Worldcon 2005

I didn't take any photos this time. (Because I still have the same crappy camera I did in 2003, but more importantly, it's stupid to spend your vacation taking pictures of things instead of seeing them.)

Instead, I took notes.

Day 0

Glasgow! I like it. Big old buildings with train stations inside.

It was too early to get into the hotel room, so I spent three hours walking in circles around Glasgow until I was completely lost. Great way to get to know a city.

Jet lag is the little death that precedes total obliteration. All the time I was wandering around, I was thinking "I wonder which way the river is? I hear there's a river in Glasgow." (I even remembered that the river was to the south.) Also, all that time, I was admiring the steep hills. Late in the day I considered that maybe the river was downhill.

Boobs in Scotland are larger than in America, on average. I think. Is this my imagination? If it is my imagination, where has my imagination been all these years?

Despite its name, O2 is a supplier of mobile phones. Glasgow seems to have more purveyors of mobile phones than it does cafes (and yes, there are a lot of cafes).

Despite the above, Glasgow is full of people walking around who are not talking on mobile phones. Yes, you see people who are talking on mobile phones, often enough. But it's not like an American city street, where the entire population seems to have evolved into an electromagnetically mumbling life form.

Shopping mall directories are absolutely useless to a visitor from outside the local chainocline. Quick, tell me which of the following stores is likely to sell me a UK-compatible electric razor: (1) Orange; (2) Boots; (3) Diesel.

(Answer: Boots. But I only figured that out because the mall directory was next to the Boots, and when I turned away in frustration I saw a sign advertising shavers.)

(Yes, I brought an electric razor to the UK and failed to think about it.)

Speaking of classic UK tourist mistakes: pushing the button marked "1" in the hotel elevator.

I seriously considered buying all the new Doctor Who DVDs and a portable UK-region DVD player. Then sanity reasserted itself, and I decided to download them illegally, like everyone else.

UK food of the day: Oat flapjacks (from Marks and Spencer). Tasty! Ingredients were oats, butter, molasses, sweetened condensed milk. Mostly tasted like butter. Must learn to make them.

Day 1

Escalators in the UK are also on the wrong side.

(But, weirdly, you still stand on the right and walk on the left within one escalator. That is, the fast lane is on the left, same as in the US. Nobody was able to explain this to me.)

In Scottish bathroom iconography, women have one leg.

Con parties have lots of booze, but almost exactly no food at all. Exception: the Tolkien party; but they were nearly out of food when I arrived. Bah humbug. (I'm not an alcohol fan.)

But speaking of not being an alcohol fan: the Tolkien party had several bottles of single-varietal (non-fermented) apple juice. Very, very nice -- three varieties of apple, three completely different flavors. From Orchard Hive and Vine. I also tried their (fermented) cider, but see above. (In retrospect, I should have mixed in some of the juice, for sweetness.)

Cecilia Dart-Thornton (The Ill-Made Mute, etc.) was showing off a 3D walk-around-able rendering of her fantasy settings, on a laptop. They looked really good. Turns out, she explains, that they were done by Cyan Worlds! (Creators of Myst.) The scenes were built with Uru/Myst 5 technology. It seems that, with the Myst series winding down, Cyan is now offering artistic environment-building as a service. CDT did not say how much she paid, except that it was "a pretty penny" and took six months.

(I must admit, the scenes didn't make me want to buy her books; they made me want to play Myst 5.)

UK food of the day: Irn Bru. Tastes like bubblegum and quinine. I reflexively described this as "revolting", but then I drank another one later in the week. I think Coca-Cola has just trained me to enjoy revolting substances on an occasional basis.

Day 2

The weather in the UK is great. Clear, cool, bright. Sometimes it rains for twenty minutes, but so what. (This actually held true straight through the con, and then through an additional week in London, with just one really rainy day. All your talk of rainy London is obviously antipropaganda.)

Food situation at con parties is vastly improved. (And remains improved for the rest of the convention.)

It is slightly surprising when, walking back to your hotel late at night, the attractive young woman standing on the corner looks at you and murmurs "business?" Ah-heh heh, no thanks.

It is really surprising when, walking back to your hotel late at night, you turn a corner and nearly run into two people in the middle of transacting "business". (Audio effect: hasty zipping-up noises.) Fortunately I was coming back from filking, therefore was singing, therefore they had a few seconds of warning.

("Fortunate" because, frankly, the specimen was not of the "young" or "attractive" subspecies of woman-standing-on-corner.)

UK food of the day: Ploughman's lunch, or rather the convention-center version, which was a cheese and pickle sandwich on white bread. Neither the cheese, the pickle, the bread, nor the gestalt thereof was very good.

Day 3

P. C. Hodgell says that she's finished all but three chapters of the next Kencyrath book, and she hopes to release it (via Meisha Merlin) at the 2006 Worldcon.

Dougal Dixon (who is Scottish, who knew?) says that there was a Japanese stop-motion-animated movie version of After Man. (No, this does not refer to the recent "Future is Wild" TV special.)

UK food of the day: Dandelion and burdock soda. Tastes like licorice and model airplane glue. Bleaggh.

Montreal food of the day (via the Montreal bid party): Spruce soda. "It tastes like pine needles!" they said -- and it did -- and I liked it! I'd drink more any time.

They also tried to serve a dessert which was maple syrup poured over very cold, very fine crushed ice. This was supposed to thicken it, producing some kind of maple gel horror. But the ice wasn't cold or fine enough, and it just turned into watery syrup. They apologized and added more syrup, so it was a win from my point of view.

Day 4-5

Picking up a phone in the UK for the first time, and hearing the dial tone, is just disorienting.

(I never did succeed in placing a phone call from my hotel room to London.)

UK food of the day: "Mince pie and chips with curry, please. With salt and vinegar." (At a small fast-food stand.) Radioactive yellow "curry" sauce, big pastry full of stuff, big pile of fried potato -- oversalted, greasy, bland, and too hot to hold. Wonderful. If I moved to the UK, I'd be dead in a year.

In retrospect, these chips were the only fried food I ate in Scotland. Oh, I guess I had some pakora at an Indian place, but that was mediocre.

UK food of the day, part two: Cornish pasty. From the stand at the train station, so it may have been as authentic as the sandwiches at the convention center -- but it was good.

-- August 16, 2005.

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