Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Friends, Good Talks

J and I have a few different groups of friends. Some are our gaming friends, others are our writing group friends. We both have our separate work friends and then there are friends and family in other places of the country who we keep in touch with through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Long distance communication is usually done through a quick blog comment or status update. When we get together with local friends, we spend our time gaming or watching movies. It's not that our time together isn't good, but I tend to forget how therapeutic talking can be. 

This past week involved alot of talking. At the beginning of the week, I received messages from both my sister and one of my BILs that went beyond the quick comment through social networking. It was good to hear from them and even though I'm usually a communication deadbeat, I tried to reply in kind. 

On Wednesday, we gathered with our regular Hot Pot friends at PG's house where instead of retiring to TV or Rock Band after dinner, we sat around and visited. It was generally talk and alot of goofiness, but it was therapeutic and releasing. Friday was much the same. I went to dinner with some co-workers, then J and I went to the home of some of our other gaming friends. While we did end the night watching a movie, we spent the first couple hours chatting. 

There's alot to be said for just talking with people. It doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes you just don't have anything to talk about, or one or more of the group feels more introverted (and yeah, I'm generally one of the introverts). The week ended with a message from my aunt-in-law. I think everyone was in the communicating mood. 

In other news, I'm having some car issues that have me a little worried but we're dealing with them. I think I have a coolant leak, so we're monitoring it closely and keeping water on hand for the radiator. This is an issue I'll have to make sure is fixed before winter, but I'm holding hope that it won't be horrible. I'm almost done with the second season of "Nip/Tuck." Though our plan was to watch "Angel,"  I decided I need a break. I'm completely sucked into "Nip/Tuck" right now. It's so strange and graphic, and totally addicting. 

Hope everyone has a great week! 


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Thoughts on the Full Series

Considering Buffy is several years old, there will be spoilers in this post, so if for some reason you've been procrastinating but still don't want to do know the details of the series, you might want to skip this one.

After a failed attempt a couple years ago, J and I finally made it through all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Overall, I thought it was a pretty entertaining show. Season 4 was amazing and probably my favorite. Some of the other seasons weren't as good, but there were some great episodes, including the musical episode and the one titled "Hush" which was creepy and well done. Two episodes I found particularly well done, even if they did make me cry, were the two that centered around Joyce Summers' death. I remember watching it and thinking that Joss Whedon, the creator, was spot on with the reaction that sudden death brings to loved ones.

Having said that, the series was a supernatural soap opera. Sure, there's slaying, but there's also interspecies love affairs (vamps and humans, demons and humans), issues between friends, family drama, and teenage angst. Even after the gang moves out of high school, they're still filled with early twentysomething angst.

I enjoyed most of the plots, but some of the characters were annoying. Okay, MOST of the characters were annoying, especially the main ones. Buffy is a pain. She has a few good moments, but her superior martyr complex gets old and she tends to be self centered. Her friends are about the same. Willow overplayed the nerd angle until she went psycho. I did enjoy Evil Willow though, especially because she pointed out all the things wrong with the other characters. Xander was the comic relief, and even he got whiny.

The characters I loved: Rupert Giles is amazing. I love Anthony Stewart Head anyway and the character of Giles just totally tweaks a good way of course. Spike was the coolest vampire in the whole show and I was definitely Team Spike the whole time. Sure, he was pretty nasty in the first few seasons and then kind of got fluffy later, but he was always the epitome of cool in my opinion. Anya, the vengeance demon turned human turned demon turned human again, was also a great addition to the cast.

The characters I hated: Freakin' Dawn. While I may have disliked many of the other characters, I think the show took it's shark jump turn when Buffy's random little sister was introduced. Of course, she wasn't actually human, just a key that had been made human and woven into the fabric of everyone lives so Buffy would protect her, but I spent most of the time wishing Buffy would just hand her over and be done with it. Dawn's character was horrible...whiny, selfish, painfully awkward in some parts, and just annoying. I told J that the show would have been better if in every episode someone just whomped her on the head and reminded her that she wasn't actually human. This would have effectively sent her off crying and I wouldn't have had to watch her. The only other character I actually hated was Warren, another reason why Evil Willow was pretty cool since she effectively took care of him.

I'm glad I watched the show though. I now feel like a (delayed) part of pop culture and now move on to watching "Angel" (not my fave character in Buffy but J says the series is good and I miss Cordelia).


