January 20th, 2011


Thor's Day

Happy birthday to devoken!

Hello to new readers blythe025, justinhowe, and trinker!

State of the 'Song
Breathing a little easier today; not much, but a little. I will take this as a good sign.

Poor Elayna is home sick with me; thankfully her breathing is okay, but she has a fever.

Buy Books!
You should do that in general, of course. But thesilentpoet is selling some great stuff to fund her trip to the ArLis conference. Take a look!

Daily Science
There is more to the eye than rods and cones — the discovery of a third photoreceptor is rewriting the visual rulebook.

Finish my Arisia recaps and write the bonus post about no-sex-at-Arisia. Hopefully. Depends how much brain I have. Also depending how much brain I have, teaching myself how to knit on DPNs.

Yes, I know this post is sparse. I'm sick, I got nothin'.

Arisia! Sunday.

I have mentioned in the past that Adam's CPAP wakes me up. We worked with this as well as he could have - he saved his new mask for the con, because the newer it is, the quieter it is. This worked fine Friday night.

It did not work fine Saturday night, and I had three and a half hours of interrupted sleep.

And a 9:30am panel.

Poly 279: Poly Parenting
Mixing multiple relationships with raising children introduces a host of new complications as well as possibilities. How do you answer questions, schedule your time, and mix parenting styles? These and other questions will be discussed. Michelle Driscoll, Shira Lipkin, Joy Marchand, Alan Wexelblat (m), Michelle Wexelblat

Great panel, great panelists, worst possible timeslot. Y'all. For next year? Please do not put the parenting panel before childcare and Fast Track open. As Wex said in his recap, we got audience halfway through the panel, when they could drop their kids off. I was expecting to see more of the several currently-pregnant PolyBoston folks, but perhaps there was first-trimester fatigue. We covered a lot of topics, and I was glad we had such a range of experience on the panel. Also glad we didn't have anyone espousing a One True Way, because I would have had to death-glare them. Three and a half hours of sleep, people.

I will say that I personally do not think we need a dozen damn poly panels, and I don't understand the difference between most of them anyway, and sometimes I want to be on one just so I can say "Google Calendar: get you some" and walk out. But poly parenting is a complex and specialized topic, so I see the need. I think also next year it could benefit from being more of a roundtable discussion with panelists and audience, like the IAF meetings; since parenting is so individual, no one is An Authority, it's just that some of us have more experience.

I pondered a nap after that. I pondered it really hard. But my brain was going too fast and I couldn't settle, and soon it was time for my massage.

Free massages for staff = one of the best ideas ever. I am just saying.

After my massage, I hit staff den for more turkey chili and bumped into rikibeth, who I promptly hauled off to my room. Because it's Arisia and we won't get a chance to actually talk for more than five minutes unless we are where no one else is. So that was awesome. :) We went from there to Dealer's Row - I only saw maybe 1/4 of Dealer's Row this weekend, sadly. I just didn't have time. And Dealer's Row, of course, is a minefield of "oh hai!" I actually bumped into a BARCC volunteer who I didn't know was a geek. Yay more BARCC geeks! (And there is the comedy of all 150+ volunteers knowing who I am, and me scrambling to place them - I saw her at an info session - which one? - oh! she's a medical advocate, and her name - yes, I'm right!)

From there, down to a cursory run of the dealer's room, and moar people. Then jzer texted me a reminder about the belly-dance show, and offered to meet me in the lobby to guide me down and get me the best seat. Of course you take the handsome man up on that. So I darted back up, saw him, he grabbed my hand and led me down, we bumped into emilytheslayer and pulled her along in our wake, and boom! Bellydance.

Seriously, if you see no other event at Arisia, see the bellydance show. It is at turns hilarious and sexy and silly and these are all things I love. tisana always put on a great show! The videos will be up on YouTube soon, and when they are, I'll link. This was miss_lisa_ma's debut, and I am so glad I was there; she rocked hard!

And about ten minutes in, I realized: no one but jzer, emilytheslayer, and Elayna knew where I was.

This was so incredibly freeing you don't even know.

I'm an extrovert. I like people! But, as it was observed on each day of Arisia by several different people, this is a 3,000-person con, and I know probably half the people there. This can be incredibly overwhelming. Of course I have to be professionally On in my panels, but here I have to be On in every hallway, On at lunch, On everywhere.

Except here are two hours when I can just sit here in the dark and no one knows where I am and no one is talking to me and I can just relax. Two hours of invisibility. I had no idea how restorative that would be.

Dinner from there - with a frustrating interrupting when Elayna decided once again that she found all food objectionable. We found her an option, but I was having a hard time with it, because I was over-hungry and cranky. I hauled feste_sylvain off for a burger, which I devoured really quickly once it finally got there (that was the worst service night at the bar); asim joined us, as did Elayna after her $26 lo mein. Damn overpriced hotel buffet.

After that, everyone but me had to be on panels! So I opted to go to Elayna's, where, at 15, she was the most well-read person on the panel (Children of the Night: vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.). She's pulling out vampirism as the loss of a soul from "The Bride of Corinth" and lesbian overtones and forbidden sexuality in "Carmilla" and the other panelists are like "So Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas Collins."

