• Twitter

    Posted on by frysco

    It’s been a rather tough past five days for me.

    Last Friday, May 26th, I got home and tried to reply to someone at around 4:45pm – and was told by my Twitter client that I couldn’t because my account had been suspended. I checked on the website, and sure enough, my @tseatah account had been suspended.

    But why? I had no warning and no notification by email that it had been suspended – let alone why. All the website pointed me to what a suspended account meant.

    I submitted an appeal a short time later, trying to find out what I had done that had apparently run afoul of Twitter’s rules, and then had to wait.

    On Sunday afternoon I received a canned reply that simply said:

    Your account has been suspended due to multiple or repeat violations of the Twitter Rules.

    Please do not respond to this email as replies will not be monitored.

    This was puzzling to me. Apparently I had either violated multiple rules, or repeatedly violated them? Still confused, I read back over my past tweets (as I could still see them, even though anyone else could not), and could not find anything that looked like even the slightest violation of the rules.

    Again, I submitted another appeal, trying to get clarification as to what I had done that warranted this.

    This morning, Wednesday, May 31st, I get a reply to that appeal:

    Your account was suspended because it was found to be violating the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules around participating in targeted abuse.

    Your account will not be restored.

    Now I was thoroughly confused. “Targeted abuse”? This absolutely made no sense. I have never ever done such a thing on Twitter. Heck, even in any forum I’ve never done such a thing. I felt that it was clear that only the cursory of glances was being given to my appeals, and that no-one had properly looked at my account to actually see that I was innocent of what I was accused of.

    So again, I file another appeal (the text of which I saved this time), once again pleading my case and politely (always politely) asking that someone please take the time to look and see that I did not make these infractions.

    Then, this afternoon at ~2:40pm (before which I had already set up a new account, based on the previous ‘will not be restored’ email), I get another email:

    We have now unsuspended your account. If you have any trouble logging in, you can request a password reset email here.

    Please note that it may take an hour or so for your follower and following numbers to return to normal. Let us know if we can help with anything else.

    So, that’s it. Nothing that explained what happened. Just a series of canned replies in response to every appeal. I’m certainly disappointed that I never found out what caused all of this, but I do consider myself extremely lucky that I was able to get the account unsuspended finally. Having searched around, I see that many other people who have been trying to appeal for un-suspension have not been so lucky.


  • Furnal Equinox con attendance meme

    Where are you staying?
    At the convention hotel – the Westin Harbour Castle.

    What day are you getting there?
    Thursday

    Who will you be rooming with?
    Kiba, Drakon, and someone else that I don’t know.

    Will you be fursuiting?
    Yep.

    What is your gender?
    Guy.

    How old are you?
    Early fourties 🙁

    Can I talk to you?
    Sure.

    Can I hug you?
    Perhaps…

    Photographs?
    When I’m in costume only, please.

    How can I find you?
    Probably best to buzz me on Twitter/Telegram as @tseatah

    Which suit(s) will you be bringing?
    Kootenay (Steller’s Jay) and Penryn (Magpie)

    Do you draw?
    Nope!

    How tall are you?
    6′ 2″

    Are you taken? Are you looking for a mate?
    Single. I keep hoping to find the right someone.

    Can I visit your room?
    As I’m rooming with three other people, I can’t really answer that.

    Can I buy you drinks?
    Sure. Coke, Bacardi & Coke, Wheat beers or Red wines (NOT Malbecs)

    Can I give you stuff?
    Depends what the stuff is?

    Can I snuggle with you?
    Nope – I’m not a snuggler.

    Are you nice?
    I think I am?

    How long are you going?
    Will be there from Thursday about 6pm to Monday midday.

    If I see you, how should I get your attention?
    I’ll answer to Frysco, Kootenay, Koots, Jay.

    What/where will you be eating?
    The ‘what’ will likely be meat and potatoes in some sort, the ‘where’ will be wherever I can find such that’s not stupidly expensive.

