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PPC Gathering Dunedin 2010

by Trojie, with comments and asides by Sedri


It has been my privilege to attend three Gatherings of the PPC in my years as a member of that august organisation, and two of them, including that of which I am about to declaim the saga, have been in my home country of New Zealand and attended by a grand total of two people: the first, in Wellington 2008, was made up of myself and Pigeonarmy; and the second, Dunedin 2010, by myself and Sedri. It is of this latter that I will now sing tell.

I would begin with the traditional saga-start ‘Bright was the morning, and high our hearts’, but that would be rather a lie on two essential points; those being that it was in fact the afternoon, and it was refreshingly overcast. The altitude of my cardiovascular system at that point however I can be precise about – I was standing roughly ten feet above the ground, putting my heart at some fourteen feet above the ground, so I would say that compared to normal, yes, my heart was high. I assume Sedri’s was as well, as she had to climb some steps to get to me.

I was in fact on top of the steps of the Dunedin town hall, and it was mid-afternoon on Sunday the Seventeenth of January.

(Dunedin Town Hall)

Sedri then presented me with an adorable Bad Slash Duck of my very own.

From there we proceeded along George Street, which is Dunedin's main commercial street, to Otago University, the place I was actually in Dunedin to visit, so I got an extremely useful tour from Sedri about where to find the Geology building. As I was to report there at nine am the following morning, this knowledge was invaluable. Otago University is considerably larger than Victoria University of Wellington, where I’m from (in an academic sense, not as in I was born on campus), and I could very easily have got lost and then you would never have heard from me again. I’m sure it would have been a tragedy. No doubt there would have been weeping and rending of clothing.

(One of Otago's many beautiful buildings)

(Sedri intrudes on this report to wonder aloud why it is that, if Vic Uni has a larger range of courses - at least for the arts and geology departments - they would have a smaller campus. She does not yet have a satisfactory answer.)

Possibly unfortunately for Sedri, there are rocks on display outside the Geology building. I got, uh, a bit carried away, however, Sedri was quite interested in the extensive descriptions and exclamations, despite not understanding more than half of it.

(Top to bottom: Wangaloa Formation boulder with molluscan macrofossils (~62my old); diorite pegmatite; closeup of granite (pink = potassium feldspar aka K-spar, black = biotite))

Then we went to Otago Museum. Here I got carried away again in the animal and mineral galleries.

(Top to bottom: Carcharodon (prehistoric white shark) teeth and vertebrae; Plesiosaurid Kaiwhekea; Himalayan tahr (a game animal introduced to NZ for sport hunting))

There was a Darwin exhibit, including a family tree. We both simultaneously mentioned Skandar Keynes and then felt slightly like rabid fangirls for a) knowing he's Darwin's great great great whatever grandson, and b) wondering why he wasn't on there. Then we decided that as PPC members who have sporked Narnia fic, it is our Duty to know these things. Yes indeedy. Duty.

The stalwart and long-suffering Sedri then directed me toward a magical portal. Beyond this portal (which we crossed by dint of paying monies to the wizened gnome-like gatekeeper, so unlike the sensible, fuss-free nature of our own workaday portals) was a tropical rainforest full of butterflies. However, as is the nature of tropical rainforests, it was stinking hot, and since we’d come from nice, sensible, overcast, chilly Dunedin, my camera was not ready for the change in temperature and as soon as I tried to take photos, my lens steamed up. But there were many wondrous butterflies, red-eared terrapins (which people in NZ insist on calling turtles much to my irritation), and, oddly, quail.

(Sedri notes that, although she had been to the Butterfly Exhibit several times previously, she had never before seen (or heard) the quail, and is currently investigating the possibility that said quail arrived for the sole purpose of meeting the Esteemed Trojie.)

