July 21st, 2014


And About That Customer Service, Marriott...


Detcon 1 is history, but there's a lot to process. And I have photos from the Nikon D1H and the D100 to edit and upload. Panels seen and been on to talk about.

I was determined NOT to miss the 2014 NASFiC. And while my restrictions cut down on my usual con activities and wanderings -- missed the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the Consuite, the Dealer's Room and all the parties -- by gum I did what I planned to do and Detcon 1 went pretty damned well for me.


I want to get this out of the way: Checking in and checking out were problems.

Some of you may recall that I jumped on room reservations the day they opened in January. There's 70 floors in the Marriott Renaissance Center and one of the options was to request a handicapped accommodation room. Now back in January, I expected to be doing Detcon from a walker, but I had only just started back to work after my long recovery and some hotel room bathrooms are a real challenge so I figured a handicapped room would be useful. Understanding that the request was just that, a request, I also put in my usual note that I'd prefer a room near the elevator.

So we got to the Ren Center, got the valet parking, had our luggage put on a cart and went up to 3 to check in. I handed over the printout from the confirmation email.

They were surprised when I mentioned a handicapped room. They had no record of that. I pointed out the line in the email. The clerk went off. Would we take a king bed rather than two queens? Sure. Gone again. I sat down on my walker, as I am supposed to be off that left foot as much as I can. At one point three or four people are conferring.

Finally, no dice. They offered a complimentary meal as compensation, we asked about the 3x$25/day valet parking. They waived two of those. Parking in the parking structures would have been more than $25, so that was a plus.

Then up to 3, picked up our badges and payed the rental on the wheelchair. Now we had a walker and a wheelchair, but when I was in rehab I got good at pushing a walker while being pushed in a wheelchair. Complicated fit in the elevator. But we got up to 38.

Naturally, in a round tower, room 3814 was just about exactly halfway around away from the elevators. So much for a room by the elevator...

The room otherwise was acceptable, but our luggage did not arrive, did not arrive... Mrs. Dr. Phil called down, they said they'd get back to us... Pushing an hour since we arrived and FINALLY we got our possessions. Our check in room number hadn't been passed to the bell captain by the desk. Or something like that.

On Saturday we asked if our checkout could be 1pm on Sunday and not noon. I had panels from 10-noon and we also had to return the wheelchair... They said call Sunday morning. Sunday morning at 9am, the word was that the whole hotel was turning over and they couldn't possibly give anyone the extra hour.

Well, we managed to get a bellman with a cart, load our things -- repacked so that my black bag wasn't completely overloaded -- and got my walker with the cart. Went to panels, then downstairs to 1, and I sat in a chair while they went for our cart, valet got the Bravada and Mrs. Dr. Phil returned the wheelchair. Oh, while waiting in line we found out the guy ahead of us had requested a 1pm checkout and gotten it.

Eventually we hit the road.

The one gentleman who worked the front door luggage and the bellmen were heroes Thursday and Sunday. Customer service elsewhere, it needs some work.

Dr. Phil

Proof of Life in Detroit

Yup. We really were at the Ren Center in Detroit this weekend.

It's Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Phil on Friday outside Program Ops just before my reading. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Al Bogdan (All Rights Reserved)

Everyone gets a badge and a program book. We also snagged three free books -- by picking the numbers 13, 17, and 7-no-3! at panels. Merrie Haskell won the inaugural YA novel award, but for another book. Got 'em signed, too. The Dove chocolates were for my Sunday morning panels. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Some of the smart kids publish pictures out of their hotel rooms. Well, 38th floor and a helluva view.

First country south of Detroit? It's Canada, across the St. Mary's River. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The Detroit side of the shore. The privately-owned-by-wolves Ambassador Bridge is in the distance. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The view west, or rather a bit northwest. Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, is somewhere beyond the building on the left -- actually, if you click on the full 6MP image, you can see a bit of the park and a picture of a giant baseball mitt next to a blue Comerica Park sign -- very small.. We couldn't see them, but Friday and Saturday nights we heard the fireworks after the game and could just make out the flash reflecting off the buildings. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Al Bogdan, friend since the Clarion 2004 workshop and roommates at the 2008 Writers of the Future XIV workshop, took the picture of us at the top of the page. Having long been a yearbook photographer junior high to post-college, I am well familiar with the concepts of, you never see the photographer and if do, their face is blocked by a camera.

Thursday night at the Opening Ceremonies, the obligatory picture of Al Bogdan behind his camera. He was all over the place working for Detcon. I'm shooting the Nikon D1H in black & white mode at ISO 1600 and 6400 (in this case), due to poor lighting. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
And at that very moment...

And the obligatory duel off of Dr. Phil, which amused Mrs. Dr. Phil. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Al Bogdan (All Rights Reserved)

So It's A NASFiC, What's The Big Deal With Detcon1?

In my "vast" congoing experience, yes you're allowed to eyeroll, I've been to one WorldCon, Chicon 7 in Chicago 2012, and now one NASFiC in Detroit 2014. And I have to say, there is a different vibe. Maybe it's the size -- venue space plus numbers -- though this is by no means Dragon*Con or Comicon size numbers.

And like Chicon, there were people I knew were at Detcon that I never saw: Dave Klecha and fellow UCFer Kate Baker come to mind. Also never saw friend Amy Ranger, though we did see her friend Tullio in a white lab coat carrying an unmarked Ehlenmeyer flask with a cork. Nor did I get to any panels with Canadian writer Suzanne Church -- we shared a table of contents in the Northwest Passages anthology for Cascadia Con, the 2005 NASFiC in Seattle. Didn't see Larc Bogdan, who still hasn't met Mrs. Dr. Phil, or Coral for that matter. Doselle Young was listed on a minorities in comics panel, but didn't show. I suppose it shows that I have been doing this for a while when I can easily up with half a dozen names I didn't see. (grin)

But I got no complaints. Next up: Detcon 1 begins.

Dr. Phil