dc: The Doctor looking out from Laurel & Hardy film (Dr Who)
I actually started writing this a month or more ago. Other things got in the way, including some health problems (sinusitis so I couldn't really read well didn't help).

Dysprosium, this year's Eastercon, was at Heathrow in a hotel I hadn't previously been in.  It had a slightly odd layout, but was friendly and comfortable enough. The con was fun. I saw some programme (I know!), it was interesting and amusing, did some Ops shifts — the usual, really. The main fun is hanging out with old and new friends, and there were plenty of them.

Next year's Eastercon.... They are supposed to be bid for two years in advance, but last year no one bid for 2016. There was quite a bit of chat about this in the hotel bar on the Thursday. The indefatigable Dave Lally had done some preparatory work and been in touch with VisitManchester. This blossomed into the Mancunicon bid, led by Pat McMurray. This literally was brought into being on the Thursday night before Dysprosium, and voted in at the Sunday bid session. It will be held in Manchester from the 25th March to the 28th. Hotel is still to be finalised, but the team is looking at four potential venues in the city. The The con will be held in the Hilton Deansgate, in probably the most striking building in the city. Guests of Honour are Aliette de BodardDave ClementsIan McDonald, and Sarah Pinborough.

The year after, Eastercon will be in Cardiff. Pasgon (it's pronounced pass-con, basically). Now I can talk about something which stunned me speechless (I tell no lie, ask those who saw me at the time) at Loncon III. The Pasgon team have asked me to be one of their Guests of Honour. This is an immense honour, and quite humbling. The other GoHs are Jo WaltonLyndon Evans and Judith Clute. I am looking forward to this immensely... when I can get my attention away from the ever-approaching Mancunicon.

dc: QR Code (QR code)
One of the things which made Eastercon go very smoothly for me was not having to worry too much about what I ate. I did have to be wary of anything with too much fibre, which to be honest isn't that difficult in a hotel like that, but I picked up some lactase pills in Birmingham and made good use of them over the weekend. It made a huge difference to how well I felt over the course of the weekend, since getting completely lactose-free food in a hotel is not usually easy. This is something I shall do again at future cons.

I think I mentioned before that Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London was a good read, urban fantasy with a very well-presented London sense of humour (in particular, he's nailed the way policemen talk, it's beautifully done); the sequel, Moon Over Soho, is just as good. Can't wait for the next book in the series, which I think should be published in November, if I recall correctly.

I am not sure whether I should be excited or nervous about the discovery that a film of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is in the works. On the whole, I think nervous, especially since it's apparently going to star George Clooney (I am assuming as Napoleon Solo, though I don't know for sure; wonder who would be Ilya Kuryakin...).

Back to books, and another rather good read is S.M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers. It's 2025, and a dastardly plot is under way to destabilise the British Raj... which is ruled from Delhi. In this world, a cometary impact took out chunks of the northern hemisphere and caused major climatic upsets. The Raj is the major power in the world, its main competitors Greater Nippon and a deeply unpleasant Russian Empire. France outre-mer is a potential ally. There's no real surprises in the way the story is resolved, it is pretty much a straightforward, old-fashioned adventure with no pretensions to being deeply thought provoking, but it is well-told (in particular, the action sequences are well-done). Plus, analytical engines and dirigibles!

There's just been an ad on TV mentioning a luxury weekend break in a converted jail... I don't think I've eaten any strange mushrooms...
dc: The Doctor looking out from Laurel & Hardy film (fez)
It's difficult enough getting back into the rhythm of regularly updating without dropped internet connections and Dreamwidth eating a (complete!) entry. This is the third attempt at updating since Eastercon... fingers crossed.

Anyway, I went to Eastercon — Illustrious, held at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole (or some arrangement of those words) by the NEC. If you want the one-line summary, I can't beat Dave Langford's: a pleasant weekend in a painfully pricy venue.

The long version. )
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Sideways)
I don't know how long it is since I posted anything. Since my father's death I have been a little... antisocial, you could say. I thought I did quite well at Eastercon, but actually, I think I was a bit stunned. It was good, though, the odd negative effort of the hotel notwithstanding. Even knowing he probably wouldn't survive the year, the speedy deterioration and sudden death — it took me by surprise and was a heavier blow than I had expected. At times, I still don't believe it. 

As well as being a bit hermitty, my ability to make sentences was not brilliant. Twitter was ace for this — when all you can write is 140 characters, complex sentences are not on the agenda. Wasn't really up to dealing with anything like blogging. Or email. Or pretty much anything else.

