Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

As the week wears on….

16 December 2004

I’ve gotten more and more behind on sleep. 🙁

This weekend is the first weekend I’ve had uncommitted since early November. I’m going to enjoy that.

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What a week!

12 December 2004

I had a trip up to San Francisco on Thursday, lasting far longer than it should have.

Saturday, I went to my writing group, but we only critiqued one article. Everyone’s been incredibly busy.

Today, the annual BayCon Holiday party, which included a meeting afterward. Rick got a bunch of ripe persimmons, so I’m making gluten-free persimmon bread.

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Smofcon, License to Smof

06 December 2004

So, normally, I wouldn’t bother putting some of this in at all, but I was required to provide a trip report. Under the Toyota principle (“you asked for it, you got it”), here’s The Rest of the Story.

First, a disclaimer: there are many genuinely polite and kind people who attend Smofcon. Sure, we’re all flawed human beings, but I think most of us at least have good intentions and try to act with civility.

However, there are also a few (and I hope that it was only a few) who act otherwise.

SPFII, one of the SF Bay Area convention corporations, put forth a bid to hold the next Smofcon in San Francisco next year. While I am a non-board member of SPFII, I wasn’t there specifically to promote the bid. Instead, I’d been sent by SFSFC, the parent corporation for ConJosé, the 2002 Worldcon, on a scholarship they offered to two Bay Area fans. The board and other members of SPFII, which is a non-profit, also work on BayCon, which is run by Artistic Solutions, Inc., a for-profit corporation. Additionally, a bunch of bay area fans, including myself, are also members of BASFA, which does not itself run conventions.

Another fannish group in the western region was bidding to hold the Smofcon in Portland, Oregon.

At the Smofcon I just attended, held in Washington, D.C., the con suite had a flyer table where a bunch of convention flyers were available for people to take. Most notable among these, of course, were the flyers for the upcoming Smofcons.

Someone removed all the flyers for the San Francisco bid, putting them across the room on the floor behind a skirted table. While one could see the flyers from the right angle, they were not available for Smofcon members to peruse.

Edited to add:

diagram

Aside from the childish passive aggressive stunt this is, there’s several problems with it, specifically:

  1. It makes it appear that Portland was running a dirty bid and not being sportsmanlike. Now, I personally have no reason to believe that it was Portland’s bid committee that moved the flyers and I’m not accusing them of anything. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be difficult to come to that conclusion, quite possibly causing one to bear a grudge against an innocent party.
  2. From a strategic perspective, the only reason to remove one’s competitor’s flyers is because one believes that one needs that advantage in order to win. This also gives the apparency that Portland felt they needed unfair advantage to win.
  3. From a non-strategic perspective, the only reason to remove a bid’s flyers is simple spite. In this case, however, they have injured the Portland bid’s reputation as well as harmed the San Francisco bid.

In a weird way, it’s back-handed flattery: if the San Francisco bid were truly irrelevant, no one would bother with such a childish stunt.

However, someone needs to have their License to Smof revoked.

As if that weren’t enough, during one of the panels I attended, two of the attendees made spiteful comments about the head of the San Francisco bid, who was not present at the con (he had to work some brutal overtime to get a software project out). Ironically, they accused said person of malice. I don’t mind if hostile things are said about a person to their face, but saying that someone did something out of malice when they’re not there is, well, brilliantly ironic.

I felt extremely unwelcome despite Kevin Standlee’s and Bobbie Du Fault’s trying to calm things down. Prior to the blowup, Kevin quite artfully talked about Bay Area fandom while being diplomatic about everything. I quite admired his skill, frankly.

However, given the incidents above, is it any surprise that the panel on dealing with difficult people was standing room only?

Doh!

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Smofcon, Sunday

06 December 2004

At breakfast, I realized that I’d not made sure that James and Kathryn knew about the time change for the upcoming Smofcon presentations, so I gave them a call and met with them in the con suite prior to the first panel. At that point, James Stanley pointed out the flyer incident, covered elsewhere.

I attended the panel on Regional Smof groups, in part because I was there as a representative of many bay area groups.

After that came the bid presentations and voting. Portland gave its presentation (unfortunately, I never got the names of those presenting the bid), then James Stanley gave the presentation for San Francisco. Enough people voted for Portland that James Stanley conceded before the vote for San Francisco was called.

Due to events that had happened, I listened to the presentations for future Smofcon bids, but all I could think was, “Do I really want to come to another Smofcon?” I’d had a day of instant burnout, one where I wasn’t even certain I wanted to have anything to do with conventions, even as a member.

After that, I went to the con suite, skipping the later panels. At that point, I simply cased caring.

Later, I talked with several other people, including one of the panelists from the panel that blew up, who hadn’t realized some of the intricacies of what had happened. When I went into the con suite, other people approached me and I didn’t feel so alone any more, which was a good thing because, by that time, most of the bay area fans I knew had already left. I was actually quite heartened by the show of support.

Still later that day, I realized that there were circumstances in which Smofcon would be useful, so I may attend another one. But next time, I’m going to be prepared for childishness.

So, overall, the events of Sunday made me feel that the convention experience was among the worst I’ve ever had. Which, given the subject matter of the convention (running conventions), is ironic.

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Smofcon, Saturday

05 December 2004

Turned off the alarm and only woke up when housekeeping knocked on the door. Oops, overslept. Becuase it was the weekend, I at least didn’t miss breakfast.

