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August 23, 2011

Open Thread 163
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:26 AM *

As I cam thro the Garrioch land,
And in by Over Ha,
There was sixty thousan Highland men
Marching to Harlaw.

The Highland men, with their broad sword,
Pushd on wi might and power,
Till they bore back the red-coat lads
Three furlongs long, and more.

Lord Forbés calld his men aside,
Says, Take your breath awhile,
Until I send my servant now
To bring my coat o mail.

Child #163


Continued from Open Thread 162

Continued in Open Thread 164

Comments on Open Thread 163:
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 08:08 AM:

Horkstow Grange

In Horkstow Grange there lived an old miser
You all do know him as I have heard say
It's him on his man that was named John Bowlin
And they fell out one market day

With a blackthorn stick old Steeleye struck him
As of times he had threatened before
John Bowlin turned round all in a passion
And knocked old Steeleye into the floor

Old Steeleye Span he was filled with John Bowlin
It happened to be on a market day
Old Steeleye swore with all his vengeance
He would swear his life away

Pity them who see him suffer
Pity poor old Steeleye Span
John Bowlin's deeds they will be remembered
Pity poor old Steeleye Span
Pity poor old Steeleye Span

#2 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 08:56 AM:

RIP, Bill Trojan.

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 09:54 AM:

Our duty is to rectify the names
and ranks of those who serve and guide the state,
take out the waste, and cast in in the flames.

The one who praises is the one who blames
so both should suffer an immediate fate,
our duty is to rectify the names

remove the wrong, assess all proper claims
while honouring those who patiently wait
take out the waste, and cast it in the flames.

Not for us gaudy masks of knights and dames,
we learnt our service, how to clean each plate,
our duty is to rectify the names

to take account of glories and of shames,
of who was early, and who coming late
take out the waste, and cast it in the flames.

We have no time for silly childish games,
nor patience for discussion and debate;
our duty is to rectify the names,
take out the waste, and cast it in the flames.

#4 ::: Marek ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 10:42 AM:

— Czemu, cieniu, odjeżdżasz, ręce złamawszy na pancerz,
Przy pochodniach, co skrami grają około twych kolan?
— Miecz wawrzynem zielony, gromnic płakaniem dziś polan,
Rwie się sokół i koń twój podrywa stopę jak tancerz.

- Why, shadow, do you leave, with your hands on a breastplate resting
With torches, playing embers around your knees?
- The sword greened with laurel, now bathed in the tears of funerary candles,
A hawk soars and your horse raises his foot like a dancer?

-- Bema pamięci rapsod żałobny

Sang by Czesław Niemen, singing starts around 4:50.

Sorry, couldn't think of any nice Polish ballads. But this one is about a general, at least...

Also, too warm to write a nice rhyming translation.

#5 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 10:47 AM:

What is the moral? Who rides may read,
When the night is thick and the track is blind,
A friend in a pinch is a friend indeed--
But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne...
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

#6 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 12:30 PM:

I put my hat upon my head
And went into the Strand;
And there I met another man
Whose hat was in his hand.

--Samuel Johnson, who clearly did not understand the use of delaying tactics in ballads. For a good example, note the placement of the instrumental break in "Norwegian Wood".

#7 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Ken Houghton @2: Slight expansion -- Bill Trojan, bookseller and store owner (Escape While You Still Can Books) of Eugene OR died while at Worldcon in his hotel room (Sunday night), apparently quietly. I have no more significant details at this point. I'd seen him in passing several times during the weekend, and he seemed to be having a good time.

#8 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:20 PM:

Condolences to all who knew Bill Trojan, which I did not.

In cancer-surgery recovery news, the last bit of dressing (the final pieces of sticky tape over my tracheostomy incision) finally fell off in the shower today, revealing what will one day be a barely visible little vertical white line I hope I hope, but is now somewhat more...unsightly.

So I'm now bandage-and-dressing free! Well, part-time...the donor site doesn't need to be bandaged any more, but I still cover it when I'm dressing to go out, just to pad it, since it's right where my keys rest in my pocket. Nonetheless, every little bit of progress counts as progress!

#9 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Looks like it may be time to batten down the hatches on the East Coast

If you haven't done so, check the items in your house that use batteries, and make sure you have enough of those size batteries on hand. Battery hunting after a disaster has occurred is a real pain.

It was the one thing I forgot to do before Ike took out our power. I've gotten into the habit of buying twelve-packs of batteries...

#10 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:27 PM:

Xopher -- use Vitamin E oil on the scars. Easy way is to buy it in capsule form, and put some on the scars twice a day.

I have used it on facial wounds and it really works well.

#11 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:28 PM:

Good tip, Lori. I'll give it a try.

#12 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:58 PM:

Good grief. We just had an earthquake. In the NYC Metro Area! It's been a couple of decades. My whole house shook.

I thought it was from the construction zone on the block, until someone on the radio (in Manhattan, some miles from here) said he just felt one.

#13 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 01:59 PM:

When Hurricane Isabel came through, our power was off for 11 days. "Ha ha", said we, as we looked at our huge stash of batteries. Then the flashlight bulbs started burning out ...

Yeesh! We just had an earthquake!! In the Washington DC area, yet. Perhaps the BS downtown shifted.

#14 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:00 PM:

OK, apparently there was one in NYC on June 23, 2010. I never even noticed that one. This one was quite noticeable.

#15 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:01 PM:

They say it was 5.8, centered in Virginia.

#16 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:01 PM:

Earthquake here in VA too -- 1:50PM
Shook things up for maybe half a minute. I was at the bookstore-- a few books fell off the shelves, but not too bad.

#17 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:03 PM:

I felt the earthquake on Long Island, too. First one I've ever felt (although I seem to have been around for a few minor ones that I didn't feel.)

#18 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:10 PM:

Felt it here too -- came in two waves, lasted about 30 seconds, produced a rolling sensation...

Our office building in DC is evacuating.

#19 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:23 PM:

I felt the earthquake here in Toronto as well.

#20 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Tom Whitmore @6: Echoing Xopher's condolences. I will have to say, if I could pick my exit, dying in my sleep while having a good Worldcon is definitely top of the list.

Xopher HalfTongue @7: revealing what will one day be a barely visible little vertical white line I hope I hope, but is now somewhat more...unsightly.

Tell people you were the victim of a clumsy vampire with bad aim.

@11: WSJ says it originated in Virginia!? 5.9.

#21 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:31 PM:

Earthquake? Hurricane!? Is teh pockyclipse! Oh noes!!

#22 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:33 PM:

We felt the earthquake in Pittsburgh. My office freaked out, but people are calming down now.

#23 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:33 PM:

That'll teach everyone to be rude about Michelle Bachmann. Plagues of locusts next week...

But seriously, be safe folks...

#24 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 02:55 PM:

All of us out here in California are grinning like loons. (Do loons grin? Possibly. Film at eleven.)

Ah, so sorry to hear about Bill Trojan! I remember him from many cons.

Xopher, be careful about using a capsule of Vit E as suggested. I did that once, and it turned out I was horribly allergic to topical Vit E! Rash, hives, miserable itching, two weeks misery, ugh. Might I recommend aloe...?

#25 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:07 PM:

CNN is also reporting that there was a 5.3 earthquake in Colorado this morning, the biggest in about 40 years.

#26 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:08 PM:

Lizzy, aloe is very drying which tends to make scars worse -- if Vitamin E is contraindicated, I'd suggest using A&D ointment or sweet almond oil.

#27 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:10 PM:

I felt the earth, uh, floor move under my feet...

The epicenter was pretty close to the North Anna nuclear plants but apparently they got shut down OK. For some stupid reason all the local school systems evacuated, as though the possibility of an aftershock was greater than the chaos of dumping all the schoolkids in DC on the street.

#28 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:10 PM:

I was in a meeting at my son's school when the quake hit; got back to work to find large crowds of people milling about, because the large building in the center of campus was evacuated. Our building is fine, most personnel in my department were near the end of their work day anyhow, and I'm just chilling..although I am amused that I've gotten more information from my Aunt in California than from around here.

Cell phones went down at 1:54, essentially, and are still not available.

USGS website

#29 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:10 PM:

The Flatiron shook quite nicely in two small clumps of tremor. But then, the building is pretty responsive, at least at the thin end; when the wind is just right, the front of the triangle has a lovely, rhythmic sway (and my office creaks, giving me the feeling that I am aboard a sailing ship).

In my various trips to CA, I never experienced and earthquake. And I don't remember the 2010 Xopher referred to, but the one from a decade-or-so before that I recall quite clearly--woke me out of a sound sleep and set off every car alarm on the block.

#30 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:12 PM:

I'm seeing reports out of DC saying that there has been damage to the beautiful National Cathedral.

It's one of my favorite places to visit -- I went to see it completed in 1982. I hope it's going to be ok -- they were planning a big memorial service for September 11th...

#31 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:24 PM:

Lizzy @23, this earthquake produced as much shaking where I am as anything I felt when I lived in LA, and knowing that nothing here is built to earthquake codes made it a little more exciting than it would have been back there. There's definitely been a lot of overreaction, but in the DC area the shaking was enough that it would have gotten noticed in LA.

#32 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:33 PM:

re 29: I have heard that couple of the pinnacles fell.

Meanwhile, my daughter is (or may be) in downtown DC, and the main road near our house is blocked because someone broke through a gas line. It is unclear whether we will be able to go home tonight...

#33 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:37 PM:

Lizzie, many of the buildings in the area of the quake were built before there were construction codes designed to cope with that problem.

Right now, I'm reading that the the tip of the spire and three pinnacles have come loose from the main tower at the National Catherdral.

For those who know architecture, the Cathedral is built in the classic Gothic style, with flying buttresses, on a cruciform plan -- if I'm interpreting the reports I see correctly, the damage was to the tower over the main crossing.

#35 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:45 PM:

The USGS is saying that waves propagate further in the Northeast - I forget why and their site is slammed now so I can't find the link. I'm hoping for few / no injuries and minimal damage.

In other news, Samsung is citing 2001, A Space Odyssey as evidence of prior art in their lawsuit with Apple over patent infringements. Apple invented the tablet concept? Really? Yay for our patent system.

#37 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:54 PM:

They evacuated the building I used to work in, here in Hoboken, presumably as a precaution while they inspected all the gas lines and so forth. Since I was out for a walk between 2:00 and 3:00, this entailed keeping a lookout for former coworkers and avoiding them when I saw them. Everyone was in a pretty cheerful mood, apparently; no serious worries, I guess.

Lizzy 23: All of us out here in California are grinning like loons.

You just wait 'til you have a big snowstorm. We'll see who's laughing then!

Xopher, be careful about using a capsule of Vit E as suggested.

Thanks for the caution. I will test on my inner forearm before applying it.

#38 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 03:56 PM:

Hah -- I told the rest of the office I'd felt another one! Even noted on my activity planner.

#39 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:03 PM:

My building rocked, so did the floor and the chair. Almost immediately I thought it was an earthquake. Then Lenny Lopate said, while interviewing a guest from California on his WNYC public radio program, "I believe we're having an earthquake judging by the shaking of my chair."

I am still feeling unexpectedly shakey, and even nauseous. But further down, our friends in C'Town MD suffered a lot of 'minor' damage -- china cabinets filled with heirloom sets went over, and so on. People were preparing their homes for Hurricane Irene, so a few people fell from ladders and so on, meaning some broken limbs.

My first earthquake. I can do without another one.

Love, C.

#40 ::: between4walls ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:06 PM:

My brother and dad both felt it in NJ; somehow I missed it. Luckily there don't seem to be any serious injuries so far.

To continue with the ballads, in the MeFi thread about Layton's death, someone quoted Child 167:

"I am hurt but I am not slain
I'll lay me down and bleed a while
And then I'll rise and fight again."

Never heard that one before, but I like it.

#41 ::: L. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:07 PM:

I work next to the airport in Frederick, MD; my first thought was our AC was starting up, then I thought a jet across the way was taking off, then I got to earthquake. Slow shiver followed by sustained shaking, here. Probably over by the time we all got out of the building.

I grieve for the damage to the National Cathedral. That building's the background of my phone; I was looking at it while trying to get cell service to my partner in her office across town. Easily my favorite place in the whole area. I hope repairs aren't too problematic.

#42 ::: between4walls ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:08 PM:

The best part of writing a secondary-world fantasy for me has been working out fictional ballads and songs for the characters to reference.

#43 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Well, well, well -- Who's that callin'
Well, well, well -- Hold my hand
Well, well, well -- Night is fallin'
Spirit is a movin' all over this land --

God told Noah to build an Ark
He built it out of hickory bark --
God sent Noah the rainbow sign,
Won't be flood but fire next time...

#44 ::: between4walls ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:19 PM:

According to the BBC the Ecuadorian Embassy got hit pretty badly. The article also includes this quote from the DSK news conference:

""To deprive a defendant of his liberty, guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Mr Vance said.

"For generations, this standard has protected... What's happening?... The whole building's shaking... Okay, okay, I've been through earthquakes in Seattle... Slowly, slowly, don't rush." "

#45 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:21 PM:

My Fabulous Girlfriend reported feeling the quake in Frederick MD (::waves to L. Baird::) as well, but no damage. No word on how her cats dealt with the shaking, or if they even bothered to open an eye.

#46 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Heh, my office is only just now buzzing about the quakes.

Larry Brennan @34: The USGS is saying that waves propagate further in the Northeast

Boy, I guess so. I think I was actually awake when our quake went off, and I didn't notice a thing, and I'm ~290 miles away.

What a rip. Colorado gets a good quake and I don't even notice. I expect it's all those big mountains in the way, holding everything down.

Time for the old classic:

"When in danger
when in doubt,
Run in circles
Scream and shout!"

#47 ::: sarak ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:29 PM:

We were just starting dismissal at our elementary school. I felt the shaking and got everyone under the tables. The walls were moving quite a bit. We evacuated, counted kids, and sent them home. There is some structural damage to the building (cinder blocks falling, cement block pillars cracked). The Principal says they'll need to have structural engineers check the building before we can re-enter. No damage at the house. Daughter reports that the dogs did not howl before the quake.

#48 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:32 PM:

And another one now listed, but slightly to one side from the earlier tremors. Could it be that the Graboids are on the move?

#49 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:34 PM:

So, from what I remember of my earthquake engineering classes from 20 years back...

The east coast's bedrock is more monolithic than the west coast -- there are fewer faults crisscrossing everything -- so earthquakes propagate farther. The example they always use is church bells ringing in Boston due to the New Madrid, Mo quakes in the 1810s. (there were 3 8+ quakes, still some of the most powerful quakes to hit the US in recorded history)

California and the Cascadia area have faults everywhere, they're finding a new one in Seattle every year or so. Our mountains are young and still pointy (Cascades are ~ 7 million years old), in contrast to the geologically inactive Appalachian mountains, which are round and old (480 million years).

So. Here's hoping that these aren't foreshocks for New Madrid, round 2.

#50 ::: between4walls ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:36 PM:

There's a gas leak at my college now thanks to the quake...and most of the people who'd be there now would be freshman, if I remember correctly. Damn. Well, at least it's an interesting introduction.

#51 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 04:41 PM:

We're probably about 40-50 miles from the epicenter. Nap-time so it woke up W (2 years old) but he didn't seem to care. The older two 4 and 3 responded with, "Why did that happen? "How did that happen?" and "Why did God make it shake?" We came inside after a minute and had a brief lesson on plate tectonics with the blocks. I love having a houseful of curious minds...

#52 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:00 PM:

Yeah, earthquakes really must go further in the northeast if someone in Toronto felt a 5.8 in Virginia. That's over 500 miles. Larger earthquakes in California are felt for much smaller distances -- Santa Cruz and the LA area are quite a bit closer than that, yet LA didn't feel Loma Prieta, and the SF Bay Area didn't feel Northridge.

#53 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:06 PM:

David Goldfarb @52: USGS geologist says the reason the Virgina quake was felt over a large range is because of the consistency of the bedrock.

West Coast is "newer" rock, very broken up by faults, "like a cracked bell." But East Coast is "old" rock so a quake here is like hitting an "unbroken bell" -- the echoes travel very long distances.

#54 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:14 PM:

I may have felt it all the way in Athens Ga. Either that, or my car just decided to idle rough about 2pm, then resumed idling smoothly. It was that familiar "feels like a big truck but there is no truck" feeling I remember from small quakes in California, Washington, Ohio (I was on a sprung wooden floor for this one -- whee!), and, yes, Georgia.

My mother was evacuated briefly at the assisted living place in Northern Virginia, where most residents treated it like a little excitement in their otherwise predictable lives. Or a drill -- they'd just received information on evacuation yesterday. Mom hasn't abandoned her land line, so she was able to call me.

The NYC area is riddled with faults in unforgiving granite, which is covered with a layer of liquefaction prone silt, topped with, well, the NYC metro area and its associated infrastructure. I'm not getting warm fuzzier about this.

#55 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:16 PM:

eric @ #48-- I doubt, very seriously, that either the Colorado or Virginia quakes have anything to do with potential future severe activity in the New Madrid zone.

For one thing, the New Madrid zone is never, ever quiet. Most of what happens there is too small to be noticed except by instruments, but following the USGS earthquake map on a regular basis shows what the instruments (and there are a lot of them in the area) pick up. It's a busy place.

For another thing, I don't think the systems feed together in a way that would allow for a quake in one area to cause increased stresses on a fault in the other area. It's hard to find good maps of all the systems quickly online, but from what I recall, they just don't hook up with each in a way that would result in that sort of issue.

For another, the systems don't match up very well when mapped out.

I hope people are able to get this sorted out quickly and get back on track soon.

#56 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Epicenter was in the town of Mineral, VA (formerly a mining town). In downtown Charlottesville, I was perhaps 30 miles west of there, and it was alarming but not obviously destructive. As I noted above, we didn't even have too many books fall off the shelves in the bookstore; that may have been because so many of them are basically wedged in, but we also had plenty of stacks of books around, and those didn't go flying either.

Cell phone service did go down, but I suspect that was due to overload. The local wifi hotspot was working fine, what's what I posted my last note from.

#57 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Folks in my office were arguing about just which End of the World the quakes signalled. "Was that the Rapture?" "No, that was last spring." "Oh, wait, we still have some time left on that one." "Was it something to do with the 12th?" "No, that's next year."

#58 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:34 PM:

@8 ::: Xopher HalfTongue
what will one day be a barely visible little vertical white line I hope I hope, but is now somewhat more...unsightly.

I have not tried it myself, but relatives/friends have said good things about Bio-Oil.

#59 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:45 PM:

It took me most of the shaking episode to realize I was probably experiencing an earthquake. It's so unexpected here in the East.

The local TV news (CBS affiliate, seems to be going commercial free so far) is reporting on the damage to the Cathedral's central tower, as well as damage in Culpeper VA (3 buildings condemned) and Vienna VA (bricks and cinder blocks fell from the top of building wall, crushing a couple of parked cars).

#60 ::: Carol Witt ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 05:45 PM:

David Goldfarb @ #52: Yeah, and I was on the ground floor of my house, not high in a condo or office tower where shaking would presumably be more noticeable. There are a number of other Torontonians reporting that they felt it, so it seems I didn't imagine it.

The one that Xopher HalfTongue* @ #14 didn't notice last year happened a few minutes before I was starting a final exam. Most of my coursemates were disappointed that the exam wasn't postponed and found it difficult to settle down.

* A belated 'Yay!' for your good news.

#61 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:00 PM:

Another thing about the Virginia/West Virginia mountains -- there are hot and warm springs* all through the area to the west of where the quake occurred. So there is some seismic activity, just at a very low level.

*Most are in West Virginia (Greenbriar and Berkeley Springs), but there are a few on the Virgina side of the border.

#62 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:03 PM:

DC Area. Could definitely feel the shaking, although only very scattered damage in the metro area.

Didn't register until after the earthquake that it actually was an earthquake--when a co-worker mentioned that it was one.

Don't think there was any damage to the Census Bureau HQ, although they're probably doing some checking this evening.

#63 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:14 PM:

Just popping in to say how much I enjoyed the company of my fellow Fluorospherians at Worldcon, this year. I had a great con, and I hope all of you did, as well!

As in previous years, my panel reports are available over on livejournal and dreamwidth; user name is "skwidly" on both!

#64 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:15 PM:

A while back Eric Cantor (R-Va and House Majority Leader) opined that there was no need for the USGS to be funded and that emergency disasters should be paid for by states.

Guess in whose Congressional district the Va. earthquake's epicenter was?

Correlation does not imply causation, blah blah, but maybe he'd consider it divine retribution instead.

#65 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:17 PM:

Came a cataclysmic quake in Anchorage, Alas-ka --
Seisms ran from Katchakan to Omaha, Nebras-ka --
Polar bears were saying prayers,
The tidal wave was grand!
Planted boats in California way up on the sand...

#66 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:17 PM:

Xopher: whatever you end up using on your scar, also (before putting anything greasy on it) rub it gently crosswise (orthogonal to the length of the scar) once or twice per day. This will help prevent little adhesions of the skin to the underlying tissue, which can both be uncomfortable and add unsightly puckers to the scar.

#67 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:32 PM:

Lila, I think it's late for that. The scar jumps every time I swallow. I'm afraid adhesion is a fact already.

#68 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 06:43 PM:

Okay, okay. Yes, I know the east coast buildings aren't built to code. I hope everyone is okay, no injuries. And I am very sad to hear that the Cathedral might have been/has been damaged -- it's beautiful.

The first earthquake I ever experienced (no, I'm not a native Californian, though after 40 years I think I'm pretty much settled in) was in a brick building in Chicago in the late 60s-early 70s. It was a 3 point something, but that building (brick, you all know about brick and earthquakes, right?) danced. Very scary.

#69 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 07:37 PM:

Here in Batavia, Tevatron ground-motion instruments registered the wiggles. (There was no beam in the doomed machine at the time.)

Meanwhile, I've just received an e-mail from the National Academy of Sciences Press, Timely Sales Pitches Dept.:


We were just preparing to send this email to you when we were interrupted by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Just goes to show you that we can never be too prepared.
These reports can be downloaded for FREE or purchased in print format at a 25% discount using the code EEARTH.

The report in question?
National Earthquake Resilience: Research, Implementation, and Outreach.

#70 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 08:29 PM:

We got just enough building-shakeage in Albany, Ny to liven things up a bit. No injuries or damage that I know of.

#71 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 08:51 PM:

Linkmeister @64

I wish I had a "like" button for that comment! Cantor drives me NUTS ( and I'm supposed to be a conservative)...he's just so unintelligent...

#72 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 08:55 PM:

The Wooster Collective has a great documentary video up now, about digitizing a stone carver's font -- the "Alphabet in Stone" font was the creation of Benedictine friar Hans von der Laan.

#73 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 09:10 PM:

More thoughts on the earthquake: My boss figured it out way before I did. One thing that was notable by its absence: in NYC, I'd have expected half the car alarms in the city to go off (the parked half) -- here in C-ville, none of that. I also didn't see any broken glass (though I didn't do much wandering, as I was basically at work). I did see lots of people coming out into the street....

#74 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 09:28 PM:

Also: I was looking at the Georgics today and felt the impulse to start writing, "I sang of the sending of chats and texts and blogging/ While Larry Page hurled Google Plus's lightning..." -- I'm worried this has developed into a full-blown sickness...

#75 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 09:55 PM:

31
As a Californian, my reaction is "well, a 5.8 will definitely get your attention". (I've been through at least two, up close: Whittier Narrows (half a mile from the epicenter), and Sierra Madre.)

I heard some of the more decorative stonework fell from the central tower of the National Cathedral. And at least one car caught a load of bricks from something. People who have chimneys should make sure the bricks and the flue tiles are intact: those are especially vulnerable.

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 10:01 PM:

A semi-appropriate song for the day's excitement.

#78 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 11:04 PM:

re 75: So far the damage at the cathedral is three of the four main pinnacles toppled to some degree or another, numerous finials along the roof lines and on the pinnacles of some of the buttresses, and (most worrisome) some cracks in the apse flying buttresses. On the plus side, apparently none of the windows suffered any damage, indicating that the main structure hardly flexed. And the central tower buttresses appear sound (early reports that the tower was leaning were faulty and I think must have been misinterpreted from the state of one of damaged pinnacles).

Nor is the Washington Monument leaning, but it has suffered some cracking.

If you go to the cathedral website they have news about the damage on the front page now, including a lot of pictures. Many, many pinnacles are shifted to some degree or another. And there's a hole in the roof where one of the finials landed (fortunately most of it ended up on the tower roof).

#79 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 11:10 PM:

P J Evans @162/869: livestream video from the Hugos

Playing it now. So: How long is it going to be before Worldcon offers a remote membership?

#80 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 11:19 PM:

Jacque @79: Figuring out what the rights and privileges associated with a remote membership would be is a rather daunting task, and will probably keep this from happening for several years at least.

#82 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:44 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue: I am not a medical doctor, blah, blah, but I've been told that avoiding the sun during the healing process will reduce the odds of scarring. So no tanning beds for you!

#83 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 02:37 AM:

Stefan @81

I now am wondering, after reading that post you linked to, whether I should even attempt to view the video by Moe Lane, whoever she is.

#84 ::: Brad Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 03:12 AM:

Jacque @79, Tom @80: Not to mention the bandwidth requirements of streaming, what, 40-ish (A1-18, C1-4, D1-10, KK1-6, H1-?, plus more outside the convention center) parallel tracts? Certainly doable, but adds some interesting logistics to an already logistically challenging event. That doesn't even include making it easy to interact with remote attendees.

#85 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:55 AM:

Stefan Jones #81: Oy... this Moe character isn't quite as nasty as some, but his projection is downright pathetic.

#86 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:04 AM:

Lizzy L @24 Smiling loons! Made my day. My co-workers are wondering why there was such raucous laughter eminating from my cubicle. My google-fu failed, however, when trying to confirm that the loons in question were originally lunatics. Can the fluorosphere offer assistance?

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 10:40 AM:

Politics:
Why is it that e.g. the Koch brothers, Dick Cheney, corrupt lying sexual-predator narrow-minded unmerciful Supreme Court Justice is still in place, etc., and more generous, good-hearted souls get taken early?

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/60-60/7131-clarence-and-virginia-thomas-v-obamacare

Clarence Thomas is a smug self-centered narcissistic mean-spirited, intolerant, narrow-minded, wrong-headed liar and sexual predator. The signatories to the US Constitution included people who owned slaves and perpetrated the continuation of slavery in the USA. Perhaps Mr Thomas would like to volunteer to be a slave because it was not outlawed by the US Constitution and was in force for the next 80+ years in the USA? Mr Thomas doesn't support restricting voting to property-owning males?--or does he want voting once again denied to women and to anyone who is not a real estate owner? As for the right to bear arms, there is a difference between a regulated militia formed for protection against bears and hostile raiders, and an individual with guns and ammunition and grenades who feels no remorse extirpating anyone with the temerity to get lost and unsuspectingly setting foot on a driveway or knocking on a door to ask for directions....

Regarding book promotion...
http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com/2011/08/welcome-guest-blogger-elizabeth-black.html

#88 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 12:56 PM:

So, ArmadilloCon begins this Friday, and I see at least two other Fluorispherians on the membership list. Should we try to have some sort of mini-Gathering of Light?

#89 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 01:25 PM:

I missed the Flurospherian gathering at Reno, I plead jet-lag....

#90 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:35 PM:

HLN: Area woman realizes she is less than one week away from completing her degree (BS in Information Technology). Tasks remaining: a presentation of her final project in the class she is taking, and the professor's review of her independent study project for the class she is attempting to test out of.

Woman expects more time for needlework, fiction reading, and perhaps a real vacation in October. Woman is certain it will be nice to be out of an institution obviously staffed by Vogons.

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 07:44 PM:

Skwid, #63: My Worldcon photos are up, including this one of you all pimped out on Saturday night.

#92 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 08:14 PM:

Dropping in here to say hi, I enjoyed my very first Worldcon, was very happy to meet people at the Gathering of Light, and that I hope I'll be able to get back to posting here some more.

Also, I have photos.

#93 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:06 PM:

I didn't get any good pictures at Worldcon myself, but my friend Hugh (whom some of you met) took a good one of me on the throne.

#94 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:31 PM:

Tim Walters @ 93 ...
I didn't get any good pictures at Worldcon myself, but my friend Hugh (whom some of you met) took a good one of me on the throne.

I'm very happy to say that photo in no way met my first thought about 'thrones' ...

#95 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2011, 09:42 PM:

Tim, you need some sunshine, son.

#96 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:20 AM:

Gah, just got woken up (1:14 EST) by another littler earthquake. By the time I got downstairs it wasl already on the USGS map.

#97 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:31 AM:

Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple, though he's staying on as board chairman. I wish him good health, though I suspect bad health is what's causing this. Now there's a man who's made a difference in the world....

#98 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 04:39 AM:

Linkmeister @ 95: One doesn't wear shorts very often in San Francisco!

#99 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 11:17 AM:

Sharks in your living room!?

#100 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:10 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 97 -

The funniest tweet I heard about this said: Steve Jobs' text was meant to say: "I reign as CEO of Apple" Damn you autocorrect!

#101 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:33 PM:

Steve C -- ha!

#102 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 01:48 PM:

Speaking of the Game of Thrones, here is yours truly on said seat.
I was aiming for a cross between Sean Bean and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 02:38 PM:

I occasionally get scam-spam like this:

My name is David Parker,I want to place an order in your store,I will like to know if you ship to Philippines.Do you accept credit card?.Get back to me with your website/price list.I will await your prompt response .

I'm tempted to put together a website advertising a really horrifying and/or embarrassing product (inflatable vibrating sex wombats), and informing "David" that samples are on the way.

#105 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Re: the sidelight about the eye-burningly horrible art object...thank you for the truth in advertising, but the warning wasn't quite strong enough. I think I need a drink from a container that doesn't make me shudder. (Shuddering equals too much chance of spillage, don'tcha know.)

#106 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:31 AM:

My favorite (sharable) bit of Worldcon was Just a Minute, hosted by Paul Cornell, aka What Do We Do For the Masquerade Intermission? Paul Cornell's expressions get funnier as the show progresses, and a special appearance is made by the Voice of Seanan McGuire's Mom.

Currently I am trying to locate any pictures taken of me whilst I was in costume. I have my Worldcon set up, but as I only have the one pic of me—and as I borrowed that outfit—I'd like to see some of the others that I know exist.

#107 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:35 AM:

Open threadness, because I know there are people here who have some experience in this area.

I have a miniature rose bush that I keep on my desk. The last few weeks, it's been dropping leaves like crazy; right now it's a bunch of green sticks with clusters of leaves at the very ends. Ought I do something drastic to make it bushy again, or should I just bow to fate and put it in a bigger pot to live outside?

#108 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 11:08 AM:

Off topic... If ever I come across a hacker, his nose will be sticking out of his ass, and his ass out of his mouth, when I'm done with him. Somebody hacked into the email of my wife (Susan Krinard) and is having it rerouted to her Yahoo account, and pretending to be her on Facebook. She's now cleaning up the mess instead of working on her novel.

#109 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 11:24 AM:

Carrie S. @ #107--when other houseplants do this, it's usually a sign the've become potbound and need more space. I'd follow whatever procedures seem good in this case, which can include both repotting and trimming the rootmass a bit--and with repotting a seriously rootbound plant, breaking the mat of roots loose a bit is usually required. You can probably judge whether the new pot will be too big for a desk plant by seing how big a mess the roots are in when you get it out of the pot.

Later, when it's settled into the new pot you can prune it to get it to leaf out some more.

I think a lot of these litle roses in pots have this problem, which is why they often die off so quickly.

#110 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Serge Broom @ #108

I think you meant to say: "Will have his head rammed so far up his ass that he'll be peering out at the world over his tongue."?

(It's "cracker" or more likely "script kiddie", BTW.)

#111 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 12:50 PM:

fidelio: Can I basically bonsai it? The pot it's in is about the limit for the space I have on my desk for it.

#112 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 12:55 PM:

Cadbury Moose @ 110... That too. My original idea involved a forceful punch to the nose, followed by the ramming of an arm deep down the throat, followed by some upward yanking. The results would no doubt look like a messy Picasso.

#113 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:03 PM:

I've heard a lot about hacking into Yahoo accounts lately. There's something about it that makes it easier than others.

#114 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:28 PM:

Steve C @ 113... THere may be something going on. When my wife tried to call Yahoo, they were "...experiencing a high volume of calls..."

#115 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 01:29 PM:

For people who might be coming to Albuquerque's Bubonicon 43, here is my schedule.

#116 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Carrie S @ #111--that I don't know, as I've dealt with potbound plants but never tried my hand at bonsai in any form--you might try and see if Google can lead you to anyone who might know about bonsai miniature roses. I suspect actual bonsai work would require a long course of such work; I was thinking merely in the short-trm: how to keep it from dying Realsoonnow.

#117 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Sort of related to the Jane Yolen thread:

I've just been revolted by a Maria Snyder trilogy, and need something to wash the taste away. I've never read any Jane Yolen, so, I ask the Fluorosphere: if one is just beginning to explore her oeuvre, is there a particular place I should start? Or, not start?

I'm a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, love Connie Willis, Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Also adore R.A. MacAvoy (weirdly, the very first time I picked up a MacAvoy, it was Tea With the Black Dragon, and I did it because I noticed all my favourite authors were women, and thought I should expand my horizons. Great book; however, didn't serve the original purpose at all!). Oh, and Jennifer Crusie - post Harlequin, anyway. Does this make anyone think I'd enjoy Yolen?

In general, I tend to privilege characters over plot. Not that I don't prefer a well-laid plot, but if the characters fascinate me enough, I'll forgive a lot if plot irregularities.

#118 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:55 PM:

My thing with Jane Yolen is that I usually say, "Wait, that was her?" I only started browsing by author in sixth or seventh grade.

#119 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:37 PM:

Cheryl @ #117: the one of hers I come back to the most is Briar Rose.

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:56 PM:

Since Open Thread 86 is closed, I'll note a Dude-a-licious Bug strip that even includes a comment challenge for a "geeky knitting circle". (Voltron mittens!)

#121 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:10 PM:

Cheryl @117
Given the authors you say you enjoy (many of my own favorites), have you read any Patricia C Wrede? The Enchanted Forest series, or Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward, currently available together in a volume entitled A Matter of Magic. Or perhaps Sharon Shinn, Archangel. Or Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal.

#122 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:20 PM:

Cheryl @117 -- you might want to start with Yolen's more adult books (the Sister Light, Sister Dark pair is a very good place, or the aforementioned Briar Rose). The Magic Three of Solatia is another good stand-alone, somewhat more YA. I wish you joy in discovering what of hers works best for you!

#123 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 07:55 PM:

Well, on the topic of Paypal's bank account verification requirement, turns out that siriosa @162/288's suggestion of a dummy bank account turns out to be much easier to implement that I'd expected. My credit union quite happily set up a second membership for me, which has savings and checking accounts that are not attached to my main accounts.

These now have small amounts of money in them, and will soon be satisfying Paypal's requirement. (I could have had parallel debit and credit cards, too, but I have enough avenues for money to leave my life, thank you very much.) And if my Paypal account gets hacked, there's a little of joy to be had there, but my life should be sufficiently insulated. (Knock on wood.)

In other hyperlocal news, I closed on a refi today, and this time next week will have $$$ sufficient to fund fancy new windows. ::sigh:: I guess I have to get to work on finding a window contractor. (I contacted the guy who did a nice job on the unit above me, but as it's been a month and he still hasn't gotten back to me with a bid, so I'm going to decide he doesn't want my business.)

Ghods. I feel like such a freakin' grownup.

#124 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:41 PM:

Jacque @ #123: "Ghods. I feel like such a freakin' grownup."

There are ways to get around that. Riding a carousel is a good one, or sitting on a park swing.

#125 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:46 PM:

117
I found 'The Emperor and the Kite' in a sale bin at the supermarket. The artwork is good, too.

#126 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:50 AM:

Jacque @123:
Glad it worked out for you. Whenever somebody else profits from my experience, that amortizes some of the original expense.

#127 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:21 PM:

A striking photo of the Flatiron Building.

The photographer, Stephen Wilkes, photographed the Flatiron and environs continuously over the course of a day, then blended the images into a temporal panorama shot.

I'm impressed with how he manipulated the street's traffic to NOT make it an illegible blur. It's part of a "Day To Night" collection he's been doing.

(I've always been a fan of the Flatiron Building, even without the Tor Books connection. Speaking of which, there was a news item a few years ago that the Flatiron had a new owner, who planned to eventually turn it from an office building into a hotel. Is that still in the works?)

#128 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:59 PM:

So here, right now, at anchor on dry land,
by no storm tossed, with shelter from the gale,
is no good time to falter nor turn stale
but find some urgent task for working hand,
increase the space of mind at my command,
the length of time before my thoughts must fail
have hope of better judgment from the scale
and make a thorough honest humane stand.
where bound from here by fate or lowly chance
the end's the same, but shares of joy and pain
will not be even; between now and night
there's one great task: to rejoice in the dance
get out and fully measure sun and rain,
keep back the dark, and glory in the light.

#129 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:35 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @127: Pretty, thanks!

As for the Flatiron, there are a couple of things holding up the developer's plans. One is the leases held by Macmillan/SMP, which have another decade or so to run according to office gossip.

Another is the zoning of the area. While the developer claims there is nothing preventing him from simply turning the building into a hotel/luxury housing, it's not actually as clear-cut as that. I don't believe the developer has presented plans to the zoning commission.

#130 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Very nice, Fragano!

#131 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:22 PM:

Having seen Lets Kill Hitler, I know now why they had to have the gap in the series.

It's a farming thing, OK.

#132 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:47 PM:

Also, loved the line, "Spoilers..."

#133 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Fragano mentions on Facebook that today is his birthday, so:

Hau`oli Lā Hānau, sir!

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:06 PM:

Thank you, Janet.

#135 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:18 PM:

Ahem. Tea water, she heat much faster if you turn the burner, like, on.

Cheryl @117: Tea With the Black Dragon

Ah, yes. Finally got around to reading that when I was staying with a friend who lives in San Carlos. The actual day I read it, I was waiting to meet him for lunch at that big open air Palo Alto shopping center. I enjoyed the sequel, too.

In general, I tend to privilege characters over plot. Not that I don't prefer a well-laid plot, but if the characters fascinate me enough, I'll forgive a lot if plot irregularities.

This describes my drama value-system rather precisely. Does character necessarily imply relationship, too? That's another privileged factor in my reading/watching.

Linkmeister @124: There are ways to get around that. Riding a carousel is a good one, or sitting on a park swing.

Ah, swings! Wonderful swings. When I was little, and it was storming, I'd go out and swing and sing rain-songs. In retrospect, it's a miracle I never got struck by lightening.

You know, I don't know if I've ever been on a carousel...!?

@131: See, abi, this is where que los norteamericanos get ours back for noising it around about Netflix and all that. ::sulk:: :)

#136 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:48 PM:

Jacque, #135: Sorta me too here -- at least, if the characters don't become interesting to me, the plot won't be either. And I have a lot of trouble with both vapid and asshole protagonists, either of which is likely to make me abandon the book. OTOH, there are plot issues which even a well-developed character set can't override, such as getting into "hanging disbelief by the neck until dead" territory.

#137 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:11 PM:

Jacque @135, Lee @136. I also go mostly by character and relationship these days. This isn't totally divorced from plot, since I can't continue to respect a character who pulls a TSTL plot move (I'm talking to you, all you romance heroes and heroines who decide not to tell each other the truth on some flimsy pretext.) A solid hell-bent-for-leather plot can still grab hold of me and pull me through a single read, but I won't come back for a reread - and I probably won't buy the sequel - unless I enjoy spending time with the characters.

#138 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:41 PM:

Lee & OtterB: I always kind of reflexively cringe when I see stories introduce kids because, too often, the kids are there as a Plot Device. Kid does something stupid, giving the grownups a reason to go out and Save Kid and fix problem caused by kid's stupidity. Lazy Writing 101.

This is a big reason I gave up rather early on the original Battlestar Galactica. Daggit would run off, Boxie would run off after it, and the episode would be occupied by trying to find and retrieve the two. Made me want to hurl things at the TV. Despite many accolades by people whose taste I trust, I haven't had the courage to try the new BSG, partly for this reason. (Also, cylons bore me to tears.)

#139 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:13 PM:

FYI, Singer sewing machine owners (particularly owners of older machines):

The company has launched a website wherein you can enter your machine's serial number and get it and yourself registered as the owner with the company, as well as print yourself a nice official certificate stating same. For the record, ours was manufactured in 1926.

I hope Mom didn't tick the box (I'm sure there's a box) next to "Send me updates about new happenings at Singer."

#140 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:41 PM:

Linkmeister @ 139 ...
I hope Mom didn't tick the box (I'm sure there's a box) next to "Send me updates about new happenings at Singer."

That'd be "I hope she unticked the box", unfortunately. It seems to default to opt-in.

#141 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:50 PM:

xeger, you're right.

#142 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:28 AM:

So we've got a law firm advertising here on ML. So far, so good. But I want some of the more creative minds here to tell me the story behind this picture. And what kind of case the plaintiff would be making for the suit.

#143 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:28 AM:

Jacque: Support the WorldCon in Spokane in 2015. Then attend. Then go on the historic Looff Carousel in Riverfront Park (about two small city blocks from the Convention Center). Make sure to get an outside horse. They've got brass rings to grab for.

If you've never been on a carousel, that's a good way to start.

#144 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:39 AM:

@142 Negligent defenestration and alienation of petticoats?

#145 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:19 AM:

@143: Spokane, Spokane...oh wait. That's not in Canada. (Little disoriented in time and space, are we?)

@144: One is moved to ponder the concept of "justified defenestration."

But what I really want to know is: what is the garden trowel all about?

#146 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:30 AM:

Jacque @ #145

"How do you plead?"

"Justified defenestration, Your Honor."

"What could justify such a thing?"

"The victim was on fire and endangering others, so I threw him out the window."

"Are there any witnesses?"

"Yes, Your Honor. Engine Co. 247 saw the entire thing from the door of the apartment."

And so on. . .

#147 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:41 AM:

For the past six months, I've been working off and on at doing a dramatic reading of Through the Looking-Glass, for LibriVox. Well, it's finally done and catalogued! As with its predecessor, Alice, the narration is done by yours truly, and the dialogue is read by a full cast. The catalogue page, where you can download the files, is here. I'm very proud of it.

#148 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:23 AM:

This is just to say
I have stolen a march
on the armies
you had hidden away

and which
you were probably
holding
in reserve

Forgive me
it was tactical
so quick
and so bold

Re: the earthquake, ringing the East Coast like a Bell - "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land / unto all the inhabitants thereof"?

--Dave, its echoes travelled rather a long way as well

PS: "Mr Watson! Get under the table! I need you..."

#149 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:56 AM:

Jacque@138,

Here's a reason: Having only watched the new BSG, I don't know who Daggit and Boxie are.

#150 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 05:14 AM:

Actually, new BSG did have a Boxey who appeared in the miniseries and one or two of the early episodes, but he did nothing important and was soon dropped.

#151 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:06 PM:

Hm. Well, that's promising...

#152 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:34 PM:

David @148 -- all the pastiching of Williams I've read (and in which I've taken part) over the years here at Making Light has finally prompted me to read some of his work -- I'm reading Spring and All now and pretty blown away by the beauty of it all, though not yet understanding much.

#153 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:42 PM:

#143 B.

NFW am I voting for Spokane, not after Air Travel Hell Stories to and from Reno. Spokane is even more inconvenient for air travel from the east coast than Reno is.

1970 -- Heidelberg
1971 -- Boston
1972 -- Los Angeles
1973 -- Toronto
1974 -- Washington DC
1975 -- Australia
1976 -- Kansas City
1977 -- Miami Beach
1978 -- Phoenix
1979 -- Brighton, England
1980 -- Boston
1981 -- Denver
1982 -- Chicago
1983 -- Baltimore
1984 -- Anaheim
1985 - Australia
1986 -- Atlanta
1987 -- Brighton, England
1988 -- New Orleans
1989 -- Boston
1990 -- The Hague
1991 -- Chicago
1992 -- Orlando
1993 -- San Francisco
1994 -- Winnipeg
1995 -- Glasgow
1996 -- Anaheim
1997 -- San Antonio, TX
1998 -- Baltimore
1999 -- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2000 -- Chicago
2001 -- Philadelphia
2002 -- San Jose
2003 -- Toronto
2004 -- Boston
2005 -- Glasgow
2006 -- Anaheim
2007 -- Yokohama
2008 -- Denver
2009 -- Montreal
2010 -- Australia
2011 -- Reno
2012 -- Chicago
2013 -- San Antonio
2014 -- London is bidding
2015 -- bids for Spokane and Orlando (neither bid appeals to me... Spokane because I regard it as even more inconvenient than Reno as a Worldcon destination, Orlando because "who're the committe???)
2016 -- bid for Kansas City
2017 -- bids for Japan, New York (latter has less support than the former)
2018 -- bid for New Orleans
2020 -- bid for New Zealand

Once upon a time there was a three year rotation schedule involving east, central and west North American zones. That went away. From the Carolinas up the US coast to Maine there are 65 million people. Washington state has six million, and most of them are in the Seattle area. The state of Massachusetts has more people that Washington State, in a LOT smaller area. At the MASSFILC meeting Saturday before the Worldcon, I asked the people who were there why they weren;t going to the Worldcon. The responses included "too far to drive to" and "I'm not interested in going to Reno for a Worldcon." Most of the people responding I suspect will be going to Chicago next year.

#154 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:12 PM:

Paula @153 - Spokane is probably less inconvenient than you think. There's fairly frequent service from SEA, and airports in Lewiston, ID and Pullman are not too far away. It's also a short day's drive from SEA. Not too many jets flying in to GEG (Spokane), so it could very well be harder than Reno, but not too much harder.

There's also non-stop service from PDX, SFO, SLC, MSP, ORD and several other hubs.

That said, last time I flew into GEG was when my flight back from Kailua/Kona got diverted because of snow in SEA.

#155 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:30 PM:

re 107: Miniature roses are actually outdoor plants. It really needs to spend some time in direct sun, preferably outdoor sun. If it is potbound this can be very iffy because it will have very little water reserve, so you need to deal with that too. But at the very least it needs to spend time in the sunniest possible window.

#156 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:44 PM:

#154 Larry

How frequent is "frequent" and how many -seats- are involved, and what types of plane and how fast are the planes?

The "getting there is NOT half the fun situation from Boston:
a) Tuesday August 16, American Flight 451 from Boston to Chicago got off the ground an hour late, the passengers notified more than 12 hours in advance. That caused the connection to Reno to fail, and instead of getting into Reno at noon Reno time, the passengers got to twiddle their thumbs for a few hours at ORD, get on a plane to DFW, twiddle their their thumbs for more hours, and get to Reno around 8:35 PM Reno time.
b) People who took the same flight the next, had it even worse, the flight from ORD to Reno was cancelled, and not only were they not sent to DFW to get on a flight getting into Reno at 8:35 PM, they went something like ORD --> LAX --> Salt Lake City --> Reno and got in around midnight--the ones who didn;t, upon getting to ORD and being told they could fly out the next day to Reno, told American they were going back to Boston, and collected refunds or credit otherwise, and an additional $200 in compensation.

The US air transport system is in negative capacity. The reason for the hour delay on Tuesday was because the flight crew got delayed getting into Boston and wouldn't have gotten the minimum crew rest without the delay. That happened on the flight I came back to Boston on, it was delayed waiting for flight crew to arrive. Any glitch in the schedule regarding a plane arriving late or weather or aircraft maintenance taking longer or whatever, and there are cascading delays transporting passengers....

I missed the flight I was originally scheduled on (got to the parking and I had left my pocketbook at home, had to go back home). The first flight out of Boston to either ORD or Dallas with ANY seats for standby was at 1:50 PM... I got out on the first plane at or after 3 PM, to ORD. Dallas, there were vouchers offered to people to take another flight to there, the planes were overbooked. There were NO empty seats, and the 1:50 flight, the standby first four on the list passengers got on due to people failing to show up for the flight, the plane had been overbooked... and that was to a place where there are LOTS of flights between Boston and Chicago, from multiple airlines... they were ALL full...

For that matter, the last time I flew to a Worldcon, the plane I was on was late from the east coast and missed the connecting flight, and I got to LA Con hours later than scheduled... Boston to LA is NOT a low capacity routing.

What is the total capacity per day for flights into Spokane from major hubs, and what is the usual load factor? Adding a few thousand people trying to get to a Worldcon of people who otherwise would not be traveling anywhere near Spokane, is the sort of thing that made Winnipeg a really bad destination for people trying to get flights in... I didn;t have to deal with that, fortunately, because I went by car and didn;t have to deal with the low capacity air situation....

As for "a short day's drive," what is the distance and how many hours??? You really expect people flying in to rent cars and drive for however far and long from Seattle? And deal with the insane Seattle drivers who make Boston drivers' jaws drop? (I was warned that Seattle area drivers on freeways will suddenly for no apparent reasons suddenly -stop--- and some of them actually did that!)

#157 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:52 PM:


I have eaten
some pluots
and the rest are in
the icebox

and
you may want
them
for breakfast

they were delicious
the yellow ones
were sweeter.

The red ones weren't bad either, and I'm not sure whether they actually were grown near the farm stand where I bought them (I'm guessing the dried mangoes weren't), but they were just perfectly ripe and the yellow ones are very sweet.

#158 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:00 PM:

156
Seattle to Spokane by road: 280 miles on I-90. It's a longish drive, but doable.

#159 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:40 PM:

http://www.spokaneairports.net/images/nonstop.jpg
The link to ORD has the label "seasonal." There is service to Spokane from Minneapolis-St Paul, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Boise, Seattle, and Portland Oregon. This does NOT much impress me in a positive fashion--can't even get there from LA directly?!

http://www.spokaneairports.net/Pass_stats/8-10ep.pdf has emplanements--I suspect dividing by two gets the number of round trips? For August 2010 there were 160,236 including 192 charter pax emplaned, subtracting the 192 and dividing by two, then by 31, that gives an average of 2581 passengers per day. Assume that 2/3rds of the attendees of a 4000 person Worldcon arrive by air for a place like Spokane, that's 2667 people, assume that a third come in two days before the convention start, a third the day before the convention, and the other third spread out for several days before.... so 1333 want to come in the day before the convention, and 1333 two days before--that's almost HALF the passenger volune of an average day at that airport!

Reno, by comparison,

http://www.reno-rno.airports-guides.com/
"Ten major airlines currently operate at Reno Tahoe Airport and each year see over five million passengers, which every day equates to more than 150 flights and 14,000 passengers.

Also, note
http://renoairport.com/flight_info/departures-reno-tahoe-international-airport/ which shows where some of the flights from Reno connect to, including e.g. Dallas-Ft Worth and LA, destinations which Spokane flights do NOT connect directly to....
Via http://renoairport.com/flight_info/search-flights-reno-tahoe-airport/ and selecting "nonstop" a map shows up displaying direct nonstop connections from Reno to DFW, Houston, MSP, ORD,Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, LA, San Franciso, San Jose, Portland, Boise, and Seattle.
Via http://renoairport.com/flight_info/search-flights-reno-tahoe-airport/

#160 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:46 PM:

#157 Bill
I resent that the local stores don;t have Flavor Grenade plouts. They've got a different greenish/yellow variety. The dappled reddish/pinkish/purplish ones, bleah...

