Category Archives: Travel

in which a suitcase is packed

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to get into a giant aluminium tube and fly across the continent to America's Wang. Then, on Sunday, I'll get on a boat and spend a week doing nerdy stuff with nerds in the middle of the ocean. It should be pretty awesome.

Earlier today, I folded my laundry, and put it on the bed. I laid out the various items of clothing I need to take with me on the cruise next week, carefully considering what nerd T-shirts would make the cut, and which ones would have to stay home.

I took my suit, and a clean white dress shirt out of the closet. I walked around the room, trying to find a place to hang them up. When I realized there wasn't a place to hang them up, I carefully laid them on the bed.

"The cats aren't in the house, so this will be fine here for a few minutes," I thought to myself.

I went into my office, and prepared my backpack: I took out some things I didn't need, including an old call sheet, and realized that the last time I took this backpack anywhere, I was working on Eureka. I had a little bit of a sad. I put some books in a pocket next to my Kindle. I put my bag of dice inside, and grabbed a couple of small, social games: Werewolf, Resistance, Fluxx, and a couple of Button Men, just in case. I printed out my performance setlist and put it into the pocket where I'd usually put my laptop. (My laptop is staying home, because the Internet on the ship costs eleventy billion dollars a second, and I'd rather read books, play games, and relax in the sun with my friends and family than hang out online, where I spend pretty much all of my free time when we're home.

I made sure my various chargers, extra batteries, headphones, and other nerd essentials were in their proper place. Then, having confirmed that I had everything I would need to entertain myself and survive a zombie apocalypse, I headed back into my bedroom to load up my suitcase.

My black cat was sleeping in the middle of my white dress shirt. My black and white cat was sleeping on my black kilt.

"Are you fucking serious, you guys?" I said. 

The cats did not reply. One of them rolled over and purred enthusiastically, while the other put her ears back and flicked her tail.

I sighed. "Okay, get up," I said. "These are going back into the closet until I pack them."

The cats let me know that they were very displeased with me, in the usual manner. I let them know that I would get over it, in the usual manner.

I hung up my fancy clothes, and put my normal clothes into my suitcase. The cats glared at me from the floor.

"You'll get over it," I said.

That's when I realized that I was alone in the house, and talking to my cats.

…turns out that this is the perfect time to take a working vacation.

Regarding JoCoCrazy2 and my important questions…

Based on the responses I got to my very important question, it looks like I'll be performing something from Memories of the Future, maybe something from Memories of the Future Volume 2, something from Happiest Days, something from Dancing Barefoot. 

I am also canceling the Wil Wheaton Anti-Formal Not Formal Unformal For Formally Being Not Formal due to lack of interest. Also I have to get some fancy clothes for me and my family now. #firstworldproblems

I have a very important question for everyone attending JoCo Cruise Crazy 2.

Saturday, I'm heading down to America's Wang to get on a boat, because JoCoCruseCrazy 2: Cruise Crazier is setting sail on Sunday.

I hope that it lives up to this video that one of the cruisers (who named themselves Sea Monkeys) created:

I know, right? Check out the video he made last year, based on the Superfriends.

I know, right!? RIGHT?!

We had a great time last year, and I'm lucky and grateful to be invited back for more shenanigans and mirth-making.

If you're going on the cruise, I have a very important question for you: I get to perform one night on the cruise, and I'm building my set list. I already have some stories picked out that I think you'll enjoy, but I'd really like to know from actual audience members what you'd like to hear from me. You can pick anything from any of my books or blog posts, so feel free to dig into the archives, if you have time and interest.

Also: There are two formal nights on this cruise, which means you have to take a tuxedo or a suit with you, taking up valuable luggage and cabin space, just so you can wear it two times. When you're on vacation. Seriously.

