Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

From Fernley to Westercon

This morning, I "slept in" a whole two hours, getting up at 7 instead of 5. Amtrak's California Zephyr came through a little late, sometime after 8 AM, and as is my usual practice, I went out and waved at the train as it passed.

After dealing with work things that chased me even while on vacation, Lisa and I finished packing the van with our personal luggage and the electric ice chest, and set out westward. We stopped in Reno and bought non-perishable groceries that will mostly allow us to eat in the room without having to go off-site for anything. (There isn't a lot within walking distance, using the hotel-provided shuttle takes time and advance planning, and we don't want to lose our superb parking space.) Besides, it's cheaper.

Caltrans had cleared the mudslide just west of the border, and there were no restrictions as we headed through the area of yesterday's mudslide this afternoon. The trip went without incident, and we arrived at the hotel at 3 PM. Our room was ready for us. Checking in behind us were Kent Bloom and Mary Morman, who had just arrived in a taxi from the Amtrak station. They said, "We saw you wave at us this morning." They were on board the Zephyr as it passed, spotted me waving, and guessed it must have been me based on them approaching Reno and knowing where I live.

After checking in, we saw that there were carts available under the stairwell, and we borrowed one. We'd scored a parking space close to where the side door is. It took four cart-loads and an hour to move all of the stuff into the room. Yes, we'll have to move the tech gear again (more than once), but this means we don't have to store it in the van all weekend long and fret about it.

We love the layout of our hotel room, which, because of the way it is tucked in behind the stairs, is nearly a mini-suite, with a very large closet — big enough to store the speakers, mixer, and assorted other tech gear for Match Game SF. A nice thing about this room is that the layout is such that two adults can use the room without tripping over each other. I'm at the work desk area and Lisa can come and go to the bathroom without have to squeeze around me the way so many rooms are laid out. And the room has the "split vanity" that we appreciate from Red Lion Inns, with a sink both in the bathroom and another one in the foyer/closet area. It is a sign of how large the closet is that when Lisa was explaining where she stowed certain things, she said, "I put it in the garage — er, closet."

After getting everything settled and getting the wired internet connection working on my computer (and dealing with more work that had followed me), we went back downstairs and found that Program Ops was temporarily working from the bar, where Christine Doyle gave Lisa, Kuma, and I our membership badges. Kuma's badge is of course a bit large for him, but we thought of that. We'll take a picture later to show what we did about that. In keeping with the convention's "spy" theme, the number printed on every badge is an "Agent" number.

We had a look at the Atrium where Match Game SF will be tomorrow and agreed that it's laid out wrong for what's going to happen there. Talking to hotel liaison David Gallaher, we learned that he expects the layout to be fixed tomorrow. Lisa and I were allowed to move the Match Game tables onto the stage. While we prefer to do the show with the traditional ranked seating, with one row of panelists above the other, the layout here and the size of the stage means that we'll have the two rows of three panelists on the same stage level, staggered diagonally. If we didn't do this, we'd waste too much of the space in front of the stage and the audience would be pushed off to the sides and unable to see the show. Lisa has also been promised a Tech Desk near where one of the few power outlets in the Atrium is, and the use of lots of gaffer tape to tape down the necessary cables to the speakers. We're also the "opening act" in the Atrium tomorrow, so we have nearly unlimited time to do our own setup tomorrow afternoon.

We saw many of our friends arriving early, and because we were not constrained for time the way we will be the rest of the weekend, joined Linda Deneroff and Brad Lyau in a trip in the hotel's shuttle van over to Arden Fair Mall, where we had dinner at the food court. We were not going for finw dining, just good conversation. We're apt to eat from our purchased supplies much of the rest of the weekend, though, just on time considerations.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel and fiddled with the layout of the tables on the Atrium stage, socialized with people, and generally hung around for a while, before deciding to turn in early and try to get some rest for Westercon ahead of us. We cranked up the air conditioning — ah, sweet relief from the heat — and Lisa went to take a bath. She called me in to make sure she wasn't mis-operating the bathtub. There was only a trickle of water coming out. She ended up having to bail water from the sink with the ice bucket in order to take a bath. After she was done with her bath and dressed again, I called the front desk, who sent up an engineer.

I described the problem, he tested the sink (it works fine), turned on the water in the bathtub, and exclaimed, "Well, I'll be....!" and set to work on it. After a while, he called us in and said that he couldn't fix it. He went through what he had done (much of what is what Lisa would have tried), and nothing worked. Ordinarily what they'd do in this case is move us to another room, but he could see how much stuff we had, and besides, this room being oversized makes it very useful for what we're doing. He went to the front desk and explained the situation. They very nicely offered me the use of another room on the floor below that is "out of inventory" for the duration of the convention. The room works and the plumbing is okay; I'll just have to get dressed to go down and shower there. That's not much more inconvenient than what I have to do at home, so I'm not too fussed about it. Besides, they threw in a free breakfast and the engineer said he'd try to get us concierge lounge access, too. The hotel probably will call in plumbers tomorrow (I shuddered at the host of getting emergency plumbers on Independence Day) and they'll try to get the shower working properly as soon as they can. Until they do so, we have the use of the other room's shower, which I think is very nice of them.

And now it's time to get some rest. Westercon had somewhat more than 700 members pre-registered coming into the convention, and won't be breaking any membership records, but I'm certain that it's the right sized hotel for the convention. This was where Sacramento's Eclecticons 4 and 5 were held, over twenty years ago, and the 500 or so people events we held then were around the right size. This should be an Awesome Westercon.
Tags: lisa, travel, westercon

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