Silent Kev

Dec. 6th, 2016 04:53 pm
kevin_standlee: (Kreegah Bundalo)
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I talked my voice to pieces during SMOFCon. Today, I spent nearly the entire day in a conference room interacting with co-workers entirely through e-mail and instant messaging. It was not until I went to lunch and gave my sandwich order that it occurred to me that it was the first time all day that I'd actually spoken a word. This is probably just as well. I still am somewhat hoarse, but resting my voice and drinking lots of hot tea (but not coffee) seems to help.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
SMOFCon 34 ended a little bit earlier than one might normally expect because they had to be completely out of the wonderful Con Suite space this afternoon because it was booked for a different big event this evening, but it was still a good final day of the convention.

Personal Highlights and Thoughts About the Fannish Inquisition )

The final item was the Feedback & Closing, the picture of which I took was out of focus so I'm not going to post it. After that, people who had flights left for the airport, although the weather today apparently kept many of them them there for many hours waiting for their flights.

Snow We Go )

Many people staying over tonight headed out to dinner, but I stayed in the hotel with others. I wasn't up to it. The convention has caught up to me, and I am losing my voice. Right now I sound like Andy Devine.

The Dead Dog Party opened in a suite two floors below my room around 8 PM, and I went and spent about 90 minutes there before concluding that having had less than four hours sleep last night (thanks to the P&S Seminar and uploading Fannish Inquisition videos) plus the usual SMOFCon stuff has been too much for me. Besides, I need to pack stuff away for the trip home tomorrow. It's going to be tricky, as I have more with me now than with which I started, so I'm going to have to be very careful to not exceed my luggage weight allowance, and I'll probably have to wear my winter jacket onto the flight instead of putting it in my checked luggage.

Despite having talked my voice away and exhausted myself, I've enjoyed SMOFCon a great deal. I bought my membership to SMOFCon 35 this afternoon. They apparently have more than 50 members already. Save money and buy your membership at the opening $50 price. Next year in Boston!
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
I was on two panels today at SMOFCon, but most of my energy was invested in recording the two sessions of the Fannish Inquisition. In the afternoon, the seated NASFiC and Worldcons gave presentations and answered questions. In the evening, it was time for SMOFCon bids, the selection of the site of next year's SMOFCon (Boston), and presentations from and questions for future Worldcon bids.



I am uploading Fannish Inquisition videos to this playlist. As I write this LJ message, not all of the videos have been uploaded, but they should eventually all get there.

One of the interesting parts of this year's Inquisition was the joint participation from SMOFCon South in New Zealand, including a presentations from the New Zealand in 2020 bid via Skype video call.

People were pretty well behaved this year at the Inquisition, and consequently we were done by 10:20. This meant we were able to get the Probability & Statistics Seminar started before 11 PM. 21 people signed up. However, one thing we did not understand was that the Con Suite closing time of 2 PM meant that the hotel actually wanted to lock up the Lounge entirely. We still had the Final Table to play when Hotel Security came to kick us out of the back room where we were playing. They relented a bit and gave us a little extra time, and fortunately the action was so fast at that point that we did manage to get to the point where the final two agreed to "chop." Marah Searle-Kovacevic, as the Top Stack at that point, is allowed to claim the title of Champion of the SMOF Series of Poker for 2016.

It's been a lot of fun here at SMOFCon. Regrettably, it all ends tomorrow, and earlier than we would like, as the Con Suite has to be cleared in the early afternoon. If there is any Sunday evening SMOFCon Dead Dog Party, I have not yet heard of it.

Given how late the Probability & Statistics Seminar went, I'm very glad that I don't have to check out of the hotel on Sunday, and can thus spend Sunday night doing most of my packing. I've kept the Do Not Disturb sign up all weekend so I haven't had to tidy up the room enough for Housekeeping.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
It was the first official day of SMOFCon 34, with programming in the afternoon and the official opening ceremonies in the evening, followed by socializing and fun, which in this case included a game show.

No, Not Match Game SF, but Close )

There's a fairly extensive program going on. I'm on two items tomorrow afternoon, followed by my filming the seated NASFiC and Worldcons' Fannish Inquisition in the afternoon and the Bids in the evening. After the Inquisition is the Probability & Statistics Seminar. This afternoon we discovered that whoever took charge of the gaming chips (which I handed off at SMOFCon 33 in Fort Worth) never got them to Chicago, which threatened to scupper the tournament. However, Dave McCarty has offered to supply his personal chips, which we'll have tomorrow afternoon, and so the day is saved. Nevertheless, we need to find out what happened to the chips handed off in Texas last year, because they actually belong to SMOFCon, inasmuch as San Jose bought two boxes of the things for ongoing use.

