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July 9th, 2014


davidlevine
02:15 pm - I'm the Westercon Fan Guest of Honor in 2016!
IMG 3972I'm very pleased to announce that I will be the Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 69, to be held in Portland, Oregon on the Fourth of July weekend in 2016. The other GoHs are John Scalzi and Charlie Stross. (The committee assures me that there will be at least one additional GoH who is not a balding white male.)

I'm totally thrilled about this. I've never been a GoH before!

In other news, I recently received my 20-year medallion for attending 20 annual gay square dance conventions. (See photo.)

Also, as long as I'm blogging, I urge you to check out the Cosmic Sci-Fi Bundle over at storybundle.com. Pay what you will for a big bundle of science fiction ebooks, and benefit the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund, Jay Lake's chosen charity. But hurry! This offer ends at midnight EST tonight!

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mariness
02:49 pm - Disabled, with reservations
In a little less than a month I head off to the United Kingdom and Ireland for WorldCon and Shamrockon. Since people have asked, I will also be in sorta the general area for Nine Worlds as well - in fact, I realized that I might even run into people at Heathrow arriving for Nine Worlds - and if people want to meet me for dinner that weekend that's awesome, but I wasn't planning on attending. Not because I have anything against Nine Worlds, which actually seems like more my sorta thing than the other two cons, but because at a certain point you hit Con Overload, and three cons in three weeks is absolutely that point for me. And although I initially thought about doing Nine Worlds and WorldCon, well...Shamrockon is in Ireland, where I've never been.

And like others, I will be in London between Nine Worlds and Worldcon. Let the hijinks ensue.

But this isn't about my con schedule, but rather about making reservations.

This isn't my first trip to the UK, or my first time making reservations there (although on one trip I just showed up at the train station and was lucky enough to find a cheap space in a Westminster boarding house sorta thing, which was fun).

But this is my first trip traveling via wheelchair, not to mention my first attempt to navigate Grade I and Grade II buildings - which historically can't be altered - some of which are transportation points, and others of which are hotels.

And, that, as it turns out, makes things interesting well before boarding a plane.

For instance:

1. While in London pre-Worldcon, I won't be using the London Underground much - even post the Olympics, many of the Tube stations are not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately for my budget, the London buses ARE fully accessible, and the bus system has a very helpful website where you can type in where you are starting from and where you want to end up and it will list all the buses for you. As it turned out, the buses pretty much cover everywhere I want to go, which solved that problem. (There's also special tourist buses, even better.) That's great, and meant that one of my main criteria for choosing a hotel was "Near Bus Station."

2. London hotel websites, however, assume that tourists are all going to want to use the Tube - so although they usually announce proudly how close to they are to a Tube station, few of them mention the bus stations. And if you go to the bus system website, it doesn't always tell you how far the hotel is from the bus.

3. Enter Google Street Maps, which have been, bluntly, a livesaver - not just for this reason, either, but you can type in the hotel address and see where the bus station is, on street view, and note any potential problems.

4. Google Street Maps are a godsend in another way: you can click on the little person on street view, look around, and see if the entrance to the hotel is, in fact, wheelchair accessible, since by "wheelchair accessible" the hotel sometimes means "you can use a wheelchair on the ground floor in the public rooms," not necessarily "you can get in."

5. And speaking of hotels in Bath, not London - I was initially cheered to see just how many hotels in Bath popped up when I searched for disabled accommodations in Bath.

Not surprisingly - most Bath hotels are in historic buildings that can only be accessed by two to four stairs - that turned out to be an overly optimistic search. As it turned out, Bath actually only has four hotels I could stay at. One is an absolutely gorgeous luxury hotel that is seriously beyond my budget, but where I am immediately heading to the instant I win the lottery. A second had only one disabled room which was already booked.

Which means that I am staying in a hotel that has been pretty universally described as "overpriced" in all of its internet reviews, who urge visitors to head to other, better value hotels. Having looked at the hotel's website I am already inclined to agree with the internet reviews, but the reviews also say that the hotel has a good sandwich place nearby, which is a plus, so there's that.

The other option, of course, was to stay in cheaper, more modern Bristol - an option I used for most of my clients back when I worked in the travel industry. The issue with Bristol, however, was that its hotels with disabled accommodation were for the most part not near the train station I would be using to take to Bath. By the time I worked out the transportation costs, I realized that I was going to be spending almost as much in transportation as I would be saving in hotel costs, so although Bristol is really not that far away, it seemed easier to stick with Bath after all.

