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RonO's Ramblings

Aug. 12th, 2008 05:15 pm Trip Report part 4 (Denvention Report)

Here is my trip and convention report covering Denvention 3, and my travels through today.

Aug. 6 -- Denvention Day 1

On Wednesday, not much was going on at Denvention until after noon, so we let Derrick go to the pool in the morning. I went with him and sat on the pool deck and read. The pool at the Sheraton is located on top of the "tower" building ball rooms (and I believe some office and retail space) just off of the 5th floor. It is an outdoor pool (and I couldn't help but think that putting a glass dome over it would allow for year round use for not a lot of expense to a hotel about to spend $70,000,000 on new beds and paint).

Afterwards, we headed to the convention. Initially I checked in at the Chicago in 2012 bid table -- to learn it wasn't opening until Thursday after the party -- found program participant check in and then headed up to the dealers' room. I presumed it for a while, and (IIRC) met up with the rest of the family.

I went to one panel on Wednesday, part of a new phase of turning into a total SMOF -- the business meeting introduction run by kevin_standlee and Don Eastlake. It was both informative and interesting, especially since I've mostly had experience with organizations that very loosely follow rules of order.

After that, and a bit more looking at the dealers' room -- where I ordered a copy of the next Schlock Mercenary book after almost accidentally buying a duplicate (I miscounted the books for sale). We decided to head back early, and had a dinner at the Corner Bakery Cafe. After that, I headed down to the Chicago Bid party where I helped finish setting up before shadowing Helen on the bid table much of the evening.

The party was successful, as was the bid's decision to go back to an earlier model of not giving anything off of an attending membership if you pre-support. Both at the party, and elsewhere, the reaction to this, and to the idea of having a friends membership where the extra money is escrowed to pay for the conversion, was very positive. Only one person I know of had a negative reaction -- unfortunately, since this is someone I know he and had to question me about it again later when I stopped by the Reno party.

After leaving the Chicago bid party, I briefly stopped by the parties on the 22nd floor, spending a few minutes in both the Seattle and Reno bid parties before heading to bed.

Aug. 7 -- Denvention Day 2

On Thursday, I got moving fairly well and after taking the dog for his walk, I made to the convention center for the preliminary business meeting. This was interesting, and went well. I don't know, however, if it is common for every item that alters the WSFS Constitution to be referred to an ad-hoc committee to be tailored to fit or not. I did leave at a break around 11:00 since I was on an 11:30 panel.

After sneaking out of the business meeting, I headed over to the green room to meet the other panelists on "Depicting Christianity in F & SF." I did manage to meet up with randy_smith2 who was moderating the panel. The other two panelists met us in the panel room. The panel itself went pretty well, and was well balanced with two authors and two non-writer fans. We exhausted the topic fairly well by the end of the hour. The only real concern was that it was against a similar, but more religiously general, panel. At this point I am presuming that this was a mistake rather than an attempt to keep the Christians out of the other panel.

During the afternoon, Tara and I checked out the art show while Derrick bowled over Gnomes just outside. After that we got dinner in the room.

That evening I decided to play a round of "If I Ran the Zoo Con." The game was both fun and a bit educational, however a few of the scenarios are getting a bit dated -- the panel arrangements are from 20 years ago, so the panelists aren't as recognizable as they once were, and there is no coverage for any Internet related promotion in either the bid or planing phases. I had thought about going to a panel on con disasters afterwards (having lived through one of the worst possible disasters), but Tara had found me and we decided to hit up the parties instead.

Aug. 8 -- Denvention Day 3

On Friday, I again hit up the business meeting. The debate about all but one of the new changes to the constitution was strong, and at times heated in a orderly and business like way. All four of the major new proposals passed, but not without the graphic story Hugo requiring the suspension of the rules and a couple of major changes (like a sunset clause for this category if not approved in 2012).

I again left a bit early, before the reports. I wanted lunch, but Tara and Derrick were busy. So I headed back to the room to grab a quick bite.

Unfortunately, I didn't get back until after the 1:00 panel on CSI had started enough I didn't feel like interrupting. Instead, left unsupervised, I contacted the people looking for help with the technical crew. I ended up agreeing to be a camera assistant (or "cable slave") for the Hugos.

After that I went to the panel on Worldcon Fiction, and learned a bit more about it, including the inside history of Alternate Worldcons and Again Alternate Worldcons.

