Low-key day today after yesterday's roaming about the wilds of southwestern Iowa. I think we're catching a movie this afternoon, and an early dinner. Another friend may pop by the hotel to visit a little while this evening, weather and schedule permitting.
Last night I had, as usual, complex dreams. The part where my house was flooding to the window sashes in clear, warm water wasn't hard to understand. My bladder has a sharp voice in my nighttime wanderings. The part where Zachary Quinto leapt out of a wrecked VW bus to attack me with a badminton racquet was a little harder to interpret, but I went with it. After fighting Mr. Quinto off, of course.
That last part is odd. While I often dream about real people, either directly or in the form of a dream avatar, I quite rarely dream about people I do not actually know personally.
I've spent time with the folks from my prior Day Jobbe. That was good but also sobering. I went on disability there just shortly after my tenth anniversary of service. That makes the Day Jobbe my longest-tenured employment in 26 years of working professionally across three related industries, by a fairly substantial margin. A big part of my life. It was work I enjoyed, with people I (mostly) liked, in a field where, while I wasn't exactly working for the betterment of mankind, neither was I helping make anyone's life worse. It was also work which enabled me to have a writing career through a good work-life balance and a decent paycheck. And, later it on, it was work of a sort that allowed me to segue into the deeper phases of my illness without an abrupt economic disruption, both through disability-friendly management and workplace policies, as well as a very good benefits package that turned out to make a critical difference in my life in at least three different ways.
So a lot to reflect on here in Omaha. Plus, well, Zachary Quinto. And snow.
I flew there, of course
Hanging with the pooches
A friendly meighborhood duck
Yesterday we set out in the car of
As always in life, we drove down uncertain roads
Until we came to my joint in Shenandoah, Iowa
A slightly more sobering neighbor
Me and my namesake (or vice versa)
The store was full of cool old things, like those sliding ladders, and the manager was very kind about us wandering around gawping and photographing
We then looked at interesting old buildings in Shenandoah, which reminded me of my grandparents' town in north Texas when I was a small boy in the late 1960s
Including a dry-docked caboose
As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Photos © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
The Palin twins, Star Wars Shop in Aberdeen, WA.
Photo © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
From Tudors to Turducken: An Engastration Tale — Engastration? (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)
Seams Geeky | Items Sewn with Love for the Chic Geek — A Kickstarter for some high quality embroidered geek gear. Me, I’m down for the Schlock Mercenary stuff.
Google Glass prescription frames spotted but concerns linger — Yay for this. If I were not so sick as to make the project more or less pointless, I’d be very actively pursuing a prescription version of Google Glass.
Nymi Is A Heartwave-Sensing Wristband That Wants To Replace All Your Passwords & Keys — And more than that. From the department of weird future tech. (Via David Goldman.)
Microsoft designs smart bra to combat emotional eating — What happens when your smart bra has a blue screen of death? I guess that would be the ultimate Nerd World problem.
Wafer-scale production of graphene devices to become a reality
NASA May Test Its Lunar Green Thumb
Everest Panorama from Mars — Mars!
Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil — Imagine what we could have done in alternative energy with an eight trillion dollar research budget. Instead of warring for oil, destroying whole countries, and slaughtering people wholesale.
Top 25 Censored Stories from 2012-2013 — (Via
The Mandela Problem of the Angry White Male Wing of the GOP — Wing? That’s the whole GOP. Duh.
?otD: How deep is your slush?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (restless)
Body movement: n/a (traveling)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
( And I thought ?Collapse )
It would be easy to say the reviewer (a woman, by the way) was careless or rushed, but I still have to wonder. How can you overlook *all* the women? Is this part of the SF/F culture, where any guy takes over the book, simply by existing in the pages? Do we, as readers, unconsciously place more importance on the men in the story?
Some teams won yesterday. Some teams lost. I had a hard time choosing a favorite between Ohio State and Michigan State, both being despicable to a Michigan grad. But that was a long time ago, in a far-away land. Our Maine college lost, anyway. Which also represented a minor dilemma, as Younger Son attended both institutions in that game, as undergrad and then grad student . . .
