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Penguicon 2010 Postmortem
A Few of My Favorite Moments from Penguicon 2010

Each year that I've attended Penguicon, I have made an attempt to write two separate postmortem reports—one as an attendee and the other as a conrunner. It has become painfully apparent that I am incapable, however, of thinking of events in any manner other than that of one who helps make them happen, so I am going to try to address the convention in total as a person who both helped create and enjoyed participating in the event with a list of moments that were notable to me.

Let me begin by saying that I had a ball. Doing the hotel management is rather time consuming (made more so by those who cannot follow simple instructions), so I generally have very limited time to actually enjoy myself. This year was a different story, though. To begin with, the hotel staff was amazing in ways that I cannot begin to describe. The hoops they jumped through for us were amazing, and their friendliness throughout the hoop jumping cranked even that level of amazing up a few levels. Add to that the fact that one Trevor Jagoda managed to wear both the hats of “guy who put together the programming for the con” and “guy who helped make sure the hotel stuff went well” brilliantly (and has since been given the shiny, pink hard-hat of 2012 ConChair), and you have the equation for a pretty great time in Jer-ville.

Ate lunch with @CountDiscord today. It was an ominous lunch. It felt so ominous the lunch was nearly ruined. #pcon

Thursday at Penguicon is really one of the highlight points of the whole weekend. A bunch of my friends inevitably come in early, and so we all get—for one shining moment—time to relax and enjoy each other's company before one thousand people converge on the place and the show has to be propped up. So I set up my office in the lobby and helped friends hold the bar safe until John Scalzi's arrival.

Ultimately, the pre-party was entirely too crowded for my enjoyment, so a group of us adjourned to my room, gossiped, joked, and largely felt superior for a while before going to bed far too late in the evening (worth it!)

Jer on both phone and walkie talkie
Double-fisting the communication!
Photo courtesy of fhtagn

Per usual, Friday of con is a litany of wind-sprints around the hotel rooms being set up, calls from Operations, and swapping guest rooms around frantically. This year was no exception, but the frenetic energy was somewhat lessened; things were coming together rather well for once. Let me say that again: Things were going smoothly! We had a couple of bumps (the on-site Operations head deciding that Ops will open at 3 or some of the room setups not being done on time, as examples), but as I wandered about, things were just done…and correctly. At one point, I pulled up short because there was a line for registration that extended all the way down past Operations. I expressed my concern to some folks nearby and was told that it seemed to be going quickly, so I did an experiment…I chose a person that was just joining the line down near the entrance to the building nearest the ballrooms and marked the time, then I noted the time when she got out of line having registered. 17 minutes! Amazing. I made note though, that people would no doubt be whining about it later (and I was not disappointed).

The network went live without issues very nearly on time, the consuite opened in the ballpark of on time, and in general, all was well. As Hannibal used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

And to think I used to come to conventions for the panels… #pcon

So, one of my goals going into this con was to be on a relatively minimal number of panels…as it turns out, that didn't happen, per se. Instead, I ended up participating in quite a few.

Trevor and his pink ConChair 2012 hardhat
Trevor showing off his new helm of protection!
Photo courtesy of fhtagn

How to Con Without the Creepy” went, in my opinion, fantastically. We got a lot of information out there, had a lot of fun, and laid some groundwork. I think it was a pretty good launch of the ASC!! project, but time will tell.

My two favorite moments at “Opening Ceremonies” include Trevor's prophetic 2012 ConChair Helm of Noggin' Protection and Count Discord's inability to make his escape by pulling the push door.

Count Discord pulling on the push door
Count Discord failing entirely to pull open a push door!
Photo courtesy of fhtagn

The “Whatever Popped Into Our Heads” turned into a panel on shaving people's heads for charity…but that's what popped into our heads, and can you think of a better use of our time? This also helped to spur ideas for some charitable acts we'd like to perform in the next 12 months, so look for more information on that!

The “Flirting for Geeks” panel was a bit of decent information mixed in with a lot of joking around. As I've said for a couple of years now, maybe next year will be the year we spend some time preparing so as to provide a more unified message. Or a coherent one. Or even on topic…well, no, just the unified message part, I guess.

While I would have adjusted the timing, I would not have missed judging the “Rock Band Rock Off” with Sheryl, Gini, and The Ferrett (and sometimes Randy too) for the world. Several of the bands came out to play, but at the end of the day, we had to award the grand prize to a band that showed technical proficiency over the bands that made us laugh our asses off.

From there I raced to get ready for the “Drag Show.” Let me say this…if you are planning on shaving your exceptionally hairy form, use clippers first. The massive quantity of hair that I left behind in the hotel bathtub was such that even I felt pretty bad about the whole mess. A bit. Sort of. An hour of scraping hair (and, in some cases, flesh) from my body resulted in a passably smooth set of appendages…leaving me about a half hour to wedge myself into a dress and makeup and up onto some perilously high heels. Thank you so much to Rachel and my lovely wife for dolling me up, as it were.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention” went fairly miserably, with an audience of, perhaps, 5 or 6 people. It is something that I really wish we could get moving, and I can't help feeling as though it was simply a failure of marketing, not a failure of concept…but it is a bit disheartening.

The “Closing Ceremonies/Feedback Session” went as smoothly as an I've seen in a while. Some great points were made, some less rational, some specious, but it was time well spent and it definitely kicked off some great thoughts.

The number of pregnant women I've seen here already at #pcon is rather staggering when you account for the nerd quotient. -@AlexDeGruven

It was a fantastic con. Hanging out at the dead dog party that followed, it was nice to hear people sharing stories of the fun they had during the weekend. This last week, I have been delighted to read blog posts and Twitter logs from people who had a great enough time that they just had to share it. It feels fantastic to help put on a show from which so many folks derive so much joy. Months of stress and work paid off. I didn't get to spend nearly as much time socializing with people I was really hoping to hang out with (Zonker and Randy, among others) much to my dismay, but that is an ongoing complaint I have about this particular convention…and part of the reason we started a new on in August at which we can relax and enjoy the company of awesome people.

In all, though, I call it a win! Fun was had by all, and that's what matters to both the conrunner and attendee in me.