Archive for November, 2008

11/27/08: Not so bad as all that

My fever broke overnight, and Kate’s on the mend as well. We’re still not 100% but we were recovered enough to have a nice Thanksgiving luncheon of turkey pilaf, with pumpkin custard for dessert later. Apart from that we had a quiet day of reading and watching Torchwood. So, although we’re missing our friends, it wasn’t such a horrid Thanksgiving after all.

I am grateful for Kate, for our lovely home, and for being generally in good health and able to do whatever we want (though we have just been quite sick and couldn’t do what we wanted because of it, that was a temporary aberration).

11/26/08: Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Thanksgiving

Well, now I’m sick too. Not as sick as Kate was — I haven’t thrown up, at least — but I’m feverish, achy, and completely lacking in energy and appetite. So we’re putting Lise on a cab to the train to Seattle and will stay at home for the weekend. We may or may not have anything resembling Thanksgiving dinner, depending on how we feel tomorrow.

Happy turkey day to those who are in a position to celebrate it.


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11/24/08: Orycon et seq.

At Orycon I thought I was having a pretty good time, though I recognized that the con was passing in a blur because I was so heavily programmed. Seeing other people’s con reports afterwards, though, I realize now that I missed an awful lot of people… in fact, I feel like I practically missed the con. There were many people there I saw only in passing or not at all, I attended only two program items that I wasn’t on, and I had only two meals away from the con hotel: I walked down to the farmers’ market by myself for a quick lunch, and we had a very nice French dinner with friends from Seattle. Every other meal was either eaten in the noisy sports bar or snagged from Hospitality or the Green Room, because I didn’t have time for anything else.

Next time I will try to remember that panels are not my only Orycon program commitment. I was only on 6 panels, but in addition to that I had a reading, a writers’ workshop, auctioneering the Sue Petrey Auction, and Opening Ceremonies (which included a runthrough beforehand and the Endeavour Award ceremony). Jay Lake phoned while I was at dinner on Saturday to ask if I could help out with Whose Line, but I begged exhaustion. Orycon is my hometown con and I feel I owe them a lot, but next year I think I need to tell Programming to schedule me on only one panel-qua-panel per day to leave room for all that other stuff.

At the end of the con Kate was very low in energy and we left early. Our friend Lise is staying with us for a few days post-con, and we took her around for some touristing in Portland today, but Kate was pretty draggy all morning and after we got back from lunch she threw up and went to bed. She’s been sick as a dog all afternoon, poor thing. I hope that our Thanksgiving plans will not be affected, but she’s really out of it. Neither Lise nor I is affected, at least not yet.

11/16/08: Month go voom

Well, it’s been about two weeks since my last substantive entry, and, as is usually the case, when I’m not blogging, I’m also not writing. I did write a few hundred words on a short story last Tuesday at the coffee shop, but I don’t really feel like it’s going anywhere and I haven’t been motivated to continue it. I’ve been kind of mopy, downright depressed in fact on a couple of days, and beating myself up for being a failed one-shot-wonder has-been hack.

Today I reminded myself that I completed and submitted a novel — only my second — at the end of October. Perhaps this is post-novel ennui. In any case, I deserve a couple of weeks off, dammit.

It’s not like I’ve been idle in those two weeks, either. We went to Calgary for the World Fantasy Convention, which was very enjoyable. Good people, good conversations, good dinners. Calgary felt exactly like a cross between Dallas and Minneapolis: oil companies, friendly humble people, an emphasis on beef in the cuisine, and skywalks. I didn’t make any big deals during the con, but I did talk with some editors and I had a good time hanging out with my writing peers.

Something about the geology of Alberta is conducive to fossils: in addition to the oil and coal industries, it is home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the finest paleontology museums anywhere. We rented a car on Thursday before the convention and took off for a day trip there with Ellen Klages, who made an excellent traveling companion. The Tyrrell features a very impressive collection of fossils, including no fewer than three T. Rexes, a whole herd of Ceratopsidae (e.g. Triceratops), two Plesiosaurs, and numerous other complete skeletons, as well as an excellent exhibit on the deeply weird creatures of the Burgess Shale (which is nearby in British Columbia).

One of the highlights of the museum was the quirky, informative videos starring this guy who seemed vaguely familiar (perhaps he was a member of Second City) and kept falling victim to amusing natural disasters. There was also one skeleton in the first major hall that looked to me exactly like the Utahraptor in panel 4 of Dinosaur Comics, but not one person to whom I noted this resemblance had ever even heard of the webcomic. Philistines.

The little town of Drumheller, where the museum is located, knows a good thing when it sees it and has gone completely dinosaur-mad. Every possible thing in town that could be decorated with dinosaurs is, and there are fossil stores galore (had to pass up the $40,000 Triceratops skull, alas, even though that’s only about $32,000 in US dollars). There were also a few cavemen in the decor, but I’ll try not to hold that against the good people of Drumheller.

