Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nerdcon 2015 Summary

Hello all!

For exactly a week ago I came home from this year's Nerdcon, which was held during the 14th-15th August at Midgårdsskolan in Umeå, Sweden. Nerdcon's location this year was better than their previous location in every way, as the new location was bigger, comfier, brighter, fresher and it even had an enjoyable and pretty outdoor area. I hope that Nerdcon will stay many years to come at Midgårdsskolan because I, at least, enjoyed being there a lot. Not only was the con location different from last year but our usual con company (plus Marcus) also ditched the "bus to the con" tradition for the first time, as Sacchan had finally gotten her driving license. She was willing and ready to take the challenge to drive us all to Umeå in her white Renault. During the same day as the con would start everyone in our gang agreed on waking up at 04:00 in the night and be ready to leave my hometown at 05:00, latest. Our trip to Umeå took us around 6-7 hours and it was an overall enjoyable but tiring ride for all of us, especially for Sacchan who was the only one among us with a license. She drove well and we all arrived safely at the parking area near Midgårdsskolan, from where we walked the final meters to the con.

Friday

When we got inside we noticed that we were around 10-20 minutes too early, so we had to wait. Volunteers and crew members were allowed to go inside, but not others as the con still had some issues with the ticket registration. In our group everyone, except Sacchan, had a volunteer position but I and Hasakitsuki had the morning/day shift. I was an activity controller and overall helper and Hasakitsuki was in the cleaning crew - the same one I was in last year. When my clock struck 12:00 my shift started; one of the Nerdcon arrangers guided me around the building and informed me about what I can and should do as an activity controller. But I was also told that this year they had surprisingly many volunteers, so not everyone had something to keep watch over - I was one of these, sadly. Despite not having an "actual" place to watch over, I decided to travel the building back and forth during my shift, just to check that everything is as it should be and keeping an eye on congoers who might need assistance of some kind. I also took some cleaning responsibility in my hands - I picked up trash and carried cans to their recycle stations, just to give myself more to do and feel that I'm actually doing something that is visible for the con.

So for the next 4 hours -I had my shift from 12:00 to 16:00- I patrolled around the building and made sure that everything looked alright and that all the activities were rolling as they should. Almost all activities were on the building's second floor but the cafeteria and the Ginga Nagareboshi Gin corner were on the first floor. My focus was on the indoor area as the outdoor area was silent during my shift. All volunteers (and likely crew members too) had received 4 food tickets worthy of 50 SEK each and free entrance to the event. I'm a person who feels strongly that I have to do proper work for what is given to me, especially if the giver is expecting something in return for what they gave me. In this case Nerdcon gave me food worth of 200 SEK and I was determined to do my best to make them satisfied with choosing me as a volunteer in return.

Here are some local photos from the first floor and the outdoor area.

All photos taken by Shiro Samurai.

Nerdcon's entrance. The sign above says "Umeå music school".
Information desk.
View of the cafeteria area when you pass by the main entrance.
Outdoor area.
The cafeteria had a door leading outside, that you can see in the distance.
Outdoor area.
Sumo wrestling area. This was Shiro Samurai's working place during his volunteer hours.
This year's Nerdcon con band. The color combination make me think of bubblegum for some reason.
Cafeteria, which was a part of the school, not Nerdcon. They sold Ramune soda though.
View when you are coming from the cafeteria and heading towards the information desk or going upstairs.
When mine and Hasakitsuki's shift came to an end at 16:00 it was time for Shiro Samurai and Marcus to take over. Both of them were activity controllers as well and Shiro Samurai spent pretty much his entire volunteer time at the sumo wrestling outside - and enjoyed it. Marcus on the other hand didn't really have anything specific to do during the day, just like me, so I guess he ended up just walking around and checking so that everything was like it should be. At one point our gang of 5 got hungry and sometime during Shiro Samurai's and Marcus' shift, we all went to Umeå city by car to look after that Shogun sushi bar that Shiro Samurai had mentioned during the day. He recommended it as it was both good and cheap. The Shogun sushi bar was close to the con area if you drove there by car, but we (who had either barely or never been to Umeå city before) managed to, of course, get lost in the city. In the end we found our destination; it was ridiculous how many times we got lost in Umeå city and outskirts during both days.

