20 December 2012

[liff] The Circles of the Apocalypse Go Round And Round …

2900.The end? It's entirely relative.

Depending on the rationale, it's happened already.

Remember, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.

Unless it isn't.

[liff] For Those Who Think The World's Ending Tomorrow …

2899.Bad news for you, bunkie.

Been and done. Got the t-shirt.

It happened about 07:35 UTC, 10 Sep 2008.

Yeah, I know! I missed it too.

If, OTOH, you still worry about the fact that the Maya left us a buggy calendar they didn't think to extend past, 4 Ajaw, 3 K'an'kin, here's a link to the webcam of Sydney, Australia, where it's already that date.

And, remember, as the great sage Charles Schulz said, Stop worrying about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

As long as there's an Australia, there'll always be another tomorrow.

And so it goes.

18 December 2012

[pdx_liff] Snowmageddonopocalypse 2012: This Time, it's Not 2011.

2898.The title is lame, I know, but I swore to myself that I'd never use Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo as the basis for a joke again.

Won't someone think of the children? Well, I did!

Anyway, growing up in Oregon as a kid, one verity was that, at best, you might get snow in the Willamette Valley, and certainly not a white Christmas. They cooked that sort of thing up back east as a marketing ploy to sell Rankin-Bass cartoons and holiday movies and record albums. We all knew this.

Well, now it's now, and the weather has gotten a bit more chaotic, which is the real name for 'global warming', but that's for another time. And now, the old Oregon mantra of 'no snow in December' is not something you can 100% depend upon.

At about 8:45 AM, the flakes started hitting big, wet, and heavy on the unfashionable part of Hawthorne Blvd. The weather guys said there was a chance of snow-stickage down to about 500 feet.
Our house, according to the information at Daft Logic's Google Maps Find Altitude web app,  is about 6 inches below 300 feet in elevation.

And that's why I love Meteorology. It's part science, part art, and part dance.

Only a fraction of an inch has fallen, and the snow has stopped since that picture was taken.

And so it goes.

[art] Scenes from a Studio: A Grounded Starship

2897.I've begun a gradual sifting of everything I own, not due to anything imminent or impending, but there is an ass-ton of kipple over years of adult and married life, and I might not win against it (as see the definition of kipple; 'tis entropy embodied) but I have to make some sort of a stand against it because that's what people is – an enclave of increasing order in a universe that seems moving toward disorder.

Something else that needs a stand now is this:

The USS Enterprise. In my little basement studio in a secluded corner of SEPDX, we have a starship down.

Every now and then, it gets a 'cat' scan. Usually that's delivered by Taffy, Octavius, or Dawg, but since they are cats and have developed all the technology they're going to need, they are ambivalent at best toward it.

This is one of the AMT-style kits, of which I have destroyed enough over the course of a childhood to support AMT single-handedly. I built this one about 10 years back and did, while somewhat inept, a rather creditable job of detailing it. I have since learnt that if you're really going to do this right, you'll paint your models parts before assembling them.

Lesson learned.

But I'll doubtless have to create its own stand.

11 December 2012

[Edatur's World] Well, If I Was FedEx, I'd Trust That Source!

2896.So, this was posted to the Book of Face by my favorite 'net-licious station:

Read closely the middle of the graf.

FedEx says this is their busiest time of the year according to Fed Ex.

One more time.

FedEx says this is their busiest time of year … according to FEDEX.

Well, I suppose they'd know. I mean, if I were FedEx, I wouldn't ask UPS. DHL, maybe, but never UPS.

Apologies to KGW, who I'd like to remind that I wouldn't poke fun at if I didn't love.

09 December 2012

[Edaturs World] Eggcorn Nation: Two Ducks Take To The Air, Only One Comes Down

2895.So, this was written:
An article on Nov. 25 about the artist Malcolm Morley, who has a new exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill on Long Island, misstated what kind of aerial battles he watched from the rooftops during the London blitz. He and his friends watched dogfights — not duck fights.
That the New York Times should correct such a blunder is well and good, but that they let it through at all is kind of appalling, though the sting of Headsup:the blog's find is mitigated somewhat by the humor inherent in the fact that the verbiage logically suggests that there, somewhere, in the ETO, during WWII, heretofore undocumented by history, brave Blighty and Gerry war pilots were actually having 'duck fights'.

I would have loved to see what went down there.

Down. Yageddit?

Ah, hah. Well.

As to the aforementioned blogger's ultimate paragraph, we can only give an enthusiastic Amen.

(h/t Nothstine, again).

Signs You're On The Upper Tier #1: Tastefully-dressed Stray Animals

2894.That the monkey wandering Ikea in Toronto had a shearling jacket on is just a bonus.

Need we mention that it has not one but two mock Twittahs? I guess we just did.

(h/t Nothstine)

05 December 2012

[writing] NaNoWriMo: The Two-Time Winner

2893.It is my pride and joy to say that I've won NaNoWriMo 2012, making me someone who's won every year I've entered.

I first entered in 2011.

So, you see, I sometimes do not have a handle on my own PR. Because if I really wanted to impress you, I'd have left that part out.

Anyway, in case you happen by the blog and don't know the stardard of National Novel Writing Month, which at one time I rather lampooned, it's to either complete a novel of at least 50,000 words, or complete at least 50,000 words of a novel that's going to be longer than that … one way or the other, get 50,000 words down … by November 30th. The contest starts November 1st. That means you have to averages 1,667 words per day, one way or the other.

Having done this, I am entitled to let my lit flag fly, which, this year, looks like this:

Because I did. And I can be truthful about that, because I verified the novel's word count using their handy-dandy interocitor-based word counter, which is about 200 or 300 words ahead of my live in-editor word counter.

As last year, I came with the barest sketch of an idea. It's encouraging, to me, that I can finally have ideas. I'm coming out of a time which was creatively barren to me. It's affected everything I've done artistically, and took my own job search into the grave. I don't know if I can get that resurrected, but if I do, as guys at a certain point in their lives find themselves, it will probably be in some non-standard way. But now I'm losing the thread … the point is, and it took me 2 NaNos to figure, I'm still capable of having ideas.

And that's a great gift.

There's a great and fun culture that's grown among the NaNoWriMo tribe. Some of us call us NaNos, most of us call us WriMos, and if you're lucky enough to have a schedule that allows it, you can go to these adorable meetings. pound out words with a bunch of like-affected people and maybe be a winner that way too.

