Leaving this public since I'm still canvassing for advice.
I'm rather surprised by how evenly divided people seem to be on the poll, especially considering that for the first 24 hours after I posted it there were a bunch of nays and no yays. Funny how things have turned about. I also think the poll has unintentionally become somewhat of a personality gauge.
Yesterday Dak found me online, which was kind of not what I'd been hoping for since I was still information-gathering, but it worked out for the best.
The following information supercedes my previous entry about the English Question. I'd like to keep the poll current though, so if any of this changes your answer one way or another, I'd appreciate an update.
I brought up my primary concerns, which are-
1) I don't know him very well, and when I asked one of his friends about him I got a non-answer that could be construed as a negative answer.
2) Eurofurence- what are the plans for getting there and staying there. Is this a sightseeing opportunity, or would it be like your average SCA event, where you don't actually see much of the place where you're at.
3) What happens in a worst-case scenario of us not getting along, particularly with regards to EF?
4) Where exactly in England does he live?
BTW, if I missed an important point, this would be a REALLY good time to tell me what you think I should find out about.
His answers and resolutions are-
1) Dak referred two more of his friends to me, and was very understanding (NEVER confrontational) of my concerns about meeting him. Though one of these people seemed a little hot-headed, both spoke well of him (in fact, one discussed Spike with me a little bit as well). Though the argument of "he could be coercing these people" certainly bears some weight, I think there's a point beyond which you really are being irrationally paranoid. Of course, if anyone has any ideas what else I could do to get more info (I am still pursuing it via independent means), I'd be happy to hear it. I actually did stumble across someone else who knew him online, but they said upfront that while he seemed like a decent person they don't know him very well.
2) The plan for EF would be that we'd be going pretty much directly to the con, and while I would be welcome to sightsee once we arrived, I would be on my own.
My internal response to this amounted to a, "Well gee, that sounds like fun...not."
Externally I said that I would probably find it quite frustrating to spend 4 days in Germany but not actually get to _see_ any of Germany (or the other areas we'd be driving through), and also that the con in and of itself didn't really mean much to me because there were cons in the US that I could go to (one of Dak's friends went into a tiff at this, asking me whether I had some notion that US cons were simply better than Euro cons...uh...whatever...). Put simply, I don't want to visit Germany for 4 days and never leave the hotel.
As a result of this the current plan is that if I visit Dak I'll see him for ~a week but we won't go to EF together. This alleviates potential stress elsewhere in that if we don't like each other we don't end up going to a con together. I'm wondering whether I'm missing out by taking a pass on EF, but I think I would be _seriously_ regretful if I went through continental Europe and didn't get to play tourist.
I may get to meet some of the UK folks as well, though details are pending. And just for irony's (and paid time-off) sake I may visit Dak around July 4th.
3) In a worst-case scenario there are hotels near where he lives that I could stay at. There's also plenty of train service, so I wouldn't be screwed out of ways to get around.
4) He lives in Southend, which is about 40 miles east of London. London's easy to get to by train, and Dak may rent or otherwise have access to a car. It's apparently a decent-size city, so I'm not SOL if the only means of transit I have is my feet, though...well, I'd rather see London. :)
My primary concerns/regrets are that I won't get to see the continent, and I won't get to do EF...but those were sounding rather mutually exclusive in any case. At least I won't feel like I missed out on a huge opportunity, as I tend to have mixed con-experiences in any case (and remember, in this case the social network I'm used to being able to fall back on wouldn't even _exist_).
Given the current results of the poll and the fact that we've actually scaled back our plans a bit, I think I'm fairly inclined to do this thing. But I'm also still _very_ open to additional feedback from people, so if you have any advice/information/concerns, please let me hear them.