Convention Log is a personalzine published occasionally for friends of R-Laurraine Tutihasi, who resides at 29217 Stonecrest Road, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90275-4936, 310-265-0766, Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org, web page http://www.weasner.com. Distributed through FAPA and available for the usual, subject to editorial whim. Letters or phone calls of comment and contributions of artwork or other items of interest will be welcomed. Kattesminte Press publication #323. © 2000 by R-Laurraine Tutihasi.
NEWS AND VIEWS
A lot has happened since last years issue. To avoid confusion, I will cover the events in chronological order.
There were two changes in the health front. My own health suffered a setback with the onset of fatigue at the beginning of March that did not clear up after a few days rest. I started the first of a long series of visits to doctors, starting with my primary caregiver, an internist, who also specializes in gerontology. When she had exhausted her fount of knowledge, she referred me to my rheumatologist, who had already been treating me for a frozen shoulder, and a specialist in infectious diseases. The rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, which is very similar to chronic fatigue syndrome but is identified by the existence of up to eighteen tender points. Over the past year, I have had physical, occupational, and biofeedback therapy, the last of which is still ongoing. Since September, vertigo, which had been intermittent up till then, became one of my constant symptoms. It is not severe, but it does limit my movements somewhat, including driving. Because of these health problems, I was forced to stop working and have been collecting various forms of disability insurance.
Our cat Christopher Robin also suffered a setback in his health. He began displaying various digestive system problems in late 1998. After treatment for irritable bowel syndrome did not seem to be working, his regular vet referred him to another office for an endoscopy. This revealed an abdominal lymphoma, a form of cancer that is usually incurable in cats. We started a course of chemotherapy in July. During the past few months, the condition seems to be under better control. However, he has lost considerable weight and hair. The latter is probably due to the chemotherapy.
My garden is coming along well. As can be expected, some of the plants have needed replacing. We didnt have a big house project last year. We devoted the time to getting a lot of little things done. It took a long time partly because the first handyman we hired stopped coming after a while. Then I took my time getting a replacement.
In mid-year, we went to Las Vegas and got married. The write-up is below.
Other than that short trip, we devoted our vacation time to one big trip to Australia. That report is also below.
At the beginning of this year, I accompanied Mike for the first time to MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. The report of that trip is also included.
Fluffy is doing well other than being overweight. I try hard to get Christopher Robin to eat a lot, but Fluffy ends up eating the same food.
Mikes work is going very well. Everyone in his department likes him. He also just upgraded his home computer to a Power Mac G4/450.
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FROM THE INTERNET
What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.
- Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962)
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I had a little trouble getting to sleep the night of Thursday, 24 June 1999, because of anticipation about the next day's trip to Las Vegas. I also got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and took about an hour to get back to sleep.
In the morning, I had to get up a scant hour after feeding the cats.
We left about 8:30. We stopped at the credit union, where I deposited a couple of checks. But then we had to return home for Mike's hat.
I felt really tired in the morning. Unfortunately, ever since fibromyalgia set in, I find it impossible to sleep except at night in bed.
We stopped for lunch at the Jenny Rose, a restaurant a little east of Barstow. I felt better after eating. I had spaghetti with meat sauce, which was pretty good.
We arrived at the Las Vegas Hilton just about 15h00, which was what we had aimed for. The outside temperature was 106, so the lobby felt good. We waited nearly an hour in the registration line. There was free lemonade available in the lobby, which was nice.
Our room was on the sixteenth floor. It's by the elevator, but the noise didn't carry. Anyway, the sound of the air conditioner probably masked other sounds. After unpacking, I was able to reach Arnie Katz by phone. He said a party was planned for 19h30 the next night. He also gave us directions to the house.
We went down to see the Star Trek Experience. After you enter, there is a museum with many exhibits showing the history of the many Star Trek shows. There is a great timeline, which I wish they had for sale. The ride itself is very similar to the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. I think it is a bit rougher. I was squeezing Mike's hand pretty hard during much of it.
The ride let us off at the Star Trek shopping area. We took our time looking at everything and bought a few items: a mouse pad, a mug, and a business card holder. Then we had dinner at Quark's. Occasionally, people dressed as Ferengi or Klingons visited the tables. I took a picture of a couple of these costumed people. The food was good and the service also good. I had a vegetable pasta dish, very tasty with artichokes and other vegetables.
I had left my sweater in the car, so we went to get that. It gets a little chilly inside when you're sitting still. Mike also bought a little Marvin the Martian beanie toy at one of the shops on the ground floor of the hotel. We both got new batteries for our cameras. Mike's eats batteries as though they were going out of style. The low battery warning on mine came on, which meant it was in danger of dying soon.
We didn't find any shows we wanted to see, so we decided to call it a night.
Saturday morning, I got up at 11:00 still feeling tired. I felt better after a breakfast of eggs and bacon at the Paradise Cafe.
We returned to the room after we ate. There was a very tall black man in the elevator with us. I kept looking at him and thinking he must be well over seven feet tall. I wondered if he played basketball. Afterward, Mike told me it was Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Of course, I'd heard of him; but I had no idea what he looked like. There was an ESPN award ceremony happening that night in the hotel, so there were a lot of "industry" people there.
I changed into a dress before we headed downtown to get our marriage license. There was a long line there, but we got our license. The Marriage Commissioner was a block away. We were married there in a civil ceremony. The Commissioner who married us offered to take our picture. Actually, he took several. I think he enjoyed doing it. He said he had learned from all the wedding photographers who had been at his office at other marriages.
