I'm writing this blog from a Starbucks not TOO far from my mother-in-law's house in Louisville, KY were I will likely be stranded for a few days. I'm limping back from the Canadian Astrophotography School and AstroCATS expo that took place last week in London, Ontario. Just about everything that could go wrong on this trip did... but this is not to start this off in a negative way, but rather to point out how circumstances can really try and mess with you, but it's how you respond to them and how people rally around you that defines a successful event.
First... my wife has been traveling with me on all my trips since earlier this year, and this time she fell ill en route to Canada. By the time we got to London, it was clear we could not as planned stay with a group of other people in a "dorm" on the college campus, so I found us a hotel by the nearby airport where she could recuperate in private, and we had less risk of making someone else sick along the way! Being sick while traveling is horrendous, and everyone get's a turn. Two NEAF's ago, it was my turn and I recall spending 24 hours miserable in a hotel room while Steve and Sarah Bisque manned the booth for me.
The first day of the Astrophotography School went pretty well though. I had a great group of students, and I taught a class on Beginning Astrophotography while my friends Warren Keller and Ron Brecher taught PixInsight in the next room, and Christopher Go was talking on planetary imaging (I'd actually have loved to have gone to Chris's talk... this is an area of latent interest to me). The second day, we moved classrooms due to a scheduling conflict with the college, and I found myself without a projector as the "specified" HDMI turned out wasn't available in that room. The secret to success is never grump, and of course having fabulous students who are positive too! We just loaded up the slides on PDF that I had handed out, and we went through them together like a group conversation. When a cable/converter finally came, the screen would not display more than 1024x768, and it was RED... no, not like a red screen, RED RED RED... blotchy red. It reminded me of a 16 color display (no, not 16-bit color.... 16 colors). We all laughed at ourselves, and at a few points I unplugged my laptop and just walked around showing students what my work looked like as they followed along with DeepSky Stacker or Photoshop. I can't thank enough my students for being so understanding and so willing to work with me. We definitely made lemonade out of lemons!
At the end of the second day of class, there was a presentation, and then I headed to the college gym to setup the Software Bisque booth for AstroCATS, which started the next day. I found an empty booth with a small "Software Bisque" label on it, but no sign of the four boxes containing banners, a MYT, etc. I looked around, made some inquiries, and got on-line to track the DHL shipment. "Expected Delivery by end of day" was listed... and I didn't understand that "Cleared for Customs" meant.... WAITING for customs. To make a long story short... our booth never arrived and had no chance of being delivered until at least Tuesday. There were some heroic efforts made by Steve, and Dorothy back in Golden (hey Dorothy had left work, and TURNED AROUND and came back to try and help after hours in Golden!), and by Andy Blanchard in Canada to try and bridge a new customs broker and DHL, but alas... it was too late in the day and it was a holiday weekend in Canada to boot. The people we needed at DHL had all gone home for the weekend. (They are also all fired... from our standpoint anyway ;-)
"Well, I'm here", I thought. "I might as well make the best of it". Andy offered to bring in his ME from home, and I made up a slide show for my laptop and we printed some extra fliers from a PDF I had. I also had the boxed gift certificate for TheSkyX that we were giving away as a door prize. Andy's ME had just returned from service in Chile, and we had to clean it up a bit. I was honestly mortified that I had none of our latest mounts to show off... however, it turns out the old girl still has some booth draw to her. Plenty of people noticed the ME, and came by to talk. Many existing customers, and many prospective customers considering a Paramount still recognized the ME as part of the line up and so came and talked to me about our products. The day before I wanted to go home with my tail between my legs, but it turns out most of my angst was mostly self inflicted and I received a warm Canadian reception all day Saturday from customers, future customers... and had some nice talks with the other vendors and friends.
Speaking of other vendors and friends, I did manage one night out for dinner with friends, Pedro Braganca and Keiron Smith from Simulation Curriculum. Pedro and I had worked together years ago at Starry Night for a bit (yes, for a time, I also worked on Starry Night before the Bisque days), and have remained friends to this day. A lot of customers would be surprised how well most vendors get along with each other personally. Even as competitors, we often have and will at some point work together... it's a small industry after all, and we all have so much in common. How can we not be friends? (well... most of the time - Ha ha).
So, my last blog had a lot of space devoted to being tired of traveling and needing to stay home this summer to get some other kinds of work done. Karama... I must have been mean to some baby birds or something as a child once... with my wife too sick to fly, we rented a car one way and made a break for the long jaunt from Southern Canada to Florida. Driving was not much better than flying, and we diverted part way to our childhood home state and are now staying with family until she get's back on her feet. Fortunately, I have both my main development laptops, internet... and Starbucks ;-)
05-24-2016 9:58 AM