Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Linkdump

Cliff Mass has photos that explain why you shouldn't stand under a tree in a lightning storm. Better to get a little wet, yeah?

One of the nastiest pieces of malware out there is the ransomware... it locks your computer's files and won't free them unless you pay the criminals. Apparently, Kaspersky thinks they've cracked the encryption.

Savage Chickens looks at the Fourth Doctor's hair. Um. Ok.

It is slightly amazing to me how recently the theory of plate tectonics came onto the scene. But then I read this story and I'm just furious at men who say stupid things like "girl talk" about serious scientific discoveries. Argh. Seriously, all this misogyny is holding the world back.

I remember hearing about NetHack back in the day... this article makes me glad I didn't try it, because it sounds like I'd still be playing it.

The new look for the Joker? No, I'm not a fan. It just seems over-the-top silly in the wrong way. Joker is supposed to be scary and silly, but there's something just not scary about this version. The active portrayal will make the difference.

Yet another study finds no link between autism and vaccines. But anti-vaxxers are beyond logic, now.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 25th
  • Aquaman #40 - So, I suspected that the appearance of Aquaman's mother alone would screw up this story, based on every other story where she's come back, badly, from the dead. I should have had more faith in Jeff Parker's writing skills. This was a story worth reading, and it sets up something very interesting. Aquaman has just been given further proof that he's the rightful ruler of Atlantis... now, what's Cullen Bunn about to do to Aquaman? Hrm... Moving into Convergence with a nice status quo to disrupt.
  • Secret Origins #11 - Constantine, Guy Gardner and Black Canary. Constantine was about what I expected. Guy was annoying. Canary's tale was utterly unlike any other version of her story I've read.
  • Sinestro #11 - Sinestro did what?
  • Multiversity Ultra Comics #1 - That made utterly no sense. And apparently, it's the comic all the characters have been reading in the other Multiversity comics. But that doesn't mean it makes any sense. Maybe it'll all pull together in the end?
  • Batman '66 #21 - Lord Death Man! Oooh! This was a fun issue, if only because of the reference to the manga version of Batman.
  • Doctor Who 11th #10 - Well, that was an abrupt success... I guess. I'm not sure I like Alice as the Doctor.
  • Apr 1st
  • Convergence #0 - Well, after this I'm feeling slightly less enthused about Convergence. I guess the thing about different cities up against each other just doesn't appeal. I want to see the Elseworlds, but I never have enjoyed the arena set-up, which this seems to be.
  • Sinestro Annual #1 - Nice little collection of origin tales with a framing story in which almost nothing happens.
  • Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues #3 - Ultimate fanboy dream come true. Overall I'm enjoying this book.
  • Hoax Hunters 2015 #1 - This picks up where the last series ended, albeit with slightly better art.
  • Doctor Who 9th #1 - Captain Jack, Rose and the Doctor walk into a war... ahem. Fun issue, nice cliffhanger.
  • Flash: Season Zero #7 - King Shark... I still can't get over the fact that they are doing King Shark in this book. Ha. And they are bringing in the Suicide Squad.
  • UFOlogy #1 - Well, that was different. Not entirely what I was expecting, and yet good enough to keep me reading. I want to know what happens next and want to know what happened before.

And with that I'm caught up on the comics we've already received. So maybe I'll throw in some other type of review next week, since I don't think we'll get our next shipment of comics before next Sunday.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Week In Review

Last Friday I spent an hour or so taking sports photos. Both games were at the local Christian high school and started at the same time. I started at the boys baseball game because I had this notion in my head that they've been doing poorly this year, so it might be a quick game. I got my shot within an inning or so, then headed to the other side of the school to watch the girls softball game. This one was much harder to get a good shot at, but I stuck with it, and eventually got a decent photo to go with. Not my best, but it worked. Amusingly, I was still there when the local team got up by 10 runs and the ref called the game.

I also managed to convince a person to be a "neighbor", which is a filler piece we use to pad out the paper when news runs a little short. Basically, the victim neighbor fills out a form with a bunch of silly questions, I take the person's photo and they show up in the pages when we need more content.

In addition to taking pictures of people painting houses, I attended the first annual Asparagus Festival last Saturday, which was apparently a success. It tied in with one of my assignments, so I was able to complete some work while there. I also bought some asparagus which I steamed for dinner.

On Sunday I went out to the farm for the Meet Your Farmer event, and that was also pretty cool. I got to sample fry bread with a variety of toppings... the toppings being the thing being sold. There was some apple butter from The Campbell Farm that tasted very close to the great stuff my mom canned that we used all through my childhood. I really wanted to get some, but didn't have cash. I'll probably have to find their farm store and visit to get it.

I was also given a sample jar of raw honey... ohmanohmanohman... I need more. I love honey but rarely get it because it's so expensive anymore for the real stuff. This honey is really really good. Not the stuff you buy in supermarkets. I'm told there's a store in my town that sells it: I'm going to have to go and check out the prices. I'm bracing myself.

