Sunday, July 8, 2007

RavenCon Update!

OK, so I finished this on the flight to Beijing. There is no really appropriate time to post it since it is so long overdue. Now is as good of a time as any.

Wow, was RavenCon really that long ago? I have been dreadfully remiss in posting about this great convention. It is kind of funny that it takes flying to China for me to finally get this post completed.

The whole experience started on Thursday. I was already taking Friday off work, and I had class on Thursday evening so didn't gel  on the road to Richmond until very late. The drive was pretty uneventful, until I got to the Richmond airport. I drove around for 20 minutes trying to find the hotel. Once I found the hotel, I discovered that I hadn't extended the reservation to include Thursday night. (D'Oh) Did I mention that this was after 1:00 AM and I needed to meet folks at 8:00 AM? Of course, it turned out to not be a big deal. The very kind hotel staff just extended the stay.

In the week prior to the convention, I had been pooling a variety of sources for cool handouts. My efforts were rewarded with about 6 boxes of handouts for the high school and the convention. After checking into the hotel, I had to spend the next couple hours sorting out materials for the students and teachers of Monacan High School.

Friday was a day of highs and lows. The next morning I met Tee Morris, Peter Prellwitz , Rich White and many others. (Sorry to everyone I didn't mention.) With my several boxes of hand outs, Peter Prellwitz and I drove separately in my car. On the way to the high school, we were separated from the main car. Thank goodness that I had printed supplementary directions and that I had Peter with me to navigate. Despite being hungry and lost in Richmond, Virginia we managed to make it to Monacan High School on time.

As I posted earlier, I had a great time speaking to an astronomy class about the James Webb Space Telescope and working in the space industry.

After the high school event, we returned to the convention. My plan was to update my blog and take a nap. The blog update happened, but l the nap did not. While updating my blog, I turned on the television as I usually do. That eliminated the possibility of a nap. For the next few hours I was glued to the television watching the drama unfold at JPL. I posted a bit about this as it was happening, and I don't want to go into a major tangent here.

Remaining sleep deprived, I finished working on my two presentations for RavenCon. I decided that I should re-join the convention. I walked down to the dealers room and talked to a lot of great people. Two months after the convention, I can't remember everyone I met. Everyone humored me in my sleep deprived, depressed state.

I did meet the Geeklabel Podcast crew who I have been listening to for awhile. Not only to these guys do a funny, geeky podcast, they make awesome, custom, geek T-shirts at www,

The other major event from Friday evening was dinner. Tired, I wandered into the hotel restaurant expecting to eat alone. While there, I ran into my good friend Tee Morris. Joining his group of 2, the prospects for an interesting dinner improved. We were only a group of three for a short time as we kept accumulating new people, including the author guest of honor, Robert J. Sawyer.

Bob Sawyer is a great person. He is very social and approachable. He made a point to make sure that people were not eating alone. I shouldn't have been surprised that such a cool dinner event could occur at a con, especially a small convention like Ravencon. Yet, as I went to dinner, I had no idea that it was going to be such an interesting evening. Eventually I had to excuse myself for exhaustion, but it was a wonderful time.

Saturday was a pretty standard Convention day. John and I both had presentations that day. My presentation came first discussing private versus governmental space flight.  I had a LOT of help with this presentation from Will Pomerantz. The talk went well, but not as well as I would like. The talk went a lot better once I stopped the presentation and opened it up for questions and discussions.

John's talk on the "Once and Flu-ture Pandemic" went very well. The room was packed and he gave an excellent presentation.

There was also the issue of the many boxes of hand out materials that I brought down to the convention. I had excellent materials of Hubble provided by the Space Telescope Science Institute, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) materials provided by the project office at NASA Goddard, and a few things from NASA Public affairs. Stocking the handout table turned out to be a bit of a logistical challenge. Overall, I ended up with some extra (which was distributed at Balticon 41) but I don't think that anyone who wanted something went without.

Outside the presentations, we did a lot of socializing, such as more chatting with the Geeklabel Crew. We also attended several of the other panels, specifically the podcasting panels. I think we may have gotten a bit of sleep, but not much.

Sunday was a half convention day. I gave my second presentation . This one went a little better than the first. It mostly covered  my project, JWST, but I also made a point to cover other things going on within NASA. For this talk the room was packed.

RavenCon was a great time. I hope to be invited back next year, and regardless, I plan to visit Monacan High School again. As I am finishing this write up on a plane to China for the International Space University, if I do get invited back, who knows what the presentation topic will be. I expect to have lots of ideas.


Cmaaarrr!!! said...


I think you remembered more than I do, at this point... :)

Anonymous said...