chipotle: (furry)

For those of you who (a) aren’t following and (b) care, I’m using my FA account more, and have added a couple new stories—including a heretofore unseen rewrite of a much older story. Now available are:

I’m likely to update with more stories soon, although I don’t have an explicit schedule. I also plan to update here with info about Claw & Quill’s development soon, too, which is slow but not stalled. (Other web development contract work is taking priority at the moment, due to the whole “needing to get money” thing.)

chipotle: (Default)
For those interested, I uploaded my story "The Narrow Road in Morning Light" to FurAffinity.

There's still, uh, three days to nominate it for an Ursa Major if you haven't. :)
chipotle: (furry)

It occurs to me that I never mentioned that I have two stories nominally eligible for the Ursa Major Awards this year:

If I can, I’ll put up links to online copies of both stories a bit later.

chipotle: (Default)

I haven’t done an update for Claw & Quill in a bit, but I did promise I’d make occasional ones. This will be the last “open” one, though—if you’re interested in seeing future highly-occasional progress reports, you’ll have to ask to be put on the filter. (Those of you who asked last time should already be on it.)

Now, on with some detail... )

chipotle: (furry)

Short report: best convention I’ve been to in years.

Longer report... )

chipotle: (furry)

Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech featured some thoughts from Jason Calacanis, founder of Weblogs, Inc. (Engadget et. al.) and Mahalo, on branding. Craigslist, the venerable classified ad service, blocked a site called Craigsfindr which searched all of the Craigslist sites at once. From Craigslist’s standpoint, it doesn’t matter that this is “adding value” to their website—they don’t want somebody scraping their data and taking it out of their sandbox, period.

This led to discussion of why, in the past decade, somebody hasn’t built something “better” than CL. One can argue that the Web 1.0-ness of Craigslist is a feature, not a bug, but it’s not hard to imagine genuine improvements to the searching and cataloging functions, not to mention the potential benefits of a (moderately) open API. So why hasn’t that happened? To do a rough transcript from the episode:

Jason: In order to get people to switch a service, it’s going to require hitting them somewhere between three and seven times with a marketing message, it’s going to require having a product which is 50%, 100% better. You can’t just make it 10% better. There’s zero switching cost, theoretically—you just type in a different domain name—but it means you have to market the heck out of it to displace it. If someone wanted to start “This Seven Days in Tech” and it was a show that was twice as good, it’s gonna take them a couple years to do it.

Leo: Thank God! […] Didn’t Tom Peters say that a product, to supplant another product, has to be not twice as good, not three times as good, but ten times as good as an established brand? You know what you have. Why take the chance unless I can see a significant improvement? And Craigslist does the job.

I couldn’t help but think about this in relation to some discussion I’ve been in on two friends’ journals recently, which those of you who read some of the same LiveJournals I do will have no doubt seen—the discussions about art archive sites. It was asserted that the “Big Brand” in our fandom isn’t very good. It isn’t: the software is slow, fragile and under-featured, and one might argue that spending $16K in donations on a new system with three single points of failure is, shall we say, sub-optimal. So why, my friends asked, aren’t better alternatives succeeding?

Honestly? I think Laporte and Calacanis nailed it. Here’s my own takeaway bullet points; visualize PowerPoint slides if it feels more Web 2.0 for you that way.

FA provided the right service at the right time: they took the deviantArt model of a gallery merged with social networking (home pages, blogs, comments, watch lists) and targeted it squarely at this fandom. It turned out a strong demand wasn’t being met. Whether or not you think FA met it well, before they started nobody else was meeting it at all. Yerf was dead, FurNation was in shambles, VCL remained state of the art for 1994, and dA was perceived as hostile.

But in barely more than a year, everything had completely changed; when you have no competition, going from zero to majority market share is easy. Anyone post-FA doesn’t have that opportunity. A “competing” site has to succeed at what Calacanis outlined above. Are any of them?

  • “Significant” improvement is subjective, but the responses I saw suggested that by and large people didn’t feel the new sites were two or three—let alone ten—times as good as FA.

