I had an absolute blast running the consuite at ConFusion this year. All my schticky bits went over well - people were nostalgic about the Space Food Sticks, the Moon Pies have featured prominently in people's con reports, and the Tang Daquiris and Tang Screwdrivers were happily consumed. One window got an excellent moonscape treatment, and people enjoyed writing random graffiti on the other ones. Mylar makes the best tablecloths - they looked really, really cool and didn't show stains!

I was a lot more relaxed about things this year than last year - I knew I had an excellent crew in place, and they didn't let me down! Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] dlacey, my fabulous second in command, and the rest of the official staff: [livejournal.com profile] nubianamy, [livejournal.com profile] annaoj, [livejournal.com profile] tanac, [livejournal.com profile] lutzethesweeper, [livejournal.com profile] jer_, Keith and Wyn. The equally valued but unofficial staff included the absolutely indispensible Matt Fanny, and volunteers extraordinaire, [livejournal.com profile] cjdoyle and [livejournal.com profile] jenx. And then there was Sara Shurmer, who was going to run the smoking consuite up until that tanked, and instead helped out in a variety of ways.

I didn't see much of the rest of the con, but from everything I've heard, it was all great! Our attendance was up by at least 10%-15%, mostly all of them young people (late teens, early twenties) who found out about us when we hosted the consuite at Youmacon this year. They added an incredible amount of energy to the convention and made it one of the best cons in years, in terms of the atmosphere. On Saturday night I didn't get to bed until 4:30 am, because the consuite was so hopping into the wee hours that I didn't realize how late it had gotten! Another cool thing coming from all the new faces was that not all of them were white faces. For a convention held in Detroit, ConFusion has been really non-diverse. There are 3 black people, and you know them all. It was great to see that start to change.

I'm really excited about the direction the con is going, particularly since I've thrown my hat in the ring to chair ConFusion next year. I'd offered to do it before I decided to launch my new business, and I've decided to follow through on that offer even though it will mean that I can't move as quickly with the new business. I'm looking to line up 2 or 3 "conchairs-in-training" who I'll work with through the year and hopefully be able to pass things off to at the end of it. And of course I'll be looking for people to fill various concom positions - let me know if you're interested in helping out!


Jan. 17th, 2007 10:00 pm
I have way too many things to do, and too little time to do them.

I have all the ingredients I need to make jambalaya for the Mardi Gras party. I was planning to do that tonight, but I'm just too wiped out. So first thing tomorrow morning, I guess.

Other things:

  • Take Liam into daycare and then come home and round up all the random bits of things that I need to take to ConFusion.

  • Write a letter authorizing my stepmother to take Liam to Canada.

  • Get my shopping lists organized and printed out.

  • Make up signs advertising the Mardi Gras party and the two last minute tasting events we're putting together to take advantage of the new concierge space.

  • Go to Trader Joe's and buy wine and things for GoH gift baskets and stuff for the GoH-Concom gathering tomorrow night.

  • Head out to the hotel and start putting the room together for the gathering.

  • Drive to the airport to pick up my stepmom, then drive back to Ann Arbor and pick up Liam.

  • Come home. Probably pack then, if I don't get it done earlier tomorrow.

  • Once Eric gets home I'll head back out to the hotel to host the gathering, then try to crash early, as we head out for the big shopping run at 9 am Friday morning.

After that it's go-go-go until it's all over.

Apparently we got a big surge of last minute pre-registrations, and are up to 450 pre-registrations. In 2005, pre-reg accounted for 50% of memberships, and in 2006, it was 58%. If those percentage hold true on this number of pre-regs, we would expect between 775 and 900 registered members. Last year we had 700 members. So this could be a sign that we are in for a big attendance year, or it could just mean that more people are pre-registering. Unfortunately, it's impossible to predict which at this point! Should become clear pretty quickly on Friday, though. I will be prepared to do extra shopping and come up with some even cooler stuff in the consuite if it turns out we exceed our attendance projections.
Yes, January is a long way away, but it's good to start thinking about these things early.

I will be running the consuite at ConFusion again. Unlike last time, I'm only in charge of the main consuite - smoking consuite and Green Room have their own heads. Anyone on my flist planning to attend ConFusion and want to be on my staff? [livejournal.com profile] dlacey - you were an amazing second last time, are you up for working with me again?
So, I took off early from Penguicon this morning so I could get home to see my baby before his nap. It's going on 24 hours since we last nursed, and while it's not yet uncomfortable, it is noticeable. But I came home to an empty house, his grandmother having taken him off somewhere.

