I've spoken to several people about DetCon1, this year's North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC), and how my time was spent. As I'm starting to repeat myself and am losing track of who I've talked to about it, it's time to write things down so I can point people at it later.

When Detroit won the bid to host this year's NASFiC, I knew several people on the convention committee. I approached Dave, the one with whom I've spent many hours volunteering at other conventions and who I knew was on the committee, and asked, "So ... what is it you're actually doing at the con?"

"I'm heading Ops." Cool. Dave's got a good head for operations.

"What am I doing?"

"You're in Ops."

We hadn't discussed this before. I'd just assumed I'd be volunteering for something and I was fine with working in operations. Making sure things needed in one presentation were moved from the presentation that had finished with them, handling minor security issues, acting as an information desk -- ops covers a variety of tasks.

Dave and I have known each other for ages. It's no surprise that I didn't hear anything from him as the weekend of the convention drew near. I show up ready for just about anything and expect I'll get my assignments when I get there. He knows that -- he's the same way.

I was, however, a little surprised when I arrived late Thursday evening, reported to Ops and was told by the person manning the desk, "Huh ... I don't see you on the schedule anywhere."

No problem. I'm exhausted and don't want to start a shift until I've had a good night's sleep. I figured I'd talk to Dave in the morning.

Sure enough, when I returned to Ops, rested and ready to go, Dave was there, dispatching a runner to proclaim our victory to the people of Athens . . . or something along those lines.

"So ... I don't seem to be on the schedule."

"No, your not."

"Which means I'm ... ?"

"On call."


"I know how to reach you and I'm holding you in reserve."

This is not a problem. I'll plan my weekend as if I'm not volunteering for anything, but with the knowledge that I may be interrupted at any time and have to excuse myself.

I saw Dave several times during the course of the weekend. Never more than a wave, a smile, and a "Things are going awesome!" from him as we passed each other. Finally, I found a moment on Sunday afternoon when neither of us were rushing to be somewhere else and had a word with him.

"You haven't called me all weekend." Not a complain, mind you, but an observation. Dave understood this.

"Yeah ... I got called only once. I fumbled my phone and didn't answer it, so I took it into the bathroom where I wouldn't wake my wife while talking and called back. They said, 'Never mind -- we took care of it.' It's been that kind of weekend."

DetCon1 is now my Gold Standard for well-run conventions. The parties were loud but well-behaved. Presenters got the audio-visual equipment they needed. People were polite and helpful to each other. The convention chair, Tammy, organizes well. The people under her (Dave and others) organize well. It was a joy to watch this event unfold.

Detroit hasn't host a science fiction convention of this magnitude in 55 years. I hope it's not too long before we doing again -- Detroit is just too good at this to let the talent sit idle.

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Remembering Baron Charteris 
Today marks the 100th anniversary of Martin Michael Charles Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield GCB GCVO QSO OBE PC, who served as private secretary to Elizabeth II of Great Britain. It is fitting that his birth be noted, as he was born on the 380th anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth I. It's generally agreed by Buckingham Palace staff that this was a rather nifty coincidence. It is also, as it turns out, the anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Zangara, who failed to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt, but settled for assassinating Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, although palace staff have not mentioned this.

"We are celebrating the life of Baron Charteris with a tea ceremony this afternoon and perhaps a round of croquet on the lawn afterwards," stated Anthony Lawrence, Secretary of the Privy Wardrobe for the Understairs Chambers of the Back Landing. "It is all rather exciting."

When asked how the royal family felt about a 1995 interview Baron Charteris gave to "The Spectator", Lawrence claimed no knowledge, but expressed confidence that the interview was no doubt a charming piece with several anecdotes about life in the Palace. After being informed that the article described the Duchess of York as "vulgar" and the Prince of Wales as "whiney", Lawrence explained that he had to attend to some last-minute arrangements for the afternoon's event and excused himself.

We regret that we are unable to share his observations on Charteris' description of the late Queen Mother as "a bit of an ostrich."

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Storm Season 
NASA has released a report analyzing the storm that has plagued the planet Saturn since 2010. According to the report, the storm contains measurable quantities of water, making it, in the eyes of some, the larges hurricane in the solar system.

