Friday, February 28, 2014

Long Grim Slog of Doom, Plus TeslaCon

The program book for the floodplain managers' conference has hit the long grim slog of doom stage. Monday I accomplished nothing, as is usual for Mondays, and Tuesday I accomplished nothing because I drove to Springfield and back for a meeting, so by the time I got home my brain was mush and it was almost bedtime anyway. Wednesday night I plowed through a pile of e-mail with book updates, and yesterday I got home a little early and got all those updates into the book draft. 

Still happy with the people I'm working with on the book. I was wondering if maybe my issues with doing the Windycon book were with me, but even though this book isn't easy, I'm not getting as frustrated, so I think my issues with Windycon are that I am not a good fit for Windycon.

Anyway, this book is not only at the long grim slog of doom stage, but a long grim slog of doom in pursuit of a moving target. I could say a lot more, but that would mean thinking about it more than is probably good for my sanity.

Moving on to a slightly more sane topic, I checked farcebook this morning and discovered that vendor applications for TeslaCon are open. So, before leaving for work I filled it out. Predictably, the on-line form did not echo back to the e-mail address which it required me to provide. Insert snarl here. I'll give it a day or few and then poke to make sure it was received. TeslaCon does get points for clearly stating both the application deadline and when the decisions will be announced. 

For extra bonus fun, it reads as if vendors get one 10'x10' spot. We managed with that kind of space at ACen, I suppose we can do it at TeslaCon. And the vendor fee includes 3 tickets. I'll face the hurdle of already tickets if/when we're accepted as vendors.

Picking up PeaPod on the way home, then back to the long grim slog of doom in pursuit of a moving target. Which will be done by Monday morning, one way or the other . . .

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Program Book Progress and other natter

Stayed home sick Wednesday. Urgh. At least the antibiotics or something seem to have kept me from getting as sick as Ron did, and I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm improving.

Worked on the program book for the IAFSM conference (Ill. Assn. Floodplain & Stormwater Managers) Wednesday afternoon and pretty much all day yesterday, and a good chunk of this morning. At this point I think I've got one more thing (an small ad for Otter Necessities Design Services, as it happens) I can do, and then I'm holding on other people. 

This book is on a tight schedule. The deadline for sponsorships (and pre-registration) is the 28th (Friday), and it goes to the printer on March 3rd (Monday). I was asked what the last day they can send me information to the book, and I said 7 am Sunday. 

Fortunately, the pair of people getting information to me are not pushing my buttons. Not like the Windycon book, which had me ranting and raving on a regular basis. I did say that I felt like I was flailing, but Robin said I usually say that at some point. So I guess I'm doing ok. 

Still waiting for Teslacon to put up vendor information, but I've registered the 4 of us (Ron, me, Robin, Xap) to attend, and got a hotel room. So we'll be there regardless. Which means we need clothes. More natter about that on my personal blog.

Leather for three hard pouch fronts is soaking for Ron to mold tonight. One of them is an order form Military History Fest. Fortunately I said it was going to be a while to get it done, and I think I'll make the time-frame I said. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Planning, Not as Planned, Design Stuff


I think it was Saturday evening I got e-mail that we didn't get into the Anime Midwest vendor hall. The e-mail said they had space for only about 40 of the 125 or so vendors who applied, and implied that they jury said applicants. I'm not complaining about not making the cut for limited space, but they could have been a lot better about communicating selection criteria and timelines. We'll probably try again for next year.

Not as Planned:

The dining room is still a mess, and I still haven't done any leatherworking. Ron's adamant not-sick-dammit-ness failed sometime Thursday night/Friday morning. We went to our doctor Friday morning, who sent us to the ER, and Ron stayed in the hospital until Saturday morning, because breathing is a good thing to do, and blood oxygen levels below 90% while on oxygen are Not Good. Drugs, drugs, and other drugs, plus oxygen later, Ron is improving.