#158 P. J.
My idea of "fun" does NOT include driving east on I-90 280 miles after getting off a plane having been at an airport at the OTHER end of I-90 a minimum of eight hours earlier.... and probably more like ten to twelve or more hours earlier...

#161 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 12:37 AM:

HLN: Plumbing woes: At least the part of the toilet that broke just means needing to flush with a bucket ...

#162 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:04 AM:

Don't cry at me scum John Boehner
The truth is you are no worker
You've never had to
Go out job hunting
You had that bar job
Your fam'ly gave you
You pimped to boozers
Don't cite me morals....

(He's not even up to Eva Peron level for credulity, she was a national looter in Argentina, but she DID made grand gestures towards benefitting the poor and not -squelching- them and giving them literal sob stories about how hard he worked washing the floor of her family's booze parlor.... strange thing, that last, generally minors are NOT supposed to be working in bars.... and he HAD a job given to him by his family, again, he didn;'t have to go send out resume after resume to never-replying HR people...)

#163 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:38 AM:

Marna Nightingale, thank you for the moving Memorial to Jack Layton. (BoingBoing article with pictures.)

#164 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:28 AM:

P J Evans, #158: That's roughly comparable to Houston-to-Dallas, and we do that regularly as a day-trip.

Now, it will be a grueling drive from here to Spokane if they get the bid, but we'll deal with that when the time comes, and the people running the bid do sound as if they know what they're doing. I'll bet they'd do a better job than the Denver committee, not that that's saying much.

#165 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:15 AM:

Part of the aftermath of the fall of Gaddafi in Libya is renewed sabre-rattling by some (such as John Bolton) in the US, over the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

According to the BBC Report, adding some UK-sourced detail to the original CNN, he is close to death. He's lived longer than expected, yes. So what?

Note that he is, formally, still a Scottish prisoner, released under licence. Very roughly that's the same as being on parole. If he really had been deceiving people about his health, they could have issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr. Bolton seems to have a all too typically American idea of how American law and punishment is the only true way. And, for somebody who is supposed to have been a diplomat, every time he opens his mouth he seems to give too many foreign governments an excuse to deny American demands.

In the end, I think al-Megrahi lost far more than Mr. Bolton can ever realise. His time in prison was only ten years, likely rather "soft" by the standards Mr. Bolton uses, but they were the last healthy years of his life, when he might have been in Libya as a trusted minion of Gaddafi, with all that implies.

And, by the political exploitation of a dying man, I don't see much difference between Bolton and Gaddafi. Except, maybe, Gaddafi at least showed some of the honour due of a lord to his sworn man.

#166 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:18 AM:

#164 Lee

a) East coast residents tend to NOT do 218 mile each way day trips--some do occasionally, and there was Seth when he was commuting by Amtrak between NYC and Cambridge, but generally not.

b) Seattle is NOT where most people who would be going to a Worldcon live. My point is that someone who has just spent more than 8 hours on airplanes and in airports, is NOT someone who is at all likely to have ANY interest in renting a car and then driving 218 miles on top of unfun with airports, airplanes, and the TSA..... Yes, for the people in the area the drive isn't a really big deal, again, my point is that the majority of people who go to a Worldcon are NOT day commuters, and for somewhere like Reno or Spokane, MOST are going to be coming in from a lot further than 200 miles away.

I -have- gone to a Worldcon by car clear across the USA, I do know people who drive from the US northeast to Reno for the Worldcon this year--but they're the exception, from east coast fandom. The vast majority of east coast fans who went to the Worldcon--or got partway by air and went HOME because of connecting flight cancellation (that happened to at least one couple_) this year, went by plane. And planes top Spokane, are even more inconvenient and with lower capacity, than Reno... my post on the topic seems stuck in limbo at the moments, but the connectivity of Spokane to major airports is worse than Reno's -- Spokane service to Chicago is "seasonal" only. It has no service to LA. It has no service to Dallas Fort Worth. Neither have service to Atlanta or Cincinatti (which are hubs. Both have service to Minneapolis-St Paul. Neither has service to New York City, or Orlando, or Philadelphia, or....

Flying out of Logan in Boston for the Worldcon, I noted that where once there were DC-10 and 747 and 757/767 airliners flying to LA and San Francisco, there were now more like puddle jumping narrow body cramped MUCH lower capacity 737 aircraft, going to LA or Las Vegas via Chicago or Dallas etc., with every seat onboard full. My rough calculations regarding Spokane, are that a Worldcon would need to take half the capacity of the average 2010 August passenger traffic at the Spokane airport for a 4000 person- Worldcon.

That seems unreasonable to me, given that the current load factors for air traffic are essential at capacity.... the ability to increase by 50% the passenger capacity for two days before the Worldcon to accomodate peoeple comding to Spokane for a Worldcon, is a surge level that the air traffic system can't/won't support.... unless one is able/willing to pay $1000 for the airfare, MAYBE. (I asked about changing my reservation coming back from Reno to stay another day or two, American Airlines said they'd be happy to, with the payment of another $900....)

#167 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:38 AM:

Dave Bell @165--Even more than with most neoconservatives, every time John Bolton starts rattling his saber, I find myself thinking he has serious Issues, and, in a manner Freud would have spotted right off, is Compensating.

One of my fondest US Election Night 2008 coverage memories is of Simon Schama dismantling Bolton (live and in color!) on BBC-America, while Bolton flailed about, mouthing talking points and desperately waiting for the hosts of the show to step in and deliver him from the whipping he was getting. Alas for Bolton, no one at the Beeb seemed to feel they owed him the sort of proptection he got not just from Murdoch-television, but the other US networks back when he was drawing a government. IIRC, at one point, while Schama, wielding the Twin Straight Razors of Logic and Wit, was drawing enough blood that one sensed a transfusion might be needed, Bolton mouthed something that sounded an awful lot a suggestion they take this outside to the parking lot, to the undisguised delight of the show's presenters.

I believe this beatdown lives on at Youtube, for those who'd enjoy seeing Bolton get what-for.

#168 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 09:24 AM:

Fragano @#128: That rather reminds me of Harriet and Peter's sonnet.

C. Wingate @#155: Well, it sits next to my full-spectrum lightbulb during the week, and in the office window for the weekends. And it's been nearly three years since I brought it in, but this is the first time it's dramatically dropped leaves this way. If I need to take it outside at lunch or something, I can do that, I guess. :)

#169 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Carrie, it's not so much the spectrum as it is the sheer candlepower. I start my seedlings in the basement under full spectrum florescents, and while they put up with that they soon start whining for more light. I'd fix the likely potbound problem first, though.

#170 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:04 AM:

Potbound got fixed this morning, though I couldn't find the bag of rose food to mix into the dirt.

I do hope it stops smelling like terracotta in here pretty soon.

#171 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Paula, #166: The East Coast is NOT the center of the bloody universe. Other people do drive several hours at a time without fussing about it, and a LOT of people who go to Worldcons live in other parts of the country. Deal with it, and stop demanding that fandom revolve around you and your personal convenience. Or put together your own Worldcon bid.

You are very fortunate to live in a part of the country where it's easy to get around using public transit. Most of us don't, and we cope. You can too.

#172 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:42 PM:

@171: Thank you. I was having similar thoughts, but they were coming out rather less diplomatically, so I kept mum.

#173 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:45 PM:

HLN: Cranky humans are cranky.

#174 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:56 PM:

C'mon...

By the way, driving to Reno was rather reminiscent of what Route 66 must have been like, without the romance attached to the latter by its not being around anymore. Going from Las Vegas on a road that is not a highway meant having to drive like a maniac to pass a much slower vehicle while worrying that another maniac would appear from around the curve ahead because he was passing another slow vehicle. Doing it for 400 miles got to be a bit much.

#175 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Lee 171: You are very fortunate to live in a part of the country where it's easy to get around using public transit. Most of us don't, and we cope. You can too.

Well, to be fair, some of us live in places with good mass transit because we can't cope with using private transportation for everything. I, for example, have never had a driver's license, for reasons that go deeper by far than "I never bothered." (Trust me, people don't just "not bother" in Michigan, where I grew up.)

I'm not going to vote for a WorldCon bid that doesn't address transportation for those of us who don't drive. (I mean between con hotels and convention centers, etc. From an airport to the convention I CAN deal with, and have. Hotels in places without public transportation run shuttles, usually for not very much money.) If it's five miles from the main convention hotel to the convention center where the art show/huckster room/big program items are (with no public transportation to speak of), I really can't deal with that. I'll vote against it and probably not attend if it wins.

Several times in my life I've considered moving elsewhere. But people who don't drive at all have a VERY hard time living in most places other than the Northeast.

Please note that these are general comments. I have not looked at the Spokane bid and have no idea at present whether they have or have addressed the problems discussed above.

#176 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @175: Several times in my life I've considered moving elsewhere. But people who don't drive at all have a VERY hard time living in most places other than the Northeast.

Well, there's always the Denver Metro area (esp. Boulder). 'Course, then there's the cost-of-living issue. While I had a driver's licence briefly in 1977-78, I've never owned a car, and have never regretted it. But then, I've generally had the blessings of location and good health to rely on, so I should be taken as a very limited example.

I will say, though, that my limited exposure to NYC suggests strongly that They're Doin It Rite.

#177 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Irene has one more thing in its goody bag: be prepared for your homeowner's insurance rates to go up.

#178 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Xopher @ 175

"But people who don't drive at all have a VERY hard time living in most places other than the Northeast."

Eh. I note that I managed it just fine, right up to the point where I was taking care of two terminally ill people in a suburb with practically nonexistent public transit. I don't think being on the East Coast would have helped, at that point -- any public transit was going to be slower than direct car travel, and I didn't have the extra time to spare.

But seriously, it starts to sound like y'all think we're living in some kind of wild-west setting, where cars have replaced horses as the only practical way of getting around. Honest, I swear, buses and cabs and paratransit have all been invented on this side of the Mississippi, too. They're even often adequate to all kinds of normal use and daily living.

I could see an argument that the systems aren't as robust as needed, and I'm sympathetic to that, but this is coming across an awful lot like pearl-clutching to me.

#179 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:07 PM:

KayTei, I have spent substantial amounts of time in various bits of Southern California, and while some parts of it were OK, mostly it appears to be two hours' drive from any point to any other point.

OK, let's get serious: my mom lives in Riverside, which is unwalkably long distances from anything interesting. I haven't had a bicycle out there; that might have made it possible (aside from my other issues with that part of the planet, like Too Hot and Too Sunny). As it was I was utterly at the mercy of people with cars to go anywhere. I don't think I ever saw a bus there.

Also, while there's clearly a cultural issue too, if mass transit were adequately developed and funded, SoCal wouldn't have gigantic freeways becoming parking lots in rush hour, because the economics of the matter would keep many of those people from driving to work on a daily basis.

#180 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:19 PM:

Thanks for the Yolen recommendations - I'll see if I can pick up a copy of either Briar Rose or Sister Light/Sister Dark.

@135 Jacque
This describes my drama value-system rather precisely. Does character necessarily imply relationship, too? That's another privileged factor in my reading/watching.

Relationships with others, yes. Not necessarily romantic relationships, though I don't object to 'em. But how they interact with the people around them says a lot about who they are, just as it does in real life, so that's important.

Also, @138: This Is Not Your Father's BSG:
- No Daggit, point final
- Boxey appears briefly in the mini-series (when he is rescued) and briefly in a season 1 ep (Bastille Day) and then disappears. The writers later confessed they didn't really know what to do with the character.

I'd definitely recommend the series. It's not perfect (what is?), but I got very attached to it while it was airing. It's actually not a bad example of the character v. plot thing: BSG has some serious plot issues - but, oh! the characters...

#181 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:08 PM:

Cheryl @180: Relationships with others, yes. Not necessarily romantic relationships, though I don't object to 'em. But how they interact with the people around them says a lot about who they are, just as it does in real life, so that's important.

Gregor is probably, after Miles, my favorite character in the Vorkosigan series. What I find most interesting about him is that he is only sometimes a primary actor. Much more usually, you mostly learn about him from the reactions of the people around him.

#182 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:22 PM:

KayTei @178: I could see an argument that the systems aren't as robust as needed, and I'm sympathetic to that, but this is coming across an awful lot like pearl-clutching to me.

Well, take Boulder and environs, as an example. For a long time, you could get to Longmont, one of the primary suburbs, in about twenty minutes-half an hour. If you just happened to catch a bus when it went by. Miss your bus? You get to wait two hours. (Blessedly, this has improved substantially in recent years.)

Last time I tried to go to someplace in Lafayette, which is a 20-30 minute drive, it took me an hour and a half of bus time, plus a half-hour of bike time one way to get there. Then, on my way back, I had to wait an hour after the bike leg to catch the bus. I have to be very strongly motivated to make a jaunt like that.

Denver is actually a not unreasonable trip from Boulder by bus. Even so, I avoid the trip if at all possible.

Even within Boulder which has, in my opinion, pretty good public transit, it's as fast or faster to get across town on a bike than it is by bus. ('Course, to be fair, bike is nearly as fast as car, too.)

#183 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:22 PM:

And, as previously pointed out, if one is coping with any form of physical disability, this whole equation goes right out the window anyway.

#184 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:27 PM:

A further point about transit: this is less true than it used to be, but I once did a little arithmetic and concluded that, in order to own a halfway decent car and maintain my standard of living, I'd have to nearly double my income. So viable mass transit (especially if subsidized by employers, as it is in much of the Denver Metro area) is a major financial factor for many people.

#185 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:33 PM:

Renovation, like every other Worldcon I've been to, was tightly clustered: in this case, 90% in the same complex, with the other 10% a few blocks' walk (or a con-specific shuttle ride) away.

It seems unlikely that a Spokane Worldcon would be different in this regard, and a quick trip to the bid site reveals that

The hotels are varied with some that are very unique, they are comfortable and welcoming and all within an easy walk of the convention center. Each of the facilities we are speaking with want to be our main hotel and are willing to allow our parties in their suites and rooms. The hotels are connected by beautiful walkways through the park or the sky tunnel that bypasses the need to walk on the street level.

So the public transit situation may not be particularly relevant.

Getting to Spokane is of course a different matter. Fun road trip for me (Crater Lake and Lava Beds National Monument are right on the way); maybe not so much fun for others.

#186 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Xopher: Specifically on the Spokane bid, I lived there for five years. When they say that most of the potential convention hotels are within walking distance, they aren't kidding. One is actually attached to the convention center, and several of the other ones are just across the river, which is conveniently full of pedestrian bridges at that point, since it's right next to Riverfront Park.

Here's a map. The thing that looks like an iron to the lower right is the convention center complex. The various things along the riverbank that look like hotels are hotels. The various trails go under and across the bridges, which means you can get to all of those hotels without crossing any streets (definitely a blessing.)

Why am I pushing Spokane so hard? Because a) having lived there, I know that it has lots of amenities that make it attractive to con-goers, such as high walkability for the central core* and a truly amazing selection of inexpensive to moderately-priced restaurants; b) we really don't get many Worldcons in my strike range (Denver was the furthest we could really do); and c) I have an awful lot of friends there that I'd like to visit. (That was the justification for Denver, FWIW.)

We don't fly. There's too much we need to make that feasible even if the pricing worked out better. So we drive the 835 miles to Spokane (it may be longer, since we visit family in Eugene rather than going through Bend.) Sometimes you've got to do these things.

*though really not for other areas; please check with a native if you've got mobility issues before going out of downtown.

#187 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:50 PM:

HLN: While pottering about on the Internet, local woman hears noises of the crash/bang/rattle/sproing variety. Reaching a window, she discovers an 18-wheeler (or reasonable facsimile) has knocked down some power lines while attempting to make a slightly greater-than-90-degree turn from her residential street onto a slightly smaller street.

Her own household power being unaffected at present, she takes time to send good thoughts to those suffering outages due to the submoronic trucker's decision to use side streets while driving a vehicle longer than most local houses.

Woman decides she will return to the window to check on progress of moving the not-quite-jackknifed truck, which has completely blocked the smaller street.

#188 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:57 PM:

http://satwcomic.com/tiny-giant-monsters

Dinosaur Sodomy!!

I'm very fond of this comic. Which, you wouldn't think so, since it's decided my country is a hat...

If you're not familiar with Scandinavia and the World, you can read an explanation here.

#189 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:58 PM:

B Durbin... When they say that most of the potential convention hotels are within walking distance, they aren't kidding. One is actually attached to the convention center

Mind you, Reno's Atlantis also was attached to the convention center across the street, but the attachment was so long it took me almost 15 minutes to go from Point A to Point B at my usual brisk and long-legged pace. :-)

#190 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:08 PM:

Sounds like the Spokane bid has the space thing all worked out.

#191 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:09 PM:

Further to my #187, a look out a different window reveals that the affected lines hook up to the pole across the street that carries my own phone line.

Have verified that my phone still works. Yay! And the local gendarmerie (apologies for the probably non-grammatical French) have blocked two of the three intersection points not already blocked by a large truck. I assume that the sirens I've been hearing are either unrelated to this incident, or that the vehicles carrying those sirens are on the other side of the truck.

You can tell this is the most excitement we've had on the block in a while, can't you?

#192 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:52 PM:

This made me smile.

#193 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 09:52 PM:

Serge @189:
Mind you, Reno's Atlantis also was attached to the convention center across the street, but the attachment was so long it took me almost 15 minutes to go from Point A to Point B at my usual brisk and long-legged pace. :-)

Ah, the mile-long Habitrail. Somebody I was talking to said that, as far as the casinos were concerned, we were merely hamsters with wallets.

#194 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:17 PM:

I attended a Westercon in Spokane, at the convention center, and the attached hotel. I could have used a car once that weekend, for a run to Kinko's, however the bus served nicely. I walked back, after someone there told me about a shortcut back to the hotel.

Everything was in easy walking distance including a pretty good bookstore. Air travel from Phoenix was reasonable: 737s all the way, plane changes in Portland and Seattle. My wife (who wasn't my wife at the time) flew on a different airline and had one change on the flight up, and direct flights coming back.

As I recall, the crew running that Westercon were calm and competent, as I had come to expect from other Northwest conventions.

#195 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:36 PM:

siriosa @ 193:

The casino floors were more like rat mazes than hamster cages.

#196 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:50 PM:

Xopher @ 179

Yeah, my major point of objection, which I agree I may not have been perfectly clear about, is that while, yes, there are parts of the West Coast that have absolutely pathetic public transit and accessibility (LA came to mind for me, too), I don't think it's fair to pretend that everywhere that isn't the East Coast is like that.

For instance, Southern California is not "everywhere in the U.S. that is not the East Coast." It is not even typical of everywhere in the U.S. that is not the East Coast. But it was starting to sound an awful lot like nothing outside of the East Coast would ever be good enough, when the reality is a lot more varied, depending on the city in question. That's all I'm saying. I was hearing a lot of generalizations, and very few specifics, and the generalizations I was hearing are just not as broadly accurate as you and others were making them sound.

#197 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:17 AM:

196
Southern California isn't impossible to live in (or visit) without a car, but it's difficult to do so outside of the major urban areas. It's improving, but it requires money....

#198 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:27 AM:

Paula at # 153: neither bid appeals to me... Orlando because "who're the committee???

That's how the 1977 bid started, isn't it?

Xeger at # 161: I hear you. When I had similar issues (due to a bathroom faucet replacement project gone bad, and lack of well-placed shutoff valves), I had to remind myself that carrying a bucket of water from the kitchen was much much much better than not being able to flush at all.

#199 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:28 AM:

#171 Lee
Easy to get around by mass transit where I live? Ha, ha, ha, not without a car, it isn't. Or didn't you read my diatribe in here months ago about what the mass transit situation is where I live, it's almost as if it were designed to make it LOOK like there is usable transit, when it's really only usable for commuters going into or out of Boston and/or Cambridge for day jobs that let out no later than 5 PM....

The state of Washington has six million people. New York City has more people than that.

I was in Colorado Springs for 2 1/2 years. I was in the LA area for 2 1/2 years. I was in Thule, Greenland, for a year, and IT is a place even LESS convenient to get to than Spokane.

I repeat, I HAVE gone all the way across the USA, by car, to a Worldcon, and back. I have gone all the way across the USA by train. Train travel is NOT inexpensive, it costs MORE than economy airfare when there are economy airfares to be had--I expect there won't be much of that for Spokane, though, because there is a capacity issue--try adding 3000 people coming in by air to Spokane, and there WON'T be any cheap airfares available. The airlines will jack the prices up on the basis of high demand, low supply, their reservations systems optimize for maximum revenue... and when the capacity is limited, and the demand goes up, up goes the price. I was NOT joking or exaggerating about American offering to let me stay another day or two for a $900 additional payment....

As for east coast, there are no direct flights to Spokane from Dallas-FT Worth, either, and only -seasonal- flights from Chicago. I wouldn't call Chicago or Dallas east coast. There are no direct flights from Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Southern California, Arkansas, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri... hardly "east coast" states, those!

Once again:

http://www.spokaneairports.net/images/nonstop.jpg
The link to ORD has the label "seasonal." There is service to Spokane from Minneapolis-St Paul, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Boise, Seattle, and Portland Oregon.

Do you REALLY expect all the worldcon-going fans from Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Loiusiana, Indiana, Wisconsin... to drive to Spokane?! Do you expect people in the vicinities of Cincinnati and New York and Dallas and Atlanta and Orlando, used to being at hubs which connect to most of the airports in the USA, are going to be thrilled with the prospect of having to deal with two-hop minimum probably very inconvenient connections flights?

Dan Kimmel's most of 24 hours' bouncing around the USA to get to Reno from Boston started out as what should have been a straightforward two hop trip, Boston to Chicago, and Chicago to Reno. Then the airline without explanation cancelled the Chicago to Reno flight, and he got routed from Chicago to LA and LA to Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City to Reno.... and that was with regular, not seasonal, service from Chicago to Reno.

ANYBODY trying to get to Spokane from outside one of those few cities with direct airlinks, is liable to suffer Dan Kimmel's fate, or worse, trying to get to Spokane if Spokane gets the Worldcon. There are even FEWER flights to Reno than Spokane, and Spokane is -more- remote than Reno is as regards OTHER modes of transportation....

Texans and Missourians and Indiana and Oklahoma residents aren't exactly within a day's driving distance of Spokane.

And there are more and more mobility-impaired people at worldcons, what does "walking distance" mean? I actually walked once from the Peppermill to the convention center in Reno, and went off to dinner with four other people on what had to have been at least a half-mile distance... but there were lots of people I know who were using mobies. Mobility access is a different issue for someone who can walk however many blocks, than someone dependent on mobility assistance aids, be it a walker, a wheelchair, or mobie, or even a cane.

I'm looking forward to Chicago, and a Worldcon under a consolidated roof... though even there, there are some distances to traverse from one side of the hotel to the other, via subsurface tunnel or hotel skybridge on about the third floor or so.

Also, Chicago is a major transportation hub, with a major hub airport, a train terminal, bus service, and major interstate highway access, and I've been to Chicago by all of train, plane, and car.

I've been to Orlando by plane and car and maybe train, and past it by bus. I've been to Philadelphia by plane and maybe train and car.

Seattle has plane service, though the airport there is -small-.

People had trouble getting to Winnipeg due to low air capacity. That year was one that I got there by car--but I was also quite a bit younger than I am now. Long drives, especially long long drives if one doesn't have lots of vacation time say, are Bad News, and the older one gets, the more unpleasant it gets if one is trying to not take a week plus for traveling in each direction....

Regarding buses and trains, there are/can be long waits in stations, sitting around waiting for the next leg of travel--and most bus stations make airports look and feel comfortable. For one thing, airports generally have multiple choices for dining/restaurants and snacking. Bus stations, the waiting passenger is lucky if there are ANY such facilitities beyond -maybe- a junk food snack dispensing machine, if that, and if there are, the hours tend to be very limited. Train stations sometimes have amenities, sometimes not, it depends.

Just what is the situation with Spokane regarding rail and bus service? Is there any, even?!

#200 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:33 AM:

Serge—I will admit that my sense of walkability of the place is much influenced by the fact that my feet were my sole form of transport for five years, so I got very used to walking. And not inclined to think of it as particularly far, since I did it all the time.

On the other hand, waterfalls. A third of a pretty mile away by (bike) trail. Oh, and don't forget the gondola ride available to go over the main cascade.

#201 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 01:44 AM:

Lee @171, first, allow me to gently suggest that "Deal with it" and "We cope" might not be the best advertising slogans for a Worldcon bid. If you find yourself having to spend a lot of time convincing people "No, really, the inconvenience isn't that great," maybe you need to rethink something.

Second, Paula's not insisting on an east coast bid. It looks to me like she's hoping for a Worldcon in a city she can fly to without a changeover, or at least one where there's a greater incoming flight capacity.

Third, you're fortunate yourself to live in a part of the country where car ownership doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Walking past a real estate agency near me the other day, I noticed that one of the local parking garages is selling a spot. They're asking $56,000 for it. There's a reason roughly half of NYC residents don't even bother to learn to drive.

This cuts both ways. I was involved at one point (back in the '90s) with the rotating east coast filking convention when NYC's time came. The concom all lived in the city, and wanted to hold the con here, but had to settle for New Jersey. Too many out-of-city people complained about how difficult it would be to drive in NYC.

#202 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:52 AM:

Since a family friend lives in Spokane I got curious:

It's on the AMTRAK Empire Builder train route from Chicago. In fact, the train splits at Spokane going west; one part goes to Seattle and the other southwest to Portland.

#203 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:57 AM:

Avram@201 - But driving in NYC is so easy, at least from New Jersey. You take the Lincoln tunnel, park in the big garage a block or two from the exit, and catch a bus or subway to where you're going, with the confidence that you've probably found the closest parking spot anyway...

Ok, more seriously, I did drive in Manhattan occasionally during the 15-20 years I lived in Jersey, usually taking the Holland tunnel to some event or other near the Village, and parking was generally more trouble than driving. Driving to the Bronx required getting coherent directions, which depended on the more coherent relatives being in town, and going to Long Island for business really did require a car (since they were a $10 taxi ride from the LIRR the one time I tried.) But public transit was the way to go. That's also true of San Francisco in the daytime, but if you need to be there past dinner time it's a problem getting back, and while transit in Berkeley was great back when I was a grad student, I gather it's gone downhill, and it doesn't work for getting back to the South Bay after dinner.

I am concerned about the airplane-supply issues for Worldcon - don't know if that's a job for the con committee to work with the airlines, or for a couple of charter planes from ORD and Seattle (good luck getting a whole plane-load of con-goers through TSA...) or a shuttle bus from Seattle. Driving there from Seattle means renting a car for the whole week, which sounds expensive and annoying.

#204 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:54 AM:

HLN: Surprisingly enough, 'ballcock diaphram' is a completely innocuous search on google images... [0]

[0] Why yes, since you ask, my plumbing woes are continuing...

#205 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:00 AM:

Torchwood: Miracle Day - is it just me, or was the most recent episode (7, I think) kinda gay?

#206 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:26 AM:

RE: 205

Here I try to make a simple flippant remark, and manage to screw it up. I mean "Immortal Sins" (which is indeed the 7th episode). I'm in the UK and we haven't had "End of the Road" yet.

To expand on my comment - I wondered if maybe RTD felt he had hooked everyone who was going to be hooked by the action/adventure element at this point, thought "screw being coy about this", and went full on Queer As Folk with an episode that gave us a chunk of man-on-man bedroom time. Which was slightly startling to see in a piece of mainstream television, or at least in one that's not specifically about non-hetero relationships otherwise.

#207 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:42 AM:

B Durbin @ 200... Oh, the distance itself wasn't the problem. It's just that one couldn't simply dash back to one's room to drop stuff off then dash back to the con's good stuff.

#208 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:49 AM:

I have updated "Making Light and Faces", thanks to B Durbin. First, the addition of
Steven DesJardins's visage to the Gallery, and a new photo of Nicole LeBoeuf-Little.

#209 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:55 AM:


http://www.trainweb.org/amtrak/wc_pnw.html [old link warning, it says 2006...]
It looks like by scheduled train or bus it's roughly a minimum of eight hour ride from Seattle WA or Boise Idaho or Portland OR to Spokane, and the service have two arrivals from the "Empire Builder" a day from Portland (one at 12:32 AM, the other as 12:13 AM, and one of them is a 12 rather than 8 hour trip...), one from Seattle, two from Boise which coincide departing Boise at the same time and going to the same places all the way at the same times to Spokane, but one leaves Spokane at 2:45 AM and seems to end at Bingen-White Salmon, while the other hand a different route and gets to Seattle at 10:20 AM. There is also a departure from Lewiston ID at 6:00 AM, getting into Spokane at 8:45 AM, and thence eventually to Seattle at 4:35 PM...

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=AM_Route_C&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241245653623 Amtrak from Chicago to Seattle or Portland, splitting at Spokane, total time from Chicago to Seattle or Portland, 46 hours, minus 8 hours, yields 38 hours from Chicago to Spokane by train.... Ah, it's 35 hours, 25 minutes, looking at http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobkey=id&blobwhere=1249228780721&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1=Content-disposition&blobheadervalue1=attachment;filename=Amtrak_P07_revised.pdf The train departs Chicago at 2:15 PM, gets into Spokane a day and a half later at 1:40 AM.

Trains from Portland and Seattle leave respectively at 4:40 and 4:45 PM, and get into Spokane at respectively 12:13 AM and 1:40 AM.
Those are the daily times... The schedules don't say what the capacities are.

Next rock might have bus service info--there is the Too Many URLs pitfall to beware of.

#210 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:38 AM:

Northwestern Trailways lists two departure daily from Spokane to Seattle and two arrivals daily at Spokane from Seattle respectively 8:45 AM and 4:25 PM, and 10:05 PM and 4:45 PM. There's a 55 to 75 minute range in the Seattle area in time transiting amount the Seattle Greyhound station, the Seattle Amtrak station, the Tacoma Amtrak station, and the Tacoma Greyhound station. The time between Spokane and the Seattle Greyhound station varied from six and a half hours to seven and three-quarter's hours.

But capacities typically have 50 - 60 people or so.


http://www.northwesterntrailways.com/CurrentTimeSchedule/SpokaneWenatcheeSeattleTacoma/tabid/340/Default.aspx


Hmm, Greyhound's lameola website isn't letting me look at route maps or schedules. It insists on trying to force me to do the {expletive deleted} schedule a trip on a specific date with specific locations crap, instead of doing things parametrically and SEEING what the routes are and what the schedules for routes are. Grrr.


#211 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:13 AM:

Re the Vizla Particle; Cute!

My brother and his wife have a Vizla, and a fine dog she is, too. (They also have a Brittany spaniel who doesn't count her day complete until she licks your face 40 thousand times).

#212 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Bill Stewart—I don't know whose job it is to work with the airlines (and other transport) either, but Spokane has handled things like the NCAA basketball tournament, the annual Hoopfest, and the largest timed race in the world, so I'm sure there's somebody who can figure out how to handle the comparatively paltry turnout for Worldcon. It may even be the local liaisons; they've seemed remarkably willing to help thus far.

#213 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:10 PM:

On my way to from New Mexico to Nevada's Reno, I saw a casino in every little town. In 2005, when I drove around Washington State, the week before the NASFiC, I saw a drive-thru coffee stand in every little town. Guess which I prefer?

#214 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 01:29 PM:

Can anyone think of a reason why I might be getting email [I'm on Yahoo, this is coming from two different sources] which have a "J" before linebreaks?

Is this a cultural thing like LOL after every sentence or is it some sort of ASCII munge? One's coming from hotmail, the other from [redacted company name], who may have someone else handling their email duties.

Example:
"Thank you! J

I just actually talked to [...]"

On cutting and pasting I got two extra lines in there, removed in quoted text for clarity. So the J isn't some sort of munged cr or lf.

Look familiar to anyone?

#215 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 02:17 PM:

Sandra B. at #214:

Maybe it's half a smiley?

(I have no evidence for this conjecture.)

#216 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 02:20 PM:

Serge @213 - Before Starbucks took up every corner storefront in Downtown Seattle and Tully's took 25% of the mid-block ones, there were espresso carts every 50 feet or so.

And yes, even in way off the beaten track towns in places like Stevens County there's likely to be a drive-up espresso stand.

#217 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Re: Spokane flights - Alaska operates HOURLY flights from SEA to GEG. Three of them are 737s, two of which are 132 seaters and the other seats 162. The remaining 13 are Q400s that seat 76, so just from Seattle, there are 1,414 seats daily to Spokane.

The flight is scheduled for one hour, regardless of the aircraft.

Alaska has been known to optimize capacity by pulling an extra Q400 out if they need to. They probably run the tightest ship of all the traditional airlines.

#218 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 02:37 PM:

Also Paula @199, SEA-TAC is small? Really? It's the 17th busiest in the country and has 91 gates. GEG's terminal has 24 gates. Not huge, but not small by any means.

#219 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:36 PM:

Sandy B @214 - Yes, it's an ASCII munge. ^J
Is there a carat before the J? ^J
(Ok, I'll stop adding in the ^Js.)

ASCII uses code 10 (control-J) as Linefeed (roll the paper up a notch) and code 13 (control-M) as Carriage Return (move the print head back to the left-hand side), and different operating systems and applications sometimes handle line-ends differently.

Unix systems normally use linefeed as a line ending character in text files (and traditionally, before Unicode, almost everything was an ASCII text file.)

MS-DOS systems normally used Carriage Return, then Linefeed, both for CRTs and mechanical printers, and Windows keeps some of the same stuff around though it's more likely to guess what you want instead of insisting on it, and there are lots of tools that play different games with "hard" vs. "soft" line endings.

#220 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:45 PM:

#218 Larry

Hanscom Field is the second busiest airport in New England, it has half the air operations that Logan has, HOWEVER, none of the activity is scheduled passenger service--it's all bizjets, prop jobs, charters, private planes, that infamous "rendition" plane that went about kidnapping people all over the world flying out of here at hours that probably included 3 AM -- I KNOW that there are flights outside of the hours 11 PM to 5 AM to/from Hanscom, because some of them literally flight directly over my head! ) the OCCASIONAL military military plane--it's a quintessentially general aviation field. And I expect that there isn't a Jetway on the field--even though it's the second busiest airport in New England. And the terminal facility has got to be -small-. Terminal size, and airport level of being busy, don't necessarily correlate all that well....

The number of gates a facility has depends not necessarily on traffic, but on how much money the operating/owning agency had/wanted to spend and how ambitious their plans were. There are airports with unused gates, while there are airports which even include part of LAX and I think Logan too perhaps, which have areas where people have to walk out on the apron to and from planes (I know that it's true of LAX because that's how I got onto a plane to Reno the week before last....)

http://www.isitpacked.com/2010/11/20/top-10-busiest-airports-in-america/ (by passenger traffic. I find it very difficult to believe that GEG by passenger traffic is within the top 20, or even 30 or 40....)

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/busiest-airports-in-us.html has a list of the busiest 20. No sign of GEG on it....

http://www.junar.com/datastreams/18858/busiest-airports-in-the-us-by-enplanements-or-boardings/ lists the top 52 by passenger traffic airports in the USA, no sign of Spokane...

As for those other events, how and when did people arrive? The news media often charters planes to get to places where the existing services are poor or don;'t have a surge capability.

For that matter, what is the current load factor of those flights between Seattle and Spokane (and I suspect that -most- of the commercial scheduled airline traffic in and out of Spokane, is to Seattle-Tacoma, since every other major airport is much further away, and since Seattle and its immediate environs, have most of the population of Washington state, trailed distantly by Spokane and an hour or two by car out from it taking up most of the rest of the state's population.... and Idaho and Montana's population densities are low.... and given the distances, air travel is more economical for those who charge by the hour for their time, than bus/train/car...)

The load factor for the flights out of Logan to Chicago and DFW was very close to 100%, or higher, given than there were people being bumped from some of the flights. It doesn't matter whether your capcity is 1500 seats a day or 150,000, if the load factor is at 100% no additional passengers are going to travel on those routes... That was one of the questions I was asking, about surge capacity. There was negative surge capacity going from Logan to Reno--cancellation of the 737 flight from Chicago to Reno, removed every seat on that scheduled flight from the daily passenger load capacity from Logan and Chicago to Reno.

Charters can provide surge capacity for those who can afford to charter planes--which include basketball teams and wealthy fans and alumni and and the news media. SF/F fans tend to be -bottom feeders-. While [formerly high income earner] could said about one of the Scottish worldcons, "Scotland on a thousand dollars a day is wonderful!, that's less than one percent of Worldcon attendees in that level of affluence, I suspect....

Also, how long were people in Spokane for those events, and over what period of time did they arrive and depart? 10,000 people arriving over the course of two weeks say, is 714 a day, and that doesn't include that many of them probably came in on charters. 2000 people arriving in two days by air or 1000 a day trying to travel on scheduled airlines, is a more than 50% greater stress level on scheduled service if the 10,000 people are using charters in addition to trying to use scheduled airline service, and the 2000 aren't...

I mentioned Hanscom Field above--again, it's got fleets of bizjets sitting on its tarmac, so that the CEOs and executives of the likes of Raytheon and EMC etc. fly out of -there- and not Logan, which is a whopping no more than 20 miles or less than an hour away unless the traffic's gotten very badly stuck.

(Hanscom doesn't tend to have cropdusters, I wonder if GEG does. Ag parts of the US tend to have cropduster planes. There are a few in the area in this part of the country, but generally spraying chemicals from the air onto ag fields is a no-op here for reasons which start with farm here ten to be -small-, the fields tend to be small, they tend to be encroached on all sides by houses and office parks, the terrain is anything but flat (very little in the way nice flat areas for uniform dispersal of chemicals on straight and level low over the field flying, and people in the neighborhood seeing planes flying low overhead spraying stuff complain early and often. Oh, I forgot an even more obvious issue--restrictions on how low planes are allowed to fly....)

#221 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:54 PM:

#217 Larry
I flew Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Boston back in 2008 or so. It had the most uncomfortable seat it has been my displeasure to be in in an airplane within my memory in many many years--it might have been more unpleasant than sitting on phonebooks and a briefcase flying a plane, once. (There was the airliner that I pulled out my Swiss Army knife and unscrewed and REMOVED the damned metal bar designed for the comfort of damned six foot males for the back of their necks, which was at the back of my head and giving me an excruciating neck ache... that was back before no Swiss Army knives allowed as carry-ons, and long long ago. That seat was a LOT less uncomfortable are I removed the damned bar...)

But I ask again, what is the load factor on what is effectively a commuter flight schedule between SeaTac and Spokane, and what is the surge capability? And, what premium if any gets charged for demand surges?

#222 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:59 PM:

#128 Larry
SeaTac is a lot more compact than Logan is, regarding getting between gates and such and to baggage claim and in arrival and departure areas for dropoff and pickup, and parking etc. It is also much more compact than a bunch of other airports I've been to... O'Hare and Dallas-Ft Worth and Atlanta dwarf it, bigtime.

#223 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:39 PM:

Avram 201: There's a reason roughly half of NYC residents don't even bother to learn to drive.

And why nearly a third of non-car-owning households in the US are located in the NYC area.

Russ 206: I wondered if maybe RTD felt he had hooked everyone who was going to be hooked by the action/adventure element at this point, thought "screw being coy about this", and went full on Queer As Folk with an episode that gave us a chunk of man-on-man bedroom time. Which was slightly startling to see in a piece of mainstream television, or at least in one that's not specifically about non-hetero relationships otherwise.

Do you mean "slightly startling" in a good way, or do you have some complaint about this? Torchwood has always been one of the most gay-positive shows on television; IIRC there was a sex scene between Ianto and Jack in the very first season. The man-on-man bedroom time isn't even slightly startling for Torchwood, IMO, and damned gratifying to see on American television.

Sandy 214: In addition to what Bill said at 219, "J" is a smiley in the Wingdings font. So if your sender composes in Word (or possibly Outlook), and you get plain text, it may become a J on its way to you.

#224 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 05:27 PM:

Seatac has three parallel runways now, which gives you three simultaneous landing/takeoff operations. Or, two when it's foggy or bad weather. That's 180 small (737 type) planes an hour, or 3/5 that with jumbos.

It's not Hatfield (5 or 6 parallel), It's also not Schiphol either (where you can apparently land in a neighboring country and taxi in). But it's not tiny either (like, say Washington National, where the runways are short and end in the water. I don't fly into National in the winter).

#225 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Sounds like it's time to refer to this classic snark.

#226 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 05:56 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue@223

I'm trying to mean "startling" with no value judgement attached - I'm very curious what the actual reaction was in the US*.

Mostly, I find British television happy to have characters who are quietly gay couples, or screamingly camp individuals**. There's also some room for the coming of age tale. Actual mature gay sexuality is rare and, yes, slightly shocking.

I think Miracle Day is entirely aware of this. I loved the little bait-and-switch in an earlier episode, when two different couples are getting together and for a moment you're not quite sure whether the arse on screen belongs to the hetero- or homo- pairing.

And to be clear on whether I personally think this is positive or negative: I loved the episode. It's the lynch-pin of the series so far. It mentions the Doctor, but you know that Jack is not him, and that "gnxvat n pbzcnavba" won't end well. It deepens Jack as a character for us, and marks the point where we actually start to learn the real plot. And it is driven by the tension between a sophisticated out man and a small town closeted man, both of whom are reasonably well-drawn characters.

* The BBC apparently had 500 complaints, which is a tiny number, all things considered

** I have a theory that it has been decreed that there shall be one (and ideally only one) camper-than-christmas TV personality on British TV at all times, from John Inman and Larry Grayson to the more Julian Clary and Graham Norton. This has been the safe face of gayness to the British public since my father was young.

#227 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 05:59 PM:

Jacque, more like this. But don't mistake Paula for a New Yorker.

#228 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 06:02 PM:

Russ, I agree on all points.

#229 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Paula @199:

Massachusetts also has fewer people than New York City; is that an argument against a Boston Worldcon?

I have no personal interest in where the Worldcon is, having realized the last time the location would have made sense for me that I just don't have the time (notably paid vacation time) and energy for a Worldcon these days. But "it's in a state with less than eight and quarter million people" isn't really a good argument against--or for--a bid.

#230 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:49 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @227: Jacque, more like this.

Yes, I think you're right. But it's the other one that I could actually remember. :)

But don't mistake Paula for a New Yorker.

Noted. However, I

(a) am responding more to the tone than the specific content and,

(b) have a sticky brain, wherein everything is connected. That was the least off-topic response I was incapable of resisting.

Got that? :)

#231 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:13 PM:

Paula @220 - I think you misunderstood me. You referred to SEA as small. It's 17th in passenger traffic in the country. I never said that GEG was, and I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. GEG does have lots of daily seats from Seattle, I don't know about the frequency and volume from other hubs.

FWIW, SEA has lots of non-stop overseas flights, including London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul. I'm sure there are others - these are just the ones that I've been on or have dropped people off for.

As to passenger comfort on Alaska - I don't think it's any more or less comfortable than any other airline. They're all pretty miserable these days.

Surely the organizing committee has done an analysis of lift capacity into GEG. The local Convention and Visitors Bureau knows that stuff cold and is happy to share. If the lift capacity isn't there, Spokane shouldn't win. I don't have that information, and quite honestly, I doubt you do either.

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:49 PM:

212
Spokane has also had the National Figure Skating championships. Which, while not NCAA basketball, is still not a minor event.

#233 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:40 PM:

HLN: Local man is very annoyed that Netflix is taking shows off their streaming catalog and putting them on DVD only. Grumble....

#234 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 09:42 PM:

Sandy B. @ 214:

Looks like you're dealing with That Mysterious J, which is a Wingdings smiley with the information that it's supposed to be rendered in the Wingdings font lost. (And I see Xopher already caught that.)

Your example doesn't look like linefeed munging to me.

#236 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:59 PM:

Xeger, I once had to have replaced a ballcock mounting nut.

#237 ::: CZEdwards ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:18 AM:

HLN: I haz new interns!

The good news is all six managed to pass four semesters of statistics with a B or better, meaning that we will not be holding Remedial Stats this week.

The bad news is that all six failed my first day exam. This is my psych check-sum -- the first line of the test is "Please read this document first" and the last line (on the back) is "Write your name on the front of this document and ignore everything except this step." In between, there are a bunch of rather ridiculous directions and very short essay questions. What I now know is that this group does not follow directions well, but all six have excellent psych-specific knowledge. So this week will be Non-Disclosure 101 and Analytical Procedure for Free Spirits.

On the gripping hand, I have not yet received an irate phone call from a student's parent. (Of course, today was their first day in the lab... And it's not midnight yet...)

Campus gossip says that no frosh ended up with alcohol poisoning last week, or at least, there was no binging significant enough to send anyone to the ER/infirmary. Here's hoping that holds through Rush Week.

Unfortunately, this is turning out to be a wretched week to be in the lab.* It's still bleeding hot, the car is being mysteriously difficult, and my wrists and my bike have decided to quarrel. Even more fun, yesterday I had my first bike-related anxiety attack in almost two years. I thought I was done with these, but no, here it is, back again.** At least I've got variation on the theme -- apparently right now my body Does Not Want my helmet. (Did I mention it's still very hot?) In the choice between anxiolytics + interns + biking while wobbly-ish or helmet-less biking and Trails Only... I think the latter wins.

I'm thinking biking pith helmet -- ya know, one I can soak in water and use as simultaneous safety device, sun shade and evaporative cooler. Nope, not as safe as a styrofoam helmet, but better than nothing, and my lifetime chances of sun-related injuries are far higher than head injuries.

Oh... And Jacque... yes, I do like B. bike smith, and they'll be getting about 90% of my business, especially the routine stuff, and will probably be building my partner's next bike. (Maybe rebuilding Serafina in the spring, but for now, I'm sticking with Serafina, since she got me back on a bike when I thought that would never happen again.) Unfortunately, I'll still have to deal with the estrogen-phobic BMX shop, the racing-snob shop or the "we're a big box, but we don't admit it AND we have a bad attitude" shop from time to time because those three are within walking distance if/when Sarafina decides to get sick.

* I normally telecommute. Six years ago, I was in an accident significant enough to seriously limit my mobility at about the same time my lab got painfully crowded. By the time I was healed up, we'd figured out I could do my job from anywhere and my former desk had been colonized.

** The footnoted accident was being run off the road by a... pick-up truck commonly associated with a stereotyped subculture often considered hostile to cyclists. I got a broken knee, cracked ribs, lots of bruises and a bit of PTSD. Between the various injuries and rehabbing, I've only been back on a bike for two years.

#238 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 03:18 AM:

CZEdwards, #237: Oh, good grief. I got fooled once by that trick in the 5th grade, and ever since then I consider that first instruction to be the equivalent of the Prophecy of Destiny -- it's a warning to pay very close attention and look out for the loopholes. Hadn't any of them ever seen it before?

#239 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 03:54 AM:

Jacque @225 Looks more than an accurate view of reality than a snark to me, given this map

#240 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 07:46 AM:

HLN: Local man's computer goes crash, at same time as workload goes boom. Communication prospects spotty until first problem fixed.

We Apologize For The Inconvenience.

#241 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:32 AM:

Is there any chance of a Gathering of Light at Dragon*Con? Which Fluorospherians will be washing up on the shore of Peachtree Province?

#242 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:26 AM:

CZEdwards (237)/Lee (238): I got fooled by that kind of test in fifth grade, too. One* of my classmates got it right.

*out of ten--very small class

#243 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:05 AM:

What's with Facebook? I dislike windows that pop up announcing 'improvements' and won't let you in unless you click the implementation's OK button - which actually is the only button.

#244 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:12 AM:

Serge @ 243 -

Yeah, I know. I saw that too. I know the "improvements" were designed to give you more options on who can see your posts, but I think they could have picked a better way of presenting the info.

I like FB for the connections I can maintain with friends & family, but sometimes I think the management wakes up each morning, and says, "Let's see how we can annoy people today!"

#245 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:00 PM:

CZEdwards @237: helmet-less biking and Trails Only

Pardon me but, um, ::SHUDDER:: ? (Having my own little PTSD moment.)

One of the worst cycling injuries it's been my dismay to see was a coworker who got creamed at the interesection of the Foothills and Boulder Creek bikepaths by one of those pricks-of-any-gender-in-spandex. She was years getting her neck put back to rights.

Actually, the other shudder-making biking injury I can think of also didn't involve a car. Another coworker went over the handlebars and landed on her face. Since the fall knocked her out, she has no idea what caused it.

How about this: find a lightweight towel (I can probably provide one if you don't have a suitable candidate) and sew a drawstring into its rim in the appropriate shape, and make a shower-cap-like accessory for your helmet that can be soaked in water to provide cooling. (Say, that's actually not a half bad idea. Might have to try it myself.) Hm. You could actually trail the rest of the towel down your back, keffiyeh-like.

Bjorn @239: Looks more than an accurate view of reality than a snark to me, given this map.

Depends on what you mean by "accurate." Population? I'll grant you. Relative importance? Well, hrm, speaking as I am from that little pinchy spot left of center, I will readily cede that while NYC is the center of a universe, I do not concede it as the center of the Universe.

#246 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:03 PM:

HLN: Today marks the fifty-fourth anniversary of woman's drawing breath on this Earth. (Woman notes the number would be much easier to keep track of if they didn't keep changing it.)

#247 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:11 PM:

Jacque@245

How about this: find a lightweight towel (I can probably provide one if you don't have a suitable candidate) and sew a drawstring into its rim in the appropriate shape, and make a shower-cap-like accessory for your helmet that can be soaked in water to provide cooling.

Sounds like a "Buff" might be ideal for that, if you wanted something pre-made.

Also, happy birthday :D

#248 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:11 PM:

Happy Birthday, Jacque!

#249 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:15 PM:

CZEdwards 237/Lee 238/Mary Aileen 242: I got half-caught by one of those. The first few questions were easy enough for me to rattle them off; then I started skimming ahead to where the questions got silly, and then went to the end. I was one of the few people who did actually get it, just not completely. Would that have been a pass for you, CZE?

#250 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:29 PM:

CZEdwards @ 237 : Is it really bad that I want to do that the next time I have to teach? Which, I should note, will probably be 2013 (I'm not teaching this year because I've got fellowship money, but my adviser would like me to TA for his Perception course again). I'd probably get to watch a lot of heads pop in section... in fact, given the exams my adviser likes to write, it might be a really, really good idea to do this in the first week of classes, just to make the point.

[Goes off to testing booth chortling madly]

#251 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Jaque: Well since I live on what would be little more than a pinhead in the Atlantic, it's not my centre either, nice though it is. Happy birthday!

#252 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Fragano @ 241 -

I'll be there. Flying out tomorrow, dropping the dog off at her kennel (or as I like to call it, her Spa...) this afternoon. I'll have my laptop, but only a moderately-clever phone - it's got a tiny keyboard so I can text, but doesn't do much of anything else.

#253 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:06 PM:

Paula @various on Worldcon bids: I think your rhetoric is getting in the way of your substance. Your concerns about getting to and from the host city are of course important, but you've managed to imply en passant that the LA metro area is the only important concentration of people on the West Coast. The Massachusetts emotional equivalent might be saying that Boston isn't really even a city in its own right - it's tiny and provincial and you have to go to New York to do anything fun or buy anything nice. And the roads are tiny and awful.

Did your blood pressure just spike? I'm *not* advocating that silly position, but you gave a bunch of West Coasters that same emotional punch. And I don't think that was what you wanted to do.

