Not going to give a con report, but I will type in all sorts of randomness, and if you actually read it, and some aspect of it strikes your fancy, I will be happy to elaborate on request.
Tuesday 8/4/2009 my car was already packed, and when I got out of work I drove over to some friends' house -- I'd be accepting a ride to the airport the following day, and leaving my car there. Brought my laptop, which I'd not be bringing across the border, in order to get some work done on my return.
Wednesday 8/5/2009 Woke up in a semi-leisurely fashion, was fed a lovely breakfast, the stuff I didn't need was left, the car was fed, and we made it to the airport with lots of time to spare (thanks Gabe!). I was flying carry-on, so I had nearly no delays. Discovered to my surprise & delight that my co-traveller was actually going to be on the same flight out as well as the same flight back. Chatting. knitting. Uneventful flight. Small airplane -- something 200 -- 76 seats. Montréal. Turns out the Aero-Bus, inexpensive public transportation really wouldn't work, so we took a cab to the hotel. Someone from my room (Dan) had already checked in so I didn't need to even scan my card (good thing). Jim & I were going to search for food. Good plan. But his first hotel room didn't work, and the replacement didn't really work either, but after a while they made it work -- less than ideal but possible. And it was a nice room. (Learned later that by getting that room he'd displaced a few parties, but I'm guessing/hoping that things got worked out. At least once I saw a sign on his room that a party had been moved. We found the convention center & 1 food place. We got there at 9:55, and since they closed at 10, they wouldn't seat us -- so we got food at the hotel. Tasty (Jim let me try his smoked meat) and overpriced, but not ridiculously so. Then up to the Reno party that was "in the con suite". (Actually it was near the elevator, far from the con suite, but thinking that was the con-suite kept me away from coming back to it for several days.) I think I was in bed by midnight -- a sad pattern I wouldn't really break.
Thursday 8/6/2009 Registration. Food? Kathleen. Tim Horton's My French Embarrassment. -- Found Jane & Phil. Found by Kathy & Zach. Many MC branded ATMs. All we tried deny our cards. Even those with Visa Logos deny my ATM card. Kathy's Guide Book recommended that on Thursdays only one could go to Maison du Kebab (Reviewed many places including here.) 820 Avenue Atwater -- Metro ride out & back and get a lamb special. Lamb shank, more rice (with fava beans) than I could eat -- I think 3 different kinds, one of which I believe was made with Saffron, and another with dill. I also chose the Dooghabali (with gas) "Sprightling yogourt beverage made with soda and sea salt". We got there about 11:30. By noon the place was full. Our waitress told us that the lamb would be gone 1:30 or 2. While we were drinking our tea at the end of the meal, by the greeting of a new customer, I realized that the restaurant was _not_ bi-lingual, but (at least) tri-. Kathy & I explore and find a bank in the Via Rail station which takes our ATM cards.
Attended 1-039: The Year In Novels. Dinner was with Tom & Tom and Melissa & ... Brian? & Jodi & ... I forget. The place we wanted was closed, so we chose a diner (McGill plaza?). I got a smoked meat sandwich & a soup. Melissa ordered Poutine & I got some. 1-127: Opening Ceremonies -- with Marc Garneau & a contortionist named Sabrina who was jaw-dropping amazing. Missed 1-117 (Filk - Chapter & Verse) for that. Stayed in the main room for 1-082 -- a conversation (on stage) between Paul Krugman & Charles Stross. I'm quite disappointed that I missed the other panel item(s) with PK -- he was wonderful.
