August 28th, 2012

blur, mosaic 8

worldcon tuesday

Day 1. Or day -2, depending on your point of view. Got up at 5 after not enough sleep and hit good connections on the T to the airport. Checked a bag that weighed 49.8 pounds -- had it gone over I could have split it (this being Southwest) or moved some things to my carryon, but I enjoyed getting a red and white striped HEAVY bag tag for my collection without having to pay for it. MDW is also a new airport for me, so that's fun.

Riding the L in to town from the airport I was reminded of a recent conversation with mangosteen about how Gotham in the most recent Batman movies has a lot of Chicago in it. The architecture is certainly right, even if the whole Gotham-as-an-island thing is wrong. There are gargoyles everywhere. But what I most loved is how rail oriented the place is. The L runs in from Midway along a 6 track main line. Six! The drawbridges are gorgeous, some with great serpentine rack and pinion mechanisms, some with enormous counterweight towers. Tons of industrial space, some still apparently in use making incredibly toxic products, and some converted to oh so hip looking loft space.

Went straight to the Art Show and commenced marshalling volunteers to feed work to the two union carpenters who're the only ones who can tighten screws in the show. We had them from noon to 4 and they were great. I think I did an OK job getting things ready for their arrival, and giving them and the volunteers tasks. As usual we had a great surplus of volunteers which made life easy if sometimes frustratingly unbusy for them, and also kind of annoyed the union boss who thought with all of these people we must have been cheating somehow on who was doing what. But when it came time to stand the A frames up it was great to have them. By 4:00 we were ready to hang pegboard on the six spines of pipe, most of the extension cord flyovers were up, and most of the light fixtures and supports were up too. There's a little more pipe assembly for the carpenters in the morning, plus they'll be the ones to actually attach the pegboard sandwiches. And we get electricians in the morning too, to install the bulbs and circuit the show and install the one fixture per spine that's just a fixture and no pipe.

I was trying to be clean about not doing *any* work myself and only delegating things to volunteers and/or paid staff, which of course I am terrible at, but it was good practice and I think I got a little better at it. With workers on the clock I needed to be 100% on keeping the hopper full and not worrying about how little time it saved me. And it seems to have been pretty educational for most of the volunteers. Sending a volunteer off to fetch me a yogurt to keep my blood sugar up was probably the best delegating I did all day, but it's going to take me a little while to get used to that kind of delegating being OK.

I honestly don't think I'd mind working with a hypothetical all-paid crew if we only had to pay them their living wage, and not the 300% markup that the various intermediaries add to it.

After the union folks left I handed off arranging pegboard to Kerry, checked into my room, and then went looking for a very late lunch, my previous meal having been nine hours earlier, airside at Logan. Had a burger with John and Peggy Rae Sapienza, which was pretty awesome, and we chatted about conrunning and Worldcons and one of her upcoming panel topics which was quite interesting. Poked my nose back into the Art Show for a bit and puttered around with some cleanup (the volunteers all having gone off for the evening), and then headed to bar in the hotel atrium where I ran into Mem Morman and Kent Bloom and chatted with them for a bit, which was also awesome. I will have to remember that just as I enjoy the early setup phases of Arisia, showing up early to Worldcons and NASFiCs gets me neat conversations.

This hotel is physically just about the perfect Worldcon venue. It's easily big enough, but laid out compactly enough to run into people. Function space is nicely stacked and the two sides of the hotel connect better than I expected. The city outside runs 24/7 and any service you could desire is close at hand. I haven't looked into the neighborhood but there are plenty of good and not terribly overpriced food options in the hotel. The lobby atrium provides a social nexus. It makes me want to see a Worldcon in the Peabody Orlando, to see how it would compare. Do you hear me, Mr. Beaton?