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sock Love

As promised, I finally got around to taking some pics of the socks I've been knitting. The first are the Angler's Loop Socks I knitted for J. He likes wearing them and seems to enjoy modeling them even more. I didn't get all the shots on here, but he was a regular foot model for about five minutes today.

My cables are really messy and I think that's because I accidentally twisted most of them. I'm still new to cable knitting...cut me some slack.

The second pair isn't actually a pair yet, but I'm so close to finishing the second one that I figured I'd save an upload and just post about them now. These are the Jaywalkers that I'm knitting for my youngest BIL. J modeled the one I had finished, which just leaves me hoping that the second one fits as well (let's keep our fingers crossed since I had to frog the first one of these I knit because the pattern made it way to small to fit on anyone's foot).

Socks have become one of my favorite things to knit and I think I'm getting better at them. I use the magic loop technique but someday I might get crazy and try out the dpn method. In the meantime, if anyone wants socks, let me know. I don't promise a timely delivery, but I'd love to have a reason to knit more.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Future Projects

I decided to take some Buffy watching time to organize my next few knitting projects. I anticipate that I'll be finishing the Jaywalkers tonight or tomorrow night and I wanted to have something on deck to start.

The two giant skeins of yarn are for my winter project, an afghan. They were originally designated for a double knit scarf but I'd hibernated that project for a long time and ended up frogging it as something I wasn't really into. The afghan should be a fairly mindless project which will be nice for winter TV watching. It's acrylic, but I love acrylic afghans because they soften up the more you use them and they wash well.

In the bag is a ball of softer acrylic for the Diagonal Lace Scarf and a skein of merino like the one you can more clearly see in this picture for the Thuja Socks I want to knit. They're for man socks, but I like the pattern so might just keep them for myself.

The small pinkish ball with the cable coming out is for the August dishcloth KAL at Rachel's Knitting Room. The KAL started, but I haven't started yet. I tend to wait until the full pattern is up and then do it all at once without looking at the pics so I'm happily surprised at the finished project.

Of course, this is just what I'm planning. Who knows what projects will automatically pop up randomly and beg to be done.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spreading the Knitting Love

I've somehow managed to snag a few new people into my happy little knitting hobby. I love spreading the knitting love, especially when I see those I've brought to the yarn side actually learn and enjoy themselves. I also love it when they show such pride in their projects, especially those first projects that they approached with nervousness and the thought that they could probably never do it.

Last night I got together with one of my recruits to help her learn some finishing touches to her first full project, a knitted baby hat. Just to put it out there, I didn't actually teach her to knit. I love recruiting, but I'm a horrible teacher, so I leave that to CV and Sophers. But I like to think that I was one of those pusher types..."Come knit with us...everyone is doing'll like feels good..."

While many new knitters like to start with scarves, HH decided to start with a baby hat. What I love about this is that the pattern itself was relatively simple and not frilly, but in the process of learning, HH made a few mistakes that she went with instead. She did admit that she frogged a few times but eventually just kept going to see what would happen.

The hat as several holes which are likely the result of random yarn overs.

Before I left, HH managed to get one ear flap on. She also got the news that the baby she'd knitted it for had arrived. How cool is that?

My little knitter is growing makes me kind of emotional...but very proud!


Friday, August 20, 2010

In This Moment

In This Moment...

I'm both relieved and concerned for friends,
I'm sad about not going to Tulsa,
I'm creeped out by people driving past cafe windows and peering in,
I'm annoyed by fast food brought into a bookstore cafe both because the smell bothers me and because I think it's poor social etiquette,
I'm overwhelmed by the pictures I still have to organize,
I'm procrastinating doing the writing I need to do,
and I'm wanting to groove to Kings of Leon but realize that doing so in public would cause people to question my sanity.


Goodreads: The Rocky Road to Romance

The Rocky Road to RomanceThe Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my favorite series is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Because I like her style of writing, I gave this one a try. The style remains the same, and there are some really funny moments and characters.

Daisy Adams has managed to fill her days completely with school, work, and volunteering. In order to make ends meet, she takes on the job as traffic reporter at the radio station where she works, even though she has no idea what to do. She becomes involved with the owner of the station, Steve Crow, in the process. When she accidentally takes down a local drug dealer, Daisy starts receiving threats.

