PAX Journals!

I thought I had planned ahead. I went and did this whole post about how to keep on the internets at PAX without paying an arm and a leg. But it did me no good. 3G was at capacity. Wireless was at capacity. If you wanted internet, you had to walk a couple blocks away to a Starbucks and hope that there weren’t a hundred other con-goers with the same idea at the same time.

Since I couldn’t tweet constantly and keep sending back pictures as I took them, I decided to keep a series of journals for all the days I was at PAX, so I could post them up when I got back. So, without any further ado:


7:37 (Chicago) – We’re in Chicago, though stuck on the plane. We’re here about half an hour early, which is sort of nice, but it means an extra 15m at least sitting on the Tarmac waiting for our gate to clear.

Just got a text message from Virgin, informing me of roaming rates in the States, which is nice. However, I immediately got one from Bell telling me that roaming data is $50/MB. I’ll have to call Virgin and confirm that. $6/MB I am willing to pay (in small amounts), but $50? That’s fucking robbery.

8:08 – Chicago! But my plane doesn’t leave until 11:20. So I have quite some time to kill.

8:23 – Christ! It took me fifteen minutes just to walk through the airport to K10, where my flight is taking off from. Also, down to 68% battery. Wonder if there’s somewhere I can plug this puppy in. But first! Food! Mmm, Cinnabon.

8:34 – Bleh. The first few bites were heavenly, but hunger will do that to you. The last few bites I just put in me so I wouldn’t be starving before takeoff. Next time I eat here, I think it’ll be at one of the many nice-looking restaurants and bars.

Signing up with Boingo Wireless for a month. $8 USD, but hopefully there will be a few in Seattle, and this will save me some money in the long run.

9:46 – Found the plug bar, literally a bunch of barstools in front of plugs with some privacy blinders. Back up to 88%, which should carry me through to the other end of the plane.

Not sure if I need to check in or anything, though. There’s these self-service check-in machines that have this intimidating warning on them about exactly when you must check in by. Asked the Twitterverse, hopefully someone there knows.

But I’ve got one stop down and I’m not dead or lost or anything. I still have every opportunity to screw it up an miss my flight due to improper procedures or being in the bathroom at the wrong moment or something.

10:03 – Ah ha ha! The toilets here have automatic seat cover replacers! So cool! …yes, I’m on the toilet right now. What of it?

11:00 – The rain is just STREAMING down here. My plane is a little late, but apparently it’s only supposed to be about a 15m delay.

Wifi on Boingo is spotty. It seems it logs you out after a period of inactivity (annoying but understandable), and things that gave me no trouble on 3G are failing all over the place over wifi (attaching a picture to a tweet, for example).

Still, it’s better than nothing.

Whoop, plane coming over now. Apparently it didn’t start and so thy replaced the battery. Bizarre.

Overheard: “I thought they ran on gasoline!”

11:19 – New departure time: 12:10. Welp.

12:20 – Found the unofficial PAX group for our flight (the gang with the dice out) and hung out with them while waiting for AA to figure out how to taxi a plane faster than a foot an hour. Good people, and a good start to PAX.

On the plane now, and row 7 is just behind first class, so yay extra legroom! It’s weird, I was thinking that first class seemed like a good idea next time, but a) the first class area on this plane was pretty shabby looking, and b) it was all elderly folk up there. No fantastic and fashionable international businesspeople, just septuagenarians in every seat. First class? Maybe not worth it.

No wireless on the plane, so I can’t tweet at folks that I’m en route, but I’ve already let anyone who’s waiting on me about my delay, so hopefully they won’t be hanging around, wondering where I am.

1:42 – In flight. The 737 can really haul. I’m not sure what plane I was on when I left Ottawa, but it was small and you didn’t feel the acceleration nearly as much.

The in-flight movie is The Ghostwriter, I think. Originally, I thought it was The Ghostrider, but I haven’t seen the first of Nicholas Cage.

Three hours of flight coming up, but I’m going to see what I can do sleeping. Just slammed a (complementary) apple juice with WAAY too much sugar in it, so hopefully when the crash comes, I’ll just zone right out.

4:06 – Mnyam, mnyam, mnyam. Well, I didn’t *sleep* sleep, but I dozed in and out of consciousness for a while. My eyes are bleary and I have a crick in my neck, so I *must* be feeling better.

