shatteredshards: stop wasting that coffee, Clint (hawk pour)
I will be the first to admit that my CON runs a tight ship. This year is our 16th convention, and the mother convention that ours split off from is celebrating its 49th convention this year. Needless to say, the people involved know what they're doing and do it well.

Some people find it hard to believe that we start planning over a year in advance. The theme for the following year is voted on and decided in time for it to be announced in the printed materials (the souvenir book) each year. Two to three weeks after the convention ends the Convention Committee meets to discuss what we did and how we can do it better for the next year. The following month, some departments are already holding their individual meetings. Budgets are finalized and given a couple months later, almost 9 months before the convention.

When you're operating a fan-run, non-profit, 7,000-member annual convention, you have to run a tight ship.

Coming from that environment, I try to be aware of how I criticize other conventions. I understand that not everyone can do it the same and that our model, while it works amazingly for us, won't necessarily work for others. However, I firmly believe there are a list of iron-clad absolute musts that need to be followed, no matter how big, or small, your convention is.

  1. If you are selling admission/memberships/badges to your convention, you must have a working website for people to buy them through. Whether you use a third-party setup or put your own site on a webhost, it is completely unacceptable for your website to go down or be missing in action for a week or more at a time. Webhosts can have boo-boos and sometimes your page can go down for a day or two, we all get that. But missing multiple deadlines for having your site working, repeatedly telling people that it will be up the following week, and claiming that you're migrating the site? NO. Bag dog, no cookie.

  2. On a similar note, you need to have a working website where people can find information about your convention. It can be as simple as a free Blogspot blog or a Facebook page, but you need to have it up and working. Again, a supposed server migration that's been taking over a month is a great excuse for people to dismiss your convention as a Bad Idea.

  3. You need to pick a date and stick to it. Research what other conventions may be happening around that timeframe, to make sure that a big draw isn't going to be happening one state over that same weekend. The more you change the date, the more people will decide against attending.

  4. Your budget needs to be figured out and set in stone at least a few months before your convention. Plan everything out. Plan for emergencies and have backup funds. At no point should you be so concerned about your budget that you're on social media (or telling other people to get on social media), begging people to come get a day pass so that you can actually pay the hotel, guests of honor, et cetera. This is doubly so if you're doing it while the convention is in progress. If you can't set a budget and stick to it, if you're liable to blow the cash in your pocket instead of setting it aside for the expenses, get someone who you trust and is good with money to hold on to it for you. And let them hit you every time you ask to borrow money out of it.

  5. I've said this before, but if you're doing it just to make money (e.g. so that you don't have to get a "real job"), you're doing it for the wrong reasons. People will eventually see through you and get your ulterior motive. Besides that, you're probably not going to make a profit your first few years; only established conventions are profitable.

  6. You need to get other people involved, and they need to be people whom you trust and can handle the job. You cannot do the whole thing by yourself. You're just going to spend the whole time stressing, running around like a chicken with your head cut off, and not really have any fun. On the flip side, it's great that you want to dole out titles and positions to your friends, but unless your friends are experienced and can handle the job(s) you're giving them, you're gonna be the one crapping bricks when things hit the fan.

  7. Sleep is important. I know we all like to think we can survive on coffee alone, but nobody wants to deal with your grouchy and/or stupid self when you haven't had enough rest. Make sure you have a private place to sleep, away from the room(s) your convention is being run out of, and make sure people know that you will be sleeping from X time to Y time and not to disturb you unless your venue is burning down. Make sure the people helping you run your convention, like department heads, have the same. Make sure things can be appropriately taken care of while people sleep.

  8. Last, and perhaps the most important, is to plan. Plan for everything short of an apocalypse. Your Head of Registration gets sick? Have a plan. Your Dealers Room turns out to be too small? Have a plan. If you stay calm and in control, your people stay calm and in control, and your convention keeps going.

shatteredshards: Clint needs to lay off the caffeine (hawk coffee)
Jezebel posted an article the other day (here) about a Reddit user who decided to take an, albeit short, walk in someone else's shoes.