    What’s your goal for the con this year?
    1. Catch up with the folks who live or only do cons ‘back east’ that I don’t see very much.
    2. Fursuit and flap around as a bird a bunch.
    3. Mock the shekk out of Toronto and its ‘sports’ teams.


  • Emergency

    This all happened on Sunday February 26th.

    I’d been having some pain in my chest area for the past few days – pretty much center of the torso, right in the middle. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t anything like appendicitis or heart issues. I had thought originally that it was something like a bruised rib or two somehow, but figured that it was more in the muscular/soft tissue area than on the bones.

    I made the decision on Sunday morning to head to the nearby emergency room, since none of the nearby walk-in clinics were available. Fortunately for me, I live just a few blocks from Ridge Meadows Hospital, so just less than 15 minutes walk away.

    I was actually triaged very quickly, so not much waiting around in the waiting area. First called to answer some questions to the triage nurse, along with getting blood pressure, temperature and pulse checked. Then sent back to the waiting room and told to fill up one of those little jars. After that, it wasn’t too long before I was in for some quick blood draws, and then out to wait again. It then wasn’t too long before I was called in, given one of those oh-so-fetching hospital gowns and given my own little curtained off area to wait in, in what was called a ‘Raz Zone’.  ‘Raz’, for those not familiar, is a ‘Rapid Assessment Zone’ – so saying ‘Raz Zone’ is about as correct as saying ‘PIN Number’ or ‘ATM Machine’. The idea of ‘Raz’ is to reduce overcrowding in emergency departments and reduce wait times. I’m really not sure how effective that was, because it was 2 hours from when I was given that gown to when a doctor came by to see what was going on.

    After describing to him the issues, he organized a quick ECG for me to take, as well as getting another blood test done (to test for a cardiac enzyme). That would take around 45 minutes to get that test back. Whee, more waiting.

    In the end, the ECG looked good and there were no issues found with the other blood test.

    So, I left about 4.5 hours later with a prescription for some pills to help with acid-reflux. It’s possible that may be helping, but it’s still a little early (even today – Tuesday) to know for sure yet.


  • Depression

    I’m not sure who noticed, but I haven’t really been around the last couple of weeks. Not on Twitter, nor Telegram, nor Facebook, nor anywhere else.

    Because the world and life sucks right now, and I retreated inwards and away from it and everyone.

    It’s not just all the bad political stuff that’s all over the place right now – primarily the UK and US – but that is definitely part of it.

    A good part of it is feeling increasingly trapped by situation.

    For example, as much as I adore Otter, my angry little cat as I call him, his needs from being diabetic now make it impossible for me to spontaneously do any kind of travel for a weekend. I used to be able to leave him and Cylia and drive down to Seattle for a couple of days. Can’t do that anymore, as he needs to have his blood glucose levels checked morning and evening, and be given insulin. This isn’t something that I can easily ask a local neighbour or friend to do. Many people, even pet sitting services, are squeamish about doing such things – despite how easy it actually is. Now if I want to take a trip, I have to book him in to be boarded at the local vet office, where they’ll do it for $35/night. I cannot even do a slightly cheaper option of boarding him elsewhere with someone who would be willing to do the check/shots. I did that over Christmas while I was in the UK, and Otter got himself in such a state that he needed to get taken to an emergency vet clinic.

    I feel trapped by my job. I’ve been with the same company for over 13 years. I’d like to get out, but it’s tough to find something out here similar enough to what I do to make me look worth it to a company. I’m a senior support engineer, sure, but supporting the things I do might be considered work of a systems administrator, and there’s enough that changed with other software and hardware in that kind of job that I’m not sure I would be considered qualifiers for that role anymore. Adding to that is how much the on-call stuff is getting to me. On-call starts Friday 8am and runs until the following Friday at 8am – a whole week. During these weeks, I’m constantly on edge outside of working hours, and can’t sleep properly. The last time I was on (which helped put me into these doldrums) I maybe got 3 hours a night.I can’t really even do much personal stuff out of work hours, because the primary people who are typically in front of me now are so new and almost always end up escalating to me, so I don’t trust things enough to feel comfortable to go far from the house.  I have another week of this starting Friday, and then two more weeks a week after the first one finishes. Not looking forward to that at all.