HUNGRY, though. I was a little peckish when they came by with the food cart, but declined, not feeling like paying $10 for a sandwich. When we land, FOOD.

Or maybe that’ll have to wait a while though, too. I wonder if I can hook back up with the Airport PAX crew again for the light rail trip back in?

3:02 (Seattle) – Welp. I’m here. Landing was a real experience. Mountains, lakes, and so much STUFF. I mean, sometimes a building has blown me away with how much effort it took to build it, but looking out over Seattle, I mean how much effort was required to bring this town up out of the earth?

And all mostly within the last 100 or even 50 years. Amazing.

3:51 – Seattle airport is grand and wonderful. The Link Light Rail station there is gorgeous. The many neighborhoods I have passed by so far have not been. It’s been like an extended tour of the sleazier parts of Vanier.

Not that I’m trying to denigrate Seattle, but I was expecting the city to be so marvelous and intimidating. I, who thought Ottawa impressive and that Toronto loomed large.

It’s actually kind of nice. Every city has it’s imperfections. This place isn’t anything new, it’s just bigger.

Now watch me get mugged and/or lost, and then see me change my tune.


7:00 – Dear God, I think I’m still drunk.

Water helps, as does Advil, but I think standing in line is going to be quite miserable for me. I’m honestly considering just skipping the concert line in exchange for more sleep, and I’ll risk it tonight. But the Protomen.

So the Bar Crawl went well. We didn’t close down the last bar, buy I’m not too regretful. It was an okay bar, and only just. And most of the drinks had Jäger in them.

The bars:

Linda’s was a hole, and the bathrooms were SCARY, but the staff was super nice. Had a local beer and a Glenfiddich, while I could still taste it.

It was cool meeting Ravenclaw, and everyone was really nice the moment you met them. No matter how “different” people seemed, they always shared some interests and were welcoming. On our way out, I hooked up with Darrin and Mira, two awesome folks that I spent the rest of the night with.

The Elite – We met Hufflepuff here, paired off, and tried to guess what drink we were thinking of. I and mine ended up doing shots of anti-septic tasting rum.

Dunne’s – I actually didn’t drink here. The previous bar was over-filled, so they sent us down here. The line was huge by the time we got sent there, and we couldn’t get to the bar before we were hustled onwards.

The Crescent – Awesome place. The one bartender was a hipster, flipping cocktails like Tom Cruise, and the other was cute and wearing a cape. She got a right fair amount of tips for it.

Someone requested Bohemian Rhapsody on Karaoke, and ALL of House Ravenclaw stood up and belted it out. I’m sure they’ll have to replace the roofing nails.

I had enough time to pick up an Old Fashioned here before our schedule dictated we leave.

The Chapel – This place was an actual club! Loud dance music, spinny lights, bartenders that took FOREVER to serve you a drink…

Ended up buying a rum and coke for me, another for a member of House Slytherin, and a Furious Gorilla for another member of Slytherin. Which is:

– Half a shot of 151
– Half a shot of Wild Turkey, and
– Totally horrifying.

Come on, if someone is willing to drink that, how do you not buy it for them?

We met up with Myra’s friend Alex, who was also awesome, and proceeded on to the last bar, late.

Cafe Met – Most of the drinks here were made with Jäger, so I ha one of the special drinks (a Dementor, Jäger and “energy drink”), then later a rum and coke. Then Myra couldn’t drink her Jägerbomb, and I “helped” her with that.

We net up with Tiffany and Eric here, and lost Darren, then went back to the Sheraton lobby, where we argued about whether PHP does or does not suck until they kicked us out.

I had a bitch of a time with the elevator, but managed to make it into the room at 3am. A good night.

9:14 – My plan for being first in line was terribly executed. Just getting in line now. Neat swag bag, and all kinds of cool people here.

There’s a Delorean time machine here to advertise a new Back To The Future game, and I have pics.

The Get In Line Games thing is neat. There’s a giant screen and you can text in answers to influence the games. Also? We got Rickrolled, which is still a special treat.

I put all the badges I collected last night on my backpack. I’m wearing one of my own on my shirt, as well as my Ravenclaw badge. House pride, yo.