6. Buckingham Palace, which is open during July/August, and is wheelchair accessible.

Wheelchair accessible tickets, however, have to be booked separately - and can't, unlike regular tickets, be booked online. (Apparently there's only one elevator accessible for tourists, so this has to be scheduled. Also you go in via wheelchair accessible golf cart.) Instead, you have to make an international phone call - or alternatively, email, and have them call you, which was working great until Buckingham Palace's computer systems went down. You fail me, Windsors, you fail me.

(Technically I think this is a sorta independent group that "operates" tours of Buckingham Palace while the Windsors are out windsoring, but it's more fun to assume this, like so many other things, is all Prince Charles' fault.)

I may end up at Kensington Palace instead, also wheelchair accessible, which has tickets available at the door.

7. But at least it is wheelchair accessible: it's been mildly crushing to realize even things that sounded like they would be fully wheelchair accessible aren't. The Tower of London is one thing; the Cartoon Museum, though, was a bit of a surprise.

I find myself comparing previous trips, with the "what shall I do today?" the spontaneous wandering, the surety that I could find someplace in London where I could sleep - and reach - without worrying too much. Some of that remains: my London schedule, for instance, is fairly flexible up until Worldcon, though that's partly because some plans are still getting finalized. It's not all disabled issues, either - some of this is just meeting up with various people here and there in London (hilariously, mostly Americans from Florida so far - it says something that it seems easier to meet up with them in London than Winter Garden, but moving on.) But there's still a fundamental change from previous trips, and it has me a bit twitchy.

On the other hand, London! Also, Dublin! Castles! High tea! And getting to see many of you again! Awesomeness.

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asakiyume
04:53 pm - milkweed fibers
I keep trying to extract the fibers from milkweed. They can apparently be spun, much like flax, and are very strong and beautiful. I've seen some videos on how to process flax, and I'm trying to do similar with milkweed, but there are so many variables, and I have very crude, and somewhat inappropriate tools, so.

Here are last year's milkweed stalks, which I left outside all winter so they'd rot somewhat. This seemed easier (and less smelly) than retting (where you soak the stalks intensively in water to help separate the fibers), but I'm not sure they decayed quite enough.

last year's milkweed stalks

(Here are all the milkweed-pod coracles, which I am going to paint and launch as a grand flotilla. Maybe.)

milkweed pod boats

And here are the stalks after just a little pounding. You can see some silvery white fibers in the lower right corner, just beginning to show.

milkweed stalks

And here's the whole pile of milkweed stalks, after a great deal of pounding, but still not pounded enough for the next stage, probably. You can see more of the silvery fibers here and there, but still a heck of a lot of woody stalky stuff. I probably need to keep on pounding for a while more. After Readercon!

milkweed stalks, semi-bashed



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ravenelectrick
12:02 pm - My tweets
  • Tue, 23:09: 40 yrs ago I lost a $20, folded in quarters, while bikeriding in ME. Today I found a $20, folded in quarters, in Malibu. What goes around...
  • Tue, 23:34: Ahh! The water is delish! :-) http://t.co/J5eWHOBclP

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seanan_mcguire
10:59 am - The periodic welcome post.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to my journal. I'm pretty sure you know who I am, my name being in the URL and all, but just in case, I'm Seanan McGuire (also known as Mira Grant), and you're probably not on Candid Camera. This post exists to answer a few of the questions I get asked on a semi-hemi-demi-regular basis. It may look familiar; that's because it gets updated and re-posted roughly every two months, to let folks who've just wandered in know how things work around here. Also, sometimes I change the questions. Because I can.

If you've read this before, feel free to skip, although there may be interesting new things to discover and know beyond the cut.

Anyway, here you go:

This way lies a lot of information you may or may not need about the person whose LJ you may or may not be reading right at this moment. Also, I may or may not be the King of Rain, which may or may not explain why it's drizzling right now. Essentially, this is Schrodinger's cut-tag.Collapse )
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Josie and the Pussycats, "Spin Around."

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ada_hoffmann
01:37 pm

My spooky science-fantasy poem, “Evianna Talirr Builds a Portal on Commission”, is now available in Year 1 of the HWA Poetry Showcase, along with works by Geoffrey A. Landis, Ann K. Schwader, and many other famously spooky poets of spook. These were the Horror Writers Association’s favorite poems out of what was submitted to them in their contest back in April.