On the fannish productivity side, I have filled two area head positions in my division (WSFS) for Worldcon 76 SJ (announcements later once we've filled them in the official staff list). Donald Eastlake III has agreed to be my deputy WSFS Business Meeting chair in Helsinki. That leaves me only one job left for Helsinki for which I need someone, and that's Sergeant-at-Arms.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
When I woke up at 4 AM this morning in Sunnyvale, I had an e-mail from United Airlines asking me to call them because of an overbooking condition on my early-morning flight. I called and they explained that due to an equipment change (sounds like a 777 morphed into a 737), there were a lot of people they were trying to get to take a later flight. In exchange for a flight voucher, I let myself be rebooked onto a 10:45 flight, which meant I did not have to rush this morning. I was already up, however, so I finished my morning and got to the airport, beating most of the traffic, and having plenty of time for breakfast at SFO.

I boarded the 777 for my later flight. Because of the issue with the morning flight, this flight was completely full, but we seemed to have loaded pretty much on time. And then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. Apparently the issue was that SFO ground staff wouldn't come and take the trash off the plane from the inbound flight. After an interminable delay, the on-board crew ended up dragging bags of trash down the aisle and tossing them into the jetway so that we could actually leave, albeit about 90 minutes late.

The flight to Chicago was routine, although crowded. I'm glad I got an aisle seat. (I'd asked on the rebooking if I could get Economy Plus, but the only way I could have an E+ seat would have been to move to a center, so I stuck to my aisle seat.) When we got to Chicago, I joined David W. Clark (he had been seated up in E+) and after we claimed our bags, we made our way to the shuttle center and caught a ride over to the Crowne Plaza Rosemont.

Going on down the street (and sharing hotel space with us) is Midwest FurFest. We SF/F conrunners are so old and boring by comparison.

I registered in the con suite and spent the next few hours hanging around the con suite, what else, smoffing, which is of course the whole point of this event. About 10:30, I realized that I'd not had dinner. As everyone else around had already eaten, I walked over to the hotel restaurant and bought a to-go dinner that I brought back to the con suite (which is a converted former restaurant space in the hotel) so that I didn't have to eat alone.

Friday is lightly programmed, but I do have a 10 AM meeting of the CanSMOF (Montréal Worldcon) board of directors (this and Worldcon are usually the only time we can ever get a quorum), so now I must try to get some sleep. I wish I'd known in advance that my hotel room had a mini-fridge; I would have tried to hunt down a mini-market in the area and get some small supplies.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
Tomorrow morning at much too early an hour (but not quite as awful when you account for the time difference), I'm off to SFO to fly to Chicago for SMOFCon 34, the annual convention about organizing SF/F genre conventions. I'll be on two panels on Saturday and will be recording the Fannish Inquisition, which has been mercifully been split into "seated Worldcons/NASFiC" (afternoon) and "bids for SMOFCon and NASFiC" (evening).

Lisa is not coming, and has sent with me the smaller camera and lighter tripod. The small camera has only a built-in microphone, not the external connections that the professional P2 camera has. We've used it before, but we know the sound is not as good. On the bright side, it generates files directly into MP4 format, so as my time and bandwidth allow it, I will be able to upload the files without having to do any editing on them.

Do not expect uploads immediately after the events. I'm helping run (and playing in) the Probability & Statistics Seminar on Saturday following the Inquisition. Saturday is going to be very busy, and I suspect that I won't be in tip-top condition on Sunday. I will be very surprised if I get anything uploaded until next week when I'm back in the Bay Area. I fly back on Monday mid-day. It's possible (but I make no promises) that I'll be at BASFA next Monday night as well.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
While I was in Las Vegas, I took advantage of the superb upload speed (nearly 100 mbps) of the wired internet connection at the Palazzo and uploaded the video from the "Fannish Inquisition" that Lisa shot at SMOFCon. While the uploads were fast, the processing time was not.

Boring Technical Explanation )

I created a 2015 SMOFCon Fannish Inquisition Playlist that will allow you to watch all of the Inquisition presentations or any of them that you choose. Note that this is all on a creative-commons license, so you are welcome to link to this and redistribute the videos as long as you give proper credit, particularly including Lisa Hayes as the videographer.