Coming back from the convention we were surprised to find that our seats for the flight to Vancouver (row 13, seats A and B) were at the very front of the plane, facing backwards. Not only did they not recline; not only was there no tray table, no window, no underseat storage, and no overhead storage; not only did we have to play footsie with the people in the next row, but we spent the whole flight feeling like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE PLANE WAS LOOKING AT US! Exceptionally weird.

Upon return from the con I found two acceptances in my mailbox: one from Esther Friesner, for a humorous YA werewolf story in anthology Strip Mauled, and one from Cecilia Tan, for a gender-bending humorous erotica short-short in anthology Up for Grabs. Yay! Also a rejection from Asimov’s, to keep me humble. That story really wants to go to Strange Horizons next, but they are currently on hiatus, so I decided to hang onto it until January. The annoying thing is that if I’d been home when the rejection letter arrived I would have gotten the story to SH just before they closed for the year.

Also in the mailbox: the November Locus, with Gary K. Wolfe’s lengthy review of Space Magic. “An interesting portrait of a new writer who’s either impressively versatile, or still in the process of trying to define himself, or maybe just dealing with attention deficit issues.” I’d tell you what I think about this, but… ooh, look! A leaf!

The weekend after WFC was Wordstock, “Portland’s Festival of the Book.” This is the fourth or fifth year of the festival, but the first time I’ve participated as an author instad of just an attendee. Jay Lake and I had 25-30 people for our joint reading, and I had an absolute blast. They treat the authors really, really well.

The day before yesterday I did something I’ve been meaning to do since I retired, a little over a year ago: I went out and bought a new digital flatscreen TV (not enormous, only 26″) and a TiVo. I had some difficulty getting the TiVo to play nice with my WiFi network, but now it’s up and running. I’m impressed with the UI, as expected, though it’s a little on the busy and flashy side. And I was surprised to find that the new TV, hooked up to the same old analog cable, picks up nearly 60 additional digital channels, some in impressive HD. Too bad the TiVo HD can’t see them (at least, not without additional hardware which I haven’t yet sprung for). I have not yet found anywhere a comprehensive list of those channels, which include both the expected digital versions of Portland’s over-the-air channels and dozens of unidentified others.

Today’s newspaper included a couple of sentences from my letter to President Obama, which I’d cc’d to the paper. Unfortunately they were misattributed to one “David Levin,” but I’ll take what I can get.

This coming weekend is OryCon. Our friend Lise from New York will be staying with us for a couple of days before and after the con (the bathroom remodel was completed in time, huzzah!) and my programming schedule looks like this:


  • 1:00-2:00pm: First Novels: the road to the editor’s desk in Eugene with Mary Rosenblum, J.C. Hendee, and Mike Shepherd-Moscoe
  • 4:00-5:00pm: Social Networking sites: the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly in Salon G with Petrea Mitchell, John Hedtke, and Phyllis Irene Radford
  • 7:00-8:00pm: Opening Ceremonies in Salon E with Ginjer Buchanan, Harry Turtledove, Jeff Fennel, and Cecilia Eng
  • 10:00-11:00pm: Erotica readings in Eugene with Edward Morris and Theresa Reed


  • 10:00-11:00am: Ask Dr. Genius: Ad-Lib Answers to Audience Questions in Salmon with Alan Olsen, Rick Lindsley, Louise Owen, and Jim Kling
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: Writers’ Workshop with Mary Rosenblum (not open to the public)
  • 12:30-1:00pm: Reading in Salem
  • 2:00-3:00pm: Discovering new planets — what are they like? Can we even tell? in Medford with Melinda Hutson, G. David Nordley, and Marilyn Holt
  • 4:30-6:00pm: Sue Petrey Auction in Mt. Hood with Tom Whitmore


  • 11:00am-12:00pm: A look back at 30 years of OryCon history in Eugene with Patty Wells, Debbie Cross, and Paul Wrigley

Hope to see some of you there!

I came home from World Fantasy Con to find I’d sold humorous fantasy “Overnight Moon” to anthology Strip Mauled, edited by Esther Friesner, and erotica short-short “Fair Play” to anthology Up for Grabs, edited by Cecilia Tan.

11/5/08: Election night

Spent the evening among friends. We cooked a quiche, which was well received. One guy in the corner was filling out his ballot during the party and rushed out right before the deadline; I believe he did make it to the ballot collection location in time. When the election was called (we got the news from Comedy Central’s Indecision 2008) there was a big group hug and singing of patriotic songs. Then the champagne and single-malt came out.

I’ve been reading 538 obsessively for the last few months, so the election went pretty much as I’d been expecting it to. Which means that my main emotional note at the moment is a profound relief rather than anything more in the joy spectrum. But still…

Okay, let me give you an analogy, because that’s what I do. Right after I retired, I got rid of the last PC in the house, replacing it with a shiny new iMac. Since then my overall stress levels have been down noticeably, because I can ignore all the news about Windows patches, Windows bugs, and Windows viruses. I suspect the next year will see an even more noticeable reduction in stress, because I will no longer have to worry about what that asshole in the White House is going to do to us next.

It won’t be perfect. Obama will disappoint us in some areas. But all in all, it’s going to be much, much better than it has been.

Thank you, America.

California? Not so much.