I then went to a concert, which was also fun. The announcer started by telling everyone the score of the Mariners game (which they later won in a wild battle, 11-10). The violinist started the concert with the absolute worst rendition of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" that I have ever heard, and I've heard some awful first-year stuff. He had a wicked grin on his face as he did it. Then he got down to some serious fiddling with a Mexican guitar for accompaniment. It was excellent, and I kind of wish I had stayed for the whole thing.

While I sat in the darkness of the auditorium, on the steps, I heard something behind me. A woman was being helped down the stairs, but she couldn't see a thing. I stood up and moved over into an empty row so she wouldn't step on me, but she couldn't see the stair, and started to fall. Between the guy guiding her on the other side and myself, we managed to stop her from falling and help her down into a seat. She did bruise my arm a little as she fell before I reached out to help.

Monday deadline was a nightmare, but at least it was a nightmare I knew and recognized this week. I got to work at 6:30am, about an hour before usual, and pounded out copy for fours hours until the 10:30 deadline. I got my last assignment turned in right before deadline, but it wasn't corrected and returned to me until just at deadline. The editor made a point of reminding us about deadline, as our deadline may soon get a little harder. More on that as it happens, if it happens.

After deadline, the boss sent me out to check on a potential story about downtown work. I got the story from city hall and the photo within about a half hour, then got back to the office and wrote up the majority of it before lunch. After lunch, I had two stories to finish writing and a promo to polish up, and then I was done. The editor let me leave to save some hours, since I worked the weekend. I met up with hubby-Eric and we got haircuts, then went home and watched the DVRed Boston Marathon. It was actually a moderately relaxing night.

Tuesday was ok, since I finished my work the day before and only had to worry about the police logs in the morning. We published my new museum president story along with the Meet a Farmer story on Tuesday. Hubby-Eric wasn't working, so we went out to lunch at the Salvadoran place. The pupusas were excellent and it's always nice to get some extra hubby time.

Tuesday afternoon I got to go to softball and baseball games again. The first was the Christian School girls, and I'm really happy with my photo from the game. I actually didn't know I got such an interesting shot until the photo processing guy handed it to me Wednesday morning. I had picked a different photo of a girl catching a foul ball as the most likely shot. But this one is much better. The timing couldn't have been more perfect if I'd planned it.

After hanging around in the heat for an hour, no real shade on that softball field, I headed over to the high school's baseball diamond to get shots of the boys team in action. I was not getting decent shots and I was overheating. I ended up buying an ice cream cone at the concessions in an attempt to cool down, since water alone wasn't cutting it. That helped, but I also clung to whatever shade I could find while taking pictures, which cramped my style a little. While hiding in the shadow of the visitors' dugout, there was a run-down between second and third base. I snapped away, and that's the shot we used. I honestly didn't think any of the other pictures I took were worth keeping. Of course, we put a bunch of the other photos we get on the blue dot, and some of the other shots I took at that game got picked... they just aren't as good.

Wednesday morning I had sports to write up, which can be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult, depending on the coach. The absolute best coaches write up an email with detailed stats and a few comments on the game, their athletes or the event. Great coaches call or email with useful information. Good coaches call or email with the basic stats and few comments. The annoying coaches don't call or email, you have to call them and pray they aren't in class or asleep when you try to reach them, if you can reach them. Wednesday I had an absolute best coach and a great coach. Unfortunately, my great coach counted wrong and I had to call him during class to clarify before I could finish my story. D'oh! We all make mistakes sometimes.

I've stopped putting my name on most of my sports stories because I feel like I'm still learning the art of sportswriting, which is a different animal than newswriting. I feel like a byline is taking too much credit for what is often the coach's or my editor's work. That said, this story I wrote feels, to me, like it was more written by my absolute best coach. Add in the fantastic photos by the photo processing guy (he's a pro in more ways than I'll ever be) and it turned out to be a pretty good story.

After deadline on Wednesday I started work on my Thursday stories when the editor told me to grab my camera and head over to a little park by the museum. One of the city's bronze statues that is a frequent target for idiot vandals was finally getting repaired. I hustled over and took a few dozen photos of the artisan working on the statue, which is of a cattleman branding a calf. The branding iron has been torn off twice, and the original artisan who cast the statue had to return to fix it. This was the second time, but the statue actually has been missing the branding iron for several years before it got fixed this time.

While out at the park, between moments I could take pictures of the work being done, I tried to use my long lens as a macro lens. To my immense surprise, I got some decent photos of bees, and one very nice shot of a butterfly. As we've printed a bee photo recently, I submitted the butterfly to the editor as a filler photo.

Bees are easy to photograph, since they sit still for awhile.

