Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

My Second Day at Kepler's

11 September 2011

9/11 was my second day working at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. Kepler’s was founded on peace activism, so all day people would come in looking for answers. Not just that day, either.
I found myself hugging someone who was sobbing and clearly came in to look for — something comforting.
Ira Sandperl sat on a chair and spoke with people who came in for as long as he could, talking about peace and peaceful solutions. (As an example of who he is, Joan Baez became involved in the peace movement because of Ira.)
Months later, when I learned how important Ira’d been to the peace movement, I said, “no disrespect intended, but why aren’t you more famous?”
He pointed out that when attention was focused on him, it wasn’t focused on the message.
I think that’s the single most valuable lesson I picked up from Kepler’s.

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Human! Learn to Use the Device!

02 September 2011

Rick and I just had one of those, “Human! Learn to use the device!” moments.
But maybe I should step back and say where that comes from.
In 2008, when we were going to see the last gasp (at the time, it’s since been revived) of the Star Trek Experience in Vegas, I was sitting down and two women wanted to get their photo taken with one of the Klingon women. The one woman wasn’t familiar with the other woman’s camera, and so the Klingon says “Human! Learn to use the device!”
I chuckled for days, and it still comes up from time to time.
I love fandom.

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Friday Photo: Morocco Street

02 September 2011

I do a lot of photography but haven’t been posting a lot lately, so I thought I’d post a photo every Friday.
Today’s photo was taken on the road between Rabat and Casablanca. It was taken with my Panasonic GF-1 (micro-4/3) camera and converted to black and white with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

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Morning State

30 August 2011

So there you are galumphing lopsided down the hallway in search of ibuprofen as is your usual wont when you notice that your legs feel weird today. They felt a bit odd yesterday, too. In fact, it feels a bit like the odd you felt in June when you suddenly wound up with a bad case of shingles and they shoved prednisone down your throat along with some antivirals.
And, for a few days, everything stopped hurting, though the legs had this oddly pliable feel that was disconcerting, to say the least, given your usual stiffness. You felt it particularly when you went up and down stairs, wondering if your legs would collapse underneath you. They didn’t. When you were near the end of your course and the shingles was on the mend, you started taking walks because, hallelujah, you didn’t hurt.
Then you went to the doctor saying that you think you don’t have fibromyalgia after all — gotta be something related to inflammation, at which point the rheumy consult thought you were bonkers, saying that if you had MS or Crohn’s, you’d know it. Your main doctor gets the point, though: fibro’s not an inflammatory disease. She orders an inflammatory panel and advises you to wait a few weeks to get the blood draw for so your system will return to its normal state after all the drugs she’s just pumped in. Also, you’ve had this strange low-grade fever that comes and goes for a few days at a time, but this problem’s been going on for years.
Last Friday, you had your teeth cleaned, and you apparently have a bad dental abscess from that root canal you had ten years ago, one root of which was never able to be killed off and is apparently flailing in a great pile of painless unhappiness, so the dentist makes endodontist invocations and materializes a scrip for antibiotics. So you haul yourself down to the HMO and wait in their never-ending line so you can pay less for the stupid amoxy, and then you’re about to ask for the blood draw — and you realize, huh, what if this really is the same issue? Better wait until after the antibiotics work and have cleared the system.
Today you feel almost as good, whole-body wise, as you did under the prednisone, though, so that makes you wonder: was it a frakkin’ low-grade dental infection all along? Could this whole ten years have been better if you’d done the dental thing differently?

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How My iPad Kicked a Bad Evening's Ass

22 August 2011

Worldcon ended Sunday, and we briefly went to the dead dog party and then hit the road.
After we got out of the mountains and passed Sacramento, the check engine light came on, and was flashing. It turns out that we’d had this symptom on the way over immediately after filling the tank with Arco gas, but it seemed to go away after we’d added a different brand of gas. Bad gas was listed in the manual as a possible cause.
Now the light came on tonight immediately after having gotten more Arco gas, but this time we got premium. However, this time, the engine light flashed and we lost power and had to re-start the car and get back off the freeway ramp. Talk about your scary.
So I get out the iPad’s map app, and then look for the nearest dealership (since this involved possibly proprietary diagnostics) and then a towing company. Then, when we’d established where we were going, I was able to book us a room within walking distance from the car dealership for the night.
Sure, I could have used my iPhone, but the device I almost invariably pull out is, in fact, the iPad. It’s easier to show someone else details of the route due to the larger real estate, plus the extra size is nice when your eyes are tired and you want bigger text.
The other day, someone (who didn’t have a smartphone) wondered what use one would be to him. I wonder what the hell he does if things like this come up.
Over the last week, here’s what I’ve used my iPad for: writing a short story, reading email, web surfing, culling and editing photos, ordering a new computer (which we decided to get after leaving for Reno, so had it delivered to my mother’s workplace), keeping up with my RSS feeds with Pulse and Reeder, playing music, watching movies and television episodes, playing games, taking notes, emailing Rick’s boss and mine saying we’re stuck in Vacaville, writing a draft of a future guest blog post (to be announced soon), and brainstorming some ideas for a possible new short story.