#254 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:07 PM:

Fragano, #241: I won't be there, but my partner will. He'll be at one of the Pegasus Publishing booths -- stop by and say hi!

#255 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:42 PM:

More Worldcon stuff:

Did Orlando have a presence at Worldcon this year? I honestly thought Spokane was unopposed until I read about it here.

I want to make sure everyone realizes that Seattle & Portland are now major fannish cities, and major centers of younger fandom. They tend not to travel widely for congoing, so it's easy to miss them. My point in this discussion is that it doesn't matter so much how many citizens a place has, when seating a Worldcon, but how many fans.

The old zone system pretended that Chicago and San Antonio were too close together for consecutive Worldcons, but that Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were sufficiently separated. That's why we changed to the distance restriction. (And yes, I may have the old boundaries wrong, but it illustrates the problem, doesn't it?)


There just aren't that many places which are major transportation hubs, walker-friendly, and have a compact facility capable of handling 5-7k people with cheap hotel rooms. Oh, and with enough local fans for an effective committee. I suspect that smoking will be added to that list after this year's fumeschrift.

The question becomes which items you sacrifice. Reno isn't an air hub. Orlando is walker-hostile. Boston had expensive hotels. Nobody has succeeded in seating a New York bid in my lifetime because of the expense.

#256 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 04:14 PM:

Hmm... on peak load at Spokane. I don't have hard numbers, but from observation of one of the mentioned events (Bloomsday) I have the following suppositions:

1. Bloomsday has about 50,000 participants. This does not include any accessories (i.e. trainers, family, media, etc.) About 35,000 of those are "local" and that includes Seattle, Idaho, and Montana.

2. Most of the runners I know who participate in these sorts of things (I know an awful lot of runners for some reason) don't take time before or after a race to stick around. This is because they can usually only manage a long weekend away from work.

3. 15,000 + over a couple of days (non-charter—again, most runners don't have lots of spare cash or time) sounds as though they can handle an adequate load.

Incidentally, a reason I really prefer smaller cities is because it has been rather hellish for the larger cities in years past. Witness what happened to ConJose 2002, which was originally going to be in San Francisco (lost their facilities), Denvention 2008 (had to move the whole weekend and shop around for facilities because the DNC decided Denver would be great), and Seattle 2011 (lost its facilities before it had a chance to complete the bid.) Places like Spokane really want middling-sized conventions and want to do things to attract them in. Like having a special symphony performance. Or getting in themed movies at the IMAX.

I can sympathize with not wanting to come to a Worldcon that far away. All of the Worldcons I have attended are within a three-day driving distance. (That's three days with kids; two with just adults and one if you're insane.) It's just not feasible for me to attend any Worldcon that requires a flight (costs and luggage space.) That means I get one chance every four or five years at best—it's a lot better now than it was for almost a decade on your list. Absolutely nothing in between Denver and San Francisco. In fact, San Francisco in 1993 was the first Worldcon I ever got a glimpse of. And ConJose was the second.

VictorS @ 253: Thank you for phrasing it so nicely.

#257 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Jacque: Happy Birthday!

You and I are quite close in age and birthdate.

Fragano and Nerdycellist: the offspring and I will be at DragonCon as well. I'm doing 2 panels on Friday and one on Saturday and otherwise will just hang around being a fan for the first time in a long time.

I have a non-smart phone, but am bringing my Nook, so will have limited access to the internet where there's wifi.

#258 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:17 PM:

VictorS, #255: One thing I did notice in Reno (and was very happy to see) was the prevalence of younger fen, people in their 20s and 30s. It was the least greying of long-established cons that I've observed in the last 5 years or so. Those are people we need to cultivate, and I rather suspect that a lot of them came in from the West Coast, although I wasn't actively checking badges for locations.

I was at Magicon in Orlando in 1992. It was a decent con, but there was a lot of walking involved (boy, did my feet hurt, and I was young and fit!), and I heard complaints from some of the older folx because they didn't run a shuttle between the two big hotels. Denver was just as bad about that, for different reasons.

#259 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:25 PM:

Lee @ 258... I noticed the presence of young 'uns at local affair Bubonicon.
And by 'young', I don't mean as young as this little lady.

#260 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:34 PM:

On the trick-test: you would have a job getting my respect after that. Took one in elementary school, took one in seventh grade, took enough others that, depending on my courage, my reaction would be either quiet-in-class disappointment or tearing up the paper and leaving. There are better ways to do the M&M check! There have to be better ways!

Then again, the ones I took in elementary and seventh grade were the same test, and I have issues with people being tricky. The point of that particular thing was 'read the whole test before you answer even one question' and every other test I took in my life worked best if you just went ahead and answered everything and then came back for ones you skipped. Why waste time?

#261 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Lee @258 The funny thing about current fannish culture (as I've experienced it the last 3 years) on the Pacific Coast is that wider culture here has to a great extent absorbed a great deal of fannishness. There are also competing time sinks with a lot of participant overlap. I think this leads to people not noticing fandom per se, because fandom en large is endemic.

I know more than one person who had to choose between Worldcon and Burning Man for lack of vacation time, cash, and/or energy. That being said, a nearby venue with the possibility of affordable hotel space seems to bring the interested-but-not-dedicated out of the woodwork. (Reno had a comfortable budget hotel at $60-$75 per night for two queen beds. Split that 4 ways and you have a potentially student-affordable Worldcon.)

The corollary is that a West Coast Worldcon bid may not want to go head-to-head with Burning Man. Even if that is the traditional weekend.

#262 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 07:20 PM:

Serge @ #259, that grumpy old guy has a marked resemblance to Richard Dreyfus. He could do worse.

The young lady is adorable.

#263 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 08:53 PM:

Jacque: Felicitous natal anniversary. Mine was Saturday. I am, once again, the same age as Teresa.

#264 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 08:55 PM:

nerdycellist #252: I'm a volunteer on the Sci-Fi Lit Track. I can be found most of the time in the Fairlie or Greenbriar rooms of the Hyatt. Look for the badge that says 'Fledgist'.

#265 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Melissa Singer #257: What panels? See my reply to nerdycellist as to where I'll be most of the time.

Lee: I'll probably pass by the Pegasus Publishing table and see what new t-shirts are available. Also, I'll have to figure out how to hide them from my sons since both of them will be at the con.

#266 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Linkmeister @ 262... She is indeed.

#267 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:08 PM:

Linkmeister @ 262... Meanwhile, Dreyfus himself looks more and more like Dick Cheney. He could do worse too. I guess.

#268 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:30 PM:

Fragano:

I'm doing the Tor Spotlight/What's Up at Tor/whatever it's called panel Friday afternoon and the slushpile panel Friday evening.

Saturday I'm doing the Wheel of Time/Eye of the World comics/graphic novel panel.

Sorry for not using official panel titles; I've just finished packing and the paperwork is all the way across the room . . . .

#269 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:13 PM:

Oh ghods. I'm watching Postcards from the Edge. Mother and daughter are in the midst of a fight.

Mother: "Dear. I am sorry if you think I hurt you."

::shudder::

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:27 PM:

VictorS, #261: IIRC, the Spokane people were talking about the same relative date as Reno, 2 weekends before Labor Day. Between Burning Man and Dragon*Con, any Worldcon that tries for Labor Day weekend any more is shooting themselves in the foot IMO. Yes, that includes Chicago -- and, unfortunately, San Antonio.

Tangentially, did anybody here go to ArmadilloCon this past weekend? And if so, do you have an estimate on the attendance?

#271 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:29 PM:

I was at ArmadilloCon, and had a marvelous time, but I haven't a clue as to the attendance. The panels I went to seemed well-attended, but there was never exactly a tightly packed crowd in the dealer's room.

#272 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:29 PM:

Bjorn: Thanks! Melissa Singer, & Fragano Ledgister: Thanks and back atcha!

It's oddly difficult for me to cop to my birthday. Especially in cases where people don't know if I don't bring it up. Anybody else got that? What's that about?

Serge Broom @259: Oh gawd that's cute! I could see a whole story written around those two expressions.

#273 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Jacque @ 269: I saw Postcards a few months ago and really liked it—the acting and writing were sharp and funny without (as you have observed) sugarcoating things.

#274 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:47 PM:

237 et al
i got caught by one of those, once (it's the only time I've met it). On the other hand, I had a job dealing with actual field paperwork, where I learned to flip it over and read the back side before I wrote down anything for the data entry people. There were occasions when it held a short story which was best summarized as 'We were sent out here to do X, but it wasn't necessary.'

#275 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:48 PM:

FWIW, the gnomes just told me my comment on the trick test was being held for review. (I don't know what did it.)

#276 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:19 PM:

Jacque @ 272... :-)

#277 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:10 AM:

Lee: The Spokane folks have a contingent contract for the same relative weekend as Reno. The convention center folks were apparently pushing really really hard for Labor Day, couldn't understand why the bid group wanted a different weekend... until they came down to sit the tables. (Did you notice that the table went from having just flyers and badge ribbons to having Really Nifty Maps and other cool stuff? That's apparently why.)

After half a day of attendees coming up to the table and saying, "Wow, I'm so glad it won't be Labor Day!" they offered the contingent contract for the other weekend.

Oh, and they left huckleberry taffy. Yummm. I miss huckleberries.

#278 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:01 AM:

Late to the party about Carrie's miniature rose (107): when inside miniature roses start losing their leaves that way it is almost always to do with an infestation of spider mites; the only way to save them is to bare-root the plant (that is, get rid of all the old soil) and replant it in a clean pot after spraying the upper bits with a very dilute soap solution and then with plain water, and then set it outside to grow.

That is, if it's a real, growing miniature rose bush: many plants sold at florists as miniature roses are actually barely rooted cuttings which have been forced into bloom in high humidity and warm temperatures, and they start dying the day they're taken from their natal chambers and marketed.

If I wanted to have blooming mini-roses on my desk, I'd buy four or five plants from a good specialty nursery and rotate them from outside (or a minigreenhouse) to inside, but since that is so complicated I just buy cheap orchids at Trader Joe's and keep them alive until they rebloom. Phalenopsis are the easiest houseplants I've ever grown.

(My contribution to the Spokane question: too bad Worldcon is in late summer instead of late spring. For me, the best thing about Spokane is that it's surrounded by a strange pine prairie full of wildflowers, developed where the Missoula flood stripped everything down to the raw basalt, and then there's the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, which everyone should see at least once).

#279 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:19 AM:

Following up from 240: I now have my computer functioning again, for fairly broad values of 'functioning'. What passes for normal service will resume very shortly.

#280 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:52 AM:

Jacque @272 wrote: It's oddly difficult for me to cop to my birthday. Especially in cases where people don't know if I don't bring it up. Anybody else got that? What's that about?

I think that's perfectly normal in our society. When you're little, it's considered cute/charming to run around saying, "today's my birthday." People think it's sweet or, at any rate, amusing. You can even wear buttons and ribbons that identify you as having a birthday that day, which encourages other people--total strangers, even--to say "Happy Birthday." Each birthday is a case for celebration--you're growing up! You're getting so big! So tall! So mature! (Some restaurants and shops will even give you things for your birthday--free desserts, discounts, etc.)

But as we get older, we're "supposed" to stop feeling excited about getting older. We're supposed to start thinking about each new year taking us farther away from our "attractive" youth (that most desired state) and to feel that we should conceal our age, lest people begin to think we are "old." Because no one wants to be old, of course. And because we're "not supposed to draw attention" to ourselves once we're adults; it's somehow unseemly.

Acknowledging a birthday would mean acknowledging that we're not young anymore. Birthdays and ages become things to be concealed, ignored, fought against. Somehow it's unseemly to be excited about turning 40 or 50 or 80, even if you feel each year is well-earned and enjoyed. OTOH, once you're over a certain age, each birthday becomes something of a triumph--"I'm still alive!" and you can go back to celebrating. That seems, ime, to happen around 75 or so, though that number may get higher as the Boomers age.

I've personally always enjoyed my birthdays. My family may be dysfunctional in many ways, but we've always made something of a fuss over birthdays. With a late summer birthday, I often managed three parties in my youth--one for summer friends (we went "to the country" for many years, when my father was making serious money in the 1960s and 1970s), one for school friends (even I had a few), and one for family. As a younger adult, I celebrated a number of birthdays during Worldcon, because in those days they often coincided.

Today, I'll spend mostly traveling to Dragoncon, but hope to get in a swim this afternoon once we're settled at the hotel, and treat myself to a nice dinner. I've asked my daughter for a Wii game as a present (Zelda); I know she hasn't gotten it yet but I have hopes of a card.

All the foregoing imho . . . .

#281 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:55 AM:

Serge Broom@259

Although apparently the young lady is a security risk or something... :-)

"The URL that you are attempting to access is a potential security risk. Trend Micro OfficeScan has blocked this URL in keeping with network security policy."

#282 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 08:17 AM:

Michael I @ 281... More likely, this is a Shirley Temple story, in which a grumpy old guy at first resists but eventually surrenders to the Cute.

#283 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 08:38 AM:

JESR: Repotting seems to have solved the leaf-dropping problem, though it hasn't grown any substantial new ones yet.

I got this plant at the supermarket, but it's survived ~3 years so far, so either it's actually a miniature rose or I just got lucky. The blooms, when they happen, are only about 2 inches across.

#284 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:13 AM:

I read 271 before I read 269 and my immediate reaction was What!??? There is a new Annie Proulx adaptation out? And this time of her masterpiece?!!! -- Then paged up and was a little bit disappointed. (If you feel like reading a fantastic book allow me to recommend Postcards by Annie Proulx. It is my favorite of hers, and I like her books a lot in general.)

In HLN, The Modesto Kid's latest publication is a translation of "Requiem" by Slavko Zupcic, which is the featured story in the September issue of Words Without Borders.

#285 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:38 AM:

Wait I mean 273, not 271.

#286 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:13 AM:

Jacque @272: Thanks for facing up to your demons and coming out as the birthday girl; it allows me to wish you a happy one. A day late and a dollar short tbs, but still.

#287 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:58 AM:

At 246: Happy post-birthday!

At 259: I thought I had a high tolerance for cute. Apparently that's some industrial-grade stuff there.

Open thready: This guy does really good folk and it's a shame I had to find out about him because of racial profiling. Especially if you listen to "Old White Men", freely available on that page.

#288 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:07 AM:

Belated happy birthday to Jacque. As it happens, my natal anniversary - of the same year as yours - was a couple of weeks ago.

#289 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:24 AM:

Carrie S, although it seems counter-intuitive, if you prune your leafless rose back a bit and fertilize once a week with dilute balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 Miracle Grow, et'c, with twice the water) it'll recover more quickly. Three years is a good long time, and it should have root growth sufficient to recover.

I'm down to one true miniature rose right now, the classic one called "Sweet Fairy;" some time in the next twelve months I'm going to Heirloom and buying a few of the John Clements varieties and planting them in a row of big pots to be part of a chicken coop fence. Most of the roses I've got right now are the opposite of miniature: the rambler "Darlow's Enigma" for instance, that's about 18 feet tall; I need something down where I can sniff it.

#290 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:30 PM:

Tim Walters @273: Carrie Fisher: not your mother's Princess Leia. And Shirley MacLaine is Teh Awsome.*

Which segues neatly to:

Melissa Singer @280: Happy BDay** to you, too! Hope you have a lovely swim and dinner.

Because no one wants to be old

This is one of the aspects of our culture that I think is particularly criminal. The scene in PftE where MacLaine's character is in the hospital after the car crash: You see her without any make up, and she's gorgeous. She has this delicate, pixie-ish beauty that I find just breathtaking. Then she puts on make-up, and goes back to looking like a 40yo-wannabe.

Serge Broom @282: Actually, from that picture, I get more "co-conspirators."

"See, okay, you go on with your Diatribe A about how 'kids these days' and 'get off my lawn,' and while they're firing up all Shocked and Indignant, I'll sneak around back and let the goats out."

The Modesto Kid & Sandy B.: ::curtsies:: Thank you! As it happens, I did have a nice one. I took a well-day Tuesday, and then decided to take yesterday off, too, 'cause I just couldn't face the World. It was only when I went to email in to work that I noticed the date, so I gave myself permission to Not Do Anything Useful. Spent the day glopping around in paint and watching Netflix.

--

* She must have had some very interesting behind-the-scenes conversations with Debbie Reynolds.

** You share birthdays with my best buddy Brian, who is an all-around Good Egg. Must be something in the date. :)

#291 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:32 PM:

On roses, I was wondering if I ought to prune it; I'm just afraid of killing it because all its leaves are out at the ends of the branches just at the moment. Though the stems themselves are green, too, so I imagine it could get something from them.

#292 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:47 PM:

#258 Lee
There was a cut rate for youth. There was no cut rate for elderly or unemployed. There was a massive push to getting people who were young to come.

(Note, I had more discretionary funds when I was 19, than I did in the 1990s, when I was living off the home equity loan as long-term unemployed...)

#293 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:52 PM:

Jacque @ 290: Shirley MacLaine is Teh Awsome.*

She certainly is. People my age grew up thinking of her as a new-age caricature, but she's outstanding in both movies in which I've seen her (this and The Apartment).

* She must have had some very interesting behind-the-scenes conversations with Debbie Reynolds.

I seem to remember Carrie Fisher insisting that the book and film are less autobiographical than commonly believed, for what that's worth.

#294 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:53 PM:

Carrie S. one thing I've finally learned about roses: if they're any good at all you can't kill them by carefully cutting out the twiggy bits and pruning back to an outward facing bud.

Roses need, in this order: sunlight, water, pruning, fertilizer, and weeding. Although "not to be the target of an old dog's marking" goes in there, somewhere. My darling Ghislaine de Feligonde wears a three-foot-high raincoat because Griz decided to mark her and killed two canes last winter.

#295 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:54 PM:

OtterB Thank you! And belated likewise! '57. A very good year. :)

On roses: we moved into a house, when I was a kid, that had rose bushes planted all along the backyard cinderblock fence. This, of course, was where the guinea pigs most loved to hang out. (Shades of Bre'r Rabbit, wot?)

When I was a kid, I had actually perfected the art of catching the guinea pigs without getting ripped up by the thorns. Quite a trick.

Sandy B. @287: Oh my. Thanks for linking that. I don't see a comment thread, or I'd suggest somebody invite him over here for a chat.

On Racism: ::sigh:: I have no illusions that this is an issue of the past in the US. All I have to do is look inside my own skull.* Mostly, I manage to catch it and stuff it in a sack before it gets out of my mouth, but it's very definitely there.

Another variant I catch myself in: Americentrism. I've been watching a lot of British film lately. Ken Loach, in particular, is just scathing wrt the US's conduct in Latin America. I keep having to consciously remind myself that he's not USian, and that he has different filters.

--

* In particular, see internal dialogue about whether or not to even mention Bre'r Rabbit, above.

#296 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:00 PM:

Tim Walters @293: I seem to remember Carrie Fisher insisting that the book and film are less autobiographical than commonly believed, for what that's worth.

Ghu knows, there's doubtless plenty of free-range inspiration in her local zeitgeist. Nevertheless, her rendering is just a little too...precise, not to have a large dollop of Experience behind it. IMHO, of course.

#297 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Melissa Singer #278: I'll probably be one of the D*C staff at that Tor Spotlight panel since that's on my track.

#298 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:12 PM:

Jacque @ 290... Next time I meet her father, who's a writer, I'll mention that, if this picture inspires him, the story should have the grumpy old guy becoming her partner in crime. And there's got to be goats.

#299 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:23 PM:

Worldcon being on or off Labor Day Weekend as desirable or not, depends on the individual. People with limited vacation time (due to involuntarily being a "new employee") or who are single and work in healthcare do not like having it off Labor Day (an old friend who's on disability now but was a healthcare worker, said that he had a very hard time getting vacation time in the summer because the people with families always got priority for vacation then, regardless of any other factors such as how long they'd been working for the facility).

There are recent on-line article about Dragoncon http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2011/08/31/dragoncons-new-policy-buy-a-ticket-or-youre-not-allowed-inside http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5794746/sexual_harassment_and_assault_at_dragoncon.html one of them has in the comments that DrgonCon's got local competition from a book fair and some other event, and "all the cool [types]" are going to be at that other event. One article is about DragonCon changing some policies due to sexual abuse of attendees by attendees at a Chick-fil-A sponsored football event... but since the abusers were hotel guests, the policy changes seem like they won't necessarily end the abuse and harassment....

#300 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:40 PM:

@260 Diatryma

On the trick-test: you would have a job getting my respect after that. ...

The point of that particular thing was 'read the whole test before you answer even one question'

The point of the test was "Read the instructions before you begin". If you can't even be bothered to do it in a little test, how can I have confidence you're going to read and follow the instructions I give you at work to do a job?

Please keep in mind I write instructions for a living, more or less. I'm currently the "SME" and script writer at a help desk. 90% of all the questions the analysts ask me are answered in the damn scripts - they just didn't read all the way through. So, I have to walk over to their desk, stand beside them, and ask them to read what they see written, until I hear the, "Oh!" It's a waste of my time (twice! The time it took me to write the script, and the time it's taking me to stand there), it's a waste of their time, and it's a waste of the customer's time. Also: really fraking irritating.

As for
every other test I took in my life worked best if you just went ahead and answered everything and then came back for ones you skipped.
that's a different thing. I've done many tests that way - and at the end there was always one person who would moan about how they couldn't figure out number 11, or something, and then realized at some point they only had 20 minutes left to finish the other 40 questions! In that sort of case, it absolutely makes sense to follow the strategy you mentioned.

So, I think you are talking about two different types of things, and the winning approach is different for each.

#301 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:04 PM:

Happy belated birthday, Jacque.

#302 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:15 PM:

#255 VictorS

I've been well aware of Portland and Seattle being fannish centers for many years. The reality though is that wanting to hold a worldcon in a city and the facilities being appropriate including willing, are not the same thing....

The old zone system got created in the days when there were a lot fewer fans in Texas--as in, Texas conventions were very few and far between. The rotation zones were Western, Central, and Eastern, and US population distribution was very different than it is today, New York state had a much more significant share of the population than it does today, Detroit had tens of thousands or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of houses where there are now lots of very large expanses of field, Atlanta's airport was a pathetic thing with pay toilets and not one of the major airline hub airports of the world, Dallas-Ft Worth was not the air traffic hub it is, Seattle in that general era was so dependent on Boeing that when Boeing dropped from 120,000 employees to 40,000 there actually was a sign reading "Will the last person leaving Seattle please turn out the lights?" at the end of the 1960s....

The big fan concentrations were in the Northeastern USA with Pittsburgh, New York City and northern New Jersey, the Philly area, Baltiwash, and Boston; Los Angeles; the San Francisco Bay area, Chicago and vicinity to an hour or two away (including parts of Wisconsin), various parts of Ohio/Kentucky (including Columbus and Cincinatti and Louisville Kentucky to a degree), Denver to a degree; Kansas City perhaps.... Seattle had fans going back at least to the 1960s, oh, and Minneapolis-St Paula, and Detroit (which was a very much larger city then, than today). There were minor concentrations in New Mexico and Arizona.

My comment about there not even being air service direct from LA to Spokane, isn't about LA as the center of the universe, but rather, about LA as being perhaps the pre-eminent port area of the US west coast, and for there to not be direct service from LA to somewhere in a west coast coastal state, would be like not having direct service from New York City to a local on the east coast.... LA is where the west coast US TV network headquarters are, just as NYC is where the east coast US TV network headquarters are. The LA flights to Reno on an American affiliate airline which require passengers to take a bus between the main terminal area to a separate building on another part of the flightline with gates requiring passengers walk outside on the tarmac to get on and off the planes... There isn't even that level of service from LA to Spokane.

Yes, there is service from the San Francisco Bay area to/from Spokane, but San Francisco Bay is less major in terms of business and passengers I think than LA area.

And the service to Chicago, which is one of the top three airports in the USA for traffic, being -seasonal- is underimpressive, and no service from the other two largest hubs in the USA, DFW and Atlanta, is a clear indication to me of 3rd tier status. Anyplace that you can't get to directly from DFW or Atlanta on an scheduled airliner, is not a first or second tier destination!

(Note, regarding expensive hotels--there was/is a close-by youth hostel in Boston, which a number of fans stayed at, for those looking for economy accommodations... and some people stayed at friends' homes and commuted.)

My point of view includes, "what is the pain in the ass factor in terms of time, connections, and expense to get to a proposed Worldcon site?" Reno was inconvenient, and Spokane in terms of those factors, is even MORE inconvenient and probably prone to disruption, than Reno--again, the day I flew, the flight I was scheduled on out of Boston missed the connection--the announcement of the delay occurring the day BEFORE the flight, and not mentioning the connection problem... I found -that- out at 2 M... and the passengers all had to be rerouted through DFW with the transit time increased by eight and a half hours. The people flying out the NEXT day, the Boston to Chicago flight was on time, and the Chicago to Reno flight wasn't delayed, it was cancelled... the people who perservered got rerouted with either a twelve or 24 hour additional transit time delay...

That sort of thing has become more and more common. And Boston to Spokane there is less capacity than Boston to Reno, with fewer flights, and the connections involved involving more out of the way travel for most of them... direct flights to Seattle are in short supply, for example. The prospect of having to bounce all over the US even without rerouting, is unappealing, less appealing than "how many people can we cram into a hotel room?" and a LOT more expensive....

Of course, different people's mileage varies. But again, I asked people around here why they weren't going to Reno, and their responses tended to be either or both it was too inconvenient, or they weren't interested in going to Reno. I expect Spokane is even less appealing to them.... (and that's not necessarily from lack of experience with being in other parts of the USA than the east coast.... )

From my point of view, Spokane has congruences with Reno as a Worldcon site. I just was at Reno, and am not keen on going back anytime in the next few years, or to any similar sort of site for a Worldcon with similar or worse transportation options... Seattle would be a better choice for site as regards accessibility and inconvenience factors, but the are insurmountable issues with facilities regarding Seattle.

#303 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:32 PM:

tl;dr

Cheryl @30: they just didn't read

(I'm going to lump my thinking about this into the user support bucket, because I'll bet it comes up more in that form than in a training context.)

You know, this is such a pervasive phenomenon that there's got to be some deap insight to be gained by understanding and fixing it.

People* tend to search for information in a very targeted way. (Even if that's not the most effective way to deal with the particular information they want.) (Which is the whole challenge benhind making web sites useable, too.) "I want the answer to this question right now. No, I don't care about all that background and contextual crap! I just want to get past [that cow in the road] and get on with what I'm trying to accomplish."

People don't like to read. Reading is boring and arduous (unless Reading is your specific objective just then). They want to answer this question. They open the file and see a wall of text ("Guh") or a wall of links ("WTF!?") and their brain just shuts off. This reaction is seriously exacerbated by frustration and interruption of Flow.

People Want Attention. Given a choice between looking it up and asking someone, I will always ask someone, because I am an extrovert, and talking to people is a desireable activity in its own right. Tutorial videos are a laudable attempt at filling this void, but they fail because (a) they are not attention (i.e., interactive in the true sense of the word), and (b) they aren't freakin' scannable, so you have to sit through the whole damn thing to find the little 7-second part that actually answers your question. (Unless the video-maker supplies plenty of visual cues and/or labeled time-stamps, a la the online Hugos Ceremony.)

One surprisingly successful solution to this last is the little Microsoft dog that comes up when you do a file search. It's neither useful nor informative, but I find that I do get a little social tickle when watching it while I wait for the results to come up.

One possible solution to the "people don't read" problem is the invocation of Story to engage people with the material, so they want to work through it. I think one of the thing that's so powerful about Story is that it is a little micro-routine to invoke Flow.

But this, of course, would require an addition layer of competence over and above the core technical writing requirement. And then there's the cultural dimension to getting something like that accepted.
</random contemplation>

--

* E.g., me. YMMV, Void Where Prohibited, etc.

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:34 PM:

Serge Broom @298: Oh! Oh! Oh!! Iwannareadit! Iwannareadit!!!1!

Xopher HalfTongue @301: ::grin:: Thank you!

#305 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:35 PM:

::sigh:: Damn. I think my cat is clean, now.

#306 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:37 PM:

#256 B. Durbin

One question not being addressed, what is the distribution of people who would like to go to Worldcons? Population centers between Denver and San Francisco are limited--Salt Lake City, Spokane with fewer people within two hours of it, than the city limits of a lot of not geographically large northeastern cities, Phoenix (way far south of the way), Albuquerque (same comment, Reno, Las Vegas (far to the south), and not much else! Butte? Boise? How large are they? Cheyenne, Wyoming? The entire state has what, around 100,000 people or so?

The reason for there having been "nothing between Denver and San Francisco" for so long (there -was- a Worldcon in Phoenix, back in 1978), is because the population density there is low....

I looked at the facilities in Spokane for the convention center, and was talking to someone else who works on Worldcons and has laid out artshows, describing them to him over the phone. He thinks that the facilities are inadequate. (The bid page doesn;t have links, I googled on Spokane Convention Center to get the URL)

==

The explosion of conventions in Texas is due to the migration down to Texas and population increase there--on the other hand how many SF/F conventions are there around Minneapolis (but there hasn't been a Minneapolis Worldcon... since the 19780s, everytime someone starts thinking seriously about running a bid, someone jumps in first from Chicago, derailing it. Grumble.)

#307 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:45 PM:

#303 Jacque

Part of the problem is cheapassedness, such as "manuals" which don't have separate sections for New User How To, Learn More About, Quick Reminders, Deal with Specific Problem, "How to Troubleshoot" "The logic of how things are arranged in this application" and decent INDEX.

Instead, the instructions are Simon Says Do This without saying WHY, or how, or what the program logic is, or what to expect... I get very cranky with Simon Say Do This NOW!" stuff, I want to have a roadmap in my hands BEFORE starting on the trip, with a clear idea of what the destination is and what is on the way to the destination, how many stops are going to occur , where they should b.... not "Now pulling up to a stop. Everyone off, come back in ten minutes!" surprises.... or "now enter more stuff..." I want to know ahead of the actual advent of things, what I need to have to fill out forms, better still, start off with the form, don';t hit me along with way with "enter data NOW!"

#308 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Paula Lieberman: Minneapolis Worldcon

Um...?

The story the way I heard it is that, back in the day, Mpls was forming up a serious bid. Then they realized that Worldcons tend to destroy the supporting fandoms. "We don't want to destroy our fandom!" So they retroactively declared the bid a hoax. This has the added advantage that the bid is being made to this day. Post-supporting memberships: -1¢. IME, they also tend to have the best bid-parties. I have several dirigible stickers on membership badges from various Worldcons.

cheapassedness

No argument there. Where there are manuals at all. Microsoft used to have actually pretty useable online documentation. Now, you click on the ? and you get pointed to a web search. Using Bing for crissake. (Which, IMnpHO, sux rox.)

#309 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:11 PM:

Fade #271:

The dealers' room couldn't have been tightly packed if it tried, what with being spread out over twice the area as last year. (And I think the tables sort of plunked down in the middle were brilliant.)

Lee:

By my count, pre-registered attendance was around 200; there were about 120 program participants, and I saw a bunch of different people with door membership badges, so I would guess 350-400 total, possibly more. I bought more than usual, but one dealer told me this was the first year he wasn't breaking even.

#310 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:24 PM:

Cheryl at 300, you're right that we're talking about slightly different things. I'm not sure that anything could be written to combat the issues you're talking about without tripping my issues with being treated like an idiot-- your example of having people read the directions aloud is a lot more persuasive to me than a trick. But that is my own educational baggage, and if your students need to be hit over the head, they need it.

#311 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:24 PM:

OK, this is weird. When I started Firefox today, it ran some automatic updates and started right up, but I was seeing ads where I usually don't, so I went to Add-ons and looked at Adblock Plus.

It was showing as enabled (displaying a Disable button), so I clicked options. Nothing happened, and further clicks on that entire window got error beeps. Killed it from Task Manager and restarted.

After a few more iterations of this, I decided to try disabling and re-enabling it. Clicked the Disable button and restarted, and the ads were gone. Adblock Plus was still showing as enabled.

I suspect the update messed up the display of Adblock on the Add-ons window, disabling it without setting the display to disabled. Anyone know anything specific about this?

#312 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:31 PM:

@303 Jacque
Cheryl @300: they just didn't read

(I'm going to lump my thinking about this into the user support bucket, because I'll bet it comes up more in that form than in a training context.)

Back when I was still taking customer calls regularly, a frequent conversation would go something like:

Customer: I can't login to $app!
Me: What happens when you try?
Customer: I can't login!
Me: Is there an error message?
Customer: Yes.
Me: What does it say?
Customer: It says I can't login!
Me (reasonably sure that even MS hasn't made that an error message yet): Can you please read me the error message?
Customer: "Your password will expire in 5 days. Would you like to change your password now?"
Me: OK...
Customer: So... what should I do?

::sigh::

With customers, I exert my patience. With helpdesk analysts, who have been hired for the express purpose of, you know, helping the people who call in? Somewhat less so.

If I thought it would actually get the analyst to read the script, I would make it into a story. Lessee...

"Poor little MatrixOne was having a bad day. None of her ECRs would become ECOs! What ever could she do..."

Much like your cat, I think my yak has been shaved enough...

#313 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Just as an aside, if you write me a sequence of steps to accomplish some goal, and leave out some critical information needed early in the process I'm carrying out till the end of the sequence, you've written lousy instructions. So while it's often a good practice to read the whole instruction sheet before starting to work, that's a hack to get around a specific kind of badly-written directions. If there's some information that simply can't be fit into a sequential format, then a little warning at the beginning might save the day.

Ob movie/tv show reference, while following instructions to disarm a bomb: "...next, cut the red wire....... after pulling the blue pin out"

#314 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:03 PM:

Inspired to bravery:
My birthday was 9/2/1949. I'll be 62 tomorrow.

#315 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:03 PM:

#3087 Jacque
There actually was at least one serious case where a group was thinking about putting in a Minneapolis bid, and then Chicago announced it was bidding.

#316 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:17 PM:

@313 albatross:
Hey, if my script needs to be updated, I'll update it! If they actually read the whole thing, and then say, "But why isn't that part of the info at the top?" I can put the info at the top.

It's when they won't even bother trying to read it that I'm irked.

'The whole thing', btw, is one page or less. They're scripts, not entire user manuals.

#317 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:35 PM:

joann @309: I also thought those tables in the middle were a grand idea. Having the convenient place to sit down, check the program, rest one's feet, and go over new loot right in eyeshot of all the shiny merchandise was a grand plan, and kept the room from looking too empty.

#318 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Jacque @269 (quoting Postcards from the Edge):
Mother: "Dear. I am sorry if you think I hurt you."

Hey, when's the next Dysfunctional Families thread?

#319 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Cheryl @312: Customer: So... what should I do?

When I studied NLP, we were introduced to a phenomenon called the trance induction.

Meet someone. Put out your hand to shake. When they reach for your hand, take yours away.

With most people under most circumstances, especially if they're preoccupied, there's this briefest instant wherein their brain, deprived of the next step in the sequence, just kinds of shorts out.

This same kind of line-fault happens when someone is using the computer and encounters an error message. Their mind is already onto the next step in the process, and they're suddenly yanked up short, "Uh, wait. What?"

90% of becoming a computer "expert" is learning how to cope with that trance state.

#320 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:00 PM:

Yay, Carol! Happy Happeez!

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:03 PM:

User interface/Instruction manuals: A complicating factor is anxiety (ranging up to panic), which infamously shuts off the higher functions. Cheryl #312 offers a classic example.

#322 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:14 PM:

On test-taking and instruction-following:

I admit that I absolutely love the read-all-the-directions-before-starting kind of test. I am also a user who seeks out manuals and reads them for entertainment.

In MBTI terms, I am a rather strong N (intuitive) and I have trouble with stepwise instruction. I have a strong need to understand the whole picture before starting with the steps. It helps that I'm a fast reader.

(I'm also an introvert - INXP, as I'm in the middle on the T/F scale - and my current workplace stressors include a bunch of Extravert/Sensors whose first response to anything confusing or out of the ordinary is Go Ask [Thena]! She Knows Everything! Headdesk. It's good to be valued, but could they do it more quietly and efficiently?)

#323 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:21 PM:

Paula (302): Wyoming has a total population of slightly more than 500,000, so you're off by a factor of five.

#324 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:58 PM:

Paula, #292: You're complaining that a Worldcon made a push to attract younger fen?! When "the greying of fandom" is one of the ongoing worries in fannish culture, somebody finally does something about it and you think it's bad? These are the people we have to attract (and keep) if we don't want fandom -- AND Worldcon -- to die when we're too old to travel any more!

Cheryl, #300: Some people are wired to look things up, and some are wired to ask someone else. IME, it doesn't do much good to stand over one of the latter and make them look it up, because the next time it happens they're still going to ask you first, because that's what they do.

joann, #309: Thanks for the estimate. We don't do ArmadilloCon because our experience has been that the crowd there doesn't buy anything but books; my partner tried 3 times and lost his shirt each time, and I tried once and barely broke even. Which is odd, because it's a lot of the same people there as at the other Texas cons -- but the numbers don't lie.

Siriosa, #318: I believe the traditional date is Sept. 21.

Tangent: Are we planning on doing anything for Xopher's Birthday this year?

#325 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:06 PM:

Lee @324: Do you the "only buys books" thing is maybe because ArmadilloCon is lit-focused rather than more generally genre or fandom focused? I bought some magnets, and came fairly close to buying some steampunk jewelry, but the spouse certainly loaded up mostly on books with one detour into plush slippers.

I rather wish there'd be a vendor there with some sort of interesting custom notebooks/pens/pencils--it certainly would have been in theme--since most of the panels made me want to go write, anyway.

#326 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:07 PM:

Lee #324:

I buy jewelry about one year out of three; this was one of the years. (My Fortuny-punk outfit on Saturday needed *something* at the neck, and I found the perfect thing.)

#327 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Bravo, Carol Kimball!
Mine is on the same day as Cardinal Richelieu's.
Oui, oui...

#328 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Fade #325: Plush slippers? Did they have Cthulhu on them?

Note to the proprietors: the spelling reference really needs "Cthulhu" somewhere in it.

#329 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:17 PM:

Hey, I think I forgot to post this here. My favorite all-time Freecycle post:

From: "xxxxx"
To: freecycleportland@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 7:13:06 PM
Subject: [freecycleportland] OFFER-- slightly chewed Cthulu --Beaverton/Cedar Hills

The puppy chewed three of Cthulu’s right side ‘whisker/tentacle’ things, two have been completely destroyed, one is just mangled... The Cthulu is plush, 12 inches high, comes from The Toy Vault and is in really good shape except for the chewed tentacles. I didn’t want to dismantle it for parts (mostly using the stuffing for home made dog toys—ironic!) until I asked around to see if anyone had a better use for it. Maybe your puppy chewed the left hand tentacles on yours?
Cthulu is a fictional monster, from H P Lovecraft. He is green, with wings and 8 tentacles on his face. Well, usually 8.

Beaverton/Cedar Hills

#330 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:21 PM:

joann @325: That'd be the pair! He tweeted a picture, a friend responded admiringly, so he bought 'em to ship to said friend. (Some days, I really love living in The Future.) They're the only type of plush slippers I see for sale very often. I mean, I had a dumpster-scavenged pair of Simon slippers (of The Chipmunks) ages ago, but beyond that, it just seems to be all Cthulhu all the time.

#332 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:32 PM:

@ 324 Lee

Cheryl, #300: Some people are wired to look things up, and some are wired to ask someone else. IME, it doesn't do much good to stand over one of the latter and make them look it up, because the next time it happens they're still going to ask you first, because that's what they do.

Since the people to whom I'm referring in that post are helpdesk analysts, whose job description includes "using the knowledge base to find solutions and use them to resolve the customer's issue", I don't think I'm being out of line to expect them to do the job they were hired for.

I am actually expected to accomplish certain things in a day, like researching new apps (or updated versions of apps), creating new scripts, updating existing scripts, retiring old ones... then there's the reporting and analysis of what scripts get used and what scripts don't. Training of new analysts, creating/updating training material, etc., etc.


Not to mention the not-job-description-stuff I do, which is TL stuff when the TL's not available; scheduling, talking to customer's who demand a supervisor, more (different!) reports and analysis, attending meetings, following up on the action items that come up in the meetings...

My job is not to answer questions that are already answered in the scripts. People who can't handle the most basic part of the job shouldn't be passing the interview process.

#333 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:40 PM:

Sorry to be cranky. I've actually been able to be on ML a bit more than usual today, because we've been having database issues!! Which are preventing me from doing the work I need to be doing and allowing me time to fume.

#334 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:57 PM:

Fade #330:

Now if I just wore slippers ... but I haven't needed any since I left parts sort of north all those years ago.

What I'd really like to see? Some turn-of-the-century briefcases/valises/gear bags to go with the writing paraphernalia you want them to sell.

#335 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:00 PM:

Lee @324: Some people are wired to look things up, and some are wired to ask someone else. IME, it doesn't do much good to stand over one of the latter and make them look it up, because the next time it happens they're still going to ask you first, because that's what they do.

"Weeeellll, now, son..." :) I am quite resolutely wired to ask someone, but I've trained myself to look it up. I did this, because I got really tired of feeling helpless, and have, if I may say so, gotten quite good at it.

One result is that people come to me(!?) for help. In general, I respond to this with good humor because (a) I like the attention, (b) it makes me feel all Powerful and Experty, and (c) I figure the challenge is good for me.

However. There is the occassional soul who will decide that I am their personal, walking, talking User Manual and Instruction Set, and will come to me with everything, including things I've already helped them with.

In order for me to be a willing helper (and this is a requirement I try to impose upon myself, as well), I require an at least good faith attempt at looking it up / figuring it out on their own in order for me to continue being willing to work with them.

The ease/difficulty of the interface is only one dimension to the equation. Another is self-management, and respect for others' time. It's the absence of those latter two that will get me riled and is, I suspect, at least in part what Cheryl is reacting to.

And then there's a separate case where freakin' everybody asks the same damn questions, though each person only asks it once. That is an indication of a problem with the design of the instructions.

it doesn't do much good to stand over one of the latter and make them look it up

This depends to a large extent on the implicit contract. If it's a case of, "I will help you this once, and then you need to learn how to find it yourself," it's really good if that is stated explicitly. (See @332)

Also, the particular manner of standing over makes a huge difference, too. I had one boss who would keep an ear cocked on my phone interactions, and about every third call would ding me on something I was doing wrong, usually with the implication that I should have known better (never mind that I had never even been aware of that particular feature of the software before). The net result was that she got me so tied up in knots that I was afraid to move.

Contrariwise, I currently have a coworker who is a master at training. She sits down behind you at the computer and watches you perform the operation. ONLY WHEN YOU ASK A QUESTION, does she speak up, but rather lets you drive yourself with the full confidence that if you get stuck, she's there to help you out. Glorious.

joann @328: Note to the proprietors: the spelling reference really needs "Cthulhu" somewhere in it.

Did you check the linked comment thread?

Cheryl @332: Like that.

@333: :) U can haz simpafeez!

#336 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:02 PM:

me @336: Nope, no Cthulhu there.

#337 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:15 PM:

quoting myself, in embarrassment:
talking to customer's who demand a supervisor
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
I will not use an apostrophe to indicate a plural
...

#338 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:56 PM:

Jacque @335 - In my final review at a certain large software company, I was criticized for "helping other people too much." Yep, exactly those words. That's one of the reasons I quit. Well, that and the adverse impact on my health from working there.

I think the real criticism was that by helping others, I made them better and when they applied the forced curve used in reviews, it worked against me. Of course, one of that company's core values (barf) is "making others great".

#339 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:39 PM:

Jacque@296: Nevertheless, her rendering is just a little too...precise, not to have a large dollop of Experience behind it.

Comments like this (speaking from the abovementioned Experience) can drive writers nuts -- implying, as they do, that anything we have written well, is well written not because of our craft or our talent or our imagination, but only because it is based in actual experience.

But not every wicked parent or step-parent in our fairy tales has a counterpart in the extra-textual world; not every abusive boyfriend, substance-addicted sibling, or boss from hell is a portrait drawn from singular life.

We make things up. It's how we work. And we kind of like to get credit for it when we do.

#340 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:25 PM:

Fade, #325: I'm sure that's part of it -- but not all, because (as I noted) you see basically the same group of people at any of the main Texas cons, which are all relatively close together.* Nonetheless, trying to sell anything except books at ArmadilloCon is a crapshoot, and most of their non-book vendors are locals who don't have travel expenses.

Cheryl, #332: I don't think it's out of line either, and my comment wasn't intended as criticism -- just an observation that I've worked with people like that, and the habit of asking someone else first seems to be extremely hard to break. FWIW, I agree with you 100% -- if they can't read a 1-page script before yelling for help, something is wrong with the hiring process.

* Houston, Austin, Dallas, and College Station are all within 4 hours' drive of each other. There is no lit-SF con in San Antonio (although there's a gaming-con and an anime-con), and AFAIK there are no cons at all anywhere in west Texas.

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:30 PM:

Debra Doyle @339: We make things up. It's how we work. And we kind of like to get credit for it when we do.

Well, yes, certainly. And sorry to have implied otherwise.

OTOH, writerly prowess also shines in incisive display of accute perception and understanding.

Experience, in the case of Ms. Fisher, need not necessarily be autobiographical, I'll grant. Given that she grew up in the industry, with a mother that has been, at times, at the very pinnacle of success, I'll wager she has a view that is both panoramic and intimate. (And children often see things more clearly. They're more likely to spot the fnords, and all that.)

PftE is also populated by many standard archetypes of the Success-centered culture. Her ability to make it seem so personal and true is a testament to her skill and insight.

So, yeah, writers make stuff up. But really good writers make up stuff that's so plausible that it seems like it couldn't possibly be made up.* And that takes a lot of data, and/or a really good model of the system.

And I submit that this is even true when a writer is making up the data and the system. If the model isn't incredibly well worked-out, it won't run in the reader's mind. And this implies, in turn, a solid understanding of Model, which is both experience-based and skill-based.

IMHO, of course. :)

(There. How's that for a hasty back-pedal?)

--

* Us mere mortals might be forgiven for missing the distinction. :-> Like my daddy said: "Ya gotta leave a few flaws in, just to prove that it's handmade."

#342 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 10:49 PM:

Another thought on Reno/Spokane/etc.: When you ask people "Why aren't you going to Worldcon?" you're talking to a self-selected group. It's different from asking people, in June, "Are you going to Worldcon? Why or why not?"

#343 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:04 PM:

Jacque @ 335

My job has absolutely nothing to do with being tech-savvy, I just happen to be the person in my office who doesn't take "no" from computers.

I did notice that at the point where I started sending people the link to XKCD's tech support flowchart the first time they asked me for help (in a friendly way, I swear!), a lot of people got strikingly more independent.


Lee @ 324
It always confuses me to see people suggesting that fandom is going to somehow die out. Of the people in my local circle, maybe a couple of the con-goers are over 40. All the other con-goers I know are in college and haven't made any significant financial commitments (or are well-indulged by their parents). Are you sure it isn't just a question of different age groups being attracted to different events and having different degrees of mobility? (Seriously, both my husband and I would've said the vast majority of active fandom is under 40, if not explicitly in it's 20s.)

#344 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 11:17 PM:

"Seems like it couldn't possibly be made up"... there are two possible effects here.

One is what what the Suck Fairy page referred to: '... the bit where they swim into the captured city under the water gate at dawn, and when they come out of the water in the first light and stand dripping on the quay, it all smells different because the enemy’s campfires are cooking their different food—it turns out to be half a line. “Next morning we went in by the water gate.”' [c. Jo Walton]

People make community and story from what they're given. Sometimes they don't even realize they're doing it.

The other is when your characters do things you didn't see coming. I once had an ex-necromancer in an RPG who said "We recognize six types of dead and this isn't one of the good ones." Someone asked what the six types were and I told them- with no advance planning and no visible pause for thought. It just happened.

#345 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:30 AM:

Sandy B. #344:

The other is when your characters do things you didn't see coming. I once had an ex-necromancer in an RPG who said "We recognize six types of dead and this isn't one of the good ones." Someone asked what the six types were and I told them- with no advance planning and no visible pause for thought. It just happened.

I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. Like when Ivy, daughter of Julian, gave me an entire lecture on the care, feeding, and training of hippogriffs, without my knowing a damn thing about them, other than "they have wings and you can ride them if they're not too cranky."

It's very odd for me to go back and read children's books I adored but haven't touched for decades -- I remember there being more story there, and I realize that I must have filled in a lot!

#346 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:40 AM:

#324 Lee
No, I'm complaining that they're getting a price break. I didn't get one when -I- was 17 at my first Worldcon, or 19 at my second, or 20 at my third.... the cost of room, board, and transportation was rather higher than the cost of the membership. I respected the worldcons for having the same price for attending membership per person -regardless- of age or student or non-student etc. status. And given the amount of time I've spent being unemployed and seeing everyone EXCEPT unemployed people getting price breaks for being young, a student, old, one of a couple, part of a family, etc., I'm permanently pissed off about being charged extra for being single and living alone and not having someone else to help out with chores, with bills, with transportation, etc. etc. etc. Couples get lots of two for one or half price for the second person, families get four or five or often more people for membership in all sorts of organizations and admissions for the whole family for less than twice what a single person who lives alone gets charged for membership/admission (museums, garden clubs, all sorts of things--e.g., single membership, $60, family membership, $80 -- examples of that sort of thing include the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Historic New England, etc. etc., and there are no price breaks for people who are unemployed. Lots of places have student memberships and even teacher discounts, and elderly, but nobody has price breaks for people who are unemployed.... and there is NO second income, and no tax deduction for spouse, and no assistance with errands and chores and medical office visits etc etc etc. if TRULY single and living alone... (there are discounts for people who share a residence who are not legally married, for a lot of things, along with all the twofer stuff...)

There -are- young fans who go to conventions--the likes of ConBust at Smith and Vericon at Harvard are full of them. The keys it seems to me are empowering of the younger fans as "stakeholders" in the two senses of being participants with significant input and trust in them and influence and involvement and authority to have significant roles working on and running areas of the convention available to them, and the influence and authority and involvement including having the convention include foci which are meaning to them as regards what dealers are and have in the dealers', what's on exhibition and for sale and who are in the art show, and the programming and who are on the program and topics of panels and other program items.

#342 Vicki
I was asking at a MASSFILC meeting. The other person who's usually at MASSFILC meetings who went to Reno, Bob Rosenfeld, wasn't at the meeting that day. Most or at least half of the people who were there, had gone to the 2009 Worldcon and a number had been to other Worldcons further away. It really wasn't a matter of asking who wasn't going why they weren't going versus asking people who were going why they were going, it was that of the people at the MASSFILC meeting that day, I was the -only- one going to the Worldcon this year.... and I wanted to know why the other folks weren't going this year, because, again, most or half of them -had- gone to the Worldcon two years ago. And as I reported, the reasons included not only that Reno was beyond the distance they would consider driving to, but it wasn't a place people wanted to go to who were willing to in the abstract travel further than way an eight to twelve hour drive to. (I'm not sure how long the travel time to Ohio Valley Filk Festival (OVFF) is, but several of the people who were at the MASSFILC meeting go to OVFF--and weren't willing/interested in going to Reno. And yes, they attend conventions which aren't necessarily filk conventions, notably Boskone and/or Arisia, some also go to Pi-Con, and various other conventions outside Massachusetts.)