By the time I returned to the office, it was time for lunch. After lunch I started to pound away at Thursday's stories again when a couple of high school girls came to my office. One of them is being mentored in her senior project by my co-worker and cubicle mate, so we sat and chatted about writing and making mistakes and photography. It was fun, and the girls seemed interested... but my work suffered a little from my distraction.

Thursday morning was another sportswriting morning, along with major corrections on my other stories. Again, not really exciting. Except for getting back my track story with only one correction, which I don't think has ever happened.

I managed to get home for lunch to enjoy the Doctor Who: Legacy Adipose Twitch stream, which was nice. I even got there on time, despite it being a half-hour earlier than usual. And I got a thank you note from somebody I wrote a story about, which is also nice. Sometimes I cling to those rare thank you notes like a drowning person. I have most of the ones I've received taped up around my desk to look at when I'm feeling pressure.

With the editor gone on Friday, it meant getting as much as possible done ahead of time to lighten the load on the substitute editor. With the exception of my column, most of my stuff was easy cut&paste or simple promos. I did end up with one of the editor's usual sports stories for Friday morning, but it was just that and the police logs in the morning. Not too much to worry about. Of course, then we got word that the U.S. Representative would be in town and hey, could we maybe send a reporter? *sigh* They usually give us a couple of days notice on events like this, but Friday it was only a few hours. Fortunately, one of the reporters was able to break free some time, with difficulty, so she went.

The afternoon was silent. Not much of anything happened at all. I eventually went out to a softball game for the local high school, the first time I've taken pictures at the high school's softball field this season. There was a complaint about the girls facilities being so much worse than the boys, which was true. So this year, the facility, which will only be used this season, was upgraded considerably. It is much nicer than last year, including dugouts with real roofs instead of plastic sheeting, toilet facilities, fenced bullpens, and an outfield fence. Unfortunately, due to the many fences, I had some trouble finding a good spot to take photos from, but eventually I went out past the homerun line and found that my long lens could get some good batting action. I believe I got a couple of good shots, but that will be up to the photo processing guy on Monday.

Today is a day of absolute do-nothing. I am writing this blog, but this is the most effort you'll see from me today. I'm going to take it easy since it's technically my first day off in almost two weeks.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Serenity... or is it the Flash?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Restoring lost apples....

I find this story to be incredibly cool, incredibly sad and incredibly awesome at the same time.

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, basically a guy back in 1888 planted apple trees on his land in places where he couldn't grow wheat. But he made a mistake... he planted a whole bunch of different varieties instead of focusing on the types that would sell. By 1899 he'd lost the farm and left the area. But the trees remained, abandoned.

More than a century later, sleuths looking for extinct apple varieties found his trees, many of them still alive, and realized the apples might be some of the missing types. At least one, the Nero, has been found in that orchard. The sleuths have taken cuttings from the trees in the hopes of reviving the lost flavors.

The Nero apple, rediscovered in an abandoned orchard more than 100 years later.

It's cool because it's a tale that delves into local history to find something that is truly in plain sight, but missing. It's sad because the poor guy lost his farm and yet left this incredible legacy that he never would know about. It's awesome because, science! And agriculture. And intelligence. It's just a neat all-around tale.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hugo update


Well, another nominee has withdrawn from consideration, but they did not make the deadline before the ballots were locked. There's a regular round-up of comments about the gaming of the Hugo nominations over on

I'm still in favor of people who vote on the Hugos going forward by picking the best of the nominees... and putting "No Award" at the bottom of the ballot while leaving off anything not worthy of a Hugo. I see the reasoning in people voting "No Award" in all categories dominated by the slate nominees, but I disagree with that. I'd be more inclined to give people who definitely didn't have any part in the slate nominations, except to be unfortunate enough to be nominated by the slaters, a chance. And I think gaming the voting is every bit as bad as gaming the nominations.

That said, I'm interested in seeing the final results. Those will indicate how Worldcon fandom and the Hugos will go in the future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A little pick-me-up...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cat Scan

Last night Inkwell climbed up on me after I was in bed, sniffed his way up to my face, purring as he went. He checked my breathing, sniffed my nose, meowsaged my neck a little... and decided I was well enough that I didn't need purr-therapy. Apparently my cold is officially over.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 18th
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #40 - Wait... so what does this mean? No more Kyle Lantern? Yay?
  • Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse #9 - Earth-19 Aquaman! Finally, an Elseworld Aquaman in this series! I can now squee in joy!
  • Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #4 - Ok, I like the princess, once she gets into her role and has adventures as well. In fact, I'd like to see more of this book.
  • Doctor Who 12th #6 - Promising start to a tale. I actually liked Clara and the Doctor in this one. And then we've got sister who've lost a dad. Or have they? Again, a promising start.
  • Peanuts V2 #26 - Pigpen and Peppermint Patty? Well, it's alliterative. This issue seems to be about love, which is fun in little kids as demonstrated by Sally. Good stuff.

