terriko: (Default)
2017-02-22 09:50 am
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Made it home from India without incident, by which I mean my green card was accepted at the border and no one asked me to unlock my phone. It's weird how I just went on a trip to a country where I couldn't drink the water and the front page of the newspaper had multiple rape cases and an acid attack against women and yet, crossing the US border was *still* the most scary part with the constantly changing rules.

The trip was great. I saw so many things I never expected to see, ate so much delicious food, and met so many people that I'm not sure I'm ever going to get everyone's names straight. The PyCon Pune conference was *amazing*. I keynoted to a room of over 500 people, and I've never had such an engaged audience! I did code sprints with people who were awesome, too -- we discovered that Mailman had something like 9 different dev setup guides, many of which were out of date, and yet somehow everyone got things up and running *and* folk helped patch up the docs to be consistent. If you ever get a chance, seriously, go.
terriko: (Default)
2014-10-09 12:24 am

Back from France!

I was in France last week for work, but I've been home for a few days now.

I am pleased to report that my French was adequate for basic stuff like getting directions and translating menus into English for my Polish colleagues. My French colleagues were highly amused that I spoke the language at all, since I guess no one warned them that I was moderately fluent. No one was offended by my weird accent, or even seemed to have much trouble understanding me. I couldn't handle full on eavesdropping on the train, but I could get the gist of a lot of conversations when I had some idea of the subject.

I didn't try to carry too much stuff because my ankle is still sore from hurting it after my trip to Poland, but I was able to walk quite a bit even if I had to do it carefully and a bit slowly. 100k steps! It's especially impressive given that my leg still hurts all the time. Walking, as always, is much easier than standing still, so the 30 minute walk to the office was easier than standing in line at the airport. I am sore, but it seems to be mostly the usual chronic constant thing plus some bonus knots from sleeping on planes and trains and strange beds.

They stole my knife-free Leatherman at the Charles de Gaulle airport. It was especially frustrating because several of the agents pointed out to the guy who took it that it was absolutely fine under their rules, but he decided it wasn't despite their best efforts. The thing's under $20 and I sort of assumed I'd lose it eventually, but I was still upset because it was just so unnecessary and wasteful. Have ordered a new one. I may give up on traveling with it outside north america, though, as I expect I'm going to have to fly through France again. (Amsterdam, mind, had no problem with it.)

Jetlag is hitting me hard this time, with the headaches and all. I miss when this wasn't a guaranteed thing, but at least I have Serious Painkillers and coworkers who are pretty understanding about travel miasma. I did not donate blood this week because I was not well enough and not because I am miffed at the red cross for phone harassing me all week (seriously, I think they called 7 times without ever leaving a message) and then after I told them I was unwilling to schedule an appointment because I often get sick when I travel, they gave me two days of silence then called me at 4am while I was adjusting to the time zone in France. So now they're a blocked number, and I'm not sure I'm going to unblock them, although I'll probably donate again when I'm not cranky about it.

Anyhow, recovery will go better with more sleep, so I'm going to do that now!
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
2013-05-14 02:17 am
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Scooter luggage and travel cosplay.

Luggage with a built-in scooter is awesome. I've seen ride-on wheeled luggage for kids (and coveted it mightily), and this appears to be the adult-friendly equivalent. Sadly, does not meet a lot of my other criteria (I'd be shocked if they let me avoid gatechecking this) and it's $250 (But at least shipping is free...). I'm tempted just for the awesome factor.

Here's a small hard case that meets a lot more of my criteria. It clocks in at 35cmx39cmx23cm (that's 14"x15"x9" for those of us who have to fly in America) and comes in cheerful colours. I'm actually not sure which one I'd choose -- normally I shun the pinks but that dark one is pretty lovely and would fit nicely into some sort of business-travelling fashionista persona if I dressed the part with some business casuals. But maybe the green or red would be less likely to clash with my existing wardrobe.... Honestly, I'm approaching this project much like I do cosplay, and now that I think about it it's not really that different: I'm playing for an audience to believe me to be someone very specific. Nevermind that I'm still projecting a variant on me; it's all the same body language, fashion, and carefully chosen accessories that make it work.

Similarly, a bright orange gem that could probably work with the persona too. 36x44x20cm (14x17x8") for that one, and only two wheels tucked into the edges so probably a bit more packing space in the final tally.

