lostcarpark: (Lego Draco on Buckbeak)
One thing I'm sorry to have missed at Eastercon was the bid session. I'm not complaining, as I learned a lot as Ops manager, but it would have been nice to see and cast my vote.

Next year's bid, Illustrious in Birmingham sounds like it will be excellent, and was unaminously approved. I think it will be good to try out a new hotel, so I'm really looking forward to it.

The bid for 2012 was slightly less clearcut, and there were various questions raised, and when the vote came there were quite a few votes against and abstentions.

This may come as something of a surprise, since Olympus is in the same hotel, and has quite a few of the same committee as Orbital and Odyssey. Given that Orbital and Odyssey both got a lot of very positive feedback, on has to wonder what tyhe problem is.

It would be easy to dismiss the people who cast negative votes as begrudgers, people who just don't like this committee, and wouldn't be happy no matter what they did. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen.

I think most people really enjoyed Odyssey, but there were a number of minor concerns, and the committee really need to find out what they are and address them, and show people through progress reports that these have been addressed and won't be a problem next time.

I don't know what all of these all are, but there are a few things I noticed, so I'll mention them here.

The hotel staff, I have to say, seemed a lot lkess helpful than last time around. While individuals were fantastic, there did seem to be an attitude of "not my problem" from some of them. The convention bars in particular kept running out of things - like wine - and telling people they'd have to go to the main bar. This might not be a big issue if the main bar didn't keep pulling stunts like demanding people pay service charges. There were other things like basic cleanliness that need to be address.

One minor issue that I think could easily be addressed is room 41, which confused a lot of people. Having to use one stairs for rooms 40/42 and a different one for 41 is less than ideal. I think the ideal solution would be to turn the chairs around. Would a layout that put the panel in the middle of the room, with the chairs in a big arc around them work? This would be ideal as it would allow both sets of doors to be left open. Failing that, putting the panel at the other end of the room would be the second best solution. But if neither of these are possible, really clear signs from the 3rd floor area are a must. Putting signs for "40 and 42 only" and "41" pointing the other way would make a world of difference.

There were a few small programming issues. I know this is an area that's never going to make everyone happy, but I heard the same comments from quite a few people, so I'm just suggesting that the committee listen to the broadest spectrum of opinion and take their views on board. One area was the "get up and go" items in the mornings, which were a great idea, but not everyone surfaces at the same time, and even the early risers found it hard to choose between them. I think it would be preferable to have a programme stream dedicated to that sort of activity running through the day. I've no doubt that would raise complaints of its own, though.

I'm sure I'm getting too much into specifics, though. There may be perfectly good responses to the points I've raised here, but I don't think my observations are the real issue. The important thing is for the committee to find out what peoples' concerns are, and to ensure those concerns are properly addressed.

I'm sure Olympus will be another fantastic convention, and I'll certainly be there helping out, but I hope that these minor issues can be addressed to everyone's satisfaction to make it the best convention it can be.
lostcarpark: (Lego Draco on Buckbeak)
I really meant to post this before the following Friday, but better late than never...

Was up at 4am on Friday morning, and ready to depart by 4:30 when the phone rings. Problem at work - not a good sign. Ask them to call back in 10 mins so we can get on the road. They do and I'm on the phone for half an hour while my dear sister drives to the airport. Get to the bottom of the problem, which is fortunately caused by someone else doing something stupid. Get to airport in plenty of time, and have uneventful flight to Heathrow.

Arrive in Radisson before 9 and enquire at reception "I know it's way too early, but I wonder what time my room might be ready?" "Let me check. Oh, it's ready now, sir." Head down for a shower, and leave feeling fresh. Only later learn that lots of people are left waiting till late afternoon for their rooms.

After picking up membership pack, head to bar and meet other early arrivers. Bridget wanders by and mentions Ops are looking for volunteers. I express interest and am escorted to control centre where I sign up for several stints.

I wander about the hotel, exploring the non euclidian geometry. I'm sure I take four consecutive right turns, walking approximately distances between them, but end up in a completely different part of the hotel. I end up at the art show, which is still setting up, but already looks amazing.

