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Volcanoes and Signings: Launch Party Cancellation

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  • Volcanoes and Signings: Launch Party Cancellation

    NOTE RE THIS THREAD: I am going to try to update this message daily so that people have the most recent news on what's happening. I'll also ask Lee to add a "travel advisory" notice to the top of the message threads here as the signing date gets closer. Please note that after I've checked out of my hotel on Monday, my Internet access may get spotty and I may have to pass messages through Lee or the other sysadmins.)

    Sunday April 25, 0900: Home at last. The cats met us at the gate last night, plainly somewhat outraged by our long absence but pleased to see us. I had a big hit of the high-end cold medicine we picked up in Zurich and went straight to bed. Now it's time to get caught up on the mail and start considering the ins and outs of a reschedule of the signing... and also to start putting together the paperwork for Ryanair so that we can be reimbursed for the extra expenses incurred due to their failure to get us home from Rome.

    Saturday April 24, 2000 Irish time:
    After a train run to Cologne from Freiburg im Breisgau, yet another late meal, and yet another weary collapse, we caught our CGN-DUB flight just before 11 this morning, and are now on Irish soil at last. (I didn't quite drop to my knees and kiss the airport asphalt, but it was a close thing.) Not home yet, but hope to be there within a few hours -- it's a forty-minute train ride down from Dublin to our nearest train station, and then a forty-minute drive home. Al praise to Germanwings for getting us back to Dublin in short order. NO praise to Ryanair, who we have been completely unable to reach via phone to make rerouting or refund arrangements FOR FIVE DAYS. (The Ryanair customer service line's recording either tells you that due to "unusually high caller volumes" it can't handle your call right now, but you should call back later, and then cuts you off... or, if you do get put in the queue, it tells you repeatedly that you have an estimated seven-minute wait... for forty-five minutes or an hour at a time. Imagine what this starts to cost when you're calling the UK or Ireland from Italy or Switzerland or Germany. I shudder to think what our next mobile phone bill is going to look like. The money we spent on failed / useless phone calls would probably have paid for a bus charter all on its own.)

    ...And now, on the day that I should have been happily collapsing after a signing, I go home and collapse happily on simply having gotten home at all. FEH.

    By the way... I lost my voice the other night, secondary to this damn cold that I picked up from the very sweet and freaked-out but very infectious British lady in Milan. I sound like Minnie Mouse on crack. ...I hate this.

    Friday April 23, 1410 CET: Late yesterday afternoon we left Zurich and got a train to Freiburg im Breisgau, that most Mediterranean and laid-back of German cities, not far from the Rhine. Normally I would love being here (as I've come here to do writing work before) but right now I just want to get out. Tomorrow morning we have a Germanwings flight out of Cologne/Koln-Bonn airport to Dublin: so in a couple/few hours we climb on One More Train (at least it's an ICE train) and head north. After I get home I'll put my head together with the publicity people at Harcourt and we'll start working on the reschedule of the launch party. (Or, as Peter says, "we'll get all your ducks in a row.")

    Thursday April 22, 1000 CET:
    Now in Zurich and preparing to leave the hotel. It is now a certainty that I cannot be home in time to make my Continental flight tomorrow morning: therefore, I will not be at Books of Wonder on April 24. I have yet to hear whether they're entirely canceling the event, as there are other people involved. News on that as I get it. I've notified the PR people at Harcourt and asked them to sort things out with Books of Wonder, with an eye to reorganizing the signing for a month or so from now. Meanwhile, we still have to reach Ryanair somehow and work out how they'll get us home. ...Also, I've caught a cold (probably from a nice lady who we were helping find a way out of Milan the other night).

    Wednesday April 21: We reached Milan on the evening of the 20th, checked into the hotel, had a late meal and collapsed. The train was crowded and chaotic, and some on-the-run project work that we were intending to do didn't get done: it had to be done this morning before we got on the next train. Despite multiple attempts, we have still not been able to contact Ryanair on the phone, so we continued north by rail today and arrived in Zurich around 8 PM (the train was delayed slightly due to a fire on the tracks in the Alps).

    Tuesday April 20, 0915 CET: We're in Rome this morning, heading for Milan this PM. Some uncomfortable signs at the train station, including one that said "All trains to Northern Europe are full / sold out until April 23rd." ...I'm assuming they mean all the long-haul, direct trains: that I can believe. However, if we do this in short jumps we should be OK.