Penguicon was a good time. Different people have different opinions as to how well it achieves its goal of co-mingling an SF con and a Linux/Open-Source Expo. Is it chocolate and peanut butter, as the organizers would have us believe? Or chocolate and anchovies, which is what [livejournal.com profile] eviljohn thinks. The jury is still out. But the hotel, while quite dingy and rundown, has a really great layout for a convention, with a big atrium space in the middle and lots of glass windowed atrium rooms ringing it.

I made one quick pass through the pathetic dealer's room, had my brain croggled by Zendo in the gaming area, and attended the Buffy Horror Picture Show on Friday night (the Buffy musical episode done Rocky style with a live cast - it's totally fabulous). Other than that, I mostly hung out in the ConFusion room party, which I was helping to host. Overall it was a perfectly adequate party, and at times raucously fun and amusing (Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance!), but I feel a little bad for kind of "phoning in" the party. We have a great theme for the con this year - Moonbase ConFusion - and none of us really got our act together to play that up at all for the party. I didn't know if I was going to be able to go to Penguicon until fairly recently, and even after that it was unclear who was actually in charge until nearly the last moment. Ahh well - we'll aim for better schtick for the ConClave and Youmacon parties in the fall.

I realized that my time sense is totally skewed since having a baby. 9:30 at night seems so late - like I need to hurry up and do stuff because the night is almost over. I had to keep reminding myself that there were hours yet to go. (And there were - I got to bed at 2 on Friday and 3 on Saturday - nearly unheard of these days.)
So, I posted this last weekend, but since a few people who I know were looking for it didn't comment, I'm thinking it may have gotten lost in weekend LJ backlog.

Anyway, I've posted it over on conrunner.net, for anyone who's interested.

(Ignore the stuff at the bottom of the page - [livejournal.com profile] netmouse had created the page for me because I was having trouble, but by the time I got my content up there someone had already put stuff up that really shouldn't be on a page called "Sample Shopping List." So I just put mine on the top, and hopefully the admin will come along and move that other stuff to a more general page. I'm wiki-imparied, or I'd do it myself.)
Well, some of you, anyway.

I finally got all of the ConFusion receipts and have put together the master list of food that I purchased. There were about 720 people at the convention. This list is mostly for consuite/smoking consuite. It includes some things that were shared with green room (they got portions of the lunch meat, veggies, etc), but not things that were purchased specifically for Green Room. The following list represents $2,875 of the $3,377 I spent. The rest was on rental of beer equipment, paper supplies, food/drink supplies for the special events (beach party, Howard's wake), additional Green Room expenses, decorations, the Thursday night concom-GoH gathering, etc. Of the $2,875, I spent 40% on drinks (soda, juice, water), 19% on alcohol (beer, hard cider, wine), 23% on "real food" (sandwich fixings, fruit, veggies, cheese), 10% on snacks (chips, pretzels, candy) and 9% on breakfast food. The drinks total includes deposit on the 2,564 returnable soda cans we purchased - so we'll get some of that money back when I get around to returning the cans that are sitting in the cube (must do that soon, definitely before spring!).

Without further ado... )
So as I said, Friday night I mostly spent feeling like I was running behind. Saturday morning I woke up early (of course), but at least that gave me time to catch up. I reorganized all of the food storage so that things made sense and it was easier to see what we actually had, then started developing restocking lists. I went to Meijer to pick up the things I needed there, and meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] dlacey started counting soda, figuring out how much we'd used so we'd know how much more to buy. Then it was off for another trip to Costco, where we only filled one flatbed and one shopping cart, and were able to load everything into Matt's full size rental car.

Late in the afternoon I realized that I forgot to buy foam cups at Costco, and we are nearly out. So off to Mejier I go, with Erik V. Olson in tow. We picked up a bunch of different things, including more wine for Saturday night. We went through 8 bottles on Friday, so we bought 4 more assuming consumption would be the same on Saturday night. And ended up running out of wine at 11! Oh well. We also bought two hot rotisserie chickens, to bring back to the consuite as a special treat. As you'd expect, they were a big hit.

We did a bunch of things like that throughout the weekend. One of the reasons I think people liked this year's consuite so much was that we had a lot of variety. When looking at shopping lists from previous years, I could see that they'd spent about the same amount of money, but only on a few things. So they had carrots and broccoli for veggie trays, where we had carrots, broccoli, snap peas, cucumber, peppers, and grape tomatoes. Mostly budget neutral, but much more interesting. I bought a 3 lb package of pre-made guacamole from Costco, and we doled that out Saturday afternoon. Instead of buying a big jug of mediocre salsa from Costco, I spent more money on that line item and bought 7 or 8 different varieties of salsa in the regular size from Meijer. At any given time we'd have 4 or 5 available to choose from - extra spicy, green, black bean and corn, etc. Tortilla chips are cheap to buy, so you want people to eat them instead of the more expensive options, and this gave them a reason to do so. And was one of the main ways that I tried to add some "Tammy style" to the offerings. I did the same thing with mustard, having 6 or 7 different options there too.

