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Final Anticapation/Montreal report - RonO's Ramblings

Aug. 11th, 2009 09:27 pm Final Anticapation/Montreal report

When I last left you, I needed to head back to the Palis. After more than 3 days, I've forgotten much of the detail of the earlier part of that evening. So I'll just jump in where I start having clear memories.

Friday evening, we opened the Chicago in 2012 bid party for the first time. I got to the suite about 8:30 for my 9:00 shift, and it was in the final stages of getting set up. During this stage, I was told about the rumor that the fact that Neil Gaiman would be in open parties on the 28th floor of the Delta had been twittered all over Canada. Because of this, it was decided that we would need to badge the room party.

So as 9:00 rolled around, I got tasked with the job of badging. This left me having to sit, and later stand (because I got tired of looking up at everyone) outside the door welcoming people to the party. I only had to actually turn one person away, and had to have a couple dig for their badges. I also let someone in on the more than two hundred dollar credit card charge slip from Anticipation, and a Chicago fan that I recognized in without actually seeing badges.

Later, I did get off the door, leaving Tara watching it, and went inside. But by then it was 11:00, and I wanted to visit a couple of other parties before turning in. We spent some time in the UK party (next door to the Chicago Bid), and the Pi-Con party -- where we ate their pie and apologized since Connecticut is too far from San Diego to easily make it. We spent a bit of time in other parties, eventually ending up in the con suite for a while and then headed back to our room.

Saturday morning we really benefited from the breakfast food I'd bought, since it turns out that the food court between the Delta and the Metro station was completely closed. But having eaten in the room, we were able to make it over to the Palis easily in time for our respective first events.

Tara was on a panel, and I went to the main business meeting. I mostly wanted to go to see through the creation of the Graphic Story Hugo. However, before that, the meeting had to consider the much more contentious issue related to Semi-Prozine. I had already decided that I was going to abstain when that came up for vote, so was worried about how frustrated I'd get with the debate.

But, I was saved when I got a couple of calls from the Delta hotel liaison. First, she was offering us a part of the con suite for Saturday night. Between the lack of time for promotion, the standard reasons we don't throw Christian Fandom parties on Saturday night (people wanting to get up early to go to service on Sunday either at the con or elsewhere is the biggest one), and the fact that I was committed to working a couple of hours in the Chicago bid party, I turned her down. But, not that long later she called to say that the Delta did have a room on the 5th floor we could use. So, to save trying to get through to the people at $0.49 per minute, I walked back over to the Delta and made the reservation, and got the room number. By the time I got back, the business meeting was voting on the Semi-Prozine issue, and I was able to abstain by staying squatting at the back of the room.

After that I found a seat and listened while a committee to further study the issue was formed. I ended up sitting near shsilver who explained his concerns about how the next amendment up for ratification might impact the fanzine category, since it would make it so that Internet blogs could be considered fanzines, and asked that I vote against it since he had to leave. After reading the exact text, I could see how this was the case, and that some more work was probably needed to distinguish blogs from fanzines.

As I generally support the idea of making it clear that electronically distributed content is acceptable, I was briefly hopeful when it was proposed to make a "greater change" which would require further ratification at Aussicon 4, and again after that failed when there was a proposal to suspend the rules and vote on the provisions section by section. But that also failed, so I was in the minority who voted against ratification.

Then, finally, the Graphic Story Hugo was up for ratification, which went fairly quickly, with nobody speaking directly against it, although Mark Olson did mention that he was against the idea {more about that later} but supported the amendment due to the "sunset clause" included in it.

By the time the meeting ended, or at least at this point, it was after noon, and I needed to be in Programing Operations at 12:30. So, I quickly ran down stairs and grabbed lunch at Tim Horton's (including a doughnut). When I got to Programing Operations, I found a box of Tim Horton doughnuts as well, so I had more doughnuts that afternoon that I should have, probably -- I'm not sure how the 5 to 10 miles a day I ended up walking during the con will offset my poor eating habits.

Programming Operations was fairly quiet that afternoon, with only one fairly easily solvable crisis. I left just before 3:00 and headed down to work my shift at the bid table. Tara was at the bid table as well so we briefly discussed how to get party supplies. Finally, it was decided that she would make a list and when my shift was done (and her next shift began) I would go over to IGA and get it.

