Archive for October 30th, 2007

10/30/07: Voom

Word count: 65673 | Since last entry: 1317

I cannot believe how fast the last couple of weeks have gone.

Let’s see… we went to Ashland for the Shakespeare festival, where we stayed for a couple of days with square dance friends Mark and Tim in their lovely new house just blocks from the center of town. We saw As You Like It, a terrific production set in the Depression and using 1930s pop songs; On the Razzle by Tom Stoppard, a delightful farce full of rapid-fire wordplay; and Distracted, an intriguingly metafictional play about a mother coping with a son who may or may not have ADD. We also spent a little time with square dance friends Paul and Danny, who were in Ashland in their RV and intersected with us only because a car accident made them stay longer than planned. Many fine meals were eaten.

Right after we got back from that was Kate’s 25th college reunion, at Lewis & Clark College here in Portland. I was surprised how dated everything looked in the old college yearbook photos. It wasn’t so much the clothes — a sweater’s a sweater, jeans are still jeans — as the hair, the glasses (big as Jeep windshields!), and the typography and layout of the yearbook itself. My own 25th is next year, in St. Louis right before Wiscon. We could easily combine the two (we did so five years ago) but I haven’t decided if I want to.

At the reunion we also attended a couple of lectures by LC faculty, one on spiders and what can be learned about genetic diversity by studying their venom, and the other on geckos and how they stick to walls. Both were fun but the gecko one was particularly fascinating. When the research started, they thought geckos used some kind of adhesive. Turns out gecko feet are covered with microscopic hairs (setae), each of which ends in a nanoscale spatula. But it took the researchers months to figure out how to make an individual seta stick to an object. The little spatulas stick to surfaces by van der Waals force; they only stick when dragged slightly across the surface, then release when pulled up at a certain angle. The whole gecko is evolved to move in exactly the right way to use these forces to run up walls at high speed. The researcher pointed out, apropos of the previous lecture, that he hates spiders and likes to point out that “my research subject eats your research subject for lunch.”

Last weekend we bopped up to Seattle for their third annual Halloween square dance (it will return to Portland next year), ably called by new co-callers Anne Uebelacker and Scott Zinser. Had a good time, lightly marred by a minor cold which is still hanging on. I also managed to lose one of my favorite hats at the dance, but it was found and I hope that we will be reunited at the Thanksgiving square dance in Vancouver BC. We hung out for one extra night to see Into the Woods, a local production every bit as good as the best Broadway touring shows I’ve seen, presented in the amazing Oriental magnificence of the 5th Avenue Theatre. If you’re in Seattle and you haven’t seen this theatre, you really should.

We’ve been taking advantage of our time off to get together with friends. I count seven shared meals in the last two weeks, including dinner with writers Amy Thomson and Edd Vick Friday, dinner with visiting writer Matthew S. Rotundo yesterday, and an impromptu breakfast today with fans Ulrika and Hal O’Brien. That’s not counting the meals with Mark, Tim, Paul, and Danny in Ashland or going out for pho with Katy King during the lunch break at the square dance in Seattle.

What with all the travel and eating out, my fitness goals are in the toilet. I haven’t been to the gym more than a couple of times in the last few weeks (one of them with my new trainer, who proceeded to kill me (I got better)). I haven’t even weighed myself in a week. I think I’m scared to.

Writing? Yes, some. Finished up chapter 9 (just barely in time for crit group) and edited a story in response to a rewrite request from Aeon. Amazingly, the rewritten story was immediately accepted. This story has had a very interesting journey, which I think deserves a whole ‘nother post. Next up is a fantasy short story for an anthology, for which I have been doing some research and cogitation, but really needs more focused attention.

So we just got back from Seattle yesterday. I’m mostly recovered from my cold, but my voice is fragile and I am somewhat short on spoons. Tomorrow I fly to New York for World Fantasy Con. So much for October. Voom!