Lisa points out that none of the people who appeared in the Fannish Inquisition presentations this year attended the workshop on giving presentations with an eye toward YouTube and other social media, and it shows.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Today's journey was Fort Worth to Amarillo, 340 miles by Google Maps calculation, although it was twenty miles longer by the route we actually took.

Bearly Checking Out )

At 10:05, we rolled out of the Sheraton's parking garage. Unfortunately, I misread the signs multiple times and didn't have a good map of downtown Fort Worth, and consequently got on the freeway downstream from the Northbound I-35W exit and then after doubling back and taking the I-35W NB exit, turned left instead of right, which routed me back into downtown Fort Worth. At that point I decided to simply head up Main Street (US-287 Business) toward the Stockyards, where I'd already been twice on two separate dinner expeditions, and take the time penalty as we made our way to breakfast, on the grounds that trying to turn around again would probably use just as much time.

Our Favorite Breakfast )

Road construction on I-35W up to the US-287 junction further slowed us down, but presently we were on the open road heading northwest at a good clip. However, within half an hour or so it started getting clear that I was not in a good shape to drive. I was gasping and straining to stay awake. Eventually, about 100 miles from Fort Worth, Lisa took over, as she got a good night's sleep last night and was much more alert. I dug out my neck pillow and laid back. I may have slept for a little while before we got to Wichita Falls, where we refueled. Lisa was to drive us the rest of the day.

Mobile Home Too Mobile )

We're refueling more often than strictly necessary (the minivan has range in excess of 450 miles) to continue to take maximum advantage of gas costing less than $1.70/gallon, numbers that boggle the imagination of this transplanted Californian. We stopped to refuel again at the Pilot on the east side of Amarillo just after US-287 merged into I-40. As we were leaving, we saw a genuine Texas limousine with long horns on the hood. I always thought people just made that up. Continuing westward to the exit where our hotel was, then stopped to get some groceries and finally arrived at the hotel at 7:25 PM.

Upgrade-Fu Strikes Again! )

Including stops, we took 9 hours 20 minutes to travel 360 miles, for an average speed of 39 miles per hour. Considering that we stopped to have lunch for an hour and had quite a few other rest stops along the way, this should tell you something about how fast Texas highways are. Tomorrow we have a trip of 430 miles from the trip planner (which means it will probably be about 470 miles of actual travel), and it's likely to be a long day. Fortunately, the weather is good and I-40 is a fast road while driving at legal speeds.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
Having gotten to bed last night after 4 AM and knowing I had a 10 AM panel, I concluded that breakfast was a no-go for me on Sunday. I let myself sleep in as late as I could and still have a chance to shower, shave, get dressed, grab a large mug of coffee from the con suite, and take a food bar with me down to the programming room for my 10 AM panel regarding burnout on convention committees. We had a productive discussion on the subject, I think, although I may have auto-piloted my way through much of it. Afterwards, I went back up and woke Lisa up so we could go find a late breakfast. We ran into David Clark, who was also bound for lunch, and we walked uptown. Nobody we saw served breakfast all day, but we had serviceable (albeit somewhat messy) hamburgers at Jake's Restaurant, after which we walked off some of the meal tracking down a Bank of America ATM for me and a Walgreen's for Dave before making our way back to the hotel in time for the final panel of SMOFCon this year: How to Call Out Other Conventions. This was a discussion about how and whether you should point out other groups' mistakes, particularly the most egregious ones that could poison your convention's relationship with hotel facilities. I found it very interesting listening to the stories behind the panel title, but I was so sleepy that I couldn't concentrate that well.

And that was a convention. This year's SMOFCon did not schedule a Closing Event item, which I think is unfortunate. I think SMOFCon should have a definite end with a final wrap-up, even if it's just a short "Thank you for coming and hope you'll be back to next year's convention in X" event.

[livejournal.com profile] pcornelius came by and collected Lisa to take her away to see the Maker Space where he is a regular participant, while I hung out in the Con Suite smoffing — that's why I was here, after all. Then it was time for dinner, and I found myself part of a large off-site expedition.