(The Trojie in question is not aware of any reason that quail might be following her around, but isn't going to complain if it is indeed the case)

Upon exiting the jungle (and cooling down somewhat), we played air-hockey. Sedri kicked my arse, which I put down to her superior practice at controlling and channelling her aggressiveness, her being an Assassin and myself a spastic Bad Slasher. (Sedri agrees, but adds that Trojie was making some very nice shots by the end and was actually becoming noteworthy competition. She therefore intends to goad Trojie into transferring to the DMS as soon as possible.)

(By the by, the preceding photos were in fact taken on Wednesday, not Sunday, as on Sunday I was far too distracted by the fact that I was in Dunedin talking to Sedri to actually get the camera out, except in the rainforest exhibit, where the aforementioned steaming-up issue happened.)

Then, outside, we found elliptical reflector dishes (aka 'Big dish sound reflector thingies which I'm sure have a name', in Sedri-talk). These are placed some distance apart and you whisper into them - the person at the other end hears you clear as a bell thanks to Physics. I am generally against dabbling in Physics, but anything so clearly made of WAY COOL SCIENCE is awesome.

Here we finally got round to taking a photo of each other, in order that it could be proven that this whole thing wasn't just a figment of my imagination.

(There was a picture of Sedri, but she flailed and is camera shy and asked me to remove it.) (Sedri: I'm just paranoid! Sorry!)

(But here's a Trojie!)

(And some elliptical reflector dishes!)

After the museum, we wandered around a few shops and Sedri took her leave of me.

Then there was a brief and vicious outbreak of Science which I will not subject you to as it was not PPC-related in any way, shape, or form. (Sedri would like to note that this "brief" outburst lasted for more than two days.)

Sedri and I reconvened on Wednesday afternoon outside the Museum again, and promptly went on a Mission to find the box-set of Star Trek Enterprise Season Two (due, Sedri admits, to the fact that she has absolutely no self-control when it comes to Star Trek, and that this is the only series she has neither seen nor owns - she is also prepared to maim anyone who is thinking the word "Trekkie"). This involved us wandering through many many bookshops and possibly traumatising the stalwart bookshop-going community of Dunedin with, variously, Sedri’s recounting of Chris Pine’s role in "The Princess Diaries 2" (Sedri: It wasn't actually that bad) (Trojie: No, it was hilarious, particularly the accents), and myself imagining what it would be like to be the mother of five-year-old!Reboot!Pavel Chekov (tiring, in a word). (Sedri would like to point out, yet again, that that would be a hilarious mini-fic for Trojie to write and strongly urges her to do so.)

(Can you even set a bow and arrow to stun?)

We also spent quite a lot of time in the bookshops throwing sci-fi/fantasy novels at each other and giving speed-descriptions of the plots. This pleasant pastime was interrupted by hilarity when we came across the trilogy of books written by the infamous Cassandra Clare, the only person to have entries in the categories for published authors, goodfic authors, AND badfic authors on our beloved wiki. After obligatory laughing (have you read the first sentence of City of Ashes? You should, it’s highly… descriptive…) we came across the Star Trek reboot novelisation, which was also highly amusing (continuity errors, for a start. Well, either continuity errors or Kirk simultaneously suffering from premonitions of the future and short-term memory loss).

(You'd think, all her years in fandom and the woman still can't spot urple prose when she writes it)

(In which James T. Kirk has fail at Starfleet Regulations and Spock has fail at picking him up on it)
(Sedri strongly suggestst that you not bother to buy it, as it deviates so far from the final film that one has to wonder whether Foster ever looked beyond the first draft of the script.)

And then, without wishing to be anticlimactic, we went home. Sedri walked me back to my hostel and we parted, both wishing that the Gathering had been longer, and promising to see each other again. (Sedri notes that this was a time of great sorrow and anguish, suffering the likes of which will never again be known by mortals of any kind... at least until Pads gets into physical stabbing range of me for daring to meet her Trojie first.) (MINE! You shall never be forgiven. May a plague of frog* be upon your house! ~ Pads)

(A final parting note from Napoleon, of all people, that seemed particularly appropriate for the PPC)


*It will be quite a big frog, however, and will get into the air ducts and keep everyone awake for weeks.
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