kevin_standlee: (WSFS Logo)
I have finally managed to upload the eleven different Fannish Inquisition videos from Worldcon 75 that Lisa recorded. These presentations were also live-streamed on the Worldcon 75 channel, and an archive of it as one continuous item is there, but this playlist has each of the Worldcon, Worldcon bid, and NASFiC bid presentations as separate files. These are all creative-commons licensed, so you certainly can feel free to share these with anyone you think would be interested in them.

That was Lisa's longest day. We were at the Business Meeting at 9:00, an hour before it started in order to set up, and while I was done when we adjourned at 13:00, Lisa had to stick around for all of the inquisitioning as well. I was there as well, but Lisa had to work harder than I did that day. We were both tired and hungry after that was all done.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
I couldn't say anything about it until they officially announced by distributing their PR 0, but Lisa, Kuma Bear, and I were selected as the Fan Guests of Honor of Westercon 72 in Layton (Salt Lake City) Utah for 2019. We are very honored to have been selected to be Westercon's guests.

Incidentally, if anyone wonders how this interacts with the Utah in 2019 NASFiC bid, especially considering that I've already been FGoH of a NASFiC (2005, SeaTac): As I understand it, the plan, consistent with past Westercon/Worldcons, is for the NASFiC, should Utah win that bid, to have a separate group of Guests of Honor in addition to Westercon's guests.

After lunch, we newly-minted Westercon Guests kitted up and set forth on an expedition under the leadership of Colonel Chinstrap.

Chinstrap and Company )

After a few hours about in costume, we changed back to "civvies" and had an early dinner at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (which we not only like a lot, but is nearby) before getting ready for Match Game SF.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
To hardly anyone's surprise, the uncontested bid to host the 2019 Westercon in Layton (Salt Lake City), Utah won handily in the site selection that closed this afternoon in Tempe at Westercon 70. Turnout was very light, with 43 votes cast, 4 of which were for No Preference. Of the 39 ballots with a preference, they broke down as follows:

Utah 32
Tonopah NV 3
Reno NV 2
Hopland CA 1
"Both" 1

With 20 votes being needed to elect, Utah's bid won on the first ballot.

Site Selection Administrator Ben Yalow was called home on an emergency and had to leave Tempe this afternoon, but asked me to step in as Emergency Holographic Administrator. I was assisted by Judy Bemis, Linda Deneroff, and Seth Breidbart.

Westercon does not require official receipt of the results by the Business Meeting (unless there is a situation requiring action by the Business Meeting), and thus the results were considered official when certified by the Administrator. The newly seated Westercon 72 committee will be make a presentation at the Business Meeting on Monday at 12:30 PM at Westercon 70, will be selling memberships from their table tomorrow and Tuesday, and will host a victory party on Monday night.

The Utah for 2019 Committee will continue with their NASFiC bid to jointly host the 2019 NASFiC along with Westercon 72, assuming that the unopposed Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid wins its bid to host Worldcon 77.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Plate)
An afterthought about the 2020 NASFiC: Assuming that Dublin wins their 2019 Worldcon bid and New Zealand wins its 2020 Worldcon bid, we will have an interesting case regarding the 2020 NASFiC election. The 2020 NASFiC will be selected in 2019, and the 2019 NASFiC, not the Worldcon, will administer the election. Only members of the 2019 NASFiC will be eligible to vote on the 2020 NASFiC site. Members of the 2019 Worldcon will not be eligible to vote unless they also join the 2019 NASFiC as at least a supporting member. I am trying to make this clear because, based on the past times a NASFiC has selected a NASFiC, it's likely that Worldcon members will think that they are eligible when they are not, and some of them are going to get testy about it.

Anyone bidding for the 2019 NASFiC should consider that they'll be running one official WSFS voting function: 2020 NASFiC Site Selection. There are no Awards. There is no Business Meeting. But there will be Site Selection. Bear this in mind if you consider throwing your hat in the ring to host the 2019 NASFiC.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Logo)
NASFiC is held when the Worldcon is held outside of North America. (Not just the USA.) For example, this year's Worldcon is in Finland, which is not in North America. Therefore, the 2017 NASFiC will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As you can see, NASFiC does not have to be held on the North American mainland. It can be held anywhere within North America, which includes Central America, and also the Caribbean, Bermuda, the Bahamas. Hawaii is not currently explicitly listed as being included within the NASFiC definition. "North America" is somewhat ambiguous around the edge cases, and there's a pending constitutional amendment that would restore the de facto definition that existed before we deleted the zone definitions from the WSFS Constitution.

