December 8th, 2007


SMOFS at Filk

The evening social hour started with a cheese and dessert buffet, including the first of the various cheeses people had brought to the convention. Convention-supplied drink chits were available for a limited time for use at the bar, after which it became a cash bar. (Soft drinks and water were free, hooray.) Traditionally, SMOFCon has a mixer event on Friday. These are difficult things. You need to get people mixing, which usually involves randomizing them, then you need to get them involved in a project that gets them talking with each other and with luck is fun, too.

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Later on, I checked to see if any poker games were breaking out. Nobody could think of a good space for them, and while the SMOFCon con suite is good for general socializing, it didn't seem to have a good poker space in it. Mainly it's just too loud for those of us would want to play. That didn't stop the mahjong players, though.

Earlier in the evening, Vince Docherty gave me another box of the wonderful Belgian sugar-free chocolates, and John Mansfield gave me a train magazine. Eventually, Cheryl and I ran up the room for a few minutes to dump the camera and these things I got, then went back down to the party for another hour or so. I did realize that I have an 8:30 breakfast meeting of the CanSMOF (Anticipation) board of directors Saturday morning, and I'm also on the "SMOFCon 101" panel at 10 AM, so maybe we'd better get to bed. Except both Cheryl and I were too keyed up and wanted to write things, so now it's 1:30 AM. Guess I'd better finish writing and post this so we can get some sleep!

Update, 14:10: Added link to Google Video of the performance.
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Taking Up A New Challenge

This morning over breakfast, I attended my first meeting as a director of CanSMOF, parent non-profit corporation of the 2009 Worldcon, Anticipation. Nothing really exciting I can report from the meeting. We mainly talked about what the Board should not be doing, which is trying to manage the Worldcon. That's the Anticipation committee's job. Their chairs report to the CanSMOF board, but the Board manages the managers (Robbie and Rene), not the convention itself. We probably won't meet again (save via e-mail discussion) until Denvention Three. I reckon I can probably manage to attend two in-person meetings in Montreal between now and Anticipation, as long as I can buy the first of the two before my $800 Northwest Airlines voucher (received from being bumped from the trip to Nippon 2007) expires next September. (As I understand it, I have a year to use the voucher, but I could buy a ticket with the voucher for use after the period when the voucher itself expires. I'll have to confirm this. No point in letting the voucher go to waste, after all. I did that once with an America West free ticket, having forgotten about having earned it.)

The meeting was a relatively low-key affair, aside from being slightly rushed because we did have to finish in time for me to get upstairs to the 10 AM "SMOFCon 101" panel on which I was one of the participants.

Why SMOFcon Isn't a Relaxacon

I was on the first panel this morning, SMOFCon 101. It appears that the panel was set up with one first-time attendee (Cass Marshall), one who has attended a few (netmouse), and one who has attended 18 of the 25 SMOFCons (me). Note that there is only one person who has attended all 25 -- Ben Yalow -- and that's because he's one of the handful of people who had non-refundable airline tickets and therefore attended the canceled SMOFCon 2 in 1985.

Like all of the panels I've attended so far this weekend, it was a strain to keep the subject within 50 minutes. We talked a little bit about SMOFCon's history, but more about the nature of the convention and "why is this convention different from other conventions." We spent the second half of the panel asking the audience -- most of whom had not actually attended SMOFCon before -- what they hoped to get out of the convention, and (I hope) setting in motion post-panel discussions between people with like interests in learning different things about specific con-running topics.

We made a point of wrapping up at ten minutes before the hour so everyone could get back to the Con Suite Ballroom for the keynote address from Dr. Gloria M. Boone on the subject of Branding Fandom (and no, hot irons are not involved, so you can save the witty comments).

After that, the Taming the Digital Wilderness Committee established by the WSFS Business Meeting met over lunch to discuss the issues referred to it, specifically the Best Web Site proposal and alternatives to it. Nothing to report here, because the committee needs to spend more time hashing out the specific proposals and reduce them to alternatives that can be discussed without endless arguments on technical side-tracks, which was one of the challenges we had when the proposal came before the Nippon 2007 Business Meeting.

