I’m on the road again this weekend. This time, however, no panels, no dealer table, no business meeting…. I’ll be at Boston Mensa’s Cape Cod Mini RG: our annual trip to the Cape the weekend before it opens for the summer season. It started life as a mini RG because it was smaller, with no programming. Now, it’s nearly as large as some of the regular RGs I attend, but still no programming. Hoping for a good, relaxing time, a quite respite from lots of editing and ramping out to produce Jewish Futures and a few stolen minutes here and there from my own writing and… well, you get the idea.
Mensa appearance this weekend
This coming weekend, March 3-5, I’ll be at Central New Jersey Mensa’s Snowball Regional Gathering. It’s one of the longest-running RGs in American Mensa, and always a good time. This time, I’m not just attending, but actually on the program. On Friday, at 7:30pm, I’ll be giving a talk on “Punctilious Punctuation,” and I know all of you who are going to be at the RG will want to see my talk (mind you, I’ve got some stiff competition in that time slot: Lesley Schierenbeck talking about “Dark & Dirty New Jersey History,” and John Devotti’s always wonderful “Monster Trivia.”
After I’m off stage, stick around in the same room for the Mensa Foundation and RVC2 Meet and Greet. And at 2:30pm Saturday, RVC2 Trebor Lefebvre will be running “Everything You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Mensa.” I’ll be there, too.
But the other program item I’m really urging you to attend is Saturday at 10:30am. One of my authors, Michael A. Ventrella, will be talking about “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative.” Michael is a wonderful speaker, talking about a topic on which he is very knowledgeable, and it’s an especially timely topic. We’ll also have copies of his book, How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative, available for sale (and possibly a few other of his titles that I’ve published).
Should be a great weekend. Hope to see y’all there!
Mensa Convention Weekend
Tomorrow starts my third straight weekend on the road. I’ll be at the first-time-ever Northern New Jersey Mensa Blast! Regional Gathering (in Newark, New Jersey). I’m looking forward to supporting this newest event from the recently reinvigorated group just across the river from here. And I’ll be speaking: Sunday morning I’ll be presenting “Isaac Asimov: A Centennial Celebration (Plus Three)”. Hope to see all you Mensans there!
This Friday, I’m flying to Denver for the American Mensa Committee meeting (that’s American Mensa’s board of directors). The meeting means I’m completely book for Saturday, and probably Friday evening pre-meeting conversations, too. But I may have a few free hours Sunday morning before flying back home, if any Denver people are around and interested in getting together.
Yep, this weekend I’m back on the road for another science fiction convention. This time, it’s Capclave, in Rockville, Maryland. If you’re looking for me at the convention (as usual), look for me in the dealers’ room at the Fantastic Books table. The dealers’ room is scheduled to be open from 3 to 6pm on Friday, 10am to 6pm on Saturday, and 10am to 2pm on Sunday.
I’ll also be on programming. Check out:
“Grammar Wars and Pedantry” on Saturday at 1pm in Washington Theater. With K. Ceres Wright, Mary G. Thompson, Morgan Hazelwood, and Sarah Avery. If arguments over the serial comma, split infinitives, or the evolving definition of “literally” gets you riled up, then this is a conversation for you. Panelists discuss their favorite pedantic hills to die on and whether language is evolving too quickly or too slowly for their liking.
“In Defense of the Standalone Novel” on Saturday at 2:30pm in Washington Theater. With A.C. Wise, Craig Laurance Gidney, Irene Gallo, Natalie Luhrs, and Ursula Vernon. In a sea of book series, the standalone novel can be a breath of fresh air. What are the virtues of the standalone novel and what makes for a good one? Might there be a resurgence of the standalone novel in the near future?
As much as I love going to sf conventions, that seems almost a distraction to me at the moment. That’s because there’s a much bigger trip coming very soon.
A few days ago, the Chairman of American Mensa resigned. I’ve been serving the organization as Secretary since last summer, and continue in that position. But I’ve also been an alternate for our national representatives. With the resignation, I move up from alternate to one of the national representatives. And in a bit of calendrical synchrony, the next annual international board of directors meeting (which I’ll be attending in my new role) is October 6–9 in Budva, Montenegro. So I’ve spent this week in a frantic planning for my first international trip this millennium, and my first ever trip out of North America.
I’m pretty much booked from departure here to the end of the meeting and my departure from Montenegro. But on my way home, I’ve got a lay-over in Vienna, Austria. I’m scheduled to land there on Monday, October 10, at 4:20pm. My flight home from Vienna is scheduled to depart on Tuesday, October 11, at 4:30pm. So (other than extra hours in the airport coming and going), I’m going to have most of a day in Vienna (well, other than probably sleeping a few hours at night). Do I know anyone there, or anyone who has been there, who has wonderful suggestions for what to do in those few hours so I can really get a feel for having been there?
In Montenegro, the host group has planned a tour or two, so I’ll get at least a little flavor of the country outside the meeting hotel, but in Vienna, I’m on my own. I’m very excited, and a little trepidatious. Looking for suggestions.
