This morning, we got going early enough to be able to go across the street for breakfast rather than paying for the overpriced hotel stuff. We then checked out of our room and checked out bags with the concierge. Thanks to the miracle of expandable luggage, we were able to consolidate several bags into one large rolling bag, along with a pile of books and a board game I bought. The only thing that wouldn't fit was the CPAP machine, which has its own carrying case anyway. Good thing we're (a) not flying and (b) I can lift heavy loads, as I'm sure the luggage now exceeds fifty pounds.
Then it was back to to the Holiday Inn, where I undertook my one official function: presenting the Expression of Interest for a Winnipeg WHC bid to the WHC board of directors. I need not go into details of this presentation at this time, as specifics wait upon the WHC board expressing a preference for a specific year before the Winnipeg committee can hammer out a proposal with the blanks filled in from a local hotel. I enthused about Winnipeg, however, a city I very much enjoyed at ConAdian in 1994 and would not mind finding a reason to visit again.
Next year's WHC will be in Toronto, and the only bidder for 2008 is Salt Lake City. There was also a general expression of interest in bidding for New Orleans in a few years, once the city is in better condition to host events again..
Then we set up in the lower lobby while the WHC board went into closed session. I found a power outlet (although with both batteries on board, my computer has about 5 1/2 hours' endurance even with the wireless card) and logged in to check mail and such now that we were once again in a place where the internet access was both free and reliable.
I don't expect we'll stay here very late today. We're both very tired -- our WHC more or less started one day early -- and need to get home and catch up on sleep before we're back to work tomorrow.
From the discussion at the Board meeting, I gather that attendance here is between 475 and 500 people. They had 500 membership packages and still have a few left, but not many. Most people seemed to enjoy themselves. There were some notable issues, some of which I've commented upon here and that were mentioned in the Board meeting: the difficult-to-use pocket program (which didn't include hours of fixed functions like Dealers Room); the overly-officious con "security" door-wardens; the membership badges that fail on just about every reasonable criteria. However, the people who attended were happy, and the convention seems to have achieved its goals. I think it can call itself an overall success.
Personally, WHC's subject matter is not something in which I'm interested. I was here to socialize and deal with SMOFfish conrunning issues. But I wasn't disappointed. I spoke with Kim Newman, which allowed me to congratulate him in person for his Hugo Award nomination. (I admit to be very much a fanboy at times, asking things like, "Might you and Paul develop an alternate history book around the story you built for the Prix Victor Hugo?" (Answer: Not likely.) I hung around with interesting people and had interesting conversations.
In the end, I got most of the things out of a convention that I come to a convention for, which have, I think, very little to do with the reasons the "$10 a day is the most I should reasonably expect to pay" crowd. Am I going to go to Toronto's WHC next year? Almost certainly not. Would I attend another WHC held within a day's drive of my home? I'd say it's likely.
Update, 12:20: Cheryl's impressions of the convention are on her blog. She was able to sit in the back of the room and keep typing, while I was up front taking handwritten notes for the benefit of the Winnipeg committee.