Assuming that the Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid wins its (unopposed) election, there will be a need for a 2019 NASFiC. By WSFS rules, the Worldcon (or NASFiC, if there is one) one year before the convention year will hold the NASFiC election. In this case, it means that the 2018 Worldcon, Worldcon 76 San Jose, will run the 2019 NASFiC election.

Any site in North America more than 500 miles from San Jose, California will be eligible to host the 2019 NASFiC. That effectively means that no place in California or Nevada is eligible. The 500 mile circle around San Jose does allow places like Portland OR, Salt Lake City UT, and Phoenix AZ to bid. Of course, any place farther away than that is also eligible.

NASFiC does not have a date restriction, other than it has to be in the year for which they are bidding. Unlike Worldcon, NASFiC doesn't administer awards, and therefore it has even fewer practical limitations on how early in the year it can be held. This year's NASFiC is the weekend after Westercon.

Combined with the rules for Westercon bidding (see my previous post), it is technically possible for a site to bid for and host both Westercon and NASFiC simultaneously. The elections take place at different times and places and are run by different groups. (Westercon is selected two years in advance and voted at Westercon. NASFiC is selected one year in advance and voted at — in 2019's case — at Worldcon.) However, any site in North American west of 104° west longitude and also more than 500 miles from San Jose is eligible to host both.

There are of course many places in North America east of 104° west longitude, and they are all eligible to host NASFiC but not Westercon. There's never been an official NASFiC outside of the USA (Puerto Rico is part of the USA, folks, and don't forget it!), but sites in Canada, Mexico, and the elsewhere are all eligible as well.

To my knowledge, no group has ever actually tried to bid for both Westercon and NASFiC, but that's only due to the practical issues such a bid might encounter, not due to any restriction in the rules of either Westercon or WSFS.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
If you are interested in bidding to host the 2019 Westercon, you have one month to go before the filing deadline of April 15, 2017. Because no bids filed before the first deadline, any site in Western North America (west of 104° west longitude, including points in both Mexico and Canada) or in Hawaii is eligible to host Westercon 72.

The interaction of site selection bidding for Westercon and NASFiC leads to some interesting possibilities. Because I've already answered some of the questions on this subject in individual queries, and because I'm the division manager over what will be 2019 NASFiC Site Selection should it become necessary (as seems likely now), I'll discuss this in a later post. Short version: a site can bid to host both Westercon and NASFiC if it is eligible to host both, although the bidding for each is separate and takes place at different places and times.
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: (WSFS Logo)
For some years now, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee has wanted to re-design the Worldcon, NASFiC, and WSFS web sites. The old sites were showing a great deal of age, and were generally quite difficult to update, requiring a small number of people with the necessary access to have the time to do the updates. This is no knock on those people (some of whom read this LJ), but having pinch points was a problem for us. However, the issues in getting the sites changed were many, mostly political more than technical, as study committee after working group tossed around their own ways of doing the One True Perfect In Every Way Web Site. There were also difficulties getting the domains untangled, as they'd been acquired by multiple well-meaning people, and it took several years to get them straightened out and under the control of officers of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (which pays the bills, out of the small amount of money that Worldcon committees pay to fund the MPC).

During these years of wrangling over what to do about the Worldcon/WSFS/NASFiC sites, the MPC set up the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, which was able to set up the Hugo Awards web site separately. Cheryl Morgan did the heavy lifting and set up the WordPress site that we've been using ever since. I do most of the maintenance these days, but multiple people in geographically dispersed areas have the keys to the site, so if I drop dead, other people will be able to keep things running.

The last straw in the Worldcon sites discussion came when George Mitchell, who had been hosting the sites for us for free since the 1990s, came to the WSFS Business Meeting in Spokane and said, roughly speaking, "It's time for you to leave." The WSFS MPC discharged the last vestige of the Worldcon Website Working Group (which had, thanks to Mike "Dr. Plokta" Scott, fixed the mess that was the domain registration) and authorized the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee to sort out a solution on the other sites.