My schedule precludes a bunch of that, and I lack a laptop. While the schedule has no way of changing any time soon. Am considering some FreeGeekery for that laptop, though. Just something modest running Linux and OpenOffice is all we need here.

Here, then is my trajectory during the event:

… and this impressed a few. That slanting gray line there is the relentless pursuit of the goal; 50,000 words spread out over 30 days. 1,667 words/day, as I said. Now, the first day, I figured I'd break it open and get some words on the ground, and got it just above the daily averages but then left off on it for two large distractions, one being OryCon 34 and the other being the Presidential elections (something I've been addicted to, the spectacle thereof, near enough my entire life).

While I continued to produce, I did so at a rate that seemed to suggest I had no prospect of completing before November 30th. But I plugged, aided and abetted by a The Wife™ who, I'm sure, put off things we should have done so that I could write.

Coming into the home stretch, I was still below 30K, then did that 'reaching deep down inside' thing that you sometimes have to do, and closed the over 10,000-word gap in a mere 3 days.

And the ms itself? It's pretty lame, actually. Since I come up to NaNo with nothing but an idea to start off with, it happens in a haphazard way. A nemesis for my main character didn't happen as I'd thought … he proved a spur but not a huge villain, but the arc of the story followed more or less the trajectory I'd figured for it. There was a twist, a surprise at the end that made everything as it looked but not as it seemed at first … I did take some care to make it credible at least to myself.

What I have here, as I had with last year's, is a plowing of the ground, a placing of markers and laying out of rows to grow better things out of. For me, NaNoWriMo is an endurance test, a working of the soil so I can come up with better things later, should I choose to chase this crazy thing. I think what I have are two good ideas for larger stories, or broken down could (and probably ought to) become even better shorts (Raymond Carver and Chekhov and Harlan Ellison taught me something about taking short incidents and making them into stories).

I, in short, love NaNoWriMo. I was supposed to be some sort of artist, either with words or images, and my incessant diarizing certainly keeps the literature flowing from some sort of pen. And, if the 'novels' I cranked out so far are crap, I am reminded that manure makes the best fertilizer, and I have taken all that time to plow up the ground there.

See you in 2013, NaNo.

[liff] Morsi's Latest Album

2892.Due to drop any day now, unless his nemeses drop him first.

Why? Because I've heard one too damn' many Morrisey/Morsi gags, that's why.

Apologies to Attack Records and the cover designer of this disc.

04 December 2012

[teh_funnay] Blazers over Bobcast? it Takes A Sports Write!

2891.Now, KGW, I've been ribbing you of late because I keep stumbling on these.

I love you. I love you dearly.

But, c'mon, guys. Words are your life. Either that, or the Charlotte NBA team can be downloaded into my iPod.

As of the writing of this missive, there is a story on the KGW website, Sports department, that looks as follows:

… well, without the red marks, of course.

Finding out that Steve Reed is an "AP Sports Write" was just a bonus. You don't get a twofer typically.

Updated, 2012-12-05 @ 00:28: The weak headline (it had more problems than someone calling Charlotte's team the Bobcast) has been rewritten into a properly-punchy sports headline: Blazers rally from 18 down, top Bobcats in OT. Steve Reed is still an AP Sports Write, however. Maybe he'll get the -er from the AP after he completes an interneship or something.

13 November 2012

[pdx_legends] KPOJ: The Death of A Radio Station

2890.This last couple of weeks … which I'm starting to think of as Portland's Fortnight of Suck … has taken many bits of wonder and sweetness away.

Losing Jack Ohman to the Sacramento Bee was bad enough, but at least we can read him as a syndicated cartoonist, as bittersweet as that will be. Does it need be said that I'll miss the incredibly fun Sunday stuff he did? Like I said, bittersweet.

Then we lost Kirk Reeves. That bittersweet note became a combo.

Now … KPOJ is pfft gone. Just like that. In a particularly graceless move, Clear Channel Portland, which is no Golden West Broadcasting, and I'll say that with conviction, announced, last Friday, that KPOJ was changing format (being 'flipped', as they say) to all-sports talk as of the following Monday, perhaps because they sensed that Portland was in desperate need of three 24-hour talk radio sports outlets.

The bittersweet combo went to full-effect bittersweet symphony.

I didn't see the need myself, but what do I know of advertising?

So, I log on about 4:20 PM. Somehow find this story at the WWeek announcing the change was two days out. Well. I turn on the radio, tuned to 620, of course, and there's Randi Rhodes as clear as you please.

And then I read the update: just to be whoever it is that they are, they decided to move the changeover to Friday. Which was, at that point in the proceedings, right now.

And, five minute later I was listening to FOX Sports Talk 620.

KPOJ hadn't just been flipped; it'd been taken out behind the back shed and shot, and I just got there in time to see it happen. Old Yeller was dispatched with more compassion.

So, really, if you want liberal talk in Portland … there's nothing. Seriously. Oh, I suppose I could lay out money to have satellite radio, but I'm naïve enough to believe in and remember a time when you didn't have to pay to have your radio (Isn't it odd that Americans would rebel against a BBC-style model but willingly put up with commercials or incur another bill from big bidness?) and news and information wasn't just another profit center.

And while KPOJ wasn't exactly the rockstar it was back in '04, when it started, it sure was solid, and had regular listeners and proud advertisers. All of whom, in the end, meant nothing to Clear Channel.

Well, there is some movement aborning to, if not bring back liberal talk radio to Portland, at least to prove there's a market here for it and that ignoring it would be foolish. The Facebook page Save KPOJ aims to prove there's a constituency, and Kari Chisholm (of BlueOregon) has started a campaign via the SaveKPOJ.com website.

Forlorn hopes at this point? Maybe. But in two days, the Facebook community has over 1,600 likes, and the petition at the website has amassed nearly 5,000 signatures.

It might not bring back KPOJ, at least not right away, but maybe there's a chance here to get in on the forging of a true independent and liberal tradition of news and information in Portland, which, being Portland, ought to have one.

Also you might want to like Carl Wolfson's page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Just sayin'.

[pdx_legends] Kirk Reeves: The Death of a Showman

2889.Last week, about this time, was when we first heard of it. Rumors, not in the sense of sinister whispers but of simple, unverified information, that someone was no longer with us.

Kirk Reeves has died, the rumors said.

