(Previous year(s) of ConSuite BrainDumps located below 2013 entries.)
Disclaimer: Revived by Penguicon 2012 &2013's Head of Hospitalty, Cylithria Dubois, this “Brain Dump” page is being written in effort to aid any incoming ConCom, Staff or Volunteer (Penguin) who wants to understand the who, what, where, when, how, and why or ConSuite Management. 2012 Penguicon was the con where we had a late December, emergency board meeting to vote in a new ConChair, Chuck Child when the original 2012 ConChair resigned due to work related issues. In December of 2011, NO Head of Hospitality had been appointed to the ConCom and Cylithria would not officially pick up the position until well into January 2012. All Notes, Opinions, Suggestions and Point(s) of Contention are based on her experiences since being appointed to Head of Hospitality and are reflective to the current Penguicon 2012 ConSuite status at it's new convention hotel, the Regency Hyatt Dearborn, compared to past Penguicon's in previous places. No Offense, Insult or Derogatory Sentiment is meant should my BrainDump directly oppose other, previous Head's of Hospitality's and their past ConSuites. -Cylithria Dubois, Head of Hospitality & ConSuite 2013.
The Penguicon ConSuite has become legendary in the Open Source/Sci-Fi convention-dom. When you walk into our Consuite, you are in for a real treat! Not only is the ConSuite a place to relax, take a load off, participate in some great programming, and enjoy the company of 20 or 30 of your friends, it's the one place at Penguicon you can come and grab some of those salty, sweet, healthy, snacks you crave, make a sandwich, grab a pop or even a beer (ID Required) and it's all Free….free as in beer!
Where is the 2012 Penguicon ConSuite at the Regency Hyatt Dearborn? You'll find us in on the 4th Floor North Suite, rooms 401 & 402. Did I mention that our ConSuite is free with your Penguicon 2012 Badge Registration?? It is! Free…free as in Beer!
While we do our best to provide for every registered attendee, we will be honest with you, if you rely on the ConSuite for your nourishment needs the entire con, you will die!, We can state we aim to bring you a deluxe style ConSuite and we hope to see you there!
Penguicon's 2012 Hack of Honor, Open Soda will be present throughout the entire con, in The ConSuite and convention favorite Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream is also making a return! So after your 5 hours of sleep, shower and 2 meals a day, swing on by the ConSuite and visit us. We'll be rocking the epic in ways even Jer can't imagine! ;)
If you'd like to sponsor the ConSuite or have any questions, suggestions or information please don't hesitate to contact Cylithria at email@example.com
For those of you interested on how a ConSuite is managed, keep reading as Cylithria and her staff work from now until the end of Penguicon to bring you the best damn ConSuite in the Midwest! (This will be in a constant state of Updates. Keep Checking Back!)
This year, we are at the Regency Hyatt Dearborn. 4th floor, North Suites - Rooms 401 & 402. Remember those room numbers because this year, Food Track Programming will be coming to you from one of the multiple rooms devoted to Penguicon's 2012 ConSuite! When you come out of the elevator bay on the fourth floor, hook a left and keep walking. We're down at the end. You won't miss us. :D
4th Floor - North Suites - Rooms 401 & 402
No ConSuite is ever managed by a singular person. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, they ate too much funny smelling lunch meat! The reality is, an exceptional ConSuite is pulled off by a team of Convention Attendees. The ConSuite for 2012 is no different then past years, and because of that, I need YOU to become part of our team. I want you as Staff!
Staff Members of the ConSuite come from all walks of The Penguicon Convention and work various hours to fulfill their staff positions. Because of this, there are some perks to the Job. Being close to the food while it is hot. First in line eating privies. $25.00 registration fee instead of $50.00. The ability to hang out with nearly everyone at Penguicon, because they all eventually end up at the ConSuite :D
Staff members are required to work a minimum of 10 scheduled hours. For these 10 hours of work, Staff Members only pay $25.00 for their Penguicon Badge Registration. These hours do not have to be served during the Con itself. This year we are slated to offer some Staff Members the added bonus of working during Pack In (Thursday, April 26th) and Pack Out (Monday, April 30th). During Pack In or Pack Out days, every hour worked, counts as two. So for those lucky staffers who can be present on Thursday or Monday, you could work 5 hours and still be comped $25.00 Badge Rate - AND have your Penguicon free!