    • ArtSpots is, to me, the best gallery site both technically and in terms of “added value” service, but it’s made a conscious choice to limit its content in both form and rating. I don’t see this as a problem, but limits are limits. If you’re a writer, AS isn’t even under consideration; if you’re an artist who does both all-ages and mature work, you can just put it all on FA.

    • The wincingly-acronymed Furry Art Pile has an innovative approach to organization, but based on what people were saying in discussion, “different” isn’t translating to “better” for most people. It may not be translating to worse, either, but just being different isn’t good enough.

    • YiffStar has an art gallery in addition to their story archive, and they also have a second domain, AnthroStar, which essentially filters the porn out. (Did you know that? I didn’t either, but that goes with the next “slide” about marketing.) But there’s no compelling technical reason to switch from FA to YS; the gallery features seem less about expanding YS’s audience than about expanding the services for their existing audience. That’s a big audience, mind you, but so is FA’s—and my comments about FAP three bullet points down apply here, too.

  • Back to Calacanis: “hit [the audience] with a marketing message” means getting a banner, an AdWords ad, a press release, something that makes the case for checking the site out in front of people’s faces, and “three to seven times” means just that: you can’t just do it once or twice, you have to keep doing it. You might object that in this fandom word of mouth is the real advertising, but two points. One, there are places to advertise just to the fandom, from web sites to con books. And two, if the discussion here or on [ profile] tilton’s journal was the first time you’d heard of ArtSpots or FAP or AnthroStar, what does that say about their name recognition?

And last but not least, two personal observations:

  • With the exception of YS, all of these sites—even FA—are comparatively new, and as outlined above, FA has a tremendous “first mover” advantage now. Even if FAP did everything right it would take years to build up significant mind share. And even though it’s doing some seriously cool technical stuff behind the scenes, FAP’s interface and marketing could both use work.

  • FurAffinity has positioned itself as allowing erotica without explicitly (ha!) promoting it. By contrast, FAP says: hey, we know you’re really here for the porn, have a front page full of tags that sound a touch fetishy even when you’re not logged in and seeing the really “adult” stuff. Yes, I know that the audience for porn is huge—but from a marketing perspective, “we have everything including porn” trumps “we have porn and also clean stuff.”

So here’s the two million-dollar questions, figuratively speaking:

  • What would a site have to offer to be better enough to get people to switch?

  • What would be the best ways for that site to get sufficient name recognition to bring in the switchers?

chipotle: (furry)

Those of you attending Further Confusion may be interested to learn that I have a story in the program book, called “The Narrow Road in Morning Light.”

It is a samurai story, it involves wolves, and it has a frontispiece by [ profile] haikujaguar.

That is all.

chipotle: (Default)

So, the first real day of Anthrocon has passed. It’s gone well—I shouldn’t say “surprisingly well,” since it’s not as if I was expecting it to go poorly. I’ve met most of the people I’d expected to, even if in some cases I’ve merely run into them a couple times, and in a couple cases not even had time to introduce myself. Even so, I’ve hung around with a few interesting people, met a couple of them in person for the first time, and even been given an advance copy of the new Dirtbombs CD by Internationally Famous Rock Star™ Mick Collins.

It’s amazing—and maybe even a little disturbing—how much the city’s rolled out the red carpet for us. The staff of the “Steel City Diner” near the con hotel is wearing Anthrocon T-shirts they had made for them. Fernando’s Deli is running a con special. I’ve heard, albeit apocryphally, that last year Pittsburgh computed the economic impact to the city of the con at $3M. If so, this year I’d bet it’s on track to be $4M—on Thursday, there were 2500 people registered for the con.

Me being me, of course, I’m also here for the food. I did some research on restaurants to try; I found a few well-regarded upscale restaurants nearby (including the “Sonoma Grille” in the very hotel I’m staying at, which I find perversely amusing). Tonight, everyone I might have gone to dinner with seemed to vanish off on their own, and nearly always to Steel City—so I decided to go off on my own. On a typical whim, I decided to go off to a restaurant which wasn’t on my list but which sounded more interesting to me: Six Penn Kitchen. It seems to have the California approach to cuisine, by which of course I mean sprouts on everything. No, no, I mean a focus on local ingredients and food styles, reinterpreting them creatively. And it was definitely creative: a chilled watermelon soup drizzled with blueberry puree and basil, and dinner of a roast pork shank, crispy on the outside yet falling apart on the bone, sauerkraut bacon mashed potatoes, and a serrano applesauce. Even the drink I had was pretty creative: a “spatini,” Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka, lemon sours, fresh cucumber (yes, really) and mint.