    All that’s happening down in the US right now is making it far less likely that I could find a position and move down there. The uncertainties over NAFTA (and thus, the TN-1 visas), and the chance that the H1-B and L-1 programs could here restructured enough to make it impossible for me to get in that way mean that it’s unlikely that a company might want to take the risk on someone like me. Of course, compared to up here in the Vancouver area, down in the US is where all the jobs that interest me seem to be, as well as much, muchbetter pay.

    It’s not just all these things, though. Nothing else seems to be exciting or fun anymore. I’m not sure what would even be fun for me. Things that I once may have had fun doing all seem to have dried up or no longer seem rewarding.

    I turned 43 towards the end of last year, and I have no idea where my life is going. Things just seem stalled… stuck… going nowhere. 20 years ago, back in early 1997, I had interviewed for a company out in the San Francisco Bay Area, had gotten an offer for a job, and I knew that my life was taking a new direction. By 2001, when I was laid off from that company while going through the US Permanent Residency process, things started to look uncertain. Then in mid 2003, the year my H1-B visa was going to expire, and being laid off from another Bay Area company, things really looked uncertain and that I’d have to leave everything behind and move back to the UK. Then in December 2007 I got my Canadian permanent residency. Things may have been going good then, but the Canadian citizenship I got back in September 2012 was bittersweet. That may be when things became ‘What now?’ I still have no idea ‘what now?’. I’m not sure that, long term, Vancouver is the place for me. It serves a purpose now, but things just don’t feel like I properly connect here. I feel that I’m always too much out on the edge of things and not part of anything.

    I don’t know anymore. I’m now rambling. This post started as something that I was writing on the train this morning, and now seems disjointed thoughts. Maybe I’ll leave this up, maybe I won’t. I just don’t know.

     


  • Vacation planning for 2017

    Starting to consider my vacation plans for this year.

    Here’s what I have on the board so far:

    • VancouFur – Vancouver, BC – March 9 through 12
      I don’t have a room for this, because the hotel announcement was made while I was on a work trip and I missed it. I’m not that fussed about going this year, but I could probably go down for Saturday or something. I don’t really know anyone else specifically coming up for it. My enthusiasm for it this year is fairly low, and brought lower based upon this next one.


    • Furnal Equinox – Toronto ON – March 16 through 29
      This is the big one in March for me, instead of VancouFur. It’s a convention that I’ve never been to before, and to see people I don’t often see. I’m quite looking forward to this one, and I’ll get to mock downtown Toronto in person for a change ;>
      Planning to take both Kootenay and Penryn to this.


    • Star Wars Celebration – Orlando, FL – April 13 through 16
      Something that Dreams had talked me into going to, and I still have to see if I can get a decent flight. Only costume I’d be bringing to this one would be Qesnel, since he’s my Jedi gryphon.


    • Fur-Eh! – Edmonton, AB – June 15 through 18
      Another new convention for me, and one that I’d thought about going for some years previous. Figure that I’ll once again be taking Kootenay and Penryn, but perhaps may even have something new too.
      I booked a two-bed room for this, and still need to get someone to room share.


    • Megaplex – Orlando, FL – August 4 through 6
      I went to this one last year and had a pretty good time, meeting some long-time Internet friends in person finally. Decided that I would head back this year as well. Already booked a two-bed room, and looking to room share.


    • Midwest FurFest – Rosemont, IL – November 30 through December 3
      While I’ve blocked out space for this one, I’m only going to go if I can get a room in the Hyatt once they open. In 2016 I was lucky and managed to get a room share in the Hyatt, and I’m glad that I did. Having done the walk through the overhead passages, it really does seem like a heck of a long way to do that in a full costume. I know a number of people who did that walk in full costume, and heard just how exhausting it was to even do anything once they got to the Hyatt.

    Even with all of those, I still have 14 days of vacation still left to use. That’s one of the pluses about having worked at this company for over 13 years; I max out my vacation with 26 days, and then picked up another two for having worked two days when the company was closed over the Christmas/New Year break.