Fortean Times #325
Fortean Times #325 (March 2015). My first thought on seeing the cover was a sad reflection that such young men aren't all that uncommon anymore. The fact that they could be sideshows and headliners in their times is something that ought to give any parent of such a child pause. However, once I read the article, the tales got even more interesting. Yeah, the Fat Boy of Peckham was large, but he was also apparently strong, healthy and stubborn... and that's what got him his fame more than just being large. As a gentleman who battled the best efforts of the school board to get him to school, he became notorious. In any case, his story and the stories of the various other fat boys of their time were a fascinating look back as well as a reminder of human nature.

The Salvador Dali story was just bizarre... kind of like the man. I don't know if I could even explain it, much less how I felt about the subject. Another article tells us about the Black Ball of the Ukraine, and why the eventual explanation for it was probably wrong. Clearly Fortean, but without more facts it's going to just remain an interesting story.

The last main article is about Alexandra Holzer, the daughter of ghosthunter Hans Holzer, and what his legacy meant to her and means to her now. While I'm skeptical of the methods they employ in hunting ghosts, it is a very touching story of how a father's business can affect a child.

Strangedays starts with news of a temple to Thor and Odin in Norway. The Conspirasphere is about two high-profile assassinations, Alexander Litvinenko and Alberto Nisman. Strangedays also has a nice bit about bigfoot with a bunch of sightings, a girl who is at least 20 years old but looks about seven, horrible cases of deja vu and a zombie cat.

Science talks about all the ways nature has to start fires (not just lightning!). Archaeology is about ancient art. Classical Corner is about the cutting off of heads. Ghostwatch looks at some of the haunts of writer M.R. James. Alien Zoo has monkeys, eels and things that aren't really lambs. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana looks at old references to crop circles. The UFO files first has some snark for believers in Flying Saucery, then moves to new evidence in an old case in the UFO Casebook. The First Forteans wraps up with a variety of stories and linkages.

The Forum has a nutty story about a soccer player who apparently dooms some celebrity to die every time he makes a goal. A nice statistical analysis pretty much demolishes the argument, but it shows how people see patterns that aren't really there and come up with ridiculous reasons to explain those patterns.

Reviews is pretty good, with a nice mix of works that get praise and works that get critiqued. At least two books are likely to make it onto my wishlist from this set, including Why Science is Wrong... About Almost Everything and The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino. Some good movie reviews... and the Reverend's Review, which usually tackles horror movies, instead reviews Big Finish audios in general and finds them good. And also manages to never once mention Doctor Who.

More good stuff in the letter columns, including an answer to the very strange Doctor Who letter from the last issue that perplexed me. I'm not sure I understand it any better with this follow-up. The issue finishes with a nice Fortean Traveller to Knossos, Crete, which I would love to visit if I had the stamina to make such a trip, and Phenomenomix finishes (I think) its look at Carl Jung. The final page has Strange Deaths, one of two sections of the magazine that I almost never mention in these reviews (the other is the Necrolog). I was tempted to send a local death into FT, but I just can't bring myself to make light of the pain of the family, which is sort of how I feel about the Strange Deaths column in general. Yes, the deaths are odd... but we're talking about people's lives. It's a hard one for me.

And that catches me up on my Fortean Times reading unless the new mag comes this week, which it might. So no telling what I'll have in next week's review. Maybe just the comics.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Week in Review

This was the week of killer meetings. There's a group we report on that has a predictable and annoying trait. They will receive a presentation during which it is clearly stated, often more than once, that doing X will lead to result Y. After the presentation, the first question is always "What happens if we do X?" Always. Every single freaking time. And usually, the next question is "If we do X, what will be the result?" Yes, the exact same freaking question, stated slightly differently. It happens so often with that particular group that I have a "game" of predicting which member will say it first and how they will phrase it. Fortunately, I don't have to report on that group every time they have a meeting. This week I did. This week it happened. I texted my husband: "killmenow."

Going back to the start of the week, I was off-kilter all day on Monday while still recovering from my cold. I made the mistake of thinking I didn't have much to do Monday morning, only to rapidly realize once I reached my desk in the morning that I had more stories to finish than I had counted on, including two sports stories, extra briefs the editor had assigned to me after I left on Friday, and the medical supplier story from Friday. Add in some unfortunately interesting police reports, and it got tense. I didn't finish until right before deadline itself, 10:30 am. Ouch.

Usually on Mondays I'm getting ready to go to the city council meeting in the evening, but a co-worker traded with me so I went to another town's city council meeting on Tuesday instead. The other town's meetings are usually much shorter, so it was presumed I got the better of the deal. Sadly, that didn't turn out to be the case.

The big problem I faced this week was that I didn't have a subject for Thursday's photo page, and so I asked a co-worker for advice. She suggested I get photos of the workers cutting asparagus in local fields. I liked the idea... it tied in with today's asparagus festival. So I penciled in an early morning trip to a local asparagus field that's actually within walking distance of my house. I drove since I had to go to work after.

