Cometary Tales Blog Lessons Learned as a BayCon Gofer: Seeking the Secret Hideout

Lessons Learned as a BayCon Gofer: Seeking the Secret Hideout

BayCon 2015  looms on the horizon.   The increasing pace of email updates from the registration staff is bringing on flashbacks of the olden days, at BayCon 2014, when I fell deep into a gopher hole and didn’t emerge until the sun was fading on Memorial Day.

That is, last year I was a Gopher/Gofer/Go-fer at my local science-fiction convention. (Spelling must remain inconsistent & unimportant in this instance.) This year, I’m On Staff. It’s remotely possible that the two conditions are related, what the docs call “comorbid conditions”. Perhaps it’s worth revisiting, to give folks a glimpse into the life of a convention Gofer. Or to enable recognition of incipient volunteerism.

It all started on check-in day, the Thursday evening before Opening Day.

ED-209 from Robocop

ED-209 from RoboCop looms menacingly.

Inauspiciously, my badge was not waiting at the check-in table; something had gone wrong with the printing, and it was queued up with several other reprint orders. That meant I had nothing to do for a half-hour or so. Rather than sit patiently, I roamed the halls. The week before, I’d emailed a randomly-named staff address to ask about working as a go-fer, and the reply was fuzzy, but boiled down to stop-in-at-the-gopher-hole.   But where was this secret base?

Welcome to Baycon

Welcome to Baycon, Sponsored by Adipose Industries

Suffice to say, I failed to locate the base, but the search renewed my acquaintance with the layout of the Hyatt Regency & Santa Clara Convention Center. So I collected my program and newly reprinted badge

The Baycon 2014 Member Badge

Proof Of Membership

& went home to rest up for the long weekend.

 

 

Paradoxically, my unfulfilled search actually made me more determined to find the secret lair and get involved…once things were up and running on Friday. The secret? The Gofer Hole owns one of the smaller meeting rooms in a relatively quiet zone (across the hall from the Bayshore Room at the Hyatt) but during the Con, it’s clearly flagged with artistic signage and new Gofers are welcome to stop in and sign up.

HAHAHAHA Got Badge!

HAHAHAHA Got Badge!

Amazingly, Friday morning, they would even let this demented individual sign up:

 

 

 

Gofer Lesson of the Day: Don’t give up, take advantage of “wasted” time to learn something or, heck, catch some z’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Aisle 42, Universe Components: The Shopping List(s)On Aisle 42, Universe Components: The Shopping List(s)

As hinted in the previous post, for our universe-building project we’re doing two construction activities related to elementary particles.  So, we’ll have two “Lists of Requirements” this time around.  The model atoms use marshmallows, miniature candy chips, and gelatin mix.  You’ll need just one packet of mixed-flavor candies for even a fairly large group–in advance, you can separate out flavors into the amounts needed.  For sub-atomic particles, we’ll use multi-flavor candies, such as “Life-Savers”…we need six flavors, so you get to buy both peppermint and five-flavor mixtures.  Depending on your workspace, you may choose to have participants work in table groups of of 3-4 people or to set up supplies assembly-line style in a relatively mess-friendly zone.  The assembly-line method reduces the need for extra supplies, though these are quite inexpensive materials.  For pre-preparation, it helps to count out supplies for each participant–small paper cups are ideal and stack neatly once your supplies are set up.  Another helpful side item is a roll of waxed paper or a stack of paper plates for setting out the end-products while they dry or for taking them home.

One extra item, for your wrap-up, is highly recommended if your budget permits:  pick up one humongous balloon–the 36-inch diameter size, in any color or design that delights you.

The recommended quantities are generous, to allow for after-project treats.  Ice-cream sundaes, anyone?

 

The Atomic Marshmallow Project

Per person For a group of 10 For a group of 30
Standard size (not miniature) marshmallows

1

10

30

Miniature candies,  dark color*:  try candy “decors” or extra-tiny chocolate chip ice-cream topping mixture

2

1 package of mixed candies:  count out at least 20 dark-colored pieces

1 package of mixed candies:  count out at least 20 dark-colored pieces
Miniature candies:  light color*:  try candy “decors” or extra-tiny white candy chip ice-cream topping mixture 2

From the same packet of mixed-flavor candies:  count out at least 20 light-colored pieces

From the same packet of mixed-flavor candies: count out at least 60 light-colored pieces.

Gelatin mix

(choose a variety of fun, colorful flavors)

1 packet

(3-ounce size)

3 packets

(one per group of 3-4 people)

For groups:

8 packets

For an assembly line:

3 packets

Water

1 cup

3 cups

(one per group of 3-4 people)

For groups:

8 cups

For each assembly line:

1 cup

Wooden skewers (alternative: toothpicks) 1  10  30
10-16 ounce containers

(mugs, plastic cups, reused food containers)

2 6

For groups: 16

For each assembly line: 2

Small cups for sorting supplies 2 20 60

*   IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you’re tempted to use peanut-flavor candies, remember to be SURE to check in advance that none of the participants suffers from peanut allergy.  In its worst form, this allergy can trigger anaphylaxis merely through physical contact with peanut oils or proteins, but at the very least, peanut-sensitive people should not eat anything tagged “packed in same location as peanut-handling equipment” or “may contain nuts”.    There are lots of different candy chips to choose from; just be sure you end up with two different colors of “chips” for the protons and neutrons.

