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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Mar. 30th, 2017 10:13 am)
It turns out Young People have exams and such. Accordingly, there will be a two week hiatus in Young People reviews. See you all on the 14th!
([personal profile] calimac Mar. 29th, 2017 11:06 pm)
It was while driving the familiar twisty narrow road with the long Welsh name up the hill that it hit me in that visceral way: when I get to the house, my father won't be there.

My stepmother and her immediate family, all of them close to my father, were there, however, and so were my brothers, and that was comforting as we prepared to pile in to the limos and head off to the crematorium. As I've found before, being a pallbearer is more about the physical effort and care of what you're doing than about what it symbolises. But the ceremony was dignified. Though secular, it included a recording of a choir singing a Sabbath hymn to acknowledge Jewish heritage, plus the group singing of one church hymn in Welsh, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

(And suddenly I incongruously remembered something else my father had done for us. The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Allan Sherman parodied that on his first album. My father introduced us all to Allan Sherman's work, buying each of his albums as it came out and bringing it home with some ceremony.)

The small chapel, or whatever one calls it, was packed. He was well-respected in this small Welsh town, almost (not quite) the only American there. Interesting after building a fair community reputation back in California, he retired to Wales and then did it all over again. One of the first things he did here was get the British branch of Rotary International to establish a doctor bank for third-world countries, and to himself go to Pemba (an island off Tanzania) to deliver babies for a couple months.

So I have my memories, and a few mementos to bring or have shipped home. Did a little else here, which I'll save accounting of for my return.
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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Mar. 29th, 2017 02:51 pm)
So it sends me endless emails explaining how it makes my life easier. Today's was a claim that apnea sufferers who use their CPAP machines correctly halve their odds of experiencing a vehicular mishap, which is kind of funny because I almost got backed over by a car today.

The Libertarian Futurist Society
has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 37th annual Prometheus Awards

The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins)
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (translated by Lola Rogers) (Grove Press/Black Cat)
Blade of p'Na by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick)
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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Mar. 27th, 2017 10:27 pm)
I get to toy with being a living example of the Peter Principle at work.
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([personal profile] mdlbear Mar. 27th, 2017 08:55 am)

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

As my dedicated readers (all three or four of them) are probably aware, Rainbow's End is being sold. It goes on the market, in fact, in a couple of weeks. (BTW, if you want a superb 6-bedroom house in West Seattle, complete with concert hall, ...) In order to present the place in the best light, we have vacated the top two floors, replaced the carpets, and removed the stair lifts. Colleen and I have been sleeping on our sofabed in the Rainbow Room.

Saturday, we moved. Or, rather, went out to a terrific Japanese restaurant in Port Townsend to celebrate the Younger Daughter's birthday, while our moving crew hauled what turned out to be three truckloads of stuff to the apartment. The plan was for us to drive home; pick up (cat) Ticia, (guinea pig) Clea, and (guitar) Plink; come back to an apartment full of boxes; and get settled in. Um..., not quite. In retrospect, leaving Clea at home was the best decision I made all day.

Because the keys, with the all-important fob that gets one into the building and then the elevator, slipped off a box and went through the crack between the elevator and the floor.

Meanwhile, I was driving home. Attempting to follow slightly confusing directions, on a phone that suddenly did not have a visible display! It was particularly confusing because I had missed a turn, and the phone was trying to direct me to turn around. But I didn't know that, either. I pulled off at an intersection in Kitsap that had a convenience store where I could use a bathroom, and switched to Colleen's phone. Fighting, again, with Google Maps, that wanted to direct me to a route it thought was faster, using a ferry. The last thing I needed was to wait an hour or two if I missed the ferry. Of course, I spent nearly that long in a traffic jam in Tacoma.

The traffic jam in Tacoma was where N called me to give me the bad news about the keys. The backup plan was to get buzzed in using the building manager's door code. Which worked fine until I used it too many times figuring out how to keep the garage door open, and said building manager started sending it to voice mail. (I'd thought that it was automated. Nope.) Leaving me outside in the cold, Colleen and Ticia inside waiting for an elevator, and both our phones, plus the litter box that actually had litter in it (we'd sent an empty one ahead), in the van.

After some kind person finally let me in, we proceeded to the apartment. Which is where we determined that we had no phones, no cat litter, and no way of getting back into the elevator after getting them. After meltdown, panic attack, or whatever it was, I proceeded to knock on doors until I found someone who actually opened the door and said they would buzz me in. I arrived downstairs just about the same time as the police, who were investigating an apparent intruder who was knocking on peoples' doors. This is apparently a standard MO for homeless people in the area.

Fortunately, at this point I was well beyond the panic and able to see the humor in the situation, so I had a pleasant conversation with one cop while another went upstairs to knock on my door to confirm with Colleen that we actually lived there.

It wasn't until I got back to the apartment that I took a good look at the phone and realized that the screen wasn't dying, it had just had its brightness turned all the way down. I also figured out that setting up my phone to let people in couldn't be done without having an account set up on dwelo.com. And we had a nice visit from the young lady who had called 911 to report me.