But despite the obvious appeal for my in-progress traveler persona, I'm not seeing any useful way for me to get reviews of these that I can actually understand since they're shipping from Hong Kong, and I haven't quite decided if I really should be making a hundred dollar gamble just because the colours are fun. I wonder if it's possible to find something similar that's at least a little more local to me? I have learned the useful new search terms "rolling business case" but it's mostly been turning up uninspired blackness.

Incidentally, I *did* check the wirecutter and they do have a section on bags, just not the kind I'm looking for. Bags are one of those few things I'm exceptionally picky about (especially right now while mildly injured, but even when not I tend to have precise requirements) so it probably isn't that much of a loss. They're apparently looking for a freelance bag editor and I rather wish I were actually the right person for that job. Lot of work for little pay, but a chance to try lots of bags!
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
2013-05-09 11:47 am
Entry tags:

Smaller travel bags

I currently own a 20" rolling carry-on bag that has met my airline & train travel needs for years (I switched to it a year or two before airlines started charging for checked bags), and it's perfect for a week-long conference where I'm coming back or going out with a lot of stuff, or when I'm visiting my parents for close to a month at Christmas, but it seems excessive when I'm going for a weekend trip or a job interview.

I'm considering getting a smaller suitcase for those shorter trips, so I'm working out my requirements. This thread covers more or less what I have in mind, but here's some personal preference/requirement notes:

1. Must have wheels. I used to do backpack+purse for shorter trips, but I've been finding that I often pinch a nerve during travel and I'm pretty sure carrying my camera/laptop on my back is a factor.

2. Can fit my laptop and possibly SLR camera + 2-3 days worth of clothes. Thankfully my clothes are pretty small. Camera may be optional: I'm trying a downgrade to a point and shoot for short trips.

3. Preferably I'd like something that can fit into the overhead bin on the smaller regional jets, since often my flight will have one hop with those. A search says that this means the bag will have to be around 18Lx14Wx7D. Sounds like you can fit larger, but I'd rather not have to argue it out with the gate staff / flight attendant every time. I am perfectly ok with being given a checked tag and then "obliviously" carrying my bag on the plane anyhow as long as it will fit, though.

4. Butnot arguing with the gate/flight staff every time I fly would be awesome. This may mean going with something more backpack-like so I can just put it on my back when I walk on the plane, but mostly it just reinforces "small" and "looks like it holds a laptop." Briefcases should work.

5. Should have an open clothing section as opposed to a bunch of filefolder divider things that will make it harder to pack.

6. Should open fully, at least for the clothing section. Pure preference on my part.

7. I'm not too picky about laptop sleeves, although something I can easily slip a laptop out of for the TSA or in case I do have to check the bag is good. I basically never use my laptop on the plane, I just don't want to skycheck it.

8. If at all possible, not black. Something like 90% of the suitcases I see are black and I don't want to be worrying about someone grabbing mine by mistake.

9. But (and i realize this may contradict the "not black" thing) something that looks more business traveller-y would be good. I have a *lot* of trouble with TSA reps assuming I'm young or an infrequent traveler which is especially frustrating when I go somewhere with J and they immediately assume he's an expert while I get the "oh, hon, you know our machines are perfectly safe?" talk-down-to-the-little-girl spiel. (My new response: "My sister is a physicist who works in health and safety; I'd like to opt out." which is factually true but irrelevant and calculated to throw them and possibly nearby travelers out of their default headspace without getting into an argument.)

I've been finding that
(a) A disturbing number of online sites don't give pictures of the inside of the bags.
(b) A disturbing number of online sites don't give dimensions or even pictures that could help me guess the dimensions
(c) Bags are expensive (duh)
(d) There is an entire market for "women's suitcases" which I find somewhat strange. Particularly given that the "women's briefcase-bags" seem pretty much identical to the non-women's ones.

I don't have any short trips scheduled, but I'm hoping to find some bag options I like and catch a sale (luggage goes on sale quite frequently, so it's a bit ridiculous to pay full price if I've got time to spare).

I would love to hear first hand testimonials from any of you who travel with a bag that might meet my needs, though. It was a recommendation from Linuxchix that drew me to my current bag which has done me pretty well although it's starting to show its age now.
terriko: (Default)
2011-11-10 12:45 am

GHC11: Day 1 - Volunteering is a great way to meet people!