I am totally going to get all formal'd up for the Paul F. Tomkins Memorial Moustache Formal and Fextacular, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let a cruise line tell me that I have to dress up for their stupid fancy dinners. Indeed, I have taken a stand against fanciness, and on the formal nights, I will be hosting the Wil Wheaton Anti-Formal Not Formal Unformal For Formally Being Not Formal in the extremely fancy Lido Buffet. Come as you are, (but, seriously, at least wear a clean shirt) and we will dine like triumphant Viking warriors. In fact, I think it would be hilarious if we dressed very nicely, right up to the edge of formality, but just short of it, to make a precious little point that nobody will really care about except us.

Seriously, people: we're going to be on a boat in less than a week.

I don’t want to go on the cart

I'm not quite dead! I just took a vacation that looked something like this:

Maui View

Click to embiggen at Imgur, and to see a few other pictures from our trip.

 

It was kind of a big deal for us, because it's the first non-working, non-kid-having vacation Anne and I have taken since we were dating almost fifteen years ago. 

I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: I feel like we earned it.

Anne and Wil in Maui.

One of the best things about this vacation for me was having the time to just relax, exhale, and recover from months and months of acting and tens of thousands of miles of travel. One day last week, we were sitting on the beach at Napili Bay, and my brain said to me, "Hey! I'm ready to write stories again!" A flood of ideas came to me that afternoon, and I wrote them into my notebook as fast I could, before they could escape into the clouds.

So now that I've fully restored my Mana and HP, I can get down to the business of being a writer for the rest of the year, which is awesome.

My 2011 Phoenix Comicon Schedule

This weekend, I will be at the Phoenix Comicon. I think this is my third or fourth year attending, so I've been able to watch the con expand (the vendor's area this year could hold the entire con the first year I attended) without losing its soul, or all the things that make it awesome.

I am quick to point out that conventions reflect the personalities of their organizers. If a promoter wants to get as much of your money as possible, then a con's going to feel that way, no matter who the guests are or what the programming is. If a promoter wants to make sure everyone has a really good time, gets the most for their money, and can't wait to come back next year, then you'll feel that, too.  After about four hours at my first Phoenix Comicon, I knew that I was going to like whoever promoted it (Matt, with whom I've become pretty good friends), because the show was awesome. Same thing with FedCon, same thing with PAX, same thing with Emerald City.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to going to Phoenix this year, and if you're coming out to the show, I hope you'll say hello to me so I can thank you for reading my blog.

Last year, I committed to far too many panels and things, so this year my schedule is a lot easier for me (and hopefully, I won't succumb to major conSARS when I get home due to exhaustion like last time.)

Here's my schedule this year:

Friday 7:30pm – Storytime With Wil. Come join me as I perform some of my favorite stories for you. I'm bringing some unreleased bits from Memories of the Future, Volume 2 that I can't wait to share, and there will be a particularly dramatic performance of The Last Unicorn (Pegasus Kitten).

Saturday 4:30-5:30 – Jaime Paglia's Eureka. Season 4.5 of Eureka is right around the corner, and you'll finally get to know my character, Doctor Isaac Parrish, as the season unfolds. Jaime and I are here to tell you what we can, and answer your questions about this awesome show.

The rest of the con, I'll be signing books and pictures and other cool things in the vendor's hall. I will have copies of MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE VOLUME ONE, The special expanded edition of THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES, THE DAY AFTER AND OTHER STORIES, and SUNKEN TREASURE. I will also have a bunch of 8x10s from my various shows and characters. As always, there is no charge for an autograph if you bring me your own thing to sign.

Oh! Oh! Oh! If you missed this on Twitter or Tumblr: Joel Watson and I made this T-shirt. We love it so much, I'm bringing a small number prints to the con that I will sign and number.

I know, right? I love it.

Finally, because it was such a hit at Emerald City Comicon, I'm bringing a set of The Complete Works of Me, Wil Wheaton (being an incomplete collection of the audio, video, and textual works of me, Wil Wheaton).

