Although this was a fun Dragon*Con for me, it had a very different feel from past D*Cs. My first D*C was the first year of the Skeptrack. Well, actually, I'm not entirely sure of that since I intentionally skipped all panels on my first year to concentrate on costuming. The point is that all of my experience with D*C revolves around skeptics: skeptic panels, skeptic celebrities, science, skeptical friends; it's basically like I've gone back to a weird, alter-dimensional universe where school was cool and everyone wanted to attend. I learn new things, I meet interesting people, and I usually have some pretty kinky sex.
This year was cool too, but not quite in the same way. A lot of the skeptical celebrities I enjoy meeting and listening to didn't attend, a lot of personal friends and Squigglemates didn't attend, I missed several panels that I really wanted to attend, and no kinky sex. But, on the plus side, I got to meet and hang out with some new people that I hadn't had the chance to before, and I did attend a couple of events I never had before. I originally wasn't planning on wearing any costumes, since I have my new Atheist Tees store to advertise, and the Skeptrack at Dragon*Con is a great place to do that, but I ended up with 3 costumes anyway. Only one of which was new, but other than the addition of a hat, you really couldn't tell it was a "costume", since it was poking fun at myself.
This year I wore Laurie Jupiter for a few hours, I wore my None costume, and I created, just for the occasion, a DIA costume. That stands for DisInformation Agent. Brian Dunning of skeptoid was once accused of being a Disinformation Agent. OK, he was accused of that more than once. It's a common accusation by conspiracy theorists towards people who attempt to dispel the myths and fantasies of popular culture. These are the same people who also usually accuse others of being shills for Big Whatever they don't like, such as Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Corn, etc. So anyway, he got called a Disinformation Agent & tweeted about needing a badge or something. One of his fans whipped up a very realistic ID badge for him, which he posted on Twitter. It was so popular, that someone else created an online wizard that allowed us to upload our own picture and choose from a handful of titles and departments to make our own printable badge.
Well, I went one further. I made an entire line of clothing for the DIA, along the lines of the FBI as seen on TV shows - t-shirts, tank tops, cadet caps, polo shirts, track jackets, etc. The guy who made the original Brian Dunning badge offered his original Photoshop files to make our own, so I used that, and the guidelines from the online wizard to make up badges & clothing with symbols for all the other departments, and created an alter-ego of Joreth, a DIA for Big Pharma, Toxin Distribution Division (because of my work with anti-vaxxers, vaccine and STD education). I am rather proud of the whole ensemble, but it really doesn't look much different from my normal clothing - you'll see later on!
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These are pictures of the various panels that I or my Squigglemates attended.
First was The Line. Every year, the Pre-Registration line gets longer and longer as attendees try to save a few bucks by registering early. It's a significant amount, but so is the time in line! We arrived on Thursday evening before the con, but by the time we checked in and got our room settled, it was after 8 PM and the latest reports said the line was 5 hours long at that point. I went down anyway, because I had Friday morning panels I wanted to attend, but the line had closed before I got there. So I got up at 5:00 in the morning, took my workout mat and a book, and got in line before sunrise, which turned out to be a good thing, since the line was outdoors. I slept for most of it, but at 8 AM, the line opened. I wasn't first, but I was near the front, so the race through the queue line was something else! I have pictures and video of what it's like to be at the front of the line. Oh, and the buy-on-site line? 15 minute wait all weekend.
The switchbacks inside
People filling in the queue
Heard in line: "What's the longest distance between 2 points? 1,000 straight lines!
The first panel of the Skeptrack: Introduction To Skeptrack
James Randi - The Amazing Randi, magician & creator of the Million Dollar Challenge to find evidence of paranormal activity
One of the things I did differently this year was to attend the Dragon*Con At The Georgia Aquarium. I'm glad I got to go, but attending an aquarium at night poses some challenges. Many of the exhibits had very low lighting to simulate a natural solar cycle, so an awful lot of my pictures turned out like crap because you can't use a flash through a plexiglass window and the lighting inside was too dim not to use a flash. But I did my best. I even got some video! Any suggestions on the types of animals whose names I missed is appreciated.
Rays in the touch-pools
Rays and sharks that guests can pet
Shrimp in another petting pool
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Emerald tree boa constrictor
Poison dart frog
Blurry poison dart frog
These were so little, it was hard to get good pics of them
Poison dart frogs
White American Aligator
Asian Small-Clawed Otter
Trying to sleep
Really, does it get any more adorable?
Oh wait, it does
"'scuze me, coming through"
That can't be comfortable!
Neither can that!
Finally! Some sleep!
Giant Japanese Spider Crabs
Weedy Sea Dragon
Harbor Seal heading right for me, turning at the last minute
Harbor Seal heading right for me again
Souther Sea Otter
This otter was so busy cleaning itself...
and had a headshake when holding still...
that it was nearly impossible to get a sharp picture