I got comments from folks that they liked that there was always something different when they went into the consuite. Sure, you might be bummed that you missed the chicken, but you were there when the leftover shrimp ring came up from Green Room. Etc. I bought two big rounds of brie, and put quarters of those out periodically throughout the weekend. We cubed up the other varieties of block cheese that we bought, and I found that it didn't go as well that way, so next time I would keep those in bigger pieces and let people cut their own.

In the mornings, we had cereal, bagels, danishes, muffins, granola bars, poptarts, juice, etc. We ran out of milk for cereal on Sunday, and I ended up paying the hotel $12 to buy 10 little 8 oz containers of milk. Around 11 we'd put the breakfast foods away, and start putting other things out. At noon and midnight each day we put out lunch meat and cheese for sandwich fixings. And we kept out peanut butter, jelly and marshmallow fluff for sandwich making any time of night or day. At Diane's suggestion, we also had soup. The Cream of Broccoli that we put out on Friday got mostly ignored, so thought the soup idea was a failure, but the tomato soup on Saturday was much more popular. For fruit we had apples and bananas and clementines and oranges, and kept out a variety at all times. Veggie trays were another constant feature - no coming into the consuite and only having junk food to choose from. Things like cheese and hardboiled eggs and such came out every hour or so. We had a big 5 lb jar of animal crackers that got completely devoured by Saturday night, lots of Oreos, some Milanos, two bite brownies and some quickbreads. That was another example of buying a small amount of something, but having it go a long way - I bought one package of three quickbread loaves (banana, poppyseed, something else). Once on Friday night and twice on Saturday, we'd cut up a loaf, put it on a tray with some of the brownies, and we had our special thing for that hour. We had M&Ms, Mike & Ikes, and Skittles (it's important that candy choices not be individually wrapped, like Hershey's Kisses or Reeses - they make too much mess).

I ended up having to make one last shopping run to Costco on Saturday afternoon, when we realized that our soda buying quantities from the morning had been too low, and we were definitely going to run out if we didn't get to the store. Don't know what happened to all of our Diet Coke drinkers - they drank 5 cases of soda Friday night to Saturday morning, and maybe only another 5 all day Saturday to Sunday morning. But Paul bought up all the extra flats, so that was okay. As I thought, soda buying was my real challenge for the weekend - with almost no numbers to go from, I really had no idea. Now I've got the big spreadsheet, so it'll be much easier for other people in the future. I pegged the water nearly exactly - we bought 20 cases (of 35) to start, then 5 more cases on Saturday morning, which was a little too much, so we ended up with 3 cases leftover. So much for all the people that were looking at me like I was crazy when I talked about buying that much water!

Saturday night was pretty relaxing for me. I'd finally gotten things organized, and all the shopping was done, so I was free to enjoy myself. I went down to the masquerade, visited some room parties, and hung out with Eric for a little while. But mostly I was still bopping around the consuite, keeping things clean and tidy and stocked. Which leads me to staffing. In terms of staffing, I had a shift supervisor scheduled in four hour blocks for every hour of the day. On top of that, we had requested a volunteer for each hour (although we didn't always get one, particularly on Saturday night and Sunday). From 7pm to 3 am on Friday and Saturday, we had a bartender staffing the kegs and wine. On top of all those people were Diane and myself, who spent nearly all of our waking hours in the consuite. While we did occasionally trip over ourselves, for the most part, I found that having that many people was also a big asset in keeping things running smoothly and keeping things clean and stocked.
So, for those unfamiliar with the space, the ConFusion consuite is made up of a central hospitality parlor, and an adjoining room on either side. I made a few key changes to the space usage this year that greatly improved the flow. For the first time, we split the soda, putting the regular soda in the bathroom of the left hand side room, and the diet soda in the bathroom of the right hand side room. This meant we didn't have to stock tubs as often and could have a better variety at any given time. Also, the main room has a built in bar right as you enter. This would seem the obvious place to put beer, wine, etc, but it means you end up with a big crowd right at the door and people can't get into the room easily. So we moved beer and wine dispensing into the right hand side room. In addition to improving the flow, all of these changes also encouraged people to use the side rooms a little more than they had previously.

Another big change was in the space where the food gets laid out. I managed to get them to remove the big dining table, so we were able to create a U along the outside of the space with a cocktail round in the middle under the chandelier so people couldn't bonk their heads. We used a 6 foot table under the window, and 8 foot table between the seating area and the food area, and a four foot desk we moved from one of the adjoining rooms to fill in the space between the six foot table and the built in bureau. This gave us lots of space to lay out food and for people to be able to access it easily. Keith Kurek set up some computer monitors showing pulp magazine covers on top of the bureau, so we could have had even more room if we'd wanted/needed it.

