There's always room for one more Commodore item in Robert's faithful Crown Vic

Connor Krantz and Vincent Mazzei compete in the decathlon

Commodore B128 on the left and a Commodore P500 (North American version)

Dick's CommVEx 8.0 Report
Commodore Las Vegas Expo 2012

   

Links to Photos, related links, and More Travel Reports at bottom

   

Another July, another trip to Las Vegas for CommVEx, our annual show devoted to Commodore brand computers.

But first, a brief note: This report will focus on the backstage and off stage aspects of this event, and the human interaction. For those interested in classic computers, the demonstrations presented, and the more technical aspects of the event, you can visit the 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo page. You can read about the beginnings of this event and previous shows by clicking on the various Las Vegas Expo links at the bottom of this page. For additional photos of previous events, go to the 2011 page and click on the links at the bottom for the desired year.

I had not planned to attend this year, but CommVEx founder-director Robert Bernardo's usual right-hand man, Larry Anderson, had a serious illness in his family and could not make it, so I became the new right-hand man by default.

Normally I start my trips to Las Vegas as early as possible, and stop somewhere for brunch, usually the Denny's in Tehachapi. This time I ate a good breakfast at home, and just made short rest stops. This put me into Las Vegas around 2 p.m., avoiding most of the traffic that clogs I-15 on Friday afternoons. After checking in at the Las Vegas Club hotel, I met up with Robert in the hallway. I advised him that I had not had lunch, and would be back to help with the set-up after a quick visit to a nearby restaurant.

After an OK lunch at the California Hotel, I returned to the meeting room, and helped Robert empty his Ford Crown Victoria, which was crammed from floorboards to roof with Commodore stuff.

By the time we got everything unloaded, a number of people had arrived and were setting up equipment for displays and demonstrations. These were mostly regular attendees who like to get together for a pre-CommVEx gathering, and stretch the event to all hours of the night. We got a lot of equipment in place, and everything at least sorted onto the appropriate tables.

Although there would be more work to be done later and in the morning, Robert finally reached a point where he was ready to go to dinner. Everyone else had already eaten, but by this time I was ready for some dessert, so I joined him at the Golden Gate Casino for a sundae, while he had a chicken dinner.

We then returned to the meeting room, but I soon left to try to get some sleep, hoping that I would not be kept awake by the loud music blasting from Fremont Street, as I had experienced last year. Fortunately, I was in the North Tower of the hotel, a block away from the wild night life, and did not hear any sounds from the street. (I did have to call security Saturday night, due to a dog barking in the next room - something I have never experienced in a hotel and never expected to.)

On Saturday morning I arrived in the meeting room around 9 and set up my laptop and other things needed for my duties as collector of admission fees, seller of raffle tickets, and this year, seller of software for a Commodore dealer who had given Robert two boxes of programs to sell. We had a number of major raffle prizes, and I set up a box for each item, so that attendees could put their tickets in the container for the item they wanted to win. I also had a spread sheet already created that lets me keep track of receipts and maintains a list of names for door prize drawings.

People who have not kept track of what has happened in the world of Commodore the last 15 years often express amazement that anyone still uses these "outdated" machines. But Commodore enthusiasts continue to create new software and hardware for them, making them do things the original designers never dreamed possible.

For example, on Saturday, we watched a Commodore PET 4032 from 1980 display a video film, using the machine's built-in character set. This is the equivalent of printing out a bunch of letters on paper in the shape of a Christmas tree, but animated. Viewed from about ten feet away, the quality was similar to a security video. Mike Hill, the presenter and creator of this program, was two years old when the PET was first introduced.

We had the best attendance since the first event, which had free admission and was at a power company meeting room, and took in enough to pay for this year's expenses and get a good start for next year. We also had some of the more interesting presentations I've seen, so even though I'm no longer a user of Commodore, I enjoyed the weekend greatly.

At the end of the Saturday events, we made our usual trip to Main Street Station, which seems to have the best buffet in downtown Las Vegas. I didn't keep track of who all went, but it was a group of people who have been at most of the expos I've attended, so we all know each other to a certain extent. We ended up in two separate groups of about six each, and had a great dinner accompanied by far-ranging topics of conversation.

As usual, CommVEx brought some fun and interesting happenings that weren't on the schedule. Connor Krantz of Las Vegas first attended (along with his dad, Jeff) when he was seven, and has become a sort of unofficial mascot of the event. At age 13, he's recently started playing guitar, and spent Saturday at a rock concert, but came on Sunday and did his usual fine job of drawing raffle tickets, as well as winning a prize or two himself.

It's inevitable that some raffle prizes will draw more interest than others. There was lots of competition for the SX-64, a combination computer, disk drive and monitor; and the 1581 drive that uses 3.5' floppies. Other items had only two or three people trying for them. And a couple did not get any interest - or at least not at first. One empty drawing box was for an early Commodore product, a VIC-20 computer in near mint condition. Sensing an opportunity, ten-year old Vincent Mazzei pulled out $10 of his own money, bought a single ticket, and dropped it into the empty VIC 20 raffle box. Since we were sticklers for protocol, we then called on Connor to draw the winning ticket, which not surprisingly had Vincent's name.

The event ended with a one-on-one competition for a $10 prize between Connor and Vincent, playing the Activison game "Decathlon." The various events require an ever-changing combination of joystick and button pushing, including the grueling 1500-meter run, an over-long event that threatens to leave the player with carpal tunnel from constant joystick operation. Connor ended up the winner by a slight margin and made everyone there proud by splitting his winnings with Vincent.

