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04/29/2012 / thriftomancer

Penguicon 2012

This weekend I spent my entire Saturday running wildly around Penguicon having so much fun it was stupid. For those who’ve not heard of it, Penguicon is an open source/tech/maker culture/geek/sci-fi convention in southeast Michigan. I can safely say it’s my favorite indoor con, tied with Maker Faire which is my favorite outdoor con.

If you’re wondering exactly what sort of programming is offered at an open source/tech/maker culture/geek/sci-fi con, this is what I attended:

10:00 am – Metals, Minerals, and stories: A talk about metallurgy by professor and metallurgical engineer, Professor Ron. He talked about the properties and processing of metal and told entertaining stories about his encounters with severely manhandled school bus brakes, untempered torsion bar chaos, and other instances of metallurgic mayhem.

11:00 am – Open source martial arts: A call to all martial artists at the con to come, share a little of your know-how in your particular style(s), and learn some new moves. I brought my cane in case anyone was interested in singlestick and learned the basics (very simple footwork and parry/attacks) of traditional German long sword.

12:00pm – I went to check out the dealer’s room and found a treasure trove of geekery and gizmos. Walked about, chatted with the dealers about their wares and dice and geekdom and dice and the con and more dice. Can you guess what I was interested in obtaining?

My haul:

Spoils of con - The whole dice haul

I love buying dice at shows since you usually get a hell of a deal. For example, those three light blue d20s in the upper right are Chessex borealises, usually about $1.20 or more each. I got them for 25 cents each as a show special. Conclusion: Cons are awesome.

While I got plenty of the more common uncommon dice, I tried to focus on getting as many of the types ones as I could find. Luckily for me, there were a lot of barrel dice like this d12 floating about.

Spoils of con - Barrel d12

I got a whole set of indigo crystal dice. (After talking with him for a while about dice and why I love/collect them, the guy selling these dubbed me a ‘dice aficionado’ so I guess it’s an official title now.)

Spoils of con - Crystal dice

And this massive d30 that I adore and regret that I won’t have much call to use it.

Spoils of con - Massive d30

1:00pm – Open Soda demonstration: Open Soda is a project where individual folks take flavorings, colorings, and water; mix it, and carbonate it to produce their own custom pop. They had a set-up off the consuite and were making butterbeer flavor. It was good. Cream soda flavor when I was hoping for a more butterscotch taste, but quite good.

Open Soda demo

2:00pm – Paint and take: An entire conference table of folks painting miniatures and talking about sci-fi, different tabletop RPGs, and other fun stuff. It was a thing of beauty.

I painted this guy. My skeleton warrior, Reginald Clawhand!

Reginald Clawhand!

I was hoping I might find a figurine that could represent my Pathfinder character, but there weren’t any blink dogs or generally canine figures available. Alas, Raider Barkspawn, you’ll have to keep being represented in combat by a wolf token.

3:00pm – 3D printing workshop: A talk about 3D printing, how the printers work, and the MakerBot Cupcake CNC printer. We tried printing up a cookie cutter of M.C. Escher’s tessellating birds and fish, but the shape was too bizarre for the poor machine.

The talk was in the maker space, so while we were there my friends and I soldered together some LED circuit boards for our con badges.

LED circuit badge

4:00pm – Afternoon tea: An introductory talk about tea for newbies followed by a tasting. It was too crowded for my tastes, so I left the consuite and ended up running from the Creeper.

The Creeper

5:00pm – Walkabout and a second run at the dealer’s room that got me this ring.

Spoils of con - Ouroboros ring

6:00pm – More walkabout. Visited the computer lab/lounge where I found a working Sega Genesis and Dreamcast with a full compliment of games for each. Spent an hour playing Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It’s been a long time, but it seems I can still handle Venom and Lord Doom as well as I ever did. Muscle memory, terribly useful.

7:00pm – DIY Crafter’s Secret Source Meeting: A roundtable discussion to share info about excellent, hidden, and otherwise unknown craft shops and other sources of supplies that we love. I ended up with 2 whole pages of names, locations, and websites to check out.

8:00pm – Geek Prom: Exactly what it sounds like. Food, (bad) music, (poor) dancing. Prom. I didn’t actually plan on going, but my bud convinced me to crash it with him. Our other friends had decided to go, so we just found and hung out with them for a bit. Though it was a formal event and we were dressed scruffily, it didn’t feel like crashing so much as showing up.

9:00pm – Wandered down to the gaming room and saw the Tron Guy, Jay Maynard, walk by before being absorbed into a demo of Attack Vector, a tabletop space combat game by Ad Astra Games that ran in compliance with proper Newtonian physics. To play you have to calculate angles, bearings, thrust necessary to move, and such with real math and it’s still fun. I have no idea what manner of sorcery it is, but the fact that when you successfully kill a target your prize is chocolate may have something to do with it.

Oh! And I barely escaped a Dalek.

Run away!

I’m already looking forward to Penguicon 2013.

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