shark bytes


20:54 - The Nights Away List, 2013

I started 2013 in Montréal and ended it in Portland (ME).

In chronological order by first visit in 2013, the places I spent at least one night (even if that night wasn't entirely in 2013 :-) that weren't Cambridge:
Montréal, QC
Boston, MA
Bloomington, MN
Ann Arbor, MI
Pontiac, MI
Madison, WI
St. Louis Park, MN
Burlington, MA
Orlando, FL
San Antonio, TX
Minneapolis, MN
Washington, DC
Las Vegas, NV
Toronto, ON
New York, NY
Portland, ME

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09:58 - I'd really like to have had a more positive post to make here

I'm home, as safe as can be expected and physically OK. My office is closed, my city has advised everyone to stay indoors and shelter in place, an MIT police officer was shot and killed a few blocks away less than an hour after I walked through that area last night on my way home....

I think "physically OK" will have to do for now.

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15:09 - Readercon

There's a lot I want to say about the Readercon failure, but other people have said most of what I wanted to say already -- and my RSI is acting up, so typing is a bad idea.

Two things I think need saying, though:
1. The Board is not the Concom, and the Board is not Readercon. The Board can be replaced without the convention ending...and it is my opinion that it should be replaced due to its failure to respect its own declared policies. Perhaps the members that supported this decision can "retroactively retire".

2. I haven't yet asked for my money back for next year's preregistration. I will if I have to (see #1 for why I might not have to), and if so I will then turn around and donate it to BARCC. (Sure, the policy says "non-refundable but transferable" -- but hey, Readercon's policies are made to be broken.)

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16:42 - Be a part of Google's user experience research

Google's looking for more people to take part in user experience surveys. This could be your chance to improve current products or even ones that haven't been released yet.

From the FAQ: "You certainly don’t need to be a computer expert or Internet enthusiast to sign up. The range of people we’re hoping will sign up actually includes anyone that has ever used the Internet in any way."

Sign-up link:

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For those who have had a rough 2011 (and for those who have been luckier and had a smooth year), may 2012 bring you joy and peace and wonderful things.

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13:11 - Codito's iPhone/iPad board games on sale

Codito has put Medici and Ra on sale (through April 4th). These are good iOS ports; not quite up to the level of the masterful Carcassone port (which is definitely worth the $10), but solid nonetheless.

Ra (universal) $2.99 USD
Medici HD (iPad) $1.99 USD
Medici (iPhone) $0.99 USD

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12:46 - The 11th day of the 11th month

(I can't come up with a better way to say it than I did last year, so here it is again.)

Whether you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day doesn't matter; the day itself does.

Thank you to all who have served and are serving today: family, friends, and others.

May the results of your service be worthy of your sacrifices.

(2010 addition: Earlier this week I (and several co-workers) spent some time volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, and I've also donated some money in honor of all the veterans I know.)

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11:34 - Oh, why not?

After reading "Because I'm being 14 years old today", which was itself a reaction to "Wherein we are back in seventh grade, but with better hair", I was mildly amused.

When I thought some more about it, though, I looked back to this past weekend when I went home to see family and get a full-blown Small Town 4th of July Experience™; as part of the latter, I ran into a couple of familiar faces working the town's historical society table.

They belonged to people who I'd known back in the sort of timeframe both shadesong and jasra mention, who were just in town for the day to help out because it's "home" for them too even though they both now live elsewhere.

Neither of them was the subject of my hopeless crush at that age, but one of them was my crush object's best friend at the time. That person has since sent me a "good to see you and I'm sorry I didn't think to get a picture" message, which sends my thoughts back to middle school...which means I may as well join in on this micro-meme.

Poll #1589066 Ah, middle school.

Do you like me?


Do you *like me* like me?


Anything else you want to add?

You're just here for the tickyboxes, aren't you?

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more tickybox.
From now on, instead of replacing words in Star Wars quotes with "pants" I'm going to replace them with "tickybox".

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18:37 - En route back from Minicon

I'm sitting around at MSP, having found a nice quiet corner with a power outlet. It has almost[1] all the comforts of the Delta Sky Club at a fraction of the cost. (0/n is a fraction, right?)

I wound up getting to the airport much earlier than necessary, because I was able to snag a ride with someone who was heading out right at that moment...since the hotel shuttle is no longer operating, that was a definite win. Naturally, the security line was short; it always is when I'm not in a hurry.

It was a good con. I got in several games of Dominion, some Zar, a round of Power Grid, and some other games; made it to a few program items; saw many people I wanted to see; and made the Saturday night party rounds including the great LJ party. (I never managed to make it to the pool/hot tub, though.)

Now the countdown to Penguicon starts.

[1] No snacks, no drinks, no shiny bathrooms. Comfy chairs and power, though....