At Shogun I ordered a sushi meal with 9 nigiri pieces, all of them with ingredients familiar to me. This meal cost me 120 SEK and I enjoyed it, but I had a small regret seeing that Shiro Samurai had the exact same amount of food, including maki rolls, for just 75 SEK. Oh well, next time I try the same of one he ordered.

My nigiri sushi plate.
Very close to the Shogun sushi bar was a small Ica food store, so our gang went there to see if they sold energy drinks. To our surprise they carried the Esa-Petteri (aka the Euro Shopper energy drink) so 4 of us bought it. It was the cheapest one available and our group actually even preferred the Esa-Petteri over the rest of the brands there. The Euro Shopper brand was deemed the winner of an energy drink taste test done in Finland for not that long ago, were the participants had to tell which flavor was the best one - without knowing the brands they tasted.

Back at the con I kept looking for cans, despite my shift being over, just to have something to do and make up for the first hour on which I didn't really do anything. At one point I went to the Dealer's Hall to buy this one C.C. (Code Geass) thermos that I've been interested in -and looking after- ever since I saw it back at Skecon 2013. The same table who had the C.C. thermos also had a Pokémon cap with a cool Charizard embroidery on it, so I bought it too. They had also one more thing that I had an interest in, but I wasn't sure about buying it so I just kept it in mind for now. I borrowed 280 SEK from Sacchan to buy the items I wanted, as I realized that I had no paper money on me and the seller didn't take credit cards. I paid Sacchan back what I was in debt to her as soon as I was able to, after the con.

Later when Shiro Samurai and Marcus' shift had ended, I and Shiro Samurai fetched some evening snacks from the cafeteria to eat before the con would close for the day. When the con had closed its doors we said goodnight to Marcus, who slept at the con's sleeping dormitories, and the rest of us drove to Hitsu's place where we planned to stay during our time in Umeå. It was really nice to see Hitsu again; at her place we talked about random things, had some tea and soon after that I went to sleep. It wasn't even that late but we were all exhausted from the long ride to Umeå and went to bed early. I slept fairly well despite not having a blanket (Hitsu had only 3 reserves and I forgot to take one with me) but what woke me up during the night was the fan. I slept right next to it and man, my leg hairs were standing up thanks to the cold air during the night. Grrreat.

Before I move on to the Saturday part of this summary, I want to show two pictures of what I looked like during Friday. I love the combination <3



Saturday

Saturday morning came and I found out pretty fast when I woke up that Sacchan had been toasting throughout the night, while I've been freezing. Great. I got up fast as I couldn't really sleep after my alarm had rung. I ate a small breakfast and started to change into cosplay. My cosplay for the day was Casual!Jean Kirstein from Attack on Titan and I just didn't bother with the makeup at all, as our group had planned to start the journey back after the con was over. Besides, there were very few cosplayers during Friday anyway and I bet no one would really care if I looked like shit lol. I also skipped the contact lenses as they didn't feel comfortable when I tried them on - like they were even comfortable to begin with. There was a clear comfort drop in them since last time. Once everyone was ready to roll, we jumped inside the car and Sacchan drove us all to the con area. We had to be there before 10:00 as mine and Hasakitsuki's shift began then.

Once at the con I started my shift with nothing specific to do, just like on Friday. During the entire Saturday I had more focus on the cleaning tasks as Hasakitsuki was the only one in the cleaning crew and I knew there was this one anime that she wanted to watch. The anime would start at 13:00 and end at 15:00 and during the running time I would do her share of work, while she was watching the anime. This wasn't a problem for me to take care of, as I still wanted something more proper to do during my working shift. I, after all, wanted to feel worthy of the food tickets I had received and satisfied with my effort. After that Hasakitsuki disappeared into the Anime Room, I went to fetch the cleaning articles that she had left behind in the cafeteria and well, I went through and cleaned the entire building with what I had, because why the hell not? To say the least, I felt really good afterwards.

Here are some pictures of the Dealer's Hall sellers and some of the different activity rooms that could be found on the con's second floor.