    So, considering that I still have time to use, I’m wondering… what else should I do? I’m semi-tempted by Biggest Little Fur Con, except for it being just a couple of weeks before Fur-Eh!

    It also seems that the majority of the time booked off is slanted heavily towards the first half of the year, so I would like to think about something else in the latter part of the year.

    If anyone has any ideas, please reply to my Twitter post.


  • West Coast (Not So) Express

    I’ve just had a fairly lengthy conversation with one of the customer service representatives for West Coast Express (WCE). That’s one of the people who are in that office that’s tucked away on the 2nd floor of Waterfront Station that so many people aren’t really aware of, as opposed to someone at TransLink itself. The conversation was about the numerous delays there have been on the service for the past couple of weeks, pretty much all caused by Canadian Pacific (CP) freight traffic.

    Just to illustrate, this is how many times that I’ve been affected (WB = westbound into downtown Vancouver, EB = eastbound towards Mission):

    • Nov 17 (Thu) EB Train 1
    • Nov 18 (Fri) EB Train 1
    • Nov 21 (Mon) EB Train 1
    • Nov 22 (Tue) EB Train 1
    • Nov 23 (Wed) WB Train 2
    • Nov 23 (Wed) EB Train 1
    • Nov 24 (Thu) EB Train 1
    • Nov 28 (Mon) EB Train 1

    All the above delays have been in the region of 25-35 minutes late. This is the worst level of service that has been seen since the few months leading up to May 2015.

    The recent delays all have been related to freight traffic on the track where the commuter service runs. Freight trains run a lot slower than the commuter rail, so if a commuter service gets stuck behind freight a track section or two ahead, a significant delay can build up.

    So, what are the reasons for these recent delays? Some people on Twitter have speculated it’s the result of another contract negotiation between TransLink and CP Rail. That isn’t the case apparently, as the contract signed in November 2015 is a multi-year deal and we’re barely a year past that.

    It seems that it may be a couple of things. We’re approaching Christmas, and there are a lot of container ships waiting in English Bay for their chance to get into the Port of Vancouver to unload their cargo – which is then mostly transferred onto rail cars to be sent back east across Canada. The other reason is to do with grain shipments – apparently a good harvest – which needs to be shipped out of the Port of Vancouver before a certain date. Both of these issues results in more freight trains vying for track time.

    There’s another little wrinkle which was let slip in this conversation. In the previous contract, WCE was guaranteed a two hour clear window of track time where nothing should be sent by CP onto the track being used. In the new contract, it doesn’t sound like this provision is in place anymore. In other words, there is no more margin for error if there is a freight problem before and during the times the commuter rail service operates.

    One of the biggest complaints there has been during these recent delays is the lack of timely communication from TransLink. Even when I’ve tweeted about problems happening at a particular moment on a train, because I’m on that train and relaying what the conductor has just said over the PA system, it takes TransLink a long time to acknowledge there’s a problem and send out a confirming tweet or an email/SMS update. Something to understand is that the WCE office is nowhere near the TransLink office, and isn’t really even connected with it. If you file a customer service issue on TransLink’s website, it doesn’t go straight to somewhere the WCE staff can see it – TransLink has to forward it over to them. The same seems to be true for communication on service issues. The people handling service notifications at TransLink need to get updates of what is going on in order to push them out. The people at WCE do have screens that show the rail traffic between downtown Vancouver and Mission, so can see very clearly what traffic might impact the commuter service. They do also contact CP if they see something that might to find out if it will or not. But it seems that there is some kind of communication problem between WCE and TransLink – specifically where, I could not say.

    The last thing to mention is the issue of compensation for all the recent delays. Back in May 2015, prior to the Compass system fully being rolled out, this was possible; you could go into the WCE customer service office and they would re-issue a 28 day pass with a few extra days on it. Now that Compass is in place, this is no longer possible due to all the passes now being calendar month based. That method of doing monthly passes really is one of the greatest ways to screw the passenger by no longer making it possible to add extra days to a pass. Apparently, due to complaints from WCE riders who didn’t quite understand the 28 day pass, this was factored into the reasoning to no longer provide that option once Compass came in. The best I managed to get for ‘compensation’ was a travel mug and a few vouchers for free beverages from the coffee service on the Waterfront platform and on the trains.

