Questions from a Comic Con Virgin

In case you don’t know, this is my first SD Comic Con.  I went to Wonder Con once, about 8 years ago, and have been to a few small local cons, but nothing on this scale.  I have read about 30 different ‘How to prepare for Comic Con’, ‘What to pack for Comic Con’, ‘Comic Con Survival Guide’ and ‘What not to do at Comic Con’ articles and postings.  I’ve listened to Crazy4ComicCon’s podcast, I’ve studied the official Comic Con exhibition and panel maps.  I read what is posted regarding camping out, and costume weapons.  I have made my MySched selections and alternates, and printed out the full programming schedule.  I’ve got a map/directory of the Gaslamp Quarter and taken note of which shuttle route I should take if I need to utilize the shuttles.  I have taken note where bathrooms are located and from this I have an idea of where to check for the least busy bathrooms (just an idea, of course; reality may prove quite different).  I’ve got my Attendee Badge info and travel arrangements, my budget figured out, costume logistics, game-plan for all my tech, business cards, offsite events and fan parties are set, anxiety pillz are ready to go, gel insoles and tennis shoes, found a grocery store near where I’m staying to get snacks & water, and I’ve been checking Twitter constantly for #SDCC, #NerdHQ and #SDCCTips updates.  I’m ready for crowds and walking and waiting.

So, I think it is safe to say that I am as ready as a Comic Con virgin can be.

I’ve still got a couple lingering questions I haven’t had adequately answered by anything I’ve read, maybe because it’s something new, or some randomly specific question that just would like to know.  I’m hoping there’s some veteran who will take pity on me and try to answer some of them…?
1.  For the Firefly panel in Ballroom 20, are they going to have a line-up area specified the day before, or earlier?  If I get in line at around 10 or 11pm Thursday night, do I have a chance of making it in?  From the posts I’ve been reading and the numbers on MySched, there’s going to be a LOT of people trying to get into this one.
2.  Can anyone give me a rundown on the NerdHQ’s Conversations?  Pretty much all I’ve been able to gather is that is involves around 225 people, there’s some kind of Q&A and there may or may not be a signing depending on which one it is. (of course, not knowing hasn’t stopped me from getting tickets)
3.  Is it weird if I plan to try and get any signatures I’m lucky enough to get all in a single notebook, instead of individual pieces of merchandise specific for that person’s involvement?  (ie, Fringe comic for Joshua Jackson or Babylon 5 trading card for Claudia Christian, etc) ?
4.  Does anyone have any tips on how to mentally prepare beforehand or during a celebrity meeting so as to NOT have a spastic fangirl attack?  Some sort of Vulcan focusing or mental discipline techniques?
5.  I’m a friendly person, but I don’t usually initiate conversations with strangers.  Any good ice-breakers for fellow line waiters other than the Captain Obvious things like ‘oh so since you’re in this line, I take it you’re a fan of *whatever*?’

I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of other planning things, but if you have any other advice in addition to answers to any of my questions, I am grateful for any additional guidance.

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