Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Detcon 1 Day 1

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.

Room With a View
This is the view from our hotel room across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Ren Center
Slightly higher upstairs in the Concierge Lounge (the code to which we got after breakfast) we could look out at the Renaissance Center, where the Marriott and NASFIC are located.

Guardian Building
Just down the street from our hotel is the Guardian Building (visible above the iPhone sign). This is a beautiful building, and I needed to go inside it because there is a BofA ATM in the lobby and I was running low on cash.

Guardian Building
It's pretty stunning inside, too. There are other photos of the building in my Flickr stream near this one if you're curious. Apparently the Wayne County offices are now in this building. (Wayne County is the county in which Detroit is located.)

Wayne County Building
This used to be the Wayne County building.

General Wayne
A plaque outside the building explains more about why it's called Wayne County.

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.

While I appreciate the need to prevent fraud in the form of people picking up badges that are not theirs, I have never understood the point of "must show government issued photo ID to collect membership badge" being enforced when the person behind the desk knows you personally. The purpose of the photo-ID policy is to make sure you pick up your badge, not someone else's. It is not to prove that you've been stamped and filed by a government agency. At least it shouldn't be. A "your papers pliz" mentality is corrosive.

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

Detroit People Mover
We decided to ride the Detroit People Mover (an approximately 5-km airport people-mover-style system that circulates people in a one-way loop around downtown Detroit) back to our hotel, as much as out of curiosity as anything else.

Mind the Gap
The DPM is a system similar to the Vancouver SkyTrain, and runs using linear-induction motors. Lisa figured that out before we even looked it up, based solely upon the sound of how the cars pulled away from station stops.

Grand Trunk Pub
After dropping some things at our hotel, we went to the Grand Trunk Pub for lunch. This pub/restaurant is located in the building that once served as the ticket office of the Grand Trunk Railway. There is some lovely old railway architecture and memorabilia in there, not to mention good food and drink.

Mmmm Fish
I had the Shepherd's Pie, travelswithkuma asked for fish (of course), so Lisa ordered the Fish and Chips and gave some to Kuma. All of us enjoyed our meals. We can't speak for the alcohol, but Lisa and I respectively had the regular and diet versions of a local brand of root beer, which we found tolerable but not as good as A&W or Teddy's.

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.

View From Montreal
This was the view from the suite on the 68th floor. (That number is not a typo. The party floors are 68 and 69. I think this may be the tallest building in which I've ever been other than things like the CN Tower.) You can see Ford Field and Comerica Park from here, the latter being where we'll be going for a baseball game on Saturday.

We ran out of wall space for the flags and needed to hang two territories' flags on the curtains. We didn't want to put pins in the curtains, so at Lisa's suggestion, I went down to ConOps (located near Registration) and asked if they had any binder clips. They gave us six of them, which was kind, and asked for us to bring them back when we were done.

I wish I'd taken a photo of the room after we hung the flags. I liked it, and it seemed to go over well when we came back later that night during the party itself.

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.

Tammy Coxen
The zoom on my camera phone isn't very good, and I forgot to bring the good camera, so I apologize for the poor qualify of this photo of Tammy Coxen officially opening Detcon 1. Co-Toastmasters Jim Hines and Tom Smith introduced the guests and engaged in various banter, and Tammy announced that over 1300 people are registered, with more expected, against an original projection of 800.

Worldcons Help NASFIC
Function space rental can be expensive. Detcon solicited and received grants from LoneStarCon 3, Chicaon 7, and CanSMOF (Anticipation) to pay for the additional cost to rent the Ambassador Ballroom, which otherwise they would not have been able to afford. I'm glad these three Worldcons (one of which on whose board I sit and voted for this grant) were able to make Detcon 1 a better convention for its members.

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.
Tags: detroit, nasfic

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