I pop into a couple of programme items, and before long it's time to go back for my first stint as Ops support. This proves very interesting, mainly involving sitting at the desk dealing with people's problems, usually by asking the Ops manager what I should do. I also learn that one should not volunteer for a block unless someone has already voluntteered for the one immediately after. My two hour stint turns into nearly four. I didn't mind as I was enjoying myself.

We closed Ops for the opening ceremony, which left me with a good feeling for the weekend. I then went on to the 2014 UK Worldcon bid launch, where it was announced that the location was going to be the Excel centre on London's docklands. This was accompanied by free wine, so all was well. Then it was back to the bar to chat with fans until far too late in the night. I did also pop into the caeleigh, but the linking arms and swinging around didn't look like a good idea in a cast.

Saturday morning came around far too early, but I struggled out of bed and made it down to breakfast. Filling myself with enough bacon to last past lunchtime.

I spent a while flitting in and out of programme items, exploring the dealer's room and did a stint on the 2014 Worldcon table. Then it was time for my shift in Ops, which proved a great way to get to know people. Fortunately this time I was safe as there was someone scheduled right after me.

Of course, there's no getting away from the highlight of Saturday night: Doctor Who. My first impression of the new doctor was pretty good, but watching in a room packed with nearly a thousand other fans can cause a loss of objectivity. I have a good feeling about Matt Smith, though.

I caught some of the Cabaret, which looked fantastic, but had to leave as we were setting up the fan fund auction. This started a little slow, but picked up as more people arrived, and items began to fetch better prices. Determined to embarrass me, Alison asked me to model a corset, I couldn't confuse, could I? I'm not sure whether it's more embarrassing to wear it, or that it failed to raise a single bid. Alison told me after that it never does. There were a few impressive sales the highlight being a fanzine produced for Corflu, signed by most of the contributors, which fetched a jaw-dropping £100.

I did pop into the New Romantics disco a few times and even had a bit of a dance, but I was mainly talking toot in the bar. I must have talked a lot of toot, as it was past 4am when I got to sleep.

Sunday morning, and I struggle out to breakfast. I'm just wolfing down the last round of toast when I idly wonder what time I'm supposed to be in Ops. I mention this, and someone says I should check as it would be really bad to be late. I head back to my room, but my key has stopped working, so I hurry up to ops. Fortunately I'm not due till later, but that's about to change. "James, we're stuck for someone to be Ops Manager at 11:30, could you do it?" "Okay," I say, without really thinking about it.

If I'd thought about it, I'd have realised this slot was the bid session for the next two Eastercons, which I might have liked to attend. Oh well, it was a promotion. I discover lots of things I don't know, and Marion on Ops support is new to the role too. Still, we muddle through, with others available whenever we get stuck.

I finish my session with a pile of groats (the convention currency) and a lovely blue shirt (the convention had Star Trek style shirts, yellow for committee, blue for ops, tech and a few others, and red for the poor gophers).

Shortly after I head to the green room to prepare for the GUFF panel with Ang and Doug. We head to room 12, hidden in a dark corner of the hotel. Ang talks a little about her trip, and embarrassing moments in New Zealand. Then Doug and I respond to questions from Ang, the audience and the Twitterverse. It seems to go well. We talked about our thoughts about fan funds in general and GUFF in particular, our trip plans if we win and what we'll do if we don't. But all that deserves a post of its own.

I take a break from the con and nip next door to McDonalds as I can't face another meal in the hotel. Then, back for Mitch Benn, an amazing comedian and sci-fi fan. He strikes up a great rapport with the fans.

Next is the Steampunk ball, featuring a live and very steampunky band. There are lots of great costumes on show, and we are asked to have a cheer-off to select our favourite.

Speaking of costumes, there were dozens of excellent costumes on show over the weekend. My personal favourite was the Doctor and Captain Jack, but there were many others including a transformer and a strange and slightly scary fox creature. There was also a masquerade on Saturday, though personally I find masquerades a little too formal and stuffy.

