Prophetic?

"You who are rich and whose troubles are few
May come around to see my point of view.
What price the Crown of a King on his throne
When you're chained in the dark all alone?"

- Alan Parsons Project, "The Cask of Amontillado"

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1229670.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

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ApolloCon: Call for Street Team help

It's getting close to ApolloCon, and that means the Street Team needs to start distributing flyers around the city. If you don't have any idea where to start, I have maps. :-) I can meet you to hand off flyers, just let me know when and where.

Inside 610: (I'm doing this, but I wouldn't say no to some help)

Heights area

Montrose / Westheimer area

Rice / West U. area

Downtown Houston

River Oaks / Galleria area

Meyerland

Outside 610: (I really need help with these)

North Houston

West / Northwest Houston

Southwest Houston

South Houston

East Houston

Katy area


Since we're now on the west side of the city, I would like to make a heavy flyer push along the I-10 corridor, the Beltway for a good distance both north and south of I-10, the area around I-45 and the Beltway just north of Clear Lake, and the Katy area. These are areas from which we can reasonably expect to attract some new people to our new location.


Color codes for the markers: Blue = not done yet; Green = flyers have been left; Red = don't ask (reason noted); Yellow = temporarily unavailable. I'll need to know where you've left flyers so that I can update the map. If you come across any other places that are willing to take flyers, let me know and I'll add them.

ETA: Google does it again. They have rolled out a "new, improved" Google Maps on which it appears that I cannot change the color of the map markers. I have a query in to the Help Forums about it, but in the meantime just assume that all the green markers are blue. Jeezus ghod, I hate it when they break a functionality that I USE.

ETA 2: Found where they've moved the color change on the markers. I'm still not sure some of the changes took on a couple of the maps. But they're mostly up to date now.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1229533.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

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Things and stuff

Magic steed
This should have been posted before my WhoFest report, but it wasn't for reasons which will be related below.

What I did on my spring vacationCollapse )


Cat news: We may have lost Yard Cat. He tangled with something nasty a couple of months ago, and got a big wound in his neck, which was being slow to heal and eventually developed a huge, ugly flap of what looked like hanging scab. And now we haven't seen him since I was out in LA, which even for him is unusual -- and the food we put out is showing no signs of having been visited (unless we forget to bring it in and the raccoons get it). We'll keep putting it out for a while yet, but I'm afraid he's gone. Russ says that he's been hanging around our yard for over 10 years now, which is a pretty good run for a feral, and we haven't seen (or smelled) any evidence of him having died, but it might have happened somewhere not that close to our yard. We might look into offering to take on a neuter-and-release feral from one of the local groups, because we like having one in the yard to keep the mice out of the garage (and the pregnant females away!), and it's a good territory for a cat, with plenty of hidey-holes. Better yet would be getting a pair like Momcat and Yard Cat, who were friends and kept each other company.

In better news, Kitsune has been showing more initiative about exploring outside of her own little territory, and the other cats are mostly (though not completely) leaving her alone. Also, Russ has been able to coax her to come over to the table a few times by making the "get skritchies" gesture. She seems to like getting attention, but hasn't yet figured out that she can ask for it.


Words of Wisdom:
"Power doesn't give right. It gives responsibility. The responsibility gives you the right. So if you don't accept the responsibility, you don't get the right." - ysabetwordsmith, here

I really like this. It's a more nuanced version of Spider-Man's "with great power comes great responsibility".


I got a really sweet early birthday present! Someone made a donation in my name to finish funding a poem in the Polychrome Heroics universe which was inspired by one of my prompts. Thank you, whoever it was.

And speaking of my birthday -- since I'm going to be at a show on the day of my birthday, I'm shifting the dinner gather forward a few days to Tuesday, May 12. It will start at 7:00 at Flying Dragon on 18th, in the strip center across the street from Foodarama. This is a little hole-in-the-wall place that used to not be very good, but apparently they've had a change of management and are now much better. We've been there (or had takeout from them) 3 or 4 times, and the food is both good and very affordable. RSVPs appreciated -- since I haven't seen them handle a large group before, I plan to give them a heads-up call earlier in the day and an approximate head-count would be good to have.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1228852.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

R.I.P. Sheri Cochran

I just heard from my friend Denise (WNOLJ) that our mutual friend Sheri died this morning. She'd been very ill recently, in and out of the hospital with heart and lung problems, and it finally caught up with her.

