< Piro >
Thursday - June 28, 2007
Once again, a quick note that I will be at Anime Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center this weekend on SATURDAY ONLY (June 30th). You can find me at the CMX booth most of the day (and probably the CMX panel too), so if you are going to AX, be sure to stop by for signatures and scribbles. :)
23,332 miles - That's how many air miles Seraphim and I traversed in our trip to Australia and New Zealand. We actually traveled a bit more than that, if you count miles driven (roughly 800 miles (1,300 km) in New Zealand and 300 miles (130 km) in Australia), miles walked (5.8 miles (9.4 km) around Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia, uncounted miles in airports, the miniscule distance you can walk around on a 747, etc) and miles traveled by boat (a ferry ride to the South Island (63.9 miles) and a whale watch trip out of Kaikoura)... i lost count. I think i have a feel for it in both Kilometers and Miles now, and i was really feeling it by the time we hit Detroit Metro Airport last Saturday.
For the most part, it was a really good trip. I'd like to thank the folks at Conspiracy for inviting me to come to their convention in New Zealand. I got a chance to meet and talk with all the MT fans who showed up, and while my 'speech' was awful, the main MT panel was a good discussion. Any discussion that gets to stuff like the local pizza chain is good. I'd also like to thank the folks at Convergence for bringing me to Australia, where i was surprised by how many people came to see us. It was a good show, and the casual, sitting around on the floor talking about MT with fans thing was really enjoyable. I also had a chance to finally meet an old friend, Wombat, whose life i've been making difficult and irritating for many, many years. :P
The worst part of the trip was getting there. It's a long way to New Zealand from Michigan. The basic trip is 4 hours to LAX, and 12 hours to Aukland, and 1 hr to Wellington. We were doing fine until we were one hour out from Aukland when the pilot informed us that both Christchurch and Wellington were fogged out and were going to have to turn around and go to Fiji, 2 hrs north. After sitting on the ground for an hour to refuel, it was another 2 hrs to Aukland, making the flight not 12 hrs but 16 hrs (Seraphim says she will never forgive me for bringing her to Fiji and having to sit in a plane the entire time).
Needless to say, we missed our flight to Wellington, and were rebooked on a flight five hours later. You can imagine how we felt as we sat there and boarding time came and went with no plane at the gate. Turns out it was still in Queenstown, 2 hrs south, delayed by bad weather. Thankfully, a plane was commandeered about an hour later and we were on the last leg of our trip.
When all was said and done, it took 38 hours to get to get from our doorstep to walking off the plane in Wellington, New Zealand. The rest of the trip was a cakewalk after that.
There was a a long break between Megatokyo comics, not just the three weeks i was gone, delays and missed comics in the months before as well. Production is going much smoother now that i've had some time to recuperate, and i've put priority on getting into a normal schedule. (I think that some of this recovery has to do with the fact that i had stopped drinking caffeinated drinks last year, and on this trip i needed coffee to keep going, and in AU/NZ they don't really have filter coffee, the closest thing you can get is a Long Black, which is a double expressos with hot water, even gas stations have automatic expresso machines that make them. Yeah, i was getting severe caffeine withdrawal headaches after getting back.)
A big thanks goes out to Hawk for keeping you folks entertained while I was gone. He did an excellent job turning my scripts into a nice series of comics that focused on Ping and her morning adventures. This sequence really is part of the story (most of it, anyway) and it actually falls a few scenes after this, but i'll leave it where it is. For the book i'll do the three pages i originally planned, and give Hawk's comics as versions you can see the slight differences between my treatment and Hawk's. Excellent job dude. :)
I also want to thank all of you who shopped at our MegaGear store while we were away. Honestly, the response was a lot greater than i anticipated. I figured that i'd have to sign 400 or 500 books or so when i got back. By the time the special promotion ended we had sold over 2,600 copies of MT volume 5.
Uhm, wow. Thats... oh boy. We had to order more books, a lot more books. And... I gotta sign all of them. Uh oh.
In my rant before i left i said "Yes, i'll be drawing a little little something small in the books with the signature." My thought was that it'd be nothing more than a few quick pen blots to make a Boo face or something next to my signature. After some experimenting, i realized that there was no way i could do that for 2,600 books and make it look like anything, so I'm focusing on keeping my signature legible. I forgot to mention the 1,000 posters i have to sign, too. -_-;;
As you can probably guess, Sarah and I came home to what you could call a 'good' problem - a ton of orders to process and ship. We've been working on them since we got back, and we'll be doing our best to get your orders out as quick as we can. I am also balancing this with comic production because i want get MT rolling along again. We've already shipped out all the books we had in stock (all signed, of course) and should be getting a new shipment of books early next week (yes, it is a bizarre feeling to get a pallet of your own books). The .N173Z poster arrived yesterday morning, i've started signing my way through those, and Sarah has started shipping them.
We appreciate your patience as Sarah and I work our way through your orders. It is just the two of us, and we've got our hands full, but we're working hard to get your orders processed. Also, please note that if you contacted firstname.lastname@example.org in the past four weeks that we have a huge backlog of msgs to respond to, so please know that we will respond to you as soon as we can. If your concern requires immediate attention, please email me directly and i will do what i can to help. We thank you for your patience.
I've been joking since i left about how interesting it was to travel to the other side of the world. The truth is, we didn't REALLY travel all the way to the other side of the world. Almost, but not quite. As you can see, drilling a hole strait to the other side of the earth from here (Ann Arbor, Michigan) lands me southwest of the Australian continent in what looks like a very wet and cold spot in the southern Indian Ocean. (By contrast, you'll find that digging the same hole in Wellington will land you in what is probably a very pleasant area northwest of Madrid, Spain).
In William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition," London and the UK are referred to as a "Mirror World" to the US. Things are the same, but different, usually mirrored from what we are familiar with. I think this is even more true of Australia and New Zealand. It's winter down there, it's a different day (other side of the international date line), day and night are flip flopped (as to be expected), you drive on the left hand side of the road, etc. At least Britain is on more or less the same latitude as Michigan. It was very odd to leave a summer in Michigan to find cool winter weather at our destination.
Driving on the left hand side of the road was a bit of a challenge but it really wasn't that hard to get used to (in fact, when i got back, i found myself keeping to the left in parking lots - not good :P). The only thing that really took some getting used to on the drive were the one way bridges. There are a lot of them in New Zealand, even on the main roads. The best one, however, was over near Greymouth where not only was it a one way bridge for car traffic, but you had to watch for trains as well, since the rail line shared the bridge too. ^^;; (if you look, you can see where the rail line converges with the bridge :P)
The moment where i really felt i was somewhere else in the world came when we were heading back to Christchurch after driving to the west coast via Arthur's Pass to Punakaiki and back. We were on the east side of the mountains, it was dark and windy and i noticed out the window that the stars seemed to be bright. Remembering that i wanted to check out the night sky while we were here, we stopped the car and got out to look.
To say we it was breath taking would be an understatement. I haven't seen the Milky Way since i was six. I didn't know you could SEE a star field like that from earth. Granted, i've spent most of my life in the north east part of the US, but to come upon this suddenly really as awe inspiring. Standing next to a your car with the lights off, in the total dark in the middle of the New Zealand alps with 40-50 mph winds roaring around you... it was a pretty surreal experience, and the one that made me realize just how far from home we were.
One other thing Gibson mentioned in Pattern Recognition was this concept of Soul Delay. Your soul can't travel as fast as you can fly and is merely strung out behind you on a long tether, and you have to wait for it to catch up with you. After 23 thousand miles, I think I'm still reeling mine in.
I'm flying to California tomorrow. I hope it eventually catches up. :)