None of us believed it at first; none of us wanted to. The first clue that we personally had, here at Haus ZehnKatzen, that it had been was a post on the book of the face that now appears was a share from this FB channel called 'Portlandism':

I am sad to report that Portland street musician and all around nice guy, Kirk Reeves is no longer with us.

To me, Kirk was a staple in Portland. Waving to motorists as they passed by, as well as interacting with the people on the street, it was hard not to smile around him. Kirk brightened my day on many, many occasions and I am sad he is gone.

I remember gathering with friends and meeting Kirk for sandwiches on Thursdays for a few years, he always had a great story to tell.

Rest easy, Kirk Reeves.

But it was rumor at that point and, as I mentioned above, we didn't really want to believe it. We didn't talk much with Kirk, but we ran in the same circles, and just knowing he was out there, struggling along side of us,  made us feel a little less lonely in the world.

Everyone who'd used the westbound approach to the Hawthorne Bridge from Naito Parkway northbound knew of Kirk. He was The Man in the White Suit, the enigma with the Mickey Mouse ears and the ever-playing horn; the street musician who is evergreen, providing the backdrop you expect in a city the size of Portland, the splash of absurd personality that leaves you smiling for reasons you will never put your finger quite on.

Kirk was a regular at OryCon, the science fiction convention The Wife™ and I have been habitués of for never-you-mind how long. We must have first run into him about ten years back. In that white tux and that amazing rock-star style and blazing white teeth, he was hard to miss. 

He had a 'con badge, and it read Kirk the Jerk. In later times he would be Working Kirk, but then, he chose to reference an obscure Trekism. The Wife™, who saw Star Trek: The Animated Series, got the joke immediately. On one episode, titled "The Practical Joker", depicts the hilarity that ensues when an alien intelligence infects the Enterprise's computer after the ship passes through a cloud. The ship begins playing practical jokes on the crew, nearly getting them killed by Romulans, and at one time, the ship played a certain goof on our captain:

Comedy gold,  I tell you. Well, at least I laughed 'till I stopped.

Wife and Kirk got into a pretty deep conversation about that episode and from there, a lovely friendly acquaintance was born. We ourselves would go out of our way to use that on-ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge to say 'hi' and occasionally leave a tip. 

There wasn't anyone who didn't like Kirk, from what I remember. He took the name Kirk the Jerk only as a joke, but jerk was the last thing he could ever be mistaken for being. He wanted to entertain. He was always entertaining to be with. He tried various things to try to make his fame; the street performing, the cable access show; we hear he had several unpublished novels, and even tried to get on America's Got Talent. 

His audition did not get him far. Their loss.

He did have a local show, cable access … it was called Low Comedy. He gave us a DVD to watch and we did and … while I did come here to praise him and not to bury him, it was … well, here's a clip found at YouTube. You be the judge:

For those who like this sort of thing, this should be exactly the sort of thing they like, as they say. Didn't fill my can'o'beer; maybe it'll fill yours.

But that was Kirk, to me. He knew what he wanted to do, and he went for it. He was quite good at the horn-playing, maybe not so much at the comedy thing, but consider – he got a lot of people together and they enjoyed it and they enjoyed his company and he, theirs, so in the end, it's all good.

He had no family in Portland, as far as we knew. A search was undertaken by the Portland Police to find any relatives and they did find a sister. But as tragic as the news was that he was no longer amongst us, even worse was the knowledge that he had taken his own life, ended by his own hand, in a corner of Portland so lonely – Bybee Lake, a shallow wetland which is about as far away from being part of Portland as you can be yet still being a part of Portland – was where Kirk chose to end the pain he felt.

While I wasn't infinitely familiar with Kirk (my loss, there) I am intimately familiar with suicide compulsion issues, having known some very passionate people who are very driven, and take failure just as passionately as they do success. It's hard for anyone who's never been driven that far to understand, still so for me, but the pain can get so great that you'll do anything to make it stop. The sad clown is a staple, a cliché; the entertainer who is smiles on the outside yet dying on the inside. It's one that's rooted in soberest truth though.

But still, I'll always remember him for what he gave me. Though I didn't know him well, the truth that he brought stays with me; the courage to be yourself, to strive for what you want to do, to try and, well, heck … maybe you'll get to where you want to go, but you only have the one life, so go balls-out.

And that Kirk didn't find the success he needed to sustain him … well, maybe he was just ahead of his time, is all. Like so very many of us.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, Woody Allen is quoted as saying, I want to achieve it by not dying. And who can really disagree with that? Kirk didn't get maybe the immortality that he was shootin' for, but he did get it of a sort. Everything on the Internet is forever, as we all know, and on Google Street View, you can see this:

View Larger Map

That's Kirk, takin' a break y'all. Even the greatest have to rest occasionally.

He was a man; take him for all in all. We shall not see his like again.

05 November 2012

[SF_Lit] Wingrove's Back: Chung Kuo 01-Son Of Heaven

2888.Quite a long time ago (it'd seem) I'd fallen, and fallen hard, for a series by a British writer, David Wingrove, called Chung Kuo. Released through the 90s, it's a series that depicts a future history taking place starting at the fin de siecle of the 22nd Century and extending through the middle of the 23rd. In it, the Han Chinese had, with amazing technology in tow, ascended toward domination of the entirety of Earth, covering major sections of every inhabited continent with sealed arcologies - continental Cities - made of an impossibly durable and strong plastic material called ice.

The conflicts between the author's depiction of Han culture and European culture and the increasing demands of a global population exceeding 34 Billion-with-a-B provided the tension that drove the conflicts in the novel, both on the personal and the global level. This series extended to eight novels (seven very good ones and one unsatisfying concluding novel) and, though in reviews lauded with the best of Herbert's Dune, never got the lasting stature it deserved.

Well, Wingrove's back and he's rebooting Chung Kuo. To be honest, I'm a bit late to the party; he started this back in 2010 and I've only now gotten to read the first novel in the sequence, Son of Heaven. 

The original novel cycle started over 100 years after the conquering of the planet by the Tyrant, Tsao Ch'un, and his continent-girdling Cities of ice, with the advent of Han ascendency hinted at by flashes of backstory. This novel, in contrast, is set in two periods and places: a post-technological Dorsetshire of 2065, and a London of 2043 that is alternatively the land of the polished, glittering, technological elite and the lower castes who have been left behind by them.