We returned to the hotel to change back to more comfortable clothes. Then we went to the Mirage, where there are some animal exhibits. Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden is a small zoo of large cats and an elephant. There are white lions, white and yellow tigers, leopards, and panthers. Although some of the cats were sleeping, as they often are when we see them at larger zoos, some were fairly active. We saw the white tigers chase and catch a bird that had flown into their enclosure. It was a pigeon or something the same size. One tiger caught it and had himself a nice snack. Next to this area is a dolphin exhibit. There are eight altogether in three tanks. There are viewing areas below water as well as above. From time to time, the dolphins will jump and do other "tricks." We missed most of that but still took a lot of pictures. We also bought several souvenirs at the shop there. I got a pair of white leopard cub stuffies, a video of the magic show that Siegfried and Roy do, a lapel pin, and a roll of film. We also got a free CD, which is given out if your purchase goes above a certain amount.
We returned to our hotel, where we had a small dinner. We weren't feeling that hungry. We split the BBQ pizza at Quark's.
Then we took a taxi to Joyce and Arnie Katz's, where they had organized a party for us. I guess we met most of Las Vegas fandom, thought I'm sure I won't remember all the names. It was nice to put faces to the names I knew from FAPA. Joyce was a very gracious hostess. She had even baked a wedding cake for us. Arlene Foreman offered to take pictures of us cutting and eating the cake. Joyce made us bring half the cake back with us. The whole group were very nice. We had several interesting conversations. We eventually had to leave, since we were planning to leave for home the next day. Ken and Arlene drove us back to the hotel.
Sunday, 15 August 1999, I got up at nine since I hadnt got much done on the packing front. After I had gone over the list once, I went to the credit union to make a deposit and also stopped at Pavilions supermarket to pick up a few last-minute items.
The rest of the day was crammed.
It was rush, rush, rush toward the end, trying to get everything done.
Super Shuttle called to say they were sending a taxi as the shuttle had had some kind of luggage problem. The taxi finally appeared when Mike was calling to report its tardiness. He was on hold but finally just hung up.
Check-in at the airport was fairly quick.
I was really hungry, so I bought a spicy chicken pizza at Wolfgang Puck. That was a minor miscalculation, as dinner was served on the plane even though it was almost midnight.
Then three movies were shown with breaks in between. The first one was Neil Simons The Out-of-Towners, starring Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, and John Cleese. It was a completely unbelievable story, but it was also very funny. I missed the beginning of the next one, which was Rhapsody in Bloom starring Penelope Ann Miller, Ron Silver, and Craig Sheffer. It was a character development study sort of movie and fairly enjoyable. I slept through most of the third movie.
The reason I watched any movie at all was that I was having an extremely difficult time falling asleep. We were seated right behind a bulkhead where one of the movie screens was located. Eventually, I just got so tired that I couldnt keep my eyes open. They were tired, hot, and dry. I slept fitfully. I had to ask for some aspirin at one point, because I was aching practically everywhere. That helped a great deal. Also, one of the flight attendants took pity on us and brought us some eye masks. They also helped, but I had to take mine off because it was too hot in the cabin to wear them.
At what seemed like the middle of the night, we were fed a snack. Before we landed in Auckland, NZ, we were served breakfast.
There was no Monday due to the International Date Line.
At Auckland on Tuesday, we had to deplane so the plane could be serviced. Mike found out that the roller ballpoint pen he had had in his jacket pocket had leaked out and stained one corner of his jacket. He spent a great deal of time cleaning the jacket and items that had been in the same pocket. When we returned to the plane, we discovered ink stains on his seat and the neighbouring one. Since the plane was not full, we sat in different seats. We were served another breakfast on the flight to Melbourne, which took about three and a half hours.
Customs and immigration went quite quickly, and we had about an hours wait for the Ansett Australia flight to Sydney, the capital of New South Wales. On this flight, we were served lunch. Although the food was quite good, there didnt seem to be enough of it. Fortunately, I had saved bread sticks, a Kit Kat bar, and a cookie from previous meals.
Sydney was warm and overcast. We were met by a limo to take us to the Southern Cross Hotel, located near the centre of the city. There, we received vouchers and other tour information that we did not already have. Our room was well furnished and comfortable. The only problem was the shower. It was the kind that uses water diverted from the bathtub faucet. The diverter didnt work too well, so we had very little pressure for the shower. Weak showers really bug me. We looked over all the new documentation and divided it all into things we should have on a daily basis, things needed when flying, things we should hold onto for informational purposes, and things in reserve for other destinations. We also walked around a bit near the hotel to familiarize ourselves with the neighbourhood.
Then I called the opera house to see whether it was feasible to go to the opera and whether tickets were available. Verdis Don Carlo was playing next evening, and we got excellent seats. Prices seem more reasonable than in LA. Dress is casual as in LA. When I asked, they said "Anything goes!"
We retired after an early dinner.
The next morning, we got up at six just to make sure we would be on time for our first tour. I got between nine and ten hours of good solid sleep and felt much better.
While we were waiting for our tour bus pickup, I overheard some Polish athletes being told theyd been left behind by their bus because they were late. There apparently were some kind of competitions being held in town. We also saw other athletes from Latvia, Russia, and the U.S. The hotel seemed to house those athletes and tourists, primarily. The hotel is in the southern end of downtown, about six blocks away from the opera house.