Early Tuesday, just after 7 a.m., I headed out to the field. I'm just going to say right now that the workers I saw are much stronger folks than I am. They are also really impressive in how easy they make it look. A long knife that looks like a very thin spatula is used to cut the asparagus shoot about an inch or so below ground level. The cutters pick sprouts that are a certain height, never touching the ones that are too short. The field, from the road, looks really barren... only close up do you realize what's growing there. Talking with one of the workers, she said they cut from about 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

I asked for permission to take photos before going into the field, then I tried, really hard, to get photos of one older woman who cackled gently at how I had to scramble to keep up with her. She was really good at the job, cutting so rapidly I was afraid the camera wouldn't be able to get a non-blurry shot of her. In my research, I read that asparagus cutting skills are extremely valuable to farmers and take a long time to perfect. Just out in the cold dusty field taking pictures I found myself impressed by the people I met.

I got three or four good shots, but I really needed at least a couple more to make the photo page work, so I decided to drive up later in the afternoon to the processing facility and see if I could get permission to get a couple of photos there. So, after deadline, which wasn't nearly as unpleasant as Monday's, I drove around the "factory" area of town until I spotted the distinctive orange crates I'd seen workers putting asparagus into earlier that morning.

I found the facility's office and went in and asked permission. To my slight surprise, I was granted a quick tour (complete with hair net!). I saw the freshly cut asparagus come into the building and get cut to a uniform height. Then workers deftly sorted them by diameter, checking for damage as they went. After sorting, the asparagus go to a packing table where they are bundled with a rubber band, weighed, and then packed into crates. The crates are loaded up and shipped that same day to markets all over the state (and further).

Overall, it was a truly humbling experience. The amount of work that goes into getting asparagus from the fields to the stores is labor-intensive and impressive.

Tuesday night I headed to the city council meeting in another town. There were three items on the agenda, none of which looked to be serious, so I was expecting a short meeting. In this town, the council meets in a workshop for an hour before the regular meeting starts, so I headed down to make sure I attended the workshop. I also decided to have dinner in town, since I don't usually make it down there. I realized after ordering my bacon cheeseburger that I wanted onion rings instead of fries and a chocolate shake instead of a 7Up, but I didn't change my order because I'm a wimp and they were really busy. Hopefully I'll remember for next time.

I got to city hall with only minutes to spare before the meeting. The council was already all present, and a couple of other people I knew and didn't know were in attendance. One of them, a security specialist, was there to give a presentation on lateral vascular neck restraint, a method of subduing people that looks like a chokehold but isn't, because it's cutting off blood to the brain and not air to the lungs. He said the presentation would take about a half hour, but he had technical difficulties and it actually went a full hour... right up to the start of the regular meeting. Regardless of what you think about police techniques, the presentation was fairly interesting. But with the regular meeting starting in most of the items on the workshop agenda still to go, I realized I was in for a long meeting.

Sure enough, the remainder of the meeting took two and a half hours. My co-worker on Monday had two meetings that totaled about the same amount of time. *sigh*

Wednesday was the parks and recreation meeting in which the lack of organized sports events put on by the city was discussed. It was depressing because a good man is considering quitting the group because progress is so slow.

Thursday I had the groundwater meeting. A group of people who basically despise each other, some for very good reasons, trying to solve a massive problem with the drinking water in the valley. Always a difficult meeting to sit through. This one wasn't nearly as bad as usual. Which is not to say it was fun... it's the one meeting that every reporter groans when they get it... it just wasn't as bad at my city council meeting this week.

Friday we had a bombshell dropped on us at work, figuratively. It's not certain if or how it's going to happen, so I can't explain... but if it does happen my job has the potential to change quite a bit. It's harrowing to go through. When you like what you do, change is feared. But life is change, so I can't really complain.

I'm working all weekend. I started Friday afternoon with baseball and softball pictures, then this morning I went out to a couple of houses that are being cleaned up and painted thanks to a local initiative. The volunteers make for good photos, especially the very little children carefully painting. Tomorrow I go to a "Meet your farmer" event that includes a pig roast, although I may not make it to the roast thanks to having to head to a concert and get a photo before the first event is over.

In other news, I finished posting my cosplay photos from Emerald City Comicon. If you'd like to look, here's a list of all the posts:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Police Scanner Follies

I have a police scanner in my office, tuned to the local police frequencies. As a reporter, if anything big happens in town, I need to know. Every morning there is a lot of chatter about school zones and students. Yesterday morning I laughed out loud at a comment an officer made.

The officer, talking about a possibly truant student, said "Apparently the juniors have a big state test today, and the girl is a junior. The mother is trying to get her to school on time to take the test."

Another officer asked, "How old is she?"

The first officer replied, wearily, "17 going on 30."

This is the last ECCC 2015 Cosplay Photo post!