The pivotal character is a man named Jake Reed, one of 2043's Masters Of The Universe; a financial wizard by way of William Gibson, a man who's equal parts 1-percenter and TRON. He worked in the 'datscape' (a word that perhaps suggests that all the good nicknames for the noosphere have pretty much been taken) managing the wealth of nations, taking a pretty cut for himself, and leading the charmed life, pretty much insulated from the incredible poverty that lies more or less invisible from him from his chauffeured 'hopper' flights and behind the security of the walls of enclaved communities.

The hammer falls through the actions, though the aren't apparent at first, of the Chinese named Tsao Ch'un, only hinted at in this first book. Essentially, everything is fine … until over the course of two days, it isn't. Well coordinated sleepers, infiltrated throughout the Western technological and financial strata, go off, rendering the West decapitated and vulnerable; nations collapse quicker than you can say "I can't load Facebook and I can't Google why."

The book itself is structured in three parts; In the first, we get to know Jake, his son, the community that took him in and the post-technological society of 2065 (essentially, S.M. Stirling's The Change with electricity); the second book portrays The Collapse starting just before its major inflection point (the assassination of the sixtieth American President, James Griffin, at Comiskey Park) through Jake's escape from a Collapsing London to the English countryside and his acceptance into a rural community; the third book portrays the coming of the Chinese and the invasion of the hivelike City onto the British isle.

As a beginning its particularly effective; as someone who was a fan of the original series, it's intriguing and exciting to explore the interregnum that gave growth to the globe-spanning society of the Han in the later books.  I get the sense that Wingrove has found a publisher and an editor who are sympathetic to him telling the story the way it always should have been told. The reborn Chung Kuo has the taste of a Director's Cut about it, a feeling reinforced by the author's own telling of how that book The Marriage of the Living Dark, was rushed out under pressure and made to be the end of a series that it was never meant to be. After reading this first book, I've got the feeling that we're about to see the story told the way he really wanted it to be told; in the beginning, I thought, why mess with what was already a great story? and now I can't wait to get my hands on the next volume.

Maybe now, Wingrove will get the world-building approbation he really is entitled to.

[pdx] T.S.O.PDX.

2887.Portland, they say, has a special 'sound'. Could be that that's at least a little because the dude at Ear Trumpet Labs, Philip Graham, does such a fantastic job of makin' microphones.

They're almost painfully Portland … many custom designs incorporate bicycle sprockets … and before you get a hankering to make Portlandia-esque jokes about it, consider that they've attained legendary status amongst performers, many of which are quite willing and eager to pay the prices asked for these hand-made works of recording art.

It's hard not to look at the Josephine model (illustrated) and not think of recording studios and performances of the 30s, 40s … the swing era.

The URL is http://www.eartrumpetlabs.com.

04 November 2012

[pdx] OryCon 34 - Portland Unicorns Got Legs

2886.So, as it is getting known, Portland, as we have said, is built on an ancient Unicorn Burial Ground™.

This is true. Just accept it.

But it's easy to forget that the percolation of this awareness through the general population can be slow. I was confronted, however, with a very cheering thing waiting in line for a panel tonight:

I made the mistake of taking this on my TracFone, so the resolution on the photos are crap; the lady was sweet enough to pose for me told me, exultantly, that there is such a legend. The motto on the shirt says, simply, Portland: built on an ancient unicorn burial ground. Trust me on that.

I let on that I was part of the cabal that was making it known to the wider world, so that Saint Unicorn is properly remembered. So, we haven't made it into the New York Times, but with sweet people willing to believe … can it really be that much longer?

And so it goes.

30 October 2012

[liff_in_OR] Cascadian Blessings, The Counting Thereof

2885.In New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania they're being inundated by water; fortunately, us in the Puget-Willamette Trough and environs about the Salish Sea are being inundated more by news about Sandy than we are by any actual rainfall, though there is a great deal of that.

Truly I'm blessed to have won Oregon in the birth lottery.

And I will be, until the next Cascadia Subduction Zone quake.

And so it goes.

29 October 2012

[art] Well, That's One Way To Succeed In Graphic Design

2884.I haven't been terribly successful at graphic design. But this guy found a way. Not something I'd do, in as much as it involved all that breaking of the law and stuff.

Sounds like material for a great book though
Gregory M. Zimmerman, 36, was a key figure in a jet-setting band of suspected identity thieves. He produced high-quality identification for a group of "creepers," who burglarized commercial office buildings in many U.S. cities, stealing checks, credit cards and personal information to defraud banks, say federal prosecutors. 
Graphic designers. More dangerous than you know.

Man, I can just picture them strip-club confabs right now. Goodfellas with a bird on it.

[pdx_media] The Ohmanless Oregonian

2883.This shouldn't have happened on Bob Ross's 70th birthday, man. Just isn't fair. One of the best things at The Oregonian isn't there anymore, starting today.

Jack Ohman … a personal hero of mine, and one of the reasons that The Big O's editorial page was still a must-visit for us, is no longer there. This, from the pape, today:
The Oregonian's prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman has decided to leave the paper. Ohman, who had worked at the paper for nearly 30 years, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize this year.
The message, with the warm byline of simply The Oregonian, was only about four mere paragraphs. So much for an award-winning cartoonist who was nominated for the Pulitzer last year, and with the OR-7 For President campaign, was at the top of a very cool form. Seems a bit wan and un-sincere. Jack, who says (and we believe him) that he will remain an avid reader of the paper, is gracious and well spoken in his announcement.

Also, the article notes that he 'has written and illustrated several books'.  But you're on your own, bunkie. Well, maybe The O can't be bothered to so much as check Wikipedia, but I can:
  • Back to the ’80s (1986)
  • Drawing Conclusions (1987)
  • Fear of Fly Fishing (1988)
  • Fishing Bass-ackwards (1991)
  • Why Johnny Can't Putt (1993)
  • Media Mania (1995)
  • Do I Have To Draw You A Picture? (1997)
  • Get the Net! (1998)
  • An Inconvenient Trout (2008)
  • Angler Management (2009)
  • Illustrator, Blowing Smoke: The Wild and Whimsical World of Cigars (1997), Brian McConnachie, author
I particularly recommend Back to the 80's, which I still find incredibly humorous, having survived them and all.

Word is he's going to be releasing something about his future plans on Wednesday. Bated breath here at Haus ZehnKatzen.

[art] Bob Ross's 70th Birthday Gift ...

2882.... is the sweetest Google doodle I've ever seen. Seriously.

 I mean, I saw the little squirrel on his shoulder and I kind of want to cry now.