So, after my shift, I walked over to IGA, and with minor difficulty found most of what was on the list -- except for the Goldfish Crackers for the "Loaves and Fishes" dish. Since I had 3 bottles of pop and a fair amount of other food, I decided to pick up two new shopping bags to carry the groceries back. Having made that decision, the walk back to the Metro near the Palis was fairly easy, as was the trip for one stop on the Metro and the final walk back to the Delta.

I then spent some time at the Delta, went back to the Palis to meet Tara and Derrick for dinner. We decided to walk into Old Montreal for dinner, and after not following the local's directions to one place, and finding a second place closed for the night, we ended up back at the same place we'd tried a couple of days before the convention. Now, it was filled with a number of Con people and locals, and was quite busy. It did not help that, while there was at least twice the staff as on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday), but one of the waiters wasn't doing much. However, we did get our pizzas quickly, and they were both quite good.

After dinner, we headed back and put Derrick to bed and then headed up to the Chicago bid party. This time we were actually asked by the convention to "badge hard." Before the party was opened, Tara and I took a bit of a look around at the new theme "Past, President and Future" decorations, which consisted of Chicago World's Fair posters (all from 1934 alas, none from 1892 were available), and poster sized prints of the program book covers from all 6 prior Chicago Worldcons in the downstairs part of the suite, pictures of two US presidents who spent significant time in Illinois (Lincoln and Obama) along the stairs, and a future Chicago upstairs, featuring a painted future Chicago skyline hanging covering the window (painting by Ray Van Tilburg). While admiring the painting, I had discussions with both Ray and Barb considering that the bottom of the painting, which was on a bed sheet or similar sized piece of cloth, might need to be ironed.

When the party opened, Tara and I both stood outside badging, and for a while Ray kept us company. Things were moderately quiet until the masquerade let out, and then it got as busy as the night before. Tara and I mostly badged until 11:00 when our shift ended, and we hit up a few other parties, including the Denver "Thank You" party where we passed on getting piece signs to hang around our neck. We then turned in, knowing that we'd need to be up early the next morning.

On Sunday, we got up and moving fairly early, since we wanted to be at the service that randy_smith2 was holding at 9:00 in the Palis. Before leaving, I worked on some signs to have at the party -- a peanut warning and some labels for the various kinds of chocolate that I'd purchased. Because of this, I left the Delta a couple of minutes behind Tara and Derrick, not wanting to deal with the Metro, I just walked through the underground route to the Palis.

Oddly, I arrived quite a bit before they were, and was there early enough that Randy asked me to help out with communion. So, after a more liturgical service than one would often see from a Methodist minister, and much more liturgical than I've been to at any of the nondenominational evangelical churches I've been at recently, I helped with communion, by holding the grape juice while someone else held the wine and Randy gave out the bread.

As we were leaving the service, having announced the party, a couple who were at the service mentioned that they'd had the room (501) we'd gotten for the party and had moved because of a sink problem. I had presumed that this was fixed, or the hotel would not have assigned it to us.

After service, Tara had a busy day of panels, and I wanted to stop by the site selection business meeting had no real surprises, Raleigh and Reno both won their unopposed bids, with neither Pasadena nor Aberdeen Proving Grounds -- the main hoax competition -- making a significant dent in the voting. Raleigh announced that their NASFiC would be "ReConstruction" and then Reno announced "Renovation" to the expected groans. Word is that there was no collusion between the bid, and con, chairs over the names, but that they did know before the business meeting about the coincidence.

After the site selections were announced, I headed back over to the Delta to print the signs I'd been working on and get checked into our party room. I was able to get checked into the room and get the stuff printed. Printing took a while since only one of the two computers in the hotel lobby had a working printer, and both were getting heavy use.

After I got checked in, I headed up to the room to grab the stuff for the party, and my lunch (left over pepperoni and tortillas from the dinner earlier in the week when Tara and Derrick had left overs), and headed back to the Palis for my shift in Programming Operations. This shift was quieter than either of the previous days, which is not unexpected. It was also during this shift that I realized that if I think that Programming Operations is a good area for me to work at a Worldcon, that it might be a good idea to offer my services to Aussicon 4 as well.

Also during this shift, Tara took her key to 501 to start set up. However, she realized that the sink problem wasn't solved, and worse was making the room smell! After a couple of texts back and forth, I had her call the front desk to see if they could fix the problem. Instead, the chose to give us a room on the 12th floor -- but we couldn't get the key until after 5:00. So instead of setting up the room, she had to fix the signs and get word to the newsletter people.

