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16 April 2010 @ 12:40 am
PAX East 2010 roundup, part 3  
So something I forgot to mention that was totally off the wall:

In the early evening of either Thursday or Friday (I'm forgetting which day it happened already), Tony, Kevin, Enoch, and I had decided to check out the Apple store - one of those crazy all-glass-walls dealies where even the floors and the stairwell in the middle were completely transparent. While we were browsing, a 40-something white male walks up to me and asks if I was Korean. I shook my head to the negative, so he guessed Chinese next (correctly), and asked if I spoke any Chinese. I'm trying to back away at this point, but he starts attempting to speak Mandarin himself (he definitely knew what he was saying, but it was so badly accented and I was in enough of a hurry to get the hell away that I didn't catch anything he said).

I did get away, though the guy stuck around, and kept doing oddball things like clearing tables off so he could set up his own laptop and whatnot from the two to three bags of stuff he was carrying with him. I'm sure the Apple store employees got sick of cleaning up after him after a while...

Since we had arranged to fly out early Sunday morning, this would effectively be our last day at the con. Unfortunately for Tony, the day started off with a downer, with his Macbook going into a kernel panic loop. Since the Apple store was across the street, he made an appointment at the Genius bar to try and get it fixed.

In the meantime, there was more Expo hall giveaway-seeking and Enoch had a panel or two he was interested in seeing, so we got an early start. I ended up being the last one out of the room, after having been told that we would be eating breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts in the Prudential Center. Of course, upon arriving at the Dunkin Donuts, none of the others were anywhere to be found, so after waiting the entire length of the line just to leave without buying anything, I ended up wandering into the Au Bon Pain nearby. Of course, I find the other three there, and they had just finished purchasing their breakfast, leaving me to wait in yet another line to actually get my breakfast (I settled for an almond croissant and a lemon pastry, and picked up a Gatorade bottle to last me the day).

We pretty much went straight to the Expo hall after that - first on our agenda, turning in the NVIDIA scavenger hunt cards for a t-shirt, which supposedly would make us eligible for further prizes if we were spotted wearing it on the floor. I immediately changed into mine on the spot (changing t-shirts in public without showing anything is always fun), but of course nothing ever came of it.

Kevin had a Modern Warfare 2 tournament to play, and Tony wanted to hunt for more swag, so we split up once again. Tony found that the Antec booth was going to be running a speed build contest, which definitely seemed interesting. Other than that, the Expo hall was pretty much more of what was going on Friday.

After an hour or two of bumming around, we got back together and made our way to the Battlefield Bad Company 2 tournament we had signed up for. On the way, we were finally noticed by Intel's Game On people and got our first prize cards of the day. Finding that we would be playing the tourney with the third group of people, we ended up going directly to the Game On booth to redeem our prizes, which would be basic giveaway items like LED pens, hoodies, and t-shirts. We also signed up for some extra giveaway contest online to get more LED pens.

With more time than we expected to have, we went back into the Expo hall. The Rockstar booth was doing some huge giveaway, but the line was long to the point that I think only Enoch waited to see what was going on. The rest of us wandered over to the Antec booth, where the speed build contest was in progress - as it turns out, a motherboard, an optical drive, and a hard drive was already attached to each case, so the contestants needed only to plug in RAM, power connectors, and IDE cables, while wearing thick anti-static (presumably) gloves. Tony gave it a shot and beat his competitor, winning a notebook cooling pad - the gloves gave the most trouble, as the build would have taken all of five seconds with bare hands.

Enoch had flagged a panel he wanted to see - a discussion of internet memes and how they represent a new method of communication, or something - so we all headed to the panel room to check it out. The presenter was an MIT graduate student that, while having brought up a compelling subject and clearly being very prepared to present, just lacked the public speaking skills to make it interesting beyond a few choice images and video clips integrated into his slides. It was rather unfortunate, since the subject matter really was interesting otherwise.

We checked the LAN area again to see if we were up - nope, delayed - but at least got a couple more Game On cards thanks to the trip.

