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Life in the suburbs is calm. It's a life without materialism. It's a life that involves spending no money whatsoever. Everything in moderation is the key. A life of excess simply won't be a proper thing to do in the suburbs. There is no traffic in the suburbs. There is no noise in the suburbs. I'll be needing to mow the lawn soon. I trimmed the bushes and the hedges. I try to clean the bathrooms everyday. I look at the coffee cup and notice that it's starting to get cold. Perhaps another microwaving of the coffee before I finish drinking it will be necessary. Ah yes, I'll be needing to do that.

Thought for the Day

I can see the finish line, but I'm crawling towards it.

Apr. 22nd, 2014

Yep, it's that time again. Voting day on therealljidol.

Here's the link to the ballot. There was another rearranging of tribes and I ended up in Tribe #2. Both beldarzfixon & veronica_rich ended up in tribe #3.

Also, this is a Community Only vote meaning that you have to be a member of the community to vote in it. However, joining is easy and it doesn't commit you into anything bad so if you aren't a member please consider joining and voting for me (and others).

I hope everyone out there is doing well and had a good Easter/4-20/Just another Sunday/etc.

Here's a little funny that I received today:

This was the topic line of a Spam email - Viagra, Tastes Great, More Filling


Musings: Island Life, Day 12-16

Fortunately my grandmother had copper bottom pans, so I knew exactly how to clean our brass bathroom fixtures with Barkeeper's Friend. Now they are shiny, not gross and the hot water faucet doesn't turn itself off anymore.

Since the closest medical center is on the Lummi Reservation which isn't far, but still involves a ferry ride, we thought it would be a good idea to get a nice first aid kit. Most of these contain 435 bandaids, two alcohol swabs, and a pack of neosporin. Really?  I have that.  I need some steri-strips and maybe a needle and thread out here.  I mean I don't want to sew stuff up, but we haven't purchased the helicopter insurance yet and while I'm told you can get a bump on the ferry schedule for medically related things, that's only good between 7am and midnight.  Pretty sure I don't need a helicopter for a couple stitches anyway.

I've decided we're sucking at this month of groceries thing. I used the last of the butter this morning for toast and we only have two slices of bread left.  I can live without bread....  At least the ladies more than keep us in eggs.  We have a dozen and a half waiting.  Anyone need eggs?  They are delicious. Also we have no bacon and no cheese.

Kiddo and I went to our first social event, the Easter egg hunt at the church 100 yards from the house. "Ready, ready, ready! Yes, yes!" He kept saying while otherwise waiting patiently before the event.

T-mobile is a sack of dirty liars.  Hubs called and got to level three tech support who was quite impressed with our 19 years of loyalty to their service, but was unable to actually y'know get us service.  So hey T-mobile, I hope you enjoy that $100 donation I'm making each month to your company because I'm not getting any actual service for it. Incidentally, if you are in the same boat (Hah!) as we are, go here to complain: T-Mobile Take Action It might take only 8  months for any action to be taken.  I'm not a phone tech, but it might have been beneficial for T-mobile to have put their antenna on the part of the island where people live.

Some kind of berry is trying to take over the land.  Blackberry most likely, since it's invasive, but certainly not the mutated version that grew into our old yard.  Time will tell I guess. In any case, strawberries, tomato, and pepper plants have been planted or re-planted and that bag of apples I brought back from where I grew up has yielded at least six sprouts, so I'll be toting little apple trees during the next move.

Oh right, moving sucks.  Have I mentioned that?  Yeah, I thought I had.  No sign of the utensil drawer, so I'm giving in and ordering the last of our vital utensils: measuring cups, cheese slicer, pie crust blendy thing (yeah, it's a technical term)

Troll Report: Chickens! (charges fenced in area) When did we get these!  (He's adorable, not brilliant
Cat Report: Hey Lady, I'm going to pee in your garden. (A-hole)
Toddler Report; (picks up bug collecting jar) Momma, find Ladybugs? (calls out) Ladybugs, where are you?  We've been watching Ladybug Picnic on YouTube. If you don't know what that is, kindly GET OFF MY LAWN.

Also: we have real cable again!  I got to watch Good Eats for the first time in years the other day.  It was so nice.  I'm missed you, Food Network and Cooking Channel!!!