After dinner at the Denver Diner just behind the Convention Center, and a brief stop at the room, we went to the masquerade. We didn't stay for the awards, so that Derrick could get to bed. After that Tara and I hit up some parties and then went to bed. I'd thought about going to the Match Game SF, but missed the start and decided to stay with Tara instead.

Aug. 9 -- Denvention Day 4

On Saturday, I went to the business meeting to learn, to absolutely no surprise, that Australia won the right to run the 2010 Worldcon. After that, there was a presentation from the other bids. As much as I support the Seattle bid (both a preference for the location and knowing, trusting and liking a number of people on the bid committee), I had to feel that their presentation didn't address the concerns of the people in the business meeting as well as the Reno bid did. Dave again got a very positive reaction to the Chicago bid's support structure. Probably the biggest surprise was that Zagreb is bidding for 2013, and it sounds like they are more serious than, at least from the impression I've been given, they were in the past. There is also a committee of Western Europeans who are looking at a 2015 (or possibly 2014) bid for either Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Amsterdam or The Hauge.

That afternoon we held the Christian Fandom meeting, which went very well. randy_smith2 joined me at the head table for a while, even though he was also getting ready to be the stage manager for that evening's Hugos. I also officially worked a slot at the bid table.

At 6:00, after getting a quick dinner of North Carolina barbeque the Raleigh in 2010 NASFiC bid party, I headed over to the theater for a video crew call. However, it turned out that I wasn't needed since they had ended up hiring more union people than originally thought. After confirming that I wasn't going to be needed backstage, I headed up to the audience and watched from there.

After the Hugo Awards I walked back to the hotel. I chose to walk along Colfax, which didn't turn out to be the short cut I'd imagined (as I proved by doing the head math the next morning). After that, Tara and I went to a few parties and turned in.

Aug. 9 -- Denvention Day 5

On Sunday we got up early to attend the service, and then do our last day of panels. I decided to skip the 10:00 Doctor Who panel, and instead wondered around the convention until we headed to the 16th street mall for lunch. We picked up some hot dogs from a cart at 16th and California for significantly less than, probably lower quality, hot dogs at the convention center. I then worked at the bid table for an hour before attending the "Rocket Talk" panel.

When this panel was done at DucKon a couple of years ago -- possibly for the first or only other time -- I briefly thought that it was a serious panel (the panelists could have done a serious panel on space and rocketry quiet easily). But it was a send up on Car Talk and quite a bit of fun.

After that, we decided to skip the closing ceremonies and explore downtown Denver a bit more. We took the mall shuttle to Union Station and then back to the Tabor Center, which was mostly closed. We then found dinner a few blocks further down at Tokyo Joe's, and then headed over to take a quick look at the Brown Palace. After that, we went back to the room for a while before visiting the dead dog party in the Con Suite. We put Derrick to bed, and relaxed and packed.

Aside about having a dog at Worldcon

Having the dog with us did lead to a few complications. Probably the biggest was that someone, usually me, although Tara did it one day, had to walk him in the morning, evening and at night.

For the most part this consisted of taking the dog to the lobby level of the "plaza" building, then out the exit to 15th street. Then down 15th street to Colfax where there was a small park in front of one municipal building (and a large park across Colfax that we had to visit a couple of times). After visiting the park, we would return. After the first couple of trips, I learned to come into the lobby level of the "tower" building and take the elevator to the 2nd floor sky bridge.

I'd been leery of having the dog in social situations, since this was an unknown. However, he proved to be very social with people, and received quite a bit of attention from others, mostly fen, who saw him. I regularly had to answer questions about his breeding -- as far as we know he has some Australian Shepherd and some Cattle Dog in him, and may have some Blue Healer as well, or instead.

The only worrisome encounters where the one time I had to come in during the party crush, and had to get an elevator to the second floor when many still wanted elevators to the 22nd floor. The other worrisome encounter was on Saturday night when I met up with shsilver and others leaving the Hugo Losers' Party still in black formal dress.

On the other hand, the dog wasn't quite as cooperative as I'd have liked. First, I think he resented that we didn't want him marking the first vertical surface he encountered, but made him hold it until we got to trees in the park. That didn't work perfectly, since he regularly got the marble sculptures in the small park as well. He also didn't like the trees with mulch around them, and didn't always like the one tree without mulch.