If you're wondering what that is, and can't be bothered to follow that link (and who can, really? We're all very busy these days), here's a little cut-n-paste that I did just for you:

A bunch of my friends who are musicians release their entire catalogs on a USB drive (Paul and Storm, and Jonathan Coulton are two who you probably know), which lets people get a whole bunch of stuff on something that's small enough to fit in their pocket, and has the added bonus of being a nifty USB drive that can be used for TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS once the files are copied off of it. I know, right?! Isn't the future amazing?!

I have a bunch of work that's in multiple formats, including text, audio, and video, so I thought I'd collect as much of it as I could and offer my own USB drive thingy at cons, w00tstocks, and maybe as a big old honkin' zipfile at Lulu or something later this year.

I'm not sure anyone wants this sort of thing, though, so I haven't invested in the number of USB drives I'd need to purchase to make it cost-effective. I'm testing the waters at ECCC with an extremely limited number of DVDs containing something I'm calling The Complete Works of Me, Wil Wheaton (being an incomplete collection of the audio, video, and textual works of me, Wil Wheaton).

It's pretty much what it sounds like. Here's the README I created, which will make people who write and rely on actual README files twitch a little bit:

Congratulations, dear sir or madam! You are now in possession of a truly remarkable collection, guaranteed to restore even the most ill-humoured man, woman, or child to gaiety and mirth.

Included in this delightful volume are three separate collections. They are as follows:

Text: For the gentleman or lady who wishes to escape the hum drum modern world, we offer these portals to the past … and the future! These turgid tales of mirth and marauder can be read off an automatic teletype device, or given to a reputable printer for conversion to portable paper format.

Audio: Voices and music appear, as if drawn by magic from the aether itself, or perhaps from a more sinister locale beyond! A warning to the faint of heart or soft of spirit: some of these recordings are of a most uncouth and ribald nature! Let the listener beware!

Video: Pictures that appear to magically move, transporting the viewer to locations mundane and fantastical. 

The buyer is cautioned that these files are for personal use, and unless expressly and explicitly noted, are not to be reproduced for commercial or personal gain.

All files are copyright 2010-2011 Wil Wheaton. Some files are released under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike license. For more information, please visit creativecommons.org

There are three different directories, described thusly:

Audio

This directory contains the following:

Audiobooks:

Just A Geek

This is an audio performance of my first book Just A Geek. It is the super-bonus-holy-crap-is-it-really-nine-hours-long version because my friend David and I ended up including a lot of asides and what I called “audio footnotes”. You could think of it as the Director’s Extended Cut That Runs in Parallel With The Regular Cut, if you like.

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

I was so happy with Just A Geek, David and I got together again to do this one. It’s similar to Just A Geek, but David added in some nice interstitial music between each chapter. You know, for kids.

Podcasts:

Memories of the Futurecast Episodes 1-13

In the weeks leading up to the release of Memories of the Future Volume One, I started a promotional podcast. Each week, I read an excerpt from the book, and added some of my own comments. I’m especially proud of this podcast, and if you enjoy it, you’ll certainly enjoy Memories of the Future, which is in the text directory. All the shownotes and links are at http://memoriesofthefuturecast.com

Radio Free Burrito Episodes 0-4 and 9-31. 

Let me save you some searching: I never did an episode 2, and for some reason skipped straight to episode 3. I’m not sure exactly why, that’s just how we did things back in those days.

I left out Episodes 5-8 because the really, really suck. If you are determined to hear them, they are online. After Episode 9, though, the show starts to come together as I get comfortable and have more and more fun each time.

In addition to almost all the RFBs, I included Lakeside Shadow as a stand alone track, and Radio Free Burrito’s Mixtape (Volume One).

All files are .mp3, except for RFB episode 9, which is an enhanced podcast that apparently only plays on Apple devices. Sorry about that; I was young and foolish then (I feel old and foolish now). Just for shits and giggles, another short original tune I made, JazzyJazzJazz is also included. Don’t ever say I never gave you something for shits and giggles, kids.

