2004 Clarion Meeting at World Fantasy
Though I get to correspond with quite a number of my Clarion classmates online via a couple of closed boards and blog-lurking, I haven't been able to see too many of them in person since we left for home in July 2004. Al and Boris at ConFusion in January, Al at the Clarion sorority house this summer, Trent at WisCon back in May.
A number of Clarionites got together at the 2004 World Fantasy Con, but a lot more are heading/have headed to the 2005 World Fantasy Con in Madison WI this weekend. Damn, and Madison is SO far away from here. And it's not like WFC snuck up on me.
My original intention was to hit the road Friday afternoon, but once I got set up for Fall 2005 with my jobs, getting out of K-zoo before 5pm on 11-4-05 was going to be difficult. And no way was I going to drive all night anymore. At one point I thought of racing to Muskegon and taking the ferry across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, which my wife and I did in May to get to WisCon in Madison. Alas, in its second year, the Lake Express Ferry people have been unable to convince the people around here that ferries can safely travel across Lake Michigan after October, and so despite wanting to run both years into December, they decided to end service for the year the end of October.
A week or so ago I got madly inspired to fire up Orbitz/Travelocity/etc. and see what air fares were doing. I could get United from GRR to ORD to MSN (Grand Rapids to Chicago to Madison) on Saturday morning and come back Sunday afternoon for $289 taxes included. That still left needing a place to sleep Saturday night, but one of the gang actually lives in Madison.
Oh, The Usual
I am, of course, a legendary procrastinator -- I even have a webpage on Dr. Phil's Theory of Optimized Procrastination -- and found it very difficult to pull the trigger and buy the ticket.
It's probably just as well that I didn't. Between the cold I am apparently planning to have this weekend, and my back which has been annoying, but not thoroughly put out with me this week, I could very well have a miserable time this weekend at great expense. When I finally got back to Orbitz and the less-than-seven-days fare had jumped to over $500, I knew the dream was over.
A Little Something
I did throw together a little short story, "The Artist's Pen", 1300 words, and fire up MS Publisher to make a small fold-cut-refold chapbook. Fought with an inkjet printer that can't quite print out to the same end edge as a LaserJet can. And finally made fifteen copies, shoved them in an Express Mail envelope and headed to the Drake Street post office in K-zoo.
A Minor Disappointment in the U.S.P.S.
I have to say I've always been impressed with the U.S. Mail. And I've run into some exceptional employees here in West Michigan. And I'm delighted that the Drake Street branch has decided to keep its windows open until 7pm, instead of 5pm/5:15pm/5:30pm. But I have to say that I must've been asking too much to consider that the ONE think that postal employees working with the great unwashed public should know is some geography. Especially somewhat local geography.
We're talking about an Express Mail envelope here. Now I knew that Wednesday night was really too late for shipping, so it would start its journey on Thursday. But this is EXPRESS MAIL, the supposedly one-day service for most locations. And this woman was telling me it would get to Madison WI from Kalamazoo MI for Saturday????
It's just across the lake. It's not that far to drive in one-day. It has an airport with multiple carriers flying out of it. It's a bloody state capital! Home of the University of Wisconsin. And K-zoo also has a major university and some major pharmaceutical industries. I don't think they'd put up with crappy mail delivery service.
She didn't know where Madison was. Across the lake to Milwaukee about an hour west? Nope. Convergence of three major interstate highways? (I-90, I-94, I-39) Nope. Capital of Wisconsin? Nope.
She did ask if this was where the air show was held. No, that's Oshkosh. Oh, she'd heard of Oshkosh. I suppose the coveralls people and the EAA are happy at that.
We'll see if my envelope makes it to my friends in time for the big Saturday evening dinner. Which I will be missing. Sigh.
If the weather's nice enough, maybe we'll go and eat pasties at the MTU Alumni tent before the MTU-GVSU football game over at Grand Valley. Comfort food for Yoopers.