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Heading for the airport

Camilla the Lizard

Mad last minute packing, but think I have everything, and hopefully just within the weight limit.

One thing that isn't coming is camilla the lizard. She makes a lovely shoulder pad, but I think the Australian authorities would fail to see the funny side of finding her I'm my luggage.

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Cameraphone test

Me on the camera phone

I want to send back lots of photos from my trip, and I'm hoping this smart phone will help. Today I discovered it has an extra camera facing towards me. How cool is that?

If the technology gods are being kind to me, there will be a photo of me attached to this post.

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Something I never thought I would do

Today I did something I have never done before, and frankly, something I didn't expect I would ever do. Indeed, it is something that I have poured scorn on others for, the sort of activity I would generally mock others for and laugh at their stupidity.

Yes, today I bought my first team sports top.

And not just one, I bought two Ireland Rugby jerseys.

Now, what I really object to is the sort of sports shop that will charge €80 or more for the official kit of some sports team, and especially the sort of mentality that says it's not good enough to have the official kit, but only this year's slightly changed version will do.

So in my defence I will claim that these jerseys were reasonably inexpensive, and reasonably good value as a wearable item of clothing, regardless of the logo. Are they the official jersey? Probably not. Do I care? (Answers on a postcard, please.)

I also feel that I should have something to show my Irishness down under.

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London Stopover

The Gherkin

For anyone in London, especially west London, I have a few hours to pass in Heathrow next Saturday, the 21st. Unfortunately it's not really long enough to go far, so Liam (@lproven) suggested a drink within the airport, and Weatherspoons in Terminal 4 is to be recommended. I shall aim to be there about 5:30pm on Saturday, so I hope you'll come and join me.

Please comment if you think you might make it.

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Hello, is this thing on?


In a week, I'll be on my way to New Zealand and Australia on my GUFF trip, so it's time for another update.

I've been busy setting up a website to blog the trip. It's at http://guff.lostcarpark.com, in case you're reading one of the cross-postings.

I've been trying to get it to automatically post to LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook. This seems to be working quite well for the first two, but Facebook doesn't make things quit so easy, so it requires some manual intervention.

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A Rough Guide to GUFF - Part 8 of several

It's been a while since I've posted anything under this topic, but I've been busy. I guess part of the reason for this is that I've reached the point where there's not a lot to say about GUFF in general terms, and it's getting into the specifics of my trip. It's also hard to comment on the plans I'm making when it could all turn pear shaped when the trip actually starts. However, I feel for that very reason, now is a good time to talk about my intentions. Then I can see how they compare to what actually happens.

Part 8 - Planning

More or less the first thing I did after finding out I was the GUFF delegate was to check out the visa situation, since if there was likely to be any problem getting into the country. Fortunately, providing you're an EU citizen, it's pretty straightforward these days. For Australia, you must apply for a "eVisitor" online. This is free, and is normally granted in about 24 hours. For New Zealand it's even easier, as EU citizens can travel for holidays without a visa.

The next thing was to check I could get the time off work. There were raised eyebrows at me taking my entire year's holidays in a single block, but in the end it was no problem. I wanted to go to Au Contraire before Aussiecon, so a week an New Zealand followed by 3 weeks in Australia seemed a logical breakdown.

I also started talking to as many previous fan fund winners as I could, and got lots of helpful advice. Ang, Sue Ann and James Bacon in particular have been hugely helpful. I also got a number of offers of places to stay during the trip, which was also fantastic.

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A Rough Guide to GUFF - part 7 of several

Another repost from LiveJournal.

I'm glad I left this series open-ended, as I now find I have material for several more instalments. However, while the first set of episodes talked about fan funds and GUFF in general terms, it may get a little more personal from here on. I hope the transition will make sense. Without further ado...

Part 7: On the Campaign Trail

If you're thinking of running for GUFF - or any fan fund for that matter - it's probably a good idea to start by seeking advice from friends. If you can talk to some previous delegates better still. They'll hopefully give you an idea of what to expect and how best to proceed. It's a good idea to know what you're letting yourself in for before your name is on the ballot, and you're trying to answer questions you're not quite clear on at a convention.

Once you've decided to run the next step is to find people to nominate you. Getting this right is essential, as people looking at the ballot might not know you, but if they see a name on the ballot they know and respect, they are much more likely to vote for their nominee, as people tend to think "well if they're good enough for so-and-so, they're good enough for me". You need to think "who are the most respected people I know in fandom?" Then you need to write them a nice letter or email, along the lines of "Dear respected-fan, I would like to run for GUFF, and as you are the most respected I know in fandom, I would consider it a great honour if you considered me worthy of your nomination."

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A Rough Guide to GUFF - part 6 of several

Previously posted on LiveJournal.

Part 6: Are fan funds still relevant today?

Update: Clarified a few points after Facebook discussion with Alison.

Today's episode might quite possibly be the last in this series (I was going to call it "part several of several" but then I'd be guaranteed to think of something else), and differs slightly from the others in that it's dealing with a slightly more subjective topic.

The main reason fan funds were set up has to do with the cost of international travel. With air fares a fraction of what they were in the 1950s, this argument certainly holds less weight. But if somebody's main reason for standing for a fan fund was because they couldn't afford to get to a worldcon, I'd be inclined to say "let them save up like everyone else." Let's face it, if anyone on even a modest income really wanted to, and planned far enough ahead, they could go to a worldcon.

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A Rough Guide to GUFF - part 5 of several

Reposted from LiveJournal.

Part 5 - So what's this about an election?

In previous instalments I talked about GUFF, the Gone-Under/Get-up-and-Over Fan Fund, hinting that the delegate is chosen by their peers. Now, I feel it time to explain how this works.

To start with, candidates must be nominated to stand for the election by a total of five fans. Three of the nominators must be on the candidates own continent, and two from the destination. The nominators are important, since fans who don't know the candidates will look to see who nominated them.

Once a candidate has agreement from their nominators, they lodge a bond of £15 with the current administrator, and write a short platform about themselves to tell people why they out to vote for them. This appears on the ballot form.

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A Rough Guide to GUFF - part 4 of several

As with the others, this was previously posted on LiveJournal.

Part 4: So what actually happens on a GUFF trip?

In parts 1, 2 and 3 I talked a bit about what GUFF is and how it's funded, but now I think it's time to get into the details of what actually goes on when you get there.

Of course the details vary, and each GUFF delegate has their own way of doing things, but that's what makes trip reports worth reading. There are, of course, traditions that must be observed.

Every GUFF trip centres around at least one convention, usually the biggest con in the destination country that year. Naturally, when there's a Worldcon on either continent that tends to be the target, which sometimes requires a little juggling of the trip schedule to ensure it's going in the right direction that year. Other years it tends to be Eastercon for northbound trips and Natcon for southbound ones.

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