They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

Penguicon 12.2 -- Midday

Other than driving to work, which isn't trivial in my case, especially with THIS winter, the day trip to Southfield MI was my first long solo drive and my first con in over a year. Thing is, I have the typical-photographer's lament -- never any pictures of me -- so one goal I had was to publish a Proof of Life photo.

My usual photographer, 2004 Clarion and 2008 WOTF friend Al Bogdan, wasn't around. Turned out later he WAS at Penguicon, but he apparently didn't bother to read my blog saying I was planning to come and I'd asked if he was. And we never spotted each other. Thwarted.

So before I left the Cory Doctorow reading, I asked the guy nearest to me if he'd mind taking my picture.


It's always tough to hand a camera off to a random stranger and hope the settings and automation can handle it. I've mentioned the harsh lighting conditions and there were ceiling spot lights over my row and I was all the way up to 1/100th of a second, so you have this wide dynamic range, an early professional DSLR ramped up two stops beyond the highest normal ISO setting. The result clearly shows Dr. Phil, but it's a little harsh. I tried to tilt up the hat so as to not mask my eyes, but I couldn't NOT have a hat on at a con! Back in the day of wet photography, I'd be masking and dodging -- I'm not trying to do that in Ulead PhotoImpact. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

One thing I didn't see in either the lovely main program or the compact session and grid schedules was any mention of hotel WiFi. I had thought of powering up haiku on Friday, our Verizon pay-as-you-go credit card sized 3G hot spot, but decided against it. And I couldn't remember if the Westin Southfield's website had said free WiFi or not. And of course, checking the webpage was out... (grin)

I'd thrown the Kindle Fire HD into my messenger bag, leaving it in airplane mode. So in between morning sessions, I'd turned on the WiFi, selected the Westin site -- and the signal indicator still had an X in it. Must be a paid WiFi. Sigh.

So after Cory's reading and wresting with the stiff spring on the door to the restroom with two handicapped stalls -- I am learning SO much about how "good" ADA compliance is -- I decided to stop by Ops and ask about the WiFi situation. Nick at Ops was super on top of things.

If I hadn't been on the WiFi settings screen, I might have realized that the hotel just had the usual sort of Terms of Use gateway page. Just hadn't been out in public with the Kindle much. (grin)


Nick went for the dramatic pose and up tight on him at 24mm (35mm FX equivalent), the wide angle made for a decent image. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I had two more questions for Nick. Do you always wear a suit? Yes. I wasn't trying to insult him, but at most cons I've been to, someone in a neat suit coat works for the hotel -- it was very chic and professional in appearance. Second, is that a Burning Man lapel pin? YES.

Turns out Nick runs the Burning Man Post Office. Come the end of August, you can send mail to Burning Man at ZIP+4 Code 89412-0149. Really. How cool is that? I promised to send him a postcard.

Anyway, armed with new information, I sought lunch. Now when I came in I passed a bar set up in the front walkway connecting the lobby with the first floor conference rooms. At 1:15pm it was getting busy. A small sheet in front of one unit said it was a Bar and Grille, then listed a few items like hot dogs. With prices in Tickets.

Now I can understand that in the chaos of uneven demand loads, not handling money is clever, especially considering how dirty money is. But folks, if you're going to charge tickets, you need to make it obvious where you're going to BUY tickets. And in the crush of people, navigating with the wide body 777 of walkers, I couldn't see said money exchange point, nor any signs directing me to same and I wasn't going to randomly wander.

Next up -- I did see a kiosk with a sign proclaiming they served Starbucks coffee and Boar's Head Meat sandwiches. Now we're talking. The sign out front said a roast beef sandwich with avocado was $4.95 or so. Great. Except on Saturday they weren't doing sandwich service. I guess they were being smart, by not competing with the grille right outside the door. But would it hurt to put up a sign saying No Sandwich Service today? Hell, for all I know, maybe the person behind the counter who said no sandwiches today sold Tickets. (evil-grin)

So, third attempt at lunch -- the hotel restaurant. Now there were signs pointing out that Gaming and Paint-and-Take, or something like that, had swapped space and the latter was now in the restaurant. Hopefully that was just PART of the restaurant. (hungry-grin) Anyway, the restaurant was open and it was pretty slammed. And here I was with a walker and wanting a table for one.

I pointed out a free table for two in the middle along an angled wall to the step-up level, with enough open space that me and my walker could be reasonably out of the way. From the posted menu outside, I already knew what I wanted -- the cheeseburger, no onions, Coke and fries with sea salt. Not cheap, but comfortable and out of the lobby chaos.

Opened up the Kindle Fire HD to send Mrs. Dr. Phil an email saying I'd arrived safely and all. Decided to send a Proof of Life photo from the Kindle:

This is where the previously posted picture of Dr. Phil and the antennaed hostess come in -- shot on my Kindle Fire HD.
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And by the time lunch was done, it was time to scurry off to the 2pm session.

The restaurant staff was slammed and cheerful, and the food was great. I left them a nice tip. Always want to encourage the con hotel. (satisfied-grin)

Dr. Phil
Tags: cons, nikon, penguicon, photos
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