Didn’t care. There was also an issue with the fire extinguisher and a vendor. Wut. We were told by the venue that it wouldn’t be an issue but now it apparently was. Whatever — find Nathan. Not my problem. I never learned the outcome of that.
More people continued to interrupt me. Sammich asked what to do about a “tip” at reg. It was only a minor amount of pocket change and I didn’t care much but he was concerned about it throwing off the cash box counts. The change ended up in a flower pot. Evan wanted paper for the hot glue gun. I think it was Freshman who came up to me to ask me about signage. I gave him a “no” in an “I’m going to kill you” tone. I was still battling with Costco and it will be at least until 2pm before someone could even go get the signs.
Blanca finally showed up and I had her quickly approve the volunteer forms. I had to then go over basic layout of the reg/ops tables so volunteers knew where to set up. Blanca really pushed to be at the tables by the wall at the front of reg because reg wasn’t utilizing them well enough. It was a fair point but not what was planned. I was at the end of my giving a fuck so I told her to talk to Sammich and if he okayed it then I didn’t care. That was a terrible mistake on my part — it caused a huge mess in that area of the room which was supposed to be line control. Peace bonding followed volunteer’s lead and set up right next to them. If reg had been in the right location in the first place then there would not have been a table issue at all. I can only blame myself for not communicating the layout well enough in advance of con.
Con opened at 11. I was still working on signage when I realized that we had been open for a while. Oh dear, con was open.
Haku needed to check out radios to the staff so he needed the radio rules printed off the wiki. I attempted to do this quickly for him and discovered that the wiki couldn’t be accessed. While I attempted to deal with that with Sammich, two attendees came up to me to ask me to sign their VIP badges. Uhm — no I’m not signing a random VIP badge. I had to leave Sam’s computer and head over to reg to correct the issue because it should have been reg bringing me badges, not attendees. Thomas confirmed the attendees were good for VIPs and I signed their badges and headed back to the computer. Again.
Sammich said he was too distracted and left to get Phone.com recorded privately. It was poor timing because we discovered that it wasn’t just the wiki but the entire con site that was down due to a certificate issue. I couldn’t access the wiki and Sam couldn’t access the schedule. When Sammich returned he hadn’t recorded anything so I’m not quite sure what happened there.
Although I was very close to being done with signs and my Costco battle, I needed to get volunteer forms and contracts printed. I did a short run to get volunteers started so I could go back to the signs. After the signs were done I was able to get them a sufficient quantity to last through the end of con.
Using both Chrome and Firefox on both Sam’s computer and my laptop, I was finally able to get all the signs ordered from Costco. It was about 11:30-11:45am when I was finally done. Someone would have to go pick them up and pay for them later after like 2pm. The plan was Sam would go since he had a Costco card and his and my personal AMEX and I could reimburse us later.
Llama came up to me as I finished my order to let me know there was an issue with lost & found. They had no forms and no one knew what to do. Llama borrowed my laptop to write up some quick Lost & Found forms. Someone had offered at a precon staff meeting to make us some this year and then they never did. Llama got it done relatively quickly. Apparently Lost & Found needs written procedures.
Our food room was a hotel room this year. So that the staff could come and go as we wanted, I sent someone to the room with a roll of gaffer tape. We had some issues with the tape at first, but eventually it was worked out so that the door was “permanently” unlocked for the duration of con.
Now that my crucial task was handled, I was free to be extremely unhappy that cosplay had not shown up yet. I had told them to be there at 9 and it was almost noon and no one had even attempted to check in with me at all. I told Evan that he wasn’t supposed to be there by himself — cosplay was supposed to be there to help him. He had his first customer while we were talking.
I started in on the Phone.com issue. Sammich had come back and set up the recording equipment using my laptop since it had audacity on it. Our mini “recording booth” was my laptop, a small mixer, and Sam’s and my condenser mic. At that point we had an advertised phone number that would go nowhere if you called it. You could also text (or fax) it and if you did it went into a customer service HipChat room which had like two people in it.
I went to work on the message first. I had originally enlisted Sammich to help as he knew the Phone.com system acceptably well and knew how to record things. Sammich had also done voice recording before for entire phone systems. He has an excellent deep soothing voice. However, he had been up all night and had also been at sleep-dep levels before day zero started. When he tried to sound professional he simply sounded like he was going to reach through the phone and strangle you. We tried it several times and he continually sounded like he wanted to murder someone. I even had Freshman dance in front of him while recording to lighten him up a bit, but ultimately he was just too damned tired and I had to just send him off to bed.
I checked out a radio to Sammich at 12:41pm, before he headed out. I had a brief conversation about Sammich knowing the radio rules and policies. “The only thing I don’t know is which channel is which and that’s in the wiki which means I have to fix the wiki. Okay.” Yay — he would fix the cert issue and thus fix the site before he went to sleep!
I told Haku that I checked out a radio to Sammich. While we were talking he noticed that someone took a radio without it being checked out. I headed over to reg to look up the badge number listed and ran into SamE on my way. She filled me in that Rika and Skyler were outside. Lovely. Well my immediate priority was dealing with the radio. I had SamE wait for me and I had Thomas look up the badge number. It was Rieev. I asked her who checked out her radio and gave her a little trouble for it, then I sent her to Haku to get checked out properly.
With that handled, I was free to rant at SamE about the cosplay staff, and by this point I was pretty damned upset at them. I wasn’t upset at Evan as he was in charge of the repair station, and I wasn’t upset at SamE as I’d never told her to meet with me. Once she knew that the other staff had been told to meet me at 9, she understood my annoyance and was also reasonably annoyed. She had cookies that she had been handing out and set them down on a table while we talked. Various staffers took some throughout the afternoon. I considered it but I didn’t trust my stomach to handle it.
SamE offered to go get the girls from the hallway and I declined the offer. I’d been dealing with other crap and needed to organize myself a little bit for cosplay first. I got out my todo list on my phone and started going over it with her. SamE became basically my second head (without title) as she was the most responsible person I had to help where I needed her. She did a good job.
While I was going over my cosplay todo list with her I noticed Haku and Kiba just standing around talking. I swear a lightbulb might’ve gone off over my head if things like that really happened. PERFECT. I called to the two of them and put them on the phone recording project. Here’s the script, here’s the recording stuff, here’s the software it needs to go on. Have fun! And I went back to SamE.
I did feel bad leaving Haku to do the setup when Phone.com is fairly cumbersome. The system is HIGHLY customizable and as such has far too many options and rabbit holes to fall down. Haku’s a smart guy — he figured it out. I did come over occasionally to point him in the directions I wanted to go with the system, but I had very little time to dedicate to it. Kiba recorded our greeting and Haku made it work. He even put some of the phone numbers in and tested the system repeatedly. Yay!
I’m not entirely sure when this next thing precisely happened, but I remember being in the back of the room talking to SamE or Haku. I was talking to someone and I heard the scream come from registration “YES!!!”
So back before con, while we were printing all the schedules up we were having issues with the printer eating some of them. We made a post on the con Facebook about how we legitimately considered ironing the paper out because sleep dep. One of the two comments we received on that post was that someone wanted it because it had collector’s value. Well the specific ones that were getting eaten by the printer got tossed or recycled, but during one of our prep nights Llama folded up a schedule into an accordion-shape and put it in a bag. We marked it specially for that one person. The scream from registration was him finding his special edition schedule in his con bag. It was wonderful to see that he appreciated it. He later donated that schedule to the charity auction and it did actually sell for $6. (Only slightly less than a random cardboard box that Nathan signed which sold for $7.)
We do love doing fun shit like that, and we do read our Facebook comments.
After I organized myself with SamE and she was aware of what was going on for cosplay we went to get Rika and Skylar. Rika was sitting with two other people. I honestly didn’t know which one was Skylar so I focused on Rika. I started out by apologizing that I was probably going to be yelling because I was really pissed off. When I asked what was going on she said she had lost her badge. I didn’t really see the relevance but I asked about that a bit. Something something Nyandrew. Something something she had to break into her house. Something something lost her room key. I don’t know, but it turned out the reason she didn’t meet me is because she lost her badge or left it in her room or something like that. Her long-story-short was that she didn’t have her badge.
Well, ops is badgeless. It has to be because reg is in there and how could you get your badge otherwise? It was amusing to see the realization hit her face as I explained that. I would have gone after Skylar next “so what’s your excuse” had I known who she was. She had introduced herself to me the night before but I really didn’t remember since Thursday I was somewhat out of it, and by Friday afternoon I no longer wanted to deal with it.
I went back to ops with SamE and the other girls lagged behind, meeting us there several minutes later. We pulled out the prizes and dragged them over to the repair station / Cosplay Ops along with the baskets and supplies.
So about a month or two before con I took over cosplay. I had been determined that this would be an excellent year for our masquerade and cosplay department in general and the head wasn’t keeping up with my standards. Cosplay is a department that’s extremely important as the department’s top priority is making the masquerade run well. The masquerade is an anime con’s most important event.
I let cosplay slide for a long time, IMO. I never wanted to step in and make sure it ran right. I’m not a cosplayer. I don’t like masquerades. I don’t go to them at other cons (except as of 2014 I do but it’s for research purposes not because I changed my opinion). All in all, I just don’t care enough. I have no passion for it and that’s what I look for in a head — passion. That’s what I have others for, right? Well that wasn’t working out so I displaced the acting head.
Cosplay got a complete overhaul. Had I stepped in sooner it would have been even better but as it was it was a vast improvement. The cosplay staff were required to join and use HipChat or they would be removed. I revamped the masquerade rules to bring them more in line with other conventions. I even wrote up advice on skits / walk-ons for those that wanted help and included it in the rules. With Tasha’s help I wrote up instructions for judges and put it in our wiki.
As part of all that I wanted decent prizes. So I got trophies and looked for themed prizes. I had FAR too much fun getting prizes. I bought baskets from Good Will and Sam bought cellophane bags for me. I hadn’t had time to make up the prize baskets, however, so cosplay staff got to do that. The girls seemed super-excited to do that, too, so that was encouraging.
While we were working on that someone came over to me from reg — Frazetti said we gave him too much money. There had been a clerical error on his contract in his favor and he received per diem from us this year. I told him we’d just consider everything covered for the next several years. He also had an additional student helper he wanted to get in and I believe he used part of his per diem money to pay for that helper. I know the issue with the contract that happened and it was partially my fault for not following up on it more closely. Contracts were a little rushed this year because we started so late.
While I was talking with Frazetti I reminded him that he promised to cosplay for his panels this year. I had run into him at a Goodwill a week or so before con and we talked about having him cosplay. Apparently he thought it was too unprofessional so he never cosplayed when he was lecturing. I don’t know about others, but I tend to see it more as getting into the spirit of con! He promised he would wear his batman PJs for his gotham panel.
Before I could make it back to the cosplay staff I had a reg person ask me about someone who was to attend as a “helper” for a special needs individual. Generally that’s handled in advance, so I was a bit surprised at the question but I sent the reg person away without an answer. I was actually doing very well this year at pointing people towards other heads and saying “ask them” to keep people from bothering me. In spite of that, people kept bothering me, but it was a start!
The cosplay staff were to sign as many people up for the masquerade as possible. It would be later in the evening when SamE and I were able to make up the tickets that cosplay could pass around. We got the slips cut up and dispersed among the cosplay staff to distribute. We had signup forms (which I probably printed at the same time), and I answered questions as best I could to the staff who hadn’t bothered reading the rules on the site or the schedule.
At around 1ish, Nathan brought me the food cards. It was annoyingly late in the day but we had them, finally. Although I knew I had a staff checkout form in BACON from last year, it never got edited for us to use it to check the cards back in and I needed a form immediately — the staff were hungry. Yellow pad!
I went over to the logistics staging area to see if I could find an additional yellow pad that reg wasn’t using and I started hearing voices. Fuck. The voice recorder was playing in my pocket. The buttons were too sensitive and it was getting pressed as I moved around. After that point I was more aware of it — I kept other things out of that pocket and I checked it randomly, making sure to turn it back on when it had shut itself off. So much for a solid record of my con.
I did have to steal one of reg’s yellow pads, but I made up a quick sign in/out form and went around to the close-by areas of staff. I hit all the staff I saw in reg, artist alley, the hallway, and main stage. “Name, badge number sign. $30, good everywhere in the building except for Starbucks, or so I’m told.”
While I was working in the reg area on getting everyone signed up, a very confused looking lady wandered into the staff area and said she was looking for someone. Apparently she was looking for a vendor but she also needed to get her badge. My first priority was to get her out of the staff area. After I figured out what she needed, I just put her in the special line to get her handled faster and I moved on. I heard later that she did find her daughter, the vendor she was looking for.
SamE and I went over to Sam’s computer (now at main stage) to get the cosplay fliers designed and printed, and I passed around the food-card signup to all the staffers at the stage. Ryan was up on stage doing what had apparently become a multi-hour “sound check.” Amber had asked him to talk into the mic for a sound check and he just never stopped. Apparently he spent a good portion of the time insulting people’s phones? Supposedly people kept handing him phones to make fun of. Okay, then.
While we were over at main stage I noticed that it smelled like a birthday cake, or at least that’s what came to mind. It smelled of burning matches and candles. That wasn’t a burning electronics smell which would make more sense (more alarming, but more sense). Matches. Candles. Wax. The fuck? We looked around and saw nothing in the main area to explain it.
When I was done at main stage I headed to reg and ran into Nyandrew & Sam in the hallway. I signed out their cards and we discussed the smell. Someone pointed out that it was probably coming from the catering stuff. What? Well, yeah okay that actually makes perfect sense. They were using chafing dishes that used those little candles and the smell from them lighting the candles was getting sucked all the way over to main stage. Although I wasn’t aware of it until after con, that catering table apparently caused repeated heart-attacks amongst the staff all weekend because of the matches/candle smell.
While I was signing out food cards in artist alley, a volunteer came into the area carrying a hand made sign and announced loudly that he was heading to the panel rooms — follow him to the panel rooms! This was my first sight of Guy Weaver and although I didn’t know him or know it at the time — he was an impressively excellent volunteer!
After getting cards to a good portion of the people I saw, I gave the cards and sign in/out sheet over to Cassie to manage. Later that evening she asked me if someone could check out multiple people’s cards. Apparently tabletop had issues coming down. No, you can’t check out someone else’s card . . . but you (Cassie) could take the forms up there with cards and get everyone signed out. She lit up at the idea. I assume she went to do that but I never saw her leave.
As it was finally after 2pm, the signs could be picked up from Costco. I was also considering tacking some water onto that trip since we were having a serious drought at the con this year. We had been accustomed to having water everywhere all the time at the GSR. This was not the case at the Nugget — there were only a handful of water stations and GOOD LUCK if we needed one filled. We needed our own damned water.
I was talking with both Nathan and Sam at the time and I requested he get 10 flats of water. Nathan said 30. What? How are we doing 30? How are we getting 30 flats of water into the Ex, let alone to the con? Well maybe. The main issue I had was making Sam do it by himself but Sam could take someone with him, so Sam and Kris disappeared to do a Costco run.
When I was done handing out all the food cards and finally made it back to reg, I checked in on the cosplay staff. They were just about finished bagging up all the prizes to look pretty. One of the things I had tasked them with was making a sign for the masquerade people’s choice award. It was . . . awful. They had cut part of it off, terribly — the sign looked like it had gotten in a fight with a dull hack saw and the saw won. Apparently they misjudged the spacing and decided to cut off part of the board? I had them redo it and the second version was still pretty terrible — it actually looked quite a bit better but it was so light that it was unreadable at a distance and they also picked a very old and beat up board to use for the sign. I made a mental note to make one on the next Costco run — which I did.
Over at reg, I finally noticed that one of the lines was laid out in a blue tape that couldn’t be seen. I made a mental note to fix it later. I didn’t notice at that point, however, that the lines were wonky and needed to be fixed at certain locations. I consider all the issues with the tape lines to be my fault since I wasn’t monitoring when the tape went down.
As I could, I helped train people on the reg system so we could get more people on computers moving the line. A reg staffer grabbed me because they had a parent trying to give their ID for a child who didn’t have one. This makes me DETERMINED to have training videos for 2016, gawddammit. Yes! We ABSOLUTELY take a parent with an ID as ID for a minor. It’s in our publicly posted policies and has been for at least 2 years.
While I was training Isis she said that she was told that there weren’t any more pocket schedules / pre-reg bags. False! I had to go find a box because I knew there was no way we were out already. Sure enough, there was more in the back. This bothers me a bit because this is the second year that’s happened. I’m not sure how to fix that issue though beyond better training.
I hung out in reg for a while helping with training and doing manager things such as talking up the various areas to new attendees and parents, answering questions for the reg staff, helping reg staff use HipChat for admin requests, and answering the frequent question as to why someone didn’t get a prereg badge (the answer always being that they didn’t prepay before the September deadline). I was also a filter between reg and Thomas — I handled the things I could handle and the things that required an admin I sent to Thomas.
I went over to check on cosplay and answer questions for them again — I was checking in on them regularly. While I was over there Thomas came over to ask me about a guest issue. More than once throughout con we had minor guest issues that were mostly solved by checking the guest contracts. I think I told reg/Thomas to “check their contract” at least three times throughout the con. For 2016 we really need to have the contracts available in BACON for quick reference. This time we had a guest that didn’t have an entourage on their contract. We had been aware that the guest had someone they wanted to bring, but it was never contracted so the extra badge wasn’t free. I was being very strict about us following the contracts and I insisted that Nathan needed to make the call because I wasn’t going to give a free badge out at that point. I made some effort to make sure Nathan got called. Unsurprisingly, Nathan okayed it.
After I was done with the guest, Nyandrew came up and told me that he should get the “Yeah I Know Beta, Why” achievement because he worked in gaming, tech, logistics, rovers, and HR. He also worked reg a bit later on so the admin need to make sure he gets it, finally. If he doesn’t, though, it’s on him to report it to us via email. He told me he was also still missing the 2010 achievements and I told him to email reg again to get it into RT — our ticket system — so reg couldn’t ignore or forget about it again.
We stood there bullshitting a bit. I complained that reg had too long of a line because we were having lots of little hiccups in the reg system that we shouldn’t have been having. Nyandrew told me his morning started by being “sassed” by a volunteer while he had Andy, his son, in his arms. Apparently the volunteers I’d put in the hallway that morning had been worse than Llama had let on when he told me he talked to them. Oh, well. My training for them was rushed and lacking, and at this point they were long gone.
A reg staffer needed me to figure out a VIP issue. Luckily my laptop was not currently in use so I was able to access and search my emails more easily. The attendee had sent us their hotel info after our Monday cutoff. He was disappointed but understanding. Nyandrew pointed out shortly after that that he didn’t get VIP when he totally was supposed to. He had fallen victim to the all-laminating badge issue from the previous night. I offered to sign his badge but if he didn’t care about the sticker I wasn’t going to worry about it — he didn’t, so I didn’t. It was nice to talk to him for a bit before our different things pulled us to action in different directions.
The reg line was getting really annoying and possibly annoyed. Things were moving more slowly than they should have and I think Thomas was fixing some issue that was causing it. A volunteer (Guy Weaver) yelled to the room that stupid “I say SNAFU, you say Con” thing and got some decent participation from the line. As much as I’m not a huge fan of that it distracted people for a few moments. He did it a second time and followed it up with “I say anime you say fans” and a “woo.” Yay, distraction. Distraction was the reason I originally wanted a projector in the room but I didn’t have time to make it work and neither did anyone else, really. I was helping manage reg — getting people counted out and in and trained.
