Ad Astra 2013 Highlights – Day One

Hi there, friends and followers. It was nice to be able to take a day off from blogging, now that April is over, but I’m happy to be back!

And I’ve got some exciting memories to share. I didn’t get a chance to deliver an Ad Astra report while the A-Z challenge was going on, but I made some notes that I’d love to share. Let’s begin at the beginning.

Okay, so I left work Friday around two in the afternoon, picking that hour so that if I made really good time to Toronto, I’d get there just in time for the 3:00 hotel check-in. Of course, things didn’t quite work out like that. This was the first time I’d driven into Toronto on a Friday afternoon; actually I think the only other time I’ve actually driven into Toronto by myself was going to the airport on my way to Kansas last summer. It worked out fairly well, but I got a little lost twice; once because I wanted to get off the highway for Burger King takeout, because the takeout bag was going to be part of my cosplay. There was construction on the exit I’d picked, so I decided to drive over to the next on-ramp, but couldn’t figure out the right way to get on the highway driving East, and ended up driving East along the surface streets until the highway drifted north enough to intersect my street, and getting on then.

I also went too far north on the 400, because I’d managed to print out the wrong directions. But I got to the hotel in good time, got checked in, ate my burger and fries, and went down to get my convention badge and program and all that. Rather interestingly, I got them on the honor system; the volunteers at the registration desk had a big list of everybody who’d pre-paid, but I wasn’t on the list. “When did you pay?”

“Um, last summer at Polaris.”

“Oh, that explains it then. Here you go.” And he handed me a badge. Apparently the list of people who’d paid at Polaris got lost, and they weren’t rechecking anybody who said that was where they’d signed up. I even had my payment stub, but he didn’t want to look at it. Oh well.

After I had my badge and other member goodies, I went down to the Dealer’s room to explore and see what was available. I actually did two trips that afternoon, carrying up a load of used paperbacks, (mostly Dresden Files,) up to my room before coming back with more money to buy two Dresden Files graphic novels: one original adventure and “Fool Moon part 1”

Then I dropped in at the volunteer office. Now, the only convention volunteering I’d had any practice with was volunteering ‘a la carte’ at Polaris: you fill out a big application and get a yellow armband and then you sign up for volunteering one hour at a time, filling vacancies that convention staff request in advance: filling snack trays up in the ConSuite, organizing chairs and barriers for the signature room, or whatever. (Last year there wasn’t anybody to let me into the signature room on Sunday morning; I guess they were up late Saturday night and overslept.)

Volunteering at Ad Astra was different; the volunteer wrangler took a look at me, muttered something about only needing volunteers for the response corps, and started fetching me gear; a yellow shirt that had to have ‘Security’ taken off because I wasn’t a licensed security guard, a belt radio with an earphone and microphone that clipped onto my shirt. “Just wander around the public spaces whenever you can, project an official presence. You can take whatever time off you need to go into a panel or whatever.”

So off I went in my official response corps shirt. I sat in on the opening ceremonies, and tried to sit in on a panel because the chatter on the radio was distracting and fascinating. (I didn’t think of turning the radio off for a panel.) I think it was friday night I overheard this exchange.

“Hey, can you confirm the hotel number for the Green Room?”
“Um, no. Not over the radio. I was specifically told not to.”

I think that they agreed to meet in person to figure that out.

I did turn the radio off for Jim Butcher’s meet and greet in the Con Suite. I got a seat next to Jim, but didn’t talk that much, just sat there and listened as he answered questions and chatted about martial arts and LARPing and parenting and all kinds of other stuff. When the topic came around to the Dresden Files, I did ask him a question about writing from Murphy’s POV in the novella ‘Aftermath’, and I laughed when he talked about how he was more productive as a writer when he took time to play video games, even when you accounted for the gaming time. (Or should that be ‘amortized for the gaming time’?)

I made my goodbyes when I realized people were talking about the most recent books in the series, as at that point I’d only gotten part-way through Ghost Story. I’m now completely caught up on the novels, and it’ll be a while until the next comes out, as Jim mentioned that he hasn’t really started writing it, but it sounds great!

So, I sat in on some of Jim’s next panel with the radio turned back on, then wandered out to help watch while the vendors packed up and cleared out for the night.  Then I wandered back to the volunteer room to ask about giving the radio back, but there was nobody there, so I just told anybody listening that I was going off radio for the night, and somebody said ‘Ok, thanks.’

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