Things began to come off the rails on Thursday morning, as related here. I'd planned to be all packed on Thursday so I could leave for work and not have to come back until Monday afternoon, but since I overslept that part of the plan went splat right away. I resigned myself to leaving late for Des Moines after stopping to pack and not getting there until around midnight. I should have known better. phoenixalpha called after she got off work around 3 PM to ask if she could cadge a ride over to CompUSA, which was returning her long-lost laptop, and I agreed since she said Scott was working late. What the hell, I was going to be late anyway, right? I got dinner at Q. Cumbers out of her in return, dropped her off after that, and went back to my apartment to pack up. Realized while I was packing that I had none of the AMVs from this year's contest at AD, and so wasted about an hour downloading the two good ones that I could remember. By the time I finished this worse than useless exercise, it was about 9:30 PM, so I looked up the address for the hotel, got my butt out to the Sportage, and called the hotel so that tokenfanboy and tjstriker didn't have to stay up until 3 AM waiting for me to get in. They happened to be at the front desk when I called to tell the hotel to give them keys, so that all worked out okay. Except for the projected 5-hour drive down I-35, that is.
And it wasn't until I got down to around Albert Lea that I realized that while leaving the compression sleeves behind made some amount of sense, given how bulky the sleeves and pump were and how stuffed the Sportage was already, leaving both the moisturizer and the steroid cream behind as well was just stupid.
Anyhow, I had tanked up before leaving Minneapolis, which was a good thing since the fuel prices in Iowa (for once) were a lot higher than they were at home. While I'd been able to get a full tank of unleaded for $2.699 in Bloomington, the lowest price I could find in Des Moines was $2.759 for midgrade at a QuikTrip out by the airport. (Mid-grade is cheaper than unleaded down in Iowa because it's got 10% ethanol in it, and ethanol's a lot cheaper than gas in Iowa.) Usually my experience has been that you can find mid-grade down there for $0.10-$0.20 less than regular unleaded here in the Cities, but no such luck this time. Anyhow...I stopped briefly at the rest stop in Dows and then plugged on, taking a wrong turn onto I-35S/I-80W and getting off far to the northwest of where I should have. This meant that I spent an hour wending my way through Urbandale and northern Des Moines before I finally found the hotel around 2:30-3 AM. tokenfanboy and tjstriker were already there, along with Dan, our resident Pump it Up master. The former two, since they'd gotten there first, had claimed the king-size in the main room while I took the foldout bed (surprisingly comfortable) and Dan borrowed an air mattress from tokenfanboy and crashed on that. The room was miserably tiny, and we wondered 1) how we'd managed to piss off the hotel liaison without even knowing him/her and 2) how the hell we were going to cram any quantity of people into the place for a room party.
The latter question was answered on Friday morning, after we came back up from an excellent breakfast in the hotel coffee shop. This breakfast was a far superior experience to the overpriced and underwhelming breakfast buffet at the Sheraton Bloomington. The Hotel Fort Des Moines, whatever its other failings, has an excellent spread which includes waffles, made-to order omelets, several varieties of juice, good pastries and coffee, a large platter of fresh fruit featuring melons and grapes and strawberries and pineapple, decent scrambled eggs, a nice selection of dry cereals, potatoes, and bacon, not to mention very attentive service, Very much worth the $8.95; somehow I doubt next year's hotel will be as good in this regard but one can always hope. Anyhow, as we were hauling the Room Party Kit and the cooler up to our tiny tiny room, we ran into Ukyo and his kunoichi. Ukyo is a regular at AI, and he'd gotten to know stuckintraffik pretty well last year. I was sorry to tell him that stuckintraffik had elected to stay at home this year due to lack of leave time. Ukyo was appalled to see that we'd been assigned a veritable closet to throw our room party in, and offered us his, which was right across the hall. 425 was enormous, and we immediately accepted. This worked out great, except that tokenfanboy then had to run around adding 425 to all the room party signs that had already had room 431 written on them; at that, we still had confused people wandering up and looking into 43 on both nights. Oh, well. After we got set up, tjstriker and I headed out to refuel the Kia and pick up party supplies before I had to report for duty at the Registration desk. This we then did, tjstriker serving as the Voice of Moderation WRT supplies and helping with the several bags of cans and bottles that I'd brought down to get the deposit on. We then headed back to the hotel, offloaded the stuff, then put Lindsey, her boyfriend, and Tara to work fetching ice and otherwise getting stuff squared away in the room while I headed down to Registration.