People often comment on the number of ribbons on my badge, and I always tell them that I get a lot of them because I like volunteering at GHC. Volunteering every year keeps me with a nice balance of meeting new people and having an excuse to sit and chat with friends who I met volunteering in previous years. Plus, badge ribbons are just fun:

My day started with an orientation for Hoppers, and I was not nearly awake enough to take pictures of that.

From there, I headed to the Free and Open Source Software booth, which is kinda unusual among the booths at GHC11 in that we're a collection of people working on completely unrelated projects, and you'll get to hear about completely different things if you come back a few hours later. Plus, some of the coolest and most inspirational women I know are working at the booth. One of the things about open source is that it attracts a lot of people who are willing to just Get Things Done and who are able to not only get the technical details right, but also able to organize their own time and other people's to make sure things happen. If you went to Jo's session in the afternoon and realized you want to be known as the sort of person who really gets stuff done, you should be looking to these people for tips!

Then I moved on to the PhD Forum. Here's pictures of the lovely presenters, but I'm too tired to dig out my session notes so I'll just suggest you mosey on over to Valerie's blog about the session.

There's a blur of meeting people and chatting and getting caught up between every session. It's awesome!

I also got a chance to meet with the other community volunteers, yet another illustrious crew of smart awesome women who are passionate about using social media and all our other tech tools to share the experience of being at GHC11 online. Anyone who comes to GHC11 and takes a picture, writes a blog post, tweets, and participates in our online communities can be part of our team! If you want to know how to contribute your stuff to the online communities, just ask!

A few people were willing to humour me today by playing "real life angry birds" with me at the open source booth. I crocheted a bunch of birds to play with, and used it as an excuse to take pictures as a community volunteer. Lots of people have asked if they can have one, and I wish I had time to crochet them for everyone, but alas, I'd get a hand cramp long before I finished! However, please stop by the booth and play with them and take pictures over the next few days, just remember to leave them for the next visitors.

Next up, I went to Jo Miller's session on building your personal brand. Once again, I suggest you visit Valerie's blog to learn more about Jo's talk. I'm going to echo what someone I talked to today said and point out that the neat thing about Jo is how she really motivates this stuff. Brand-building sounds like marketing or startup culture speak to me, but she had a great story about a women she met who felt she was "the best-kept secret of the company" -- but you don't want to be a secret! I may write a post about this later, but for now, read Valerie's. :)

Towards the end of the session they did a speed-networking thing, and I totally made the rookie mistake of leaving my business cards in my purse when we got up to stand on this weird grid thing to facilitate moving and networking. The most amusing moment for me was when we got over and everyone was too busy networking to listen to the instructions on how we should network!

Then it was back to the open source booth for me, where I got to talk to more super cool people and play more angry birds:

I talked about how open source is awesome when you're in grad school. I talked about to get internships at open source companies or through google summer of code (we loooove students!) I talked about what drew me to GNU Mailman (short answer: technology that helps build communities and fun developers to work with!) And I got to hear about people's backgrounds and worries and projects and how their companies use open source software.

Then my final job of the evening was as a Hopper working the registration desk. I figured after the bustle of the open source booth, working a quiet registration desk would be boring... But I sat down next to Kate and had a blast talking about Margaret Atwood, working in technology while wearing a skirt or even a suit, our (relatively) new jobs, and everything else we could think of for a few hours. It was great!

And then back to the free and open source booth where I got to sit and chat with Mel who I admit I probably fangirled all over because I love the way she's been blogging about viewing academia from an open source perspective, and she is just totally one of those people who always seems to be doing cool things and thinking about them in insightful ways and I was so very exited to meet her. Hopefully i didn't talk her ear off too much, given how tired we all were by this point!

When the show floor closed up, it was time to head back to the hotel, and now I've stayed up too late processing photos and blogging. Oops! Tomorrow's 7:45am breakfast meeting with my security panel is going to feel very early!

But thankfully, you don't have to get up before 7:45 to talk about the panel; you can all just come see the finished product at 11:30am-12:30pm in B113-115 where I'm on a panel about online security for technical women. Hope to see you there!
terriko: (Default)
2011-11-10 12:13 am
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GHC11: Two fun touristy things to do around Portland

I arrived in Portland a few days early to play tourist. Here's two cool things I took pictures of that I wanted to share with other GHC11 attendees!

My friend Jen (@jenred) took me out before GHC11 for some hiking and beautiful views. It's amazing the sort of natural beauty you can find not far from the city! I looooved the waterfalls, since I just moved to the desert and damp Portland just seems extra lush and beautiful.

