The Much Delayed Penguicon Post

I finished unpacking from Penguicon today.

I suspect that statement will invoke one of three responses:
Hmm, that’s nice. Boring but nice.
What? Wasn’t the convention two weekends ago?
What’s a Penguicon?

If you are in the last group, you must be really new here. Welcome! I hope you enjoy. .

If you are in the first group, congratulations on not paying attention to the calander. Seriously.
1

If you are in the middle group, yes, but don’t worry. It’s not like I had a suitcase full of dirty clothes lying around.
2 The things which needed to be put away were a couple of ties, a pair of boots, and the contents of my con-bag.3

Why has it taken so long for me to take care of this stuff? Well, it’s one of the reasons it has taken me so long to do my Post-Con-Post.

I just didn’t want to admit that it’s over.
4

Another reason that I held off on writing about my Penguicon experience was that I did not want this to be my usual “OMG! EVERYTHING IS SO AWESOME! YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE! I CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR!” post. Granted, that is exactly how I feel, but I am trying to show at least a modicum of decorum, for a change.

Although it really was awesome and I
am already planning for next year.

Panels I Attended

This is the part where I usually list all of the panels and events that I went to. This year I am going to take a slightly different tack and just highlight a few, as I suspect that many of you skip through some of that.

On the first day of Penguicon
6, I attended both of the Keynote Addresses. The first was The Camera Panopticon in which Aral Balkan spoke about how data accumulation invaded the privacy rights of many individuals and how we not only let this happen, we assist them. This was followed by security guru Bruce Schneier discussing topics covered in his new book Data and Goliath.7 Both talks were amazing. Both left me super paranoid about who has my information and what they are doing with it.

I also picked up some gardening tips from
Janice Leach, some of which I wish I had known five years ago.
The rest of Friday evening was spent socializing, except for one workshop I attended entitled How to Breathe Like A Steampunk Robot. In it I learned how directed breathing can help eliminate muscle stiffness and pain. I’ve been using the techniques at work ever since.

I did not have any panels of my own on Friday, however I did have some things I needed to address in my role as On-Site Coordinator. Essentially I was the person that Ops called if something came up that needed to be taken care of. While it was a fun experience and I enjoyed the trouble-shooting aspect of it, I was interrupted during panels I was speaking on.

Saturday, when not attending my own panels (more on that below), I went to my usual assortment of tech related panels, The Ethics of AI, Malware, etc. I also learned how to lay crepe wool to make facial hair from
Melissa G Ebbe. This will come in handy in a few weeks as I will need the kind of mustache I could never grow for Motor City Comic Con.

Of course I made an appearance at
The Smithee Awards one of my favorite portions of Penguicon. I also spent some time outside observing the moon and Jupiter via telescope.

The highlight of Sunday was learning various crowdsourcing tips and tricks from
Sarah Hans and Steven Saus.

My Own Panels

The bulk of my own programming happened on Saturday. I started off discussing
NaNoWriMo with Lit Featured Guest Jen Haeger. I then moved on How To Be A Critic, and Making the Fantastic Believable. Fortunately the latter was one of the really packed panels as far as presenters were concerned as I had to have my hat stand if for me while I took care of some things at Ops.

I finished the evening with the You Can’t Kill The Undead panel. Always a fan favorite, this year’s iteration of the first panel I was ever on
8 was a riot of a good time. I credit this to the great panelists and the wonderful audience. It is always a good time when you have an active back and forth and this one had a lot of that.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the You Got Your Sci-Fi in My… panel on Sunday.
9

New At Penguicon This Year

The Consent and Harassment Policies have always been very important to Penguicon.
10 This year there were numerous posters placed in the common areas, the Con Suite, Registration, Ops, and just about anywhere else someone might spend time. These posters detailed what was allowed, what wasn’t, and the methods one should use to determine if someone was receptive to any type of advance. In essence, unless the person says “Yes,” it is a “No.”

The new addition I was most impressed with, and the one I heard the most comments about, was the ability to let everyone know the level of social interaction you were comfortable with via a simple sticker placed on your badge. A green dot meant “Hey, come up and talk to me.” Yellow meant “I’m only interested in talking to people I know.” Red was “I’m OK, just chilling by myself here. Thanks anyway.”

As someone with more than a little social anxiety
11, this meant a lot to me. Of course, I was displaying my usual amazing acting ability and pretending to be an extrovert, as I do at all Cons. Green dot for me. This ended up being a wonderful thing, as I will discuss below.

Socializing

Yes, I socialized.

Hell, I even Karaoked.
12

I spent the bulk of Saturday evening (by which I mean every bit of time from the end of the Undead panel until 3am Sunday) with an amazing group of writers. We started at the bar
13, then moved on to the room parties. Most of the night was spent in the karaoke room. There were some amazing singers who got up to share there voices with us. There were some not so great singers, myself included, who did the same. Regardless of the level of skill of the singer or the song selected, the room was incredibly supportive, singing along, encouraging those participating.

That, as I have mentioned numerous times before, is the beauty of Penguicon. No matter what your flavor of geek, you will find someone else there to share with. More importantly, it does not matter what your particular fandom or interests consist of. No one looks down on anyone else because of their lifestyle, appearance, or what they are in to. It is such an accepting space that a lifelong introvert like me can get up in front of a bunch of people he doesn’t know and belt out not one but two songs.

And then have someone thank him for it afterwards.

Those songs, by the way, were JoCo’s “Re: Your Brains” and Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.”


1 And you call yourself a stalker.
2 The dirty clothes were thrown down the laundry chute the day I got back. Then they were separated, sorted, and promptly ignored until I finally decided to tackle the giant pile of laundry.
3
The Bag of Holding from ThinkGeek. It still had business cards, fliers, and the assorted detritus that one collects when living out of a suitcase for a weekend.
4 Yeah, yeah. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Shut up, Dr. Seuss.
5
5 What? People claim Seuss said it. Of course, they also attribute it to Garbriel Garcia Marquez “No llores porque ya se terminó... sonríe, porque sucedió.”
6 My true love gave to me…
7 Which is one of the best titles I have ever heard. Also, his book was the only thing I bought at Con (besides consumables).
8 Werewolves and Vampires and Zombies, Oh My.
9 Kind of ironic as part of my job as OSC was finding out which panelists were unable to attend their panels.
10 If you don’t know why these are so important, please do a quick Google search.

11 Introverts of the world unite! Individually, in our own safe spaces.
12 Yeah, seriously!
13 Because we’re writers.