Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy bday, Dad !

Sorry, Dad, no picture. I really should scan one soon. So instead, how about this--
Lord knows your birds would never need a map!

I should be able to show you something of what I've been up to, but I'm an idiot. I was working away on my surprise only to end up with a tragic miscount that I couldn't figure out. So, into the trash with that one. To console myself I moved back to Beatrix Potter and I even took pics, but I haven't downloaded them yet. For the record, I have restarted the surprise, and so far, so good. Keep your fingers crossed.

I can however drag out pictures of one of my quail needlepoints that I recently (in the last couple months) started working on--
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I the stitched bit is in Splendor. Overall the piece will be a mix of Splendor, Silk and Ivory, Bermalana, and Sampler Threads.

For you booky people-- [it's so comforting to know there are so many of us out there!] the library cataloging program I have is BookCat. It has issues (or at least it has issues I haven't figured out yet), but I like it overall. If I bought a barcode scanner and installed the Web at home I could wand in the coding from the cover and fly through the cataloging like a colt. As it is I am without those and I suffer from extreme persnickiness. I want all contents of anthologies included. I want notes on signatures and inscriptions. I want to know if it was a special gift. There are fields for all of those, but I'll always have to add those myself. Anyway, BookCat lets you put in the usual bookish info and things like purchase price, cover price, condition, purchase location, even fields for checking out material, etc. If you use it in conjunction to the Web you can pull info from numerous locations so you don't have to do all your own typing (for instance, the Library of Congress, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc). It'll pull in images, heck, it'll even pull in descriptions and reviews from the Web if you want it too. There are fields for your own notes and for a star rating of your very own. I'm still working out how to best manipulate it, but there is supposed to be a fair amount of customizability. That I need to work out because it's how I need to fix some of their "issues."

Among the issues I have so far (and I'm willing at this point to say they are my issues o work out the reprogramming on, not theirs for being lame... only time will tell) are things like their not so terribly helpful (to me) genre radials -- if you have a normal sort of bock collection, or you think of your books in a more normal way, you'll be fine with the standard offerings. I however, do not need things like "family" and "crime" but I do not understand at all their lack of a field of "art" (they have one for music-- what's wrong with art? A big part of publishing is art books. Sigh.). Also, they have a radial for "history," but anyone with any significant interest in history will tell you that having only "history" as a search function is useless. In that respect I want radials for Indian, Ireland, Europe, U.S., Irish America, and Canada as well as immigration, military, etc.

Beyond the radials, I need to work out a way to make it search and return what I'm looking for. If I give it an author search, it returns all books with that name listed in the author fields. I want it to return all things, including short stories, with that person as the author---- I am not going spending all this time to input every short story and have the info not be searchable.

Anyway BookCat's company also has a DVD version and other program options. They seem, overall, quite handy.

Speaking of this book stuff... I'm prepping for this week's adventure to Tempe for North American Discworld. Yes, the daily low temperature in Tempe is still hovering in the mid 80s. I expect I'll be moving around very early and very late and other than that staying in the hotel conference center. What with all the Pratchett fun and frivolity I don't imagine I will get bored. I wonder what sort of things Missy and I can get up to?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wanna see some stitching? .....

.... for a change?

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No, I get no credit. This lovely piece was done by my needlepointing buddy, Jennifer for her youngest nephew.
Isn't it cool? It's an honor piece -- her grandfather owned a Phillips 66 station so she adjusted the canvas to include that for little Ezra. Aren't the tires cool? They are O-rings and the hub caps are metal washers. (I know, I know. not "washers" but that's the word that's stuck in my brain right now.)

My stitching, you ask? well, I can't show you. It's a gift. Sorry. I'm hoping you'll get to see it in a couple weeks. Cross your fingers -- it's one of those 6 million color changes pieces. Sigh. You know how I feel about color changes, but the piece is absolutely perfect for the person who is going to get it so I'll just have to suck it up and deal.

