From a meeting of Asian Real Estate Brokers to Westercon 61 to Dance Caravan, a convention center is always a flurry of people moving in and moving out. The convention started for us on Tuesday night, when Jerome and Elizabeth, heads of the Art Show, came to our house to pick up the mail-in art.
On Wednesday morning we loaded up the car with the Program Books and freebie books that we had been sent and headed off to the hotel. We had a 4 pm preconvention hotel meeting, but meanwhile checked out the spaces we would have. The spaces always look huge until you fill them with tables and people. Our biggest worry was the truck coming from Los Angeles with the art show flats and registration computers. CalTrans had decided to close I-15, the only highway from LA to Las Vegas for hillside blasting and the truck had a late start trying to avoid the backup. They didn't make the meeting, but we did have the head of Registration, the Dealer's Room Co-ordinator, and our head of the Business Meeting/Site Selection. It's always amusing to tell the hotel staff that "No, we really don't dress up in funny costumes (much), but we will be up until past midnight playing Match Game SF and filking." People started picked up their badges if they were preregistered, and I headed back to Henderson to pick up our own clothes and bits and pieces that we had left behind.
The convention started Thursday afternoon when the Art Show and Dealer's Room opened. The first discussion panels started at 2:30 pm, and it was a convention! People kept asking us how we were doing. All I could say that it was such a relief to have other people around, helping us to do everything after spending four years doing much of everything by ourselves. Luckily we knew a talented performer from Los Angeles who gave us a great Elvis impersonation during the Opening Ceremonies. We introduced our Guests of Honor; the writer Kage Baker, the artist Lubov, and the fan Milt Stevens, and the convention was officially opened. Let the con suite and room parties begin! It's impossible to keep track of everything if you are going home every evening, so even if we live a short distance from a convention, we always rent a room. We never left the hotel again until Monday morning. This used to be a Regent resort before Marriott bought it, so the rooms are simply gorgeous and huge. Everyone who stayed there was very impressed.
Friday was our first full day of programming. We had something for everyone from panels on Mars to SF Television to a concert (with fireworks) that evening. Saturday was more of the same with panels from art, education, writing, and research to Spintronics. There were also a lot of people on the Denvention (the upcoming worldcon) committee who spent a lot of time nailing down last minute details for that convention along with people soliciting memberships for conventions in Pasadena, Tempe, Montreal, San Jose, Seattle, and Reno. That evening was the Masquerade and a lot more room parties. I organized the programming, but tried not to put myself on too many panels. My two favorite panels were one on the upcoming Hugo nominations and one on social networking. A poll of members shows that most science fiction congoers are computer geeks or librarians so we usually have a lot of panels on computer science. As is often the case, I didn't have much time to attend panels, but I made sure to go to "There Ain't No Caviar on the Catering Truck" panel where two LA actors told stories about the real acting life in Hollywood, especially on shows like Heroes and Babylon V.
All of a sudden, seemingly, it was Sunday. A few last panels and Closing Ceremonies where we thanked our guests and handed over Westercon to next year's hosts; FiestaCon in Tempe, Arizona. There was a mad rush to get the art show flats back on the truck and the dealers moved out by 6 pm, when Dance Caravan started setting up their dance floors and sound equipment. We spent some time in the ConSuite, where all the left over food from other parties is gathered to hold the Dead Dog party. After four days of constant activity, I was about peopled out. So I retreated to our room and started some stitching.
Unlike Ruth, I was the anti-packer. I brought exactly one thing to stitch on because I did not think I would have much time to stitch (and I didn't). I also didn't have much time to pack, so I just took Flower Fairy which I haven't worked on since December, 2007. Pictures tomorrow. Monday morning we got up bright and early, packed, checked out, and settled the convention bill with the hotel. We were home before noon and collapsed. It's good to not have deadlines breathing down our necks. All I have to do in the next two days is gather up some reading and stitching and head out to San Francisco Wednesday afternoon. James has meetings in the Bay Area on Thursday and Friday morning we head to Maui. We need a vacation. Many thanks to the staff, volunteers and members of Westercon 61. We had a great time.