Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Convention Report

What a trip it was!

I prepared myself with a light travel backpack, my liquids 3-1-1'd, in case I wanted to carry it, my new iPod loaded with Holosync, Paraliminals, and music, a bit of reading material, my journal, lots of business cards, one page of talking points for each of my panels, my passport, my printed receipts from the web purchase of my airline tickets, and my hotel reservation confirmation number. Of course I chose clothing from my life coaching wardrobe, and I carried my cell phone, some pens, a notebook and some cash. Those items are my essentials.

I started well. Doug drove me to the El Paso airport, and I quickly found my ticket on the e-check kiosk. All was well. My flight from El Paso to Houston went easily and on time.

The drama started in Houston. My flight to Toronto was cancelled. The only rerouting they could find for me left Houston seven hours later for Las Vegas and then left Las Vegas three hours after that for Toronto. I would arrive at 6 am the following morning rather than 4 pm that day. Since it was due to weather, they offered not so much as a meal voucher.

Well, well, the cell phone came in handy here. I called Doug for emotional support, and he further aided me by emailing the convention programming organizer about my delay, and by getting me the hotel's phone number. I called the hotel, and they graciously agreed to roll my reservation back a day. I called my poker coach, Tommy Angelo, the better to remind myself not to tilt.

Then I had a good time exploring the terminal. I visited a couple check in agents to get the new tickets worked out, and checked my bag. I found a quiet corridor where I had the option to walk rather than take a tram for a quarter mile. I seized the opportunity to sing a Heather Alexander tune unobserved. Or maybe not, because when I next went through security, they set me aside for extra screening. I passed. I stretched, found some food, rested with the aid of Holosync, and the remaining legs of my flight happened as rescheduled. I rested some on each of them, again with Holosync. Was feeling fairly decent when I reached Toronto.

I took a taxi to the hotel, and they graciously checked me in. I was able to get a shower, a change of clothes, and breakfast before my first function. I also registered with the convention, and Alana Otis, the head of programing herself, supplied me with my badge, the con program, the pocket program, and my name on a table tent. Sweet. My badge had a white ribbon that said "Panelist" attached to it, and a schedule with locations for the panels I was on. Very nice.

My first function was the Polaris book launch. I met Julie Czerneda (cher-NAY-da), the editor of the anthology, and three of my co-authors, Emily Mah, Jane Carol Petrovich, and Sarah Niedoba. They were all friendly and articulate. Julie ran everything with energy and kindness, Emily turned out to also be from New Mexico, Jane brought her son Benjamin, and Sarah was the winner of the student contest, charmingly modest. After Julie introduced us and told how she came to gather a polar science anthology, we each spoke briefly about our stories, and then people lined up to have us sign their books. I signed for about 40 minutes, feeling amazingly thankful to be there, and to have people care.

My three official panels were Privacy vs. Security, Editing Tips and Tricks, and Terror vs. Optimism. At all three, I felt I had something useful to add. At none did I present all my prepared points, as there were other thoughtful and energetic panelists presenting theirs. I was glad I had prepared. I enjoyed being at the front of the room, felt perfectly comfortable there, and I want to do it again.

Around the panels, I talked to people. I met a lot of friendly and thoughtful fans and pros. I picked up some items from the auction, and some from dealers. I lost track of how many of my cards I had given away. While my energy held, I glowed just to be at a con. When it flagged, I went to my room and rested.

It was a very good con. The warm local fen had me feeling right at home. And there was an interesting streak of activism. We had Julie Czerneda telling us that polar science was particularly critical now, Cory Doctorow suggesting we join the EFF and reroute our web traffic, and David Stephenson tracing the materials science that will make space mining or stiff population reduction our only options if current trends continue. I can't recall a con where there was so much encouragement to act on behalf of the future. I liked that, too. It feels like time for it.

My trip home had a few complications as well. I was sorted home only two hours late, with the help of friendly and competent Continental Air employees. It was good to smell the air of the Southwest again.

I do belong at conventions like these. I want to continue to be a panelist, and continue to meet and talk with fans. I had an amazing time.

May you all find your communities.