All the shownotes and other neat-o things can be found at: http://radiofreeburrito.com

W00tstock from Los Angeles

This is an audience recording of the third w00tstock we did, at Largo. I think it’s hilarious and awesome, and I hope it inspires you to come see us to w00tstock in person whenever we come to a town near you. More information about w00tstock is at http://www.w00tstock.net

The Criminal Minds Production Diary

In July 2008, I worked on Criminal Minds, in episode 404, titled Paradise. I played serial killer and all around Very Bad Man Floyd Hansen. I keep a diary during production, which was printed in Sunken Treasure. I recorded it as a standalone audio thingy, with my usual asides and additional comments.

Video

Moments With Wil

One day I got it into my head that it would be amusing to make these little 30 second videos where I did something stupid, and then thanked the viewer for “spending this moment with me.” The problem was, they just didn’t work on their own, and I ended up showing the 15 I made to a few friends, before forgetting about them.

When we were putting together w00tstock, and the decision was made to include some short silly films, I knew that Moments With Wil had finally found a home. This is the first time all of them have been collected into one place and viewed by anyone who doesn’t also live in my house.

Stupid Cellphone Videos

While working on Eureka in 2010, I had one of those days where I was called in early, but ended up not working for almost seven hours. Sure, it was nice to earn a paycheck for sitting around and playing Plants Versus Zombies all day on my iPad, but I eventually got bored … and these stupid cellphone videos were born. It’s basically the Moments With Wil concept, without the fancy-smanchy titles and credits. As of this collection, there are 14 of them.

Text (which I wanted to call Text-eo, but didn't, because I'm apparently a chicken)

This directory contains nearly all of my writing, with the notable exception of Just A Geek and Dancing Barefoot, to which I sadly do not own the electronic rights. The Happiest Days of Our Lives is also absent, because a decent electronic version simply does not exist at the moment.

HOWEVER! What is here is pretty swell:

The directory HUNTER contains three different formats of my short tale Hunter (see how that works?), which is a short sci-fi story, set in a dark and desperate world. 

I have also included several chapbooks. They are:

Sunken Treasure – Wil Wheaton’s Hot Cocoa Box Sampler. 

This is just what it sounds like: a sample collection of all the different types of writing I do. I often suggest this book to people who are unfamiliar with my work, as it gives them a chance to find out if they’re going to like my work, and if they do, where they’d like to go next.

Games Matter

This is a collection of gaming-related essays and stories. It was prepared for GenCon in 2010. I’m really proud of this little book, and I plan to give it a wider release in 2011, with some additional material, including my two keynotes to PAX and PAX East.

Memories of The Future Volume One

Part memoir, part episode guide, part behind-the-scenes, all told from the perspective of a guy who is looking though his high school yearbook, facepalming and declaring “I can’t believe I thought that was cool.”

Volume One covers the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation from Farpoint to Datalore. Volume Two, which goes from Angel One to The Neutral Zone will be released in 2011.

The Day After and Other Stories

A short collection of short fiction, originally released as a chapbook at PAX in 2009. In order to get over my fear of writing and publishing short (and eventually longer) fiction, I released it as a print book in December 2010 for just 10 days, then released it as an eBook in January 2011. It is presented here in PDF and pub formats.

140 – The Stupid Twitter Book

I had this idea to make a short, small book, like the little Tao and Zen books you see in card stores and car washes. It would contain 140 of my stupid little Twitter things that made me laugh. I spent the better part of a day putting it all together, and then realized that Lulu, where I do most of my self-publishing, was going to charge something like $60 per copy, because it was a full color printing process for some strange reason. I didn’t think it was worth $60 (or anything more than $5, really) so I shelved the project. It’s not the same to read it as an eBook, but it’s still funny, and I think it’s kind of cool. For the moment, you’re one of 31 people in the world to see it, which includes the 10 people who bought this DVD at Emerald City Comic Con and my wife.