I've lost track of how many anxiety meltdowns I had; at some point I got over the panic and had a nice bout of acute depression.

We have spent the rest of the weekend in the apartment, finding out what's missing and what we have to send back to Rainbow's End to go into the storage pod after all.

Today has been cozy and domestic, sorting through boxes and figuring out which things we actually have room to keep in our apartment's tiny cabinets. And eating veggie, because while I was able to find two cans of crabmeat, the only can-opener we had was a battery-powered one that Colleen had just purchased. Batteries not included.

Oh, and did I mention the scratches I got as I attempted to corner a terrified Ticia and get her into her carrier? Those too.

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

posted late because my emacs client is flaking out. Probably due to the HTTPS redirection.

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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Mar. 26th, 2017 10:56 am)


Seeds:

* As previously mentioned, the black woman in this illustration is the only black person of whom I am aware ever depicted in a space colony-related drawing.

* Handing authors a drawing to write a story around is an established thing in SF.

Thus, an anthology with different takes on that one black person in an otherwise entirely white space community.
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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Mar. 25th, 2017 10:12 am)
Enjoy this preview of what working life will be like in the US once the Republicans strip workers of every legal protection.


My gaming group is starting a new campaign using Mage. I had been thinking of a martial artist but someone else wants to play a wuxia character. Now I am thinking of maybe going in a Doctor Thirteen direction: a parapsychologist who has never investigated a claim of magic where it wasn't a fraud, even back in the days when it was him, his three friends and the talking dog tooling around in a crappy van.

I am thinking the two schools of magic he can do are Prime (specifically dispel magic) and Life (with a major in talking to animals).

If he was a teen in 1969, he's in his sixties now? But I see him as unusually well-preserved. All that running from "monsters" is excellent cardio.
([personal profile] calimac Mar. 24th, 2017 09:17 am)
I knew that what the Filter Theatre was putting on was not going to be your conventional Twelfth Night, but I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to get.

It didn't begin well. On an undecorated stage with equipment sitting around, a jazz combo played boring jazz music for too long, and then Orsino, who'd been conducting them for a while (I kept hoping his gestures were going to mean "stop"), speaking into a microphone, began his first line like this:

"If ...

If music ...

If music be ...

If music be the ..."

And so on, and on, and on. It's going to be a long night, I thought.

But it got better. As Viola comes on stage, a transistor radio is emitting a weather report. When she asks, "What country is this?" it's the voice on the radio that replies, "This is Illyria, lady." That was funny. Then she borrows a man's coat and hat from the audience to disguise herself. (Yes, really: I saw her give them back after the show was over.)

Toby, Andrew, and Maria's night-time carousing took the form of a musically-accompanied carnival, including audience participation in nerf-ball fights and a conga line. This went on very long, but it made Malvolio's furious shutting down of the party all the funnier.

On the other hand, there was nothing in the least bit imaginative or clever about the duel or the reunion scene.

Finished up the play in 90 minutes without intermission. Parts were tedious - too many and too much for such a short show - but parts were pretty good.
([personal profile] calimac Mar. 23rd, 2017 11:43 pm)
It's a day before I leave for my father's funeral, and my brothers and I get an e-mail from our stepmother with this in it:
I am sorry to emphasise this again but men attending the funeral will be formally dressed in either suit, or pants and jacket but all with shirt and black tie. I am sure you would all like to show the same respect to Robert.
I have to say this threw me totally for a loop. I'm well aware that "black tie" in an invitation is code for formal evening wear, what in Britain is called a dinner jacket and in America a tuxedo. And as Britain is already a more formal country than America, the word "formally" carries special weight there.

On the other hand, could she possibly expect men to wear a tux to a funeral? In the afternoon? Nobody would do that in the US, but I have no idea what British funeral customs are. And the "but all with" last part sounds as if we could wear the bow tie and fancy white shirt of a tux (why mention a shirt at all - it's not as if we'd attend topless - unless she meant a specific kind of shirt?) with other clothes for the rest. That would make no sense whatever.

My younger brother, the law professor, whose judgment I trust, says I'm overthinking this, and it means just wear a dark and sober tie. B. agrees with him, and thinks it's addressed at my middle brother, the engineering technician, who's apt to wear an open-neck shirt and lounge jacket even to a wedding. I already talked to him a few days ago and persuaded him that for this he needs to go out and buy a dress jacket and sober tie, which I gather he didn't already own.

But I just don't know. I mean, mistaking "black tie" on an invitation as meaning "wear a tie that's black" is one of the classic fashion faux pas. I don't even have a black tie, unless you count one with white checks all over it, though I do have a couple dark monocolored ones. My younger brother, who has better diplomatic skills than I, has agreed to query for a clarification, but he may not hear back before I leave. I'm thinking of staying up late enough to phone the Cardiff office of Debenham's when they open and asking them what they think, and whether it'd be even possible to hire evening-wear in my unusual size and shape on two business days' notice. But in the meantime, I can use any advice I can get.
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