Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blog of the Living Dead

I counted it up: Since leaving home at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday until I returned at 11:00-something on Wednesday, I had a total of 18 hours sleep, three or four of which were on the planes from Vegas to Pittsburgh and from Pittsburgh to Baltimore.

Yep, it was convention daily time again.

Usually these things get easier as the show progresses, but this was the really BIG project (two issues a day; 16 pages live for one, 24 pages live for the other with ad:edit ratios of about 55:45) — and, when the live assignments were made, the writers were all told to write short because the second edition was going to only have a 16 page live hole with an ad:edit of about 73:27 ... this meant there was a lot of scrambling to fill pages at the last minute.

Adding to the problem were various issues with the rental computers (for some reason, ever since Apple moved up to G5s and OS X, the rentals we've gotten for these on-site projects have been buggier and more difficult to work with than G3/G4 and OX 9 setups of the past or even the G5s and OS X setups in the office), and let's just say I was able to call Evelin and Celeste every night when I got back to my hotel room to talk to them during breakfast.

Despite all this, I think we had the fewest complaints ever about the papers, and they looked better than ever before. A good job done well, with only a few near fatalities ...

Now I just have to deal with a few regular office issues before we can do a post mortem and try to figure out what went wrong and how we can address those issues (and the ones that spiral outwards from them).

Home With Celeste

This morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. when I heard my mother and Evelin talking about whether or not Celeste (who was crying some) should get up. Not 100% awake, I quickly offered to go get her. (Last night, when I got in, I snuck into her room to take a peek at her, but she was sound asleep and Evelin and I agreed that if she woke for a midnight feed, I'd stay hidden so as not to get her worked up when she should be asleep.) By 7:00 a.m., Celeste and I were realizing we both needed more sleep: a half-hour more for her, about three-and-a-half for me.

While I was gone, she learned a few new tricks: She's able to roll from her back to her belly, and she has her two bottom incisors popping out. We can't quite see the teeth yet, but they are there (the initial eruption seems to have happened on Monday, while Evelin and Celeste were on the way to pick my mom up from the airport).

Also, she's sleeping more through the night and exclusively in her own bed. We're letting her cry it out some, and Evelin wanted to start the Friday night before I left, but there was no way I was going to let her cry when I was having to get up in the middle of the night to leave for nearly a week; I wanted her laugh, not her cries, to be the echo of memory I took with me.

So Saturday night, the great experiment started and, according to Evelin, went pretty well. Sunday night went less well, but the rest of the week has been pretty good ... or so I'm told. I expect to have to be cuffed to a chair or something tonight if Celeste realizes that the weak-link in this chain is now home.

Stories of Vegas

The rough outline (hopefully rough enough to keep me from getting dooced) of the work side of things is above and considering that I was in the newsroom from about 9:00 a.m. (worst) or 10:30 a.m. (best) each day to about 2:30 (best) or 5:30 a.m. (worst) each day, that pretty much was Vegas.

I stayed in The Riviera this time (which makes two years in a row without having to sleep in Circus Circus), which was okay. It was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the hotel (the day of celebration was the day I checked out, so I missed that night's fireworks display), so they had some displays about the casino through they years set up on the main floor, including Liberace's mirrored piano. I think they had a Liberace impersonator playing it sometimes, but I didn't catch any performances.

The only non-work thing I did was a quick ride on the monorail. Monday was the day I didn't get to the newsroom until about 10:30 a.m. because I decided to walk down to a liquor/souvenir shop that has a really big selection of airline bottles. (I like to see if I can find any miniatures of whiskies I haven't tasted before; I figure it's better to spend less than $10 for a small bottle of something that might be really nice than to spend $40 on something that turns out to be crap plus, because of the way liquor is regulated in the States, different tipples can be found in different parts of the country.) The store is near the Sahara, at one end of the monorail, so, after picking up a few things, I paid my fare and rode the monorail to the MGM Grand and then back to the convention center.

It's a fairly short system, but the surprisingly small cars got extremely crowded with conventioneers (and tourists) very quickly, especially on the MGM-to-LVCC portion of things. For the most part, it seemed to travel fairly slowly, but, because it is elevated and runs behind the casinos for the Strip portion of things, it did give a look down to parts of the hotels that aren't meant to be seen. The most interesting thing was a look over the wall into the Desert Inn Golf Course and of its nursery operation: There were tons of really large trees in giant boxes ready to be placed wherever Steve Wynn needs them to go.

The new Wynn hotel was a nice addition to the skyline; I'm sure it will be too expensive for me to even step inside much less stay there ...

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