CONvergence is Upon Us!

Tuesday after work marked my beginning of CONvergence 2016. Tuesday night I learned more about Cinema Rex couches than I ever thought I would know. Carpet powder, vacuuming, quality inspection, layout, the history of couch acquisition. Daymn, Cinema Rex has their shit together.

On Wednesday I had an opportunity to volunteer for three other groups that I’ve never worked with: Logistics (hauling heavy stuff), Connie’s Quantum Sandbox (helping organize the kids activity room. ALL the arts and crafts), and Programming (panel room layouts, floor taping). It was a solid day that started at 9:15am and ended around 5:30pm. Afterwards, dinner in the hotel bar with, and then back home to pack up clothes, costumes, board games and bourbon.

I’m participating in eight panels this year (lolsob).

Thursday
*Balloon Hovercraft Activity
*Scotch and Cigars

Friday
*Oddities of Animal Transport
*Our Favorite Board Games

Saturday
*Road Tripping the Light Fantastic
*Face Value: The Truth is Trickier Than You Thought
*Space Plague and Goblin Pox

Sunday
*Sense8

The full schedule with panel descriptions can be found here.

It’s worth noting that my Friday, Saturday and Sunday panels are all 9:30am panels, which is the “early” panel. I also managed to draw a 11:30pm Saturday night panel, which is the latest panel one can have. That there’s some timing magic. I like my Thursday lineup. I think I should invite the kids from the Balloon Hovercraft Activity to the Scotch and Cigars panel. I joke, but that’s one of the things that I love about CONvergence – there’s something for everyone and for kids of all ages.

I’ll also be hanging around in the Skepchick Party Room and volunteering around con all weekend. If you’re going to be there, I hope you have a wonderful time! I look forward to seeing all of you nerds.

CONvergence is Upon Us!
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It's CONvergence Time!

CONvergence is an annual sci-fi/fantasy convention that takes place here in the Twin Cities. The 2015 theme is dystopian futures.

Banner from CONvergence 2015: DoublePlusGood

People have been hard at work all week to get the hotels up and in CONvergence shape! The Hubby and I will be checking in tomorrow morning to join the badge line and then start attending panels and cosplay watching.

Continue reading “It's CONvergence Time!”

It's CONvergence Time!

It’s CONvergence Time!

CONvergence is an annual sci-fi/fantasy convention that takes place here in the Twin Cities. The 2015 theme is dystopian futures.

Banner from CONvergence 2015: DoublePlusGood

People have been hard at work all week to get the hotels up and in CONvergence shape! The Hubby and I will be checking in tomorrow morning to join the badge line and then start attending panels and cosplay watching.

Continue reading “It’s CONvergence Time!”

It’s CONvergence Time!

Cosplay: We Made A Thing Today!

One of my favorite things about CONvergence -and of which there are many – is all of the cosplay. The Hubby and I love to people-watch, and we like to dress up when it’s creative and convenient. This year we decided that we had the time and energy to put together a few costumes. We spent yesterday planning specifics and shopping, and we made some amazing finds. I’m not going to put up photos of the complete costumes until CONvergence weekend, but here are the descriptions:

The Belcher Family
Tina and Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers – Aaron is repurposing a wig from a previous V for Vendetta costume for Tina, and he has a pair black thick-framed glasses that will serve.  We found a simple blue skirt, blue t-shirt, and yellow barrette for the him at Target. Black high-top Converses came from Famous Footwear. The retro tube socks will be picked up from Sox Appeal tomorrow. We had a bit more of a challenge finding a green dress for my Louise. There was nothing at Target, Savers or TJ Maxx, but then we lucked out at the Dress Barn: Kelly green with sleeves on the clearance rack, only one left AND in my size, 35% off. SCORE! Pink bunny ears hat ordered from Etsy. Black flats with strap from Famous Footwear. Continue reading “Cosplay: We Made A Thing Today!”

Cosplay: We Made A Thing Today!

CONvergence Programming Is Announced!

I’m very excited for CONvergence this year. Not only is it my first year as an Invited Participant, but I made it onto FIVE panels, including an author reading which I’m organizing (more on that below). Our fearless SkepchickCon organizer and CONvergence volunteer, Melanie Mallon, has been busting her butt for the past several months to help ensure that we are going to have awesome programming, including some killer science, skepticism and social media panels.

Here are mine:

Food Allergies At Con: How to Cope – You have a food allergy, yet are trying to survive from the limited opportunities at CONvergence: how do you cope? What can you safely bring, keep, and prepare in a hotel room? Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Richard Wielgosz, Karl Tingelstad, Marie Porter, Renee Petersen

Real Monsters – Reality is stranger than fiction. The deep seas and uncharted lands hold unimaginably bizarre creatures. This panel explores some of the strangest, ugliest, and most unlikely creatures known to live. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Ryan Consell, Matt Kuchta, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers

It’s (Not) Written In The Stars – We’ll explore the myths and beliefs of astrology and why some people still find it convincing in the modern age of science. Panelists: Jason Thibeault, Brianne Bilyeu, Dan Berliner, Matt Lowry, Nicole Gugliucci

Kids Ask a Scientist – Our panel of scientists will answer questions, with the answers geared for the 12-and-under set. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Camille McAloney, Nicole Gugliucci, Siouxsie Wiles, Lori Fischer