Friday 8/7/2009 Breakfast was Dim Sum at La Maison Kam Fung (did I mention that a corner of the convention center was at a corner of Chinatown?) The food was wonderful, and the unfortunate excitement (which involved perhaps 20 EMTs) was low key. Jody Lynn Nye (very kind and gentle with a shy fan-girl) sent her regards to the spouse who couldn't be there. Even the magic money machine won't work for Dan, so I start paying him for my share of the room from what I took out. Got some scheduled filking (Freeman, Sloan, Weingart). Ran to 2-286: Trailer Park -- expecting to need to leave early, as I was meeting K&Z for dinner at 17:30 ... but it was only 22 minutes long. There was an armageddon flick (The day after tomorrow?), a Heist/Cop flick (Armored?), Astro Boy (animated -- will be out in October -- looks fun), The Final Destination? about a young man who can see the future and know how people are going to die. Looks like a lot of special effects. Another animated movie -- Planet 51, which could either be a lot of fun or REALLY dumb. Sherlock Holmes, which I think I want to see, out about Xmas -- Well, it's not your father's Holmes. And really, not yours either. I figure it's set in the same universe with the Marvel Ultimate comix and the new Star Trek. Sorority Row (a prank turns into a murder, and now _someone_, maybe the murdered girl, is killing everyone involved), The Stepfather (which will be out in October) -- looks like the man his mom married is probably going around murdering people... America's Most Wanted meets Psycho? Could be a fun diversion, but I don't think I'll go out of my way. Then there was another (animated, I think) kid movie called "Shorts" that I really think I want to see. Was surprisingly a short "Trailer Park" -- and there were BAD speaker pops throughout (so maybe it's good it wasn't longer.) I think today is the day we ran out to Schwartz's -- took the metro out, and although it had worked for Kathy to use the metro ticket on a bus the day before (a transfer?) it didn't work today, so we put the 2.75 in cash. Made it back for 2-347: From the Earth to the Moon -- more filk programming. Very nicely done. Then I decided I was going to visit the parties. Started on floor 28. Got a little green crane on my sticker from the Japanese bid. Shortly after I left, I found a little yellow one on the floor and took it. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that my green one had disappeared. Waaah. Started going down the stairs on the ends of the floors. -- I knew the parties were "only" on 28 and 5, but I wanted to check. Several floors (24, 19, 18, 17, 16) didn't open. 23 seemed to be a smoking floor (didn't think that was allowed, but I couldn't walk that floor). 8 was fancy. I felt better as soon as I stepped onto the floor. The lights were a little fancier in appearance, and I realized shortly that they were incandescent, not fluorescent. (One half of the 8th floor was locked off.) Found a party on the 5th floor where someone I knew -- Gary -- was. Chatted for a while. Great party. THEN I found out _that_ was the consuite -- not the dinky room Reno had been in. Ah. Met Carol & Peter and someone I remember as Josh, but when I described him to Jim, he told me the name is Joel. Hmmm. I think I stuck my nose into the filk room, but it was spinning, so I bought some CDs and went to bed by 1am or so. The floor in the hotel I was in where the filk was held seemed to be completely inaccessible to folks who don't do stairs or escalators.
Saturday 8/8/2009 Today started with brunch at Fourquet Fourchette -- and we're guessing it was provincial French dining. The costumes worn by the wait staff were quite attractive. We considered each (Kathy, Zach, & I) ordering a (hard) cider -- but those were 4.50/glass, so we let him convince us to instead get a bottle at $19. Cidre léger Rosé (light rosé cider) -- from Les Vergers de la Colline Rosé. Recommended. The tables were nifty, with pebbles and beer and whatnot under the glass on which we ate. Zach got the special -- a veal cranberry pasta that was quite tasty. Kathy got the Salmon Scallop salad, and I chose the Pork loin with Mushroom sauce -- the veggies were carrots, onions, potatoes, and red peppers which Kathy made disappear. The bread was yummy. The crackers were exquisite. The lettuce and fennel soup was yummy. I got to the "90 minute" bead looming session (3-123) after it had been going for an hour, and it was about done. Back to the Magic ATM, since I was giving the cash I'd taken to Dan. Took a quick run through the very small dealers room -- chatted with the Creatures From El artist. She had a simply amazing piece -- best as I can describe it -- a large Dodo, upon which stood an Elephant, upon which was a city. Maybe would have fit in a 12" X 12" X 18" (tall) box. VERY reasonably priced, and she was working on creating more of her creatures while she was hucking. Here is a picture of the Dodophant -- which doesn't do justice to the 3-D image. Also talked with An artist who had some very nice earrings and necklaces. Went to the 3-188: Spinning Yarn panel. As IF I don't already have way too many hobbies. Made it to the Heather Dale concert & bought some CDs. San Antonio is running for 2013, London for 2014, Japan for 2017. With Kathy & Zach ran out to Shambala for Tibetan food. I got a Cha Ngarmo & we split a Bho Cha. We sat on funky seats around a table -- boxes, with carpeting and tapestries and pillows... Ordered 2 of their specials and shared them around. 2 of the 3 had red &/or green pepper, but those could be pulled out. About 8 we got (a bit late) to the (*ahem*) "Clapp Family singers" concert. The songs were great (although Mitchell really should have had the grace to look embarrassed at "spies") and they all have amazing voices. Kathy & I talked to the concierge about ice cider, and she told us of a nearby place where we could do a tasting. She called & set it up, and the Kathy, Zach, & I ran out to Aszú (One of many reviews here) and got a flight of 3 different ciders, the first of which was excellent, the second of which was good, and the third of which was Just Plain Amazing. We got a cheese platter and with one of the cheeses, the 2nd cider really shone. I think with the pork spread the Amazing one was only quite good. Kathy got information on that cider. (*drool*) I think this was the day that Zach showed me how to get into the underground city -- I could get from the Delta Hotel all the way to the convention center without going outside. Unfortunately, the bit between the world trade center and the mall-thing across the street was only accessible by escalators/stairs -- but from the mall-thing one could get to the Palais des congrès de Montréal, and from the WTC, one could get to the Delta. I spent some time in the Con Suite (where I talked with Carol & Peter & Gary again), and some time in the filk room, and was in bed by midnight or 1. Didn't want to leave, but I was tired.
