I drove up on Wednesday of last week, arriving a little earlier than I anticipated, and found my room all in order. I plugged in the firewall, the laptop, the printer ... and discovered that the print server's IP address was right in the middle of the DHCP range used by the segment on the red side of the firewall. And I don't have the print server's password to hand ... so I dug out a USB network card to give the laptop a second Ethernet segment ... you know, life would have been easier if I'd had a plain old USB cable to print through. Ah well.
It seems that the Internet connection hardware in the room had Ethernet presentation, which was fine, but took USB power, which was really very very stupid indeed. Never mind, it works.
Down to Reception, where I found frandowdsofa, who was itching for an excuse to get out of the building for nicotinic purposes. We walked around the building to the SECC, where she provided my proof of identity ("This is DougS") so that I could register and pick up my badge and other stuff. I got my first ribbon ("Programme Participant").
Down to the newsletter department, where I got my second ribbon ("Volunteer") and a badge addon (a little cardboard "Newsletter" flash). One of the computers had a very large printer attached, but none of the other computers would talk to it. That was a little bit disabling, so my first job on the newsletter team was setting up shared printing properly, something that the repeatedly-incompetent contractors had failed to do. Four Gopher Tokens. I showed Fran the first version of the Distraction flyer and discussed its content. Went for a meal with ang_grrr, greengolux, hawkida and tobesv, which was chiefly Italian in nature. There was some sort of red wine ... and then had an evening in the bar.
Towards the end of the drive up, I'd taken a phone call from a client. So my last job before bed, at about 1am, was to rebuild their Exchange server. Me in Glasgow, Scotland; server in Petts Wood, Kent. The Internet is a wonderful thing.
Phoned scarlatti. Went to bed.
On Thursday I wandered down to breakfast at about half past nine, and was told that my room rate didn't include breakfast. D'oh! Well, it'll save me waking up early later in the week. Breakfast was okay, standard convention-hotel fare with Scots supplement. Took the Beeblebears and MHs into the ZZ9 sales table, and picked up my third ribbon ("Dealer"). Made some changes to the Distraction flyer and had further discussions with Fran. Discovered zarabee is also a newsletter editor. Printed out some subject cards for Sexual JAM (see below). Pottered around the fan room for a bit. Picked up my fourth ribbon ("LiveJournal"). Went to the bar. I may have forgotten to eat (apart from breakfast), I may have had a baguette or two, I don't remember.
Chaired the Sexual Just A Minute panel game, with flick as my scorer, and contestants frandowdsofa, zarabee, third_world and Tom WINOLJ. Given the result, if you want to win a panel game you should delete your journal real fast. Got my fifth ribbon ("Pervy") and my sixth ribbon ("Real SMOFs don't wear ribbons").
There were some other panels that I attended, including swisstone's excellent ISIHaC. Christopher Priest was a good guest. Oh, and I went to the bar again. Finalised the content of the Distraction flyer. Phoned scarlatti. Went to bed.
Friday dawned bright and clear ... but I didn't. Not if Breakfast was going to cost me extra. I made a PDF from the flyer and uploaded it, and wrote a proper placeholder for the Distraction website. I stumbled downstairs for early lunchtime, and then put in another shift on the newsletter team. Three Gopher Tokens. Then Al WINOLJ and I retrieved a few hundred quidsworth of alcohol from jamesb's car and transported it over to the Hilton. Back to the Moathouse for a panel or two, and to pick up the Towel Fu kit, and then back to the Hilton to host the ZZ9 party.
It was an extraordinarily good party. I didn't see much of it, because I was refereeing the Towel Fu, but there was lots of interesting and entertaining stuff to drink, and knowledgeable people like lproven to tell people about it. But more than that, there was Towel Fu. I spent a solid four hours refereeing Towel Fu, and at the end of the evening lproven and I had the two world-highest scores (world highest because it was the first time it had been played). The highest scorer not on the ZZ9 committee was Miriam, and she won a Towel Fu t-shirt for her troubles. Won my seventh ribbon ("Party Host"). Did I mention the towel_fu?
Phoned scarlatti. Went to bed.
Saturday started later than Friday, but I was at least awake for lunch. Went to see a panel featuring tobesv, after which hawkida took the two of us shopping for the anonymousclaire party which was to feature later that evening. Following generous donations from community members, we were able to buy a whole car full of stuff, and after dropping Tobes off for a panel, the two of us went on to the Hilton to unpack and set up. I had Party Gnosis from having set up last night, which saved us lots of time, so we were able to get back to the SECC ready for my 5pm panel, "Guide to the Hitchhiker's Guide", where flick moderated cardboardnewman, vorcampbel, Mike Cule and myself as we argued about which version was best and told each other the Biscuit Story.
A spell in the bar once more, and then on to the party hotel again. A very good party, with lots of toys to play with (balloons, aeroplanes, miniature castanets, glowsticks) and lots of things to eat and drink. We had excellent attendance from members and friends including much of the Third Row. Our only failure was my fault -- I'd been sent to find tonic to put in our trolley earlier, and I'd inadvertently got soda water instead, so we had to offer flick a nice glass of Gin and Soda. Not quite the done thing.