Sufficient Supplies For Construction of Approximately 40 Model Atoms

The second project’s list is even easier, and doesn’t require a “mess zone”:

One Side Makes You Smaller

or

A Top-Down Search for the Strange Charm of Putting Up With Those Quarks at Bottom of the Universe

The counts of candies in a mixed bag of five-flavor candies is a bit random, so if buying for a group you may need to grab an extra bag, just in case you need it.  The package of sorting cups you purchased for the Atomic Marshmallow Project will have enough for you to sort supplies for this project as well.

Per person

Per 10 people

For 30-person group

Five-flavor Life-Savers candies

1 of each color,

a total of 5

50:

each gets 5 total, 1 of each color

(2 bags of individually-wrapped Life-Savers)

150:

each gets 5 total, 1 of each color

(6 bags of individually-wrapped Life-Savers)

1 extra piece of one of the five flavors

1

10

(There should be enough left over from the 2 bags you’ve purchased.)

30

(There should enough left over from the 6 bags you’ve purchased.)

Peppermint Life-Savers

2

20: each gets 2

(1 bag of individually-wrapped peppermints

60: each gets 2

(2 bags of individually-wrapped peppermints)

A Pile of Quarks, Ready for Construction of a Small Universe

Two Poems by AnwegweTwo Poems by Anwegwe

Sunset #734

the fire dies down, and the colors rise up
rivers flow amber, gold, and blood-rose
cascading one upon the other
wave upon wave around the sky
pushing back the eastern dark
holding the light for one last hour
giving us time, time to remember
all of the days we have had together
the glorious days beneath the sun

The main character in my recent book, All That Was Asked, is a poet. It’s a first-person narrative, and he keeps mentioning how people reacted to a poem, or how much he enjoyed writing a poem, or that he likes to watch sunsets because they inspire poetry. But . . . there aren’t any poems in the book itself. It seemed to me I couldn’t quite measure up to the standard implied in the text . . . one gets the impression, although Ansegwe is self-effacing about it, that he’s actually rather good.

Still . . . it’s nagged at me, that I didn’t have any poems by Varayla Ansegwe. After spending hours and days and weeks and months with him, I’m sort of a fan, if you will. If I were a real fan, I’d have his work, wouldn’t I?

So I gave it a try. It’s interesting, to try to write personal-style poetry from someone else’s perspective. The one above results from all those mentions of poetry related to watching sunsets. Imagine our hero trotting down the hill after enjoying a really nice day’s-ending light show, muttering to himself, wriggling his fingers, anxious to scribble down this latest idea. We can leave it to your imagination how he improved this “draft”.

For a second poem, I tried to combine two things from his background. First, it seems Ansegwe had a fairly decent collegiate-level ranking in, well, whatever ball game is popular in Korlo. I envision it as sort of like baseball, maybe like an upsized version of kickball, with a larger, rugby-sized ball. Lots of running, jumping, catching, throwing–very energetic. Second, it’s evident that he was quite the one for romantic entanglements.

If I can gather enough of these, I’ll put together a little “collection” that I can share at events and such. Oh, and as a reminder . . . consider these as translated from Korlovian.

(Photos are mine. All from our own universe, alas.)

Intercept

In this moment,
there is only the ball, gliding on its parabolic arc.
It requires all of your mind to calculate the leap
the extension of your arm, the stretch of your fingers
the breath you draw at its approach
the strength you need to hurl it to your comrades.
 
For this moment, you do not know that she is gone.
For this moment, your heart is no more than a muscle.
Whether the ball glides into your hand
whether it skims your fingertips and caroms off under the lights
either way, you will crash to earth again
the world's gravity will bear you down
the moment will end
and you will know.
 
But in this moment, you leap
and time stretches to meet you.

Secrets & MysteriesSecrets & Mysteries

For the rest of May and well into June, I’ll be reporting on a recent time-travel journey.  In real time, the trip took just over 300 hours.  We began with a quick jump of about 1 million years, but worked our way all the way back to the Pre-Cambrian, over 600 million years ago.  There were were twenty-one in our party at the outset, twenty when I left to return to the chaos of the latest millenium.  And seven went on to explore further, and I’ll always wonder what I missed. For now, that need will have to be satisfied by sharing the discoveries of that two-week expedition.

I may have to make some side trips into the future, as I’ve committed to attend BayCon 2013 (aka Triskaedekaphobicon).  Trading trilobite searches for autograph hunts.

 

 

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