Meanwhile, the Upper Respiratory Thing has gone to my sinuses, although antibiotics and/or less stress and being less tired than Ron was when he came down with said Thing mean that it hasn't gotten as bad. But I stayed home today anyway (and we both had Monday off) and took a nap this morning.

The short version is that both Ron and I are sick and tired, and putting up shelves and cleaning the dining room have been way too much like work to contemplate. Get the house picked up for the cleaning service visit yesterday was enough of an accomplishment.


Working on the program book for the floodplain managers' conference. I'm getting a steady trickle of content.  Today I got a question from one of my content sources about the conference sponsor information, which was my cue to ask about acknowledging myself. Which was awkward e-mail to compose. 

SF cons usually comp staff with membership, which is, say, $50-75-ish. This conference is $375 ($425 at the door), which my employer pays. Association board members are comped with membership to the national conference, which IIRC is even more expensive. But 40-ish hours of work is a good whack, so I've asked to put a business-card sized listing for Otter Necessities Design Services on one of the sponsor pages - or a size less than the bronze level ($300) sponsors. We'll see how it goes. In any case, I'm listing myself on the speakers/association officer page. I've also asked if there's anybody in addition to the board/committee chairs who should be listed, because I suspect there are.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yesterday, Not as Planned

As you may recall, I'm doing a program book for the annual floodplain managers' conference.  I had yesterday off (Lincoln's Birthday), the conference chair had said she'd get me a bunch of content by yesterady, and my plan was that I would spend a good chunk of the day working on the book.

As you may surmise from the post title, it didn't quite work out that way. She got me some sample content, to see if the formatting was ok. I explained that I really don't need (or want) any formatting done, my first step is to strip out any formatting that comes with text, and apply the basic/main paragraph formatting I'm using for the book, ie: formatting is my job, just get me the words and I'll make them look nice.

I think that made her very happy, and hopefully later today or tomorrow I'll get more content to work with this weekend and Monday (Presidents Day). I forgot that these aren't people who are used to the SF convention structure where the roles of who does what, at least in my experience, are reasonably well defined. In this case, the chair is also in charge of what I think of as programming, and has in the past done a large chunk of what I think of as publications. 

Instead of working on the program book, I considered working on leather stuff. But the dining room is still a mess, and we haven't had a chance to trim the old shelves to be new shelves for the dining room and hang up the necessary hardware for said shelves. So I didn't work on leather, either. 

I sewed, instead. Part of a steampunk outfit I cut out a couple-few years ago, more natter about that on my personal blog.

Since Robin and I both had yesterday off, Ron, who is not-sick-dammit, said Robin and I could schlep bins to the storage locker. That part of the day went as planned. Rather well, in fact. Robin got more stuff into the truck than Ron or I expected. Still some things to go, but that was a significant amount taken.

Got e-mail the other day inviting us to be vendors at the "Festival of the Horse and Drum", to be held at the Kane County Fairgrounds August 16th and 17th. Two 10x10 spaces would be pricey considering that I'm not sure how well we'd do, outdoors on pavement so provide and weight/anchor your own shelter/shade or rent, close to MuseCon (although after), etc. So I'm thinking not, although I'll probably e-mail tonight with some questions.  I may, however, put it on the calendar as an interesting thing to go to and see (and assess for possible vending at next year). I think the organizers got our name via a (named) person who went to Military History Fest, who said we are "must-have" vendors. My ego, it is booed (as in ego-boo, not boo-hiss), but my pocketbook is more cautious.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Changing Storage Space, or, Elfa Binge, Part 1

Instead of staying home yesterday and relaxing/recovering from Capricon, we stayed kind-of home and did a bunch of running around.

You may remember this picture of the spare bedroom/letterpress studio:

Not shown going up the wall toward the ceiling are  3 more shelves of books.