 

FedCon Day 4

I don't drink at cons. I mean, I'll have a beer or maybe a glass of wine with dinner, but I don't go out drinking the way young people go out drinking, even though I usually see people I love and it would be a lot of fun to go out to a pub for some pints. I figure that I'm already pushing my body past its regular limits just by talking for hours at a time, and I don't see a lot of benefit in taxing it further with the introduction of excessive amounts of wonderful, wonderful booze. Besides, I have a responsiblity to be fresh and 100% present when I'm meeting fans and performing, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

So last night, I went to a special FedCon reception for everyone who was appearing here. It was a great time, and I enjoyed the conversation and company (along with two drinks) over about four hours. When I realized how late it was, I said my goodnights, and went back to my room. I suppose it was about 1am.

I got ready for bed, and looked at my laptop … its wallpaper is the Aperture Science loading screen from Portal 2. "Oh, I'll just play one or two levels before bed…" I thought.

The next thing I knew, it was 3am. "Oh shit. Okay, it's not the worst thing in the world. I don't have to do anything until 1pm tomorrow, so surely I can get my 8 hours of sleep and I'll be ready to go."

I logged off (by the way, GLaDOS really holds a grudge, doesn't she?) and jumped into bed. My mind replayed the level I'm currently stuck on — the hallmark of a truly great game — and I guess I drifted off to sleep after about 15 or 20 minutes.

The next thing I knew, Stephan was knocking on my door. It was 12:45pm.

I jumped out of bed in a mostly-awake panic, and flew to the door. "I overslept," I said. "I'll be ready in 10 minutes."

I showered as fast as I ever have, and put myself together in 12 minutes.

"I guess I'll have to add 'don't play video games late at night' to the list of things I don't do at cons," I thought with a tired grin.

I woke up in the lift on my way to the stage, and any residual cobwebs were thrown off by the reception the audience gave Marina and me when we walked out on stage.

For the next hour, she and I told stories about working together, answered questions from the crowd, and had a really, really good time. I loved every second of it, and I couldn't help but remember how nervous and anxious I felt years ago when I spoke at The Galaxy Ball. Man, what a long, strange trip it's been since then.

Now I'm relaxing with a cup of coffee and Matthew Sweet on the CBGB I Heart Radio station while I write this up. I'm going to head down to the vendor's room to get a birthday present for a friend, eat some lunch, and then relax until the closing ceremonies tonight. I'm looking forward to going home to my wife and our pets, but I can tell that I'm going to miss being here.

FedCon has been amazing for me. I've had a wonderful time, and I hope I am invited back again.

FedCon day two

I slept late, and woke to the room service guy knocking on my door. I vaguely recall signing the order receipt before falling back into bed for another hour, when my growling stomach finally won the battle between it and my tired brain.

I'd like to believe that my stomach told my brain, "Look, brain, when there's food in me, it gives you and the rest of this stupid body energy, and then none of us will be so damn tired. Christ, why couldn't I have been put into an athlete, instead of … whatever the hell this old thing is."

Man, my stomach is a jerk, isn't it? It knows that I need it, though … it's always one step ahead!

I had a coffee, too many croissants (the non-meat options for breakfast are rather limited here, and feature lots of bread), and the most delicious bowl of birchermuesli I've had since yesterday morning. Seriously, where has this been all my life?! If I can't get this stuff back in Los Angeles, I will register a complaint.

I wrote a blog, took a shower, and got down to my autograph session right on time. On my way, I passed Nicole De Boer, who looks so much like my friend Lynn, I keep doing double takes and wondering why the hell Lynn is here, and if she's here, why aren't we hanging out? (I told this to Nicole yesterday, before I realized it made me sound: a)crazy and b)like a bit of a creep. Whoops. It's a good thing she's really awesome, and we can speak the secret language of Star Trek actors.)

For the next four hours, I signed pictures of Wesley in his various sexytime and bullet-proof hair forms, a few Criminal Minds pictures, and more Big Bang Theory images of Evil Wil Wheaton than anything else. I also noticed something here that I've never seen at any other cons: Many people made truly awesome collages in photoshop or gimp, and printed them out on photo paper for me to sign.

