I did not preregister for Convergence this year, but did so at the door ($$), and am glad I did. There was better programming (=more interesting to me) than in past years. We did not have a hotel room, but that was OK for me. I missed the evening con party experience, but at Convergence the party suites are concentrated around the pool area. It is incredibly congested and impossible to hold a normal conversation in any of them. Just lots of young folks trying, and usually succeeding, in getting drunk quickly. In fact on Saturday night I found the noise there intolerable at 9 PM, when we were getting ready to leave, and the parties were just getting started.
I give much of the credit for the good programming to the SkepChicks. I disagree with their militant atheism, but I did not go to any of their events with that focus. I am not obligated to accept every invitation to an argument that I receive. However, quite a few of their panels were strictly about science, and those that I went to were all good. As time permits I may post more about those later here on LJ.
Furthermore, the SkepChicks are improving the gender balance in fandom. Looking at all the panels I attended, the female panelists outnumbered the male ones by a considerable margin.
I spent a lot of time in the Dealers' Room. Mia had a table there. I had some lust for a $190 sword, but ended up spending $1.50 for myself. This was for a copy of Gaelic and Gaelicized Ireland in the Middle Ages. The initial English (really Anglo-Norman) invasion of Ireland started in 1169 AD, but from about 1300 the native Irish managed a comeback that lasted until about 1530. The word "Gaelicized" is about what happened to the Anglo-Norman lords in the regions where the authority of the English crown faded. Many survived and even thrived by adopting Irish customs and "going native." This is a little known part of history that fascinates me. Flipping through the index I found a reference to a "Mac David Mór." Probably not a relative but I like the sound of it.
In fact the Dealers' Room seemed to have more booksellers than in previous years, though still not as many as the much smaller Windycon. Still, it is a step in the right direction.
I also saw Slave Leo (Thank you to Haddayr for the link). He is an expert in materials science, in which I worked for a while "in my youth in the west that is forgotten." While dressed as Slave Leo he gave clear and meaningful explanations of issues in metallurgy and quantum mechanics at two panels I attended.
Our daughter Rachel also attended the con. She actually stayed over for two nights, having negotiated a share in a room with some other young fans. She attended a couple panels with me, and had a good time. I am enormously pleased by this.
The hotel bar had a good selection of Minnesota craft beers on tap. Since this was a four day convention, I was able to sample all of them without impairing my ability to drive home afterwards.