Walking across the 1st Street Bridge (views here and here), we went inside the Seaside Convention Center and bought our convention admissions. This consisted of handing them $20 and getting two blank name badges and two door-prize tickets. You write anything you want on the badges. Lisa had prepared for this by preparing labels with her label-maker, so we went to one of the provided tables where I filled out the door-prize tickets and she labeled our badges. Mine read KEVIN KE6APJ, the latter six characters being my amateur call sign. We then put our badges in empty badge holders, which are kept on the tables. (They put out boxes at the exits on the last day asking people to recycle the holders for use next year.) Kuma Bear didn't need a badge, but Lisa had made one for him anyway.
We think at least one of the door badge checkers appreciated this.
Sea-Pac is essentially a large dealers room and two-story swap meet with a couple of programming tracks going on in the function rooms on the upper floor.
The center consists of a large ground floor with a balcony above it on two sides.
The main floor is partially booth space and partially swap-meet tables.
The swap-meet tables are crammed in way too close for my comfort, with about five feet of clearance between facing tables. This photo was from later in the afternoon when around a third of the tables had already cleared out. At 11 AM when we were looking through the area, it was crowded and I felt that I was always in someone's way.
Although it seemed to me that attendance was down this year, with far fewer people jammed into the tiny space, this was offset by an increasing number of people in power chairs, which led to lot of clogged aisles. If we had set the aisles of a genre convention dealer's room or fan table area this narrow, we would have been pilloried at the Feedback Session.
There are similar swap-meet tables along the upper balcony that are there for the whole three days of the convention, I think, while the ground-floor tables are only there on Saturday.
Every time I come here, I'm taken by the air-wall arrangement they have here that allows them to divide the balcony into as many as seven (I think) small break-out rooms. In the photo above, you can see the air-walls pushed back into their retracted position. The two air-walls here can extend to form what would be a very small room.
This shot, taken from the main floor, is of approximately the same area as in the previous photo, and shows the multiple tracks in the roof that allow for configuring the balcony rooms in different sizes. The air-walls aren't likely to be very soundproof, I think.
The Convention Center has this permanently stationed tech desk at the center rear. It does appear from the signage that the center hosts lots of different concerts. It has a permanent stage, which during Sea-Pac is where what we'd call Con-Ops/Security is located, and where they make announcements, particularly of door prizes.
I keep trying to think of what sort of SF convention I could stage here. Given the size that Westercon has become in the past, you could certainly hold a Westercon here -- but access to Seaside is terrible; PDX, the nearest major airport, is something like 90 miles from here. And no, I'm not bidding for anything; trying to figure out where to put all of the typical functions of an SF convention in the space here is an intellectual exercise.
Lisa and I made our way through the dealers and flea market tables. Lisa bought me a new belt-pouch for my mobile phone. We bought the current one from Western Case, who are here every year, but it's getting worn and I could use another one. Lisa bought electronic connectors, odd bits of electronics, and old laptop computer (original Pentium, 2 GB hard drive, Win98 OS) someone was selling for $20, and an unopened installation disk for Windows 2000, the latter being very useful on account of she has a couple of older Win2000 boxes and had no installation CD-ROM, which was worrisome if she needed to re-install the software.
Lisa says that she's not too worried about the small-capacity laptop, because she plans to run it under MS-DOS as it has a 3 1/2-inch floppy drive, and MS-DOS runs like the wind on a Pentium.
Having our hotel just over the bridge was very convenient, because we could carry our stuff back to the hotel room easily. As I mentioned in a previous message, Lisa had parked her pickup truck to show off its best assets.
Here's Lisa (and Kuma!) standing next to the Small Orange Truck, which is not the same thing as the Large Orange Van by any means. You can see the new "Texas Bug-Catcher" antenna, which she'd just mounted on the pickup before this trip to replace the old one that fell off, ironically enough, while she was driving through Texas on her way back from the Columbus SMOFCon last year.
BayCon attendees may recall the badge-engraving dealer table. They do Sea-Pac as well, which means they and I were probably the only common members of both events.
Sea-Pac has hourly prize drawings, where they post your name and/or call sign if it's drawn, and you have two hours to pick up your prize or else it's forfeited and goes back into the next draw. This is of course to make sure the attendees stick around and theoretically spend more money. Folks do wander away to have lunch and enjoy the charms of Seaside; however, things get crowded again around 2:30 for the first Special Prize Drawing, for which you must be present on the convention floor and call out quickly if your name comes up or they'll go to the next card in the draw. Prizes consist of radio-related equipment and gift certificates, but also donations from local merchants. In 2007, we won a free hotel night certificate, which I gave to one of my co-workers who lives in Vancouver WA near PDX and who let me park my van at his place for the three weeks Lisa and I were in Japan.