And so this concludes our trip into the wonderful world of Emerald City Comicon Cosplay, as seen and photographed by me. I saw a LOT more than this that I didn't get a chance to snap, and there are a bunch of cool pages of cosplay photos. I'll have a tiny bit more to write about the convention and, yes, even a couple more photos... but this is it for the cosplayers. I hope you enjoyed them.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nearly Done With Cosplay Photos...

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More on the Hugos

I've been thinking about the Hugos since my previous post on the subject, considering what I would do as a voter or as an organizer. There's some pretty radical ideas out there on how to prevent this type of slate nominating in the future. I think most of them are not good.

The Hugos are not broken. The spirit of fandom is what's broken here.

No matter what action is taken by the voters of the Hugos or the organizers of Worldcon, the self-proclaimed "puppies" have already won. They shook up fandom in a big way, they've made their voices heard. They have just about everyone who cares about science fiction talking and writing about them. They can happily claim victory no matter what happens next, and it's obvious that they will proclaim victory regardless of the eventual outcome of the Hugo voting. That cannot be stopped by anyone. The "puppies" succeeded. Accept it and move on.

The most pressing issue for voters of Worldcon is how to vote on the current nominees. I've come to the conclusion, based on reading a lot on the subject and thinking about how the ballots work, that the proper thing for Worldcon Hugo voters to do is to ignore the fact that the nominations came from a slate and treat this like any other Hugo ballot. Basically, if it deserves a Hugo, rank it as such. If it does not deserve a Hugo, rank it below "No Award" (or leave it off the ballot with "No Award" at the bottom of the ballot). Just because a reactionary group nominated something does not mean it is not deserving of the award, although it may be difficult for people to vote for anything nominated by the "puppies".

Just because a group gamed the nominations doesn't mean it's acceptable to game the voting.

The next step is to figure out how to counter the "puppies" in the future. I think the rules of the Hugos are fine, and should not be changed. If it takes counter-slates to fight off the "puppies", then that's what it will take. I suspect that it won't. I think if more people decide to participate in the nomination process, the "puppies" will fade into the background. I think fandom can overcome this simply by acting honest and being the best it can be. I may be an optimist. But changing the rules will truly mean that the "puppies" won. Let 'em spend a lot of money trying to game the ballot again. If there is actually enough interest, if enough fans actually care, then the slates will not be able to take over the Hugos in the future, now that the problem has been exposed.

This is a tough one, and I leave it up to the people who will actually vote to figure out what they are going to do. I don't think the Hugos are truly broken, though. This is a wake up call, it will be interesting to see whether it works... or whether Worldcon and the Hugos will fall, fail and become eventually irrelevant to even fans of science fiction.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Even More Cosplay

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Continuing Cosplay

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 11th
  • Justice League United #10 - So, all's well that ends well, which means this one wasn't a complete victory, right?
  • Green Lantern Corps #40 - Well, I like the kid, but the whole "hope saves the day" idea is a little... old. Still not my cup of tea.
  • World's Finest #32 - And we find out how Lois of Earth 2 died. The first time, at least. There's some strange bits here, like the sword forged by Batman and Wonder Woman.
  • Arrow: Season 2.5 #6 - Brutal and a tough reminder of current events. I just sort of wish this would catch up to the current tv series.
  • Smallville Continuity #4 - So it ends... and there's even an underwater base... but no sign of Aquaman? Sheesh.
  • Astro City #21 - Wow. Again, this book just pulls you in and pummels your emotions until you sometimes aren't sure what to do next. I'm a little worried by the final page, but the rest made me oddly happy.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #10 - Without the opening page recaps, I'd be completely lost with this book. Fortunately, this issue actually got me back on track with what's happening and made sense in and of itself, partly due to the recap. Nice. And I'm even curious about what comes next again.
  • Spongebob Comics #42 - This is actually a pretty good issue... and not just because of the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy appearances. No, it's cool because it really is an interactive comic, complete with foldee pages. Pretty neat, and thanks to the magic of scans, I didn't have to fold to get the results of the folded stories... ahem. Anyway, a fun issue.

Fortean Times #324
Fortean Times #324 (February 2015). Although it's a nice enough cover, it certainly doesn't jump out at me like some have in the past. I'd never heard of Nicholas Roerich before, so the cover story was pretty fascinating. The ties with the US government and the little bits of history involved are quite eye-opening. You sometimes forget how much history is going on at any given time and how many people are potentially involved in making that history.

The article on conspiracy theories, and why we all believe in conspiracy theories and why we shouldn't be ashamed to believe in conspiracy theories because some of them do, indeed, turn out to be correct, is a rough read. It could have made its point a little more quickly and there's a definite sense that the author may understand he's preaching to the choir by writing in Fortean Times. Still, it's a point that people ought to accept... conspiracies exist, some theories about them are real, and in general we shouldn't be mocking conspiracy theorists... although I'll mock away if the facts aren't there to support their theories, which is the case in far too many of them. The editorial page also goes into the view of conspiracy theories, as does the Random Dictionary.