So what happens tomorrow (later today, but who’s counting)? Well, I have a badge I’ve commissioned from [ profile] cooner, and I may try to get another sketch or two, depending. I have a collection I feel like I should buy from SofaWolf, even though I think I’ve read several of the stories already (they’re from the writing group).

On the off chance someone reading this is at Anthrocon and wants to get in touch with me, if you’re on my friends list you can SMS me through LiveJournal—and I’m wearing a moderately obvious name badge, too.

chipotle: (furry)

So. Back from AC. I’m all but expected to give a convention report, but I’m not all that good at such things. Short form, though, it was a great con. One of the best ACs I’ve been to in years.

Yes, the convention center was big, and they weren’t perhaps making the best use of space—although I don’t know how much of that really had to do with the convention center’s assignments and such. Finding a way to better utilize the skywalk between the hotel and the center would be a great thing.

Having gotten the requisite nits out of the way, it was just a helluva lotta fun. Random highlights, not all of which are directly related to the con:

  • The Sofawolf party, and hanging out with people I don’t see very often. This included the Germans who actually, like, remember my old stories and are still fans, and who also kept plying me (and anyone else who didn’t actively resist) with Jaegermeister. It was also amusing watching [ profile] unclekage act as Crux’s de facto agent for a bit.

  • Getting badge art from Ursula Husted, one of the relatively few times I’ve (gasp) gotten a small comission done at a con.

  • Meeting [ profile] kereminde and [ profile] malkith0 for the first time, and Missy Vixen and Miateshcha’s players again.

  • Being subject to [ profile] krdbuni’s “Iron Author” contest as a judge of horrifically bad stories, yet again. (Wait, this was a highlight?)

  • Dinner with [ profile] jadedfox at Tonic, the surprisingly good restaurant and bar right across from the hotel.

  • A long random conversation with Wendingo, who I only know in passing online but who was pretty cool in person.

  • Being amused at how, well, visible the con was in Pittsburgh. Despite pot shots from a few bozos (I suspect mostly spurred by the morning bozo radio show that [ profile] reality_fox heard), the considerable media attention was fairly positive, and some businesses stayed open just to catch convention attendees.

  • One of those businesses was a sandwich shop a block away from the hotel. In addition to having great food for the price, they have entertainment, sort of: while we were there a (non-congoer!) guy angry that the “restrooms for customer use only” was being enforced broke off the valve lever from one of the soda machine spigots. A clerk spotted this, shouted, and three of them chased the vandal onto the street and pummeled him as he fled.

  • Flying Midwest Express. Despite the godawful time I had to leave Monday morning to fly out, it’s the best airline experience I’ve had since, well, airlines actually had service. (Remember that?)

There are complaints I’ve seen that AC is just “too big” for you to see everyone you want to see. Yet you don’t have that frustration at a smaller con precisely because not everyone you want to see is there. I saw [ profile] cargoweasel, [ profile] animakitty, [ profile] bluedeer and a few others entirely in passing (in fact, with Anima, I believe it was after he passed by that I thought, “Hey, that was Anima,” and I never saw him again!). My favorite smaller furry con has been Conifur Northwest, but since they screwed the pooch this year,* maybe I’ll consider something else—depending on budget, which is going to take a while to recover from the spending over the last month, though. (I’m spending money like I have it.)

On the plane ride back, I read an advance copy of [ profile] ursulav’s novel. Not a graphic novel, but a prose novel. I’ll write more about that later, but for now I’ll just say I’m pretty impressed.

* While I understand they had difficulties with the hotel, they knew they’d have to switch from the 2006 hotel before the 2006 convention. Given that we’ve seen other cons in similar circumstances figure out something other than “damn, gotta cancel,” it’s hard not to suspect the con committee just dropped the ball on this one. (And let the ball roll under the sofa. Then set fire to the sofa.)

chipotle: (furry)
I've made it to the con hotel, after a day of flying. Midwest Express is as good an airline as its reputation says it is; a flight with their "Signature Service" -- like the second flight, from Kansas City to Pittsburgh -- is pretty fabulous. First class seats at coach prices.