    Air space across Europe remains screwed up, though there are moves to pry at least some of it open. The Irish Times has a page with country-by-country status:

    Monday April 19, 1745 (PM) CET: Still unsuccessful at getting through to Ryanair; their call center is (understandably) getting hammered. Our flight out of Ciampino unfortunately cannot be rescheduled online, because we made the mistake of checking in for the homeward-bound leg as well: to be rescheduled out of another airport, we must contact the reservations center by phone. (sigh) I can't just sit here and wait for this to happen: I must try to get back to Ireland so that I can make it to the NY book signing. Therefore we've got to get moving. Our plan is to proceed northward across the continent via train (Rome - Milan - Zurich - Basel - Paris) and then get as close to the water as we can and try to book ferry space (Calais - London? Hook van Holland - Hull?...). Then train across to the UK west coast ferry ports (Holyhead, etc) for ferries to Dun Laoghaire or (out of Scotland) Larne to Stranraer, with the train home afterwards. And then, back into a cab and up to Dublin Airport again... assuming that there hasn't been another eruption to further interfere with the transatlantic airspace.

    But now a new development: Our sources at home in Ireland tell us that the local media report the IAA as saying that Irish airspace may not be open until late on Friday. Additionally, the ash cloud is rapidly making its way across the Atlantic and will be over New York within the next eighteen hours.

    There goes the signing, kids. Though I will do my utmost to make it happen, I think we need to start preparing right now for the reality that the signing might not happen on Saturday. It's not just the Irish airspace issue, either: I have to get home first to pick up vital travel documents, and at the moment it looks like it's going to take me four days to get back via train and ferry. (Even though the British Navy has sent warships to pick up the helpless travelers at Calais. Unfotunately the Irish navy has only three ships, and they're busy.)

    Bloody volcano!!

    More news as it comes. But I think we need to start seriously admitting to ourselves that we're looking at a rechedule for some time in May.

    Monday April 19, 0850 AM CET:
    Tried to get through to Ryanair yesterday and was unable to do so before their call center closed at 1 PM. Getting ready to try to get through in an hour or so when they reopen. We are being taken back up to Rome today, and have kindly been given tonight's hotel stay by the convention.

    The Irish Times news story here suggests that Irish air space may not be opened again for some days. Whoopee. Transatlantic flights may possibly be OK'd first, but this is no help re: the signing as long as I haven't been able to get back home to Ireland... We'll see how things start to shape up later today.

    ETA / Sunday April 18, 10:50 AM CET:

    Useful links:

    Airports of Rome: Ciampino:
    Dublin Airport:

    Weather / Upper Atmosphere links:
    Irish Met Office:
    Italian Met Office: |
    British Met Office (volcano page):

    Involved airlines:
    Ryanair: /
    Continental: /

    As of this morning, Irish airspace remains closed to both inbound and outbound flights (see the following news stories

    Icelandic / Irish Met Office diagram of the present ash cloud pattern:

    Word from the various people who're reporting on the volcano seems to suggest that the output of ash is getting worse, not better: and the prevailing weather patterns have not changed significantly, while the ash cloud is now spreading further east across the Atlantic. The IAA will be issuing an update on the Irish airspace situation tomorrow morning at 11.

    How this affects me: Well, so far not too badly... but starting tomorrow, everything changes. Tomorrow / Monday morning, if things had gone normally, Peter and I would have been on a very early flight back to Dublin from Rome's Ciampino Airport. However, Ryanair has already cancelled the flight we would have been on. (The cancellation email we received from them said to "contact them at the below number..." and then didn't give one. But the website had one, fortunately. So today we have to confer with the convention organizers and work out what to do next. We have to contact Ryanair tomorrow and see how quickly they can get us home, and from where... and that info will affect our next moves. The situation is complicated by the fact that there are already thousands of would-be air travelers stranded here, and they will all be "ahead of us in line" to be boarded. We can't find out anything today, as (despite the emergency) Ryanair's customer service center is still running on "normal Sunday hours" and therefore closed down at 1 PM. (Which strikes me as a tactical error at best...)