A couple of months ago, Cheryl Morgan, with me consulting, but with her again doing the heavy lifting, built new sites for Worldcon, NASFiC, and WSFS, and we moved the actual hosting over to the same commercial service (Pair.com) we use for the Hugo Awards site.

All the sites intentionally share a family resemblance. All of them can be maintained by people who are not heavy duty HTML wizards. All of them have relatively simple graphics and structure. It's not flashy, but it's clean and I hope easy to use.

One issue though: The old site's file structure was a mess. I made the executive decision (so don't blame Cheryl) to let all of the old "deep links" to individual files on the old site break. So if you have a deep link to, say, the old versions of the WSFS Constitution or old WSFS minutes, those links have now broken in favor of the new structure. I'm sorry about that, but if we'd spent much more time trying to maintain the old structure and meet our mandate to migrate the site to the new servers this "WSFS year," it would not have gotten done.

An additional issue pointed out by Mike Glyer is that search engines still have the old (now broken) links in their cached searches. So until those links refresh, your web searches may lead you to a dead end. Rest assured, however, that the old files, particularly the various WSFS documents, are still on the site, just in a different location than they once were.

I've been wanting to get this redesign done since at least 2008, and I'm glad it's finally done. I'm also extremely grateful to Cheryl Morgan for doing the work and to the rest of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee for authorizing the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee to get the job done.
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
One of the seven* WSFS constitutional amendments ratified at the 2014 Worldcon was called "In the Zone," and it struck out the technical definitions of the three North American Zones that had originally been in place for the purposes of Worldcon Site Selection. (In the past, Worldcons in North America could only be from one of the three zones in any given year; sites outside of North America were always eligible.) The zone definitions were retained when the Site Selection rotation system was scrapped because they also affected the membership of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee.

Zones and the MPC )

I spoke against the ratification of this amendment, on the grounds that in practice the USA still dominates WSFS by sheer population of English-speaking and Worldcon-attending fans. IMO, people who haven't traveled by ground in the USA and Canada have no idea just how freakin' big those two countries are. I still think it worthwhile to keep the MPC's membership from being too concentrated in one area. However, my protests fell on deaf ears and the members voted overwhelmingly to repeal the zone residency requirements and to delete the zone descriptions entirely from the constitution.

Say Hello to a NASFIC in Iceland )

I rather expect that most of the people who backed the deletion of the zone definitions from the WSFS Constitution didn't actually intend to trigger a NASFIC if Hawaii ever wins a Worldcon or to open the door for Iceland to host a NASFiC, but that's the sort of parliamentary unraveling you can get when you pull on a constitutional loose thread like that.



*Item 2 on the list turned out to be moot because Item 7 struck out the sentence the former amended.
kevin_standlee: (To Trains)
I have managed to tag, caption, and release the remaining photos I took using my phone during our Detcon 1 Trip. Those of you who followed my Twitter feed saw some of them along the way. Here's all of them in sequential order from leaving Emeryville for Chicago to our return two weeks later with a NASFIC in the middle of it all.

There are a bunch of photos of amazing Colorado River/Rocky Mountain scenery. Trust me when I say that these photos do not do justice to the views, many of which can be seen only from the train, or possibly from a boat floating down the river. This is trip you should take sometime. I'm lucky to have been through it four times; three eastbound and now one westbound.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
Up front: I took at lot of photos today and will not try to post all of them here. They are all in my 2014 NASFIC Trip album on Flickr, and they are all captioned, so feel free to go look if you want to see more than what I posted here. Also, the photos are all CC-licensed, so you're welcome to take copies for yourself if you want them.

Winding It Down )

All too soon, it was time for the last program item, the Closing Ceremonies.

And Now, the End is Here... )

After the Closing Ceremony, Lisa and I headed out to lunch, returning for a third time to the New Parthenon restaurant.

Beware of Flaming Cheese )

By the time we waddled back from lunch, tear-down was nearly done, it apparently having gone pretty smoothly. However, a job turned up that we could do: there were six mobies and a wheelchair than needed to be shuttled down to the "motor lobby" from the third floor so that the vendor could come collect them. Lisa, I, and a young woman whose badge read "Trouble" but was not at all like that drove the mobies carefully and got them to our destination without running down anyone or crashing into anything.