The shuttle driver from the airport knew about Anthrocon. It seems everyone knows about Anthrocon. I'm not sure whether this is encouraging or frightening.

The Westin Convention Center Hotel so far has been the letdown of the trip: the room I have has two twin beds. I haven't seen anything that tiny in years. The free wifi appears completely broken, for reasons I haven't been able to debug yet. (I've noticed that when it thinks I'm trying to use the "premium" $6/day wifi, or if it has cookies left over from hooking up the $10/day ethernet cable [but not paying for it], the hotel intranet sections I can reach suddenly become surprisingly snappy. I hate to sound like I think they're making the free service deliberately suck ass to make you break and buy the premium service, but,well.) I'm online right now because someone in a nearby room has an open wifi network that works.

On the mildly bright side, the convention center area appears full of little restaurants, even in the hotel itself, and -- assuming I can get online -- I'll research more. The Pittsburgh skyline coming into the city over the river was surprisingly pretty, and what little I've made out of the downtown area so far has looked nice. We'll see.
chipotle: (furry)

Yes, I’m going to be at Anthrocon. I won’t be in until pretty late on Thursday; I’ll leave irritatingly early on Monday. I’ll be staying at the Westin (the convention hotel). If you’re looking for a way to get in touch with me, IM or e-mail—both contact methods are in my LiveJournal user information, and I expect I’ll be checking even during the con on occasion.

If you’re looking for me at AC, as usual, the most likely place to find me is: wandering. I’ll go to writing panels, and if there is a suitable place to camp out in the lobby I’ll be there. If there is a lobby bar, I will likely be there in the evening.

No real news beyond that to report. I’m plugging away slowly on various personal projects, most of which have been documented here before already. I’m thinking about taking up another stupid project relating to one of the existing ones. And I’m trying to get somewhere on a story I’ve been trying to get somewhere on for months.

Shameless quick commission request: If anyone who’ll be at AC knows Chipotle (the character) and would be willing to do a color name badge I could pick up sometime Friday, I’ll have the money. I’m just terrible at getting right to the dealers’ room at the opening to try to get a commission request in ahead of the fifty other people trying. :)

chipotle: (furry)

I’ve referred more than once to Ted Sturgeon’s original “Revelation,” the one where the famous “ninety percent of everything is crud” maxim came from. Sturgeon wrote at the time that the revelation “was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition.”

Furry Fandom is twenty years old now (at least), and my involvement in it runs nearly two decades. I, sir, am no Ted Sturgeon, but I sure am weary of the attacks. I am tired of being told that furry fandom sucks now and that it’s at least indirectly my fault. And, yes, even though that’s never the way it’s put, when the argument follows the basic framework of the fandom is full of problems and nobody in the fandom will lift a finger to solve them, I take it a little personally. That’s framed as an indictment of everyone.

Long, long essay ahead. (It's been building for years. Really.) )

chipotle: (furry)

A few months ago, I mused on reviving Claw & Quill and later on furry writing in general. At the end of that article I threatened to do a follow-up. It’s been a moderately long time coming, but it’s also—well—moderately long. This is a talk about “zines” both online and off, what’s good and bad about them; a survey of what exists in furry fandom specifically now (at least, what I’m aware of); and finally, a few thoughts about the future.

What it doesn’t have is a description of just what I’m thinking of for C&Q’s potential revival. In part this is to see what other people’s comments are on this, and what suggestions they might have. In part it’s also not to tip my hand openly, either—after all, I don’t have anything built yet, and I neither want to give people great new ideas for features to implement on their sites, nor to make promises for things I discover I can’t deliver. (A few of the ideas in the back of my mind are, as programmers would say, non-trivial problems.)

Long essay: get coffee. )
chipotle: (furry)

I’m sitting in the hotel’s lobby—well, I can’t really say after Further Confusion since it’s still going on, and I’ll likely be back tomorrow after work for the “dead dog” party. I’m debating whether to go to one or two of the final panels.