We used the bathroom area in the main suite for prep and storage. There's a roomy hallway leading back there, so we put one shelving unit there and another in the closet. We stacked some boxes in the bathroom itself, used the bathtub for cold storage, and had a few things behind the bar in the main room. It was tight, but we managed, and there are other bits of furniture in the room that could have been used for storage if necessary.

The left had side room, with the regular pop, we coined the Beach Room. We had some ambitious decorating plans, but Chris ran out of time getting lights up, so we weren't able to do the patio lanterns in that room. But we did wrap most of the room in a 50 foot long, 4 foot tall, plastic sheet printed with palm trees and the like. Friday night we had a Beach Party in the beach room - we played surf music (thanks to Erik V Olson for burning me some CDs), Wyn and Matt mixed up blender drinks, and we handed out leis as the door. We ran it for just about an hour - it was a good party and got people in good spirits to start off the convention. It got off to a messy start when I knocked a container of drink mix off the table and it cracked open, spilling pina colada mix all over the floor. But we got it cleaned up in time, and the coconuty smell just added to the ambience, right?

The right hand side room, with the diet pop and the beer, we thought of as the bar. Cause, well, that's where the bar was. It had rope lights in different colors around the ceiling, as well as big 4 foot tall sillouhettes of jazz musicians. We removed the beds and most of the other furniture from the room, and put in 3 small cocktail rounds and chairs, as well as a classroom table along the wall for the beer. It was a little crowded, but mostly worked well. During the day on Saturday we used that room for readings. I had originally suggested to Jeff that we hold a couple of Literary Beers Saturday afternoon - basically a Kaffeeklatch with beer instead of coffee. What I ended up with was all of the readings for the weekend being scheduled in the consuite, which was NOT what I had in mind! We moved out the Friday night (do you see now Jeff how that just *wouldn't* have worked!) and the Sunday morning ones. The early ones on Saturday were okay, but as things got busier and noisier in the main room of the consuite, some of the authors were having a hard time hearing themselves read. But because half the soda was in that room, we couldn't just close the door. If we do something like this again next year, it should go back to the literary conversation idea, not a formal reading.

We had a couple of other events too. Saturday night we held a wake for Howard DeVore. I'd guess we had about 60 or 70 people crowded in to the main consuite to drink Jim Beam and tell stories about Howard. During the 45 minutes that was going on we closed the main door of the consuite, and routed people directly into the side rooms to get soda, which worked really well. Sure did get hot in there, though!

Saturday morning I scheduled a "Stitch and Bitch" and invited people to bring their needlework, etc and hang out for a couple of hours. It wasn't tremendously well advertised - it was in the program book and I sent it out to a couple of email lists before the con, so I was really pleased when 6 or 8 crafters showed up and worked!

In the early hours of Sunday morning we hit upon a great event for next year - ToddlerFusion! Between about 8 and 9:30 am, 80% of people who came into the consuite had a baby or toddler in tow. I think it would be great fun to schedule it as an event and put out some toys for the kids to play with.
As I was lying down in elevator lobbies and the like on Sunday morning, I was telling people "Don't mind me, I've been standing since Thursday" and that was mostly true. I got out to the convention around 1 pm on Thursday, and Chris Wurtsmith and I discussed the decorating plan. Chris has hundreds of strings of Christmas and other lights, and I recruited him to jazz things up for us. We used the 3-M Command adhesive clips, which worked great and didn't hurt the hotel wallpaper in the slightest.

I'd hoped to put a good dent in my shopping on Thursday, but I spent far too much time dithering about the room setup. I did get out to Meijer, so I could get the portions of my shopping list that I needed to get from there, some things [livejournal.com profile] celticmom1967 needed me to pick up for KidFusion, as well as supplies for the party after the concom/GoH dinner. Got back to the hotel and got things all ready for the gathering, then we headed off to dinner. I was between Author GoH Vernor Vinge and Fan GoH Chuck Firment, with Science GoH Mitchell Burnside-Clapp seated across from me, which made for interesting dinner conversation to be sure. Towards the end of dinner I started not feeling well and just started feeling worse once I was back at the hotel. By then my ConSuite head, [livejournal.com profile] dlacey, had arrived, so I passed things off to her and headed off to bed around 11. I'm really glad I did that. Even though I was only able to get about 6 hours of sleep, I felt much better in the morning and was able to head into the weekend something less than fully exhausted.