Skepchick and Freethought Bloggers Author Reading – Join the bloggers of Skepchick and Freethought Blogs as they share their favorite original writings. Topics may include science, social justice, atheism, skepticism, art, online community, blogging and random geekery. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu (mod)

I’m geeking out over Real Monsters because Holy Shit Weird Awesome Nature!!! I’m already getting annoyed (in the good way) about the anti-astrology panel, and Food Allergies will be interesting (plus I’m excited about getting to share a panel with the Evil Cake Overlord). I’m probably most intimidated by Kids Ask A Scientist because kids ask weird shit and you can’t just throw out “Rayleigh Scattering” and leave it at that when they want to know why the damn sky is blue. The author reading is my baby.I’m emceeing 10-15 bloggers (including me) who will each read one of their favorite original writings, and they only get 3-5 minutes each. It’s going to be a fast-paced bonanza of Skepchick and FtB readings.

At the time of this writing there are FORTY-SIX panels tagged as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). 46, y’all. That gives me such a happy…I can’t even describe it.

You can see the full schedule here. It’s on Sched, which means you can create a profile, create a customized schedule of the panels you want to see, and take a peek at what your friends are signing up for.

Click here to register for CONvergence. Or click on the giant banner below. Either way, really.

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CONvergence Programming Is Announced!

CONvergence 2012: Doomsday Scenarios

Final CONvergence: Doomsday Scenarios

The second panel that I attended this weekend was made up of five people with backgrounds in physics, biology, technology, nuclear proliferation and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

The physicist discussed asteroids. He explained how small meteorites are entering our atmosphere all the time, mentioned NASA’s Near Earth Object program, and spoke briefly about the Torino Scale. Later he pondered the effect that a large solar flare ejected in the direction of Earth might have on our population.

Continue reading “CONvergence 2012: Doomsday Scenarios”

CONvergence 2012: Doomsday Scenarios

CONvergence 2012: The Role of Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy

This panel featured five authors with different religious backgrounds: Agnostic, an Episcopal minister in training (with an interest in Paganism – not a practicing interest, but a fascination), an atheist with knowledge about Eastern religions, a Church of England priest, and an atheist Unitarian Universalist ex-Catholic.

Some of the themes discussed:

  • Does much of science fiction tend to assume that religion is gone or has lost its relevance? Is this a realistic assumption; religion tends to stick around.
  • Considerations of current religions and how they would adapt to futuristic technology – Amish in space, wondering in which direction Mecca lays when in space.
  • Why is religion rarely mentioned in Steampunk when it was very much a part of Victorian life? Rejecting God for science and invention (Frankenstein was brought up as an obvious exception)? Is it because Steampunk is a punk genre – against status quo/against religion?
  • Why does religion appear to be more prevalent in fantasy than in science fiction? Is it?
  • The portrayal of gods in science fiction and fantasy – the difference between physical, present gods vs. the absent, unknowable god.
  • How do you define a god. If it’s inside and part of the universe, is that a god or a really powerful creature? If god is outside of time and creation can he affect the universe itself?
  • Will we bring our gods into space with us? Discussion of Firefly (Shepherd, Inara’s “Merciful Buddha!”), American Gods.

The panelists went over a few of the stories and universes that embrace religious stories and create new pantheons: BSG, SG Universe, Babylon 5, DS9, Star Wars, Safehold series, Firefly, Sandman comics, American Gods.

I was annoyed when a God of of the Gaps argument came up. An audience member asked “Where is the god in Doctor Who?” One of the panelists suggested that god in Doctor Who can be likened to the Book of Esther, in which God is the hidden force that is always at work. And could perhaps the fact that the TARDIS is always putting the Doctor not where he intends, but where he needs to be – could this be God or Fate at work?

Hmmm…nah. If that’s not God of the Gaps, it’s at least assigning mystical cause to a poorly understood phenomenon. I prefer to think there is no god (other than local socially created religions) in my Doctor Who.

There was an interesting portion of the panel during which the authors spoke about how to write gods into your stories. They discussed that when placing god as a character, you have to have rules about what your god can and can’t do so they don’t steal the spotlight or lead to plot gaps (“Can’t explain it? God did it!”). They also discussed the importance of being careful with other peoples’ deities; not that it’s necessary to respect the mythologies, but to know which rules you are breaking. They urged doing your research before portraying gods that have an established mythos.

At the end of the panel, the moderator sent us away with a few ideas to ponder:

  • Did Jesus die for the aliens in all of the other galaxies, or just the ones in ours?
  • If we survive the next 1000 years, what will religion look like?
  • When we discover warp drive and find new religions in new galaxies will we adopt those?
CONvergence 2012: The Role of Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy

CONvergence 2012: Day 1

Okay yesterday evening’s “Day 1” post was a teaser. This is the meat and potatoes post for the first day of CONvergence 2012.

I arrived at the RadishTree (Radisson + Sheraton + Doubletree – this hotel changes hands quite a bit) at about 6:30pm on Thursday. The place was already packed, which was very exciting, but not great for those of us who had to find parking, and the elevator line was already wrapped around into the main entry.

So many costumes! I saw three Captain Jack Harknesses just in my walk from the front door to the garden court. Wheeee! I ran upstairs to the second floor to grab a few photos. Continue reading “CONvergence 2012: Day 1”

CONvergence 2012: Day 1