I must admit that I have yet another new obsession. I bought a cataloging program for my own books. I've been working fairly assiduously with it most evening for a couple weeks now and so far I've only managed to get about 300 items input. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to tell catalogers everywhere that while I still think they are nuts, they have my deep respect. Sheesh this is a pain. Ok, I admit I make this harder because I input every short story in anthologies rather than just the volume title, but I do love my short fiction so I can't really help myself there. At this rate this cataloging "fun" could take me 20 years-- with only one author exception, everything I've put in has come from the shelves next to my bed in The Hovel. And those are just the tip of The Hovel iceberg. And, in turn, The Hovel iceberg is merely a snowflake in the ice age of volumes I have boxed in storage. Sigh. At least I know if I get quarantined for something I can have plenty to do while I sit at home.

Gotta run -- wishing you well.... as usual.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dear West Publishing Group:

Go to Hell.

[Note: memo to West continues below explanatory interruption]

As to why they should go there, here is an excerpt from an email they recently sent out to lawyers:

"Are you on a first name basis with the librarian?
If so, chances are, you're spending too much time at the library. What you need is fast, reliable research you can access right in your office. And all it takes is West®."

Why would anyone trust you? I can't even get you to stop calling and pestering me about the new Black's Law edition when I've told you 6 times so far that it was a gift and we would never be ordering another one. You repeatedly tell me you're making a note, only to call me a week later. Yeah, sounds real reliable and helpful to me.

Apologize all you want, but librarians remember things.... forever. So, may I respectfully suggest that you should pack light because I hear it's hot in Hell.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More on Montreal ..... the pretty city

.... filled with a mixed bag of museums.

In our continuing efforts to get through my Montreal pictures, let me take you on a museum tour.

I'll admit it. I like museums. They usually are peaceful, designed for you to be in for long periods, and well-air conditioned/heated. What's not to like, right? I think my own lists of conditions for a great museum include art, lighting, relative quite, a nice cafe (preferred, but not required), strategic benches, and collections and physical sizing that can keep me occupied for most of a day. I did not always get that in Montreal.

First of the museum adventures was The Montreal Museum of Archaeology:
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Admission is $14CND for adults and the whatever-were-they-thinking value was there, but not the museum value. They do a lovely tour that is quite long and informative, but if you can't stand for long periods on hard surfaces (no leaning allowed) and aren't fascinated by the sight of the remains of basement walls, then the tour is not so much for you. Of course, if you don't do the tour you might wander through in 15 minutes and wonder why you paid a looney a minute for your time. Of course, you might have paid that ticket fee as an alternative to joining a gym because the most frequent sight in the museum is stairs:
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lots and lots of stairs
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There are exhibits of artifacts:
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But there aren't very many.
There are also great views from the 3rd and 4th floors of the tower:
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All-in-all, even with reading and staring a lot on my own, the 45 minute tour, and wandering through the 3rd floor gift shop twice, I was still out of there in less than 2 hours. Sad. Very sad.

Next on my museum tour was the Montreal Museum of Modern Art. The $8CND admission is perfectly acceptable for a half-day museum adventure (that would be for the slow museum goer-- if you don't linger, don't plan on a half-day for this one).
Through October 4th you can visit a special exhibit by Christine Davis-- the only bit of the museum that really held my interest. I highly recommend spending at least a half hour watching her "Pas moi" piece.
You can go here to see a half decent picture. At least it gives you an idea of the piece.
It's a pair of boards covered-- literally from stem to stern in all sorts of buttons, kept in a dark room, that have phrases in French and English from Samuel Beckett shot on them from slide projectors (yes, I have to admit that I couldn't help contemplating how many really cool biscornu all those buttons could adorn). Maybe I was meant to be a magpie, but watching the sparkles change as the lightening/words changed on the piece thoroughly entranced me. At the end of each cycle of words, the boards are completely lit and trust me, you too will start thinking hard about making biscornu! I also have to admit that it warmed my heart to see antique buttons I have in a jar by my bed up there in the museum.
There's another pair of pieces in the Davis exhibit I'd recommend watching for a while. First, there's Did I Love a Dream?, which is an old film dance segment (Loie Fuller's serpentine dances in L'Apres-midi d'un faune) shown on/through drapes of copper screening-- very cool, trust me. And finally, there is "Euclid/Orchid" which is a transparency of a mathematical text shown on a live orchid plant. I know it sounds weird, but the effect is really neat.