Sunday 8/9/2009 This morning we ran out to Patati Patata (review here) which was a ways away from the hotel on the metro, plus a great walk. Since it has 12 or 13 seats, there was also about a half hour wait before I suggested we try to get it "to go" and eat in the park. From the door we could only see the lunch menu (which was an issue for some) but once inside we could see the breakfast menu (which could not be take-out... which was an issue...) After a bit of drama (which might have precipitated 5 patrons deciding to stop reading &/or decide they were done, we got seats at the bar. My Filet de sole was splendid, the fries (I didn't ask for vinegar, just ate them salted) were yummy. The salad was amazing -- for a tiny burger joint, I didn't expect such a variety, so I didn't think to request no green or red peppers (sigh) but Kathy took care of them for me. We'd been told to get the brownies, but I'm almost glad they didn't have them. The owner/waiter suggested a Queen Elizabeth, their other dessert. When I asked what that was, I learned it was a date bar, topped with brown sugar and coconut, which he would microwave for 20 seconds and pour some cream atop. "Good" does not begin to describe what I was thinking as I savored that. At this point I am not sure where Zach went. Kathy went to get bagels at one of the Montréal bagel stores, and I hopped the metro to get back for the Sassafras concert that the original program said started at 13:30. But had I checked the filk programming, I'd have seen that it started at 13:00. Oops. But I'm glad I tried, because that 15 minutes was GREAT. Then I ran out, planning to go back to the VIA rail station to get more cash. But Anna noticed me, and as we were chatting, she mentioned that there was a close ATM. I tried it. It was right across the hall from the Tim Horton's where Kathy found me on Thursday, but we'd not tried it since it was Master-Card branded. *sigh*. So I made it back upstairs for the Stone Dragons (Tom & Sue) Concert. Kathy gave me a bagel she'd brought back for me. I think it's ... sweeter ... than most of the other bagels I've gotten. Stayed for Seanan's concert -- and as usual she was amazing. (Stone Dragons made her laugh REALLY hard (and not in an evil way) with one of their songs.) Speaking briefly with one friend I learned that his wife had not made it because for this reason and that, her passport didn't arrive in time. Great bummer -- I'd been looking forward to seeing & chatting with her. I left a Voodoo message for Jim at about 4pm. I saw him briefly after the Hugos, across the street, but couldn't find him. We'd been just-missing each other in the various places we went.
The convention center was very interesting. One wall... and some items that came in perpendicular to the wall, had colored glass, so during different parts of the day, there were different shapes of color on the floor (and the people). It was really kind of fun. Also it was BIG. Probably half a kilometer from one end to the other. At least indoor venues were all smoke free, which was wonderful. However the streets were packed with smokers, either those huddling outside of doors, or those going from here to there, and that was pretty bad on occasion.
Dinner today was with Tom & Tom & Kathy -- and a woman (Liana?) we'd not met before, but whom we'd greeted on the street. We were both trying to go to a restaurant which claimed to be open until 6 on Sunday, but at 5:30 it was already closed. While walking (separately) between that restaurant and our next choice, La Maison VIP, a Chinese restaurant, Liana's meal-mate took a tumble. She was not badly hurt, but decided not to continue exploring the city. We ran into Liana near LMV, and invited her to join us. We got an amazing dinner for between $15 and $20 each. Had we realized that the portions would be more "US-sized" and not "what we'd seen in Canada so far", we'd have only ordered 4 dishes. Liana left early to get back to 3-344: Hugo Awards Ceremony which Tom & Tom & I went to as well, but I guess she had an official duty for it and needed to be there sooner. The Hugos were nice. Later, up in the con suite (big surprise, right) I got to chat further with Carol & Peter. Carol & I spoke of filk, and it turns out she's a BIG Tom Smith fan.
