Friday, August 30, 2013

World Con Day 2 - Hi-Diddly-Dee, a Geeky Life for Me

Ok...  My intention is to give everyone out there, particularly my fellow members of the tribe who couldn't make it to this conclave, a taste of what is happening in here at the San Antonio WorldCon.  So, here's what's happening.  
Lots and lots of geeky fun.  
You want details?  Oh, sure.  You could have just come down and joined in the fun, but Ok...  Here it is.  
Panels.  I went to three of them yesterday.  Here's the breakdown:
Space Medicine: This was a good one, well moderated and with people that knew what they were talking about.  I learned some stuff which I didn't know before, like that it takes each astronaut about 2 hours of exercise a day to maintain what muscle and bone mass they return to Earth with, and that some of the bone loss is not recovered.  And how big a habitat would have to be to generate an apparent 1 gee of gravity if spun (150 feet in diameter at a rate of 4 revolutions per minute).  It also gave me basic questions to ask myself when considering the position of a ship's doctor, assuming he didn't have things like tricorders, but did have 3D printing.  
Contaminating Other Worlds: A panel about what we should be doing to make sure that microbes from Earth do not contaminate probes sent to worlds like Mars and Europa.  This went beyond the scientific issue of not contaminating the research designed to determine if these worlds harbor life.  I discovered that there is a segment of the community that believes we should, for moral reasons, leave these worlds ecologically pristine if it is determined that such life exists.  They were opposed by the majority of those attending the panel who believed we should exploit these worlds for man's benefit by about 5 to 1.  The ration dropped, though, to about even when the question presupposed that the life discovered could be proven to be completely alien, without any connection to the DNA based life here on Earth.  My favorite turn of phrase was from one of the panelists who said, "We should back-up our biosphere in another location."  Never heard the case for terraforming Mars put that way before.  
Just a Minute: Not so much a panel, but a game show.  Four panelist, which included writers Connie Willis, Mur Lafferty, Emma Newman and Locus Editor Gary K. Wolfe are asked by moderator Paul Cornell to speak for a minute, "without hesitation, deviation or repetition," on topics "My tame unicorn is..." or "My newest Hugo Catagory would be..."  This was a hoot.  A whole lot of fun.  I think they're going to do it again later in the convention.  I'm going if they do.  An example of what happens was when Connie Willis hit her buzzer challenging Emma Newman after she was going on, quite well, about her proposed Hugo Category about One's Most Embarrassing moments at a convention.  When asked by Paul Cornell for the basis of her challenge, Connie replied, "Because Emma said before she started she wasn't any good at this!"  Connie lost her challenge and Emma gained the point.  
Beyond the panels, though, there is all sorts of interesting things happening.  
Like discovering with my friend Jo Rhett that our method of finding stories is similar.  His stories all come from his dreams, where mine come from little events in my life that glom on to other events to build and grow in my head.  
Or talking with a somewhat inebriated Japanese woman about the importance of Kaidan, ghost stories, to their culture because of a belief that the souls of the dead continue to live as long as they are remembered.  After that, I accidently walked into a memorial party for a married couple that had passed away within the last year.  
"I'm sorry..."  I tried to back out of the room.  "I didn't know them."  
"That's fine."  The woman, sister to the departed wife, took my arm and lead me inside.  "Come and remember them anyway."  The echo of those two moments is still sounding in my head.  
And there was the experience,  before the Just a Minute panel, when I passed Emma Newman walking toward me THREE TIMES in the halls of the convention center before I recognized who she was.  She made a striking appearance in her black dress and floor length scarlet coat.  The third time I felt like asking her if she were a time traveler stuck in my continuum.
We shared an elevator ride to one of the parties and I told her about my encounters with her.  She told me she was "desperately looking for a cup of tea," because she was so nervous about appearing on the Just a Minute panel, but that all the cafés at the center were properly closed up.  She asked a policeman on his beat outside the center if he knew of any place she could get a cup of tea. 
"Well," the policeman replied in his Texas drawl.  "You sound a long way from home, little lady."  
"And then I realized," Emma said covering her face with her hand.  "I'd just turned myself into the ultimate British cliché."  
And then there was getting my picture taken with George R.R. Martin.  
Yep.  It's good to be a geek.  Especially here are WorldCon.  


Anonymous AnnD said...

Thanks for sharing Erick, it evokes that certain surreality that is Worldcon nicely.

August 30, 2013 at 9:23 AM  

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