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Trip + Worldcon So Far - RonO's Ramblings

Aug. 19th, 2011 08:23 pm Trip + Worldcon So Far

I hope I don’t go on too long.  I’ve got a bit of a quiet break until hitting up parties later. (Going to parties is somewhat subject to what happens with the aura I’m seeing.  I did take my medicine quickly, so hopefully it will be a full arrest, and I won’t have to party with a migraine)

Back last winter when we first started advanced planning for the trip, I figured our best bet would be to leave early, probably around 6:00, attempting to get past at least some of the Inland Empire (a.k.a. Riverside, San Bernardino, etc.) before rush-hour set it.

This changed when we got the 8th grade registration schedule for The Kid.  Instead our plan was to leave as soon after finishing his registration as we could.  So, we ended up leaving about 10:00, instead of 6:00.

The first part of the trip wasn’t too bad.  Rush-hour had pretty much ended and by taking the western route (I-15 instead of I-215) we didn’t get too bad traffic.  Tara suggested we try to find a Sonic on the route, and I eventually located one in Rancho Cucamonga just off of I-15.  We stopped there for lunch, stopping about 11:30, and leaving 30-45 minutes later (with much bad yummieness either in our bodies or in drink cups for continuing consumption)

The next leg of the trip was fairly dull.  The highlight of the first part of the trip on US-395 – after exiting I-15 at Victorville – was the discussion of how the people in the square miles of newer homes earn a living, and then the discussion about the main purpose of the Southern California Logistics Airport.

The road continued through the edge of the Mojave desert past Ridgecrest and an edge of China Lake (alas nothing interesting to report from there).  We briefly stopped at a gas station near Inyokern (on the Inyo-Kern county line) for a pit stop and proceeded through the higher parts of the desert.  We later stopped for gas in Lone Pine, and ended up making one further pit stop in Bishop.

By Bishop we were clearly in the lower parts of the Eastern Siera-Nevada mountains, and the scenery was greener.  However, we were also at a deceptively high elevation (i.e. it looked lower to me than it really was).  This resulted in my car starting to really complain badly about climbing up hills.  In some cases not using the cruise control helped a bit, but for the most part, I had to be in a lower gear turning high revs in order to maintain anything close to a reasonable speed on the steeper climbs for much of the rest of the trip.

The first sign of trouble was when we past the first of several informational signs – normally used I’m sure during the winter season when a large number of people will be heading up to Mammoth from the southern metro areas.  The sign said something to the effect of “US-395 closed at Nevada border due to wildfire.”

But, even with the looming closure of our route, and the griping of my car, at least I enjoyed my first mountain drive since the trip out here in 2008.

As we dropped out of the really high country, it was nearing dinner time, but we were worried about pressing on, and the need to take an alternate route.  For much of the way no information was presented about alternate routes, and Tara – who was aiding the GPS with navigation - found what she suspected would be the alternate route.  As we neared the intersection where we’d need to leave US-395, CalTrans had set up a stop station, and was sending anyone who needed to go into Nevada off on the alternate.

The problem with this route was that about 10 vehicles in front of us was a semi.  The first leg of the detour was up a steep, narrow, winding road.  Along this route was one break-check area, and possibly two other areas where the road was wide enough for the semi to pull over.  However, the semi didn’t.  This was frustrating to Tara (although not to me who was driving).  I was more worried about the driver in front of us who kept swerving into the other lane like he thought that he could pass 10 cars and a semi on this road.   And to top it off, I am convinced at one point I saw him flicking ashes from his cigarette out the window.  Just what we needed – some idiot starting a second wildfire that would close the detour.

We stopped briefly at a small town near the top, mostly to take advantage of the porta-potty near the closed visitor center.  We then proceeded down the route into a valley where we could see (and photograph) the fire from the distance.

It was dark by the time we rejoined the main US-395 route north of the fire.  In the dark we followed the route through Carson City (except for a jog where the GPS tried to take us of US-395, but I tried to follow 395, then follow the GPS so instead we ended up on slow roads first through an industrial park, then through a residential neighborhood before rejoining the main route.

The rest of the drive into Reno was quiet.  We arrived, found the Atlantis easily, and got checked in.  We decided to leave the tables in the car until we new if we’d need them.   (We had packed two of the three six-foot folding tables we picked up earlier this year).

We then sacked out, with me briefly turning on the late local news for information about the fire.