What I most mourn about Sheri is her lost chance at a decent life. She married young, to a man who turned out to be an Andy Capp -- couldn't hold a job, didn't treat her well, she had to work multiple jobs to keep the household afloat and pay for his toys -- but as was customary for marriage in our generation, all the property was in his name, and if she'd ever tried to leave, he would have taken her to the cleaners. He was himself very ill a few years ago, and all her friends were sort of hoping that she'd outlive him and get a chance to be happy on her own. Instead, he worked her into the grave keeping him housed and fed. There are no words for my feelings about this that I would be comfortable saying in mixed company.

Sheri, I hope your next time around on the Great Wheel will be better. Fly with the sparks -- I'll miss you.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1228119.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

Things and stuff

Houston Recycles 7
Busy weekend!

Saturday we went to see the Art Car Parade. We were in the parade for several years, but preparing an entry takes time and energy -- some people enter the same thing over and over again, but Russ likes to make changes every time -- and has to be fit in around all the other things we need to do, so for the past couple of years we haven't tried.

This year they moved the parade back from its traditional date of Mother's Day Weekend into April. This had its good points and its bad points. On the good side, the weather was significantly cooler; early May is well into full summer heat in Houston, while April stands a chance of still being spring. On the not-so-good side, it was heavily overcast all day with occasional sprinkles. The parade generally rolls rain or shine, but everyone prefers sunny weather, if only because all the cars look spiffier that way. On the gripping hand, the lack of blazing sun meant we didn't have to worry about taking a pop-up to sit under; all we had was a folding chair for me, a small cooler with some drinks, and Russ' bike, since he wanted to get out and ride around with all the other people on bikes. I had a hat, and we took a bottle of sunscreen with us just in case. We found a curbside space just large enough for me to fit the chair into, with the cooler under it, and Russ took off to ride up and down the lines of entries waiting to roll. He came back when things were gearing up to start. Since we were on the outbound path and the median gets just as crowded as the roadsides, there wasn't a lot to see until the first entries had rounded the downtown end of the route and started coming past our position, although some of the taller entries were visible from the inbound side.

I think this was the biggest parade I'd ever seen! They had over 275 entries, and as far as we could tell there were almost none that didn't show up (always a risk with vehicles that may not be in the best of repair). I took a LOT of pictures! With the overcast, video didn't seem worth the effort, but I came home with almost 400 shots, and still had nearly 350 after culling the set.

After the parade was over, we did some shopping. I needed to run down to Harwin and pick up more fans from my supplier there, and while we were there we walked around the mini-mall and I found a pretty rainbow-colored shift I couldn't resist. I also noticed that May's Beads has moved. So I went into the new shop just to scout things out, and of course I bought some beads. It's bad luck to go into a bead store and not buy beads!

By then we were both pretty hungry, and we decided to check out a chain called Pollo Tropical that we've been seeing around recently; there's one at the corner of Westheimer and Voss that was convenient. Results: mixed.
- The food: I had a 1/4 chicken cooked in citrus ginger sauce, with a side of black beans, and mango iced tea. The chicken was obviously hot off the grill/rotisserie, tender and juicy, very flavorful. The black beans were on the bland side, and were much improved by the addition of both hot sauce and salt. Also, they're clearly made to be served over rice, and without it they're more like black bean soup (and were served in a bowl, which was good). The roll that came with the platter was uninspired (clearly out of a package), but worked fine to soak up the remaining bean juice after I'd eaten the beans. The mango iced tea I suspected would be strong and sweet, so I used it as a dash of flavoring in unsweetened tea (a trick I learned from eating at Jason's Deli) and that was indeed the right choice. Russ got what they call a Tropichop, which resembles the burrito bowl at Freebird's or Chipotle -- a base layer of rice, with your choice of meat and a number of other topping options. He pronounced it decent, although the chopped chicken was a bit dry and in need of sauce.
- The rest: This restaurant is still obviously very new. Service was slow, and the manager was training a new cashier as we were ordering. Both the mango tea container and a number of the options on the Sauce Bar were nearly empty -- at dinner rush on a Saturday night!
- Bottom line: We're going to give this place a month or two to get all the glitches worked out, and then make another try. There are several other menu options I'd like to check out, and the prices are reasonable. While it's never going to be a substitute for Calypso Cafe, if they can get up to speed they may make the "acceptable travel food" list.