The man, joking that "women have it easy" on online dating sites, created a fake profile, using a photo of the female friend he was joking with for the picture, and waited. Not that he had to wait long, because he claimed the inappropriate messages were arriving in just mere minutes.

I would be lying if I said it didn't get to me. I thought it would be some fun thing, something where I would do it and worse case scenario say "lol I was a guy I trolle you lulz"etc. but within a 2 hour span it got me really down and I was feeling really uncomfortable with everything. I figured I would get some weird messages here and there, but what I got was an onslaught of people who were, within minutes of saying hello, saying things that made me as a dude who spends most of his time on 4chan uneasy. I ended up deleting my profile at the end of 2 hours and kind of went about the rest of my night with a very bad taste in my mouth.


After two hours, he was so upset by it that he deleted his profile. He deleted his profile and walked away, never to experience this again.

Women can't just delete their profile and walk away - they receive this treatment all over the internet, not just on dating sites. And if they literally walk away, as soon as they leave their house they're experiencing this to their faces. Because surprise, a far too large number of men think this sort of thing is appropriate or okay out in The Real World.

I could not even begin to tell you the number of times I've been sexually harassed, both online and outside the internet, because I lost count a long time ago. When I was a teenager, I could guarantee you I'd be catcalled if I was walking 2 blocks or more down the street. By 20 I had the whole "How to Avoid Being Raped" list down solid ("don't go anywhere by yourself at night," "don't wear headphones because you might not hear someone behind you," "don't pull your hood up because it will obscure your peripheral vision," "carry a pocketknife or boxcutter in your hand," "have your keys out and ready BEFORE you exit the building," "pretend to be talking to someone on your cell phone because a possible witness is discouraging," etc etc). When I was 25, I was sexually harassed by my boss at my job for over a year - and then fired when I reported it to the EEOC after the company employing me failed to handle it properly. Though the company had also held my yearly review and raise hostage for five months at that point, once multiple employees made a formal complaint against the manager, but you get the picture.

The thing that bothers me the most about this, however, is the simple fact that women have been complaining about this sort of thing since forever, and they hear the same mansplaining every time. But now a dude confirms it and suddenly a bunch more people will take it seriously.
shatteredshards: sunset over a lake (stoat)
I have spent the majority of my adult life single by choice.

And I've heard the excuses, the mansplaining. No, you're lying, there must be something wrong with you, there must be some reason why guys don't want to date you.

No. Really, by choice.

When I was younger, I had a large hole left in my emotional needs that can be summed up as "daddy issues" (the story there is for another time). I attempted to have said needs met by having relationships with guys my age, and when that didn't work, the daddy issues manifested themselves further and I tried a relationship with someone older.

What doesn't kill you, right?

Well, it just about nearly did.

When I finally made it out of that relationship, I shut down quite a bit. I couldn't understand what had happened...and then it clicked. I realized that, subconsciously, I had put myself into that position, and I would fail to ever have a healthy relationship until I properly dealt with my issues.

Cue me finally dealing with them 5 years later.

Then, last year, I felt like I was in a good place to be in a relationship with someone who was interested in me, so I gave it a shot.

Coming from my background, I wouldn't let myself get too concerned about things that I felt were off. Don't overreact, just relax. Needless to say, things eventually imploded.

You see, the person I was trying to have a relationship had issues of his own, specifically abandonment issues, that he hadn't dealt with. He had issues that he was loathe to even recognize.

Throughout the relationship, he complained that his previous girlfriend was too clingy and didn't have her own interests, yet he proceeded to be put-out when I had made plans and didn't want to cancel them to lay around and do nothing with him. He refused to call me his girlfriend or acknowledge that we had a relationship (we were, in his words, "working towards being together") because I was unwilling to drop my entire life and move to be with him, no questions asked. Whenever I brought up a concern I had about a way he was speaking to or treating me, he would attempt to dismiss it as "Guys have done that to you in the past, but you can't live in the past and compare me to them," yet my behavior was openly compared to that of his prior girlfriends.