Hanging the Dog )

Just before midnight, we bade farewell to everyone (with cries of "see you in London" to some) and hustled down to the People Mover, which closes at midnight on Sunday. There was a guard starting to lock it up, but he said we could still make it, so I dropped quarters into the slots and we trotted up to the platform where there was a train waiting for us. We rode to Joe Louis Arena, where the train stopped and did not appear to want to move. A guard boarded, asked us where we were planning on getting off, and when we told him Cobo Hall (the next stop), he radioed the dispatcher to release our train for one more stop. The train continued, announced that it was going out of service, the guard let us out a side door, and we returned to our hotel.

Our train to Chicago on Monday is at 3 PM. The hotel has allowed me a 2 PM checkout, which is wonderful because it means we don't have to pack up until after breakfast tomorrow instead of rushing around tonight.



I admit that I was was somewhat skeptical of coming to NASFIC and to a great extent originally considered it an excuse around which we could wrap a cross-country train trip. However, it was something much more in the end: a very good and fun convention at which I enjoyed myself a great deal. Tammy and the crew that she recruited deserve all the kudos they can get for having done a fine job with Detcon 1.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
The first two mornings we were in Detroit, when we went down to the restaurant for breakfast, we waltzed in and sat right down, with most of the others there being other fans. Saturday was different. There were large family reunions booked into the hotel, and the restaurant was packed. We had a twenty minute wait to be seated, but we did get fed. However, by the time we had eaten, it was already time to put on our baseball gear and walk to Comerica Park for today's NASFiC Baseball Fan Outing to the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game.

Take Us Out to the Ball Game )

After the ball game, we bade farewell to our fellow SF fans, most of whom had to get back to the convention sooner than us, and went to Greektown where we had a late lunch at the same place we ate yesterday, the New Parthenon restaurant.

A Bit of Food Talk )

We went back to the hotel, set our baseball caps aside to dry, and I returned to the Marriott, leaving Lisa to wash her hair and get cleaned up a bit.

Evening at NASFIC )

As I was heading back up to the 69th floor after the Masquerade, I realized that I didn't have my membership badge. Thinking that I'd dropped it somewhere in the ballroom, I retraced my steps back to the 3rd level, but couldn't find it. Then it hit me: I returned to the Minneapolis party, found Lisa, and she handed me my badge that I'd left in care of Kuma Bear while we were having our pictures taken. This was a case of so many people knowing me on sight that I'd simply walked past most security without realizing I didn't have my badge.

With the badge situation squared away, Lisa and I made a round of the parties.

NASFiC Chair and Party Host )

It was too late for the Food Court tonight, so we headed for Greektown again, where we ate at the open-all-night place next to the New Parthenon. It was okay, and I'm glad we went, but it's nothing special.

We could have jumped on the People Mover (and completed the set because the section between Greektown and Millennium Center is the only section we haven't yet traveled), but with full stomachs, we elected to walk back to the Crowne Plaza. It was pretty late, and yes, we were still in our costumes from the convention, but as long as we kept to well-lit streets we felt pretty safe. It did not take long before we were back in our hotel room being very grateful we could take off our shoes and socks. I think that we have logged more than 15,000 steps every day we've been here.

It was a good day at Detcon 1, albeit one where much of our convention day was spent off site. I apologize to my fellow SJ in 2018 bid committee members for not pulling my full weight with our activities at the convention. I've been taking it relatively easy and enjoying myself instead of working. and trying to not feel guilty about doing so.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
Lisa and I took the first half of today off from the convention for a mundane task: laundry. We're about halfway through our trip and we were starting to run out of clean clothes. I previously had tracked down a coin laundry only about 1 km from the Greektown People Mover station, which is not impossibly far away. After breakfast we packed our laundry into a couple of bags and rode the People Mover from Cobo Hall (across the street from where we are) to Greektown, then walked down Lafayette to a decently equipped laundromat. As a bonus, they had a pinball machine, so we were kept occupied for the time it took us to do a couple of loads of laundry. On the way back, we stopped and had lunch in Greektown. Instead of taking the People Mover back to the hotel, we walked, as we needed it after the nice lunch.

The convention day was more than half over, but we finally headed over there after changing into our WSFS jumpsuits from Chicon 7.