At this point, we decided to pick up lunch, and having noticed it a couple times the previous days, I suggested we try Wagamama. Turns out, it is some sort of quick service ramen chain. Tony picked up a seafood ramen, Enoch and I both picked up a miso beef ramen, and Kevin got a fried pork rice bowl. Tony's ramen came out first, and it was definitely delicious. Unfortunately, we found the miso beef to be much too strong, and ultimately I think both of us wish we had ordered anything else. Kevin's rice bowl was... well, huge.

After we finished eating, we dropped by the hotel room to leave most of our items behind, then made our way back to the LAN area. At this point I notice I'm not carrying my PSP. The last place I remembered pulling it out was at Wagamama, and I couldn't remember exactly what I did with it afterward, so I decided to run back to the hotel room alone to see if I had left it in there with the rest of my things. Indeed, I had, so after having exhausted myself with the run, I made my way back to the LAN area slowly.

I get to the escalator leading to the third floor, where the LAN area was, and I get a text while on the escalator saying that the others had diverted to the Game On booth, which was on the second floor. This prompted me to make a quick u-turn at the top of the escalator to go right back down.

While we waited in line, we heard lots of cheering - apparently, the booth had given out three of the grand prize, a Core i7-975 CPU, within the span of a few minutes. I had two Game On prize cards with me, while the others had somehow amassed up to five each - apparently, someone had just given their cards away or something in my absence. The others get all their cards scanned, which reveals more typical prizes - Kevin obtained a large amount of beanies while Enoch got a large amount of LED pens. Tony won a choice of Assassin's Creed 2 or Napoleon Total War, choosing the latter.

I scan my cards, the first being an LED pen, the second being...

The processor - the Core i7-975.

I found quickly that the CPUs weren't actually given on-site - they had me pose for a photo with one they had on hand, but said the prize would actually be mailed to me from Oregon. I had to wait a little while as they were still doing the paperwork for the previous CPU winner, but before long, I am given a three page document to fill out and sign. I notice the document asked for my SSN, which I discovered was for tax purposes (as the CPU is valuable enough that it qualifies as taxable winnings). Nothing really unusual stood out in the documents, so I filled it all out.

After that excitement, there was little else to do but return to the LAN area yet again and wait to actually be called in to play in the tournament. We are escorted into the room and told to wait in a small area denoted by bright duct tape on the floor - apparently to prevent us from watching the tournament in progress. We were made to wait a good half hour to an hour, but we were eventually seated and given a few minutes to familiarize ourselves with a game none of us had ever played.

Unfortunately, despite the tournament being advertised as the first major 3-D tournament, the tournament was held on standard displays - the 3-D had apparently caused stability issues that led to the organizers making the call to just run it normally and leave the 3-D stations for non-tournament play. Despite that, the game still looked pretty good.

Of course, none of us having ever played Bad Company 2 before, we didn't win our tournament group and thus failed to advance, but we still did pretty well considering. We ran around on foot to only modest success until eventually we took one of the tanks and pretty much stayed in it for the rest of the match. In the end, it was a fun diversion.

Returning to the hotel room, we began considering dinner options, and came to the decision that we should go somewhere further away from the convention area, since we had gone to the trouble of renting a car and were spending far too much just to keep it parked all weekend. We eventually decided on a restaurant in Chinatown, but we weren't all that hungry yet, and Tony still needed to take his trip to the Apple store. Kevin accompanied him over while I eventually wandered off to check out the arcade and console gaming rooms.

The arcade room was actually pretty cool - it was all vintage games, all neatly labeled with a short description of how each game came to be and who the developers were. The most interesting machines for me were Dragon's Lair, Joust 2, and Jr. Pac-Man. There were enough people at each machine that I would have been waiting quite some time to play anything, so I wandered off to find the console gaming instead.