The fastest wireless in the convention center (and the only one that wants to actually provide Internet) is $99/day. It’s for exhibitors, obviously. Precious few fans would pay that, I’m sure. Especially not this one.

2:39 – Met up with Tiffany and her friend The Jill, and then we found Alex and Myra, so we wandered PAX together for a bit. The exhibition hall is HUGE; we didn’t stand a chance of going through all of it.

We checked out a game called “We didn’t playtest this at all” from the tabletop library, and played a couple rounds. It was neat, but not neat enough to warrant a purchase.

Then we played Ascension, a deck-building game that was actually really fun. Might be worth a purchase.

We split up after that, Tiffany being tired, and The Jill needing to go visit her hotel room. Alex and Myra took off to go stand in lines.

Since then, I’ve been wandering the Expo hall, picking up free T-shirts and being amazed at just how much stuff is on display.

Right now I’m at the Eve booth where they’re about to start a raffle for iPods, headsets, and… tickets to an exclusive nightclub?

Only 14% battery left. I’d switch into airplane mode to conserve battery, except I’m expecting a call from Tiffany when she wakes up.

3:40 – Hung around the Eve booth for their raffles, and scooped a mouse pad for my troubles. Sadly, not a mouse pad with a prize letter on it, but hey, swag.

They also handed out tickets for The Succubus Club, a very chic party that I was sort of reaaaally hoping to win. As with every lottery, though, there’s more losers than winners, and I was the former.

Was feeling a little lonely, wandering by myself and not really knowing anyone (and missing out on what is likely going to be an EPIC party), but got a text from Tiffany to go join them for more games, which I am of course down for.

Back up to only 20%, which sucks pretty heavily. Next time I do this, I bring one of those spare battery dealies. Hope there’s an outlet in the room.

Wrap up – We played some games, (Ascension is pretty cool, but I think I’ll take a chance on Puzzle Strike, since the modified mechanics appeal to me more. Ascension has VERY little player interaction), then decided NOT to go to the concerts, since nobody wanted to wait in line for 3.5h.

Instead, we went to this play called Of Dice and Men, a world premiere of a play about D&D. FUCK but I want to play me some D&D. The fact that my nearest and dearest have all been totally “meh” about D&D is yet another sign, I think, that I have been wiling to settle for what is Good in my life and not really strive for what is Great.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, and I would die for them (unless, like, it was under a slowly moving sawblade aimed at my junk or something), but I share so few things in common with all of them, it’s like I settled for the first people to come my way that didn’t make fun of me and call me a nerd.

I grew up hard, like most nerds do. I spent hours at lunchtime recess, walking the schoolyards by myself. Meeting new people is hard, and a skill only won by constantly exposing yourself to rejection after rejection. Even as an adult, it takes a bit of willpower to get over being rejected by a stranger, but as a kid, it was like being stabbed with daggers in your self-respect.

As a result, I didn’t make many friends until the later grades in school. I didn’t have a girlfriend until grade 8, and that wasn’t even “official”. We two were so afraid of being teased about it (Queen and King nerd DATING? Scandalous!) that we kept denying it and denying it, and nothing ever happened because of that.

High school saw me leave a good portion of my friends behind, but the core set remained, and I didn’t expand out too far beyond them. I moved in with the girl who was not my girlfriend (but just as a friend – it was her Mom I paid rent to), and spent a few years drifting, making precious little in the way of new friends.

Shit, even in college, most of my core friends were OLD friends, or their friends, who I inherited. I never sought out people who shared my specific interests. Whatever was easiest, whatever had the least social risk. I took the road MORE traveled by.

And you know what? It was fucking STUPID. I love my friends, but when I ask them to join in on videogames or tabletop, a lukewarm response and them tolerating that shit for my sake is the BEST I can hope for. (And the reverse is true for their interests, as well – I’m no angel in this regard.)

Being here at PAX though, and my first night at the OGSC were eye-openers. It’s still hard making friends, I don’t actually have 30 years of practice at it. But I’m clearly not incompetent at it. The crew I’m rolling with out here seems to genuinely like me. The larger group we were during the pub crawl has gradually shed members deemed too creepy or needy or whatever, and last night I got told I was the most normal guy of the group. Among my people, I’m normal. Accepted. People who like what I like, like ME.

