Thursday, February 18, 2010

Once more, with Texas (and without fire ants?)

I appear to have been a little tired last year. All of it? Anyway, here's the link to the rather cursory blog regarding SCRAP's field trip to Gault last year. It was slightly better than the one from March 10, 2008.

Because I am ashamed, and so I will not feel obliged to go through all of the background again, I have posted an essay and a bunch of the pictures from the 2009 trip (which took place in early May. Early May is when it becomes beautiful in New Hampshire, and though it is also wildflower time in Gault, and Painted-Buntings-fighting-like-kung-fu-NBC-Peacocks time, it is also fire ant time. February will probably not be fire ant time, or even snakes-coming-out-of-hibernation).

If you go to YouTube there's more, not by me, though my nose and voice show up in this one. Notice the heavy clothing? That was in March. We're going this year on Sunday, February 21.

Right now I am putting off packing or tidying my room, very successfully.

Tumblr allows one to send posts by one's phone, in audio. I am hoping to call a post in or so; These will show up in Facebook, or you can put the Tumblr link in your RSS. Tumblr will also show you when I update this blog.

In other news: Nigel's head is all healed up. He pretended to be mostly okay about the antibiotics, but he sure made himself scarce for a few days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lonely no more (God Bless You, Mr. Boskone)

I felt bleak last week. Moaned and whined. Then for whatever reason (tired of feeling like the weirdest person in the room) I checked to see if there were a science fiction anything happening anywhere nearby, and there was Boskone in Boston, where I have a LOVELY older couple who look after a pied-a-terre for (my parents think it's their apartment). Warned by the story of the guy in a flood who says God will save him, then refuses to be rescued by a boat or a helicopter, and drowns, saying "GOD will save me" (God says "But I sent the boat and helicopter...")I figured I should go.

I won a pair of sneakers from the Coraline movie last winter and I have been saving them for a special occasion. I found a blue long-sleeved T at the feed and grain store and stamped very subtle stars on it, and dyed my hair blue. This was fun. I have some partially blue towels and a bluish bath/shower thing now.

My parents were charming. My father picked me up at the bus station and observed mildly that my hair was blue. I remarked that it had been a Photoshop accident. My mother said it suited me. We watched the Olympic opening ceremonies and wanted more Francophone content and fewer women with pianos. The effects the lighting person produced were amazing. It was still too long.

I went to Boskone for the first time in many years (like five?). It was once a rowdy con with lots of TV and movie ties-in, although its association with MIT has always given it a turn toward harder science than, say, Darkovercon. They ran aground and were exiled from the Boston hotels for a long time, but they are now considered to have rehabilitated themselves. They got a Boston hotel into the distant port-convention center area, and the con is now mostly book-oriented. There were relatively few costumes, but several people liked my hair.

I went to a panel called "The 'Suck Fairy,' and Other Horrors of Rereading." It was a good discussion of what happens when you reread a book you loved the first time and then the racism, the ideology, the sexism, the heavy-handed message, etc., appear). A woman from Randolph, NH (it was on her name tag) sat next to me. Randolph has a population of about 330 on a good day and is mainly notable for a motel with a shop selling wool yarn (sic) and a quietly spectacular PaleoIndian site where I have had the great joy to dig. Because there are only a few people in the world, she lives across the road from it. It's weird enough to meet another science-fiction fan from NH, let alone one older than I am.

Then I tried out a panel on retro-actively inserting story changes into serials, but I was not far enough into the comics they were discussing, and then what turned out to be a not interesting enough one-person panel about researching if you want to write fantasy. Might have been better if she had been less relentlessly specific about pattern-welding, though since she was writing a sword-smith it made sense. I ended up at a very funny panel about 'what series should have zombies added to it next.'

Then I went and ate at the very, very well-stocked (if you like bread and things to go on it, but they were also aiming to feed the gluten free and the vegetarian) ConSuite buffet,and looked at books, and watched a woman with a spinning wheel explain the mechanism to two engineers, who were fascinated. And I talked to an iPod Touch fanatic, which was informative.

