ConFusion XXX was held over the weekend of January 23-25, 2004, at the Marriott in Troy, Michigan, one of the suburbs of Detroit. Since this was their thirtieth anniversary, they were trying to do a really big convention with lots of stuff going on. They were in a different hotel this year because their usual digs, the Van Dyke Plaza, was closed for a complete renovation (not surprising when one considers the sheer number of problems with that place).
We arrived fairly early on Friday morning, trying to beat a snostorm that was moving in. We arrived at the hotel just as the snow was starting and discovered that there was very little in the way of lot parking, since they had a huge parking garage that was supposed to take in most of the guests. Unfortunately, there was no way our huge van would fit in their clearance, so we had to have a space on the open lot spaces.
We got checked into the hotel and got our stuff into our sleeping room very quickly. Then we grabbed a bite to eat before heading down to see if the dealers' room was ready yet. We ended up having to sit for a while before they actually opened the doors and we were able to start carrying in. At first we were having to use a long, roundabout path through a loading dock, until we finally got them to open a door that led right into the dealers' room. After that we were able to get everything in much more quickly.
After that we just had to get everything set up. I also got my art on the art show and got my programming packet. Then we settled in to make our sales. We had a couple of realy good sales, but mostly small ones. Since the dealers' room was going to be open quite late, I went up to our room and got the food for supper out of our cooler and brought it down to eat in the dealers' room. It actually turned out fairly well.
After the dealers' room closed, we made a quick visit to the green room and got a few munchies and touch base with people on my programming items. Then we went down to the hot tub to soak out the aches and pains of loading in. The heat was quite welcome.
After that we made a very quick visit to the various parties. Penguicon had a very nice suite featuring blue potato chips, one of my great weaknesses. General Technics was running their suite and featuring at least a few interesting mechanical devises. After visiting the parties, we turned in for the night.
Saturday morning started bright and early with breakfast in the con suite. Then we headed down to the dealers' room to get our tables opened and organized for business. Sales were slow but steady.
At 1 PM I had my first panel, Trans-humanist Science Fiction, with Steve Nagy, Stephen Leigh, Jason Ahlquist, Robert J. Sawyer, Karl Schroeder and Anne Harris. We had some very lively discussion about just what was meant by the term "trans-humanist," the nature of being human, and how changing the nature of humanity would change the nature of society for good or ill.
After that I returned to the dealers' room to sit table for a while before my second panel, "Why is Science Fiction a Turn-off Phrase?" with Matthew Landry, Stephen Leigh, Ben Yalow, Charles Urbach and Dean McLaughlin. We talked about how some people immediatly go cold the minute one lets it be known that one likes science fiction. However, Ben Yalow was very surprised about these reactions, since he had never encountered them personally, and in fact had usually been able to find common ground with even the most hardcore of mundanes.
After that I returned to the dealers' room to help close our tables for the evening. Then we went up to our room to eat supper before heading down to the hot tub and soaking. This time the hot tub was cooler, more the temperature of a warm bath than a proper hot tub. However, we were able to use the steam sauna and dry sauna at fairly good temperatures to help bake out our noses, which were getting clogged with the beginnings of a cold.
That done, we got dressed and headed around to the various parties. We spent a good while in the Penguicon suite, talking with people about programming, and particularly the fact that I had a novella on the Posleen fanfic section of the CD-ROM included with John Ringo's Hell's Faire, and that John is going to be appearing at Penguicon this year.
We also visited a number of other parties before finally calling it a night and heading back to our room. This was when we turned on the Weather Channel and discovered that a really nasty winter storm was forecast for Sunday. We decided that maybe we'd better make getting home our first priority, even if it meant losing some last minute sales.
Sunday morning we got breakfast. Then we got our personal belongings out of our sleeping room and got checked out of the hotel. When we got to the dealers' room, we went straight into packing for the road, hoping to be ready to load out as soon as I got done with my final panel. However, the art show was running behind, so I wasn't able to get my art back yet.
My final panel was at noon, "Independent Media" with Ben Yalow and Brother Guy Consolmagno. We talked about how the Internet has changed our habits of getting the news, and about media bias and how to recognize and compensate for it. Some of our audience members mentioned some really interesting new developments in news, including weblogs and various sites where ordinary individuals can report on events in their local areas which might not even be noticed by traditional news media.
After my panel I finally got my art off the art show. Unfortunately, I hadn't sold anything at all. Then we set to loading out our merchandise in earnest. Because the dealers' room was still open, I had to stay at the tables to deal with last-minute sales, which meant we couldn't load quite as fast. But we got done right about the time they were closing the dealers' room. Because we wanted to beat the storm, we didn't even bother to go back to the con suite, just made one final check of our tables before hitting the road.
The first part of the drive wasn't that bad, other than one idiot who cut in on me with about a foot to spare. But about the time we got to Fort Wayne, the snow started. It got steadily worse all the way back to Indianapolis. About twenty miles from home, the snow started turning to freezing rain, and we had a truly white-knuckle ride. There were cars in the ditch all over the place and one even turned completely around, blocking the passing lane and shining its headlights back at us. We were very glad to arrive home safely and get inside. The cat was also very happy to see us, and greeted us with loud meows.
Copyright 1998 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.