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CONjecture 2010 Report - RonO's Ramblings

Oct. 4th, 2010 11:40 am CONjecture 2010 Report

Last night around or after 8:30, I finally got home after CONjecture.  This morning I’ve slept in, decompressed a bit, and cleaned through a lot of my back internet reading, so I guess it is time for a report.

Friday, October 1

On Friday, I got up pretty normally and after breakfast started tearing apart my computer setup and packing the remaining pieces to take to CONjecture.  This included transferring the database onto my mac (actually I think I did that the night before, even before online registration closed).  I then loaded everything into the car and got ready to head down to the Town and Country where the con would be held, stopping briefly to drop The Kid off at school.

When I got to the hotel, I quickly found the room where we were going to set up registration and con office, got our hotel rep to change the lock programming so that only her and the con staff could open it (so my computers and other  people’s equipment couldn’t walk off) and started setting up.  First I rearranged the tables to give me work space and a sales counter – which resulted in covering one of the two air conditioners in the room being covered by the table which housed my mac and its workstation.  During this set up I realized that I had overlooked one key thing: the outlets shown in the room diagram for the wall with the AC units – which were the outlets I was planning on using – were 220 volt outlets in use for the AC units.  So I asked Tara to bring me an extension cord, but couldn’t proceed in getting set up further until she got there.

It was about this time that my niece, a freshman at San Diego State who agreed to house and pet sit for us this weekend, arrived from the trolley.  So I took her to my car – gave her the brief rundown on key features (like the automatic headlights and wipers), set up the GPS and sent her on her way to the house.  When Tara called again, I let her know that the niece was on her way, so Tara waited until she could show our niece around.

Fortunately, before Tara got there, someone else found an extension cord I could use and I got the system up and running, and we got opened only a few minutes late.

Friday got running fairly well, but there were two issues – both probably at least partially the result of me being in “I’ve done this so many time I could do it in my sleep” mode.  First, I forgot about getting registration forms.  Second, I decided that it was too much work at the last minute to get my somewhat living DucKon registration manual updated for CONjecture.  This, especially coupled with the fact that I was off site for two hours to pick The Kid up from school and get a couple of things that I forgot from the house, led to a lot of at the door memberships being taken without a receipt being issued, or paperwork being properly recorded.  It also ment that I did not actually have a proper run of cashier and data entry roles – with a looser flow of information developing which may have let a few people get their badges without actually getting payment recorded.  (It may have also caused people to be recorded in the wrong category of membership which may have had the same result when the end of the day audits were run).

Overall Friday didn’t run too badly.  But by the time we shut down, I realized that the word that I had offered to chair CONjecture 2011 if it was decided to be held was no longer just information known by the SANSFiS board of directors and other insiders, but was somewhat common knowledge.

Saturday, October 2

Saturday got off to an OK start.  Since the Con Suite was not ready to serve breakfast to the ConCom as early as I needed breakfast (since Reg was opening an hour before the public opening of Con Suite), we ended up a the hotel’s deli for a breakfast sandwich – which is not my preferred way of consuming the components involved.

Then I got registration open, and fixed the procedural problems from Friday.  The morning registration ran about as I expected – a bit of a rush in the first hour or so, then fairly quite for the rest of the day.

At Noon, I was on a panel “Dr. Who Now and Then.”  This was a fun panel to be on, with a good group of panelists – including Tado who shared his sonic screwdriver collection with the rest of the panelists (at least for the duration).  I did get criticized by the rest of the panel for the fact that I’ve not yet watched the “Children of Earth” season of Torchwood – and they warned me that I was at fault if I got spoiled since it has been out for more than a year.

After the panel, the SANSFiS board present held an ad-hoc meeting and agreed to hold CONjecture 2011 – even with the concerns about staffing both CONjecture and World Fantasy 5 to 6 weeks later.  I quickly picked up a couple of additional key staffers, including a replacement for registrar, and was up and running.  One approved I quickly worked on creating registration forms for 2011 – which I quickly designed as a table containing the basic fields on the left and blanks on the right.

Later in the afternoon, I was on the panel “Conventions 101″ where I was the youngest and least experienced person on the panel, but still held nearly equivalent credentials.  On Sunday nearly the same group convened the “Con Runners Roundtable” so we could tailor our discussion to promotion and information on the Saturday panel.

After that panel, I was able to turn registration over to other staff for the evening session, and retired to our room to get some dinner – which turned out to be ordered from the wrong place (and we would have been better served to walk over to the mall food court both in time and quality) – which also caused us to miss the masquerade (unfortunate) and the half-time (probably fortunate since it wouldn’t have been good for The Kid).

After dinner I spent some time in the Con Suite birthday party for the Chair and Treasurer of the con, and a shorter amount of time in the LosCon party.

Between the parties and bedtime, I returned to the office to shut down registration for the night, and to contact the potential members of my “council of advisors” made up of friends who have done key positions in cons more recently than I’ve done anything but registration (or positions I haven’t done), and asked for their agreement to advise me and to comment on my short list of potential Guests of Honor.  Since we still need to get dates, I cannot actually invite anyone, but I think I have a good chance of getting someone fairly high on my list.

Sunday, October 3

Sunday got started not too differently than Saturday, except that I was running earlier than the rest of the family, and I got oatmeal and yogurt from the deli – which being closer to my normal breakfast actually worked better for me.  I did have my final panel, the aforementioned roundtable, around noon.  At 1:00 we shut down registration for 2010, but kept it opened for 2011 until the Dead Dog.  I was able to pack up my equipment faster than I recall doing it in recent years – either due to the smaller number of computers or the fact that I knew where everything went (or more correctly knew were a couple of key things went and didn’t care about the rest).

The last two events of the day were the feedback session, where I took note of most items, and know a few that I’ll need to address or make sure get addressed, and the Dead Dog party.  I didn’t stay too long at the dead dog party, wanting to get home before I was too exhausted.

Overall

This was a good con.  We had more members total than we’d been hoping for, but perhaps not quite as many paying members as we’d have liked.

The Town and Country was very good to us, and the corner we had was pretty much to ourself a lot of the time.

There were two other noticeable groups at the hotel.  One was the Youth Specialties Youth Workers Conference, which got a lot of comments from poorly informed fen (most of who immediately noticed that this was a Christian organization and Instantly jumped to the conciliation that this was a Fundamentalists group out to proselytize to any and everyone they encountered – not another group of people who have chosen to not totally grow up, but in this case they do so to work with middle school and high school children; in other words, a group – or at least a Christian group – about a similar to SF fans as one could find.  {If this is the same organization that ran the similar conferences that my brother attended twenty+ years ago, their events at time take on nearly fannish aspects}.  I think I finally got through to some people what kind of group this was when I pointed out at the feedback session that they would probably have found the idea of a giant inflatable Godzilla to mark the part of the resort where the Con was as “a lot of fun.”

The other group was a Bikram Yoga conference or training session.  At least from my observation, they caused more problems for the con than the Youth Specialties group.  The big problem was that this group tended to spend the afternoons sun worshiping and practicing their yoga around the pool that occupies the main path between the Con Suite and the rest of the convention.  At times both Saturday and Sunday crossing the pool deck was like walking through a mine field or a maze.  There was a way around the pool deck, but it was quite a detour and not obvious to the casual observer.

I’m looking forward to both planning and running CONjecture 2011.  I have (I hope) made it clear that I won’t do the 2012 event since I’m already committed to working two other cons that year that will take most of my mind share and time.



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