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chris_gerrib July 22 2014, 14:17

Muddle In The Middle, Link Salad Edition

The current work-in-progress is very much in the "muddle in the middle" stage. This is where I the writer need to tread carefully, as I build my story to the (very clear to me) climax. In other muddles in the middle, the Hadley Rille fundraiser has 10 days to go. Please donate and share the link at http://igg.me/at/supportHRB/x.

Link Salad

A) Dinesh D'Souza's book America is largely BS.

B) Back in Ye Olde Dayes, when a horse died in the street, it got left there for a while. Note too that the desperately poor kids are playing in an open sewer.

C) How to be always right on the Internet pick every option and delete what doesn't come true.

D) An interesting article on volunteerism - sometimes the best thing to do is get out of the way and let the locals do it.
billroper July 22 2014, 04:16

Detcon 1

We all had a good time at Detcon 1. This was through no fault of the hotel, where as nearly as I can tell, they had hired the rejects from Arby's to man the front desk and handle housekeeping.

When we got in on Thursday, after unloading to the Dealers' Room and parking the van, I immediately went to the front desk to check in at around 5 PM. I noted that I had four guests in the room and needed two beds and was told that they had me assigned to a room, but it hadn't yet been cleaned. They swiped my credit card, took my cellphone number, and told me that I'd get a call when the room was ready.

Having heard nothing by the time the Dealers' Room closed at 8 PM, I headed back to the line. By 8:30 PM, I got to the front of the line with the same clerk who -- after much tapping at his computer -- announced that he had a king room for me.

"I have four people in this room."

"We'll get you a rollaway."

"I have four people in this room. Two adults and two children. And you told me at 5 PM that you had a double-double room for me that just needed to be cleaned."

"I told you that I had a king room for you."

"You did not!" (And he hadn't.)

At this point, the manager interceded and I got my double-double, probably the one that the guests at the next station were trying to swap for a king room. Since there was a rate differential for "view rooms" and the clerk noted that I should "enjoy the view", I strongly suspect that they were trying to avoid actually giving view rooms that were available to people who had reserved double-double rooms at the standard rate.

I could be wrong, of course.

We dropped off our luggage in the room and went to the food court by a long and meandering path. Arriving, we grabbed dinner from Subway, which had the advantage of being open and not being Burger King. :) When I got back to the room, I noticed that there was no soap, so I headed down to the desk and waited in the shorter 11 PM line where I was supplied with the missing critical toiletry for a room with two little girls in it.

I noticed when going to bed that there was no Do Not Disturb sign either and decided to chance it. This worked out for us, as they didn't seem to arrive to clean our room until after 4 PM, but not so well for the similarly situated filkertom and Leslie who were awakened at 8 AM by housekeeping.

Housekeeping was scattershot about replacing things all weekend. On Saturday, they took the soap from the shower (I had gotten two bars from the desk and dedicated one to the shower as being much more satisfactory than the provided shower gel) and discarded it, while managing to not replace the towel that should have been left hanging in the shower. Ah, well. We still had two and the girls don't shower on a daily basis...

Other than the hotel follies (which included a remarkable circular design that left me confounded periodically), the convention was a wonderful time. The programming was good, the SpaceTime Theater show went well, there was a shorter path to the food court that I discovered on my second trip there (along with a wonderfully pleasant staff at the coney dog vendor there), Angie was wonderfully helpful in running the Dealers' Room, and sales were good. And Katie and Julie loved the Children's Programming, which counts for a lot, and had fun playing with Mia.

My only complaint about the filking was that the open filks started very late, usually at midnight. When you have to get up to open the table at 10 AM, this seems even later. :) I understand the desire to get as many filk program items, concerts, and theme circles scheduled as possible -- as in, I understand how this happens -- but it meant I could only manage an hour to an hour and a half before I had to head off to bed. (I had intended to show up on Thursday night, but I was just exhausted after the load in.)

But it was a good time.
gmcdavid July 22 2014, 02:50

The Ancient Minoan Culture...