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Semi-prozine Hugo Awards Category

20 August 2011

The Hugo Awards
Those of you who haven’t been paying attention may not have known about the recent uproar about the the semi-prozine Hugo category.
Essentially, for many years, the nominee list had become so stagnant that the sentiment among many SMOFs was to do away with the category entirely.
In 2009, Weird Tales won the Hugo in the category. In 2010, Clarkesworld won. These two wins were the second and third wins for fiction ‘zines ever in this category. Some saw new winners and nominees as signs of life in the semi-prozine category. Rather than axe the category entirely, a committee studied the issue and made a proposed constitutional amendment, which was voted on Friday.
One SMOF I spoke with before said vote occurred wasn’t convinced there were enough eligible ‘zines to warrant a category. I hauled out my iPad, fired up Safari, and performed a search on Duotrope: 126 markets (including those currently temporarily closed to submissions) paying semi-pro rates for science fiction alone. 74 markets if you exclude those temporarily closed. This convinced the SMOF that there were valid entries for even the narrower category.
Now, granted, not all of them may qualify under the other rule constraints (e.g., frequency of publication), and it’s also true that even “for the love” markets that offer token payment will qualify payment-wise under the proposed Hugo rules.
The changes in the constitution voted on Friday (which will need to be ratified next year) would mean that four out of the five nominees this year — all but Interzone — would be ineligible after next year.
What does that mean for the average sf/f writer, though?
With all the heavyweights out of the semi-pro weight class, there will be a lot more room for a lot of great ‘zines that have been overlooked in this category. Sure, we’ll still have some glossy ‘zines like the New York Review of Science Fiction, but the semi-pros will no longer be competing against Locus.
The secondary effect of this is that there will be more recognition of some very good semi-pro markets, and this may lead to more recognition of the writers submitting to them, too. Of course, there’s room for more non-fiction ‘zines, too.

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Worldcon: Wednesday

17 August 2011

Woke up at around 8:30 (unusual for me), dragged self down to the buffet and had some moderately miserable food. (Buffets? Generally suck.) Rick trundled off having snacked on fruit, etc.
Mike and I went to go print up BayCon fliers [1] and then got back just in time for peak line length at registration. Lucky us! Missed the Welcome to Reno Panel, but got to see the last five minutes, as I came early for the next panel.
…Which happened to be John Scalzi’s “A Trip to the Creation Museum,” which was fascinating and horrifying at the same time.
Next, we went to Opening Ceremonies, where all the guests of honor and special guests, were introduced, including the one and only Doctor Demento. I remember listening to him in my teenage years a lot; frequently we’d be coming back from some event or another on his broadcast night and con the school bus driver into tuning into his show. Later on, he showed a video for “Fish Heads,” featuring a very young Bill Pullman.
This year’s writer guest of honor is my own personal favorite writer, Tim Powers. I’ve been a fan of his ever since The Anubis Gates first came out and a friend pressed a copy into my hands. After that, I met him at conventions, and he was one of my instructors at Clarion when I went in 2002.
Rick and I went to separate events after that; he went to the Dr. Demento show, where I went to a panel about the revenge of the nerds — specifically, how geeks are now portrayed differently in media. What surprised me most about that panel, I think, was that no one mentioned CSI. The omission is particularly notable when you consider panelist Connie Willis’s daughter, Cordelia, is herself a CSI.
Then Rick and I went to dinner at Famous Dave’s Rib’s, which turned out to be quite excellent. One snafu, my fault: I intended to order green beans and was insufficiently specific, so I got brown beans. They were okay, but I only had a couple of bites. The ribs were mighty tasty.
When we returned, we headed for the party floor. The San Antonio bid for 2013 is running unopposed, so going to the party was a formality, mostly. While there, I got to catch up with writer Carol Berg, whose first book was published around the time of the Chicago Worldcon in 2000 — I remember sitting in the audience and listening intently to the first novelists. I read several of the books, including Mindy Klasky’s The Glasswright’s Apprentice, but Carol’s novel Transformation remains the favorite of the books I discovered from that panel.
After my visit to the party floor, I got caught up talking with Ctein, who was out in public using his iPad. I said I’d really liked his iPad article and we discussed the very different ways we use our iPads. Another guy was hovering nearby and started asking questions — he’d been considering buying an iPad of his own.
[1] Oh, btw, announcing the Writer Guest of Honor: Brandon Sanderson!

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