Finally, I think he may have been risking dehydration as well as being stubborn. Twice, he refused to mark anything on his evening walk and then work me up at 4:00am for another walk. The last of these was on Monday when we were planing on getting up early to leave.

Aug. 10 -- Denver to Albuquerque by way of Bailey

On Monday, we got up early -- me earlier than intended since I couldn't get back to sleep after walking the dog at 4:00am -- to get on the road quickly. However, it took us until 7:30 or so to get everything but the dog out of the room. We then headed to the Corner Bakery Cafe for breakfast, where I enjoyed their Swiss Oatmeal, before leaving. However, breakfast took longer than planned, and we needed to get ice before leaving. Fortunately, 6th avenue had opened by the time we left.

We got to Bailey about 9:30, and spent an hour or so getting the cat, hooking up the trailer and moving stuff around, so it was almost 10:30 when we left.

The trip on US-285 from Bailey to Santa Fe was nice. I'd never been between Bailey and Alamosa on that route (which leaves US-285 for about 50 miles to take a short cut on CO-17). We ended up having lunch in Buena Vista, and then had a quick snack at the Alamosa McDonald's (I hadn't communicated clearly that the Safeway was probably a better stop). We also stopped in Nambe very briefly, having missed the gas stations in Espanola. We made it to my parents about 7:30.

The arrangements at my parents weren't quite optimal. The dogs decided that they weren't going to get along, so we ended up having to separate them. This led to the discovery that a determined individual -- my dog in this case -- can force the door to my parent's greenhouse open and get in. Even after making this impossible, I ended up having to tie the dog up when he kept trying. Unfortunately, this was at about midnight.

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Date:August 13th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
The other worrisome encounter was on Saturday night when I met up with [info]shsilver and others leaving the Hugo Losers' Party still in black formal dress.

I didn't realize I was so scary in my tux.
Date:August 13th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I left out a detail. I was worried about light colored dog hair on your tux :-). I know how the dog's hair gets everywhere at times -- after all I've had him in my house, car and hotel room for the last few months.

Date:August 19th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
I'm glad I trolled backwards through my friends list after I got home, or I would have missed this, not having time during the con to look at the entire list.
I don't know, however, if it is common for every item that alters the WSFS Constitution to be referred to an ad-hoc committee to be tailored to fit or not.
It appears to becoming more and more common for this to happen. Note that that one of the four changes -- the simplest, least-controversial one that explicitly recognizes Peter Weston's version of the Hugo Award Rocket as official -- did not get such a referral.

The Preliminary Business Meeting is what other conventions might call a Committee of the Whole on Rules and Resolutions. Other conventions have a Rules Committee, and every bit of new business goes there to hammer out the technical problems. Sometimes there will be hearings on specific controversial motions so that people can come and argue those motions individually rather than before the entire assembly. WSFS doesn't do this. People resent the six program hours already set aside for the meeting, and would complain even more if we created more meetings. Also, IMO the members are so terrified that something might happen where they can't see it.

So instead of having specialist committees and a structured review process, WSFS has the Preliminary Business Meeting, where, in general, the same people keep getting appointed to ad hoc committees to hash out wording to their satisfaction. You'll note that this time none of the head-table staff were appointed to those committees. We just hung around until they talked it out and gave the Secretary a version that they'd all accept.

This is why we usually ask for a three-hour programming block even though the meeting usually lasts less than two hours from call to order to adjournment. We know these after-meetings are necessary.

In the past, it appears that a lot more technical work was done during the meeting proper, but people don't have the patience they once did. Besides, experience has shown that the floor of the meeting is an awful place to deal with technical issues.

Interestingly to me, the growth of the use of the internet has led to calls for the deadline for submission of new business to be made days or weeks pre-convention instead of two hours after the Opening Ceremonies. It seems that people now expect and are getting ready to demand that they have up to a month's notice of what proposals are coming before the meeting.

FWIW, a concentrated technical discussion isn't necessarily a bad thing. Proposals that seem straightforward sometimes fall apart under the light of nit-picking. OTOH, some people seem to delight in finding absurd interpretations when there are much more likely and sensible ones, and I've had to remind people more than once that when there are two possible interpretations and one of them is obviously absurd, it's almost certainly the wrong interpretation.
Date:August 19th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Incidentally, from following your trip report, I reckon we were staying very close to each other on the night you spent out at Wheat Ridge -- we were at the Holiday Inn Express.