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11:01 - 2010 Conventions?

Poll #1536829 2010 Conventions

What conventions do you plan to attend in the remainder of 2010?

Lunacon 2010 (Mar 19-21, Rye Brook NY)
Vericon X (Mar 19-21, Cambridge MA)
Minicon 45 (Apr 2-4, MSP)
Penguicon (Apr 30-May 2, DTW)
Wiscon 34 (May 27-31, MSN)
Fourth Street Fantasy Convention (Jun 25-27, MSP)
CONvergence 2010 (Jul 1-4, MSP)
Readercon 21 (Jul 8-11, Burlington MA)
ReConStruction: 10th NASFiC (Aug 5-8, RDU)
Aussiecon Four (Sep 2-6, MEL)
ConClave 35 (Oct 8-10, DTW)
Philcon 2010 (Nov 19-21, Cherry Hill NJ)
TickyBoxCon (Jan 1-Dec 31, Your Browser)
Other (mentioned in comments)

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14:15 - Roger Ebert, on eating and dining

Roger Ebert has posted a thoughtful piece on food and dining and memory, discussing his experiences since surgery left him unable to eat normally and what he truly misses most about no longer being able to do so.

He's managed to express in words something I could never quite get right: how I feel about the difference between a meal eaten in company and a mere refueling stop, and why I take the convention rule of 5-2-1 (5 hours of sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower each day) and add the stipulation (in my own case) that the two meals should be eaten with other people if at all possible.

Read the whole thing.

(via leahbobet)

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01:26 - Something to see in Las Vegas

The Atomic Testing Museum. The gift shop sells, among other things, Atomic FireBall candy and postcards showing the above-ground tests as seen from Las Vegas (they were a tourist attraction!).

Music: "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)", Information Society, Information Society
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10:01 - My letter to Rep. Toomey

This is important.

Since my state rep is on both the Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, I specifically mention them in this letter in hopes that a non-form letter will be more effective. If you live in Massachusetts, please call and write your legislators with your own experiences and concerns. (Call and write; call to get their attention, write to make your arguments.)

my letterCollapse )

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12:35 - The 11th day of the 11th month

Whether you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day doesn't matter; the day itself does.

Thank you to all who have served and are serving today: family, friends, and others.

May the results of your service be worthy of your sacrifices.

(3 comments | Leave a comment | Link)


15:51 - Under the cover versions....

I'd asked folks to guess how many different artists' versions of songs I have. Here are the answers, along with lists of the artists represented.
time to flip over the mix tapeCollapse )

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01:12 - So, how much do I like cover versions?

If you ask me to play each of the following songs, how many different artists (including the original artist) will I have available in iTunes? (Not including parodies, but including instrumental-only versions.)
saving your friends pageCollapse )

Music: "Stairway To Heaven", Pat Boone (yes, really)
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00:56 - Random answers to random questions

In this post I asked for questions, and received some...and as I said, "I might answer". Here are some answers.

In some cases, I'm going to list the questioner but not the question; in the others, the question but not the questioner. (Oh, and I've sorted the list so there won't be any telltale correlations between comments posted and questions asked. :-) If you've forgotten what you asked, you can see what you said.

aedifica: Is it still there?
cthulhia: Indeed.
dpolicar: Good question, to which I don't have a good answer.
gnomi: It's a bit late to answer this one, isn't it?
lbmango: Mu.
mdyesowitch: Not at the moment.
moiread: Fairly, even when I don't know how to respond.
timprov: It's a bit late to answer this one, isn't it?
yendi: If it were a game of BSG: all four dials in the blue.
But is it much much worse than two? I guess....
Have you ever given any thought to what you want your funeral to be like? You mean besides "very far in the future"? Not really, since I don't expect to be actively involved in it.
Three? Yes, I forgot to include "Come Together".
What color are your shoes? Black.
What do you like best about autumn? Being able to keep the windows open, because the weather is just cool enough to start doing that instead of running the air conditioning all the time.
What is your favorite cheerful song? There are several candidates: "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", "Good Day Sunshine", the Great Big Sea cover of "Run Runaway", Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World", even "Daydream Believer" (cheesy as it is) makes the list...but when it comes right down to "this will make me smile EVERY TIME" it's got to be the Muppets version of "Mahna Mahna". (I want to hear a mashup of "Mahna Mahna" and "Numa Numa".)
What is your favorite food? Probably pizza, just because of its versatility.
What's your favorite cryptid? If fictional ones count, the Loch Moose Monster from Janet Kagan's Mirabile. If not, probably the classic: Bigfoot.
Why am I having flashbacks to the Usenet Oracle? Because everything old is new again, and a question that can engender an amusing answer is still fun to play with. You owe the Oracle a .signature file of 4 lines or less.
Why? It's an interrogative used to ask about underlying causes, but that's not important right now.

