On Location

Dallas Comic Con - May 16-18, 2014

Dallas Comic Con moved to the Dallas Convention Center this year, and with it much more space for everyone to wander about.  The crushing crowds from previous cons weren't a factor, and it allowed everyone to walk around comfortably. The vendors hall was full of booths showcasing everything you can imagine, including figurines, toys, costumes, props, and of course tons of artwork and comic books.  

The fun part for me is getting the chance to meet a few actors from some of my favorite shows, and check out the cosplayers efforts. These people showcase their talent and imagination, and stay in character for the fun reactions they get. 

Here are a bunch of pictures from the three days in no particular order.  The highlight for me was meeting and getting a picture with Summer Glau as well as Gina Torres.  I only attended a couple of panels, but they were both excellent.  

A model showing her comic cover art.

Las Vegas, Part II

Las Vegas has brought in sights from around the world to one location.  Here's a shopping center that resembles the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Yet look at the different shapes standing around it. The conflict of straight versus rounded versus angular really works.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Since I've never been to Las Vegas before, when I took a family vacation in March 2013 my camera was always at the ready. If it wasn't, my iPhone 5 was.  I flew in on a Monday and stayed at the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, which is just off the main strip. Pricing was reasonable, but you should know that all the hotels add a "resort fee" to the bill, which will increase the daily room rate. In my case, the fee covered parking at the hotel among other things, but the best feature was access to the Stratosphere tower, which is the tallest free-standing tower in the U.S. Using Travelocity to book my hotel and flight, I got a great deal. I added shuttle service from the airport to my hotel, which was another $15 round trip, far less expensive than cab fare.  

DFW MACNA 2012

MACNA came to Dallas-Fort Worth for a three day weekend: September 28-30, 2012.  

MACNA is a big deal for each club that takes on the challenging aspect of organizing the annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North America.  The bidding process starts at least 24 months in advance, with candidate clubs submitting their information to MASNA with clear cut goals and high expectations for success.  MASNA’s board of directors then considers the applications, consults amongst themselves, and bestows the honor upon the winning bid, with a signed contract that stipulates specific requirements that must be upheld.   Here are some of the pictures I took this year.  Descriptions are still being added.

MACNA XV: Louisville, KY

I had the opportunity to attend MACNA's 15th annual conference in in Louisville Kentucky. LMAS was the hosting club. This was my second time, as I attended the one in Ft Worth last year as well, hosted by DFWMAS (my local club).

MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America) is designed for the purpose of sharing knowledge with hobbyists. A person can gain much knowledge in three days, which is disseminated by various speakers of different fields. Plus, the newest innovations are on display, all types of livestock and dry goods are available, and you can hang out and talk with people in the same hobby!

Various pages (linked to the left) were put together to let you discover what you may have seen had you attended.

Here are some of the things I noted from the conference:

My visit to Austin, Texas

September 1, 2007I decided to drive down to Austin to visit some of the gorgeous reef tanks I've only seen online. With the help of the Austin Reef Club, we were able to make it a Tank Tour for the day. Fortunately the weather cooperated.

I arrived on August 31 at Aaron's home, where I stayed for two nights. His family was very kind in opening their home to me. That night, we went to Oasis, a beautiful restaurant with outdoor dining over Lake Travis, a Texas lake that is 65 miles long. A live band was playing, but a huge storm rolled in and they had to grab their instruments and run for cover. All the diners had to move under the protective cover or eat inside as the black clouds quickly moved in. The lake vanished, the storm was so powerful, but within an hour the view began to return.

What is MACNA? Why should you attend?

That is the question I asked myself a few years ago, back in 2002. I saw the brochure at the LFS (local fish store), and heard some people talking about it, but I wasn't sure what it actually was. One thread on ReefCentral asked "Who's going to MACNA this year?" and so I finally replied that I wanted to know what it was all about. Duane, one of members of DFWMAS, chimed in that it was being held in Ft Worth, and that I would love it. Skeptical, I decided to do more research. I followed a few older threads and a couple of links that lead me to an old newsletter that was written by Nancy Swart, then president of MASNA. In that newsletter,

DFWMAS Fall Frag Swap

November 13, 2010: Last weekend, our club had it's semi-annual frag swap. This one is open to members and guests. One thing that I've noticed over the years is how progressive these events are becoming. The first few that I attended, you had corals in about a cup's worth of water in a ziplock bag lying on a table. If you were lucky, the name and price was written on the bag with a Sharpie. A couple of people would go to a lot of trouble to bag their corals up in a professional manner, floating their corals upside down affixed to styrofoam blocks. They would bring 60 to 100 frags for sale, and end up taking home 50% probably.

Fast forward to 2010. Everyone wants power to run their little display tanks, using T5s or LEDs. Finding a suitable location that offers up power for 15+ tanks can be challenging, and something tells me that those numbers will increase as more people step up their game.

DFWMAS Spring Frag Swap

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - Irving Tx - DFWMAS had its spring Frag Swap at the Irving Bible Church. It's a beautiful venue that is quite spacious, but once you add a bunch of tables, frag tanks, corals and people, it can quickly feel crowded. Part of the reason for this is the excitement of finding that next coral to add to your personal collection.

16 sellers filled their reserved spaces to display tank-raised frags available to trade of sell. Some had small frag tanks with lighting, while others opted to bring a cooler filled with bagged pieces. Just about anything one could want was there, from the easy to grow starter corals to the nicer corals that carry a nickname and a bigger price tag.

The Dallas World Aquarium

We visited the Dallas World Aquarium in 'West End', Dallas on September 2004 for the very first time, and took a bunch of pictures. My son and I had a great time that day. We got there at 10am Saturday morning as they were opening. The entrance has been moved to the rear corner of the building, away from the parking lot.  I was amazed by the serpentine line we had to navigate, but it puts you up at Level 2 as you enter the facility.