Here Comes the WSFS Wrecking Crew )

After seeing programming, Lisa and I actually had enough time to look through the Dealers Room and associated Exhibits except the Art Show because Lisa would have had to stow her backpack, which contains her tinnitus-masking sound generator as well as [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma. Near the back of the room was the list of all past NASFiCs and an invitation to sign in and to collect stickers from [livejournal.com profile] gerisullivan indicating how many NASFiCs you have attended — in my case, four five, including both Detcon 1 and CascadiaCon where I was Fan Guest of Honor.

We found our way up to the Con Suite on the 69th floor for a while, then later went down to the food court (the big lunch meant we weren't that hungry) with [livejournal.com profile] pcornelius. After dinner, the Parties awaited. We made the rounds of the parties, except for those too loud or too drunken (or both) to appeal to us. Among those we visited were the Finland in 2017, DC in 2017, and New Orleans in 2018 parties. We ended the night at the Slan Shack: a suite used for programming during the day and being hosted by Geri Sullivan as a faanish party that night; It was open and airy and comfortable, and I was was glad to be there. I'm afraid that I sort of took over one bay of the suite for about an hour of a heavy duty SMOF session; on the other hand, what started as a relatively small discussion with Dave McCarty dealing with mechanical issues with WSFS committees on which we serve morphed in to much longer and more complex conversations as more and more people arrived, seemingly drawn to our discussion of Business Meeting arcana such as my contention that we seriously overuse Objection To Consideration when there are other, kinder mechanisms for trimming our agenda of obvious non-starters without dropping parliamentary 16-ton weights on well-meaning would-be participants in the process.

Just before Midnight, Lisa pointed out that we really needed to head out and the conversation broke up. The People Mover runs until 2 AM on Friday/Saturday morning, so we rode it back to the hotel. Some of the other people on the car knew that there was an SF convention in town and asked if we were supposed to be the Ghostbusters. "Not quite," I said. They were very friendly about it, I might add.

Tomorrow is Baseball Day, as we have tickets for the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game. Kuma Bear is sad that it isn't the Seattle Mariners playing.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
With few specific commitments to Detcon 1, we didn't have to get up super early, other than we had an included breakfast that ended at 11 AM. After breakfast, we set out for an easy walk around downtown Detroit to see where things were at rather than heading straight down to the Marriott where the NASFIC is at.

Detroit Photos )

After our mini-sightseeing walk, where we also scoped out restaurants at which we might want to eat (and tried to confirm that they would be open nights and weekends), we went into the Ren Center and eventually found our way to Registration. The Ren Center is a maze of circular passages and ramps, and it's a bit disorienting to find your way there.

I picked up my materials quickly, but photo ID was required and Lisa had left hers in the hotel and none of the people at Registration personally knew her. There was nothing we immediately needed, so we stuck around in the free areas until I connected with Detcon 1 chair Tammy Coxen, who went by Reg and told them that Lisa was who she said she was and that this should be enough to give Lisa her badge. We're grateful to Tammy for her help.

My rant about photo ID and convention memberships )

After a little while longer, it was time for lunch, and we headed back to a place we spotted earlier near our hotel.

People Movers and Old Trains )

After lunch it was back over to Detcon for the first tranche of panels, which included an Old Time Radio demonstration, with old episodes of X Minus One and other SF/F related shows played over restored old tube-type radios. I enjoyed sitting for a short time in the dark with my eyes closed and listening to the shows. After that, we were on call to help decorate the Montreal in 2017 Worldcon bid party for tonight. Lisa and I had the one characteristic needed: we're both tall, which makes it much easier for us to hang the Canadian flag and the flags of the ten provinces and three territories around the room.

What Beautiful Suites You Have Here )

After helping decorate the room, we left the rest of the set-up to the remainder of the Montreal bid committee present and instead went down to the Opening Ceremony.

It's Officially a NASFIC )

After Opening Ceremonies, we needed to eat. A couple of restaurants in the Ren Center food court (which mostly cater to the lunch trade) agreed to keep longer hours for NASFIC, so we did our part to show that we appreciated this by getting sandwiches from Subway. Then it was back up to the Ambassador Ballroom for SF Jeopardy!. This had one of the J! game systems with remote controls, clickers, and score boards, but Lisa and I thought it could have used better production values like those we bring to Match Game SF. Also, the host of the show allowed himself to be taken out to dinner and kept out so long that the 10 PM start was substantially delayed, which didn't help attendance. Lisa and I left around 11 after the first round and went upstairs to check out the parties. I stopped by the Boston in Christmas 2020 Worldcon bid party, the New Orleans in 2018 Worldcon bid party, and the DC in 2017 Worldcon bid party before returning to the Montreal in 2017 Worldcon bid party I'd helped decorate four hours earlier. I never did get up to the 69th floor, even through the inter-floor stairs do work.