A cool thing to do at lunch or after the conference: Take the Tram up to the top of the ridge. Lots of great space for the view of the city and photo opportunities, and it only costs $4 for the tram + $2 for the trolley to get you there. (It's just past the edge of the free zone, sadly!) You can definitely walk the last stop, but it's a bit noisy with construction so I just paid the $2 and then used it as an excuse to ride the streetcar loop to see the area. So pretty with the fall leaves changing!

More about the tram here: www.portlandtram.org/
terriko: (Default)
2011-05-20 03:15 am
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Congratulations Matt and Jen!

I was in North Carolina for my friends Matt and Jen's wedding last weekend, and it was really lovely. In fact, I think that they've really raised the bar in my mind for what makes an awesome wedding. My favourite part of it all was that they encouraged a bunch of folk to bring games and play in the hotel the day before... so by the time the wedding happened we had all these new friends and were good to play a few more games and chat on the patio. Very fun!

Kernersville and the surrounding area was beautiful and lush and green -- very exciting since when I left Ottawa, barely any of our trees had leaves out. It was like stepping off the plane into summer. The weather held perfectly for the outdoor ceremony, although we had a slightly rainy few days overall. Still, it was a nice excuse to play indoor tourist and enjoy things like bakeries and museums, as well as time spent playing games and hanging out with people.

I've uploaded a few photos from the wedding, for the curious. As you can tell, weddings are serious business. ;)

What was less fun was the plane ride home. My flight was delayed, which meant I'd miss my connection, so I was told I'd be stuck in Chicago overnight waiting for the first flight to Ottawa at 8:30am. No hotel provided either, since it was weather related. We all spent 3 hours waiting in Greensboro with 10 minute updates telling us the plane hadn't taken off. Everything closed at 8pm so there was no way for us to get food for several hours before the plane finally arrived around 10pm. I was glad for my penchant for packing snacks and plenty of entertainment! United didn't so much as offer us an extra drink on the plane for our troubles, sadly -- at least Air Canada often gives me a cookie!

When we got into Chicago, I decided on a whim to check the board and see how badly I'd missed my flight. Whereupon I realized the Chicago-Ottawa flight had also been delayed. And then I realized it was delayed so much that they hadn't left. And then I realized it was at the gate I'd just left... it turns out that the second leg of my flight was on the same plane! So a quick check with the gate agent and I just got back on. Sure, I didn't get actually home 'till closer to 4am... but I didn't have to sleep in O'Hare airport!

I'm not sure how I feel about having jet lag despite staying in the same time zone, but there's no time to recuperate: I need to prep a job talk for next week, and there's still thesis to finish! Wish me luck!
terriko: (Default)
2011-03-16 02:03 am

What I did this weekend, redux

Worth a thousand words, right?

terriko: (Default)
2011-03-09 03:11 pm
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Angry Birds for PAX East

Just had to share now that i have a few photos:

More photos in my angry birds gallery. But that's not all the birds -- My friend M's made a bunch of bigger ones, and J's sewn up some pigs too!

The fun part, however, will be playing with these at PAX. We're hoping to toss a few into crowds and play line games with them. Should be fun!
terriko: (Default)
2010-09-08 03:02 pm
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Home again, home again, jiggety jig

We met one of the women who works at the hotel in the elevator, and she said that they loved having PAX there because even though it was a huge crowd of people, everyone always seemed so happy.

So I've spent the weekend around happy people, playing games and seeing demos and getting free stuff (including oh so many free t-shirts. Kudos to Sega for tossing women's shirts into the crowd! I'm so excited about mine.) It's weird how normally after a conference, I feel kinda exhausted and don't want to be around people, whereas coming back from PAX I feel relaxed and eager to try out a few more games.

This weekend, my personal group raised $80 for Child's Play with our cookies, and we handed off a box of them to someone more eager too, so she probably raised even more (I'm guessing she was the one who raised $4000 -- since she was over 2k when we met up with her!). The whole group raised $7900 + a bucked o' change. I got to hear about the work that happened behind the Humble Indie Bundle (including some insinuation that another bundle could be in the works!), saw some hilarious out-takes from Telltale, watched an excellent concert from Paul and Storm and Jonathan Coulton (And I'm sure MC Frontalot was awesome, but from where we were we couldn't make out his lyrics, and the performance lost something when you had to use a cell phone to figure out what was being said! Apparently opera halls aren't designed for nerdcore, but at least he makes all his lyrics available for free!) Susan and I tried out Kinect and found it surprisingly, shockingly fun. Especially the battle/trick race game we were playing that had us holding our hands up to drive imaginary cars and tipping around to do tricks. When we got there, there was basically no line, but we gathered one with our antics!