But he didn't care which won, so we didn't have to.
- Sat, 18:32: Just created two NY foodie trend mash-up for the new book, and now I am hungry & sad these foods don't really exist
- Sat, 20:38: Who knew there was an International Car Movie Database?
- Sun, 02:11: "Throw me the whip, I'll throw you the mouse ears!" Welcome to Disney, Indy!
- Sun, 03:19: Time to watch The Wolverine!
Today, I finally made it to the meeting, carrying Gretchen's paperwork along with me. This was good, because tollers was iced in down in Indiana, so she couldn't make it. We covered a bunch of different issues and I picked up information which I've now passed along.
We'll count it as a win. :)
I haven’t been spending a lot of time at SMOFcon, partly because I’m mainly in Toronto on business, and partly because I have better things to do with my life. This evening, however, saw the traditional highlight of the convention, the Fannish Inquisition, at which seated conventions and bids get to make presentations and answer questions. That I could not pass up. Here are the highlights.
Loncon3 announced that they are on track to have around 8,000 members. They are actually concerned about capacity and will be putting day memberships on sale in February as they may have to cap the number that they sell. The current record for Worldcon attendance is 8,365 at Los Angeles in 1984.
The 2014 NASFiC, Detcon 1, has also been busy. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about their plan to offer free memberships to local fans who could not otherwise afford to attend. The fund-raising drive for that is going well. Money to cover 10 free memberships has already been received, which triggers the matching donation promised by the convention. At least 20 local fans will therefore be getting free memberships.
Detcon 1′s chair, Tammy Coxon, also announced that the convention will be giving out awards for YA and Middle School fiction. These will be voted on by the membership. I don’t want to get the details wrong so I’m not going to rely on my memory of what Tammy said — I’m sure there will be a press release soon. What I should note is that Detcon 1 is a NASFiC, not a Worldcon, so these awards will not be Hugos, but they will be voted on in a way very similar to the Hugos, albeit by far fewer people. This will be an interesting trial.
The 2014 SMOFcon will be in Los Angeles. I voted for the rival Baffin Island bid as it was outside the USA, but I have to admit that I didn’t fancy their proposed Friday evening ice-breaker event of “build your own convention facilities, out of ice.”
Kansas City is still the only bid for the 2016 Worldcon, and judging from their presentation they have some excellent facilities. I’m sad that I can’t go.
The race for 2017 has now become even more complex with the announcement of a bid for Washington DC to add to the existing bids for Japan, Montréal and Helsinki. The Canadian bid looked fairly weak, but the Japanese and Finnish bids both appear to have considerable support. Judging from the questions asked, there was considerably annoyance that a US bid had jumped in to challenge a selection of interesting non-US bids. However, the Washington bid team has a huge amount of experience and, judging from the promotional materials they put out, a lot of money.
Looking further afield, San José (in the form of my colleagues and I at SFSFC) have announced we are looking at challenging New Orleans for 2018. If we do, and it is by no means certain, I hope it will be a very friendly contest like the one we ran against Seattle for 2002. I, of course, won’t be able to attend whoever wins, but I think both would be great conventions.
Dublin is the only announced bid for 2019.
New Zealand reported that they are starting to negotiate with facilities for 2020. They are looking at sites in both Auckland and Wellington.
Finally the forward calendar is starting to fill up with bids for Forth Worth in 2021 and Chicago in 2022. The Chicago bid will apparently be for new facilities, not the Hyatt Regency where previous Chicons have been held.
There has already been some discussion about what will happen with regards to the losing bids in 2017. The Finnish and Irish bids have a good relationship, and if the Finns were to lose again I can’t see them targeting anything before 2021. The Japanese committee stated that they would not want to run too close to New Zealand and would therefore not consider a new bid before 2023. I’ve no idea what Montréal will do. If Washington were to lose, I suspect that large number of older American SMOFs would faint with shock, and possibly even retire from the game. So I guess we’ll just have to make that happen.
One of the joys of novel writing–no, really, it’s a joy!–is remembering that, at least for me, every novel is different.
