My sister is in town to deal with the disposition of our father’s possessions. We met today at his apartment and had a good talk. We’re not a close family, for whatever reasons, and she and I have pretty much gone our own ways in life, but this is a time when we pretty much focus on what we have in common, which is our father and and how his passing will affect us. I’ve been concerned for days that my father wouldn’t last long enough in the hospice for my sister to get here and have her chance to say goodbye, but thankfully, she was able to have her moment of closure as I did.
The possessions that were most precious to our father were his saxophones, and my sister’s had the wonderful idea of donating them to a charity program that helps provide music education to children who would otherwise be unable to get it. I think my father would have appreciated that very much indeed. It’s a fine legacy.
She’s also hoping to track down some tapes of my father’s radio days — which are hopefully salvageable from the clutter of his apartment — and donate them to an organization involved with preserving broadcasting history. Myron Bennett was an important name in the Cincinnati broadcasting and arts scene for over three decades, so his legacy should be preserved.
We also have to deal with the more mundane question of the disposition of his other belongings, and — to put it bluntly — who gets what. It feels wrong to be going through his stuff and taking it while he’s still breathing, even though for all intents and purposes he’s gone already. But we have to get his apartment cleared out within the next month, and this is when my sister’s in town, so we both agreed we should make those decisions now. And she’s the executor, so I guess she’d know. And at least it’s a way of keeping some of his stuff in the family. For myself, so far I’ve brought home his Marx Brothers DVD collection as well as The Muppet Movie and the Wallace & Gromit shorts, plus his copy of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (the book), which I’d been meaning to borrow anyway. I’ll probably bring home his DVD set of The Prisoner, his favorite show; I’ve been on the fence about whether it was important to me to have it, but it was important to him and I feel it should be kept. I’ve also appropriated a couple of more practical items, a paper shredder and a folding chair which I hope will be better than the old metal one I’ve been using. And I acquired his tiny MP3 player, though I’m not sure how well it works. I’ve been talking on this blog about how I’ve wanted a better MP3 player than the glitchy one included in my cell phone, but I’m not overjoyed to acquire this one under these circumstances. (And it sucks that I can’t call him up and ask him questions about how it works. It’ll take me a long time to get used to that absence.) I might bring home some other household items later. My sister’s taking some vintage Corningware and wooden candlesticks for nostalgia value, things we grew up with. I might want to pick out some things for sentimental value myself.
It’s already decided that I get the car; it’s been effectively my car for a couple of years already, and my father had been wanting me to take legal possession of it, and when he was in the hospital I decided I should get around to doing that soon, but I waited too long. And now it’ll have to be handled by his power-of-attorney. Hopefully we can get that sorted out soon.
One thing I’m not taking for myself is his huge high-definition flatscreen TV. It’s simply too big for my needs, and I gather those things are real electricity hogs, so it’d be an unwelcome addition to my electric bill (though his does have an EnergyStar logo, for whatever that’s worth). Besides, my sister had the marvelous idea of donating it to the retirement community where my father lived out the last…
Good grief, it’s only been eight months since he moved there. Oh, that’s sad. When he found the place and was finalizing the deal to move there, he was so enthusiastic about it, so pleased with it as a place to spend his waning years. But he waned so quickly after that. He was starting to get involved with the community and had tried putting together a set of sessions where people would get together and he’d guide them to listen to new kinds of music in new ways. He got really enthusiastic about that, and it was an extension of what he did in the local arts community for half of his life. But that barely got off the ground before his illness came on him. Well, at least he had a few final months in a place that made him comfortable. But it should’ve been much longer.
Just in case this has gotten too depressing, I should mention that, surprisingly enough, I’ve managed to have a very productive week on my novel. I’m not sure if it’s just because my looming deadline is forcing me to buckle down or if I’m embracing it as a distraction from what’s going on. But it feels like I’m finally picking up some momentum, and hopefully that will continue.
Sometimes, my local station is good enough to rerun really old episodes of The Simpsons rather than just the inferior product of recent years (well, mostly inferior; it’s actually improved this past year). Last night, they reran the classic “Lisa’s Wedding” episode from 1995, in which Lisa is shown a vision of her first great romance in the distant future of… 2010! In the episode, her wedding to Hugh (Mandy Patinkin, though I’ve always thought he sounded uncannily like Roger Rees) is supposed to take place on August 1, 2010, but the episode covers a fair span of time, so the airdate does fall within the timeframe of the episode. It might’ve been nice if they’d aired it closer to August 1, but it’s a nice tribute.