I finally noticed that the reg line was highly unwieldy and I investigated. At first I thought I would just be doing line control but I found that the tape lines did weird things such as go all the way up to the reg computers so there was no way to actually control the line. I had to push the entire line back so I could rip up part of the tape and make a stopping line so people weren’t bunching up at the reg computers. There was concern from people as I moved them, but I reassured everyone as I went that all I was doing was moving the line and they weren’t losing their place. I started at the back and worked my way to the front and relocated the entire line for at-con registration. I fixed that line’s tape to be more controllable, then I handled line control myself for a little while. I intended on further fixing the tape at a future point since we still had a blue tape on the ground no one could really see, and some of the lines just bothered me. At least it was controllable, though.
There was a somewhat large group of preteens in line that I questioned — “how old are you?” A couple of them were 13 but several were 12 and there were no adults with them. I explained our policies didn’t allow kids under 13 without an 18+ chaperone and they sat off to the side and called what I assume was their parents. I really wanted them to go elsewhere to deal with their issue but they were technically out of the line area so I let them be. They eventually left and I’m not sure how they got it figured out.
I answered questions for people in line (such as “do you guys accept debit cards?”) and just handled basic line control for a while — next person in line go to that computer! I noticed an upset child in line and pulled the parent over to the special line to get them out faster — a crying child makes everyone unhappy. I poked at volunteers to get me a line control person. I don’t remember if anyone ever did take over. I did learn later that people were bitching about our reg line taking 30 or 45 minutes. As much as we don’t want lines to take that long I also don’t really pay the complaints that much mind because reg was doing our fucking best.
Nyandrew came over to ask me about a guy who wanted to hand out fliers. Since we hand out fliers at other cons we aren’t particularly harsh about it. My basic answer is as long as they don’t bother people too much (like bordering on harassment) then we’re okay with it. I did tell him he needed to buy a badge to do so, though. He didn’t want to buy a badge and I would not authorize that so I needed a Nathan to take care of it — there might be a swap opportunity there or something, but I was busy and wasn’t going to be patient enough for it — buy a badge then hand out your fliers. It’s fairly cheap advertising, really. I heard that he was getting angry and rude waiting for Nathan. Had I been involved further, I would have been even less inclined to help him so it was definitely best to let Nathan handle it.
Almost immediately after telling someone to get Nathan I was pulled aside to handle a volunteer who was having hotel issues. He wasn’t able to pay the deposit that the hotel required. He had the money for a room in cash and couldn’t put a card down for the deposit. Since we had extra rooms I was somewhat willing to put him up in our rooms. I was slightly hesitant since he was a little “slow” and I wasn’t sure how much he understood of what I was telling him about the room. I found out later that he really did not fully understand and had tried to order room service and then got really upset that the hotel wouldn’t do that for him. I had to explain to him again that the rooms were ours and in our name, but we were letting him stay there for $15 a night. He seemed to understand the second time and there were no further issues.
It was and is comforting to hear that the hotel refused to charge anything to the room. Yay.
While I was trying to explain the hotel thing I had someone come up and tell me that he was a local voice actor. He gave me a folder with his info in it and I told him to email us in about 2 months when we were ready to start thinking about 2016 guests. I was interrupted again shortly because Darealwordsound had shown up and he did not have a badge. What? I thought Sammich made him one? Nope. Thomas had to make him one.
Finally, I got the volunteer squared away with the room and told him to come back later after I’d checked in the Friday rooms.
Then the wall went up. Literally. It was about 3:30pm or so when air walls went up that blocked the hallway between both halves of our con. This was at least 2 hours EARLIER than we’d originally been told. Apparently the other event’s vendors had been throwing a fit about the security of having that hallway open. When the wall went back down that night, the ballroom was still open and the lights were off. It was weird but kinda cool to walk past the giant mass of darkness.
So I was aware that the wall was going to go up. I don’t remember when I found out but it was possibly as late as Thursday morning. Nathan wanted to keep it fairly quiet so as not to panic the rest of the staff — they had enough to worry about. Nathan had only found out shortly before telling me, when he asked the venue how the Brews & Boos thing was doing their ID and line control. The response was something like “I don’t know but let me find out” and then it was bad news all around when our rep did find out.
I don’t remember quite when but I had talked to Sammich privately about the wall at some point. Sammich and Thomas are my sounding boards — they generally know more about the con than other high staff and they certainly know my opinions about those things more than anyone else other than Sam, my husband. This time I was only telling Sammich and he agreed that telling Thomas was likely to just add more stress on him and was unnecessary. Sammich had suggested we get Blanca involved and use volunteers to direct attendees. I put Sammich and Nathan together to discuss it at some point on Thursday. I guess they got something figured out.
The venue put up signage to help with the wall issue and we dealt with it as best we could with volunteers shuttling people back and forth (more so than they already were). Ultimately, the wall didn’t affect the attendees or most staff too terribly. It was inconvenient but it also kept the majority of the drunks far from us. However, as a result, logistics was transporting those 30 cases of water that Nathan wanted from the parking garage for HOURS. The loading dock was taken up by the Brews & Boos vendors and Sam had to deal with other responsibilities as head of main stage, so Kris was moving water for hours without much help. He was a fucking hero. We used the hell out of that water and ultimately we only overbought by something like 4-6 flats. If they’d been distributed better we probably would have used all of them.
If we buy the water as part of the Costco run and get it on the truck itself next year it won’t be nearly as much of a hassle. However, we would strongly prefer the venue fix their water issue instead.
Although I knew Sam had returned with the waters and signs, I hadn’t seen him. He was supposed to bring us food so I was concerned and hungry. Nowhere to be found, I figured he had to go do opening ceremonies. Damn.
In reg I helped Nyandrew swap his radio for a different one. He’d been having issues with being heard with the one he had. He picked the radio he’d had last year since he knew that one worked. We tested his new radio and I pointed out he wasn’t giving it much time after he pressed the button. Since we were using a repeater everyone needed to pause before talking into the radio. Someone finally responded to him that last time so that might’ve been part of the issue.
I snuck off to main stage to print out the radio policies and usage sheets, and more T-shirt coupons. I think the wiki had been up for a while but I hadn’t had time to print anything off of it up until that point. Opening ceremonies seemed to have been going for a while. I snuck back to the computer in the tech area, trying to stay out of people’s way. While I was working on printing things I got to watch the singing of the short policies which was . . . interesting. I mean, it was enjoyable, but I wrote them so it was mildly embarrassing. It was funny and entertaining though which is really the point.
The toner was running low and many of the coupons came out faded. I would have to get more toner out of ops to finish the job. I stayed in the room through the end of opening ceremonies and got to see Sam perform! I love seeing Sam perform. Sam and Blanca performed a skit that started our con murder mystery. The performance was funny — good job to both of them.
After opening ceremonies, I headed back to reg with my printed items. Since the coupons came out faded I was on a mission to find toner. Haku was also looking for my new radio headsets so I started rifling through the staging area for toner and headsets. I did find each. Sam took the toner back to the stage and Haku took the headsets. Apparently the headsets I bought this year were substantially better than the ones we already had. Yay, I guess — the new headsets were cheap. I hadn’t bought them to be better, just a cheap replacement. They also weren’t sterile after use so we’d have to buy something to sterilize them after con. Haku asked me how many I bought. I shrugged and told him “greater than or equal to two.” That’s an inside joke with an uninteresting story, but it’s fun to use as a smart ass answer regardless.
While I’d been rooting around in the staging area I found the coin counters I’d bought for reg this year. I brought them over to Cassie. They were loud but effective and time-saving. Reg also got a bill counter this year but that had already been set up on Thursday. I was never around when it happened but apparently the machine would make it rain money at reg if you didn’t put the bills in correctly.
While I was talking with Cassie, a wild Sammich reappeared! He said he got about 3 hours of sleep. As we were talking Thomas came over to me —
“Someone wants volunteer refunds now.”
“They’re not going to get it now.”
I announced that we wouldn’t be doing any volunteer refunds until Sunday and left it at that. This led to a few hiccups that shouldn’t have happened but we didn’t have a volunteer system and couldn’t have anything reasonably working until Sunday. Something that had been done to the system this year broke it. A few things that worked last year, in fact, had been broken before con started. Hopefully that’s the last time we make that mistake. It cost us this year.
I tried to head back to main stage to reprint the ruined coupons. Before I made it out of the room the Llama intercepted me to let me know that the hentai screeners for sure would not arrive for con. We were on our own. Joy. We’d had trouble with permissions this year and our hentai screeners shipped out too late to arrive for con. Actually, we think the screeners were never shipped because we never did receive them, or a tracking number I believe. But we made it work — we had to.
I tried again to go to main stage and made it that time. While I was at the stage computer I learned that Amber was being given various room numbers for the staff food room. I gave her the correct info — maybe we should have made a sign or something? I also rehashed my food poisoning story for her. I continued to have printing trouble with those damned coupons. Even with new toner the printer wasn’t printing. The hell? Oh, it was out of paper. I had to go find a ream. Well, back to registration!
As I was entering reg I was grabbed by Sammich — RenoBinder was there and they wanted to confirm how to get him in. Temp badge — get him in! RenoBinder apparently had an issue with not having a model for the night and after thinking about it for a bit and talking it over a bit with Ryan, we asked Katie and Melissa who both agreed to it. If I weren’t so terribly self conscious I might’ve done it. Yay, we helped save the panel. Llama would have to make up a quick release form for it but I figured that wouldn’t be a big issue. I spoke with RenoBinder for a bit but I had to excuse myself to continue getting shit done.
SamE came up to me to ask if it was okay to escort people to the panel rooms when they asked where they were. Uhm. Yes. Absolutely. Apparently she was worried she was taking someone’s job by doing that for the last hour. As the staff letter said — all staff are rovers sometimes. She was apparently stopping people from blocking the escalators and telling people when they needed to get things peace bonded. She was doing an excellent job as a staffer and I remained impressed. She also told me later that there were some guys rough housing and she gave them a warning. She really took that “all staff are rovers” to heart! Although apparently no one gave her the staff letter which stated that phrase until I handed her one on Friday evening. Oops — I knew some staff would get missed.
Oh! Sam finally brought me food! Screw getting the paper over to main stage. Food! Up until that point I had only had a bottle or two of Soylent. Apparently he got me sweet & sour chicken with the sauce on the side (I always get the sauce on the side). I say “apparently” because it was easily the worst sweet & sour chicken I’d ever had. The meat was dry and terrible. However the rice was damned good and I was very hungry. I was very happy to be hungry again.
Inuki ended up taking the paper over to main stage for me. I was eating and I’m sure it didn’t seem like I’d make it out of the room any time soon, which was accurate. He returned a bit later with the printed coupons.
Sammich and Thomas both wanted to go home and leave reg without an admin. Sammich was trying to convince me that this was a good idea, and was hoping that I could handle admin stuff while they were gone. Well, not if something needed programming. I learned years ago that I can’t program at con. I wasn’t set up to program and I’ve learned that I can’t program on either Thomas’s or Sammich’s laptop. Sammich wasn’t really selling me on the idea. After some discussion, we worked it out so that Thomas would go first, then Sam would go with Sammich together so that Sammich could pick up his car and Sam could pick up the shoji paper that we’d had delivered to their house.
So most of our staff knows that Sam built shoji screens for our hentai and adult programming line control. He spent most of the year on these things and they came out gorgeous even after he had to make corrections to them, and even though they were his first attempt at making anything like that. They were amazing. Well, I was sick in bed while Sam was loading them into the car in the garage. The garage is on the opposite side of the house as I was, and all the windows and external doors were closed. I heard a scream. I remember thinking that I hoped the yell wasn’t Sam. It was. Sam had JUST loaded the shoji screens into the car and then the dog jumped into the car. She ruined the paper completely. New shoji paper would cost something like $30 but to get it in time for con would cost something like an additional $80 in shipping. I got in touch with Nathan and got the okay to overnight the paper for Sam. The con had not paid anything for these screens so paying something like $110 to ship them wouldn’t be an issue. Sam called the reseller to be sure the paper would arrive Friday if we ordered it immediately — they said it would. We shipped it to Thomas’s place. Now that it was Friday and hentai was in a few hours, Sam needed to pick up that paper and repair the screens at con with the assistance of anyone available.
As I was eating, the signs were finally being broken out of the Costco bag, peace bonding ties finally made it to peace bonding, and Kris arrived with a large stack of flats of water. He had been moving water since about 3:30ish and it was somewhere around 6ish at this point in the story. I heard that one of the stacks had fallen over on a trip which resulted in Sam and Kris launching individual bottles of water into tabletop. Kris looked tired and was sweating. He was really working his ass off for con and I really respect that. I want to state again — Kris was a fucking hero.
Llama also had wandered into registration so I flagged him down to work on the bondage model release form. We went over to my laptop in the back of ops and he wrote it out with some input from me. When they were printed I handed them off to Ryan to ensure they got where we needed them.
While we were working on the bondage form a strange thing happened. Two attendees walked up to us and asked for a refund. I think I may have looked at them like they were growing extra heads — I was very confused as to why they’d just randomly walked up and asked for a refund when we don’t give refunds. They said they’d just gotten their badges and walked around for 5 minutes and it just wasn’t what they expected and they wanted their money back. I told them we didn’t do refunds. They didn’t seem like they were going to go away or actually give the con a chance, so I said I’d need to have them talk to Nathan. They said that reg sent them to me, “yeah, they keep sending people to me and I keep sending them back.”
I had Ryan call for Nathan because I wasn’t going to approve it — especially for something so thin. (If I didn’t approve a GUEST to have a free badge, I certainly wasn’t approving two refunds for no good reason.) They disappeared before Nathan made it to reg but they apparently ran into him. They sent a fairly unfriendly email to us requesting a refund and saying Nathan was helpful. I don’t like to help people who send unfriendly emails so it’s unlikely we’ll give them a refund but we might work something out that isn’t a refund.
As Llama and I finished up the forms Valerie came over to complain that her radio had something wrong with it and hadn’t been working all day. I took the time to recognize that she’d been doing an excellent job. She was putting a lot of effort into checking on people and helping everywhere in addition to being reg staff. We’re actually putting her in HR next year because of the awesome job she did checking on everything. I then grabbed Haku to get her radio issue figured out. While Haku and I talked the topic came back to Phone.com again. The HipChat room where the texts were dumping into was still just me and Sammich. Haku took care of Valerie’s issue and I finally fixed the chat room — adding many high staffers to the room to be customer service. No one ever used it, but it was nice to have it set up.
After I’d fixed the chat room, Llama came up to me in a bit of a panic with Kmittens in tow. He was upset because he couldn’t find the nude figure releases. He was worried about having to make up a whole new form from memory. I told him not to panic and I looked through my Evernote files. Although I couldn’t find the original doc file, I did have a scan of last year’s forms so he only had to retype it. It wasn’t the ideal solution, but it was certainly far better than nothing. Llama typed while I explained a bit about RT to Kmittens. I was poking at him to use the system, but he’d been thrown at it with very little instruction earlier this year. Getting tossed in the deep end works for some staff but not all. The admin want to put all departmental email boxes on RT for 2016 so he’s going to have to figure it out. Our conversation was cut short as Llama read part of the contract out loud — “Failure to uphold the following will result in death.”
Of course he didn’t ACTUALLY put that in the waiver, but it was amusing. He started counting out loud and told us it was because a legal signature line had 26 underscores. I pointed out that he was actually making a “legal badge number line.” He was rushing and definitely flustered. As Valerie and I made fun of how many underscores a “legal badge number line” should have (10, 4, 8?) our chatter caused him to write 8 in his contract. Woo — distraction! Once he had 8 on the brain, he wrote it in the contract accidentally several more times.
While we were talking (bullshitting) Llama had a great idea for a new achievement called “Savior” for turning in an item to lost & found. I love it. I need to make sure that happens for 2016. “Can I get the achievement for coming up with the achievement?” “No.”
People are such achievement whores. Especially Llama.
As we were talking it dawned on me suddenly — I’ve got to get hotel rooms checked in! I rushed off. I had two more rooms to check in that were only for Friday through Sunday. Checking in the last of the rooms was largely uneventful. I don’t remember doing it at all, honestly, but I know I did it. I’m also pretty sure that when I checked in those rooms I added another night to the room Susana was in. I don’t know what they did but I still had to fix it on Sunday.
I spent the next little while managing things in reg. It was relatively uneventful — FINALLY! Uneventful! Of course, it wasn’t to last.
“Do you know about photo booth at 7:30?” Sam had forgotten about the photo booth entirely. No one knew where Sam was and he wasn’t answering the radio call so there wasn’t much I could do about that. I assumed he was off the floor fixing his shoji screens.
The reg rush was over and I had time to focus on the next set of problems. I pulled Sammich aside and started ranting about volunteers and rovers being in the way of reg. We discussed it and determined that Sammich would handle moving the server and all of the terminals down after hentai in the morning. I headed over to tell volunteers and rovers that the current setup did not work and we were going to move them to the opposite end in the morning. They would have the remainder of the night to do what they needed to. I believe I got a response along the lines of “no problem.”
Elliot was having issues with his dog. For some reason they had a harness on her which will of course made the pulling worse, especially since Elliot was getting more frustrated by the second. Since I was in an okay mood and Elliot was stressed I took the dog for a walk around ops. She didn’t want to go at first and did attempt to pull. Every time she tried to pull I yanked her in a different direction. Every time she walked without pulling I gave her praise. She wasn’t super happy walking with me — she really wanted to go back to her owner. Even so, she did actually start paying attention reasonably quickly.
She was significantly easier than our stubborn River considering she started to actually pay attention to me after only a few random turns. I was able to take the pressure off Elliot long enough for him to calm down quite a bit and relax.
I did see one or two other dogs around the con this year and I was very happy to see people following the dog policy. Those dogs were very well behaved!
When I realized the bondage panel was going on I decided to head up to check it out since reg was relatively handled. Nyandrew decided to go with me. I ran into Ryan on my way out of reg and we all walked up together. He told me he had sealed the room for some reason so that no new people could enter. We do seal the nude art panel because we have actual nude models in the room but there isn’t a reason to seal any other panels we have in my opinion. I told Ryan we didn’t need to be that cautious.
I walked up to the door watcher. “Ryan told me this was a sealed room?”
“This one? Yes”
“It’s not a sealed room anymore.”
I changed the instructions from turning people away to just checking IDs. After a little bit of discussion with Ryan and Inuki, I then went into the room with Nyandrew to watch the panel. The panel was good but it was very quiet. The attendees for the most part seemed like they didn’t know if it was okay to talk or interact. There were a few who were asking questions and interacting though. I tried to join in when I could to assist in lightening up the room. About 1/2 to 3/4 of the way into the panel we suddenly could hear through the wall “you get a condom and you get a condom — EVERYBODY GETS A CONDOM!” That finally succeeded in breaking the ice and lightening up the room. Of course I made a comment that the “adult sex ed” panel was more adult than the bondage panel.
Sad fact — a couple weeks after con RenoBinder passed away. I am very glad that not only we had him as a panelist but also that I got to see the majority of his panel.
I left the panel a little early. I was getting nervous sitting still for so long.
As I was handling some minor door-watching issues in the hallway Nathan came up to me — oh gawd, what’s wrong? Nothing — he just wanted to show me the hentai goodies they picked up. Yay! We went back to my room to spread out the goodies for review and then sat for a bit and caught up with what we’d each been doing during con. Apparently they had issues checking in their room. Kylie seemed significantly more upset than Nathan seemed. She was rightfully upset — the guy checking them in was a jerk. I guess I lucked out. While I had Nathan in my room I gave him the guest appearance fees for him to hand out on Saturday. I had intended on giving them to him in an envelope but I never got around to finding one. Owell.