Woke up Friday morning intending to get off to Costco early and get that shopping run out of the way ASAP, only to get online to get directions etc and realize that Costco didn't open until 11. I also realized that I'd neglected to get a check from [livejournal.com profile] rmeidaking on Thursday night, so couldn't actually pay for things at Costco. Roxanne wasn't expected to arrive until 1, so I made arrangements to have her meet me there when she arrived, figuring even if we arrived right at 11, it was going to take two hours to do that much shopping anyway. Meanwhile, Diane and I met up with [livejournal.com profile] rikhei at GFS, and grabbed the items we needed from there. Unfortunately, they did NOT have the pre-hardboiled and peeled eggs at that location. So I called (and woke up - sorry!) [livejournal.com profile] elizilla, who had not yet left Ann Arbor and agreed to stop and pick up a couple of cases for us. We picked out our meat and set the deli guy to slicing it for us, but he wasn't done by the time we finished our other shopping, so I sent Rikhei and Diane back to the hotel with what we'd already picked up, and I went off to Trader Joes.

At Trader Joes I got a case of wine, 3 different bottles of four $4.99 wines, including this really nice Spanish wine I'd enjoyed a couple weeks ago. Plus some cookies as a gift for the hotel front desk staff. Back to the hotel to meet Matt Fanny, who had agreed to drive the big rental truck to Costco for me. Didn't get out nearly as promptly as I'd hoped, in part because of discovering that we'd received a bunch of donated food, including 4 or 5 flats of 60 individual bags of potato chips! As well as some crackers, cookies and 3 jars of marshmallow fluff. And the same person was offering to get bread for us for an Aunt Millie's warehouse near her house for 39 to 89 cents per loaf! All very cool, but figuring it out took time, so we it was after 12 before we got on the road to Costco.

Roxanne met us there, and she, Matt Fanny and I started working through the shopping list I'd made. I was really happy to have done the pre-research that led to the shopping list, because it was very fast to just buy instead of also shop, and as long as I was only buying what was on my list, I knew I was on target for my budget. We filled two flatbed carts (one with soda, one with water) and 3 or 4 large shopping carts! I'm planning to post my shopping list once I've had a chance to update it, so you can all see the crazy quantities!

It was about 2:30 when we got back to the hotel. So much for the consuite opening at 3 pm... I recruited some early arrivers to help us get things set up, and we were pretty much up and running by 4 pm. But I spent much of the rest of the evening feeling overwhelmed and behind. We were still decorating the beach room after the consuite was officially opened, but that had to get finished, because the beach party was scheduled to start at 10.

But that will have to wait until another post.
The convention seemed to go off really well. It appears that attendance was up, both in terms of bodies on site and total memberships. Despite that, we didn't make our room block - couple of different things contributing to that, but it seems likely that economic conditions saw more people commuting or room sharing. Luckily, we negotiated a good attrition clause with the hotel, so it's not going to cost us that much money.

I can't actually report on much that happened at the con, because I spent nearly all of it in the consuite, leaving only when I had to go to the store to pick up more supplies. I can say that the consuite rocked, and I'm not just tooting my own horn, because lots of other people told me so. The masquerade was great - they had 10 people compete in Junk Pile Wars (1-hour costuming panel) and had to turn away 5 more! And then they also had 15 entrants to the regular masquerade. Lots of great superhero costumes in honor of Bubbleman. Around midnight Saturday night I get someone coming up to me in the hallway asking if I know how to get in touch with [livejournal.com profile] talyen, because someone from the hotel was trying to shut down the dance. Krysta wasn't answering her phone, so I went down to see if I could help, only to find [livejournal.com profile] netmouse and [livejournal.com profile] elizilla already there. Three (former) conchairs versus one hotel night manager - poor guy didn't stand a chance. (Turned out there was some miscommunication to the banquet staff, and they thought they were supposed to reset the rooms at midnight in preparation for the next day.)

But that was about the sum total of my non-consuite-related convention activity. I'll post my consuite related thoughts separately, since it's going to take me more time than I have to write up.
Well, things appear to be coming together as well as they can be expected to. I realized in time that the person who had offered to make my beer arrangements and I hadn't connected as well as we should of, and that no beer had yet been ordered. So I made a couple of calls to the same suppliers we used last year. From Leonard's Syrups, I got two "SuperDraft" beer coolers systems. Then I called Danny at Starr Market to hook me up with beer and cider. "Okay, baby, no problem. I got you covered." There's nothing like ordering kegs of beer from a man with foreign accent who calls you baby. Woo-hoo. I feel like I've completed some right of passage. Now the big question - send someone else to pick up the beer, or meet Danny myself? Hmmmm...