When we got to the Circular Quay, whence the tours depart, we looked into a missing voucher. Its a good thing we did, as there had been a mix-up. However, the Gray Line people were very helpful in straightening things out for us.
As we were lining up to get on our bus, we ran into fan friends Julie Dickinson and Hope Lebowitz. They were with the fannishly organized escorted tour. They were going on the same city tour of Sydney but had enough people for a separate bus. Our morning was an introduction to the northern part of metropolitan Sydney. Then we had a luncheon cruise with the Captain Cook company. The cruise sailed around Sydney Harbour. We finished the day with a bus tour of the southern part of Sydney. We had an extra treat on this portion. When we arrived at Bondi Beach, there was a right whale close to shore. Several people were in the water trying to persuade the whale to go back to sea. I got some good shots of that. This was apparently such an unusual event that it got on the TV news.
One of the things I noticed on the tour were the birds. Except for sparrows, crows, and starlings, the birds in Australia were generally very colourful and tropical looking. The birds were especially noticeable in Alice Springs and Ayers Rock.
We grabbed some fast food after the tour and then walked to the Opera House, which was on the opposite side of a horseshoe-shaped docking area. As in England, the fast food places often didnt give you a napkin unless you asked for one. At the Opera House, we picked up our tickets. Unlike LA, the ticket people didnt ask to see any ID. The seats, which were in the dress circle, were excellent. We were right in the front row centre of the balcony and had an unobstructed view. The opera was very good with very interesting sets. It would have been even better had the air conditioning been more efficient.
After the performance, we joined the queue to wait for a taxi. The show let out about 22h30, but it was nearly midnight before we got back to the hotel and collapsed.
One thing I noticed this day and throughout the trip was the hygiene in the public restrooms. There were usually special containers for feminine sanitary pads. These receptacles were not simple containers but contained a chemical that treated the things dropped in. In the US, not even the medical waste containers in doctors offices are that elaborate. Another feature of many toilets that I noticed were dual buttons, one for full flush and another for half flush. This makes more sense to me than the low flush toilets in the US, where you sometimes need to flush several times.
On Thursday, I slept well again but had only about six hours to sleep, so I started the day already tired.
We saw Julie Dickinson again before our tour. We went on a Blue Mountain tour that included a stop at the Australian Wildlife Park in Wonderland. They feature koala photo sessions. You arent allowed to hold the koala, but you can touch it. The koala has soft, woolly fur. We covered a lot of ground; and the driver, Stewart, provided wonderful commentary. Among other sights, we saw a rock formation called The Three Sisters.
On our drive back, we learned that most Australian schools are single sex. Also, General Motors manufacture a car called the Holden there. Most of the same makes as in the States are available there. However, I didnt see any Lexus or Infiniti cars.
Unfortunately, I apparently was suffering from some kind of stomach bug. I thought it was motion sickness at first, as the bus lurched every time it shifted. I got ill enough at one point to use one of the comfort bags that were provided. We had started out on the upper deck, where the motion of the bus is felt more. Fortunately, Stewart found a couple on the lower deck willing to trade seats with us. It was also the front seat, so this was even better for my condition.
I was pretty good on all the stops. I always felt better when I wasnt on a moving bus. I did a good deal of souvenir shopping and photo taking. I was breaking in a new digital camcorder. I had a difficult time getting the narration part, but the picture part looks pretty good.
At night, we had room service after we were dropped off at the end of the tour. Then we packed and retired early.
We were picked up on Friday morning about 7h15 to be taken to the Sydney airport. At the airport, we ran into the fan group again. They were also flying to Cairns. Our flight was quite smooth. There was an on-flight movie. It was Arlington Road starring Jeff Bridges, Tom Robbins, and Joan Cusack. It was an okay movie inspired by the Oklahoma City bombing, Ruby Ridge, and similar incidents.
Cairns was warmer than Sydney. It seemed pretty similar to home except for the high humidity. We stayed at the Rihga Colonial Club Resort. Its a very nice place. They apparently didnt have our reservation, but we were able to get a deluxe room rather than the standard accommodation that should have been booked. The room keys there are also used to provide electricity to the room, so you cannot leave the room and leave the lights on. There are three swimming pools in natural-looking shapes surrounded by tropical vegetation.
We took a turn around the resort with the video camera.
Later, we ate at the Jardines Restaurant, which was very nice. I had kangaroo. Mike had salmon. We both had wine with dinner, and I also had a Tia Maria afterward.
We had to get up really early Saturday morning for a guided tour of the Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation. We had about a dozen people on a 4WD Toyota Landcruiser. Our guide, Neil, made us all feel more at home by making sure we learned the names of the other people in the group. There were three couples from Melbourne (Dan and Anne, Jenny and Peter, and Denise and Fred), though Fred was originally from Germany. There were also a couple from Barcelona, Spain, (Isabelle and Jose-Maria) and two cousins from Italy (Giovanna and Eugenia). We rotated seats at each stop to get acquainted with one another.
The cleared areas of the rain forest were all planted in sugar cane, the only crop that would grow in the denuded soil.
Cape Tribulation received its name from Captain Cooks misfortune on a reef off the coast. There were other interesting place names along the coast, which my memory has been unable to retain.
About halfway through the morning when we went on a short river cruise, we ran into Julie Dickinsons group again; and we saw them a few more times during the day. On the river cruise, we saw three crocodiles and other interesting wildlife. At mid-day, we stopped near a very clear stream for lunch. A few hardy souls plunged into the cold water. We had a delicious barbecued lunch that included fresh fish as one of the choices.