For those Staff Members unable to make the Thursday or Monday days, there is still plenty of excellent, fun jobs to be had. Cylithria will have in place, prior to the Con, a schedule for every one of the 14 Staff Member Penguicon is affording us this year. I'll work with you to try and make sure you are NOT scheduled during that epic panel you want to be at while making certain you fulfill the 10 hour requirement too!
The best thing about becoming ConSuite Staff is, you don't have to have prior experience to join us. If you are willing to learn, able to help and want to be part of one of the most legendary ConSuites in Conventiondom, I want YOU! 90% of the friends I look forward to seeing once a year, I met through the ConSuite. To this day, I work it because I really do get to be around everyone at con, and guess what, I never have to look for them - they come to me - In the ConSuite! :D
What do you do as ConSuite Staff? Read Below for the short answers:
Various Duties of ConSuite Staff:
*Beer Troll Staff - The Beer Troll Position will only be handled by Staff Members, so this one is up for grabs by anyone 21 years of age or older. You will be stationed with the Beer, and as an Attendee presents their legally valid ID, you will draw them a beer and hand it to them. Simple as that. We provide seating (if you like,) and make sure you get breaks or help during busy times, and we definitely make certain you get some of that Hot Food too! (Beer Trolls even earn a special Ribbon denoting to all of the Con that you are in fact, A Beer Troll)
*ConSuite Staff - Working with the dual Suites , you will be assigned various tasks that you and your Volunteer Penguins get done during your shift. Pop Tubs will need to be filled (and re-filled,) Food items replenished, food items heated, cooked or warmed. Clean Up of the suites will be on going in small increments and basically you chat it up with our fellow Penguicon Attendees, keeping the suites running smoothly. Because every set of Staffers will also have Volunteer (penguins) in the Suite working with you, you won't be stuck with all the tasks, all the time.
*Pack In/Pack Out Staff - Pack In is scheduled for sometime during the morning, early afternoon hours of Thursday, April 26th. Pack In Staffers will be meeting with Cylithria and Dan Eckerd of Logistics at an assigned, secret location (some loading area of the hotel) and we'll be using hand carts and dolly to transport the ConSuite's possessions and food items up to room 404. Due to the nature of this type of work, we do offer a double hour system on Pack In (Or Pack Out) Day(s). For every one hour you work on Thursday (or Monday), you earn 2 hours towards your 10 hour minimum. Pack Out Staff also do the same thing, except in reverse. Monday, April 30th we box it all up and carry it back down to that secret location (loading area) and get it the hell out of the Hyatt! Pack Out Staff also earn Double Hours.
*Be Advised: Pack In/Pack Out requires lifting, and or sorting, good organizational skills. If you have any limitations but wish to be part of the Pack In/ Pack Out, email me and we can see if this duty is right for you!
Staff members of ConSuite will be receiving weekly email updates from me, as news becomes available. I hope each will make suggestions, speak up when they see a potential problem and definitely ask if there is something they want to learn while being in the ConSuite.
To become a member of the ConSuite Staff, please fill out the following ConSuite Staff Application: http://goo.gl/SJKO1
Each Year the Penguicon ConSuite has certain items that get packed up and stored until the next years convention. Items such as coffee makers, utensils, the tubs we hold pop in, and a bazillionty and one plastic knives. (Why don't you all use the knives? Why? It's a mystery of the ConSuite….)
Each year the incoming Head of Hospitalty is responsible for the inventory of ConSuite's Possessions. This means getting a proper pre-con inventory, keeping track of that inventory as Logistics brings it from the Cube to the Convention Hotel, managing the inventory during the convention itself, packing up and returning that inventory via coordination with Logistics, to the Penguicon Storage Cube.
Inventory of ConSuite Items completed by Cylithria Dubois on 2/11/2012. A link to Inventory will be placed here shortly.
The Stuff We Buy For PCon. (Filling in at another time)
If you want to get involved, the first step is to let us know! At this time the Hospitality Department(ConSuite) is allocated 14 Staff member positions for Consuite duties. Becoming a Staff Member entitles you to certain perks; extreme nearness to the food, first hand knowledge of what is next on the menu, and a Badge Registration rate of $25.00 for the weekend instead of $50.00!