DNA reveals their Origin

Nothing really wrong with this, but I think the conclusion is too strong. What it proves is that the Minoans in general were not invaders from elsewhere. But foreign cultural influences can come in by ways other than massive invasion and genocide. Look at all the speakers of Indo-European languages: Quite a variety of genetic types even in antiquity.
chris_gerrib July 21 2014, 14:02

Various Excitements


On Friday, I got a 4 ayem wakeup call from our security monitoring system. A bunch of alarms were tripped and I was asked if I wanted to meet police at the site. I did, and discovered the alarms were tripped by a power issue. Alas for my sleep, the damage was done and I spent a good part of Friday in a semi-zombielike stage.

Change of Plans

A former shipmate, with whom I have been in intermittent touch via Facebook, is now getting a degree at New College, Oxford. (They call it new because it was new, back in 1379 when it was founded. "New" is after all a relative term.) At any rate, since he's there and available during the first part of my trip to the British Isles, I am changing my travel plans to make a visit to Oxford. I'm skipping Bath, since the only reason I was going to Bath was I didn't want to spend all my time in London.


I note that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing. It would be nice to get back before the 50th, but I suspect that's not going to happen.
billroper July 21 2014, 04:41

And Home Again

And here we are, home again. We're earlier than we might have been by the good offices of Angie and Sally and various helpful gofers who got us out the front door instead of the loading dock; later than we might have been due to nasty construction in northeast Indiana.

But it was good to go and good to return home.

More later.
biguglymandoll July 19 2014, 17:02

A Definition of Friendship

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

It took 14 years.  We really didn’t think it would happen.

Number One Son is downstairs, playing video games with his friend, who slept over last night.

When was the first time you had a friend come over and play?  Just swing by, hang out for a few hours?  You were, what?  Five years old?  Maybe you were all of 8 or 9.  I think I was 8, honestly, but I could be off by a bit – I don’t remember the 70′s well, for obvious reasons.  But Number One Son has never had a friend come over to play with him – ever.  Not one.  This past Wednesday, he mentioned to SOBUMD that he was going to step outside for a few minutes.  “OK,” said she, “just come in before it rains.”

This was unusual in and of itself – he doesn’t going outside much, willingly at least.  “Dad, I went outside *last* week – sure, the graphics are amazing, but the gameplay sucks.”  So SOBUMD wasn’t surprised when he came back in 3 minutes later.  She *was* surprised, though, when she heard more voices.  She went to check.

“Hi, I’m Owen,” said the boy we’ll call Owen.  “Number One Son has stayed in touch with me over the summer.”

“Nice to meet you!”  We’d heard about Owen from school; they were friends.  This is the first time Number One Son has ever stayed in touch with anyone.  We just didn’t know he lived in our neighborhood.  “Do your parents know you’re here, or are they out frantically looking for you?”

“Oh, no, they know exactly where I am – after all, Dad dropped me off.”

Whoa.  It turns out, Number One Son had organized this whole thing – he just left out the bit where he told us about it.  The boys communicate for hours, it turns out, over their headsets on the servers that they’re logging into for gaming.  So, fast forward 2 days, and suddenly we’re hosting a sleepover.

Number One Son and I just drove Owen home, pizza, Coke, and a good time having been had by all.  On the way home, I got this question:  “So Dad, is this what friendship is like?  A loss of interest and enjoyment in the things that you used to enjoy, unless your friend is with you?”

I said yes.  The more I thought about it, I told him that that might be one of the best definitions of friendship I’d ever heard.  It took him 14 years, but I’m very glad he’s finally found friends who really get him.  There’s hope for us all!

billroper July 19 2014, 05:11

Con Going

So we're here at Detcon where the greatest challenge that most of the members faced was getting the hotel to cough up a room. But more on that some time when I have a real keyboard.

Sales have been interesting, but in a good way.

