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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Convention Report (Part I) 

Okay, so now I'm in Philly with time for a quick update. Today's the first official day of the convention and L--- and I are already running around like loons. We've just set up the issue racks (and found out that we are missing a shelf on each rack, which means they aren't as stable as they should be and they don't display the issues as nicely as they should) and unloaded all of today's issue. Of course, we have to watch out as we're shifting boxes and things around because technically we are encouraged to let the convention center's Teamsters take care of things like that, but we have to all this on the cheap, which means the editor and production heads are also stuck wrangling distribution, etc. The Friday issue, because the printer is dropping it off at the loading dock at 6 a.m., will have to have the exhibition services guys receive it and they'll handle distribution for the morning. Actually, I think that's for the best.

Let's see, L--- (the person in charge of contract publishing for the company) and I drove up Monday evening, which gave us a chance to talk a bit about both the show and what's going on in each other’s lives. At shows we usually get a chance to catch up on our respective fertility issues. She and her husband, after about three years of trying to have a second child, including some clomid cycles and one IUI, decided to back away from trying. They aren't actively preventing pregnancy, but also aren't actively trying anymore. It's kind of sad, but they've made peace with it, which is good, and the decision has removed some strain on their relationship, which is very good.

We got in to the city around 9:00 p.m. or so; my hotel is right on the edge of Chinatown. It's not the prettiest part of Philadelphia, but any means, but it seems pretty vibrant. On my walk to the convention center in the morning, I can peak into a Chinese noodle factory -- about 10 guys, covered in flour, slinging around bags of noodles in all stages of completion.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early (I never seem to sleep to well on these trips) and walked around a bit. I got to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (or at least to look at them though all the security barricades they have set up around the place). I then walked back toward City Hall. There seems to be a ton of public art in Philadelphia; I saw at least two new murals underway, and a ton more completed, along with various sculptures and installation pieces to complement the range of architecture around the city.

Most of the day was hurry up and wait. Wait for the newsroom to get set up. Wait for the computer guy. Wait for the computer guy's runner who was bringing more memory for the printer. Wait for the preprint issues.

Once things were set up in the newsroom, we had to head off to the printer just to be sure we knew where they were so that the Thursday night run with files wouldn't turn into a disaster. (Basically, we are doing one issue live; deadlines for writers are around 4:00 p.m. on Thursday and we are aiming to final proof the live pages between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. so that we can get to the printer between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. We hang out there for an hour or three until all the prepress work is done and we can check the proofs. They then print things overnight and get it to the convention center for distribution by 6:00 a.m. the next morning.)

On the way back from the printer, we were stuck on the I-76 for ... a long time because of a wreck further down the expressway. Finally, we bailed to surface streets to get back to the convention center, where, after a quick dinner at the Hard Rock Café, we had to load up our software (desktop publishing, fonts, flight check, etc.). Everything was finished up by 10:00, which isn't too bad, all things considered, but it did mean an early start today to get the racks out and filled. Now, there are just a few sessions I have to cover today and tomorrow it'll be all about the editing and production.

Oh, and the cough was nasty last night. This morning, it seems okay, but my head remains stopped up. Many people are insisting I seek medial attention once this show is over ...

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