Susan's hat and my backpack were clear hits, and less trouble to wear than full costumes, so now I want to make more hats. People were always surprised to hear we'd made them ourselves including the patterns -- and some were disappointed because that meant they couldn't just buy one themselves!

Anyhow, it was a very fun weekend, and I'm coming back feeling less stressed and ready to conquer this term.
terriko: (Default)
2010-07-08 04:47 pm

HotSec & LinuxCon or How I wound up speaking in 2 cities in 3 days (totally different topics too!)

My paper was accepted to HotSec! This is the web visual security policy research I've been working on for a while in various forms, but this is my first proper paper on the subject (although some of the related issues were touched upon in my W2SP paper). Getting in to HotSec is rather a big deal, as it's among the top publishing venues available to me. I was one of 11 papers chosen (out of 57). Go me! So I'll be heading down to DC on August 10th to present it. If you're curious, we should have the final camera-ready copy done in a few days.

My HotSec acceptance causes a bit of a logistical problem, though, since I've also been accepted to speak at LinuxCon on August 12th. It's a bit of a long story as to how I ended up applying at all, but the short and relevant part is just that I wasn't originally planning on submitting to HotSec and didn't realise I'd have such a conflict. (There's a longer story involving speaker diversity issues and good folk willing to go out of their way to work on solving them.)

Anyhow, I really *should* send my regrets to LinuxCon as, academically speaking, it makes a lot more sense for me to go to USENIX Security immediately following HotSec. Especially this year, as I'm hoping to graduate soonish (more ish than soon; don't get too excited) and should be networking as much as possible. But I chatted with my supervisor, and he agreed that it's a bit of a toss-up as to which is more valuable to me: it's nearly as likely that the person I need to meet will be at LinuxCon and that I'll wind up finding a job through open source connections. Raising my open source speaking profile may be just as useful.

What's clear is that Mailman benefits more if I go to LinuxCon, since I'm going to be talking about upcoming awesomeness in version 3.0. The other day, I had someone comment that they didn't even realise Mailman was in active development... ouch. I think getting people interested now, while we're in alpha, is probably absolutely perfect timing. Plus I'm hoping to have some nice stuff to show off from my excellent GSoC students, if they're willing to let me talk about what they've been doing with the archives, and maybe some of the other projects as well.

If you're interested in coming out to LinuxCon, they helpfully gave me a 20% discount code to share. Drop me a note and I'll pass it along (they asked we not just post the code publicly, but I can pop it in a private post later). If you can offer me a job then I'll be able to tell my supervisor I made the right choice. Heh. No, seriously, it's just nice to see people.

Anyhow, I'll make my final decision when I see if the travel arrangements are ridiculous, but it *should* be relatively easy to go from DC to Boston after HotSec, so let's hope this all works out!
terriko: (Default)
2010-06-09 02:29 pm
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Jet lag and GSoC

Getting over jet lag might be a bit easier if it weren't for the fact that my GSoC team meeting was at midnight my time. Such is the peril of having students and mentors scattered across the globe!

Still very excited about everything, but also very sleepy. ;)
terriko: (Default)
2010-06-01 01:08 am
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For the Bay Area folk who I haven't yet seen

A few of us are hopefully getting together for dinner on Wednesday in Mountain View. If you want to get the invite and and up-to-date info, let me know your email address!
terriko: (Default)
2010-06-01 12:30 am
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Crazy California

Here's a very scattered account of my trip thus far, told in the photos that I finally took off my camera yesterday:

The first week was in this lovely hotel/resort with a view. There's a lot of cool papers I should probably write about, like the awesome-if-terrifying car-hacking stuff. (You know what would be handy? If anyone who broke into your car could reprogram it so hitting the brake pedal caused the windshield wipers to go on. And no brakes. And then the code could reboot the computer and leave no trace? Yup, they can do it. I'm now suspicious of any important person who dies in a fluke car accident.)

John and I went to this awesome diner that I spotted on our drive from the airport. It was tasty tasty (I love brunch, especially when it comes with a pile of fruit) and there was a model train running through the place over our booth and the kitchen. And old radios, and other trains, and... totally awesome.