#347 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:33 AM:

Paula @346: I agree completely with the last paragraph of your reply to Lee. I doubt I'll be able to elaborate as elegantly, but I'll try:

Some cons simply aren't willing to trust people to run functions until they've spent a decade or more as a gopher-or-equivalent. The result is that competent people with lots to contribute go away after several years of frustration. Frankly, why would they stay?

I thought a lot about naming some cons here. I'll hold off for now, but my suggestion is that *every* con that's had a "greying of fandom" panel in the last 5 years has this problem.

#348 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:46 AM:

There's a recent news report about a fire at the Scarborough Faire renfair in Texas - one employee was killed.

#349 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:36 AM:

Paula, 346: Societal discrimination against the unemployed was not your original complaint. What you just said sounds an awful lot like "kids these days are spoiled, in MY day uphill both ways in the snow barefoot." Pick a focus for your bitterness and go do something about it.

#350 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 07:24 AM:

Debra Doyle #339: Also, I'm reminded of the line that History is a SF writer's secret weapon.... Mythology can be another.

#351 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:07 AM:

Paula Lieberman, I went to a Worldcon at 17 because a friend was running the teen programming (or something like that) and said that if I was on panels, I'd get a refund for my membership. I haven't been to one since because what I know of Worldcons is that a) they are too expensive for me, and b) no one I know goes to Worldcon.

When you're in college, $175 plus travel, hotel, and food can be a pretty significant outlay. Why would anyone spend that on a gamble? I can't think of anything Worldcon has to offer a college student who wasn't raised in fandom that cannot be more easily gotten at a cheaper local con.

As for the price breaks for people who are not you, it sucks, but it's going to happen. It's easier to assume that single established adults without dependents have more money than high schoolers, college students, or people with dependents than to... what, exactly? Require a form listing income levels? Ask for tax returns? What proof of unemployment and brokeness are you comfortable giving someone? I'd be fine with a scholarship program of sorts, but that's not what you want.

#352 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:46 AM:

Paula@346: It was awfully hard to read past I'm permanently pissed off.

#353 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:59 AM:

Is this the point where I get a hat & cane for my Michigan J Frog impersonation?

#354 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:05 AM:

A conversation last night led to checking, and it seems that I have not missed it after all; it's a year and a bit before the 100th birthday of Woodrow Wilson Smith on 11 November 2012.

Maybe we should start planning now?

#355 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:43 AM:

Ever see a dancing airplane?

#356 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:45 AM:

Jacque@319

When I studied NLP, we were introduced to a phenomenon called the trance induction. Meet someone. Put out your hand to shake. When they reach for your hand, take yours away.

Wouldn't that have a side effect of making them think you were, well, kind of a dick? What are you supposed to do with them afterwards?

#357 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:30 AM:

Should I be worried by the news that Johnny Depp wants to revive the "Thin Man" movie series?

#358 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:40 AM:

Serge @357: Not if he's paired with a good co-star, and the director's any good. Johnny Depp may have assorted flaws, but by God he can ACT.

#359 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:43 AM:

#351 Diatryma
My first Worldcon I commuted to by foot, walking over the Harvard Bridge over the Charles River to the convention hotel, so there weren't any room and board costs involved.

I generally don't recommend people go to a Worldcon for the first science fiction convention they go to. My circumstances at the time weren't quite the usual ones, though, I was a college freshman just arrived on campus, and had mailed the convention asking if someone just starting college should go to the freshman orientation or a Worldcon.... the response was that the university's freshman orientation hadn't done the respondent any good, I should come to the Worldcon instead...

Way back then, there was a college group which used to go to Boskones, and for that matter, Registration at Noreascon 1 two high school students ran, and other high school students were working on the convention as full members of the committee.

Why would anyone spend that on a gamble? I can't think of anything Worldcon has to offer a college student who wasn't raised in fandom that cannot be more easily gotten at a cheaper local con

It wasn't $175 at the time, on the other hand, the tuition at MIT, which is stratospheric today, was under $2000 back then--I think the factor that tuition's gone up by, and the factor that Worldcon membership for non-discounted membership have gone up by, are roughly the same....

As for the discounts, I get irritated that is seems that everyone except me, out there in the general world, is getting substantiative discounts on membership for this, that, and the other, and for travel, and for dining, etc., EXCEPT me. Susan Shwartz referred to it as being regarded as "a walking pocketbook on feet" if truly single and having to pay and take care of everything by oneself. The general social attitude seems to be everyone except those who are truly single adults out of college and younger than retirement age, are specially privileged/deserve to get subsidized by those who are single (if the event expenses are Y, and there are 2000 members, the cost per attendee is Y/2000. If everyone who isn't a single adult is getting say a 40% discount on their membership, they're paying 60% of the actual cost of their membership, and the single adults are paying commensurately -more- to compenstate for the discounts everyone else is getting. The assumption is the the other people need/are more deserving, on the basis of claims of student lack of funds, elderly disminished income and increased medical costs, and the single adults being affluent--generalizations which mean ultrarich types like Dupont scions and Saudi princes and such get student discounts for everything that aren't luxury goods and housing, millionare retirees pay less for their Medicare coverage than the unemployed whose savings aren't exhausted are paying for health insurance, and the working poor single types get shafted in all sorts of directions (other than being able to get food stamps).

Yes, there are students with low incomes, but there are also extremely affluent students. The assumption that a single working age adult has more discretionary funds than a student or a retiree or a family, in the current economy especially is extreme intellectual discrimination--simple on the basis of statistics, the probability that both adults in a family of two adults with or without minor children (for that matter, there may be adult children who may be working, and there may be a retired parent with an income...)are both not working, is lower than the probabllity that a single person is unemployed... and if both adults are working, the probability is that their combined income is more than twice that of the the single person (married men traditionally have had the highest salaries). The families also get substantial financial benefits from tax laws for deductions, generally occupying the same housing unit (real estate taxes and rent and mortgages and such don';t charge by the number of occupants), "second person half price/children eat free"/family membership stuff, medical coverage (while couple/family coverage is more expensive than single, it's not twice as expensive generally), there's a second person to split errands with and to have to remind one and assist one in paying bills and doing housework, cooking, finding mislaid articles, adding a second opinion for sanity checking (yes, I realize that thet there are drawbacks and mollification of egos and such often involved, but if the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, there are things called "separations" and "divorces" and the households split up.... and usually the individual expenses of at least one of the adults goes up, and the income -drops- as regards covering the expense.... which is a social deterrent to divorce, particularly when it's usually the wife in a heterosexual marriage, who suffers the economic deterioration....)

I'm very tired of the endemic institutionalized economic discrimination. Again, it used to be that Worldcons didn't have student rates, family rates, group rates, etc. Presupporters got a membership break equal to the price of a presupporting membership and voters regardless of who they voted might get a price break beyond the costs the supporting membership the voting fee converted to, but there wasn't a smorgsboard of specially privileged discounts based on age and student status and group membership and family attendance.... To me it looks like intrusion of the values of the mundane world which has such discrimination endemic in it, and which differentially values people....

For that matter, the mundane world dismissed "youth" as not to be held responsible for their actions and for being able to be responsible, in US culture (apparently there is a recent study which discovered that the lack of social responsibility development in teenagers in the USA, is NOT necessarily true of teenagers in other parts of the world.... my suspicions has long been that the lack of expectation and the lack of holding teenagers in the USA responsible for their actions, results in organic lack of responsible/delayed emotional maturity for being responsible). Alexander Hamilton at the age of eight was acting as an adult running a business, Benjamin Franklin was running a business as a child, Alexander II of Macedonia was a seasoned soldier leading armies as a minor, there's a woman in Massachusetts whose father was working for the company she was president of when she was eight--he had to sign all the papers since she was a minor child, but it was very clearly -her- company with something like $4 million in sales a year including to DoD... yes, not all children have that level of maturity--but then a lot of chronological adults don't, either. The situation in the USA is that the age of economic self-responsibily and social expected productive contribution has generally gone up subbstantially over the past 100+ years.

I noticed when I was in college that some grad students actually seems to have socially regressed from undergraduate levels of being socially responsible and emotionally mature and such, and for way too many people, college looked more like four more years of lack of responsibility, than as a time when people were being serious students...

I do NOT have a problem with children at Worldcon, as full members of the community contributing their energy, their ideas, their observations, etc., and expected to behave maturely enough to be positive contributors to conversations, etc. I have problem with them being there dragged along unwillingly by parents unwilling to put the well-being and needs of their children ahead of their own leisure interests.

Babysitting at conventions first showed up when committees were concerned about their own needs for childcare--and originally the parents paid full attending memberships for the children, and that accounted for some number of hours of childcare for the child (childcare meeting legal service requirements gets expensive very quickly). Conventions which don't have childcare, tend to have committees with few members who need/want childcare services....

I'm not anti-child, I'm anti-families which drop kids off at conventions (or religious services, for that matter...) and take no responsibility for the offspring behaving civilly (yes, there are cases where the children are better behaved than the parents, but those typically are not cases where the parents drop kids off to wander about the convention without either a parent or anyone else responsible, aware/concerned personally about the kids.... "free range children" who've grown up going to conventions and are part of the culture, generally are not problems--they understand the society, they're part of the social matrix, they know who and what to watch out for/beware of, and they're vested in the community, often they're working on the convention and have a personal stake in the convention and in things going well, they;re not "parasites," they're valuable contributors.... the parasites include those of all ages, not just children, who come to conventions as if they were gate shows, and who regard the people at the convention, as not worth civil behavior. "This is my last opportunity to trash Boskone, next year I turn 18" I overhead someone say at one of the mid-1980s Boskones... that was an example of a parasite.... Most minors weren't, but the parasite level at the big old Boskones, was one the factors that killed the big old Boskones.

To me, discount memberships show that the convention wants those people getting the discounts, more than it wants people who are -not- getting discounts.... so there is an emotional angle involved, "We value -them- more than we value -you-!"

Also, I remember when I was a child feeling insulted at cut-rate memberships--that I wasn't worth paying full price for, that being treated as an "adult" or rather over 12, as Important. For that matter, my father stopped taking my sister and me fishing with him, when my -sister- turned 13 and the price for a fishing license for her, but not me, went up to adult license cost. She's three and a half years older than I am, but the fact that -she- turned 13, meant that -I- didn't get to go fishing anymore, because -she- needed the full adult price fishing license... even though my father had taken her fishing with him while I didn't go when I was younger....


Basically, there are two or three main areas which are factors in my dislike of the situation of giving student discounts:

1) It is a pseudo-economic rationale, that it, there is an appearance of economic justification, but when it comes to the actual considerations, there are lots of affluent students and lots of financially stressed adults. The assumptions are general ones, and particularly in an economy with an official 9% or so unemployment rate with a lot of invisible people to the official figures and a lot of underemployed people, the assumptions and reality can have a lot of disjuncture involved.

2. There is Diatryma's perspective that regional and local conventions are better intros to fandom and convention going (and by inference, fannish socialization) than Worldcons.

3. There are the issues of fairness/equal treatment, including emotional issues, regarding the "value" of an attendee and their worth to the convention, both by the convention's valuation i pricing the memberships, and in the perceptions of the individuals as regards the pricing structures... I don;t want to see any age category and career/student-non-student category values more or less by a convention than any other... the old ideal, the Business Meeting did not have age limits on making motions and voting, there were children under 10 who made motions and voted and did so often more intelligently that e.g. my late friend Robert Sacks was sometimes wont to. The valuation on people didn't depend on their age or career path or student status, they were all equally regarded as people and not as special privileged or deprivileged sort by age, etc. What mattered wasn't age, but interest, participation, idead, enthusiasm. and respect for other people and the convention....

#360 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:45 AM:

I just had a vision of Jack Sparrow in the role of Nick Charles. :-)

#361 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Rikibeth @ 358... True, Depp can act. Also, since he'd produce the films, his heart would be in it more than it was for the 2nd "Pirates" movie. I wonder who'll play Nora.

#362 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:57 AM:

Diatryma @ 351
"I can't think of anything Worldcon has to offer a college student who wasn't raised in fandom that cannot be more easily gotten at a cheaper local con."

Yes, this. Except I was having trouble finding such a succinct way of putting it.

Also, add in that a lot of younger fans are not mobile -- they can't reliably get away from weekend jobs with constantly shifting hours, they can't always depend on being able to take the time away from studies during the schoolyear, they have kids and kid-activities to work around (which also drains the pocketbook), or they don't have access to reliable transportation (and if I'm not sure I can even get there, you bet I'm not shelling out in advance). Obviously, a lot of other people also have those problems, and I think you see them disproportionately at local cons too.

I keep coming back to the idea that it feels a bit like saying that the tourist industry is doomed to fail, because the vast majority of people can't afford to go to the most expensive hotels in the most exciting cities...

#363 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 11:44 AM:

Serge @ 361: But the real question is: who's playing Asta?

#364 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 11:55 AM:

KayTei, #343: Yes, there's a lot of that. "The greying of fandom" is primarily an issue for long-running lit-cons, of which Worldcon is one. Young people go to gaming-cons and anime-cons and media-cons in astounding numbers -- a small anime-con runs 3,000 people. But Chattacon, which topped out at about 1,000 in the 80s, is down to half that; Westercon has been talking about whether it's time to bring the con to an end; my local con has yet to break 500 (although some of that is that half our draw radius is ocean). I can't believe that there aren't plenty of younger people who enjoy literary SF, so why aren't they coming? That's the basis of the "greying of fandom" issue.

Paula, #346: Oh FFS. I went to my first Worldcon on a shoestring -- I was just out of college, had just started a new job, hadn't gotten a paycheck yet, and had something like $100 to make it thru the entire weekend. I had friends I could sardine-can with, I ate sparingly, and my membership cost me $25 at the door. AT THE DOOR. $100 won't even get you a pre-reg today. Worldcon has done an excellent job of pricing itself out of reach of the average fan; there are a lot of reasons for that, but the fact remains that it's hard for students especially -- contrary to your privileged rant above, most students do NOT have a lot of discretionary income, which is why student discounts are common at venues from theaters to museums.

Beyond that... a reminder about the First Rule of Holes. You're not convincing anyone that you have a point with all this TPer-style "it's not fair to help anyone else when I'm expected to stand on my own two feet" whining.

#365 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:02 PM:

*offers Serge his choice of canes and silk top hats*

*wakes up back-up band*

#366 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:11 PM:

HLN: Local woman harvests second round of arugula, which was allowed to sort-of bolt in record high temperatures. "Incredibly spicy and peppery", reports woman.

#367 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:19 PM:

I'd again like to draw everyone's attention to Paula's succinct and insightful explanation of the greying problem. I'll quote it here:

There -are- young fans who go to conventions--the likes of ConBust at Smith and Vericon at Harvard are full of them. The keys it seems to me are empowering of the younger fans as "stakeholders" in the two senses of being participants with significant input and trust in them and influence and involvement and authority to have significant roles working on and running areas of the convention available to them, and the influence and authority and involvement including having the convention include foci which are meaning to them as regards what dealers are and have in the dealers', what's on exhibition and for sale and who are in the art show, and the programming and who are on the program and topics of panels and other program items.
#368 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:26 PM:

wrt con prices & us younger folk:
Otakon, population 35,000, is an anime con that charges $75 at the door for a membership. (No single day passes.) Attendance has some moderate correlation with interestingness, so what is the value proposition for the lit cons?

Why wouldn't you go if you like anime, cosplay, and games? And if you did, how would you afford time or dollars to go to more cons? I can think of some rejoinders to this, but I'm more interested in what you all think.

(I can think of a tangent related to accessibility, Otakon is in Baltimore, nicely hooked up to the Northeast corridor by rail and interstate, with clean, reliable light rail, running in a simple linear route from the airport, to the convention center, through the city and into the surrounding suburbs. Also, there are cheaper hotels than some of the larger coastal cities. If your favorite litcon is suffering, is it being hindered by infrastructure?)

#369 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:28 PM:

fidelio @ 365... Ready? Set? HERE I go!

#370 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 12:48 PM:

By far the largest group of people at a Worldcon who get a discount are those who support (sometimes pre-support) and vote and convert their memberships to attending. I see no way in which that is prejudiced against single people. The only way it's prejudiced against people who don't have jobs is the standard way that American society is prejudiced against those who don't have jobs: it's hard to find the money up front, so one pays for not having that opportunity discount. (And, if one is at all connected to the community, there are cheaper memberships being resold, regularly, often via a website made available by the convention. Think about that for a second....)

IIRC, at ConJose the amount we spent per member to get the facilities and all that was higher than the amount that we got from the lowest-paying early members. To some extent, student memberships (and the layaway memberships which most Worldcons have been doing for many years now) make it easier for people to get the price that the people who are part of our community and have been able to plan ahead can get. It's not a perfect system, but I like it better than what you seem to be proposing, Paula.

#371 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:10 PM:

I think it's worth noting that compared to other conventions (literary or, especially, technical), Worldcon is (1) quite inexpensive and (2) has much less of a student discount.

#372 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:29 PM:

Literature blog The Millions answers the burning question Why Are So Many Literary Writers Shifting into Genre?

Somewhat less superior and snarky than might be expected.

#373 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Paula raises an interesting broad point, involving discounts. I think the idea behind discounts for various categories of people (students, retired people, families with children) is that statistically, many of them can't afford as much. The goal is to do some price discrimination, to charge the people who can afford only $X only $X, while charging those who can afford $2X that instead.

Now this introduces a bunch of problems, one of which is the use of categories of people as a stand in for the individual situation of those people--students are poor, young families have no extra money, middle aged single people are rolling in cash, etc. (There's an analogy with the way statistics about racial groups, genders, etc., get used in ways that sometimes screw people over, like the black teenager who's never stolen anything in his life, but can't walk through a store without being followed around by a security guard.).

To the extent we're all members of a community, we can try to do this voluntarily--most churches work this way, for example, and there are many events which have free admission and a suggested donation, which is a nice dodge to let people try it out at no risk but pay if they want to stick around, or to pay an amount that they can afford. But this is susceptible to free riders and has a prisoners dilemma kind of problem.

One thing that might be better for stuff like cons would be to offer two rates--a normal rate and a hardship rate, while letting people more or less just freely decide which one to take. This would let unemployed people or starving students get in for a minimal amount that lets the operators keep the lights on, while the normal rate covers the bigger costs. But I don't know if you'd end up with everyone using the hardship rate--certainly, it's easy enough to convince yourself that you deserve a price break.

#374 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:46 PM:

albatross @ 373: A lot of concerts around here use a "sliding scale" (last night's was from $6-$10); attendees pay anything they want within that range. My understanding is that hardly anyone pays less than the maximum. It's possible that the higher cost and lack of a face-to-face transaction would change that in the case of a convention, though.

#375 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:04 PM:

An aside about price discrimination, because it's something that really made the idea make sense to me way back when I had a microeconomics course, years and years ago: think of how you as a consumer approach a purchase offered at a fixed price. At some level, you decide (probably not in any clean rational way) whether the purchase is worth the $X they're charging for it.

If they're charging exactly what it's worth to you, then you're kind of indifferent to buying it--you feel like you're made just a much better off by buying it as you're made worse off by having $X less in your pocket. If they're charging more than it's worth to you, then you just won't buy it. If they're charging less than it's worth to you, then you get a benefit from buying it. In simple terms, if you would have been willing to pay $X+Y but only had to pay $X, you got $Y in surplus from the transaction. Imagine summing up the surplus from everyone who bought at price $X--people for whom it was worth just a cent over $X added only a cent to the total, people for whom it was worth $100 over $X added $100 to the surplus. That sum is called consumer surplus.

The goal of price discrimination is for the seller to capture the consumer surplus. In the extreme case, you can imagine a fairly intrusive interview process between the buyer and seller, to allow the seller to set the price very close to the absolute maximum that each buyer is willing to pay. This is more or less part of what college financial aid offices do--they want a lot of personal financial information from you in order to decide how much tuition you can afford to pay. Another clunkier example is these category discounts--a senior discount, a student discount, etc. Still another example is the kind of luxury brands that are functionally not much better than the normal brand--think Lexus vs Toyota. In all these cases, the point is to lower or raise the price for people who are likely to be willing to pay less/more for the same basic product.


Part of this involves lowering prices, but only for people who can't afford your normal price. That increases the total number of transactions, but still let's you capture most of the available value from each transaction.

#376 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:09 PM:

#366 Lee
I had a conversation at Renovation with someone from another city whose local convention is a shrunken long-established convention. He cited such factors as:
o long unmoving registration lines, which ticked off even someone who have been coming to the convention for decades, who said "I'm leaving and not ever coming back again!"
o prospective program participants not getting responses from programming until three or so weeks before the convention (or not getting information until actually AT the convention regarding being on or being on what program items)
o non-openness to entry by new people to participate and run areas
o Etc.

It is NOT "literary conventions are dying," the factors include any or all of disorganization, insularity, staleness, debilitation (older grayer fen often have limitations on energy, mobility, and ability to provide muscle power when muscle power is necessary...) unwillingness to let other people participate as other than minions, and other considerations where for example people have worked together so long and so familiarly with one another that it becomes opaque for anyone else to see any way to effectively get involved and participate providing any input that the conrunners are going to pay any attention to, much less become one of the people running things and making decisions about guests, programming, dealers, hours, pricing, events, etc.

New people have new ideas, some of which looked at from the perspective of experience are "Tried, doesn't, work, here's why." Some are new perspectives and have NOT been tried before. Some are things which failed for reasons that the tech at the time couldn;t support it or cost too much ("DiamondVision,": but years of tech advancements made big screen projection feasible and afforable and worthwhile). Some are different takes, or different insights.... but not allowing change, and people averse to trusting new people are a near-guarantee of declining general relevance, and downsizing....

Money is not the only motivator in the universe... money is a an accounting metric, it's an exchange medium. Someone gets X dollars per hour for working, and spends those dollars which come out to equating, "this is worth that portion of my time/income." There is a level of ":that is more than I have available to spend," but below that point, people make decisions all the time of what is more valuable to them... do they buy the $10.00 a pound ribeye, or go to a restaurant and pay more for someone else to cook a steak or some other entree for them, do they buy something else to eat at a supermarket, or buy lots of stuff and engage in a cooking orgy and freeze 50 pounds of stew to eat over the next six months.... do they go to DragonCon or Worldcon or ten local conventions, or spend 10 hours a day on Facebook and spend the time online and not going to conventions?

Some of it depends on -who- is there-- there were 1600 people who came to the George RR Martin signing in Burlington, MA, in July, some had driven for hours, for their opportunity to get two books signed and a minute to two asking and getting answered one question, lined up for many hours outside in the parking lot of the building, not even getting to her the talk before the author sat down and signing books... but to them, the hours of driving and standing in line were worth it....

#377 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:20 PM:

Open threadiness: just in case you're wondering, if you have a key or password used to derive a key, which is used to encrypt some data at some point, the key or password should just never be disclosed, unless thats how you intended to disclose all the data ever encrypted under that key. (Even then, disclosing a password leaks information about the kind of passwords you choose, so unless you're doing that in a seriously strong way (like the recent xkcd comic), you ought not to hand it out.)

Passwords and keys used to encrypt data don't really expire, unless you can ensure that every copy of the encrypted data I the universe has been irretrievably deleted. You can't. Passwords used to access systems can expire (that is, the password you use to login to your webmail server), but passwords used to derive encryption keys don't, because soeone could have saved a copy of the data encrypted under the old key or password.

This advice is retroactively offered to any Guardian reporters who might have needed it in the recent past, say when writing a book about Wikileaks.

#378 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:23 PM:

#371 Tim
Corporate members (including universities) of IEEE and AIAA etc. subsidize the student memberships, as a policy to try to get the students involved in the organizations to become not only members, but active members (as opposed to the bulk of the membership, who passively collect the publications they signed up for--often employers pick up half or even all the cost of the memberships--and may go to a conference or to local classes/workshops (again, usually paid for by employers).

IEEE in particular comes in for a LOT of criticism for being far too academically-oriented, focused on publishing papers which get academics degrees and tenures, but which at their worst, can be for things which theoretically ought to work, but which when a design engineer tries to implement, turns out to NOT work-- which IEEE when called, will admit, does not work, but won;t publish that it doesn't work "because there is no theoretical explanation of why it doesn't work." (Source of that anecdote, Douglas White, MIT BSEE 1974, MSEE, and Engineer's Degree (not sure of the years of those). I have a relative who's a retired entrepenur-design IEEE Life Member engineer who has similar complaints about IEEE publications. I have another relative who is less condemnatory, but he's been at MIT since the 1940s as student and then a staff electrical engineer, de facto making him part of the academic IEEE establishment....

#379 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Well. Remember that breathing problem I was having? The one that didn't respond to discontinuing a medication that had a side effect of yawning, or to antihistamines, or proton pump inhibitors, or any of that?

I think I need to go bra shopping. (DERP!)

Allow me to rant here about how the present FEAR OF NIPPLES OMG is what did this, as all my NEW "T-shirt" bras, with the currently nearly unavoidable padded molded cups, are the ones causing me breathing problems, and the old one I dug out of the drawer, with unlined cups, gave me immediate relief when I put it on, despite having the same band size and being allegedly a cup size smaller (IOW, the same cup size, because this old one was bought before the reboot). All Target brand, too.

You may imagine my vigorous swearing for yourself.

#380 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:32 PM:

#375 albatross

That class seems to have ignored the emotional dimension, though--there are organizations I refuse to join because I object to what I feel is price-gouging at me (those organizations which charge $60 for one person, versus $80 for a family membership). I might consider a membership worth $60, but the idea that the family of five people are paying effectively $15 each for membership while I'm being charged $60 for -less- service (often memberships include an extra pass or two usable for associates, familes get more such passes than the single membership types typically) irritates me sufficient that I refuse to join, particualarly if my income's been sporadic.

If they want me for a member and my money/value my participation, they can change their pricing
policy. If they won't, they obviously regard my participation as superfluous and dispensible. If they wanted me/valued me, they wouldn't have the pricing they have...

#381 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 02:46 PM:

A new Simon's Cat video is out.


Cat and mouse

#382 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 03:14 PM:

A good friend of mine is stage-managing a production of "More or Less I Am" which will be playing in Manhattan in a couple of locations next week. It is a musical theater interpretation of "Song of Myself". The performances are free and the preview on YouTube looks like a lot of fun. I linked to a schedule and more info from READIN.

#383 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 03:55 PM:

Steve C @ 381... That reminds me of my Agatha the Cat Genius.

#384 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Diatryma @351: I can't think of anything Worldcon has to offer a college student who wasn't raised in fandom that cannot be more easily gotten at a cheaper local con.

Mileage, innevitably, varies. My first (non Star Trek) con was Iguanacon, during which I had the proverbial life-changing experience (in a good way). I then very enthusiastically went the the following MileHiCon, and had a spectacularly bad time. And the latter was produced by an intersecting set of the same fandom that would put on Denvention II three years later, at which I had a wonderful time.

Two things which make Wordcons for me: size (I'm extrovert, and I like, within limits, the energy of a nK con.) and non-locality. (Ironic that the very first people I met when stepping into the con hotel lobby after landing were fellow Boulderites.)

Sandy B. @352: Ahem. Yes. :)

Steve C @355: Ever see a dancing airplane?

Oh, WOW. That's even cooler than the robot bird.

Leaving aside the small matter of scaling and Reynolds numbers, I wonder how long it'll be before they have a manned version of that thing?

Russ @356: Wouldn't that have a side effect of making them think you were, well, kind of a dick? What are you supposed to do with them afterwards?

Oh, dear. I was hoping to kind of slide past that, since it was beside the point I was trying to make. I should know better than that with this crowd.

Okay, if you are a trusted confident or counselor of the person, and have their consent, you can then make use of that brief altered state, to assist them in whatever mental/psychological task you are there to help them perform.

If you do not have their consent, and/or are unworthy of trust, well. I would say the least bad outcome would be that they would decide you are a dick. I leave it to the student to extrapolate from there.

Does that help?

Serge Broom @369: brrrrrRRRRRRRRRRp

Steve C @381: Oh ghods. I was having a laugh with a caller last week about that very phenomenon.

#385 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:03 PM:

My comment, she has been Gnomulated.

#386 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:09 PM:

Paula:

There are a bunch of extra costs associated with price discrimination--buyers will go to some extra trouble to mess around with what category they're in, sellers will spend resources and lose business trying to enforce their categories (the classic version of this is the airlines' tiresome attempts to extract a little extra revenue from business travelers by making the flight much more expensive if it doesn't cross a weekend or isn't made long in advance). I think a more basic cost, though,is that it puts the customer and seller in a much more adversarial relationship that they ought to be in--Ive heard stories of airlines canceling return reservations for people who bailed out and didn't fly the last leg of some trip, because this was assumed to be a dodge around some of the price discrimination the airlines were trying to do.

An interesting related thing: the reason we all have to fly with picture ID is allegedly security. A federal requirement to use picture ID was the result of TWA800, initially thought to be a terrorist attack. (Of course, the ID requirement didn't go away when it turned out to have been an accident--what're you, some kinda liberal moonbat?) But the main push for this requirement was apparently because the airlines didn't like the existence of a secondary market in tickets, partially (as I understand it) because it messed up their price discrimination policies and cross-subsidation of competitive routes, etc.

#387 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:15 PM:

There once was an albatross post
Quite harmless to guest and to host
The gnomes have waylaid it,
I must have misplayed it,
Or else my post wouldnt be toast.

#388 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:25 PM:

albatross @387: But at least the Gnome-In-Chief seems to be on duty, as posts are getting fished out of the trap with gratifying promptitude.

#389 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:45 PM:

Steve C @381 - these are great! I've seen one before, but didn't realize it was part of a series. Thank you!

#390 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:45 PM:

Rikibeth 345: Sandy B. #344: The other is when your characters do things you didn't see coming.

I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

You'd like playing with me as GM, then. Years ago I discovered two things: 1. No matter how much I plan, the players will always do something I haven't planned for, and 2. The more I plan, the less fun everyone has.

When the players depart from the script, you have two choices: railroad them or wing it. After a couple of really bad attempts at railroading early on, I switched to winging, and some of my best adventures were entirely, as we say, wung. Sometimes I didn't prepare AT ALL.

Well...there was that one time when they said "Oh, we don't have to WALK to Namhal City. We can just turn into eagles and FLY there," and I said "Well, then we're done for today because I prepared all this stuff on the road and I'm not ready to play what happens in Namhal City," and they walked. And had fun. But things don't usually work that way.

Now I plan from the top down, and improvise the specific interactions. Whole characters have been wung into existence that way; in our most recent play session, I entirely improvised a library, with a character who could see "ghosts," which is what he thought a character with a don't-notice-me power was; much information was imparted via this character, and he made a prophecy that I will now bend the world to see fulfilled (actually it had been made visually before, but he put it into words).

Much fun is had by all. It does require a very high degree of trust between GM and players, but if you have that, you have everything.

Ibid. 379: I'm very glad it turned out to be something so simple to fix, annoying as it must have been to realize it! That was sounding like a serious health problem for a while there; instead, it was a serious bra problem. I believe the correct expression is 'chagrined relief'.

#391 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:05 PM:

How are you doing, Xopher?

#392 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:12 PM:

Xopher @390, your approach to being GM sounds like a lot of fun. You're reminding me of a book I've been greatly enjoying recently. It's Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, by Patricia Ryan Madson. A series of maxims on applying the principles of good improv comedy to the rest of your life. (e.g., start anywhere, pay attention, face the facts, etc.) As somebody who badly needed a boost out of my rut, I'm finding it helpful. Highly recommended - not to you in particular, it sounds like you don't need it - but to the fluorosphere in general.

#393 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:13 PM:

Paula, I think that the best solution to your problem is to make Worldcon cheaper for everyone. Or scholarships. Or early supporting memberships, which are a lot easier for people who can commit to going because they know they'll have the money for it. But mostly making Worldcon cheaper.

And I wouldn't get a discount either... but again, not a Worldcon person until it's either affordable or someone else is paying for it.

Also, your reply to me was almost two thousand words long. I know that this is important to you, but I think that I would know it's important to you with half that.

#394 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:14 PM:

I'm OK, Serge. My speech isn't back to normal, and won't be for months, if ever, but my Gilda's Club (cancer support) group says it was better this week than last, so even though I don't perceive that, perhaps progress is being made.

Got a notification in the mail saying that my next followup appointment was rescheduled from September 12 to NOVEMBER 28! Called a Patient Advocate to ask about this. Turns out the whole ENT community is going to a gigundous conference the week of September 12, which makes sense; everyone agreed that scheduling me two and a half months later does not. Got rescheduled for September 19, which is fine.

In general: healing up and ready to go back to jobhunting. More than ready.

#395 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:27 PM:

kimiko, #368: There are some important differences between the larger anime-cons like Otakon and the SF lit-cons like Worldcon. First and foremost, I think, is that the big anime distribution companies both sponsor anime-cons directly and do a lot of advertising about them in venues where fans are likely to encounter it. If you're an anime-fan at all, you probably know about the existence of these cons whether you've ever been to one or not. I even have a manga, from one of the large distributors, that's set at an anime-con!

Contrast this with the number of people who are SF fans who have no idea that Worldcon even exists. A couple of years ago, I posted something about our local con here, and another regular from Houston said, "I had no idea that there was a con local to me." We still have a lot of trouble getting the word out, and especially getting it out to people beyond the ones who already go to cons; I'm in charge of "street team" flyer distribution for our con, so I have to think about these issues.

Tim, #371: There are conventions, and then there are trade shows, and comparing the two is apples and oranges. Trade shows tend to be very pricey, because they draw people who either (1) are attending on the company dime or (2) can write off the cost of attending as a business expense. Which is not to say that Worldcon doesn't have people in those categories too, but it also has a lot of attendees who are just fans, are paying every cent out of their own pockets, and who won't get reimbursed by an employer or get a break at tax time. Of the two events you linked to, are they more like Worldcon or more like a trade show? What's the proportion of people who are there for non-professional reasons? (Asking because I don't know anything about either one; but you could just as easily have said the same thing about MLA, and that is a trade show.)

#396 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:33 PM:

Xopher @394, glad to hear it. All the best for continued progress.

#397 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:43 PM:

OtterB 392: Xopher @390, your approach to being GM sounds like a lot of fun.

Damn, now I want to GM a bunch of Fluorospherans at a con. I even have a simplified system that anyone can learn quickly, devised by my friend Dave.

Could be a while before that happens, if it ever does.

#398 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:51 PM:

Rikkibeth, I had the same problem only it was swallowing, not breathing (which is a good thing, I guess?) and was caused by the shape of an underwire that pressed on precisely the worst place of the sternum. The world is full of these little traps.

I am not pleased with that part of reality.

The Simon's Cat video is as good a place as any to mention that we have confused the heck out of our geriatric dogs by replacing the extremely large and bossy striped cat who vanished in mid-July with two much smaller, faster, but just as bossy little ones, a classic tabby named Stewie, now ten weeks old, and a spotted tabby named Lana, four weeks older. The dogs both like cats, and, indeed, feel uneasy when we do not have a cat in the house, but these two are at their period of greatest activity, creativity, and general whackiness, and some times an old dog wants to hide, you know?

#399 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 05:54 PM:

Lee @ 395: AES is definitely a trade show; I've never been to AWP. But Worldcon has to rent a convention center, just like a trade show does, and they don't get anywhere near as much income from companies renting booth space. There are all sorts of ways of looking at how much a Worldcon should cost, but the minimum is obviously the amount that won't lose a significant amount of money, and it's not clear to me that Worldcon is priced much, if any, above that.

#400 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:21 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 380
I might consider a membership worth $60, but the idea that the family of five people are paying effectively $15 each for membership

Except that as the father of 3 preschoolers, that's not at all what it feels like. It's more like "you can pay for a regular mambership, and 3 tickets, and then you can bring the children if you want to." I think that the idea that a pre-schooler gets the same benefits from a museum membership that I do is implausible.

#401 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:21 PM:

I can't think of anything Worldcon has to offer a college student who wasn't raised in fandom that cannot be more easily gotten at a cheaper local con.

Honestly? Not to start a flamewar, but (working with a sample size of three, all over the past year) good panelling seems to be difficult to come by at small (and not-so-small) events. Living in Minneapolis, one would think that I could find a decent con -- but Minicon was ambitious but ultimately too small to pull off its subjects (though Scalzi definitely tried) and Convergence's paneling was an afterthought.

I went to Chicon 2000 when I was in my mid-teens. I didn't appreciate it as much as I could have -- but, as I walked out of Convergence, I thought, "I'm going to have to go to Chicon 7 just for the paneling."

Except that I'm now moving to the East Coast, so maybe the regional stuff will be better there?

Incidentally, speaking of the greying of fandom and how to combat it -- I'm going to be in New Haven starting late this fall. If there's an active fannish community that's closer than Boston or NYC, I'd love to hear about it.

#402 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:21 PM:

On price discrimination:

A couple aspects that I haven't seen anyone mention are differential usage rates between individual and family-type memberships, the "first one's free" effect for youth/student memberships, and the sticker-shock sales break-point factor.

Differential usage: While this doesn't necessarily apply to convention memberships, I imagine that there is an overall effect that a single person buying a membership for some repeat-usage event (e.g., museums, gym memberships) can be assumed to be a dedicated user who will squeeze a lot of value out of the access, whereas the beneficiaries of a family membership will cover a range of dedication ranging from "heavy usage" to "not actually interested but might be dragged along". So in some contexts it may be that a family membership that costs 150% of a single membership also only represents a 150% usage load on the system compared to a singleton user.

My impression is that many cultural-type events use discount memberships/tickets for younger participants in the same way that advertisers are more likely to target younger customers. Once you have someone "hooked" on your brand, you don't have to work as hard to get them as a repeat customer. If you entice a teenager to symphony or opera concerts with discount tickets, they're far more likely to turn into an adult regularly paying full price than they would if they never had any exposure to the events until they were in a financial position to buy full price tickets. This may be relevant to conventions in that inculcating people into convention-going habits at a stage in life when their expectations and life-schedules are more open-ended is more likely to establish them in con-going patterns than if their first exposure were at a later age, regardless of financial situation. The community, as it were, expects a long-term benefit from an initial investment.

On the sticker-shock side, Regardless of the relative overall benefit they are likely to get from an event, and as a gross generalization/average, a single economic unit (i.e., family) of 4 is likely to hesitate more about shelling out $400 for an event than a single economic unit of 1 will hesitate about shelling out $100 for the same event. So viewed purely as "what will the market bear?" the market segment that consists of multi-person economic units is (on average) less likely to buy on a per-person basis, and if an event relies on the participation of that market segment for viability, then it may choose to make concessions to gain it. Not "fair" in the sense of justice, but sometimes an economically necessary approach for the desired effect.

(Caveat: IANAE -- I am not an economist -- however I am a singleton)

#403 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:30 PM:

One advantage that a worldcon has over a local affair, no matter how wonderful the latter may be, is that the worldcon is the only place where one can meet very dear friends who live thousands of miles away. Let's not forget that.

#404 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Jacque @ 319: When they reach for your hand, take yours away.

Russ @ 356: Wouldn't that have a side effect of making them think you were, well, kind of a dick? What are you supposed to do with them afterwards?

I think you can observe the same effect by trying to parallel park your car on a not-at-all busy street. As you put the indicators on and stop and the reversing lights go on; there's always some pillock who'll come to a halt a metre behind your car, blocking your way. And just standing there. And standing there. For several seconds, until they finally notice the shiny lights, snap out of it and go around you.

Then you can park your car and mumble through gritted teeth.


Xopher Halftongue @ 394:

Belated congratulations on your recovery. Maybe a smooth, subtle progress is a good thing.

#405 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 07:07 PM:

Hear, hear, Serge. And that DOES affect young people in this internet age, even if they've never been to a convention before.

#406 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:10 PM:

Xopher @390, I look forward eagerly to the day where I can attend a convention where you'd be able to GM a pickup game of Fluorospherians. Any setting, and the more simplified the ruleset, the better!

My housemate/BFF and I originally met doing Amber Diceless PBEM gaming. We aren't doing that any more, but we still RP pretty regularly -- and it seems we've come full circle through the concept of rule sets and structures all the way back into a childhood-style game of Let's Pretend. Some characters taken from other media (we now know that the young Archie Kennedy was given his cousin Edward's outgrown pony, and Cook called him "poppet" and set aside a currant bun for him every morning), and some we made up out of our own heads. I tend to do the worldbuilding, she makes the central character, I fit the other characters around them. The worldbuilding grows out of the characters, and I keep discovering things that I didn't know I knew!

#407 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:26 PM:

Thanks Roy. Thanks Rikibeth, I hope so too.

#408 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:04 PM:

399
I remember that LACon II had a break-even membership point, and everything after they hit that point made it easier to have extra stuff at the convention that otherwise would have been unaffordable for the convention. (Break-even was 6000 members, and the budget at that point was $900,000, IIRC.)

Not only the convention center is rented, but also the chairs and tables in the dealer's room and other rooms. The budget includes programs books and schedules and badges (and usually the bags that hold them). And all the progress reports, and the ballots, and the postage for them. And the rooms for the GOHs, and probably a lot more I don't remember.

#409 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:04 PM:

Xopher: I gave up cons over 10 years ago and gaming well before that, but the prospect of playing in one of your campaigns is mighty tempting!

#410 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:21 PM:

PJEvans @408 -- all those, and a lot more besides. And they change. ConJose' went through close to 30 different major iterations as we gained money, added events, figured out what we could and couldn't afford, and kept adjusting up through the last weeks before the con; and even afterwards, as we converted budgeted numbers to actuals. We ended up at about a 3% surplus, IIRC (which is pretty close to pinpoint budgeting). I'll again shout out our long-suffering, hard-working Treasurer, Cindy Scott, as an amazing hero of the convention.

#411 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:30 PM:

Tom,. I give you the shorter treasurer-Elayne:
We have money; you can't spend it.

I seem to recall a certain amount of figurative standing on people when LACon II passed the break-even point, to keep them from spending the money they saw as Available, all on their pet ideas that had been (in their opinions) Underfunded.

#412 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Thanks Lila. In my current game, the players are ordinary people (hah) from 21st Century Earth, who suddenly wake up in highly modified bodies (gray skin that turns silvery in bright light, nictating membranes on the eyes, extra water capacity) in a strange world where the sky is continuously bright (and white from edge to edge). It's populated with elegant coal-black winged humanoids (I've described them as having the same relationship to gargoyles that humans have to chimpanzees) who are terrified of a race of people with skin just like our heroes', but otherwise quite different.

Currently they've made their way to the city, where they've been befriended by a local...nobleman of the subeconomy, shall we say. He's a man of many layers; they think his real story is that he's a "heretic" (too complicated to explain here) who wants to follow in the path of an ancient heresy that will lead out of the world. Since they want to get back to Earth, this is a good thing for them.

It's a world filled with bizarre beings, prophecy, heresy, mystery, and intrigue, and I'm proud of it. Well, except for the bits I stole. One of the Ancient Heresies is "The World is hollow, and I have touched the Sky." (No, nothing else from Star Trek has gotten in, just that one sentence.)

#413 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 10:51 PM:

Tim, #399: Now you see, I don't think Worldcon has to rent a convention center. It's true that a con takes up much more function space for its size than a lot of similar events, but there are also a lot of cities which have 2 or 3 hotels close together with between them enough rooms and enough function space for a 5,000-person con. And the heavy focus on "convention center", combined with the relatively small size of the event, is one of the things that's pushing Worldcon into smaller cities; the convention centers in larger cities either charge too much or want earnest-money guarantees too far in advance (vide Seattle for this year, but that sort of thing was happening as far back as the Nashville in '94 bid). What's the worst that could happen if the committee were to look at the option of not using a convention center?

(Tangentially: this is also one of the reasons that I still think going to a 2-year bidding cycle was a poor choice. There are a lot of professional organizations with annual conventions which line up their venues 4 or 5 years in advance, and are willing to put down money on them. We can't begin to compete against that, when any given city doesn't even know if they have the bid until 2 years out.)

#414 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 12:13 AM:

I'd love to be able to do local cons, but the last lit-featured con in my city died when I was a teenager. (Oh yes, there are plenty in the Bay Area. But traffic/parking/transit make those difficult propositions when you're not staying in town, so they count as long-distance.)

It's a bizarre thing. One hundred miles away is long-distance, but we'll travel 400 miles to see family. Maybe it's because food and accommodations are included in the latter.

#415 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 12:42 AM:

HLN: Local woman neglects to turn off remote speakers before watching the "Singing Vizla" video linked in the Particle, startling and confusing her SO in the other room. SO is sufficiently amused by subsequently watching video to forgive the shock.

In related news, local spaniel is confused by "Singing Vizla" audio, considers counter-howling to defend her territory.

#416 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 01:33 AM:

Zelda @415: local spaniel is confused by "Singing Vizla" audio, considers counter-howling to defend her territory.

Sounds like it's time for an update of the old RCA Victor dog

#417 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 11:48 AM:

#364 Lee

When were you a college student, and what did $25 buy back then? What did a low end car cost? They're up to $16,000 or more now. What were apartment rents? What was tuition? Or health insurance, which has been galloping along at annual rates of rather more than 10% per year increases generally year after year. Computers have gotten less expensive not only in relative terms, but absolute terms--the early IBM PC cost what, $5000 or some such in 1981 dollars with 640 K of RAM and a 5 MB hard drive?--but most other things have gone up, some very substantially.

For that matter, Worldcons have a lot more things going on at them and take up a lot more space now than eI started going to them--large artshows, more exhibit space, the fan lounge, teen lounge, children's programming and tracks, massively multitrack programming, much more elaborate setups for the Hugos and Masquerade, the pre-Hugo reception, the convention upcoming sponsoring the Hugo Losers' Party... each additional thing adds cost and complexity, most don't add a lot individually, but all added up....

#373 albatross
There have been ways in which economocally distressed people have been handled -quietly- on individual bases non-publically--funds contributed by friends to bring people who otherwise couldn't afford to go to the Worldcon--it was done for Martha Beck at least once, or quietly at the committee level for e.g. workers to get a cutrate who otherwise couldn;t afford the full attending membership rate--however, the key in those cases is the value that the people providing the benefit to the particular individual, feel -they-, or the convention as a whole, would be getting by having that particular person at the convention.

That is, those are particularized cases, where the people being given the special economic benefit, are providing a special value to the contributors/convention.... The recipients of the preferential treatment, are providing services/value to the convention, or their sponsors, which the committee/sponsors feel are more than the subsidy.

I'm, again, influenced by the pernicious behavior of "teenaged ratpacks" at "the Boskone from Hell" and the destroyers of Disclave, as influences on my views regarding encouraging the presence of people at SF/F convention locales based on "cheap entertainment!" exhortations, rather than, "This event is worth paying the price that everyone else is paying unless someone from their own pocket or for the benefit of the convention as a whole is subsidizing you -specifically- and responsible for your behavior thereby, and we are a community which we expect you will be a responsible--including financially and emotionally responsible, member of."


#370 Tom
There is a hidden cost in the "cheap" voters' memberships--they have to have spent at least the supporting membership price for the convention the voting takes places at, in addition to paying the voting fee, to get the lowest price for attending membership. That tends to get forgotten/overlooked.

#418 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 12:50 PM:

KayTei @ 343 - As a member of that younger generation of fandom...can I live where you do??

On greying of fandom in general:

Minneapolis fandom has by and large managed to not grey itself out. Of course, there are exceptions - last time I was at Minicon, I felt like the only not-parentally-attached person under 25 in several spaces. Marscon and Convergence so have a significant population of younger fans, and are getting even more with the work that GPS is doing. And I miss being a part of an active fandom like that.

Archon, otoh, drives me crazy. Last year, they moved to a phenomenal facility that let us be open 20 hrs, even if the two spaces were separate, with adequate food options available in the mall between the two halves of the hotel...and they botched the usability of space, and moved back to the convention center and well-detached hotel, where we are not allowed to have outside food (in the convention center) or bottles (in the hotel) and there are no restaurants close enough. It's not 'greying' in the traditional sense, because a few years ago some idiot wrote it up in the local major daily as being a good place to get all the beer you could drink for the price of a membership. But when you look at the fans and the concom, you can't work in a dept if you're under 30 and 40 is much more acceptable, and the people who are there during the day tend to follow this age demographic as well. Dr. Who and Steampunk have given it a boost in the younger crowd, but it's mostly an older crowd of fans and a younger crowd of drunks. And the concom takes any suggestion of how to possibly mitigate the frat problem as 'but we couldn't afford to/we've always done it this way'...I have been known to loudly wonder if any of the concom have been to a fan-run con outside of St. Louis in the last 10 years. If I had funds and drive and time, I'd call in some favors for guidance and start my own here.

When I go to other cons, some are older, some are very mixed. From what I can tell, newer cons seem to attract a lot more younger fen, possibly because the leadership isn't entrenched. Anime cons and media cons tend to be newer, and as has been discussed, can get big, fast. It seems that the older the con, the older the concom, the older the population. I'm seeing the slow decline of a lot of the 30+ cons in the midwest as they're failing to attract new, younger people (with Chicago's Windycon being an occasional exception, and even it is...not young). The midwest cons are the ones I know, having never been able to afford Worldcon or Arisia or Icon or Dragoncon. I don't think it's 'lit' versus 'non-lit' - see how far 4th Street has come in the last few years, and no one will doubt its lit status. And somehow, Minneapolis/St. Paul manages to support 7 SF cons and 2 anime cons.

Paula, on singleness and students and worldcon:

If it hadn't been for someone subsidizing my first con when I was a student, telling me to not worry about the hotel room or the gas, I would have been a fan, but probably not fen. There was no way I could have afforded Worldcon at that age, when I had enthusiasm and time and energy and needed the networking and experience, because of the connections I could have used *after* college. And I can't afford the full price now, not in the same quarter as Convergence and Pennsic. I am not unemployed, but I am on a commission based income that is dead in July and early Aug with my busy season hitting just after I come back from PA (or as soon as school starts and the heat breaks)...which means that most of the time, I'm working 60 hr weeks in late August and early September, with a hopeful payoff in October. My alternative, and the one I've always taken, is to not go to Worldcon, and thus be able to afford at least 2 or 3 other cons during the year. I hear you on singleness and having to pay for everything by oneself, however, students are usually on little to no discretionary income (according to one study I saw a couple of weeks ago, average student loans for 2011 are about $12k, over and above what they may be able to afford from their own jobs), children are expensive endeavors without income potential, and senior citizens are often on a fixed income. A 'working age' single person *in theory* has the opportunity to increase their income and the ability to work. Right now, that may be a bit of an unrealistic expectation...except that 90% of the country has a job. It may not be a good job, or well paying, or in your field. It may mean struggling to pay the bills off a significantly reduced income, either at a new job, or the old one that now doesn't pay as well (see: commission based, sales, in *this* market). A lot of those people aren't single, either. You are complaining about supporting one person on one income - many are supporting 2-4 people on that one income. Worldcon is a luxury, as are things like movies, dinners out, books, games, etc. They are things that at various times, I've not been able to afford at all. Discounts are there to make it easier to indulge...but it seems like you don't want to hear why someone else might also be in bad situations and "deserve" it just as much or more.

LMM @ 401 - Talk to me about why you think that panels are an afterthought at CVG? I know what my perspective is, but I may be too close to it.