This is what it looks like now:

3 of the shelves are gone, and replaced by Elfa "utility" pegboard-type panels, which lightens up the room and also makes it seem larger. And which will hopefully be useful for lettepress odds and ends.
Most of the books have been moved to the green bins, which will be moved to a storage locker, probably tomorrow. The air conditioners will also be going to the storage locker. The CDs that were on top of the air conditioners moved to some more Elfa storage racks on Robin's door. A certain percentage of our CD collection is more or less Robin's, so he is happy with this arrangement (and promptly set about rearranging so his favorites are the ones on his door). 

The shelves removed from the spare bedroom will be cut down, and moved to the dining room, above the bookshelf where the glass rack used to sit. I was thinking of putting a small filing cabinet, like the ones we got for storing letterpress blocks, on top of the bookshelf for pattern/template storage, but I decided shelves with letter-sorting trays on one or more shelves would work better. I'm thinking I may go back to The Container Store tonight (since today is the last day of the annual Elfa sale), and get one or two narrow panels of the pegboard-ish stuff.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Teslacon Update

Teslacon responded yesterday evening. Their vendor information will be up "shortly". Guess that means checking the website and FB feed daily.

Hopefully we can still get in as vendors without having purchased tickets, which sold out a while back, except for some very pricey levels. Not holding my breath that they have some rooms at the main hotel stashed away for vendors. 

We still may not go if their vendor prices are too high, or some other thing doesn't work out, but it looks like it could be fun.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Schedule Updates

Yes, time to update the schedule again.  

I've pulled Military History Fest off of the list, since its over and done. But we'll be going back next year.

Nothing much on the SCA Midrealm or Northshield calendars for us in the next couple-few months, since absolutely positively never-again swearing off Ida Noyes Hall.  And setting up and tearing down for one day is getting to be something I only want to do if I know sales will be decent.

We were discussing CodCon over the weekend, which is the gaming convention held at the College of DuPage. This year CodCon will be 4-6 April. CodCon is a gamble - two years ago we did well enough thanks to the Cosplay club. Last year we did well enough thanks to a LARP group. But from the general gamers, not so much. Also, we've kinda gotten to be space-hungry for their dealer room. I see they have a cosplay photoshoot area scheduled for the weekend, but I'm not sure I want to risk it again. 

Anime Central, therefore, is the next confirmed event, May 16-18. I really need to see if I can find out if there's anywhere we can park the trailer on Thursday and Sunday. 

Cog County Faire, a steampunk event, is May 30-June 1. It looks like it could be fun, but as mentioned previously, the date is awfully close to ACen. We'd probably be OK under the EZ-Ups, but that's also an issue. 

I e-mailed Anime Midwest (July 4th weekend) today, and gasp, got a prompt response! I decided not to push too hard, and just asked if there was an update on when our application would be reviewed.  This is the answer I got: 

"Applications are being approved as space is available, however we have more than 2x applications than we will have available space for. Dealers who can not be fit in will be emailed sometime this month."  

I'm really tempted to point out that I applied at the end of October, I take it you're vetting your apps in favor of people you want, but not actually saying so? But I'm restraining myself. I'm not holding my breath at this point, to be honest. And the longer the runaround goes on, the less likely I am to want to actually go, given how disorganized they appear to be (sorry, Wash).  

Just sent off a vetting form for Geek.Kon, an anime/SF/gaming convention in Madison, August 22-24. We may still decide that it comes too soon after MuseCon, but maybe not.

Looked at the Teslacon (7-9 November, the weekend before Windycon) website today, which I should have done earlier. It appears that they may be sold out (tickets went on sale New Year's Day), and the main hotel is full. But I've e-mailed and asked about vendor space anyway. We got into ACen last year only applying a month or so out, we've got 8 months before Teslacon.  Under-whelmed with the Teslacon website.  Go ahead and take a look, won't take you long, there's very little to see.

Debating about Windycon, if we don't get into Teslacon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Military History Fest 10 Report

Short form: Wake me up in a week and I might have a coherent report. Tired out. Good event. Did better than last year, will do again next year.