Bridge from Foster City

Then came maker faire and a week of hanging out and seeing friends here, but I haven't processed those pictures yet, so let's skip ahead to the day where I got to see my friend Valerie in Gypsy! I'd been hearing her talk about auditions, rehearsals, and wishing I could go... but it wasn't till I actually sat down after the conference that I realised I *could* go see her. The show was great, and she was excellent as the snooty receptionist who is one of the few folk to stand up to Mama Rose in the whole piece.

After the show, we went wandering because the weekly photo assignment this week was to go somewhere you'd never been and take a picture. So the bridge in the photo above is from our first wandering.

Although I'd been in to Japantown in San Jose a few times for sushi, I'd never walked around the corner from my boyfriend's favourite sushi joint... until yesterday. We walked by just at the beginning of the golden hour, and it was perfect.

I'm irked that I'd never visited before. The area's quite interesting. I found a monument on one corner that read simply "Feb 19, 1942" and looked around at the plaques nearby trying to puzzle it out. I figured it had something to do with the war, but it wasn't a familiar date to me, so Google had to provide the answer: February 19, 1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066, commencing the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans. A fascinating (if disturbing) piece of history to me, as half of my family underwent much the same in Canada.

I've insisted we go back for sushi and wandering at lunchtime this week, so there may be more pictures and exploring before I head home.

terriko: (Default)
2010-05-21 06:45 pm
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Feeling at home, on the other side of the continent.

After a surprising amount of work, [personal profile] warthog9 got the stereo set up, so lounging on the couch listening to CBC radio 2 and eating leftover thai food while annotating my slides from w2sp.

It's the details that count, and John's stereo-wrangling is making me incredibly happy.

Feels a lot like home.
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-28 02:17 am
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We arrived safely in Tuscon. The checked luggage? Not so much.

I headed off to the airport bright and early in the rain this morning... and when I was halfway there on the bus I realised that I had forgotten the VGA dongle I would need to hook my laptop up to the projector to present on Wednesday. There was definite panic. Thankfully, my absolutely wonderful friend Ken was able to find it and deliver it to the airport at 8am, in time for me to get on my flight with my fellow CU-WISE women.

The flights were pleasantly uneventful... not that I'd know since I slept through most of the first two, waking up somewhere over the rockies in time to be reminded how beautiful the world is.

CU-WISE in a shuttle bus at LAX

The excitement came when we went to get our luggage, and a nice United employee called us over, "Are you the women going to Grace Hopper? Your luggage isn't here." I'm so glad I didn't check anything -- the rest of the gang is still waiting for luggage. Apparently it didn't make it through the second round with the xray machines in time, so got left in LAX. It was supposed to arrive at the hotel hours ago, but now they're saying "maybe by 2am." I really hope it arrives before tomorrow so everyone else has clean clothes too!

Once the paperwork for delayed luggage was finished, we found a shuttle and headed to the hotel. We had a lovely ride in from the airport, greatly amusing the driver and other passenger on the shuttle with us with our unabashed enthusiasm for cacti and, well, everything. It's HOT but beautiful here. We're a bit jetlagged and overhwhelmed with stuff we forgot to look up beforehand, but the staff at the Doubletree has been super helpful, providing us with toiletries (to make up for delayed luggage), advice, even screwdrivers which were needed to fix a misbehaving laptop. And our suite and the surrounding area is certainly beautiful.

Hopefully by tomorrow, we'll have our plans a little more straight, but we are indeed here, safe and sound, and looking forwards to volunteering and sightseeing in the morning!
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-08 02:20 pm
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Home again, home again, jiggety jig (some PAX roundup)

I'm back from PAX. I'm taking today off for recovery and important errands like groceries so that I can eat for the week. Since finishing my library books is part of my travel recovery plan, I figured blogging could be part of it too.

As expected, the conference was good fun. My team of 4 raised over $300 for child's play, which makes me think that maybe I should consider doing a cookie fundraiser at the university or something. I doubt I'd raise as much since students are poor, but it might still be worthwhile to turn $20 worth of cookies into a larger donation for sick kids.

Anyhow speculation aside, it looks like the Cookie Brigade as a whole managed around $5000, so go us!