#419 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 01:52 PM:

And, in HLN: Woman decides current home is too large for single and two cats. Closed Wed. on new, smaller, home. Is spending Labor Day weekend chauffeuring around family in town "On Vacation" instead of painting or packing.

New house has turret and gargoyle.

#420 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 02:17 PM:

sisuile @419 New house has turret and gargoyle.

I must say this does not give a mental image consistent with this being a smaller house. But I'm envious.

#421 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 02:22 PM:

Xopher at 394 -- keep that good news comin'! Truly, it's just grand to know that you are recovering so well. Blessings.

#422 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:01 PM:

HLN: Local man deals with excess pear tree output by home-canning pickled pears. Results highly satisfactory for all involved. Kudos to the U. of Georgia for the recipe.

#423 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:06 PM:

#418 Sissule

[Material below is jaundiced, unimpartial, etc. It's an emotional dump, from what some of the drivers which affected me, are... some of it is tantamount to boiled down brutal prejudicial partisan emotional essentials content: "People who get discounts society regards as worthwhile and Important and Deserving and Special; Society making me pay full price while subsidizing all those other general classes at my expense, regards me as no-account unwanted piece of shit to exploit which deserves no respect and no services and no perks and no deference and gets to pay extra for the privilege of negative respect and negative service... everyone ELSE is Important, you pay extra for existing and we're going to inconvenience you and charge you extra to provide convenience to everyone else" or "you're in the way of us putting someone else on a pedestal, so we're going to step on you for being in the way as we put other people up for worshipping"

[It also explains why I get so emotionally rancid regarding dinner plans and expeditions and such, at conventions... it involved deep-rooted reinforced childhood rejection trauma, with the two most extreme examples below]

[Worldcons formerly had flat rates for attendance based on when one joined, and it didn't matter how old your were, what your employment status was... it was egalitarian. Current ones aren't, and it pisses me off. Workers and programs participant reimbursements post-convention, was for having provided service to the convention without which the convention would not be viable, not for being Privileged Classes given special rates....]

=========================

Different people have different "luxuries" I don't subscribe to cable TV, I've been in movie theaters I think three times in the past six years (coincident with Readercon). I have a Boskone Life Membership purchased many years ago and get rollover membership in Arisia as worker and/or program participant, and commute to Boskone, Arisia, and Readercon--Readercon takes me about fifteen minutes to drive to/from. I rarely go to restaurants even when attending conventions. I almost never buy cosmetics (a coworker when I was in the Air Force told me I was "wearing too much makeup" when the only makeup I had on was eyeshadow and mascara.... stopped using cosmetics generally then and have gotten few remarks in all the 30+ years since then about it). I don;t spend much on clothing. I go to very very very few paid admission concerts....

Going to the Worldcon is something that lets me be with people that I in some cases I get to see once every decade or two....

Was it the convention to whom you were just another student to give a cut rate due to being a student, or individuals willing to subsidize -you- based on you being someone they wanted at the convention and would vouch for, or a friend of friends, that subsidized your presence at the convention? I've owed people for rides and sleeping space at convention and such, but it was on the basis of individuals' generosity, not on a class of unknowns getting special perquisites....

Hyperlocal Conditions behind some of my perspective (I am providing the paragraphs below as the emotional experiential basis of some of why I feel the way I feel about perks and class-based perks, and I fully admit it is high personal and based on what the summation is traumatic miserable experience as a child and teenager... I am NOT asking for pity, I'm attempting to explain the sources of why I feel the way I feel about certain things....

I'm sensitive to certain things in part due to a miserable childhood of "we don't want you around, but don't make us feel bad for you being left out by everyone where we can see you and feel guilty." I got the worst of both worlds--"don't sit at OUR table, go find somewhere ELSE to sit," from in more than one case, table after table telling me I wasn't welcome to sit at THEIR table. The two particular cases which stuck in my mind--one was at Camp Naomi, it was the -one- steak dinner at the summer camp session versus all the other meals of chicken stew or other lower cost stuff, and after being told to go away the third or fourth time, and everyone else sitting down to enjoy the premium meal which was going to be served, and me standing up exposed, nowhere to seat and nowhere -wanted- and rejected by all, I fled the building and went and hid under the bunkhouse the bed I was assigned to was in, lonely, hungry, rejected, unwanted, and uncared-about... The other such meal, was a Friday night social event at the synagogue in the small city I grew up in.

My parents were away that night, and my older sister (sole sibling) were in attendance with a cousin of my father and her husband. There was a meal, paid for by my parents. My sister sat with her friends. The cousin and her husband sat with other adults. About the children my own age, the less said, the better.... Nobody wanted -me- sitting at their table. I went out of the hall into the cold flagstone entry area (enclosed but not really heated, it was between the part of the facility which held the social hall and the synagogue's permanent seats for religious services, with a removable wall between the social hall and the sanctuary; and the office and classrooms, accessed by a door on the other side of the entry/small area. The east and west sides were mostly glass. I was lonely, hungry, feeling rejected, and nobody noticed/cared that I wasn;t inside eating at the social event....

Those are the two instances which were most prominent of that -general- sort of thing, quintessential rejection, even though the meals and my attendance were paid for--they took money for my presence and participation, provided no recompense or restitution or apology in any way, shape, or fashion (I was a kid, I didn't even know to ask--not that it would have happened anyway, and didn't even notice my not being there. I wasn't wanted, my presence wasn't wanted, but they took the money anyway....

The "feel guilty" involves schoolyard bullyism examples--rejected by all the girl cliques standing in front of the girls' entrance to the junior high school, each clicque told me to stay away from them, but then got pissed off when I stood by myself....

In none of the situations above did I have the option to not have been present in the first place (an additional element of the general misery of the my childhood was abusive bullying anywhere there weren't teachers present at the exact time and place, to prevent insults, physical assault, etc. To this day I have a psychic aversion to elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, which over the years festered until I couldn't even stand to go to the New England Folk Festival which used high schools as sites. I suspect that if I'd reproduced and had kids, I would have gotten over the aversion--I would have have different experiences to overlay, less negative ones, to change or at least modify the psychic resonances evoked in me).

When as an adult I gained the emancipation to make my own decisions about where to go and when with to a degree with whom to be around, the childhood implicit and explicit imprintings were strong influences, both consciously and unconsciously.

Anyway, the influence on the class pricings include, as best I can analyze (emotional stuff is NOT impartial as regards, attempts to analyze things which have emotional content, especially highly negative, anxiety-ridden, and often very very dark that were close to suicidally-depressive misery levels involved) include:

o "students"/schoolkids abused me and left me out--I was paying full price/full price had been paid for me, and I received no service, I received abuse to levels which were nearly suicidal--why should the class which promotes abusers and abusive behavior get a discount today and me have to pay more to support -them-, when the result to me not only is not neutral, but taking resources to me to reward the classes which have left me emotionally and financially damaged?
o That entire psychic damage of valuation of people and the "society" not only not valuing me as a member (except from the "walking pocketbook to suck resources from" perception perspective), but wanting me gone from existence completely (other than for sucking resources from.. they want the money....) and not present to make them feel any guilt... they wanted money from me, to provide/subsidize OTHER people's supper, and denied me not only the supper paid for for me, but denied me the right to even exist...

My response as an adult, "If the group is going to give the groups which marginalized me special privileges, and expect me to contribute extra for their perks, the hell with you! If you want something from me, show me that you think I'm worth, if not some special perk, then worth a valuation that is not penalizing me to give discounts to other people I regard as not DESERVING special perks!" You want families and give them special bennies and demand I pay more, because they're FAMILIES and I'm solo? You can get by without MY presence and financial contributions, then! Why should I contribute to something which emotionally upsets me and threatens me and rejects me and makes me feel unwelcome and my presence (but not my money....) unwanted?"
o "You pay, -they- are Important, you're cash flow to support -them- and -their- needs. They're -important-, you are cash fodder to exploit, abuse, and treat like shit. They deserve and get deference, subsidies, respect, benefits, public acclaim and accolades... you get -stepped- on [literally.... I STILL literally get stepped on/ walked into/over, shoved aside... I was carrying a cast iron fireplace grate feet out in Burlington Mall years ago, and three or four 6' males who didn't notice anyone under 5'6" who wasn't part of a couple, walked into the fireplace grate I was carrying...}"

===

For that matter, flying to and from Reno, I was appalled that the airline put in able-bodied members of the US military as priority boarders. What??? I spent six years in the military, and back then there were no such perks--nor, I feel, were they warranted then, or now. However, there is massive jingoism in force at the moment....

============

Student status is temporary. So, for that matter, unless one belongs to a fecundity-mandating branch of society AND being a parent who is assiduously enrolling and paying for optional childrearing expenditures of sports, camping, premimum colleges, etc., the status of being flattened with childcare expenses (there are parents whose childcare expenses are low who have kids... the extreme worst of the lot, get excoriated for "houses of horror" because they're not even feeding and clothing their children... I'm childless, because I never saw myself as having the financial and emotional resources to be a responsible competent parent... that is, between ADHD and far from ever having the income level to afford to house and pay e.g. a nanny or being married with capable-parent partner with income and skills and disposition for parenting, I deliberately refrained from reproducing.... I regard children as -people- and that children deserve to grow up with competent, caring, responsible parenting.... which I was NOT ever in the circumstances I was in, to provide... and I highly resent being marginalized for not being a parent. I could have reproduced, I didn't--my considerations were the well-being of the children I didn't have. I couldn't have provided them with an environment I regarded as appropriate, so I refrained from reproducing....

I try to not be abusive to people who -are- parents and appear to be being or trying to be reponsible parents. (The parent who ignores little Johnny or Jane trying to climb the meat counter in the supermarket or running into me, is a different situation. I don't automatically assume a screaming kid is the fault of irreponsible parents, one of my cousins was what today would be called a severely autistic child. A parent who shows no concern whatsoever, though, when their kid is running into other people or climbing into meat counters, is, again, a different situation... There are parents who apologize for that, and/or try to tell the kids to cease and desist. It;s the ones who don't, who get me irritated....)

#424 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:17 PM:

#422 Victor
The local gray and/or red squirrels almost completely denuded my pear and hazelnut trees of (green!) fruit and nuts.... sigh.

#425 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 03:24 PM:

Paula @424 I can share recipes for Brunswick Stew and Kentucky Burgoo, though nut-fattened game should probably get a simpler treatment to show off the flavor...

I could also Mongol a jar or two of pickled pears to you if you'd like.

#426 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:21 PM:

Paula Lieberman: I'm curious. Can you state explicitly in a 25-word-or-less sentence without elaboration, just exactly what it is specifically you want?

I ask, because I see your posts, and I get that somebody is shouting at me angrily about something that's wrong, but the tone and volume is such that I vear off and want to avoid that person rather than wanting to know more about what they're saying.

#427 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:43 PM:

Paula, I understand where you're coming from and how it's given you such a strong emotional response, but I think that when you take 2100 words to explain why your emotional backlash is so strong, it might be a sign that you should examine what you are saying should happen. Right now, it seems to be that you are saying that because it upsets you greatly and you perceive it as a personal offense, people who are not you shouldn't be given discounts in spite of the motivations for the discounts.

I can't agree with that, though I sympathize with the fact that it upsets you. I do not think that anyone decides to give a family or student discount because they value single people less than five-year-olds and teenagers. They give discounts because they want everyone to be able to participate, and certain groups of people are in general less able to do so due to cost. It's not that they value anyone more, it's that they want it to be possible for as much of everyone as they can.

There's a difference between, "I am really upset by this," and, "This needs to be changed."

#428 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:50 PM:

Paula Lieberman @423: I want to see if I understand what you're saying:

Your early history is full of cases where you were painfully excluded and ostracised, and that ostracization resulted in you being deprived of benefits for which you had paid in full. The emotional damage was further compounded when nobody (especially those in power who should have been looking out for your welfare) even noticed the ostracization. Further adding to your misery was the physical experience of hunger and upset, which went untended and you were left to fester in your own misery.

Is that right?

Situations where you have to pay full price for things that other types of people get breaks bring up all of that old experience, and so you want extra reassurance that your full-price contribution—and you and your presence—are valued.

Did I get that right?

#429 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 04:58 PM:

Diatryma @427: 2100 words to explain why your emotional backlash is so strong

Actually, at the risk of playing arm-chair psychologist, I suspect the word-count is coming from Paula's sense that her experience isn't being heard. Paula? Does my theory hold any water?

#430 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 06:18 PM:

Paula, with all due respect, I find it difficult to understand why your childhood trauma should be a defining condition on Worldcon membership pricing policies. I also cannot help being repelled by the ways in which your arguments here parallel those used by the Tea Party when they talk about people who aren't them. And in particular, I severely resent your assertion that single people and childfree people are the only ones NOT getting "special treatment" everywhere -- that's privilege talking if I've ever heard it.

There's a difference between "I understand" and "I agree", and I don't think people are failing to understand you -- they are failing to agree with you, and you're not arguing in a way that's likely to change that.

#431 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 06:35 PM:

On the "what is being done to combat the greying of fandom" issue: these people seem to be working on the problem.

Our daughter -- she's the one listed on that Facebook page as "president" -- can do quite a riff on the number of times she's been at conventions listening to people do the "where are all the younger fen?" routine, all the while seemingly oblivious to her presence.

#432 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 06:37 PM:

#428, #429 Jacque

It's more, "You see -them- as more valuable and desirable and worthwhile than I am/the class that I am in, because you are giving them/the class they are in, the discount and you're requiring me/the class that I am in, to pay full undiscounted price --regardless of actual income and employment and discretionary spending status. It's class discrimination.... You're charging me a premium, but giving the premium service to the people who paid -less- than you charge me!" -- There's the feeling of both emotional attack ("They're more important and they -deserve- better treatment than you do") and economic exploitation/marginalization ("There are five of them who got in paying the $80 family rate, consuming much more space and resources than I, who paid $60 to get in."

(Analogy, consider "all you can eat restaurants." People who consume a lot of food find them to be bargains. People who don't, tend to not patronize them.... because they're not getting value from them. A late friend, who was over 300 pounds, said, "Terror in the eyes of an all you can eat restaurant is the three of (him and two close friends of his, the three of them collectively weighing more than 900 pounds) walking into the restaurant.")

The background of feeling perniciously marginalized and rejected/subject to marginalization, comes from that miserable childhood--and from reinforcement being charged more for being -alone- and unsupported and vulnerable and subject to victimization due to not being accompanied, and being literally walked over by couples and run-into by kids whose parents aren't monitoring their children (though I hasten to admit, there are lot of parents who DO monitor their children, and apologize to people they run into, or try to prevent the kids from running into other people in the first place).

(Actually, I sort of LIKE seeing parents with kids in e.g. supermarkets when the parental attitudes look obviously like they are being responsible parents... I've even been known to compliment kids and their parents--because they don't get I feel get much explicit social approval for responsible behavior. Bad actors get all the attention, alas. To me, that is -wrong-. Approval matters.... )

====

In some ways, it reminds me of MarySueism, thinking about it. Instead of particularized cases, it's generic "give this class different treatment than that class regardless that that student is a Dupont or Saudi Prince whose annual allowance is more than the average person will earn in their entire life" or "that middle-aged fellow is on disability and is couch-hopping but is being charged $60 for admission, while that family of five of two parents, an adult child, and two high schoolers living in the four million dollar house with a half-million dollar annual income, paid $80 for all five to attend."

It's not means or merit, but -class- membership which is the basis for differential treatment and pricing... sort of like "dhimmi" status in Islamic countries, Muslims pay no poll tax and have rights not accorded to non-Muslims, non-Muslims pay taxes not levied on Muslims, and lack rights which Muslims have.... Pay more, for less....

#433 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 06:41 PM:

HLN: Area woman decides the second anniversary of leaving her ex is a good day to adopt a cat. Esme is black and comely and affectionate and more vocal than woman is used to in a plain old domestic short hair, but so far not at all hungry. She likes mirrors. Hopefully she will hate squirrels, but not until area woman builds a cat door, which will happen after a trip to Ikea to buy a hackable Lack end table.

#434 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:01 PM:

# 430 Lee

And in particular, I severely resent your assertion that single people and childfree people are the only ones NOT getting "special treatment" everywhere -- that's privilege talking if I've ever heard it.

is massive hyperbole. Somehow I doubt that families are getting special discounts in e.g. families organizations, if all the members are families, typically there is ONLY the family rate... if everyone in an organization is single and childless (or expected to be), there is unlikely to be a "family rate"

I never said "everywhere." I fail to understand why you persist in perceiving and claiming what I was writing when I specifically said I was writing from an e emotionally biased non-impartial personal[subjective] perspective, is me claiming "universality."

It feels like is a judgmental, biased, non-objective view, it is not Objective Truth, not, not, not! I was not claiming it was Objective Truth. Yet, you seem to be continually accusing me of that....

Objective-type commentary:
"Organization A charges $60 for a membership to a single person, and $80 for a family membership."

Subjective-type commentary:
"THIS IS NOT FAIR!!"

I was trying to explain why I feel the way I feel. Obviously, other people feel differently than I feel. People tend to see things from their particular perspectives/experience, and often don't consider other people having different views.

That goes for all sorts of things--people with "normal color vision" don't generally consider the problems that people who don't have normal color vision have on e.g. webpages designed by people who don't consciously think about color-blind considerations.

Architects STILL ignore ADA -- the Americans with Disabilities Act -- putting in steps which "look pretty" but which are noxious obstacles for people with mobility impairment, and all sort of other failure-to-be-responsive-to=-needs-of people with vision/hearing/mobility/etc. impairment.

There are the unintended consequences often of in trying to accomodate Group A, Group B gets shafted

PS, in a book by either Gies & Gies or Helihy & Herlihy, there was the interesting situation of the taxes in medieval Europe often being HIGHER on a farm owned by a married man than an unmarried man, because the taxing authorities, regarded the wife as a source of labor and productivity on the farm, making the farm produce more, and therefore, owing more in taxes commensurate with the higher level of production.... (and one of the reasons traditionally for farmers to have large families, was to have lots of people on the farm do to farm work....)

#435 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Janet BC #433:

I *really* want to see how you do that. (Not that I'm going to let the current beast out at all--she's just silly enough she might not find her way home.)

Anyway, congrats on your new feline mistress!

#436 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:05 PM:

#431 Debra

I have a friend with coffee-colored skin. The friend has said that as a child, adult parents of her friends, in front of her, would complain about people with dark skin, and the friend would think, "Are they blind? Do not notice what color my skin is?!"


#433 Janet

Congratulation of cat-acquisition (or perhaps, on being acquired by a cat! May the two of you have much quality time together!

#437 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:46 PM:

John Scalzi has announced, in Locus, the delivery to Our Gracious Host of a Novel, the title of which has previously been a secret kept by several thousand people.

#438 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:54 PM:

Heh - snuck that one by the gnomes, without even having to throw Scalzi's secret hand sign.


Janet - Congratulations on the kitteh!


HLN - Area man who has been slacking off on replacing old car had planned to spend Labor Day weekend surfing, is now grumpily shopping for the new car he should have bought a year or two ago. Hypo-Global News - world fuel consumption predicted to decline significantly.

#439 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 07:57 PM:

Lee @ 413: Now you see, I don't think Worldcon has to rent a convention center.

You may well be right—I don't know enough about con-running to have a meaningful opinion about that.

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 08:06 PM:

Y'know, Paula, I could go back and meticulously cut-and-paste everywhere that you DID say that ("wallets with feet" is the one that really sticks in my memory), and I suspect you would still claim that I'm exaggerating and putting words in your mouth. So why should I bother?

I get that you don't like pricing-discount structures in general, and Worldcon pricing discount structures in particular, because you see them going to people who aren't you and it just chaps your ass. What I don't get is why you seem to think that your personal opinion has to be the overriding criterion on this issue. If you hate it that much, you have the same option that's available to people who hate pretty much anything in pop culture -- don't participate.

You've amply demonstrated that you have nothing substantive to contribute on this topic, so at this point I'm going to confine myself to talking with the people who do.

#441 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 08:13 PM:

From Thursday night's gig: our most somber spong.

Appeared was a very powerful petty chief.
That you are in trouble, said Phoebe gently.
Don't half past two o'clock, and high time,
therefore equality of man.

Used a curious eighteenth century
Dealt the braggart a blow across the nose and funeral.
He became so angry that she was silent.

Accredit one or more of your own number to go
As already hinted that the tide of life would about women.
The weeks passed, there are windows in it of course,
yes but very.

My aunt says it is unfeeling.
Her house was as neat as wax.

What seduced him above all else
was carry on as usual.

#442 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:33 PM:

sisuile @ 418 -- Where do I begin? (This is going to be long and probably insulting to a number of -- I am sure -- very good people in the Minneapolis fan community. My apologies in advance.)

It's probably best that I begin with my experiences at Minicon this year. Minicon's panels were mediocre at best. The subjects chosen struck me as good -- specific, interesting, and with potentially a lot of meat in them -- but most of the panelists chosen weren't able to hold their weight (a few didn't seem to know why they had been chosen). Scalzi, from what I saw, did a lot of heavy lifting -- and, honestly, one good person on a (small) panel can carry it -- but the panels lacked expertise and it showed. (Socialization at Minicon, however, was excellent -- despite often being the youngest person in the room, I felt fairly well-accepted. I had several good conversations with people and stayed at the con late into the night.) Overall, Minicon made me wish I had been there back when it was big. But, hey, I think, there's going to be CVG (is that the abbreviation?) coming up. This should be good!

Then the schedule for CVG came out. I was underwhelmed. CVG's paneling choices struck me as mostly dull, overly vague (e.g. "Anti-Heroes" -- really?), and typically uninspired. CVG tried to cover too much ground (comics, movies, fandom, literature, etc.) and failed miserably at covering anything. There were several time slots where I wasn't sure there was anything I wanted to see -- and, at a big con with a lot of tracks, that says something.

The panels themselves were ok to awful. The ok ones mainly seemed to be the skepticism ones -- which, I get the impression, were not really organized by the CVG staff (Amanda Marquette, for example, was -- I believe -- brought in through reader donations?). From what I've seen, a lot of the success of a panel depends upon having really good panelists. The GOHs at CVG failed to impress me -- all the people were relatively obscure or had their heyday awhile back -- and none of them had (say) Scalzi's ability to carry a panel or to provide insight into random subjects. (*) The panelists who weren't GoH were also typically quite bad -- none of them seemed to have much expertise on their subject, and a lot of what they did provide was descriptive ("well, I guess such-and-such is an example of this, too") and not informative or insightful. I walked out of several panels (the panel on slash was so bad that my friends and I *still* rant about how ridiculous and clueless it was), and it says something that -- even looking at the schedule -- I still don't remember what I was doing some parts of Saturday.

So, here's the question that I posed to my friends (who, being fans but not fen, didn't have any idea how to answer it): Where were the big local names? I realize that CVG wanted to spread itself out financially (I guess -- how else can you explain how Minicon could get Pratchett and yet CVG got a bunch of mid- to low-tier names?), but how much effort would it take to bring in Bujold or Wrede or any of the moderate to big names that are local or regional who might have added insight into relatively clueless panels? I realize that there was a schism when CVG formed about ten years ago, but if the organizers haven't managed to grovel their ways back into people's favor yet, they either haven't been trying or everyone involved is incredibly dense.

So, CVG paneling: unimpressive, dull, and -- at times -- infuriatingly stupid. (I've been told the comics panels were better, but I don't really care about comics.) I had a decent time, but that was mostly despite the best efforts of the organizers.

(*) In the car on the way back from CVG, I got into a discussion about the differences between literary horror stories and audio horror stories -- and whether (say) podcast versions of literary horror stories can really give the same experience as reading said story. Five minutes into the conversation, I paused for a second. "See," I told my friend, "we've just obtained more insight into an issue than anyone gave during all the panels at CVG."

#443 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:34 PM:

over at the Great Orange Satan, ellid has a post about Books So Bad They're Good, including one familiar to people on Miss Teresa's terrace.

#444 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 09:47 PM:

Xopher @ 390

Yeah. My husband and I came to the discovery that as long as we know our antagonists' motivation, current positioning, and available resources, anything else was hopeless overplanning. As I can keep a character sketch consistent in my head far more easily than I can remember the next steps in a detailed plot arc, this works well for me...

#445 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:47 PM:

#4421 LMM

I haven't been to a convention in the Minneapolis area in decades, so I can't comment on the programming at them. I remember the 4th Streets I went to fondly, and remember the Gripe Panel at Minicon of male authors (who included Mike Ford) complaining--humorously, and NOT seriously about e.g. the "Ace Matriarchy" and female editors controlling SF/F and such, at which the audience was laughing so hard, it was not only audible in the art show sharing an adjacent wall, but was disrupting a panel on the other side of the art show!

As for why local well-known writers and editors might not show up at a convention, the causes range from not being invited to be on the program or being in deadline hell or having other commitments or a lack of time/money, to being ticked off at the convention or not considering it worth going to. Reasons for the last two include concom ineptitude or worse (ineptitude such as failing to get schedules out to program participants ahead of the convention, scheduling the person on program items the person said they don't want to be on or about which the person is not knowledgeabem, scheduling the person to be on program items at times the person asked to not be scheduled), being annoyed at the convention for the treatment that friends received from the convention, finding the convention boring or otherwise not worthwhile, disliking the facilities the convention is at, access issues getting to the convention facilities, or the persons' friends/associates not being at the convention and there not being anyone at the convention the person wanted to see who the person wouldn't see somewhere else.

I have no idea which if any of those sorts of things might apply keeping local notables from conventions you went to.

======================

#440

Oh, look, a FLOUNCE at me, with Lee in #440.

I did NOT invent the term "pocketbook on feet."
Someone else, another single woman, invented it, to describe the situation wherein single women get ripped off and treated as "You are single and you don't have Our Family Expenses so YOU get shoved aside and exploited for Our Benefit and charged proportionately higher fees because Families Need and You Don't..." Not living in New York City and getting around by car, I don't get the experiential part which includes getting run down by monstermobile conspicuous consumption baby carriages.... I am very GLAD I do not get that particular assault.... On the other hand, my reasons for preferring to use carry baskets in supermarkets, includes that the shopping carts in supermarkets around here, often have kids sitting in the basket parts of the carriages, with their shoes on, getting whatever was on the floor or what they stepped in or on, all over the inside of the carriage. A Massachusetts legislator actually filed a bill to try to outlaw having kids riding in the basket part of store carts....

#446 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 10:53 PM:

Sisuile @ 418
You're welcome to move out here, but I make no promises that it's not an artifact of the way my husband and I are tapped into things -- we ran large, loosely University-affiliated LARPs for about ten years, which got us a nice cross-section of alumni, community-members, and new blood. But given the 7pm - 4am typical scheduling, it was definitely a thing that tended to appeal to people whose (sleep) schedules were able to accommodate that sort of erraticism.

LMM @ 442
On the question of overly broad scope, I'll note that... okay, it obviously didn't work in that case, but I really do appreciate attempts to acknowledge that SF-F has had an influence on a wide range of other subcultures and genres. I'm more likely to attend something that acknowledges the diversity of expressions of SF-F ideas, than something that's focused entirely on lit...

More generally, I'll totally nth the folks above who've mentioned involvement and awareness as really good places to start improving attendance. Our social groups tend to flock, the more-so if our friends are working a geekvent. There isn't any reason why general SF-F isn't on the radar, except that nobody in our current circle works or attends those events...

#447 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 11:32 PM:

Paula @ #445: My criticism doesn't come from the lack of local notables per se -- it comes from the fact that Convergence clearly didn't want to spend a lot of money on one or two major GoH, yet apparently wasn't willing to spend the effort to get the local big names (who would presumably be far far cheaper and easier to attract) to show. A bird in the hand and all that.

#448 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 12:49 AM:

Am I the only fan of Warehouse 13 here? If not, am I the only one who was a bit shocked by Zef. Serqevp gheavat vagb na rivy gbeghere, Wvaxf qbvat gur evtug guvat ol fgbccvat ure, naq orvat sverq. Npghnyyl "n ovg fubpxrq" qbrfa'g ernyyl fnl vg; V'z cvffrq bss. V zrna, gung fhpxf, rfcrpvnyyl fvapr Wvaxf fnvq jung'f nofbyhgryl gehr va gur erny jbeyq - gbegher qbrfa'g cebqhpr hfnoyr vagry - naq gura vg jbexf ol jevgreyl svng nf vs jr jrer ba shpxvat 24.

#449 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 12:50 AM:

I've observed consistently, from the very start of my con-going, that the enjoyment I derived from a con seemed to vary as an inverse correlation to how well organized it was.

Badly organized cons leave the members to make up their own fun, or something.

#450 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 01:53 AM:

LMM @ 442

OK, I think I hear what you are saying. This may also be something where coming this year was not good for you. As someone who really does love cvg and is frequently on panels, it pains me to hear that you didn't like it.

RE: Big Local Names; We've already had them as GoHs, at least most of them. Pat Wrede has not been on the list, OTOH, she's not been publishing much recently. Neil's been there, as has Lois, Peg Kerr, John Kovliac, etc. We've had David Weber, Michael Sheard, Peter Mayhew, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint...It's not a money issue. And I would not call Cat Valente or Seanan McGuire 'obscure' or 'past their heyday' - Cat has been nominated for Hugos and Locus Awards in the last couple of years and won the Tiptree not too long ago and the Andre Norton this year. May saw her on the NYT bestseller list. Seanan won the Campbell last year, on the NYT bestseller list (also in may) and has been active on the filk scene for probably 10 yrs or so. It wasn't a case of not spending the money for big names - those two are becoming big names very, very quickly. I admit, I rarely if ever know the art/comics/media people, because that's not my segment of fandom.

Next year, we're supposed to have Lyda Moorhouse (for your local bug), Tamora Pierce (umm, squee!), Sharyn November, Ruth Thomson, and Bridget Landry said she'd try to be back (SQUEE! Only in fandom can you say, "No, really, I do have a favorite rocket scientist! And I broke her!"). The rest of the set aren't published yet, and I don't know if Bridget is coming as a returning GoH or as a private person.

Re: Panels - I will say that the only way to fix panels is to be on them. If you feel that you've got more to say than the panelists, volunteer. That's how I ended up spending the day in full victorian on the costuming track. The panels are only as good as the people who volunteer to be on them. That will start in November. We had two issues with attendance this year that will carry over - the date falling off the holiday weekend, and everything ended up being condensed this year, since something not-panels (reg?) took one of the rooms. Last minute (by cvg standards, so, may?), they lost a track and had to condense quickly. I don't know if that contributed to you feeling like it was an afterthought or no. I can tell you from experience that panels are anything but an afterthought to the concom, who take this very seriously. The generalist nature of the con, and panels that accept, welcome, and celebrate all the various forms of fandom are something they see as one of the greater strengths, and they try very hard to have something for everyone. Like the democratic party, this can occasionally backfire.

So - help fix it! Suggest your panels, *please* let programming know that a panel didn't work or that a specific person didn't have a clue, and they'll try to incorporate that information for next year. No guarantees, mind you - this is a fan run con. :)


(please excuse the code switching and stuff...I am not concom, though I was seriously involved in CVG at one time and it is still my 'home' con. It is easy for me to get a bit defensive and/or possessive about something so dear to me and mine, and I know you don't mean to make it feel like we failed. The goal is for you to have fun, and it sounds like you didn't have a good time. That's a failure state. I'm sorry. Try it again, and we'll try and make it better?)

#451 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:35 AM:

Paula Lieberman, your personal childhood traumas and adulthood frustrations --- even the ones I share and/or sympathize with --- are not an excuse for unloading on your fellow Fluorospherians.

#452 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:38 AM:

Xofer said: Am I the only fan of Warehouse 13 here?

No. And when we get to the episode you mention, (we've just seen S3#4) I expect to be ticked off by it in the same way you were. Curses.

#453 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:42 AM:

Sisuile @418: except that 90% of the country has a job

It's actually less than 60%.

As of Aug 2011, the US's labor force (the number of people either working or seeking work) was 153.6 million. That doesn't count people who've given up on being able to find work. It does include 8.8 million "involuntary part-time workers", people working part-time because they can't find full-time work. I'm not sure where the military fits.

The "civilian labor participation rate" (what percentage of the population is in the labor force) is 64.0%, and the "employment-population ratio" is 58.2%.

Numbers via the US Dep't of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

#454 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:48 AM:

#447 LMM

I'm a bit confused with your terminology, Convergence clearly didn't want to spend a lot of money on one or two major GoH, yet apparently wasn't willing to spend the effort to get the local big names (who would presumably be far far cheaper and easier to attract) to show.

Traditionally SF/F volunteer-run conventions spring for transportation, room, and food or a per diem for covering food and minor expenses for the GoHs, generally not providing honoraria however or actual speaking fees. Going the speaking fee route sets off all sorts of issues, regarding affordability for one things, if X is getting paid a speaker's fee, Y, Z, A, B, C, etc. are going to feel they they ought be be recompensed with speakers' fees, too, and that the convention should be a paid gig and not an expense instead to them to pay for things out of their own pockets.....

Most SF/F conventions' perks to program participants consist of complimentary attending membership and Green Room privileges, for being on the program, and no subsidy or payment for accommodations, meals other than whatever food and beverages might be available in the Green Room, the consuite, receptions, and at parties.

There are all sorts of tradeoffs running conventions--get too large, and the load on volunteer workers becomes untenable. Getting to a size that requires paid staff, would I expect the dynamics. Stop growing, though, and there can be charges of stagnation, or various sorts of exclusionary fannish elitism, or incompetence, or....

Minicon's downsizing I think proved that there is no good solution for preventing people from getting annoying, if intentionally shrinking a convention to try to keep it manageable for the volunteers running it.

The situation of Boskone and Arisia being a month apart in the same place, makes people unhappy who are in a position of having to choose one of the two to go to, for any or all of limited funds for going to a convention, limited time to go to a convention, or other obligations which need weekend days for in the winter....

Different thing pull people to convention, and keep them coming back. One of the peak experiences for me at the Worldcon in 2009 was unscheduled and completely as far as I am aware impromptu--a few people, who included TNH, started talking in a corridor in the convention center, and accretion occurred, with an conversation amoeba formed, that last for I don't remember how long--two hours? three? It ended when it was time for a panel about Mike Ford, which several of the people in the amoeba were on, and almost everyone else tagged along to be audience for--the amoeba was, after all, essential an impromptu Fluorospherian gathering, and Mike was a Fluorospherian....

Conversations like that amoeba, are one of the things that keep people coming back to Worldcons. There being a Worldcon provides a setting for those sorts of things to happen, which the convention itself doesn't directly precipitate, but rather, does enable....

#455 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:14 AM:

Yes, I am a Boomer. But that's just part of the reason I was giddily delighted by this stop-motion re-imagining of the Jonny Quest opening.

#457 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Paula #445:

Oh, look, a FLOUNCE at me, with Lee in #440.

No, that isn't a flounce. That's a plonk.

#458 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 01:32 PM:

Paula @456:

Oh, yum! Chocolate!

#459 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:07 PM:

sisuile, #450: Seanan won the Campbell last year, on the NYT bestseller list ... and has been active on the filk scene for probably 10 yrs or so.

And was up for a Hugo this year (under her pseudonym of Mira Grant). I was disappointed that her newest book just missed being out in time to get it autographed at Worldcon!

#460 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 02:08 PM:

sisuile @ 450: First of all, I can't volunteer at CVG -- I'm moving out East (to New Haven) in mid-October. That was my one experience there, barring a move back to Minneapolis in my future (which, as much as I might wish it, is unlikely, to say the least).

I didn't complain to anyone about the panels (except my friends, who generally were in agreement with me) largely because none of them were good enough to suggest that CVG was trying for anything else [1]. (Well, okay, the slash panel was in its own category of abysmal -- when several of your panelists are drunk [2], even at 11 pm, you're not even *trying* -- but, apart from that, the panels just seemed to be mediocre by design.)

A lot of my problems with the GoHs was simply that they couldn't carry a panel. Some of them may be there already, career-wise -- Valente is I guess reasonably big, although I'd barely heard of her before I arrived (but I've been reading scientific papers for the past few years -- and, to be fair, I was really only familiar with Scalzi through his blog before Minicon) -- but if they can't provide insights in real time on a panel into the subjects they write and study, they shouldn't be GoHs. And I've been trained as an academic -- I'm a big believer in expertise. I definitely don't feel qualified to speak on virtually anything other than my Ph.D. thesis in front of an audience. But neither do I appreciate listening to people who clearly had very little idea to say -- especially if they don't have the sorts of background that would make their opinions worthwhile. (Did anyone *try* to get Wrede on the fairy tales panel, for example?)

Anyway, I feel like I'm threadjacking over a topic that's probably of interest to maybe a handful of people here (maybe it's more interesting than flaming over membership discounts, though? :) ), but that's my opinion about CVG.

And, to add the big qualifier: My first con was Chicon 2000. The paneling was (as one might expect) comparatively amazing. I don't remember much of it directly, but looking through my con notes, I recognize a large number of the names involved in the panels I attended -- which I picked based on topic, not based on the people involved. That kind of raised my expectations, by a lot.

[1] Again, the skepticism track was the exception to the rule (though even there the moderation could have been a lot better) -- but, again, I got the impression (rightfully or not) that that track was managed less by CVG people and more by the skepticism community.

[2] Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised -- it is slash, after all, and it was 11 pm -- but I would've been far more interested in an academic discussion over the roots of slash fiction, or the slash community, or just about anything other than the Holmes / Watson lovefest that emerged before I left.

#461 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @ #448 (so glad you are on the mend!) I am also a Warehouse 13 fan and like hedgehog @ #452 I shall also be most upset when I finally get to that episode.

In other news, I have recently gotten news that my application to lease a very nice townhome in Pasadena near Caltech has been approved. DH & I move in on Sept. 10th.

#462 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 03:31 PM:

Paula @432: It's not means or merit, but -class- membership which is the basis for differential treatment and pricing... sort of like "dhimmi" status in Islamic countries, Muslims pay no poll tax and have rights not accorded to non-Muslims, non-Muslims pay taxes not levied on Muslims, and lack rights which Muslims have.... Pay more, for less....

Based on some quick Google lookups, I'm not seeing any immediate evidence that the jizya (which I assume is the tax referred to above) is still being levied by any current government, or has even been collected on any organized national level since the early 20th century. (Hamas would like to institute the jizya, but afaik has been unable to do so. Some non-governmental groups in other countries are using the term "jizya" to describe their extortion schemes, but that's different.)

For that matter, the jizya seems to've been viewed as a way of making non-Muslims share the social burden of the zakat, a tax/tithe applicable to Muslims only.

Does anyone have further information about any current legal enforcement of jizya? Or should that claim be consigned to the realm of lunar chiroptera?

#463 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 03:47 PM:

Paula @456 [chocolate links]:

Yay!!!

#464 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Dawno @ 461... Best wishes!

#465 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Am I the only person who thinks that white chocolate is an aberration, an inducer of cognitive dissonance?

#466 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:43 PM:

Serge (465): No.

#467 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:48 PM:

Serge, #465: My partner would agree with you -- he's fond of saying, "White chocolate isn't." Personally, I like it, no matter what it's called.

#468 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:52 PM:

Serge @ 464

Am I the only person who thinks that white chocolate is an aberration, an inducer of cognitive dissonance?

No. Also, white chocolate Nutella is a disimprovement.

#469 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:54 PM:

Thanks, Serge! (and I agree about 'white' chocolate.)

#470 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 05:02 PM:

I have not yet encountered this white chocolate nutella of which you speak.

I may have to investigate; it may not be the original but it sounds like something that might pair well with raspberries.

In unrelated open-threadiness, my husband's brother married a lovely lady yesterday, and I have not been this hung over since that thing with the Jaegermeister happened in 2003. [1]

If asked what I was drinking, the answer is "Not enough water, apparently."

But they are well and thoroughly married now.

[1] I -think- it was 2003. It's been years but not decades.

#471 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 05:06 PM:

I've had very good white chocolate (as in fancy truffles) that was worth eating.

#472 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Raspberries have been mentioned; I just had a good solid hand full of Autumn Bliss, in its finest form- the late June berries are all right for what they are, but the September ones, fat with sun: bliss. Last year I had them for the taking until the beginning of the first terrible November freeze, more precious and costly (as compared with the half-pints of wilted ones at the grocery store) with every diminishing day.

Standard back to school weather, too: mid-forties when the high school kids catch the bus at 7am, mid-eighties by the time they leave their coats under their chairs in their last class and take the bus home.

#473 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Avram @453: Numbers via the US Dep't of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So has the Republican Party gotten around to demanding this agency be abolish yet? (::meow::)

#474 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 07:37 PM:

Serge @ #465, in her book about chocolate Sandra Boynton describes white chocolate thusly:

It looks like this: [box outlined on page]
It smells like this: (scratch and sniff) [another box outlined on page, no scent besides the paper]
And it tastes like this: (cut and chew) [yet another box outlined on page]

#475 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Jacque @473 - Not yet, but I hear they want to change Labor Day to Job Creators Day and make everyone work mandatory unpaid overtime.

#476 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 07:43 PM:

Steve C. @455: stop-motion re-imagining of the Jonny Quest opening

Aww! I loved Johnny Quest. (That was before Star Trek came along.)

My Mary Sue version had me as the fifth (sixth) member of the gang, but as a talking leopard. (Hey! I was, what? Seven?)

But I always wanted to stuff Bandit in a sack and lock him in a closet. (Not least because he was one of those Plot Devices for when the writers got lazy. Also, lame human characters in dog suits really annoy me.)

Paula Lieberman @454: Conversations like that amoeba, are one of the things that keep people coming back to Worldcons. There being a Worldcon provides a setting for those sorts of things to happen, which the convention itself doesn't directly precipitate, but rather, does enable....

I think you've nailed my single most favorite aspect of Worldcons. They can happen at smaller cons, too, but are much more rare.

I think I was hopelessly spoiled in this by Iguanacon. The main hotel was a Hyatt Regency, with the big open atrium, which was undecorated except for a scattering of couches, comfy chairs, and tables. (In retrospect, it was quite shabby in appearance, actually.)

Being the main hotel, which also held most of the function space, that atrium was on the way to everything. And so, in order to have a fun time, all one had to do was station oneself there, and the con would come to you.

The next closest ideal space was the Minicon Con Suite penthouse in the old downtown Radisson across from the Merchandise Mart. I got to go to just three of those before they tore it down.

It was big enough to hold a good half of the 3K attendees, and at the same time had open/intimate spaces where one could hang out and get sucked into those "amoebas."

Serge Broom @465: No, it's just a contradiction in terms. And a strategy to extract revenue from processing waste.

#477 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:10 PM:

Dark or bittersweet chocolate is to eat.
Milk chocolate is to give to children.
White chocolate is an ingredient.

For example, when I've made Black Hole Brownies in the form of a cake, I've frosted said cake with a ganache made with cream, white chocolate, Cointreau, and orange zest. It's damned tasty. So let's not damn white chocolate out of existence entirely, please.

#478 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:31 PM:

I'm one of those heretics who likes a well done white chocolate. Do I need to stitch a white C to my clothing now?

#479 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:40 PM:

Jacque @476, following on Steve C. @455:

I loved Johnny Quest... My Mary Sue version had me as the fifth (sixth) member of the gang, but as a talking leopard.

I loved Jonny Quest too. I didn't Mary-Sue myself into the gang, but I had an all-out crush on Race Bannon. Yes, I knew he was a fictional character. And your point is?

#480 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:46 PM:

OtterB, I was hot for Race too. I especially loved the ep where he dyed himself blue and couldn't scrub it off. I think I worked myself into a preadolescent lust frenzy over the scene with him in a small washtub, scrubbing and scrubbing!

#481 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 08:47 PM:

In regards to con amoebas: I went to the Tor party in Reno, spent a bit of time there, and hooked up with the folks I knew--fellow Flourosphereans. Which is how I ended up in TNH's hotel room, listening to some notable personages such as Tom Whitmore and Dave Howell.

It's also why I didn't get out of the corset until 1:30AM. Oh, well.

#482 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:06 PM:

OtterB @479: I had an all-out crush on Race Bannon. Yes, I knew he was a fictional character. And your point is?

Haji was my main man. :)

#483 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:07 PM:

I once tried to make truffles out of White Chocolate. It did not end well. Picture off-white Flubber...

#484 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @477: let's not damn white chocolate out of existence entirely, please.

Tell ya what: you can have my lifetime allocation of white chocolate. Suits?

Fade Manley @478: I'm one of those heretics who likes a well done white chocolate. Do I need to stitch a white C to my clothing now?

I'm tempted to say "Yes" just (a) to be obnoxious and (b) because your image makes me laugh.

I will concede the possibility that I could be converted. I spent most of my life wondering what all the fuss was about wrt macadamia nuts. Then a coworker brought back some really good ones from Hawaii.

Oh dear. (The good news is that the bad-to-mediocre ones available locally are sufficiently repellant that I don't think I have to worry about becoming addicted.)

#485 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:16 PM:

Jacque, ask someone who's eaten my chocolates about my raspberry/Chambord truffles. They're a white chocolate ganache flavored with Chambord and raspberry, in a shell of white chocolate impregnated with dried raspberry powder.

You might hate them, but it wouldn't be the white chocolate you hated.

#486 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:24 PM:

CONvergence (which people seem to be abbreviating CVG) is a party con, people don't go to it for programming. Minicon is inconsistent, IMHO, and I go most years, and I'm on panels most years. If you want great programming in the Midwest, go to Wiscon, Memorial Day weekend, in Madison, WI.

#487 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:36 PM:

OtterB, #479: Race was too old for me, but OMG did I have a flaming crush on Hadji! Did you by any chance see the JQ hour-long feature that was aired some 14 or 15 years ago? It was part prequel (explained what happened to Mrs. Q) and part sequel (the boys were teenagers). Very enjoyable, and I still can't understand why any young woman of the appropriate age would pay attention to Jonny while Hadji was around.

Also, somewhere around here I have a copy of the JQ comic book, the issue where the boys were thrown back in time and met Richard III. It was given to my by a friend because it's written from the Ricardian POV -- at the end, you see the start of the rewriting of history to make Richard villainous.

#488 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:37 PM:

I have a double-fudge blondie recipe - basically white-chocolate brownies.

#489 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:51 PM:

Dawno @ 461:

Congratulations on the move! If you need some help on the Pasadena side of things, drop me an email (kesutt at the place known as gmail.com).

Serge @ 465:

More white chocolate for me, then!

#490 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:56 PM:

Keith, that's so kind of you! I'll keep you in mind, for certain.

#491 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 09:56 PM:

Keith, that's so kind of you! I'll keep you in mind, for certain.

#492 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:01 PM:

sorry for the double post :-(

#493 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 10:49 PM:

The Cartoon Network sporadic series The Venture Brothers is a mean-spirited, violent, vulgar depressing spoof of Johnny Quest and I totally love it.

#494 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 11:38 PM:

Add another fan for the original Jonny Quest series, and of Race Bannon. :) That stop-motion opening sequence was amazing!

Question, though: did other watchers of the 1964/65 series bother with the later incarnations? I didn't, mostly because (a) I was such a fan of the original animation that the newer versions looked too "cartoony" and (b) none of the newer voices sounded right. I can't watch Warner Bros. cartoons made after Mel Blanc's death, or Muppet-y things made after Jim Henson's death, for the same reason--with different voices, it's like I'm watching impostors.

Re: white chocolate, I'm happier with it as an ingredient than as the main event, so to speak. Although I wouldn't mind being a taste-tester for a batch of Xopher's raspberry/Chambord truffles, were it not for the fact I'm on the wrong side of the continent to make it practical.

#495 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:25 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue @485: Jacque, ask someone who's eaten my chocolates about my raspberry/Chambord truffles.

::thinks about it carefully::

Nah, I think I'll wait to be persuaded by your truffles in their proper persons, as it were. :-9 :-)

Lee @487: Did you by any chance see the JQ hour-long feature

I saw adverts for that, avoided it on general principle. It's worth seeing? I also vaguely recall a resurrection series, wherein they inserted a young girl to be part of Haji & Johnny's team. Didn't watch that one either; seemed to me like the very definition of "fifth wheel."

I still can't understand why any young woman of the appropriate age would pay attention to Jonny while Hadji was around.

There were a whole lot of those around that time where $LEAD was much less interesting/attractive to me (and a lot of my demographic) than $SIDEKICK. Kirk & Spock, Napoleon & Illya, Kelly Robinson & Alexander Scott.

This tendency (I think it was almost a mandated formula) carried well into the '80s. In my personal experience, Blakes 7 was the first one to challenge that dynamic by dumping the lead and bringing the sidekick to the fore. Much to the show's improvement, IMHO.

That was one thing that really caught me about Stargate Universe: it was almost a reversal of that. First few episodes, I presumed that Young would be the lead and Rush the second (disregarding for the moment that they were in opposition). I was startled and delighted when I realized that the reverse was true.

Syd @494: Yeah, voices. That may be another reason why I'd avoided the remakes. It's amazing how important that aspect is. Like it's astonishing how much difference the competence of the foley art can make in the overall quality of a movie.

#496 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:45 AM:

Aside from white chocolate's usefulness for drawing or writing on dark chocolate, I think of it somewhat the way I think of carob - it's not a substitute for actual chocolate, but as its own thing it's ok, for instance as a candy that you might fill with raspberry goop. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is something you actually can use as a substitute for real chocolate if you're desperate :-)

#497 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:37 AM:

Mmmm, chocolate snobbery. Using delicious food as a way to look down on others. My favorite.

See, I like white chocolate. A lot. And I like milk chocolate rather a lot, too. But I find dark chocolate bitter and unpleasant, just like I find hot food painful and unpleasant. Apparently this desire for things that actually taste good is an aberration, something to be ashamed of.

I get really, really crabby about all the people who decide what I like is an "abomination", like their taste is the Ultimate Abstract Arbiter of All That Is Good, and I'm a fool for not following it.

Don't like it? Don't eat it.

More broadly, I find better conversation comes out of people talking about what they like than what they dislike. There's a place for criticism, but then it's wise to do intelligent criticism, not just tribal hating-on.

#498 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:19 AM:

HLN: woman assembles power tools, safety equipment, builds ceiling-high double racks for hanging fabric. Gains almost fifteen square feet of floor space with much more sturdy storage, despite greater height. Blesses Home Depot for cutting dimension lumber to specs without surcharge (some stores).

#499 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:50 AM:

Abi @497, well, that's just because nobody's clued you in to the Great Secret of Biblical Scholarship: The word "abomination" (or rather, the Hebrew word sheqets, which is one of several very different words covered that got translated as "abomination") is actually better translated into modern English as "awesome". Think of the various things so described: shrimp, ham, cooked sacrificial meat, cool statues of deities, magic, and a variety of sexual practices.

#500 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:02 AM:

I'm not clear on the ML formula for referring to oneself in the 3rd person ... but have been feeling jittery due to a shortage of medication this weekend.

#501 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:31 AM:

I'm sorry to contribute to making abi crabby. :-(

Of course my One True Way applies to the only of the inside of my mouth (which constitutes something less than two cubic inches of this Blessed Universe). For me, that's whole joke about things like "chocolate snobbery" and why I find it funny and ridiculous.

If it comes off as anything other than me making fun of my own childish provincialism, I'm sorry. That means I'm being clumsy, thoughtless, and need to craft my jokes more carefully.

