Once again, various reflections as they occur to me...
Last weekend was Carillon Investiture. Normally we wouldn't have attended -- we don't know the incoming Baroness, and it's a long drive -- but with msmemory as Head Lady in Waiting to Her Nibs, she was needed to help out with that. Overall, it was a pleasant but very mellow event, reminiscent of what was a lot more common when I started. Mostly one big room, with lots of tables of people schmoozing, and merchants and a few activities scattered around the edge. I've gotten used to the somewhat overscheduled tone of most Carolingian events, so it was a serious change of pace.
The event was in a VFW Hall, and therefore by definition had a bar. The SCA ensured that the site would be happy by drinking lots of their booze: once everyone figured out that it was there, a bunch of folks spent lots of time in the bar. I mostly wandered through it back and forth, but it did have one severely neat feature: a nearly period-style shovelboard table. I didn't measure it precisely, but it seemed to fit my impressions from the period descriptions: about 18 feet long, a foot or two wide, with three zones marked at each end, to try to slide your pucks into. The only notably OOP aspect of it was the stuff they spread on it -- it looked like sand, but on closer inspection was essentially micro-ball-bearings, which acted as lubricant. I played a bit with it, and am very covetous.
I mainly hung out and helped msmemory during the day. I did enter the "Chinese Auction" (a teacup raffle), and did well: I bought two tickets, and won a Merels set with one of them. Court was the main focus of the event, and Pennsic Crack was the main focus of court. A sometime member of the event had brought in several cases of chocolate milk, freshly brought in from Butler County the day before, and gave them away to much of Carillion; court had about half an hour of shtick just about it. Silly, but hey -- msmemory scored a bottle from the Royalty, and it really is that good.
After court, we went out to dinner with my mother, who was about half an hour away. She took us out to a local Italian restaurant which looked pretty questionable from the outside (anything called an "Italian Family Restaurant" immediately worries me), but it turned out to be quite good. Mom and I mostly talked politics for all of dinner; msmemory was very indulgent.
Tuesday, I finally bit the bullet (so to speak), and went back to the dentist for the first cleaning and inspection in *cough* years. Fortunately, New Concepts seems to strike a good balance, not sadistic but efficient. Only two cavities, which under the circumstances probably should be counted as a blessing.
Tuesday evening was Accademia. We had a special session, with Harald presenting several reconstructions of Nonesuch, an English Country Dance, and we managed to make a full evening of that, comparing, contrasting and discussing how the options compared to the original. It was quite a bit of fun, and I think educational (in particular, we spent a fair amount of time on the history of ECD reconstruction). Everyone agreed that it was a very nice change of pace, and we'll probably continue to do this sort of session every month or two.
Wednesday I ran dance practice. Due to scungy weather it was a fairly small session (it was snowing lightly, and a smidgeon slippery out), but I managed to get a dozen people dancing, so it went okay. I covered mostly stuff on the Black Rose dance list, including one or two SCA inventions that aren't in our standard repertoire. I always enjoy teaching Saltarello La Regina, and adore Heralds in Love. (Although Aaron contends, probably correctly, that the aesthetic of the latter is more modern than Renaissance.)
Friday was, of course, the beginning of Arisia, and a very complicated weekend. Going through various topics...
As usual, I was on several panels. I've been a guest at Arisia since the first run of Future of Oz a dozen or so years ago, and have been doing panels ever since they started asking me to actually *do* something to make myself worthwhile. I discovered that I find them a lot of fun -- paneling is all about wide-ranging conversation on some interesting subject, and that's a field in which I excel.
My panels for this year were:
- Stop Hollywood Before They Ruin My Favorite Comic Book was fun, although it took me slightly aback -- my email from Arisia and my program participant handout were missing the last two words, so I was prepped for a much wider-ranging discussion. It actually turned out to be an LXG-bashing panel, but we did get in some interesting discussion about what makes for a good or bad movie adaptation.
