ALA 2011 Recap

I spent the weekend in New Orleans for the American Library Association’s annual meet-up, which means I got to hang about with librarians and other authors, two of my favorite categories of people. The big event of my attendance was the panel pictured above (by this person, whose picture I have shamelessly stolen), in which I, David Weber, Bill Willingham, Orson Scott Card, Jim Ottaviani, Carrie Vaughn and Gail Carriger spoke (nominally) on the subject of science fiction/fantasy and information sciences and technology. Don’t look at me like that, it was an interesting panel, and very well attended. Aside from that I signed books, did an interview, hung out with cool people and ate like a king, as one should when one is in New Orleans.

Late June is not necessarily the least hot and humid time one could be visiting New Orleans, but I didn’t mind, and in fact my major problem with the city was not the heat or humidity but the fact that every enclosed space is so aggressively air-conditioned that I ended up shivering more in New Orleans in late June than I did, say, in Ohio in mid-winter. That’s just not right. Dear New Orleans: It’s okay to scale back your air conditioning from “arctic” to “merely cold.”

I am happy to say that I did enjoy my New Orleans visit and hope to head down there again, perhaps on an actual vacation in which I have nothing to do but eat and wander about with the family. That would not be a bad thing at all.

19 Comments on “ALA 2011 Recap”

  1. It was a great panel and you are were delightfully coherent. Such a pleasure to meet you and now that I have finally found your world famous blog I will return often to read your posts and hope for pictures of cats and bacon. :-) (this has been typed as I sit shivering in the New Orleans airport wondering why they have the AC set to 62 degrees?!!!!)

  2. Energy costs must be rock-bottom there (or operating budgets sky-high, of course), if they can afford to keep a/c’s blasting away at the uncomfortably-cool level. Sure, we get our share of hot-and-sticky up this side of the Canadian border (I’m in southern Ont., about an hour west of TO), but that kind of usage here would (a) bankrupt us, (b) virtually guarantee at least brown-outs, and (worst of all, c) be nearly deadly anytime we had go back outside.

  3. Well, if you ever do end up down there with the family, the Audubon Zoo is really cool. I went to undergrad at one of NOLA’s universities and the zoo was a big hit with my family. And if anyone in your family is interested in archaeology/ancient Maya, Tulane’s got MARI (Middle American Research Institute), which includes a few exhibits. I’m not sure whether they’re open to the public quite yet, since renovations just got finished on their building last summer and they’ve been in the process of settling in, but it would be something worth checking out–if y’all are interested in that sort of thing.

    You got a bunch of suggestions in one of your last posts about places to go in NOLA, so I’ll hush now. :o)

  4. The aggressive AC was something I remembered from my own visit there many moons ago. So aggressive that the doors to all the tourist traps were kept wide open so hapless tourists could be lured in from the heat and humidity by the welcoming blast of cool.

  5. The thing with New Orleans a/c is that so many of their establishments, particularly in the French Quarter, are open to the outside that ceiling fans alone just won’t cut it for the tourists who aren’t used to the oppressive heat/humidity. Granted, I grew up in Chicago and I found it a little chilly. You live in Ohio and you also found it chilly. But the native New Orleanians don’t have the same “scale” we do for judging heat and cold. I’d wager they think they’re being kind to the tourists by setting the a/c or ceiling fan speed to “arctic”, as opposed to “merely cold”. Since I don’t do well with heat and humidity, I think I’d rather have it too cold than not cold enough. Just my two cents.


  6. I’m perversely glad to hear I wasn’t the only one shivering. My tolerance is usually set about 10 degrees higher than everyone else’s, so when I’m shivering I assume everyone else is comfortable. If everyone else was shivering, I was probably going hypothermic!

    It was great seeing you this weekend, John!

  7. That sounds like an awesome panel. Gail’s always talked about ALA very positively (she’s a friend of mine) and another friend of mine was there as a vendor (his company does book scanners for libraries).

  8. I don’t remember aggressive AC the one time I visited New Orleans but I remember living in Phoenix and shiviering in movie theaters in July.

    Eskimo blue day…

  9. Something about the combination of heat and humidity?

    Florida is the same way. I regularly travel there on business and every building, especially the restaurants, are unbelievably cold. I have a wool coat, almost a parka, which I purchased one winter while I was traveling in France on business. It waits for me in my office in Florida and I wear it everywhere: restaurants, theaters, the beach (alright, not the beach)

    The coldest winter I ever spent was summer indoors in Florida. (With apologies.)


  10. Growing up all over the South, from Texas to Florida, I can testify that it used to be that way EVERYWHERE in the South. Walt Disney was able to buy the vast swath of Florida swampland upon which Disney World now rests because it was considered uninhabitable before the advent of A/C. And when they got central air down there they turned it all the way down, and never turned it back up…

  11. Re: The A/C. When I was doing my two weeks active duty in Ft. Benning the air conditioning was set on “meat locker” also. My pet theory is that after two hundred years of SWEATING THEIR TUCHASES (tuchii?) OFF, southerners feel compelled to make up for lost time. By trying to get the rooms to superconducting temps.

  12. I live in Baton Rouge right now (not my favorite place on the planet, but LSU’s English department is pretty fabulous), and the worst part about the A/C in my opinion is the moments of blindness that those of us who wear glasses experience every time we leave an air conditioned place and walk outside into humid, 100-degree weather.

  13. You just don’t understand. Turning the a/c up so high in June down here is a lot like having a timer on your A/C set to turn your air on an hour or two before you get home from work. If we didn’t turn it up so high now, we just can’t get inside to be a comfortable temperature by the time August gets here.

  14. Could the extreme A/C have anything to do with fighting mold/mildew? Of which I smelled a lot while I was there for ALA?
    Great panel! I enjoyed Scalzi & Ottaviani the most. Hey, John, you left out Orson Scott Card in your list!

  15. Awesome panel ! It would be cool if there was a youtube video that I could watch.