Just recently things have been looking up, a bit. I am still spending a lot of my time making sure my mother (whose mobility is poor) is OK, and I haven't really got back into having much of a social life as such, but I am feeling a bit more like being social, for certain values of social. I was down south about the time of my birthday, and I had an OK time, but I dread to think how boring I was for the people I saw then. Maybe I'd be a bit better now. Maybe.

I want to try to get back into the habit of blogging at least semi-regularly. Not sure how that will go, but we'll see.

Before I go just now, have you seen this story? Everything about it is a delight: Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he's from the future.



dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
Well, I went to Eastercon (LX, in Bradford) and had a good time. My original plan had been to take the laptop, but when I saw what the hotel was going to charge for wifi I reconsidered that plan, which seems to have been wise. (Not only was it very expensive, it didn't work very well, if you will excuse the understatement.[*]) Given that I started to feel unwell the night before I travelled down (still not sure what was going on there), and that something was giving me much grief at the hotel in the form of allergies affecting eyes, nose and throat, the spoons lasted pretty well. In fact, bizarrely, the single worst bit of the con was the closing ceremony: sitting in a chair with poor support for more than an hour wiped me out. By about two thirds of the way through it I was seriously despooning. Fortunately, there was sustenance in Ops which revived me so that I was fit to head out for the train. Anyway, I'll try to post a bit more about the con when I have more time. It was good fun, saw lots of lovely people, had an astonishing amount of hugs and free alcohol... Yep. Fun.

Today I surfaced for a bit, met a friend and went to the cinema (In The Loop — more vituperation per minute than any other film). Soon I need to drag myself home. Oh, and by the way... If anyone doesn't know or has forgotten, Satellite 2 in July in Glasgow will be a jolly good convention, with Iain M. Banks, science, lots of fun, and real ale. You know you want to be there.

Oh, and in case it isn't obvious: I have not remotely caught up with my flist. :(


[* One of my favourite overheard exchanges from the con: Fan: Your wifi in this hotel's shite! Hotel staff: Yeah, that's why I don't use it.]

Eastercon

Apr. 9th, 2008 04:07 pm
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
I must admit I was in two minds about going to Eastercon. Originally I had thought it would work out nicely: move to new flat in late December/early January, get it sorted out then recover in time for Orbital. Didn't exactly turn out like that, and I ended up moving only a few weeks before the con, to find the workmen had inexplicably ripped out the flooring. Getting the flat sorted out was going to be much more demanding. Not much time to recover from the move, and the thought that maybe it would be better to spend my energy on the flat rather than going to the con did occur to me.

I am so glad I decided to let the flat wait and go to the con. Best Eastercon ever. )
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Default)
I am only online for a short time at the moment, this is not a full con report or anything like it. It was a fantastic Eastercon. I always get an energy bounce from cons, but this time I seemed to have gallons of adrenaline pumping through me most of the weekend. It was the best con I have been at in many years. And that is even without taking Mitch Benn into account (my muscles still ache from laughing). Saw lots of friends, made lots of new ones. Fabulous weekend. I'm still on a bit of a high from it.

I have lots of emails and various new contacts to get back to, not able to do it right now but I will do it as soon as I can.
dc: (Doctor)
OK, here is a bit of an update. Brief, because I am now flagging (coped well, mostly, during con time, but now...).


  1. As you might have guessed, I am now back from Contemplation, or the Emergency Holographic Eastercon. I plan to write a bit more when I am, you know, sentient. But it was good. At times I was reminded of the first cons I went to, over a quarter of a century ago. I did make it to some programme items (not just the ones I was on!), I did help out as best I could, and I did not suffer a catastrophic loss of spoons at any point (in fact, I seemed to get a supply of con spoons from somewhere).

    I saw many people it was great to see again, in some cases to get know better than before. As well as people like [livejournal.com profile] the_magician and [livejournal.com profile] frandowdsofa, and the putting of faces to some LJ usernames (the lovely [livejournal.com profile] darth_tigger, for example, and [livejournal.com profile] mevennen, whose stall I was looking at for an embarrassing length of time before the penny dropped), it was fantastic to see [livejournal.com profile] judip and Zandy again. Best of all, I finally got to meet [livejournal.com profile] purpletigron in the flesh. :)
     
  2. I still have not caught up with LJ. I really hope none of you have died/been maimed/lost your jobs, that you have not suffered the loss of family, friends or pets, while I have been really failing quite stunningly to keep up.
     
  3. Email? OMG, I have over 120 non-spam emails. If you have emailed me with anything urgent and I don't get back to you soon (bearing in mind I plan to spend much of the non-Life On Mars portion of the next 48 hours as unconscious as possible), prod me.
     