28 October 2012

[teh_funnay] Joss Whedon's Magnum Opus

2881.Yes, it's better than Buffy, and better than Firefly. Just shut up. It is. Don't argue!

Parkour to you!

[net_liff] Wikipedia Awesome Sauce, Salish Sea Edition

2880.The Salish Sea is the recently-adopted name for the inland waterway network in Northwestern Washington and Southwestern British Columbia - the northern half of the Cascadian heartland - made of of that merry messup of the Strait of Georgia and the Puget Sound as connected to the Pacific by the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Still there is obviously some debate as to the makeup of that feature. No worries, man! Wikipedia (and associated Wikipedians, whoever they may be) to the rescue:

This screencap is accurate as of the time of this post, honest!

Well. That's settled then.

And so it goes.

27 October 2012

[diary] Two Sites All About Diary Essentials

2879.Those essentials being, of course, pens and notebooks, two things which I absolutely adore.

Two sites I'm abashed to say that I've only now stumbled on:
  1. Pen Addict: http://www.penaddict.com This is a very spare, cleanly designed site, very few photos, but links, links, and more links. Follow any one for interesting things about pens, pens, pens … so … many … pens. I've only begun to explore.
  2. Notebook Stories: http://www.notebookstories.com/. "In search of the perfect page" is its tagline, and there are profiles of notebook addicts, some personal stories … again, I've only started exploring, but it looks promising.
The design of Pen Addict showed me something I might have forgotten myself; a good, efficient design, with just what is needed, no more, no less, can get across as much as a cute little blog festooned with baubles.

Food for thought, there.

26 October 2012

[liff] It's Sam Klein's World, You Just Live There, Brazil Edition

2878.I'm apparently huge there. A regular Sam Walton.

[media] And Was His Stump Speech Written By Jim Steinman?

2877.Today in our somewhat-involuntary chronicling of the Death of All Media, we stumble on this.

Actually, If I can digress a moment (well, usually I do) I've got to blandly admit that I'm surprised at how easily things like this are to find. I don't go looking for them, truly I don't. The impression I'm coming to is that media orgs are so desperate to put out content, and do so in such a blind frenzy sometimes, that they just don't look. Copy-editors and caution have clearly become a thing of the past, or or going that way even quicker than even I had suspected.

That out of the way, today's morsel comes from the Global Post, yet another news organization that strives to keep us informed (or at least distracted) by posting everything all the time. It would seem that Meat Loaf, that memorable exponent of 70s-80s tract-home and trailer-park down'n'dirty rock'n'roll (I say this having lived in a tract-home and a trailer-park, so I know whereof I speak) has endorsed Mitt Romney for President, a development that manages, in a a Möbius-strip way, to be both unexpected and completely unsurprising. And the caption on the photo can't seem to get straight just who it is they're talking about.

No, you aren't misreading it. The caption says that's Mitt Romney, not Meat Loaf at Mitt Romney's rally, but Mitt.

If so, he's had work done.

On the other hand, you could have the makings of a new movie here:

The Romney Horror Picture Show. [1]

Try not to worry. It'll just get you old early.

[1] Yeah, I ripped that one off. It was too good to leave alone.

25 October 2012

[liff] Google StreetView Immortality Missed By THAT Much in Corvallis

2876.Before the word photobomb became en vogue, the real trick was to get yourself into Google StreetView by acting out or doing something odd when the StreetView photo car comes by.

It's not hard to notice. It's got this camera orb on a pillar over the trunk that looks like that odd monster on Star Trek's head who got all the historical personae to fight in that one episode.

But since you won't know when … or even if, or if ever … the car's coming your way, it's something you can never be really ready for. So, you wind up doing this:

This happened in Corvallis, on a little side street called Park Terrace, whose only function now is to funnel traffic on and off parking lots to Monroe Avenue at about NW 25th Street.

The sad thing is, he had his moment … and Google's fuzzed out his face.

Missed immortality by that much.

Here's the link to the actual picture.

[graphic design] 30 Ways To Die Of Electrocution In Greater Germany

2875.This following diagram isn't just a good idea … it's the law. Or it should be.

The book this (and other pictures similar) is found in is one called Elektroschutz in 132 Bildern, published in Vienna in the early 1900s by a physician named Stefan Jellinek. The pictures are nice and direct and unambiguous; they teach, graphically, that the surest way to kill yourself with electricity is to form a complete path from source (usually the bright red arrow) to ground (the screened back, pink arrow. Arrowheads provide the path for current flow.

The pictures seem oddly timeless despite being drawn in a style instantly recognizable for that of Germany and environs in the early 20th Century. They're very evocative, showing the startled stunned dismay of the victims, and the drawings are strewn about with strange inscrutable devices with dials and terminals whose apparent function is to place lethal electrical current in places where foolish, thoughtless death is made even more convenient and unavoidable:

And electricity being what it is, not even animals are excused from appalling stupidity:

Who's a bad dog, then?

Really, considering the flagrant disregard for safety apparently exhibited by the German-speaking peoples during that time, it's doubly astounding that the Deutsches Kaiserreich even made it out of the Wilhelmine era, never mind Reich #3.

H/T http://www.brepettis.com/blog for this boon. View 30 of these überamusing diagrams at this flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bre/sets/72157611077138836/. Via Google+ at this post: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112360867913985105653/posts/7advWsaN4KS.

24 October 2012

[art] Color From Out Of Oregon: How Gamblin Sees It

2874.Here's a nifty little video with the man himself, Robert Gamblin, talking about what he does and why he does it, with behind-the-scenes scenes.

Approach to Colormaking from Gamblin Artists Colors on Vimeo.

Gamblin's website is http://www.gamblincolors.com/;  You can get the at I've Been Framed, Muse, and Utrecht, and even Blick (if you must).

[art] Sensazioni!: Photorealistic Pencil Portraiture by Diego Fazio

2873.(h/t Cort Webber at this Facebook post) I dare anyone to not believe this photo:

… is anything other than a photo. Looks pretty realistic. And here, I'm giving it a way a bit; this portrait, called Sensaztioni, by Italian artist Diego Fazio.

It takes some close looking. But you can get a better view if you follow this link, and views in progress here and here and here, too. Being a huge fan of the pencil to begin with this was greatly inspiring, but I did draw something myself last night at Denny's … but it was a crabby sketch of the USS Enterprise. 

Well, one thing I have discovered is that I've let my drawing muscles lay fallow for far, far too long. Also I was tired then. And vexed generally; my entire life right now is kind of at sixes and sevens. But this is quite a light.

