MileHiCon 45

Hey, guess what? I actually had the weekend off work! Sure, I had to request it, but I managed to get both days even though I only requested the one. That probably makes me happier than it should, but as a result, I was able to go to MileHiCon.

MileHiCon is an annual science fiction convention in Denver (the “Mile High City.” Get it?) in late October. There’s usually a weekend’s worth of programming, from panels about various nerdy interests (one this year was about J.J. Abrams and his effect on Star Trek and Star Wars, or as I called it, “Nerd Rage Cricle-Jerk), to tips and tricks for burgeoning writers and costumers. And like any event filled with cool stuff, there are inevitably multiple interesting things to go to in one time slot.

I’ve gone to several MileHiCons at this point, and have had fun at each one. Especially fun has been going in costume; although MileHiCon isn’t a big one for hall costumes, you still see a few interesting ones around. This year, for instance, I went as a steampunk mad scientist à la Doctor Steel or Doctor Horrible. Fun fact: I made the costume myself! The coat was originally a pattern for a priest’s cassock, and the goggles are actually paper and cardboard tubes. But what’s really awesome is the working iris, also made out of paper!

Tasty Ice Cream... FOR SCIENCE!

Tasty Ice Cream… FOR SCIENCE!

So Saturday, I and my group of friends went in costume. We ended up getting stopped for photos quite often, but that’s part of the experience of going to cons in costumes. I only made it to a few panels (one tends to get talking to friends for long stretches of time), but I did get to a fun one about mad scientists and what makes them mad rather than just frustrated or miffed. One of the panelists had quite the plan to destroy the earth. You should probably keep your vaccinations current (not that it would help). All in all, it was a fun day hanging out with my friends.

But Sunday was really fun. I hadn’t been to MileHiCon more than one day in the past, mostly because the programming seemed more sparse, and on a student’s budget (both time and money) things added up quickly. The main feature is the Critter Crunch, a long-running robot competition in the vein of BattleBots.

It. Was. Awesome.

We watched both tournaments: the 2-lb and the 20-lb divisions. I wish I remembered more details, but it was really fun watching remote control machines thrash about trying to knock each other out of the ring. By the end, we were even critiquing design decisions and fighting philosophies: fast, light and agile; or slow, heavy, and stable. Both had advantages and disadvantages, and there were a lot of interesting battles that didn’t go the way I would have expected. It was so awesome, in fact, it got me and my engineer friends itching to try it for ourselves. After all, we all need another expensive, time-consuming hobby.

I know this entry is really short, and ended up glossing over a lot of the things I wanted to talk about, but it’s my blog, so deal with it. Just know that I had a really good time at MileHiCon, and if you didn’t make it, you really missed out. Especially the Critter Crunch.