We had the conjoining doors open to the food room and while we were chatting, Nyandrew, SamE, and Inuki came in at separate times. Nyandrew wanted to tell us that the volunteer doing greeting right now in Aidan’s place was doing a fantastically amazing job — Guy Weaver. We started calling him a unicorn because he was just that magical. SamE, another amazing staffer, was discussing the maid cafe and said if she did that next year she couldn’t staff.
Me: “You’re not allowed to not staff.”
Nyandrew: “You’re not allowed to not staff — welcome to the team!”
We also learned that the great con drought of 2015 was basically a clerical error. Nathan filled us in that our contract had water dispensers in every room but the map we gave them didn’t, so that’s why we were short on the stupid dispensers. Well, then. Next year we’re putting water dispensers and trash cans in our 3D maps.
Nathan and Kylie headed off to bed — Kylie looked like death. She was sick with a cold or something and it was kicking her ass. I really felt for her. Soon after that, those of us remaining in the room decided that we should probably get back on the floor and away we went.
At some point that evening I acquired my energy drink. I expect that Sam got it for me but I might’ve picked it up myself while I was in our room during that impromptu staff meeting — a Rockstar Punched. I carried that thing around for the remainder of the night, expecting that I’d hit a wall any moment and would need it.
I don’t know when but at some point in the evening I was speaking to Thomas about things and he asked me if I’d put the staff badge number on the volunteer forms. Uhm, nope. At that point I’d forgotten that I’d asked Sammich to fix them and figured it was entirely my fault. Thomas seemed highly annoyed but if he had wanted it done right he should have done it himself. We were all too busy and shit got missed. Oh well.
The next thing I remember from con is trying to get to the hentai redub. It was going and I needed to get there. As Sam and I were on our way, there were Lindsey and Stephen from Kraken Con getting their badges! We stood and talked to them for a while.
At some point that afternoon, Sam and I had realized that he was double-booked for the photo booth. The photo booth had been scheduled to be open during both the Masquerade and the rehearsal, and Sam was required to be at both. Knowing Lindsey and Steven had at least some basic photographic knowledge we asked if he could handle the photo booth for a bit. The plan was to have Stephen handle the booth in the morning and possibly the afternoon. Brandon had agreed to cover the afternoon hours, but we hadn’t seen him yet and that made us nervous. Theoretically we only needed additional help in the morning hours. Stephen, being the incredibly nice guy that he is, agreed to do that as long as our expectations weren’t too high. My expectations are always too high but any pictures were better than no pictures — it’d be fine.
We talked about the various things going on and then I dragged Stephen over to my cosplay prizes to show off. Lindsey was busy talking to someone else and followed a bit later. As I showed off the prizes Lindsey began to get interested in joining the Masquerade. She was pretty sure she’d make best in theme. I (of course) pressured her to join. After a bit, I left her with the signup form and ran off to catch the last few minutes of redub. It should have been pretty much over when I got there.
The first thing I thought when I entered the room was holy fuck it was hot in there. I opened the door for a while. We had Sam’s shoji screens so it’s not like we needed the doors closed. Much. It was loud and redub was raunchy but it was highly uncomfortable in that room with all the bodies in that space.
I don’t know quite when, but it occurred to me at some point that night that we had put hentai in the wrong room. When we were initially planning the rooms we had honestly intended on putting hentai in panel main instead of video main. We then quickly forgot that plan as we dealt with other things. When we made the schedules up it seemed normal to put it in video main as we had every year. Oops. We switched the rooms for Saturday but Friday’s redub was far too warm for me and I generally like warm.
Other than that, Redub was going well. In fact, it was going so exceedingly well that after the time slot was up, the voice actors opted to stay for one more episode to finish off the series they’d been doing. They were having a lot of fun and that was perfect for me since I would have otherwise missed all but 5 minutes of it.
Then it was on to our general hentai programming. Thomas disappeared. I assume it was for a nap? Sammich was listening to the radio and disappeared as well to handle small fires. He would come back and almost as soon as he would sit down he’d hear something on the radio and disappear again.
As a result, I ran hentai by myself for something like 2 hours. I was and am extremely proud of myself for being able to keep the room alive that long all on my own. I don’t consider myself very good at improv (I am incredibly self-conscious) and that’s basically what I attempt when running hentai. For some reason when it comes to that room I do acceptably well at coming up with jokes and quips and simply making fun of the hentai to keep people interested and alive late at night. Go me.
At some point a girl came in with a much older man in a cowboy hat. They sat down in the front row. The girl may have been a little drunk and the old cowboy was definitely a little drunk. She apparently had grabbed him from the casino floor and brought him up to watch porn. He stayed there for something like 40 minutes. That has to be one of the most interesting things I’ve seen happen in our hentai room so far and it happened while I was running hentai by myself.
I had to stop someone from leaving the room with the penis ball. I think they wanted to go put it on someone’s head or something? I don’t know — but I told them that the ball should stay in the room. “Well what about her” referring to the blowup doll.
“No. The pornographic objects cannot leave this room!”
I can’t believe I had to actually say that.
Eventually Thomas came back. I asked if he knew where Sammich was. He didn’t. Sammich came back and I think he stayed that time. It was late and I took another Soylent from Sammich/Thomas and we continued hentai together for a bit. Stephen came in for a moment to double-check the hours we needed him for the photo booth. It’s funny to me but not surprising at all that he knew exactly where to find me.
One of my random hentai ideas — “We should add laugh track to hentai. Just randomly — not even cued up to anything. Laugh track!” It’s a good addition to the other hentai ideas we’ve had such as redubbing hentai (not live, but recorded), taking hentai sound track and using it over non-hentai, and “correcting the bondage”. Ideas that sound fun at the time but never happen because reasons.
Sammich filled me in with the various things he’d had to deal with or at least were being called over the radio. The most interesting of which was tabletop had a code everclear — someone wandered in, picked up the house phone and poked at some numbers, hung it up, turned around to leave, stopped and looked at the cobweb decorations, picked out a centipede, turned back to the room and stared at the people in tabletop while he look a BITE out of it, and left munching on it. Oh . . . KAY then. Someone ATE one of their plastic decorations. I don’t even . . .
At the end of one of hentai we watched, we recognized the music. That ending credit theme was also the ending credit theme for many, MANY other hentai. We decided we needed to name that theme and as we asked what we should name it, Thomas started rating the hentai for our spreadsheet. Sammich and I were okay with what he said as a title — the song is now known as Appropriateness Two. Join our hentai screenings to find out what it sounds like.
Our hentai this year was very limited. We’d had a lot of trouble getting permissions since one of the two major distributors seems to have lost communication capabilities. We had actually spoken to them at Fanime and they gave us new contact info but that didn’t work. Add to that, “mystery” hentai is usually VERY dark. So we didn’t have very much that brought its own comedy — we had to really make our own. Most of what we had prescreened we couldn’t get permissions for, as well. We had a lot of things that we were showing raw (as in unpreviewed). I told these stories to the people in the room and one guy piped up, asking if we could get permissions from Japan could we show it. Well, yes, but no one on staff has the ability to do that. Turns out, he did have the ability to do that and he was already on our staff in the gaming department.
. . .
Well fuck me. Okay, after this con is over, let’s talk more! We have a new addition to the hentai department! Yay!
At about 5am-ish the room was fairly dead but both Sammich and Thomas seemed alive. I decided a short nap would be in my best interest since Saturday was going to be a BIG day for me. I snuck back to the room to get a nap in that lasted just under 1.5 hours and I made it back to the hentai room to catch the tail end of hentai and help with Saturday Morning Cartoons.
I woke up with a lovely sleep hangover. It didn’t last too long but when I came back to hentai I couldn’t decide if sleep had been a good idea or not. By the time hentai was over and we were getting ready for Saturday Morning Cartoons I was starting to feel mostly normal. I’m glad I came back early.
As we were transitioning the programming, Freshman came in. He’d completely lost his voice. Fuck — how do you lose your voice only after one day?? Well, he was sick. This apparently was also the year of everyone being sick. He said he could still work. Well good — as second head of rovers we really needed him to. Especially since that night was the rave and all hell always breaks lose Saturday night.
Saturday Morning Cartoons (SMC) went well. Actually having Internet in the venue made all the difference. Thomas was having serious trouble making the website go. Thomas: “The Internet is a bad place for bad people.”
Me: “Yes, PBSkids.org.” I got a giggle out of the room.
His issues seemed to be primarily because he was too sleep dep to function sufficiently. While Thomas was working on getting the website up, Sammich was deflating the various toys. As he was deflating the penis ball and the penis inside deflated, he held it up for people to see how sad it looked — “aww, the hentai is over”
Me: “It’s sad that the hentai is over, but don’t worry, penis ball, there will be more hentai tonight!”
Thomas went to bed because he NEEDED TO. He told me to wake him up at “a time” before he left. I assumed “a time” would simply mean when we needed him. Sammich took over making the cartoons go. I stated for the room that the technical issues were part of our SMC programming. It only took a few minutes to get going. We did have the occasional black-screen as the “monitor” would go to sleep from inactivity every 15 minutes or so. The video was flash and the computer didn’t consider it real video.
We were able to bring up the PBS kids website and ran the shows they had available. There was something like 5 people in the room and we just kinda asked people what to put on next. OF COURSE we put on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at some point before the night ended — it’s a staple of our SMC programming.
As we were getting going a somewhat drunk girl (same one from earlier?) came in with a friend of hers. They stood in front of our table messing with the hentai prizes for several minutes — reading the yaoi, discussing the yaoi, and just being all-around annoying. I tolerated it for quite a while, trying to ignore them and focus on the cartoon. They were basically interrupting the panel though, so I did get fed up relatively quickly and told them to stop it or at least go sit down. They ignored the first two requests. I wasn’t going to tolerate it any longer, though. “Seriously, go sit down. You can take [the yaoi] with you just bring it back. Just go sit down.”
They did go sit down after that but after a couple of minutes they returned the yaoi and left. Guess I ruined their fun.
Since SMC ran so smoothly we actually ran an extra hour of it which was a mistake. An extra half hour was fine but it was so early in the morning after such a long late night that the last thing we watched fell fairly flat. I was drifting in and out a bit and I think others might have been, too. Two hours was just too much. In spite of that, though, SMC was a great success, as always.
I helped Sammich put away the shoji screens and I carried my still-unopened Rockstar out of the room with me.
Saturday! Masquerade day!
I headed back to the hotel room and woke Sam up so he could get moving before I needed him for the Masquerade stuff. I talked at him for a little bit and then headed off to reg to take care of the things I needed to get done before I had somewhere I had to be.
I had three hours until the rehearsal panel. Arriving at reg, I had to pull down a sign that said “no entry.” Uhm. NO. Ops is open all night as peace bonding / volunteers / info desk. Better policies on that next year. Once I pulled the sign down, my priorities were as follows: fix the tape lines, move the rovers/volunteers tables, fix the volunteer forms to have staff badge and initials instead of staff signature, help move reg, and order more signs form Costco. I don’t really remember what order I did things in, but I think I first sent out a quick HipChat question as to what signs to order. I didn’t really expect a reply, but Freshman did. I let HipChat sit for a while and I went to work on my other priorities.
I helped Sammich move the volunteers and peace bonding tables. Since I had warned the departments the previous night that we were moving their tables, I sort of expected the staffers to clean up the tables and have their stuff either moved already or at least organized and ready to be moved. The tables were haphazard and I was highly annoyed. I didn’t take much care in moving the stuff with the exception of a backpack of some sort. I tend to be kind to backpacks and whatnot because I don’t know what kind of delicate electronics may be inside. Otherwise, I piled it all together and slapped it on a different table.
I headed to Sam’s computer to fix the volunteer forms and get a bunch of new ones printed out. It only took a couple minutes to fix the forms and I believe I ordered the new signs then as well since I was already there. I ordered what I knew we needed, at least, including that replacement Twitter sign. This time the Costco site worked just fine and things were ordered quickly. The signs were ready at 1:30 but I had no idea when anyone would be able to go get them.
Back in reg, I gave the volunteer desk their new forms. Reg was open at this point (one terminal only) and someone pointed out that there was someone sleeping in the corner. I had noticed him but since we were closed it wasn’t a big issue for me. Now that the room was open I couldn’t really have him sleeping there. So I went over and woke him up. “I’ve made all my hours for me to get my [volunteer refund].” Uhm. Okay.
He looked trashed and confused. I let him know that we have rooms and I put him in one. He could use the room for a nap and then if he needed a place tonight it was $15 per night. I gave him a key and sent him away. This sleeping person was Guy Weaver.
Sam appeared in reg to work on finishing one of his cosplays for the Masquerade. We needed to turn his jeans into overalls by attaching some denim straps to the jeans. Since we needed him to be able to quick-change the jeans into/out of overalls, we used some nice metal snaps that we’d picked up Tuesday evening on our shopping excursion. I helped him figure out how to put the snaps in the fabric and assisted with sizing/measuring and whatnot.
With Sam working away, I wandered over to the reg area and asked if I could help. Sammich still needed the individual terminals moved down the tables. I helped by unplugging things, moving them down, and plugging some things back in if I could remember how they went. After a bit reg was nearly ready to open. I asked Sammich if it was a good “a time” to wake up Thomas. I sent Thomas a HipChat “it’s a time.” He got something like 4 hours sleep.
I then went to work fixing the tape lines. I pulled up the tape that bothered me the most — the blue tape and the curved lines. I placed down new tape as fast as I could because there were people trying to use the lines, and I placed down the arrows to indicate how people should move through the lines. Much better!
While I was working on the tape lines Llama came up to me and asked if he could pick up Kathleen’s badge. Uhm. I guess so. Kathleen Kelly is our lawyer and is Thomas’s mom. Llama is her paralegal. If we were to bend our rules for anyone it would have to be her. She was doing a free law advice panel and was running late for it. Llama, as her paralegal, gets to do all her errands. I wasn’t happy about it, but I let it slide.
I ran into the programming staff — all of them carrying coffee. Ryan: “and I hate coffee.” We discussed an important programming issue — at some point Friday evening it came to light that Warky didn’t bring his keyboard because no one told him to (I don’t think we’ve ever had to before, but whatever) and now we were without a keyboard. Kiba owned a keyboard, but apparently had loaned it to someone for the weekend — perfect timing. I have one SOMEWHERE but no clue where. Sammich had one in storage. The best solution at that point was to have Sammich go to storage and get the keyboard, otherwise we would not be able to have the keyboard concert — con was not willing to buy one on such short notice. Robert was also willing to go for Sammich, but would be busy with programming at a certain time. We all had timelines as to when we became unavailable to work on the problem. We decided trying to get Sammich’s was the best idea. In the end, however, Nyandrew was the one who brought us a keyboard and so Sammich didn’t have to.
Fun Fact — Amber also had a keyboard and if she’d been told Friday night that we needed a keyboard she could have picked it up when she went home to feed her cat. I think if there’d been an at-all in HipChat when we first discovered the issue it probably would not have been that much of an issue, considering the several staff members who own one.
As we got closer to 11, I hunted down the masquerade paperwork because we’d need it at rehearsal. I hunted down some clipboards since that also seemed like something we’d need. Apparently the volunteers desk took all of them? I didn’t quite understand why they had all of them but I stole what I needed. None of the cosplay staff were anywhere to be seen — of course. I announced to the reg staff that if they saw any cosplay staff (other than Evan who had to run the repair station) to send them to rehearsal because that’s where they were supposed to be, and I headed off to get some solid food before I would be trapped in the rehearsal room for four hours.
I stopped by the Kraken Con booth on my way out. I needed to try to hunt down Lindsey’s entry form. Lindsey wasn’t at the table but Stephen was and told me that she was freaking out and had been ironing everything that night. I was pleased. Stephen and I chatted for a bit while Sam set up the photo booth. Frazetti came over and chatted with us a bit and he was indeed wearing his batman PJs. I was even more pleased. I did see Lindsey before I headed upstairs. She wasn’t done with the form and asked if she could just bring it with her. I had no problem with that.
From the food room I grabbed a cup of cereal. I don’t remember what I ate in the room but I remember picking at that cereal for at least an hour during rehearsal. I also carried my still-sealed Rockstar. It had become significant at that point. I carried around an unopened Rockstar and asked people how much caffeine they thought I’d had so far. None. None yet, anyway.
At some point Saturday morning Susana tagged me in HipChat about the Halloween candy. A few people had asked me during the morning but I said basically the same thing — someone needs to put it out but I’ve got other responsibilities. My response in HipChat was basically that — someone needs to put it out — and I tagged a handful of people I thought might handle it including Nathan. I later saw the candy out so someone did take care of it. I had told a few people that my responsibility with the candy ended with getting it there. I guess I had not made that clear enough until that HipChat reply.
The staff at rehearsal were Sam, Ryan, Amber, and SamE. SamE came in very late but she was the only cosplay staffer who came at all.
I thought I’d been prepared for the rehearsal. I realized as I looked over all these pieces of paper while attendees sat and stared at me that no, I was not really prepared at all. With the help of Sam and Ryan we got it organized and checked people in very quickly. We were quick enough that I don’t feel that our disorganization was too wildly apparent. I then sat off to the side while Sam and Ryan ran through what the plan was. There was a plan at least. We had met before con to hammer it out and now we were trying to do a rehearsal without having a real stage. But we got through it. Ryan spoke with each person and made sure he could pronounce their name and say their intro correctly.
And in an insanely short amount of time the room was empty.
Well, we couldn’t leave, so we sat and bullshitted for the remaining time. Stragglers came and we checked them in, gave the spiel, asked the questions, and off they went. We had stragglers up until the very last minute.
While we were chatting, Thomas entered the room “I’m a VIP!” My response was basically, okay, that’s nice. He held up a badge but I didn’t make the connection until he turned it around and went to hand it to me. Oh, you need me to sign it — that hadn’t been clear. To my knowledge that was the last VIP badge I signed but I no longer wondered what would happen if I was out of reg when they needed a VIP badge — reg would hunt me down.
A few things came to light while we waited for people and chatted. Banter, our main programming hard drive, died at the beginning of con this year. So we need to buy a new hard drive for next year. Great.
I brought up that Nathan and I had been discussing putting tablets in each room to do HipChat only so that panel main staff can ask for help quickly. Ryan said it would be a few years before it would be likely to work.
Next year I think we might want to have an empty-room clause in the cosplay policies. We will check everyone in and go over the basic plan. Everyone will have the chance to go up and rehearse. If you need to talk to the tech then you can. Once the room is empty you will be considered a no-show and if you’re a skit then you no longer get to be a skit. Maybe. We’ll see — it depends on how many entries we get and who shows.
During rehearsal Sammich printed the judging forms for us. There was some confusion about the forms. The headers were exactly the same for both the craftsmanship and performance judging forms. So as a result, the craftsmanship forms were short-printed because Sammich thought he was printing duplicate forms and canceled the print job. Once I figured it out I had him print more and SamE ran down to reg to fetch the remaining forms as the craftsmanship judging started.
It was either the end of rehearsal or the very beginning of the judging when a couple came up and asked if they could join or if it was too late. They missed rehearsal but were just signing up as a walk on. Yeah, sure. I got them signed up. They were concerned about having time to get into costume and come back. They were going to be last anyway because they were a late entry so I told them it’d be fine. They left to get their costumes.
Ryan and Amber left as soon as the rehearsal slot was finished. Things were happening and they needed to leave. Sam stayed for a few minutes to talk to the judges and hammer down a couple things and then he left as well. SamE indicated she wanted to leave a bit after the judging started but I asked her to stay. I wanted her to handle the judges — get their forms and keep them organized and whatnot. She did leave temporarily a couple times but that was fine. I took over while she was gone. One of the times she left she came back with more cookies! Very good cookies at that.