And occassionally, the joke results in someone making "threats" as in Xopher's @485 that offer the challenge of a possible delight it might never have occurred to me to try.

I think it's important, though, to have the freedom to talk about things we don't like, too.

For example, Abi @497 says, See, I like white chocolate. A lot. And I like milk chocolate rather a lot, too. But I find dark chocolate bitter and unpleasant, just like I find hot food painful and unpleasant.

I then find myself thinking, "Oh, I'm not alone about either milk chocolate or dark, and I'm right there with her about hot food." And that this person shares these tastes with me is another suggestion that I might think about revisiting the white chocolate question.

The trick, of course, is to express our preferences, and enjoy our snobbery jokes without making it sound like people who don't share our tastes are anything but fellow people who have different preferences.

#502 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:44 AM:

Mmmmm... Zero Bars. It's been years since I had one. And I want one NOW, dammit.

#503 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:46 AM:

My sincere apologies, abi. Had NO intention of setting myself up as Arbiter of Things Chocolate, but was expressing a personal taste. It isn't that I don't enjoy milk chocolate, for example, but that my tastes have changed over the years and I now find I prefer the greater intensity of darker varieties. And Trader Joe's once sold small tins of dark chocolate wedges flavored with either chipotle or ancho chiles, which I found to be the bee's knees--not something I'd have expected based on my tastes when growing up.

However, had you told me 25 years ago that this would be the case, I'd have stared in disbelief. Much the same as if you'd told me when I was 12 that I'd wind up a big fan of both broccoli and cauliflower.

#504 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:54 AM:

iamnothing @500: Are you referring to posts like Carol Kimball's @498? Note the prefix of the acronym "HLN." This stands for Hyper Local News, which is a category of news which Fluorospherians have practiced taking to silly extremes. (For, after all, what's a day without silliness?)

The game is to report some personal experience which is worthy of note (or not) in the manner of a news article.

#505 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:55 AM:

abi: sorry for the quote. It was truly intended only as a "see, you're not the only one at all" to Serge, but I do see how it could come across as a slap in the face. Mea culpa.

#506 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 08:13 AM:

My apologies, abi... For what I said. And for starting it, even as a joke which, considering its subject matter, should have me thrown out of the... ah... bar.

#507 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 08:20 AM:

Bruce Arthurs #502: Zero bars do still exist, I know I've seen (and bought) them at the Mal-Wart checkout. I've also recently sighted Clark Bars, which are similar to Butterfinger, but Nestle-free.

#508 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:50 AM:

abi, I like dark chocolate, but the extremely dark chocolate (more than about 2/3 cocoa) is too bitter for me, too. It's close enough to eating unsweetened chocolate for my taste buds.

#509 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:05 AM:

David Harmon @507: Clark bars! Was that sighting also at the Mart of Wals? I don't shop there, under normal circumstances, so I'd have missed them.

I seriously thought they existed in some sort of space-time wormhole, only to manifest in bags of assorted miniatures at Halloween. And I LOVE them. Sightings of full-size ones in the wild would delight me.

#510 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:18 AM:

My wife said she preferred Benton Quest. The beard might explain why she said yes when I asked her to marry me.

#511 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:29 AM:

Rikibeth @ 509: Not only did I see Clark bars (full size) in the wild* last night, next to them were dark chocolate Clark bars. I am trying to be good about my food intake**, so I didn't pick up any, but my friend was intrigued enough to get one of the dark chocolate bars.

*Not at Mr. Walton's Market.

**I'd already splurged on cheese and salt water taffy.

#512 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:29 AM:

Sorry abi. I shouldn't have been so absolutist about white chocolate. It was intended as a statement of personal preference*, but it didn't come across that way. And I should know better. I spend a lot of foody conversations being vewy, vewy quiet, because the foods people are raving about make me go "Yuck!"

But I wouldn't want those conversations to stop. Most of them are quite interesting.

*Milk chocolate all the way. Everyone else can have my ration of white and dark, if they'll send me their milk. ;)

#513 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:03 AM:

Rikibeth #509: They're around, just have lousy distribution. You can get them by the box (if you dare) from http://www.neccostore.com/, or check the list of vendors at http://www.necco.com. (The Zero Bar is from Hershey, so check their site for those.)

#514 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:17 AM:

I must be really unusual. I like semisweet best these days. Used to like Milk best, still can't handle Really Dark. (Unlike my husband, who eats Lindt 99% bars.)

#515 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:39 AM:

The great overlooked factor in conversations about food is that tastes vary is a physical, as well as emotional, statement. Some people find that coriander tastes like soap. Some people find spicy foods more painful and less exhilarating than others.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that if you put the same food in a hundred people's mouths, you won't get the same signals going to the hundred connected brains. Even leaving aside associations* and allergies, I just don't think that the complex combination of taste buds and olfactory cells are the same in everyone around us. It's not like color vision, quite, because the same person may be quite sensitive to one thing and all but dead to another†.

I notice it in my own family, where my daughter's tastes are more like Martin's and my son's are more like mine. And it's the only explanation for the ways that people do react so strongly to foods. And these things change over time as well: what we loathe in our youth we may love in our age.

-----
* I can't eat raisins, or any other dark fruit, with chocolate. Too many episodes of carsickness after raisinets.
† I'm more conscious of color deficiencies now, because I'm working with someone who's red/green deficient and not self-conscious about it. I collect color-deficient people, because they're useful for certain types of testing, but I'm aware that many people who might otherwise be able to help me don't want to be singled out for that factor.

#516 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:43 AM:

Toblerone sells a white chocolate version, at least sometimes. I believe it's available around Giftmas in the States, but I find it more often here in Germany. The addition of the honey and nougat works well, IMO.

#517 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:57 AM:

Re: White chocolate

One thing that's worth noting is that until fairly recently (2002) there was a clear FDA standard for what could be called chocolate, but no such standard for white chocolate. So there were a lot of nasty, waxy, processed food products claiming to be white chocolate, while tasting more like something produced by Crayola than Herhsey's. Even now, white chocolate is only required to be 20% cocoa butter.

(Which is certainly not to say that everyone who dislikes white chocolate does so because they haven't had good white chocolate. I just thought it was worth pointing out that the difference between bad and good white chocolate was and is even vaster than that between bad and good dark or milk chocolate.)

#518 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:08 PM:

#474 ::: Lila [re: Sandra Boynton's descriptions of white chocolate]

I thought this was funny, though I don't agree with it. Generally I prefer dark chocolate, though I seem to lack the gene that considers theobromine an opiate.

I had some of Xopher's confections at Denvention, and yearn for the next opportunity.

#519 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:13 PM:

For a period of my childhood, the Zero bar was something like the holy grail: glimpsed occasionally from afar, ardently pursued, but never actually grasped by anyone of my immediate acquaintance. And then I finally found a source, and...did not pig out, because as exotic American imports, they cost a fortune and even at that age I wasn't about to spend all my allowance on candy.

I haven't seen one in the wild in years, but I also haven't eaten a candy bar in years. And the handy Rare Item Locator over on Hershey's site assures me I can buy them at the local Target, of all places, so... quest time!

#520 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:19 PM:

Chris W. (517): That could be part of my problem. I do rather like some white chocolate, as long as I don't expect it to actually be chocolate. :)

But what do I know? I like Hershey's and Nestle's just fine. (Chocolate purists may now shudder in unison. ;) I did finally stop buying the really cheap chocolate Easter bunnies, because I'd rather have a smaller amount of name-brand chocolate instead of the waxy stuff.

#521 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:20 PM:

I've never heard of Zero bars before. I shall have to try one.

#522 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:23 PM:

abi #515: I'm increasingly of the opinion that if you put the same food in a hundred people's mouths, you won't get the same signals going to the hundred connected brains.

Definitely not -- at this point, that much is "known to science".

Some people find that coriander tastes like soap.

I thought that was cilantro... or is coriander another one?

#523 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:26 PM:

522
Same thing - coriander is the name used mostly for the seeds, while cilantro is used mostly for the leaves.
I wouldn't say it tastes like soap, but it's definitely an odd flavor. The flavor may be more noticeable with the leaves.

#524 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:32 PM:

coriander tastes like soap...I thought that was cilantro... or is coriander another one?

Different names for the same plant. Some use "cilantro" for the leafy tops and "coriander" for the seeds, but there's a lot of slack. Ditto which term is used for the root.

Folk wisdom notes that more guys dislike it, which implies that the soapy marker is sex-linked. Maybe a "dislike" on an X, overruled by a "normal" X, but dominant when paired with a Y?

#525 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:37 PM:

P.J. Evans - great minds...

Coriander (seed) is the distinctive taste in hot dogs.

#526 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:51 PM:

524
i heard that people with Northern European ancestry are most likely to dislike the flavor, while people with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern ancestry are less likely. There's genes involved somewhere in there.

#527 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 12:53 PM:

I've seen Zero bars, and other confectionery oddities, at a regional discount chain called Bi-Mart.

Fans of this sort of thing should check out Candy Freak by Steve Almond.

http://www.stevenalmond.com/candyfreak.html

In which the well-named author visits regional and second-tier candy makers.

#528 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Re: birthdays, recognition of

As this is not a Dysfunctional Family Thread, I'll limit the angst. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Likewise, something broken but comparatively trivial may not be worth the effort.

When I set up my yearly calendars, I note family/friends' birthdays, anniversaries, and events like the explosion of Krakatau, Ralph Carr's birthday, and the Defenestration of Prague. When a birthday rolls up, I focus good wishes and send them into the aether, but don't usually write or call, as then that person would Hate Me.

Writing this out shows me how weird this is.

Same for things mentioned here. My behavior generalizes, to a degree, to gifts, though I had no trouble with the cranes. So thank you, Xopher, for getting cancer so I could examine my peculiar early (mis)wiring. /"humor"

#529 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:23 PM:

[warning, vision scientist]

Abi mentioned at 515 that dichromats* (e.g., red/green colorblind individuals) are good to keep in mind when testing software - in the lab where I'm a student, one of my colleagues is a dichromat, and as such, we can't run him in certain experiments. From a vision scientist perspective, assuming normal trichromatic vision is interesting - certain stimuli are invisible to this colleague (my Amazing Girlfriend has a directional motion experiment with isoluminant red/green dots, which is utterly impossible for said colleague to visually parse, for example). On the flipside, if one has dichromatic vision, having someone with trichromatic vision look over things like figures or scientific posters is a really good idea - certain design elements look fine dichromatically, but are much less salient to a trichromat.

[end vision science ramblings]

Abi also mentioned being curious about individual differences in taste perception between individuals - that isn't my end of the field, but I'd wonder if anyone has done fMRI on the question. At the very least, the different activation patterns should show the scale of the differences between subjects, although what those differences actually mean would be a rather open question. I'd be surprised if whatever could be seen there was particularly huge, but given the wide variation in taste perception (at the very least, the differences in chemical sensitivity on the tongue; nontaster/taster/supertaster), individual differences in cortical networking, learned personal preference and innumerable other factors, it'd be interesting.

Ok, I should stop writing this and get into lab. There's vision research to be done. Even on labor day.

*I'm a second year graduate student in psychology who studies human perception. Here's some backstory on the terminology I'm using above, since it's how color vision is discussed in the field and in the classes I've taught for.

In the field, we refer to differences in cone-mediated color vision with the following terms: a person with all three cone types is a trichromat (S-cones, M-cones and L-cones), a dichromat has only two of the three (commonly, they're red/green colorblind), a monochromat has only one (or none - you could have no functioning cones and just rods, but that would have other effects). There are other variations on human color vision; some women have four cone types (quadchromacy), although this is very rare. Even more rarely, someone can have area(s) V4 and/or V8 damaged, and while they might have totally normal cones in the retina, they'd be unable to see color [achromatoposia] - someone with these lesions won't perceive color AND if they've had V8 damaged as well, they will have no memory of color.

If you want a good simulation of achromatopsia, spend ~30min in a room that is only lit by a sodium arc bulb (single wavelength).

#530 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:24 PM:

Because of the household culture in which I grew up (no this is not the Dysfunctional Families Day thread...16 days and counting for that), I did not encounter most herbs before I grew up. Since said upgrowing was immediately followed by removal to the UK, almost all of my herb names* are British.

In the UK, even the leaves are coriander. "Cilantro" always sounds distinctly American to me.

----
* Including the word herb, which has an audible "h" in my idiolect.

#531 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Rats. Screwed up the point of that post, which was to send retroactive good wishes to Jacque et. al. and thank those exploring the topic (Melissa Singer) and those who replied to me.

Sorry, abi.

#532 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 01:43 PM:

Mary Aileen, #512: I spend a lot of foody conversations being vewy, vewy quiet, because the foods people are raving about make me go "Yuck!"

Same here -- cf. any discussion about coffee or beer or booze, and a lot of the ones about vegetables.

Now, I'm not too picky about chocolate; dark, milk, or white are all acceptable, though my preference is for dark at about the 70% level. However, I will defend the use of "abomination" specifically for the horribly-misnamed "World's Finest" bars (only seen as fund-raiser items), which are basically brown wax and sugar. Calling that stuff "chocolate" is just wrong.

Chris, #517: And then there's the (probably apocryphal) tale of how Cadbury tried to market its very milk chocolate* in Belgium, only to be told that (1) it didn't contain enough cocoa solids to be sold as chocolate, but (2) it did contain enough dairy to be sold as cheese!

Carol, #525: Coriander in hot dogs?!? Not that I've ever noticed; perhaps it varies by brand?


* Cadbury is the only brand of milk chocolate to which I object because it tastes too much of milk and not enough of chocolate. Someone else can have my share of the Cadbury Cream Eggs.

#533 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:17 PM:

Re: coriander in hot dogs

It's subtle, but if you check sausage recipes, it's ubiquitous (at least all those I turned up). Paired with mace, which I forgot. Most people can taste the mace.

Cultures that have pigs have sausage recipes, with the default being ground meat, salt, pepper [usually black] and garlic. "Kielbasa" is the Polish name for generic sausage. With fennel, Italian. With sage, "breakfast". Chorizo kicks up the heat/tang with red peppers and vinegar. Boudin (the Cajun one) has liver and rice.

There's a northern Italian one called "Cottechino" that features [Romano] cheese and ham, including the rind, fennel, mace, and juniper berries. We made a successful variation with a strong old goose (from Susan Crites) standing in for the ham. The meat would have been far too tough any way but ground.

#534 ::: Jörg Raddatz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:26 PM:

abi, IIRC, your husband has family ties to Limburg. If you ever happen to be near Aachen/Aken/Aix-l-C, I can recommend the Lindt factory there. They sell their regular products with 20 to 30 % off, products with reduced shelf life or torn package paper for about 50 % and broken truffels for a pittance, the kilogram for a few Euros.
Very fine for pre-holiday shopping.

#535 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:30 PM:

abi 497: I was really kidding, not realizing this would be sensitive area for anyone. My apologies. I know other adults who like milk chocolate too, and my first three lines in #477 were my esthetic instincts, which I would have expressed rather differently (see below) had I known this would be triggering. I didn't mean the arch judgement they implied as stated as anything but a joke (much like my calls for armies of peasants with pitchforks and torches to punish those who hang the toilet paper wrong).

So, my apologies. Here's what I really feel about the chocolates:

Dark chocolate is the minimum level of chocolate intensity that really gives me the flavor experience I want when eating chocolate. Bittersweet is better; when you get above about 85% cocoa solids, however, I find that the bitterness drowns out the chocolate flavor.

I find milk chocolate too bland for my taste. I may also have an aversion to it since working with large quantities of it in a melted state (in which it is a most unappetizing grayish brown). I've stopped working in milk chocolate (but for YOU I would work in it...if I still had a working tempering machine, and when I do again).

I find that white chocolate has no chocolate flavor, but is unfairly maligned due to its name. It consists of sweetened cocoa butter, and I use it primarily as an ingredient, flavored with other things. I have NOT been above popping a piece of it in my mouth from time to time AND enjoyed that experience...it's just not a chocolate experience to my palate.

Children are highly sensitive to bitterness and relatively insensitive to sweetness, which helps them get enough calories and avoid poisoning themselves when they're toddlers (that last bit is speculation on my part). That's why they like sweeter things and blander ones than most adults. That doesn't make a preference for sweetness and less intense flavors (like milk chocolate) childish, any more than is the ability to digest lactose (though most adults cannot - note the distinction between 'most adults' and 'most European-descended adults'; the ability to digest milk into adulthood seems to be mostly a gene originating in Europe).

Chris 517: So there were a lot of nasty, waxy, processed food products claiming to be white chocolate, while tasting more like something produced by Crayola than Herhsey's.

Early on in my truffle-making days I tried to use Ghirardelli Classic White chips as white chocolate, only to discover that they didn't melt right, and, melted, didn't stick to my truffles properly. Reading the label I discovered that they didn't have ANY cocoa butter in them at all! (To be fair, the label didn't actually say 'chocolate', hence the term 'Classic White'.) Ghirardelli does sell bars of real white chocolate, which I've used occasionally since; but those chips are bleaagggh!

Carol 524: Folk wisdom notes that more guys dislike it, which implies that the soapy marker is sex-linked. Maybe a "dislike" on an X, overruled by a "normal" X, but dominant when paired with a Y?

Well, I don't know the genetics of it exactly, but it's been said before on ML that what's really going on is that everyone can taste the 'soapy' component, but some people can taste another flavor that covers it. The ones who can't get the full force of the soapiness.

#536 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:42 PM:

abi @ 515 and Benjamin Wolfe @ 529:

I had to tidy up a graphics specification for the project I'm on at work. One of my very first edits was to explicitly state: "Color shall not be the only indication of a change in status," or something along those lines.

For any trichromats interested in what things look like to people who don't have full color vision, I would recommend Can Color-Blind Users See Your Site? and Fujitsu ColorDoctor. The latter is a pretty neat Windows program for taking what's on a website or on screen currently and altering it. Both were quite useful to me.

#537 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:45 PM:

abi @515 Taste profiles can also account for food preferences and taste interpretations. I wish I could find the reference, but I have heard a theory that says that people develop a preference for familiar flavors and flavor combinations as a survival tactic. If something in your environment tastes like food, it's more likely to be. If it doesn't, it might not be safe to eat.

Some cilantro haters (including some people I know) have been known to come around, shifting their perception of the herb from soapy to savory, so it's not entirely genetic. FWIW, my formerly cilantro-hating friends all grew up in households who avoided virtually all ethnic (I hate that word, non-Anglo maybe?) foods.

@530 Cilantro probably sounds distinctively American because that's the Spanish word too. I'd bet dollars to donuts that cilantro-eating spread north from Spanish-speaking America. I wonder what it's most commonly called in Canada.

#538 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:48 PM:

HLN: Temperature in Oklahoma having dropped to human-tolerable levels, area woman has a fit of productivity and cans eight jars of salsa. New cat does not comprehend that the canning dance (to the sink for a sterilized jar! to the counter to fill it up! back to the sink for a lid and a ring! clap it on before beasties get in the jar!) is a solo and tries to join in. Hilarity does not ensue, but then neither does a horrible steamy accident such as would make the actual local news, so cat will be forgiven.

(And first time canning in the new house, too. More evidence that the previous owner/renovator was more of a warmer-upper than an actual cook: textured walls adjacent to the stove. Yeah, try getting spaghetti sauce out of THAT!)

#539 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:50 PM:

P J Evans #523: Same thing - coriander is the name used mostly for the seeds, while cilantro is used mostly for the leaves.

Hmm... -- I must have heard that before, but I'd long since forgotten, so thanks! Here in the U.S., "cilantro" is associated with Mexican (and derivatives/fusions thereof) cooking.

Carol Kimball #524: Folk wisdom notes that more guys dislike it, which implies that the soapy marker is sex-linked.

A recessive X-linked trait would produce way more males than females -- the female incidence would be roughly the square of the male incidence (as a fraction of the population).

There are many ways to produce gender differentials in a trait! Notably, Male Pattern Baldness is autosomal, but its expression depends on testosterone levels. Effectively, it's dominant in males, but in females, it's both recessive and incompletely expressed (women get thinning hair, rather than baldness).

#540 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:50 PM:

KeithS @536 - I worked on a new software product from a certain large company that used the Red/Yellow/Green metaphor to communicate status both in its main interface and in the System Tray. Company UX standards dictated that a change of graphic as well as color was required. For some reason, the dev team didn't quite get this (nor did my manager) but in the end I prevailed.

How I wound up doing Product Management when I was really a Product Marketer is another story.

#541 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Lee @ 532

Coriander in hot dogs?!? Not that I've ever noticed; perhaps it varies by brand?

As far as I know, coriander (seed, not leaf) is the spice that makes hot dogs taste like hot dogs.

It's pretty ubiquitous in old-fashioned sweet-spiced[1] sausages.

1)I find it interesting how flavors date recipes. When fine sausage was a luxury product, it got luxury spices--black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, ginger--which is also typical spicing for meat dishes in India and (some parts of) the Middle East. Coriander-based flavoring is similar in flavor profile, and from the same era, but coriander can be grown in Europe. So the "traditional" European sausages often have coriander and sweet spices (think bratwurst, for example). My theory, based on making a lot of sausage and nothing else, is that using coriander was a way to stretch the expensive spices.


#542 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:53 PM:

Xopher -- I find that white chocolate has no chocolate flavor, but is unfairly maligned due to its name. It consists of sweetened cocoa butter...it's just not a chocolate experience to my palate.

That's pretty much my experience. A different name entirely would be helpful. It's kind of like when people say "it tastes like chicken" to describe a new-to-me meat. Then, when I'm expecting chicken, and it's different, I perceive it as "off chicken".

#543 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 02:56 PM:

I'm red/green color blind, and I made the mistake of going through the Seattle Science Center with my illustrator wife and spending time at the wall with the color blindness tests with her. She looked at me sorrowfully for days.

Then again, there was the time a few years later when we went through the San Diego Zoo at twilight. Suddenly she could see why color blindness had not died out as a trait, since I always knew where the camo'd animals were in the exhibits.

#544 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:07 PM:

539
That may explain why I'm shedding so much. MPB appeared in both grandfathers, probably also in great-grandfathers (not enough photos of them to judge).

#545 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:16 PM:

I also remember the software company that had developed a copy protection scheme that was unique in the industry up to that point. They had a painting of a hummingbird in a garden, and the package had a plastic grid overlay that would fit over the painting. To start the game you had to put the sheet in place, then look at the X, Y location and give the color that was at that spot.

I used to loathe that software package, and I encouraged customers not to buy it and spent much time wishing the designer dead in painful ways, often involving fire ants and honey. It's been many years since that package came out, however, and because most actuarial tables indicate that the designer is probably long dead by now "My bitterness against him has faded away and disappeared. I feel only compassion for him and if I could send him a fan I would." in the useful words of Mark Twain.

#546 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:16 PM:

SamChevre @541 I've had some blood sausages, particularly in an Argentinian style, that had spices like clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. I don't have any theory as to why blood sausage kept that flavor profile and others didn't.

#547 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:47 PM:

I am of the "cilantro tastes like soap" group, but the seeds (coriander) don't taste like soap to me.

Re colorblindness, I was intrigued to see that the National Weather Service's color radar page now has links to software that modifies color graphics for non-trichromats.

#548 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:54 PM:

Cilantro-tasting abilities are one of the classic genetic-linked differences, along with tasting some other bitter chemicals such as the ones in broccoli. I've taken some of the "can you taste this" test strip things, and with one of them my reaction was "ok, it's mildly bitter", while the guy running the test was saying "Theoretically I know that, but for me that one's still the nastiest bitterest stuff in the world, bleah!"

Kathryn from Sunnyvale has the "cilantro tastes bad" gene, and has complained about people at parties putting the cilantro next to the food. For me it was an acquired taste, because my mother didn't cook with anything much stronger than garlic and oregano and occasional chili powder, but I was happy to acquire it. (And yeah, the leaves are usually called cilantro in the US, because we mostly got it from Mexican food, though it's occasionally called "Chinese parsley" because Asians also use it.)

Larry Brennan@537 commented "cilantro-hating friends all grew up in households who avoided virtually all ethnic (I hate that word, non-Anglo maybe?) foods." My sister now lives in Hawaii, and when her kids had a "bring food from your family's ethnic group" potluck lunch at school, she made my mom's recipe for little almond-and-raspberry pastries. Mom got it from a cookbook rather than handed down in the family, but it's an English recipe and we're mostly Anglo, and they were a childhood treat that we'd really liked. (And it was certainly better than bringing one of our traditional Midwestern-American recipes, like green jello with canned fruits and Cool Whip.)

#549 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 04:48 PM:

P J Evans #544: Hmm. Initially, I was going to respond with "but did it start when you were a teenager?", but fortunately, I hit Google first, and it seems that indeed, "female pattern baldness" can kick in with advancing age (especially menopause) rather than starting early as with males.

Xopher HalfTongue #535: Cilantro: I don't mind small amounts of the leaf, but too much of it seems to reach a breakpoint. I never did get into cooking with coriander, and now I'm wondering if this is why.

#550 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 05:06 PM:

In re: color deficiency -- my father is a tritanope (a very rare color deficient who cannot perceive blue or green); i have tritanomaly (can see blue and green, but have trouble distinguishing them; also pink and orange). He sees blue or green as shades of grey; I see only one color for pink/orange, and only blue at distance (i.e., green looks blue).

It rarely causes problems, although I cheat by having my lenses tinted yellow.

#551 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 05:10 PM:

Comment is gnomulated (and thanks to the Fluorospherian who generated that word, above).

#552 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 05:13 PM:

Apropos of spices: Having just scanned my spice shelf (and no, I don't have coriander), I recalled someone mentioning that their "five spice powder" had six spices. It turns out that mine (Dynasty brand) has seven: Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Ginger, Cloves, White Pepper, and Licorice Root.

#553 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 05:20 PM:

Ginger, are you making gnomic comments again?

#554 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Okay, I'm still being a little becroggled by the idea that hot dogs have a distinctive flavor. I do sometimes notice differences between brands of hot dogs, but overall they taste a lot like bologna or Vienna sausage, sort of a bland "generic pork meat blend" flavor. I don't generally buy beef hot dogs (or sausage) unless I have a specific reason for doing so, such as for an event where Jewish or Muslim guests may be present.

Debbie, #542: IME, most of the things for which people say "it tastes like chicken" actually taste more like turkey. Except for rabbit, which tastes more like lamb.

#555 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:03 PM:

Pretty stuff made from paper...


http://www.behance.net/gallery/Paper-Sculptures/821168

#556 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:09 PM:

Lee #554: Hot dogs most definitely have individual flavor. Which is why I eat either Hebrew National or Nathan's (and used to eat Sabrett's, when I could find them, but they don't taste the same anymore) and almost nothing else. It's not just a matter of flavor, of course, there's a certain snap when you bit into the dog that makes a difference to the eating experience.

#557 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:11 PM:

Just reading along, reading along, reading aloud, then sweetie says "I think I'll go get some chocolate ..."

Yup, here he is with a nice assortment of (formerly) hidden treats. Thanks, all for making this p/o/s/s/i/b/l/e inevitable.

#558 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:22 PM:

Just went back to read the posts I had jumped over and found mention of a kilo of broken truffles for a few Euro. I wish! It reminded me of the discussion of candies in Mistress Masham's Repose. (And when I said so to my sweetie, he remembered the passage too. Is that why I love him?)

#559 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:26 PM:

Lee @487 Did you by any chance see the JQ hour-long feature that was aired some 14 or 15 years ago?

I don't think I saw it. I got some DVDs of the show for the kids about 8-10 years ago, but I don't think I saw that. Hmmm...

#560 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Xopher @553: Can't be; I'm not at orc. In fact, at the time, I was goblin ice cream.

(It's a sherbet there will be food puns in an ML thread.)

#561 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Yes, it's hobbitual with us.

#562 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:17 PM:

We can't elf ourselves.

#563 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:32 PM:

You folks keep dragon in the puns when it's just getting to be calm around here.

#564 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 07:56 PM:

Oooh, can I join in the faun?

#565 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 08:00 PM:

The distinctive spice in hot dogs is paprika, I believe. In Italian sausage, I'm pretty sure the primary spice is fennel seed, which tastes a bit like anise. I'm sure there is a sausage out there mostly flavored with coriander, but I don't know what it is.

#566 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 08:40 PM:

Jacque @504 : Yes, that's it. Thanks, I didn't know what HLN was, never having heard of Hyper Local News.

#567 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:02 PM:

HLN: woman returns from convention with case of Convention Crud. Obviously, woman had too much fun, or at least ran around too much.

#568 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:44 PM:

iamnothing #566: I'm pretty sure "Hyper-Local News" is a riff on theThe Onion. I'm not sure if they actually did it under that name, as I couldn't find any examples in their current issue -- now they're just calling the same sort of story "Local News".

#569 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Like Lila, I like coriander but not green leafy cilantro. Indeed, i am a member of the I Hate Cilantro community.

I was not raised avoiding ethnic and exotic cuisine. Steak tartare, curry, snails -- these and more weird foods appeared on the Sunday dinner table. I also remember when Mexican food was not overwhelmed with cilantro. It was used sparingly, like other herbs, as a seasoning, not to hide the food.

#570 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Dr Bronner's should make a cilantro soap, so that cilantro could taste like soap for everybody. (Dilute! Dilute!)

#571 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:51 PM:

Dill is another spice which some people love and others loathe. I have two friends who really hate it ("That's why they call it dill weed!"); whereas for me, a green salad is incomplete without a generous sprinkling of dill.

#572 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Hmmmm. The gnomes snagged my post. It had only one link, to the I Hate C*lantro Facebook group, but it did name the vile weed several times.

#573 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:20 PM:

David Harmon @568: Apparently CNN has a HLN show that was being advertised the last time I was in an airport. Not having cable or watching it regularly, I wouldn't have known this otherwise.

#574 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:29 PM:

I'd say that Xopher@535 pretty much speaks for me in re chocolate. My sweet spot is about 70% cocoa (although this varies a bit by brand; Lindt 70% is noticeably sweeter than Valrhona 70%, just for instance, and Lindt 85% is about where most brands are at 70%). If I can't get 70% and have a choice between darker and lighter, though, I'll take darker.

Bruce Durocher@545: Reminds me of a number of the Infocom text adventures -- several of them had physical bits that came with the game, and you couldn't finish the game (sometimes couldn't even start it) unless you gave some information gleaned therefrom.

#575 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Xopher @ 397 - Mel and I want to sign up, wherever and whenever that Con takes place. Glad to hear you're recovering well!

#576 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:47 PM:

Puns are all very well, but I prefer satyr - not that I mean to be a horse's ass about it.

#577 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 11:49 PM:

Gray, I'm not sure that's at all centaural to the discussion.

#578 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:08 AM:

Larry Brennan @537 re: abi @515 - Although I don't remember the sources exactly, that exact theory was put forth by one of my college courses, and I also heard it on the Nat Geo channel.

A quick Googling turned up a couple similar references and a very interesting new finding: Part of our enjoyment of high caloric foods (fats and high-density proteins) comes from a demand for high-energy (calorie) foods that emanates from the small intestine. We "taste" with our guts. This dovetails nicely with the "eat familiar to avoid poisoning" idea. The two findings can explain a lot of regional/local food preferences. :-)

Xopher HalfTongue @535 - I liked your original short version better... Since food is essential to survival, discussions of the merit (or lack thereof) of various foods is often filled with humorously bombastic hyperbole, and that was how I took it, even though you're dead wrong because everyone knows that regular Hershey bars, despite their pedestrian reputation, are a direct, physical manifestation of the basic Good in the universe! White and dark chocolates are convincing evidence only for the existence of angels and cherubs...

Have you tried either the dark or milk chocolates with sea salt? YUM!

#579 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:28 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 548 ...
Cilantro-tasting abilities are one of the classic genetic-linked differences, along with tasting some other bitter chemicals such as the ones in broccoli.

One of the stranger cases I've run into is identical twins[0], where one is fine with cilantro, and one reacts as though he's gotten a mouth full of soap.

[0] Yes, determinedly. No clue if one of them just happened to like the taste of soap. OTOH, the one that liked cilantro could be chased from the room by the smell of bananas[1].
[1] Yes, hilarity did occur on occasion ... and it was the other twin doing the chasing :)

#580 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:28 AM:

edward oleander @ 557: I believe that Hershey's chocolate can only appeal to people who ate it as children, and therefore imprinted, as it were. (I'm one of those people, BTW, but I love other chocolates, too.) Hershey's doesn't market that chocolate anywhere outside of the States -- when they tried, it failed miserably. The slight grittiness and sour flavor are the result of Milton Hershey's rush to get a process prototyped before his new factory was ready to go into production. It's a fantastic story. I highly recommend the book "The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars", by Joël Glenn Brenner. Hershey was a wonderful man. I was amazed at how recent an invention "eating" chocolate is.

When chocolate was giving me migraines, I was grateful to have white chocolate to eat for that sweetness and rich mouth-feel. It is a fantastic ingredient as a candy coating, mousse, and makes cakes with a very tender crumb. Its reputation is damaged by the things sold as white chocolate that contain no cocoa butter at all.

The very dark, very hard chocolates don't suit me. My favorite milk chocolate is Cote D'Or, which is sadly hard to get in the States. My favorite eating bar these days is the Lindt Excellence Chili Bar. The zing of the chili makes the chocolate flavor just explode in your mouth!

#581 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:29 AM:

Chocolates with nice crunchy sea salt crystals are utterly delicious; consequently, I'm often surprised when I go to a good chocolate section in some nice grocery store, and browse all the luxury chocolate bars in their seventeen flavor varieties, and can't find that combination. I'd think it'd be more popular.

#582 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:50 AM:

Serge Broom @510: My wife said she preferred Benton Quest. The beard might explain why she said yes when I asked her to marry me.

I have to say, I have a serious weakness for a nice beard. (Pardon the crummy scan.)

abi @515: The great overlooked factor in conversations about food is that tastes vary is a physical, as well as emotional, statement.

Variation the sense of taste (as well as the sociological phenomenon of "taste") is truly a fascinating thing. Physical and biochemical variations alone are mind-boggling in their variety. I'm a sugar junkie.* (I have run across things that are too sweet for me, but they're rare.) My mom was a salt junkie. (Anchovie paste on saltines? Yum! But you don't want to have to be able to actually open your eyes, the next day....)

I think science has begun to get a grip on some of the physiological drivers for variations in taste, but it's still bewildering in multitude.

Chris W. @517: there were a lot of nasty, waxy, processed food products claiming to be white chocolate.

Huh. This might account for my aversion. The white chocolate I've had that serves as, shall we say, my "imprint experience" was just spectacularly bad. Like sweetened, congealed Crisco with a dash of salt in it. Your account above suggests I stumbled into one of the worst offenders.

Hm. This means I may have to revisit this question. (I'm more than happy to allow Xopher to try to convert me, should the opportunity arise.)

---

* This is also why, when I'm just plain jonesin', I want milk chocolate. More satisfying, somehow. Though I won't turn down a good dark. I'm also very fussy from the standpoint of context. When I'm eating Toll-House cookies, I want them to have only semi-sweet chocolate chips. I leave the ones with nuts and other kinds of chips for other people to enjoy.

#583 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:56 AM:

Stop trying to get our goat, Gray.

#584 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:00 AM:

Question for the Fluorosphere: Is anyone familiar with CreateSpace (CSP)? I found an ad in which they're recruiting freelance editors, and I pretty much match everything they're looking for--but my limited Google-fu hasn't turned up anything about the company other than its being part of Amazon.com, and the fact that some authors have complained of scams by CSP while others seem to think it's a fine alternative to Lulu.com et al.

Since I desperately need work, I'm inclined to submit my resume and see what happens...but if anyone has info indicating the place isn't on the up-and-up, I'll skip it.

#585 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:12 AM:

edward, #577: Regular Hershey's Special Dark used to be very good indeed. Sadly, it appears that the recipe has changed sometime in the last 20 years or so, and it's now down to the level of "acceptable if there's nothing better on offer". Hershey's boutique chocolates (Bliss Dark, and their 60% squares) are still decent, though.

I must confess that I don't get the current fad for putting salt (and/or bacon, which I consider to be an extension of the salt fad) into everything. In too many cases, it turns out to be rather the reverse of "two great tastes that taste great together". The last time I was in a Ghirardelli store, I did pick up a sample of their dark chocolate with sea salt, and was underwhelmed.

However, it should also be noted that I don't like overly salty food in general; it's quite possible for even potato chips to be too salty for me. This probably explains a lot about my lack of enthusiasm for salty chocolate.

janetl, #579: Have you tried the Dagoba Xocolotl bar? I will try just about any chocolate-hot-pepper brand at least once, but that's the one I keep going back to.

#586 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:37 AM:

janetl @579 - I think you're right. Other chocolates (white and dark) are yummy, but the Hershey's is pure childhood-throwback, comfort-food bliss. They seem to be testing out some new formulations recently in the nuggets and kisses, all sweeter and creamier, but not as good as the original. Blessed be the memory of St. Milton! :-)

I've had several patients over the years mention chocolate headaches, but you're the first one to mention white chocolate as a substitute. I find it kind of bland by itself, but I'll bet it would make a yummy mousse, especially if swirled with dark mousse... Do you have a recommendation for a white chocolate with more robust taste than the rest (sans chili, I'm afraid, for I cannot do spicy stuffs at all)?

#587 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:07 AM:

Paula Lieberman@555 - Pretty stuff made from paper..
Wow - bet it's cooler in person, but even the photographs of it show a lot of interesting texture. Thanks!

#588 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:44 AM:

Syd @583

It's part of Amazon. which may be enough of a black mark for some. As a writer, I looked at what they provided, and the way they treat non-US customers--they want an SSN for tax purposes--is a bit more awkward than some of the established alternatives.

They've been around for quite a while.

#589 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:46 AM:

Tom Whitmore @572:
CNN's HLN used to be "CNN Headline News".

As to food puns and the like, I suppose in the ent it's moot (especially since it seems to have quickly gone the way of the entwives...).

#590 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 04:09 AM:

#575 Gray

Dante Confections makes a 98% cocoa chocolate, the other 2% being rebiana-A and vanilla. Expensive, but yummy

#580 Fade

I dislike foods which are very salty, and particularly dislike it when salt abrades my lips/mouth.

#581 Jacque
I -hate- the taste, smell, and texture of mushy overcooked peas, hate, hate, HATE them!

#584 Lee
Wow, something that Lee and I are in consonance about, regarding saltiness in food??!!!

#591 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:06 AM:

Jacque @ #581 wrote:

Chris W. @517: there were a lot of nasty, waxy, processed food products claiming to be white chocolate.

Huh. This might account for my aversion. The white chocolate I've had that serves as, shall we say, my "imprint experience" was just spectacularly bad. Like sweetened, congealed Crisco with a dash of salt in it. Your account above suggests I stumbled into one of the worst offenders.

White chocolate is the result of an evil conspiracy between British Sugar and the Lard Marketing Board.

That is all.

Your "imprint experience" is entirely correct (in the opinion of this moose).

#592 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:14 AM:

Jacque #582: Indeed, salt and sugar cravings/tolerance keys into metabolic issues as well.

My family (from Mom's side) uses a lot of salt on their food. (Fortunately for guests, our cooking tradition puts most salt on the table, rather than in the pot.) We tend toward salty table snacks too -- the various parents try to resist potato chips, but at gatherings, it's the saltier nuts, crackers, dips, and the like that need regular refilling, while non-chocolate candy dishes gather dust. The same group also has a strong tendency towards low blood pressure, to the point of occasionally being refused for blood donations. I do not think this is coincidence.

#593 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 08:11 AM:

I generally prefer milk chocolate to dark, mostly because then I can eat a lot of it. I didn't realize dark chocolate had a taste other than 'bitter and hard' until I had a Lady Churchhill's subscription and guilted myself into eating just a nibble of the chocolate that came with it. Guess what? In sufficiently small quantities-- like the smallest piece I can remove with my teeth-- dark chocolate tastes sweet and fruity when the bitterness is gone!

So now I will try the tiniest amounts of dark chocolate, hoping for the fruity aftertaste. Some don't have it-- I've tried 99% pure stuff and that tasted like charcoal must. Happily, I had a friend willing to eat the black-like-my-soul stuff.

#594 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 08:45 AM:

My dad's red-green colorblind, and has some trouble with greys and browns as well; this meant that when I was a kid sometimes he'd take me on shopping expeditions so I could tell him what color things were. Once this led to him walking out on a sale pretty much at the register, when the salesman ducked into the back for some reason and I said, "Dad, I thought you wanted a brown suit." The salesman had him set up with a grey one--the kindest explanation is that the salesman was colorblind too, in which case he should have been working in some other department.

Cilantro tastes soapy to me, but there's enough other flavor that I'm OK with it as an ingredient in things like salsa and curry.

But bitter I cannot tolerate; I hate dark chocolate, and until recently I had never had coffee that wasn't spit-it-out nasty. I don't know how this accords with my general dislike of alcohol, if at all.

#596 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:54 AM:

Fade #581:

I don't know if you consider Lindt to be up to your high standards, but a week or two ago I was sufficiently intrigued by seeing some of their chocolate w/ sea salt at the CM checkout that I tried it. Good enough, I'd say. (I'm having to limit myself to one square a day, but it's a real highlight.)

#597 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:39 AM:

joann @596: I actually have fairly low standards for chocolate. It's just that I usually only see sea salt varieties offered with the fancy-schmancy (individually hand-crafted by elderly artisans in a small cottage on an organic farm in rural Texas with the help of specially trained chocolate-llamas...) chocolate. I'll keep an eye out for the Lindt.

#598 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Lee (585): Have you tried chocolate-with-bacon-in? To me, the bacon was an acceptable substitute for milk (this was dark chocolate, I'm a milk chocolate fan all the way). I think it's a fat thing, not a salt thing, at least for me.

#599 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 12:30 PM:

Avram @ #570, Don't drink soap! OK!

Lee @ #585, Dagobah makes terrific chocolate, in many awesome combinations. In addition to the Xocolatl, I really like the one with lavender and dried blueberries.

#600 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Note: The hot-tip for the "Vizla singing" particle is broken -- it contains quote marks of the same kind as are used to delimit it, so the web browser thinks it ends before the point intended by the tip writer.

#601 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 12:44 PM:

Dave #588: The IRS gives them no choice regarding a tax processing number for anyone with tax reporting requirements. For US citizens this would be a social security number. For those not eligible for a social security number, an individual taxpayer identification number
does the trick. An ITIN looks just like a social security number. This is not some sort of oppressive requirement invented by Amazon. If I were a non-US citizen earning money in the US, I'd certainly want an ITIN so I could file the required US tax return, if only to get a refund of the 30% Amazon is required to withhold if I don't have one. Obviously this makes more difference to some people (high-paid foreign actor) than others (barely paid authors), but the IRS doesn't differentiate.

#602 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Jumping in on the Chocolate Bandwagon(TM). When I was a kid, I never liked chocolate much, probably because it made me congested. Pretty much the only thing I liked was chocolate Easter rabbits and that was probably just the novelty. Somewhere along the line, I started to appreciate the stuff. I think the trigger was when a co-worker brought a box of Leonidas chocolates back from a trip to Belgium.

At my recent wedding, we gave out chocolate from Theo as favors. Kids got bars, one milk with nuts and the other dark with bits of toasted bread, which got good reviews. Grown-ups got a box of four truffles which were a mix of chocolate types and fillings. The big hit was the Scotch Ganache in Dark Chocolate. They use excellent Scotch - 14 y.o. Oban!

If you live in or happen to visit Seattle, I highly recommend their factory tour. (Reservations all but required.) Even a visit to their shop is recommended as they always have samples floating around.

#603 ::: Tom Whitmore sees polite spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 01:47 PM:

larry Brennan @602 -- Theo is suspect for anti-union tactics. They may be all "fair trade" as far as other countries are concerned, but they aren't fair in their approach to their workers (or at least, they don't want their workers organizing).

#604 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:03 PM:

@Tom Whitmore - Spam? No. Just mentioning a local company whose product I happen to like. I wasn't aware of any anti-union actions on their part. Time to do a bit of research.

In my own defense, if you look at my history, I've been gone for a while, but have a LOT of comments in the somewhat distant past.

#605 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Larry Brennan (604): I don't think that was meant as a slur on you; it looked as if Tom's spam-spotting name stuck from his previous comment.

#606 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:28 PM:

@Tom Whitmore - this is the only reference I can find to anti-union activities by Theo: http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Theo-Chocolate-Reviews-E312146.htm

Maybe my search-fu is weak today.

#607 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:38 PM:

Xopher @577: Now, that's just taking lapith.

#608 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:40 PM:

C. Wingate, #595: (from the second article) Lofgren argues that today's Republicans believe they are better off if government as a whole is shown to fail

Isn't that pretty much exactly what we've been saying here for quite a while, and especially since the 2008 election? The ultimate Republican agenda is nothing more nor less than the complete dissolution of government, so that they can install (depending on who you ask) either a theocracy or (more likely IMO) a cyberpunk-like dystopia in which corporations own everything including the population and the churches.

Lila, #599: I don't care for the scent of lavender, so that's one I'd skip. But in addition to the Xocolatl, I adore their dark-chocolate-ginger bar.

Larry, #602: Oh, Theo is fabulous! And I second the recommendation for the factory tour, having lucked into one that wasn't quite sold out when we were vacationing in Seattle a few years ago. I had never thought to find chocolate that was over 80% without getting into what I consider baking-chocolate territory (i.e. too bitter to eat straight), but they have some.

Open Threadiness: People who attend cons in California should be prepared for the dealer rooms there to become a lot smaller, with many of the nationwide dealers absent. Pegasus Publishing just got served a notice that because he had over $5,000 in sales there for the last 3 years (on which he paid state sales taxes), he now owes back income taxes -- on the gross sales, not the net, and with 100% penalties for the two years that they never told him about.

Legal jousting will ensue, but the upshot of all this is that Pegasus will be canceling out of any California con for which he can still get a refund (and telling them why), and not booking anything else in California at all. At least one other dealer that he spoke to at Dragon*Con will be doing the same, and I can't imagine that others won't follow suit. And since we wouldn't go to a con in California without the expectation of making at least $5,000 in sales, this means they've just dropped off our radar altogether.

I thought ex post facto law was illegal in the US. Apparently California disagrees.

#609 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 02:49 PM:

Carrie 594: But bitter I cannot tolerate; I hate dark chocolate

I'm a little confused by this statement. While bittersweet chocolate may be too bitter for you, dark chocolate can be arbitrarily sweet. It does take a lot of sugar (equal weights of sugar and unsweetened chocolate still results in something that can be called bittersweet), but dark doesn't preclude sweet; it only precludes the addition of milk. Could you elaborate a little on this?

Gray 607: No, just a momentary lapith in common senth.

Lee 608: Wow, that deeply sucks about California. Almost as bad as Canada (where dealers from the US have to front the tax money for everything they bring in as if they've already sold it, and apply for a refund later...Canada's way of keeping small, but not large, sellers out of their market).

Strikes me that this has to be a mistake. In fact, it clearly is; just a question of whether it's just some overzealous revenooer mistaking his business for an individual, or whether it's a legislature in the grip of a Really Terrible Idea.

#610 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:10 PM:

Xopher: I have never had dark chocolate that wasn't unacceptably bitter. Even if it's sweetened, there's still an edge to the taste.

#611 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Hmm. Then ISTM that either a) you just haven't ever had dark chocolate that was sweetened enough (can't tell from your statement), or b) it isn't the bitterness per se that's annoying you.

Of course, it could be that the lack of the flavor/texture components associated with the addition of milk come through your perceptual apparatus as bitterness.

Test question on that: have you ever had chocolate that you perceived as both too bitter and too sweet? Ordinarily sweetness negates bitterness, but it's not guaranteed to work.

Please note that I'm not saying you're "wrong" or anything; I'm just trying to understand what's going on.

#612 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:47 PM:

David Harmon @522: Huh. In the first of the linked articles, Razib comments:

When mother and child differed in their taste sensitivity it affected their interaction. In particular, taste insensitive mothers perceived taste sensitive children (they are focusing on one locus and two allelic variants in a standard homozygote-heterozygote model with additive effects) as being more "emotional" than taste insensitive children. [Emphasis hirs.]

Yet another dimension offering insight into the brokenness between me and my mother.

#613 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 03:51 PM:

No, I have never had chocolate that was both. My experience is quite limited here, though, because I just avoid dark chocolate altogether. On those few occasions I have eaten it, by mistake or whatever, it does taste sweet; it just tastes bitter at the same time.

It might be that the milk in milk chocolate "smooths out" the flavor somehow. Similarly, a month or so ago I had some coffee that had cardamon in it--it actually tasted the way it smells, almost! I could taste the coffee as opposed to just "this is bitter and nasty".

#614 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:20 PM:

@448 Xopher HalfTongue

Am I the only fan of Warehouse 13 here? If not, am I the only one who was a bit shocked by (snipped)

I was going to start watching this show this fall, as it is just now becoming available on a channel I get.

Now: perhaps not.

#615 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:29 PM:

@533 Carol Kimball
Boudin (the Cajun one) has liver and rice.

It would not ever have occurred to me to think of "Boudin" as "the Cajun one". Or, did you mean, "the Cajun Boudin" as opposed to "Boudin is Cajun sausage"?

#616 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:43 PM:

Cheryl @615:
FWIW I parse that as a selector ("the Cajun version of boudin").

#617 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:45 PM:

So much about taste is learned that sometimes it's forgotten that there's huge genetic components to it; the Northern European ancestry map of cilantro distaste is suggestive in that celery and carrot allergies are most common in the Baltic and Northern Germany. I had constant conflict with my son over the necessity of celery in chicken and dumplings until his celery allergy declared itself in full form and he started having migraines and red eyes when he ate it. Looking back, the fact he puked every time he was fed carrots when just starting on solids should have been a red flag.

Also, chocolate: the best chocolate Hershey's ever made was the sweet, dark, well tempered, low melting point stuff that used to be in Mr. Goodbars. Hershey's Special Dark never had the brittle temper to compete with it.

And bitterness: in the past couple of years I've lost my taste for extra dark roast coffee, 70% chocolates, and broccoli. I was told in my earlier life that as you age your tolerance for bitter food increases, but that's not been my experience.

#618 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 05:54 PM:

Carrie, #613: There's merit to the idea that milk may smooth out the bitterness in chocolate for you. I could never understand putting milk in tea until I encountered the really strong Indian black teas; they're too harsh for me to drink without milk, no matter how much sugar I add. (And with the milk, I don't add nearly as much sugar!)

That experience would have tempted me to try coffee with lots of cream, except that I dislike the smell and flavor of coffee, not just its bitterness.

#619 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 06:12 PM:

My apologies, Larry Brennan. I forgot to reset my name. It's an occasional difficulty here, and I did not intend to imply you were spamming. Mary Aileen was right.

The stuff about Theo has shown up in local newspapers on secondary page -- no link available from my end.

#620 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 06:15 PM:

Lee @608

I have heard stories about tax collection in California for as long as I have been on the internet, which is early Nineties.

It seems that some American companies, with no obvious presence in Europe, will collect VAT when I purchase from them. Others don't. And there are complications: I have to pay the tax on physical goods, plus a collection fee.

There's also several security checks on credit card transactions, when I deal with a UK supplier, which seem to be completely unknown in the USA.

It's rather too easy to think the crooks are running your country. And are the stories of huge security breaches at US corporations a sign of less security, or of less reporting?