I liked that this book was light and fluffy and didn't really take alot of brain power to get through. I'm not really in a reading place right now, but it's nice to lay down and read a few pages before bed. What I didn't like is that the plot moved too quickly and everything was packaged fairly neatly. There wasn't really any characters not to like, and while this is okay, I do like to have a protagonist every now and again.

I probably won't read this book again, but for it was a good read for a one time round of pre-sleepy time relaxation.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where is the Week Going?

I can't believe we're already getting to the end of another week, nor can I believe we're past the halfway mark of August.

Work has been kicking my tail this week, so blog posts have been few due to the fact that once I'm home I just want to veg out in front of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knit. I'm procrastinating taking pictures of the socks I finished for J and the socks I'm almost done with for the BIL, but I'll get those up soon.

As we near the end of the week, I'm trying to figure out plans for helping a sick friend, getting to Tulsa to visit other friends, and playing DnD on Saturday night and running my own game on Sunday night. I still need to write up the encounters for that one. I also need to write up an article for F1337 Command. 

The busy week is probably going to end with a busy weekend, but in just a couple weeks I'll be kicking back on a four day weekend for Labor Day. This will mean lots of knitting and probably lots of "Angel." J and I are only one season away from being done with BtVS and are planning on continuing our trek into the Buffyverse with the other side of things. I'll do a full write up on Buffy once we finish the final season.

On that note, back to the productivity grind.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gencon Day 4 & 5: The Road Home

Contrary to our original plan, we didn't hit the dealer's room on Sunday morning. Both of us were sore and tired and just decided to get on the road early. We did make a quick trip down Mass Street to try to find the yarn store but that didn't pan out either, so we just headed to Springfield.

Spending time with J's grandma proved to be nice and relaxing. She made us an awesome dinner and I was able to veg and knit some more. There was no stress to get anything done. J and I crashed pretty early in a small but super comfy bed. The next morning we met up with some of J's other relatives for breakfast at IHOP which brought a fun knitting in public opportunity and some good food.

The drive back to Manhattan was long but podcasts kept it from dragging. I finished my backlog of KnitPicks episodes and J napped or read his book. It was good to get back to our own place and sleep in our own bed.

This was a great vacation and we're already planning to go back to GenCon next year. This time we're going to try to stay closer to the convention center and hopefully drag a few newbies with us.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gencon Day 3: Killer Breakfast, DnD, and Meet-Ups

Day 3 started out pretty rough for J. I was exhausted having gotten only a few hours of sleep, but J didn't get any. The night before I'd left him to attend an NES show. We'd decided he'd just stick around the convention center and we'd meet up the next morning. We'd been told that people crashed all over the place and so to take a cat nap in a chair wasn't a big deal. In fact, we'd seen evidence of it several times during our walks around the center. Unfortunately, the rules changed somewhere along the way, and security wouldn't let J sleep anywhere. So when I met up with him around 8, he was ready to crash.

Our first even was Hickman's Killer Breakfast. Poor J didn't make it even a half hour into the show before he had to go crash somewhere. PG gave him use of her room couch for the morning where he was able to get a good nap in. This is one of the main reasons we're planning to get a room downtown next year for sure. HKB was a great show! I'm bummed J missed it, but I had a blast watching the players get onstage and sometimes just as quickly get offstage at the whim of XDM Tracy Hickman. I'm glad I watched. I don't think playing in this one would have been my thing, but Bru and Other J are in talks to participate next year.

DnD 4th edition was next. This is my fave of all the RPGs so I was ready to get in there and kick some NPC rearend.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a character made. Wizards of the Coast had several computers set up in the gaming room with their newest character builder so it didn't take me long to build one and get ready for the session.

Having played some sort of fighter all week, I decided to make a half elf sorceress named Birel. Since I was playing speed builder, I didn't take the time to really look at all the powers were available to her, so I ended up with a character who had a few really cool things and then a bunch of useless stuff. No big deal...I still managed to make several successful checks and even killed a few monsters. I ended up playing with a group of guys, none of which I knew. Bru had generic tickets and we were trying to play in a group with him, PG, and Other J, but they weren't seating generics until pre-bought ticket holders were seated. I jumped into another group, figuring they'd have better luck with just the three of them. For whatever reason, I was feeling saucy that day and ended up having a blast with the gaming group. The only thing that bummed me out was that I hadn't signed up for me DnD events. However, this is a lesson for next year and I plan on spending a good chunk of time in that room.