In every signing, it's inevitable that most of the day will blur. It's just a fact of doing something that's repetitive, especially in an environment where I know that I can't stop and chat like I usually do, on account of the huge lines of people who are waiting.

Nevertheless, something is as clear in my mind as if it just happened. A man brought me a photo of the German poster for Stand By Me. "You are the only one left who hasn't signed this," he said.

I looked at it, and saw that Corey, Jerry … and River had signed it.

The world stopped for a moment, and everything went silent. I looked at River's signature, knowing that he couldn't have been older than 23 when he signed it, and that it was likely the same age as one of my sons when he did.

Again, I thought about a life cut down too soon, an avoidable tragedy that has now hit me in the stomach twice in just a short period of time. I wondered how all the 25th anniversary mania is affecting River's family, and if this is stirring up feelings in them that are less painful when undisturbed.

"This is affecting you," a woman said, softly.

I looked up after I don't know how long and said, "Yes." I rubbed my thumb across River's name, and held a deliberate moment of silence for him. Putting my name next to his felt … strange but also good.

As the day went on, I started to feel really weak and woozy. I think a few days of eating mostly bread-based food is pissing off my body, and I felt almost like I was going to crash. I got some juice and a granola bar into me, with some gummy bears on stand by just in case, but was able to pull myself back together in time for the photo session later in the day.

I think I took about 100 photos with a bunch of different people, but it all went by in such a blur, I could have imagined the whole thing. Everyone was, again, incredibly kind and friendly, which seems to be a theme here at Fedcon.

After my photo shoot was over, I wandered the vendor's room. I bought cufflinks that look like a Dalek and a Tardis, and a Tardis pin for my bag of holding. I told Stephan, who is taking care of me, that Anne would be very pleased for me to return him without a dozen new T-shirts. He laughed and said his girlfriend feels the same way about his T-shirt collection.

While I rode the elevator up to my floor, I looked out at the lobby. It was filled with people in all sorts of beautiful costumes, in groups of 3 and 4, or in large parties of 10 or more. Everyone spoke to each other with animated arm movements, people posed for and took pictures with and of each other, and everyone seemed to be having a great time getting their geek on.

"I'm looking at a con in Germany," I thought, "but I could really be anywhere in the world, even my own town, and I'd be looking at essentially the same thing. This is how enormous and inclusive our culture is."

I walked down the hallway and into my room, feeling lucky and proud to be part of this.

 

FedCon day one

The plan was to sleep for as close to 12 hours as possible, to reset my brain for local time. My brain, as usual, had plans of its own. I woke up after about four hours, and before I fully realized what was happening, I'd solved a fairly major story problem on this project I've been stalled on for months.

I got out of bed, wrote down everything I could, hoped it would make sense to me when I woke up for real, and went back to sleep. About 8 hours later, I woke up and felt great. It was just after 9am local time. I hopped out of bed, and while I made my coffee, I checked my notes from the middle of the night. They all made sense, and now it's just a matter of time before HOUSE OF CARDS is written.

My first day at FedCon was a lot of fun. We did a press conference in the morning, which was pretty much everyone who was not named Richard Dean Anderson listen to Richard Dean Anderson take questions about Stargate, which is incredibly popular here. I sat next to RDA, which is what I figured out his friends call him, and I was quite impressed with his humor and intellect.

After the press conference, I ate lunch with Marina Sirtis, Kates Vernon and Hewlett, and Paul McGillon. I caught Marina up on the last ten years or so, and made new friends. It was awesome.

I had a break after lunch, so I came back to my hotel room and did some writing and Redditing before going back downstairs for my first photo session. The photo sessions are a little unsatisfying to me, because I always want to talk to everyone, but can't because the line just has to keep moving. I did my best to share at least a few words with everyone, though, and I think the fans I took pictures with all had a good time. At one point, the photographer was saying something in German over and over again to a girl who was posing with me. She said to me, softly, "I don't understand what he wants me to do!" She had a Scottish accent. I resisted the urge to say "Come along, Pond," and just shrugged. "Neither do I," I said. One of the photographer's assistants heard us and said to him, "English!" Everyone laughed, and he told her that he was trying to get her to tilt her chin down, so her glasses didn't reflect the flash.