#621 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 06:25 PM:

Not a real problem, just an odd thing:

The last several times I've noted spam, my spam-spotting post disappears when the spam does. But others' spam-spotting posts are still appearing. Why the discrepancy?

Could be as simple as different moderators having different habits, I suppose.

It's a bit disconcerting because I typically switch computers several times in a day, and I use the last few names that were in the recent comments list when I left one computer to orient myself on the new one. It's very odd to be looking for my latest post, so I know where I left off, and not seeing it!

#622 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 06:59 PM:

615 Cheryl
It would not ever have occurred to me to think of "Boudin" as "the Cajun one". Or, did you mean, "the Cajun Boudin" as opposed to "Boudin is Cajun sausage"?
616 geekosaur ("the Cajun version of boudin")

...is right. Boudin, in France, is a delicate white sausage, often made with eggs and very much aristocratic food. It managed a sea change when it went Cajun (many versions) and became dark, spicy and earthy bayou fare.

#623 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 06:59 PM:

Mary Aileen @621:

It's to do with the threads on which the spam appears. Most old threads trail off into a deadspam + spamspot pattern. Their conversations are effectively over; if they're hit by too many spammers, we close them.

But Jim has expressed a preference that the threads regarding a certain fellow of interest to the Florida Attorney General not suffer that fate. People Google his name and find them, sometimes leaving comments of wider interest. If the last comments are the blog equivalent of old cobwebs and dust bunnies, that would cease.

Also, letting spam and spam-fighting take them over, while ironic, would be a case of Letting The Wrong Kind Of Bad Guy Win.

#624 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:01 PM:

Should have been written "geekosaur is right".

#625 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:12 PM:

David Harmon@592 -- That is interesting, and sounds a lot like my wife's blood pressure. Are there any other interesting correlations?

And, totally independently of the white chocolate thread, my birthday cake was devil's food cake, white chocolate ganache, and blackberry sauce. (seen here) Very Yummy.

#626 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:54 PM:

#347 VictorS:
The grayer the convention.... Some cons simply aren't willing to trust people to run functions until they've spent a decade or more as a gopher-or-equivalent. The result is that competent people with lots to contribute go away after several years of frustration. Frankly, why would they stay?

Those very same people also view the "you can't be in charge until you've been a gopher for several years" as insulting. They show up to the organizational meetings and then bail in less than a year after being repeatedly shot down without consideration. I worked on a convention for six months and then tendered my resignation because of this very thing. The committee's constantly straying off agenda aided and abetted my decision. (On the other hand, I got really good a redirecting digressions back on topic.)

#364 Lee: "The greying of fandom" is primarily an issue for long-running lit-cons, of which Worldcon is one. Young people go to gaming-cons and anime-cons and media-cons in astounding numbers -- a small anime-con runs 3,000 people. ... I can't believe that there aren't plenty of younger people who enjoy literary SF, so why aren't they coming? That's the basis of the "greying of fandom" issue.

Here's my experience with a small selection of lit cons. The (younger) fans aren't coming to because their favorite authors aren't coming either (SciFi/Fantasy). The convention is too expensive for anyone but a pro to attend -- and then write the costs of their taxes as a business expense (mostly Murder Mystery). A lot of the younger authors who are internet savvy show up to the Traditional convention hoping to tap into the face-to-face network and leave after a year or three because they're frustrated. What they're frustrated about varies, but in the end they do a Cost for Value Assessment and say "this gathering isn't worth my time and money."

Also, anime cons do a lot of "free" advertising on the internet by using virtual word of mouth. If you don't like tweeting, facebooking and hanging out in dedicated chat rooms, don't expect much youth to show up.

I got into Lit-Con organization for the networking opportunity for my writing. I stayed because I have a rule about giving back to a community that you want to survive. That is the only thing that keeps me doing the work. My Cost for Value Assessment for conventions keeps coming back in the negative numbers.


#373 albatross:
One thing that might be better for stuff like cons would be to offer two rates--a normal rate and a hardship rate, while letting people more or less just freely decide which one to take.

Almost everyone will take the hardship rate. The tricky thing here is to charge enough in entry fees to meet the convention's costs, but not so much that the con prices its self out of the fans' pocket books. Some horse trading with the hotels is needed for this. So is virtual word of mouth. Filing for non-profit status also helps. Ditto with setting a tight, no frills budget.

Less expensive cons mean more people have the opportunity to attend. Pricing yourself out of the market is easy to do if you don't keep costs down.


#627 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:56 PM:

Tom Whitmore @619 - No worries. I was more confused than anything else.

Re: Theo and unions, while any company impeding union organizing wouldn't surprise me, I can't find anything in the Seattle Times, the P-I, Seattle Weekly or The Stranger (which is the most likely of all to have coverage). Any idea which paper you might have seen it in?

#628 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 07:59 PM:

abi (623): That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

#629 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 08:01 PM:

abi@530

I think of coriander as the herb you can taste in mild - or just particularly well made - curries; the kind where the taste of the spices comes clearly through the heat (which is unfortunately rare...). I had never really heard of cilantro before reading this thread.

#630 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Jacque #612: Eep, I'm not sure what to think of that. It reminds me of a separated-twin study where the two mothers had very different responses to their sons' tendency to slather ketchup on their food -- one was upset about it, the other was "meh, whatever".

I noted above that my family is of the "salt at the table" persuasion. I have heard that some "salt in the pot" cooks take insult when a diner dares to add salt (pepper, etc.) to the food, perhaps resenting the implication that the cook "didn't get it right". (It seems to me that's more about acceptance of difference than about taste as such.)

Personally, I am exceedingly lucky that my Mom and stepmom were able to accept that I was and am a very different person than them. Even though Mom never really understood me (not really her fault, plus she had her own issues complicating things), she did her best to let me be myself.

JESR #617: Ouch! Allergies are nasty.... My dad had both nut and fish allergies, including some nasty reactions in his history.

eric #625: Well, the same side of the family (also including me) also runs to low blood sugar, with shaking hands when it gets too low. Also to anxiety. This group is/was a batch of beautiful women -- Grandma (now deceased), Mom and her sister, the four daughters they had between them, and me. (My old shrink called my childhood environment a henhouse! ;-) ) All the women have tended to look younger than their age -- people on the street used to mistake Mom for my wife or girlfriend, apparently in all earnest. (I'd probably look oddly young myself... without my male-pattern baldness and a now-greying beard!)

My Dad's side of the family has its own funky genetics -- Dad and both his brothers all had partial color-blindness (ditto one of my nephews), all had MPB, plus some skeletal oddities (limited range for several joints). There's also a strong streak of depression (and perhaps autistic character) there. My male cousin skipped the color-blindness for the same reason I did, but otherwise mostly fits the pattern. (In appearance, I don't think he resembles the threesome quite as much as I do.)

(And yes, I got anxiety from one side of the family, and depression from the other. Yay me. :-~ )

#631 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:11 PM:

599
I tried a chocolate/lavender bar, possibly Dagobah's. The lavender made it taste soapy to me.

On the other hand, I'll cheerfully recommend Lindt's dark-chocolate-with-sea-salt: it's not really salty, and they're using largish crystals.

#632 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:28 PM:

It may have shown up over in the Hurricane Irene thread, but here's a link to one of Kate Messner's posts about help for flooded libraries in upstate New York and Vermont. My mother is happy to say she found a donation an excellent birthday present (she had an early 95th-birthday party this summer in a children's bookstore with her great-grandchildren); she met her first public library when she was eleven years old and has never gotten over the thrill.

#633 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:49 PM:

David, #630: What I've heard is that the insult isn't the mere act of adding condiments, it's of doing so before tasting ("auto-condimenting" was the term used in one place I was reading about it). If you try a bite and decide it needs more salt, that's a matter of personal taste; if you add salt before even taking a bite, you're indicating that you don't think the cook is competent.

Personally, I don't think that holds in anything but someone's home or the most top-level restaurants, the kind where a single chef does (or directly controls) all of the cooking. I'm also inclined to go lightly on condiments while cooking and have them at the table, on the principle of "it's easier to add more than to remove".

#634 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 09:57 PM:

Paula Lieberman @555: paper sculpture

Those are pretty! There's lots of other cool stuff in the gallery on that site, too.

#635 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:22 PM:

Lee @633 My wife used to salt before tasting. When we were dating, I once sort-of scolded her for it (and yet she continued to let me hang around). In my family, the rule was always taste first. When I met her family, I noticed that they all auto-salted, and rather heavily at that.

I have no idea if it was cultural (they're all from Ohio and Michigan), learned from within the family or simply that perhaps-genetic salt-seeking behavior. FWIW, people in her family tend to be long-lived, so it doesn't seem to be a problem.

Once my now-wife and I moved in together and I started doing all the cooking, she's stopped salting everything and even complains that some processed foods she used to eat are way too salty.

#636 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:34 PM:

Lee # 633: The 'easier to add than to remove' thing also suggests that if the same people are regularly eating together, some of them will know they're on the high-condimenting end for the company, and react accordingly. I don't really get the insult idea either.

I think autocondimenting is a slightly weird response to most - not to all! - dishes (he saith from the land of fish and chip); but that's another thing.

I am up at this hour as a direct consequence of receiving a vivid message in my dreams, viz. that it is a bad idea to arrange a romantic assignation in a crocodile-infested tidal swamp, however pretty it may be; and that big crocs are faster across such terrain than I am. I didn't get to the bit where I learned whether they autocondimented people or not, but conjecture that the saltiness of the waters saved them the effort.

I shall apply this revelation to my daily life wherever it seems possibly pertinent.

#637 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:49 PM:

Gray 636: I am up at this hour as a direct consequence of receiving a vivid message in my dreams, viz. that it is a bad idea to arrange a romantic assignation in a crocodile-infested tidal swamp, however pretty it may be; and that big crocs are faster across such terrain than I am.

That one. Well, we all have to learn that lesson at some point. I'm just glad for your sake that you learned it the easy way. For, after all, which of us is not, at heart, a crocodile-infested tidal swamp?

I know I am.

#638 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:50 PM:

Lee@608: There's a Bay Area fan who used to sell lavender jelly and rose petal jelly at craft fairs. Rose petal jelly tastes just like roses smell -- but the lavender tasted nothing like lavender smells. It had a warm, spicy flavor. So you might consider trying the chocolate with lavender in.

#639 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 10:56 PM:

I have no idea if it was cultural (they're all from Ohio and Michigan), learned from within the family or simply that perhaps-genetic salt-seeking behavior.

I tend to salt things before tasting them because I know from long experience that pretty much no one cooks with enough salt for me--including me; not everyone likes as much salt as I do, after all.

#640 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:32 PM:

Carrie S, I'm the same. I used to take the salt shaker from the table and turn it upside-down in my hand, then lick the puddle of hand-sweaty salt when I left the kitchen.

#641 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:45 PM:

Lee@608: And Californian politicians wonder why businesses are leaving this state for places like... wait for it... Texas.

It's been going on for decades, alas. And the pols still haven't wised up to the real reason why revenues are decreasing. (It's always been blaming Prop 13* instead of wondering why businesses leave California in droves, taking their jobs and tax revenues with them.)

*Oddly enough, property tax revenues have increased well ahead of inflation since Prop 13. Possibly that's because people have kept buying houses at their wildly inflated valuations, which resets the taxes to a new base rate.

#642 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2011, 11:47 PM:

Diatryma @ 640

Oh, yes. I've consciously developed the habit of auto-salting my soup, because I eat soup often enough that doing so ensures I get enough salt in my diet that I don't crave it unnaturally, and most soups can handle that sort of foul treatment.

My family used to heavily salt everything, but these days my sister can't tolerate the taste of salt, even cooked-in. As a consequence, I no longer generally remember to add salt until it's too late, unless I'm following a recipe.

(The a-salt and buttery that I commit on my toast, on the other hand, is a matter of taste, rather than necessity.)

#643 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 12:54 AM:

eric @ 625: Happy birthday! That cake is beautiful and sounds delicious. I'm stealing that lovely technique of swirling the berry sauce into the ganache.

#644 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:00 AM:

Diatryma @640:
I used to take the salt shaker from the table and turn it upside-down in my hand, then lick the puddle of hand-sweaty salt when I left the kitchen.

On a trip to the feed store when I was 5 or so, I begged until the adult in charge bought me my very own tiny salt lick. It was awesome. (And my blood pressure is lovely, thank you for asking.)

#645 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:08 AM:

Concerning the connection between low blood pressure and high salt tolerance, both run in my family, and it was not until I was nearly 70 that I discovered that the cause of my low blood pressure is, or is related to, atrial fibrilation.

So now I take a bunch of medications to prevent my having low blood pressure, as that can lead to inappropriate clotting behavior and (ahem) (death). At what I would of course regard as an unreasonably early age, even though it's obviously too late for that. I still eat a lot more salt than other people I know (and less than I would probably like even so).

#646 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:22 AM:

Open threaded goodness: I made Jim Macdonald's famous pancakes tonight, halving the recipe because there were only two people being fed.

I got seven 3 1/2" - 4" diameter pancakes, more than enough for us. They were delicious, even cooked in a cast-iron skillet rather than a griddle.

#647 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:23 AM:

Supposedly salt cuts bitterness.
And I think I -have- had chocolate that was both too bitter and two sweet for my taste.
I'm not a big fan of bitter, or tannin, for that matter...

Meanwhile,

http://introtimebasedmedia.blogspot.com/2009/01/project-1-description.html

This reminds me of why I am happy to be OUT of classrooms, the things sound interesting, however,
Please choose one of the following:

1. Create a flip book. The book must contain at least 125 individual pages of animation. The book can be as small or as large as you like. The book must be bound in some fashion. You may draw, scan, use frames from photos or video you take.
2. Create a praxinoscope. Your praxinoscope must be hand built. You may repurpose existing materials, but you cannot take an existing praxinoscope and only create the graphic wheels. You need only create one graphic wheel.
3. Create a zoetrope. Again, your zoetrope must be hand built. You only need create one graphic wheel.
4. Propose another device. It can be one that we have looked at, or you may propose something entirely new or a variation......"

#648 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:52 AM:

siriosa, #644: When I was young and my parents bought salted-in-the-shell peanuts, I used to suck the shells for the salt before I opened them. I didn't lose that habit until sometime in my teens.

#649 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:58 AM:

Semi-cheesy-ass toy department....

Majorly cheesy "musical instrument": the Paper Jamz ersatz pseudo-guitars. There was no way to try one without buying, so I bought one untried. Eek! I appalled some friends with it...

There there is the Crayold Color Explosion Glow Dome, which rotates and has characteristicos of imagine a clear plastic dome, of paraboloid shape ontop of a base, and a flat clear plastic panel which is a cutout two dimensional surface inside the dome, of parabolic shape (that is, the projection of the dome onto a 2D surface, perpendicular to the base and inside the dome, sticking up from the base.

There are markers for drawing on the clear plastic. The product uses batteries, and switch options allow selective lighting up of flat panel and dome, and rotating the dome... Lighting up the plastic, the marks left by the marker show up as fluoresing colors...

(One of my thoughts was "I wonder if I can adapt this somehow to do image-scanning for cylindrical objects?")

#650 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:15 AM:

Linkmeister@646, pancakes, yum! My pancake recipe is similar to Jim's (I usually don't have buttermilk around, usually use about half cornmeal or masa instead of wheat flour, and skip the sugar because I'll be drowning the cakes in syrup anyway), but what was really notable was the pointer in the comments to Jimmy's Shortbread Waffles, a fairly terrifying recipe I'll have to try soon. (They don't use milk or buttermilk - the two sticks of butter, extra eggs, and cup of sugar do the job.)

And Eric@625, happy birthday! That's a gorgeous-looking cake.

#651 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:43 AM:

Bill @ #650, if I buy buttermilk it's usually for a bread recipe I'm trying (and I have to find one now, because the pancake batter only required half the 1-pt. container which was the smallest I could buy). Same with canned milk.

I have about 8 plastic coffee cans which are now filled with various kinds of flour (unbleached all purpose, bread, wheat, rye, gluten). Getting a bread machine as a birthday gift gave me an entirely new hobby.

#652 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:45 AM:

Speaking of pancakes, a good way to enjoy Italian prune plum season is plum pancakes: place plum halves, cut side down, on pancake batter as soon as you've poured it in the pan. Let the pancake get nearly done, then flip it over. The plums should get hot and the juices will flow, but don't let them burn. Makes a wonderful lunch.

We find that a pancake recipe that's not too fluffy sustains the weight of the fruit best, so we use eggs but no baking powder (or buttermilk/soda) for this.

#653 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:34 AM:

Here is a dream one of my relatives had:

I found myself nipple-deep in a swamp, surrounded by alligators. I was terrified. I said to God or the universe or whatever, Take away this fear, I don't want this fear. Then I turned into an alligator.

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 08:28 AM:

HLN: Woman finally obtains proper hand-crank pencil sharpener. Is startled by pastel pencils' newly unleashed power.

janetl @580: Hershey's chocolate

Another factor in "popular" chocolate is whether it contains vanilla or "vanillin." The latter, I gather, is a synthetic of only one of the flavor components of vanilla, and has somewhat different biochemical properties and effects. (A friend of mine reports that chocolate that gives her migraines quite consistently contains vanillin.)

As to the inclusion of things like pepper and salt in chocolate, I reserve judgement. Coffee in chocolate, on the other hand, is just the bees knees.

I was pleasantly surprised the first time I encountered chocolate in a savory application, as in a good Mexican molé.

Fade Manley @581: Do you get the brand "Chocolove" where you are?

Paula Lieberman @590: I -hate- the taste, smell, and texture of mushy overcooked peas, hate, hate, HATE them!

And your point...? ;-) And gray. Don't forget gray. It's probably overstating things to say that overcooking peas should be classed as a war-crime, but, well. Unless you're making pea soup, which is a whole 'nother kettle of greeps. As it were.

David Harmon @592: Indeed, salt and sugar cravings/tolerance keys into metabolic issues as well.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that sugar junkies are often self-medicating; comsuming sugar evidently causes serotonin to be released in the gut. (What effect this has on brain levels of serotonin is unclear.)

Carrie S. @594: Coffee is one of those eternal frustrations for me. It never tastes anything like as good as it smells. Spider Robinson assures me that this will change if I ever try coffee from his Machine.

eric @625: Many felicitous returns!

my birthday cake was devil's food cake, white chocolate ganache

I persist in reading this as "white chocolate Ganesh."

Gray Woodland @636: it is a bad idea to arrange a romantic assignation in a crocodile-infested tidal swamp, however pretty it may be

I shall have to keep this in mind for future romantic assignations. :-)

I can report from direct personal waking experience that if the horse doesn't want to go through that stand of cattails, it's probably a good idea to go 'round. You haven't really lived until you've had to extract yourself from waist-deep black sucking ooze while trying to keep the horse from climbing out over top of you.

#655 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 08:54 AM:

Jacque @654:
Properly made coffee is a wondrous thing, and typical coffee is less than a shadow of it (typical coffee being made with substandard, cheap, stale ground coffee in a machine that hasn't been cleaned properly so it feeds unfiltered tap water through a layer of rancid coffee bean oils).

Perhaps my biggest regret, when I ended up abandoning most of my possessions (long story; unemployed, savings ran out, nowhere to put most of it and no money to rent storage; I have some money now but that's several months too late), is that I lost a similarly amazing Machine which I had been treating carefully to maintain the quality of the coffee it produced. (Most annoyingly, I had actually planned to rescue it — not one but three times I managed to forget it. On the other hand, I definitely had other things on my mind.)

#656 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:18 AM:

Links to items Paula Lieberman reported at #649:
Paper Jamz guitars
Glow Dome

What was the class for the projects? That and Jacque's recent drawing and post about a pencil sharpener (I have a very good hand barrel one) make me want to work up a flip chart.

#657 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:12 AM:

Lee #633: Hah, that makes more sense! Though Gray #636 also has a point.

Diatryma @640, siriosa #644: Yeah, my sisters and I all ate salt from the saltshaker at various times when we were kids.

Older #645: Hmm! I'll have to ask my Mom about that.

Paula #647: I thought it was sour that cuts bitterness, thus lemon in tea? I seem to recall a five-element cycle there, but I don't remember most of it.

#658 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:30 AM:

HLN: Local lawns approve of two-day light drizzle. When reached for comment, they were quoted as saying, GREEN.

#659 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:47 AM:

geekosaur @655: (typical coffee being made with substandard, cheap, stale ground coffee in a machine that hasn't been cleaned properly so it feeds unfiltered tap water through a layer of rancid coffee bean oils).

This is one of those MMV things; about once every five years, my mother would clean out the coffee pot. My dad would then complain for weeks that the coffee didn't taste right.

#660 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:49 AM:

In re self-medication: In my experience, the taste of sugar is very good at cutting through depressive haze.

#661 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:06 AM:

Re greying of cons: Mythcon (a small primarily academic but also fannish con) tries to have its cons at or very near universities to attract local grad students who need a cheap venue to present papers. We've also recently instituted an award for best student paper. I think the fact that it's a heavily academic con gives the younger fans more of a reason to invest -- they can make connections, have fannish fun, AND get a line on their resume for the presentation. Our size is also to our benefit -- we get big names (Gaiman, Bujold, Beagle, even Le Guin before my time), but we're small enough that you have a chance to personally interact with the GoHs, and even join them for meals. I doubt you'd have much of a chance to do that at one of the big cons.

#662 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:29 AM:

My parents both do the salt-your-palm-and-lick-it thing. They eat so few pre-processed foods these days (because of my mother's weird food allergies) that they don't get enough sodium otherwise.

Surprisingly, I've never actually tried to drink coffee. That's because I hate the flavor in anything else (chocolate, ice cream, etc.), and the smell of it turns my stomach. I can usually stand to be around someone drinking it, but brewing coffee will drive me from the room. (Percolators aren't as bad as drip pots.)

#663 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:04 PM:

@622 Carol Kimball
616 geekosaur ("the Cajun version of boudin")

...is right. Boudin, in France, is a delicate white sausage, often made with eggs and very much aristocratic food. It managed a sea change when it went Cajun (many versions) and became dark, spicy and earthy bayou fare.

Thanks! I'm not sure why such a small thing made such a dissonant clonk in my brain. There's boudin all over the place here, of course - it's generally dark, even near black. I don't eat pork, so I don't know what it tastes like, and haven't smelled it recently enough to have spice content ideas.

#664 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 02:26 PM:

Paula @647, David @657
One of the very few things I'll salt is grapefruit. Salt definitely cuts the bitterness, much more than adding sugar.

In re, eating odd things in childhood: As a child, my father apparently once ate a pound of butter with a spoon. Whether he was low on fat or salt, I don't know, but... a whole pound!

@662 Mary Aileen
That's because I hate the flavor in anything else (chocolate, ice cream, etc

I detest coffee in chocolate. It makes the chocolate inedible for me. However: I love cocoa in my coffee.

I may possibly be a little odd.

#665 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:10 PM:

Mary Aileen @662 and Cheryl @664: I never much liked the smell of coffee either. I never drank it, nor ate coffee ice cream nor other things flavored with coffee.

Then I got pregnant, and my mild antipathy became outright loathing (of the "ew, I'm going to vomit" kind).

15+ years later and I still cannot easily be around the smell of coffee. Most Starbucks are anathema; when the Argo Tea on the ground floor of the Flatiron began to serve coffee I was frightened that I wouldn't be able to walk in the door, but luckily that has not happened.

At meetings, I will ask people to move their coffee away from me--if it's fresh-brewed and/of "good" coffee, that's even worse--or I will change seats, as I did on the subway this morning when someone sat down opposite me with a fresh cup of iced coffee (which usually doesn't bother me but did today).

My parents were ardent coffee drinkers but I've never been able to touch the stuff. My teenager has just started to drink coffee drinks (caramel mocha things at Starbucks) but knows better than to bring them into our home.

So yeah, coffee in chocolate, not my thing either.

#666 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:14 PM:

Coffee is the lifeblood of this computer programmer, but my wife will not infrequently go "What is that smell?"

#667 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:22 PM:

Older @645:
As for clotting: I also have a paucity of platelets. In practice, I can't *buy* a clot. My personal surgical prep involves steroids, to raise the platelet count.

Lee @648:
When I was young and my parents bought salted-in-the-shell peanuts, I used to suck the shells for the salt before I opened them.

Chinese pumpkin seeds (used to?) come with a thick salt shell, and in my teens i used to suck the shell off first. Mmmm.

#668 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 03:25 PM:

Kewl. First time I've had a comment held for review. No URLs, so I'm going to guess the Word Of Power was "st3roids."

#669 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 04:07 PM:

My Sainted Mother (tm) eats oatmeal with salt, occasionally with butter and salt. This may be revenge for my father and I eating grits with milk and sugar (but usually with butter, salt and pepper, with or without fried eggs -- we're not complete barbarians in my family). She also occasionally salts her cantaloupe and watermelon. I didn't inherit that gene either. I love grapefruit, naked, juiced, out of a jar, sprinkled with brown sugar and grilled, but not salted. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat it because of drug interaction. Phooey.

#670 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 04:21 PM:

Tracie @668: I salt my oatmeal too (with or without raisins; also add butter, if without raisins), as well as cantaloupe. My father taught me both those things.

At a food truck festival recently, I had half a bacon cupcake. Bacon in the dough, maple syrup in the frosting, topped with a nice crispy chunk of bacon. A lovely mix of savory and sweet. (The reason I only ate half is that my teenager at the other half. I had an extra mouthful of frosting and she had an extra mouthful of cake and we were both happy.)

#671 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 04:52 PM:

So, I went to choir practice last night. First practice of the year. Actually I met with the director early to assess my voice.

Currently my full voice tops out at middle C (later I had to falsetto even that), and my falsetto at E above that. I don't have an F for love nor money. No real power anywhere in there, and no, I don't have more at the bottom than I used to, just dramatically less voice than I used to have.

Since my pre-surgery full voice topped out at G above middle C and I could mix and falsetto to about the next C, this is rather distressing.

I'm thinking this is from the trauma to my larynx from the tracheostomy. Lenore's voice teacher said she had tracheitis once and it took weeks to get over it. I've only had the tracheostomy cannula out for about three weeks, so it's early days yet.

I hope.

I also hope that trying to sing (rather than resting my voice) is a good thing. There's no one to ask; I can't get any response out of any of the doctors, even on the relatively simple question of whether it's safe for me to fly.

#672 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 05:05 PM:

Tracie (668): I love grapefruit straight, too--specifically yellow grapefruit, the pink kind is usually too sweet for me. It distresses me that drug interactions mean I can't drink grapefruit juice anymore.

#673 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 05:06 PM:

Xopher (670): I hope your range comes back. Until then, take things gently. You don't want to stress your voice too much while it's recovering.

#674 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 05:24 PM:

Xopher, 670: Eek, and *hugs*.

What the ENT specialist told me after I lost my voice was to give up caffeine competely, and to hydrate! hydrate! all-one! okay!* and also to concentrate very hard on not just singing from my diaphragm, but speaking from it too. I was supposed to take it easy, and to stop when the muscles felt tired. Forcing it does no good and may do harm.

*maybe not the "all-one" part.

#675 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 05:28 PM:

My best wishes, Xopher...

#676 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Xopher, can you whistle? This will strengthen your breath support and control. Should also be gentler on the recovering vocal chords.

Another thing -- how about humming? The key to both exercises is to do them gently -- go for resonance not volume, and gradually try to expand your current range.

I second the recommendation on hydration -- and also, can you get your hands on a cool-mist vaporizer? Moisturizing the air you're breathing will help a great deal-- dry air is not good for a recovering voice, and we're headed into the heating season...

#677 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 06:12 PM:

Tracie #668, et al: Now quite on the same page, but I've been known to run oatmeal right down the "savory" route, with not merely salt and pepper, but onions, mushrooms, and bits of meat. (The meat is usually pre-cooked, often leftovers.) This was in fact inspired by Irish myth, after de-exaggerating the "oatmeal with bits" served to various heroes.

#678 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 06:18 PM:

David H #676:

Carried to an extreme, doesn't this turn into haggis?

#679 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 06:21 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 675... Xopher, can you whistle?

That makes Xopher into Bogart, and you into Bacall?

#680 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 06:23 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @670: Goodness! Good luck on the voice recovery.

This may be entirely irrelevant, but it sticks in my mind that you and I are approximately of an age. I've had injuries to each hand in the last few years that produced hard scarring and limited range of motion.

In each case, over the ensuing year(ish), normal use + being gentle when I felt myself hitting the limit of my healing resulted in full return of function.

I hope things work out similarly for you with your voice.

#681 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 06:35 PM:

Xopher, is there such a thing as a physical therapist specializing in ENT? If you can find one he/she might be able to suggest exercises or at least answer questions.

A speech pathologist might be able to help, too.

#682 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:16 PM:

On the subject of adding salt.

There was a time I used to automatically add salt to most foods before tasting them.

From what I recall, I got cured of this habit one day when the dorm cafeteria served some sort of pseudo-Chinese food with an extremely salty sauce.

I added my usual generous helping of salt. Which made it a bit too salty even for me. Which is not that easy to do.

(Nowadays I tend not to add salt to most things, in an attempt not to go TOO overboard on my salt intake.)

#683 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:19 PM:

Xopher, best wishes on your continuing recovery. I hope your range recovers in a reasonable amount of time.

HLN: Area woman upgrades RAM in her laptop, doubling physical memory. "I've been doing hardware upgrades on desktop machines for years, but this was even easier. In fact, the hardest part was getting the new memory out of its packaging."

#684 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:30 PM:

Cheryl #664: The way I eat grapefruit is by peeling each segment. Removing the integument removes the bitterness leaving only sweetness and tartness.

(BTW, in the Anglophone Caribbean the segments of an orange or grapefruit are called 'pegs'. Allsopp's dictionary makes reference to British and Irish dialectal usages, which leads me to wonder what fruits in the British Isles, and where, are divided into pegs?)

#685 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:39 PM:

Melissa Singer665 - My teenager has just started to drink coffee drinks (caramel mocha things at Starbucks)
I normally disrespect most "gateway drug" assertions, but I'll make an exception for these.

Tracie@668 - mother [...] salts [... watermelon.
I never understood that one. I tried it once, and while it wasn't objectionable, it tasted like there was salt on my watermelon, which obviously must be some kind of mistake.

#686 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:45 PM:

@683 Fragano Ledgister
Cheryl #664: The way I eat grapefruit is by peeling each segment. Removing the integument removes the bitterness leaving only sweetness and tartness.

I grew up slicing grapefruit in half and eating the 'meat' of the segments with a special spoon, so I never ate the integument.

As an adult, I started just peeling and eating it like an orange, and never noticed much difference in flavour. Lately, I've preferred Pomelos - they're harder to peel, but have a sweeter taste. I wonder if those who can no longer have grapefruit would like them? Or do they also interact with meds?

#687 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 07:55 PM:

OK, apropos of absolutely nothing except that AKICIML: the song 'Fé la nàna' just came on, by Lu. I've never heard it before, and I'm mesmerised. I can't understand a word, but I can't stop listening (I've replayed it about 8 times in a row).

I'd love to know the lyrics. It's in Italian (I think), and I'd like to learn it to sing to my friend's little boy (his father is Italian and LB will grow up speaking Italian as one of his languages). My Google-Fu is failing me - does anyone know where I can get the words to this song?

#688 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 08:37 PM:

Bill Stewart @684: I'd be more concerned if she was drinking more than 1 or 2 a week, but yes, I'm keeping an eye on it. She has to buy them with her own money, which keeps the purchases to a minimum.

#689 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 08:48 PM:

I always eat salt from the shaker in restaurants (to this day usually resulting in a "Stop that. You're eating salt again.") and I adore chips and the like that have salt. Anything like salted peanuts I suck the salt off (then eat the peanut because it's there).

Yet it has never occurred to me to add salt to meals. I'm not sure why.

#690 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for the voice advice! I hydrate like crazy (usually drink 3-4 quarts of water a day), so that's no problem. Humidification is not yet an issue here...trust me. But I'll make sure I humidify when it is.

I'm going to tell our choir director that I'm not going to be singing out. I'll just mark it and stop when I feel strained. This doesn't come naturally to me! I'm a push-as-hard-as-you-can guy at the gym, so I'll have to be careful not to let that attitude into the choir loft.

#691 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:19 PM:

After making Jim's pancakes yesterday I had a leftover cup of buttermilk. What to do, what to do?

#692 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:19 PM:

David/joann, #676/677: Or meat loaf -- oatmeal is one of the traditional binders used for that.

#693 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:21 PM:

joann #677: No lungs in my breakfast, thanks!

#694 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 09:55 PM:

Tamlyn @688:

Anything like salted peanuts I suck the salt off (then eat the peanut because it's there).

Me too! (Pretzels especially get this treatment.) My wife thinks it's disgusting. I have a salt tooth the way some people have a sweet tooth; I'll pass over most sweets in favor of salty-crunchy snacks. Since my family is more prone to diabetes than high blood pressure, I'm not too concerned about this tendency.

#695 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:21 PM:

I remember managing the wrestling team in high school and handing out salt tablets as though they were candy to team members.

#696 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 10:28 PM:

651
You might be able to find buttermilk powder.

#697 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:14 PM:

#651, #696:

I recently tried out buttermilk powder, while making a huge batch of cornbread. The bread came out just fine.

#698 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:47 PM:

Cheryl @687: the song 'Fé la nàna' just came on, by Lu. I've never heard it before, and I'm mesmerised. I can't understand a word, but I can't stop listening (I've replayed it about 8 times in a row).

I can't find the lyrics either, but according to this page (or at least Google Translate's version of it), they're in the "romagnolo" regional dialect/language, which is technically not Italian.

#699 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2011, 11:51 PM:

A bit more info from Lu's site:

"[The album's] lyrics are in Romagnolo dialect and they are taken from the early twentieth century poetry (Nettore Neri, Lino Guerra) and from a traditional repertoire of lullabies, nonsense, dirindinas, work-songs. The research of texts has been inspired by the anthropological and literary studies of Giuseppe Bellosi. [...] Music has been created by the artist in free association with lyrics, crossing various languages: rock-pop, jazz, classic contemporaneous and electronic music, passing from south-American , African and wizard rhythms to pure melody and improvisation."

#700 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:18 AM:

Yeah, I salt my oatmeal. Wanna make something of it?

Steel cut oats with milk, a pinch of salt, some sugar, and a bit of butter: oh, what a breakfast!

#701 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:48 AM:

Xopher, much good voice mojo being sent your way!

Re: oatmeal and salt...well, yes, I do add a bit of salt to my oatmeal. Also brown sugar, peanut butter (extra crunchy, please!), Trader Joe's Golden Berry Blend (added to the cooking water, along with some cinnamon and cloves/nutmeg, prior to the addition of the oatmeal), and a small banana.

Yes, I can still find, and taste, the oatmeal. :)

#702 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 02:22 AM:

I used to salt cantaloupe. I seem to have stopped, but I don't know why.

#703 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 02:37 AM:

I cook my oatmeal with a bit of salt, but I don't shake salt on. Oatmeal is very tasty with crunchy peanut butter and honey mixed in. Also, it is remarkably good topped with vanilla ice cream. (Think about it. Yeah.) Brown sugar and butter, mmmm. Chopped apples, dried fruits, nuts, applesauce, apple or pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup. I likes me my oatmeal. Just not salted. (Sorry, Mom.) My dog Bella likes oatmeal with peanut butter, apples and/or dried cranberries.

Has anyone else encountered Elvis doughnuts? Topped with bacon, banana sliced and either maple icing or peanut butter. Better than you might expect -- think a forkfull of waffle, syrup and bacon -- but seriously artery clogging.

#704 ::: hedgehog ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:22 AM:

re: #666, Serge

Coffee is the lifeblood of this computer programmer, but my wife will not infrequently go "What is that smell?"

Dead code?

#705 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:05 AM:

However much I love coffee it always saddens me a bit whenever I read of people using it as a stimulant. I can have as many cups as I like and still be bleary eyed, and an espresso before bed is just nice.
But I'll take your word for it that it works as such.

#706 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 07:17 AM:

Bjorn #705: Hmmm. There are two cases I know of where coffee fails to act as a stimulant: (1) If you're too sleep-deprived already, or (2) for kids and sometimes adults with "ADHD" -- "Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder". In the latter case, kids tend to be calmed down instead, rather dramatically, but the effect becomes progressively more unreliable starting at puberty.

If neither of these applies -- have you ever been tested with other stimulants such as the amphetamines? Total failure to respond to CNS stimulants in general would certainly make you interesting to medical science!

#707 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 08:16 AM:

Total failure to react? Probably not. But have never that 'asleep until I get my morning coffee' thing. Occasionally I may be a little more awake after an evening cup. I just put it down to being used to it.
Shall make experiments in larger amounts than usual, since 'as many cups as I like' has probably not been tested for X > 4.
As for other stimulants: no data.

#708 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:01 AM:

Cheryl @ 687--Is this close?

#709 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:02 AM:

Caffeine* doesn't keep me awake, either. It does affect me in other ways, though.

*in the form of soda. I don't drink either coffee or tea.

#710 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:07 AM:

I grew up (in mid-Ohio) salting cantaloupe and watermelon. I didn't realize it was an odd habit--that's just what my family did and no one else looked askance.

#711 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:50 AM:

Dinner with son this evening: Paw-paw (papaya) with proscuitto and goat cheese. Roast chicken, sage and onion stuffing, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, potatoes, peas, beans, broccoli, but, ah, dessert, dessert.

I know not what it is, except that it is said to be Hungarian: pancakes, stacked six high, sandwiching mixed berries, the whole covered with stiffly whipped meringue, browned in the oven. Does anybody know if it has a name?

#712 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:53 AM:

Aw, crap.

#713 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:54 AM:

Michael S. Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, which made free books available online, has died.

One quote:

"...eBooks are the very first thing that we're all able to have as much as we want other than air. Think about that for a moment and you realize we are in the right job."

#714 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 10:24 AM:

hedgehog @ 704... Dead code?

Or Java code with enough caffeine to wake up the dead.

#715 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 10:43 AM:

I rarely add salt to food at the table. I can "feel it" after I eat an excessive amount of salty food . . . generally awful fast food which I would be better off havn't eaten.

I put a shake or two or seasoning salt in my large batches of oatmeal (1 cup steel cut plus 3-4 of water).

I once experimented with "savory" oatmeal. I forgot what I put in it, but it wasn't great.

I generally add, at minute 30 or so, a big heap of chopped up dried fruit. With chopped walnuts added at serving time.

I've found that refrigerated leftover oatmeal, with fruit bits, reboils up very satisfactorially. I can usually get three large servings out of a cup of oats.

#716 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:33 AM:

Dave Luckett @ 711: Hungarian pancake stack desserts are called rakott palacsinta. They can have many different fillings and toppings.

#717 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:38 AM:

Hungarian pancakes held for review? Maybe they do contain some kind of drug. The url was just to a Google search on their name (rakott palacsinta) to show the varieties.

Dave Luckett should search for that name. He'll like the results.

#718 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:45 AM:

(Further research suggests it might have been csúsztatott palacsinta. Alas, I am too far away from my favourite Hungarian restaurant to check and I don't read Hungarian. Either way, pancake based desserts from Hungary = nommy in the extreme.)

#719 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:51 AM:

Yeah, google searches get held for review, because a common spammer-trick is to link, not to their page, but to a google-search that points exclusively to their page (usually a random-letter string). The comment spammers think that no one would be so cold as to block google.

They're wrong.

#720 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Dave Luckett @ 711, and Paul Duncanson ff - SKZB would probably know which version of palacsinta that is - there's a similar dish served at Valabar's. And yeah, serious nom.

#721 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:57 AM:

Thanks for the help with Fé la nàna - unfortunately, none of those lyrics seem to sound like what I'm hearing.

It's not on Youtube, but you should be able to have listen here, if you like.

I can't pin down why I'm so stuck on it. It's a perfectly simple lullaby, sung a capella, in a language completely opaque to me. Why is it catching my attention so firmly?

#722 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:07 PM:

#705 Bjorn: I can have as many cups as I like and still be bleary eyed, and an espresso before bed is just nice.

#707 Bjorn: But have never that 'asleep until I get my morning coffee' thing. Occasionally I may be a little more awake after an evening cup. I just put it down to being used to it.
Shall make experiments in larger amounts than usual, since 'as many cups as I like' has probably not been tested for X > 4.
As for other stimulants: no data.

I have to ask how many ounces of coffee you drink during a normal day? Because you just may be that used to it. Caffeine is a drug and it is possible to build up a resistance to it.

I used to be the same way you are now. However, I would drink up to 96 ounces of coffee in a day and a cup before bed never got between me and sleep. I stopped doing it when all coffee, no matter how good or fresh, left a strong burnt acidic taste in my mouth. Shortly after that, I stopped cold turkey (well, almost. The withdrawal headaches would only be quenched with a six ounce fix.) I was caffeine free for about 9 months then pulled a series of all nighters that left me very sensitized. Or at least, very hopped up post addiction. I had hand tremula for 12 hours straight*. That was a bit scary.

After that, I went back to my no caffeine rule and have been there ever since (about 20 years) I know for a fact that if I ingest caffeine, I will be stimulated for the next 9 hours (this is starting the clock with the last swallow).

* As opposed to a pseudo-heart attack. I have a friend who is on heart meds (she began at the age of 25) in a fit of rebellion (she's Mormon) didn't just sneak a can of cola, she drank a whole 12 liter over the course of a day. She wound up in the emergency room with heart palpitations and shortness of breath.

#723 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:23 PM:

Ounces?
Anyway. A few cups of espresso throughout the day when drinking normally. I spent four months this year travelling and hardly drank any coffee, but am well back to usual levels now without trouble.
For a good while i drank about 3 litres of Coke per day, plus coffee.
I'd still call it tolerance.

#724 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:25 PM:

#711 Dave
Pawpaws aren't papayas, they're related I think to cherimoyas and attemoyas (spelling) and perhaps also jackfruit and durians.

Someone else--I;'ve always hated the salt coverings on pumpkin and squash seeds that some commercial preparation does. I also am averse to salted roasted peanuts.

I do use salt cooking chicken soup, but commercial chicken soup I generally don;t appreciate the salt level of....

#725 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:26 PM:

Last comment held for review... word of power since no links.

#726 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 12:27 PM:

#711 Dave
Pawpaws aren't papayas, they're related I think to cherimoyas and attemoyas (spelling) and perhaps also jackfruit and durians.

Someone else--I;'ve always hated the salt coverings on pumpkin and squash seeds that some commercial preparation does. I also am averse to salted roasted peanuts.

I do use salt cooking chicken soup, but commercial chicken soup I generally don;t appreciate the salt level of....

#727 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 01:56 PM:

HLN: Local man extremely frustrated with NJ Dept. of Labor website that tells him his unemployment claim cannot be processed online, and must be processed by telephone, followed by phone system that, after many layers of "enter this" and "if yes, press that," tells him he has to do this on the website and then hangs up.

Man reports himself only slightly less frustrated with information line which, after a different set of menus, says "due to call volume, we cannot take your call at this time," recommends going to the website, and again hangs up.

#728 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 01:57 PM:

delurking just to say
I have taken
the advice
that was in
Slushkiller

and which
you were probably
hoping
would be heard

Thank you
my first rejection
was so sweet
and so hopeful

#729 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:25 PM:

Jennifer, 728: Welcome! I hope you'll stay delurked. What do you write besides poetry?

#730 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Xopher @ 727 - Aargh!!

#731 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Lenore, quite. I'll try them (the second number) early tomorrow and see if I get through.

#732 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:55 PM:

Thank you for the kind welcome! Well, I do write the occasional sonnet (not very great, but I try hard), and right now I'm working on several short stories, ranging from semi-hard SF to faerie-tale fantasy. I'm girding my metaphorical loins for an attempt at a novel; I just need to let the various ideas rampaging around my head finish their Battle Royale to see who gets to go first.

#733 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 03:59 PM:

Jennifer, 732: Sonnets are easy to write and hard to get good at, I think. I turn green with envy on a regular basis around here. Novels, well...every artist needs an audience, and that's my role in life. ;-)

#734 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 04:13 PM:

I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with being an enthusiastic audience. ;) I just have the writer's disease -- it's been content with GMing and otherwise driven into dormancy through circumstance and Issues -- and now it's sprung back to life. So now I want to add 'entertainer' to 'audience'.

#735 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 04:42 PM:

TexAnne @ 733...that's my role in life

...when you're not knitting or teaching.

#736 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 05:06 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue #727: My sympathies -- but consider, that frustration is on purpose -- that sort of thing is how states "cut unemployment" without having to officially reject someone, or even list the applicant in their monthly numbers.

#737 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Just finished Heyer's The Masqueraders.

Wonderful!

Thank you!

It warmed the cockles of my swashbuckling little heart.

Obviously I now have A New Writer, which is a wonderful thing.

#738 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 05:50 PM:

Not that local news: we are flooding again after three straight days of rain, stuck under this stationary front. The area around my office has had 10" of rain at least so far; one downpour overwhelmed the downspouts yesterday and we had water coming in near my desk. Conowingo (big dam on the Susquehanna) is opening its gates; there's a strip major flooding running from us up into NY state.

#739 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 05:59 PM:

hedgehog@ 704 and Serge @ 666 ...
Coffee is the lifeblood of this computer programmer, but my wife will not infrequently go "What is that smell?"
Dead code?

Code doesn't die ... it just rots, gets in the way, and gets moved around a lot ...

#740 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:13 PM:

An update on the cats: my cat, Patina, has a litter box in my room. This is disappointing because I was really looking forward to not having a litter box in my room, but it means I can close the door and Iggy, whose motives are now in question, cannot get to her.

This has the side effects that she's calmer when the door's open and that she's kind of starved for socializing, which means she comes out a bit more if the TV's on.

Last night, she went downstairs. Iggy eventually followed her, and growling noises ensued. We'd heard them before and always squirted them apart, but this time, I waited a bit on the stairs to see if she'd rip his face off.

Nope. He pounced on her several times, drove her against the wall, and was ready to do so again when I finally made it behind the stairs and shooed him off. Patina, meanwhile, was Very Upset and had expressed herself in urine form, apparently as she retreated. Iggy later went into his carrier so if she wanted to come back upstairs she could do so without us having to watch out.

So we're back to Sad Shut-Away Cat and Cat Who Sometimes Gets Time-Outs. It's been a month now. I know that patience is what makes this happen, but it's hard to be patient when obviously there's a trick to this that will make everything better.

#741 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:18 PM:

Melissa, #737: If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy the Sarah Tolerance mysteries by Madeleine E. Robins -- alternate-history Regency and not exactly romances, but the same sort of feel. Point of Honor and Petty Treason, with a new one called The Sleeping Partner due out in October.

#742 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:40 PM:

Lee @ 741... Robins's 3rd Tolerance - "The Sleeping Partner" - will be published the first week of October.

#743 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:43 PM:

Diatryma @740 - I have a cat who has lived in her own room for 2 years. I got her when she was 8, and she just can't deal with the other 3 cats. She panics. I let them in occasionally when I'm in there as well, but if I left them alone together there would be blood. There's a screen door on the room rather than a solid door, so she's not quite so cut off, but it's not a wonderful situation. She at least trusts me now, more or less.

#744 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 06:45 PM:

xeger @ 739... Code doesn't die ... it just rots, gets in the way, and gets moved around a lot ...

...or it gets a fate worse than death as a subcontractor comes in and promises to upgrade the whole thing into a spiffy new thing albeit it'll be a few years behind schedule.

#745 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Diatryma @740: I doubt this would work with cats, but in your place I would be very tempted to try it:

Guinea pigs identify each other by smell, as much as anything. If you're trying to introduce a new pig, one cheat is to give everybody a bath, so everybody is set back to square one sociochemically.

#746 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 07:46 PM:

Jacque, if this goes on another month, we're dousing them both in tuna water.

#747 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 08:16 PM:

Lee @741: Madeleine and I have shared living quarters, so I know her work quite well . . . .

#748 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:34 PM:

siriosa (#667)-- I don't think my familial clotting problem is platelets, or we'd know by now. My oldest daughter btw had it so bad that her mosquito bites would cause bruising. The funny thing is that now that I have learned that I've been at risk all my life of dropping over dead on short notice (could take as long as several minutes, or so I understood the doctor to say) and am taking warfarin to slow my clotting time down to a crawl, I bruise *less*, not more. And my almost constant nosebleeds have slackened to an occasional trickle. When I was working, I had so many nosebleeds that government regs required that I and my personal wastebasket be declared a hazardous waste site, and the cleaner had to go to special classes to learn how to handle my bloody tissues (quick overview: wear gloves and seal the bag separately from other waste material).

#749 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:38 PM:

Paula Lieberman (#649) Even your bad review has not dampened my enthusiasm for the Paper Jamz Guitar. The very idea is enchanting, and if it doesn't live up to my imagination, I am at least forewarned. Sweetie and I are in the process of being very very poor just now (although we finally paid off the last of the medical bills left behind by about ten years of really bad health in both our cases), but as soon as we can afford to Buy Something, this will be on the list.

#750 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Diatryma @ 740 ...
So we're back to Sad Shut-Away Cat and Cat Who Sometimes Gets Time-Outs. It's been a month now. I know that patience is what makes this happen, but it's hard to be patient when obviously there's a trick to this that will make everything better.

Indeed -- the obvious trick being time... :P (*ducks*)

#751 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 10:17 PM:

Diatryma @746: Jacque, if this goes on another month, we're dousing them both in tuna water.

Oh dear. That could get...interesting....

#752 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 10:25 PM:

Hey, Xopher? I just got back from choir practice, where I discovered that my comfortable range has increased by a step and my tone has lost its awful raspiness. I made it through the whole rehearsal, too, which I couldn't have done two months ago. So, yanno, don't lose hope. Just don't push too hard, either. *hugs*

#753 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 10:37 PM:

Thank you TexAnne! I love you. *hug*

#754 ::: Paula Liebeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2011, 11:48 PM:

#733 TexAnne

Sonnets are very much not one of my native organic rhyme and rhythm modes. Ballad forms are relatives are among mine, though (variations include anapests instead of iambs).

Coding:
One place I was doing contract work, as the Software QA Manager, the programmers rewriting and enhance the code for a company which made Internet access equipment (which company stopped paying and stiffed everyone while it was heading into what turned out to be bankruptcy and being bought out...) and had an informal competition for who could find the ugliest source code content for the day. The winning section for one day, and perhaps grand winner of the entire project, was a comment which was something like "I am not going to comment with with the fucking [something or other, might have referred to the specification for the code]!" I don';t think I ever saw quite a temper tantrum throw as a comment from someone who obviously was completely averse do providing useful comments to explain what the code was supposed to be doing, how, and why....

#755 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 12:45 AM:

xeger @ 739:

What, you've never seen zombie code? It's dead, but it Knuth help you if it ever runs.

#756 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:04 AM:

Diatryma @746 --

That might not be a bad idea. On another board, it was suggested to place a drop of vanilla between the shoulder blades of each cat, so that they would both smell like cat+vanilla. I would suspect that the results could be variable, cats having such different personalities, but it certainly can't hurt, and may at least relieve some of the stress.

#757 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:11 AM:

C. Wingate @738. Have been there and done that, and you and all your co-workers and neighbors have my deepest sympathy. I hope neither Nate nor Maria add to your difficulties.