The Dealer's Hall table I bought my C.C. thermos and Charizard cap from.
One seller sold wigs and, well, let's say unique earrings along with other accessories.
Another one was selling geeky t-shirts, metallic character sword replicas, pins and small stuff like that.
The Game Room had Mario Kart: Double Dash in LAN mode. It looked like lots of fun but I didn't play it.
Still inside Game Room.
T-shirts selling table in the Fantasia Room, aka some sort of fandom room.
When I was done cleaning my shift was soon over, so I went to the bench outside the Anime Room to wait for Hasakitsuki to come out. While waiting, I played some Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite on my own and just tried to get one of the few gold crown monsters that I was missing; I got a fairly huge one but not huge enough and this didn't happen once but twice, hnngh! When I was playing on my PSP, Marcus came at one point to the Anime Room corridor, as he had been assigned to look after it during his shift. I was glad that he at least got something to do. Hasakitsuki also came out of the Anime Room and later I went downstairs to watch Shiro Samurai being the sumo wrestling judge. It was fun to see him being so much into it. When I had enough of fat sumo wrestlers I went indoors to chill at the cafeteria and it didn't take long before I saw Sacchan walking by. She came to give me company - we talked about one pair cosplay that we both really wanted to do. I also told her about my design idea for my cosplay and what I had seen at the Dealer's Hall that had caught my fancy.

At one point during our conversation I asked if she was hungry and well, she was, a bit. I went to fetch her a veggie pie with one of the food tickets I had, as she should really eat something for the day and she didn't want sushi. Gotta say that it felt a bit awkward to place the order as I had no clue what Sacchan would have preferred, or what salad and dressing combinations were good and went well together. It ended up being mostly a game of "pick and guess" for me, but I was relieved to find out that Sacchan actually liked the pasta salad and curry dressings that I ended up picking for her. Hasakitsuki came to give us company at one point and, once Sacchan was done eating, I went to look after Marcus and Shiro Samurai to ask if they wanted to eat at Shogun again. The answer was a yes and off we went to Shogun - after Sacchan had finished her pie. This time at Shogun's we all ordered take-away sushi as Shiro Samurai and Marcus still had work to do. This time around I tried the "liten sushi" (lit. small sushi) option, with 9 random pieces, that Shiro Samurai had ordered on Friday. The thing with some of the sushi meals was that they were so called "kockens val" (lit. chef's choice), which meant that what you got on your plate was random - so I just hoped that I would get pieces that I could eat. You always got 6 random nigiri and 4 set maki, with the "small sushi" order.
 It didn't take long before we got our full order and so we hurried back to the con to eat what we had just ordered. I was glad that all the nigiri that I got were ones that I could eat; for some reason I wasn't that fond of the shrimp nigiri, despite liking the shrimp maki. Anyway, I really enjoyed my meal - so cheap and good! <3

I relearned how to use chopsticks, w00p! *coughshirosamuraisenseicough*
Directly after the sushi I and Shiro Samurai went to fetch snacks and travel provisions from the cafeteria before it would close, so that we didn't waste our last food tickets. After that Shiro Samurai and Marcus' working shift came to an end they went to the Game Room upstairs, to spend their last con hours there - Hasakitsuki followed them later. I and Sacchan also went upstairs, but not to the Game Room, just to the main area there; we talked about randoms. At one point I speeded my way to the same Dealer's Hall table that I had bought my Friday stuff from. Once at the table, I bought one of the face masks they had for sale that would work for the design I had in mind for mine and Sacchan's pair cosplay. I hope that I can start on this cosplay in the near future, as I've been more and more curious about it, especially the makeup part of it. After my purchase, the two of us took a quick look inside the Game Room and found the rest of our group playing a Kirby samurai-themed reaction game. We didn't stay in the Game Room for long and went downstairs and planted our butts on the bench close to the information desk, waiting for the others to get ready to leave Nerdcon for this year.

Derpy Jean feat. volunteer badge. My badge says "Funktionär" in Swedish, which means functionary.
 Oh, before I forget! During the Saturday morning and daytime -at least- I saw these two guys travelling the con's corridor and information desk area on their small wheels. It was so cute! They were remote controlled.

Darth Vader (left) and R2D2 (right) from Star Wars.
When the rest of our group was done playing they came downstairs and it was time to bid farewell to this year's Nerdcon, which was really fun. We left our volunteer badges at the information desk, jumped into Sacchan's car and drove our way to Hitsu's. But before going to Hitsu's we made a stop at a Coop very close to her apartment, from where we bought our evening snack and travel provisions, again. When Sacchan parked the car and I got out of it, heading towards Coop, it happened. The thing that would make it so that Sacchan would never look at me the same way again, ever. I suddenly -with zero practice- learned to speak and sound like Mickey Mouse. Great. Now we didn't only have a Goofy (Shiro Samurai) in our car but also a Mickey Mouse!

