Scott Hardie | February 16, 2009
I am pleased to announce that GooCon will happen annually, and the second event is now open for registration. Money's a little tighter in this year's economy, but I think everyone who attended last year's event will agree with me that the fun is worth every cent. I hope to see you there!

I went through a long period of weighing locations and dates. Considering last year's location a good fallback option if I couldn't find anything else, I looked for other rental properties in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, particularly Bradenton Beach. Unfortunately, they were all insanely expensive, $1500+ for the weekend, or too tiny for us. When I branched out to vacation mecca Orlando, that's when I hit paydirt. Most of the rental houses that slept over 8 people were in the $1200 range, but I found this one for the bargain price of $540. It sleeps twelve people (fifteen if you count couches) across five bedrooms, comes with its own pool and game tables, and is brand-new, having been built in 2006. To put this bargain in perspective, the Siesta Key house from last year cost $600. I haven't signed up for the house yet (Uncle Sam got to my money first this weekend), but I intend to register it soon when we have a few people confirmed.

The date was the other hard part. October held appeal because of the possibility of making this an annual event on the site's anniversary; I like having something to look forward to each fall. The other major date considered was the first weekend in March 2010, which is when I projected the 82nd Academy Awards to be presented, so that we could watch the show and tally our contest scores together. I couldn't decide between the dates, and most people I asked said that they were fine with both, so when one person said that March would be very difficult for him, that settled it. (As neat as it would have been to watch the Oscars together, I didn't really want to wait another five months.)

Last year, I was surprised how many details we got exactly right through careful planning. Go me, apparently. Keeping most of the event the same, here's what I intend to do differently this time:
- $150 entry fee instead of $200, with additional reduction in cost if enough people sign up
- one meal out per day instead of two; it's fun but it takes too long
- keeping to a tighter schedule, doing all activities in order, and not wasting time between them
- allowing "registration" without confirmation, so you can declare your intention to be part of it
- voting on restaurants, since I don't know the area well enough to play tour guide (who am I kidding? we're going to wind up at the Chinese buffet)
- Rock Block will not be played tournament-style or on paper cards; I think two players sharing a laptop across the table from each other is still sufficiently different from the site
- a surprise game on Sunday, related to something new I intend to launch on this site before October

Kelly remarked that it seems weird to go to the trouble of setting this in Orlando (or any Florida destination) but not doing anything to take advantage of the local attractions, the same way we didn't take advantage of the fishing or canoeing last time. She's right that it seems that way, but the reason we're getting together is GooCon, and I'm pretty sure most attendees are not interested in the local attractions. If I proposed an optional fourth day spent at DisneyQuest or some other local fun center, would anybody accept? I'll change our plans if you tell me I'm wrong, but I doubt it. I chose this location because it's a great house for a bargain price, and only tourist meccas are likely to offer that, not because we intend to take advantage of activities in the area.

Jackie Mason | February 16, 2009
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Scott Hardie | February 16, 2009
I know! It's crazy. The final cost after fees and taxes will be $601.70. I keep expecting there to be something wrong with it like it's falling apart, but it looks brand new in the photos. Here's hoping we're not going to discover some catch after we arrive. Unlike last year, I'm renting this one sight unseen.

I do want to keep costs down as much as possible. Miscellaneous costs (prizes, etc) will be about $40 per person, leaving about $110/person for the house, which covers five guests. If more people sign up, I'll keep lowering the per-person charge each time. I might also cut back on prizes; all but the big trophies seemed to get a lukewarm reception last year, and probably deservingly so.

Jackie Mason | February 16, 2009
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Matthew Preston | February 16, 2009
Done and done. Count me in for round two! (Just how many times can I vote for the china buffet?)

Aaron Shurtleff | February 16, 2009
I can't even recommend this enough! Scott is very modest, but he really does a great job working all this stuff up, and you will not be disappointed! Personally, I am very lucky to have it in my area, so I can usually find a way to get there (as I plan to again this year!!), and I am once again offering whatever I can to help anyone else you wants to make it to get here. I can't bankroll anyone, but I'm willing to go out of my way to pick people up from random little airports if someone can get a cheaper flight that way, or whatever! Seriously, help me to help you all! :) If there's anything I can personally do, let me know.

I am so looking forward to this!!! Mystery game, eh? :)

Speaking of trophies, by the way, did my one prize ever arrive in the mail? No big deal if not, just wondering.

Scott Hardie | February 16, 2009
Aaron: Your prize did arrive, soon after the last GooCon. I've been lazy and forgetful, sorry. It will be in the mail tomorrow morning. This year, I'm not going to wait until ten days before the event to start buying prizes. And thanks for the compliments. :-)

Matt: The China buffet is one of the closest restaurants around, and one of the cheapest. These are some pricy restaurants, and I didn't even bother putting the really expensive ones on the list. That said, while I avoided listing national chains on the ballot (who wants to fly all the way to Florida to eat what's down the street?), there are several cheaper alternatives nearby like Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans, if cost is a real factor. I'm fine with just about everything.