#758 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 10:58 AM:

Xopher, if you don't mind a comment from a newbie, I have a friend, a professional vocalist, who underwent surgery for a neck problem last year. It took her at least six months to recover range and strength (there was some nerve damage, IIRC, that needed time to heal), but I believe she eventually regained it all; I do know she's back to singing and teaching now.

#759 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:02 AM:

Jennifer, I emphatically do NOT mind a comment from a newbie, and especially not one with such a hopeful message! That's good to know; thank you!

(That is...I don't mind in the sense of resent. I DO "mind" in the sense of "pay attention to.")

#760 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:11 AM:

Xopher: more decades ago than I now care to consider, I had a thyroidectomy. Before the operation, I had been fairly well settled as alto/second tenor. A couple of years after, I joined a choir, was classified as a second soprano, and was a first by the end of the season.

#761 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:17 AM:

So I might have to switch to alto, then. :-)

Seriously, if I get my upper range back, that's good enough. If it goes even higher...that's all gravy.

#762 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:52 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Man shows wife the opening credits of Gerry Anderson's "U.F.O.". Wife unhappy with husband for having darn theme music playing in her head for couple of hours.

#763 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 12:58 PM:

fidelio, #757: Nate is down in the deep Gulf, and looks as though it won't hit anything but Mexico; it would take a miracle (in the sense of "contravention of natural law") for it to get anywhere near C. Wingate's neck of the woods.

Personally, I was sort of hoping that Nate might hook north and do something about the Texas wildfire problem -- but it seems to be resolutely going southwest instead. Were I the sort of Christian who sees Signs and Portents everywhere, I'd be starting to wonder by now if God was seriously displeased with Rick Perry.

#764 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 01:28 PM:

Lee @763--I hadn't seen the lastest predictions on Nate this morning; the last I saw there was still a possibility it would follow in Lee's tracks. I'm glad it isn't, and I hope it doesn't create too much havoc where it's now headed. I'm sorry you probably won't get much good out of it; getting to live through weather history reminds me of Mark Twain's story about the man who was ridden out of town on a rail; he told someone if it wasn't for the honor he would just as soon have walked.

Given that Rick's prayers for rain have been entirely useless, one is tempted to refer his attention to the Gospel acording to Matthew, specifically, the first eight verses of the fifth chapter. In an entirely non-judgemental, just-for-your-information-old-son sort of way.

#765 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 02:28 PM:

Mari Aileen @ 598:

Someone brought some of the chocolate-with-bacon-in to work a while back. In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I tried some. It turned out to not be a purchase I'd be making any time soon. The tastes didn't really go very well together, in my opinion.

Also better in theory than in fact are the Trader Joe's chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds. Unfortunately, the tastes don't really mix. If you suck them slowly you get chocolate, then pomegranate afterward. If you eat them quickly, you get chocolate with seeds. Oh well.

Diatryma @ 746:

I believe I've commented here before that the trick we used to stop the hostility toward the just-returned-from-the-vet cat was to rub said cat with a slice of turkey lunchmeat. Your problem sounds a touch more serious, but tuna water probably can't hurt.

Xopher:

Best wishes on your vocal recovery.

#766 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 02:29 PM:

(Whoops! Sorry for mangling your name, Mary Aileen.)

#767 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 02:43 PM:

KeithS (765): I was pretty dubious about the combination before I tried it, but I thought it worked surprisingly well, at least in small quantities. An entire bar might be a different matter.

Chocolate with chilies turned out better than I had expected, too, but it had too much of a burn in the back of my throat after the fact for my taste.

------ (766): No worries. I hadn't even noticed until you apologized. People often mess up the 'Aileen', but I think that's the first time anyone's ever gotten 'Mary' wrong. ;)

#768 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 03:41 PM:

HLN: My prediction is that Nate will make it home from preschool in 20 minutes, take a nap, and then hit the playroom as a category 2 toddler.

#769 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 04:52 PM:

Regarding the Texas (And i understand other places as well) heatwave, it breaks all kinds of records:
http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/texas-has-hottest-june-august-in-u-s-1830263.html

If you are of a certain frame of mind, maybe there's a message in there somewhere.

#770 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Older@749, Paula Lieberman@649 - I acquired a Paper Jamz guitaroid as a Christmas present this past year, and it's been a lot of fun. It's sort of like a fancy Guitar Hero instrument, with about 10 sets of major and minor chords, built-in tinny speaker and quite decent imitation electric guitar sound. (It's about $30, and there's an optional amplifier for about the same price that gives you a bit more sound and a better speaker, though unfortunately the impedance isn't right for plugging my mp3 player into it. You can also use headphones with the guitar.)

There are half a dozen different models, each with a different cardboard face and different demo tunes, and the demo tunes can be played with or without vocals, and you can have it track whether you're playing it right, like Guitar Hero with no user interface.

It's not a very deep musical experience, but it's fun, silly, and a lot better than you'd expect for a cheap cardboard-and-plastic instrument. Or you could spend about the same and get yourself a uke, of course.

#771 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Fidelio: I would suggest that continuing on at least through verse 15 would be useful (except that I bet they do "forgive others their sins", except they don't know what that actually means. I'd like a lot of the Foxian Christians to attempt to understand - again - Luke 10:29 and its answer (oh, and maybe s/Samaritan/Muslim/g for accurate context); and maybe Matthew 25:34-40.

And, of course, I need to reread them myself, and know the difference between "read", "understand", and "grok" - or "actually do what's right".


On Chocolate - well, really, On Bridge, but there it is. The most common form of the game of Duplicate Bridge is Matchpoint scoring. The strategy for it is so different, so self-defeating at "real" bridge, that if you play only a good, solid rubber bridge game, you can never win at matchpoints. Conversely, if you play only a good, "solid" matchpoint game, nobody will partner you at any other form. There is a saying, to which I ascribe: "Matchpoints is a wonderful game. I like the challenge, and the strategy is fascinating. But it's Not Bridge."

Which is what I feel about white chocolate. It's very nice (on things it's nice with - as a personal opinion, I prefer chocolate dark and bitter, so *most* white (and milk, for that matter) chocolate is way too sweet for me; but it really works as an accent), it's a wonderful thing, I relish its existence - but it's not Chocolate.

Which, of course, if you don't like the off-white stuff, is of course a plus.

BTW, simple recipe, that has done me well in several potlicks:

equal parts white and dark chocolate, in squares.
Alternate (in rows, not checkerboard) on wax-papered tray, and melt together. Do NOT mix.
When melted, take a(n ordinary table) knife, and drag it against the grain edge-to-edge, every 4-6 inches or so.
Put tray in refrigerator to harden.
Shatter into pieces.
Serve.

The patterns - and the taste mixture - are surprisingly complex.


I don't have a sweet tooth (well, I do, but it's very easily satisfied), but a salt tooth? Oh yes. Potato Chips, crackers, anything that's primarily a salt conveyance vehicle - I have to watch that. Of course, the problem with many (especially the new) flavours of Potato Chips is that they put too much sugar and not enough salt...


More on bridge - that might be appropriate to other conventions, as well. Our experience with the biggest tournaments is that they are not taken anywhere near as well if they are in different buildings, even if those buildings are very small distance apart. People tend to isolate into two groups, and never see the other side. I can see that being not a problem for specific, on-track things ("I'm going to *this* game/seminar/signing"), but it kills the "oh, what's in here?" and some of the social aspect ("Oh, I didn't even know you were there!" 6 months later). So there's that to think about as well, even if it is cheaper. I'm guessing SF Cons are similarly space-per-attendee intensive to bridge tournaments, at least compared to wedding receptions and the like that hotels can fill these kinds of spaces with.


That "test": I've hit it twice, got it right both times. The first, because I actually follow instructions (yeah, Aspie tendencies!) and love to read; the second, because I remembered it from 10 years before and read statements 1, 2, and last.

Yeah, it's a trick, but it's actually good "test-taking" policy in general - read the whole thing before starting anything. Then you can write the test "easiest to hardest" rather than 1-N. Or write down for the "I don't know"s "here's what I do know" in minimal time, and have it back-burning while you do the stuff you do know and raise confidence. Now, of course, if what you do know is only 10% of the test, nothing's really going to help; but it does stop you from spending 60% of the time on problem 4 of 10, worth 15% of the test, and never getting to 8,9, and 10, worth 30%, that you could have done in 20 minutes if you had them...

Of course, I'm preaching to the choir, I'm guessing...

#772 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Lee #763, fidelio #764:

I've been wondering if perhaps maybe we ought to be holding an atheists' convention. Of course this is rather illogical, but so's everything else that's happening.

#773 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:21 PM:

Joann @ 772 -

I've been wondering if perhaps maybe we ought to be holding an atheists' convention. Of course this is rather illogical, but so's everything else that's happening.

Would such a convention begin with an unvocation?

:-)

#774 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:24 PM:

Or an avocation?

#775 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:26 PM:

KeithS, #765: For real chocolate-pomegranate flavor, I recommend Brookside dark chocolate pomegranate bites. Target used to carry them, but I think the latest bag here is from CostCo.

#776 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:34 PM:

Matthew 6:2.... I wonder if there really were people who announced their charity with trumpets. All the other examples seemed plausible.

#777 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Xopher @759 -- Excellent! I should also add that her high range was the last thing to come back. :)

guthrie @769 -- I live in Austin. If I were in an Old Testament frame of mind, I'd say the heat was God saying something about the people who have elected Rick Perry twice. The rational, scientific part of me retorts that it's probably just the extreme end of natural climate variability triggered by La Niña and potentially exacerbated by global climate change.

I love Austin, but seriously, we are not supposed to be hotter than Death Valley on a regular basis.

#778 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:39 PM:

Re salt and sweet: I've just come back from dinner with Polish neighbours, who served for dessert some very vanillified vanilla ice-cream topped with olive oil and black salt 1, which was odd, but delicious.

1.Presumably the second of those listed here.

#779 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 05:49 PM:

Mycroft, #771: A science-fiction convention takes up amazing amounts of function space relative to the size of the group. At a minimum, you need: (1) one room large enough to hold in theater seating) the maximum number of people who are likely to attend the main events, such as Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Masquerade, (at Worldcon) the Hugos, (at NADWC) Sir Terry's keynote speech, etc.; (2) another room large enough for the Dealer Room, and one for the Art Show (these are sometimes combined, if there's a room large enough to hold both comfortably); (3) at least one meeting room per track of panel programming, sometimes more; (4) a movie/video room; (5) one or more gaming rooms. Really large cons usually want a function space for the consuite as well, but smaller ones can get away with using a regular hotel room for that. Specialty cons don't necessarily need everything on that list -- filk-cons don't generally have an Art Show, or video, or gaming, for example -- but a general-interest con of 500 or so people will soak up pretty much all the function space at an average-sized hotel.

I have no idea how this compares to a bridge tournament, because I've never been to one.

joann, #772: There is one, and it's coming up. My partner will be there, with a selection of shirts. There's less reason to think that my jewelry would sell, and the membership rate is "Yikes!", so I'm not going this year.

#780 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 06:09 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @776:
The Talmud has similarly scathing comments, although I don't think it mentions trumpets per se. For that matter, complaints about that kind of thing go back well into the days of the prophets.

I kind of doubt anyone actually used trumpets at that time, in any case; the Romans had a tendency to burn alive anyone who was too obvious about their worship of anything other than the Roman pantheon.

#781 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 06:28 PM:

On Feline Hostilities

Various scent marking/confusing strategies have been suggested. It occurs to me to wonder -- purely out of idle scientific curiosity -- what the results would be if the relevant parties were thoroughly rubbed with catnip prior to being introduced into close proximity with each other.

#782 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 06:29 PM:

Wow. That was bizarre:

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Not expecting anybody, so I go to the door, look out the peep-hole. Don't recognize the woman standing outside. "Who is it?"

"Robin."

Think hard. Come up dry. "Who?"

"Robin. I got a guinea pig from you."

??? There are two or three people I've given guinea pigs to. None of them is named Robin. (Modulo aging, faulty memory.)

"You got a guinea pig from me?"

"Yeah, is your name Jacque?"

"Yes." Now, granted there have been dozens of people through here, over the last ten years, to see my guinea pigs. I'm doing well if I remember the ones I've talked to several times.

"You have guinea pigs?"

"Yeah." Puzzled. Open door. See person clearly, still no recognition. (Not diagnostic.) But I'm curious. "Um, come on in."

"How many do you have now?" Robin asks.

"Fourteen."

"You're down some then. Well, good. The health department should have been on your ass."

Fucking excuse me!? "Um, can I help you? "

"Yeah, I want to get a guinea pig from you."

"I don't give away my guinea pigs."

Impatiently, "I don't want you to give me one, I want to buy one." Clearly having missed my point.

"I don't sell them, either." (I very rarely adopt them out to extremely carefully chosen homes.)

"Oh," turns around, heads out door. "Well, have a nice day, then," clearly not meaning that at all.

Questions I din't have time or presence of mind to ask:
-How do I know this person?
-What do you want the guinea pig for?
-What makes you think you could have one of mine?

::shudder:: Some very creepy energy, there. This is going to have me scratching my head for some while.

#783 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Jacque #782: This sounds like it might warrant a call to the police department.

#784 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Lee: What I know (being a judge rather than an organizer): actual play requires, by preference, 8' centres for tables (4 players per table) - so every expected player (not everyone who shows up, but everyone we expect to, if everything goes well) takes 16 square feet just to play (that does count walking-around space). Then there is space for water, coffee, supplies, the Director's and entry sellers' tables,...

Add to that function space (at anything but the "200-person sectionals" like I'm working this weekend, there will be meetings, receptions, training, room for "office work" (finance, mostly) and caddies, and the like), and of course, any books/supplies/paraphenalia sellers.

So I guess we're talking about 22-23 square feet per player, plus all of the hallways and lobbies in the area.

And the unfortunate thing about the way our tournaments work is that if it lasts a week, we will have 50% higher attendance on Wednesday-Friday that we will have Monday night or Sunday - but we almost never can "give up" space on the small days (setup/teardown/staffing the small extra rooms would be more expensive/less possible than just booking the room the whole week). So on those days, we're looking at 35-40 square feet per player.

The concern I hear is that "we can book a wedding reception or a company party on Saturday night alone at a higher rate than you're willing to pay for the whole weekend" - because 800 people are going to be in the room that we're going to put 200 into.

I don't know if that matters at all, of course, just comparing organization woes...

#785 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:08 PM:

Serge Broom @762: Man shows wife the opening credits of Gerry Anderson's "U.F.O.". Wife unhappy with husband for having darn theme music playing in her head for couple of hours.

But, did you talk her into trying on the purple wig?

#786 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:10 PM:

Jennifer, 777: I used to live there too! And two Fluorospherians that I know of live there now. You could have a mini-GoL! Especially if it coincides with my next visit, whenever that may be.

#787 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:44 PM:

David Harmon @783: This sounds like it might warrant a call to the police department.

Really? Interesting. Please say more.

#788 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:48 PM:

Huh. Vague memory surfaces of a neighbor or acquaintance named Robin. Actually, two, right around the same time. One was nice; one, less so. And this would have been '04 or therebouts. (Continues scratching head.)

#789 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 08:51 PM:

TexAnne: Nifty! I will have to keep that in mind!

Also, w/r/t the fires:

We wither 'neath the unrelenting heat
while praetors merely trust to powers higher;
as summer cedes to fall, it might seem meet
that ardent season spends itself in fire.
Rome burns, and praetors understand too late --
a starving beast succumbs beneath its load.
No help from them; instead, they would debate
which way to turn along the future's road.
It's clear there hasn't been a lesson learned;
How could it be? You see, *their* homes weren't burned.


#790 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:01 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 785... No, nor did I ask her about the netshirts. I am considering acquiring a Nehru jacket though.

#791 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:08 PM:

Serge @ #762: oh my. I was totally obsessed with that show when I was in 7th grade. An early instance of my lifelong habit of vastly preferring the #2 guy to the lead. (Artemus Gordon, Spock...)

#792 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:19 PM:

HLN: Seattle man fails to feel earthquake that has other locals atwitter. Some say alert US border guards turned it away at the Washington state line.

#793 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:26 PM:

Lila @ 791... Freeman or Foster?

#794 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:39 PM:

Nancy @776, the trumpet-blowing (Greek σαλπισῇς) has to be a reference to the blowing of the shofar, but I don't know the details.

One obvious possibility: When I was a kid, people used to donate to our synagogue during High Holiday services (I forget which holiday; probably Rosh HaShana). Likely they still do, but I haven't been to services since I moved out of my parents house. Maybe this was for synagogue upkeep, maybe the Hebrew school, maybe it was some kind of general charity fund; I don't know. Anyway, what I remember is the rabbi calling out the names and sizes of the donations, which were generally multiples of $18. It's not unimaginable to me that, in an earlier time, maybe a blast of the shofar would signal each donation, or maybe people would just donate while the horn was being blown. I can't find any evidence of a such traditions, though.

Another possibility: Other passages in Matthew 6 refer to public prayer and fasting. Yom Kippur is, obviously, one of the times the shofar is blown. Jesus could have been making a general argument against Temple-based religion in favor of a decentralized faith.

Still another possibility: I bit of googling tells me that the alms boxes located in most synagogues were called sophar chests. The similarity between sophar and shofar suggests either a deliberate pun or an accidental mis-transcription.

#795 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 09:50 PM:

Serge Broom: Man shows wife the opening credits of Gerry Anderson's "U.F.O.". Wife unhappy with husband for having darn theme music playing in her head for couple of hours.

Follow it up with an episode of Danger Mouse and any episode of Patelleiro which includes "The Cockroach Song" and we'll be checking where she hid the body.

#796 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:09 PM:

Serge @ #793: Foster. Particularly after the ep wherein he met the alien.

#797 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:12 PM:

Re: Lila @ 791: An early instance of my lifelong habit of vastly preferring the #2 guy to the lead. (Artemus Gordon, Spock...)

YES! Not that I didn't think the Jameses (James West, James Kirk) weren't kinda cute in their own right, but I too vastly preferred Artie and Spock.

Slightly tangential to this is the fact that I'm still sorry Ross Martin died so early. I thought he was incredibly talented, not to mention funny as hell.

#798 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:22 PM:

Jacque #787: Mostly, your account sets off my "trouble bump":
1) Creepy person (and I agree with you there) shows up at your door unannounced (possibly based on acquaintance from 5-6 years ago)
2) Starts off by being vaguely threatening and/or insulting (that "health department" comment)
3) Brusquely asks to buy one of your pets
4) Responds rudely when you say no.

This person could just be an asshole poorly socialized, and have assumed that the only possible reason for having so many guinea pigs would be breeding for sale...
but sometimes, "poorly socialized" does connect to "anti-social behavior".

Odds are, nothing will come of this, but I'd say it's worthwhile to report the incident to the police, just in case of possible "later developments".

#799 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:42 PM:

Bruce E Durocher II @ 795... She probably would have killed me if I had had her watch the ending credits of Gerry Anderson's "Fireball XL-5".

#800 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:44 PM:

Lila @ 796... Is that the one where they're trekking across the Moon's surface after they both crashed?

#801 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:46 PM:

About the "Sarah Tolerance"... If I remember correctly what Madeleine Robins said during her worldcon kaffeeklatch, Sarah was born partly out of a suggestion that Patrick Nielsen Hayden had made about hardboiled Regency mysteries. Not, not Dick Darcy, or Sam Rake...

#802 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2011, 11:47 PM:

(Not sure why I felt it necessary to give Patrick's full name.)

#803 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 12:08 AM:

Serge #802:
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, as opposed to St Patrick, Butch Patrick, Robert Patrick, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Stewart, Danica Patrick, or, um, I can't think of any other Patricks off hand.

Neither can my wife.

#804 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 12:51 AM:

Oatmeal. Salt, pepper, and butter when I was young. Various savory additives now - a leftover half-can of beef broth, some bacon, crumbled seaweed (dulse), that last bit of extra sharp cheddar, onion flakes, kale chips. Not all at once, mind you; just whatever is handy. I don't know how I started eating it like that. I do remember family breakfasts where everyone else was putting milk and sugar on their oatmeal, and I was having mine with - well, more likely margarine, and salt and pepper.

#805 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 12:56 AM:

Jennifer Baughman, I am glad I braved the italics to read that.

#806 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:18 AM:

This last week in Houston, I've been amazed at how ninety degrees can feel delightfully cool.

#807 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:31 AM:

P J Evans @ #696, Stefan Jones @ #697, I found a 12-oz jar of buttermilk powder at the commissary today. It's fairly expensive stuff for the commissary: $6.24, but 12 ounces should last a while. Thanks for the tip!

#808 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:41 AM:

David Harmon @798: Hm, yeah. Your thinking tallies with mine. Thanks for elaborating. I may just have a little conversation with BPD.

As you say, nothing likely will come of it. (Blessedly, I don't seem to attract that kind of energy into my life.) But it was just bizarre enough....

I actually did manage to dig a surname out of the dusty vaults of memory, and I do recall a person by the name of Robin taking custody of a couple of my guinea pigs for a while,* and then bringing them back to me as she didn't have the time to take care of them due to family issues.

But the weird part is that I get no rings of recognition when I put that memory image up against the face of the person who came to my door today. I recall the other person in the past as having somewhat better social skills.

--

* I think they were two of eighteen guinea pigs that got gifted on me when a woman who had been breeding them "to educate the children about life" found out her family had to move back to Germany suddenly. (This when I already had something like twelve of my own.) The idea was that I would rehome them. Um, yeah.

#809 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:53 AM:

Patrick Connors @ 803... Patrick McGoohan? Patrick Magee?

#810 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 06:04 AM:

Neil Patrick Harris? Patricks Demsey, Troughton, & Duffy?

#811 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:53 AM:

Patrick Bergin?

#812 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:18 AM:

Robert Patrick?

#813 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:21 AM:

Yesterday was my 56th birthday, the same day as Cardinal Richelieu and actor Jeffrey Combs, one of whom would be considerably older than me, were he still among us. I treated myself with a trip to the comicbook store, where I acquired the first issue of "Atomic Robo"'s new story, which begins with his making fun of Steve Jobs's iPad before he gets a call about an imperiled orbiter, then another call about a Bletchley Park building that has vanished.

#814 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:52 AM:

Serge @ 800, yep. Almost the only episode I can remember in any detail after all these years. I still remember the closing image.

(Syd, glad to know I'm not the only one! I think part of it is the way "leader" characters are written, and part of it is a preference for character actors over leading men. The leading men I do like tend not to fit the standard template, e.g. Humphrey Bogart.)

#815 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:07 AM:

Lila @ 814... I remember that image very well too and that was 40 years ago.

#816 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:07 AM:

Lila @ 814... I remember that image very well too and that was 40 years ago.

#817 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 11:17 AM:

Happy belated birthday, Serge.

#818 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Open threadiness:

Over the years, there have been some really destructive public scares and conspiracy theories. It's common to look at the antivaxxers or the Obama's a foreigner folks and think, wow, how could they be so silly, when there are so many reliable sources of information explaining that they're wrong?

This Pro Publica article may give a hint as to why many people dont take such reassurances at face value. Apparently, largely due to political pressure from the Bush administration, the EPA and OSHA suppressed or downplayed warnings about the safety of the air around ground zero, and claimed it was safe before they'd really gotten many test results back.

Every time the reliable official sources of information get used to lie in order to achieve some political or social or economic goal, they spend credibility that takes a long time to get back. Every time the whole world of respectable news media tells us that Saddam will have nukes any day now to go with his mobile bioweapons labs, every time politicians do the Sunday talk show circuit explaining that Americans don't torture and that the Abu Girab scandal was just a few bad apples, every time the allegedly respectable people and sources of information lie, they destroy the ability of the elites I the US to reliably settle issues or calm down fears.

Next week, you're going to run into someone convinced that global warming is some kind of hoax perpetrated by a bunch of liberal scientists and Al Gore. It would be really nice to be able to say "look, here's what NASA and the EPA say about this. Surely we can trust that they're not going to stretch the facts for political purposes in their areas of focus.". But of course, they might. EPA did in this case. This is an incredibly lousy place for us to be in as a society.

#819 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 11:45 AM:

Texanne #786:

Three.

David Goldfarb #806:

Ditto for Austin. It really makes a difference for walking around, although they kept telling us not to because of all the smoke and ozone.

Jennifer #777:

That Old Testament part of me wishes Perry would just *stay* out of the state for a few months. Unfortunately, I can't even begin to contemplate the wider effects should he leave full-time after about sixteen months.

#820 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 12:22 PM:

albatross #818: Amen! I just had a neighbor telling me that the recent earthquake in Mineral, VA, was just the beginning, that we're actually in "the worst place in the world" for earthquakes, worse than California or Japan, but it wasn't being reported because "they don't want you to know".... When I tried to bring in the USGS, he claimed "they don't get to say what they know", and started talking about how they were always [mimed:looking at the ground] when they gave interviews.

But again, this fits in with the neo-cons usual attitude and behavior: Anything they can't make a profit off (or otherwise bend to their purposes), is to be destroyed. National Reputation? "What's left is over in aisle 4, but you can check the dumpster too."

I will note that this is not particularly new, or even well-buried -- there was immediate kickback on those findings even at the time, and continuing doubt since, including occasional newspaper specials.

#821 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Diatryma @ 805 -- Thank you! I can't even begin to articulate the seething cauldron of contempt and hatred I have for Perry and his cronies.

David @ 806 -- Oh, you are *not* kidding. The a/c is breathing a sigh of relief because we're actually able to turn it off for part of the day.

joann @ 819 -- I'd try to get him impeached, but it would be a joke, considering how the Texas Leg is packed with his buddies. But then, I think he should be kicked out for his handling of the Cameron Todd Willingham case alone.

And, OT aside, you have a point; with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst gearing up to take on Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Clear Channel) for Sen. Hutchinson's opening seat, we could find ourselves with an empty executive branch here, and I'm not sure if that would be good or bad...

#822 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 01:33 PM:

Thanks, praisegod!

#823 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 01:52 PM:

joann, 819: You were one of the two I was thinking of. Three now that Jennifer isn't relurking. ;-)

#824 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Serge: Happy natal anniversary!

#825 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 03:50 PM:

There's a report on RASFF from DC fan Keith Lynch that we have lost Dan Hoey.

#826 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 04:06 PM:

Serge Broom @ 813 ...
Yesterday was my 56th birthday, the same day as Cardinal Richelieu and actor Jeffrey Combs, one of whom would be considerably older than me, were he still among us.

Happy belated birthday! (and I'm happier to have you about than either of those, too!)

#827 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 04:33 PM:

Merci, Jacque.

#828 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 04:36 PM:

xeger... I don't know what kind of person Combs is, aside than his being one year older than yours truly, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Zee Cardinal who once said, about his concept of Justice, that if you gave him 6 lines written by an innocent man, he'd find 6 reasons to have him arrested.

#829 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 05:10 PM:

TexAnne #823:

I was also thinking of EC3 and FM.

#830 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 05:40 PM:

Happy belated birthday, Serge.

My perception is that all you share with Le Cardinal Terrible is the ability to speak French, a penetrating intellect, and (you less frequently than he) wearing dresses.

#831 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 05:42 PM:

Serge: Belated birthday greetings!

#832 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 05:43 PM:

Carol Kimball @ 830... :-)

#833 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 06:41 PM:

joann, 829: Ah! I have no idea who EC3 is. I must fix that the next time I'm home.

Xopher Halftongue: In case I get busy doing day-before-school stuff tomorrow...happy birthday!

#834 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 06:42 PM:

Belated happy b-day, Serge!

#835 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:09 PM:

Happy belated birthday, Serge!

#836 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:20 PM:

Hey, where I am, it's Xopher's birthday already. Happy birthday, Xopher!

#837 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:34 PM:

Thanks, abi.

I'm older in Netherlands than I am in America. This would seem to raise relativistic questions, but probably doesn't.

#838 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:34 PM:

My thanks again to you all for your wishes, and I'd like to add my wishes to Abi's toward Xopher.

#839 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:53 PM:

*facepalm*

Happy birthday, Serge!

#840 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:11 PM:

Happy Birthday to {applicable}.

#841 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Happy birthday to two of my favorite Fluorospherians!

#842 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #840: Applause!

Xopher, Hau`oli Lā Hānau!

#843 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:49 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher & Serge!

#844 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:11 PM:

Yay, happy birthdays to Xopher & Serge!

#845 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Psst: If Walt Whitman had been a monk, he might have started out his masterpiece with the line, "I'm celibate, myself..."

#846 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:23 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher (slightly in advance because I expect to be offline most of tomorrow).

Wow, there are a lot of us with late-August/early-September birthdays!

#847 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:01 PM:

If you happen to be in the mood for a good facepalm movie, I'm watching Arctic Blast. (Michael Shanks, for those wondering why.)

The coldest part of the Earth is not at the North or the South Pole. It is ust 35 miles or 185,000 feet straight above us, where temperatures can fall to 140 degrees below zero. A thin band of air called the ozone layer has been the only thing protecting the people of the earth. Until now...

And just what is it that breaches the ozone layer, and lets this cold air come down to the surface, to flash-freeze everything in it's path? Duh-duh-duh: a total solar eclipse.

Even the special effects are bad, and that takes doing, in this day and age.

#848 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Melissa Singer @846: Thundering herds of stampeding Virgos! Happy BDay, Monsieur Xopher!

#849 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:16 PM:

The FG's birthday was August 29th, and we celebrated with her daughter as well as one of her younger cousins. A good time was had; now I wish the best natal anniversary celebrations for Serge and Xopher!

#850 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Happy birthdays to Xopher and Serge!

#851 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:33 PM:

Happy birthday and belated birthday, birthday people!

#852 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 11:04 PM:

I'm just back from a surprise mad scientist birthday party for a friend. Lab coats, goggles, dry ice-- very low-key, as most of the people doing the planning and attending do not think of themselves as scientists, but fun. A friend of mine apologized that she couldn't find her lab coat, and I said, "I've cloned shit. I don't need a costume." There was also a terribly awesome pickup line.

Now I load up a new bookshelf. Really, I want the five-shelf Target thing to be a six-shelf because there's room for it, but one cannot have everything. Not without a trip to the hardware store.

#853 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 11:44 PM:

#847: That silly idea was used, with modifications, in the rather enjoyable splat movie "The Day After Tomorrow." Big cyclonic storms suck icy upper-atmosphere air down to the surface, freezing people in their tracks.

In once scene the cold chases people down the corridors of the New York City public library.

#854 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 12:12 AM:

Congratulations on the anniversaries of your birth, Xopher and Tracey.

I wish you a happy day, and more to come.

#855 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 12:43 AM:

Lila @ 814: Humphrey Bogart... Bogie, check! (One of my faves is Dark Passage, and when an actor can hold my attention with just his voice and other people's reactions to him? Awesome.)

Hippo birdie wishes to Serge, Xopher, Tracey, belated or timely as may be--hoping they were/are wonderful days!

And speaking of Serge, @ 828: I don't know what kind of person Combs is

I can't tell you about Combs as a person, but I can say he does a hell of a Juliet! :)

#856 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 01:44 AM:

Happy Birthday to Serge and Xopher!

#857 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:00 AM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher and Tracey!

#858 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:11 AM:

Xopher, Tracey, and (belatedly) Serge: happy birthday

#859 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:14 AM:

hoppy birdies to all

#860 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:22 PM:

Stefan Jones @853: That silly idea was used, with modifications, in the rather enjoyable splat movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

I dimly recall enjoying that one. I was particularly tickled with the poster image of the frozen Statue of Liberty sporting sideways ice sicles. (To be fair, I think their atmospheric science wasn't completely ridicuous. Something about Global Warming shutting down the Gulf Stream, allowing arctic air masses to travel south. Which is a scenario I've heard seriously discussed in climate science circles, though the time frame is, um, adjusted for dramatic effect.

This one is just...well, let's see. You're sitting in a walk-in freezer. You've got a tub of room-temperature water with a thin coating of oil on top. You turn off the room light, and this causes a hole to form in the middle of the oil, which in turn causes the room air to push down into the water and freeze it. Um, yeah.

But, hey. Michael Shanks.

As to getting chased down a corridor by the cold front: I remember passing through a cold front on my bike on the way home one night. Folsom and Valmont: pleasant, cool evening temperatures. A block later, at 28th: twenty degrees cooler and sh*t I want to be home now. No sideways ice sickles, though.

#861 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 06:13 PM:

Happy Birthday to Xopher, Tracey, and Serge!

#862 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher and Tracy (and again to Serge).

In HLN, local man tackles the closet reorganization in his office. Removes old shelving, assembles new, and tosses out, among other things, a thick paperback book explaining how to use GEnie.

#863 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:59 PM:

HLN: Soot gets everywhere; Sandberg poem re-enacted in graphic detail.

#864 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:02 PM:

Thanks again, and (belatedly) a Happy Birthday to Tracey!

#865 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 11:53 AM:

HLN: Local woman's husband, unemployed for five weeks, is hugely relieved to get offer letter from area game developer in today's email. Husband is reported to have broken into "funky white-boy victory dance", while woman is also reported to be both relieved at the imminent resumption of actual income, and pleased that husband's dream of working in video game design hasn't been derailed.

#866 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 11:58 AM:

Jennifer Baughman @ 865... Woot! Yay!

#867 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:01 PM:

HLN: Oldest child looses third tooth, nearly on schedule. So far, we've seen 1/1/11, 1/11/11, and 9/11/11. Family dismayed to see fourth tooth unlikely to make it to the next date with many ones. I was betting on 11/1, personally.

#868 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Today is the 402nd anniversary of Henry Hudson's ascent of the river that bears his name. He was looking for the Northwest Passage but didn't find it in New York's lovely river, even though he went as far north as what is now Albany.

#869 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:25 PM:

If he had only continued to Schenectady...

#870 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:38 PM:

Modesto Kid @ 869... And if Jacques Cartier had gone South instead of North, Montreal's Ste-Catherine Street would be lined up with palm trees, as the song says.

#871 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Would it have made a difference to Rip van Winkle?

#872 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes.

#873 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 01:01 PM:

HLN: Local man's car is towed. Local man learns he has somehow neglected to obtain a new apartment parking lot sticker. Local man retrieve car from towing company and makes sure to acquire a new sticker.

#874 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 01:53 PM:

My old friend Ed Bryant has fallen on hard times. This link will provide more information. If you can help, thank you.

#875 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 02:19 PM:

Pleased about this.

#876 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 03:07 PM:

That's great, Lizzy. I've posted it on a gay site I frequent.

As I said there,

I generally don't think of the Roman Catholic Church as on my side, or friendly to my concerns; but they're not nearly as extreme as the Ugandans, and don't actually want a whole lot of queers to be murdered...in this case the RCC is on the side of the good guys. Just giving credit where it's due.
My conscience wouldn't let me say "on the side of the angels."

I'm expecting some flak from both knee-jerk Church haters and knee-jerk Church defenders, which is why I phrased it so neutrally.

#877 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 03:15 PM:

Xopher, in an alternate universe, not in this one, my church would inform the Ugandan Catholics that if their state passes a law making it okay to murder gay people, the whole country will be placed under an interdict, ie., no sacraments. But I said, that's in an alternate universe. I would not actually want that to happen.

#878 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 03:23 PM:

The threat might be enough, if there's a strong enough RCC population there. But the Church doesn't really do interdicts anymore, do they?

#879 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 03:37 PM:

xeger @ #863, which Sandburg poem might that be?

While looking, I found this one he wrote in the 1930s as an ode to a skyscraper, which seems apt for this weekend.

#881 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 05:32 PM:

Xopher at 878: No, they emphatically do not.

#882 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Terry Karney @880, thanks for the link. I like the art, and I love the anonymous appearance and the notes.

#883 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 07:47 PM:

Linkmeister @ 879 ...
xeger @ #863, which Sandburg poem might that be?

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

#884 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Happy past-light-cone birthday wishes to all whose dates are still close enough to see sans scope!

HLHeyerN: Area man, pleased with her Regency romances, purchases 10 of her 12 mysteries on Saturday; one has been read, and proved satisfactory.

Oatmeal ingredients - no; but for some years while I was young, I put a _lot_ of different spices into my applesauce whenever we had it. Cinnamon was only the start...

--Dave ... Patrick Swayze?

#885 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 08:52 PM:

Found in "The Ghost of Station X", this exchange between two Action Scientists who've been sent to Norway's equivalent of Coventry by Atomic Robo.

"I mean, honestly. Two years of standing in a perpetual blizzard? It was one little mistake."
"We did nearly destroy the Universe."
"Technically. But, y'know, we didn't."

#886 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:02 PM:

Terry Karney @880:
Those made my heart happy. Thank you.

#887 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:17 PM:

xeger, I was looking for something with "soot." My mistake. "Fog" I know.

#888 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Terry Karney @880: Thanks, lovely. A-and speaking of supporting libraries...

#889 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Linkmeister @ 887 ...
xeger, I was looking for something with "soot." My mistake. "Fog" I know.

Heh! I was pretty sure that you must -- it was the wispy/ephemeral nature of the paw prints (and their placement on high) that had me thinking of "Fog".

#890 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 02:46 PM:

Passing a link to this shirt on just because it seems like a design folks around here would like.

http://shirt.woot.com/friends.aspx?k=20904

#891 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 03:25 PM:

A group of bystanders (and one police officer who joins in at the end) rescue a motorcyclist from under a car as it catches fire (the motorcycle itself was on fire already).

"Curtis said police are trying to find the people who helped so they can be recognized for their efforts at a city council meeting."

#892 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 03:48 PM:

Unpaid, kinda political announcement (may be deleted or ignored):

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/sexist_shirts/?r_by=-4470073-dFZwlYx&rc=confemail

Given the "math is hard" Barbie fiasco, I was very sorry to see this. DD spends a lot of her clothing money at these stores, which I pointed out in the email I wrote in response to this.

Naomi @891: I saw that on the news last night and it was jaw-dropping. How brave people are!

#893 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 04:40 PM:

Rose Marie Belforti can bite my gay ass.

#894 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 04:47 PM:

I just added my name to the petition.

#895 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 05:17 PM:

signed the Rose Marie Belforti petition.

#896 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 05:40 PM:

Hippo birdies two ewes (to everyone appropriate/near appropriate)!

Naomi Parkhurst @ 891: good to see people can still work together - at some potential risk to themselves, even - to help someone else.

#897 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 10:07 PM:

Naomi @ # 891, holy CRAP! (Also: my brother lives in Logan, UT!)

Xopher @ # 893, signed. She can always get a job down here in Georgia, more shame to us.

#898 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 11:14 PM:

HLN: local woman has just spent several hours fighting crime with her husband in City of Heroes: Freedom; woman is impressed by updates and new plots, and declares it awesome.

#899 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 10:12 AM:

HLN late notice department:

MakerFaire NYC is this weekend, at the NY Hall of Science in Queens.

We had an amazing time last year (though it was way too hot) and one day there just wasn't enough, so this year I bought weekend tickets.

More info at www.makerfaire.com

#900 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 11:07 AM:

Ms. Belforti can bite my straight ass too.

And yesterday the legislature of my illustrious state decided that it's just a dandy idea to put the civil rights of a minority up to majority vote. The May 8 primary ballot will contain the question of whether to add an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution.

NC already has a no-gay-marriage law on the books, but I guess they want to make it double extra super illegal. Really, they want to make sure they don't have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

The wording is of the "no civil union or domestic partnership shall be recognized except the marriage of one woman and one man" type. That is, the type that's been used to prevent public employers from giving domestic partner benefits.

I've already started talking to every NC voter I know, to get them out to vote NO on this amendment in May. A lot of non-Republicans might have skipped the primary election, because the main presidential primary is for the GOP*. But I think with a good enough get-out-the-vote operation, we can put up a real fight.

The newest talking point, by the way, is that anti-gay amendments are "good for business." Because the American Legislative Exchange Council (right-wing think tank) evaluated "economic outlook" and found that their top 10 states had anti-gay amendments. This would be because their factors for "positive economic outlook" are things like low corporate taxes, low/no minimum wage, anti-union laws, and smaller number of public employees.

If we're going to play this stupid game at all -- look at current unemployment figures -- 5 out of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment do not have anti-gay amendments, and 4 of the 10 have either legal same-sex marriage or legal same-sex civil unions.

BUT THAT IS NOT EVEN THE POINT. Argh.

*Unaffiliated voters in NC can pick whether to vote in the Democratic, Republican, or other primary. But a lot of people don't know this.

#901 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 01:42 PM:

Whoa! Optical illusion carpet! I can see people falling because of this.

#902 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 02:28 PM:

Larry Brennan @ 901... I bet it would happen.

#903 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 03:33 PM:

Larry Brennan @901: Even the photo gives me the willies. I'd definitely have trouble looking down.

#904 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 04:14 PM:

Not sure of this will be seen so near the end of the thread, but thought some people here might be interested in this article on trolling.

#905 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Take note of the latest in Republican gerrymandering; not just Congressional districts, but the entire state's electoral votes.

#906 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 05:25 PM:

@892 Melissa Singer

Not content with the 'girls are too dumb for math' trope, some other company has come out with 'domestic violence is fun!' T-shirts.

As the previous article mentions: these designs have been seen by hundreds of people before they ever hit the shelves. Who doesn't notice these are a steaming pile of shit?!!?!

#907 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 05:51 PM:

O my gods, Cheryl. What the hell is WRONG with some people?!?!?!

They'd probably just say "oh, get over it, you have no sense of humor."

And I don't, not about that. And nor should any decent person.

#908 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Cheryl @906:
It wasn't that long ago, historically speaking, that ads suggested that various forms of abuse were entirely appropriate ways for Manly Men to show "love" to their good subordinate wives.

I think there's actually a belief among some people that $subordinate_du_jour secretly enjoys being abused, because they actually believe whatever they miscall G-d specifically created the subordinate to be subordinate and therefore abused.

#909 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 06:03 PM:

geekosaur @908:

I'm not even sure that it's a belief that $subordinate_du_jour enjoys being abused, so much as an assumption that the subordinate's preferences don't matter; as you say, there is a persistent assumption that those in positions of lesser power are meant to be abused.

It plays out at all levels: parents abuse their children, men their wives, supervisors their reports, the rich the poor. As was done unto them, so they do unto others; the sins of the fathers fall onto the children.

#910 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 06:11 PM:

What kind of asshole buys shirts like that?

#911 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 06:21 PM:

Xopher @907 - that's pretty much what the weasel-word fauxpology says:

‘Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light hearted and carried no serious meaning we have made the decision to remove these from store and on-line as soon as possible.

'We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.’

*is nauseated*

#912 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 06:29 PM:

Yeah, pretty typical of the breed. I hope they fall from a high place onto shit-covered spikes.

#913 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 06:49 PM:

IF offended THEN sorry. The mealy-mouthed conditional non-apology thing.

#914 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 07:48 PM:

Cheryl @906: Good lord!

I've often wondered about the very thing you mention--plenty of people (men and women, surely) look at these designs before they are released. Does no one ever see/say something?

#915 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 07:58 PM:

Presidio Press needs a spelling cheat sheet similar to the one above for ML, only theirs should be for Civil War officers' names:

The blurb on the back of the book says "What if Robert E. Lee’s brilliant young cavalry commander Jeb Stewart had arrived earlier. . ."

Stewart? Really? (It is correctly spelt inside the book.)

#916 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 09:41 PM:

School bus rolls away.
Front yard empty. In the tree,
The swing, moving; still.

#917 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2011, 10:20 PM:

Lovely haiku at 916.

Fiendishly difficult to write, those little devils. First line an invokation of season, time, weather or place, second line a more specific and vivid image, third line a comment that is polyvalent and polysemic, but not so crass as a pun, and which points towards an enduring, universal or timeless idea.

Fascinating to try, though.

#918 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:32 AM:

I remember a classic short story (or was it a play?) called something like "Little Things" in which a man is found hanged in his own bedroom. Through the story/play it becomes evident that he was a classic abuser who isolated and tormented his wife, but the men investigating dismiss the idea that his cowed "little woman" could have done the deed, even though his temperament did not point toward suicide. The entire time, they're "lovingly" denigrating their wives who are there with them, and it becomes obvious to the reader/viewer that the "little things" these wives are fussing over are the key to the death—to whit, that he finally pushed his wife too far.

And because the men are unlikely to spot it, the wives cover over the only evidence, the dead songbird that was her only solace.

I think of that tale whenever stupid T-shirts like that come up. It's entrenched, the kind of culture that thinks that those kinds of slogans are not only okay but funny, much like the "my stupid wife" jokes of years gone, or the patronizing that women were quite literally subjected to in times (not far enough) past.

This stuff is bewildering. I've never been in a situation where I've been outright doubted by the majority of males. In fact, I can only really call up one example, in high school, which inspired another guy of more discerning intelligence to remark, "It will be interesting to see what happens when they get to college and get smacked down hard." (They went to a boys-only school.) But really, I've never had to deal with somebody assuming I'm an idiot just because I'm female*. That's... just weird to contemplate.

Maybe I'm just really good at discerning the proper environments.

*Oh, wait, there was the time we got the Ukranian hire who assumed that he knew better than all of us because he was male. He didn't say anything, just acted accordingly. To our great amusement, because every time he did something *his* way it was much harder. Thankfully, he was trainable. And he's nicer now.

#919 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:53 AM:

B. Durbin @ #918, your play or short story is similar to the Hitchcock episode Lamb to the Slaughter, wherein the wife, told by her philandering husband that he's leaving her, hits him with a frozen leg of lamb, kills him, then pops the murder weapon into the oven.

#920 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:54 AM:

Kip W @ 916: That's wonderful.

#921 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 07:41 AM:

B. Durbin, #918: The play you're thinking of is "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell, which she also adapted into a short story called "A Jury of Her Peers."

#922 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 08:20 AM:

Here is "A Jury of Her Peers" because plays are not as easy to read as short stories. I think the lamb thing began as a Roald Dahl story, too.

HLN: Woman very fond on Preview because she cannot apparently type link brackets.

#923 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 08:56 AM:

Interesting open threadiness:

Rick Perry famously called social security a Ponzi scheme. As someone who was once susceptible to that kind of logic, I enjoyed reading discussions of the claim here and here.

#924 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 10:15 AM:

Definitely not hyperlocal news... Man just realized that Tuesday was the 12th anniversary of the Moon blowing itself off Earth's orbit.

#925 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 11:00 AM:

Is there a history of people being judged by what sort of art they like, or is this something people seem to have done as far back as we have records?

#926 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 12:33 PM:

B Durbin at 918: you've made my week. I'm dancin'. I don't know this, of course, but I am going to venture a guess that the reason you have not been in a situation where you've never had to deal with someone assuming you're an idiot just because you're female is because 1) you're younger than, say, 60, and 2) those of us older than 60 spent DECADES screaming, ranting, writing, marching, forcing our nation and culture to NOT assume that women are incapable, stupid, brainless beings, not quite human, in fact.

And we won. Not 100%, not at all, but who gets 100%?

Can I get a witness? Any more 60 (more or less) and up sisters out there (and perhaps some brothers, too) who remember what it was like, and How It Changed? (Thank you, Joanna -- you were a shining star.)

#927 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 12:45 PM:

More open threadiness: As an antidote to 9/11 fear mongering, This FP article and this Stratfor article have a very unusual feel to them, compared to most 9/11 nostalgia coverage. My sense is that this is the difference between listening to adults or children discussing a problem. That's not to say that they're necessarily right, just that the kind of reasoning and analysis being done in these articles is at least in principle capable of getting us to better policies and a better understanding of the world.

#928 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Gnomes, gnomes on the page
Have taken my new post away
They gave me the bird
Cause I used the wrong word
Guess the spambots are frisky today

#930 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:03 PM:

Lizzy L @926: I'll be 56 in a couple of moons, so yes I remember -- I even did my little bit to advance the "women are competent and intelligent" in the Aviation Ground School course I took in high school.

I was good enough with a computer plotter that within a month of classes the class math wiz was checking his results against mine.

(Note -- I am lousy at higher math -- but with the plotter, all I had to do was put the data in the right slots/sections and read the results -- the device does the hard stuff for you!)

#931 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:16 PM:

Lizzy L @926:
Can I get a witness? Any more 60 (more or less) and up sisters out there (and perhaps some brothers, too) who remember what it was like, and How It Changed?

Sing it! Praise Joanna, and all the rest of us, Things Have Changed, at least in places.

#932 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 01:47 PM:

Hmm, Jacque, that probably has more to do with the demise of Borders than the lack of interest in Palin. Show me the same thing at a B & N and I'll really cheer!

Still..."the book of my enemy has been remaindered" comes to mind.

#933 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 02:03 PM:

Diatryma, #922: Thank you! I knew I'd read that story -- it's probably in one of my Hitchcock collections.

B. Durbin, #918: Having re-read the story now, it's not that they don't think she did it -- they're quite sure she did it, because they can't find any trace of someone else having been there. But they're worried about getting a conviction, because there's no obvious motive, and juries are "funny" about female defendants.

Also, I agree with Lizzy L -- the reason you've never had that experience is (1) your age and (2) that you don't hang out much with the sort of people who still hold by those old standards. Suzette Haden Elgin and her husband live* out in deep-rural Arkansas, and she's written on her blog about having some sort of maintenance issue come up while her husband was traveling, and having to call into the larger city 70 miles away to find a workman who would come out and do the repairs without having authorization from her husband first. And then there's Teresa's tale of being completely ignored by the employees at Home Depot -- that's all part and parcel of the same thing.

I can remember 2 separate instances of having trouble with math-related stuff in school and going to the teacher for help, only to be told that maybe I just wasn't smart enough to be in the class at all; it was literally years before I realized that a boy in the same situation would have been offered the help he was asking for. And it's only been in the last 40 years or so that a woman was allowed to have a credit card in her own name -- I remember that fight.


* Until quite recently -- they had to move after their son, who also lived on the property, died unexpectedly, because they're both elderly and just couldn't keep up with the house themselves. And she can't drive.

#934 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 02:31 PM:

Well, I'm in my 40s, and it was fairly recently that I was told, quite firmly, that women can't drive manual transmissions. We just can't, you know; can't figure out how to do it properly.

I made someone else at the table spurt coffee out of his nose when I said that it must be hilarious as hell watching this guy drive, using his balls to change gears.

It was a table with several men, and me. None of the other guys agreed with him, which was a balm. It's a lot easier on my psyche to think: "Some percentage of everyone are assholes", than, "All men are assholes".

So, thanks, those of you who marched, and fought, and changed the world. It's not perfect, but it's true that I am here today because you were there then.

#935 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 02:45 PM:

Lizzy L @926: I was one of two women in my electronics class back in '77. I think there was one other woman in the class ahead of us.

Mostly, the guys were okay with us. A couple of incidents stick out in my mind, though:

Halfway through the year long course, it was determined that we should change lab partners. I had been working with Kay, the other woman. I was now assigned to work with Fred.

When working through an lab project, Kay and I were used to discussing the assignment in detail. First lab assignment with Fred, I proceeded with what I thought was normal discussion—and got back, "Boy, you sure like to argue a lot." Huh-wha? I wound up going back to partnering with Kay.

The other incident: the gang of guys we hung out with just loved trying to embarrass us and gross us out. This had been going on steadily for the first two weeks of school. One morning, I finally got tired of it, and dragged out the menstral humor. I thought Dale was going to have an aneurysm, he got so pink. Didn't give us any crap after that, though.

#936 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2011, 03:08 PM:

menstrual humor...sheesh

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