While I was interested in some of the early afternoon panels, particularly "Finding Your Focus," I instead took the time to upload photos from last night and catch up on e-mail and LJ.

Dave Gallaher Blows My Fuse

dave_gallaher e-mailed me a 14-page document and asked me to print a couple of copies and give them to Ben Yalow and Elspeth Kovar here at SMOFCon. This should have been easy enough. There is a computer and printer here in the con suite, and they even set up the router and provided ways to connect to it. Unfortunately, for some reason, I was unable to access the network printer, and the one computer definitely connected to the printer has been monopolized, so even though I downloaded the file to a USB key, I couldn't print it.

Elspeth Kovar came looking for me. I explained the willingness to print but the lack of access to printing hardware. She suggested we go to the hotel's lobby computer, where we could print small jobs like this quickly. We went down there and I launched the print job. Seven pages in to the document, the lobby fuse blew on the outlet to which the computer and the hotel's Christmas display.

A nice woman at the hotel's front front desk said I could come and print the document at one of their stations. I started printing. The printer broke. Feeling cursed, I tried another machine and printer. This time it worked. Whew.

I have folks standing here waiting for me to finish this so we can go have dinner. So maybe I'd better go!

Everyone Expects This Fannish Inquistion

The traditional Fannish Inquisition started shortly after the scheduled 9 PM after the assembled SMOFs had availed themselves of the massive cheeseboard consisting of cheeses members had brought to the convention, including our contribution of Northern California cheeses and also some fine Finnish cheeses Eemeli Aro carried over. Cheryl and I, having come back from dinner fairly early, had the advantage of hitting the cheese early – the Pt. Reyes Blue Raw was particularly good, but there were many other excellent cheeses on offer -- so we were pretty sated by the time most people rolled in.

Host Joe Siclari presided over the grilling of the cons and bids. A difference over past years: Con and bid leaders were put in the "hot seat" and told they would need to answer quickly, and that the audience would help determine if they were waffling. Staff passed through the audience distributing sticks with pictures of, on one side, a "thumbs up," and on the other, a stack of waffles.

I decided that I would try to take down as much of the Q&A as I could. This was not easy. I didn't catch everything, and I don't pretend that the following is 100% accurate. I may well have not completely accurately represented what the bids and conventions meant, so you would be advised to check with them if you have any questions about anything in particular. I also probably misspelled some people's names, and for that I apologize.

Because this went on for so long – we were there for more than two and a half hours – I split it into several postings. The next (following this introduction) is for the 2008 Worldcon; then for 2009; after that for Worldcon bids; finally, for SMOFCon bids and site selection.

Fannish Inquisition - Future Worldcon Bids

Fannish Inquisition: Worldcon and NASFiC Bids

See my earlier post about the recap of the Fannish Inqusition.

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At 10:25, we moved on

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At 10:40, we sped through the following years

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And that brings the current roster to an end. Now it was time to choose a SMOFCon for 2008.

Update, 01:22: Fortunately, I was still awake when that first correction arrived.

Update, 10 Dec 22:45: Fixed more minor errors, clarified that NASFiC bid is for Raleigh.

SMOFCon 2008: Showdown at Boston

All but one of the past SMOFCons has been selected by acclamation, with only one bid, and any competition withdrawing. The only time it went to a vote, the vote was deadlocked with a tie, and the selection was made by a coin flip.

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Neither bid withdrew after the presentations, so at 11:08, a secret ballot was requested. Tellers passed through the audience with tickets to be used as ballots. Much waffle and rumble and confusion ensued. While the tellers retired to count ballots, future bids expressed interest.

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At 11:24, the Tellers returned with the results. I rearrange them below into the standard form of election recommended by Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised.

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Note that had they had one fewer vote, or if there had been any more humorous write-ins, nobody would have had a majority!

The Inquisition wrapped up around 11:30.

Edit, Sunday 11:30: Corrected title to reflect year actually being selected.