When my photo session was over, I did my first Q&A in the main ballroom. It was more heavily-attended than I expected, considering that it was 9pm on a Thursday night, and I guess there were about a thousand people who were just awesome. I got a standing ovation when I came out! I told them that Anne asked me if I was going to learn German before I came here. I said that I wasn't going to try, because I didn't think I'd learn enough to be useful, and it would take valuable time away from playing Portal 2. I said that it wasn't that important, though, because we'd all be conversing in the universal language of nerds this weekend. For the rest of the hour, that's what we did. I had a great time, even though I was way out of my comfort zone just answering questions instead of performing something from one of my books. I haven't done that at a Trek con in over ten years, and I didn't know if I'd be able to not suck, but it was like riding a bike, and I left the stage feeling like I'd entertained everyone there, and made it worth their time to see me. 

When I was all done, I went to the bar downstairs with Garret Wang and got a local Alt Bier, which is a darkish beer that's not as hoppy as what I usually drink, but is the local specialty. While Garret and I traded "We worked on Star Trek" stories, a DJ played incredibly loud American rock music. It was delightfully surreal to hear about two hundred Germans singing along in accented English with KISS, while colored lights flashed along the walls and ceiling.

I fell asleep listening the the FAX compilation on my iPad, and had dreams that I was a super hero who could fly.

No, really. 

 

In which Wil goes to Germany (updated)

The following was written about ten hours ago, on another continent. I thought I’d published it before I left, but it turns out I saved it as a draft, instead. Good times.

I’m sitting in the lounge at LAX, waiting to board my flight to Heathrow. Sometime tomorrow afternoon, I’ll end up in Germany, do my best to adjust to jet lag, and then spend the weekend at FedCon.

I’m super excited to talk about Star Trek, read from Memories of the Future, talk about Eureka, and get my geek on with European fans for the first time since Anne and I went to London in 1996.

I’m not taking a cell with me, because it costs something like a million zillion eurobucks to do anything with it, so Anne and I will be out of instant concoct for the first time since we’ve known each other. That’s going to be weird, but I understand that primitive people during the 20th century did that all the time, so I’m embracing the novelty. Until I get to my hotel room, connect my laptop to the Internet, and talk to her online.

I will be mostly Internet silent while in Germany, which will be weird for me, but I will make every effort to deploy the obligatory I AM IN YOU messages when I reach my various destinations.

Have a good week and weekend, everyone.

This was written more recently:

I’m sitting in a lounge at Heathrow, waiting to make my connection to Germany. Our flight here was pushed by a massive tailwind that got us here something like 40 minutes early, but also gave us the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. I hardly slept at all, so I feel a little blurry. My body thinks it’s about 5am, and even though I keep showing it my watch, it isn’t buying it.

I’m glad I have a day to adjust, so I’m not doing my Zombie Wil Wheaton impression all weekend.

And I may as well update this post again now, thusly:

I’m in my hotel room in Germany. The window is open, and I can hear the occasional European siren do the Doppler effect on one of the streets outside. I know it’s silly, but it’s one of those things that’s romantic to us Yanks.

My flight to Germany was nice, and I got all stupid and giddy when we flew over London and I could pick out landmarks. I tried really hard to stay awake so I could see France (having seen London, I need to see France, and then someone’s Underpants), but I didn’t even make it to the Channel. The flight attendant woke me up about 15 minutes before we landed, so I missed the whole thing. Oh well, there’s always the trip back on Monday.

I’m super excited for FedCon. The hotel is full of people who are also excited to be here, and the staff I’ve met totally have their shit together, which is pretty important to me.

My schedule is on the FedCon website, but here are some important things:

> I’m doing a Q&A Thursday night at 9pm.