Yet another convention-I-didn’t-mention-I’m-going-to weekend. But I’m going simply as an attendee: no dealer table, no programming appearances, no plans to do any real business (though I’m sure some business conversations will arise: that’s how it goes). I’ll be in Reston, Virginia, for Metropolitan Washington Mensa’s Regional Gathering. And then I’ll be spending Sunday and Monday night’s in DC to do some actual tourist-y things (haven’t done that in a long time). So I hope to see all you Mensans there!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I have another convention coming up, a very long weekend. On Tuesday, I’m flying to Reno, Nevada, for the American Mensa Annual Gathering in Sparks, Nevada. Assuming my flights are on time, I’m leaving JFK at 7:40pm and landing at 10:53pm (flying JetBlue, if anyone else is getting in about the same time and wants to share a car). I’m scheduled to fly back to New York Monday, July 11th, leaving Reno at 11:45pm (again, on JetBlue), but since the AG ends Sunday, I’ll be on my own Sunday night and Monday, if anyone has any interesting suggestions.
If you’re at the AG, and looking to connect with me, here’s a hint of where I’ll be (unlike a science fiction convention, I won’t be in the dealers’ room, since there isn’t one). Since I’m attending as a member of the AMC, a lot of my time will be taken up with meetings and business, but here are some of the public times/places you’ll be able to meet me:
American Mensa Committee Meeting, Thursday, starting at 9am, running until we’re done (scheduled to end at 5pm, but who knows?), in Cascade 3. No time to chat during the meeting, but you can see the AMC transacting the business that keeps Mensa operating.
Annual Business Meeting, Friday, starting at 9am, in Sierra 5. Again, not a social event, but the time when the members hear from and can give commentary to the leaders of Mensa.
Region 1 Meet-and-Greet, Friday at 4:30pm, in Redwood 6. For everyone who lives in Region 1 (that is, all of New England, most of New York, and the northern part of New Jersey).
Gala Dinner, Friday at 7pm, in Nugget 2. (Gotta get a separate ticket for this one.)
“Punctilious Punctuation: Telling Tales With (and of) Those Jots and Tittles, Including Why They’re Called Jots and Tittles, and the Horrifying Story of Why the Period Goes Inside the Quotation Marks” by Ian Randal Strock (hey, that’s me! Come hear me talk!), Saturday at 9am in Sierra 2.
Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, Saturday starting at 9pm in Nugget 2. (Come dance with me!)
Drag Brunch, Sunday at 10am in Nugget 2. (This one, too, is separately ticketed.)
* * *
Other sessions that look interesting, if I’m not otherwise occupied with meetings or business:
“Hidden Gems of the United States Constitution” by Joseph Zodl, Wednesday at 3pm in Sierra 1.
“Two Degrees from Kevin Bacon: A Life Spent With Celebrities in NYC” by Matt Grob, Wednesday at 4:30pm in Sierra 3.
“Firehouse SIG Meet-and-Greet,” Thursday at 4:30pm in Redwood 6.
“Doctor Grammar Guy” by Richard Lederer, Friday at 1:30pm in Nugget 2.
“Mind Your Manners” by Thomas Willeford, Friday at 4:30pm in Sierra 5.
“Illuminating Mensa’s Past” by Simone van Egeren, Saturday at 1:30pm in Redwood 3.
“Real Steampunk” by Thomas Willeford, Saturday at 3pm in Sierra 5.
“The Future of Mensa” by Billie Lee and Rachel Kibler, Saturday at 3pm in Redwood 3.
“Life Members SIG Meet-and-Greet,” Saturday at 6pm in Redwood 6.
And of course, otherwise unscheduled meals will be in Hospitality.
Hope to see all you Mensans there!
Oh, and then there’s a quick three-day turn-around, before I leave for Shore Leave in Maryland.
It’s neat when technology works
Sometimes, technology really is remarkable. Right now, I’m sitting on the porch in South Carolina, with my computer open, and I got a text message from a friend in New Jersey, with a question about Mensa admissions testing. I thought I knew the answer, but opened another window to text the Mensa Testing Officer, who I know is on a train between New York City and Maine. She responded almost instantly, and I replied with the information (my assumption had been correct). It’s cool when all the pieces work as they ought.
I just finished giving my talk on Isaac Asimov for Eastern Oklahoma Mensa. Had a great time! I think nearly ten percent of the group’s membership was there (they said it was the best turn-out they’ve had in a long time). And they were a responsive crowd, despite the limitations of Zoom (I really, really miss doing my talks in person, where I can properly interact with people).
And they made this awesome ad for their Facebook group! Isn’t it neat?
Every time I do one of these talks, I get pumped up. The adrenaline rush comes after I’m done, but that was the joy with being in-person: after a talk, I could hang out with people, keep the evening going. Talking via Zoom, once it ends, the Zoom window shuts down, and I go right back to sitting in the house by myself <pout>. So now I’m amped up, and nothing to do with it. Oh well, I’ll try to save it up for when the world re-opens.