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Greetings, everyone! I am RP, also known as @bewilderebeest on the Internet. I’m going to be blogging here from time to time about nerdy things, and I’m very excited about doing so.

I think it’s appropriate that my first post at this blog is about another first – my first convention. I’m 23 and, while I have copious amounts of nerd knowledge and traits, I have never had the experience of attending a con of any sort – that’s just not something my family or friends do. Last year I heard about a long-running local con in Austin called ArmadilloCon from following a local writer who participates in the con’s events. I had planned to go specifically because I wanted to get her to sign her book for me, and when looking at the programming online, discovered, hey, there are really neat-sounding panels that I would like to check out. Unfortunately, due to a work conflict, I wasn’t able to attend, but the idea of attending the con never really left my mind.

I’ve been going back and forth, debating whether I should go or not this year, and I decided to take the plunge after all. I’m glad I did. I was ready to chicken out at the last minute because I didn’t have anyone to go experience this with me, but in the end, I figured I might as well dive on in.

I discovered from the Facebook fan page that the con staff needed some volunteers to help with registration, so I decided to offer my services and I was asked to help out with the first day’s registration. I found the experience rather harrowing at first, but after I got used to the procedures and kinds of questions and answers I needed to give, everything went much more smoothly.

ArmadilloCon is (to me) a relatively small convention – the organizers told me they regularly have 400-500 attendees. Now, that IS a lot of people in one hotel, but given the number of programs going on in an hour, it’s enough to spread out the attendees a fair amount so that you don’t feel like you’re constantly running into others while still not leaving the rooms feeling empty. The people were very friendly, and nerdy in their own ways. This con didn’t have a lot of cosplayers – just a handful – but nerdy t-shirts abounded, particularly those with a Doctor Who theme.

The first 4.5 hours I spent at ArmadilloCon were devoted entirely to getting speakers and attendees their badges and information about the events. Everyone was very patient with us behind the desk, and the regulars and staff greeted each other enthusiastically. Finally, I made it to the dealer room to check out the artwork brought to the convention. I immediately fell in love with several pieces and I can tell you that I was able to purchase all three of them at the auction held on Saturday.

These lovely items:

Unfortunately, since I did not feel well Saturday morning, I missed several panels I very much wanted to see, but made it to the auction and a reading by Stina Leicht before heading home for the night. The panels I attended were excellent content-wise but too short in some instances. Each panel was an hour long – a good length for those with fewer panelists, but others could have done with another half hour or so. But you win some and lose some – I’m sure that made scheduling much easier on the staff and on the participants as well.

I picked up some solid writing tips and tools (my goal) and was able to talk about social networking and meet some cool people in the attendees and staff there (an excellent bonus). I’m bummed out that I didn’t feel well enough to attend all of the con, but given what I was able to see and do, if I’m available for ArmadilloCon 35, I’ll be attending again and searching for more cons in Texas during the summer. Anyone out there have con recs for people in Texas? I’d love to find more.

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