It’s been a good convention for me, staying pretty relaxed. I’ve met a few people I only see once or twice a year (including some locals, who I have less excuse not to see). A few random thoughts and observations:

  • I don’t want to declare the print fanzine completely dead, but I think it’s on its last legs. Yarf! had no table this year, Huzzah! officially closed in 2004; South Fur Lands was still around but looking thin. Sofawolf’s serials (as opposed to their books) still nominally exist, but now they’re being at-most-annuals, similar to FurNation’s eponymous magazine.
  • Furry art is continuing to get more professional, in both appearance/quality of the art and the approach of the artists. There’s still a lot of cheesecake,¹ a lot of “not ready for prime time” stuff (both skill and content), but the median level now is higher than it was a decade ago, and the high points are much higher.
  • An hour ago I was talking with Mick Collins and said, “Sometimes I feel like the cons I attend now are for a different fandom than the one I started in.” He said, “They are.” Some day it could be interesting to try to catalog just what the changes are. (Maybe.)
  • It’s remarkable how nonchalant the hotel staff is when a bunch of costumed characters are (mock) fighting in the lobby.

I rarely buy a lot at these cons. This time, I bought two prints from Heather Bruton, and at a bit of prodding, Michael Bergey’s novel New Coyote, which I’ve read a little bit of in the author’s LiveJournal.

I also heard through the grapevine that the artist GoH this year, Eric Elliott, liked Why Coyotes Howl, and mentioned it at a panel. Pretty cool.

At this point, I’m going to keep sitting in the lobby and seeing who comes by, I think, possibly grabbing someone for dinner. I have an arguably unhealthy temptation to go to the steakhouse here at the hotel, which is said to be quite good, but I’ll probably make my saving throw.

(1) The observant will notice that one of the two prints I bought is, in fact, inarguably cheesecake. If called on this, I can only respond: neener neener!

chipotle: (Default)

I’ve worked on ESM some more, finally adding the missing claim program that will let people set their homes in the guest house. This means that, while it’s not yet ready for prime-time, I can start quietly ferrying people over there soon. There’s still work to be done, from the somewhat broken weather system to the transit system, but I can’t get other people actually building adventuring areas unless they’re over there. I must reach the point where I am not the blocking input!

I’d intended to write about the weekend, particularly the Saturday spent with [ profile] dracomistle and Mirage, but let time slip away from me. We went to the Bittersweet Cafe, a chocolate shop that’s something like a coffee bar but for hot chocolate, and later ended up at Oliveto for dinner. Both were wonderful places, and Oliveto is certainly the best Italian restaurant I’ve been to. Between this and the previous expedition to the Chabot Science Center, I can definitively say there is, indeed, a there in Oakland.

So what have I been doing other than work and ESM? Hard to say, but I appear to be working on a new story. I don’t know yet, as I haven’t found the story for it—I just have a setting percolating, which connects back with an earlier setting I never fully developed, and a character in mind who’s as yet a mystery. It’s hard science fiction, which is unusual for me, and while it has what fans would call furries, they’re a bit of a slant on the idea. The setting is just brimming with, to borrow a phrase, sociopolitical ramifications. I’ll see if this goes anywhere. I’d really like to corral my muse into working on a serious piece again; it’s been… well, we’ll just say far too long, and leave it at that.

I haven’t really been preparing much for the convention, and I know some readers tend to have allergic reactions to people writing excessively about cons. So. Some of you I’ll see tomorrow or the next day, and some of you I won’t. For those of you who’ll be there, I may sitting in the bar working on bleeping story notes.

chipotle: (furry)

I’m seeing a flurry of “how to spot me at Further Confusion!” posts in my friends list on LiveJournal, and references to other posts that yet other people are writing.

I’ll be there at random points, tentatively:

Day  Chance of Coyote
ThuShort evening appearance
SatAll day
SunMost of the day
MonEvening, maybe

As most of you know I live in the area, and I haven’t taken any time off from work. I may see if I can knock off early on Friday, but we’ll see.