Meijer had a sale on potato chips this past weekend that made them cheaper than I could by from Sam's Club, so I bought 20 bags of potato chips, carefully bringing them home in boxes so they wouldn't get crushed. Corn chips and pretzels and other crunchy salty snacks will be purchased at Costco, along with a whole heck of a lot of canned soda. I did buy a few cases at Meijer - the unusual varieties that Costco doesn't carry. Also got the blender drink mixes there, since they were also on sale. Still need to get rum for the blender drinks and Jim Beam for [livejournal.com profile] bighoward's wake.

Thursday morning I'll stop at Trader Joe's before I head off to the hotel to pick up a case of cheap but interesting wine. I have no idea how much wine to buy, but I figure that's a good place to start. Thursday afternoon we'll start setting up the room and decorating, and I'm hoping to get some shopping done that day as well. If nothing else, I need to pick up a few things for the gathering that follows the GoH/ConCom gathering.

Initial indications look like attendance might be down a little, so I'm planning to buy low and do a restocking run on Saturday. Weather for the weekend looks good, so I won't have to worry about not being able to get to the store, like last year.

I sent out the schedule of who's working when. Smoking consuite is still woefully understaffed, so I'm going with my no alcohol, minimal munchies plan. The advantage of that is that I'll be able to have two different beers plus cider on tap in the main consuite.

Tomorrow I need to call Panera and place my order for 18 dozen bagels. But I think that's the last thing on my to-do list, outside of the last minute shopping bonanza.
ConFusion is coming up really quick. Less than a week away now!

I've got a shopping list that I'm pretty happy with, I think. Got two years worth of receipts to look over - neither of which managed to include the soda buying information I was looking for. So I'm going to use my best guesses, and return cases as necessary. But I got some good ideas for quantities of other things.

[livejournal.com profile] rikhei came out shopping with me yesterday to pick up decorations for the Beach Room and the Bar. We got a 4 ft tall by 50 ft long "scene setter" for the beach room. It's plastic sheeting with a beach scene to wrap the whole room in. Should look pretty cool. And leis and umbrellas for the beach party on Friday night.

The response from my smoking consuite staff recruits has been utterly underwhelming, so I've pretty much decided that I'll do a scaled down smoking consuite - no alcohol, minimal food, just pop and munchies, and if people want more substantial stuff they can come upstairs. That way I can run it just with a gopher to make sure they don't set the place on fire. I'm sure I'll take some criticism about it, but I think it will be much more manageable this way. I don't think they need to be separate but equal.

I'm sad so many of you won't be there this year, but hopefully it will still manage to be fun. We're flying Liam's grandma in to babysit for the weekend, so Eric and I will be on our own - that's pretty exciting, although I'll be busy running hospitality.
The good news - Costco is cheaper than Sam's Club on almost every item I need to purchase for the ConFusion ConSuite. I felt I needed to do the cost comparison, because if we could save a huge amount by shopping at the place of evilness, then I at least needed to consider it. But I'm very happy I don't have to. Costco has a slightly lesser selection of soda than Sam's, but a much better selection and better quality for some of the other items on my list. Now I just need to figure out which items to buy from Costco, and which to buy from Sam's. And to investigate further the delivery option described in the Costco membership book, because that could be extremely useful.

The bad news - I need to develop a shopping list, and I'm feeling woefully unprepared for the task. This should be a solved problem - people have been running ConSuites at ConFusion for decades now - I really shouldn't have to be figuring out how many cans of soda to buy!
As mentioned in my earlier insomnia post, I'm running Hospitality for ConFusion, which includes Consuite and Green Room. I'm looking for a few (or many) folks who really enjoy throwing a party and would like join my staff team. When it's done well, ConSuite isn't just a place to grab a soda or a bite to eat, it's the social center of the convention. Here's the bar we're striving for this year - I want ConSuite to win the party contest! To do that, I need cheerful, enthusiastic, friendly people who'll help create a warm, welcoming and fun environment.

If you're coming to ConFusion (January 20-22, 2005, Troy MI) and would like to help out, comment or email me.

Even if you're not coming, or can't work, I'd love to hear your ideas, or stories of when you've seen a ConSuite really shine. What's the best ConSuite you remember? What made it so good?



Apr. 23rd, 2005 08:52 pm
I'm posting from the ConFusion party here at Penguicon. I volunteered to host the party, because it lets us put Liam to sleep in the adjoining room but still stay up late to socialize. Things are going okay so far. Last night's party had a couple of periods of busy-ness, but otherwise was pretty slow. Tonight we organized a bunch of people to come to the suite and eat pizza (inspired by doing this at ConFusion, organized by [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha et al), and it was wonderful. That gave us a cluster of people early in the evening, but I people have already started drifting away, as the Buffy floor show and dance and stuff get started.