Also worth the time at the museum is Robert Polidori installation of several rooms of large-scale photographs of distressed buildings, cities, etc. Ok, so maybe I really liked it because I tend to take those pictures too, but the exhibit is nice (and quite expansive) nonetheless. Usually i go through an exhibit and then go back to the pieces that I thought really talked to me. While there were several in this one that I thought really had my number, they didn't keep talking upon a second visit. Maybe the scale lends itself to an amazing first impression only. You can see some of the images in the collection and read a bit about it here.

Sorry to say there is no photography in the museum, but I can show you it's lovely outdoor fountain and sculptures:
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Rainbow by Allard and Duchesneau:
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sorry, I didn't get the name of this one:
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Only one museum to go, but I simply have to quit. Sorry, I've been sitting in one spot too long and my fanny wants a wander. Oh, I'd also like lunch now that it's time for dinner. Hmmmm wonder if the fish taco place is open.

One last question-- anyone out there going to the North American Discworld Con next month in AZ? Wanna meet up? hee hee, yes, 2 scifi cons in 2 months--- what's not to love?!!?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Home and mostly .....

... over being peevish.

Our scenic tour of Montreal is going to be temporarily interrupted so I can bring you the "joys" of travel through O'Hare International Airport.

First of all, if I ruled the world:
1. every airport security checkpoint would be run as efficiently and orderly as Montreal's
2. every airport would be required to have enough seats at each gate to accommodate all the fannies potentially able to fly on the largest plane serviced by that gate +20%
3. all airports would be banned from trying to go green by shutting off their air conditioning systems
4. United Airlines would learn, to their shock, that Canada is not a U.S. state. (Their website says all international flights but Brazil don't have luggage fees. And two of their employees very patiently explained to me that Canada is not an international country. Dear dip sticks -- you have 2 choices, it's part of the U.S. or it's not. Here's a hint, it's NOT!)

I arrived at my departure gate at O'Hare to find 2 planes worth of people milling about in an area only half big enough for 1 plane-load of people. Seems like they were having a hard time getting flights to NYC so hundreds of people were stacked up directly across from the TSA entrance gates -- can you say walkway choke point?

The only places with air conditioning in O'Hare are the enclosed shops. Seems that in an effort to go green they've shut off the HVAC to the terminals. Great plan guys! Let's get lots of stressed people together, run them shoeless through security, have their planes habitually leave really late, and THEN let's turn off the air conditioning so it's at least 85 in the cramped corners you've shoved them into. Good thing you probably got most of their firearms during the security check.

I had 3 hours to "enjoy" O'Hare. It really is quite scenic, but it was too hot to notice much and it was a couple hours before there was anywhere for me to sit down so I was a little peevish even with the aesthetics. So I had plenty of time to work out an open letter to the powers that be---

Dear O'Hare Airport:
You have one of the world's 4th busiest airport. Congratulations. Given that you have this huge quantity to people walking through your terminal all day long every day of the year, whatever possessed you to buy the extra-wide motorized carts for transporting the handicapped about the airport?

If you had measured your aisles you would find that they are only wide enough for 2 skinny people to walk down them and still have room for your carts. And those skinny people only fit if they have no children with them, no rolling luggage following them, and they can't be walking together because then you'd have to allow room between the 2 of them.

And, I'm also wondering if you have extra maintenance fees on those carts or did you get extra-long warranties on the horns? Your drivers seem to find the most effective means of movement to be pushing the pedal tot he floor and honking continuously. Given that I watched one of your drivers purposely hit a woman because she didn't move fast enough in response to his honks, you might want to rethink your driver-training program. One of these days the odds are going to catch up with you and that "nudge-them-til-they-run" protocol is going to run smack dab (literally) into an attorney. Won't that be fun to watch?!

