PEOPLE: Until Diane arrived on Friday night, I was essentially there alone. Last year, when I knew ~no one except for Cassandra, this would basically have been a disaster; I don't particularly hang out with furries on the Internet who I don't already know from somewhere else, so I wouldn't have been able to get in touch with that social group since it didn't exist.  Although I did get to see Ian-Keith, a partner in roguelike crime from way back. ;) This year I already knew a bunch of people from last year --- not well, mind you, but well enough to sit down and strike up a conversation for a few minutes and feel like there was a reason for me to be there. Those people also helped me meet new people to the point where after another year or two I can imagine just showing up and being "Oh, it's the social group I know from Anthrocon!," especially in the gaming room. Unfortunately people aren't very good about giving out contact information --- and I'm not as good as I should be at asking for it.
I've tried to mitigate this problem by having cards I hand out with my name, telephone number, email address, website, and basic information about myself on them, and they work both as harder to discard than a scrap of paper (they're on pink cardstock, of course, because I am me) and a conversation starter. There's something on the card that will make pretty much everyone go either "oooh!" or "what on earth is that?" But since I'm the one handing out the contact information, I pretty much have to rely on the people making first contact with me, which has a pretty low percentage rate. There were a few people in particular this year who I was really glad to meet though, and who I expect I'll stay at least in casual contact with during the year.
FOOD: Mostly I brought a ton of trail mix, a giant bag of dried pineapple, and these weird raw crackers, and lived off of those the whole time. I did have three meals out: one at Sree's, an almost-entirely vegan Indian place (they have tandoori chicken over in an awkward little corner), one at a Thai place that was OK but not worth blogging about, and one at Quiet Storm, a vegetarian/vegan cafe that's like five miles from the convention center but a cheap cab ride and trivially accessible by bus. Cabs were so backed up that we had to take the bus on our way back and it turned out to be painless and cheaper and an opportunity to see more of Pittsburgh. Oh and the food was so amazing and so inexpensive that I am totally going back next year and dragging other people: "Get on a bus, it won't kill you. Come on." The people were kinda like "The furries come this far out? Whoah," but it was totally cool. Also seriously it was good enough that I begged them for a cookbook but they didn't have one.
Eating mostly trail mix isn't nearly as boring as I thought (and for aforementioned nightshade reasons was actually rather nice), but it was nice to get out a bit and have something very different on the last night. (Barbecue seitan sandwich... mmmmmh. Amazing black beans, too.)
EVENTS: Aside from basic stuff like "Watch the fursuit parade!" I really only went to two events that weren't gaming-related this year: The Women in Fandom meet and greet and an IndyFurCon meetup. The Women in Fandom event was amazing, I met a bunch of fun people and talked about organization and social groups and anthropology and trying to bring gender studies into science curricula. Eventually three of us ended up in a corner talking about our PhD programs and seriously geeking out, it rocked. <3 (One of those people is among the "must keep in touch with...") It was really cool to hear people talk about how in the 90s there were like four women at cons, and now it's not 50% but there are a whole lot of us --- I had been on the Internet doing furry things then, but went to my first con last year, and so I was just like "Oh wow this isn't nearly as bad as I thought!" :)
The IndyFurCon meetup I hoped to use as a chance to meet people from Indiana despite the fact that I can't go this year. (I have a wedding I'm already going to.) I only met one person who was actually from Indiana there, which was sort of odd, although chatting with him for a bit was nice, and I'll probably see him at the furry barbecue I think we're going to today? Then there was this young woman from Canada who I'm not entirely sure what happened but pretty soon we were arm in arm skipping around the Westin and then there were some stairs and then I was in a room party being served good beer? The point of this party seemed to be to recruit people for another con, Condition in London, Ontario, which apparently has a plot that will be enacted year to year, so it's sort of a dinner murder mystery con? Con with LARP elements? I dunno. The people were really cool, I chatted with one of their guests of honor for a while about fursuits as part of a cluster of people, I would definitely consider going if it weren't for its conflicting with the other wedding I'm going to this summer. But I'll leave it on the possibilities for next year if the reports go well. I would very much like to see an event where the theme is more than just pasted on work. "berrrrrrrrrr" is Oolong's contribution to the discourse in this regard apparently. 
DRIVING THERE: This sort of deserves its own section. Flying looked ridiculously expensive, and it's only a seven or eight hour drive to Pittsburgh, and I thought "Hey, maybe I can carpool with some people, since I have a van, and save money on gas!" After a truly ridiculous amount of catherding --- we had three people supposed to be in the car who punted at various times, and one person flew from San Diego in order to ride there and back with someone from Champaign who we had to pick up at a rest stop outside Indy, and... there were three furries I didn't know before the trip riding with me to and from Pittsburgh. We had a blast. (One of them didn't pay me and hasn't responded to my messages about this, but whatever. Two out of three ain't bad.) One of them, Flare Starfire,  is an impressive improvisational pianist who really doesn't sound like he has no background in music theory --- he's got that savant thing going. You can hear a few tracks for free on his website, I'm pretty sure; when he played some for me in the car, I was all "Is this Beethoven? No this chord progression is too modern. Um. Wait, is this Phillip Glass? No, he wouldn't have gone there... What is this? Wait this is you?" If you sit down with your Serious Music Brain you'll find things to criticize but it's really enjoyable and impressive music and at Anthrocon I confirmed that he's fun to watch play, too. If "modern classical improvisational piano (in a fursuit)" sounds interesting to you, check it out!
NEXT YEAR?: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going. I really want to run a vegan (or maybe, to get the numbers up, vegetarian and vegan) meetup thing at some point, and maybe get help from Pittsburgh locals to put together a good list combined with directions and bus instructions and schedules for those specific places. (There's a Pittsburgh veg society website or something, but it mostly assumes you are from Pittsburgh, and there's an Anthrocon dining guide, but it mostly assumes you have no interest in walking more than a thousand feet.) I'm psyched that I didn't eat out that much this year (last year it was every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, ulgh), but it is a good social opportunity, and when you're at a con and you probably should have eaten two hours ago and you're overheating because half your body is covered in fake fur, having a little booklet that says "Stand at X intersection for five minutes and get on a bus until it hits Y, get out, get a vegan smoothie" would be awesome. Anyone know anything about organizing that kind of event?
Diane and I had also talked about running some sort of surreal side-quest puzzle hunt, and if we're still interested, we might do it... this would probably take the form of randomly handing puzzle packets to people and periodically answering questions and maybe giving out small prizes to people who solve the puzzles correctly. We'll see if we get to it. :)
 A lot of furries spend a lot of time on Internet social groups and use conventions as a way to get together and spend time in person. I don't do this so much (though not none); for me it's more "this kind of event gets together friends who are geographically disparate" because people in my social groups tend to do things like move for grad school or flee screaming to California.
 If you weren't aware, Oolong is one of my cats.
 Boston people can catch him playing at FurFright --- apparently he's a guest of honor? Whoah.