On Wednesday, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel’s 24 hour coffee shop – located across the smoke-filled casino floor from any elevator bank – and then headed to the con to register.  I headed out early having originally said I could work in Prog Ops from 9 to noon, but ended up working an official 9:30 to 11:30 shift.  I also signed away two hours each day – except for Sunday (only the 9:30 to 11:30 slots were on the schedule – and I knew I’d be tied up about then, something that Randy Smith completely understood when I told him later as we both left Prog Ops).

Later, Tara and I skipped opening ceremonies since we were late and the room was SRO.  I signed up for an hour each day on the Chicon 7 table at some point.  Later we all went to see Dr. Demento, grabbed dinner at the Manhattan Deli – the only really bad service we’ve had at the Atlantis (it took nearly an hour to get a bowl of chili and two sandwiches).  I went to see Tricky Pixie (see Pen, I got it right this time) before returning to the Atlantis and hitting up a few parties.  The hottest party – at least as far as the room’s air temperature was concerned – was, somewhat ironically, the Christmas in Boston 2020 party.  All of the parties were pretty crowded and the air conditioning system was having some difficulty.

Yesterday, I went to the preliminary business meeting.  This went fairly smoothly albeit with some (ahem) interesting parliamentary maneuvering along the way.  I was pretty much happy with the outcome, although would have preferred to have the Children’s Book Hugo debated in the main meeting.  But the meeting was long – ending without completely finishing all of its business.  I had just half an hour between that and my shift in Prog Ops, so I ran to the hotel and got a “Deep Dish” pizza from the Chicago Dog stand in the Atlantis video gaming area.  I was disappointed, but not surprised, to get a  thick crust pizza, not a deep dish pizza.  I ate in the room and then headed to Prog Ops.

My shift was fairly routine – except that at 3:00, I ended up having to carry the “5 minute” and “Stop” signs to all of the panels.  Due to the layout, each part of this took more than 5 minutes, and I was not 100% sure I got either word to every panel.  This was also tiring at 4,000 feet of elevation for my sea-level acclimatized body.

I later sat a shift at the Chicon table, and helped close it out.  Somewhere along the way I picked up Tricky Pixie’s CD (and got 4 $1.00 coins in change).  In the evening we grabbed dinner at the Chicago Dog (I got a salad, Tara a pizza and Derrick a burger) and later hit up more parties.

At some point I realized the only panel I’d made it to was “The Fannish Inquisition.”  It then occurred to me that, esentially, I’ve recently made a lifestyle choice that limits how many panels I’ll get to at Worldcon.  I’ve chosen to start helping out with the current con – generally in Prog Ops. – observing and participating in the direction of the WSFS by attending the business meetings, and helping with future Worldcons at the fan tables.  Since most of these take time when programming is going on, I have to miss programming.  But I enjoy this and feel it is important to help out.  With luck, I’ll actually be on some panels next year.

This morning we had a breakfast party for Christian Fandom.  We got a bit later of a start with shopping than we’d planned, and found out that the Raley’s across the street had turned into a Food Source – a bag it yourself warehouse type place with a large Mexican market – quite recently, so didn’t have the selection we’d been looking for.  But we were able to set up and open on time (and I got the same good parking space back).  I left early since I wanted to be at the main business meeting.

This meeting was again full of parliamentary maneuvering.  I was very happy that the amendment to change the site selection voting/advanced supporting membership fee and the conversion fee was ratified without debate, and equally glad that Ben Yallow’s amendment that would have gutted the change to allow online voting also failed – although I can understand the security concerns, but believe that they can be worked around.

Most of the meeting was spent on two big issues related to the Hugo Awards.  The first would add a Hugo for “Best Fancast,” was passed handily after a lengthy debate.  Kevin Standlee suspected that the reason that many of the people who opposed this didn’t bother to stand and be counted was because they could see it was going to pass as soon as the people voting for the proposal stood.

The other issue involved adopting the amendments from the semi-prozine committee established a couple of years back.  This also passed after combining in some language that had been separated from the Fancast amendment.  As both of these will be up for ratification next year at Chicon 7, the business meeting already has several items on the agenda: reports, site selection, these two amendments, and the action to make Best Graphic Story permanent.

I had a more leisurely  lunch, but didn’t leave the convention center – I got a salad from the in-house stand.  I also voted site selection.  I had my third shift in Prog Ops, which was again quiet and didn’t require that I hit up every room.  At 3:00, however, all of the runners headed into one room to deal with (in part) a goof – for which Janice will apologize if needed – where a 2 hour panel was put into a 1 hour slot.

Again, I worked  a quiet slot at the Chicon table, with Tara for once.  After that we got dinner in the 24-hour coffee shop, and are doing stuff on the computers before hitting up parties.



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