I went to a panel at 1:30 dealing with promoting your convention. I’m not involved in that aspect of convention planning, so it was sort of interesting. I offered one comment about promoting to bookstores that had groups of SF readers.

One of the things brought up was relations with media cons, when several SMOFs hissed. One of the panelists pointed out, quite rightly, that that was how they got into conventions and running conventions and that we needed to not shut out people because they happen to like media cons or anime. I don’t personally care for either, but I am not going to diss a volunteer because they do.

I’m sure you’ll hear more about this topic from my Sunday rant, but I don’t think it’s useful, especially as a convention runner, to hiss at certain conventions, especially popular ones, because that makes potential volunteers feel unwelcome.

After that, I went to the con suite for a while and hung out, spending some time talking with someone from ArmadilloCon.

After dinner, I went to the Noreascon 4 rehash, discussing some of the problems NE4 had. While it was interesting, it ran on so long that I just had to leave to get headache medication. When I headed back downstairs, I noticed there were people milling about, indicating that the rehash had indeed broken up already. I’d missed the ending by about five minutes.

Since the headache meds had already started to kick in, I stayed around and talked for a couple of hours.

Later, while on IRC, I managed to do some other smoffing about another convention entirely, but I don’t want to go into it now. Suffice to say that I’m very happy with that progress. Weirdly, I got more effective smoffing accomplished online rather than in-person.

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Smofcon, Friday

04 December 2004

I did decide that my priorities were simple: food, then sleep. I figured that it would be easier to sleep if I weren’t also hungry.

I went immediately to bed, figuring if I went to socialize, I’d never get over my jetlag. I woke up a few hours later, feeling significantly refreshed. I first went to the Smofcon con suite, where a lot of socializing occurs, talking to people for a couple of hours. I was so severely jetlagged that I only managed to stick my head into one panel, but was too tired to think clearly enough to stay.

I went back to my room due to exhaustion, taking a bath, then sleeping some more. I woke up late enough that I’d missed dinner in the restaurant entirely, but the con suite was still going strong, so I went back and talked to even more people.

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Ads

04 December 2004

I love seeing different ads when I visit cities. While most of us remain unaware of the regional differences in advertising, they can be considerable.

Back in 1999, when Palm did some blitz advertising, they had a series of ads featuring nude women holding a Palm. Mostly, these were billboards, but at least one of them was a bus stop poster. When you looked at what was on the Palm device, it was a ToDo list. The first item read, “Buy Clothes.”

When I landed in Washington D.C. on Friday, I saw an ad I thought was similarly amusing, but intended for an entirely different audience.

Paraphrased, it said, “When our telecom laws were written, a blackberry was just a fruit.” It featured a photo of a bowl of cereal with a Blackberry PIM in the middle. On the Blackberry’s screen was a single word: “Yum!”

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Smofcon, the Arrival

03 December 2004

Well, I’m here.

I had a night flight to Pittsburgh, PA, which had lovely clear skies. I watched the progress of the big dipper. When we arrived, I did some brief window shopping. Have I mentioned that I love Pittsburgh airport? It rocks.

My second flight, to DCA (Reagan aka Washington National Airport), well, it was 35 minutes and you can’t get up for the first or last ten minutes of any flight, nor can you get up for the first or last thirty minutes when leaving or arriving into D.C. Thus, the counter people warned us, take care of anything before getting on the plane.

I took the same plane for my first and second segments, an Airbus 319. Fully loaded from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, she seemed ponderous. The same plane, lightly loaded, was spry and nimble, at least for a plane that big. We did the great corkscrew climb that they sometimes have to do for short flights in crowded airspace. Whee!

My husband, hating to pay for things like taxis, urged me to take public transit. Normally, I’m something of a wuss. However, I had packed amazingly efficiently and the Metro was Right There. How could I not? It’s one of my favorite subway systems. I did some brief contract work for one of the civil engineering contractors, so being on it always reminds me of the posters around that company’s offices.

Last time I visited DC was 4th of July in 1998. Our group headed for the reggae section, with people selling (and smoking) pot openly — a section known as “the smokeout.” Not my personal choice, granted, but the music was great. I recommend seeing the fireworks there at least once in your life.

So, when I got off the Metro, I half expected to find a cab. All the ones I saw already had fares, so I headed across the street to the Hilton (figuring I’d have a better chance in front of a hotel). Before I even got there, I managed to hail a cab. It was fortuitous, because I’d already managed to get turned around.

Oh, and the Metro. The signage sucks. I was confused into thinking the escalator I needed was going the wrong direction. And the fare cards don’t work the same way as Bart’s. You can’t see the sign that says where to get your fare card unless you’re already looking at the place where you get your fare card. Bad user interface, no biscuit.

The Wyndham had my room ready (at 9:30 a.m.!), so I’m freshly showered. I now need to make the big decision: sleep or eat? I have about three hours, but it’s hard for me to say which I need more.

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Incredibly busy

16 November 2004

Some great things are beginning to bust loose. I rather feel like I’m about to have some really fabulous things happen.

I’m busy, though. That said, I only have 14 irons in the fire at the moment; in August, I had 19.

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Something's Brewing!

15 November 2004

I can’t say what, but I did have a great bit of inspiration.

Suffice to say that it involves the mysterious disappearance of a book.

Bwaahaaahaaa.

Back to writing.

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