Then I would have gone to a panel about revamping Asimov's Laws of Robotics, (nearly all attending were men) but I got bored, and went to Fantasy: Getting Away from the Traditional, which was okay (nearly all women), and then I misplaced my knitting and fretted for awhile. Then I went a panel on 'the Heroine's Journey:' something new, now that women are living in larger numbers past the age of child-rearing, and also having careers and money and stuff; and a reading by
Lois McMasters Bujold, whose new book about Miles will be coming out in November.

I tried to meet the person I was supposed to meet for dinner, but she got stuck in Rhode Island, so I went and checked Quincy Market (Chowda Company= not very good chowda, sadly). There was a free shuttle from the hotel, so I went to wait at the bus stop with the other people. One of them was a friend of a friend with whom I had gone in 1985 to get my ears pierced. She barely remembered this (she was getting a second piercing in one ear, to be edgier -- this was A LONG TIME AGO, when double pierced was still a little weird), but she recalled the Japanese lunch beforehand and that my infant had been refusing the nice Japanese miso-and-tofu baby food and preferred to plunder my tuna rolls. "Yeah," I said. "Now he's 25 and works at the ----- St. Apple store."
"I know someone there," she said. "He's named Sam." She is friends with his fiancee.
"Blond? Hair down to there?"
"Yep," she said.
"That's him, the baby who was eating my tuna."
Her jaw dropped impressively.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Last ('09) January 12 I recorded that Marten had a small infection on his back. It got all well. Yesterday I dragged Nigel to the vet with a fever in his ears and a lump the size of a quail's egg over his eye where Marten, almost certainly, had whacked him. I think they get bored in the winter.

The wound was three days old and not getting better, and I figured being a one-eyed black cat would be a bit much (he already looks Eldritch). Sarah was here. She left her glasses at home for the first time in her life and came in contact lenses, which did not respond well to being stored in boiled water overnight, and ripped across. Sarah can't see very well. But she managed to help confine Nigel (who wasn't sick enough to go gentle into that good vet's, not at all, kthx). By 11:30 I had, instead of a pirate cat, a Zombie cat with a shaved area over one eye dripping blood and pus. He looked awful and he was like to go into shock, poor baby. Sarah and I were not much better (except nothing had been lanced. No dripping).

Then I drove Sarah to Canterbury, where she was reunited with her optics.
Then we drove back to my house and her car, and she went to visit her mother. I baked bread--the second set in 18 hours, as the first loaf got kind of black when I forgot about it. This did allow me to take a couple small loaves (of great beauty, I must say) along with the Mostly White Stew (see Dec. 12, 2008, note at end, and don't crockpot it; the artichokes fall apart) to the SCRAP Party.

The room is always too small and the crew associated with the OTHER dig (a Contact-era thing on what they call here the Seacoast) tended to clump outside in the hall, but we eventually mixed and talked to one another.

There were at least eight crockpots going, so next year I will perhaps bring a salad. But most of the crockpots were mostly emptied; my friend Abbie won Rookie of the Year, which I really support since I think I want to be Abbie when I grown up (she's short, blonde, intelligent,funny, and 21). The Avocational Archaeologist of the Year award was split among the four people who helped Dick put up and then break down Octoberfest, which is actually kind of fun.

SCRAP certificate

Friday, February 05, 2010

Right then, it's Fore-Spring

We went to New York. It was good. Not only did we fail to need to kill one another, we often enjoyed one another's company.

Tourist in New York
Our hotel and my father, looking like a Hopper painting LBJ photo

My mom had found a hotel that gave us two rooms (I could go to sleep!) for $149/night. My parents had the one on the street side and were not happy with the noise or the mattress, and though the hotel had a $10/day internet scheme the room was in a nearly dead zone. My room was quiet, my bed was fine, and we had a microwave and a tiny fridge so I had proper early morning tea. I loved it.

And my parents liked the Danubian exhibition, which, as well as being small but choice, was free admission.
Hamangian figures
Funerary figurines. At least they were from a grave.
We regretted not taking more pictures, since we didn't know they were allowed as long as they were not with a flash. Although the NYT article has an excellent slideshow, they left out my favorite bowl. It had a little naked clay couple in the bottom of it.

