So, I Went to Arisia 2015…

After Hours, Geek out!

…and here’s the proof!

Arisia 2015 Badge

I’m inordinately proud of my Arisia membership badge, embellished with a Helsinki in 2017 ribbon, of course. 🙂

For future reference, I collected some impressions below.

Firsts:

My first con on the western side of the Atlantic!

First time in a gender-neutral bathroom. It was a bit of a mental jolt, partly because I’d missed the sign informing me of it, and I’m afraid I may have upset one person by acting very baffled. Sorry. I did return to the same bathroom with better manners later.

Pros:

Relatively nearby

Arisia has a Code of Conduct AND takes it seriously. I felt safe.

The Friday night check-in line seemed as long as a famine year, but moved at quite a good clip. Clearly they know what they’re doing!

Top of the line programming – many, many tracks in a variety of topics, with competent, interesting, intelligent, considerate participants. (I wish I could say the same of some of the professional conferences I’ve been to.) Eating and sleeping meant by necessity missing something interesting.

Excellent on-site signage and maps. UX win!

So many other geeks!

Cons:

Parking. It’s Boston; what can I say.

Overheard other members tell of Code of Conduct breaches at previous cons even though I wasn’t seeking that information. It means, sadly, that harassment is still an issue I need to be prepared for.

Very tight schedule. There were only 15-minute breaks between sessions, and no slots for lunch or dinner breaks were built in. OTOH, I do see how including more “hang-out time” in the schedule could be problematic. YMMV.

So many other geeks! As an extreme introvert, it was exhausting. (And Arisia isn’t even very big. I cannot imagine attending Pax East or other larger events.)

Other Positives:

We pre-planned large chunks of our weekend, which helped us navigate the strange environment.

The age range of members was great! From babes in arms to toddlers to teens to middle-aged to grey-haired.

The hotel tv selection included HGTV! (It’s my guilty pleasure watching when I can get it.)

Made note of several author panelists and will check out their publications. Potential new books to read!

Other Negatives:

We stayed at another hotel, not the con hotel itself. Even though our hotel was great and it was in the vicinity of the con, trudging up and down got tiresome.

Some program rooms overflowed, while others weren’t even half full. I did notice, though, that Arisia staff did head counts at the panels, so clearly they’re trying their best to estimate the popularity of the programming.

Got the interruption-dismissal treatment repeatedly from one particular panelist, and the moderator apparently didn’t even notice. Currently debating whether it’s worthwhile to contact said moderator and leave a comment, or whether it’s just a waste of my time and energy.

Didn’t have time to even peek into the Dealers’ Room.

I slept extremely poorly throughout, and had to skip the Helsinki Worldcon bid party among other things. Not the con’s fault, though.

Some attendees had abominable cell phone manners. Again, not the con’s fault.

Other Thoughts:

Having previously only been to cons that were held in convention centers (or equivalent), it was slightly disorienting at first to be at a hotel con.

Bringing my own water bottle and snacks = majorly smart. Did not end up reading my emergency entertainment book much, though.

Wearing layers = also majorly smart. Some rooms got warm, while in others there was a draft. (Note to self: another time, leave the fleece home – I got so staticky I was zapped by just about every door handle and even water from the faucets. Winter in New England, gah!)

My programming preferences fortunately meant staying in the smaller conference rooms (for the most part), which helped me manage the needs of my introverted brain. An accidental outcome worth adopting into a conscious strategy.

In the future, stay at the con hotel, unless another option offers a significant price / comfort / convenience difference.

In the future, use even more hand sanitizer if at a con in the winter. (We both got sick. Bleargh.)

Lastly, I had a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights moment getting my copy of The Killing Moon signed by Nora Jemisin. I don’t think I said anything extremely stupid, but I can’t count on it.

Arisia 2015 Author Signature

Yay!

Final verdict: I would probably go to another U.S. con, although it probably needs to be non-profit-by-fans-to-fans (and not commercial) and small-ish, with a decent Code of Conduct.

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