Archive for March, 2009

Kate is glad to have a birthday party

Yesterday was Kate’s birthday. I made her pancakes and fresh-squeezed OJ for breakfast, and bought her a KitchenAid mixer (which I am assured is the only acceptable kitchen appliance to give as a gift to a significant other). She’s been faunching after one for years… I just hope we can find a good place to store it.

In the evening we had a small party, attended by people from all our different communities of friends (writers, fans, square dancers, and, um, Sam and Rory, who are friends via fan Kate Schaefer but are not members of any of the above). We ate pecan pie from the recipe Mary Robinette Kowal had used in Chattanooga, which was tres yum, and played games including jelly-bean relay, charades, and a variant of “telephone” or “exquisite corpse” in which players alternately wrote phrases and drew pictures based on the previous picture/phrase without seeing any of the ones before that. The one that made birthday pie come out of Kate’s nose is shown below (click to embiggen, and again to embiggen again).

The text, in case you can’t read it, goes as follows:

  1. Kate is glad to have a birthday party
  2. Robespierre celebrates the guillotining of a Conehead
  3. Bastille day for coneheads
  4. Some monks assault the castle; others juggle; some lose their heads

More details on Library of Congress talk

As I believe I mentioned earlier, I will be giving a talk at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. My topic is “How the Future Predicts Science Fiction” and the event is free and open to the public. I’ll also be signing and selling copies of Space Magic. Tell all your DC-area friends!

When: Thu Apr 9, 12-1pm
Where: 101 Independence Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20540 ; Madison Building, LM-139 (map)
For more info: Contact Colleen Cahill or Nate Evans
Google Calendar entry

Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, pedal to metal

Word count: 6062 | Since last entry: 3201

So I was plugging away on the end-of-the-world story, 500-600 words a day, when the editor of the anthology for which it’s being written posted a blog post reminding about the deadline (May 31) and that he expects a lot of stories to come in right at the deadline. And he’s already accepted several stories, so the competition’s getting tighter all the time.

Given this prod, I decided that getting the story in for the next critique group meeting, rather than the one three weeks after that, would be a Very Good Thing. So I put the pedal to the metal.

I wrote until late last night, then all this morning. I finished the first draft at 1:15 or so and sent it to the group for critique next week. Go me.

I finished just in time to rush off to the theatre for The Importance of Being Earnest, an excellent production. After which we had to hustle to get to writing friend Camille’s Book Swap and Cocktail Party, which was full of fun people and awesomeness. And books. We brought five boxes of books and came away with one… unfortunately, the boxes we brought were ones that Kate had brought back from her parents’ place, so we are actually net +1 box instead of -4.

In the middle of the awesomeness my phone rang. It was square dance friends Bo and Don, asking “aren’t we getting together for dinner tonight?” Turns out they had it on their calendar but we didn’t… not sure how that happened, but we decided not to spurn the opportunity for a nice dinner with friends, so we said hasty goodbyes and scurried off to Del Inti on Alberta for a fabulous Peruvian dinner and excellent mojitos.

After that we watched the Battlestar Galactica finale, which I found fairly satisfying though it had way too many endings and dragged a bit in the second half. I know that others had big problems with it… perhaps reading those (while avoiding spoilers) lowered my expectations to the degree that I could enjoy it.

That was my Saturday. Not too shabby.

Steenking badges, writing progress, Mind Meld, Library of Congress

Word count: 2861 | Since last entry: 2861

Worked with the organizer today. Got the dining room table whipped back into shape, and worked on sorting and properly storing my old convention badges. I got rid of all the old program books and progress reports a few decluttering sessions ago, but decided that I wanted to keep one memento from each convention, and as badges are pretty small that’s what I kept. I had them all pinned to strips of fabric on the wall, but we ran out of wall a while ago and the rest just got thrown into a box. Today I learned that “a while ago” was actually 1995. Where does the time go?

After considering several storage options, I wound up getting a bunch of postcard-sized plastic envelopes and cardboard boxes from The 2 Buds, which specializes in storage solutions for postcard collectors. Each badge goes in an envelope, backed up with a blank postcard with the convention name and date, then they all line up neatly in the box. It worked well and we got through all of the badges on the wall (1975-1995). Based on the number of envelopes left in the package, that was about 90 conventions. Wow. Lotta memories there. I’ll try to put in an hour a day on sorting and storing the badges in the box (1995-present); I figure it’ll take about a week at that rate.

Apart from that…

Got the vampire story finished and in the mail. Managed to slim it down from 8400 words to 6900 without losing its heart or flavor. I’m now working on a new story, a “cosy catastrophe” in which everyone dies (and I mean everyone) but the ending is still, I hope, reasonably happy.

I have a short essay in the latest “Mind Meld” at SF Signal. This one’s about taboos in SF.

I will be giving a talk at the Library of Congress at noon on April 9, part of their “What If…” series. More details as I have them.

Neep neep

Spent the entire day yesterday upgrading the iMac to OS X Leopard. The OS install itself went quickly and cleanly, but backing everything up (twice!), migrating in all the files from the backup after the install, and downloading two years’ worth of updates took about ten hours.

After the upgrade, everything seems to be working except two obscure utilities: ClickBook and TiVoDecode Manager.

ClickBook is essential to the production of Bento, and didn’t even launch under Leopard 1.5.6. I bought an upgrade to a new 4.0 version, which works, but has some problems with the 4-up layout we use. (It lays out each page in the order 3, 4, 1, 2 instead of 1, 2, 3, 4 as you’d expect.) I’ve sent in a support ticket.

I’ve been using TiVoDecode Manager 2.1 to archive The Amazing Race to DVD. Unfortunately neither 2.1 nor the Leopard-specific 3.0 version works on my computer, and from what I’ve gleaned online I’m not the only one. I even tried using 2.1 on another Mac, still running Tiger, and it failed there too (!?). Searching around online I found a number of alternatives, including iTiVo, which is based on the TiVoDecode Manager code base but is under extremely active development. So far it seems to be the best replacement, though I’m still trying to find a combination of parameter settings that does exactly what I want.

The TiVo thing took up the entire afternoon and well into the evening and, well, early morning as well, because each download-and-decode attempt takes one or two hours. I did manage to get in some writing time, though; one must have one’s priorities.

Apart from those two problems I’m generally quite impressed with Leopard. Time Machine has already saved my bacon once; I accidentally deleted a whole directory of files and was able to immediately recover all but the newest one (and that one can easily be reproduced). Leopard FTW!

“Homebrew Gravitics” at Reno in 2011

My story “At the Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting of Uncle Teco’s Homebrew Gravitics Club” has been posted on the Reno in 2011 Worldcon bid website. Bid chair Patty Wells announced online:

We have been using articles, and now a story, in our New Frontiers section to help push our thinking on what are the new frontiers, but also to add in some of the content we always wished would show up on websites. A story by David Levine always falls into this category, as do the other material we’ve run, and we thank our contributors.