Different characters, different feel, different process.
I’m currently writing a new novel. I’m in that messy middle, where things aren’t coming together and I don’t know where I’m going. (About 40,000 words in.)
I spent much of today throwing out what I’d already written–completely tearing it out–and having to replace those words with new words.
I know what the next scene is. I can see it in my head.
I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get that character into that situation.
Normally, I “write into the dark.” I have no idea where I’m going. I just make up stuff as I go along.
For this novel, though, at this time, I’m going to need more planning.
I’m throwing in the towel for tonight. Tomorrow, when I get up, instead of trying to write more words, I’m going to plot out where I’m going. Because I think that’s what this novel needs, at this point. Just writing into the dark has had me stymied and throwing out a bunch of words.
So yeah. Every novel is different. The process is always different. And that really is a joy.
Once you figure out why you’re stuck.Crossposted from my website. If you'd like to comment, you can do so here or there.
Then it became about fixing the toilet, largely: Adventures in Plumbing. All to the good.
So Dave and I went off to Home Despot to buy the inner workings of a toilet cistern, leaving Karen and Katherine in the house.
...And came home to find Katherine weltered in blood and Neosporin and Band-Aids, after an Adventure with Mac in the Back Yard. It is not entirely clear what spooked him - a raccoon, perhaps? - but something did. He went all feral on her - and Mac is not a rescue cat, he's the one fobbed off on me with misdirection and deceit, he's never been feral in his life.
Anyway. I am now earwormed with Other Tom Waits, "Someone's hosing down the sidewalk and he's only in his teens..." I am not myself in my teens, but I did indeed have to hose down the back patio, and then scrub the concrete. I have greater respect now for those who clean up murder-scenes now, legitimately or otherwise...
IT'S PRACTICALLY SINGLE DIGITS!
IT'S ALMOST ZERO!
IT'S NEARLY NEGATIVE NUMBERS!
IT'S AN ICE AGE!
GLOBAL WARMING IS FOR CRAP!
Thinking warm thoughts for those iced over by Winter Storm Dion -- which has tracked south of us and sprayed ice and freezing rain from Dallas to Little Rock, Kentucky and beyond -- especially those without power -- or in one case we know of, without natural gas for their heat.
And nasty thoughts to those who confuse weather and climate, and fail at science.
- Sat, 12:09: Aurealis Awards close TODAY! Don't miss your chance to enter! http://t.co/0qrkw4hv8M
- Sat, 12:19: Ooh! Joanna Russ Unshelved Book Club strip! http://t.co/dDGObKcwgt
- Sat, 12:38: Hey @tansyrr – http://t.co/HoZIdfzyez :)
- Sat, 12:46: Do you have a favourite Cranky Lady of History? We're still accepting pitches for our anthology! http://t.co/WMCIRqhDda
- Sat, 14:24: RT @Tsana_D: Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts - fun comic fantasy. 3rd in the series but stands alone well. http://t.co/aPbe7P0tUJ #…
- Sat, 16:42: Wow. Still a few hours to enter the Aurealis Awards and we've smashed previous entry records – over 850 entries! http://t.co/0qrkw4hv8M
- Sat, 21:30: RT @tanaudel: Bookends: Objects bought under the delusion that there exists a bookcase with space between book and case.
- Sun, 08:48: And we're done! Entries are now closed for 2013. If you have entered the Aurealis Awards, please ensure we receive the work by December 31!
- Sun, 10:28: Dear author. If the email address you used to make your submission bounces my reply, that's not a good start…
- Sun, 10:43: When you're making a comment in response to a Twitter or Facebook status, do you read the previous comments first?
Chili was also made. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.
This entry was originally posted at http://sienamystic.dreamwidth.org/453440.h
We did some touch up painting on my office today and installed the shelves. Had to cut out some molding here and there to make it work, but the shelves are installed. Turns out one of the shelves is not such a good fit, so I’ll have to take it back. I started getting into boxes to put away books and realized that many of those boxes are full of stuff that is office related, but it’s not going to fit. I am going to have to dig deep and get rid of things. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to get it all cleared out by next weekend to get the Christmas tree. I was really hoping to be further along in the unpacking. Like done. But it looks like it’s going to be quite awhile yet. Darnit. But hopefully this week will see a lot of progress. I also hope all my research books will fit. I’m just not sure.