Half-way through judging the couple that had joined late returned in costume. It was the lights in his hat that caught my attention more than anything — they were dressed as Frozen characters. Neat.
During the judging I got to talk to the woman who had offered to join the graphics team for 2016. She had reached out right before con so there wasn’t anything left for this year. She seemed to have a basic idea of things and a good head on her. She was also a cosplayer and was actually there for judging, so we had lots of time to chat.
As the end our time slot loomed closer and closer it became very obvious that judging would not be done in time. Next year judging needs a 2-hour slot. I sent out a HipChat message to the karaoke heads that we weren’t done and karaoke would have to start late. Since it was open mic I wasn’t as concerned about the lateness but I don’t think Kiba got the message since he did burst in with an entourage.
I told him it had to start late and he was cool with it but several people kept trying to get in and kept making noise. I think I repeated “are you here for craftsmanship judging” and “karaoke’s starting late, please leave” about 5 times before I decided it was time to make everyone understand. I announced at a higher volume than the crowd — “if you’re here for karaoke it’s starting late, please leave for now.” As usual, everyone went quiet shortly after I started speaking. The noise came back as soon as I was done, starting with a rather pronounced whine from someone. People left, though, and it was quiet again. Well, there was one person waiting for karaoke who sat quietly in the back row but that was fine since the big issue was the loudness of people. I didn’t want any distractions for the judges to make them take any longer. I think we only pushed it by like a half hour?
As promised, the couple who joined late were judged last.
The judges were floored by these two. The details in the cosplay were amazing. Her entire dress was hand embroidered. While the judges were ooh-ing and aah-ing over them, several staffers began to do so as well including Nathan who had shown up out of the blue, and me. We began to insist that they do a skit. It wasn’t said but if they pulled together a half-decent skit they were certain to get best in show. Those of us that knew this pushed the hardest. They did concede and I sent a HipChat to Amber, Ryan, and Sam notifying them of the plan change. I hadn’t intended a plan change like that but our show needed it.
While they were finishing up with the judges I cleaned up the front table and Karaoke came in to set up. There were unopened snacks left over and I just let the Karaoke people have them. I carried my still-unopened energy drink out with me, though. I escorted the two cosplayers down to Amber at the main stage tech desk and chatted with them. As it turned out, he is local and had been to our con before but she was from Sac and this was her first time. She certainly loved the welcome.
We got them set up with Amber so that they had music in the list and they went off to grab whomever they could to help with their skit. As I understood it, they just needed dancing bodies. From there I had a couple hours before the masquerade started. I considered making a trip home. I don’t remember when we discovered it but Sam and I forgot our video camera and I wanted to have the camera to use during the Masquerade. I ended up not going home for it, and I regretted that decision on Sunday.
Nathan caught up to me at the tech desk and I ended up spending a bit of time discussing the space layout with him. Discussion included what seemed to work and what we might want to try next year including a very minor bump in room block (well we filled our block in a few weeks so it’s reasonable to make it a little larger). Nathan was out and about by himself. Kylie was sick and I think she may actually have been stuck working. Poor Kylie. I really felt for her.
I headed back to ops. Evan got my attention as I came in the door. He wanted to know how long until the Masquerade. Evan had made a gorgeous hand-bound leather book before con that he had donated as a prize. He had had Rieev draw on the first page on Friday and she broke it a little. He was asking me when the Masquerade was so he could fix it in time. The book went in the Best in Show prize basket. It was wonderful and I’m grateful he put the time in and donated it to the show.
While I was talking to Evan and trying to find where SamE had put the masquerade judging sheets, someone from reg announced that we had hit 2000 badges. Woo! 2000 badges! It spread like wildfire and I’m ashamed to admit I was one of the people who spread it. I ran to main stage and had Kyle announce it since that’s what I always do when we break out previous year’s numbers. I learned, however, that we did not actually have 2000 badges — we broke badge number 2000. This confuses people regularly. People use the numbers as a guide as to how many people we have. Well, don’t. Badge numbers are artificially high because one can create a badge in the system and then not pay or attend con making that badge not count. It happens a lot and throws a lot of padding on to our badge numbers — something like 300 this year.
Something the admin should try for next year is an actual attendance counter on the reg page so people can get excited at the correct time and no sooner. Fun fact — it’s three months after con and the admin are still not willing to give a real attendance number because there are possibly attendance-altering notes in the yellow pad system. The rough estimate given at the end of con was 30 fewer people than 2014.
I don’t really remember the rest of my time before the Masquerade. I think I was in ops a lot. Looking back I probably should have pinned down the judges to ensure that the craftsmanship stuff was fully judged. They wanted to stay for the walk-ons and I understand, but if they were going to stay then the walk-ons should have been judged and ready to go. They saw all of the walk-ons but no decisions had been made. I think a points system absolutely needs to be on the judging forms next year — 1 through 10 for every section on the sheet.
I know I went to the food room with both Sammich and Thomas. As explodey as reg was on Thursday and Friday morning it was stable enough that the admin were able to leave it alone for a bit. Thomas left from there to go to Costco and get signs before the Masquerade. Sammich let me know some of the things going on. Vendors groups apparently had a lot wrong with them — they signed themselves up this year and that was part of the problem. The other part is vendors NEVER KNOW who’s in their groups so there are always reg problems there.
While we were chatting HipChat lit up — something something “incidents” with vape. Con doesn’t have a policy on vape — it’s whatever the venue policy is — it’s the venue’s problem, not ours. We did apparently have some girl have an allergic reaction so in 2016 we will have to add a policy about it because we do want to be as welcoming as possible to as many people as we can. Additionally having it explicitly on our site gets us all on the same page when it comes to it. I do want to be careful about that — I don’t want to be rehashing venue policies or Nevada laws in our policies.
While Sammich and I were talking, Nathan came in and shortly after, Nyandrew and Ryan. I filled Ryan in on the masquerade changes such as the last minute skit addition. Someone reminded me that the VIP meet & greet was going on. Hm. Oh well, I’ve got other shit going on. Last year that had been a big deal for me but this year I was making the choice not to go — in 2014 I had no such choice.
We discussed our radio issues for a bit. Nyandrew was able to hear his radio at his house which is great. However we were having a lot of issues with the radios in general. No one was reading the instructions on checkout. No one was doing any training at checkout. Few people really knew how to use them correctly. That added to a lot of our issues, but we had more issues than that could explain. I kept insisting something was wrong with the equipment although I didn’t press it with Haku. Sammich’s suggestion was that the radios weren’t powerful enough to reach the repeater. After the con, Haku did admit that the repeater wasn’t configured correctly but it hadn’t been discovered until after con. The radio issues contributed to the frequent use of HipChat. The radios this year were about as good as they ever were. (Sigh)
I ate a bit too much since I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to eat for a long while. I also walked out carrying a Cup Noodle for the same reason. As I headed out of the food room, Guy Weaver, the sleeping volunteer from this morning, stumbled out of the room across from me. He had “napped” the entire day since I sent him to sleep and had just now woken up. I was impressed at the timing more than anything. I’m not sure when but I think he handed me money later that day to keep the room for the night. Okay, cool.
We all headed over to reg area as a group. We discussed how cold the area was. The Vendors room was dramatically overheated so the entire downstairs area was far too cold to make up for it. However we did have some cosplayers in very warm cosplay that were very happy with the cold.
I headed to the back of the room and continued Masquerade planning with SamE. While I was talking with her Evan was having issues finding scissors. I had bought some fabric scissors for the repair station and asked if he’d found them. He said something along the lines of “oh, did they bring them back?” Wut. Who? Reg had the scissors. I stormed over to reg and I was ready to draw some figurative blood. I demanded the scissors. I don’t know if they were pointed out to me or if I happened to see them but I grabbed them and insisted on finding out who took them and used them for something other than fabric when they say “fabric only” all over them in sharpie. According to Sammich, Thomas took them and Sammich stopped him from using them. I deflated somewhat. Okay then. Good. I figured I’d talk to Thomas about it later but no damage done. (No idea why they hadn’t been put back, though.)
Ryan came in wearing red panda kurigami pajamas. He had purchased them in the vendor room and he looked so happy to have them. He intended to use them in the Masquerade MC performance with Sam. Sam showed up and we all went over the entry changes so everyone knew what was going on. We started discussing who would be doing what for the Masquerade. I began to complain again about the cosplay staff.
Me: “I don’t know where the fuck my cosplay staff is. SamE is the only one who’s anywhere I know where they are.”
Sam: “I don’t know of any cosplay staff besides SamE.”
Ryan: “It’s the Masquerade, they should all be here.”
It should be obvious by this point that this was a recurring issue this year.
I don’t quite know when but at some point we moved over to the main stage as we handled and discussed things. I asked SamE where the rest of the cosplay staff were. She hesitated like she didn’t know and then cautiously said that they were walking around in cosplay. I told her we needed them here now. I grabbed Haku who had a radio and told him to announce that all cosplay staff and volunteers need to come to main stage. I asked him to do an “eyes on” type announcement, meaning to say something like “if you have eyes on cosplay,” do it twice, and do it as “Beta says,” now.
The Masquerade was coming soon — far too soon. I remember someone coming up to me asking about making the front seats VIP. Not my problem; I didn’t care. I think Nathan dealt with it. I remember running around just handling things as I saw them — it was hectic. I remember feeling this invisible weight lift off of me when I realized Ryan was handling all the people behind the stage. By the way, in our original layouts I could have sworn we had a lot more space behind the stage for people. I need to review those again because it was PACKED.
Ryan was in charge and holy cow was he in charge. As far as I was concerned he saved my ass on the masquerade organization. Not only had he done serious organizing at the rehearsal but he was doing so again here and making damned sure all the people were where they needed to be. I owe him dinner as far as I’m concerned.
Ten minutes before the Masquerade was supposed to start, Brandon Smith came up. Holy shit we have a photographer! He would be handling our photo booth hours during the Masquerade. I walked him over to the photo booth and kinda pointed at it. Since he’d used it before I did a quick rundown along the lines of “you’ve used this before so I don’t have to show you how it works, right?” and I introduced him to Stephen who had done the booth that morning, so if he DID have any questions he could get them answered because there was no way Sam or I would be able to help him once the show started. I immediately rushed away.
I rushed into reg, “I need Sam’s camera. where’s Sam’s camera? (pause) Thanks guys, don’t everyone help at once.” We were able to get it found and as I rushed out I announced that if anyone saw Rika to send her to main stage. Someone answered that she didn’t have a badge. Why the fuck did she not have a badge AGAIN? Sammich timelined it for me very quickly but ended it with “Nyandrew came and got it, Nyandrew has it.” Lovely.
I picked up what I could of prizes/trophies and took them over to the main area for display. I got there and I believe it was Guy Weaver who set me up a table very quickly. He told me he was going to be one of the singing trolls. Neat. Someone had some issue with the location of the judge’s table and chairs being to the side of the stage but most of us wanted the judges off to the side. Other people brought out the remainder of the prizes. I remember asking someone (SamE?) to make labels for the prizes.
Four minutes! Are we good with 4 minutes? It seemed that way but things were definitely hectic. I remember running across the stage multiple times because it was the fastest way of getting shit done — no cameras should have been rolling at that point yet.
When the show was about to start I did my best to hide in the corner next to tech. I plugged my phone in on Amber’s laptop to give it a charge since I was locked to one location. I felt that I had done my part — now all I could do was sit and see what unfolds. Well that isn’t quite how it worked out. I was surprised to find out that I still had shit to do during the show.
The show started late but only by a couple minutes. I think we were waiting on the judges? As far as I know, no one outside of those running the show really noticed that we were late. The lateness was mostly immaterial.
I don’t know when Rika showed up behind the stage but it was a few minutes after the start when I noticed her. During the second skit I approached her to ask what tasks she was performing. As we were talking it clicked what I could do with her. I put her on the computer monitoring the Twitter feed. It would be her job to tell us who the people’s choice was. She seemed less than enthused but I was happy to have something for her to do that I knew shouldn’t have been a big issue.
During the last skit someone came up to me “we need an announcement . . . “ Amber started to answer him to say no, but I answered “There are no announcements going on main stage right for the next two hours. Not happening. Period.”
Sam’s plan of quick-changing cosplay in between the skits went over wonderfully. At first no one knew what was going on but the banter clued them in and then they were watching for it. It kept people paying attention. Sam and Ryan did an excellent show — as I knew they would. Of course I am a little biased. I love watching my husband perform. I also love watching my friends perform. So of course that part was the most fun for me. However they both know that when they screw up I will call them on it — it’s kind of my job, as both improv manager and con vice chair.
The skits went fine. We didn’t have a ton (we had 4) so they were fast. We had our first con-proposal as one of the skits which was pretty exciting. We’d been talking back & forth over the year about it. He didn’t give us enough info, really. He just wanted a mic which he then didn’t use. Ryan tried to jump in with it for him but we had no cues or anything to look for. Oh well. It was still great and made several people cry including a judge. Other than that the skits were skits. Yay? (Remember I don’t care about masquerades generally.)
After the walk-ons started one girl came to talk to me, she hadn’t supplied music or given us any requests in advance but really needed a somber song. I pretty much told her we couldn’t do anything. All music had been arranged during rehearsal so there wasn’t anything we could reasonably do. The music that played for her was happy/peppy and she looked so lost on stage that she just stopped in defeat. Ryan had to motion to her to keep going.
We had made a “last minute” decision during the rehearsal to have Ryan ask the walk-ons questions. It led to a couple split-seconds of awkwardness when walk-ons wanted to walk off, but he motioned to them to stay and most were fine. The questions seemed to go over really well and added to the show overall. I definitely want to see us do that again next year.
Near the end of the walk-ons, Sam announced Dr. Stein from Soul Eater and Amber had a mild freak out — it was out of order! I don’t know if the pause was noticeable but if you find and watch the video and notice a pause there, that’s why. Blame Sam.
After the walk-ons, the judges headed off to deliberate. The filler started wonderfully. People were having a great time with it. It kinda went on a little too long because the judges were taking forever.
At some point someone came up to me and told me someone wanted me in reg. I pressed to find out if it was the judges in ops or just reg because I was only leaving for the judges. The noise in the room prevented them from getting an answer for me (plus the issues with the walkies in general). I finally just went. I cut behind the stage and headed to ops. Sure enough it was the judges who needed me (I would have been really pissed if it hadn’t been the judges). They wanted to know if they could move people around in categories because there were a lot of people in the beginner category who weren’t beginners. Of course! No issues there. I hung around talking to SamE for a couple minutes and then I asked if they needed more from me, they said they were good, and I headed back to main stage. I wanted to keep an eye on what was going on there.
When I got back to the main stage I let the MCs know that the judges were discussing it pretty seriously. Thriller had just started (holy shit, Kyle fucking HAD THAT SHIT DOWN). As we talked I noticed that Ryan was talking into his turned-off microphone — muscle memory and I always find it amusing when I see it. When Kyle came off stage I gave him a strong compliment for being so amazing. Apparently it was his final in college.
In spite of it being THE MASQUERADE, I was getting some interruption from other staff. Haku came up and was informing me that not only did a projector go missing last night but the mixer, a speaker, and the microphones. What? How did that happen? Workshops room had been stolen from. Lovely. It is what it is — to busy to worry now. Llama came up to me to talk about the ballroom dance. I let him know that Robert and Melissa were interested in doing the ballroom dance. Don’t care right now. (GO AWAY.)
And we got a request for the Time Warp. Why am I not surprised? At the beginning Kyle yelled “turn it up” — I gave Amber permission to slap him for that. I then headed back to ops to find out the status of judging like no rush, but rush. On my way I noticed people were dancing everywhere. Like — everywhere. Nuriko and her group were dancing behind their tables. Time Warp is popular!
The judges had some more questions for me which I answered. As I was talking with the judges someone came up to me to ask something. I told her to talk to the rovers because I wasn’t handling anything other than Masquerade right now. I was effectively off the floor. I turned my attention back to the judges and asked their status. They said they were copying down their stuff and would be out shortly. I headed out to main stage to let the MCs know what the judges said. The crowd was chanting “Ninja! Ninja!”
The MCs had run out of their prepared filler and took a suggestion from the audience which was Ninja. Ninja? Seriously? No!!!!!!!! That is terrible filler and after several minutes where I just kept telling people “they were writing it down” I headed back to ops again. I pressed the judges to finish because they were playing Ninja on stage. I got a “we’re on our way” and I rushed back to the stage to let Sam know. Again.
The judges took their sweet fucking time heading back to the stage (or at least it seemed that way from our perspective) but they finally made it. Finally! On to the awards!
I don’t quite know when it happened but Sam asked me about the people’s choice award. Rika had disappeared without telling anyone the results and we didn’t see any indication that she’d left a note or anything as to who the winner was — as if I wasn’t pissed off enough to begin with. Sam had to look it up and tally it really quickly.
The awards were primarily given out by the MCs which was fine except there were points where the judges may have wanted to explain their choices. Ryan made the judges get on stage to give out their personal awards which Tasha hated. She pointed out to the crowd, and continues to point out any time she talks about judging, that Sam had to physically pull her up. If she hadn’t said anything I don’t think anyone would have noticed — she handled herself fine on stage. The judges made a point to stress how hard their decision was this year because of how great the costumes and performances were. I saw some comments online that said that was just a platitude but I can say from watching them and poking at them that they were indeed having a lot of trouble making the decision. They really did love all the cosplayers and were having trouble first putting people in the right damned categories because the people didn’t do that themselves, and second choosing between those in the categories.
I agree on one point, though — they took too damned long.
The choices were interesting. They chose to give the best performance to the Frozen cosplayers. I could see restrained disappointment radiating off of the pair when that announcement was made. The reason their performance won was because of how decent it was when they pulled it together in two hours. Remember this when it comes to any sort of subjective judging, including grades sometimes — stories help, so the judges knew that these two came completely unprepared to do a skit, we strong-armed them into doing a skit, and in less than two hours they pulled together an amazing performance for having no intention of doing so.
The disappointment still radiated from those two. I wish the judges had taken the initiative to explain that choice. Then in a twist, the couple also won Best In Show, which was not really how we were supposed to do it, but okay, fine. The judges wanted to recognize these guys for their excellence beyond anyone else. The judges made a choice and that’s all that mattered at that point considering how long it took to make their choices.
The Masquerade ended pretty much on time. Woo! We did it!
I learned later that Tasha was cornered by the woman who’d been proposed to. Something about “you broke your own rules” and on and on. She was basically pissed that the Frozen cosplayers got two major awards. That behavior is, of course, unacceptable and Tasha handled it like a champ considering she was watching a door at the time, so she couldn’t leave, and she was also trying to navigate some sort of fire over the radio. My standard reply for others is generally something along the lines of “email us” and/or “feedback session at end of con” but also “I can’t help you right now.” If it were me, of course, I’d probably have let her bitch . . . except for the fire over the radio issue. When I’m busy, I’m busy — go bug someone else or go through the proper channels.
All in all the Masquerade went really okay. Lindsey did win Best in Theme, so I’m glad I pointed the stuff out to her and I’m glad all her late-night ironing was worth it! I got feedback from Lindsey that it went better than some of the ones she was in that were run by people who’d been running them for years. Go us! Fun fact — neither Sam nor Ryan care much for Masquerades either. They’ve been to the couple that I’ve been to for research. So, the main people organizing, running, and pulling this thing off had no experience doing so and not a ton of interest in Masquerades in general. At one point in rehearsal someone said something about it being her first time — we responded “ours, too!” and she got really scared. I back-tracked a little but it was mostly true. We knew sorta what we were doing but we’d never put on (or even participated in) a Masquerade before. This was even Sam’s first time cosplaying! I think we did pretty damned well when you consider these facts.