In mid-afternoon, I experienced a misfortune with my video camera. I believe the cassette, which I had inserted a short while before, was the problem. After I switched to another cassette, I had a few problems; but the camera functioned okay after that. I hope we can eventually salvage pictures from the faulty cassette. That segment included some of my best shots.
Aside from that unfortunate incident, the day was very enjoyable if long.
Its very humid in this area, so we both showered before having dinner at the Homestead Restaurant. One effect of the humidity was my hair curling up.
I woke up twice in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. The second time was close to morning. It was raining quite heavily.
We woke up very early again on Sunday to be picked up for our reef excursion on an Ocean Spirit boat. It took about 2-1/2 hours to get to Michaelmas Quay on the reef. Still, we had enough time to do a lot. Mike and I rode on the semi-submersible boat, which gives you a chance to take underwater photos without getting wet. After lunch, I did a little snorkelling. It had been so long since Id done any appreciable swimming that I had to overcome panic attacks first. I used a rented wet suit and a disposable underwater camera. Unfortunately, I was only able to take ten pix before fatigue and another panic attack overcame me. Later, I remembered that I had always before used a nose clip. I no longer had one since my old one had turned all sticky.
We also heard a short bird lecture. Michaelmas Quay, where we did our underwater exploring, is a large breeding ground for birds.
On our way back to Cairns, we were treated to the sight of two or more humpback whales. They were really close to the boat, sometimes even going under it. All the boats in the vicinity stopped when the whales were close. I thought it was to give us a better view, but I was told later that there was a law that required that boats stop to prevent injuring the whales.
On our way back, we were also entertained by a guitarist/singer Another feature of this cruise and throughout all our sightseeing in Australia was that we were always well fed.
Tonight we were not quite as tired as the night before. We ate again at the Homestead after I washed the salt water off.
We had to get up at an ungodly hour on Monday to catch our ride to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs. The fan group were on the same flight, but they went on to Darwin.
We had time for a light lunch at the All Seasons Frontier Oasis Hotel before we were picked up for a town tour. This was our worst hotel on our tour at about a par with Motel 6.
The Alice Springs tour was basically to learn about the history of the place. We visited the headquarters of the Flying Doctors and the School of the Air. These services exist because the interior of Australia is so sparsely populated. I could easily have done without stopping in Alice Springs, but I didnt know that before I saw the place.
At night, we had a disastrous attempt to have dinner at the hotel. We waited an hour after we ordered and finally left in disgust. We ate at a restaurant called Oscars that had been recommended by the tour driver earlier (Grey).
We got up early on Tuesday to catch a tour bus for Ayers Rock. The drive there was fairly long. There are no speed limits on the Northern Territory highways, but buses are limited to 100 km/hr. There were a couple of stops on the way. The first was at a camel farm, where we had the option of a ride, which I took. Mike took photos. At the second stop, most of us got scones and tea.
Just as we were approaching Ayers Rock Resort, we saw the remains of a nasty car accident, probably with a fatality.
We were booked at the Outback Pioneer Resort Hotel. There are about five hotels at Ayers Rock and a small shopping centre. We only had about an hour to check in and make some re-arrangements for the next day. In the rush, I didnt get around to eating any lunch.
Then we had a tour to the Olgas, a rock formation near Ayers Rock. We ran into fans Eve Ackerman and Janice Gelb there. Janice is this years DUFF winner. The Down Under Fan Fund alternately sends an American fan to Australia and Australian fan to the US. She said shed already been in Australia for three weeks. The tour also included a sunset view of Ayers Rock. I chatted briefly with a Frenchman who stood beside us taking pictures. He was impressed by the array of cameras that Mike and I had. Mike had his Pentax Spotmatic on a tripod as well as his Ricoh digital camera. I had my Sony digital videocam.
That evening, we ate at the White Gum Restaurant at the Desert Gardens Resort Hotel. We both ate a sampler of kangaroo, ostrich, and crocodile. We skipped dessert. Mike was impatient to get back to the room, because he wanted to get up in the middle of the night to look at the stars.
On Wednesday, we woke very early for the first trip to the base of Ayers Rock. We had been booked for the later one, but I had had it changed to allow us time to climb Ayers Rock. I picked up a box breakfast just before being picked up.
As I looked at the contents of the box, I realized I wasnt hungry, that I was feeling queasy. But I ate most of the ham and cheese croissant sandwich anyway. I saved the other items in my backpack that I had purchased the previous day in the hotel gift shop.
Mike and I attempted to climb Ayers Rock. I didnt make it too far before I was overcome with fatigue. Mike went much farther but still didnt make it past the guide chains, which go up about a third of the way up the rock. He turned around, because he didnt want to miss the bus. Basically, we had about two and a half hours for the climb. I talked to a number of people who had made it up to the top, but Mike said he needed more time. After our valiant effort, we took a base tour on the bus. It made one stop where we were given a guided tour of some aboriginal cave art and a pool formed by runoff from the rock. We also stopped at an aboriginal museum.
We returned from the tour with plenty of time for lunch, but I didnt feel like eating. I had the apple I had received for breakfast and rested.
About 14h00, we were picked up for the Ayers Rock helicopter ride. Everything looks a little different from the air.
After that, I really felt terrible. Mike went to dinner by himself. I had a rough night with nausea and cramping.