I may also find out if I’m having a problem with my printer. We moved it, and when we did, it dumped ink out, but on the opposite side of the printer from where the cartridge loads. I hope that doesn’t mean the printer has gone to hell. I guess I’ll find out.
I still have to touch up other paint. Unfortunately, the tape we used pulled up paint and I’m going to have to sand and repaint that. After the new year. OMG. It’s almost 2014.
47. Mr. Wuffles!, David Wiesner
46. Newt's Emerald, Garth Nix (e)
45. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
44. Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh (e)
43. The Rook: A Novel, Daniel O'Malley (e)
42. And All the Stars, Andrea Host (e)
41. Above, Leah Bobet (e)
40. Night Calls, Katharine Eliska Kimbriel (e)
39. Wild Ride, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (e)
38. 2012: Midnight at the Spanish Garden, Alma Alexander (e)
37. The Hummingbird Wizard, Meredith Blevins (e)
36. Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier, W.B. (Bat) Masterson
35. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny (re-read)
34. Creatures of Light and Darkness, Roger Zelazny (re-read)
33. Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (e)
32. Ice Crown, Andre Norton (e)
31. Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (e)
30. Frost Burned, Patricia Briggs (e)
29. Through a Brazen Mirror, Delia Sherman
28. Protector, C.J. Cherryh (read aloud with Steve)
27. Eight Million Gods, Wen Spencer (e)
26. Promises to Keep, Laura Anne Gilman (e)
25. Miles to Go, Laura Anne Gilman (e)
24. Even Money, Dick Francis & Felix Francis
23. Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews
22. Sandman Slim, Richard Kadrey
21. The Diviners, Libba Bray (e)
20. The Eighth Succession, Don Sakers
19. You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, Tom Gauld
18. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (e)
17. Hellspark, Janet Kagan (re-re-re-re-re-re-&c-read)
16. The Year of the Dog, Grace Lin
15. The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi (e)
14. Let's Pretend This Never Happened (a mostly true memoir), Jenny Lawson
13. How Dark the World Becomes, Frank Chadwick (e)
12. Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal
11. French Fried, Chris Dolley (e)
10. My Father's Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannett (read aloud w/Steve)
9. air Game, Patricia Briggs (e)
8. Nymph, Francesca Lia Block (read aloud w/Steve)
7. Oh, Myyy, George Takei (e)
6. Hunting Ground, Patricia Briggs (e)
5. Cry Wolf, Patricia Briggs (e)
4. Alpha and Omega, Patricia Briggs (e)
3. Miss Buncle, Married, D.E. Stevenson (read aloud w/Steve)
2. Agatha Heterodyne and the Hammerless Bell, Phil & Kaja Foglio
1. Moonrise Kingdom screenplay, Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (e)
- Current Mood:bookish
Money is truly the root of all evil in this somewhat imbalanced teen drama. Seven years ago, Leni Kohn’s family won the lottery–$22 million after taxes. Today, a week before Leni’s eighteenth birthday, the family is pretty much broke. Careless investments, wasteful spending, and too many generous “loans” have reduced their fortune to near-nothing. The family has one hope left: when Leni turns eighteen, her trust fund kicks in and she finally gets access to the million put aside just for her. Everyone assumes that she’ll give it all to her parents, so the family doesn’t drown in debt. Even Leni assumes she’ll do what’s right for her family, no matter how much she dreams of using to pay for college or help the environment.
Then her older sister Natasha tells Leni that she made a deal with the devil for them to win the lottery, and the money is cursed, and Leni should get rid of it all. Leni’s about ready to laugh it all off as one of her sister’s odder quirks, until she starts getting visits from the archangel Michael, telling her to “fix it.”