"This storm is clearly located above my district," insists US Representative Howard Mulholland (R, SC). "While all reasonable people agree that FEMA is an unnecessary agency, as well as being grossly over-funded, I would not be adequately representing my constituents if I did not apply for relief on their behalf. Our district has historically been among the most damaged by high winds and water. It is only reasonable that we apply to FEMA for whatever we can get out of them."

"My honorable college from South Carolina is, I'm afraid, a nut case," differs Wallace Abel, US Representative (D, AL). "The storm was spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope, which was build in the great state of Alabama. It should be obvious that we will be the most impacted by the storm that we spotted and FEMA should be directing is relief efforts here."

James Kendall, deputy director of NAOA's Communications & External Affairs Office, declined to offer an opinion over which use states would be most impacted by a hurricane originating on Saturn. "Most of the data we have is for storms that start out in the Atlantic or the Pacific. This is new territory for us."

Despite repeated attempts at contact, Saturn has not been available for comment.

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A New and Shining Land 
The government of Tuvalu reacted to todays announcement of the existence of Tamu Massif, the world's largest volcano. Tuvaluan officials are looking into the feasibility of Tamu Massif becoming an a future homeland for the people of the likely-doomed island nation.

"As you know, Tuvalu is disappearing beneath the rising ocean level," explains Roger Funafuti, of the Tuvalu Geophysical Union. "Global warming is causing our lands to more and more by swallowed up by the sea. We see this undersea volcano as a potential source of a new island for our people. This thing is the size of your New Mexico. New Mexico! That's around 10,000 times the size of our current homeland!"

Social scientists explain that Tamu Massif is an inactive volcano and is unlikely to develop into an island in the near future. "It is, after all, two kilometers under water," explains Christopher Nanumea, of Tuvalou's Society for Social Change. "In order to build an island from this volcano, we need to make it active and the best way to do that is to anger the volcanoes "gods".

"For millennia, island people have sacrificed virgins to calm raging volcanoes," Nanumea continued. "Now we have to shift gears and find truly -- how shall I say? -- 'experienced' people who be sacrificed to Tamu Massif. We hope to find some monumentally naughty individuals."

When asked how many of these people he expects to volunteer for human sacrifice, he answered a surprised exclamation, "None! Goodness, no. Who in their right mind would do so. No, we're relying on old-fashioned greed to get out non-virgins. Watch for an exciting offer of a tropical time-share 'with benefits' in your mail box," chuckled Nanumea.

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Just Like Home 
Top scientists have discovered a new Earth-like planet that seems to show signs of life. A joint team of sky watchers from the USA, France, Japan, and Fiji have, until now, kept the exact coordinates of the planet a closely guarded secret until they could verify their observations.

"We are all quite excited by this," exclaimed Hidayo Tenge, senior star gazer for the project. "Not only is there an abundant quantity of water, but the size of the planet is, as close as our measurements allow, identical to Earth! Further more, spectral analysis seems to indicate the presence of elements in the atmosphere, such as lead and mercury, that normally only show up in such great quantities if there has been some sort of industrial activity. There is even a significant amount of Peroxyacetyl nitrate."

"We are preparing a series of radio broadcasts that will be beamed in the direction of the new planet," added Martin Kirby, US stellar ponderer. "We hope, in time, to hear a reply from them."

"Anyway, we're getting ahead of ourselves," continued Kirby. "We've asked the press here to announce the direction in which the new planet lies. Or is it lay? Let's go with 'lies'. We found this when we pointed the Hubble telescope at x-axis 12.393932, y-axis -30.780718, and z-axis -2.782142."

"No, no ... my colleague meant to say z-axis POSITIVE 2.782142," corrected a tense Benoit Redin, manager for the project.

Kirby went on to insist the z-axis was, indeed, negative, leading Redin to thank the members of the press for attending what he explained was actually a very preliminary briefing and to expect clarified announcements in the near future.

"Light refreshments with beer and wine," mentioned Redin, "are now available in the lobby."

"Lots of beer and wine," he added, after a pause.

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