watervole: (Anonymous Morris)
We had our first unofficial practice for Anonymous Morris last night.  Official practice starts next week, but we wanted to run at least a few dancers through the basics beforehand.

So, Henry, myself, Bev the Banjo, Cu_Sith, the Redhead and Alex all met up on Poole Quay, found a relatively quiet spot and proceeded to go through Shropshire Morris and Valiant Soldier.  Henry's a good teacher, and he has the additional asset of bags of energy and a voice to rival Brian Blessed.

It went very well.  We managed to cover both dances in the course of two hours and the dancers (two with zero Morris experience and one with only a little) learnt very fast.  We acquired an audience in the form of a homeless ex-Marine, but he clapped in all the right places, so I bought him a drink so he could come back to the pub with us and relax indoors for a little while.

Cu_Sith, the Redhead and I will be at Swanage Folk Festival tomorrow, to hand out flyers to all and sundry.  I also get to collect more sticks from Alf of Bourne River Morris who's been cutting them for us.

Here's to next Thursday and the real thing!

(I'm greatly reminded of my first Redemption.  There's nothing like jumping in at the deep end.  The first con committee I was ever on, I was chair.  In that sort of situation, you learn fast.  You ask questions of everyone who knows more than you do and you listen to what they have to say.  In the case of Border Morris, you learn the history, you find people who know the dances, you watch, you make notes, you work out what music will be suitable and why.  You find the venue, do the accounts, recruit the members, organise publicity, get the web site sorted out.  Like a convention, it's partly about finding the people.  I can already see where people are fitting in.  I'm the researcher and treasurer.  I'm band leader at present, but will probably pass that task on when someone more suited appears.  Henry is the teacher.  Alex is the web expert - and rapidly learning what he didn't know already.  Cu_Sith has a gift for recruiting people.  What I still need is someone who likes sewing a lot.  The costumes won't be that difficult to make, but it helps if they all end up looking roughly similar.)

watervole: (Queen of Voles)
Knackered.  My last two weekends have been a hotel visit and a committee meeting respectively.

Today, I'm working through programme-hotel stuff.

The right number of chairs and tables in every single programme room (plus the extra ones needed for the autograph session).  Three items needing a lectern, one needing the smoke alarms turned off.

The ceilidh band want to know if they can use our sound system.  Another programme item needs mikes that aren't normally in that room and I'm not sure if we can find them at short notice, but we'll try.

We've got fixed projector screens in some rooms and the hotel is letting us use their portable screens in some other rooms.  Managed to talk them out of charging us for the screens and lecterns, (and hopefully all the extra tables they'll have to get in for us), but think I may be stuck having to pay £50 for an overhead projector for the one item that needs one as the one we were going to use doesn't work any more.

But it's a good programme item (Exobiology) so I don't begrudge the cost.

I don't think I've programmed in the art show clear down yet.  That will require 5 strong gophers which I'll need to note for our gopher mom.

Some misc dealers room stuff, but that's mostly being taken care of by others.  But it reminded me that not all attending writers are mentioned on our web site yet.  Passed on some data on that front.

Checked that the Green room has a credenza - it does.  Still not sure on green room budget.  It'll be large - we've a large programme, but memberships are looking really good, so won't be a problem.

Checked out an alternative room for a workshop (choral harmony) that might have more people than I anticipated.

Followed up on a screen for Battlestar Atlantia, which I forgot on the first pass about projector screens.

Still looking for a moderator for a programme item with Iain Banks - but we've got two good panellists (both involved in linguistics) and I'm sure I'll find a moderator soon.  (Last minute change of item owing to factors beyond our control)

Followed up on drinks for the Worldcon bid launch, we have prices now.

Still need to programme in shifts for prog ops, but at least the programme items themselves are all bedded down now.

I'm glad I'm morris dancing this evening - I need to get away from this damned computer before my arms fall off...
watervole: (Mad Scientist)
I haven't been posting much here, because most of my free time these days seems to be spent working on programme for Odyssey.

I thought you might like to see how it's progressing...

[livejournal.com profile] rockwell_666 and I present you with (fanfare of trumpets) the Odyssey Science Programme!

There may be minor changes, but this is essentially it. All these items are definitely going to happen (unless a speaker has to drop for any reason). Timeslots may have minor changes, but you should get the general idea.


We present you with:

Friday 11am Connaught Animatronics - Artificial Intelligence? Is Jetta's PLEO baby dinosaur a real example of artificial intelligence, or
just the product of simple programming?