We checked out the next morning and left for the airport a little before noon. I was still feeling pretty bad and had no breakfast. Our flight took off about 13h30. We had to change planes in Sydney. I didnt eat on the flights, just had Coke.
We arrived in Melbourne in the evening. The hotel did not have a record of the reservation change I had requested but were able to let us have a room anyway. We ordered room service and retired early. I just had soup and a Coke.
We decided to take it easy on Friday. I skipped breakfast, as I was still not recovered from the stomach bug. We spent the day planning and looking around the hotel and nearby environs. We didnt go far because of serious rain.
We also got a room with a better view for the remainder of our stay.
I had soup for lunch. I was feeling better but still a bit queasy. By evening, I was even better. I had soup and bread with no dire consequences.
I felt good enough to wash my hair.
On Saturday, I got up a little before 8h00. We were to be picked up about 9h00 for a tour of the Healesville Sanctuary. However, the bus did not show up. We finally called the tour company, and they did not have us down for a pick-up. They told us we could take a cab over to their place, and they would reimburse us. We did that. We also straightened out everything for Mondays tour of the coast west of Melbourne.
Todays tour took us into the mountains north of Melbourne where we transferred to another coach. We had an Aussie BBQ lunch stop at a winery. Then we were taken to the animal sanctuary. It is a miniature San Diego Wild Animal park. Most of the animals here are not dangerous to people, so we were able to get up very close. I was able to pet a kangaroo and a wombat.
At the gift shop, I bought books about the flora and fauna of Australia and also a beanie toy of a wombat.
We returned from the tour about 18h00 and had dinner at the Dragon Boat Chinese restaurant in the basement of the hotel. The food was good, but we did not return there because of the smoking.
After dinner, Mike found a message from Scott Patten, a contact he had made through his Meade ETX telescope web site. Mike called back and confirmed plans for the next day.
We got up before 7h00, because Scott had said he would pick us up at 8h00 in front of the hotel. We were ready, but Scott had a little trouble finding our hotel. Its a relatively new place, and he was unfamiliar with it. However, he eventually showed up.
He took us first to the Victoria Market, where stalls are set up to sell practically everything. I got a lambs wool vest and a purse, and Mike got a souvenir knitted vest. Its a huge place. The people I got the vest from had emigrated from Russia. Just after I made my purchase, we saw a Russian girl we had met on the tour the previous day.
Then Scott took us to St. Kilda Beach, where there is a craft fair on Sundays. Mike bought a few leather souvenirs, and I picked up a few knick-knacks.
The three of us had lunch nearby.. Then Scott returned us to our hotel.
At night, we had a very light dinner, as neither of us was very hungry.
We were up before dawn on Monday to be picked up for the Great Ocean Road tour. This tour took us along the southern coast of Australia to the west of Melbourne. There are beautiful rock formations just off the beach along the coast. The bus drove along a meandering coastal road on the way out, stopping at various places where there were footpaths leading to scenic views. On the return trip, the bus zipped along a much faster direct inland route. It was a beautiful tour but a long day.
When we got back, we had a bite to eat. After showering, we retired.
For a change, we were able to sleep in on Tuesday and get some much-needed rest.
Our Little Penguins tour started early in the afternoon. A stop at a farm was included. Here we had afternoon tea and saw the animals they had there. A wombat was kept in a small cage. I had the urge to let it loose but resisted. In a very large enclosure, there were kangaroos and geese. One of the kangaroos had a joey in her pouch. The joey stuck his head out at one point, and the tourists all gathered around for pictures.
We also stopped at the Koala Conservation Centre, where we saw a number of koalas up close.
When we reached the beach where the penguins gather, it was about dusk. We had to wait over an hour before the penguins started coming to shore after dark. My new digital video camera was equipped with low light and night light (infrared) settings, so I was able to get semi-decent pictures. However, I really wish wed had more time there.
On our return trip, our bus experienced a computer failure. We were delayed by an hour and were loaded on to two other buses after a dinner stop.
On Wednesday, we got up relatively early for a city tour. While we were waiting to be picked up, we ran into the fan group again. Some of the sights we saw this morning included Captains Cooks Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The bus also drove past numerous landmarks, such as the Flinders St. Station (train), St. Pauls Cathedral, St. Patricks Cathedral, and Parliament House.
Afterwards, we stayed in town to do a little shopping. I bought the complete set of books by Len Beadell, a tape of whose we heard on a tour bus in Ayers Rock. The books are about his experiences in the outback and are very humorous.
That was the end of our sightseeing. The next day, Aussiecon, the world science fiction convention, would start.
We got up at a reasonable hour Thursday morning -- 8h30.
When we got to the convention centre, there was a long line at registration, apparently because registration been halted for some reason. I saw Eric Lindsay at one side of the room so I stopped to say hello.
Once registration resumed, the line moved relatively quickly. Jane and Scott Dennis were set up to sell souvenir convention T-shirts just next to registration. Mike picked one up.
We scouted around the area and picked up a bite of breakfast in the convention centre complex. Then we looked over the art show and dealers room.
There were no programme items we were interested in until afternoon, so we returned to the room for while. I did some reading in the programme book.
The reading we attended at 14h00 was titled "The Aliens among Us" and included four authors.
Afterwards, we voted at site selection for the worldcon in 2002. San Jose was the only real choice. We then took out pre-supporting memberships in Toronto for 2003. We also cornered the Hawaii Westercon people and talked to them about my proposed observatory jaunt. There appears to be a worldcon bid forming for UK in 2005. 2004 seems to be between NYC and Charlotte; Ill support almost anyone against NYC.