On to the Dead Cow Party )

After dinner, we returned to the hotel, and those of us staying over tonight gathered in the Con Suite. I spent several hours there engaged in many enjoyable conversations (including hearing a wonderful idea for the Sasquan Thank You Party at next year's Worldcon that I hope comes to pass but about which I can say no more right now), but a bit after 10 PM I realized that I was falling asleep where I sat and that it would be wise to get some packing done tonight in light of our desire to put many miles behind us tomorrow on the first leg of our trip home.

I had a really good time here in Fort Worth, and I'm glad I came to SMOFCon. It's one of the high points of my year, and despite working hard to travel and to organize the poker tournament and help Lisa with the recording, it's significantly less draining than Worldcon while giving me a chance to meet and talk with many of my friends in a less-pressured environment than usual. I found myself with a smile on my face much more of this weekend than at many a Worldcon, simply because there was less to worry about.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
Saturday of SMOFCon was so packed with stuff that I really don't have time to do justice to it, and I didn't take the photos I should have done.

Statistics, Not Probability )

After that was the panel I was on about badge design, for which to my surprise we had a decent turnout (that is, not everyone went to the discussion about what made Sasquan different), and I think a good discussion about the various factors that go into convention membership badge design. I posted my four main design elements from my article in Argentus, and we discussed how the factors will inevitably change based on the nature of the event. For example, the priorities for a 150-person fandom meeting-planner event like SMOFCon are radically different than those of 10,000-person anime convention that has had a serious badge counterfeiting problem.

Lisa had gone off with [livejournal.com profile] pcornelius to ride and look at trains today, so I went to lunch with [livejournal.com profile] bovil and [livejournal.com profile] kproche. We walked across the Water Garden to the Omni Hotel and had lunch in their restaurant. Because of the big buffet breakfast, I just had a bowl of the venison chili, which was quite good.

As it happens, there wasn't much in the afternoon program that sent me, so I divided the afternoon between taking a short lie down (not really a nap, I think) in my room, then hanging out the con suite, where I ended up eating more good chili, until going to a light dinner and then helping Lisa (back from the Interurban Railway Museum in Plano) carry and set up equipment for the "Fannish Inquisition" — presentation and questions for future SMOFCons and for current Worldcons and bids for future NASFiCs and Worldcons.

Lisa recorded as much of the Fannish Inquisition as she could under the circumstances; however, we don't have time or bandwidth to upload the videos right now. It might not get online until Christmas, based on our travel schedule. I couldn't work on it immediately afterwards, because I had the Probability & Statistics Seminar to organize immediately after the Inquisition. Thank goodness Chris Carson was there to help Lisa break down her equipment.

Chicago was selected (without opposition) to host SMOFCon 34 next year, at a Chicago-area site to be announced.

Some Bits of the Fannish Inquisition )

We've improved the Fannish Inquisition over the years, including better time discipline on presentations and the Q&A session. Unfortunately, it appears to me that there is a streak of SMOFS who have taken this as a challenge for throwing in more irrelevancies and jokes to try and once again expand the event to an uncomfortable length. There were a couple of people who seemed to want to announce bids and jokes for just about everything, and thanks to that, the event didn't finish until 11:30 PM, and a lot of us, including me, were getting a bit exasperated. I think we're going to have to find some way to split this thing into two pieces, putting the SMOFCon selection and seated conventions presentations and Q&A into one 90-minute item and the bids into another one. Not everyone thinks that spending more than three hours in a progressively hotter-and-stuffier room listening to people announce yet another joke bid is a productive use our of time.

Lisa adds that if the Inquisition were better managed, it would be much easier for the person doing the video to do in-camera editing and thus easier to get the video posted sooner. Of course the event is geared around the people actually in the room, but it would be much appreciated if the moderator could be more cognizant of the recording without someone having to stand up and shout "stop!" and "start!" to get his/her attention.

Shuffle Up and Deal )

It was a pretty good peak day at SMOFCon. It would have been better if Worldcon bidders could show a little bit more restraint.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
After lunch on Friday at SMOFCon 33, Lisa and I walked across the street to the Fort Worth Water Gardens. This is an SFnal site, having been seen as part of the movie Logan's Run.

Walking Inside a Fountain )

I really enjoyed the Water Garden. It's a fascinating place. Click through any of the photos to see more photos from around the Garden.