Somewhere near the end of the show Haku came up to me with a security concern. The Masquerade was my largest responsibility that weekend and it was almost over so I basically told him to go away. I got really annoyed that he was looking for a decision from me right then when I needed and wanted to be focused on the end of the show. Next year I need it official that I’m “off the floor” for the Masquerade and will not be handling anything else — go to one of the other decision makers.
Almost immediately after the Masquerade was over Brandon came over and gave me his SD card from the photo booth. I think he said he was leaving. I gave it to Sam who got it copied right away but several months after con, we still have that SD card. I hope we get the opportunity to return it soon.
On my way back to ops I had to handle an issue where Susana was trying to get the Artist Alley to pack up for the rave? Susana handles vendors, and has generally nothing to do with Artist Alley so she didn’t know that they didn’t shut down officially. I think she was just trying to help. I fixed the issue and I ended up talking to an artist there for quite a while, especially after I found out that this was the person we’d given the accordion schedule to. He said he was considering framing that schedule. We do pay attention!
He was really impressed with our reg system and asked who made it. I told him Team BACON. “Team BACON is amazing. . . . You guys have it together like a big con and it’s sad that you’re never going to be a big con because you’re in Reno.” I’m not sure how I feel about him saying we’re never going to be a big con but whatever. He asked questions about how we did reg, and if we made any money personally from the con, and is that (personal money) a future plan. He seemed surprised that we weren’t a not for profit and I went into a very quick “I don’t want to do the books for that — I’m the accountant.” We discussed the hotel and the hotel issues (he had been one of the people prodding about hotel reg on our Facebook). We discussed the con book. He said he never used the con book. “I did a 56 hour day to get that con book out!” In the back of the con book I pointed out some of our funner departments such as Aviation and why we had them. He kept saying that our reg system was big-con quality so I told him about TurKey BACON. We also discussed the issues with the business licenses in Sparks. Since he was asking questions and listening I was telling him just about everything. He talked about the badges and badge numbers. We talked about achievements — he said he was going to run a panel someday to get that achievement. Finally, I realized that I had to get ready for the rave and I apologized and excused myself.
As I was discussing things with Sam, I gasped when I realized that we were supposed to be in the Karaoke room for the after-Masquerade feedback panel. I rushed off and power-walked there as fast as I could go with Nyandrew in tow. No one was there and I was 20 minutes late. I realized as I arrived that I’d left my jacket in the front of the Karaoke room — it was still there. I was disappointed but not surprised that not even my cosplay staff were there. I sat there and panted for a bit and then Haku and Angela wandered in to sit with me. We sat there and talked until the panel slot was over.
Angela is a new staffer this year. She was supposed to be in logistics and there were some issues emailing between her and Sam. She did make it into the department but pretty much shadowed Haku for most of the time. “You know she was also supposed to be in cosplay, right?” Haku blamed her for not telling him that. It didn’t matter anymore — cosplay had no further responsibilities for the weekend other than the repair station which Evan had handled.
Now that we had more time we were able to discuss the theft issue. The items had been stolen at some point between 2am and 10am. We hadn’t locked the doors for some reason at night as we had originally intended to. I don’t know why it got missed. The room should have been locked and that was on us but it’s so hard to imagine all that equipment walking off and no one noticing. We had people in the hallway. On the positive side nothing that got stolen was overly valuable. The worst was a 6 year old projector that was originally $300 and couldn’t be nearly that much now. 6 years old . . . only one more year to fully depreciate. I guess I get to write it off the books now. I also need to determine what mixer and mics walked out to update our inventory. Damn thief, making me do more books.
We do need a more official policy about how equipment moves during con: it doesn’t. That way door checkers have clear instructions about tech. In the unlikely event that we have to break that policy it will involve a lot of trouble which is good — tech should be difficult to move once the con starts.
While we were talking I pointed over at my jacket in the front row and made a comment at Nyandrew about it. At some point I had asked him to get my jacket out of workshops. Well I meant karaoke. Oops. He apparently walked in the workshops room, looked around, and figured it was one more thing that was supposed to be in that room but wasn’t. “I totally meant karaoke. How are you not a mind reader?”
Sam met up with us. We continued to talk. Achievement idea: Conscripted at Con for people like Stephen and Brandon who weren’t originally going to help but did because we needed them and asked. Achievement idea: another tier for Masquerade so that there’s a difference between a merit award and a larger prize. New policy idea from Nyandrew: if you join HR and then don’t actually staff HR then you aren’t staff again and have to work your way up as a volunteer if you want to ever staff again. HR is too important and demanding of a department to join and abandon.
As we were on our way out of the panel that no one came to, Sam let us know that the trash cans were overflowing all around the con. I said to contact Nathan and Haku called him immediately to get it handled. Fun fact — we were short trash cans everywhere. There simply weren’t enough trash cans. The venue complained that we’d left a lot of trash after the con was over and my first thought was — well, maybe if you gave us enough trash cans and kept them refreshed regularly it would have been less of an issue. This issue should be easily fixed for 2016. I expect it was a similar clerical error as what caused our con drought.
From there we headed to the food room to get snacks before the rave. As we arrived I told Haku that Angela was mine now — I had stolen her as my shadow. I saw a lot of potential in her as an eventual upper staffer and besides, I like having a shadow.
Haku, Angela, Nyandrew, and I sat and chatted for a few minutes while we got snacks. We were gearing up for the Fear of God speech. We all headed down together. We made a quick trip through reg to grab the T-shirt stuff. I figured if anyone gets to be late, it’s us. How wrong I was . . .
In reg, I was looking for someone to assist with shirts and secretarial duties. I don’t know why I didn’t give it to Angela right away, but eventually it was Angela handling shirts. We did have a little difficulty finding the right shirts but we managed to find all the shirts with the help from people in reg. We got a yellow pad and a receipt book and took the shirts to the main area.
As I was asking if we wanted to go all together, Inuki started saying something about Blanca was doing something with volunteers and something something changing shifts. The long and the short of it was that we didn’t have any volunteers for the cult / rave. Arriving at the meeting point, we did indeed find painfully few volunteers there. It was 9. It was 9pm before the Saturday night rave. What the fuck? I don’t know all the details of what happened but people had to still be rounded up.
We stood around waiting for volunteers to show. Eventually we did have enough. “We are here to join the cult.” Yes! The volunteers who showed up said that they knew others who would help but who didn’t know this was happening. I believe we sent him off to find his friends and we waited longer. As we waited I had Nyandrew do an at-all in the staff room to let people know the cult speech was happening now and to send people.
We did manage to round up roughly half the volunteers. We polled to see who would work the whole rave (no hands went up) and who was willing to work second shift (one hand went up). Well we need more than one but it’s a start.
Sam came up to me while I was dealing with all of this and wanted to know if Make That Hentai could steal the hentai prizes. Sure, why not (I’m busy, go away).
We continued to wait around for more volunteers to show up. We were waiting on Felicia — she was volunteering this year and intended on doing all of her volunteer hours Saturday night, part of which would be the rave. She knew (or at least should have known) that we do the speech every year at 9pm. She showed up around 9:20pm after we sent out an “eyes on” call to send her to main stage.
While we were waiting I warned Freshman that he was not allowed to talk during the rave. With his voice lost there was no way anyone would hear him and if he strained his voice while sick he could end up with permanent damage to his vocal cords. I did not want him damaged so I made it a rule that he couldn’t talk at the rave and I made it clear I was serious.
Eventually we gave up. We couldn’t stand there all night waiting for volunteers to show up so we did the speech. Late. We moved over to the very corner by the stage and formed a painfully small circle. It was a decent speech. We were serious as always and I think we got all the major point across.
Nyandrew: “New year, new venue. The speech is very simple. There is only one door. This year it happens to be a hallway. That’s still the only door. I will be assigning you to a place. You will make sure no one uses any door other than the assigned door. If anyone does — you let them — I take your badge and I take their badge. If they force their way through, you come get me and I take their badge. The only exceptions to these rules are obvious hotel staff and security, and emergency workers. That’s it. Not me. Not Beta. Not Blanca. Not anybody. I am not kidding. All of our staff know better. I have pulled a badge for this. It’s a super easy job — super fun even. You get to hang out and listen to the music in the rave and all you gotta do is be polite and let people know ‘I’m sorry, you can’t use this door.’ That’s it. Does anyone have any questions?”
As usual, there was silence.
I started talking. We covered issues with the doors such as the vendor room door and how much we care about keeping it locked down and briefly why. We also covered that yes, he wasn’t kidding, we have really pulled a badge for this before.
Nyandrew: “Now, if you see anything that doesn’t look right, if you have any issues, if there’s someone doing something they’re not supposed to, we’re here. We’re here to help. The main reason [the consequence] is so high is because we have to have you guys understand that this is one of the most serious positions that we have people work. It’s really important.”
Inuki: “Don’t leave your station.”
Nyandrew: “Until you are relieved. And if you have questions or anything like that we have ways for us to get in touch with each other. Several of us will be in the rave actively walking around, keeping an eye out, checking on you guys, making sure you’re okay, making sure everyone else is okay.”
We covered ways to get in touch with the heads including the sign for bathroom and ways to wave heads down, which honestly included just waving your hands around in the air. It devolved into giggles because people are immature. We also covered that we didn’t have a strobe light in the rave — we will never have a strobe light in the rave because it screws with people too much. No seizures, please! We covered again that the only way that a badge will be pulled is if the volunteer willingly lets a person go past them. It is not the volunteer’s responsibility to physically block anyone and the volunteers are not allowed to touch the attendees. They just need to let us know immediately or as soon as reasonably possible — don’t leave your door.
We asked if there were more questions and answered a couple scenarios people did have questions about. Yes, you can join the rave after your shift — hell, you can dance at your post if you want. If you have something to report, don’t leave your door. If you have something to report, flag someone down. Yes, if someone wants to hang out next to you and talk, that’s cool.
With the questions over I had one final order of business, and I walked past the group over to the T-shirt box. Llama said something about the shirts — I don’t remember what he said but I remember my frustrated rage aimed his direction. My “final order of business” surprise has become much less of one over the years but I still like to do it in case there are any new initiates in the group — welcome to the Cult of the One Door! We got purple this year.
We sold the shirts with Angela handling sales while I took down badges of all those who were present for our cult records. I ended up not getting a purple shirt because Sam usually handles that and he was in a panel. Damn. Oh well. I liked the 2014 red better anyway.
I think Nyandrew left to find more possible volunteers. We have NEVER had to do a second speech but this year we were dramatically short on people, especially for the second shift. More volunteers arrived and crowded around. I looked around to try and find Nyandrew and I called to him when I spotted him across the main room. My voice carried perfectly over the crowd and noise that was happening in the room at the time. He made eye contact with me and headed our direction.
Much to my annoyance, a guy standing to my left and a woman standing to my right both attempted to “help” by calling Nyandrew again. They managed to do it in unison but that seemed accidental. I only noticed the guy at the time but it was pointed out to me later that there was a second person. I glared at the guy and was like “I can reach him just fine! He heard me. He looked up when I called.” I really hate it when people try to help me yell without me asking. It’s like — you have no fucking idea what I’m capable of, and in the last several years I’ve even gotten so much better at projecting that I need help almost never. I used the exact amount of power I wanted to use. If it wasn’t enough I’ll try more. Don’t fucking help me with your yell unless I explicitly state that I’m not capable of yelling at the volume I need. Of course, this was a volunteer so I didn’t do much other that tell him not to do it again. Nyandrew did not acknowledge the second yell which made me feel a bit better — TWO voices couldn’t carry over the noise of the main room but mine did all by myself.
We had another group of volunteers. A large enough group to warrant doing the speech again. So we did. Nyandrew’s part seemed largely the same but after about 4 sentences or so Wordsound started performing. I was mildly tempted to tell everyone to push that back 10 minutes but I let it go. I had been under the impression nothing was going on before the rave but it might’ve been a schedule change. We had had an issue where Wordsound hadn’t been scheduled for a concert. We need a checklist or something — performer guests need performances as part of their programming and all guests get autograph time, opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, etc.
We spoke over the noise and did the shirts. My primary motivation became getting the fuck out of there and as such I neglected to write down all of the additional cult members we had gained. I realized that I had forgotten to write down the numbers while I was in reg and I grabbed what I could off the shirt list and let Nyandrew know my mistake so he could get the rest. To my knowledge everyone who needed to be on the list got on the list.
We’d offered ear plugs to the volunteers but apparently they went unused because no one thought to ask the reg manager about them. Cassie knew where they were. Regardless, I should probably get more ear plugs and make it more known that they live in reg.
While I was in reg, Guy needed his room key. I finally got his name! I got down his information, took his money, and gave him a room key. I was pretty sure it was the same room key he had given back to me earlier.
My throat was thrashed because I was trying to talk over loud music. Angela and I headed up to the food room so I could make myself tea. We sat in there and talked for at least an hour. During that time Inuki came in and asked if he could take a lot of water to tabletop. Of course! Take it! He came over to the stack of 4 or 5 flats and lifted up two. He leaned back to carry them and stopped. “Why do I feel wet?” And he put them back down. The bottom flat was leaking. Of course we were of no help to him — we were laughing at him. I suggested that the flat should go in the bathtub so it could leak there and went back to chatting. I think I had at least two cups of throat coat. “Diaphragming” doesn’t do anything to my throat but trying to just talk loudly over music? Ugh. My throat was annoyed from our second speech.
At some point I remembered my energy drink was still sitting at main stage from the Masquerade. Oh well — I’ll fetch it later.
We really need extra schedules left everywhere including the staff food room. We were in that room with no schedules and although, yes, I could bring it up on my phone, I would’ve preferred just to have a paper schedule handy. While we talked I filled Angela in on all sorts of random things. I was wired from sleep dep and I didn’t shut up. She filled me in on a few things about her, as well. It was a very pleasant chat but at some point I figured it was time we go check on things and we left the food room.
We wandered down the panel hallway and checked up on the door guards. I asked what was going on and learned the Erotic Twinkie Eating Contest was happening inside. Cool, let’s check that out. I found out that that contest had also taken the hentai prizes. Not a big deal, but I don’t think I knew about it in advance. I think it’s amusing that the prizes were specifically called “hentai prizes” though. Ryan was doing an excellent job and Angela and I discussed how good Ryan and Sam were in front of people in general. While we were standing near the door it bothered me that far too many people were standing. I sent people to sit down since there were still open seats.
We didn’t stay in there for too long. I just kinda wanted to check it out. It really seemed like people were having a little too much fun in there. I may want llama to be part of that panel next year. There was a lot of inappropriate contact.
Within moments of walking back out into the hallway Llama grabbed me to tell me that he just saw Haku open the door to the nude art room, Rieev didn’t stop him, and tabletop could see in the room. Fuck. What? Fuck! First we deal with Haku, then we deal with Rieev. We found Haku and said we had an issue right now and needed a hallway meeting immediately so he was to handle what he was doing and meet us by the staff food. We headed in through my room.
Nyandrew came in panting. I think he was looking for Haku and possibly me. Code everclear in the rave but what’s going on here? We told him. He seemed like he was going to hyperventilate. We sent him to deal with the code everclear since someone was bothering attendees and that needed to get handled while we dealt with the nude art issue.
Welp, it was Saturday night.
Shortly after that, Haku came in and with an almost violent quickness said something along the lines of — he’s sorry, he forgot that panel was happening, he shut the door as soon as he remembered, Rieev didn’t stop him, and there’s a fire at the rave and he had to go. We responded acknowledgment with an equal quickness and he left. Well that was the fastest meeting we’ve ever had to have. Okay, on to Rieev.
Our plan was to have Angela watch the door so we could pull Rieev. As Rieev was going over how to watch the doors, it came to light that one door was locked and the other one wasn’t, and she had been told by someone to watch the locked door and there was a sign loosely guarding the unlocked door and it was much too far from the door to be effective. What the hell? Who thought that was a good idea? Llama tested the door to find that it was, indeed, locked.
We did finally pull her into the room to ask about Haku opening the door. She said that Haku had opened the door before she could react. She was at the end of the hallway and Haku came around the corner and opened it too quickly for her to stop him. After the meeting, we put Rieev on the right damned door, ran over the rules of guarding that room again, and left to find out what was going on at the rave.
We didn’t make it out of the area before we ran into people to give updates to. Elliot had been left in the middle of the hallway by Inuki (Elliot was in a wheelchair). I don’t really know quite what happened for the next several minutes except Ryan pointed out to us that the peep hole in the doors is designed so that you can see in the room. So, someone could peep in on the room if our door watcher wasn’t stopping them. We let Rieev know that she needed to watch for that too.
I think it was Cheyanne Harris who came up to me to tell me a girl was slipped something in the rave. I went into immediate action. I called out to the staff around me that we had a hot coffee — everyone follow me and anyone who can get a hold of Nathan do so because this is all chairs on deck! Ryan had Angela fetch a bottle of water from the food room to help flush the girl’s system. We were led to the karaoke room to find a crying girl in a red dress. My most immediate question was why was she upstairs? We all expected she would be downstairs by the rave. She had already been given water and was now being given more water. More water was probably a good thing.
She was crying which made her very hard to understand. I don’t think I understood more than her saying she didn’t feel right and something was wrong, and she just needed a hug from Guy. Guy? Guy Weaver. I don’t remember if someone left to fetch him but I assume that that did happen because soon enough Guy appeared. He knew her. The way they talked they were either really good friends, currently dating, or exes on good terms.
I left Llama to get the story; I wanted to head downstairs. I remember checking my voice recorder at some point to make sure it was still going. I did that a lot for the next few hours.
Ryan and Thomas approached me with another girl almost as soon as I left the room. She had no ID but had a birth certificate — could she use that for 18+ ID? No. She said something about using the ID in our system. This was the second time this weekend that an attendee thought we were keeping pictures of their IDs in our system. No, we don’t do that. And still, no, you can’t use it. Considering how liberal reg gets to be with IDs sometimes, your badge only serves to show that we’re pretty sure you paid to get in. Moving on.
Nathan had finally made it to the area and I filled him in with the info I had. He also provided me with a bit more info that he’d gotten from downstairs before coming up. We walked down a side hallway away from our space and discussed the situation. I think Nathan stayed upstairs while I wanted to head down.
Ryan had a hentai panel but I offered him an update on the situation. We went off to the side and I filled him in quietly. He let Sammich know what was up and pushed his panel back 30 minutes so he could head downstairs as well. Ryan apparently knew what to look for which was a skill/knowledge I was unaware he had. I walked around but since I didn’t know what I was looking for and Ryan very obviously did, I stopped trying and stepped out of the rave to talk to Nyandrew. A few minutes later Ryan appeared from the room. He had seen nothing weird and neither had any of the volunteers.
Looking at the pinch point (“one door”) for the rave, it was very wide. I talked with someone later who’d actually been watching the “door” who was indeed having issues because of how wide the hallway was. I am thinking we buy some stanchions in 2016 to assist with pinching the hallway even further. It would help with the rave but it would also help with general line control.
I filled Nyandrew in on what I knew and asked how things were going in general. He told me that Rika thought it was a sub-par rave. Shortly after that Kmittens showed up to say best rave ever. I got no further feedback than that from anyone but I am more inclined to believe Kmittens. Apparently people were dancing and having a great time the whole night. Isn’t that really all we care about? That sounds successful to me.
I think Ryan had to get to Insert Panel — his 30 minutes were up and the panel needed to start so off he went. I was extremely grateful that he had helped as much as he had. Nyandrew and I headed back upstairs and we caught a Llama on the way. We needed to have a meeting so all the staff who had seen, heard, or been involved in any way could provide their input and help make a decision as to what to do with the girl.
