I’ve been back home for 10 days now. I no longer wake up at 2:30 am like I did all last week (my alarm was set for 5:30 am in Columbus), I no longer drop off to sleep unpredictably in the middle of the day, and I’m no longer constantly thirsty. I can make my coffee without hurting myself and can even form the occasional coherent thought.
There were many good things about this year’s Summer Nationals, but it was every bit as difficult to work as I’d expected and only confirmed my belief that we cannot do SN this way again. (I mean that “cannot” literally, that it will not be possible.) But that’s for a future post, one more serious than today’s.
Today is for the cheery show-and-tell, scenery and carpets and the BC’s 3D Tetris game.
My trip to Columbus—which I think of as an excursion through a wormhole into the detached-from-all-circadian-rhythms universe of Tournament Time—began inevitably, not at 6:30 or 6:00 am, but at 5:45 am, good practice for the 5:30 am my alarm would be set for in Columbus. Uneventful flights, though, and I actually stayed awake long enough to see some of the views on the way to and from my layover in Phoenix:
The official officials’ hotel—a Hampton Inn—did not have enough rooms for all of our officials, so the armorers, trainers, and BC staff were switched over to the Hilton, a comfortable hotel of modern but not stark design, with not only carpet patterns worth adding to my collection but ceiling art in the rooms, too:
The convention center carpets were color variations on a uniform theme:
A pleasant surprise this year was the visual upgrade of SN—14-foot feather signs to identify each pod, logo banners for the scoring tables, red and blue drapes and flags wrapping all the pillars, an honest-to-goodness raised finals strip with multiple repeaters and light-up front panels and three sections of bleachers. You wouldn’t think frills like this would be such morale-boosters, but over the course of the whole 10 days, they did quite a bit to reduce the feeling of being trapped forever in a cinderblock basement. Larry & Duane, of Socket Events, installed all this, and were also the guys in charge of the finals show, introducing fencers and referees and making those gold medal bouts more of the showcase events they should be. (Both guys were pretty impressive, too, with the long hours they worked and the speed they learned—once they pick up a few of our more challenging name pronunciations, there’ll be no stopping them.)
One of the innovations that made me really happy was our abandonment of bulletin boards and pushpins in favor of monitors for posting event information. We need a couple more sets of monitors and a more robust network to support them, along with more control than the software currently gives us over the speed and content of what is displayed, but for the most part, the monitors were a success.
A couple of photos to hint at our competitive numbers:
I was happy to be able to slip away from the competition for a little bit on the first Sunday to drop in on the memorial celebration of Ed Richards’ life. I couldn’t stay very long, but I got to hear a couple of good stories, take a quick look at some of the artifacts that Andy Shaw had gathered, and chat with family members. It’ll take some time before I quit expecting to see Ed’s lanky frame at national tournaments.
Packing up on the last night brought us a brand new puzzle with the monitors needing to be packed. Since they’re still traveling in their original manufacturer’s packaging, they had to go into our BC crate, and most of our bins and cartons had to be palletized instead. The monitor stands don’t need tools to assemble or take apart, and came with nifty carry bags that might even survive at least a partial season. Eventually they’ll all need serious shipping containers–our Pelican cases for shipping are more expensive than the laptops they carry, but with them we know the laptops will still work each time they arrive in a new tournament city. It was kind of fun having the new 3D puzzle to solve, though it also added an extra hour of packing time to our usual routine. We did manage to make it back to the hotel while their kitchen was still open (everyplace else in the neighborhood had already closed theirs), though we didn’t cut it as close as the armorers, who made it with only 10 minutes to spare to order their food that night.
The flights home were easy, too—especially that first leg to Las Vegas, which seemed much shorter than it should have been. Couldn’t have been that I was unconscious for most of it, could it? I still managed to take a lot of pictures of the western half of the continent, of which these are a small selection. (Once upon a time, probably in the early 1960s, UC Extension offered a California geography course that was a few hours of classroom work capped with a flight in a small plane to see the what all that geography looked like from the air. I was only 9 or 10 but I really wanted to take that class. It was ridiculously expensive and was dropped by the time I was old enough to take it, but I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t want a window seat every time they fly.)
Next time: I’ll explain why I won’t do this again.