J woke up later and seemed to feel alot better. He and I wandered around looking at costumes and catching up. I was glad to hear that sleep dep was worth it..his concert was awesome. The costumes were so fun to look at, and we even managed to snap some pictures of the cos players.

Since we didn't make the Nascrag second round, we met up with some people from one of the sites J is active on, Mythweavers. The predetermined meeting place was The Ram, a local brewery and steakhouse that welcomes Gencon goers by changing their menu to reflect gaming specific dishes, like Fog Drake Tenderloin (which I had). I was a little apprehensive about it. First, the wait for a table is always really long at The Ram. When we got there, it was an hour and 20 minute wait, and that was on the short side for the con week. Second, several people had told us that the dishes were really expensive, and with our budget, J and I didn't think we'd be able to afford meals (we were hoping for a cheap appetizer to split somewhere in there).

Turns out, the larger your group is, the shorter your wait. By the time the whole group got there, we had seven people and the wait fell to 30 minutes. It also turned out that the prices were not that high, and were in fact comparable to what we usually spend if we go to Applebee's here in Manhattan. The dinner was delicious and the company was great. After chatting with the people that J knew, I'm tempted to start playing on that site as well.

I think everyone had a good time and I hope we get to meet up again next year.

After dinner, we picked up PG and Mr. PG and went to wait in line for the Hentai Dubbing. It started out okay, but I ended up leaving early. I was really tired and the fact that people were screaming in my ear so they could be picked to go onstage was making me crabby. I think this is one event I probably won't be doing again next year, but I'm glad I went this year as part of the experience.

J had signed up for a midnight Magic: The Gathering draft that didn't really end up being a draft. I ended up waiting for him until about 2 in the morning, and even though I was extremely tired I was able to fit in some good knitting time while I waited for him to get done.

 He finally got done and we made our way back to our hotel room alone. Other J didn't stay the last night with us, so we had the chance to just veg and rehash the week. Our plan was to get up and hit the dealer room for some good deals on the last day before heading towards home.


Saturday, August 14, 2010


"Repo! The Genetic Opera" is one of my favorite movies. It's been hailed as the "Rocky Horror of our generation" but it stands on its own content wise. Like RHPS, it's gained a cult following and shadowcasts have sprung up all over for the show. Audience participation has become the norm at these showings, and Repo has become not just a movie, but a full experience.

During Gencon, I got to see the first shadowcast show by Indy's Surgen Generals. This small group of fans put on a great show, even though they were limited in space and actors. With only a small cast, they acted out several scenes with awesome energy. Friday was my tired day at the con, but watching them totally revved me up again.

One of the more unique parts of this cast was Blind Mag, played in the Surgen Generals by 9-year-old Kitrena Stebbins. Though the youngest member of the cast, she had no trouble keeping up with the rest of them and stole the show in "Chase the Morning" and "Chromaggia."

I also got to meet Spooky Dan, who was able to come for the SGs' first appearance.

The Surgen Generals will be putting on their first full show hopefully sometime in February. If you're in the Indy area, I highly recommend attending their show. I'd be there if I lived closer. I'm hoping to see this troupe again at Gencon next year.



MHK got hit with a big storm yesterday afternoon. The power went down at work and we had to evacuate to the central hallway when rumors of tornado sirens started (I say rumors because I never actually heard them). After I left work, I realized that it wasn't just a minor scare. True, there was no tornado, or at least not one I'd heard of. However, the winds were strong and caused alot of destruction here.

All the traffic lights were off due to power outages, trees were down everywhere, and a few of the cars in the Hastings parking lot had smashed windshields from things the wind threw at them. The drive home was interesting. Luckily, we had power at our apartment, though our internet was spotty.

You wouldn't know there was a big storm by how nice it is today if it weren't for all the trees and branches on the streets and sidewalks. It definitely looks like a disaster zone, even if there wasn't a true tornado.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Gencon Day 2: A Mellow Day and The Genetic Opera

I did not get enough sleep on Thursday night, so on Friday I was really tired and sore. Not yet cranky, but definitely feeling emotional, which is just a normal side effect when I don't get enough rest. Luckily, we didn't have too much planned for the day.

I was able to do some early morning knitting before and during the seminar I'd scheduled for that morning. The topic was about taboo things in writing and while it was mildly interesting, nothing they talked about struck me as really scandalous. A few of the other attendees seemed to be trying to use the forum to air their political views, but the mods were great and managed to keep it on topic.