    So what can we, as commuters, do? Filing service complaints with TransLink only goes so far. Another option that was suggested was to contact my city’s (in my case, Maple Ridge) council or mayor’s office and register complaints with them. That way CP aren’t just getting complaints from TransLink, but also the cities, and potentially even the Mayors’ Council.


  • What’s In a Name?

    Magpie

    I started online life using a multi-user “talker” that someone at the University of Warwick had written. Not sure how I found it, other than I knew a couple of people at Kingston (not a polytechnic, honest) University used it too. I’d become fascinated with magpies since my 2nd year (when I was 13) at secondary school, when in English class we did readings of a play called ‘The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew’, which had a magpie character in it. I also would set lots of magpies around the cemetery that the school bordered (as the school was closely related to and used the church there often, for assemblies and other things)

    Fox

    I can’t remember why prompted it exactly, but I ended up getting a “staff” position on this talker, and changed names to Fox. That was how I was known by for most of my university years, and even when I changed universities from Kingston to Warwick, I was even able to get “fox” as my username for the computer science department network.

    Farthing

    This was the name that I used when I first got into the Furry Fandom, back in 1994. At that time, I was using a username of ‘fox’ bac in university, but didn’t fee that ‘Fox’ as a handle would be good to use. Also around that time was a TV series in the UK called the Animals of Farthing Wood, which had been adapted from a book series into an animated TV series. Originally basing the character I used as a “descendant” from one of the foxes in this series, I went for the name Farthing. He went from a regular red fox, to a cross fox to a winged anthro cross fox.

    Francisco / Frysco

    Francisco was originally developed as just a RP character for a MUCK called Sinai, where he was a grey fox kitsune. His history was that he had started out in Japan, and moved west over the course of a couple of hundred years, and ended up in San Francisco, where he decided to use that name for himself. This was partly inspired by my upcoming move to the San Francisco Bay Area in July of 1997. His name was “corrupted” into Frysco by a wiz of the Sinai MUCK (and later RL friend), Lynx. It stuck, and I ended up using that name more than Farthing, and eventually changed over.  These days, I think most people still know me as Frysco more than any other name.

    Frysco became a gryphon due to my involvement with the Gryphon’s Guild web message board, and the Lorikeet part was (I think) thanks to a suggestion from Lyosha there.

    Morse

    He was a costume that I made for a Halloween one year. I’m not sure that he was originally intended for Halloween, but I got him finished in time for it. I think that I was thinking of the Poe poem Nevermore in part, but of course he is a magpie, not a raven. Though somehow I ended up going from that to thinking about a fictional detective drama show I remembered enjoying from the UK called Inspector Morse, and pretty much pulled this character’s name from that, even so far as keeping the same trait of “while he has a first name, he doesn’t care to use it”. (Later we did find out that the Inspector’s first name is Endeavour, but that’s not the first name of my magpie!) I later retroactively created character history for (my) Morse where he once was human, but ended up becoming a bird thanks to some magical feathers he bought for his hat while in costume at a Renaissance Faire, and ended up somehow getting transported to a world where he somewhat (but didn’t completely) fit in. I’ve tweaked with his background more so that alternatively, he fits into the Karen-verse, where he got cursed by a necklace that turned him into a complete bird for five years, before meeting Karen and finding out about a special plant that can keep him human…for a while, at least.

    Tseatah

    I needed to get a name for the “critter” I was getting from White Fox (before he used the name Arend Studios), and wanted to get a name that was “uniquely Canadian”. To find such a name, I went looking went looking at online map resources (google Maps may have been around then) and found a First Nations reserve, a small one, not too far away from Chiliwack, in B.C. that appeared on the map as “Tseatah No.2”. At the time I had no idea how properly to pronounce it (though now figure it might be similar to the silent T of Tsawassen), so used a hard T instead ; Te-Say-Tah.