- Broadening the Fannish Mind was the ironically-titled panel, given that I was the only panelist officially listed for it. On top of that, the panel wasn't listed on the program grid, so I suspect that it got semi-deleted somewhere along the line. But I managed to talk Christian into joining me, and another panelist (the lady who runs the yoga at the con) turned out to also be scheduled for it, but not listed in the book. As it was, we had a good chat with each other and the audience about what constitutes a "fannish" activity, and how other things get incorporated into fandom.
- Future Finance was the surprise. I thought this panel was Doomed Doomed Doomed. I mean, a panel about finance at 10am Sunday morning? But to my surprise, this one (the one panel I was moderating) was something of a hoot. All three panelists were full of ideas and opinions, as was the mostly-full room, about everything from the impact of new technology on the way people make transactions to the future of the currency system. It turned out to be one of the best panels I was at all weekend.
The primary event of the weekend for me was the latest run of Cold Storage, hungrytiger's paranoid SF LARP; I'm one of his regular AGM's for the game. The game was great as always, made better by a really excellent cast drawn largely from dance practice. We has a good game space, and I think it generally went well. Can't really say much more than that without spoilers, but it was fun.
Of course, the blizzard was the principal news of the weekend. By Saturday morning, it was clear that this was going to be no ordinary storm. So msmemory headed home to tend to the house. I've already had an entry about that particular bit of hell, which was unpleasant for both of us -- having her at home in the cold house, and me unable to do anything about it, left us both nervous wrecks. In the end, we finally got a straight story out of the oil company: the line from the top of the oil tank to the basement is simply too exposed to the elements, and when the weather gets too cold the oil gels inside it. Comforting to have an explanation that makes sense, but a tad nerve-wracking to know that it's likely to recur when the weather is at its coldest.
Meanwhile, I did my best to enjoy the rest of the con. The Masquerade was better than I expected, given the number of people leaving due to weather, and featured several excellent winners (including mermaidlady's group winning Judge's Choice despite not being entered in the competition). The Dead Dog party on Sunday night was the most non-dead I've ever seen, with hundreds of people still wandering the halls. And of course, the football game was great: someone got a projector and Big Honking Speakers, and we had a suitably boisterous time watching the Pats wallop the Steelers. (We could reportedly be heard halfway across the fourth floor every time there was a good play.)
Monday was basically all about digging out. I came home (slowly), picked up msmemory from elizabear's place to which she had evacuated, and we met the guy from Taylor and Murphy at home. He had arrived early, and had things up and running about when we got home. I was very gratified that it all behaved as he predicted -- a problem I understand is one that I can cope with better. We talked about options. For the long run, we wants me to construct an insulated shed around the oil tank, so it can't readily get so cold; for the medium term, we're thinking about using a little heat tape when the weather is brutal. (It really is only a problem when the temperature is below 10 degrees.) For the next few days, I simply insulated the line, so that it won't freeze up as quickly. We'll see what happens tomorrow night, when the brutal cold returns.
Tuesday afternoon's main activity was getting my fillings at the dentist. I was gratified to find that my teeth are still pretty good, and that I still don't get freaked out by dental work -- it was all nicely efficient and painless. (In the "I can't feel my mouth" sense.)
In the evening was Low Company. As I'd feared, the members of the Barony at large collectively blew it off. I can't really blame them -- everyone was still digging out, and parking around Radcliffe was horrifying. (I opted to take the T, which worked well.) Fortunately, I got a bunch of Duncharlatans, so we got several tables up and playing Medieval Chess, which was the topic of the evening. The Harvard students all agreed that period chess is fairly dull, but I promised them more entertainment next month, when I teach Western Chess Variations. Everyone should come to that: I've got lots of different versions, and it should be fun and silly.
Tonight: no dance practice. Pout, but necessary on many levels. I was leaning against it to begin with, since it was snowing most of the day and parking at MIT was likely to be bad. The final straw was news that MIT had officially closed, something they *never* do, which led Mara to officially cancel. So a quiet evening at home instead, catching up on Lost. (Got to see the first Mira Furlan episode tonight -- her character is a delightful mix of enigmatic and insane, and I look forward to seeing more of her.)
The upcoming weekend is Birka. How much of it I attend will depend on the temperature, and how it affects the house...