After my shift in Programming Operations, I had another shift behind the Bid Table. It was during this shift that I had time to actually get my phone to connect to the free wi-fi in the exhibit hall, so I used it to check out the volunteers information for Aussicon. I found out that they had an application form to be filled out and sent to them. Since it was a PDF, I couldn't actually see what it consisted of.

So, once my shift was over at 4:00, I headed back to the room, downloaded the form -- which confirmed that I couldn't fill it in, and waited until just before 5 to head downstairs. Once downstairs I was able print the volunteer form for Aussicon and was, eventually, able to check in. I was allowed to hold the keys for both rooms, which made moving a bit easier -- but I still managed it in a single trip. Once I was moved in and had done some preliminary setup, I needed to head back to the Palis to get Derrick at 6:00, since Tara had panels from 6:00 to 8:00.

When I got Derrick, it turns out he had gotten so busy playing that he didn't go to the panel/fan club for Avatar: The Last Airbender which is by far his favorite TV show. although when I picked him up, he hadn't realized he missed it, and immediately started making excuses for missing it, so far he hasn't gotten too upset about this oversight. Perhaps, I'm seeing a bit of maturity here in that he's mostly accepted that this was HIS mistake and he shouldn't blame anyone else.

Knowing that I needed to feed Derrick, and should try to get a few more things for the party, I figured that the Central Train Station would be a better bet than the Palis or someplace in Old Montreal to do both. As it turned out I was very wrong. After making it over to the train station, I found everything in their food court closed, and not much else open. We finally found a 24 hour Tim Horton's (which is also in the Palis, and would have taken less travel time). There was also no grocery store or market open to pick up the extra food Tara had asked for. All of this running around also ate most of an hour, and I was starting to panic about room setup. So, I correctly figured out both how to get out of the train station and over to the Delta by an above-ground route which was much shorter than either underground route (walking or the Metro), which gave us plenty of time to finish setting up.

Of course, we were mostly set up when I realized that I was trying to be open by 7:23 instead of 8:23. So once the set up was complete, I headed back to our room to take care of some personal business away from the party room, and to try to write up a bilingual party sign for the door (to join the existing bilingual peanut warning sign). I then headed down to print it only to discover that I couldn't.

In the morning, I'd discovered that the computer could not open PDF files. So, I'd decided that I could safely download and install Acrobat Reader onto it. I even went so far as to downloaded the French version, even though the computer was mostly set up in English. But when I came back the third time to print PDF files, I found that it had somehow reverted to its original state. So I never printed this second set of signs.

I got back up to the party and Tara soon found us. We opened at 8:23, and had an expectedly small crowd until later in the evening after the Hugos. But once the Hugos let out, we had a good crowd that were respectful (even a few people who admitted to having had bad experiences with Christians and Christianity in the past). Most of the regulars stopped by at at least some point, with only Randy never making it by. I suspect that his duties as stage manager for the Hugos probably kept him tied up until he was ready for bed at the end of a long day.

We shut the party down about 2:00, as scheduled. It turns out I'd bought (and Tara had specified) just about right, since we didn't have many leftovers -- mostly potato chips, a few crackers that I finished, and some of the Chocolate Covered peanuts that prompted the peanut warnings. We were able to clean up quickly, and I checked out of the room before forgetting later.

One effect of running the party, is that I didn't get a chance to find out the results of the Hugos until after the party. But once back in the room, I decided to go online and check the results. This was when I found some surprising things. I was perhaps most shocked by the results in the Semi-Prozine category: even with Charles Brown's death this last year, Locus didn't win the category -- possibly for the first time in the history of this category. As it turns out, it came in 3rd or 4th (I don't have the Hugo website up to check at the moment). I am wondering if this is a backlash to the efforts by the Locus editors to lobby for the defeat of the removal of this category.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Girl Genius won for Best Graphic Story, perhaps more so knowing that howardtayler had mentioned a conversation with Phil Foligo where they both expected to be beaten by the Serenity graphic novel. I seem to recall that Schlock Mercenary also had a very good showing.

