March 20th, 2007

Kevin Standlee

Complicated American Ancestry

My mother wrote to me today (Hi, Mom!), having read my entry of a few days ago in which I professed not having any Irish ancestry of which I was aware. She informed me that I do in fact have some Irish ancestry on my mother's father's side of the family, in the form of an Irish great-great-great grandfather. She told me (references to specific people removed), "Your heritage, from my side of the family, is English..., Irish & Cherokee..., German & possibly Cherokee..., and Scotch Irish.... Your father told me that he was also part Cherokee. More than that I do not know."

Some of the reason for my confusion is that my ancestors migrated to America mostly before the American Civil War or even the American Revolution -- and of course a lot longer before than in the case of my Native American ancestors. So the records are sometimes a bit muddled, you might say.
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Conrunner Kevin

Artificial Sympathy

Scott Adams writes about The Joy of Righteous Indignation. And having been trapped behind a table at conventions promoting various functions (Worldcons, Westercons, fan clubs, etc.) and thus having been a captive audience, I have had more than my share of this.

I am by my nature a problem solver. I want to find out what is wrong and fix it. When I find that the problem isn't fixable, it's very frustrating to me. When I end up dealing with someone who is quite literally impossible to please because even if I fixed his/her stated complaint, s/he would have another one stacked up right behind it, it's completely maddening.

Sometimes it doesn't happen quite that way. At ConJose I had someone come up to be all worked up and ready to roast me over the coals because his son had been charged $10 more for his membership than he'd expected to pay, based on something I'd said to him months ago. I thought about it for a moment, and instead of giving him a polite nothing-I-can-do message that would have led to him yelling at me, or for that matter putting him through a runaround with con registration to get his money back, I decided that the buck really did stop with me, or the ten bucks in this case. I took out my wallet and removed a $10 bill and handed it to him. "Are we all square now?" I asked?

He was dumbfounded, but agreed that we were. Fortunately for me, he was not one of the complain-for-entertainment types. But I did encounter them at ConJose and elsewhere.

If only all of my problems were as easy to solve as the Case of the Overpriced Child's Membership.

PS: I did recover that $10 eventually from ConJose. There's a mysterious-looking line-item in the Chairman's budget called "Appeasing the Unhappy" that our Treasurer added when I applied for the reimbursement along with my other at-con convention-related expenses. Nobody would likely notice it when looking at the CJ budget, except it's something like the third or fourth expense line in the entire document, so people's eyes haven't glazed over before reaching it.
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