Friday Noon 12 (Tetworth) Life of a Hydrogen Atom --The universe around us is made up of many different types of atoms, yet only two
types, hydrogen and helium, were created in the Big Bang. Other elements have been formed by a wide variety of fascinating astrophysical
processes since then. This talk will take you on a quick tour of some of these processes by following the life story of one of the simplest
things in the universe – a proton - from its birth in the Big Bang to its death, swallowed up by a black hole.

Friday 1pm 12 (Tetworth) Big Biology - What are the Biggest Biological Tropes in SF? -- What biological ideas are being explored in
current SF? Are there any important themes that are being overlooked?

Friday 3pm 41 (Winchester) Alien Archeology -- What will our panel of 'experts' make of the various items they are presented with? Is it a
Denebian ritual object, or simply a salt shaker?

Friday 5pm Royal C+D (Edwd/Vic) Kids Science Lab - Catapults, Spinners and Identifying Objects! Discovery. Identify objects by touch,
make a colour spinner and design a catapult ! Suitable for all ages, though younger kids will need an adult lab assistant. Unaccompanied
grown-ups also welcome!

Friday 7pm Connaught Patent your Flying Saucer! -- Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf presents some of the wonderful SF-style creations that people have patented (or had patent applications turned down for) in Sweden, Germany France, UK and USA. Perpetual motion machines are just the beginning...

Saturday 9am Connaught Living Forever - Is it a Good Thing? -- Many SF writers,eg Moon, Morgan, Heinlein, Banks have speculated about
rejuvenation or other possibilities for extending life for 100 years or even longer. Scientists and others discuss whether it can be done, and
whether it would be ethical/desirable if it could be done.

Saturday 11am Connaught Quantum Computing for Beginners -- Modern computers store information as electric charges and work by moving these charges along metal wires. New forms of computers have been built that harness the weirdness of the quantum world to perform calculations far faster than their electronic counterparts. This talk will provide a brief introduction to these fascinating new machines.


Saturday Noon Commonwealth Bad Science - Ben Goldacre -- Dr Ben Goldacre is a medical doctor and journalist, best known for his 'Bad
Science' column. He campaigns against biased research, fraudulent claims (from both makers of nutritional supplements and the
pharmaceutical industry) and poor media reporting of scientific research.

Saturday 1pm Commonwealth Geoengineering - George Hay Lecture - sponsored by SF Foundation -- Oliver Morton is the speaker for this
year's George Hay Memorial Lecture.

Saturday 3pm 12 (Tetworth) Geoengineering - A broader perspective -- A discussion of the issues and ideas raised in the George Hay Lecture

Saturday 3pm Commonwealth Clanger Symposium - Study of a Knitted Alien Race. -- A serious scientific conference studying the Clangers.
We hope to have papers presented to study their diet (blue string pudding), genetics (knit 1, purl 2), physics (the lifting power of musical notes) and other topics worthy of dedicated study.

Saturday 4pm Connaught A hyperbolic talk about non-Euclidean geometry -- "The geometry of the place was all wrong" A mathematical
talk on spaces unlike our own.

Saturday 5pm Connaught LabLit - Fiction set in the Laboratory -- Not so much Science Fiction as Scientific Fiction. LabLit is an emerging
form of fiction that even has its own web site at www.lablit.com

Sunday 11am Commonwealth Guest of Honour Talk: Alastair Reynolds

Sunday Noon Connaught Exobiology 1.02 -- Jonathan Cowie is an environmental scientist who was for 15 years with the Institute of
Biology and now works in (bio)science communications. He has had a lifelong interest in SF and a curiosity about the possibility of alien
life. His original probability of alien life talk has been given at over a dozen of conventions (and also to biologists at a couple of
universities). This talk very quickly recaps part 1 and then goes on to new material in part 2.

Sunday 1pm Royal C+D (Edwd/Vic) Kids Science Lab - Cars, boats and jet-engines -- Come and design your own boat, car and balloon-powered jet engine! Suitable for all ages though younger kids will need an adult lab assistant. Unaccompanied grown-ups also welcome!

Sunday 3pm Commonwealth Fusion Power and the Joint European Torus -- Anthony Webster, our guest speaker from JET, will talk about the physics of fusion.
Can you say 'magnetohydrodynamics'...