Lisa took a nap this afternoon when I went to afternoon programming. [livejournal.com profile] pcornelius is not attending SMOFCon, but came down to visit Lisa. After programming, he took the three of us to Cattlemen's Fort Worth Steakhouse, where we all had excellent dinners and conversation. Lisa and Chris plan to go out on Saturday and visit a railroad museum while I'm involved in SMOFCon. Saturday night is the Fannish Inquisition (Lisa is recording it; I'll be uploading it) followed by the Probability & Statistics Seminar.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
Friday at SMOFCon led off with Lisa being half (along with Tammy Coxen) of a workshop about public speaking and convention bidding, with an emphasis on how to present yourself before an audience, particularly when the event is being recorded and the recording posted online. I was Tech Support for the event, showing videos and slides as needed. This was a long workshop, originally scheduled for two hours but actually taking more than three. Lisa and I consequently went out for a late lunch afterwards (about which more shortly). The workshop went very well, I thought. I was glad that I was able to help, and Lisa seemed very happy to talk to people about things like microphone technique. People still don't and won't use microphones correctly, though.

At 4 PM, I went to the panel about administering the Hugo Awards.

What a Difference a Year Makes )

The social and mixer event was more of a cocktail hour followed by an attempt to get people mixing with a game involving teams taking bits of oddball items and a Dallas/Fort Worth-area landmark, building an "alien artifact" with the stuff, and presenting a story about it. As usual with such things, these went better or worse, but people were of good spirits about it.

Following the mixer, Dave Cantor and I helped show people who plan to participate in the Probability & Statistics Seminar on Saturday night how Texas Hold-Em poker works. So far 22 people have signed up out of a possible 40. We'll see how many turn up at Tournament Time tomorrow after the Fannish Inquisition.

I also found out that Saturday morning at 11 AM I am on a panel about membership badge design. Oh, the irony. I found this out after what I wrote yesterday criticizing SMOFCon 33's badges. OTOH, this is scheduled against a panel called "What Made Sasquan Different?" and I rather expect that everyone is going to go there instead. We'll see if anyone wants to talk about membership badges in the morning.
kevin_standlee: (To Trains (T&P))
Today was our final day on the road before arriving at SMOFCon 33. Because we went farther yesterday than originally planned, we had extra time today, which we used sleeping in and then taking in some sights in downtown Abilene, Texas, including a remarkable series of Dr. Seuss statues.

To The Trains )

Dr. Seuss in the Park )

While exploring the train station area, Lisa spotted an interesting museum. Given the unlikelihood of us ever passing through here again, we decided to have a look at the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.

12th Armored Division Museum )

We enjoyed the museum and wish we could have spent two more hours there, but we were now a couple of hours behind schedule even with the time we borrowed from yesterday, so we needed to get back on the road to Fort Worth.

Arrival in Fort Worth )

After Lisa had a bath and washed her hair, we headed down to register for the convention and pick up our t-shirts provided by Off World Designs. Registration was quick and easy, but I'm afraid that I'm unimpressed by the glitzy membership badge.

Lots of Badge, But to What Purpose? )

Lisa and I went out looking for something to eat, but there is almost nothing close to the hotel, and the range of restaurants some blocks away did not particularly enthuse us. We ended up heading back to the hotel and ordering in a pizza. Although the room doesn't have a mini-fridge, Lisa brought the electric ice chest including the 120VAC->12VDC power supply so we can run it on AC in the room, which gives us a place to store drinks and such, and that's something of a relief, although there doesn't seem to be many places downtown where we can restock on supplies.

We've ordered room service breakfast for tomorrow morning because Lisa is assisting with a four-hour-long workshop starting at 10 AM tomorrow on the subject of "Public Speaking for Bidders" with her contribution being the video-recording aspect of the task, and we can't afford to get tangled up in how to get breakfast. Pity there's no Waffle House within walking distance.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Today's travel was Tonopah to Williams, optimistically 426 miles but I find the real-world distance for us to be about 10% more, and the Google Maps travel time projections are nonsense, particularly if you are like me and need to stop at least once an hour for either a bathroom break or a chance to stretch a leg that keeps wanting to cramp up.

Setting Off Into the Cold )

We went through Las Vegas (approximately the halfway point of today's trip), eventually stopping in Henderson to refuel and buy some take-out food to get us back on the road as fast as possible. I took no photos; I was too busy driving. The same goes for the construction work and signs for the Interstate 11 project.

On to Arizona )

We pushed on as fast as we could south to Kingman, but we did take the "scenic route" (Andy Devine Blvd/Old US-66) in Kingman itself on our way to a grocery store we've used before. No pictures this time, but I took some on our last trip through here a few years ago if you're curious.

