Month: August 2010


The Wifi network in my hotel is exceedingly annoying. It is almost ask-for-a-refund annoying. I am able to log in after a mere 5 to 20 minutes. Then it will work, randomly disconnect me, or connect only in random fits and starts. Fortunately my iPhone’s 3G network is fully functional. This means I can still depend upon email for critical communications during the course of the convention. It was less annoying to thumb type this blog entry on my phone than it was to deal with the Wifi.

Addendum: The Wifi appears to work better in the public areas of the second floor. Not the lobby with comfortable chairs, there is little-to-no coverage there. So I must evaluate whether sitting on the floor in a hallway is a worthwhile price for internet. I should also evaluate how strangely dependent I am upon this internet thing. I can unplug. I did it for family trips this summer. But I was expecting to stay connected during this trip.

Okay I’m done whining about the fact that I can’t send electronic signals around the world without having to put my shoes on and walk a few feet.

GenCon Setup

The exhibit hall is huge, but the space is far from empty. Crews were already working to set up multi-story displays, racks of shelves, and bigger-than-live statues. It is a sort of organized chaos made of boxes, cool gaming stuff, and large pallets of gear weaving through obstructed aisles via dollies and forklifts. The hall was also roastingly hot. We would have been sweating even without the physical exertion of shifting boxes of merchandise. Link was ready to melt. But we all kept hydrated and toughed out the heat. The air conditioners finally had lowered the temperatures in the hall about three hours after we began work.

This booth at GenCon is only possible because of Tracy Hickman’s crew of Kokomo Irregulars. They’ve been helping Tracy with GenCon events for years. This year they received multiple shipments of freight, hauled all the stuff from storage to the convention, schlepped it all in, and then helped us organize the booth. In addition, I was in regular email contact with them which was invaluable in helping me think through how the booth would be run. Our debt of gratitude runs deep and looks to get deeper before the event is over.

When we arrived at the convention center this morning, it was mostly empty. By 3 pm crowds were beginning to congregate around the registration booths. A group in pirate garb sang Acapella tunes. Everywhere I looked I saw people who obviously belonged to the geek tribe. It felt home-like. The show is coming together and it is going to be a sight to behold.

Arrival Indianapolis

Two plane rides and three airports, the only thing out of the ordinary was watching the kids react with wonder at travel details that Howard and I consider routine. That part was fun. I like it when my travel day is adventureless, because it is tiring enough all by itself.

The kids got their first experience of muggy weather. It rained this morning and then was hot this afternoon, the result was soupy. My desert born and bred children were a bit surprised to discover that hot could also be very wet.

We’ve settled into the hotel room, set some ground rules for cleanliness, and walked the convention center to plan for tomorrow. That is when the work begins. I’ve told the kids to expect the work to be hot, tiring, boring, and busy. On Thursday there will be games and excitement.

The very best part of the day was going out to dinner with a pair of people who have been online friends for more than a decade. This was our very first chance to meet in person. I was very tired walking to the restaurant and worried that I would not be good company because of the fatigue. I discovered to my delight that we fell into familiar conversation as if all of us hung out in person on a regular basis. Which I suppose makes sense since we’ve hung out online for quite a long time. I would have loved to stay and talk for much longer, but the restaurant needed their table back and Link had grown bored with all the sitting and talking.

Next comes sleeping.


Today is Pre-Convention Jitter Day. This regular event almost always coincides with Packing Day. This time around I have several flavors of jitters which make for fun combinations. I can mix I-am-leaving-my-kids jitters with traveling-on-a-plane jitters or alternately, with first-big-convention-and-running-a-booth jitters, or even meeting-online-friends-in-person-for-the-first-time jitters. I know these are jitters and not things which are logical, but the suppression of blatant illogical nervousness is tiring and has me feeling edgy. I just need to plow through my task list for today. Once we’re on the move tomorrow, all the jitters will vanish because I will not have to anticipate I will just have to react to whatever comes.

The not-so-typical teenager in my house

The following conversation is a shortened representation of what was a much more convoluted discussion. I’ve just skimmed the essence of what was said to present here:

“He’s squashing my life!” bemoaned Kiki. We’d just spend an evening with a writer’s group in our home, during which Howard had pulled Kiki aside and corrected her on a particular social interaction. After the group left, Kiki and I washed up in the family room and her woes began to spill forth.

“Yes. Dads do that sometimes.” I answered. “It is impossible for your behavior not to be affected by the presence of your Dad. It is also impossible for my behavior not to be affected by the presence of one of my children. This is still true for me and my parents.”

Kiki nodded. I could see she got what I was trying to say, but she was not yet calm.

“But Mom, I don’t want to be that teenager. I don’t want to be crying about how my parents ruin my life. But that is how I feel. I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want to be that person.”

“Feelings are not really in our control. You are having a specific reaction to a specific situation. The fact that you are not generalizing that reaction, making your dad into the bad guy, demonstrates great emotional maturity. The truth is that you and your dad are increasingly sharing adult friends, and what he did embarrassed you in front of your friends.”

“Yes. And I felt squashed.”

“So you’ve identified a specific interpersonal situation that troubles you. You can either respond by spending less time with your dad to avoid the situation, or you can confront him about it in order to stay close.”

Kiki nodded and our conversation wandered for a time into topics that were tangential. This continued until Kiki saw that Howard was upstairs cooking in the kitchen and said “I’m ready to talk to him. You have to come with me.”

And so I did. The conversation began a little on the wrong foot. Kiki expressed her squashedness and Howard responded with a bit of a lecture about how people who hadn’t done the reading should not speak up in writer’s group. Kiki folded inward and I intervened just a little.

“There is a larger issue here than just writer’s group. Kiki feels the same squashed feeling sometimes when you are playing RPG games together.”

Kiki nodded. “Getting into the role is easier when you’re not there. I can just be the person.”

Howard turned and leaned against the counter. He was quiet for a minute, then said. “Sorry. I’ve just had a whole chain of thought and there is some stuff you need to know Kiki. Any time one of my kids gets up to speak in public, I feel a sick feeling in my gut. I know how hard and humiliating public embarrassment can be and I don’t want my kids to ever experience that. This is why I always step in and correct. I’m trying to prevent you from having pain, and therefore also prevent my pain at your pain. The result still causes you pain, but prevents mine. I need to learn how to step back and let you make your own mistakes.”

Kiki nodded, absorbing this new information about how her father thinks. Then the conversation moved on, but not before there were hugs.

Once again I am impressed by Kiki and Howard. I was not able to have that sort of peer-to-almost-peer conversation with my father until I was much older than she is.

Epilogue: They had a game session two days after this conversation. It went very well with no squashing.