Finally on the O'Hare front, once I finally got a seat at my gate I was able to indulge in some prime time people watching. I'd like to share a few insights (please bear in mind I was in a very peevish state by this point)--
1. How do you choose to partner a shiny, plastic, tiger-fur print large tote with gold metallic trim with a small Burberry purse?
2. If you get a rolly cart the size of my purse (medium-ish -- say 12 inches high and wide and 4 inches thick) and a purse the size of a large bed pillow, aren't you getting things a little backwards?
3. Don't buy a rolly bag if you can't zip it closed on your laptop (honest, I saw several of them go by looking like pregnant accordion files with laptops and DVD players waving out the top).

Finally, Chicago changed my language of choice. There I was waiting for my plane and cataloging in my head all the things I thought O'Hare should fix. I got to like the 10th one in 10 minutes, and completely unbidden my brain giggled and said "manish tanah" (pardon my spelling). Yup, once in Chicago I seamlessly switched from Frussian to Friddish. [manish tanah -- why should this be any different]

Ok, you've been very patient with my rants, here's some Montreal scenery for you --
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I loved this one:
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There are lots of building shadows like this one which just make me smile:
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They must really hate messengers:
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A WorldCon-friendly doorfront in the old city--
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Dear anonymous office person, I like you!:
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If you're going to do construction, the least you can do is make your site look good:
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Those are the cobblestones that didn't play nice with sandals.

Please not the distance from meter to parked car. It made me smile at least--
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What I might have learned

It was WorldCon after all. I should have learned many things. I think I did.

1.I learned that sometimes a con with 4 million program offerings has maybe 3 million too many.
2. I learned enough about star maps and their history to find them even more fascinating despite them not being really what I expected. Ok, I am Hollywood, but I can't help it -- the first thing I thought (for about a minute when I read the panel title) was, well, you know, ***star*** maps -- here's where Paris Hilton parties, here's where George Clooney gets his coffee, etc.
3. I learned that Yarbro has a new St. Germaine coming out (yea)
4. I relearned that Fans are different. Sure we scare normal people (frankly, we kinda like that), but we are also pretty cool. For example, something like 200 of us were on the roof patio of the Palais to watch the fireworks and at the end of the show people (lots of them) started spontaneously putting chairs away. Not just putting them remotely near where they kind of went, but actually dividing the chairs between indoor and outdoor and distributing them evenly around the approproate tables. I was very proud. [Heck, there's at lesat one person in my office who if they open a kitchen cabinet or drawer to get a cup or spoon they just leave it open. I don't for the life of me know why.] So when we come to your town, don't be afraid. We'll probably leave it better than we found it.
5. I learned that Chicago's is not the only convention center suffering from you-can't-get-there-from-here-itis.
6. I learned that terribly serious economists can be quite funny. You'd think I'd have learned that by now, but no. How sad.
7. I learned that a sure way to get people talking about your hotel is to line the walls with fur. [more on that later... well, tomorrow probably]
8. I learned that it's really essential to hang with your tribe regularly.


On the non-Con front I've learned a couple things already:
1. Cobblestones and sandlas are not the best of friends.
2. People almost always run from rain as if somehow it's going to hurt them.
3. Montreal is a pretty place filled with mostly nice people. [The grumpy ones are probably just visiting.]
4. They lie about that damn fountain! [I gave it 45 minuted tonight and still nothing-- liars!]
5. They have ridiculously small museums. [I say this now hoping to "jinx" myself tomorrow when I head tot he Musee des Beaux-Arts.]
6. I speak Frussian. The French is growing daily, but I'll probably always speak Frussian.
7. Sure they say the city bird is the American Goldfinch, but I've seen not a one. And I really, really like them too. Dang it.

Let's visit a little bit on Montreal before I go to bed. How can I be tired when I had a mini nap this evening?
Welcome to the Notre Dame Basilica, its stunning interior, its beautiful windows, and its wedding chapel:
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That's St. Joan -- my personal favorite. hmmmm it's ben a long time since I've read anything about her.... hmmm....
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And here's the convention stitching I **can** show you--
Quaker a la Six Mains has had roughly 8 motifs added to it, going from this:
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to this:
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And I started Shepherd's Bush "Adore" and got all the way to here:
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nite nite --

Monday, August 10, 2009


Can it really be over? Somewhere I must have missed a day. Surely someone stole Friday. Really? WorldCon is -gasp- done? Well, that was fast.