Stopping for the groceries, we had a slight setback: the minivan's rear door won't open. When I tried to open it, I heard something inside go clunk and now it's stuck shut. This is not a catastrophe, but it's going to make the trip very annoying, as we now have to remove everything via the side door over the middle seats. Lisa says she thinks she can repair it when we get home. This could have been considerably worse, with the door refusing to close, for example, or us carrying our "big tech" gear for Match Game SF. As it stands now, it's just an inconvenience.

By now the sun was heading for the horizon, and we were heading away from the sun as we set forth east on I-40 as fast as we could legally go, which is 75 miles per hour. We made excellent time, but I was getting pretty worn by now and really wanting to get to Williams. On the way to the hotel, we saw that downtown Williams is full of winter fun with the streets closed off, but by the time we got to the hotel (6:30 PM MT), we were too tired to do anything but order in pizza and collapse.

My scheduling software did not take into account the fact that Arizona is on Mountain Time. I'm glad we got going as early as we did this morning, as this partially counteracted that scheduling error. We took about ten hours to make more than 425 miles, and that's probably the best average we can manage given the number of stops we usually make. While this is the longest leg of our outbound trip (we have 360 miles planned to Albuquerque tomorrow), the return trip has a couple of even longer segments because of having slightly less time to get home and a planned two-day stay in Las Vegas. I think I'm glad we have two nights planned at Albuquerque.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
We originally were planning on getting an early start today for the first leg of the SMOFCon trip; however, various things conspired against us getting away from the house early. That was not a problem, though, as today's trip was relatively short: only 200 miles to Tonopah, where we are spending the night at the Tonopah Station Hotel, the proposed site of the Tonopah in 2012 Westercon Bid.

Kuma Bear Has Friends in Tonopah )

The Road to Tonopah )

Tower of Power )

Well within the time expected, we arrived at the Tonopah Station hotel and checked in. Lisa rolled the dice in the chuck-a-luck cage: any triple would have resulted in our prepaid room reservation being refunded; alas, it was not to be this time. (We have another chance at a free room on the return trip.) The desk clerk said that they gave away four free nights last night.

What an Interesting Place for a Westercon.... )

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and then walked over to Scolari's grocery store (conveniently located next door across the parking lot) for a few more supplies including some stuff for breakfast tomorrow morning. Today was merely a prelude: tomorrow is more than 400 miles, as we drive from Tonopah to Las Vegas and then on to Williams, Arizona, and while the weather continues to look good, that's still a lot of driving, not all of which will be as fast as our drive today was. It is in our best interest to get going as early tomorrow as possible.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Because I would like my mechanic in Fremont to do some more work on the Astro before we head to SMOFcon at the end of November, and based on my other trips, and in order to avoid having to spend a week in a hotel down here in the Bay Area, Lisa will drive to the Bay Area on Saturday and meet me here. We'll drop my van as the mechanic's shop, where he will have at least two weeks to work on it at his leisure. Lisa and I will then drive home in the Rolling Stone. When I come back down, we'll reverse the process and she'll drive the Astro home after I retrieve and pay for the minivan work. (Nothing serious, but it's stuff he didn't have time to do the last time he had it.) It means I won't have the Astro at home for a couple of weeks, but we do have three other working vehicles we can use, even if the minivan is the most comfortable for running errands.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
As I mentioned a few days ago, our drive to Fort Worth for SMOFCon takes us through Albuquerque, where we intend to stay for two nights so that I can work remotely and thus not spend a vacation day. Originally we booked the Holiday Inn Express on Yale Blvd. where we have stayed before; however, while getting my Hyatt account cleaned up and a pair of accounts merged, I found that I had enough points for two nights in a tier 1 Hyatt. That includes the Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport. Lisa said she'd rather stay there than the downtown Hyatt (and looking at the amenities list, I agree; the Hyatt Place is more like a Holiday Inn Express, and that's a good thing). So I redeemed the points (which Hyatt was warning me were on the verge of expiring anyway; it has been many years since I last stayed in a Hyatt hotel) and canceled the Holiday Inn Express reservation.