    Kanshin

    This guy came about because Marylen costumes came out with a griffin costume. I already had bought a red fox and silver fox from them, but wanted the griffin. Yet I didn’t want their standard design. Instead I was able to get them to change the colors and fur lengths to get him to be a little more magpie-like. His name came, again, from Lyosha, as apparently that was the name of some relation that she had in her personal canon, but said I could usethe name  anyway with no relation to her. I set out to make this character my hockey mascot type, even getting him a Grand Rapids Griffins jersey. I’ve been trying for years to actually get him at a game that team is the visiting team at, and have come close twice. Sadly, I think that window has closed for good.

    Lutalo

    I had gotten to know Lance Ikegawa, who was well renowned for his costume creations already during the relatively early ConFurence days. I had really wanted to get something by him, and after Dark Natasha got a maned wolf (which I had considered myself too), I wanted to get something unique and a challenging, so went with an African Wild Dog instead. At the time, he was the first AWD fursuit out there, and I remember getting a test fitting of the undersuit down at San Diego Comic Con (the first and only time I’ve been) and then debuting the costume at an AnthroCon back when it was at the Adam’s Splat/Mark in Philidelphia. I wanted to set him out as a hunter/warrior, and I believe that Lutalo does mean that in some African dialect.

    Napier

    This hyena started out named Bhob and was part of a set of three made by Lance back at ConFurence 8 (maybe 9).  I loved it back then and when I found out that he was the only surviving member of the trio, made an offer to rehome him. I had no idea of his name, so renamed him Napier, with some cunning. He was a hyena, and hyenas are renowned for laughing, as if they’re in on some kind of joke. going from there, I remembered that the name of the Joker in the Batman movie (which my uncle-by-marriage had worked on) was Jack Napier. I thought that was clever at the time.

    Nikoli

    This snow spotkat was named for my original intention for him, not what I ended up doing with him. I wanted to get a Russian military officers uniform for him, as I somehow thought that would be appropriate for a snow leopard, and the name Nikoli sounded Russian. He almost was named Rasputin, because of a particular song.

    Lasrach

    After seeing a gryphon (the Neopets character, Lord Kass) made by Lance Ikegawa, I was inspired and wanted to make my own. Working with Scribblefox, he produced some art design for a hippogryph, and I took this and with the help from Diadexxus worked up some color designs. In the end, I went for a black/red/orange scheme, which I felt gave him a kind of fiery appearance. In choosing his name, I wanted something exotic sounding which appropriately described him. I found the word “Lasrach” in Irish Gaelic which meant “flaming” or “blazing”, which seemed quite apt. Jax the bat (who has since disappeared) ended up making the head, and I got help from White Fox on making the fiberglassing used in attaching some piping to some bike gear armor that formed the basis of the wing harness.

    Cackle

    After seeing Cobb the blue jay, made by RedXIX with MikeYote, I was inspired to do my own bird. At the time I was still around the #fursuit channel on IRC and had a habit of light hearted and fun mocking of things folks said. So, the idea for a mocking bird was formed. I wanted a name that seemed appropriate to the idea of a”mocking” bird, and Cackle seemed like a good idea.

    Tiwaz

    This tiger was made with two goals in mind: to be something I could use for events with our local community event mascot group, HelpingPawz, and also to fit in with whatever the current theme was for the Mountain View (California) spring parade. I think the theme was something to do with jungles that year. As for his name, for some reason I thought of an old UK Saturday morning kids show called Tiswas that ran from 1974 to 1981. Manipulating this name a little bit into Tiwaz made it sound ‘right’ for him.