After that we hit a couple of Goodwill stores. At the first one, I found a pair of Jones New York linen pants (original price $49 -- the tag was still on them) which will work with a steampunk outfit, and Russ found a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in size 12-Long, also still with the tag on (original price $38), which are actually long enough not to be high-waters on him. At the second one Russ didn't get anything, but I found TWO pairs of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in indigo, one size 16 (trim fit on me) and the other 16W (relaxed fit on me). And Goodwill sells all their women's pants, regardless of brand, for $7/pair. All hail the Great Goddess Bargainia!

Today was less busy -- just Bagels and then a trip out to Pixie's Intent, where Russ picked up a few bucks from consignment sales. Her new store, which will be at Westheimer and Hillcroft, is currently getting some maintenance to bring it fully up to code, and she may be moved within the next month. Her current location is in that shabby antique mall out on I-10 between the Beltway and Wilcrest -- which is having a high-rise yuppie hive built right next to it, and will probably be sold, shredded, and redeveloped by this time next year. I think she's getting out just in time.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1227762.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

Sad Puppies aren't much fun

For those of my readers who are confused about this whole thing, I feel somewhat obligated to make a post. Other people have discussed the issue in much more detail elsewhere, so this is largely going to be a 101-level summary with some links.

Background - do please read firstCollapse )

So now what?

You can't put the pig back into the poke. Slate nominating, in a FPTP contest with a relatively small electorate, breaks the system. For this year, the damage has been done and can't be undone, BUT there are still some damage-control options. A lot of people (myself included) have decided that the best response to slate nominating is "No Slates" voting -- that is, any nominee that was listed on either of the two slates is automatically ranked below No Award. It doesn't matter who makes the slate (and some people are already saying that the only way to fight back now is to make a counter-slate; I disagree), those nominees will not get my vote. I won't reward a compromised process.

Now I'm going to pre-emptively address the person who's bound to pop up and say, "But you can't do that! No matter how they got there, now they're on the ballot and you HAVE to read them and vote for them on their own merits! It's your Fannish Duty!"

NO, I DON'T.

Anyone has the right not to read a particular candidate work, for any reason. That reason can be, "I hate zombies and I refuse to read a story about them," or "I looked at this in the bookstore and decided I wasn't interested," or "I've bounced hard off this author's writing before, and I'm not a masochist," or "This story is about a topic that is very triggery for me and will make me upset for days," or "I've already seen excerpts and this is execrably written," or "This author is an asshole and I refuse to support them in any way whatsoever," or "The process by which this work got on the ballot is compromised and I will not support it," or anything else. I have that right. You have that right. The SPs have that right. VD has that right. Everyone has that right. You can also say, "I don't feel right about voting for or against a story I haven't read." That's fine -- everybody has that right as well. Just don't tell me that I have to; that's what the SPs are trying to do.

Obviously, in an ideal world everyone would always read every candidate work and nobody's vote would ever be influenced by anything but the story's SFnal merit as observed in a vacuum. It's a nice abstraction, like a mathematical point.

(Side note: someone elseNet made the observation that Frankly, the "you must read these books before voting against them" thing seems *DEEPLY* creepy to me, like a sleazy bloke in a bar trying it on with a woman who's not interested. "Well, how do you *know* you're not interested until you sleep with me? You might like me!" Which, yes, that is very much how it feels.)

ETA: I forgot that there was another argument here, put forward specifically by Torgerson, that I also wanted to address: "If you downvote the slate without looking at the works individually, you're proving everything that's been claimed about your side." This is abuser-logic, of the "Well, I wouldn't hit you if you didn't MAKE me!" variety. Rejection of the process is not the same thing as politically-based rejection of the entries.

Going forward, people are discussing options. There's an informative discussion about how to make the nominations process less gameable going on here, hosted by security and voting-systems expert Bruce Schneier. There will be at least one proposal for doing that submitted to the Business Meeting at the 2015 Worldcon. Nothing is going to be done in a hurry, because it can't be; that's built into the system. Changing anything about the process, if it's done at all, is going to take at least a year and a half, because it has to be approved this year and ratified next year before it can take effect.

Can I, as an average fan, do anything?

Yes, you can. First off, there is still time for you to buy a supporting membership and vote for this year's Hugo Awards. I won't tell you how to vote, or ever ask you how you voted. If you do want to vote, and especially if you have mixed feelings about some of the slate nominees, you should probably also read this post about how No Award works; as I said above, it's more complicated than my summary, and a lot of people get confused about it. Also, you don't have to cast a vote in every category, or rank everything in any category. If you leave a category blank, you just don't have a vote in that contest. I rarely vote in the Dramatic Presentation categories, because I'm not usually familiar enough with the nominees. (Translation: I haven't seen a single one of the items on the ballot for this year, and probably won't between now and voting time.)