  4. Those of you in Glasgow, Trout is on Thursday. [livejournal.com profile] satellite_1 membership rates went up today, but just for those good folk who come to the Ingram on Thursday night there will be one last chance to sign up at the old rate of £15. We should also have membership forms for Orbital 2008, the next Eastercon, as well as information about LX, the 2009 Eastercon in Bradford.
     
  5. I am knackered, and I am now going to: eat; watch The Daily Show then Life On Mars (the tension mounts...); and have a hot bath. Catching up is going to have to wait a bit longer.
dc: (Doctor)
So. Tomorrow it is time to decamp for points south, and Eastercon. I have been having a quick look at the programme, groaning at having to be up and sentient at some ungodly hour on Sunday (11am!), but generally thinking that it looks like a damn good programme. It certainly has one of the classic features of a good Eastercon programme, namely that whenever I see an item I really want to see, it coincides with another one I really want to see (or have to be at). Contemplation is looking good, and I think Chris and Fran and their team have done an excellent job in getting an Eastercon together so quickly. I am hopeful that this will be a good one.

I hope that someone will go to The Great Clomping Foot of Nerdism at 20:00 on Friday and tell us all about it here afterwards, since having volunteered someone for another panel on at the same time I kind of feel I should be there to lend moral support. I shall avoid referring to the Eastercon Better Not Mentioned, honest. I also would have liked to hear the talk on Web 2.0, but have to be elsewhere at the same time.  Yep, this might be a good one.

I am slightly.... No, a bit more than slightly concerned about my spoons. Various things have contributed to my spoons being depleted in recent months, and also to my not getting the opportunity to adequately refresh them. I am probably at the level I would have liked to be around Sunday at the moment, which is not brilliant. I may be able to run on adrenaline (I can do bursts, of up to a week if necessary, if I don’t really stop and I am driven by necessity or having a good time, but it demands payback afterwards). Probably with caffeine. I might be able to build in enough rest time to see me through without that. We shall see; if anyone comes across me and I seem antisocial (apparently not listening or focussed, monosyllabic replies), then it is spoons that are the problem.

One of my concerns about spoons is that it might limit the amount I can do, in terms of helping out. (Because as well as being a good thing to do, it is fun.). Let's hope not.

According to the final (I am not saying a word...) Contemplation programme, it is still not certain that Doctor Who shall be shown on the Saturday. Know what? I don’t really care. I am baffled that the same time which gave us most of Eccleston’s series and something like The Girl In The Fireplace can also give us drivel (being polite, here!) like, oh, Fear Her, and the guff about Rose which inundated the last series... and Saturday’s episode. (And, to focus on a completely unimportant bit of trivial detail, could they not have found someone who could show Freema Agyeman how to use a stethoscope the right way round?)

Just wondering, too, if I was the only person who heard the continuity announcer heralding the start of the third series of Doctor Who and thought something along the lines of Mumble mumble mumble feckin’ 29th!

Life On Mars... It has just occurred to me to check what has happened to the DVD release date, since that was supposed to be next week, but that was before sodding football screwed the screening of the current. Yep, it has been pushed back to April 16th. Interesting that last night there was no end-of-episode preview of next week. A good episode... though I may have nightmares about Gene Hunt, Diana Dors and a bottle of chip oil for some time to come... hopefully sans the Tufty costume, at least.

By the way, Satellite 1 shall have a presence at Contemplation (all the Politburo, I think, unless something unexpected happens). At Eastercon you can sign up for Satellite 1 at the current rate of £15; prices rise when Contemplation is over.

Incidentally, there is a group picture of the Politburo on the web site. Interesting how stern most of us look; I was certain I was smiling, too...



While I have been writing this, a worrying tickle has set in in my throat. Oh, for fuck’s sake! That’s all I need, another URTI... Fingers crossed it comes to nothing.

Troutery

Jun. 9th, 2006 09:27 am
dc: (Doctor)
Last night was Trout, and a smallish turnout, not surprisingly given the hot weather and the number of people away. ([livejournal.com profile] munchkinstein, you were missed.) Not too bad a turnout, really, especially considering the number of people who came and went early. Much conversation about the merits (which are many) of new Who and new Battlestar Galactica. That’s when we weren’t talking about the Second World War, jobs, whisky, wine, Cons past, Cons future (particularly the ID requirements Convoy are going to have for on-the-door memberships), remakes, tents, etc. In other words, a typical Trout night.