    Kootenay

    I’ve already mentioned Cobb the blue jay by RedXIX, and now they had made Caspian the tern for Orzel. I really wanted to get a bird from them too, but what? I wanted to stick with a corvid, because without a doubt – of course, dating back to magpies – these are my favourite family of birds. I decided to go with a Steller’s Jay, because I live now in British Columbia, and that is the provincial bird. I also figured that I could bring him to some of the community events, and people should recognize what kind of bird he is. Hah! Of course, many people just have no idea. As far as his name, I felt inspired by a street names again. I was originally going to go with Ioco, based on Ioco Road in Port Moody. But, in the end I figured that people could read his name as Loco depending on the font his name was written in. I decided to use a name I’d seen on another sign on my drives into work; Kootenay. I think that given that he’s a “representative of the BC province”, having a name of one of the regions seemed more appropriate. Also, someone else is now using the name Ioco for one of their costumes.

    Penryn

    This guy is still relatively new, and doesn’t exist yet as a costume – but will do by mid-year. I wanted to go back to my roots again with magpies and get a new magpie costume. Even though I still hold Morse in fond regard, Morse is very much specialized to the Renaissance Faire outings. So, I wanted something a little more toony for convention and other appearances. Figuring that I am going back to my roots on this, I wanted a name that reflected that. I looked for names that were around the school where I first became fascinated with magpies, but couldn’t find anything appropriate. Then after that, I looked at where I lived, but in the end went with something connected to where I first was an ‘online’ magpie – back at Kingston University, which was on Penrhyn Road in Kingston. Manipulating the name again a little, taking out the ‘h’, I chose Penryn.


  • Rainfurrest thoughts, and using social media to help

    A couple of weekends ago I attended Rainfurrest, the furry convention in Seattle that pretty much filled the void that Conifur left. For the most part, it was a reasonable con, but a few isolated incidents created a black mark that might be very hard to recover from.

    The first was something that was strewn all over social media: a guy in the hotel convention space lobby area wearing what looked like a pup hood and nothing but a diaper below his waist. RF has long had a reputation of “catering” to the “cub crowd”, and it’s no secret that a number of their staff is part of it (based on the “crinkle” ribbons seen around this year). But actively catering to it? I don’t really think so. While RF has not officially commented on this picture (because they rarely officially comment on anything, thanks to continually poor PR skills), I would like to believe that this person was told by security to go out some pants on at least. In the scheme of things, this is a relatively minor issue anyway.

    Then there were the rumours about diapers being left various places; in stairways, on cars, and so on. I spoke with someone who had one left on their car, and they said it was “unused”. Now seriously, do you think that the “cub” group – who know that they’re getting some pretty bad PR themselves right now – are that clueless to go around and deliberately make themselves targets? They’re targets enough already, and likely they were being targeted here to try and smear that group and try and make them look more responsible for the ills of RF.

    The bigger issues is the damage that was caused to the hotel – something that RF did officially comment on.

    Usually at conventions there is always some form of minor hotel damage. I include things like elevators falling out of operation here, of which one of the ones going up to the main convention center broke on Thursday early evening. I actually saw that happen, and it was not malicious at all – just an example of how bad those elevators are in general. I was coming up the short flight of stairs to the lower elevator lobby and someone had just pressed the button to go up. They saw me and attempted to hold the doors…but not using the door open button; actually putting their hand against the door edge to try and stop it to close. Any decent elevator should detect and obstruction and stop trying to close, but not these ones. As such, the elevator broke. Wasn’t malicious and just an accident by someone trying to hold the elevator for someone.

    Other issues included the hot tub (always a problem for any con) getting broken, because something (believed to be towels) got into the pipes and blocked them. Once again, the con’s failure to deal with PR let rumors run rampant on social media about defecation causing the shutdown of the hot tub. I’ve heard such rumours before at other conventions (one of which may have been RF last year) and they’ve never been true once.  The only thing that ever came close was a hot tub at a completely different con getting shut down because a couple of people decided that having sex in it was a good idea. Anyway, regarding this rumour at RF; I decided to find someone on RF staff that was either on the hotel liaison side or very close to them and get the story – which is where I found out about the blockage and it likely being towels. Once I had that, I put out the news on places like Twitter & Telegram to debunk the rumour with something that was close to fact.

    The remainder of the issues, which can be found on RF’s “open letter to attendees” at https://www.rainfurrest.org/2016/index.php/2015/10/05/a-letter-to-our-attendees/ included a flooded bathroom causing damage to a hotel office below it, multiple petty vandalisms, and thefts. There were also multiple emergency services callouts (ambulance and police), which doesn’t really put a hotel to ease as to how an event is going.