How to spot me, you ask? Oddly enough, I’ll have a badge that says Watts on it. I may have another badge that says “Chipotle.” And when I’m not wandering the dealers’ room or visiting a panel (as usual, I’m not on any this year), I’ll have a PowerBook and be sitting in the bar, seeing if people wander by in friendly fashion.

chipotle: (furry)

While I got some interesting comments on my post on the 13th, none of them were actually on the questions I posed. While I’m going to circle back to my own questions, I’m going to muse for a bit on furry fandom’s oldest lament, nobody appreciates the writers.

But maybe writers don’t appreciate the fandom. Or reach much of it—let alone beyond it. )
chipotle: (Default)

So. I have this web domain…

The original idea of Claw & Quill was to be an edited magazine, but it ran into two long-standing bugs in my personal software: one, I’m more interested in being a builder than a maintainer; two, I don’t delegate well enough to make sure that balls I set in motion keep rolling if I’m not behind them pushing. I’m working on ways to address the second one in the Excursion Society MUCK: simply, there are 3-4 other people I’d like to approach as wizards, and the goal is to set up a system that keeps any of us from being “blocking points” on outstanding tasks. While I had ideas on how to do that with C&Q, too—the biggest idea one being bringing on one or two other editors!—I deliberately pushed it to the wayside this year. (One of my other long-standing bugs is taking on too many projects simultaneously, so one of my resolutions earlier this year was to start serializing them. I’m also starting to learn how to serialize the projects into discrete actions a la Getting Things Done, but that’s a subject for another message.)

While ESM remains my main delayed project for the moment, I’m hoping to give it a “soft opening” in January, which means it’s going to be time to start thinking about C&Q some more. The big thought is: what is it going to be?

The two obvious choices are another run at an edited magazine, or some kind of fiction archive, perhaps to supercede the Belfry Archive that [ profile] revar started years ago. (Since I think the only thing Revar put in there are stories I wrote, I don’t feel too bad suggesting a theoretical replacement.) However, I’ve joked that I have a good habit of recognizing niches that should be filled but a bad habit of trying to fill said niches myself, rather than getting somebody else to do it. Hence, things like Mythagoras, furry fandom’s first “semi-prozine,” which was pretty damn cool if I do say so myself and established several other firsts: first furry zine to have newsstand distribution, first furry zine to publish a Hugo-winning author, first furry zine to be penalized by the tax board. Go us! But if this didn’t lay groundwork, maybe it at least inspired people, like Sofawolf Press, for instance—what they’re doing is what Mythagoras could have done with people running it who were serious about, well, running it.

And on that front, 2005 has seen two interesting things… namely, somebody else doing an edited magazine, and somebody else doing a fiction archive. The former is Quentin Long’s Anthro, a cousin of his bi-monthly TSAT transformation fiction zine. The latter is FurRag, Osfer’s ambitious project to develop an archive site with extensive user-driven filtering capability:

Rather than having a different archive for every set of preferences, there ought to be one single collection which can easily be filtered down to the stories that interest any particular user. As FurRag’s technologies are rolled out, it will come ever closer to achieving that goal, allowing all stories a place in one massive archive whil [sic] allowing readers to easily filter away what doesn’t interest them to get at what does.

So, I suppose the questions for me are:

  1. Is there a third way to present furry/sci-fi stories that isn’t either of those two models?
  2. Is there a way to make a hybrid of the two approaches? If so, what would it entail?
  3. Is there a slant I could take that would differentiate Claw & Quill from either of those attempts (or others that may be out there already)?
  4. Can I come up with a good justification for “competing” with either of those sites? What would it mean to be substantially better in this context?

To share my sketchy bullet points:

  • The “furry but not in a way that scares non-furries” approach I’ve tried to take in the past
  • A site that would be a “moderated archive,” like Yerf! was for art
  • Featured stories that would be put on the front page like a magazine, possibly with illustrations (and possibly with payment!)
  • A user interface I haven’t defined yet, but whose ideal is what Apple mostly gets right: visually pleasing, intuitive, and with “scalable power,” i.e., new users can figure out what to do immediately but advanced users don’t feel patronized
  • Ruby on Rails Ajax tags Web 2.0 blah blah blah
  • The other editors I’d thought of for C&Q version 1 might not be off the hook, depending on their interest next year

While I’ll be chewing on this for a while, I’d like to get other input on this from folks. Critiques on my ideas, critiques on other people’s ideas, answers to my questions, all those things that will intimidate me when I try to get going on this in a few months.