Not typical: [livejournal.com profile] rhionnach looking at her watch and saying, It’s after midnight! It’s your birthday! And then the bunch of them singing Happy Birthday while I look for somewhere to hide...

Irritatingly, [livejournal.com profile] cuddles_batcave was telling me about an R1 DVD release which sounded interesting... and can I remember the title? No, I can’t. :(

Time warp

May. 8th, 2006 06:13 pm
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Dr. Evil)
OK, I wish Convoy well and all that, we all want a good Eastercon, and I have always, myself, enjoyed cons in Liverpool (sometimes despite the efforts of the hotel, it has to be said)… but am I the only one looking at their website and wondering why they appear to be targetting the cutting-edge technology of Netscape 3?
dc: Me, in a pub.  (Glasgow police box)
April’s Trout takes place on Thursday, April 13th, as usual from 7pm in the Ingram Bar in Queen Street. The evening will be a little different from the usual Trout:
  1. This is the night before Eastercon — hopefully, anyone coming to Glasgow for Concussion will be have heard of the Trout gathering; do spread the word, though, so that anyone who wants to can come along.

  2. As well as the usual Trout gathering, sharing the Ingram with us that night will be Word Dogs, a reading of stories by GSFWC and their friends: this will get started from 8pm. The programme is not finalised, but there will be contributions from Hal Duncan, Gavin Inglis, Richard Mosses, Mark Harding and Mike Gallagher, and probably also from Neil Williamson, Paul Cockburn, Gary Gibson, and Phil Raines; there may well be others.
Those who have been to Trout before: the normal, sociable Trout gathering will be focussed in a different area of the pub, to the rear and at the left (where there is a raised area); the section of the pub we have normally used for Trout will be used for Word Dogs — this is to the right of the bar as you enter. The layout of the pub means that anyone who just wants to have a sociable chat with other fen can do so at the same time as the readings are going on.

Those who haven’t been to Trout before: the Ingram Bar is a pleasant city centre bar, handy for bus, train, subway and taxi (so no problem getting home/back to the hotel); during the day and into the early part of the evening it serves food which is better than the average pub food. On the 13th, the kitchen will stay open until 7:30pm for us (usually shuts at 7pm); people wanting food should try to get there as early as they can make it. As well as food, the Ingram usually has three decent real ales on draught and it always has an excellent selection of whiskies.
dc: (Doctor)
My mother has not been too well, lately, and despite my and my father’s efforts to persuade her to see a doctor see was intransigent in her refusal to do so. Yesterday he insisted, though, and within a few hours my mother had been admitted to hospital. We don’t know precisely what the problem is, as we haven’t been able to talk to the medical staff yet, but the likeliest problem seems to be some cardiac difficulty given her condition; there are other possibilities, though. We should know more later this morning. I am confident that she’ll get treatment which will help her a lot.

This is exactly what I didn’t need, quite apart from the obvious fact I don’t want my mother to be ill. The problem is that she has been admitted to Stobhill. There’s nothing wrong with it as a hospital — it’s rather good, in fact — but it is a fucking awful place to get to. As far as I can see (which might not be too far, given how bad the route map is) it is served by two buses, neither of which it is easy to see where you might get it, neither of which runs more frequently than every half hour, and neither of which runs at night (probably). Yesterday, I tried to make sense of the bus route map, failed, and got a taxi from the city centre as I could not waste more time — but I can’t afford to do that too often. The nearest railway station is still far away enough to require a taxi from it to the hospital. Getting there from here takes quite some time, I need to allow at least an hour and a half. Once there, it is one of those sprawling hospitals where you have to walk for ages along long, long corridors to get anywhere.

A while ago — was it two years? I’m not sure — my father was in there for major surgery (which went well), and even though he was not in for long, going out there with my mother led to my having a serious relapse for the best part of two months; I was pretty much not up to anything. As I am coming out of a bit of a relapse at the moment, this doesn’t bode well... In fact, last night I had more extensive fasciculation in my legs than I have ever had (it made getting to sleep difficult), and I was very shaky on my feet this morning. I am going to have to really pay attention to the organisation of my rest, which hasn’t been necessary for several years. Bugger.



On the good side of things, Trout last night was pleasant, with some faces I haven’t seen for a while, a good turnout, and the prospect of a Trout trip to the Paisley Beer Festival. Also good was the discovery that the “poetry reading” which was apparently going to take place in the Ingram on the same night as the pre-Eastercon Trout is in fact a readings session organised by the local SF writing group, in fact by one of the Trouts! All simple, and we will have most of the pub that night by the looks of it.

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