ConGlomeration was held over the weekend of April 18-20, 2008 at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center in Louisville, KY. The date change was the result of the convention center already being booked for the usual August weekend. Unfortunately, it meant that attendance took a hit, and a lot of the people who did come weren't ready to spend like they usually did.
We arrived the previous day and stayed at a nearby place, since I had teaching responsibilities to meet. We had a little fun getting the WiFi connection at that location to work, but after a room switch, we got it going and I was able to grade and return papers.
Friday morning we got up early and checked out of that place so we could get to the dealers' room and get set up. The other place was so nice that I said it was too bad we couldn't stay there the whole weekend.
We got unloaded fairly quickly and were able to set up early enough that we could check into our room at the con hotel. I then went over to the con suite to grab some munchies and see if I could get on the hotel WiFi network in order to return some papers to my students. Although munchies were quickly secured, getting a WiFi connection proved more problematic. I was getting good signal strength, but it wouldn't let me connect to the Internet.
I finally went to the front desk to see what was the problem. On the way, I saw two techs working on one of the routers, which they had pulled from the overhead plenum to set on top of a stepladder. They had a laptop hooked up to it and were running diagnostics. When I spoke to them, they suggested going to the convention center and looking for an Ethernet jack to set up a wired connection.
I did that, but I was still unable to get the laptop to talk to the Internet. By that time, it was getting close to time for the dealers' room to open, so I headed back in and figured I'd wait until evening.
Sales were slow at best. I talked to some friends and spent some time working on story notes. After the dealers' room closed, we headed back to our room and had supper. Then I headed out in search of a WiFi connection. I finally headed back to the convention center in hopes of finding someone with local knowledge who could tell me where there was a reasonably reliable WiFi hotspot. Instead, some of the con staff finally got me lined up on a borrowed computer in order to get the papers returned to the students. By that time it was simply too late for the parties, so we turned in for the night.
Saturday morning came far too early, and we headed down to the con suite to catch some breakfast. When we got to the dealers' room to get our tables opened, we heard that the con had set up a WiFi router of their own to get things working. So I got my laptop out and did some more work that needed doing. I also ended up resending a bunch of files, since they had somehow become corrupted during the transfer to the other computer.
However, sales continued to be pitifully slow. By the end of the day we were having serious doubts about whether we'd be able to make our expenses.
We weren't the only ones having financial trouble. The con had gotten Walter Koenig (Chekhov of Star Trek) as a special media guest, and were planning on the money from his signings to go a long way to covering his appearance fee. They even had major line control set up for the anticipated crowds. Instad there were only one or two people in line at any gven time. At $20 a signature, it was probably just too high for the market, particularly when people were already uncertain about their finances and jobs.
In the evening we were actually able to go to a few of the parties. We got to the Hobbit Hole party just as they were opening, and were able to get a number of the famous cookies. We also went to the Disco of the Dead before turning in for the night.
However, we didn't get to go to bed as early as we'd expected, since the toilet picked that time to clog. We called down to the front desk to get someone up to plunge it, and they said it'd be taken care of. We waited for fifteen or twenty minutes, then called down again. By this time there was a commotion going on at the conference center, with two fire trucks and people standing all over the place. So we gave them some more time to deal with that, but when we still didn't have anyone up to unclog our toilet, we called down a third time. Seems their maintenance people had gone home for the night, and they were dithering about perhaps moving us to another room.
I went down to the front desk in person, and finally by bearing down I was able to convince them to find a plunger. They had to call someone from housekeeping at home to locate it, but we finally got our toilet unclogged and could get some sleep.
Thus I was not exactly well rested when Sunday morning came around and it was time to get our stuff out of our room. We did get some decent breakfast food at the con suite, and headed on over to the dealers' room. We were able to brangle a slight reduction in the Saturday stay, but it was very reluctantly given, and only after a considerable attempt to hide behind policy and supposed lack of authority.
Sales remained very slow, and we could see we were not going to be breaking even. Since I had teaching responsibilities Sunday evening, we started packing early and even started loading before the dealers' room closed. Even with help, we were still running behind, so we decided not to make a final visit to the con suite. We just headed straight home.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.