Man in 14B: "Would like it better if my hair was the same color as this guy's?"

Woman in 14A: "The guy in the in-flight magazine?"

Man: "Yes."

Woman: "Wow...I really like that color.  You could dye it."

Man: "What's wrong with my hair now?"

Woman: "Nothing, I just like that color."

Man: "Why are you so fixated on my hair color?"

Woman: "I'm not."

Man: "You told me I should dye it."

Me in 14C: Puts on noise-cancelling headphones.

Yes readers, that was my flight across the country.  And apart from the odd couple next to me, it was a rather un-eventful flight.  Which isn't a bad thing.  While I was blissfully ignorant of the conversation going on to my left, I enjoyed the last couple episodes of Mad Men and indulged in a book.

For the last three days though, I've been standing at an exhibit booth at I/ITSEC 2009!  I say that with an exclamation mark, not because that is the level of enthusiasm that is required to convey how amazing the conference is, but it's required to convey how the I/ITSEC staff wants you to feel about the conference.

It's not unlike Comic-Con.  For the uninitiated, Comic-Con's been around for about forty years as a conference in San Diego that celebrates all that is truly geeky/nerdy/dorky about our culture.  Comic books Graphic novels, movies, video games, sci-fi; it's all there.  People dress as Han Solo, Green Lantern, Gandalf and Dr. McCoy.  Uber-geek.  It's stereotypical, but you may also know these people as video-store clerks who live in their mom's basement eating Funions and drinking Mountain Dew by the gross.

The primary difference between I/ITSEC and Comic-Con is that the folks who attend I/ITSEC are exactly the same people...with higher-paying jobs.  You see, I/ITSEC is a conference about computer simulation and 3D modeling.  And let's face it...if you're programming in a 3D-modeling language for a simulator all day, you're probably also really into World of Warcraft and Battlestar Galactica.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  So why am I here?  One of simulation firms asked me to show off a product they built for the company for which I work.  The firm is actually a pretty cool group of folks and I'm having a great time.  However, this is my first trip to I/ITSEC and frankly, it's rather eye-opening.  I'd like to share this experience with you...and since this is kind of a photography site, I figure the best way to do this is through pictures.  They're from my phone, so dont' get too excited.

This is one of the exhibits directly across from mine.  Notice the name.  Acme.  I'm sorry, all this conjures up for me is cartoons of a coyote buying rockets, bombs and sling-shots that fail 110% of the time.  I meant to ask the representative if he had some paint that could turn a brick wall into a fully-functioning tunnel.

 This is another exhibit across from my booth.  This guy, who looks like an old Denis Leary, sells these cases for transporting camera gear and weapons apparently.  I can't see a huge market for holding my MP5 in a flashy, yellow case, but whatever.  The interesting here is the display.  I'm not totally sure what this is supposed to show me.  The inside of this case could be wet.  You'd never know. I guess it's cool that your launch-codes can now float?

I've learned at conventions like this, it's best to have some way to make your booth stand out from the others.  And nothing does that quite like a freakin' tank.

Meet RUAG's booth.  I don't know what RUAG stands for, if anything, but this is where the largest crowd gathered.  And for what?  The "Combat Heidis."  Three strippers dancers jumped around to techno-music in a quasi-Charlie's Angels fashion.  One guy asked me what RUAG sold.  I don't think even RUAG knows.  Maybe smoke machines?  Cold-weather jackets?  My buddy fully-expected brass poles to emerge from the floor.

Remember Dunk-Hunt on the old Nintendo?  This is like that.  Except you must be bald and wearing desert camo.

This one cracks me up.  The model on-stage is wearing a suit with dots that help a computer capture motion (it's called motion-capture!) and the result is that her movements are then translated to a 3D model of a soldier on the screen behind her.  She does this for six hours.  Same stuff they use for creating models for Madden Football and The Polar Express.  What gets me, is watching the virtual soldier do things like The Macarena and hula-dancing.  That's entertainment, people!


This guy has the booth next to us and it's full of faux explosives, RPGs, semi-automatic weapons and probably some nun-chucks and brass-knuckles.  I have to assume he drives this stuff to every convention because that's a guaranteed cavity search at any airport security checkpoint.

Lastly, this is one from our booth.  We've elected to give away camoflauged beer cozies.  Nothing too funny about that, except that I don't know many guys who want their beer harder to find.

That's all I got for now.  It's Jimmy V Week on ESPN and they're just about to air his speech from the 1993 Espy's; which is good 'cause I haven't had a good cry in a while.

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