Ev, a sort of Lovecraftian mystic-scientist who both invents and destroys things, has been creeping around and showing up in different works of mine for some time now, but this is the first time one of them’s actually sold. So, I’m pleased.

More later. IRL stuff has been keeping me away from the blogosphere, but it’s slowly getting back under control.

Originally published at Ada-Hoffmann.com. You can comment here or there.


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mrissa
11:28 am - Wednesday assortment

1. I am in SF Signal’s Mind Meld this time around. It’s about the Suck Fairy and avoiding same. I think one of the things I thought of after, reading the other answers, is that you’re bringing different things when you’re at different ages. Sometimes you’re bringing your innocence or naivete. You shouldn’t feel bad about that–but you also shouldn’t feel bad about bringing greater judgment and experience later.


2. DDB is having a print sale at The Online Photographer, a very different kind of photo than the ones I usually link with Tim’s work. Check it out here.


3. I made a Sooper Sekrit Short Story Sale. It is both Sooper and Sekrit. I will let you know the details when I can, but suffice it to say: I am pleased.


4. The electric company is performing shenanigans in our vicinity. This is what I get for saying things about how I value infrastructure, isn’t it? Sigh.


5. If I have a fifth thing, this will remind me of Rise. And being reminded of Rise is a good thing, because there are still those of you out there who miss her and her “five things make a post” posts, too. Cancer: it stinks. Hearing news from another friend reminds me of the stinkingness of cancer and of how the little things that remind us with a smile of fallen friends are not to be neglected.





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ursulav
09:54 am - Plausible Ghost Stories
So we're driving home from the Con Monday listening to podcasts, and one did a show on ghost stories. There were about five, as I recall, three of which were ridiculous, one of which was so-so, and one of which made me go "...huh. Okay, I could give you that one."

(For the record, I don't have much opinion on ghosts, which is maybe a little surprising, since I have so many opinions on so many other things. (I more or less want to pitch every ghost hunter show out the window while screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs, but it's not the same thing.) I have strong opinions about gray aliens, conspiracies, and every form of cryptozoology but especially Bigfoot. But ghosts I am somewhat agnostic on, unless I am having a grim fit of skepticism when I attempt to disbelieve in the entire world.)

But it got me thinking about what constitutes a plausible ghost story. Not an "I totally believe in ghosts now!" story, but just..."I do not immediately roll my eyes and call you a lying liar that lies." Obviously there's some combination of factors that reads as "plausible" and some that immediately push it over into eye-rolling territory.

On a whim, I went over to one of the many send-us-your-real-ghost-story sites on the web, and this was very helpful, because it provided so many examples of implausible stories. You could run down the list muttering "Lying...deluded...hypnogogic hallucinations*...lying...dream...get the pipes checked...yeah, you inflicted that on yourself...hypnogogic hallucination...oh honey, you need a therapist in a big way."  (I am Judgy McJudgerson when it comes to ghost stories by anonymous posters. This is undoubtedly a character flaw.)

And I started working up a mental list of what I'd find plausible in a ghost story and what threw me out completely, and I'd be curious to hear yours. (If the answer is "Nothing, because ghosts aren't real," you are most likely right, but you won't have much fun with this one.)

Frequently I found that what made something plausible was simply the narrator acting like a real person would act in those situations. Which may have some benefit for writing, somewhere down the road, or if I decide to make a living breaking into the lucrative world of telling ghost stories for no profit whatsoever.

An Incomplete List Which Probably Only Applies To Me:

POSSIBLE DEAL-BREAKER: Any story that begins with "I've always been sensitive to spirits..." establishes you as a probably unreliable narrator who is going to assume ghosts before checking the pipes for air bubbles. (Sorry, them's the breaks.) It is possible to come back from this one, but unlikely. If you then go to talk about guardian angels, we are done.

DEFINITE DEAL-BREAKER: Ouija boards. The minute the Ouija boards make an appearance, I check out mentally.

PLAUSIBLE: Trying to fix the supposed ghostly phenomena. "The cupboards kept swinging open, so we got new latches. The doors kept coming open so we replaced the hinges." Even if it doesn't help, I appreciate that you tried like a sensible person.

DEFINITE DEAL-BREAKER: Dripping blood. Yawn.

PLAUSIBLE: Banal hauntings. The really implausible ones are always big and dramatic. Something like "Bobby-pins kept showing up all over the house, which was weird because none of us used bobby-pins," strikes me as a better detail.