I don’t know who decided it or when but the girl in the red dress was moved to the hotel room Guy had been in. It may have been Llama. Or Guy. I don’t really remember. It became known as “situation 306” for a period of time because that was the room she was in.
The meeting was yet again in my hotel room because it was close, private, and connected to the food room which is where we told people to meet us. I think those who attended were Inuki, Llama, Nathan, Gopher, and Angela (who was still shadowing me — what a great time to shadow). I feel like I’m missing someone but that’s who I remember. Origami did show up briefly but since he wasn’t involved we told him that and he left relieved. Someone had told him there was a meeting and he should be there. They were wrong, but okay. Everyone told their stories and then we discussed.
Before I go into the story of the girl, I want to briefly go into the other fires that were reported during this meeting. Apparently we had two separate “missing” 17-year-olds. I didn’t consider it that much of an issue considering they were 17, although the parents were apparently pushy as they usually are. One of the two was a girl who’d been missing for two days. I don’t know why they’d expect us to be able to help in any way if she’d already been missing for two days but I do hope that they did find her eventually. The staffers who were handling it escorted the parents around the con, as we usually do.
Nyandrew also reported that Guy Weaver had let him know that YET AGAIN we had someone under 18 checking IDs for hentai. How does this keep happening?? The girl apparently had permission from a parent for her to check IDs for the hentai. So? NO! By the point Nyandrew was reporting it to us he had already fixed the issue.
Moving on to the original reason for the meeting — without giving too many details, the girl had been acting inappropriately at the rave, so she was kicked out of the rave. Rather than leave she went to the panel area and was there crying. Someone had gotten the keywords “drugs” and “rave” from her and then ushered her into the empty karaoke room and passed it up the chain. She had had alcohol and possibly been slipped drugs in the parking lot before going to the rave — NOT at the rave and nowhere near our con space at all. She was underaged. She was scared of getting in trouble.
After a very long meeting the decision was to pull her badge and call venue security and turn her over to them with the info we had. From there it would be up to them how to handle it and be out of our hands (and no longer our liability). (https://secure.snafucon.com/wiki/Kid_Everclear_Policy ) Guy had been sitting with her so Llama swapped places and sent Guy to the meeting room. We filled him in so he understood what we were doing and why, and was prepared. He only asked that we broke it to her easy. Llama was certainly the best person we had for that.
Everyone pretty much went their different ways except Nathan, Nyandrew, and me. We sent Inuki to bed because he really needed to rest and we waited for security. Angela headed off to bed having had a very interesting evening. After a few minutes security showed up. I chose to bow out at that point because I figured there were a lot of people going into that room and I didn’t want to add one more body. I figured I could trust Nathan to follow through with the decision. Nyandrew headed to reg to get his energy drink.
I wasn’t entirely sure what happened from there but I deeply wish I had gone with the staff and security into that hotel room. They were in that room for a really long time. The longer it went on the more annoyed I got. I didn’t know what the holdup was but the long and short of it should have been getting that girl the fuck out of “my” hotel room (“my” since it was my name on it but it was a con-room). It felt like hours. It may have only been an hour but it shouldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.
I learned later that it was the venue security that was the holdup. They kept asking the girl questions that implied to our staff in the room that they didn’t want to take her. Had I been there I doubt I would have let that continue as long as it did, but I can’t say for sure what would have happened. Either way, I wasn’t there and we will need to determine how we handle venue security if we have a similar situation going forward. They eventually surrendered her to someone who picked her up. I don’t quite know.
I had intended to go to hentai but I spent the majority of the time sitting on the couch with Sam who had become an impromptu babysitter for Nathan’s niece. Although I wanted to go to hentai, I didn’t want to go have fun while Sam was stuck there, especially since Sam was slipping — he needed and wanted to get to bed. He was very unhappy about becoming a babysitter but understood the necessity of it. Nathan was dealing with hot coffee and Kylie was not only sick but was working.
At one point or another the topic of my caffeine intake came up again. I mentioned that I’d left my energy drink at main stage and would wander over there at some point to get it. Cheyanne offered to get it for me and off she went. I appreciated it since I would need it shortly. She returned out of breath with my energy drink. I was surprised — she didn’t have to rush. I continued to carry around the drink, still not ready to break its seal just yet. I sat and talked with various people including Sammich who had emerged from hentai to discuss things.
I don’t know who brought it to my attention but due to some unimportant radio traffic during the Saturday night fires we probably should have a new policy — friends looking for friends can not use the radios to find each other on Saturday night. We need the radio-traffic to be important things only on Saturday night. Otherwise we should be okay with less important items. We also need better training and more widespread knowledge about the protocols for radio use in general. But that’s another horse that seems to be dead so I should probably stop beating at it.
At some point Guy came to me — he was taking a break from door watching and just wanted to say that he thought the girl in the room had and was wearing his blue shirt. He wanted to see if he could get it back before she was taken away. At that time I’d strongly hoped they’d have been gone from the room already since I hadn’t been paying a ton of attention. I warned him they might still be in the room but since he was the one that was using the room it was really his choice if he wanted to check. He checked and reported back to me that they were indeed still in the room and said that he had said something about forgetting his Chapstick (not a lie). I started paying more attention to the hallway but I honestly never saw them leave.
Nathan left the room at some point and updated me some. They were still in that room for some reason. They wanted someone to take responsibility for her and they looked at Nathan who was basically “hell no” but probably nicer. There was also something about needing to find her shoes and her purse which was apparently down at the rave and we certainly didn’t want her going back down to the rave. I told Nathan about the blue shirt Guy wanted back. He disappeared, possibly to get her shoes and purse or possibly to get that blue shirt. I’m not sure.
I finally broke into the Rockstar Punched I’d been carrying around for the last 24+ hours. My first energy drink of the con weekend proper was on Sunday since it was definitely after midnight by that point. To be fair I was a bit gun shy after the food poisoning, but I had been feeling all right for more than a day. I had hardly slept and I was still going — somehow. I had finally hit the wall and needed that sweet shove to push me past it. Hello my dear caffeine, 240mg.
I would be drinking it for the next several hours — I think at least 8 or so. We continued to sit and wait. I really wanted to go see the end of Ryan’s panel so I did end up leaving Sam. I headed over that direction and walked in the room just in time to hear Sammich say that we would now move on to the regular hentai programming which was similar to what Ryan had just done but we ask the audience to do it. Dammit.
I followed Ryan out of the room to ask about his panel. I then filled him in with how the “Kid Everclear” situation had gone since he had left to do that panel. He updated me on the info he’d gathered while running through the rave which pretty much simplified to everything was cool. Volunteers saw nothing weird other than the one girl.
Side note, we probably need a new code for drunk attendee because code everclear is usually non-attendee drunks bothering the attendees.
A group of us then sat around talking for a bit again. We were pretty much centered on Sam who was still stuck there as the babysitter. We sent Thomas to bed since he needed it and we didn’t need him right then. We told him we would wake him up at some point later. I know Tasha and Freshman appeared to talk with the group at some point. We talked about who was handling ops. We talked a lot.
Eventually Nathan reappeared and picked up his girl to take her off to bed. The girl in the red dress (“Kid Everclear”) was still in the room with security.
Sam and I were finally free! We moved down the hallway towards hentai but we didn’t make it. I ended up talking to some upper staff in the hallway about a lot of the crap that had gone on. I have a strong memory of sitting on a bench with Sam’s head in my lap while I stroked his hair. He mumbled something about wanting to sleep but would rather stay where he was. “I’m finally getting some time with my wife.” I remember telling people that he wouldn’t remember it in the morning and he didn’t.
Nyandrew updated me that hotel security still hadn’t removed the girl from the hotel room. Apparently they got her a ride and were waiting for it? I didn’t care how the hotel handled it but I wanted her out of the room so she would no longer be our liability. I regretted again not going and being a part of the discussion with security.
We ran into Lindsey and Stephen roaming around — well, they ran into us since I was on a bench with a Sam in my lap so I couldn’t exactly run into anyone. At some point I finally had to stand up because sitting was making me tired. Sam stumbled off to bed since he couldn’t lay on me anymore. Lindsey and Stephen took the bench. As we spoke, several more staffers joined the group. It turned into a small gathering of staff surrounding these two. I felt bad since they looked a bit trapped. I think I remember pointing out that our staff was probably a good place for them to find potential staff/volunteers. Many of our staff are perfectly happy staffing multiple cons.
Listening to the recorder, I can tell that the energy drink hit me fast and hard. I was talking a mile a minute and was relatively scattered in some of my logic. I hope I wasn’t too annoying for anyone, especially Lindsey and Stephen who haven’t spent a lot of time around me so I don’t know how likely I am to scare them off by being me.
I filled them in on the basics of the Kid Everclear situation and Lindsey mentioned how many people are taken away in ambulances each year at Fanime because of similarly stupid stuff.
We chatted about the drama we had to go through this year. Nyandrew wandered around the corner to report that the rave was over. Tasha commented that we all had energy drinks in our hands — well, yeah, it’s Sunday morning of con. We talked about achievements and peace bonding. I looked up Blanca’s entry from 2014 to read aloud — the entry HAS to be read aloud because just describing it second hand is never good enough.
Nyandrew checked on the room and reported that the girl was STILL in the hotel room. Cheyanne asked if your badge was pulled did that mean you couldn’t be in your hotel room. I had to explain she was in our staff dorms not her own hotel room. We certainly have no interest in kicking people out of their own hotel rooms.
We talked about reg and how cool our card scanners were this year. Stephen said something about someone breaking one. What? Oh, no, he just used a Canadian ID and the computer didn’t know what to do. Thomas was apparently very excited about it.
Stephen asked if we needed help with photo booth again. We discussed it and I went over Sam’s issues doing photo booth. He actually had almost canceled the booth altogether this year. I don’t think I actually gave Stephen a solid answer right then but we did end up asking him to handle the booth in the morning.
We talked a lot and eventually Lindsey and Stephen left for bed.
We continued to talk for a while. SamE was an amazing staffer. Tasha had to feed Thomas ramen water. Fun times. But I still wanted to get to hentai. “There’s like nobody in there.” “Well let’s fix that!” And away we went.
Hentai had been moved to panel main for this night as it had originally been intended. Guy Weaver was watching the doors. The room was relatively small but it was certainly a lively bunch after we got there.
Hentai is actually a place we sometimes get things done — Sammich and I discussed entering volunteer slips. He was trying to get volunteers ready for the morning. Unfortunately, it would be early morning before everyone got really serious about it. Throughout the night he asked me questions about the volunteer tables and the system in general. Why are both the badge number and user ID not null? Because reasons. I made the table based off an excel sheet, and I did it like two years ago.
I don’t really remember it very well but there was some joke happening in the room about using a black light to see body fluids and SamE acted nervous and ran away. So I chased her with the black light because that’s the sort of thing I do. She ran out of the room and when she came back she said she’d gotten two pink Starbursts from a random attendee. Okay, then.
Sammich was listening to his radio again. As a result we got a seemingly random outburst in the middle of everything — “Oh, hell. There’s a code everclear vomiting downstairs.”
. . . Well I can’t handle that. I had him call down a reminder from me to report it to venue security and facilities to get it cleaned up. I believe I heard later that Nyandrew was the one on the scene for that one.
We were talking and various people were hovering around the table inspecting the prizes. Sammich and I decided to have a moaning contest so people could win some. I called out to the room — “Welcome to the late night hentai room where we’ve got nothing better to do and we’re tired and bored and things are going to get a little weird!”
We had 7 microphones which was enough for everyone to participate who wanted to.
While we were setting up the audio SamE stole a blue ball candy. She thought it was a gumball but it was some sort of menthol candy. The look on her face betrayed her immediately — they tasted nothing like what she expected! We had a small debate as to whether they were after-blowjob mints or before-blowjob mints. When she said her tongue was going numb the consensus was it was a before-blowjob mint because the numbness should assist in removing the gag reflex. Congrats, SamE, you’re ready for a blowjob now!
Curiosity got the better of her and Tasha had to try one of the candies. She wasn’t nearly as disgusted as SamE.
Sammich got a lot of mics set up but it wouldn’t be a contest anymore because they’d already stolen several prizes. It became just a “basic” hentai redubbing. I don’t quite remember all of those who participated — I remember SamE, Rika, and the guy from the previous night who will be contacting Japan for us. I did learn his name — Kazuma. The redubbing went on for a long while. There was also one girl who was amazing at the redubbing but I didn’t catch her name.
Tasha said she would be leaving after a bit because she had to be up in a few hours. Channel 2 was coming to do a walk-through and interview Nathan, and Tasha has to be there as the press contact. For some reason that reminded me — we’d given a radio station a bunch of gift codes to give out — had they been? Tasha had no idea. As of 3 months post-con we still have no idea if they were given out but I expect that they were not.
In spite of saying she was going to leave, Tasha hung around talking for quite a while more. We talked about our trip to Otakon Vegas. We talked about the BJ Tournament (sort of) and Tasha insisted that we do it again because she wants to know what it’s about. At some point it will happen again. Someday. We talked about Peace Bonding again and Sammich brought up that our tablets could take pictures of items — how useful. We talked a lot while the redubbing was going on.
Tasha did eventually go to bed to get some sleep before the Ch 2 thing in the morning.
After she was done redubbing I also got to talk to SamE a bit. I had never really spoken to her on a personal level so it was interesting getting to know her a bit more.
As the night wore on I found out that Guy Weaver, although 18, didn’t have an ID on him and was refusing to enter the room. When he needed to speak to Sammich he would knock, or wave his hand in the room, or any number of silly things to get our attention without breaking the policy that his ID would need to be checked to enter. This was simultaneously impressive and annoying. How did he get a position checking IDs when we couldn’t check his? If he hadn’t have already been doing it for many hours and already proven himself to be an exemplary volunteer, I would have taken issue with it right then. This prompted me to put some serious time into writing the ID checking policy. Now I just need to push it to the staff who very much should have known better. (https://secure.snafucon.com/wiki/Checking_IDs)
We got a notification in HipChat — Cheyanne Harris did an at-all that she was off the floor. I think we need to figure out policies and procedures as to what rooms to at-all in and when. It’s important to know when the decision makers are off the floor but otherwise no staff need to tell anyone other than their direct supervisors that they’re off the floor. This all boils down to more and better training — someday we’ll get it down, I swear. We suspect that staff in general don’t quite comprehend that at all goes to ALL the staff and it’s annoying.
The Hentai Room died out fairly quickly after the redubbing, but the redubbing did last for multiple hours and went until about 5am when the dubbers just sorta crashed. I think someone was asleep in the back of the room for a bit but they wandered away without me noticing.
The very last thing we showed, which we started at about 5:30ish, was something relatively silly but the room was sadly empty. I don’t know what it was but it would have been a good night-starter — we finally found something that looked decent! Of course . . . Oh well. Sammich and I talked while it was going. He was working on programming volunteers and we mostly discussed that.
Sammich cleaned up the room and we eventually just stopped the hentai. We sat and talked to basically wait out our time slot. At some point Guy had something to tell us and we just told him the hentai was over — don’t worry about it anymore. He sat and talked with us for a while. Guy let us know he had a lot of connections in radio which is highly useful. He needs to be working with Tasha in 2016.
Guy has connections. Not only is he amazing as a volunteer, but he has value to bring to the table. w00t!
Inuki appeared. He had woken up — someone needed to be on the floor at 6. He seemed like he was incredibly out of it and I think he felt like I had felt Saturday morning after my 1.5 hours of sleep. His fuzziness seemed to fade as we talked.
Guy clued us in as to why he was sticking so hard to the policy. Apparently in a previous year he lost his balance and it looked like he jumped off the stage. He said they almost pulled his badge for it. False. We would NOT have pulled his badge for jumping off the stage, but we would have scolded him which is probably what happened. I told the story about when Origami sang Master Exploder (“I do not need a microphone”) at Fanime and when he put the mic back in the stand it came loose and fell (Fanime’s fault) and they got really mad at him for dropping the mic because they thought it was intentional.
We discussed the people sleeping on the couches in the hallway. I was concerned but I didn’t know how the venue felt about sleeping people so I let it be. Security did indeed rustle them out of their sleeping spot and made them go elsewhere. And now we know with certainty that the sleeping policy remains the same as it was at the GSR. At the GSR we had more skirted tables around for people to sleep under than we had here. I think that contributed to the fact that I saw a lot more sleeping people this year than I’d seen at the GSR.
We also had a long conversation about Wizard World, voice actors, guests, etc. It ended when Guy started talking about seeing Jewel Staite at Comic Con. He was surprised at how hot she was because she’d had to put on so much weight for her role in Firefly. Uhm. Excuse me? I did NOT let that slide — I jumped on him immediately for it. He kept trying to explain himself and just kept digging himself a deeper hole which of course allowed me the opportunity to quote the Simpsons — “Dig UP, stupid!”
I think it was Sammich who chimed in “at least stop digging!”
Inuki: “If you can’t find up, stop digging and signal for help. . . . You will learn my friend, you will learn when you are older, there are times when you just need admit defeat and shut the fuck up.”
He’d dug himself a deep hole and he was stuck there.
SamE came over and told us she would be leaving for the rest of con. I think I offered her time in a con room and she basically used it to change or something and that was it. She went home. I think she said there was something wrong with her leg? Luckily Sunday isn’t exactly a big cosplay day at all so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Well crap. It was the start of Sunday.
Sunday . . .
Now that hentai was officially over (instead of just unofficially over), Sammich and I headed over to reg. He had to get volunteers system ready to handle input. It really wasn’t ready and that was highly concerning.
Kmittens found me and let me know he was leaving for the rest of con. His parents were taking him to Disneyland. He looked tired and conflicted about how happy he should be vs how happy he was. I expect he slept the entire trip. I took the time to let him know that the DJs had thrown glow sticks into the dance floor and people were rolling their ankles and whatnot. Dangerous! He said he’d handle it for next year. He said that the rave was the best one we’ve had — a good crowd dancing all night! Yay! He also told me he would be doing actual tryouts for the DJs next year which is pretty cool. I’m excited about that.
Thomas received a report that no one was watching the video or panel rooms and it was opened and unlocked. Uhm. SOMETHING should’ve been running in video at least and as such SOMEONE should’ve been there. Origami stuck around the area until he put Kyle on it. I don’t know what happened after that but I assume someone relieved Kyle. Origami came down to reg to report to us that there was a closet in the panel area that connected all the rooms. So . . . if any room up there is unlocked and unwatched, then all the rooms are effectively unlocked. That’s fucking wonderful. This was discouraging but valuable information.
I heard beeping. Beep. Beep. Beep. Was that the vendor room alarm? No, that apparently wasn’t working. The reg managers reported that someone had lost their phone and it was beeping and alarming and making all manner of annoying noises and had been doing so for a long while. After a few times I told the managers to just turn the alarms off — so they did. I think they were worried someone might get upset with strangers messing with their phone but the alarms WEREN’T STOPPING. So we stopped them.
The doors to the room were closed. Ops should be open! I tried to open the gawd damned fucking piece of shit stuck doors then I complained about them. All con I had been battling these fucking doors around reg/ops. They were ridiculously difficult to open because their bumpers were set too low. I fought and struggled and somehow we got them open. And then at night they’d get closed again and in the morning I’d fight them again. It wouldn’t matter much soon since that was the last morning to worry about opening the doors for, but I was annoyed and complained. Sammich pointed out that the air walls could be adjusted differently to make the doors open easier. However I expect that would have cost money to get adjusted during con so I expect we should just ask for the doors to be adjusted as part of our initial setup. I don’t want to be battling doors next year!