This photo is blurry, and ordinarily I would simply discard it, but in this case it's special. I was standing at the far side of the convention floor and wanted to take a picture of them announcing prize drawings. I really wish I'd been shooting video, because then it actually prove that what the announcer is saying in this shot is, "The next prize goes to Kevin, KE6APJ!"
I quickly called out and waved my hat until one of the spotters on the stage saw me and thus they didn't skip over me. I then waded through the crowd while they went on to the next prize, and collected my booty. Sometimes, part of success is just showing up. And what did I win, you ask?
Why, this bottle of blackberry wine from a local winery. Although neither Lisa nor I drink, we think we can find a good home for this.
After the prize drawings, we went out for lunch. We both got a big bread bowl of clam chowder. As we later were looking around Seaside, I realized that every place we've eaten lunch on Saturday of Sea-Pac for the past three years was closed the next year we were there. The latest victim was The Happy Clam located near our hotel. I said to Lisa, "Uh, oh. That means we just killed Bee Bop Burgers!'
After eating, we went walking. Lisa wanted to got to a hardware store to try and find a spring to try and make the pickup's throttle not stick, and for a bolt used with the antenna (she'd had to steal the bolt from the van's bug-catcher to make this one work). In addition, I finally remembered that there is a Bank of America branch only a few blocks from the hotel, and I stopped there to get more cash. The hardware store is about a kilometer away down US-101. While Lisa shopped for parts in one part of the store, I browsed around the store and found some heavy work gloves that aren't made in China. I needed new gloves because the work I've been doing around the place in Mehama has worn holes in my existing ones.
We walked back downtown by way of the site of the old hotel where we used to stay in Seaside. That hotel, the Riverside West Cottages, was torn down a couple of years ago to build pricey condos that still sit here mostly unoccupied. We stood in the driveway of the condos and contemplated that we were in the exact same spot as the bedroom of the little cottage in which we'd stayed almost every year prior to the hotel's demolition ever since Lisa's mother found the place for us years ago.
As we headed toward downtown, a light drizzle began to fall, getting heavier as we got out onto the Seaside Promenade. Lisa worried about Kuma Bear getting wet and put him back inside his backpack. Walking along the Prom, Lisa admired the kites being flown along the beach. It was a good day for kites, but in my experience, every day is a good day for kite flying here along Seaside's nice beach. It was cold and wet, however; very British, one might say.
Walking up Broadway, we stopped at Zinger's Ice Cream. Yes, I am a diabetic, and yes, I shouldn't eat a lot of sugar, but we'd just walked three or four kilometers and my last few blood sugar readings have been normal, so I could afford it. Lisa wouldn't let me have more than one scoop of ice cream, though. I definitely recommend their ice cream. I tasted the Root Beer Float flavor, but settled on New York Cheesecake. Lisa had Malted Milk flavor, which ended up including whole malted-milk balls. We both selected chocolate wafer cones. Mmmmmmmm!
We also had a look in at Seaside Funland Arcade, and tried to play pinball, but they don't keep their machines in proper working order, which makes them no fun. We hope the place in Long Beach WA is still keeping their machines working, for we plan to go play there tomorrow if I don't get work dumped on me overnight tonight.
After all of our walking about, we were getting a tad footsore, and besides, it was raining harder, so we went back to the hotel by way of a final pass through the Convention Center. Things were winding down during the 4 o'clock hour. Sea-Pac is one of those events where everyone seems to think you need to be up at the crack of dawn and queued up to get in the door first thing, and the only reason to stay past noon at all is because of the 2:30 drawings.
Demand must be down here at Sea-Pac. Although both ICOM and Yeasu, major radio manufacturers, had their usual booths, a number of the dealers I've seen here each year in the past didn't come. There was one empty booth, and another had someone selling specialty food (things like gluten-free mixes and specialty dip mixes), not radios, radio-related stuff like t-shirts aimed at the radio user, or tech gadgets.
Lisa has shown great patience while I processed photos and wrote this, but we will probably go back out again. I foresee a round of miniature golf in our future, and then probably dinner. We can't stay out too late, even though it's still light out, because unfortunately things close earlier than I would like for what is supposed to be a seaside amusement resort. However, if we're really lucky, we might even get a chance to enjoy the indoor pool and hot tub, which are open until 11 but have signs that say "no children after 10 PM."