Liam's having a good time and has been in pretty good spirits. Not surprisingly, thought, the convention is messing with his sleep cycle. Last night he woke up and didn't want to settle back down in the pack-n-play - he's used to having someone in bed with him after a certain time at night. Eric was tired so went to bed as well, but Liam still didn't settle, and the party was slowing down, so I closed the party and joined them. But by that point he'd been up long enough that he decided that it was time to be awake for real, and I spent the next 3 hours trying to get him to sleep. Not fun. Had I known, I could have kept the party open and just brought him out with me! But at least he slept in - until 8:30, anyway...

His naps were late today, so we're just trying to get him to sleep now. I nursed him and walked around with him and bounced him in the bedroom in the sling for a while, and now Eric is taking a turn. From the sounds over the monitor it seems he's had a couple of false alarms. If we get another one I'll go swap in with him and see if the mommy touch will help.

Edited to add: I think this is a very positive article. Yes, it focuses on the parties and the costumes, and makes some minor errors (astrologer<>astronomer) - but it makes the convention sound like it was *fun* and that's the kind of coverage that we want. So please - no more letters to the editor complaining! You should see the stuff that gets written about other conventions - this is really good!
The Stilyagi Party we hosted with [livejournal.com profile] shadowriderhope last night went really well. We had a good crowd of people, but since we were in the common house could have fit many more. The gamers took full advantage of all of the tables, and when I was there there were two tables of Settlers, one of Scrabble and one of poker. Plus a crowd of people in the sitting room, and clusters around the food table, of course.

Liam went to bed at the usual time and we just took the monitor over to the common house with us. I love that we can do that - having a baby that goes to bed at 7:30 doesn't feel nearly so isolating that way! He's got yet another cold, so he woke up pretty frequently, poor little guy. I nursed him back to sleep at 10:30, but when he woke up again at 11:30 we knew he wasn't going to go back to sleep well, so I went to bed myself. Which is just as well, given that he had a pretty miserable night and we were up a lot.

Did some smoffing, of course, it being so soon after ConFusion there was still lots to talk about. The official debrief meeting is next Sunday. Speaking of ConFusion, I'm almost finished doing the data entry for registration, so I'll have stats to report later. Here's the preliminaries: attendance was down a smidge, as we knew it would be with all the snow on Saturday. Looks like we had 707 registrations, with a warm body count of 685. For comparison purposes, last year we had 758 registrations, with a warm body count of 723. Not bad, all things considered.
[livejournal.com profile] jeffreyab has created an LJ community for discussion of Stilyagi and ConFusion. You can find it at [livejournal.com profile] stilyagiaircorp. Speaking of LJ, and ConFusion, and giving credit where credit is due, I should mention that the LJ stickers I handed out at the convention (and which a couple of people have mentioned in conreports) are the brainchild of [livejournal.com profile] daedala who gave them out at her LJ party at Minicon a couple years ago and was kind enough to share the template with me. Between the ones I gave out and the ones [livejournal.com profile] devon gave out at the LJ meetup, there were probably about 75 people tagged!

After ConFusion, [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha's B&K came back to Great Oak for dinner and to spend the night in the common house. B had been to GO before, but K had not, and since she has an interest in cohousing we thought we'd take advantage of her being in the neighborhood to check us out. It being Sunday after the convention, however, we were all of us tired and worn out, so it was a pretty subdued visit. Not to mention that it was damn cold, and GO is much prettier in the summer when you can see all the fabulous gardens. K headed out on the train in the morning, connecting up with the rest of the TrainFusion crowd leaving from Troy.

The other reason for the staying over was that B had a speaking engagment at Wayne State University in Detroit on Monday night. Although [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha B and I have been friends for a couple of years now, and I was one of the 100 or so people who got to read bits of his latest book as it was being written, I had never actually had a chance to see him speak. So in exchange for playing chauffeur, I got to tag along to the talk, which was a lot of fun, even though the audience was a bit slow to warm up. I dropped him off at the airport hotel on my way back to Ann Arbor. This was only the second or third evening out I've had since Liam was born, so that was a luxury in and of itself, even if I did have to drag my pump along. Luckily the bathroom had chairs and conveniently placed eletrical outlets.

Back to ConFusion for a moment - as is par for the course, we were planning for next year's convention even before this year's was over. I've been jonesing to run consuite at ConFusion for a couple of years now, and hopefully next year will actually see that happen! Liam will be a little older but still needing his mom quite a bit, I expect, so I've been instructed by the heir-apparent conchair [livejournal.com profile] rmeidaking that I need to have a strong second. There's also some talk of me having a sort of Division Head role overseeing Hospitality, which would include main consuite, smoking consuite and green room. Which obviously makes a lot of sense from a resource allocation and cooperative shopping stance. I'm really excited about the possibilities.