I remember poking around the volunteer area to grab the turned in completed forms, figuring we could get them organized to enter. I couldn’t find them so I sort of put a pin in it to ask later. As I was poking around however I noticed the peace bonding desk was a mess. Rovers needs to clean and organize peace bonding and lost and found REGULARLY. That’s got to be a 2016 policy. Also — where were they? Shouldn’t there always be someone at the rovers desk?
I was talking with Llama when Inuki came in to report that the ceiling collapsed in the vendor room. Llama and I were in complete unison — “WHAT??” We jumped into action and I called out to the reg room for someone to call Nathan. I heard Sammich calling over the radio as I rushed out of the room.
When we got to the vendor room we discovered that it wasn’t nearly as bad as we had expected having been told the “ceiling collapsed.” It was three ceiling panels and they fell primarily in the aisle as a result of water damage. In fact, the ceiling was still dripping. I asked why our motion cameras didn’t alert us when it happened. Origami said “they probably did.” This was the first time that it really sunk in that our motion sensors weren’t working. They were local only because they weren’t ever able to get the radio part of it working. I had been told once or twice before this but it never really stuck with me.
The vendor table closest to the cave-in had had plastic over it, luckily. The dripping hit the plastic and rolled off with no damage to anything. The falling tiles only barely touched the table. It was amazingly lucky that there was no damage. The only casualty Llama could find: one piece of candy. As lucky as it was that the tiles didn’t hit any tables, it was even more amazingly lucky that they fell when there was no one in the room. That would have been a nightmare if they fell into a full room.
Obviously, the vendor room opened late.
While we were waiting around for Nathan to show up, we asked Llama how the law panel went. It sounded like it went really well and I hope Kathleen does it again. A few of the topics included — it’s illegal for a ghost to haunt a property, a dog-human hybrid would be tried as a human, and blaming your sister is a perfect defense. Listening to Llama talking about the panel, a few people were getting excited for next year.
Still waiting for Nathan, we got silly.
As we talked about how lucky it was that the ceiling didn’t collapse on any people or even any tables Inuki exclaimed “it rolled a 1 when it collapsed!”
Me: “Or we rolled a nat 20.”
Inuki: “The table rolled a 20.”
Kyle: “The vendor room rolled a 20 and the ceiling rolled a 1.”
Llama: “and the ceiling went — SQUIRREL!”
Sam: “Would the table be flat footed?”
Inuki: “Depends on if it would count as a surprise round.”
Me: “It happened in the middle of the night I think it would count as a surprise round . . . theoretically everything in here was sleeping.”
Inuki: “No, water dropped on the floor first.”
Sam: “To be fair, he has a point. If water was dripping on it — “
Inuki: “It might have given it enough warning.”
Llama: “No, I think it had a stealth through the roof. The water in the ceiling had stealth maxed out, but the thing is it just botched its roll terribly and the table’s like ’20!’”
Wow. I love our staff.
After waiting a while I figured I’d just go on to handle other things and let the vendor room get handled by the remaining staff. I knew Nathan would show up with venue staff and it would get handled so I left the room even though Nathan hadn’t shown up yet. He found me later to report that the collapse was from water damage (which we knew) caused by someone in a hotel room dramatically overflowing their tub.
I’m not sure when but at some point in the morning Sam and I went over to the Kraken Con table to ask Stephen if he could do the photo booth again. We stood around his table talking for a bit with the Geek HQ guys. As we were talking, a couple came up and asked about the photo booth. They were looking to get engagement photos. I poked at Sam and insisted he take them since I trusted him more than Stephen for pictures that important. Sam went off and did the shoot while I continued to talk. It only took a few minutes and then we were off to check out the hotel rooms.
We had like 3 or 4 rooms that needed to check out Sunday and we did a walk-through in all of them. We walked in on Guy Weaver in bed — oops I’d forgotten to tell him that room checked out that day at 11. I was a bit frantic and I’m not sure how I came across when I told him I needed to check out the room. There was some girl sleeping next to him. I don’t remember who it was or if I even knew her (I think she was familiar but I think I was too rushed to form
a solid memory). That fact is mildly concerning now that I think about its since she wasn’t authorized to be there. Another thing to deal with later — I need a dorms contract, especially for the (hopefully rare) at-con placements.
When all the rooms seemed good, Sam and I went downstairs to check them out. The woman at the counter wanted like $2 per room and I found that incredibly funny. I said it was on the master account — I didn’t need to give her money. She looked at the manager next to her and said something like “everyone has to pay the ____ tax, right?” And he acknowledged that yes everyone had to pay it.
No, guys, I don’t think you understand. This is ALL on the master account. Why would you charge me $2 per room and not just put that in the master account like the rest of it? I was in surprisingly good spirits — I thought this was rather entertaining. I did finally get the message across and the manager had to show her how to move the charge to the master account. How weird. We headed back up to reg.
I don’t remember a lot of the remaining interim time between hentai and volunteer hell breaking lose. I had forgotten many key points of the day because my memory was locked on volunteer hell — luckily my voice recorder did catch enough that I think I pieced most of it together. I do remember Sammich was coding in reg for a long time but then he announced that he was going to the room so he could code with fewer distractions. We didn’t see him for a long while after that.
Sam said something about not having highlighted scripts. Improv was today and that was his primary responsibility at this point. I put Thomas on the task of printing scripts since he didn’t have any programming tasks from Sammich yet. Sammich was basically code silver and holed away in his room coding volunteers. I figured I would be able to highlight the scripts in time. I think I got one highlighted? I know I didn’t finish what the show needed, though. I had to have Nyandrew highlight the scripts because he had time and I didn’t.
Reviewing my voice recorder after con I heard myself say “Did I finish my energy drink or did I just set it somewhere and forget it?”
I feel that sentence gives a pretty decent picture of the state of mind that I was in — I was not functioning fully. I’m not sure if I ever got an answer, but I believe I’d left the drink in my room and I did retrieve it and finish it off during the chaos.
I tried to make sure that rovers would have a badge checker during tear down. With all the issues this year I didn’t need someone walking out with something and no one noticing because it was tear down. Rovers heads were made aware but I don’t think they knew who they could get to do badge checking. In the end, Valerie from reg handled it. She had really filled in everywhere this year!
I helped Sam figure out the improv prompts. We also continued to alert staff that we were having a badge checker at closing. I finally sent an at-all to let everyone know. I didn’t need uninformed staffers getting huffy about a badge checker on the last day.
I had to keep the volunteers in a holding pattern. No refunds right now. Try back later. Technical issues. The technical issues being that the entry system was still being written.
Thomas had tried to check on Sammich earlier and he got snapped at and was disinclined to attempt contact again. I finally couldn’t wait anymore and headed up to their room at around 12:30-ish pm. I came in and asked Sammich first if he was okay and then where we were at. I think I started rubbing his back while we talked. He was having some trouble but he said he was really close to being able to enter all data except the ones that started/ended on the time change.
For those of you who didn’t notice, the time change fell on con this year. This resulted in issues in our scheduling system that wasn’t ready to handle it, a “mystery hour” between 1am and 2am (which 1am? WHICH 2AM!? What’s going on!?), and a hell of an added challenge for our in-progress volunteer system.
As I was asking Sammich questions I determined that we could have Thomas implement the feature to check group status / refund eligibility. Our policy for like 3 years now has been people in groups can’t get refunds. We didn’t really have the ability to enforce it in 2013 and we missed the feature in 2014 accidentally so some people who were ineligible still were refunded. I was determined to have it fixed for 2015. I headed out to talk to Thomas.
On my way out of the room, I ran into Nathan. I gave him a quick rundown and said I was on it. He was the second person of three to ask me if we were doing it by paper. No. Doing it by paper would have been prohibitively complicated. There is a lot of math the program does to calculate volunteer time and refunds and doing it on paper was nearly impossible. Especially with Sunday sleep dep.
I talked with Thomas downstairs and told him what he could do to help. He got it done in only a few minutes.
Where were the actual volunteer forms? I asked Blanca and I was told that the volunteers were keeping their forms. As in — forms that were just supposed to be for Friday or Saturday were never turned in. We had no completed forms. They had been directing people to registration. Registration didn’t know about the forms and had simply been turning people away. We had no forms.
I think a little piece of me died inside when I found that out. This fucking year. One more thing. It would be easy to expect that I’d have a small meltdown at news like that. However, by that point I was completely calm.
I was a rock. I was THE rock for my staff. I was calm and cool and in control. I was the thing keeping it all together. I spoke softly. I kept both Thomas and Sammich as far away from the panicked edge as I was able. I was at my best. It was the calmest and most focused I’d been all weekend.
When I told Thomas what happened with the volunteer forms he began to panic. I think I talked him down? It was just a miscommunication — it’s going to get handled. Focus on your part.
I had a volunteer turn in his forms to me. I told him to come back in about an hour. He said he wouldn’t be here in an hour. Uhm. Okay, how long will you be here for? 20-30 minutes. Well, we MIGHT be able to do that. I gave him a very brief explanation of what was going on and asked him to hang out and I’d make sure he would be the first one entered.
I walked that slip up to Sammich and see if he could use it for testing or something. Maybe get it entered? As I hit the door, I realized I was an idiot for bringing it up as the entire reg database was actually IN reg so Sammich couldn’t have actually entered it from the hotel room. As I came in I was laughing — I updated Sammich what was going on.
I reported that Thomas had the group thing finished — was there anything else he could help with? I don’t think I got a clear answer. Sammich was talking at me as he worked — he was mostly thinking out loud. I sat and chatted lightly, trying not to distract him too much. I acted like I was in good spirits and I somewhat was. I was laughing — the chaos we were in was funny. He said he’d be giving Thomas a thing to do soon.
We talked about how to enter dates. There was going to be an issue with the time change. How to enter it? Also at this point if you weren’t very precise on your time entry you lost all your data. So that needed more work.
At some point he said I should head down and he’d be down shortly. I didn’t waste any time with my escape but I broke the moment I shut the door behind me.
The time on the clock had finally sunk in. My first tears of SNAFU Con 2015 came at 12:45pm on Sunday. Improv was going to be starting at 1pm and it was painfully apparent that this issue was not going to be solved in time for me to see it. I fought my tears as I power walked back to reg. I became angry at myself and I became more determined not to cry. My walk became faster and I moved with deep purpose. I had shit to take care of. I had to be a rock. A rock, dammit. I could not break down!
When I made it to reg I mostly had it together — at least I faked it well enough I think no one really noticed anything wrong. I continued my management of the situation. I pressed onward. I went directly to Thomas and started to work with him again. Thomas was having issues coding what Sammich had wanted him to do. He didn’t have enough information and wasn’t sure what to do. Unfortunately, Sam then appeared and reminded me that improv would be starting soon.
The rock came crumbling down to dust. I left reg and hid myself behind one of those mirror pillars behind ops to cry and Sam followed. I wasn’t going to get to see my husband perform. I wasn’t going to get to see the performance we worked so hard all year for. I couldn’t go and our camera was at home. If I’d gone home before the Masquerade then we’d have it. I should have. This was the programming that actually mattered to me and now I had to miss it. No one films the improv show. No one cares about some improv show at an anime con. If we didn’t film it then no one else would.
Sam promised me he’d get the audio and do his best to capture it with our 5D Mark III. The issue is that that camera turns off occasionally. It’s not a video camera, it’s a photography camera which takes video. He promised he’d do his best. I knew that I wouldn’t get to see the show. It was heartbreaking but I had a crisis on my hands and I couldn’t leave.
Sam, being the eternal smart ass — “You know it’s not con until you start crying.” Oh, you sunnuva bitch. I could have smacked him if I didn’t feel so terrible.
I hid behind the pillar for a couple more minutes to attempt to compose myself and then headed back to reg. I talked to Llama for a bit who was trying to be my rock for me.
Elliot tried to make me feel better by repeatedly offering me roast duck.
“Do you want some roast duck?”
“It’s really good roast duck.”
“What the fuck?”
“Do you want roast duck!?”
“It’s delicious and full of fat and deliciousness.”
“What is your problem? Go away!”
and we erupted into giggles as he kept trying to peddle roast duck.
He then kept offering to go get me food. “Yes, I’m going to have the cripple go get me some food.” No.
Ryan was in reg when improv was supposed to start, so I guess improv started late. I don’t know how late it started but I think he was stopping in to see where Thomas was at. Thomas was not going to make it.
Llama tried to convince me to go to improv and see some of it. In fact I had several people attempt to convince me to leave. Just go watch the show — it’ll get handled. I refused. I can’t leave. This is my area and I’m responsible for it — I can’t leave. So I didn’t.
Llama was the third person to tell me Abe was upset about volunteer refunds. It was best that I never saw Abe and he never spoke to me directly. There might’ve been fireworks. I had burned through the last of my rope. Again.
Thomas was having some problems with debugging. I’m generally good at debugging so I knelt behind Thomas and hovered over his shoulder. I remember telling Sammich to hard code whatever he had to get through this year.
Katie came up to me and said Aidan wanted her to handle a vendor who wasn’t wearing their badge. That’s not a reg issue. I told Katie to redirect him to Susana — handling vendors is what she does. As I was telling her this, Nyandrew walked up and I told Katie to tell him what she told me. Nyandrew left to tell Susana. I didn’t hear much more about this until after con was over and the vendor in question was long gone, but apparently he was very rude to Aidan and Susana. He even yelled at Aidan after Susana talked to him. He refused to turn in his tax paperwork to us (which resulted in the Department of Taxation contacting us after con). He threw a t-shirt at Susana and said “Happy Holidays” which is more confusing than anything. I emailed him after con to let him know he had been black listed. He was rude to me as well (those who attended the staff party got to hear the email he sent in all of its Engrish glory).
I have not emailed him back and at this point I think I’ve decided it’s not worth it since he’s already permanently black listed. If I’d known he was yelling at staff members I would have handled him in person. Don’t fuck with my staff.
I went back to Thomas’s shoulder and watched his screen and attempted to assist with debugging and catching typos. I did catch a couple but my proudest moment came when Thomas asked how to loop over an array in twig and I knew the answer. “For key comma variable in array!”
The code is actually for key, variable in array. I had only very recently started learning twig so the fact that I could remember that in the state I was in with as little sleep as I’d had, and as little experience with that code as I had had was exciting for me. My shining moment in the midst of the chaos. (I also said “value” instead of “array” as illustrated above and although Thomas knew what I meant at the time, I figured it might make more sense to write it correctly here.)
Tyco (BLFC Chair) was around to get the truck key. When we told him what we were doing he said that that was the normal state of things and all was right with the world. He said he was only poking fun because he’s had to do the same thing at BLFC before. Yep — normal con crap.
And within a couple more minutes Thomas was running tests. Wait, what date did you type there? Nope. It was screwing up the dates terribly. Fix that. Nyandrew came over and asked how things were going. Well. It’s working . . . ish. Thomas and I said “ish” in unison.
Were we ready to start? Almost . . . almost . . . YES — we were rolling. At least, rolling enough to start some of the entering. We needed to enter the exact dates of the volunteer time — we couldn’t just enter “Friday.” To minimize possible human error and to be sure everyone had the information easily available so no one was relying on memory, we made up post-its which had the days and dates of con. There would be enough human error as it was. There were still additional bugs and Sammich was working on them as people made the entries.
Sammich trained me quickly on the intricacies of the form and I helped trained others. Thomas ran away to go to improv. I reminded him to turn his shirt inside out for the show since the shirt he had on had a design on it. He left and I continued to assist with the volunteer nightmare.
Now that we were ready, I finally sent out my “at-all” that I’d been planning to the staff for help. We needed people to help enter all the forms. We sorted the forms into things we could and couldn’t enter. All the ones that involved the time change in any way were set aside.
We had all the staff in the area entering slips. I think Katie was handling refunds? My at-all didn’t really result in a lot of help at all. Disappointingly, only Nyandrew appeared but he had already been hovering — ready to help. Guy Weaver was also hanging around to turn in his hours and instead I set him up on my laptop to help enter as well. I continued training on the different computers and kept the slips moving. Sammich furiously fixed the bugs as they came up.
We had issues with the slips I’d printed on Friday because they only had staff signatures and no staff badge numbers. I don’t know how she did it so fast but Blanca got us a signature sheet with the majority of the signers on it. Later, when we had more signature issues than the signature sheet could handle, Cassie helped hunt one staffer down on her food card list. After we celebrated and praised her for her assistance I made the valuable connection — “she has a signature sheet!” I don’t know how but soon there was an additional copy floating around reg to help with entries. I wish we’d thought of it earlier and saved Blanca the trouble of making the first one.
I hunted down the “entered” stamp that I bought this year and I stamped fast and furiously. So furiously, in fact, that this cheap-ass little stamp wouldn’t stay still and every stamp motion would move the date sections around so most of the forms were stamped as of some random or unreadable date. Several were stamped “0.” Well, we at least knew they were entered! I may buy a more expensive / better quality “entered” stamp for next year that can handle some speed.
In between that, I also helped distribute the slips between those entering the data and helped fix a couple database issues from bad entries. When Nyandrew was done entering his slips he took all of the entered stack and double-checked them. He did catch a couple of errors so that was awesome. Soon Sammich had a fix for the time change issue and we got those slips entered as well.
Interestingly enough we started to get a reg line because everyone was processing volunteer slips. Oops, and wow. It was late enough on Sunday that we didn’t even think about still doing registrations. Kay . . . next person in line go to that computer!
We also had unfortunate issues with people having signed off on volunteer slips who weren’t supposed to . . . again. It was worse this year than last year. Rather than go after all of them, we primarily just forced the slips through. We also probably need a policy that heads shouldn’t sign off of volunteers that aren’t in their department. As it is signers should only sign off for people they directly supervised — many times over the years I’ve refused to sign slips because I wasn’t the supervisor and had no idea how long someone was actually volunteering for.
We also had an issue with a general staffer who not only wasn’t supposed to sign off on hours, but had signed some sort of makeshift “contract” on the back of that form authorizing them to receive the refund from it. Uhm. No. I let Llama and Nyandrew handle that one. It was handled easily — not a big issue, but we weren’t going to give them the refund like that.
As it was I was very upset about how many refunds got given to other people at all. I only very begrudgingly allowed it because it was a result of the volunteer system not being ready.
At some point I saw a face I recognized. I knew I knew him but I couldn’t place him. Improv. OH — improv. Yes. Him. I knew him from another improv group that ours would attend occasionally. I couldn’t remember his name. Even for writing this I had to look it up. David, I believe. He was actually turning in his slips from volunteering in tabletop. I told him the guys were doing improv right then. I think I mentioned something about not sleeping for 3 days — only a somewhat mild exaggeration. I had Guy enter his slips and it popped up that he was part of a group. Damn. We can’t refund groups. It was our policy for 3 years and this year the system actually checked for it. Tabletop was supposed to warn people and the system warns people when you invite someone or join one. Nothing I can do. He left. I feel bad — I wondered if I said it wrong or if there was more I could have done, but I was still in crisis mode. We bend fewer rules in crisis mode. I did look up his hours later and he had a total of more than 30. Uhm! That’s staff level. I’ll talk to him at some point and work something out later.
Thomas came back. Improv was over but the crisis was still happening.
There was another issue with a group refund that needs to be a policy change for 2016, and possibly a flag in the database/code, as well. We had a group of two people where one group member was only attending as a helper for someone who was autistic. I grabbed both admin and quickly explained the situation. The solution was “yellow pad it.” Going forward it would be reasonable to have that information in the database somehow so it can be an exception to the group thing, especially because most of the time we give those helpers free badges.
As I was dealing with that, Llama came up to have me sign the accordion schedule — it was going in the charity auction. I told the story of the schedule quickly to make sure that Nathan knew it to tell. I’m still amazed it sold for $6.