While there's no video of the work-in-progress, here's about 20 seconds (far too little!) of the drawing with the light playing about it. As the POV moves right, you can see the light reflecting on the layered graphite, a telltale visual signature that can't be mistaken.

Splendid, absolutely splendid.

23 October 2012

[pdx] The OLCC: Licensing Wervers Since 1933

2872.Today in this Post-Copy-Editor World, our stumbling on of more silly errors takes us down Snailem way, to the web page of the capital's daily, the Statesman-Journal.
Reporting on the resignation of Oregon Liquor Control Commission head Steve Pharo – an event which will simplify Governor Kitzhaber's day quite a bit, if the stories we've been following tell us anything – The old S-J lets us in on the following fact:

That's right. Since 1933, the OLCC has be licensing wervers. 

Whatever they are. Right now, my wits are running on fumes. I got nothing.

Werves me right for spending so much time on Facebook, I suppose.

[pdx] Goodbye Jordie, Dean of Portland Store Cats

2871.We have sad news to report today. We have learned that Jordie, the official store cat of I've Been Framed, has crossed, as they say, the Rainbow Bridge.

We met Jordie some months back and, after coming out of his ultra-shy kitten stage, he stood athwart the back rooms of IBF, patrolling with catly poise. Friendly little guy too.

I was surprised to find out that he'd passed away … we were thinking it was about time to pay another visit to one of Portland's greatest art resources and get a few minutes of whisker time besides. He was quite the little gentleman by now, and I don't think he must have been more than two years old.

We should have visited when we thought about it, darn it.

Loved ya, schweetie pie. Sorry we didn't come by to say 'hi' more often.

Stop by Facebook to pay your respects, willyaplease.

21 October 2012

[branding] Bodyform: The Best Feminine Hygiene Advertising … Period.

There's a joke I learned as a kid. A version went something like this:
Did you hear the one about the kid who found a fiver on the street? He went to the drug store and bought a box of Tampax. When his friends heard, they made fun of him, but he said "Don't laugh! With Tampax, I can go horse-riding, water-skiing, bicycling …"
Yeah. I guess you had to be there.

I kind of wish I was in the room when the Branding Zen Masters™ came up with the following thing …

It's said (can ye believe everything that falls out of the intertuebz?) that a person who we shall regard as "Richard Neill" posted a rant to the page of Bodyform, manufacturers of a line of things we used to call 'sanitary napkins', which gave my mind no end of fits as a kid, because I know what sanitary is, and I knew what napkins were, but … well, anywhozzle … It was a soliloquy apparently on the reproach of a man who, upon learning the ins and outs of living with That Special Someone™and hoping to see the joy of woman from a closer vantage, instead, feels wronged. The whole rant is here, and it ends on the plaintive note:
Instead I had to fight against every male urge I had to resist screaming wooaaahhhhh bodddyyyyyyfooorrrmmm bodyformed for youuuuuuu as my lady changed from the loving , gentle, normal skin coloured lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin. Thanks for setting me up for a fall bodyform , you crafty bugger
Damn you, Bodyform! A pox upon your house (but just a small one, understand). 

Added venom and 360 degree headspin, it must be said, at no extra charge. Such a deal.

Forging ahead: the trajectory of the thing seems to be thus; the Bodyform company saw the rant and decided to embrace it with humor and aplomb befitting the finest in fine comedy. As the company said here, Unfortunately Bodyform doesn't have a CEO. But if it did she'd be called Caroline Williams. And she'd say …

Well, she'd say this: 

Yes, my friends, we have finally learned how to joke effectively about when Aunt Flo comes to visit. To think that I'd have lived to see the day. But it's an effective lesson in social marketing, and great comedy to boot.

The rant spread to Mashable, as did the reply, and the rest, as they say, is hystery. 

There are some, though, who wonder at the timing and the quick, highly polished response to the rant. Some of the posters at AdWeek, in the reply stream, think the whole thing is a bit pat. And maybe it is. I myself am torn about advertising these days. It's true, as Orwell has said, that advertising is "a stick rattling in a swill bucket", but another side of me says If you're going to waste my time, at least entertain me.

Well, I'm entertained.

Well played, Bodyform … well played. You earned a "like" from me.

11 October 2012

[literature] The End of Banned Books Week Has Been Repealed

Bill Nothstine has banned the end of Banned Books week, which is just fine with us, because the Brigade of Decent Citizenry Brigade doesn't take 51 weeks off either.

And, also they're continuing to try to ban Huck Finn. Because America.

[pdx] Rewind: Extreme Makeover - Made In Oregon Sign Edition

2867.Stumbled upon by The Wife™, of which I am grateful (both for the stumblage as well as the wifeitude) …

I am usually of torn mind about most politicos, and when it comes to Commissioner Leonard, I'm positively schizy. That said, one of his moves I liked the absolute most was when he got Ramsay Signs to donate the famous Made In Oregon sign on the White Stag Block at the west end of the Burnside Bridge to the city - so as to prevent the U of O from putting its name on a beloved landmark and, not coincidentally, to make the sign a landmark for all of Portland, not just the Duck fans.

Go Beavers.

Anywhozzle, the ensewage from this stumblage is an article at Commissioner Leonard's blog, which actually showed some behind-the-scenes looks at Ramsay Signs as they pieced the new look together. I've always been obsessive about signs, and seeing them up close is something cool to me. Views like this:

The rest of it is here: http://commissionerleonard.typepad.com/commissioner_randy_leonar/2010/11/portland-oregon-sign-coming-soon.html (posted in 11/2010).

10 October 2012

[art] A Hard Pencil Is Good To Find

I love 9H pencils.

You all know what that means, don't you?

Probably not. Poor, poor people.

These are very, very hard pencils. You can drive them as nails.

Well, in balsa wood anyway.

9H pencils are the hardest you're likely to find anywhere. You can barely make a mark with them, pressing hard. Why would I want 9H pencils?

Because you can barely make a mark with them, which means they're actually very nifty for roughing in things with a very light mark which won't smear, because I'm clumsy (or awesome that way).

Actually, you can find 9H pencils … what you can't find are 9H woodless pencils, as I adore woodless pencils. For some reason pencil makers don't see any market for any woodless pencil with an H in it (unless that's HB). And that leads me, kind of awkwardly, into pencil grades, which everyone thinks are pretty much #2, which is another system altogether.