So when I get back to Ottawa, I’m going to start spending some time with the OGSC, and the board game club. I’m going to start hanging out with people who share my interests. And may it kill me in the process, I’m going to make some friends who look FORWARD to a session of D&D like it’s the high fucking point of the week.


11:23 – Hooked up with Myra, and ran into Tiffany and The Hair (Eric).

I am now soaking in dice. Zombie Dice, Dragon Dice, and a full set of D&D dice, which is handy, since we’re scheduled to go play a Delve at 6:00.

11:29 – I just met Scott and Kris! They signed a shirt I bought! It was awesome!

12:59 – I am sort of regretting my purchase of Dragon Dice. The instruction book makes the Player’s Guide look brief.

We came upstairs to line up for Acquisitions Incorporated, but apparently got in the wrong line. Turns out the panel we were sitting down in was the Pitch Your Own Game Idea, which, while cool, was not the point.

We came out and the line for the AI panel was huge. Considering we’d already been there for about 30 minutes, it’s a little upsetting. Still, we’re in line and we’ll be able to see it, just not with awesome seats, is all.

2:12 – My purchase of Zombie Dice is justified. Game is so much fun. Myra got 10 brains in one round, and The Hair flipped out and ran 11 the next round. INTENSE.

5:15 – The Acquisitions Incorporated panel was so goddamned good. Why am I not playing D&D RIGHT NOW? Oh, that’s right, because I’m signed up to play at 6:00. I now HAVE to start a campaign when I get home.

7:29 – D&D was a little disappointing, but I mean who really expects role-play with one hour and premade characters? The frustrating part was really that I haven’t played in years, an everyone else has, so I didn’t have a clue what to do, and The Hair was fully comfortable with the rules and kicking ass.

I still want to start a goddamn group, though.

9:54 – Tired, and that’s unfortunate. I suppose the lack of sleep is catching up to me.

We played some Aye Dark Overlord, a game where you have to make up excuses about how you failed your Dark Overlord. It’s a neat idea, but the execution is not terribly good. Perhaps it’s merely the fault of the directions, as they were not too well-written, but they’re not as confusing as Dragon Dice.

There’s a demo table for Dragon Dice. I might need to go sit down at it for a bit.

We got coffee and reconvened for more games, but I am just going to watch. So tired.

On a totally different note, 85% battery, so putting the fucker into airplane mode seems to really help when signal is so shitty.

11:18 – Played Dixit, which is basically Balderdash with pretty pictures. It won some award in Germany, which is ridiculous. I’m gonna copy the rules for Monopoly, but dose my game in trippy art, then win awards across the world.

But THEN we played Ergo, an awesome card game where you build logical formulae and try and prove your existence. I massaged my brain back to life and won the HELL out of that game, both proving my existence and disproving Tiffany’s. A must-buy.

12:36 – If you are the last person in your hotel room, you are having the most fun. Tonight, and tonight only, I have failed in this task. I am FIRST. A disgrace.

Still, it’s not as if I’m TOO much to blame. My surrogate crew begged off to sleep, as they have an 8-hour drive home tomorrow, and nobody wants the driver to pass out behind the wheel.

After Ergo, Tiffany begged me into playing Dominion, a game I have heard much about. It’s very similar to Ascension, except no fighting, all buying. Plus, the center row isn’t random, you sort and stack up all the cards you’ll ever have available from the beginning. All your purchasing decisions can then go toward your long-term strategy, with the luck coming from the deck you build. But since the deck is crafted by you, your turns consistently get better (or worse) at YOUR discretion. Unlike in Ascension, where you can go buy-heavy and then have a run of monsters screwing you.

I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy it though. My Ottawa crew will likely never play it, and the Monday Tabletop crowd will probably HAVE it.

I really like hanging with these people. I feel I’ve earned their respect, and in a short time period, too. I’ll have to make an effort tomorrow to try to grab all their contact information. A great many of them play Left 4 Dead 2, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get back into that, so that helps. I think that covers Eric, James, and The Jill. I don’t remember if Tiffany plays, and I’m fairly certain Myra doesn’t. (Mental note, I have to stop calling her “Chibi”, because while it is appropriate and adorable, it is probably not appreciated. Also, I’ve begun forgetting her name when verbally referencing her, which is embarrassing.)