At another area, there was a flyer for Westercon in 2003 for SeaTac. I dont know of a bid yet for 2002.
We made another swing through the dealers room, where Mike bought two books. Just as we were preparing to return to the hotel, we bumped into Eric Lindsay again. I confirmed the time and venue for an APA party Sunday evening. He asked whether he should get the Thorne Smith books I had asked for. We decided to return to the hotel together, so I could the books from him. We were both on the eighth floor.
At night, we attended parties for San Jose in 2002 and Minneapolis in 73. The second one was at the All Seasons Grand Hotel about a block away. We talked with Jeanne Mealy and John Stanley and a Canadian fan living in Qatar. We stayed far longer than I had intended, and we staggered back to our room about midnight.
Friday morning, we attended "The Flight of Buran: Building and Flying the Russian Space Shuttle" presented by Canadian science historian Hugh S. Gregory. He showed videotape of unspecified origin about the Russian space programme. We also attended "From Canberra to Norstrilia the Australian Adventures of Cordwainer Smith" ; Alan Elms presented a paper about Cordwainer Smiths visits to Australia and their influence on his writing.
After a break, we attended a panel discussion about "The Science in SF" with Perrianne Lurie, Richard Harland, Greg Benford, and Brad Lyau. They each had a different approach to the use of science in fiction.
"Babylon 5 -- Londos Story," which had been scheduled for the room we were in, was moved to a bigger room; so we spent part of the hour shifting locations. It was the contention of speakers James Allen and Glen Tilly that the series was largely Londos story. They discussed this with the shows creator, J. Michael Straczynski.
The last programme item we attended that day was "Space Exploration" with panellists Stephen Baxter, jan howard finder, James Benford, and Ben Bova. It was basically a discussion about the American space programme.
We had time to rest up before we were met by Scott Patten in front of the hotel to take us to a nice dinner at the Olive Tree Restaurant. We were too tired to do any partying after we returned.
Saturday morning, we did some souvenir shopping. We used the free tram to get around.
We returned in time to spend "An Hour with Robert Silverberg." Then we attended the two-hour Guest of Honour Speech by Gregory Benford. He gave a very interesting talk about burying nuclear, chemical, and biological waste in such a way as to prevent their being dug up before it was safe to do so. It was the best guest of honour speech I can recall hearing.
After a break, we attended "Soviet Space Disasters," a video presentation by Hugh Gregory. Since this was the last talk of the day scheduled for the venue, he took the liberty of also showing other videos about the space programme. By the time he finished, it was time for the Hugo Ceremonies.
This years Hugo winners were as follows:
Sunday morning, we attended a panel on "The Interstellar Precursor Probe." NASA has awarded a contract to Microwave Sciences, Inc., James Benfords company, for experiments to demonstrate the technique of using a directed beam of microwave radiation to propel a sail of ultralight material to very high speeds for sending probes to the outer solar system and the stars. James and Gregory Benford, along with F. David Nordley, covered plans for the experiments and NASAs long-term plan for the next century.
At noon, we attended "Collaborating, or Oh, no, you write the monster Scene." This was a very interesting panel with Jody Nye, Sean Williams, Robert Silverberg, and Ginjur Buchanan relating their experiences with collaboration. Every experience was different, and most were positive.
A bit later, we attended J. Michael Straczynskis guest of honour speech. He alternated between answering questions from the audience and showing bits of a "Crusade" episode.
The last programme item we attended during the day was Stephen Baxter doing a reading.
We made the mistake of going to the masquerade. It was the worst masquerade we have ever attended. Not only were there very few contestants, but we had to sit through too many minutes of two guys who thought they were funny. There was also some filking, which was less objectionable. The filking and comedy schtick were just time-fillers to disguise the fact that there really wasnt much of a masquerade at all. Unfortunately, there was no way for us to discover these facts without sitting through the whole thing.
Afterwards, we staggered to a neighbouring hotel for an ANZAPA party wed been invited to. We were both tired but managed to have a fairly pleasant time. I chatted with Karen Johnson, whom I knew from FAPA, and a fan from the Bay Area in California.
We couldnt stay too long, since we were leaving for home the next morning.
We got up fairly early Monday morning to check out and get to the airport. Checkout went very quickly, and the cab was waiting for us. We reached the airport in plenty of time.
The flights went smoothly . I watched one movie. This was Election starring Matthew Broderick, who has been a favourite of mine since I saw him on stage in Biloxi Blues. It is about a teacher and a school election for student president and vice president. I found it disappointing. It seemed rather pointless. I managed to get more sleep this leg than going to Australia, but I really had to work at it. It helped that it wasnt too hot on the flight.
When we landed in LA, I wondered whether we had really come home. The weather seemed so similar to what we had left back in Melbourne. It was a sort of grey day, somewhat oppressive with humidity.
I got up at 6h00 Monday morning when I fed the cats. Mike went to work. I finished packing, looked through yesterdays paper, opened Fridays mail, and did some work on the computer. I was trying to get as much done as I could before the airport shuttle arrived.
We were the only pickup for Supershuttle. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our United Shuttle flight. After we reached the gate area, I was able to buy more Dramamine for the trip. Id only enough for the trip going up to San Francisco for MacWorld. At least this is what I thought at the time; I later discovered another Bonine tablet.
The flight was in mid afternoon, so there was only beverage and snack service. The flight was uneventful. I successfully completed the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine.