Ever wonder, if there's a #2 pencil, where's the #1?

Around the world, graphite pencils are graded from softest to hardest, along a continuum. Artists know the H-F-B system well; H is for hard, B is for black (soft lead is easy to make into a mass tone of black) and HB is right in the middle. There's another grade, 'F', which is softer than H but harder than HB, and was chiefly included so that people would go to the art supply store and go 'what's the F stand for', and the art supply store person will shrug and say 'I don't know either'.

Maybe F stands for a secret art supply industry word meaning 'get people into the stores'.

Maybe it stands for fnord. They'll never say.

But this is the scale on the H-F-B continuum:

9H … H - F - HB - B  … 9B
Hard            Medium            Soft

Now, this system originated somewhere in England, unless it didn't.

The system schoolkids in America are most familiar with seems to contain only one grade - #2 - but it only seems that way, as President Morgan Freeman said to Cub Reporter Téa Leoni in Deep Impact. What I can seriously say is that it was developed by Conté, the man who invented the pencil, and introduced and modified to American needs by John Thoreau, who was famous for causing Henry David Thoreau's mom to become pregnant with him (what lineage, yeah?). It was Conté who figured out that varying the proportion of clay with graphite would cause differing hardnesses of the 'lead' - the more the clay, the harder the lead. And if you ever wondered where #2 falls on the pencil hardness scale, here's where (arranged as above):

#4  - #3  - #2  - #1
Hard        Medium        Soft
2H  - H  - HB  - B

There are fewer grades and American pencils tend to be harder. This of course totally captures the American character: we are a simple folk and a hard one. Since there's less of a chance of inserting some arbitrarily-chosen inscrutable symbol or number (like that glyph George Harrison included on all his albums) we here in the States make it confusing by only making #2 commonly available, leaving us to wonder where all the other numbers ran off to.

In the meantime, the search for a 9H (or any H, for that matter) woodless pencil continues. We doubt much success along these lines.

And so it goes.

09 October 2012

[pdx] OR-7: A Predator's Predator; A Predator you can Trust!

Famous gray wolf OR-7's Presidential campaign is getting off to a strong, if late start, and already he's at the head of the … ah, pack:

OR-7 Presidential Campaign PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Jack Ohman, Campaign Director

PORTLAND--The new Pew Research poll shows OR-7 taking a commanding lead among predators, leading with personal injury lawyers 42 OR-7, 36 Romney, 22 Obama, mortgage bankers 46 OR-7, Romney 31, Obama 23, and used car salesmen 56 OR-7, 30 Romney, Obama 14.
So … who you gonna call?

Well, Jack Ohman, I guess. His name is on the press release, there.

[liff] Broughton Beach, August, 2012

As my friends know, my The Wife™ and myself were not born in Portland. She was born in Ohio but has been living in Oregon since she was 6 months old, though I am a native-born Oregonian, I was born in Silverton (which didn't count for much when I was a kid but seems to matter more and more as the years pass, but that's a digression and will cost me). And my wife is as Oregonian as any native born, and more fond of Portland than I am.

All these thoughts came back to me as I looked over these pictures at Broughton Beach which, as any local knows, is this wonderful broad sand riverbank along the Columbia River on the northern edge (where else?) of the city, by the western end of Portland International Airport. And that northern-edgeness brought on another thought, about the Columbia River itself.

 While Portland is famous for being a Columbia River town, it isn't, not really. It's a Willamette River town. and for all its stature amongst North America's rivers, and despite the notability that it's the biggest North American river to flow into the Pacific, And that it was the main street of the people of the Chinuk Wawa, it's not exactly the Main Street of the Pacific Northwest, when it comes to where people live. The biggest single city along the Columbia is Portland and, as I said earlier, it actually fonts the Willamette.

Other drainages, the Missouri, the Mississippi, the Ohio, all have remarkable famous cities that front on to them. Not the Columbia, which is an awesome river … but it belongs to small-town Cascadia. Maybe it's the geography, after all, before the dams were built the lower Columbia was much more well known as a river you had to portage rather than sail down (and eventually led to a cutoff that went south, around Mount Hood, and completely away from the river), and the truly clement and fertile weather that the white man came to enjoy were along the Willamette anyway.

I don't think it's a good or bad thing; just a thing, an interesting thing. To the Willamette belongs Cascadia's cities and population - to the Columbia belong the small places, the wide open vistas. The outback.

It simply is.

Another thing a child of the banal Mid-Willamette valley never gets used to are the big boats. During this afternoon, a Tidewater barge sought its way up river. It entranced both of us for a long long time. You just don't see this growing up around Salem, which lost any interesting river traffic when what amounted to Oregon's steamboat era ended. The Willamette at Salem is an adorable thing in comparison to the Columbia (or even the Willamette at Portland), the rivers here in the metro area are this muscular, working thing, always busy.

How will you keep 'em down on the farm?

And a sunset is a sunset is a sunset.

 But a sunset on the river like this …

… is a special thing, and makes me glad I'm here.

[writing] The Associated Press: Sick (sic) transit gloria

Lately the death of capable writing in this society of ours has been revealing some odd symptoms, to be sure, and I can't call this the 'death of print' since it's online and digital, but I'm betting it is related.

The AP Stylebook must have lately been condensed down to pamphlet size, much in the way the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary was being created. It's an awkward witticism explanation, but the best I can come up with for this stuff …

KGW is my news-online source of choice, mostly because I'm extremely impressed with the throroughgoing and professional mein they got there. As do most news sites, they populate the feed with AP stories. But I'm starting to wonder how much proofreading goes on over there.

Since I found this hilarious error, the story has been corrected; it's this one, which reports a wonderful, wonderful, thing; both UO and OSU unbeaten and in the top 10 nationally, which apparently, OSU CAN HAZ:


But the real boggler for me is this one, about that nut, Felix Baumgartner:

 It's still there at the time of this writing. And it does appear to say that Baumgartner is going to descend to 22 miles to make his legendary jump. Which would be somewhere in the upper reaches of Earth's mantle.

He claims that this will be his last jump. I can see why. After this, his true identity will be revealed.

Satan. I mean, 22 miles down? Who else?

And, so … in a post-copy-editor, post-spellchecker world … it goes.

Updated, 0741 10/09/12: The 120,000 foot descent has been re-termed an ascent.

