Chaos Attraction

The (Next To Last?) Picnic Day

2011-04-16, 7:19 p.m.

So, there are things I want to talk about in here, but I can't because it's work-related. I will just say that the temporary filling in that I've been doing will be coming to an end because they want a full-blown permanent person on it after all, budget or not. And, well... we'll see.

Anyway, today's entry is gonna be about Picnic Day, our biggest local event of the year.

I've gone to many of these by now. I've gone around with relatives, I've gone around with friends, I've gone around by myself some years. There's plusses and minusses to the options. I went around by myself this year and while I deeply enjoyed getting to see what I wanted to without someone whining at me that they're bored and want to leave, or not seeing things 'cause they don't wanna, you do notice that it's easier to traverse the day in packs. Or at least, if you travel in a horde, you've got someone to save your place in line and get less run over by hordes. Stuff like that. I've sort of gotten bored of the day over the years at times-- it's also a big drinking day and I don't do that (or at least, I don't have friends who go wildly alcoholic on the day), and sometimes you're just kinda like, "I've seen most of the stuff by now, whatever."

This year, being a loner year, I decided to take a different approach to the day. What if this was my last Picnic Day ever? (Or second-to-last, if I actually do move when I am mentally intending to.) What would I want to see? What would I not want to miss out on or what would I want to see one last time? Minus the fashion show, which has gotten so big and popular that they now hold it in a giant concert hall and you can't even see the people walking down the aisle very well from how far away you are seated, so what's the point.

So this year I decided to brave the chemistry magic show. This is one of those things that is a Very Big Deal around here, but I'd never even tried to go see it because apparently you had to line up to get tickets for it at the ass crack of dawn. Unfortunately of late I have BEEN waking up at the ass crack of dawn whether I want to or not because my body is now on permanent work schedule, so I figured that if I couldn't sleep in, I'd GO that early. I didn't, and I went. Tickets were to be handed out at 10. I heard that showing up at 8:30 for tickets you'd find a giant line, I got there at 8:15 a.m. and nobody was there. Huh. Where's the line then? A few minutes after that, two girls showed up with travel Scrabble--they came prepared. So we played Scrabble for over an hour while the line got longer and longer (yes, by 8:30 there was one). It went all the way around the back of the building. Basically, you do have to show up early if you want in, period. I shudder to think what the later show lines were like.

I was annoyed that surprise, they had the frigging student security people searching our stuff at both events I went to. I really hate going to some event on campus and THEN they post the signs saying no food, no drink, no cameras, no backpacks, you will be searched... Not only is kind of acting like a stealth version of the TSA (much as everyone hates them, at least you know you can't bring your nail clippers in your carryon before you show up at the airport these days), not only are they confiscating your food/drink for no good reason, if you happen to have a backpack or a camera or something, it's not like they offer you a safe place to put it instead, do they? Uh, no, so either you go home or you have your shit stolen. Awesome, eh? I can understand them searching you for booze (I did see one guy sniffing a water bottle), but the rest of it's kind of stupid. Especially with camera phones. Fortunately, they aren't really in depth with searching. I also thought it was funny how they wanted me to throw out my water, and then didn't actually take it away from me... so I kept it. Hah. It wasn't vodka and I didn't drink during the show anyway.

Wandering back to the topic... So yes, l got a ticket to the first show of the day. It was... interesting. I don't think I'd be diehard about showing up every year at 8 a.m. and missing the parade every year just to see it, but getting in at the first show of the day and having more time to do stuff after 11 a.m. was rather worth it. The show involved various things blowing up-- hydrogen-filled balloons, Harry Potter fluorescent flames, a Gummy worm being set on fire and kind of setting the carpet on fire a bit (that was the favorite of the day), soda bottle rockets hitting the ceiling, and one guy claiming to make insta-Coke and insta-beer. (Note that he specifically said he was 19 while making the beer. Hmmmm.) So, not bad. Pretty nifty.Then after that, I braved the line for the liquid nitrogen ice cream (25 minute wait), which is darned tasty. Very moist and airy, should you ever have the opportunity to sample some.

Then I went over to the Doxie Derby, an event I like to watch, but most people want to wander in and out of. Bizarrely enough, there were giant lines for THAT. Apparently last year there were so many people that they locked them in, rather than letting people wander in and out as usual. I was kind of annoyed by that-- one thing I liked about that is that it has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to trying to get into oh, the chem show. And then when we got in at noon they were all, "Oh, the show doesn't start until one, but you should save seats." Well, at least then you get to watch puppy practice. One dachshund this year had the lower half of his body on wheels, which was soooooo cute. I was calling him Rollerdog, the guys in the row ahead of me kept yelling, "CYBORG DOG!" The winning dog this year was the most raring to go just in the BOX that I've ever seen before, a sure sign that he had what it takes. I also got a Doxie Derby shirt this year (yes! finally!) because some nice girl decided to sell them by wandering in the aisles. I wouldn't have been able to get over there without losing my seat. So now I have one, yay.

One of the annoying things about Picnic Day to me is that almost everything takes place between 10 a.m. (when 90% of the events open) and 3 p.m. (when 95% of them end). So you can go to one event in the morning, go to one in the afternoon, with the hordes of people and waiting in line that's probably at least a 2-3 hour time investment for a show, and then when you get out at 3.... that's it for the day. You still wanna go see and do stuff, but what's still open? I couldn't find any rabbits to see this year (bummer) in the animal exhibits, they closed up the cats about a minute after I got there. I ended up seeing the greenhouse, the inevitable corpse flower (thank god it wasn't blooming), and taste-testing a salvia leaf, which is quite sugary. Mmm.

This is also the sort of thinking that lead me, a person who doesn't like bugs, to wander into the entomology exhibit and think things like, "I guess I could look at maggot art..." Which, for the record, is dipping maggots into paint and letting them squiggle onto a piece of paper. I explained this to a woman and she said, "And nobody's complaining about animal rights for that?" Yeah, that's what I thought. They also had termites crawling around on ink, mealworm desserts for sale (really, also, SOLD OUT!), honey tasting (much safer), and cockroach races, which were surprisingly reminiscent of the Doxie Derby in that some get what's going on and run like hell, and others diddle about and don't get it.

I would like to extend my cheers to the atmospheric science department for keeping their exhibit open until 5 p.m., and having a show go on at 4 p.m. Basically, it was the smaller, atmospheric magic show. They had cloud in a bag, a tornado machine, various ways of making tornadoes, implodng soda cans, machines that blew smoke rings into the audience, and my favorite, "the egg's birthday," in which a candle was on the top of an egg and the guy got the egg and candle to go through the neck of a bottle. Neat stuff. They needed a more theatrical room for it, I think, but it was a pretty good show.

And that was pretty much it. Now I am home, hiding from drunk screamy people. Happy Picnic Day, y'all!

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