After fetching what we needed for the evening we headed back to Hitsu's. At her place we chilled, talked about randoms and such before heading to sleep. At one point during the evening we all agreed on staying the Saturday night at Hitsu's (this time Marcus was with us) and leave on the next day instead. Hitsu was fine with this. It was a good idea to let Sacchan rest properly before the long ride back to the north, as she was still the only driver among us. I think I went to sleep soon after 21:00.

Sunday (post-Nerdcon)

Sunday came and I took the chance to sleep some extra when I didn't need to think about getting ready for a con. It felt great. I got up around 09:00 or 10:00 in the morning and the first thing I saw, when I was drinking my yoghurt in the kitchen, was that the temperature outside was almost 30 degrees. This is Umeå, considered "northern Sweden" by some and we had flippin' 30 degrees, this just isn't happening! With the weather being as it is, I decided not to wear my non-costume outfit and roll with half-cosplay during the car trip back - and skip the wig. The last hours at Hitsu's went to watch hilarious crap on her tv and the hilarious crap was called Aku Ankan Kakka Onklema! <3

Finnish crap at its finest!
The laughters didn't stop at Kakka Onklema - we watched more of SilliS' beautiful creations and after that our group ran out of hilarious crap to watch on Hitsu big television; it was her turn to choose what to watch. When her "crap of choice" started playing on the tv, I just remembered how bad and hilarious misheard lyrics can be.

Probably the best Swedish misheard lyrics out there on Youtube. This is hilarious if you understand Swedish, that is.
After the videos and the laughters it was time to say goodbye to Hitsu and leave Umeå. But before we left Umeå, we went one last time to the city to order our final take-away sushi from Shogun for this journey. I'm gonna miss Shogun - it was so good! When we reached Skellefteå we ate our sushi meals and, despite Sacchan feeling bad at one point from all the driving, all of us managed to help her feel better later on. Eventually she recovered and made it back to the north, healthy.
We arrived safely in our hometown and Sacchan took a break at my place before driving back to her home in Finland. A few days after that we came home from Nerdcon, Shiro Samurai came to my place. While he was here and while I was busy, he snapped a photo of all the items that came with me from Nerdcon this year.

Charizard cap, C.C. thermos and face mask for my secret cosplay.
The first time I saw the C.C. thermos back in Skecon 2013, I had an interest in it, but I was fairly sceptic towards the quality as it smelled bootleg to me. But during last year's Nerdcon when I, Shiro Samurai and Hasakitsuki stayed at Hitsu's place, I noticed that she had one of these thermos bottles. I asked her about it and she told me that it's of good quality and can hold both cold and warm drinks. "The print is seemingly also solid" she told me, after the amount of times she had washed her thermos.

All in all, I really liked Nerdcon this year. The local was fresh, roomy, bright and welcoming. The outdoor area just made everything even better and it made the con more comfy and varied to move around in. Activities were varied and there seemed to be something for everyone - be it video games, anime, board games, origiami or sumo wrestling. To me it looked like the activities were carried out well and there seemed to be no big misses in information. Then again, I can't say this for sure as I only watched the cosplay panel and, at times, the sumo wrestling. But I didn't hear about anything going against the wall. Overall I just want to say that Nerdcon's change of location was to the better and I will definitely visit Nerdcon again if the circumstances go my way. Thumbs up guys, you did great!

Goodnight peeps.

Frozen Angel out.

1 comment:

  1. Nerdcon was indeed a fun experience this year! I'm glad that you decided to come with us after all!
    It's cool that you went out of your way to work extra (cleaning up the place past your working hours ended) even though technically it wasn't your responsibility area to clean to begin with.

    I'm really missing the sushi already, by the way, and I guess you're too... ;_; It's such a shame that there's no sushi place in our hometown – I think the closest ones are 100 km away. That blows.

    Oh and the 30 degrees outside was insane indeed! I mean, it was early afternoon on friggin' mid-August in the northern half of Sweden! Where is this world going?! XD Oh well, I guess we all need to be a little bit crazy every now and then... even the weather ~

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