AI Registration went very smoothly, as it usually does. This year there wasn't ever a very long line of people waiting to be dealt with, although due to a snafu at the printer's the program books didn't appear until about 4 PM. I worked the desk until 6, sustained by an apple from the Consuite and a bagel breakfast sandwich that Anna-chan was kind enough to get for me from the ground-floor stand, and was immensely pleased to see Joan Vinge. I managed to miss revolutionaryjo's Mikage Seminar, dammit! Still, I made it up to 425 (ISTR taking the stairs from the mezzanine to the 4th floor, and it didn't seem as horrible as climbing the stairs usually is) and proceeded to do the VJ thing until 1 AM when I let tjstriker take over. I meant to go directly to bed, but like an idiot went to the Friday night edition of Gojira Party, where Charles and I discussed politics, which is pretty much the last thing I would have expected us to be discussing at AI, but it was very illuminating and educational for me. Unfortunately education will only get you so far when you're short on sleep, and so I bid the folks adieu at 2 AM and went to bed.
Once again my evil roommates let me sleep in! I woke up at 10 AM and decided to pull on clothes, eat breakfast before the coffee shop closed, and then perform the rituals of de-scunging. This I then did; unfortunately Dan, tjstriker, and tokenfanboy had already eaten. Tara and her boyfriend disappeared on the way down the stairs, so I grumpily went downstairs to eat breakfast by myself. Fortunately, I didn't have to, since Anna-chan and Rebecca were there, so I dragged a table over and we talked about SF, anime and other things over the eggs and coffee. I don't mind eating alone most of the time, but at conventions I'd really rather have meals be a social occasion, since I don't get the chance to see most of my fellow fans except at conventions, and this is, unfortunately, particularly true of Anna-chan. So it was a double bonus!
After breakfast I had time to kill before my Registration shift began at 2, so I headed up to the video rooms and caught an episode of Midori Days, which like Onegai Teacher is one of those series that sounds really pervy from the description but in practice turns out to be kind of sweet. The dub seemed very good, and I may rent the DVD to see what I missed. After that, I saw three episodes of Burst Angel. bam2 and kirikayumura have roles in this one, but sine AI was showing the dub version I didn't get a chance to hear them at work. Burst Angel reminds me a lot of Bubblegum Crisis, although the Angels here don't have hard suits, just guns and a mecha. It was interesting enough for me to want to see more...but the clock was running, and downstairs to work I went.
Registration was slower on Saturday. Most of the pre-reg members had already picked up their badges, but there were a fair number of people coming in to sign up at the door. Being out there in the mezzanine, we also wound up answering a lot of questions about where things were, what time it was (usually answered by pointing to the clock on the north wall and saying, "It's [hour:minute] o'clock.") For some reason, it hadn't occurred to me to invite Joan Vinge to AD next year, even though she rather obviously likes anime and is a hella cool writer (I admit to fanboying her over The Outcasts of Heaven Belt, which you should go read now if you haven't already) but Anna-chan was passing by, stopped to chat, and mentioned that Joan was in the Dealer's Room. I asked permission from the Reg head, and since things were slow she let me go. I had to be patient while Ms. Vinge was buying stuff from some folks in Artist's Alley, but I managed to hit her up about being a guest at AD next year. She was pleased and flattered, and I promised to e-mail her...um, tonight.
Went back to the reg desk walking on air, stuck around for another hour or so until 6, then headed up for the room party. Ordered pizzas and cheese bread from Sarpino's, settled in for what I'd expected to be a short stint of VJ duty, and wound up not escaping until after we shut down the party at 3....it was too crowded most of the night for anyone else to get in, and by 2 PM I had Ukyo's hard drive hooked up to the laptop and was playing requests off his drive and mine because I was just too fried any more to pick stuff to play. After we shut down the party I wound up staying up for another hour swapping AMVs with Ukyo and finally crawled off to my foldout at 4. It's a wonder I didn't crush Lindsey or her boyfriend by falling on them; I have no idea how I managed to pick my way through the darkness in that overcrowded little room.
And that's enough about that for now...I need to go stow the RPK, get some drugs, and think about dinner. Maybe.