Sunday 5pm Royal C+D (Edwd/Vic) Physics of Weapons - for Children of all ages -- What makes weapons dangerous? Why does armour protect people? How do we make the biggest and most destructive weapon ever? This is an “RI Christmas Lecture”-style talk, with plenty of
opportunities for members of the audience to take part in demonstrations. Parents (and other adults) are welcome.

Sunday 5pm 12 (Tetworth) Information Decay and Archiving -- Throughout history, there has been a trade-off between ease of storing
data and speed of accessing that data. Our speaker will look at data storage from the papyrus strip through to the Internet age and discuss
the compromises necessary.

Sunday 6pm Connaught Cutting your Carbon Footprint -- Keeping global temperature rise under 2C (3.7F) will be almost impossible unless carbon emissions begin to fall within a decade. How can we reduce our footprint?

Monday Noon 12 (Tetworth) Black Holes for Beginners -- Black holes are a staple part of the science fiction diet – stellar corpses around
which the laws of physics break down and strange things start to happen. This talk explains what black holes are, how they’re formed and what’s likely to happen if you get too close to one.

Monday 1pm 12 (Tetworth) Climate Scepticism: Pros and Cons

Monday 3pm 12 (Tetworth) Physics of BDSM -- How does the tesla coil in a violet wand actually work? What's the maths of load-spreading? Ever wondered about the Young's modulus of a cane? Our knowledgeable(!) presenters explain all. No children without a parent.

Monday 4pm Connaught Intelligent Life in the Universe: Still a Believable Concept? -- The last fifty years have brought great
advances in astronomy but aliens remain undetected. Is it time to relegate the idea to the same limbo as FTL?

Monday 6pm Connaught Clarke's Law - Is today's technology 'magic' to most people? -- "Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic." Is the average (reasonably educated) person finding science and technology easier to understand or is it
increasingly seeming like magic? What are the likely consequences?

Monday 8pm Connaught Alien Invasions - How would they Attack? How do we Defend? -- Suppose the aliens really did invade... What would be the most effective way for them to attack? What could Earth practically do to defend itself? What can we do in advance to make Earth more secure?
watervole: (Queen of Voles)
Care and feeding of con chairs by [livejournal.com profile] kilbswhitecrow . 

Delightful, whimsical, and I couldn't have put it better myself.

watervole: (Default)
I don't think I'll ever be able to write a full report as it was such a large and amazing weekend, but here's a few of my personal highlights:
watervole: (Clanger)
Have just been watching a couple of Clangers episodes and it strikes me that there is much entertainment to be had in try to generate a consistent ecology for their planet.   eg.  It appears to be dense enough to have an atmosphere in spite of its tiny radius.  However, anyone running too fast will fly off into orbit, so the gravity can't be that strong.  Why isn't all the atmosphere lost into space?  Is it regenerated by some means, or can Clangers survive with very low oxygen levels.  What is blue string pudding made of?

[profile] waveney says he'd quite enjoy discussing these crucial issues at Orbital if anyone else would be interested in being on a panel with him.  We'd obviously need to show a couple of episodes for research purposes and consider the parthenogenic nature of soup dragons.

Does anyone else fancy the idea?
watervole: (Default)
Orbital could use a keen, motivated person to organise logistics for us. 

The convention will be using all sorts of equipment that will need bringing from various parts of the country.  Would you like to be the mastermind who works out what needs to come from where and how to get it all to the Radisson at Heathrow (and back again afterwards)?

You'll almost certainly need to do a fair bit driving yourself (we pay for the petrol).  If you own a van, it's useful, but we can borrow or hire one if necessary. 

Previous con experience not necessary as long as you're a good organiser and enjoy working with people.  A clean driving license would be  a big bonus.

It's a chance to work with a great team of people and become a part of a fantastic event!
watervole: (Queen of Voles)
Many readers of this blog are regular Eastercon attendees, but some of you may never have been and may be wondering whether you'd like to go to Orbital and what exactly an Eastercon is anyway.  [profile] sugoll has written this handy guide for those who'd like to be a little more informed.

Myself, I became a convert to Eastercons five or six years ago.  They've grown on me to such an extent that I've ended up being chair for Orbital 2008.  I like both the broad-based nature of them, and the social atmosphere.
watervole: (Queen of Voles)
My wrists are too tired to type a long report and my throat too croaky to dictate it, so I think I'll just repeat what Scott Fredericks said to me:

"You're all here for one another. You interact with one another - it's not just about the guests."