After we landed and had retrieved our luggage, we took an airport shuttle bus to the hotel. It was about 17h30 when we were dropped off at the San Francisco Marriott.
We had some problems at check-in. The first room assigned to us reeked of smoke even though it was a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. We eventually ended up in a corner room on the twenty-eighth floor. We had views to the north and west.
We ordered dinner brought up, because Mike wanted to watch football on TV. I had a seafood pasta dish, and Mike had hamburger.
I had a little trouble getting to sleep at night. Id forgotten the Ambien tablets, so I just had to be patient. I dont think it took me more than an hour to fall asleep.
I got up at my usual time of 10h00 Tuesday morning. Mike had got up much earlier and left for some sessions held for professionals.
I went down for the first meal of my day, which was brunch. I went to the Garden Terrace Restaurant on the second floor. It was at the bottom of the atrium, which was about six floors high. Although I was told I could still get breakfast, I decided to choose from their lunch menu. I had the Soup and a Half, which consisted of pepper steak sandwich and lentil soup. It came with a small fruit and custard tart and a sweet dessert bar. It was served very artistically with a parsley sprig. I found it both good and filling. The area around the restaurant is decorated with fountains and plants.
After I ate, I went down to the lobby level and looked around. There was a gift shop. I bought a souvenir pin of San Francisco. Then I went outside. There is a sandwich shop on the corner. Across Mission Street is a shopping and entertainment complex that included a Discovery Channel Store. It had several enticing items, but I didnt buy anything.
I returned to the hotel room in mid-afternoon. I did the crossword puzzle in the complementary copy of USA Today that wed received in the morning. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading FAPA, adding my comments to my FAPA notes document on Mikes notebook computer, playing solitaire, doing a few exercises, listening to a biofeedback tape, and watching an episode of "The Simpsons" -- the one in which Marge joins the police force. When I started to get a bit hungry, I ate a Rice Krispies Treat bar and some candy.
Mike called around 18h00 to ask whether his friend John Martellaro had called. He hadnt. John has been Mikes friend since college. When Mike finally returned to the room a little after 19h00, John hadnt checked in yet, so we went down to the Garden Terrace restaurant for my dinner. Mike had been fed a late lunch at one of his sessions. I had Spicy Prawn Risotto. It wasnt that spicy. It came artfully arranged with the morel mushrooms and prawns arranged around a small mound of rice topped with a thin potato pancake and asparagus. It was quite good, though I thought the rice was too gooey. I still felt hungry after finishing the dish, so we ordered dessert. Mike hadnt eaten anything while I was having the meal except for bread. He had a Coke. However, he decided to join me for dessert. I had Crème Brulée, and Mike had an apple pie à la mode. Mine came with strawberries, blueberries, and something that tasted like peanut brittle. It was very good, but I couldnt finish it.
Wednesday was a really long day. We got up at six to line up for the keynote speech given by Steve Jobs. It still wasnt early enough to get in front of the line. Don Carlile, one of Mikes staff at work, offered me a muffin, which I accepted, since we hadnt had time for breakfast. We waited in line for more than ninety minutes. My cane chair really came in handy. However, after about an hour, I was too cold to remain seated. We were finally let inside about 8h30.
Steve Jobs began the keynote address a little after 9h00. He spoke for over two hours. Mike videotaped the whole thing except for small gaps when he had to change the cassette. Steve began the talk with the things that Apple had accomplished in the past two years. Then he demod Mac OS X. It is pretty neat. It has a really nice look to it and also has some really cool capabilities. Apple has developed Internet capabilities to take advantage of their current OS. At the end, he announced that he was making the transition from being interim CEO to being the iCEO. Everyone cheered and gave him a long, standing ovation.
After the speech, we headed to the area where John de Lancie was scheduled to speak. He was actually interviewed by Christopher Breen of MacWorld magazine. It was pretty interesting. It seems John de Lancie has been using a Mac almost since the beginning.
Then we broke for lunch. After we ate, we made the rounds of the exhibitors. Finally, about 16h30 we headed back to the hotel. We shed some of the stuff wed been carrying around. Then we got together with John and Lee Martellaro to head over to the Dantz party, which was being held at the Thirsty Bear restaurant down the street from the Moscone Convention Center. They laid out quite a spread. It was a full-blown dinner. When we left, we each got a little shot glass souvenir. Afterward we went up to the View Lounge with John and Lee and had drinks. I got introduced to a Frozen Brandy Alexander sans ice cream. It was pretty good. Before returning to our rooms, we stopped at the gift shop to pick up liquid refreshment for tomorrow.
Wed had a lovely day if a bit on the cool side.
I got a full nights sleep Wednesday night.
It looked like another beautiful weather day Thursday, but it became increasingly cloudy as the day wore on.
I got up at 9h30, a little earlier than I thought I had to. It was a good thing, because I kept forgetting to do things and made one false start and had to return to the room to apply my makeup.
I had breakfast at the Garden Terrace restaurant on the second floor. I had two eggs sunnyside up with a muffin, orange juice, and decaf. Then I headed over to the south hall of Moscone. My right shoulder felt really bad; when I moved it, it sounded as though there was gravel in it. I found I did not have my Valium, so I took some Ultram. I had a little time before the interview with John de Lancie that I wanted to attend, so I talked to people at Epson about their all-in-one models. They currently are not networkable, but that may be a future feature.
