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Windycon report, part 2 - Phil's Rambling Rants
November 16th, 2004
04:19 pm

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Windycon report, part 2
So, let's see, what did I do for the rest of Windycon?

I was not willing to force myself to get up early enough to get to the 10 o'clock panels, so I missed Christain Ready again.  I wandered around Saturday without a real plan, and generally had a good time as I ran into things, but I don't really remember everything I did or the order it happened in.

I bought a sandwich from the concession the hotel had set up and took it into the consuite to eat it.  Of course, by the time I finished the sandwich the consuite had put out lunchmeat, but there hadn't been any out when I bought the sandwich and I chose to spend $3.50 rather than chance waiting and seeing what happened.  My body performs better when it's convinced it's had a real meal rather than just snacking, and a sandwich (with meat -- PBJ does not count) will usually convince it but munchies generally won't.

I got to part of the 12:00 astronomy panel on "The Changing Universe", with interesting stuff about how the discoveries happening now are actually important to our understanding of the solar system and beyond.  I'm interested in astronomy but not passionate about it; panels like this intrigue me but are rarely a priority.  Interesting bits I remember include the synergy between the Hubble and the infrared space telescope whose name I forget make it possible to determine the size of remote objects in the solar system much more accurately, and discovering rocks in between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort cloud, suggesting that these two outer solar system regions may not be as well defined and seperate as we thought.

I hit a panel on plot holes, on the theory that any panel that had Brother Guy and Dermot on it would be interesting.  It was a fun conversation, but I didn't come away with any significant insights.  It was nice to hear other people acknowledging just how silly most alternate history plots are when considered as serious speculation -- once events on a different world line diverge, it doesn't make sense that everything would continue to be the same except for the specific events that the author is deliberately changing.  I spent half the panel in great frustration, because I knew I'd read a book recently with a plot hole that had actually bothered me, but I could not remember what book it was or what the problem was until I got back home and looked in my own LJ.  I was remembering Hal Clement's last novel Noise, where he hangs important parts of the story on the idea that a civilization with biotech advanced enough to have complicated machines that grew from seeds would be unable to build computers out of anything other than silicon.  After the panel, I asked Brother Guy if a plot hole was a story so dense nothing could escape; he said I should have shared that with the whole room.  Perhaps I would have if I hadn't been beating my head against the chair in frustration over not being able to remember the plot hole in Noise.  Few things are frustrating like not quite being able to remember something that you know is relevant to the topic at hand.

I went to the interview of Fan GoH Dermot Dobson.  I haven't hung around with Dermot enough to have heard very many of his stories, so I was highly entertained.  It's hard to understand how he's managed to remain alive, unmaimed, and free while doing such crazy stuff, but hearing about it makes for great entertainment.

I spent a moderate amount of time in the dealers' room, mostly talking to people, including the guy with the antimatter containment system and the plans to use an antimatter propulsion system for space probes (it seemed kind of wacko at first, but if he's not for real and on the level, he at least knows enough science to successfully snow me).  And I escaped without buying anything except for 3 CDs which I was planning on buying anyway.  I wrote another entry about two of those CDs.

I spent half an hour or so in the art show, which was enough time to walk past all the art but not enough time to really see all of it.  It was a good sized show and the quality level was pretty high, but I didn't see anything I couldn't live without.

After the jumble of things that happened in the afternoon, it was time to get serious about dinner.  I had hoped to find some interesting people to eat with during my wanderings, but had not succeeded.  I didn't sign up for the pizza party, because (a) living in the C-U area, with regular access to Papa Del's, I have very high standards for pizza, which Jan does not always meet (I don't think I heard that the pizza was supposed to be from Giordano's until after the signup deadline, and I didn't hear it from Jan so I don't know if it actually was), and (b) even with the best quality pizza, a big load of grease and no veggies is not what my digestion wants to deal with at a con.  But since most of the filkers were doing the pizza, it was going to be harder to find someone to have dinner with.  Could we maybe do takeout Chinese instead of pizza?  Anyway, as I was starting to have apocalyptic visions of having to eat alone, I ran into Bob Yeo, whom I've known for a long time and often join for dinner at cons.  He was somewhat interested in dinner, and we decided to try the hotel restaurant.  Unfortunately, where the hotel restaurant had been half empty on Friday night, it was packed on Saturday, with a 45 minute wait, but we decided to wait anyway.  More unfortunately, Bob's friend Eldred attached himself to our conversation in the con suite (since it was right next door to the con suite, we waited in the con suite rather than in the corridor), and then attached himself to our table.  Eldred didn't seem to be very fannish or interesting, but he was self-centered and demanding to the point of making me mildly embarrassed to be with him.  But we eventually got dinner, and the food was again perfectly decent buffet food.