And now I really should get back to work - between my sick day last week and my vacation day yesterday, I'm waaaay behind and scrambling to catch up.
Excellent ConFusion this year. [livejournal.com profile] netmouse, you give *good* con. And [livejournal.com profile] talyen - you put together one amazing program this year - go you! Many other people deserve props and congratulations, of course, but you two the most.

I got to the hotel midday on Friday and, with the help of the most excellent Kristie, managed to get registration set up and open by 3 pm as promised. My plan worked well - I had enough volunteers working at all times (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] thatguychuck) that I could just sit back, observe and troubleshoot. There were only a few problems to troubleshoot, mostly data entry errors that I made and that were easily corrected by double checking emails that had been sent to me. The registration system we use onsite is paper based - designed by myself and [livejournal.com profile] brendand after I'd seen too many computer based systems crash and burn. Its priorities are to be a) extremely fast and b) capable of giving an accurate count of how many members there are at any given time, and it accomplishes those with some elegance, IMNSHO. But I'd designed it in theory and had since then had three other people implement it - this was my first time working with my own system, and I observed a few things that need a little tweaking. To save myself the hours and hours of back end data entry (the problem with a non-computer based system), I got a bunch of it done on-site, both by myself and volunteers.

Getting adjoining rooms with Scott and Sue and Alex was a really good plan, as it let us trade off watching the sleeping babies, and meant only one person had to be stuck in the room at any given time. Friday night Eric took the early shift so that I could get registration changed over to Ops and see a few parties before coming on duty (aka, going to bed) at 11:30! Those of you who know me at conventions will know how much it hurt to do that. All those people who say that having a baby changes your life weren't joking. Unfortunately I slept like crap. I fell asleep pretty well and slept from 11:30 to 1:30, but then I was awake until 3:30, whereupon I got out of bed and made myself a chamomile tea. I got a couple more solid hours of sleep between 4 and 6ish, and then slept fitfully until 8-ish or so. Liam, however, stayed asleep until nearly 9. The fabulous Kristie orchestrated the reg transition from Ops back to the desk in time for our posted start of 9 am.

But it's not like we needed to rush. With 12 inches of snow falling during the day on Saturday, you will be unsurprised to learn that Saturday registrations were down. We usually get somewhere between 100 and 150 people who don't show up until Saturday. Frankly, I'm amazed we got as many as we did - by the end of the weekend the raw registration count (which includes some people who don't realized they are already registered and do it again) was 724. But it should have been closer to 800, so the weather definitely hurt us.

Even with the slightly lower numbers the con was busy and bustling. During the day I mostly hung out in the lobby with one eye on registration, chatting and talking with folks. Liam enjoyed meeting his many internet aunts and uncles and was his usual cheerful self, although he was getting a little tired of being held all the time. Saturday night we coordinated with the [livejournal.com profile] minnehahas and some other folks to order delivery Thai, since no one was willing to drive out into the weather. That worked very well and we enjoyed a convivial dinner in the suite that was being shared by the CFG and Minicon crews for their room parties.

Saturday night [livejournal.com profile] sueij took the early shift, which meant that Eric and I got to wander the con together, baby free, for a couple of hours before she went to sleep. Luxury! We had a couple of opportunities to do the "Oh my god, we lost the baby" routine when people commented on us being together and baby free. A little after 10 Sue went to bed, so Eric went up to watch Liam until my bedtime at 11:30. I had hoped to be able to extend it until midnight, but Liam woke up inconsolable and only mommy would do. But we both slept well - I think I may have gotten 4 contiguous hours, which would be a record since his birth.

Sunday I oversaw registration for ConFusion 2006, hung out in the lobby, chatted with folks and smoffed - already planning for next year! It was a nice relaxing day. Attended the gripe session, which was almost all positive feedback - hooray. The hotel continues to be wonderful. The only serious incident of the weekend was that the Saturday night naked hot tubbing went too long - last year the hotel management sent someone round just before the pool's posted hours began. That didn't happen this year, so a dad and his child got an eyeful when they showed up at the pool around 6 or 7 am. Oops.

I got to see little bits of lots of folks, never managing to spend as much time with them as I'd like, of course - [livejournal.com profile] kgkofmel and [livejournal.com profile] erikted in particular.

Liam is very happy to be home. He's been burbling away happily in his play room since getting up today.

I'm sure I've forgotten important or interesting things from the weekend, but I'll post them as I think of them - this is already getting too long.
Home from confusion. Had good time. Tired now. More later.



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