Addenda, 8pm: One of the future plans for FurRag is to have “reviewer” roles, where users can follow lists of stories a reviewer thinks are worthy. I presume this will be something like iTunes’ mixes or Amazon’s lists. It’s possible for C&Q to be a FurRag list, in effect combining forces rather than having two separate sites. Good, bad or neutral? I have my opinion on this and my reasons, but want to hear others!

chipotle: (Default)

So I’m back from Seattle, back from Conifur. This was more of a foodie heaven con than most I’ve been to, thanks to [ profile] shaterri and his willingness to shuttle me around and to show off places he likes. In addition to Ray’s Boathouse mentioned in my last entry, we also hit Salty’s on Alki for a Saturday Brunch, Shaterri’s favorite bakery (“The Essential Bakery Cafe”) for Sunday breakfast and, Sunday night, the Dahlia Lounge, a place I’d heard of that specializes, appropriately, in Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Something you often hear in various fandoms is “PCD,” or “post-con depression,” when you’ve come down from the frantic high of just being running around the damn con for three days and are missing that level of energy and camraderie. I used to get mild-to-moderate PCD, particularly after SoCal cons, in the early ’90s. Sometimes that was for the con, and sometimes it was for the area. I haven’t had that feeling much in years, though; between “seeing” people online regularly, generally taking it easier at cons, and–yes–just getting older, cons aren’t frantic stretches from which the reality of normal life seems a let-down. They’re vacations, to be sure, breaks from that reality, but I usually return feeling somewhat recharged and relaxed.

This time isn’t an exception to that–I took this con very easy, to the point where the con itself was almost irrelevant. Beyond getting to say hi to the folks I mentioned in the last entry, I didn’t do very much con-related: attended a few panels, went to the art show, caught a couple of performances, blah blah. I do feel recharged, tempered only slightly by having to have woken up before five this morning in order to catch the 6:45 flight back.

But I have a more acute sense of melancholy upon returning this time than I have in many a con.

So it’s not PCD in a normal sense–it’s not about the con, it’s about the area, the people. I’m reminded of coming home after a convention out here, where I am now, over a decade ago and writing in my journal (which was then a collection of text files I kept privately–yes, I’ve been doing this a long time), “I need to move to California.”

Overstated, to be sure; I arguably did pretty well lingering in Florida another eight years. Yet that stretch left me with copious “what ifs” about what might have come from following any of the opportunities I’d had over the years to risk such a move. (While not everyone I knew who came out here pre-dotcom is sitting pretty now, more of them are better off than I than are worse off than I.)

So I certainly don’t need to move to Portland or Seattle. About a year ago, I wrote about seasonal affective disorder, and I know more than one person–including my mother–who’s convinced, without ever having been near the PNW, that they couldn’t live there because it’s “always grey and rainy.” And there’s something to that; according to climatologists, Seattle has the dubious honor of showing up in top ten lists like “least number of clear days,” “greatest number of cloudy days” and “least percentage of possible sunshine.” (In addition to the PNW, upstate New York and Pittsburgh consistently suck.)

I’ve never been able to decide if I’m a sufferer myself; it’s easy for me to get mopey about a grey day, but, hell, I get mopey on clear days, too, and the appeal of sitting in a nice heated room sipping hot chocolate and looking out at cold weather is mysteriously heightened in an area like that. (You can fake it in Florida if you sit around Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, but your sun room won’t cut it.) And, as Portland’s tourist bureau trumpets, the rain in the PNW makes the area very lush.

So is this a roundabout way of saying that I’m planning to move to Seattle? No–but it’s a way of acknowledging that the attraction to the area, which started at a Conifur years ago, isn’t fading at all. I’ve liked the Northwest each time I’ve visited, and I definitely need to visit more.

chipotle: (Default)

So I’m seeing more and more references to Second Life these days; apparently, SL is the new black MUCK, replacing all that stuffy old text with 3-D graphics.

Musings on adventure games follow. )


chipotle: (Default)

February 2018

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