Secondly, going forward, you can vote in the Site Selection process for Worldcon. The fee that you pay to do this isn't there just to be annoying; paying that fee and casting your vote automatically gets you a supporting membership to whichever bid wins. It doesn't matter who you vote for, or if you vote No Preference (aka "I don't care") or None of the Above (aka "I don't like any of these bids") -- you still get the supporting membership to the winning bid. So if you keep doing that, you'll always be eligible both to nominate and to vote.

Thirdly, you can keep track of what you read this year that might be Hugo-worthy for next year. Or when it gets to Hugo nominations time, you can put up a post asking for suggestions about things to read. (This really works better with the shorter fiction.) Then when you get the notification about the nominations being open, you can put in your two cents' worth. Note: this is what the SPs claim to be doing. But again, there's a very large difference between "Here's a whole bunch of stories you might want to consider nominating" and "Here's a set of exactly 5 stories that you can just nominate to piss off the SJWs."

Fandom has always been like herding cats; it's disconcerting to see a bunch of vandals marching in lockstep. But the only reason it worked for them this year is the relatively small size of the nominating pool. We can work to change that, which is something I think Worldcon should have been doing for the last decade or more. More fen nominating independently = less influence that a picked slate can have.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1227490.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

R.I.P. Bunny Hagerty

This afternoon, after a long battle with cancer.

Bunny was a filk-fan, which is how I knew her. The first time I met her was at the very first GAFilk in 1999. I had just moved to Houston -- had only been there a few weeks -- but I thought she looked familiar, and she thought I did too, and we went back and forth a few times until we realized that she had seen me at the ONE thing I had been to in Texas, an event at Garden in the Heights where Russ had a booth. How funny, that we were living fairly close together but had to go 800 miles to actually meet up with each other!

After that, I'd see her every year at GAFilk, and at some of the Texas cons as well. I knew she'd had one bout with cancer. I noticed she wasn't at GAFilk this year, and heard it was because of her health. I've been hearing updates via the GAFilk Facebook group, and I knew the news wasn't good. And now it's over.

Fuck cancer.

Fly with the sparks, Bunny. You will be missed.



Damn, I'm writing way too many obituary posts this year.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1227178.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

Things and stuff

Words of wisdom from Tumblr:

stimmyabby:

Sometimes people use "respect" to mean "treating someone like a person" and sometimes they use "respect" to mean "treating someone like an authority"

and sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say "if you won't respect me I won't respect you" and they mean "if you won't treat me like an authority I won't treat you like a person"

and they think they're being fair but they aren't, and it's not okay.

kyraneko:

The respect of being treated like a person is something everybody deserves automatically. The respect of being treated like an authority, you need to fucking earn.


This is another response to the "if you're so TOLERANT, then you have to tolerate my bigotry too!" argument.

As is this, from a friend elseNet (paraphrased):
The primary virtue of liberalism is equality -- the right of every person to be treated equally like a human being and a citizen as they go about their business. Tolerance is only a side effect. Tolerance of behavior that interferes with equality goes directly against the goals of liberalism.

IOW, I am under no moral obligation to "tolerate" your attempts to strip away the rights of other people. Nor do you get to claim that "being able to strip away other people's rights" is your right that must be tolerated; that's shenanigans.


Text of an e-mail that showed up in my inbox this afternoon:

From: "LiveJournal" <do-not-reply@livejournal.com>
To: [REDACTED]
Subject: Return your friends to LiveJournal!

Is your Friends page feeling a little empty? Do you have friends who haven't posted in a while you'd like to hear from again? Invite them back, and you can both get some free Paid account time as a bonus!

Our new Remember LiveJournal promotion lets active members like you send their long lost LiveJournal friends an invitation to return. If they accept, both you and your friend will receive a free month of Paid account time! You can earn 1 month of free Paid account time for up to 5 people who Remember LiveJournal, for a total of 5 months of free Paid account time. After that, you can still keep inviting friends, and they'll still get their free month of Paid account time. A special gift will be given to the person who has the most friends Remember LiveJournal, we'll be giving them a permanent paid account!