An interesting poltergeist tale is the final main article of this issue, and I find it even more interesting because I know a little about dairy farming and can only empathize with the poor farmer. From the evidence, it's one of those cases that we may never be able to figure out due to the passage of time and the weird facts.

There is also an interview with writer/director Neil Jordan, who made Interview with a Vampire 20 years ago. There's a good bit on his story preferences and how fairy tales work as archetypal stories.

Strangedays starts with spontaneous human combustion of a very young child... two, actually. This is a case I'd hope science could solve. The fact that it hasn't is very disturbing in either normal or paranormal implications. The Conspirasphere is about signs of the apocalypse, as seen by the return of Annunaki. Um, ok. More Strangedays stories include bits on how much water is in earth's crust, things living inside people that ought not to be there, the sudden rise of djinn in the world, and whether or not Muslims first discovered America, as indicated by Christopher Columbus' journal in which he wrote about mountains: "...and one of them has another little hill on its summit, like a graceful mosque." Um... yeah. Despite the fact that I think a lot of different groups "discovered" America long before Columbus, that particular passage is only proof that people don't get comparisons. There are some Fortean Follow-ups, including the amazing tale of the Christ of Borja, which was clumsily "restored" by an 83-year-old widow... what's amazing is what happened to the economically depressed town after word of her effort got out. In short, she's kind of being considered the savior of the town now for bringing in so many tourists. That's just an awesome story all around.

Science is about the Dunning-Kruger Effect... that the stupider you are, the more likely you are to believe you are smarter than people around you. That's a vast simplification, of course. I, personally, am all too aware of how much I don't know. Does that mean I'm smart? Archaeology is about ancient tattoos (complete with a disturbing photo) and a ceremonial knife used as a doorstop. Classical Corner is about offensive cartoons in the ancient world, usually as described by disgusted ancient historians, but with one reproduction. Ghostwatch continues its look into WWI paranormal experiences with more anecdotes, some really cool. I like the story of the mother who noticed another man when her son came home on unexpected leave. Chills!

Alien Zoo looks back at the record-breaking Janus cat (two-faced cat) who lived to the ripe old age of 15 years despite the odds being totally against him. There's also a bit about glowing larvae discovered by a hiker in a place where the little bugs out not to have been. And the last piece is about the yeti hairs determined to be from polar bears... modern polar bears. In the Himalayas? Hrm. Misplaced animals indeed. So, they aren't yeti, but there's still a mystery to be solved.

Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about changelings and the very real murders of children that the fear of changlings sometimes led to... in private and sometimes in public with the consent and help of neighbors. Flaying Saucery is back in the UFO files this month with smackdowns on various UFO stories, and the casebook offers a reasonable request for UFOlogists to conduct a study that compares tales of alien worlds from abductees with what we know about exo-planets at the moment. The Random Dictionary, while it digresses into a discussion of conspiracy theory, starts with a study of what it means to be Fortean. The first two pages are a pretty good read for anyone who wants to understand the Fortean viewpoint. Illustrated Police News is about a murder/accidental manslaughter of a fortune teller. Unlike many of those stories from 1899 or so, this one has a resolution. Phenomenomix continues to look at the life of Jung.

The Forum starts with a look into Rendlesham Forest, not for flying saucers but for flying rocks. That fall on hikers. And tend to be blazing hot. There's another article about Rendlesham in the reviews section, about a new movie coming out on the subject. Again, the movie doesn't focus solely on the flying saucer stories, but takes a different approach. I'd be interested in seeing it, but I doubt it'll get to my neck of the woods any time soon. Another Forum article is about transcriptions of Charles Fort's notes, nearly lost when the new owners were ready to box 'em up and toss them. Fortunately, they've been saved and will likely be published in some form, possibly online at the WISE wiki.

The reviews finally get somewhat back to what I expect from this magazine... some good scathing comments on works that probably need a little criticism. Not much that is truly nasty, although the ripping on the Steampunk analysis book seems likely to be spot-on (you can't write really good essays about a subject if you don't explore all of the sources, and it seems much was left out). The review of the Egyptologist book was also a fun read. There's also a couple of books in the "Also Received" section that got slammed. As a writer, I value the negative reviews that remind me how easy it is to make mistakes (and I admit I also have a mean streak that is clearly delighted by the ability of the reviewers to point out obvious mistakes in such a delightfully snarky way).