Stephen and Lindsey stopped by. They were on their way out — they had to drive home. It was nice to see them and I wish I’d had more time to check on them or hang out. I was grateful that they participated in our con so heavily this year — running the photo booth and joining the masquerade. I hope tabling at our con works out well for theirs.
Sammich had spent a lot of the time debugging and there was some ungodly quantity of commits done during all of that. He told us later he fixed 15 issues in 13 minutes which is just . . . wow. After that, though, things seemed to be calming down. We’d gotten through the worst of it!
I’m not super sure when it happened but at some point on Sunday afternoon or evening Susana told me her room key wasn’t working. This irked me quite a bit because I’d already asked for the extra day at the front desk when I checked in rooms on Friday. I remember him telling me it was all set. Guess I’d need to do it again. I asked if anyone wanted to go with me and we headed downstairs. And when I say “we” . . . there was a posse of something like 7 people all going down because “why not.” When we arrived to the front desk there was no line and there was one guy on the phone in the back, not facing the line area so he didn’t see us approach. After 5-10 seconds he turned around and there we were — a huge line. I heard him react “oh shit” and he got off the phone quickly. I laughed and called to him that we were all one customer so don’t worry. His badge said “trainee” which I thought was even funnier. I expect that was a story he told to someone later.
Back in reg I have a memory of Sam having brought me a half-a-sandwich. He was supposed to get me another one but I think he ended up too busy to do so because of the charity auction. The food thing in the hall was gone by the end of the charity auction so I never got that other half-a-sandwich.
I remember Thomas being tempted to steal someone else’s sandwich. To prevent him from staring at it I turned him away from it which resulted in both of us looking out the window — oh, look the sun. It was going down. Bye-bye sun. Our first notice of sun in days and it was on its way out. We stared out the window for a minute or two.
As things were slightly calmer (still going, just calmer) we had enough time to get silly. Llama was talking to me and said “waddle waddle” and of course I responded “till the very next day” and as I did, a large part of the reg staff joined me and we all sang/yelled the “bum bum bum bum bum badum” part. Elliot was terribly confused and concerned as many of the staff continued to sing the duck song while I just erupted with giggles. It was glorious after the afternoon we’d had. I screamed out that registration had lost our minds!!
Then I went right back to getting shit done.
I don’t remember when but at some point Llama came over and asked for guest fuel reimbursements. I basically had him fill it all out and I signed the check. I think I need a form or something for that for next year so I can have clean records but still let someone else handle the calculations and whatnot.
Throughout the afternoon I warned multiple logistics people that Sam was going to be hands-off and this was sink-or-swim time. I was trying to get David to take charge. Haku, as much as he’s a take-charge guy, is not going to head up logistics. He’s in too many departments and for setup and during-con his attention is supposed to be more towards tech and radios so I wanted him to back off and I told him so. I may have said it a bit gruffer than I meant to (sorry!) but it was end of con and I was tired. To my knowledge he handled that just fine. I think I still need a report of how logistics did without Sam. As a side note I may have a couple of new potential logistics people with very heavy experience.
With reg mostly settled and running fine again I took advantage of Wordsound being in registration to have him be the first person to sign my con book. Well, I grabbed a random con book from our bags which then became my con book. (As if I’m going to keep track of the one I get on Friday? Riiight.) Wordsound wanted a picture with me . . . uhhh no. First I don’t really do pictures, second I only do pictures if I’ve put any time into how I look — at that point I hadn’t slept for far too long and I had been crying and, just, no.
Wordsound gushed at me. He said we were the most professional con he’d seen. Well that felt good to hear. He noted that although we weren’t big scale, we acted big scale. Yes. Yes, we do. As best we can, anyway. We take full advantage of being small though with some of the crap we get away with.
As we were talking someone showed up for an interview. We needed Tasha — call for Tasha! When Tasha showed up I had her sign my con book and as she was doing that she started asking about the interview — could I? Did I want to? It wasn’t a video or anything — just an interview and they were writing an article. Ugh — why couldn’t they have come at the beginning of this weekend!? It was something I did actually want to be a part of but I was just so incredibly fried that I couldn’t handle it. I started crying again. Fuck.
In the end Tasha and Nyandrew handled the interview. I’m not sure why Nathan wasn’t a part of it — I suppose he probably couldn’t be found in the short period of time they had to find people. (http://nevadasagebrush.com/blog/2015/11/03/snafu-con-safe-place-for-nerds/)
I began to go around and get my annual signatures of guests and staff I worked closely with during the year. I do try to limit the staff who sign to those who I’ve worked more closely with because I don’t want to hunt every single staffer down and I totally would try. I also prefer to at least have a clue who signed my book. I do occasionally break my rule but it’s mine to break. I try to stick to it, though.
I got various reg people first because I was there. I wandered out and got the Warky table outside reg, then headed over towards the stage area. I got cornered there for a little while. I spent a lot of time getting updates from Gopher and Robert. The most important update was the guests were saying that we were very professional. Yay! Apparently we acted very professionally this year, because I was hearing that word repeated a lot.
I took advantage of all of the guests gathered in the hallway before closing ceremonies so I was able to get every guest this year! Yay!
I never made it back to reg — I was done. I don’t really remember much of closing but I do remember that I did tell the guys before it started not to announce our attendance numbers because it was down this year. While I waited around the stage area for closing to start, I had someone approach me about possibly joining the web team. When I asked his skills he only really knew basic web design things and nothing about server side. He wanted to join to keep the website updated. Hm. Well with the proper permissions, any staffer could update the text and whatnot. I tried to tell him what the CMS was like and he asked if it was like wordpress. Tasha overheard that and just started laughing.
I asked if he knew anything server-side and he said he was going to start learning PHP. Well that’s more useful. Although we do need more admin, I’m hesitant to grab people as quickly as I normally would when we are looking at starting TurKey BACON. That makes the future of the SNAFU Con admin team unsure.
At the start of closing ceremonies Nathan and Ryan presented the charity auction cash to a rep from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Woo! When we worked with them, the Nevada Humane Society never sent a rep, even after repeated requests. I love the organization in general but we (the con) are not likely to ever support them again. Big Brothers Big Sisters was definitely an awesome charity to support. They had a presence at the con! We will probably be supporting them again going forward.
After closing ceremonies we did feedback. I don’t remember most of it — I spent most of it chatting with Nyandrew and not paying attention to it — but someone suggested staff pictures. Uh, hell no. I chimed in on that one. Never. Happening. That is why we have staff meetings. Attend them and meet your fellow staff and heads.
After feedback things were pretty much shutting down in the stage area. Sam and I talked to Team Seven Cosplay. They are extremely nice and I would like to bring them back depending on cost. They also told us how smooth the con ran. One more guest telling us how well the con went! If only they knew. I am very happy that at least the guests thought things ran smoothly.
I stood around talking to the staff in general. People came and went. I ended up talking to Treyn, a lot. It was the first opportunity to actually talk to him one-on-one ever. I’d only ever seen him at BLFC (where he staffs) and although I could tell he was a responsible individual I didn’t know much else about him. He actually was the one doing the Notice Me Senpai demos which I’d heard about but I hadn’t known it was him. I invited him to the staff party to demo the game for the staff and just hang out and play games.
I was interested in getting to know him better and possibly becoming friends. I had a strong intuitive feeling that he would make a good friend, and as most of my friends know, you can’t really be my friend and not be involved in con somehow. He’s a high-ranking and highly responsible staff member of BLFC and could be valuable to our con. Since con, he’s joined the D&D group at my house and might join improv.
We stood around talking while various staffers tore down. Eventually Sam requested that we move to the front area so he could be part of it while he tore down the photo booth. The group moved as far as gaming and I had to push to move to the front because Sam’s interest hadn’t been made clear. No problem — we moved to the area by the photo booth.
I learned there was some issue with a vendor loading out. Logistics needed the loading ramp and the vendor claimed they’d be there for like an additional 30 minutes. Sam was pissed. Logistics staff helped load out the vendor to free the dock.
We sat around waiting for logistics to be done. We bullshitted about what happened at con, and what happened at BLFC. The various people around included Nyandrew, Sammich, Treyn, Tyco, Kenchan at one point, Thomas at one point. . . people. Sam came up to us and announced that we would probably finish load out on Sunday. Holy crap it was only like 10. We celebrated that we were likely to be done by midnight.
At some point we moved into the gaming area. Then we moved to the hotel room. Eventually we moved to reg. We just kept moving from place to place for reasons.
While we were in the room, I plugged in my phone and left it there — it was completely dead. It would remain there until I returned for sleep (I swear I do sleep at some point). While we talked, I remember explaining how RT worked. It’s important that all the uppers know how to use RT since in 2016 all of our departmental group emails are going to be handled in RT. It’s going to be a little painful at first but completely worth it.
As I explained it, something clicked with Gopher — “Oh! It’s a bulletin board.” Sure, whatever.
Sam sent a HipChat to call us back downstairs. We headed down but once we got there we still needed to deal with the cash from reg. A group of us headed back up to the room again to lock up the reg money. We ran into several guests — Warky, Preston, and I think Team Seven Cosplay. We went into the food room and talked for a bit. They continued to tell us they’d had a great time. On our way downstairs, we dawdled and bullshitted a bit in the hallway. The group was fairly loud and some random guy yelled at them through the door. Warky said “I thought this floor was all con people” “It was” — I emphasized the was — as in con is over now.
We split up quietly. After standing in front of the elevators for maybe 60 seconds or so, I asked if anyone had pressed the button. No. That’s how tired we were.
Down in reg, a good group of us were waiting for the final bits of logistics to finish up so we could go out to dinner. I got a few minor staff reports (including a compliment I intend on passing on). Sam had me walk the room to figure out what the rest of the stuff was. We split up the last of the popcorn, candy, and water. We discussed the plans for the next day, Monday. One of the few advantages of having such a late move in was that we could return the truck later in the day. Previous years it was a rush to get the truck returned by noon but this year we wouldn’t even meet until 11am to get the final stuff loaded out of our rooms.
I did feel a little guilty we weren’t helping but I was beyond exhausted and I was not going to be telling people to do things I wasn’t up for doing (that’s up to logistics).
I finally got time to talk to Haku about the radios and the issues we had for the year including lack of training. I think he’s ready to embrace being in charge of the radios even further next year, and we’ll work on it.
Many of us ended up sitting on the floor just giggling from sleep dep and discussing things. We started talking about issues and Ryan tried to stop us — no one was writing anything down! By that point the voice recorder had already been sitting in the middle of our circle for a while. He told the recorder that he loved it and we continued to discuss issues. The main reg manager pain point was the cash box. We had wanted to do a cashbox station but didn’t have time (not that Cassie could have logged in — she never even showed up in the logs, so Sammich thinks it’s a client-side issue). We also had to reboot the computers to change who was logged in. We talked about some specific staff issues I can’t repeat. We talked about a “ghost staff” — a staffer in programming that Ryan never got to really see. We joked around about our programmers and what happened during the volunteer crisis. I think it was Ryan who joked that programmers turn coffee into code.
One of the big issues with the registration admin is that we do all sorts of awesome stuff all year, and then we get to a point where we’re like — “Shit. Con. shove” — to make the reg system go. As much as we’d love to say that we can get it all done, there are always things where we just get to the end of our deadlines and can’t accomplish anymore. The hotel issues this year resulted in a lot of important things getting past the 2015 deadlines.
We had to do something with the last bit of food in the ops area. We were constantly joking and giggling, but we did manage to figure out splitting it up.
We had to wait around until Nugget security came to take our lost & found items from us. Once security showed up and took the lost & found we were ready to clear out of the room finally at about 1am. Almost all of those of us remaining in the room headed out to go out to dinner. It’s become an annual tradition that anyone remaining after the truck is loaded gets to attend a small after-party that the con pays for with remaining food funds. I had a few of our food cards in my pocket to handle it.
We headed somewhere to eat. I pretty much followed other people who knew where food was. There was construction of some sort blocking the normal path. As far as I knew we were walking in circles — I was too out of it to have any direction sense whatsoever.
I could have gone to bed instead of food. I wasn’t exactly hungry but I was dead on my feet. The thing about the after-truck dinner is that we’re all sleep dep and the stress is over. It’s all a lot of funny stories and giggles from a group of people who had just been through so much together. Fun times. It’s always worth it to me to postpone my sleep just a little bit longer so that I can spend that last little bit of time with the awesome staff who stuck it through to the very end.
My voice was damaged by this point. If I tried I could sound normal, but it took effort. Otherwise, my voice was squeaky and I sounded like I was about to cry. Not too bad, though — I made it all the way until the end of con before my voice became distorted!
While we were being seated, some of us were discussing what times they served the breakfast items. Someone said something that gave me the impression that I couldn’t get pancakes and in a small whine I stated that I had wanted pancakes, disappointed. The waitress heard me and told me I could have pancakes. She called me honey. I think they served 24 hour breakfast and people were just talking about specific items or prices. I got a short stack of pancakes (two pancakes) and I couldn’t finish them. I was glad I hadn’t gone for something larger.
We were incredibly silly. As I understand it, sleep dep is similar to being drunk and we were all pretty much at that point where just about everything is funny, whether it should be or not.
I don’t know how it started but Cassy’s glasses got passed around the table — they were an extremely high prescription and made a person’s eyes look tiny. She looked so different without them — I never realized how small her eyes had been made to look until I saw her without her glasses and saw other people with them on. For some people it actually forced them to be slightly cross-eyed. Everyone with glasses wanted to compare prescriptions and everyone without wanted to just see what happens. Just because.
Con was over. Holy crap. It went by so fast.
We discussed the con at length because, really, what else were we going to discuss. Of the things we discussed I remember that we had issues with the taped down wires in the panel room. We probably need an instructional video on how to tape wires down for the volunteers. That was frustrating. Otherwise it was mostly great stories from everyone.
When the check came, I reminded the group that the con would cover the food and they just needed to handle the tip. We had to split it on two or three cards and Sammich piped up “Oh that poor man. When Thomas and I did this with two cards they had to go get the rule book to figure out how to do it.”
Sam took the receipt and the food cards, and went and paid. While we were waiting we were talking about our money counter making it rain bills in reg when Sammich had an epiphany — he could feed the money counter information directly into BACON. I hope that is a thing that happens.
I really enjoyed hanging out with the staff post con, but it was something like 2am and we were all tired. We talked for a few more minutes but I finally had to suggest we break it up and we congratulated each other, passed around some hugs, and we all went our separate ways.
Bed. I crashed HARD.
In the morning I took a shower and slowly packed things in the room. Sam and I talked for a long while as we waited for people. We’d told everyone to meet us at 11 and we were moving around at 9-ish.
I went into the food room to try and clean and get it ready. As I was doing things I heard talking outside. Apparently the people who were going to be helping do the truck loadout were waiting for us in the hallway. They’d been up for a while and didn’t want to disturb us. I let them in and we talked in the food room while we divvied up the very last of the food.
While we were splitting the food up, Warky and Preston wandered into the room. They were staying another day because of the snow so I called down to the front desk and gave them another day on their room. I was probably too out of it to think too much about it but I should have checked with Nathan first. I just took care of it because I was still in that mode.
The food room was split between the people in the room and then they loaded out what they could carry. Sam left me alone to finish up the rooms. Luckily Sammich was still packing up his room or I would have been doubly upset at Sam for leaving without me. He did want to just get the truck handled, though, and I understood that.
I got the remaining rooms reviewed for check-out and cleaned up the staff food room so all the trash was in an easy pile instead of strewn about the room. I was rather unhappy with the quantity of trash that was just EVERYWHERE. At least with it all in one location it would be easier to haul out. I grabbed all the bananas for Sammich to make banana bread. He ended up making 9 loaves of banana bread for the staff party — the bananas did not go to waste!
Sammich had a luggage cart brought up so he could bring down his computer, luggage, and the remaining food from the food room. I walked behind him for a bit but I split off to go check out the rooms. Checkout was fast and uneventful, and I headed over to the parking lot to catch up.
In the parking lot we arranged for Sammich to lead me to storage. I was still really not all there and didn’t want to have to worry about navigating to storage. Driving was significantly easier when all I had to do was follow someone else.
We arrived at storage and the truck was already half way done. It was raining and unpleasant so everyone worked quickly. It wasn’t very long before everything was unloaded and we were off to return tables. Cassy couldn’t seem to figure out how to turn her car around in the storage parking lot. Since she didn’t know the code I had to wait for her which resulted in me getting separated from my leaders. Voice control navigation hated me and I got increasingly agitated as Siri kept telling me she couldn’t navigate me to random similar-sounding locations (All Occasion Rentals apparently sounds very similar to Enterprise Rentals). After much frustration I did manage to get my phone to navigate to the right place.
I arrived at the table place to find no truck. They had apparently gone to the other rental place to return the easels first. The wait wasn’t terribly long before the truck arrived. Although I had originally not intended on getting out of the car, I did end up going out to at least talk with the staff further. Once the tables were loaded out, I told the rest of the group to decide where we were going to meet for lunch. Sam and I abandoned them to make the decision without us. They honestly looked a little lost being left with that decision.
The group tried to pick locations, but ended up choosing and driving to locations that were closed. They finally settled on the Duck House Chinese restaurant — probably the best Chinese restaurant we have in Reno. Coincidentally, the restaurant was conveniently close to where we were returning the truck. If there hasn’t have been a fence in the way, the parking lots would have been connected.
Still driving our car (unfortunately), I followed Sam to the gas station to refill the rental truck. I was tired and cold and just about done with life — I gave him the company card and then waited in the car for him to be done refueling the truck. Sam was also a little out of it, too. Sam was leading, still, and ended up passing the entrance to the rental place and we had to U-turn in some random apartment parking lot. Otherwise, returning the truck at 2:33pm went perfectly smoothly.
Now that the truck was returned I was very happy to finally no longer have driving responsibility. I was far too tired and it was risky. Sam basically drove us in a small circle to get to the Chinese place. We had excellent food and discussed the con. I set the recorder on the table and we talked. We continued to talk for a long while after we were done eating. The recorder’s batteries gave out after we’d been there for an hour or so. Good job, little recorder, you also made it all the way through con.
I think it was the voice recorder running out of batteries that first prompted us to go but even after the prompting we continued to sit and talk. No one really wanted to get up and there were no responsibilities calling us away. Plus it was warm in the restaurant and very cold outside. I think we were at the restaurant for at least 2 hours.
Finally, though, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Sam drove the both of us home.
Con was over.
We picked up the dog who was beyond excited to be home. She just kept running back and forth in the house to make sure it was all still there. She had far more energy than I expected but it was adorable.
I slept hard that night.
Tuesday evening Sam and I finished the remaining garlic bread from the previous Tuesday’s shopping trip that had been in the fridge. Sam was perfectly fine but I ended up throwing up all night and had to call in sick on Wednesday.
SNAFU Con 2015 — bookended by food poisoning. >_<
A few random things I learned by talking to my staff.
- We had a chair collapse in tabletop under an attendee because it was poorly maintained and falling apart.
- The skirting around our stage was folded black tablecloths stapled to the stage.
- One of the staff had stuff stolen out of her room. I don’t know the circumstances, but we should probably get a safe for next year (an expense I’ve been trying to put off for quite a while).
I said this sometime Sunday but I just wanted to save it for the very end —
“On the other side of this con, as much as everything’s going wrong, and [there are still] all the things that we need to take care of, and all the crap that keeps coming up, I feel like [during] this particular con, I spent a lot more time bullshitting with my staff. . . . There was a point where all three admin were away from reg for at least a half hour and it didn’t explode.”
There were definitely some awesome moments and positive things this year in between all the craziness.