Couldn't have put it better myself. Everyone seemed to be having a ball. Here's to even more fun and interaction next time. See you all at [livejournal.com profile] redemption_con 2009 and [livejournal.com profile] orbital_2008.

(Whoops! It's now an '07 report rather than an '09 report, though if I wasn't worried about the time police, I'd tell you how [livejournal.com profile] rabelesian gave me a lift in this blue box that kept appearing in different places around the convention)
watervole: (Default)
Hm. I perceive life is going to be interesting...

A large proportion of the members of an Eastercon join at the previous Eastercon. So, Orbital won't get those members in that way. Being a con chair is 'interesting' in the Chinese sense.

However, the somewhat better news is that [livejournal.com profile] orbital_2008 is already at 324 full atttending members (and 383 if you count toys, beeblebears, children, pre-supports, etc), so I suspect many of the people we would have got at Convoy have in fact joined already. We'd normally only expect half that many members this far ahead of the convention.

Those of you who haven't joined, why not sign up now and book your hotel room at the same time? (228 people are booked into the hotel already)

http://www.orbital2008.org/

Meanwhile, if you're wondering how you can meet up with your friends next year, there's Redemption 23-35 Feb at the Hinckley Island. It's more TV based than an Eastercon, but with a five track programme, we try to cater to all tastes. If you want to come and you'd really like to see a panel on deconstruction in modern SF literature, just volunteer to run it.

If your tastes run to the Clangers and Bob the Builder, volunteer to run a panel.

If you think Torchwood/Battlestar Galactica/Dr Who/'insert programme name here' is the best thing since sliced bread, you know what to do - all together now - volunteer to run a panel!

http://www.conventions.org.uk/redemption/

(volunteers, in any department, just leave a note here and I'll pass it onto the relevant committee member.)
watervole: (Judith)
Concussion was a good con. I didn't see much of it because I was mostly doing things for [livejournal.com profile] orbital_2008 but I enjoyed the bits I got to (with the exception of the George Hay lecture - which is normally a very good lecture on science, but this year was about Victorian attitudes towards science and not really my cup of tea).

I'd intended to go sight seeing with Henry afterwards, but we both fell ill. Henry spent a large chunk of Tuesday in bed and I collapsed on Wednesday.

I'm still not fully recovered even now, so memories are more of a random selection of snapshots than a proper con report.

Being on a fantastic panel about the singularity vs the environment, which covered a wonderful range of topics and was enjoyed by the audience (several of them commented afterwards). It was a real joy for me to be on a non-media panel and particularly one that touched on so many of my areas of interest.

The bid session. Eddie and Chris's great presentation, the applause when we announced our guests, the buzz from feeling that peple really want us to run this event.

(INcreasing irritation at LJ increasing the width of this box every few seconds so that it's getting impossible to read all that I've written so far!)

The fantastic job done by Fifitrix and everyone else working on the con table.

The great posters that Steve Rogerson got for us (credit Lisa Konrad for the art on several of them).

The smile on Vince's face at the end of the weekend. When your treasurer is smiling, then you know you're on the curve (or slightly above it) and Orbital is off to a good start membership-wise.

The dead dog party - time to fully relax - no memberships to sell, no con to promote. Just happily drifting around the room, chatting to all and sundry, playing with poi.

I'd write a bit more (wrists permitting) but this screeen width thing is really starting to annoy me. A quarter of my text is now off-screen...
watervole: (Queen of Voles)
Feeling pretty tired today. Just recovered from a stomach bug and am bit tired from that and I've been doing a lot of committee and hotel stuff in the last few days.

[livejournal.com profile] orbital_2008 are trying to choose between the last two hotels left on our list. We looked at data for masses, actually visited 5 of them and elimanated several hotels that were good in many ways on grounds of either cost, not enough programme rooms (we're definitely planning a programme-heavy convention) or lack of available bedrooms.

The two left are both good venues and have a lot going for them, in my eyes at least. One of them is a much tigher call financially and requires us to fill a lot of bedrooms.

Trying to estimate (with a good safety margin) how many bedrooms will be booked at an Eastercon is giving me grey hairs. (bear in mind that the number of attendees is not the same as the number of people staying in the hotel, especially if you're near a large city and people can commute.)

The good news is that we've got frineds around for a gaming weekend and I've already managed to play Metro, Guillotine, TAboo, and Citadels. Lots more gaming planned for tomorrow.

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