    And now, as of last night, RF posted on the “Location” page of their website (so, not in any really visible place) that they won’t be back at the SeaTac Hilton for next year. Whether this was the hotel deciding “enough is enough” and actually breaking the contract, or the convention and hotel mutually deciding to part ways, is not known. Of course, RF PR being what it is (i.e., “bad”) this news about the con needing to find a new location was not announced by the con, but found by other people and tweeted about – which just sets the rumour mill running again.

    Where could RF realistically go?

    Nearby in SeaTac there’s the Doubletree hotel, just down the street. But the Doubletree is owned by Hilton, and hotels talk to each other. While moving there is possible, the relationship that the con has with Hilton no longer helps it and possibly hinders now.

    Downtown Seattle? That brings a whole new level of expense, as well as trying to find a hotel that has enough rooms and function space. Certainly the con is not big enough to get into the Convention Centre yet.

    Bellevue? Located on the east side of Lake Washington, there’s quite likely a hotel over there that might have enough space that isn’t owned by Hilton. It won’t be as convenient for the airport, but I think that it’s likely a contender.

    Does the convention already have something in mind? I think probably. The convention had grown enough over the past few years that it was busting the seams of the SeaTac Hilton, and a move was very likely for 2017. No doubt that potential venues had already been looked at, and now the timetable is accelerated a bit.

    Before I end this ramble of consciousness, I’ll mention again how poor RF’s PR skills are. They’ve been consistently bad in announcing various deadlines over the past years, and the failure to react to rumours during the con itself. Now, I know that during a convention people are busy. I’ve staffed conventions from 1998 onwards, held various director level positions within conventions, as well as been a vice-chair and chair of Further Confusion. But one thing that I also did was run FC’s social media from 2008 until 2012 (I think?) I had posted all the announcements on various mailing lists and forums from before then, but the Twitter account started in November 2008, after I saw what Midwest FurFest was doing with scheduled tweets. One thing that I found during my year as chair (FC in January 2009) was that Twitter was a great way to find out about problems before con ops even knew about them, and I saw the value in that. My vision from then onwards was to have a Twitter client running at con ops searching on mentions to the con’s Twitter account or the convention hashtag to find out what people were saying about the con, so we could get a heads up on things quickly. I got so much resistance to this, because people were too busy and no-one could be spared. Sometimes we did get a client there running, but I don’t think much attention was paid to it.

    Yet the events of this past RF show that there is a need for an increased social media presence during the convention as well as before it. You can see when rumours start, and then get an official notice out to squash them quickly. If you start having problems with petty vandalism, you can put out a notice to inform people to watch out for people doing such and report them to security. There is just so much you can do to make people aware of things, and when people are aware of things – even you don’t give them the whole story, but enough – then your attendees can help the convention stop (or at least, significantly reduce) the amount of bad things that happen. Yes, certainly some things need to be kept quiet, but not everything. A convention is run for the attendees, and the attendees are on your side. They want the con they’re at to keep running, so given a chance, will be able to help by keeping an eye out for things.


  • What if …

    • … I’d never found the furry fandom?
    • … I’d never moved away from the UK to California?
    • … the company that I’d worked for first had actually put in my US permanent residency application in a more timely manner?
    • … I wasn’t let go by that company in 2001?
    • … I hadn’t been cheated on by someone I loved while we were at a convention?
    • … I had moved back to the UK when my US work visa ran out instead of moving to Canada?
    • … I’d actually managed to move back to the US again 1 year after moving up to Canada, like I had originally planned?
    • … I never got permanent residency here in Canada?
    • … I never got citizenship in Canada?
    • … I’d been allowed to move into another position at the company I work at, instead of being kept there because I was too good to let go?
    • … I’d got past the interview I had down in Seattle last December?
    • … I’d got past the phone interview I had last week?

    Would I be happy then? Because I don’t think that I’m happy – truely happy – now.