The next thing I knew, it was 1 AM and I'd been merrily discussing Worldcon, WSFS, the Hugo Awards, and sundry other matters for two hours. We called it a night and walked back to the Crowne Plaza. While not an actively dangerous walk, there was one homeless encampment, and I would recommend not traveling alone; however, Lisa and I walking together did not feel threatened on the well-lit streets of downtown Detroit.

Tomorrow we have few commitments again, although I probably need to spend time behind the San Jose in 2018 Worldcon bid table. (We're only doing a bid table, not a bid party.) Lisa may spend time helping with the Luna Society table as well. But we need to allow time to see the Art Show and Dealers Room, which from our initial glances at them look very attractive.
kevin_standlee: (Pointless Arrow)
Our train to Detroit left Chicago right on the advertised, but unfortunately a combination of conflicting freight train movements, ship movements (open drawbridges), and track work caused extensive delays, and we didn't get to Detroit until around 11 PM. It also took a while for a taxi to arrive because we were the last people off the train and everyone ahead of us scarfed up all of the available taxis. A friendly cabbie showed us what he thinks is the best way to get between the Crowne Plaza (where we are staying) and the Marriott (where NASFiC is happening).

The unexpected thing about a high-end hotel like the Crowne Plaza is that apparently most of the hotel rooms here have only showers, without bathtubs. Lisa really wants a bathtub. The first room we had didn't have a bathtub. We went downstairs and they tried again. The room they gave us was nicer, being a small suite with a separate living room, but still has only a tiny shower-only bathroom. After discussing our options with the hotel, Lisa said that she'd tough it out in exchange for having the otherwise nicer room.

On the bright side, my Platinum status gives us free breakfast. There is also what is described as a 24/7 Refreshment Lounge, but it was locked up and dark when we had a look after checking in close to midnight. We also don't know downtown Detroit, and unlike downtown Chicago, it doesn't look like there are convenient 24-hour places where we could go get something tonight. We'll do some exploring tomorrow, inasmuch as the convention doesn't get going until later in the afternoon. And that is good because we're tired from travel and need to get some sleep, albeit that we need to be up early enough to get the included breakfast.
kevin_standlee: (Pointless Arrow)
I've spent much of the past two days with very limited connectivity, mostly consisting of taking photos and posting them from my Twitter account (@KevinStandlee) when the phone could raise a signal. But this afternoon the train is in places that are close enough to cell phone towers that I could get my computer online again. I've put the photos I've taken so far in their own Flickr Album.

The train is running more than eight hours late, after a six-plus-hour late departure from Oakland, slow orders and maintenance along the line, and no real way to make up time. We'll be lucky to get to our hotel in Chicago (two blocks from Union Station) by midnight tonight. In a sense, I sort of wish I could have guaranteed that this would happen, because I could have then booked our trip to Detroit via Chicago as a continuous ticket with a Chicago connection. That would have cost the same number of points as the trip to Chicago alone rather than being a separate purchase. Then, when Amtrak failed to make the connection, they would (I hope) have put us up in a hotel for the night and sent us out on tomorrow morning's Wolverine to Detroit. (As it is, we bought a hotel night tonight in Chicago and purchased the Chicago-Detroit leg separately instead of using points.) However, you (a) can't guarantee a sufficiently late arrival to score the free hotel night and (b) there's always a chance Amtrak might have decided instead to put us on a bus to Detroit instead, and if there's one thing we can't stand, it's buying a train ticket to be put on a bus.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
I got up early enough this morning in Yuba City that Lisa stayed at the hotel (check-out time 11 AM) while I ran off to do errands.

A minor comedy of errors )

We got to Emeryville just before 2 PM and moved into the Hilton Garden Inn for one night. This was the all-ashore-that's-going-ashore moment, as anything we aren't taking to Detroit with us needed to stay in the van.