Before I turn in for the night and save up some rest for tomorrow: My battery is at 80% without recharging it ONCE today, proving that leaving it in airplane mode when with the gang makes a HUGE difference. I just have to remember to turn it back on again when we part.

Also, next year, I will have solved this roaming issue WELL BEFORE leaving. Not calling, texting, or being able to surf SEVERELY limits my communication options and makes it VERY difficult to hook up. On top of that, my friends and family haven’t heard from me in three days due to the whole no internet thing.

Going to condense a quick message into a text for Shannon before bed. It should only be 10:00 there.


10:01 – In line for Blammimations Live, which I figured would be full, but wonderfully isn’t. I’m skipping breakfast for it, or I’d miss it entirely, and I’m such a goddamn fan.

11:36 – Blams Live was good. They showed the last two blams made, and basically shot the shit for an hour, talking about how the Blams are made, how they came up with the Blam idea, the Blam cadence (start high, go a little higher, then keep talking while going lower an lower until you crash into the ground), and just general shit.

The crowning moment was right at the end when they did a brief 5 minute Q&A, and a fan asked for more Night Driver, and they basically did three minutes of ND live on the stage.

In line for La Creperie Voila. I’ve been meaning to hit this place up for my whole time here, I’ve just been in a hurry and just grabbed coffee and a cookie each morning. Gonna make the time today.

I’m missing the Dominion Tourney just now, but I very well may go and just watch and cheer on may friends. AFTER FOOD.

1:17 – Of course they only take cash and I have $2 left in my wallet. Went back to the same coffee joint as the last few days. Dude was there again, and he remains super-awesome. Crepes tomorrow, when half of the attendees are already gone. May be a bit easier.

On the subject of American food, portions here are INTENSE! I haven’t finished a single meal, and I keep having to get small drinks. They’re the equivalent of larges in Canada. It’s insane, and I have a hard time keeping the weight off with the food I eat already!

I stopped in in the Dominion Tournament to watch Tiffany tie for first in her first game, then I bailed to go play Little Big Planet and get the shirt. The game is okay, though I’m not overly thrilled with it (it’s a charming platformer with a neat team element). I was really just there for the shirt, which is an awesome brown tee with a zipper down the front.

I’ve been throwing around a game idea in my head since I’ve played Dominion, a way to modify the fight system for the web RPG I was thinking of. Instead of the mostly inscrutable DQIX-style fights, with formulae that involve roots of logs and shit, swap to a deck-building game with Dominion-style bonuses. When fighting, each side draws three cards. These cards can have attack, defense, or effects. Attack can be flavored (physical, magic/elemental), as can defense. Effects are things like draw another card, force opponent to discard a card at random, etc. But deckbuilding would be the whole strategy, like Estiah. Games would resolve automatically after the fight starts.

The nice part about this is that it makes asynchronous PVP possible, since nobody need actually be present for fights. Sign up for a tournament, then check in after the start time to review your matches. (Though, not ALL rounds would resolve immediately, otherwise the first many rounds would never be watched, and having to wait for subsequent rounds would build tension. I’ll have to throw it around in my head for a bit more.

4:30 – Played a quick game of Werewolf, which is like Mafia, or an IRL phalla. Not a huge fan, but whatevs.

Then we busted out Thunderstone, another deck-building game. It’s closer to Ascension than Dominion, as there is both fighting and buying, but the buying is like Dominion, where everything you can ever buy is out in stacks in front of you. The monsters you fight are set out three at once, each “deeper in the dungeon”. The further down the line you fight a monster, the more light you need, which you get from cards. So it’s an interesting balancing act between units, weapons, light, and all kinda of crazy shit. Very cool.

7:10 – And that’s it. PAX is over. At six PM, they closed everything down and herded us out the doors.

Tiffany, Myra, The Jill and I all decided to wander around the expo floor together until the shutdown. We picked up a few spare buttons, tried a couple games that had drastically reduced lines, and the girls bought some stuff from the Halfbrick studios table for $5. They REALLY didn’t want to have to ship back to Australia.