And today is Earth Day. Today is the day we think about the Earth and what we're doing to it and how we can do to improve it. I'm not pretending to have all of the solutions and I know some of these issues are complicated. But are we doing enough to prevent to dumping of toxic waste into the environment such as rivers and streams? Are we planting trees at the same rate that we're cutting them down? Are we doing enough to protect wildlife habitats that endangered species need to survive? Are we doing enough to prevent the hunting of endangered species of animal? Are we doing enough to prevent global warming? We all are living on the same Earth together. Together we can destroy the Earth or we can preserve the Earth for future generations to use. The end result depends on what we as a society are doing with the time we spend on Earth? With luck, we as a society will make the right decisions to preserve the Earth for the next generation instead of foolishly trashing the Earth beyond repair simply because we have the strength and the power to do so and get away with it. That isn't the proper way of preserving the Earth for the next generation. And on the Earth Day, we as a society will make all the correct decisions together.

C2E2, Et Tu!

Which is to say, the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo AND YOU!

Hopefully and you, certainly and me. And mforbeck. But not wordwill, as he will be at a swankier, or at least less Spider-Mannish, conference in North Carolina (hard as it may be to believe that such a thing could be) and shan't be on either of these two panels no matter what the lying website tries to tell you with its lies. And its Spiders-Man.

Saturday, April 26

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Crowdsourcing: Kickstarting Your Way to Success

Matt Forbeck, Kenneth Hite

The emergence of Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing services has revolutionized and reinvigorated the marketplace for creator-owned projects. Learn the Dos and Don'ts of a successful project from an all-star panel (Forbeck & Hite) of creators who have successfully funded projects that have far exceeded their goals. (Room S403)

Sunday, April 27

3:45 PM — 4:45 PM: The State of Play in Tabletop Roleplaying Gaming

Matt Forbeck, Kenneth Hite

A panel of professional RPG Designers (Matt Forbeck & Ken Hite) discuss the state of RPG play, design, and the industry, and they look as far into the future as they can. They'll spotlight great games you might have missed and highlight designers to watch. (Room S403)


Only thirty minutes until tomorrow arrives. Today will soon become yesterday. Ah yes, time moves forward. Time rarely pauses for those who can't keep up. Time can be rather merciless in that manner. Time is a great tool to have for those who have an organized plan for the future though. That much has always been the case. It's far better to have a plan for the future. Because the future is always only thirty minutes away. So what's in the future beyond the chance for the rain to fall? Perhaps some spring cleaning. The lawn will need to be mowed. I'll need to vacuum the rugs. The Gentle Reader and I will know for certain after getting some much needed sleep as tomorrow slowly becomes today.

Writing Advice: On "Write What You Know."

Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW," a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.
     - Joe Haldeman)

Bravo, Mr. Haldeman. I've actually heard writing professors telling their students this, sometimes going so far as to suggest "What's wrong with science fiction is that it's not writing about what you know." How boring would literature be if all we did was literally only write about our personal experiences and expertise? We literally could not have a fiction of the imagination or the future or the Other if we constrained ourselves to only what we know. This is why not every single person writes a memoir: The only way to make an average life interesting is through brilliant insights and mastering the tools of humor or conveying emotion or so forth. When that happens, great! But there's a lot more to literature than memoir.

Good science fiction not only poses questions, explores ideas, speculation and extrapolates about possible futures, and offers other mind-expanding goodness, but the best SF also provides deep insight into what it means to be human living in an age of ever-accelerating change.

Science fiction writers have a special obligation to research broadly so that when they write about such technological game-changers as the Singularity or transhumanism or astrophysics, or alternate histories where small but important changes affect our present, or political shifts that change everything about human society, or so forth, the reader can willingly suspend their disbelief.

So in that respect, sure, SF writers inject what we know about the universe around us and people and tech and change and so forth, but if all we do is "write what we know," we wouldn't write much anything at all that has the impact of good SF.

So if you're a new writer, ignore the hell out of that ancient adage... while doing your damnedest to learn everything you can about the alien things you want to speculate about. I suggest these alternatives:

"Use what you know," or "Know what you write [that is, learn it]."