DEFINITE DEAL-BREAKER: Unexplained phenomenon that I happen to know the explanation for. One ghost story I read had someone trying to blame a fairy ring on ghosts, and talking about seeing spiders of a species they didn't know. Get a field-guide, people!

PLAUSIBLE: The ones that seem to be more "the world is stuck in a loop" than "something is purposeful here." Like the Lutheran Ladies Bible Study met every Wednesday at eight for forty years in this room, so now that it's been re-purposed for apartments, at 8 pm on Wednesday, the room suddenly smells like coffee. I'm surprisingly okay with that.

POSSIBLE DEAL-BREAKER: Murder victims. Honestly, the minute you discover that somebody was murdered in the house, I get twice as skeptical. It's a little too pat and ties things up too neatly. Real life doesn't make for cohesive plotlines.

DEFINITE DEAL-BREAKER: "I woke up and felt like something was in the room with me." This is the classic sleep paralysis intruder phenomenon, and can be filed under "brains are weird." Also, "I felt like something was sitting on my chest and I couldn't breathe," aka the Hag. Brains do this, no ghosts required, and seeing it attributed to ghosts irks me.

POSSIBLE DEAL-BREAKER: "And then I found an old photo album, and there was a picture of the ghost!" This is very likely a deal-breaker, since I'll assume you saw the photos first and filled in the rest mentally, and anyway, it's a little too horror-movie perfect. I'd be much more likely to accept "I found a photo album and there were photos of people. No, I couldn't pick out the ghost. Photography from that era was primitive at best and anyway "zippy blur at around ankle level" doesn't photograph well."

PLAUSIBLE: Lack of malice. I have a much easier time believing in ghosts that aren't vengeful, just, y'know, there. This is not to say that a ghost can't get angry over something the homeowners are doing, but broadly non-malicious, just doin' their own thing--that works much better for me than "I AM GHOST-DAR, DESTROYER OF TENANTS."  (Will also accept "There are X number of ghosts in the house for some reason, but only one has an attitude problem.)

POSSIBLE DEAL-BREAKER: "I was scared, so I kept doing the exact same thing I was doing and didn't take any precautions whatsoever." Look, people do dumb things hoping that life will get better, but I am much more impressed when someone decides to sleep in a different room or put a brick in front of the door to keep it swinging closed.

DEFINITE DEAL-BREAKER: "I'm a professional ghost hunter..." 'Nuff said.


*The intense hallucinations/waking dream experienced when falling asleep. Hypnopompic hallucinations occur when you're waking up. I get those, incidentally, if I'm having a sleep paralysis episode, and they are as clear and vivid as real life, so I don't blame people for thinking there's weird stuff happening.

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quantumage
01:34 am - Ask Me Anything – Clarion West Google Hangout Style

On July 20th, Clarion West is holding an “Ask Me Anything” online streaming hangout with me, followed by a round robin reading by other authors: https://plus.google.com/events/cbu3p5961d144cric4stpiu07vo

Although only 10 persons can actually actively participate in the hangout, anyone can watch it being streamed. I’ll be taking questions, and you can send them ahead of time to: communications@clarionwest.org with the subject line “Questions for Randy Henderson”. Ask me anything about writing, writers of the future, my forthcoming novel or my experience (to date) with getting it published, or anything really. I can answer any question (even if I don’t know the answer).

Originally posted at my Mirror Blog at: http://www.randy-henderson.com/2014/07/ask-me-anything-clarion-west-google-hangout-style/

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July 8th, 2014


library_mofo
[askance77]
05:01 pm - Ain't no cure for the summertime blues.
My library is in a community where the population triples in the summer. Our policy for issuing cards is based on the system standards - photo ID such as a driver's license, and if that is not available two pieces of currently dated mail such as a rental receipt or phone bill. This becomes a sticking point in the summer when people who are only here for a week want to get a card. Now, I have no problem saying no and explaining why. What I'm wondering from you, oh beloved community, is do any of you work in a system that does issue short term cards for non-residents? If so, what are the parameters? Do you charge for the card in case materials go home with the tourist?

I've come across a few websites that will issue "guest" library cards that only allow the guest patron to sign out one item at a time.

A few libraries in our system issue new users cards that have restrictions on them for the first several months, but those patrons still need to meet the residency requirements.

(I would also like to add that I don't understand why our rudest patrons always seem to be summer visitors!)

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