Monday 8/10/2009 Kathy had left in the wee hours (I think I last saw her before 2, and she was going to be on a shuttle at 3:30 or 3:45), and Zach & Dan were still asleep when I got up & showered, packed, and headed out, laden. Stopped off at the "Liquid Nutrition" stand in the food court beneath the World Trade Center and got a "Nuts About You" -- one of the "substituts de repas" -- made with Banane, Pomme, Beurre D' Arachide, Lait de Soya, Chocolat, Miel. Only one thing I didn't recognize there, and I had to laugh at the thought of (yes, I know, but still) spider butter, so I had to order that. Attended most of the panel 5-020: World without the Intrenet. Then wandered some more. Not finding Jim, I wandered back to the hotel. About this time he went to the con suite. I went to his room and tapped. No answer. I went downstairs and hung out in the lobby. Tried to call, but his phone was off. Went back by his room and tapped. Went back up to MY room. About 11:30, I called his room but he'd checked out. About this time he went down to the lobby. I went to the con suite and hung out for a while. THEN I went downstairs, we found each other, I left my luggage and went back to the con -- out-voodooed, said goodbye to filkers and those I ran into while swinging around the dealers' room -- back to the Delta, chatted, got a cab about 12:55. Were in the airport by 13:20. Were close to our gate by 2. All the security folks and customs folks (Yeah! We got to do that on the Montréal end!) were very nice. We got hamburgers at Le Bar Sportif and then got down to our gate. Found Mark & Sharon, and a few fen we hadn't met... Paul (?) & Rosemary, and a few others we didn't have a name on. The flight was supposed to be at 15:57. We were supposed to get dinner with other friends in Detroit when we got back. The gate said it was delayed until 16:45. I got a coffee for Jim and a Chai for myself at Second Cup. Learned that Minneapolis is going for 2015. We were in line to be sure all was going to be ready - and the person in front of us kept changing his request as best as we can figure. 2 or 3 times she'd printed out tickets which got ripped up as he said more. He was probably there for between half an hour and 45 minutes when another gate attendant arrived and took care of us. At one point in time the overhead summary of flights said we'd depart at 19:20, the announcement had said 19:41, the new gate said 19:45, the internet said 19:33 (changed to 19:55 just before I called the people we were no longer meeting for dinner with status)... The airplane that was supposed to fly here from Detroit had developed mechanical problems so they had to bring a different plane in. Then (at 18:58) we heard an announcement that there was a computer failure (some of us heard in Montréal, others in Toronto) that meant that planes would be leaving at the rate of one every 5 minutes. Then the stores started closing. Learned that Continental allows carry-on bunnies. After the plane for Cleveland (which had been where Rosemary & Paul were going FROM Detroit, so this is better being only one hop -- but which would probably get them there 5 minutes after their flight home left) left, the Detroit plane was brought in pretty quickly. There were about 19 of us on this plane, and we were all bunched up. The guy next to me moved across the aisle, and I then moved down to the first row to sit near Jim. Megan, our flight attendant didn't mind, but reminded me that I needed to belt my carry-bag in next to me since I couldn't stick it under the seat in front of me. It was a good flight, if a touch bumpy on occasion. I got the honey roasted peanuts, the pretzels, AND the cookies I hadn't gotten on the way out -- quite delicious -- they're really a slightly soft ginger snap and VERY tasty and an entire can of coke. We were on the ground by 10pm. Found the luggage area... but none of the carousels were moving. Eventually someone figured out that all the luggage from our flight was behind the lost luggage area. Another line. Jim had his luggage by about 11pm. He offered to drive me to my car, which was not terribly far from where he lives. Got there just about at midnight, so I crashed.
Tuesday 8/11/2009Slept. Fed. Showered. Drove home. Napped. Realized that I forgot my laptop that I left at G&A's, expecting to have some time to catch up yesterday. Realized that I still have my hotel key. (Yes, I will mail it back.) Have been typing this for the last 3 hours. Now I need to get started on reading my work-mail (because after a week gone, it'll take me many hours to go through), maybe exercise, get dinner, and go to class. Maybe tomorrow I can see what I've missed in fb & lj. I just don't think it'll happen today. I'd normally leave work in less than an hour, and I'm currently further away from class than I am when I'm there.
So yeah... home safely, 5 pounds heavier. Woefully behind in mail and anything internetish.