Speaking of writing, here's where I'm at with The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella:

While doing a physics experiment at the University of Kansas, Stella found someone to crush on. Of course, the wonderfulness of her day is about to be crushed....


Norwescon: Weekend in a blur

Norwescon: Noise, crowds, friends, parties, the masquerade, panels, a game show, business conversations, general madness.

Here's my modest Flickr set from the weekend.

At this point, what I remember in detail is sharing quality time with my roommate, conversations about the current Sekrit Project, about the future Sekrit Project, conversations about crowd anxiety and job PTSD, the history of fan fiction, epic fantasy, weddings and future travel (as in, where I'm going, not where technology is going), and more. I think the main issue is that I was very, very tightly scheduled on Saturday which, in the wake of two pretty stressful weeks at work, exacerbated every anxiety, every stressor in the arsenal. So while it was a good weekend, it tripped a number of switches that I was unprepared for. I did a lot of dodging of crowds and a lot of single-minded walking from hither to yon with limited social interaction.

I didn't like this feeling. Conventions are usually a time for visiting with friends I don't often see, for having the occasional business conversation, and for indulging the geek side of my personal Force. The weekend flew by, feeling like it was over before it began. I had to sort of survey the art show rather than strolling through to enjoy it; I made sure I saw art posted by friends and acquaintances, tried to see stuff by artists with whom I was unfamiliar, but it was a pretty quick jaunt. I spent minimal time in the dealer's room and purchased nothing. (One book dealer was out of the one book I was actually interested in, a collection of Marge Piercy short stories.)

I did have quality time with some key folks, including Peggy Rae Sapienza, in from the East Coast, flogging the DC in 2017 WorldCon bid (I presupported, but I'm going to have to presupport Helsinki in 2017, too, because -- HELSINKI!). I also got to visit with calendula_witch, markferrari, the_monkey_king, joycemocha, mistymarshall (in from Europe!), Janet Freeman-Daily, Craig English, and to chat with Clint Boomer, Jeff Grubb, Diana Pharaoh Francis, and a number of writers I'm currently working with on the Sekrit Project.

I did get to a couple of panels (one on giving good alien, and one on putting gods into fantasy fiction). I attended the Masquerade and participated in the half-time show, a game show called Just a Minute; I was buttonholed later in the weekend by someone who said they enjoyed my performance--gratifying, unexpected. Though I came in second by one single point, I walked away with the prize because the winner, one davidlevine, wouldn't be around to use it. The prize was a membership to Crypticon, a horror-media convention over Memorial Day weekend. I may go for a day.

And my panel conversations were good ones. Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy went very well, I thought, with Bradley Beaulieu as the moderator asking smart and specific questions. And the panel about the history of fan fiction was fun. I was able to share copies of zines from the 1980s, as did another panelist (who brought many more, some of which I own). It was fun to see kids who hadn't been born yet paging through my artifacts. And I learned about some current fanfic resources that I was previously unaware of.

I didn't get a single glimpse of the weekend's guest of honor, Michael Moorcock, which was rather disappointing. He did some signings and some panels, all of which I just missed.

So while it was a good weekend in many ways, it was something of a mixed bag. Next year's GOHs are Boris Vallejo and George R. R. Martin. It will be a madhouse and I'm already trying to decide if I'm going to go or if I'm going to skip, given the trouble I had with the crowds this year. We'll see.

Secret surprise new live solo EP!

So I mentioned earlier that rain_herself had been accepted into the doctoral program at MSPP (woohoo!), and that I had a fundraiser planned to help deal with the enrollment deposit that's due all too soon.

Well. I just happen to have a handful of live recorded solo tracks that I've been saving for a special occasion. This, I must say, qualifies as a special occasion.

Madness in the Clay is a 6-song EP of material I performed at the Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge out in Cambridge between late 2013 and early 2014, including two songs I've never performed or released otherwise. The sound quality is damned good (thanks to LLOMC guru Tom Bianchi on the boards), and I even left in some of my stage babbling for posterity's sake. The EP is a mere 5 bucks, but you are welcome to donate more if you wish, with all proceeds going toward a good woman pursuing her dreams. Give a listen, donate if you can, and hope you like!

Buy Madness in the Clay here!

P.S. If you can, please pimp this out in whatever social media you call home. Thanks!


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