Cosplaying went incredibly well. It was a first time for both me and Susan, and we had a great experience. Somewhat surprisingly, it seemed that the majority of people figured out the Bubble Bobble costumes (which got a lot of attention. Yes, that's us on Kotaku. They also mentioned us for mad props on the first cosplay roundup post. Awesome!) and the people who counted got the Guybrush/Elaine ones (yes, that link is to Telltale Games' twitpic -- how cool is that?)

Here's a couple of pictures I had John take of us:

Bubble Bobble (in front of some glass baubles):
Bubble Bobble

And here's one of us with the voice actor for Guybrush, Dominic Amato (who is a totally awesome guy, and he even had lunch with us later that day!):
Elaine, Guybrush, and Guybrush

Looking forwards to telling my billion little stories of other awesomeness later, but that's all you get for now!
terriko: (Default)
2009-08-11 01:11 pm
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On why I'm going to PAX... and why I don't go anywhere else

My sister and I are currently working on our costumes for PAX 2009. I'm really looking forwards to going again this year because I had so much fun last year.

But PAX is the first fan event I've ever attended where I can say I unilaterally had fun. It's the first event where I've immediately said, "hey, I should bring my sister!" It's the first fan event where I've felt comfortable enough to dress up. I'll dress up in places where I feel safe (the university, the NAC) but I've never felt safe enough to do it at a con.

I don't even attend cons anymore. I used to go out to local events, and frankly, I was stared at, hassled, and generally made to feel uncomfortable. (Don't get me started on creepy otaku, the reason I don't use my middle name in public any more.) I think I even snuck out of one or two events, trying to keep someone from seeing me leave so they wouldn't follow me home. Think that's just me? Read the geekfeminism post on worst con experiences or take a look through other people's bad con experiences and you'll realise I've gotten off light. The local 501st joke about how many times someone grabs their butts when they're out doing their thing... they think it's funny, but most of them are wearing body armour, so it's hard to be really offended. Small wonder I wasn't jumping at the opportunity to put on a metal bikini and join them.

And let's just say that stories like "EA puts sexual bounty on the heads of its own booth babes" haven't inspired confidence that things are changing.

But I was trying to be positive here. So let's talk about PAX.

PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo. Now, I admit I'm not a huge fan of Penny Arcade, but some friends convinced me to go (with the aid of a time-travelling robot, but that's a longer story). So I did.

You most definitely don't have to be a Penny Arcade fan to enjoy PAX. It's a huge gaming convention -- tabletop rpgs, computer games, board games, card games, video games, rock paper scissors in the hallway... if you like playing games at all, you'd find something to enjoy here.

But that's not what surprised me. What surprised me is that PAX feels like a huge community of people who you'd actually like to have as friends. There were people about exchanging cookies for donations to child's play. People brought their families. You could turn to any stranger next to you in line and say, "Hey, want to play a game?" and you'd quickly find something to try out, and possibly a new friend. People didn't get that cranky in lines, because they found ways to have fun. There were so many women about that I never felt out of place. On the second day, I even dressed up in a low-cut tank top and skirt I usually wear for dancing, just to see what happened, and nothing did. I felt as safe and comfy as if I were hanging out with my local friends, even though I was on a show floor with thousands of other people. If someone had told me this before I went, I would have said they were crazy, that they just weren't noticing the bad stuff, but the fact is, I wasn't noticing it either. And I'm pretty attuned after years of bad experiences.

At PAX, I didn't even have to think about being a girl. I was just a gamer, a geek. And that was more than enough.
terriko: (Default)
2009-06-02 04:34 pm
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Hi from Fredericton!

Too busy to write much about the conference and the city, so I offer up instead a tourist photo while I head out to dinner. There's a few more in the set, and more to be processed, and more to be taken!

Fredericton Lighthouse
terriko: (Default)
2009-05-31 09:48 pm
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TubaFest 2009

When I was looking for things to do in Fredericton, their tourist website helpfully suggested TubaFest. Turned out that after two days of workshops and masterclasses, TubaFest had a concert the day I arrived in Fredericton. That was too unusual to pass up, so I scurried back to the university after I'd grabbed dinner downtown yesterday. And it was totally worth it. I think the neatest part for me was hearing them do a movement from one of the Holst military band suites which I know and love... with nothing but tubas and euphoniums. A whole stage full of them!

Here's a photo from one of the smaller ensembles, showing some of the different shapes of tubas:

TubaFest 2009

Definitely a surprisingly little treat to start off my trip!