Now Leni is caught in a vaguely-defined struggle between good and evil, trying to find the right path. She suspects it has something to do with Gavin, a brilliant young man with a checkered past, who’s come back into her life at an unexpected time. But how can she fix something when she doesn’t even know what she’s fixing? How can she justify depriving her parents of the money they need? With the days until her birthday ticking down, can she find a solution?
I wanted to like this book a lot. Part of it stems from a fascinating premise, one grounded in reality. After all, how many times do we read about lottery winners who go broke or come to a bad end? How often do we see stories about the accidental millionaires who can’t handle their newfound wealth? Stein’s portrayal of the Kohns as a family ruined by success is painful, riveting, and poignant. The parents who build a needlessly luxurious mansion and throw extravagant parties and throw their money at poor investments and risky ventures. The older brother who blows his money on parties and traveling, until he ends up back at home, dreaming of better days. The older sister who can’t let go of her ex-boyfriend, who sinks her money into a tea shop. And Leni, the sensible, idealistic one, whose money has remained in trust all these years until she comes of age. It’s a powerful look at people who simply weren’t prepared for their fortune, and how it undermines their sense of self and corrupts their priorities.
So to put the story at the crucial point where Leni must decide what to do with her money? There’s the seed of a compelling, provocative tale. Her moral dilemma and internal struggle is really something to study. While money isn’t inherently bad, it’s clear that it’s an easily-misused resource. No wonder she’s conflicted about giving it to her parents, knowing it’s just a stopgap measure when they need to find a new way of handling things. And this is the story I wanted to read, in which Leni find a way to break the cycle and rescue her family from the pit of despair and debt.
So when I realized that this book also had a paranormal element, I honestly wondered if it was necessary. Did the book actually need this subplot regarding a vaguely-described deal with the devil, and ambiguous communications from an archangel? Is it any stronger for having the supernatural quality in the background? I don’t think so. In fact, it’s a little distracting, even a little insulting, to be able to ascribe outside influences to such purely human elements. Money doesn’t need to be cursed in order to lead to bad results, simple foolishness and greed can accomplish the same thing.
I know, I’ve never exactly been one to shy away from the paranormal elements in what I like. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres, after all. But sometimes, that element of the fantastic does more harm than good, and Spoils is a good example of a story that would have been perfect as a mainstream book. It has everything already in place: a family in crisis, a conflicted protagonist, a suitably compelling romantic interest, and a complex moral dilemma that speaks to its audience. Given the economy of the past few years, money is never far from anyone’s mind. Almost everyone plays the “what if we won the lottery” game and this is a starkly compelling cautionary tale.
As it stands, it’s really quite a muddle. Is the money truly cursed? If so, is it only cursed when the Kohns use it for their own benefit? Or will all those people they loaned/gifted/donated it to suffer equally miserable fates somewhere down the line? Otherwise, why couldn’t Leni have kept a little for herself, to handle necessities as opposed to frivolities, or would paying for school be selfish somehow? There’s too much left unexplained and unspecified where her mission is concerned, and I’m still not sure how the chain of logic led her to assume that she had to help redeem Gavin’s life. More of the hand-wavy paranormal bits, I guess.
In the end, Spoils is a fantastic book undermined by a few too many extraneous elements, which is really a shame.
So I have been doing that. Rather heedlessly, I began at the beginning; which, given my propensities, does appear to mean that I am committed to a series reread rather than just a few volumes at random. Hey-ho.
To facilitate this, I've just been putting the books in order. Which is to say, I have put in order those that I can find. I appear to be missing several. Where is Lavender Laughs? Where is A Genius At? Where...? usw (It's Saturday; it's German day.)
Maybe they wouldn't all fit in the one box. I do still have boxes not unpacked; I can still hope they'll turn up. I will do that. *nods*
In the meantime, and in less perturbing news, this putting-in-order has turned up a handful of duplicates. If anyone's interested in swapsies, or other modes of exchange, talk to me. We're talking reprint hardbacks, decent reading copies, with or without dustwrappers: The Head Girl of the Chalet School, Jo Returns to the Chalet School, The Chalet School Goes To It.