For my own interest in relation to the statements that Best Graphic Story was probably a "weak" category for a Hugo, when many (but not necessarily the same people) were still considering Semi-Prozine a "strong" category, I checked what is often the criteria for this and noticed that there were 25 nominees for Best Graphic Story that had been mentioned more than 5 times on nominating ballots (and I know for sure of at least one additional nominee), and only 21 for Semi-Prozine. I will admit that one could argue that there may have been 4 or more Graphic Story nominations that were mistaken (a couple for Girl Genius in general or other volumes were included), but clearly both categories were perceived by the nominators to have a comparable number of potential nominees.

Monday started out as a bit of a lazy con day, but not too lazy. Tara was on a 10:00 panel, and Derrick wanted to go to something at 10:00 (or at least Tara wanted him to go to something then). So we made it to the Palis before ten. However, Tara had woken up not feeling all that well, and I was already suspecting that unlike nearly every other con we've been to as a couple, she managed to contract the dreaded "con crud" (in this case, as I think is normal, a cold). But she was so far doing well enough to function.

While she sat on her panel, I went to the panel promoting coming to Australia, where I was able to both contribute (by following up on smofbabe's mentioning the Queen Victoria Market as a place to get fresh food, by also mentioning that I got sweaters there 10 years ago) but to also get confirmation that when one of the panelists mentioned that restaurant prices were comparable to Montreal, that was comparing Australian Dollars to Canadian Dollars as though they were equal, so that in reality they were cheaper. Of course Janice further clarified that the posted price includes Tax and that there is no tipping, making them even cheaper in comparison to US or Canadian prices.

After that, I killed some time. Tara and I took care of getting our memberships to Reno, and situation slightly complicated by the fact that it took some investigation to confirm that they did have a price for a child membership if the person pre-supported and voted, since the default price sheet missed this combination. During this time, I also handed my completed Aussicon Volunteer application to Rose Mitchell, one of the co-chairs, so I'm reasonably sure it is in safe hands and will get to the right person. I may follow up with an e-mail just to make sure that the person is expecting it.

Before my final shift in Programming Operations, we grabbed what was my third, and Tara and Derrick's fourth or fifth meal at Noobox. This last shift was quite a bit different, since it started with a bit of messing around (producing a hoax newsletter that was probably mostly amusing to those of us who dealt with Programming Operations, and perhaps a few others behind the scenes). But the we started tearing down the office and packing it up. Much of what was there had to be routed to the surplus auction, including several computers and a multi-function printer. Even though I could see a use for a newer desktop system, I decided that it was a good idea not to try to buy any of them.

This clean up ended up continuing, so I worked from 12:30 until about 6:00 only taking a break to watch closing ceremonies. I mostly left because Tara's irritated throat of the morning had gotten worse, and we all needed to eat.

In the end, after confirming that nothing was left open in the food court next to the hotel, we ventured down to the nearby restaurant that had just closed on Saturday. We were able to get a decent dinner (my chicken Parmesan was very good, if a bit high in temperature) and we split a plate of poutine -- except we opted for the version covered with spaghetti sauce rather than beef gravy.

The restaurant wasn't all that busy, and I recognized most of the people there as being fans from the convention. This included a family who are all part of the Chicago bid who came in shortly before we left.

After that, we headed back to the hotel and Tara and Derrick crawled into bed. Before heading up stairs, we checked with the Delta's concierge about getting to L'Areobus in the morning. We ended up with reservations to catch the shuttle to the bus at 8:15, requiring a fairly early rising.

I briefly stopped by the very lively, and crowded, Dead Dog party, but left due to the crowds, which was mostly made up of people I didn't know. After the party, I spent some time in the room, including discovering a new type of newspaper puzzle, Kenken, that unlike crosswords or Soduko, actually requires a skill that I have -- basic math. {Soduko is purely symbol manipulation so even with numbers involved, requires skills that are, at least to me, more closely associated with language then math} I wasn't quite able to solve the "easy" puzzle, mostly due to missing the fact that even if the operation involved was division or subtraction, the order that the digits appeared was unimportant.

This morning, we got up early and got moving. We ended up having breakfast down in the food court, having run out of breakfast food on Sunday. Tara didn't eat much because of how she was feeling. But we were able to get packed and downstairs well before 8:15. We caught the shuttle, which took us back to the bus station where we had to wait about 10 minutes for the actual airport bus. We then sat for another 30 or so minutes before we left for the airport. The airport trip was fairly quick, as was the check in and customs pre-clearence process. So we were near our gate with more than two hours to kill.