Jackie: I really hope you can make it this year. You'll have a great time! Rock Block isn't for everybody, but it's relegated to a computer in the corner, so that those who enjoy it can play in person without the rest of us. (I'd set up some kind of tournament event on Sunday afternoon, but who wants to watch other people play Rock Block? I love that game but I could only stand to watch one or two concerts.) Celebrity Goo Game is fun for everybody, whether you play it on the site or not. Last year's first-timers Miah & Ines both said they enjoyed it; Ines won a prize at it. I think all of the activities on this schedule will appeal to everyone, and they're all short enough that if you do get bored, you won't have to wait long for the next one.

Erik Bates | February 16, 2009
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Amy Austin | February 16, 2009
Hell, yes! And big "woohoo" to being where I know I'll be able to make it!!!

Jackie Mason | February 17, 2009
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Steve Dunn | February 17, 2009
I would like to do this, but it'll probably have to be a game-time decision for me. I never know what my work schedule is going to look like that far in advance.

Jackie Mason | February 17, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | February 18, 2009
Note: The following comment will only make sense to the person it is intended for, and perhaps one other person...

ANGIE?!? ANGIE?!?!? WTF??? Did you mean Sabrina? :)

Aaron Shurtleff | February 18, 2009
Oh, and also, once again, since my options to go to the various restaurants listed are so much more numerous, I'll just go with whatever the majority thinks.

Except China Buffet. That's some good stuff! As long as they have the hot and sour soup!!! :)

Scott Hardie | February 18, 2009
Woohoo! We're up to six people, including two new additions since last year. This is off to a great start! Now comes the hard part, waiting until October. :-)

Erik and Steve, obviously I hope that both of you can make it. I've had the pleasure of meeting both of you through this site and having a great time with you, so I know you'll enjoy the hell out of this weekend if you can join us.

Aaron: Originally the restaurant ballot was only open to confirmed attendees, because if someone signed up and then backed out, I didn't want to have to weed out their votes. But it's way more fun to let unconfirmed attendees vote too, so if you've already signed up, have at it. That Chinese buffet won't know what hit 'em.

Jackie: The text description of the house says it has a pool table and a foosball table, but the photos of the house show a pool table and an air hockey table. I trust the photos, but I'm not sure. We can definitely fit in some air hockey time. Last year, we brought Kelly's magnetic dartboard and hung it on the wall, and people used it to pass a few spare minutes now and then, but we didn't get organized about it. We can do it this year. I accept your challenge! Unfortunately my reflexes suck and I will be beaten.

Kelly Lee | February 18, 2009
Yum China Buffet....
I'm asking one of my friends in Orlando if they can recommend any good places as well.

Jackie Mason | February 18, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | February 24, 2009
Ugh! Looked a bit closer at the actual dates of GOO Con II...

I'll be glad when the event stops being held on my wife's birthday. It will greatly improve morale at home. :)

Aaron Shurtleff | February 24, 2009
Also, there are some odd laws in Florida, and pursuant to something I saw written earlier somewhere, I want to make sure people know the kind of stuff you can be arrested for in Florida...

Don't even think about it

I'm just sayin'...

Amy Austin | February 24, 2009
Fortunately for me and Jackie, neither of us is your live-in girlfriend (domestic)... and between the two of us, I don't think we'll have to throw you around the room any (battery). Just sayin'.

Scott Hardie | February 25, 2009
Sorry, I forgot about the missus. Will anybody have a problem attending on October 16-18 instead? I would push it to a weekend later which is closer to our anniversary, but I don't think we'll get any parents joining us on Halloween weekend. If nobody objects within the next few days, then let's move it up before anybody books their travel.

Aaron Shurtleff | February 25, 2009
Scott, it's fine, actually! I was more just commenting for fun than lobbying for a change! We can keep it where it is...I'll still be there! :D

Steve Dunn | February 25, 2009
October 16-18 is more convenient for me, but don't change on my account because I can't commit to either weekend at this point.

Jackie Mason | February 25, 2009
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Scott Hardie | February 27, 2009
Honestly, I'm impressed that you folks have your October planned down to the weekend already. I barely know what I'm doing tomorrow..

Consider the date change objected to and forgotten about. Steve, I hope you can still join us.

Erik Bates | February 28, 2009
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Scott Hardie | February 28, 2009
Sorry to hear it, Erik. You're not alone. Does this also mean you're out of a place to live?

Erik Bates | March 1, 2009
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Jackie Mason | March 2, 2009
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Amy Austin | March 2, 2009
Join the club... you wanna' be Secretary or Treasurer?

Lori Lancaster | March 2, 2009
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Dave Stoppenhagen | March 2, 2009
That sucks Erik, sorry to hear that.

Scott Hardie | March 3, 2009
Matt is the first to confirm. Who's next?