Before the formal session with John de Lancie, I asked him about the possibility of another audience participation show for Alien Voices. A couple of these shows were done for the Sci-Fi Channel a couple of years ago, and we had been in the audience for one of them. It is basically a recording session for the audio tapes that is videotaped. He said there were no current plans, because the networks dont seem to be interested in such events. His talk focussed on Alien Voices and its projects -- past, present, and future. I videotaped the entire session. Afterwards, he did autographs. I had him autograph my convention schedule.
As I was deciding what to do about getting a bite to eat to fortify myself, I bumped into fellow fan and Mac user Carol Weinstein. She was supposed to have met her husband, Elst; but there had apparently been a miscommunication about the location. After we chatted for a while, she went off to the other hall to see if he was there.
I decided to have a muffin. One side effect of Ultram is that it dries ones mouth, so I finished off the bottle of Squirt Id got the night before. I bought some bottled water to replace it.
After I ate, I reconnoitred the exhibit area a bit more. I talked to Canon about their all-in-one printer product. Theirs is also not currently networkable, but the rep I talked to thought that would be coming soon.
Then I went upstairs to the meeting rooms where the seminars were being presented. I attended two back-to-back sessions about FileMaker Pro. I took a few notes, mostly writing down the URLs where the information was available on the web. There was also a group taping all the sessions, the tapes to be available for sale either at the convention or later order.
It was almost 17h00 at this point. I was really tired, so I returned to the room where I updated records on the computer, did crosswords, and generally rested.
Mike returned to the room a little before 19h00. Shortly thereafter, we went downstairs to the authors party that was hosted by John Martellaro. Light refreshments were provided, and there were speakers. Bob Cringely was the main speaker. He is a man who started out at the technical end of the field and now deals more with the business end. He had a lot of interesting observations to make about the computer business now and in the future. He does not expect digital movies to take off in a big way on the Internet. He doesnt think most people will be editing their home movies, no matter how easy it is. He expects Sony to provide big competition for Microsoft. Itll be interesting to see how things actually turn out.
After we got back to the room, I called the hotel where the Weinsteins were staying and left them a message about the following night. Carol returned my call a bit later, and we made plans for dinner. Mike called everyone else who was interested in joining us about the time and place that we decided on.
I got up Friday morning about 9h30. My plans were to attend the AppleScript session at 11h00. I went over to the convention centre, grabbed a cookie for breakfast, and headed for the conference room. I discovered that the session wasnt until 14h00. I wish at that point that I had remembered to notice the "IS Tape Dead?" session that was at 11h00, but I didnt.
I went over to the North Hall to redeem a coupon for a free game. Then I wandered around till about noon. I bumped into Lori Jennings of Apple Computers and Elst in my wanderings. I had a proper lunch, read for a while, and then headed back up to the conference rooms.
The AppleScript session was interesting. I wonder if I can use it with Word, since Word wont let me create macros on my computer?
I returned to the room for a rest. I did a crossword puzzle, finished off all the drinks I had, and mustered some energy for updating my diary and other records.
Mike got back about 17h30. He thought he was coming down with a cold and even considered skipping dinner.
About 18h30, our dinner group gathered in the hotel lobby. Besides us and Elst and Carol, there were John and Lea Martellaro, Elsts friends Herb and Andy, Don Carlile, and Johns friend Beth. There were ten of us. We took a limo to the Golden Turtle, a Vietnamese restaurant on Van Ness. Its very similar to Chinese. It was very nice, and a good time was had by all. We took the same limo back to the hotel afterwards.
Before retiring for the night, we did most of our packing.
Mikes cold sounded really bad Saturday morning. It seemed to be mostly in his chest. His cough was very bad.
I went down for breakfast after I got dressed. I saw John and Lea Martellaro there. John asked how I enjoyed the conference and whether I would be back next year I decided that I would come back next year but that Lea and I would sightsee while the men were doing the conference.
We finished packing and left the hotel room about 11h30. Mike took care of checkout. He noticed that the airport bus was outside, so we took it.
We reached the airport in plenty of time. We bumped into John and Lea in the line to check in. Our flight had been changed, and it was now leaving later. While we were waiting, the time became later still; and we took off about an hour after the original schedule. Don Carlile was on the same flight.
The wait for an airport shuttle at LAX took a long time. We ended up on the same shuttle as Don. It had five stops to make instead of the usual three. We were second to last, and Don was last. He was quite upset.
Mikes cold was really bad after we got home, and he just crashed. We found out later he had the flu, and he stayed home from work all the following week.
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Letters incorporate corrections for typos and similar errors. My replies are enclosed in double parentheses.
17 May 1999
701 Regency Drive
Hurst, TX 76054-2307
((David and Diana Thayer sent a Xmas postcard featuring a photo of them taken in Montreal and the following Teddy Harvia comment.))
Logical New Years wishes,
Teddy & Diana
10 March 1999
I just finished reading your issue in the latest FAPA mailing.
I'm certainly glad I didn't know that the Big Red Boat hadn't complied with safety regulations when Anita and I took our cruise last year. Like Leslie David, getting in the water with the dolphin was my highlight of the cruise.
I also heard from Rita Prince Winston and Gary Deindorfer. They sent material that I may use at some later date.
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Please feel free to send things you think are interesting. The topics of interest to me are reviews of noteworthy books, movies, and similar things with the emphasis on noteworthy; language-related articles, humorous or otherwise; items about smoking and health; lawyer jokes and other humour; illos; and letters of comment. Original contributions from readers will be given preference over anonymous humour and reprints.
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