It was kinda nice, just being able to say goodbye to all the exhibits, and all the good times had on the exhibit floor. The exhibitors looked drained and harried, and the con-goers all walked a little slower and dawdled as much as they could, but everyone looked at least a little happy. It was bittersweet.

We said our goodbyes at the front of the expo hall, and my friends from San Jose and Seattle walked away, while I stayed to trade buttons with the buttoneers. I looked after them for a bit, wishing that we had had more time, but there’s no way to turn back the clock, and the real world always drags us back.

I swapped most of my buttons out, saving some for my friends back in Ottawa, but I am just SOAKING in buttons now, many cool ones.

I wandered up to my room, feeling super-depressed, but my roomies were there, and we played some zombie dice while I broke down my backpack and sorted out my swag.

It was cheering, and now it’s time to go to the post-PAX party. With any luck, it will be just as awesome as everything else so far.

9:01 – Taphouse is AWESOME! The place is HUGE, with over 160 beers on tap! Will have to remember to get some pictures of The Wall before I leave. (Edit: I never did remember.)

12:21 – Harold was tons of fun to hang out with – he reminds me of my old friend Ben. I played bass on Still Alive while the room sang along. I met some blokes from London who were in House Ravenclaw, and hooked up with ANOTHER fellow in Ravenclaw. Fun was had.

Also, I bought Arco (the organizer of the party) his first drink of the night, so I feel good about that.

Still, mood is reduced. They took the Rock Band in the main room away at 10:30, and we all crowded into the smaller room (or left). Rock Band continued to be played, but the crowd got ugly. Rather than just let people pick out their favourite songs, songs were screamed out from the crowd, often sarcastically. Mocking jokes were made about the songs, or sometimes about the players. Wheaton’s Law was being broken on all sides.

So I admit it, I bailed before closing. I gave a lame excuse and left, and I’m the first person back in the room again, and this time it’s entirely my fault.

I tried to get Myra to come down, but in the end, I’m glad she didn’t. She would have gotten there just in time for the party to turn the corner, and she’d have had to walk home.

This weekend has been a big confidence booster, but also a confidence shaker, too. I was able to make a lot of friends in awkward situations, but I still felt unbearably awkward in many another. I still don’t know what to DO in so many situations – how to act, how to react, how to break the ice, how to follow up. It is, I know, something that comes with practice, (and honestly is something I am not terrible about), but it comes hard, and when you fuck up and are rejected, it still hurts, and is difficult to recover from.

Anyhow, when I get all emo like this, there are only two solutions: Either put all dark facepaint, or go to sleep. And since I left my goth makeup in Ottawa (security gets really antsy about letting goths or suspected goths onto planes), sleep it is.


6:53 – Goddamnit. I was up several times in the night, CONVINCED I was late, only to wake up at 6:50 in the middle of an awesome dream.

7:50 – Forgot that I wanted to get up at 7:30, not 7:00, but the good news is that I’m up and showered and READY in time to visit that damnable creperie! Just gotta kill 10 minutes waiting for them to open, which is a fine trade-off. I was planning on leaving the HOTEL ROOM at 8:45, so this fits in with my plans just fine.

My voice is SO blown out just now. A weekend of yelling will do that to you, I guess, but it’s really nice to have a day now where all I really have to say is “Yes”, “No”, and “Coffee, black”.

9:00 – Moron that I am, I got off at the wrong stop. The airport’s the NEXT one, dummy. But whatever, my plane doesn’t leave for another three hours, I should have PLENTY of time to be bored at the airport.

I managed to grab a crepe, and it was wonderful. Caramel, strawberries, and whipped cream. The girl serving it up was very nice too. She said that con-goers are more fun to serve, but she’s glad the long lines and constant hustle is over with. Having worked retail, I empathize.

Listening to The Protomen on my way out of the city, and I’m still a little upset I missed that concert. Got my depress-on.

6:19 – (Chicago) Getting back to internet was good times. Caught up on email and Twitter, and was able to re-sync my Evernotes, which meant I finally had access to earlier notes I’d written on this trip that Evernote had forgotten about, since it assumes always-on internet. Good to know, then, that if I want to take notes because I can’t tweet or blog, use the iPhone Notepad app instead.