Sadly, I had to run from the frigid room to get coffee for both heat and caffeine. Remember, three and a half hours of sleep? And I had a 9:30-11pm panel.

The City and Science Fiction
From the planet-spanning urbs of Trantor or Coruscant to the steampunk precincts of New Crobuzon, what's your favorite SF megalopolis? Would you move there tomorrow? Would it actually work as a technological/societal/economic artifact? In an advanced, post-scarcity society, would people even want to pig-pile together? What will cities be like in the future? And what would you prefer them to be? Robert Davies, Toni Lay, Adam Lipkin (m), Shira Lipkin, Meredith Schwartz

It's so funny when my husband tries to moderate me. <3

Actually, the panel was great, even though I think we scared poor Robert Davies and Toni Lay never showed up. This is the panel where I tweeted that every panel needs a librarian, because whenever someone said "I read this story once but I can't remember what it was called," emilytheslayer looked it up on Adam's iPad.

This is also where this happened.

Adam: "I have three cities in mind; one of them -"
Me: "OH!" *bounceflail*
Adam: "-I'm getting to that one next."
Me: "Okay."

I'm sure most of the laughter was bemused, but I know that emilytheslayer, feste_sylvain, and avivasedai knew that he probably did know exactly what I was thinking. And he did. (Only Forward, by Michael Marshall Smith.)

We then headed up to the Pi-Con party at aelscha's request, there to see cluegirl, aquila_dominus, rikibeth, and other fine people. On our way up, jbsegal hung out of an elevator and said "Someone named ____saw who wasn't Hacksaw was looking for you."

tablesaw! Fresh from MIT Mystery Hunt!

So I mostly just flopped on the bed at the Pi-Con party and snuggled and talked until we got kicked out, and ventured forth to collect hammercock and trowa_barton, and I think I scared poor Trowa, because I get kinda punchy when I have done a full day on three and a half hours sleep. There may have been a giggly "I do not NEEEEEEED alcohol" armflail. Because at that point I don't and you should totally not give me any, because it will raise the silliness beyond safe and recommended levels.

I was then hauled off to bed. Around one.

Arisia! Monday.

Five hours of sleep, and at this point, I have been actively nauseated from sleep dep for two days.

Not much time before my panels! I made my final sweep of the art show - delighted to see that I'd won the coo creature by fellow IAF member Tamu Gurevitz that I'd been bidding on. Also did my first really full sweep of the dealer's room, and did the fastest scan of nancylebov's buttons ever, easily finding several must-haves for me and others.

After that, I was finally feeling able to eat, so I darted back to my room with miss_lisa_ma and jzer in tow and had a hella fun stolen few minutes, before...

Sexual Harassment and Assault in Fandom
In the last few years, multiple problems have arisen at conventions around the country that are troubling for many. Sexual harassment is not just about someone trying to grope a woman in a skimpy barbarian costume. It's about being able to say "no" and have it respected, a willingness to back someone up if they need it, and the ability to recognize when they don't. How can we all contribute to making conventions free of harassment? Woodrow Hill, Catt Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Shira Lipkin (m), Michelle Wexelblat

Which I asked cluegirl to tag-team moderate with me if needed, because my exhaustion was intense and overwhelming. But I did okay! We had a great discussion, focused primarily on concrete examples of what we could do. Solid bystander action. Mostly very receptive audience.

The point was raised there and had been raised before, and this is a very pointy point: This needs to be a Friday-evening panel. There needs to be a guide on how Not to Be That Guy (or Girl), and how to help if you see someone getting pressured, right at the start of the con. I will push for this next year. It's not my track, so I'm not in charge of that and can't make it happen, but hopefully everyone will see the sense in it.

After that,

Genius Loci: Setting and Story
How do the vast arc of the Ringworld, the snug hills of the Shire, and the treeless plazas of Trantor shape their stories' characters and events? Does local color bewitch or bore the reader? Are real places easier to evoke than imaginary ones? What SF/F/H settings do you find unforgettable? Vikki Ciaffone, Robert Davies, Greer Gilman, Shira Lipkin (m), Glenn Grant

Despite the two-panelist overlap from the city panel, we did talk about things that were not cities! To the point where I think we need a separate "among the ruins" panel next year. This was the second-to-last panel block of a four-day con, so we were all tired, but I'm pretty sure we made sense.

After that, lunch with Adam, asim, Darkteddybear and his wife. After that, the mad frantic packing! Poor asim left several bits of electronics behind in his haste to beat the snow. Thee was minimal lobby lingering, then home and collapse.

The sex post requires actual thought. I do not have my brain yet this morning. Maybe this afternoon.

So I had a very good con, but the fact that I glommed onto that two hours in the dark like I did tells me something. Ten program items is too many. It was fine at Readercon because a) shorter panels and b) Readercon is less relentlessly social. But it's a bad idea for me at Arisia, and I'll try to limit myself to six next year.