We were halfway through dinner when the fire alarm went off.  The restaurant staff were unconcerned and ignored it throughout, so I decided not to be worried about it, but it was certainly annoying.  I hope that the hotel management takes the whole incident in stride as smoothly as the restaurant staff.  I was struck by the fact that Dermot had told us in his interview that he was having trouble finding volunteers for his MRI studies on how the brain responds to pain, but we seemed to have someone here in the hotel who was really asking to have a ballon inserted in his rectum and blown up to a size that caused extreme discomfort.

By the time we finally got out of the restaurant, it was nearly time for Renee Alper and Ray Phoenix's concert.  I wanted to attend their concert in part to support Renee, because her willingness to persevere in the face of far more adversity than most of us will ever see in our lives is a real inspiration, and partly because I've known Renee for a long time (though never very well), but mostly because both of them have more talent than I think they usually get credit for, and I enjoy their stuff.  "The Time of the Phoenix" deserves a Pegasus nomination.

After the concert, I ducked out to hit a couple of parties and get my guitar and stuff.  At the DucKon party, I found that neither I nor the con had records of my having bought a membership, though I thought I had.  But they didn't have the receipt book, so I decided to wait.  I should be able to buy my membership in person at Capricon and not have to worry about mailing it in.  At the Chicago in 2008 party, I discovered that I had already presupported, even though I'd forgotten about it, and I was also a little taken aback to learn that Dave McCarty is now chairing the bid.  I think he has the drive and intelligence to do a good job in the slot, but I worry that he won't have the confidence of the SMOFs in the wider world; if people expect him to fail it'll be a lot harder for him.  I hit the GT suite as Dave Ihnat was trying to find people interested in trying to figure out how to put together the CD grammophone kit with long complex instructions in Japanese, and getting surprisingly little interest.  I briefly dropped by the Odysseycon party -- I don't know what their convention is like, but they sure do come up with twisted posters.  And I spent a lot longer than I'd intended to in the Theobromos bash.  I'm not sure who throws that party, but they sure are generous -- there was easily $1000 worth of booze in the bar, including three single malts that looked rather expensive to me (not that I know anything about scotch), and ice cream, and chocolate fondue, and a huge variety of other chocolate goodies.

We had a pretty good open filk again Saturday.  There weren't a whole lot of filkers at this con -- certainly not as many as we've had at the last couple of Windycons -- but there were enough to have a good filk, and not so many that it was terribly hard to get a song in, so it was good.  High points I remember were Bob Passovoy Madeiraing Debbie Gates of Wild Mercy, followed by almeda doing Talis Kimberly's "X Libris", and me doing Jane Mailander's "Bedford Insurance Claim"; Eric Coleman doing (I think it was) WYSIWYG, and my jumping in thanking Eric for doing something crass enough that I didn't feel that Nate Bucklin's "I Can't Get Over You" was inappropriate, followed by Luke Ski topping both of us with a song about what frustrated young male fans wanted female fans to do with a certain part of their body; and a set that included Barry doing Bruce Cockburn's "Rocket Launcher", Deirdre doing "Lullabye for a Weary World", and me doing "One Tin Soldier" to what struck me as fairly positive audience reaction, although I think I must have been a little off somewhere because people started out singing with me and I lost a lot of them before the second verse.

Sunday, I put my non-filk stuff and the 12 string in the car, and then went to the filk room with my filk bag and Tiger for the ear worms panel.  In the 1 o'clock hour, I carried Tiger to the dealer's room because I wanted to let Ray VanTillburg see the case and decide if he could paint it for me.  He concluded that he could paint something on it, but he couldn't guarantee that it would stay on, and suggested that a better route would be to get an image on a sticker.  This would give me more flexibility with the image (I could even start with a photograph and work on it in Photoshop) but of course a more amorphous problem makes it easier to procrastinate.  Then I stopped in the con suite to grab a bite to eat, and chatted with Art Warneke who was doing the same.  I'd intended to do a drive-by heckling of ericcoleman on the WFLK panel, but by the time I finished the food, it was 2:00 and time for the jam.  The jam was unfortunately somewhat limited because Barry had to go to closing ceremonies at 3.  Rregular filkers never seem to be very good at jamming without a good jam leader, and Barry is the best.  After Barry left, we had a couple more songs and then mostly stood around talking about how we needed to leave for another hour.  But it was good.

On the whole a successful convention. I had a good time, with plenty to do most of the time; I really only regret not having made better arrangements in advance for dinner on Saturday. From where I stood, the con appeared to survive the transition to a new hotel pretty well; if the hotel maintains the accommodating attitude that they were demonstrating last weekend in the future, this could work out very well. Parking does seem to be iffy; I was concerned that even though we had in and out parking privileges, once I'd gotten a parking place giving it up before the end of the convention seemed like a Bad Idea.

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