Penguicon: Day 1

The day (for me, anyway) began with Chaos. I got the machine unpacked, and marvelled at the brilliance of Steve Jackson, whose box construction is fantastic. The machine comes in 12 boxes, each of which has different components in it. Slowly but surely, packing list in hand, I got it unpacked. I then enlisted the help of a couple of techies, Barry and Max, to get things going. By noon we had one functioning "run" with a trampoline-to-basket combination, and a chinese cymbal in the ball path. Aah, so sonorous. The machine makes NOISE now. I then took my 4-gallon BYU Creamery bucket, cut a hole in the edge of the bottom, and announced to the group that I wanted a ball jump firing balls into the bucket. Rob Landley built an arch to carry the balls to the far edge of our space, others took care of laying the track, and by 3:00pm my challenge had been met -- balls were being launched down a "ski-jump" style ramp, and fired into my bucket, where they made a nice, drumulous thump (inspiring my invention of the word "drumulous") and then dropped out into a collector track. At 4:30 PM I went to dinner with Sal and some friends from Aegis. Why is it that Red Robin only serves burgers that I cannot fit in my mouth? I don't understand. They're tasty, but very unwieldy, and that's on a good day. At 6:00pm I did my "Schlock Mercenary" panel. It was fun. It took me a few minutes to warm up, but the cozy crowd of 40 or 50 and I had a good time. I took a few pre-orders for sketch editions, and then headed back to the Chaos Machine. It was Chaotic. The children had arrived. I wish there was a way to politely convince parents that the Chaos Machine is not a baby-sitter. I quickly realized that I needed to scare the children away before pieces got broken (Dr. Seuss was not an architect, and neither are certain members of his audience), so I announced that the machine would be taken offline for 30 minutes of scheduled maintenance. I then asked everyone to help clean up the various scattered bits of track. You should see children flee the scene when a grown-up announces that it's clean-up time. One happy side-effect: we were able to expand the Chaos area a little bit, and I was able to get all of the loose pieces back into their bins... for a little while, anyway. Following our "down-time" the adults returned in force, and a few children showed back up. These children had their parents in tow, and were well-behaved. Their parents went to work expanding the machine, and before long we had a second arch (the first had been filled in from beneath with chain-drives and track... the ski-jump now ran through a major cloverleaf intersection), loop-the-loops, and Chaos everywhere. By 9:00pm I was ready for bed. I meandered about the convention, met Ken Burnsides from Ad Astra games, met folks I'll be paneling with on Saturday, watched a team of special forces commandos get wiped out by a Canadian terrorists (I helped them change their battle-cry to "mon canard est en feu!"), and headed for my room. The $18.00 set of sub-woofed Creative Labs speakers I brought for music in the Chaos area (and which we hadn't needed, what with all the ambient noise already in that room) became my bed-time music system... except that the Firefly Room Party downstairs had no sound system to accompany their large projection screen. So I loaned them my speakers, and they gave me a Browncoat ribbon. Sal then loaned me a much smaller set of speakers which was just right for tuning out the noise of the Convention, which was still churning merrily away at 11:00pm when I finally found my way to my bed. I know, I know, I went to bed early. It felt nice.
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