CONvergence 2010: Day 2

Friday – CONvergence Day 2

Friday was probably the most laid-back day of CON.  There weren’t any morning panels that I wanted to attend, so I spent most of the morning blogging, hanging out in the CONsuite and wandering around the hotel.  The hubby attended a panel called “Classic Sci-Fi Today” about must-read classic science fiction books.  At 1pm we went to the Steam Century Fashion Show, a runway show of steampunk fashion hosted by the Steam Century group out of Madison, WI.  I have some video of the event that I hope to edit and get up on the blog in the next couple of days, but I invite you to enjoy these lovely, blurry* photos in the meantime:




After the fashion show the Hubby went to a panel on the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  I didn’t have anything pressing to do so I decided to volunteer for an hour.  CONvergence is run almost entirely by volunteers, and they have a permanent table where any attendee can stop by and say “put me to work!”.  So I did, and they did.  I was sent down to the registration desk and for an hour I helped get newly arrived guests all signed in.  Easy peasy.

At 3:30pm, I went to a panel called “Bulls**t Detection Kit: Why Pseudo-Science Doesn’t Deliver”.  3:30 was one of those time slots where I wanted to go to almost every other panel – I missed Jim Kakalios’s panel on “The Amazing World of Quantum Mechanics”, a panel called “Is Roller Derby the Ultimate Geek Sport?”, another entitled “Supernatural Chick Lit”, and “the Dharma Initiative: Lost Wrap Up”.  Darn!

Anyway, I chose the Bulls**t panel, and that was Ted Meissner, David Walbridge, Greg Laden, Steve Thoms, Bug Girl, Stephanie Zvan and Lois Schadewald.  It was cool to see that this panel was packed – there were people in every seat and standing against the walls.  The session started with every panelist telling us their “favorite” pseudoscience, and in no particular order they listed Deepok Chopra, Pseudopsychology, Flat Earth belief, Psychics, Creationism, Pseudoscience related to entymology, and alternative medicine.  If you’re familiar with the skeptic movement, you may be able to match up the presenters with the pseudosciences!

The following topics were considered to be those pseudosciences which have the potential to cause the most harm: the antivax movement, the global warming/climate change debate, creationism, and the lack of critical thinking and prevelence of erroneous claims about the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

This panel was on the heavier side, but even scientists and critical thinkers have a sense of humor.  The funniest exchange of the session was from Ted Meissner in response to an audience commenter asking how we should address a lack of credible, interesting, scientists for the public to look up to.  Ted’s response: “We need to get taller scientists.”  hehehe.  Okay, maybe this is why I have trouble at parties.


Random Exchange observed in the hotel:   A large group of people standing in a group and one woman whips out a high-pitched “Heeeeheeeeheee!”, followed by about five seconds of silence.   She looks around at the group (and some of us random bystanders) and says, “Sorry about that…nervous laughter always makes everything better.”


After the panel I ran to Target to get some more Coke Zero for the Terry Pratchett Discworld Seamstress Guild cabana.  BIG mistake.  I violated one of the most important suggestions at CON – never give up a parking space during CON!  I drove up and down the aisles for 15 minutes before nabbing a spot.   Ugh…  I spent most of Friday night hanging out with the Seamstress Guild, which was sponsored by a couple of my friends.  I sat on the cabana wall and hawked the party for a couple of hours, convincing random people to come inside and enjoy the sweet tea and orange-infused vodka drinks and tea cookies that we were serving.  I was really impressed by the level of responsibility by both the parties and the CON attendees; I saw very few obnoxiously drunk people and EVERY cabana and party room that I visited was carding for drinks.

At 8:30pm I went to Thee Bluebeard Show.  It was just okay.  The presenter spent the first 10 minutes rearranging the stage and making snide jokes about how great it was that everything was in place for his session.  After that the show consisted of him selecting random people from the audience and interviewing them in a sort of radio talk-show style.  I left after the first three interviews, but what I did see was alright – in my experience when you take non-actors and try to make them do improv, the result is usually always just alright.  He interviewed Dr. Doom, a girl from the audience with the BEST gaffaw-laugh EVER (he spent the entire interview trying to make her laugh), and a evil wraith character from…I believe…Babylon 5.

After that more parties, more Seamstress Guild, more CONsuite for late-night snacks, and we finally headed home around 3:30am.

More CONvergence tomorrow!


*I’ve been noticing that my camera phone is not so hot at the point-and-click photos in less than sunny weather.  In low-light situations when there is any action/movement the photos more often than not come out blurry.  It looks like I’m going to either learn more about my phone camera or start carrying my old point-and-click.

CONvergence 2010: Day 2

w00tstock v2.3 Minneapolis 2010


Image Source

I swear, I had a grin on my face from 7pm when I found my nerd friends in the Guthrie lobby, until 12:15am when the w00tstock performers took their final bows and all of us nerds spilled out into the quiet Monday night downtown Minneapolis street – all of us complaining about having to go to work in 6 hours or so, all of us agreeing we would have stayed for another 6 hours of w00tstock if they would let us. 