Questions can be directed to Cylithria Dubois, Our Head of Hospitality.
This is the social heart of this type of convention. There are conventions that have had this feature for eighty years, and then there are some events that call themselves conventions but don't have it. The ConSuite is a hospitality suite in the hotel with comfy sofas to relax and talk, where attendees are served complimentary snacks, and a bathtub full of ice and complimentary canned beverages. Some conventions have complimentary beer on tap all weekend, and PenguiCon is one of those! It's open 24 hours, because ScienceFiction conventions have learned the most interesting part of any convention emerges from spontaneous socializing between 10 PM and 3 AM.
PenguiCon's Head of Non-Smoking ConSuite is SteveDeHart, and the Head of Smoking ConSuite is SharNims. There are two [ConSuite]s so that people can smoke and other people can stay away from smoke, but both of them are equally good.
At PenguiCon 1.0 in TwoThousandThree, some of the attendees from the tech side of things had never gone to a ScienceFiction convention and were not familiar with the ConSuite concept. They did not go in there because they didn't know it was there, or something seemed fishy to them about the idea of free food and drinks. So from then on we have made a big deal of the fact that you already paid for it in your admission fee. Now go eat it!
The ConSuite serves bottles of caffienated water called WaterJoe. In fact, in addition to decaf and regular coffee, it offers High Octane coffee brewed with WaterJoe. (Consume at your own risk.) We also serve WoodChuck Cider and on Saturday night we bring out a couple varieties of DragonMead Ale. In TwoThousandFive we started serving an open-source home-brewed beverage called OpenCola, and it was ten times better in TwoThousandSix. TwoThousandSix also saw the premiere of LiquidNitrogenIceCream in the ConSuite, which has been such a hit at PenguiCon's sister convention, LinuCon in Texas. One of these days we're going to serve pizza in a gutted out case from a Power PC Mac.
It is unknown whether we will be able to serve some homebrewed variation on Google's parody beverage, Google Gulp. Wouldn't that be cool?
If you want to get your membership reimbursed (on condition that the con makes money, which so far it always has done), ConSuite needs [VolunteerPenguin]s. The best positions are in ConSuite because you can have fun at the same time, mostly. The easiest one is a DoorGuard. All you have to do is sit at the door checking that each person entering ConSuite has a membership badge.
A more serious and responsible type of VolunteerPenguin in ConSuite is the BeerTroll. We will not let you do this unless we trust you. This person checks drivers licenses and other government-issued proofs of age, and dispenses beer. At PenguiCon the BeerTroll must check government-issued ID with each and every serving of alcohol. No hand stamps, no age-related badges, those are too easy to falsify. Drinking under age or sharing your drink with someone under age is not tolerated and will get the sharer and the underage drinker kicked off the premises immediately and with no registration refund.
The most helpful type of VolunteerPenguin in the ConSuite is the one who takes a shift refilling all the snack dishes and putting more pop in the bathtub full of ice. Whenever I have helped to staff a ConSuite such as BaltiCon or MarCon (not MarsCon) I have obsessive-compulsively topped off the food and drink, almost to the exclusion of all other awareness. These volunteers are also the ones whose absence would make the whole ConSuite unhappy. And nobody wants that.
ConSuite is where the DeadDog party takes place Sunday evening eating up all the food that's left after the convention ends.
Every ConSuite needs couches. It is vital. Bad [ConSuite]s have nothing but table chairs. Hanging draperies and putting up mood lighting might be cool. Balloons are always a good choice and streamers are good if they're placed right. At 2005 ConFusion at the TroyMarriott, me (MattArnold) and Tomak and the hotel staff and several others carried his Minerva statue up through the freight elevator and propped it up in ConSuite. That rocked. Some conventions have people who are willing to decorate, and others don't. It is not a good idea to have a TV turned on in ConSuite. It kills all conversation. Even having it on in the background uses subconscious brain processing cycles of everyone there. But sometimes a ConSuite at some conventions has a little side room where kids watch Saturday morning TV. Do not have music too loud. ChuckFirment once said: “This is something of an art that not many know about, but that ErikKauppi taught to me in my first ConSuite adventure. The key is multiple speakers that are a good distance away from each other. That way you can have the music playing quietly, but still have all areas of the ConSuite hearing it without it being loud in any spot. Boom-boxes or conventional stereos focus all the volume in one area, making that area too loud to hear.”