We spent some time browsing the book store, planning on using up our Canadian cash, and had a second breakfast at the sit-down restaurant. Derrick didn't actually eat, but instead got a breakfast sandwich to go. Tara and I split a breakfast pizza and a small stack of pancakes.

While waiting, I started recognizing a number of fen who looked like they could easily be heading for the same flight, which turned out to be right. By the time the plane loaded, I recognized at least 9 other fans returning from Worldcon, including the family we'd run into the night before at the restaurant, another San Diego fan on the same complete routing, another member of the Chicago bid, one of my fellow panelists from the "Stump the Scientists" panel on Friday, and smofbabe and her husband. Since this was a small plane, by the time we boarded, I was able to confirm that I knew half of the first class section (3 of the nine previously mentioned).

There were a few others we also ran into at points in the terminal, but they weren't on the same flight.

The flight to Chicago was smooth and easy, and we got to O'Hare without any incident. Fortunately, our connecting flight was in the same concourse, but at the other end. We were able to pick up some lunches on the way past -- again Derrick saved his lunch, a pizza this time, for on the flight while Tara and I ate ours at the gate. But O'Hare's crowds diluted our travelers, with several stopping at Chicago, and others heading to other destinations. So by the time we loaded for San Diego, I could only identify one other person from the convention.

The flight to San Diego was fairly uneventful, except for the lack of a working video system -- which was probably an advantage since the movie and TV selections weren't for Derrick. But, this forced the cabin crew to actually find the supplies for the safety demonstration since it is normally delivered on a video on that kind of aircraft. Once back we were able to get home fairly easily.

Tomorrow, but Tara and I need to go back to work, which is bothering Derrick a bit since we won't be able to get the Dog until after Tara comes home -- leaving him completely alone for a few hours. But I'm hoping that he'll sleep in for once and will not have to experience that much time alone. Tara may also get off work earlier, which would also help.

I'll admit I'm not all that ready to go back to work. In part this is because I've been disconnected from work for well over a week, but also because I still am in a less than ideal situation at work. At least, I think I'll still have challenging tasks to do, even if they aren't exactly what I was hired to do a year ago, nor am I really fitting into my current team all that well.

We are looking forward to Australia next year, and are feeling more confident about it with the house mostly sold (there are a couple of inspection issues to be resolved, but I think we can get them taken care of either by simple fixes, negotiation, or credits at closing). I'm hopeful that I'll be able to find a volunteer position at Aussicon that will both allow me to do the other things I need to (Bid, be on panels, etc.) and gain more useful experience and contacts for the suspected upcoming Chicago Worldcon, where I'll probably both want and be at least half expected to, take some moderately significant role.

I'll also admit that, at least at the moment, I'm feeling more at home still in Chicago and Worldcon level fandom than in San Diego fandom, but that may just be because I still don't know where I fit in San Diego fandom, leaving me still feeling like a bit of an outsider.

4 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:August 12th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Working on/with or looking for a west-coast-ish bid might be a way to help you find a place in San Diego fandom (taking that with the grain of salt that although I think I've hit SMOF status for Duck, I'm pretty much clueless about Worldcons)
Date:August 12th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
At the moment the active bids I'm aware of are:
Chicago in 2012 (voted next year in Australia)
Texas (San Antonio) in 2013
Nippon in 2017

I believe that there is also a plan for a UK or possibly Dutch bid for either 2014 or 2015, and there was talk as recently as last December about a San Diego bid for somewhere in the next few years. But the UK bid didn't formally announce -- instead holding a general UK party, and the person I know of involved in the San Diego bid was nowhere to be seen (and also wasn't at Condor in February to ask either).

I'm peripherally involved with Condor for next year, but am still an "At large" staffer with no defined position -- but I'm somewhat likely to end up helping out with web site and publications since that person is overworked.

If I can ever track down Sandra and find out if she is still serious about the San Diego bid, I will offer to help, at least if it looks like a bid that will be taken seriously.

And, yes, I suspect that I've become a (possibly still fringe) Worldcon/WSFS level SMOF as well as a DucKon/Chicago SMOF. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.
Date:August 17th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Don't forget that we have World Fantasy for 2011 already; I know Val does/will need staff for that. There's also a new anime con starting up, Anime Conji.
Date:August 17th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
I've talked briefly to Ron and Val (at the Com Station Z picnic) about how DucKon's system might or might not work for their reg.