Misjudged the layover time in Chicago. Thought I had 2h to eat, relax, but due to time zones, I had only 15m to scarf something. The only “food” related stuff in my area was that Cinnabon, so I just had coffee this time.

When I get back to Ottawa, I will have had a window seat on every flight I was on, which is pretty goddamn cool. I guess it helps to travel alone. (Some planes, like the one I am about to board, have single-seat aisles on them.)

In the 3 hours I was on the plane, I got about 50 tweets. I am perhaps following too many people.

9:57 (Ottawa) – Landed! Breezed through customs (the customs officer was a “gamer nerd in disguise” and was a bit upset that she didn’t get to go to PAX), and now I’m sitting on the 97, headed home.

PAX was a LOT of fun. I saw some neat games, got some badass swag, went to some truly excellent parties, learned and discovered an appreciation for a slew of board games, and most importantly, made some incredibly fantastic friends in the process.

I know that I checked “Personal” for the reason for my trip on my customs form, but looking back, maybe “Educational” would have been more appropriate. I intend to make some changes to my life and how I live it, based on my time at PAX.

For one, I’m going to make PAX a twice-yearly thing, come hell or high water. Those were some of the best four days of my life, and I intend to repeat the experience.

For another, I’m going to see about getting involved in the OGSC, and make me some new friends who are more specifically into the things I’m into. Not REPLACE my friends, understand, but add to the pile. I’ve had roughly the same set forever, and it feels like I am stagnating.

And finally, I’m going to actually put the time in and MAKE a game, and bring it to completion. I know I’ve tried and abandoned this many time so far, but I also tried and abandoned many businesses before recently finally launching one, Bill On Site. I picked up some excellent ideas this weekend for game mechanics, and already my idea for the battle mechanics is much cleaner, smoother, and much easier to understand than what I’d had planned before.

I’m not tired at all, so perhaps I’ll go home and enter this all in as a blog entry tonight, or add my new friends to Steam and instant messengers, or perhaps just unwind and relax. But as much fun as PAX was, it always remains true: it’s good to be home again.

And that’s the end of my PAX journal entries! Some final notes:

  • Evernote on iPhone is trash for taking notes when your internet is spotty. If the note has been synced, it’s basically lost to you when offline, since Evernote assumes it will be able to pull it off the cloud when you ask for it again, so good luch editing things later.
  • Writing large amounts of text on the iPhone isn’t too painful, but being able to write the intro and the outtro to this entry on an actual keyboard is an almost heavenly joy.
  • Yeah, I didn’t put this entry up last night. I spent last night recovering, reading, and trying desperately to catch up on missed emails, RSS, and twitters. I’m declaring bankruptcy on my Hacker News feed (950 new entries!), but I’ll try to keep up on the rest of everything where I can. Then, I spent most of today trying to recover from a little something I picked up along the way. Jokingly, I am calling it ConSARS, but it is more like a stupid little cold than a murderous, deadly illness. Still, I slept most of the day away and my throat feels ripped to splinters. I know a lot of that is all the yelling I did all weekend, but I am tired and groggy and not just from a measely 3 hours of jetlag.
  • Pictures will be up in the next couple of days or so. Still trying to decompress, and PAX memories are hitting awfully hard just now.
  • To my friends from PAX who have sent me texts or what-have-you, please don’t think I’m being rude by not replying. But I think I blew about $40 on phone calls and texts already doing international roaming (if I’m LUCKY), and until I get that bill, I’m playing it super-safe. I’ll hook up with you all over Twitter, Facebook, Steam, and email over the next few days.


Is it time for PAX East yet?

Cubone, the worst Pokemon
What we can learn from Peter Molyneux
  • NormMonkey



    RE: Not knowing what to DO, how to break the ice, etc. I find myself in this situation at just about every party I’ve ever gone to with lots of people I don’t know. It starts somewhere after saying hellos, and ends somewhere after drink two or three. In retrospect this sounds like a confidence-hampered-by-inhibitions problem.

    RE: friends with not much in common: I sometimes wonder how we ever ended up being friends. Interest-wise, the things you talk most excitedly about are programming and games. I’m a casual gamer at best, and so out of programming practice that I understand less than half the things you say. I guess there must be more to friendship than common interests, but I wish I understood more about what those other things are and how to keep the tiny Venn Diagram intersection of interests from letting a good friendship stagnate.