Good advice for a ConCom is to have the ConSuite ready by Friday 3pm. Not fully ready of course, but a rudimentary arrangement with one or two snacks and a drink or two and someplace to sit. People who get to the hotel early should have somewhere to go. Unfortunately sometimes at some conventions the hotel does not let you in there far enough in advance for this. If it's possible, it should be in the contract to have access to the ConSuite Thursday night. (Another convention, ConFusion, has an awesome Thursday night gathering for its ConCom and its GoHs in the ConSuite on Thursday night.) You will definitely need the ConSuite until Monday, as you pack up the whole convention and move it out from that room as a sort of clearinghouse.
The beer order should be put in a month and a half or so ahead of time.
The following is a brain dump ChuckFirment did after running the ConSuite for 2003 ConFusion. (Note: ConFusion is not PenguiCon and is not formally associated with PenguiCon. This is how they did it. As of this writing in 2006, PenguiCon has never been in the TroyMarriott. Your mileage may vary.)
Beer: Two kegs of Bells Porter, two kegs of Woodchuck Cider (granny smith and amber). Both kegs of the Woodchuck were consumed in the smoking ConSuite and we ran out Sunday morning. We had about 2/3 of a barrel left of the Bells Porter. In the future, there is no need to UN-tap a keg overnight. Simply don't serve it if you don't want to. (Chuck untapping a keg means that Chuck wears a whole lot of beer when he messes up re-tapping it.)
We duplicated food efforts for each ConSuite. The below menu refers to only one ConSuite, so double it if you are planning on buying for two suites.
Peanut Butter and Jelly (could have kept a better eye on keeping bread out. It went faster than I thought.)<br> Salty/Crunchy/Chocolate/Sugary<br> Coffee - Fresh large pot made every shift. Most shifts poured out 1/2 of the pot. Note: Only make 1/2 pots unless midnight-4 or for mornings.
3 different boxes of cereal, 3 gal milk, 2 gal OJ. Note: Due to Saturday consumption of 2 gals milk we only bought two gals of milk for Sunday and were fine. (Remaining gallon was *slowly* picked at during the day and more of a bother than a plus.)<br> 12 dozen doughnuts, several dozen (5?) bagels, cream cheese. Note: Only get Plain Cream Cheese. Other types simply are not touched.
1.5 lb ham
1.5 lb turkey
1 lb roast beef
3 loaves decent bread
3 different types of sliced cheeses. Weight unremembered.
As always, meat gets eaten just as fast as we put it out. Originally the plan was to have 1 lb of each meat. The initial tray accidentally had 1.5 lbs (except roast beef, which is sold in 2 lb packs at Sam's Club) and it worked well so we stayed with it.
1.5 lb broccoli
1.5 lb baby carrots
1.5 lb celery
Bowl of dill dip in the center of the tray.
Quick, easy, and the broccoli doesn't go fast at all. It's almost always the one that's left at the end. I think carrots go the quickest.
Buy a lot more standard Salty/Crunchy on Friday than you think you're going to use for all of Friday and Saturday. You'll likely start running out of them Saturday early am anyway - they're cheap, buy lots. One big bag/barrel of pretzels has always lasted me the whole Con. Grapes last a surprisingly long time (as in, they stay out and people don't inhale them.) People love pistachios; they're particularly good late in the evening when people are sitting and talking. Buy a huge can of peanuts - you can fill small bowls with your can all con. Ridged Sun Chips are a hit - no name potato chips are not. Don't eat anything off the floor even if you're almost 100% sure it's the same thing you've just dropped. Fruit goes over well - bananas are great and people like them. Apples are more portable than oranges, but oranges seem to go better. Unless you know people specifically want it, don't save pennies buying lower quality foods/brands that you wouldn't want to eat - other people will share your opinion.
Plastic snap-together shelving units (similar to what was used in the Art Show) can be used to organize. This could be put in the closets of the core suite's bathroom. Have shelves labeled, “Friday evening”, “Saturday Morning”, “Saturday Evening”, and “Sunday Morning”. That way no matter who is staffing the suite, they know exactly what to put out, and how much. Do not put these in easy view of ConSuite guests - they will help themselves.