Music: "Mahna Mahna", Mahna Mahna & The Two Snowths
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17:07 - Random thoughts lead to random poll questions

Poll #1467891 Random questions for random people


... is the loneliest number (Harry Nilsson, 1968)
... but we're not the same (U2, 1992)
baby you and I should be ... (Bee Gees, 1989)
..., a singular sensation (A Chorus Line, 1975)
something else I didn't include

Ask me a question; I might answer it.

Tell me something, secret or otherwise.

Tickyboxes are...

predictably random
randomly predictable
randomly random
predictably predictable
abstaining (courteously) so that there'll be a gratuitous 1776 reference in this poll

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00:05 - What cons are people planning to go to for the rest of 2009?

I'm guessing that most of the MSP contingent have plans to be at Convivial 4 (Oct. 16-18), and some of the folks who usually make it to Penguicon have plans for ConClave 34 (Oct. 9-11)...and it's quite possible that there are people who're planning on both.

Right now my next planned con is Arisia 2010 (Jan. 15-18), but it's not completely silly to try to get to something between now and then.

Who's going to what, when, where? Philcon is probably too close to Thanksgiving for me to manage. What else am I missing?

Music: Marianne Faithfull - Sister Morphine | Powered by
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20:57 - Worldcon: it wasn't all the remake of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"

As my last few posts have indicated, I had a bit of an adventure getting home from Worldcon this year. Funny, it wasn't so hard to get home from my last Worldcon in 2004! (I just took the T, since it was in town and I was actually commuting.)

This was my third Worldcon, but only the first one I actually went to instead of merely attending when it was being held within an easy commute of where I lived (Noreascon 3 [1989] and Noreascon 4 [2004]).
the saga begins...Collapse )
Then there was the "adventure" of getting back (previously described here and on FB), which worked out with meeting Scott Edelman at dinner in the hotel restaurant at the Holiday Inn, because his flight had also been cancelled. I wound up accidentally encountering two industry pros, one on each end of the trip, both of whom were also very nice people and great to talk to. That's the sort of thing that I love about this field.

Tags: ,
Music: "The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins", Leonard Nimoy, Dr. Demento's 30th Anniversa
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23:59 - Should I go to World Fantasy Con?

(Worldcon report coming at some point.)

It looks like airfare is pretty cheap at the moment, though transcontinental travel is still going to be a giant time suck. There aren't any BOS-SJC nonstops (AA killed their old "nerd bird" a few years ago, and JetBlue chopped theirs during the fuel price jump last year), so it's a hub connection somewhere (IAH, probably, since CO has the cheap fare right now) and end-to-end gate-to-gate times run in the 8-9 hour range.

+ Another con to fill in the gap between Worldcon and Arisia
+ BOS-SJC fare reasonably cheap right now
+ Can hook a SEA stop in there to see family; a BOS-SJC-SEA-BOS triangle trip only adds about $100-150 to the fare if I stay through Sunday
+ "Use it or lose it" vacation policy; WFC + the extra day at each end would get me closer, and doing the Seattle trip would get me under the threshold for sure even if I don't take any other time off
- Not sure how many folks I know will be there
- Two extra hotel nights pretty much required due to flight times (either in SJC or near SEA)
- Two long travel days


Music: "Possession (Piano Version)", Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
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09:24 - Home. Thud.

Home and safe. Going to try for some more sleep since I'm not very functional. More later.

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05:58 - Let's try that again....

At YUL, and about to head to the gate. "This time for sure!" ("But that trick never works.")

Let's hope my next post is from BOS or somewhere in Cambridge, and that it happens today.

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21:06 - Well, frak.

I'm at the Holiday Inn Aeroport in Montreal after Air Canada cancelled my flight. I have an 0630 flight tomorrow and will at least try to get to work after I arrive.

The good news is that this has become an extension of the con; I'm sitting in the restaurant with Scott Edelman and a couple other stranded congoers. Apparently the NW flight to Detroit was cancelled due to crew rest issues, so several of the non-Boston contingent are also still in Montreal.

Tags: ,
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16:57 - Post Worldcon update

At YUL in the AC lounge; it was definitely a good call to get the lounge pass add-on for my flight. Wi-Fi, snacks, drinks, comfy chairs, power outlets, and OMG clean bathroom yay. I'm tired and worn out but I had a damn good con despite shut-down parties, overly long elevator lines, and the nearly endless walk to the panel rooms.

Back to work tomorrow. Urgh.

ETA: flight delayed ~1hr. Back in the lounge. Very glad I got the pass.

Tags: ,
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22:30 - Worldcon? Worldcon!

Given this post, you already know what's coming up, don't you?