Once the event was over and the room was empty of all equipment, there were six of us ready to go out for the Sunday night final dinner - Greg Alekel, Rik Magers and Steve Davison, who I dubbed " the Portland Three," plus Tim Waite from Orange County, Robert Bernardo, and myself. We walked across to the re-modeled Plaza Hotel, and checked a couple of restaurants, finally settling on the Hash House a Go Go. This proved to be a good choice, and we all recommend this location. A couple of the guys ordered breakfast, which consisted of one pancake - but what a pancake! As Greg texted his wife, it's "as big as the spare tire on your Mazda." Indeed, these pancakes were well over a foot in diameter, and were accompanied by eggs, fruit and other goodies. I had a sandwich that included a huge piece of chicken on inch-thick bread, with layers of cheese, tomatoes, and onions. All the other dinners were equally huge, and most of us left carrying take-out boxes.

My "contract" specifies that my duties end on Sunday night, so I got up when I was ready to on Monday, got packed up and checked out, and headed home about 9:30. I had only a V-8 for breakfast, planning to stop fairly soon. However, when I arrived at Primm at the California-Nevada state line, I realized there was no place to eat there except the casinos, so I got gas, ate a candy bar, and hit the road again.

I stopped in Barstow at Domingo's Mexican Restaurant, where I've eaten several times. It's good, not  great, but fine for "road dining." Even with the lunch stop, I was making good time and had visions of arriving home by 5 p.m. Alas, this was not to be. Heading into Bakersfield on State Highway 58, there were lighted signs warning of congestion on Highway 99. This is not unusual, so I didn't give it a lot of thought, but it turned out there was CONGESTION beyond anything I've ever experienced there.

After getting on to 99 and nearly to the north end of town, I hit a traffic jam, and spent an hour and twenty minutes covering the next ten miles. There were two places where lanes ended, and people wait till the last possible second to merge, creating a slowdown. Then past these two bottlenecks there was an accident that involved a big rig. Everything was off the road by the time I passed, and we were back to normal speed, so the only thing I could see was that the left rear corner of the trailer was smashed in. There was obviously another vehicle involved, but I could either watch the road or look at the disabled vehicles, and I made the smart choice.

I finally made it home around 7 p.m., triumphantly carrying a bottle of wine that I had won in the door prize drawing. I considered winding down by emptying the bottle, but again made the wise decision to save it for an appropriate meal.

--Dick Estel, August 2012

   

Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)

    

There's always room for one more Commodore item in Robert's faithful Crown Vic Commodore B128 on the left and a Commodore P500 (North American version) This PET 8296-D from England requires an adapter to run on US power

There's always room for one more Commodore item in Robert's faithful Crown Vic

Commodore B128 on the left and a Commodore P500 (North American version)

This PET 8296-D from England requires an adapter to run on US power

   
This compact modern monitor works with Commodore as well as newer computers Our "high tech" raffle system Jack was the founder of Commodore Business Machines, originally a typewriter repair company

This compact modern monitor works with Commodore as well as newer computers

Our "high tech" raffle system The traditional specialty wine label this year honored Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore Business Machines, originally a typewriter repair company
   
Jim Drew demonstrates two of the computer geek's major food groups
Even Patton didn't have this much metal on his chest Nothing like a bottle of Jack's to keep the registration clerk focused
Jim Drew displays two of the computer geek's major food groups Even Patton didn't have this much metal on his chest Nothing like a bottle of Jack's to keep the registration clerk focused
    
A fresh box of free goodies draws a crowd Most of the crowd present on Saturday afternoon Connor shows intense concentration as he prepares for the Sunday competition

A fresh box of free goodies draws a crowd

Most of the crowd present on Saturday afternoon Connor shows intense concentration as he prepares for the Sunday competition
    
Greg Alekel and Jeff Krantz Connor Krantz and Vincent Mazzei compete in the decathlon Keith Henrickson, Dick Estel at the Saturday night dinner
Greg Alekel and Jeff Krantz Connor Krantz and Vincent Mazzei compete in the decathlon Keith Henrickson, Dick Estel at the Saturday night dinner
    
Our Saturday night dinner destination, seen from the 10th floor of the Vegas Club More bright lights on Main Street This is a drawing - Mickey, glass, water, and shadow, displayed on a Commodore Amiga computer

Our Saturday night dinner destination, seen from the 10th floor of the Vegas Club

More bright lights on Main Street This is a drawing - Mickey, glass, water, and shadow, displayed on a Commodore Amiga computer
   
    Robert has a digital camera, but prefers film for some jobs    
    Robert has a digital camera, but prefers film for some jobs    
       
Related Links
   
Portland Commodore Club Commodore Vegas Info Larry Anderson's Home Page
Fresno Commodore User Group Lenard's CommVEx 2011 Report Part 1           Part 2 Commodore Information Center
   
Even Patton didn't have this much metal on his chest

Jim Drew demonstrates two of the computer geek's major food groups

More bright lights on Main Street

 
Travel Reports
   
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008

2009    2010    2011    2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     Other

   
Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
1961 Monterey Jazz Festival Bluegrass Odyssey
   
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
   
2002
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
   
2003
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
   
2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
   
2005
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
   
2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
   
2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove
Hensley Lake Camp
   
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
    Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
    
2012 
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Other
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email
   
 

Updated September 23, 2015