I had been asked if I was planning to go to Dayton 2020?
After a fairly short reflection on the topic, I think not this year.
Though I have some other concerns that influenced my decisions – work load, some family needs, and a station build that is stalled for better weather – this new Coronavirus thing tipped the scale personally.
Large crowds are always a personal concern. After working some protection duty while in service, I truly grew to have a sustaining wariness of crowds. Maybe it was because I paid too much attention to the background threat briefings, or perhaps it was what actually happened, but my approach to crowd exposure is that it has to have a pretty high ROI (return on investment) before I will go.
At the old Hara my contractor’s eye saw so many compromises that I was edgy. While the Xenia location avoids the worst of the old Dayton site (remember the sewage geysers exploding in the Hara parking lot or flow out from the toilets inside? Or the no AC days? Or fairly stupid things like the fuel for the grills being right outside the doors? Or the primal sticky slime on the exhibition area seats & floors?) it still is a large relatively unfiltered crowd.
With the final day being basically opened wide to the public the threat profile for that day is perhaps a bit more exaggerated.
But one thing from past Dayton’s sticks out with this year’s virus potential, because Dayton Hamvention is special good people who are unwell and should stay home push themselves to make it to Dayton. As this viral thing appears to be symptom free, or so minor as to be ignored, for a long period before the person is actually ill, and they can spread it while in the no/low-symptom phase, I’m thing the ROI is negative really quickly this year.
As so much of Dayton is podcast, webinared, livestreamed, reported and repeated the only real advantage is getting the skinny on anything new hours/days/weeks early. Even the Dayton specials are largely available for web orders during the Hamvention.
Quick ROI calculation:
- Two days off of work – a minus
- 1500 miles of road time – a minus
- 3 nights in hotels at show rates – a minus
- 12 meals out (less any banquet meals ) – a minus
- Missing personal physical fitness for several days (likely all four) – a minus
- Extended exposure to reduced security in crowds & traveling – a minus
- Seeing friends – a big plus
- Listening to the Dinners/Banquets/Seminars – a neutral (as most of the information comes out later as well)
- (In my Case) seeing nearby relatives – a big plus
Now each person has to weight each item based on how it works for them. I have enough carryover vacations days at the moment that the days away from work are really more about opportunity-costs of not being active for the few days. If you have one a week or two of vacation available you might weight the negative higher than I am.
Now for 2020 the big deal – is the virus exposure going to be a factor or not? If our domestic coronavirus remains contained, the risk is moderate, but if we have carriers out and about the risk could be really right up there. This is a risk where the consequences also come into play – if this virus is out and about the death rate is many times higher than conventional flu, and if one gets quarantined because of an exposure or sickness issue many weeks of productive time could be lost.
YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) but I’ll sit this year’s Dayton Hamvention out.