There's a movie review of "It Follows" which I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see. I've already heard that it's very creepy from a co-worker, so I'll take this positive review as I sign that it's not for me. The letters are great, though a couple are befuddling. There's one about Doctor Who that just... I just don't know how to react to the letter. Then there's a letter about the comics code and the overall mental state of people in that time. Again, I'm not sure what to think of it. All-in-all, yet another great issue of one of the best magazines currently produced.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The week in review

I really like having a new laptop... it means I can visit websites quickly, which gives me surprisingly more time to get stuff done, which means I have more effective computing time. I was actually clicking on a link, going off and playing with the cat, eating, doing household chores or playing on the iPad Mini, and hoping by the time I got back, the website had loaded enough for me to copy the link for my blog. It was just taking way too long, so I pretty much stopped blogging. And the iPad is just no fun for visiting websites to blog them. So having a fast computer again is nice.

Anyway, I've been sick the past week with a nasty cold, probably the con crud from Emerald City Comicon. I've been able to post many of my Cosplayer photos over the last week, which has saved me from having to think about blogging while I was sick. I still have about 80 photos to post... just of cosplayers. Here's links to the posts so far:

I also wrote about the con for work: My escape from reality... and then I wrote about being sick: Cold season hitting me hard this year. Aside: I just want to say, it took moments to load my work articles on this new computer. My old computer had reached the point where it would not open the newspaper's website at all.

Work has been busy, and it is always way more difficult when you are sick. I had a brief moment of difficulty on Monday when my desire to go home and get chicken soup conflicted with the editor changing something last minute that needed my approval. I was... upset is too light a word, but that's what I'm going with. It was not handled well by me. After that incident, I was a little more careful and forced myself to rest even when I wanted badly to get up and do something. I ran out of breath even just sitting on the floor playing with the cat.

One of my assignments last weekend was to cover two Easter events in the Lower Valley. I was at Grandview's annual Easter egg hunt and got two temporary tattoos, one on the back of each hand. The one on my right hand didn't last the day, probably because the kid applying it didn't wait long enough, but the one on my left hand stayed until yesterday. I think I need to hit the dollar store and see if they have any temporary tattoo designs I like. I kind of enjoyed having it for the week.

I also got to see the Reptile Man again this past Tuesday. I was still feeling sick, but I got some good photos. After that, I still had to get baseball photos, and although I felt horrible, I still managed well enough that I got compliments on what I took from the boss, which is always nice.

On Tuesday my story about the new local frame shop also ran in the paper. Imagine my delight when I saw on Facebook that the owner had framed the article.

I've been framed!

Some time ago I was asked by the author of a book I reviewed a long time ago to read his new book and provide a cover blurb. I was honored to do it, and found the book (in a PDF galley) to be as excellent as the first. I wrote what I hoped was an appropriate blurb and e-mailed it off to him. I wasn't sure if I expected to ever get a response besides his thank you. Well, a woman came in with a review copy for the newspaper and it ended up on my desk this week. I was happy to see my name on the back:

My bit is the middle paragraph there... wow. I've been blurbed...

The book is available at Amazon if you want a copy.
It's a pretty good read, a mix of poetry and prose.

You can get a copy of Migrant Earth on Amazon, and his first book of poetry is available through Village Books if you want to support an independent bookstore. I'd like to get a copy of Migrant Earth for myself. For the moment I'll settle for reading the newspaper's copy. I have to write a review of it for next month, which shouldn't be too hard. I've already read it once...

In other work news, I had three assignments yesterday to tackle. I managed the one at the assisted living facility without too much trouble, although I did set off the alarm when I tried to leave... oops. I had a baseball game next and enjoyed that. It was at Sunnyside Christian High School, and they played a solid first inning... enough for me to get plenty of good shots before I left. The tough job was leaving my nice comfortable house again and going to a soccer game in the evening. I stayed for the first half. The light was horrible for photos, so I don't know if anything I took came out. I was shooting into the setting sun for the first 20 minutes, and then under stadium lights for the rest of the half. I actually enjoyed what I saw of the game. The SHS team is really good, and when they play you can see the beauty of soccer when it's played well and passionately. Being practically out on the field also helps a little in my enjoyment of the game. I can hear the players shouting instructions to each other. I nearly got hit by the ball twice, but managed to step aside.

The temperature dropped rapidly last night once the sun was gone, so by the end of the first half I felt like I was being beaten up by the cold and by the bedraggled remains of my illness. I got home and just crashed, physically and emotionally. I think I slept almost 12 hours. I had bizarre dreams that refused to make sense. I've been up a few hours. Hubby-Eric and I got both the cars washed at a charity car wash, had lunch at the charity car wash, and now I'm resting and blogging like I haven't blogged in years.

Cosplay photos will return on Monday. It should take me four more posts to finish with the cosplay photos. I hope you all enjoy them. If you like me blogging, let me know. I'll try to get back into the habit.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Yet Further Cosplay

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment. If you click on the photo, you should get the full-size picture.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Back to Cosplay

If you are the cosplayer in the photo and want to leave more information, just add a comment on the post and tell me which photo is yours. I have comment moderation on, so I'll definitely see the comment. If you click on the photo, you should get the full-size picture.

Check out the rest of my Emerald City Comicon Cosplayer Photos.