I hit a breaking point one weekend where I had asked for a few days of privacy due to my mental state (I have learned to ask for a Mental Health Day to take care of myself instead of burying the problem) and he refused to respect that. That disrespect made me angry. Why didn't I deserve such a small thing?

A couple months later, sure enough, I came across posts on a social networking site where he was saying, and I quote, "I need a girlfriend."

No.

No.

NO.

There's a rather famous quote by RuPaul that goes "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

Now, you can argue with me, say "I love myself plenty! Who are you to say I can't love someone else?" Here's the thing: you cannot use someone else to fill a hole in your own life. Being in a relationship with someone else is supposed to compliment your life, make it even better, not fix the gaping chunk! You need to fix that chunk yourself before you get someone else involved, otherwise that chunk will never be fixed; you'll just be moving things around to try to hide it.

You cannot go looking for a relationship with this preconceived notion of how said relationship will complete you, and you cannot impose that fantasy on someone else (I'm looking at you, Taylor Swift). It's not fair to anyone involved.

And until you realize that, your relationships are all doomed to fail.
shatteredshards: a large cappuccino cup with a skein of multicolored yarn in it (cuppa yarn)
Stop talking and make it happen.

At about 2 am this morning, I kicked off 2014 by doing something I've never done before: publishing my first knitting pattern. I've made it a Ravelry-exclusive free download, found here.

Something I haven't done, however, is explain the name. Wawel, located in Kraków, Poland, is known for its Gothic architecture. The lace pattern I used in this cowl is based on arches, something very prominent in the buildings of Wawel.

Not that it needs saying when you see the author name, but I am of Polish heritage. Szczęśliwego nowego roku!
shatteredshards: my wrist tattoo, immediately after inking (grunge ink)
I suppose that, on the internet, many people try to be the person they can't be out in the world. It might be to an advantage; being more outgoing and making friends easier, for example. It can also be to a disadvantage, perhaps bullying or doing things for attention, no matter how negative.

Throughout this, dishonesty can be used in varying degrees. Perhaps you're not comfortable talking about a painful childhood, so you tell a story that's easier to deal with. Or perhaps you're embarrassed about your job, so you tell people that it's nicer than it is.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people, unfortunately, will be dishonest for personal gain. They might manipulate people because it makes them feel powerful, or they might downtalk their economic situation in order to get money from others.

It can start small, with white lies and fibs. Such insignificant things, but it tends to snowball. As much as you may not realize it, the bigger the lies get, the harder it is to keep them straight, and under your control.

The benefits might appear to outweigh the risks, but for how long? Remember what people say about the internet keeping things on it forever, that you can never get rid of them completely?

So, it might seem innocent enough, to tell people you're broke and have bills to pay, so here's a sale at your online shop and could they please help you out, but months later people are going to put two and two together. They're going to figure out that the expensive tech toys, trips, and luxury spending don't match up with how often you claim you need money, and then, best case scenario, they won't be sure if they can trust you anymore.
shatteredshards: my old rpg character (alter ego)
In fandom and the geek community, a lot of us have energy to put to use. We help with events, with charity work, with community service, with conventions. A majority of it is on a volunteer basis, with little to no benefits for our time and services.

Why do we do it? Because we get satisfaction out of helping others or making things happen, out of bringing happiness to our fellow fans and geeks. Some of us do it for the power.

*evil laughter* MINIONS!

*ahem*

I digress.

Most of us do it out of the goodness of our hearts or to get good feelings from helping. But not everyone can say that.

Unfortunately, there will always be those people who are in it for the money. They see that fandom, that group as a demographic to fill their wallet, to exploit, and perhaps don't even realize it. They may go so far as to use or abuse the people they know, their own friends or family, in order to achieve their end goal of profit. They might even be so focused on profit that they are blind to their behavior towards others around them.

The awesome thing about fandom and the geek community is that while these people may reach some level of success, inevitably they will be found out and fail. If someone's intentions aren't genuine, they won't be able to disguise it for long.

And that's okay, because the rest of us are still here, doing what we do to put a smile on someone else's face.

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shatteredshards: a large cappuccino cup with a skein of multicolored yarn in it (Default)
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