This was w00tstock version 2.3, otherwise known as the Minneapolis 2010 w00tstock show.  The show claims to be three hours (or more).  Wil Wheaton started the intros at about 7:30pm, and final bows happened at about 12:15am (after a 19-minute-or-so rendition of the The Captain’s Wife’s Lament).  Allowing for a 15-minute intermission,  that’s a four-and-a-half hour show!

I guess w00tstock could be described as a nerd/geek variety show.  There were musical performances by Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis, Trace Beaulieu and Bill Corbett from MST3K), video interludes, and Wil Wheaton did a reading from his new book The Happiest Days of Our LivesThere was stand-up comedy from Tim Bedore and from John Scalzi, a physics lecture (with the maths and everything!) from James Kakalios, and some nerd proposed to his fiance in front of the entire audience.

This is one of the better quality videos that I have found on youtube from the performance.  This is Adam Savage performing I Will  Survive in the voice of Gollum.  While he was on stage, Adam – like a true nerd – had a random nosebleed, and since I guess he felt like he was in good company, he just shoved a tissue up his nostril and kept going.  That’s nerd pride!

These are some of my pics from far, far away.  The quality ain’t great (read: pretty darn not great in some cases), but they’re what I got.


Lord of the Rings Photoshop (Adam Savage, Storm, Paul, Wil Wheaton), Physics Professor James Kakalios with his Trivial Pursuit card and Paul, Trace Beaulieu, Bill Corbett and Storm singing together.

The whole gang together to sing a New National Anthem, Adam Savage on stage, and Neil Gaimen makes a suprise visit to deliver a single pirate “Arg” for the Captain’s Wife’s Lament.

This is a fairly decent video of Molly Lewis recorded in the day prior in Chicago (w00tstock v2.2 on Sunday 6/6/10).  The image isn’t great, but the audio is pretty smooth.  Molly is singing an awesome song called “An Open Letter to Stephen Fry”.  I never want to have children, but she makes some pretty persuasive arguments for child-bearing as a service to the greater good. 

It was a fabulous show, and I hope to be able to go again when 3.0 is released.  This is a version upgrade I will always buy!

All photos are released in accordance with Creative Commons and are available for anyone to use provided they abide by CC.  Photos were taken and uploaded to this blog by biodork.  Some photos have been cropped to improve photo quality, but images remain otherwise unaltered.

w00tstock v2.3 Minneapolis 2010

Saturday Snippits

You know you might read too much I Can Haz Cheezburger when it creeps into your work life.  I left this note for a coworker a few days ago to let her know that I was using some of her lab equipment.  I didn’t realize how dorky it was until she came up to me wondering what was up with the note:

Here’s an close-up:


The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market opened today!  I wanted to get there early to beat the crowds and get my pick of the new produce, meats, crafts, etc.  I groggily  got up out of bed at 6:30am this morning and ambled downtown, and after all that effort…well, it’s too bad that I missed the part about the Market opening at 9am.  This is what I saw when I arrived at 7:30 in the morning:

Doh! …At least I beat the crowds.

I did have fun watching the vendors set up.  Here’s a picture of an early flower vendor rolling his cart up to the seller’s area, with the Minneapolis skyline in the background (perspective is from the Northwest).

This early in the season, there’s not much in the way of fresh produce.  Any produce that is available is most likely ordered from larger distributers and repackaged – see the bulk onion bags in the back of dude’s truck? But there are local meat and dairy farmers selling meats, cheeses, and eggs, and today there were a couple of people selling seedlings and local artisans selling soap and pottery.

Another thing that was interesting about the early open was the prices of everything were higher than in the summer – less competition.  There was only one person selling flowers when I arrived, and they were going for $8-$20.  In the summer, you have 5-10 flower sellers per aisle, and almost nothing is over $5/bunch.

In the summer, the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market *explodes* – every vendor spot is taken, vendors peddle ready-to-eat treats, street musicians have their instrument cases open and ready to catch your spare change, and customers swarm over every spare inch of asphalt.  I’ll have to check it out again next week…although maybe I’ll sleep in a little longer this time.


Garden 2010 – Photo Update:

Last Week:  4/10/10

Today: 4/17/10

Verdict: Not dead yet.

Saturday Snippits

Status Updates Too Geeky for Facebook

I can’t upload pictures to wordpress at work.  Boo.

Calibration curves are sweet in theory, but a pain to work with when you’ve got three sets of standards run on three different instruments every day for five days.

Funny Lean/Six Sigma jokes heard at my job:
“Lean – It’s like common sense, but with more paperwork”.
“Lean is like communism – it works GREAT in theory”.

The Narwhal song is stuck in my head.  Actually, this one I might put up on my facebook wall.

Status Updates Too Geeky for Facebook