Multi-tasking )

The eastbound California Zephyr, Amtrak train #6, is scheduled for a 9:10 AM departure tomorrow morning, but I don't think it will be leaving on time. When I checked at Emeryville than the Zephyr still does not serve breakfast on the morning of departure — it used to do so years ago, but stopped some time ago — the agent warned me that today's westbound train #5 was running so late that it probably will delay the outbound departure tomorrow morning. That's because today's inbound trainset is turned and forms tomorrow's outbound consist. When I checked after dinner, I found that today's westbound #5 is running more than twelve hours late and is currently predicted to arrive in Emeryville shortly after 4 AM tomorrow morning. It is very unlikely that they will get that consist cleaned, supplied, turned, and ready to depart by 9 AM tomorrow. Unfortunately, we probably won't know just how late it will start until we get up tomorrow morning.

On the bright side, it now seems likely that we will have time to get a fairly leisurely breakfast before rolling over to Emeryville Station tomorrow. Of course, a late start means a late arrival in Chicago on Tuesday, but that's why we have booked a one-night layover there both directions to/from Detroit.

Amtrak is at the mercy of the host railroads, and with an improving economy flooding the tracks with more goods, the slightest disruption can knock the People Train (as one of the Union Pacific dispatchers on the Nevada Subdivision calls it) out of its slot and make it continue to lose time on its entire trip. We like trains, but except in a few corridors like the Capitol Corridor between San Jose/Oakland and Sacramento/Auburn, riding the train requires significant patience.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF Zone)
I worked until pretty late last night on Day Jobbe so that I could get things to where we could leave relatively early this afternoon. Because of some fretting on the SLC trip about maybe not having secured some things we should have secured (in fact, Lisa had done the things, but had forgotten it), we've developed a point-by-point checklist for securing Fernley House. If we do all of the things on the checklist before leaving, we can mostly not fret about having left the propane turned on in the trailer or something like that.

We headed to Reno first and had an early dinner at the Eldorado Buffet (just after they opened for the evening), then headed up and over The Hill and down CA-20 to Yuba City, where we checked in to the hotel. At Lisa's suggestion, we packed an extra one-night-only bag of things into which we'll change tomorrow and then leave some stuff behind in the van. This also includes things we won't need until we get back from Detroit.

Recap: Why We're Going the Wrong Way )

We had a brief panic in Yuba City when Lisa thought she'd left all of her spare batteries for her white-noise-sounding radio at home. Fortunately, before we rushed back to Fernley (a 300 mile round trip), she found them, just not in the place where she would normally pack them.

I'm glad we're on the move. Planning is good, but there comes a time when you simply want to stop planning and start moving.
kevin_standlee: (Pointless Arrow)
This morning I bit the bullet and redeemed 80,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points (most of which are actually transferred from my Diner's Club card representing years of purchases with it) to buy a round-trip Superliner Bedroom (the big room with its own integral shower/toilet compartment) on the California Zephyr between Emeryville and Chicago on our way to/from Detcon 1. That's a $3780 ticket, so I feel pretty good about buying it on points.

Train Schedule Neepery )

A reassuring element of train travel over air is that these tickets are fully refundable until the departure of the booked trains; that is, if we change our minds, we get the points back. It's not like air travel where if you make one mistake, your money evaporates and you're stuck.

I'm looking forward to this trip. It will be our third (and fourth) times on the Zephyr. It's the first time we've gone east and west on the same route, but we couldn't work out a routing that would take us over one of the other routes (the only big east-west route we haven't done is the Empire Builder) and still fit the needs of the rest of our schedule.
kevin_standlee: (Hugo Sign)
We've done the first of four scheduled BASFA Hugo Recommendation Discussion Nights, which also include our discussion of Detcon 1's YA Award and of the 2014 John W. Campbell Award. As is usual with these, the first night in particular generates a lot of variations on, "I'll have to research things and get back to you."

Night 2 of 4 planned is next Monday, and then we'll come back and do it again the first two Mondays of March. (I'll be at home the weeks in between and thus can't be at BASFA to ride herd on recommendations.)

Except for our YA recommendations, which have to be done sooner because the deadline is the end of this month, I'll be publishing the list of the club's recommendations for the Campbell, the 2014 Hugo Awards, and the 1939 Retro-Hugo Awards on [livejournal.com profile] hugo_recommend after we've finished all four nights. I'll post the club's YA recommendations sometimes late next week.

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