I used a character I'd built with PG to play a Pathfinder game, and while I met some cool people while playing, the game was only okay. The room we were in was extremely loud and there were some fairly obnoxious people in the room. I did meet another knitter though, which was cool!

We had dinner at PG's hotel room where we ordered pizza, and I helped J sort out a card game he'd bought for cheap in the Dealer's room. The day was wearing on me though and when we went back to the convention center I had to take my twenty minutes of tears. The immediate cause was that I was going to be leaving J there on this own to stay late for a concert, and for some reason this really bugged me. Not to the extent that I would make him miss it, but more because I was worried about something happening.

During my cry, we found somewhere to sit and got to see the Zombie Walk pass by us.

I finally got over my tear fest and J and I went to another forum, this one called The Panel About Nothing. It was actually pretty hilarious until some drunk guy threw up all over the place and we had to evacuate. They cleaned up the mess and sanitized in time for the showing of "Repo! The Genetic Opera." Earlier in the day, Other J and I had come close to heading back to the hotel room early so I could get some sleep, but I'm so glad we stayed to see the showing with the Indy Shadowcast, the Surgen Generals. Just to be prickly, I'm not going to talk about them in this blog. They're going to get their own post, complete with links and pictures, so stay tuned.

Finally called it a night and got some more sleep before another early morning.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gencon Day 1: The Day of the Dungeon

Just so people don't think I'm purposely off, I do tend to interchange "GenCon" and "Gencon" because I've seen it spelled both ways. Feel free to let me know what the correct spelling is, but bad habits are hard to break, so I guarantee nothing.

Thursday was an early morning because PG and I were scheduled for our first True Dungeon event just before 10. We met in a designated spot (beneath the beholder was pretty popular with everyone) and turned J and Other J loose so they could do whatever since she and I were the only ones doing this one.

After checking our bags and getting our tokens, we found our table. Unfortunately, the rest of the party had taken the PCs we'd planned for, so we had to do some quick changeups. I played the Barbarian and I think she ended up being the cleric, though I can't remember for sure. We made our way through several puzzle rooms and a couple battle rooms. Unfortunately, we failed at two puzzles but made up for it later when we solved another puzzle without taking any damage. We were unable to solve the final puzzle too, which meant we didn't get any bonus loot, but we did get XP and treasure for getting through it.

From there we met up with J and Other J again and grabbed some lunch in the food court. This taught us a lesson: don't hit the food court at noon. Then it was a quick trip to the dealer's room, the first for PG and me. the Js had been hanging there for most of the morning. The room was crazy with dealers and con-goers all over the place.

There was even an appearance by the Tardis, so of course I had to grab a shot.

The other two events of that day involved general gaming. The first, however, was cancelled, so we ended up just vegging in the empty room for a few hours. I was able to get some more knitting done while others in our group played L5R or looked over the things they'd either bought in the dealer room or scored in their swag bag. After that, we got our Nascrag team together. We decided since we were all "True Blood" fans to call ourselves Team Bill, not because we're particularly fond of Bill, but because it gave us an excuse to yell out "Sookah" when they called our team name. Round 1 was a blast. We had to stay in character and try to get through the encounter quickly. PG and I played twins with southern accents, Other J played an amazing character, and everyone else rolled with it beautifully. Even the DM said we were a blast to play with. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Round 2, most likely because it took us a long time to solve one of the puzzles. We were bummed, though later it turned out to be a good thing for J and I. I did snag a pic of all of us right after the game, including Andy, our sixth player who ended up being a fun guy and a great sport! (yes, I cropped myself out of this. It's a me thing).

Some of the group headed to the Brazilian BBQ for dinner, but at 30 bucks a plate (all you can eat, but seriously, believe it or not, I can't eat that much) it was a little pricey for J and I, so we went to Steak N Shake with Other J instead. It was definitely worth it. The food was good, and for both of us to eat a meal plus share a dessert, it was a really cheap meal.

That night was my second True Dungeon event. This one was planned so our whole group could do it together. I went Fighter for this one since I'm much better at basic combat in general than I am anything else (though I do enjoy playing a caster every now and again). We managed to get most of the puzzles, though we missed the first and last ones. I'm surprised we did as well as we did. It was close to midnight when we started and after one when we ended, so we were all a little brain fried and exhausted. We didn't beat the dragon, but we weren't alone. I think out of all the teams that went through, only two beat the dragon, so most of us goers were defeated.