Poll #1434226 Anticipation (67th Worldcon) attendance

Will I see you at Worldcon?

No (I won't be there)
Non (je serai là, mais je suis invisible et/ou un ninja)

Music: "Old Ways", The Watson Twins, Live At Fingerprints
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23:43 - Readercon 20: Apollo 11 and Science Fiction

From the program guide:
Apollo 11 and Science Fiction. Michael J. Daley, Paul Di Filippo (L), Carl Frederick, Barry N. Malzberg, Allen Steele, Ian Randal Strock. Forty years ago a week from next Monday man first walked on the moon. Apollo 11 can be regarded as a triumph of the science fictional imagination, even if virtually no one foresaw that it would come as part of a massive governmental program motivated more by global politics than by scientific or commercial interests. That we haven‘t been back there since 1972, though—that would have been unthinkable in 1959 (to us) or 1969 (to everyone). Arguably, the moon landing was precisely the moment that sf became irrelevant, the moment where the real world overtook us and our ability to discern the future better than others collapsed. We‘ll talk about the strange and unforeseen history of the manned exploration of space—and its relationship to sf.

My notes on this one are unfortunately not as complete as I would like, and only really cover about the first half of the panel.
more detailsCollapse )

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23:38 - More about next year's Readercon

Remember how I said I was wary about next year's Readercon? You may have seen some rather...spirited...discussions of the issue elsewhere on LJ, also.

I'm feeling much more reassured after sovay's post about Readercon:

Let us all agree that "This is your father's Readercon" is a really bad slogan. It has a deskful of negative associations and nothing to do with the current plan for Readercon 21, which is a temporary simplification of the program to something whose creation and coordination will not cause nervous breakdowns among members of the committee. Note that I do not mean simplified intellectually. The only issue is the density of program items. The dealer's room will contain its usual stacks of books. The traditional events—Meet the Pros(e), the presentation of the Rhysling, Shirley Jackson, and Cordwainer Smith Awards, and the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition—will all take place. And please, if there aren't parties all over the place in 2010, something has gone terribly wrong with the whole de-stressing idea. Further information will be forthcoming as soon as I have it, i.e., after the committee has a chance to check its e-mail, breathe for the first time since mid-April, and perhaps water some of its plants or pets. For now, please repost and link as you see fit. And if you have any concerns about Readercon, ask.

Don't Panic.
This says to me that the concom knows there's been a screw-up, that they want to address it by fixing the communications channels, and that they're listening. This is a huge improvement over how things looked earlier. I'm still concerned, but even at the nadir I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt as much as I could, and this...this helps a whole lot.

I'm looking forward to the promised FAQ, which (while I don't expect it to answer everything or solve all the problems) should be another important step toward the better communication/better transparency side of things.

Music: "Handle With Care", Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat
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22:47 - Back from Readercon

Back from Readercon. Tired. Sniffling, which is allergies and/or a con crud cold. As usual, falling into the post-con "it's over? already?" blues...and looking forward to Worldcon.

Overall: This was another good Readercon.

Positives: I made it to several very good panels (which I have notes on and will put some reports together for). I got to see lots of great people I don't see often enough (and meet some new ones). I finally managed to get to the Korean BBQ place after years of not quite making it. (Mmmm, bulgogi.)

Negatives: There were too many people I didn't see: not everyone I would have liked to see made it to the con, and I didn't get enough time with several of the folks who did make it. The hotel Internet was $13/day and really bad; I heard enough complaints that I didn't even bother trying. I just used my cellphone data plan instead, and even shared it out over Wi-Fi for a few folks so they could get to sites that weren't working through the hotel wireless: you know, the really obscure and useless ones like Gmail. I was spoiled by the free and functional wireless at Fourth Street and Penguicon; if this had been either free or functional, I think a lot of people would have been at least marginally satisfied with it.

I'm really wary about the announced "no GoH, single track" plan for next year. It worked for Fourth Street, but that was between 1/3 and 1/4 the size of Readercon and probably would have been a problem had it been much larger. For the first time in a while I didn't pre-register for next year at the con, because I'm wondering if I'll want to go. Watching train wrecks isn't nearly as much fun when you're on the train.

I'm really glad I decided to (a) stay at the hotel again and (b) arrive Thursday. There was enough con on Thursday night and Friday morning to justify the extra day (to the detriment of folks who couldn't get there until after work Friday, unfortunately). I don't see going to a single programming track as likely to improve that issue either.

Music: "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) / Labelled With Love (BBC 1992)", Squeeze
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21:36 - Readercon? Readercon!

Only a few days until Readercon!

Poll #1425552 Readercon 20 attendance

Will I see you at Readercon?

No (I won't be there)
No (I will be there, but I am invisible and/or a ninja so you will not see me)

(18 comments | Leave a comment | Link)

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