I left the party early (before 2am) and I found myself back in the real ale bar, where I talked long into the night with bohemiancoast, lproven, Ken Brown and ednun. I attempted to reassure Ken that his daughter seph_hazard would be perfectly safe since she was out partying with flick, but that seemed not to be terribly comforting for him. Ah well.
Got to bed at about quarter to five. Failed to phone scarlatti.
Sunday started with me descending the escalator into the SECC to the sound of frandowdsofa saying "Good heavens, he's awake!". This was at about twenty minutes before noon. Now I always seem to just scrape into the art show at conventions when there's about an hour left before it closes. Not on this occasion -- it closed at noon, and I was still talking to Fran. Ah well. I think I may have done a bit more newsletter, I really can't remember. It's all a bit hazy. I remember I was very busy doing something ... some random gophering, I think. I ended up doing some fanzine collating (for YAFA) at about six, and was suddenly reminded that I was supposed to be sorting out the Sproutlore/Irish party that evening, and I was totally knackered and hadn't eaten all day, so I phoned jamesb and wibbled a bit at him. He said "Don't worry, DougS, we'll sort it out", and I carried on with the collating. I got about twenty minutes listening to Three Weird Sisters in the Filk programme, where they sang a song about Legolas which would entertain a good half of my friends list, and another about tea which would entertain many of the others -- quite excellent. Later I went out for a curry with the divine Julia WINOLJ and lproven. Post-curry we delivered Julia back to her hotel, which just happened to be the party hotel where the ploktacabal were waving their Hugos around and smiling a lot. lproven went on a brief and unsuccessful hunt for cute young lesbians while I went for a brief and successful hunt for the Sproutlore/Irish party, discovering that jamesb had sorted it out by phoning lostcarpark. Got another badge addon (a Robert Rankin bookmark).
I'd arranged the ribbons round my badge in the form of a sporran. My sixth ribbon had left the badge looking asymmetrical, and I was bemoaning the fact to a random bystander, and he gave me my eighth ribbon ("Friend of UK2005"). Not quite half an hour later, lproven (sans cute young lesbians) and I were heading back to the Moathouse for Fannish Highland Games, where Towel Fu made a reappearance alongside Astral Pole, Horizontal Mountaineering, Knurdling and The Cardboard Box Game. Highlight of the evening was when we led a profoundly blind ednun up to the table so that he could feel its edge. We described the layout of the field and handed him his towel. He took a couple of steps back, and with two sweeps of the towel he'd cleared the table for a maximum possible score. Wonderful.
dmw won the knurdling. Again. The Australian team won the horizontal mountaineering. Again. adelheid demonstrated extreme bendiness in the cardboard box game. And flick did the astral pole in her Hugo Award Ceremony Posh Frock, which she was in constant danger of falling out of. In fact at one stage, pole still in hand, she had to call for assistance from a member of the audience to load her back in (well done lproven). But still, ednun's feat topped all of these.
We went to the bar afterwards. Phoned scarlatti. Went to bed.
On Monday, I went to a panel! It was before lunch! It was the "future of fandom" panel, where people earnestly engaged in debate about who would be running conventions in years to come were rudely interrupted by YAFA, wielding foam hammers and the like. The panel, forewarned, had equipped themselves with waterpistols and battle ensued. Some members of the audience did sterling work, wresting weaponry from the invaders and in due course we drove them off. The panel then walked away, members of the audience who wished to continue the discussion took over, and the room was reinvaded once more. I sustained some slight foaming, but was otherwise unharmed.
The fanroom closing ceremony was excellent with Hugos, prizegiving, and an interpretative-dance summary of the convention. I'd lost my eighth ribbon, since I'd attached it to my badge in difficult circumstances, with second-hand sticky stuff. I was given a replacement eighth ribbon ("YAFA"). Symmetry restored.
The main closing ceremony was exceedingly naff, with bad acoustics, bad scripts and bad acting (partly rescued by some bit-parts from Sparks).
I was supposed to be helping to dismantle newsletter IT, but the circumstances alluded to elsewhere, coupled with the fact that no-one had told anyone on the newsletter team that we (with badges, ribbons and everything) wouldn't be allowed in to the department without move-out badges, meant that we had to queue for an entirely unnecessary 40 minutes to get a badge before we could go in and unplug anything. Absolutely insane.
After clearing up the newsletter department and securing my ninth ribbon ("Newsletter", not the same as the badge addon from Wednesday) and helping empty the ZZ9 sales table, I suppose I must have eaten something ... no, wait, I decided to wait until the staff/volunteer party, which had all the leftovers donated from all the other parties, together with extra stuff donated for the purpose. That was mayhem, but very good mayhem. Well done everybody.
Oh, and then the Dead Dog party. In the bar. We'd been told that over the five days we'd consumed three full weeks production from the brewery, including their entire stock of some lines. See, we're used to drinking the hotel dry, but we think this is the first time we've been able to drink the brewery dry.
Phoned scarlatti. Went to bed.
And then, on Tuesday, I drove home.
I'll link to some photos in a few days.