We ate simply. My father is allergic to gluten and my mother doesn't do dairy, and the smell of the pizzerias we passed wafted unanswered. The price of NY restaurants was breathtaking (a very nice unspecial lox and onion omelet was $12.95, but two eggs any style was $7.95) and the portions were too big. But it was tasty, and I like the Bialy very much. Something like a cross between a bagel and an English muffin.

We went to the opera, as my mother loves the opera; my daughter imported herself from New Jersey and joined us at Lincoln Center. I am not much for concrete structures and I missed the gorgeous pseudo-classicism of older concert halls, but it was not bad inside despite having no murals of half-naked people.

Swarovski crystals are always welcome. LBJ

The opera itself was Stiffelio, a strange tale of jealousy and maybe forgiveness among the 19th c. Protestants. This had an unfortunate effect on the costumes (black) and all of us wondered why Verdi thought it had been a good idea to write. I thought a couple of zombies would have helped a lot, or some poisoning or an elephant. Apparently you are allowed to have opera without any of these. I am told they sang very well. I don't think I am made for Culture, at least not High Culture.

The Silk Road Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (why here?) was okay, but for me it exemplified many of the stupidest tendencies of modern museum-ship. It had a couple of interactive things (mostly broken machines to 'stamp' your 'passport;' some much better perfume amphora to smell) and a lot of 'gee! look!' kind of commentary. But they were trying to describe a long stretch of caravan route over several hundred years, and as a result I had no feeling of any place at any time, and it was bit like generic Orientalism, which was almost certainly not what they wanted to do. On the plus side, my father had never heard of the place and said it was a decent introduction. I'm a history snob, I guess.

But the book store was great, containing several of my favorite books in a very select sample, and I bought The Mind in the Cave.

One way and another we ended up at MOMA without time to look at the museum properly, so we did the tacky but satisfying thing and went to the gift shop(s). They were overpriced but delightful, and now I know where ThinkGeek gets some of its stuff.

We were very lucky with the weather; I have been so very cold in New York, and although it was sometimes a little breezy, it was mostly above freezing and sunny, very walkable. I love New York. I was sad not to see Beckett (LOTS of police presence, though, and nasty murder on the TV)or Mia but it was pretty cool anyhow. It started to drizzle as we made our way to Penn Station.

I like travel by train. I took the bus from Concord to Boston and back, and that went very seamlessly as well.

Then I came down with my father's cold and had to sleep all last week. It was a fluent headcold. My brain was on hiatus; I have found great comfort in punctuating the Castle transcripts at the Dustjackets wiki. And the transcribers say they are delighted since they are just trying to get the damned things written out and to hell with the hyphens and commas!(shocking.) They are otherwise really fine internet friends. Since I have been trying to finish a regular plain-vanilla (except for the soapboxes, which taste about as good as you would suppose in a vanilla confection) police procedural fanfic, the wiki has been useful. I am not going to defend fanfic right now, but of course I wouldn't feel like it if it weren't several rungs down from pulp fiction. But it feels good and leaves no marks so I am doing it (and at least I'm not a furry). (You should look at the link in the previous sentence, it might weird you out or it might make you give the Smile of Recognition).

And last week I went to the SCA market in Manchester, but my cleavage would not behave and I felt like this. I behaved well and only bought a cup and a bowl and a book.

And now I must be human, as there is the SCRAP party tomorrow. Every year lately we have it in the NHDHR office building, which has no possible sightline for a decent photograph, although it does have heating (which is why we no longer have it in the much more picturesque State Library, which does not have heat on weekends). There will be food, and I must make some.

And finally, on a seasonal note: I survive every winter hanging onto Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, or Imbolc, when I KNOW the light will have improved, and by Copernicus, it has! Still light at 5pm, the analemma is making it hard to sit by an SE window between 8:30 and 10 am, and this morning a chickadee made the first 'Hey, Baby?' call of the year.