To start inviting old friends go to [LINK REDACTED] while logged in to your LiveJournal account, and enter your friend's username. We'll send them an email with a confirmation code (or you can copy/paste the link and send it to them directly). Once they accept, they just need to post an entry for you both to receive your free month of Paid account time!

Head on over to [LINK REDACTED] to help your friends Remember LiveJournal!

Sincerely,
The LiveJournal Team.


I'm having trouble deciding whether this is more sad or infuriating. Maybe the best description is "desperate". Needless to say, I have NO intention of trying to hard-sell anyone into "coming back to LiveJournal" -- that's just skanky.

OTOH, this does seem like a good opportunity to reiterate my invitation to people who haven't done so yet to come over to DreamWidth. DW is still under the ownership of the initial developers -- it hasn't been sold off for monetization purposes. And I don't think you need an invite code to create an account any more, but if you do, I have several dozen.

I've been using DW as my primary posting site and LJ as a mirror site for several years now; it's trivially easy to cross-post from DW to LJ. And there's an option to import all your content (including comments) from LJ to your DW account; this can take a while the first time you do it, but after that it runs pretty quickly -- I do a re-import every few months, which only picks up new content. I'm stardreamer over there, so if you make the switch, come on over and say hi.


Dude Social Fallacies as collected on Captain Awkward. I'm copying in the full text (with minor editing, and a few additions of my own in italics) because Tumblr posts tend to disappear. Long!Collapse )


Cat news: We finally got Mouser's chronic upper respiratory infection knocked down! Dosing him with oral antibiotics never worked well, because as he started to get better his sense of smell would improve to the point where he wouldn't eat the dosed food. We tried the Corner Vet on 19th (this appears to be the veterinary equivalent of a Doc-in-the-Box; they don't do surgery, but will handle most other non-emergency situations and do wellness visits) and got them to administer a shot instead, and it worked like magic. He's gained back some weight and has gotten a lot more energetic.

Yard Cat seems to have tangled with something nasty; he had a huge wound in the side of his neck, which is now healing, but the loose part of the scab is still stuck to his fur like a big dead leaf. All we can do is keep feeding him, because he won't let a human anywhere near him.

Kitsune has been more active about coming out and exploring on occasion. There are still Issues with some of the others, but she and Sunfall seem to have reached a detente.

Everybody else is doing fine, with no significant news to report.


Scheduling: We have a number of events coming up in the next few months.

April 24-26: WhoFest 2 in Dallas
They've got a good lineup this year, and it should be a terrific event.

May 9-10: The Corrupted Cog in Austin
This is being put on by the same folks who did the Weird West Fest cons; they decided that Austin was a better location than Giddings.

Since I'll be out of town on my birthday, my annual Birthday Dinner Gather is being put off until May 12; more info later.

May 22-25: ComicPalooza
We'll be running the Pegasus booth, as usual. Special note: Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon are on the guest list.

May 30: I'm trying something new -- a trunk show at an artist co-op gallery in Memorial City Mall. If it goes well, I'll do more of them.

June 19-21: ApolloCon
ApolloCon has changed hotels. Our new location is the Westin Houston Memorial City, located across Gessner from Memorial City Mall.

June 26-28: SoonerCon
We had to miss SoonerCon last year because it was the same weekend as ApolloCon, so we're happy to be getting back there.


Starcat Designs is having an Earth Day sale. Thru April 22, selected items will be on sale for 15% off, website sales only. Come check it out!


Sadly, this year I will have to miss the Houston Fine Minerals Show; it's the same weekend as WhoFest. But if you enjoy looking at pretty rocks, this is a really cool place to go!

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1226893.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

R.I.P. John Renbourn

Renbourn, founder of Pentangle, dies at age 70.

John Renbourn was one of the great English folk guitarists. He fits into the same space, musically speaking, as Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention as well as Pentangle.

I am actually more familiar with him as a solo artist; I have several of his albums. His arrangement of My Lady Carey's Dompe always struck me as oddly Romulan in style. My other personal favorite of his is The Black Balloon.

Fly with the sparks, John. You will be missed.

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1226517.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

Words of wisdom

"When you invite thugs into your argument, you're not using them as shock troops; they're using you as cover. And you're pretty much guaranteeing that at some point in the future, you'll wind up feebly protesting that you had no idea they'd do that. And maybe you didn't; but you did know they were thugs."

- Teresa Nielsen Hayden, here

This entry was originally posted at http://stardreamer.dreamwidth.org/1225797.html. It appears that commenting there may be more reliable than commenting here.

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