I eventually found the classic console games (separate from the larger console gaming room with mostly current generation games available for rent) and apparently walked in on a Saturn Bomberman tournament in progress. I stuck around to the end (noting almost every battle in the tournament was won by dumb luck rather than actual skill) and tried to get a few games in after the tournament ended - unfortunately, I only found one opponent and he didn't stick around for very long. There were some other fun things going on in the room as well, seeing people play Donkey Kong Country 2 (badly) and Zombies Ate My Neighbors (a game I really should actually try someday).

Tony and Kevin having returned to the hotel room from the Apple store at this point, we arranged to meet in the hotel lobby to head off to dinner. After some asshole taxi and malfunctioning GPS incidents en route to Chinatown, we finally settled at a $15 flat-rate parking lot near the restaurant we had chosen - East Ocean City. We had arrived later than we had expected and thus had to order quickly due to the kitchen being on the verge of closing up. Finding Peking Duck on the menu, we order that, along with beef chow fun, soup for each of us, and a few other various items. The Peking Duck was a bit of a surprise - the crispy skin and the duck legs came out as expected, but the actual meat had been prepared differently, fried with vegetables as if it were a mushi pork. It was still pretty good, but Peking Duck it was not.

Returning once again to the hotel, we played a little more Pentago, and turned on the TV to find Catch Me If You Can showing. We watched pretty much the entire movie as we packed our things, then went to bed.

Since we were mostly packed the previous night, there wasn't much to do but pick up, check out, and drive the car back to the airport. Since we had driven so little, the car's fuel gauge still read full, so we didn't even stop at a gas station to refill it on the way back.

Lacking a means to print our boarding passes beforehand, we simply did so at the terminal. The security check went really quickly and our departure gate was close, so we had enough time to eat breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts counter a few gates away.

The flight back was uneventful - there was significantly more carry-on luggage space available, so I did not have to have my bags checked at the gate again - and in an hour's time, we were back at BWI, on the Express parking bus taking us back to Tony's car. For short weekend trips, BWI's Express parking option is definitely worth it, considering how fast we got back on the road after landing.

Considering lunch options at that point, Hardee's was suggested, but Enoch didn't want fast food. I suggested Double T, since we were in the area, but Chris calls us on the way and we end up diverting to a different diner in Arlington to meet up with him and Andy. The food was pretty much what you expect from a diner (whose name I'm completely forgetting), though I definitely need to learn to stop ordering desserts that aren't the ones on display - I ended up ordering a napoleon, which I had trouble cutting through to the point that I resorted to stabbing it with a fork, just to have the fork get stuck in the dessert. As I mentioned on Twitter during the incident, I shouldn't be able to eat a napoleon as if it were a kabob.

The four of us returned to Kevin's house at that point, and the weekend done, Tony, Enoch, and I pretty much got into our respective cars and drove ourselves home.
one_more_lovely: o woopsone_more_lovely on April 16th, 2010 11:16 am (UTC)
ahh lol
Between the guy from the Apple store and the MIT grad student you now know the horrible truth about Boston: We are the most awkward nerdy city ever

That Apple store is the largest one in the country, btw. Pretty neat, huh?

You went to Arlington like... the suburb of Cambridge Arlington? That's so random.

I'm also surprised you took a car to Chinatown XD
StarCreatorstarcreator on April 16th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: boss.town.
Nah, it was Arlington, VA - we had already flown back to the DC area by Sunday afternoon.

The car rental is something stemming from my friends' visits to Vegas and LA, where parking was more reasonable and public transportation wasn't as viable an option. It quickly became apparent the car rental was a liability in Boston though.
one_more_lovely: Calmone_more_lovely on April 16th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
Re: boss.town.
ohh, I misread it. That makes much more sense XD

Yup, parking in Boston is quite expensive/difficult to find.
Then again, the T(subway system) closes at 1am :/
Zeiramlilinthra on April 16th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
I had the same initial reaction about SSN when I won that Coldplay trip two years ago, but yeah, tax forms.
Travisbeef_roll_up on April 18th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
lol ni hao dude