> I’m doing a Q&A with Marina Sirtis on Sunday at 1pm.

There are also signings every day, and some photo sessions, too.

Okay, I think that’s it. I’m hoping that if I make myself stay awake for a few more hours, I’ll be able to sleep until something close to a normal time tomorrow morning, and I won’t be too exhausted to see at least some of Dusseldorf while I’m here. I mean, it would pretty much suck to come all the way to Germany and not see any of it.

I don’t feel safe. I feel violated, humiliated, and angry.

Yesterday, I was touched — in my opinion, inappropriately — by a TSA agent at LAX.

I'm not going to talk about it in detail until I can speak with an attorney, but I've spent much of the last 24 hours replaying it over and over in my mind, and though some of the initial outrage has faded, I still feel sick and angry when I think about it.

What I want to say today is this: I believe that the choice we are currently given by the American government when we need to fly is morally wrong, unconstitutional, and does nothing to enhance passenger safety.

I further believe that when I choose to fly, I should not be forced to choose between submitting myself to a virtually-nude scan (and exposing myself to uncertain health risks due to radiation exposure)1, or enduring an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his hands in my pants, and makes any contact at all with my genitals.

When I left the security screening yesterday, I didn't feel safe. I felt violated, humiliated, assaulted, and angry. I felt like I never wanted to fly again. I was so furious and upset, my hands shook for quite some time after the ordeal was over. I felt sick to my stomach for hours.

This is wrong. Nobody should have to feel this way, just so we can get on an airplane. We have fundamental human and constitutional rights in America, and among those rights is a reasonable expectation of personal privacy, and freedom from unreasonable searches. I can not believe that the TSA and its supporters believe that what they are doing is reasonable and appropriate. Nobody should have to choose between a virtually-nude body scan or an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his or her hands inside your pants and makes any contact at all with your genitals or breasts as a condition of flying.

I do not have the luxury of simply refusing to fly unless and until this policy changes. I have to travel dozens of times a year for work, and it simply isn't practical to travel any other way. Airlines know that I am not unique in this regard, so they have no incentive to take a stand on their customers' behalf. Our government also knows this, so our Congressmen and Congresswomen have no incentive to stand up for the rights and freedoms of their constituencies against powerful and politically-connected lobbyists like the former head of the TSA. This is also wrong.

I have to travel back into the USA next week, and I'll be back and forth between Los Angeles and Vancouver for much of the next several months. When I think about all this travel, I feel helpless, disempowered, and victimized by the airlines and the TSA … and I'm one of the lucky passengers who has never been sexually assaulted. I can't imagine what it must feel like for someone who has been the victim of sexual violence to know that they are faced with the same two equally-unacceptable choices that I faced yesterday, and will likely face whenever I fly in the future.

It's fundamentally wrong that any government can force its citizens to submit to totally unreasonable searches so we have the "freedom" to travel. It is fundamentally wrong that the voices of these same citizens are routinely ignored, our feelings marginalized, and our concerns mocked.

I don't know what we can do to change this, but we must do something. I'm writing letters to all of my congressional representatives, contacting an attorney, and reaching out to the ACLU when I get home. I am not optimistic that anything will change, because I feel like the system is institutionally biased against individuals like me … but maybe if tens of thousands of travelers express our outrage at this treatment, someone will be forced to listen.

Edit to add one more thing: I don't believe that all TSA officersare automatically bad people (though we've seen that at least some are.) For example, I recently flew out of Seattle, opted-out, and got a non-invasive, professional, polite patdown. It was still annoying, but at least my genitals weren't touched in any way, which was decidedly not the case yesterday. I realize that most TSA officers are doing the best they can in a job that requires them to interact with people who automatically dislike them and what they represent. It isn't the individual officer who is the problem; it's the policies he or she is instructed to carry out that need to change.

1. The TSA recently admitted that the amount of radiation passengers are exposed to in backscatter scanners was 10 times more than they originally claimed. The TSA claims that the scanners are still safe, but what else would we expect them to claim?