04 October 2012

[logo] 'blnk' and you'll miss it …

2864.I've seen this logo around town, most notably in the parking lot of the Midland Branch of the Mulnomah County Library, quite possibly the bestest place in the world outside of my own house:

You'll find it, too, if you charge your electric car there. Public places have sacrificed a primo parking space (well, hell, we needed the walk anyway, right?) to a space devoted to serving a small, kiosk-like thing, which is about the height of an average-short human being, and with the cord dangling, resembles an ultra-thin gas pump as imagined by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Seriously, they do look pretty sharp. They are electric taps for charging up you aforesaid auto made and knitted into a neato-mosquito computer metering network made by the Blink Network. Since I drive a '72 VW Type I "Beetle" (that's Bug to you unsophisticates) and The Wife™ drives an'86 Subaru GL Wagon, we have no truck ('scuse) with such a thing; we proles can only do so much. But they are pretty nifty and clean designs, pleasant to look at and harmonizing quite well with the efficient aesthetic of a parking lot or space.

But that logo … bugs (so to say) me.

It's easy to see the cleverness there. The left-hand stroke on the minuscule 'n' has a tittle over it, and while the tittle is an integral part of your standard minuscule 'i' glyph, it makes little sense over an 'n'. It's strange, like only half of a heavy-metal ümla¨üt. And, since no distinction is made between the 'i' letterform and the 'n' letterform, eventually the 'i'-ness of it just disappears, and I read it …


… which I pronounce "blunk". Which is awkward, because "blunk" isn't a word at all, really. That's not to say that it's not at all possible, mind; Hebrew script, that gorgeous square calligraphy, naturally comes with no vowels at all; did you know this? You read the consonants and inferred the vowels.

But that's not how English works.

So, when you see this logo, keep your 'i' on the 'n' … but watch it! Blnk and you'll miss it.

[pdx], So, I Run Into S.M. Stirling At Powell's Books One Day …

2863.I do happen to be a fan of the Emberverse.

So, after a particularly trying day in McMinnville (long story, patience, my friends, patience, we shall get there anon), back on Sept the 6th, me and The Wife™are achieving ingress to the Greater Portland area along Highway 99W, the Pacific Hwy, and we're tired and kind of hot after doing several trying things (like I said, later, some other time maybe) and all I want to do is get home. I'm blown, as they say, to hell and back.

But Wife™wants to stop by Powell's Beaverton. Gas prices being what they are, we don't get over the Sylvan Hill as near as often as we used to, and Powell's is a relatively quick detour up Southwest Hall Boulveard, and she's driving, and a visit to Powell's Suburb of Books is always guaranteed to brighten the dullest day, and this one made me dull indeed, so I mumbled in the affirmative, and we went.

I didn't intend on buying anything. Then, Tiny happened.

I've not written much about Tiny, and that's too bad. I love this guy. Big in body and big in heart, just the sweetest fellow you ever wanted to meet. Cares for his friends, is one of those big guys with a huge heart who is a little scary looking but you need not to judge books by their covers sometimes.

He looks like one of those big, bruising biker-dude types, but he's a smart, kind fellow. And he recognizes us, and we make greeting, and he asks us if we're here to see S.M. Stirling.

'Scuse? You mean S.M-everlovin'-Dies The Fire-Emberverse-Stirling?

Yah. Dat da guy.

All of a sudden I'm buying a book. I'm gonna get an autograph. I think most of you can relate. We come off this real trying day, we're stunned by certain events and have had more mood swings than a teenage girl, and it just so happens that I've stumbled into an S.M. Stirling author appearance to promote his next Emberverse novel?

I'd like to be able to report that I jumped up and down like something that jumps up and down going Yippee, yippie! but believe it or not, I was still discouraged enough from the day we'd had (like I said, some other time, nothing personal) to think aaaaah, just want to go home anyway. 

Glad I thought about it a little. A lunch at the TacoTime in the mall area did a lot to help. TacoTime soft taco. Staff'o'liff. You can quote me. Thus fortified, we go into Powell's and take a seat in the assembling seating area. Steve's due in at 7:00 PM.

He arrives and seats himself at 6:30 PM. I thought authors (or, as some I knew as a kid called them, arthers) were dissolute and got there when they were damn' well good and ready, but I found that incorrect, making this an S.M. Stirling appearance and a learning experience. Bonus!

Now, whether or not one idolizes the artists whose work they adore one does form a certain impression based on the photos they seen, the things they've heard, and the voice that comes from the work. Based on Island in the Sea of Time and the Emberverse series, something told me he'd come on like a retired Marine, real strict and correct, but he was just about the nicest and easygoing-est author of the (sadly) few I've had the fortune to meet. He just carried around this marvelous relaxed attitude with him, and all of a sudden people were chatting with him, he was chatting with us, it was rather like making the fellow's acquaintance at a SF convention in hospitality. Very friendly, affable, chatty.

The appearance officially got underway after he got caffeinated (well, that author stereotype holds, at least) and he treated us to over an hour's worth of reading out of the newest Emberverse novel, Lord of Mountains, which apparently finds High King Artos I, Queen Mathilda, and the rest, chasing the CUT and their Prophet back across the Rocky Mountains, and the United States of Boise nearing a turning point.

You'll all excuse the blurriness of the photos. They were taken only a row back from the front and I didn't want to give Steve sparklies-in-the-eyes with a my rude camera flash.

One other thing I can assure everyone about Stirling is that he knows how to read aloud from the printed page. That's not as easy as one would think. It was easy to tell when Rudi MacKenzie was speaking as Stirling affected this rather delightful faux-Gaelic lilt.

After the reading, a rather generous question-and-answer session. I got a few questions of my own answered, had my suspicion that a few lines of dialogue was probably inspired by The Frantics, and I think we nearly went over. There was much good feeling.

One particular question really drove home to me how nifty this guy is. The Wife™ asked a question about how talented people sometimes have trouble getting published. He answered it, but somehow in mid-delivery he changed the angle of approach on the reply and turned it into a very touching and sensitive encouragement to keep trying. My spouse has never tried to write any stories, but she's made some tentative steps into diarizing and I'm betting she's always wanted to try. It was a very personal answer, or at least it was pitched that way, and it really endeared him to her. If my betrothed ever becomes a published author, you can mark this moment; this was the point of inflection.

So, that's the thing about S.M. Stirling. Nice guy, writes what excites him, for readers who like him and he likes them right back.

Couldn't ask for more, really, considering that there was a chance that we'd not have been there at all. Sometimes, things just kind of get dropped in front of you.