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Greetings from Shore Leave

Well, I made it.  The Greyhound ride was largely uneventful.  We were stuck in a traffic jam at first, taking over 40 minutes to cover a distance I can generally drive in maybe four minutes.  It would’ve been quicker to go by the non-freeway route.  But I had an hour layover in Columbus, so no sooner did I get in line for the new bus that they started boarding — perfect timing, no waiting.  After that, it went smoothly, except I only got an hour or so of sleep.  I closed my eyes for what seemed like a few minutes, but when I opened them, over an hour had passed.  I hoped that was a good sign that I’d get more sleep, but at Pittsburgh I changed buses again and the new one had more cramped and uncomfortable seats than either of the others.  Anyway, I spent an hour in the Pittsburgh terminal with the TV going, as a result of which I know more than I ever wanted to know about some guy named LeBron James.

I tried listening to music on my phone during the traffic jam, and it worked for a little while, but then the audio started jumping back and forth from the headphones to the speaker, so I turned it off so as not to disturb the other passengers (and because it wasn’t fun to listen to that way).

I got in about 7 AM and had an oatmeal bar and a cup of apples and cream as a makeshift breakfast.  Then, since fellow attendee and Baltimore resident Allyn Gibson (also an occasional commenter on this blog) had informed me of Light Rail construction, I took the #27 further north than I have in the past, to where the Light Rail started again at the Cultural Center.  From there it was about 40 minutes up to Hunt Valley, where it occurred to me to go to the nearby shopping mall and find someplace to get a real breakfast.  Panera offered a parfait with maple butter granola, fresh strawberries, and vanilla yogurt, which was very good.  I had it with iced tea to help compensate for my fatigue, but Panera’s iced tea is way too bitter for my tastes.  Maybe I should’ve taken Alton Brown’s advice from a recent Good Eats episode and put in some salt, which apparently blocks the perception of bitterness, as well as sugar, which merely competes with it.

So then I went to the hotel, aware that I’d neglected to ask for early check-in but hoping a room would be available nonetheless.  It wasn’t.  So I just hung around for a while.  Eventually Mike W. Barr showed up and invited me to lunch.  He drove me to a Chik-Fil-A in the general neighborhood (actually a pretty fair schlep).  I’ve never eaten at that chain before.  I tried a chicken salad sandwich and a carrot-and-raisin salad, and it turned out to be pretty good, though the sandwich could’ve used tomato.   Then it was more waiting around and wandering the convention floor.  While going up the escalator, I noticed convention guest Edward James Olmos descending the other one.  I’m not usually the type to get fannish around actor guests, and am generally too shy to speak to them at all, but having recently seen Blade Runner: The Final Cut four times (since there were three commentary tracks on the disk), I did experience a momentary temptation to call out, “It’s too bad she won’t live!  But then again, who does?”  I think I also saw Dominic Keating walk by in the hallway, but it might’ve been his Mirror Universe duplicate, since he had a goatee.

Eventually other author guests started to show up — Bob Greenberger, Michael Jan Friedman (who sounded trepidacious about being roasted tonight), and finally the bunch who usually drive in together, Keith R. A. DeCandido, David Mack, and Marco Palmieri, whom I only got to speak to briefly before my room was finally ready.

So here I am, in my room and on wi-fi.  I should really take a shower and a nap, but I guess I’ll do some of my usual websurfing first.

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