And Julie and Katie have been generally good other than a meltdown by Julie shortly before the room closed because we wouldn't buy her a fan.

chris_gerrib July 17 2014, 14:26

More Various Thoughts Now With News!


My car is in the shop again. They wanted to look and see if I had a slow Freon leak (I don't), but while waiting for that I noticed a loud whine and some vibration when the car was moving. This proved to be a bad bearing in my right front wheel. They are trying to get the bearing assembly disassembled (if so, a $500 fix) if not, a $800 fix. In the meantime I'm driving a loaner car.

Various Thought #1: Debates

It's hard to have a debate on astronomy if one of the parties says "the Earth is flat and anybody who says otherwise is a lying liar who lies!" (Related thought.)

Various Thought #2: Book Review

I just finished reading the wonderful novel Defenders by Will McIntosh last night. I highly recommend it. Basically, humanity is getting our collective asses kicked by telepathic aliens, so we genetically-engineer humanoid "defenders" to reverse the ass-kicking. The good news is this works, the bad news is the Defenders have ideas of their own.
billroper July 17 2014, 03:06

Woefully Underprepared

The Dodeka part of the van is packed. The three boxes for ISFiC Press are packed.

I have a running order for the SpaceTime Theater show on Friday afternoon, subject to corrections by the cast. :) I still need to print it out, along with the inventory list. And I need to update the inventory list and the copy on Square; then haul the bag of electronics downstairs so that they make it to the con.

Eventually, daisy_knotwise and I will pack our own bags.

And tomorrow morning, we will get up early and play dodge the Veep.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!
chris_gerrib July 16 2014, 14:09

Various Thoughts, Related Only By Being in My Mind

Thought #1 - Hugos

I have completed my voting on the Hugos. I found the Clarke short story via Google books, and bumped it up to the #3 slot. It was a refreshing parody of the Square-jawed Manly Man Fixes The Wog's Problems, something that was entirely too common in 1938. I also "no awarded" the Novelette category.

Thought #2 - No, Virginia, I Don't Want 'Big Government'

One of the many irritating facets of political arguments with small government types is they assume that I want 'big government.' No, I don't. This guy says it best: [conservatives] thinks that the littlebrains don't know that the power of the state is terrible. But we do know it, and nonetheless prefer to deal with the welfare state -- yes, even with police and taxes -- than take a chance on rule by corporations, because we also know that people who pitch us "customer service" and "entrepreneurial discovery" as an alternative to our current means of survival are the sort of well-manicured grifters who try to talk senior citizens into giving up their life savings for a fake stock certificate.

Thought #3 - Miami Will Be The American Venice

From my friend, the author Toby Buckell (and you really should buy his latest book): Miami is slowly flooding. 2.4 million people live there and will eventually have to move or master the 24/7 breast stroke.
billroper July 16 2014, 03:56

Lots of Odd

It's a bit annoying when the Cardinals pitchers give up all of the runs given up by the NL in the All-Star Game.

I have concluded that there is no way to write a multithreaded topological sort that is more efficient in terms of resource utilization than the current single-threaded sort. Had I only reached this conclusion sooner...

I have spent today charging and updating various devices so that they are ready for Detcon this weekend. I also had to get the Verizon Jetpack reactivated, because they just shut it down if you haven't used it for a while, which is why it didn't work at Marcon earlier this year. I forecast further inconvenience in the future.

I still need to rip the new CDs to the filk iPod so that customers can hear them.

And Joe Biden is coming to town, which means getting into the convention center to unpack on Thursday is going to be problematic.

gmcdavid July 16 2014, 02:14

A Pope’s Vampire

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Fiend

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II....

[Popet} Pius II convened the somewhat ineffectual Council of Mantua in 1459, calling for a new crusade against the Ottomans, who by this point were making forays into southeastern Europe. The Christian princes of Europe were a little too busy stealing stuff from each other to take him seriously, except for one particularly enthusiastic supporter named Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476), also referred to by the Romanian moniker Vlad Tepes (“the Impaler”), or his patrynomic name “Dracula”.
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