They also laughed when we paid $10 a bulb for CFL lighting. Those early bulbs each lasted 10 years and saved us I don’t know how many dollars in electricity. Modern CFLs are designed to fail more often and cost so much more in overall pricing. Many of our latest bulbs are even more efficient LEDs.
In a similar manner we were doing cold water washing long before it became vogue and risked the ire of our neighbours for daring to use a clothes tree when we had a dryer.
Back to the car. Once upon a time we spent a large part of our summer camping out at events hosted by the Society For Creative Anachronism. In those days much talk had turned to buying minivans or SUVs to haul ever increasing amounts of gear. After much debate I went with a relatively efficient Dodge Neon and a trailer. It was a great compromise compared to the costs our minivan choosing friends found themselves putting out.
After our involvement in the SCA slowed to a crawl the day arrived when the nice firemen turned our 4 door sedan into a 3 door convertible that we traded in for a Toyota Echo. Then a ditch monster caught the Echo in an ice web that trapped three other cars and we replaced it with the Toyota Yaris I drive now.
With the 300k mark with its promise of escalating maintenance costs fast approaching I am now looking at a Toyota Prius. Probably the C model. By my estimates, if I’d owned one for the life of our Yaris I would have saved well over 10 grand on gas.
While electic vehicles are now making a strong show in the market our personal needs remain such that they are not yet a viable alternative. Though the savings in fuel would more than make up for the higher purchase price.
But you must have power to climb steep hills, or to avoid that accident, or to enjoy the drive. I’ve heard it all from the people who inspired the title for this post so many years ago.
I have never seen the need to accelerate up hills such as those that command three out of the four routes out of the Lower Mainland into the rest of the Province of BC. All my vehicles did just fine making their way up the slow lane at a comfortable speed. In the 35 years I have been driving I can count on zero hands the number of times power would have gotten me out of an accident. It has never happened. As for enjoyment, I have loved to drive from the moment I got my driver’s licence. I have made long road trips in a gas guzzling SUV, in a 70s v8 powered land-boat, and all the economy cars mentioned above. In my mind too much power would only encourage me to drive faster and miss more of the scenery I’m looking for.
By some standard the above means I’m broken, and I’m fine with that.
The esteemed fantasy writer of The Imago Chronicles and The Dream Merchant Saga, Lorna Suzuki, has interviewed me on her All Kinds Of Writing site. Check it out.
Then look at my Events Page for information on future appearances and links to past activities.
I wrote a few thoughts about this year’s VCON shortly after the event had ended this year. A month has not passed, and I feel the need to revisit what I had to say then. Not about my core question of whether what I experienced at VCON indicates a trend or a blip, but about the bias I (and others?) are carrying with us when we attend.
I am a writer. Though this is a fan and not a writers convention it does have a strong writer track to its scheduling. The more I consider the way I thought about it after my last post, the more I saw how I have been limiting my experience by attending as a writer.
A closer look at the schedule revealed how many of the panels that had been presented were only writer related because I approached them with that overlay. While panels like Time Travel in Film and What Makes a Good SF Television Series can present ideas writers can use, that was not the primary aim of either.
On the flip side. Is it possible that some people have stopped attending VCON because they have come to feel it is too writer centric rather than offering more in their particular fandom?
I recognise that no con can reach out to every fandom in every medium. I also know that a new writer centric con has been added to the local calendar, and that more than a few people who attended the latter chose not to attend VCON because of the perceived overlap. Hotels and travel costs for out-of-towners aside, it does not have to be this way.
I do not want to see VCON fade away. I also do not want to see it become so narrow in its focus that people continue to stay away because it has stopped speaking to them. I for one plan to attend future VCONs with the eye to seeing it from more than my writers eye.
I hear lots of people comment on how much you have to sacrifice to be a writer. Today I got to thinking about how wrong such a sentiment can be. It can be likened to the person who says you can’t enjoy a party if you don’t get drunk or don’t go out of your way to show off.
The world and all that implies is too big for anyone to take in during a finite lifespan. We all have to make choices about what we desire the most during this life we’ve been given.
In this sense I see sacrifice as having to give up something we desire in order to accomplish that which has to be done. I would rather be writing than have to spend long hours each day earning a living. It could be argued that I sacrifice my writing time in order to keep a roof over my head.
Mind you, a quick look at how I describe myself will show that I put writing beneath God and family. In that sense keeping a roof over my family’s head is a higher priority than writing.
All that being said, I do put writing over everything else. I am not sacrificing TV time to write. I am not sacrificing sport time to write. I am not sacrificing travel time to write. Though I may add travel time to my writing world if I reach the point that attending cons outside the local area makes sense to my writing outreach. What I am sacrificing is writing time to go off and do any of the above.
To rephrase an earlier statement, choosing to make writing a major part of my life is a matter of priority, not sacrifice. There are plenty of lesser things I willingly give up to write because they are just not important enough to place above writing. No sacrifice required.
VCON, Vancouver’s premier science-fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention is over for another year. I must confess I’m a relative new comer to this wonderful con having only attended the last 6-7 years. The energy, the people, the panels, and of course both the artist and vendor halls have all been something to look forward too each year.
Yet, this year in particular, I have noted a disturbing trend, declining attendance with an emphasis on little in the way of new blood. My wife runs the Cat’s Knitting table in the vendor hall as I attend panels. In the first few years she had come home with enough profit to cover all our costs including hotel. This year we chose to commute from home each each day and still she all but chewed her nails over low sales until a last minute surge gave her a slim, and I do mean slim, net take home. Other vendors reported the similar results.
We’ve wondered about this a couple of years now. Where are the people? Why isn’t VCON growing at least in proportion to the local population?
Some of this can be put down to the growing con scene with big anime and fan expos each year. But all of it?
At the same time I’ve noticed how little time the people behind VCON spend on the official channels through Twitter, Facebook, and the VCON blog. I know of no ads and no effort to get the word out through local news outlets designed for that very purpose. As for attendees, I might be the only one who regularly mentions VCON throughout the remainder of the year. (Please prove me wrong).
All of which leads to a final question. Is this something those of us who enjoy VCON need to worry about going forward, or is it nothing more than the usual cyclical process most fandoms go through?