On Monday I did another stint in Ops, and popped into several more programme items, and hung around the dealers room, twisting people's arms to vote in GUFF, assisted by a couple of very kind and helpful campaigners.

I then joined a group for another excursion to McDonalds, who must have done well out of us over the weekend. We had an interesting discussion about future Eastercons over dinner.

When I got back it was nearly time to head to the airport, so I started my tour of the hotel to say goodbye to everyone. Until the next one, that is.
lostcarpark: (Lego Harry Potter)
Okay, I probably should have sorted this about ten months ago, but you know me...

Is anyone looking for a room-share for Eastercon? I'm booked into a twin room at the Midland hotel, staying Friday to Monday.
lostcarpark: (Lego Draco on Buckbeak)
I've been at P-Con all day and it's been very good. There were lots of interesting panel items. I'm sure it's not right to go to a convention actually attend panels, but they've been very interesting, and it's been good fun chatting to people in between.

Panel items I've attended include Boondongles (ideas in sci-fi that seemed a good idea at the time, but weren't), World Domination (for management consultants), Astronomy (with Inge Hayer, a very interesting individual who works at an observatory in Hawaii), the guest of honour interview, and the tech savvy criminal. All were enthralling.

I also went to the auction and spent rather too much money. I seem to have acquired a Wii. Why did I do that?

Between Eastercon last weekend, and the Brickish Association AGM next weekend, I'm trying to avoid drinking too much at this one. I think it will be nice to have a weekend off after that!
lostcarpark: (Lego Harry Potter)
Wow, that was a great weekend. Where did it go, though, it seems like only hours ago I was stepping off a plane in Heathrow.

I really enjoyed the convention from start to finish. It seemed a little hard to keep track of what was going on at times, as there was so much going on at any given time, and it was spread over such a wide geographic area. I think I took part in more programming than any convention I've been on in a long time, but people kept telling me about great things I was missing in another part of the hotel. I also kept bumping into people and exclaiming, "Oh! Have you been here all weekend?"

Some of the great programme items I can remember were... something about telescopes in Hawaii, which was fascinating as the speaker worked at one, so really made it feel like being there... something about Doctor Who that seemed to make a lot of sense at the time, even the Buffy references... something about webcomics, which mentioned some of my favourites, plus a whole lot more I'd like to check out if I can remember what they were... writing and producing a fanzine in an hour, to which my main contribution was the cover (I managed to get a printout before heading for the plane home, which kept me chuckling manically, and getting some odd looks from my fellow passengers)... something about fannish awards (which I have to admit I found myself agreeing with both sides in to the argument as to whether they serve a purpose)... Neil Gaiman's GoH talk, which I just popped into for a minute, but ended up staying for an hour and a half)...something about H. P. Lovecraft, which I think sort of made sense... a panel where various people had two minutes to rant about various topics with hilarious results... a discussion about Accelerando which I somehow made it to at 10:00am despite having gone to bed at 5:30... a talk about the planets aimed at younger convention-goers and one about the mathematical theories of knots that I flitted between despite them having been at opposite ends of the convention... something about privacy and surveillance that completely failed to surprise me, but still managed to shock me... and a couple of discos I just had to dance at and (of course) room parties.

I won't go into all the things I would have liked to have gone to but didn't quite get around to, or the things that didn't sound particularly appealing, but when people described them afterwards I was really sorry I missed. I can't blame the committee, as the programme seemed very well worked out, and there did seem to be a genuine effort to avoid putting similar items on at the same time. However, I just have a wide disparity of interests, so it was inevitable that I wouldn't be able to get to everything I wanted to. I have no regrets and really enjoyed every item, and also the times I wasn't at programme items but was sitting around chatting with interesting people.

I have my own theories about the geography of the hotel, and why all the heat seemed to being sucked out so furiously, which can hopefully be found in the Monday evening issue of the newsletter. I don't know for sure, as I had to run for a plane before it was finished.

Now I'm really looking forward to P-Con next weekend...

January 2016

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