Using those points, which otherwise would have expired in a few months, saves us $225 in hotel costs on the trip. The nights in Las Vegas and in Williams AZ are also on IHG points. (ETA in light of a comment below: the two nights at the Palazzo are on "nights at any hotel in the IHG group" rather than points, which makes them attractive. I would have used at least one of the two free nights I had banked on this trip because one of them expires at the end of the year.) I'm tempted to use the points on some other nights on this trip as well, but I usually try to save up the IHG points for use with the more-expensive hotels, such as how we used points for staying in the IHG Intercontinental Westminster for two nights last year. The only reason I'm using the points at Williams is because the room rate at the Holiday Inn Express is over $200, which makes no sense to me, but that's how it goes.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
My vacation request for early December has been approved, so it looks like Lisa and I are okay to plan the trip to SMOFCon 33 in Fort Worth. I've booked hotel rooms along the route, including using the two free-anywhere-in-the-chain nights I had banked for two nights at the Palazzo in Las Vegas on the return trip. The only difficult part is that we'll get home on Saturday and I'll then have to turn around the very next day and drive to the Bay Area to work for a week down there, as it's the last full week in the year -- the rest of the month is partial weeks because of the holidays.

As it happens, the free-anywhere-nights are somewhat less valuable when I'm using them, as a Wednesday-Thursday night in the second week of December has (relatively) less expensive room ($259) than if we were booking a weekend night in a peak period. But it's still good use of the free nights, as is redeeming 20K IHG points for a night at Williams AZ on the way out, where the Holiday Inn Express is unaccountably selling rooms for more than $200/night.

I also seem to have enough Hyatt points for one free night, but there are a lot fewer Hyatts along my route than there are IHG hotels. One of the plans was to use a night in Albuquerque; however, we need to spend two nights there (I'll work remotely that day; it saves a vacation day), so it wouldn't make much sense to change hotels in mid-stay. Also, it looks like Hyatt and I have a confusion and I have a pending query to their customer service about why I seem to have two different accounts with them, with two different balances. We'll give this some more thought. None of the hotel stays booked yet are non-refundable, so we might change a few things around if more free nights become available to me.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
I do so much wish I could settle my travel plans for this year's SMOFCon in Fort Worth. Tentatively, Lisa and I plan to drive, which is a long trip, and I'm still not certain I will have enough time off to make it happen. Our tentative plans had us coming through Las Vegas, where we would like to use my IHG points (and the one free night at any hotel in the group that I have banked) to stay a couple of nights at the Palazzo. If we could commit to specific nights now, I could take advantage of a one-day sale that IHG is running to use only 25K points (normally what it takes to book a Holiday Inn Express, and half the normal cost) to book a night there. If I could make that commitment, I'd probably book a three-night stay including the one-night-any-IHG offer. But unlike most point usages, point reservations at the Palazzo are non-refundable, so if we have to change our plans, I'd lose all of the points. I guess I'll have to just grit my teeth and wait until our plans solidify, probably after Worldcon.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
SMOFCon, the annual conference about running SF/F genre conventions, includes as its centerpiece on the middle night, the "Fannish Inquisition," where seated Worldcons and bids for future Worldcons make presentations and take questions. Generally, the groups happening sooner get longer amounts of time, so that the farther into the future your bid is, the less time you get, trailing off primarily to about one minute to announce intent to bid or to plan for a bid in, say, 2023 or so. For the past few years, Lisa and I have, at those SMOFCons we have been able to attend, recorded these presentations and posted them to YouTube or Vimeo. (We weren't in Philadelphia in 2012, and while apparently someone was recording the presentations, it appears the presentations were never posted. This was not within our control.)

SMOFCon 32, December 5-7, 2014, was in Manhattan Beach, California, and Lisa recorded the presentations. Because the Inquisition format is primarily for the benefit of the people attending, not for the recording, there were times where two presentations were recorded on the same file, or a single presentation or Q&A session was split over two files due to Lisa not getting sufficient cue information. Therefore, we needed some time to edit the videos to split or join them as needed.

This afternoon, I finally got the last of the twenty videos uploaded, and put them all into a single YouTube Playlist of the 2014 Fannish Inquisition, so you can either watch all twenty of them in approximately the order they happened (with some but not all of the fumbling with tech between presentations mercifully omitted), or pick and choose those presentations in which you are interested.

Note that this is a public post. These videos are all creative-commons licensed, and you're welcome to point them out to anyone else as you wish. You don't need our permission to redistribute them. We do this as a service to fandom so that people interested in what the current Worldcons and bids for future Worldcons are saying to fellow conrunners.

Also note that, while bids for future SMOFCons were presented (and voted on) prior to the Worldcon presentations, we did not record them.

August 2017

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