    The alternative to flying will be to try to make our way home by train and ferry. But these methods of travel are already very overbooked, and finding a train/boat that has room for us may not be simple or quick. We'll just have to see what seems to be the sanest way to proceed.

    The bottom line: If I can't get home to Ireland by Thursday, I will not be able to travel from Dublin to Newark on Friday, and I will not be at the signing/launch party on Saturday. (I am tempted to say "there will be no launch party without me" but that sounds a little too, I don't know, apocalyptic... or egotistical... whatever.) And then there's always the question of whether Continental will even be flying from Dublin to Newark on Friday, due to the ash.

    Anyway, I'll update here as soon as we know anything. At least right now the weather in the hill country south of Rome is not unpleasant (cloudy, but with comfortable temperatures), the food is terrific, and the company is absolutely brilliant. (Claudia Christian and Robert Picardo and their respective partners are very, very sweet people, and the con organizers are a joy to know. This is the kind of convention you definitely come back to year after year.)

    The original message:

    Just a note for everybody: the signing at the weekend may need to be rescheduled. It's too early to say at the moment whether this will have to happen, but it seemed like a good idea to put this "into the space" so that people aren't taken by surprise.

    Here's the scoop. I'm in the Rome area at the moment, and am scheduled to be here until Monday. Of course, due to the volcano in Iceland and its effect on European airspace, it may take me a while to get home... possibly even days. My Monday flight back to Ireland has already been canceled and will have to be rescheduled, possibly from some other airport.

    My flight for the US departs on Friday morning, quite early. Right now Irish airspace is closed not only to inbound flights from much of Europe, but to outbound flights heading for the US. Whether it will still be so on Friday remains to be seen.

    Right now the more important issue is whether I can get home from Italy to Dublin in time to pick up the necessary travel documents to head out to the US at the end of the week.

    If I can get in and out OK, then everything will go ahead as scheduled. However, if I can't get out of Dublin and head for NY on Friday, then the Saturday signing will have to be rescheduled.

    So consider this a heads-up. Everything is in flux right now, and it's difficult to tell what's going to happen. All I can do is see to it that Lee keeps the news blog at and elsewhere updated as necessary.

    More news as I get it.
    Last edited by Diane Duane; April 25, 2010, 07:56:08 AM. Reason: Volcanism
    -- DD

  • #2
    Good luck with the travel. Apparently the alternative modes of transport are doing a roaring trade. I live under one of the Heathrow stacking zones, and it's been weirdly quiet the last couple of days.
    -- Rick.


    • #3
      Please Please Please PleasePlease don't reschedule!!!!!!! The only way I can possibly go is if it is that weekend!! We're gonna be closer to NYC that week!!!! nooooooooooooooooo that that's out of my system, I really just hope you can make it back in time! But then again, it would be worse if you flew in really bad conditions...anyways, I hope you tons of fun in Rome, anyways!! Hopefully the air will have cleared up by friday...afterall, it's a long way away...
      All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened. And after you are finished reading one you feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and the sorrow, the people and the places, and how the weather was.


      • #4
        Fingers crossed this doesn't mean Hekla, Katla, and/or Grimsvotn are planning to go, too. (Weird that I know of Hekla and Katla from Dorothy Dunnett's To Lie With Lions, or maybe not. I tend to know a lot of weird factoids from reading fiction).

        And is it just me, or has it felt more seismically active of late? No. Right. It's just me. That 7-point earthquake in Mexico 10 days ago and all the subsequent aftershocks rattled me pretty good (enough that I finally got onto the USGS site to fill in the "Did you feel it?" survey for the first time ever).
        Last edited by Kathy Li; April 17, 2010, 10:07:48 PM.
        New to the board? Please take the time to read the YW Board-Specific Rules, or Why We're Not Like Other Boards FAQ.


        • #5
          Good luck with the air travel! I hope everything works out for the best.

          And I've noticed the increased seismic activity as well. A lot of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have happened in the last few years.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kathy Li View Post
            Fingers crossed this doesn't mean Hekla, Katla, and/or Grimsvotn are planning to go, too. (Weird that I know of Hekla and Katla from Dorothy Dunnett's To Lie With Lions, or maybe not. I tend to know a lot of weird factoids from reading fiction).
            I remember seeing that they were getting concerned about Katla, which I think has a rep for being aggravated by its neighbor. Hoping this doesn't happen...