Long form:

We got all the letterpress blocks into a document with the type samples, labelled, and into a binder. We also got all the paper samples labelled, punched, and into binders. 

Didn't get any business card coasters made.  Oops.

Got up Friday, straightened out the edges on two new sides of leather (decided it was wiser to pack tools Thursday night after finishing up with paper, which I can do almost in my sleep, and save cutting until I was more awake Friday morning). Finished packing odds and ends, and off we went once Xap arrived.

Dave was waiting for us, and helped unload and set up. I'd requested 5 tables (had 4 last year), and so they gave us 5/6 of an island. Yay, I was worried we'd somehow get a 5-table long row or something. I think we had our neighbor of the last table in the island worried at first, as we make a heck of a mess during setup, but by 11:30 (setup was from 9-noon) we were done and waiting for customers.

Friday sales were, as expected, slow. Xap and I inventoried belts. Although looking at the numbers on Saturday, they weren't as dire as it felt at the time. Closed up at 7:00, at dinner on the way home, got home, went to bed.

Up early again, to be down to Pheasant Run by 9:00 again, after gathering up forgotten things - like the small press, and other things that we decided we needed/wanted, like foods. As expected, we got most of the sales on Saturday. Closed at 6:00, went home, shovelled the driveway, picked up Robin, ate dinner, came home, went to bed.  

Sunday we were open 10-2, so we actually got to sleep in. Yay. Xap did inventory, of pouches and a bunch of other stuff with some help from me and Ron. Sales were slow-ish. About 1-ish there was an announcement on the PA that we were going to be open until 3:00. Oh, I don't think so. Neither did most of the vendors. We were out of the hall and loading up the trailer at 3:35. Many thanks to Dave again for helping with packing and loading!

Go home, flop around, eat dinner, I took a hot bath, and went to bed. 

So, overall thoughts:

Interestingly, the actual replica pouches we'd made were not particularly great sellers. One little one the buyer had been looking for an example of for 15 years, so yay us. The other I think just was the right size/shape/color, and accuracy was a non-issue.  

In general, we sold a little bit of everything.

I think if we'd had more lace-weight yarn we'd have sold more yarn. We didn't sell out, but I definitely need to re-order. Did sell a couple accurate buckles. Had a couple people that may become letterpress customers, but no orders. May get some belt business down the road from the Santa Claus community (keeping fingers crossed). Sold three of the 6 potion bottles.

Definitely need to make more potion bottles. Completely out of hard-front black hanging pouches, and little soft square pouches. Need to make a lot of other pouches, too. Time to get back to work. The map case got a lot of attention and compliments, this version is much better than the first one. 

Didn't dress up at all over the weekend (everyday skirts and polo shirts all weekend). I felt out of place. 

There were some 20-something young ladies wearing Soviet WWII era uniforms I really liked on Saturday. Foolishly, I didn't get pictures, and they weren't there in uniform on Sunday. I decided that I don't need another group to get involved with (yes, there are not only WWII reenactment groups in the area, and one of them is specifically Russian/Soviet), but I am planning a Russian WWII-ish Dieselpunk outfit as a result.  See the last couple entries on my personal blog for more about that, including a request for input.

Made a bunch of purchases. Ron got a spikenhelm pickelhaube (pointy Prussian/German helmet - think end credits of "Hogan's Heroes", I got some books, a little brown hat that will span several time periods, a garrison/side cap for the Dieselpunk outfit, and a sari, which matches the little brown hat, and is probably going to become a Victorian dress. We also got Robin a Confederate (grey) kepi/slouch hat. Confederate, because grey matches what he usually wears better than Union blue.  And this morning I ordered fabric swatches for the dieselpunk outfit.

On the less frivolous purchase side, I bought three pouches to copy - One for BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) cartridges, another nifty hinged Spanish-American War era pistol cartridge case in really nice shape, and a German WWII mystery bag, kind of satchel-ish. 

And now, I'd like to go home and fall into bed (again), but tonight we need to start baking for the Capricon Cafe . . .