  • NormMonkey



    UPDATE: I still don’t know what THOSE OTHER THINGS are but I strongly suspect that Building Memories by simply Getting Together and Doing Fun Things have a lot to do with it.

    When a Compatible Group of friends gets together, it doesn’t really matter what the Official Activity of the gathering is about. The Official Activity is just a vehicle for the Compatible Group to pretend to concentrate on in between Moments of Spontaneous Fun that Escalate into Good Times.

    Maybe there is an Ideal Level of Focus on the Official Activity above which the Gathering as a whole remains fun only for those who are Seriously Into the Activity and above which the rate of Spontaneous Moments falls as the Official Activity takes over. (it occurs to me that there are probably Consequences of falling below the Ideal Level, too, but as a casual game player I don’t recognize them)

  • Cameron McNary

    I’m gratified to know that “Of Dice and Men” did its job. Go find yourself a group, posthaste.

  • Tiffany



    I’m so excited you kept a running journal! I like being able to look back on the weekend’s events through your eyes. It was freaking awesome to hang out with you, and we were all being highly serious when we told you that you need to come visit. I’d even say move down here if you could.. I mean, we’re in Silicon Valley for Pete’s sake. I’m sure you’d do more then well for yourself… though, you might miss the snow ;)

    I’m looking at planning some sort of road trip that would take me out Ottowa way. I freaking loved Montreal and would love any excuse to see more of Canada. Chat me up some time on IMs (that is, unless your gf gets jealous ;) )

  • Dan Hulton

    Dan HultonDan Hulton


    I. Love. Snow. It’d be a hard thing for me to move away from snow. =/

    If you ever do plan on doing a road trip up here, let me know! I’m sure we can figure out a get-together sometime.

  • Geoff




    First-Class: You’d seriously consider paying $1000 for three to five hours of a slightly better seat on a plane? I mean, on a 8 to 12 hour transoceanic flight… maybe, but within North America?

    Were you expecting Seattle to be much bigger / more impressive than Toronto? The metro area is about 80% the GTA population… You should go to London, Paris, NY or Tokyo.

    I never got, or have forgotten, a good sense of what happened to you between 1998 and 2003.

    You and Adam had/have quite a lot of common interests, I thought?

    Thanks for lending me your 2nd Edition books. Still remember the doppleganger at the end of one of the first adventures you ran, and how it morphed into a copy of my Cleric upon seeing me. And the time you were going through the cave of goblins / kobolds (?) I was running, and you decided to break the game by mining through the wall, and got very intrigued when you broke into the next room, not realizing you could have just walked down the hall another 10 meters and gone in the door…

    Copy Monopoly? There are much better games you could rip off than that…

    Re: American food: and that’s in Seattle… Check out this series, all of which is watchable on YouTube:

    If people are so concerned about you saying the wrong thing or being awkward and reject you socially, you probably don’t want / need to spend much time with them anyway… Sounds like they’re the jerks and not worth your time, to me…

    Not many cons held in the Frontenac Mall, I imagine…

    It’s quite nice that they have the “Educational” option on customs forms… Rather hard to decide how to classify attending an academic conference as “Work” or “Personal” otherwise…

    I alwalys get OJ on ice on planes. Not much sugar gets added to it, I hope/assume, and the vitamin C helps the immune system, from what I hear…

  • Dan Hulton

    Dan HultonDan Hulton


    Hah, I always figured that the difference between Economy and Business was more like $500, round-trip. I just checked, and they seem to think that economy round-trip from Ottawa to Seattle is $275. Business is $2409. That’s INSANE. Guess it’s luggage-class for me. VIA has much more reasonable upgrades, it seems.

    I can’t say I remember any D&D 2nd ed from back then. But then again, I don’t remember breakfast from yesterday, so…

    And with regard to people taking offense at innocent shit, yeah, those people are folks I tend to stay away from anyway. But it’s not normally “What if I say something that makes them hate me?” It’s usually more along the lines of “What if I don’t say something that makes them like me?” It’s like you have one opportunity to do the right thing, but you don’t know what that right this is and OH GOD YOU’RE GOING TO BLOW IT JUST SAY SOMETHING.

    “Bananas are more curvey than most people think.”