Chris Lemler | March 29, 2009
Sorry Scott I would love to come down and join the fun at GooCon. Maybe one year I will be able to come and have some fun with you guys. I know that you and your girlfriend Kelly really work hard on putting this GooCon together. I will try to come one year and check it out. Keep up the good work.:)

Scott Hardie | April 26, 2009
Sorry you won't be able to make it, Chris. I continue to look at midwestern venues, and we may have it there someday in the future.

Yesterday was the halfway point between the last GooCon and the next one. I can't wait!

Jackie Mason | May 22, 2009
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Steve West | May 22, 2009
One time in the middle of August. Mosquitoes are of a size that can carry away small children. Take repellant!

Scott Hardie | May 23, 2009
Kelly and I have merely driven through it on the way to Fort Lauderdale. It's three hours of nothing to look at but swamp, like driving across Illinois is three hours of nothing but cornfields. We'd like to visit the national park someday and ride an air-boat and really see the Everglades up close. If you want to go together after GooCon, we're up for it.

Steve West | May 23, 2009
Despite the mosquitoes, it's really worth a visit. Sorry if I was unclear on that. Gators are plentiful so stay on the covered trails. Airboat rides are awesome.

Scott Hardie | July 20, 2009
First announcement: Jackie has confirmed her attendance! We're thrilled to have you aboard, Jackie! Along with Matthew, Kelly and myself, that makes four confirmed, with Aaron and Amy both still planning on coming too. Anybody else? There's still room for more, and we're going to have a great time!

Second announcement: The house is booked! However, it's not the same house. The rate went up considerably on the house that I had planned to use. I don't know if they noticed the traffic from and decided to jack up the rates in anticipation of our business or what, because the other houses didn't go up that I could see. Anyway, I have selected a similar house for the same price that we had planned, in the same area. It has a great living room, big deck area with a swimming pool and spa, and great kitchen and bedrooms. Sorry Jackie, we lost an air hockey table, but we gained a foosball table. For photos and a floor plan, go here and click on the living room image.

Third announcement: Now that I have gone public with Gothic Earth, the RPG that I've been finishing planning for the last few weeks, the mystery game is revealed.

Aaron Shurtleff | July 20, 2009
w00t! Gothic munchkin ftw!!!!! I'm dancing in my office!!!

No, really, I am. It's kind of meh, but I do what I can...

Jackie Mason | August 18, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | October 6, 2009
Who, me? Miss GOO Con? Ha!

Jackie Mason | October 8, 2009
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Steve West | October 10, 2009
Next year when I am able to pleasure myself with a trip to GooCon, I'll find it fitting to get my picture taken in front of this store and get their T-shirt.

Amy Austin | October 10, 2009

And while you're at it, stop on by here near Gainesville to visit the restaurant in Cross Creek named for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' book The Yearling -- they, too, have a shirt you might be interested in presenting as a souvenir for Brenda. Lqtm...

Scott Hardie | October 11, 2009
With the inclusion of Melissa Turffs and Justin Conner from Gothic Earth, we're now up to eight attendees. I'm waiting for them to get final confirmation that they can get time off from work before I make the price change official, but if they're in, that makes it $112.50 per person. A ninth guest would lower it to $100 per person, and it keeps going down from there.

Do we have any other last-minute registrations? Steve Dunn, you said you wouldn't make up your mind until mid-October. There may be others lurking out there who have been considering jumping in. We're going to have a great time, and we want you to be a part of it! If you want in, now is the time to sign up.

Steve Dunn | October 11, 2009
Not gonna make it. Sorry. Wish I could be there.

Scott Hardie | October 29, 2009
The weekend is over, and we had a great time! I'm tempted to announce the 2010 event now just because I hope everybody who missed this one can sign up now for next time. We played Celebrity Goo Game live, we competed in trivia, we played a Gothic Earth adventure, we had revealing conversations about each other and other people, and we formed a lot of great memories. My summary is online (thanks to Jackie and Kelly for the photos), and Aaron wrote one as well. I'm grateful to our guests for making this such a great weekend!The video is also here if you want to share it out of context of the site.

Matthew Preston | October 29, 2009

Jackie Mason | October 29, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | October 29, 2009

Aaron Shurtleff | October 29, 2009
...super sweet...

Amy Austin | October 29, 2009
Piece of candy.

Aaron Shurtleff | October 29, 2009
By the way, my wife said the best birthday present she got was you all taking me away for the weekend, and she's encouraging you to feel free to do it again next year...

She loves me, though. Srsly. :)

Matthew Preston | October 29, 2009
Those who were at GooCon will find this funny. Those who weren't, ask me why this is funny in person someday.

I visited Discovery World in Milwaukee today for a 4-hour mini conference about IP camera technology. Discovery World is a kid's museum about science, but they have a roof-top conference room for gatherings. While on my way up to the conference room, THIS is what I see as one of the main attractions!

Amy Austin | October 29, 2009
I knew it! Lol, omg how I wish I would have been there for that. So Tesla lives after all... looks like you failed to kill him, Matt. Did you at least give it a try? ;-DDDDD

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