            Originally posted by Kathy Li View Post
            And is it just me, or has it felt more seismically active of late? No. Right. It's just me. That 7-point earthquake in Mexico 10 days ago and all the subsequent aftershocks rattled me pretty good (enough that I finally got onto the USGS site to fill in the "Did you feel it?" survey for the first time ever).
            It's funny you should bring this up, but yes, this thought had kind of crossed my mind. Also the moon was heading towards new, always a time when the Earth's crust has a little more stress on it than usual....

            Oh well. (eyeroll) All we have to do now is find out who left Iceland without turning the oven off, so to speak...
            -- DD


            • #7
              The other side of the issue is the weather. The ash cloud has found its way into a nice stable high-pressure area settled over Europe, so it's not being dispersed by winds or washed out by rain. I had a great morning's gardening yesterday. By midday it was even getting hot. Now, if one of those North Atlantic fronts would roll in the ash would soon disperse...

              There's some research going on to see how much damage the ash does to aircraft engines. That the first test flight took off and landed safely indicates it's not as severe a cloud as the one that gave Flight Nine its trouble, but there's still the risk that engines will be degraded permanently.

              There have been quite a few tectonic events of late. I guess one would have to do some statistical analysis to determine whether there's anything that might not just be random. I think the Western Samoa, Chile and Mexico events might be all around the edges of the same plate, but Iceland's a fair way away...

              Of course, after four (or more) days of flight disruption there's going to be a bit of a backlog even when flights start again...
              -- Rick.


              • #8
                I have to say: this is all very serious, but something about all this seismic activity amuses me. Do any of you watch Sanctuary?

                Their last episode, aired January 15, had a plot involving an 'abnormal' who was strong enough to affect the world's geomagnetic fields, and cause earthquakes. And ever since, we've had extra seismic activity in real life! *chuckle*
                Las Vegas Boulevard is jammed, and I'm in love...


                • #9
                  I see a total plotline within these disasters... methinks someone made the Lone Power very, very angry!!

                  I do hope all that ash clears up... I mean, here on the east coast of the US, everything's just cloudy and dreary... one of my co-workers is actually overseas right now, and we're joking she won't come back. But I do hope the party won't have to be rescheduled.
                  AIM: CeliaWells8 / Twitter: Scifi_Nerd
                  Won 2nd Place for Topic Of The Week 04, January, 2010!!!


                  • #10
                    Good luck with your travel! My flatmate's French friends got here before the eruption, and now they're stuck here for awhile. What a huge, huge mess. Here's to hoping the current volcano I can't spell or pronounce goes back to sleep and Katla doesn't even think about waking up!
                    "Sometimes, people build walls- not to keep people out but to see who cares enough to knock them down." -Anonymous


                    • #11
                      Thanks! Hope you get back soon, and without too much of a hassle! I checked the page with the flight availabilities, and it seems to me that at least most of them are open! still keeping my fingers crossed!
                      Thanks for letting us know so soon. I'm really sad to here that, but I might be able to fit it in later...I hope you can still make it home soon hope you feel better soon!

                      sorry to double post...
                      that's ok, it's not double-posted anymore :-) -gf
                      Last edited by Garrett Fitzgerald; April 23, 2010, 09:34:02 AM.
                      All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened. And after you are finished reading one you feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and the sorrow, the people and the places, and how the weather was.


                      • #12
                        I just wanted to say Congrats on getting home with all that has been going on out there in the world. I read through your twitter feed that you got home, but never replied with a good luck and all that (my fault entirely). Anyway, sorry to hear that your party had to be canceled and all that. Hope that the rescheduling works for you, and that you can bring some joy to us here in the US.

                        On a different topic, my neighbors had some trouble with these volcano eruptions as well. They went to see their daughter in Germany and were to fly, but then the eruptions happened and they got delayed one full week. It's a good thing that I was watching their pets for them because I could continue with that easily, and I just gathered their mail and papers instead of calling and extending the hold time for all that with the respected parts.

                        Anyway, they finally got home all well; just later then expected; but all is good.

                        Gibby Gibson
                        "Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed." ~G. K. Chesterton