This was our busiest day and we felt it. True Dungeon proved itself to be something we're definitely doing next year.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

GenCon Day 0: Tickets and Downtown Exploration

If you ever go to GenCon, be sure to use the Will Call option when buying your tickets. I don't recommend having them shipped because they're not insured. If they get lost in the mail, your out the money you spent on them. I also don't recommend waiting to register until you get to the Con, unless of course you're not sure you can make it til the last minute.

Gencon Day 0 is the day we picked up our tickets and did some exploring  before the actual con started. We started the day at the hotel's continental breakfast where we were the only two there. I took my knitting down to get a little bit done while we ate.

Parking in downtown Indy during this con is crazy. We found 3 dollar parking that was several blocks from the Convention Center. This was the start of what was going to be alot of walking over the next four days.

We were early and the will call line didn't open until noon, so we walked up to the mall to look around and find the food court. Since convention food is so expensive, we planned to utilize the fairly cheaper mall food on a regular basis. I sat down and had something to drink while J did a little more exploration. More knitting in public time, and I had a couple people stop and ask me what I was working on .

The ticket line was huge but once it got started, it moved pretty quickly. This was the first time I realized that my social anxiety fears were, for the most part, not going to be a problem. I had a conversation with an older woman who was there watching her grandkids so their parents could enjoy the gaming. In line, J and I also talked to a couple of other con-goers who gave us some tips on parking, food, and the general layout of Gencon.

After PG and Mr. PG got to town and picked up their tickets, we went with them to grab some food at the food court and then headed back to their room to build characters and play a game of hearts. Unlike our room, theirs was within walking distance. The rest of the group from MHK was going to be there in the early evening, so we headed back to convention center where I met up with two other knitters, one planned and one completely serendipitous. It was like a completely random Ravelry meet-up.

PG treated us to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. The food was amazing and even though the restaurant didn't have working air conditioning, it was still a nice, comfortable dinner. From there we headed back to the car, picked up our hotel roommate and headed back to our room. The walking had taken its toll and we were exhausted but definitely optimistic about the next day.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

GenCon Day -1: On the Road

Our plan had been to start on the road by 6 am. Since J doesn't drive, he came to bed at about 3:30, effectively waking me up. I was psyched for the trip, so we ended up on the road by 4:09 am. Yeah, it was early. J hadn't slept, so a little ways down the road he conked out. Normally I hate having to drive with nothing to do. Our iPod connector wouldn't work right, we hadn't checked out any audiobooks, and after awhile, I just get sick of the radio. However, this time was okay, especially when I realized I could one-ear my iPod directly and kick out some podcasts on the long drives. This trip meant I got several episodes of the KnitPicks podcast under my belt.

We managed to miss all major traffic jams, even driving right through St. Louis. I remember when I was young, anytime we were driving through St. Louis between Michigan and Oklahoma, my dad would point out the arch. This drive took us right under it.

I love driving in big cities. I love how the roads overlap and how the skyline looks with the big buildings.

We only made three pit stops for the bathroom and gas. The second one was at a rest area in Illinois. The most depressing thing was the lack of attendant and the sign on the TV that said due to budget cuts, there was no one available to work.

We got to the hotel around 3, which was perfect timing since that was check in time for our room. The hotel we picked was the Super 8, about 6 miles away from the convention center. You couldn't beat the price, and when we were booking, our main goal was just to have somewhere to sleep and shower. The room itself wasn't bad. The beds were comfy, and the room was clean. They didn't give us any coffee until our last night there, though. And the TV guide was from June. But that wasn't really a big issue, and we were able to take advantage of the Continental breakfast all week, which really helped with our budget.

After a short rest, we headed out to see if we could find the convention center. We found it, but got fairly lost along the way. Still, when you're not on a timetable, getting lost can be amusing in a new city. The only really irritating thing was all the road work. Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at Wal-Mart to get sandwich fixings so we wouldn't have to spend more money than needed on dinner. We'd munched on our snacks all day, so our budget didn't suffer from expensive fast food.

All the driving and the early morning had us crashing out pretty early, which was convenient considering how early we'd be getting up the rest of the week. I ended the night with some tea, knitting, and "The Dark Knight."