Purchase a hand-held “Dirt Devil” vacuum cleaner to be used in the ConSuite. It would store easily and can be used to clean up quick messes. ALSO, it can be used to clean up tablecloths on your serving table without having to get a new tablecloth entirely.
Not only create a schedule of shifts and email it out to your staff a couple of weeks before the con, make sure you have people that will show up early on Friday (around 12:00) to help set up the suites. Setting up Thursday night as much as you can is good, but you can't get everything, and the food hasn't arrived yet. It will Friday.
POST YOUR STAFF SCHEDULE. Put this somewhere right near the entrance to the ConSuite. Not somewhere 100% obvious where everyone is going to want to look at it, but have it very easily accessible. That way any staff member can see who is coming in next, or when their next timeslot is if they forget. Scheduling four hour shifts works great. Six hour shifts are doable if you have to. Eight hour shifts are grueling and difficult. Any longer than eight and you'll lose friends. They will never ever work in a ConSuite again.
Set up well in advance people responsible for tear-down on Sunday. You cannot do it yourself, and you *will* need more help than you expect. I figured having four people would be enough. I was very wrong. I suggest at *least* six people starting early packing what they can. (Aka, around 9:00 if your pack-out truck leaves at 3:00.) Maybe close one room of the suite for storage.
If we're at the Troy Marriott, we know we will need bathtubs filled with ice on a regular basis. Make arrangements prior to Con to have the hotel fill these bathtubs with ice at pre-set times. Getting ice filled at night was troublesome during this first year. If the hotel knows they have to fill 4 tubs (two smoking, two non) with ice three times day at X, X, and X O'clock it will likely make things a lot easier. MAKE SURE TO TIP THE PEOPLE FILLING UP THE TUBS WITH ICE ON THEIR FIRST RUN. Try to make it a point to tip them each time they fill the tub, as it may be different people each shift.
Sam's Club does not take Visa or MasterCard (and likely no longer American Express). The only card they currently accept (though don't count it unless you have to) is Discover. HOWEVER, they do accept personal checks. They also accept business checks, and you can have the Con Treasurer fill them out to Sam's Club for you.
If you have to borrow a large truck to bring lots of unwieldy supplies (kegs, etc.) to the Convention remember that you will need to refill fuel used. Large trucks have HORRID gas mileage, and this mileage (and only this mileage) is a Con expense. The treasurer will probably be glad to know about this as you give him your budget. It cost $20 this year and approximately $25 last year.
At the Troy Marriott, hook up the Smoke Eater in the middle bathroom. You can have the output venting directly into the bathroom vent. This helps quite a bit. (You only need the large fan-box and the tube of the smoke eater. All other pieces are NOT needed and simply take up space with this hotel configuration.)
There are two air purifiers in the storage cube, they look like speakers. They need the cover on them *pressed in all the way* to run, and they should not be placed in such as way the air intake our output is blocked. Lots of air flow is good. ALSO - they have large metal filters in them that can (and should) be cleaned with water. They look as if they never had been. Take them out and ask the hotel to run them through their industrial dishwasher. We did a very mediocre job in the bathtub and couldn't get everything off due to fingers being too large.
Have a stereo with speakers that are AT LEAST 10 feet away from each other. More is better. If you have a boom box (or close speakers) one portion of the room will be very loud with music, and the other portion of the room won't be able to hear the music over people talking.
Music - Things without vocals make perfect background music, and set an ambiance well. A CD changer with a Shuffle function is great. Stick in 3-5 CD's with the same theme, press Shuffle and walk away. Easy and done for hours, and not repetitive.
Thursday night - Keep the door shut in the ConSuite for the after-dinner party. Have the music at a *very* low volume. We don't have the entire hotel and there are business people on the same floor that don't appreciate the noise.
If you have to share your room to be used as a ConSuite storage suite, bring earplugs. Seriously. I bring earplugs whenever I travel and they are very useful.
There's plenty more in my head, but if I keep writing them this will be a novel and not a printout or email. There is one suggestion that I've saved for last, as it is the most important. Pick a good staff. A good staff will ensure that things will go well and that you won't have to worry (though you will anyway). Who knows, you might even get to some programming because of it.
ChuckFirment Co-ConSuite, ConFusion 2003