Thursday, December 07, 2017

World Fantasy Con in San Antonio!

We got invited to World Fantasy 2017! No, we are not guests of honor. We were invited to help run the Con Suite! Since we are not GoHs, we have the privilege of buying memberships.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Why I am a Rancher

One of the sites I follow posted this cartoon. It perfectly represents why I became a rancher...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I Just Could Not Resist....

This was sent to me in today's email from SpiceWorks, one of my employer's suppliers. It is so funny (at least to me) that I just had to re-post it. Enjoy!

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

NorthAmeriCon ’17 - Teardown

All good things must come to an end....

Time to close the convention, pack up and, for most of us, head for the airport and home. We plan to stay for a few more days and explore Puerto Rico a little bit more.

The Sheraton wants their function space back. We have to clear the ConSuite out of Laguna 2 by 3 PM. All of the remaining food has to be eaten or given away by then. The jigsaw puzzles went to the gaming group – they will show up at other conventions in the future. The ice cart had to be returned, and so forth.

Science fiction conventions traditionally end with a "dead dog party." NorthAmeriCon was no exception — only we held it on the forth floor pool deck and called it the Wet Dog Party.

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

NorthAmeriCon ’17 - Saturday

For my wife and I, today's programming was far more interesting than yesterday's. While our children "held the fort" in the ConSuite, we took in the panel discussion The realities of living in an extreme climate. Many science fiction stories are set on worlds with extreme climates or on a future Earth where the climate has run amuck. This panel explored how these stories compare with living in the extreme cold of winter in Alaska and northern Canada.

We also attended a panel on The Legacy of Star Trek in science fiction, general fiction, television and real life. One of the questions: if it was not for the Star Trek communicator, would we have cellular telephones today? Similar questions revolve around personal computers, wi-fi, the solar powered medical instruments now in use in the third world and a whole host of other ideas and technologies we take for granted today.

One important aspect of fiction, especially science fiction, is the setting. One of the panels was entitled World Building as more than Background. They explored how the setting – the land, the buildings, the weather and climate, the history and even the furniture effects the characters and the action of the story. Few science fiction stories are set with the characters sitting around a table in a room for the whole story — they are out and about, interacting with each other and with the environment. This creates a need for a consistent, well structured environment for them to interact in. Opening the door to the left of the fire place and finding a closet in one scene and in the next, opening the same door to walk out onto the veranda does not usually make for a good story.

In addition to panel discussions, various authors read from their works. Because of our duties in the ConSuite, we missed Reading by Mike Substelny that we wanted to attend. However, Mike dropped by the ConSuite during the dinner break and was convinced to do another reading – this one was not for "general audiences."

Of course there was a costume competition! It was held in Laguna 1 and was one of the best attended events. I wish they used a larger room – it was hard to see the costumes and taking photographs was almost impossible.

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Friday, July 07, 2017

NorthAmeriCon ’17 - Friday

Today was the first full day of programming here at NorthAmericon '17! Neither my wife nor I were very interested in any of today's scheduled events.

We did check out the Art Show and the Dealer's Room. Both were very small — within five minutes, you could see the whole thing. Talking with the artists and vendors, the big problem was the cost of getting their wares to the convention. Since there is no ferry service between Florida and Puerto Rico, all of their stuff had to be shipped by air – and that is expensive. As a result, very few artists sent anything for the Art Show and only three vendors were in the Dealer's Room.

Today, using a borrowed van, we went to Wal*Mart and Sam's Club and bought supplies for the Con Suite. We are restricted to "finger food" and pre-wrapped snacks, along with soda and other soft drinks. We managed to "con" the hotel into supplying us with an ice cart that will hold 400 pounds of ice. During the day, we emptied it and had to refill in. We are also using it to refrigerate food that needs to be kept cold, such as yogurt and cheeses.

When running a convention, it is important to establish good contacts within the hotel staff. The Committee works with management of the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino through their catering office – the name varies from hotel to hotel. Those of us further down the "food chain" also need contacts to get the little things done, such as getting large quantities of ice. Below is Veronica from the Sheraton's front desk. She took it upon herself to act as our low-level liaison and went the extra mile to ensure we had almost anything we asked for.

Thank you, Veronica!!

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

NorthAmeriCon ’17 - The Setup

We moved into the convention hotel today. NorthAmeriCon ’17 is being held at The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino here in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a beautiful hotel, but also an expensive one. Like many of the larger hotels, it appears to cater mainly to tourists from the mainland.

We will be running the Con Suite. This is one of the social centers of the convention, where conversation and snacks are the order of the day. The hotel, to support its own eateries, limits what we can give away to non-alcoholic drinks and pre-packaged "finger food." You know, cookies and chips and such.

Almost all of the convention's activities will take place on the second floor. Here is a floor plan (copied from the hotel's website):

. We will be using Laguna 1 and 2, Bahia 1 and 2, San Felipe, San Cristobal and San Geronimo. The art show and dealer's room will be in San Felipe. Gaming will be in San Geronimo. Panel discussions and various other events will be held in Laguna 1 and 2, Bahia 1 and San Cristobal.

The Con Suite will be located in Bahia 2. The hotel staff has set up two rows of large (6') tables, with a few rectangular tables (6' x 2') along the front, back and right side of the room. The tables are all covered with heavy dark green table cloths. An iced water dispenser and a supply of disposable cups is located at the front of the room. The food has not arrived, yet. Someone is going to Wal*Mart to procure supplies and they will call us when they get to the loading dock. Once they get there, we will go down, unload the truck onto some carts, haul it up to the second floor and stow it in the right-hand corner at the rear of the room. Don't worry! — We are wearing our steel-toed shoes (Yeah, those were fun at airport baggage inspection...) We will open the Con Suite as soon as the food arrives and we get it stowed!

The festivities begin at 4PM with some panel discussions, but the real activities do not start until later. Due to recent events in the news, the Committee inserted a serious discussion at 6PM: Social Justice and SFF: It's Been There From the Beginning. The descriptive blurb reads:

Social Justice Warriors are destroying SFF with these new-fangled ideas! Um, no. SFF has always been used as a tool to examine social and political issues. Come discuss how works like 1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm, and the Handmaid's Tale explore oppressive regimes, and what, if any, hope SFF can give us.

At 6PM, another serious "current events" issue is covered. Working toward Social Equity in Speculative Fiction will look at the problem of getting voices from the minority community and from non-mainstream viewpoints heard and published. Well-known authors and content providers have little difficulty getting their latest works in front of the public. But publishing houses, movie distributors and such are very reluctant to take on the task for lesser known voices, including non-white creators, women and those with controversial social or political views. Money, of course, is the big issue — they fear that they will invest money in a project that the public will not buy.

The main events for this evening start at 8PM with Opening Ceremonies and the Meet the GoHs Ice Cream Social. For non-fans, GoHs stands for "Guests of Honor." Committee Chairman Pablo Vazquez will officially kick off the convention and introduce the Guests of Honor. An Ice Cream Social will follow. A big thank you to the DC in 2021 WorldCon Bid Committee for financial support towards the Ice Cream Social!

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