Let me try and catch you up on everything I was too tired for....

I have no pic to prove it, but the true highlight of the con for me was getting in a nice long chat with Kathryn. Go over and check out the cool Mill Hill she's working on. I also got a hug from Dani... via Kathryn -- Dani was visiting while I was watching Coraline. Thanks for the hug Dani!

I took my traditional picture of The Banner:
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and of the "welcome sign" (usually this is a marquis outside, but the Palias does not do marquis so we got multiple tv screens instead)--
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For those of you who might have experienced hideous confernece registration lines at your own conventions, allow me to show you how a well-handled reg area looks:
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Good show, guys!

The Opening Ceremonies included a Cirque-training acrobat:
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I went to reading by Nancy Kress:
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(For the record neither Nancy nor any of the other folks are demons, it's just I'm not dealing with red-eye yet.)
and Walter Jon Williams
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Jo Walton:
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(who I think is my "find of the convention" -- I'd never read her before or gone to a reading, but after this reading I went trotting right off to pick up her book Farthing. She didn't read from it, but what she did read thoroughly captured me. Can't wait til that book comes out!)
and James Morrow:
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Connie Willis:
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who read from a new historians novel... back to the Blitz-- oh goodie!
Cory Doctorow:
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I also went to a reading and a number of panels including S.M.Stirling and Charles Stross, but somehow those pictures are avoiding me right now. And I went to a reading By George R.R. Martin too. When asked by an audience member what he likes doing for fun, Martin replied: "Uhh, drinking and chasing women, but years ago I caught one."

There were the panels including the likes of:
Michelle (Sagara) West, Robert Silverberg, and Nick DiChario
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Sean McMullen:
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Nobel Prize economist, Paul Krugman:
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Publisher Guest of Honor, Tom Doherty and fellow Tor editor, Beth Meacham:
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I went to talks by Editor Guest of Honor, David G. Hartwell
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and checked out his tie exhibit:
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These two "cubes" are only 30-40% of his tie collection.

Missy and I fawned over the Hugo for this year-- it's absolutely beautiful!!!
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Check out the cool base:
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There were more Neil panels including this one where he was semi-camoflagued for a bit:
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I'd like to share some Neil wisdom from his interview on "Finding Fandom"--
"The scifi book fairy always looked after me."
"People here know shit. People here know cool shit, and they know cool shit I don't know."

A panel of "elders" who didn't really discuss being a long-time sf author
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That's Joe Haldeman, Elisabeth Vonarburg. Robert Charles Wilson, Connie Willis, and Pat Cadigan. [I did especially like Pat Cadigan on this panel who as she arrived huffed: "What's this?! You got me out of bed to tell me I'm old? Get off my lawn!!!"

I spent an evening with a significant number of fellow fen on the 7th floor balcony of the Palais watching the South African entry in the Montreal international fireworks contest:
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The South African show is to be commended --
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My favorites were the yellow and purple ones:
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But then again I liked the close ups of these that make me think of galaxies far, far away:
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I tried to experience the "alleged" flame show that the Palais fountain was supposed to provide hourly after 9pm. Here's what over an hour of waiting got me:
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Yup, cool night-time fountain shots and smoke. No flames. I think that it's a trick by Canadians on tourists .... that picture of it I saw with its fire was probably just Photoshopped.
I did enjoy the beauty of the windows some more though:
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I checked out the art inside the Palias too --
There's the pink forest:
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and this really, really cool hanging piece:
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The final pic of the con is, well, truly the final pic of the con. I made it back to my hotel today, turned the corner on my floor for my room and spotted this littel guy in the hall.
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Ya gotta smile, right?

More, tomorrow, err later today on the continuing adventures in Montreal and, if we're both lucky, updates on my Con stitching.

Bonne nuit!