It’s kind of mindboggling that it now is 2010 and they’re still making Simpsons episodes in which Lisa is still eight years old. But it’s also interesting to see how 2010 was envisioned in the episode and compare it to the reality.
And… they got everything wrong. Well, maybe one thing: predicting that Jim Carrey would come to be regarded as a respected actor. And it did sort of correctly anticipate the increasing consolidation of cable networks under megacorporations, although there’s no CNNBCBS, a division of ABC, yet. And in the high-speed list of celebrities who were arrested, they correctly anticipated that “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” would stop using his unpronounceable symbol. And they were right that the Rolling Stones are still together, although they aren’t touring in 2010, according to Wikipedia. So I guess they got a few things almost right.
Otherwise, even granting that it was comedy and not trying to be accurate futurism, it’s intriguing what they failed to anticipate. Most notably, there are no cell phones! There are various futuristic phones in the episode, including videophones, but they’re all big boxes attached to the wall or a cord. And nobody uses the Internet; research is done purely in the library. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve come to take these things for granted.
What else didn’t come true? We still have real trees, and we don’t have good enough holograms to simulate them. We don’t have self-aware humanoid robots yet, but we’re getting close (and hopefully when we get there, we’ll avoid the design flaw that causes their heads to melt down when they cry). There has, fortunately, been no World War III in which the British saved America’s arse. FOX has not become a hardcore sex channel. Big Ben is still an analog clock. And we don’t yet have viable cryogenics.
And most of all, Bart and Lisa are still in grade school. What’s up with that anyway?
So it was nice to catch up on that episode after all these years, even with a lot hacked out. My favorite line was “Just try to look surprised.” I’m thinking about trying to work that into my DTI novel.
For weeks now I’ve been alluding to a “family medical situation,” keeping it vague for the sake of privacy. Things have reached the point that there’s no point hiding it anymore. My father, Myron Bennett, is in hospice care and is near the end of his life. I won’t go into the medical details, but he’s been quite ill for weeks now, and though I was keeping up my optimism about his chances for recovery, I think he accepted some time ago that the end was near. Several times over the past weeks, he’s said things to me that I never expected him to say, and I’ve realized that having me around, even intermittently, meant more to him than I knew. Even then, I sensed he was saying his goodbyes.
Today it was my turn. I went to visit him in the hospice. At first, I didn’t know what to do or say, since he hasn’t been fully conscious in days. My father has never been a demonstrative person, and our relationship has always been somewhat detached, mainly on a verbal and intellectual level. If he wasn’t lucid enough to converse, I wasn’t sure what I could accomplish there. So I said a few tentative words of reassurance and then had to leave the room. But I had a good long talk with a very kind hospice nurse, who’s surely been through this with a lot of people. She helped me think about what my father has done for me and meant to me despite the distance, and after a while I realized I needed to go say some things to him after all, in private this time.
I’m not sure how much he understood what I said, but I guess it was as much for me as for him. And he did show signs of awareness at times. Either way, I said my goodbyes and said what needed to be said — including things I wasn’t sure I’d be able to say until I was there in the room. I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to say them if it hadn’t been a monologue.
If anything, I’m a little embarrassed at how predictable I was, like a character in a story — first holding back from facing what needs to be faced, then having a meaningful conversation that gives me new perspective, then having the standard heartwarming dramatic monologue at the climax. But I guess there’s a reason stories are structured in certain recurring ways.
But it was a cathartic experience and a necessary one. Afterward I had another long talk with the nurse, and they brought me cookies and milk. Yesterday, when the family friend who’s handling my father’s affairs gave me the hospice address and I realized I’d have to go there and might need to do this, it sent a rush of panic through me. I wasn’t eager to do this. But at the end of it, I was feeling cleansed and comforted.
Of course I’m not happy to see my father passing on at only 77. That’s young by our family’s standards of longevity, and that’s a sad thing. But I think it’s something he’s been ready for, something he accepted a while ago. He’s lived his life and accomplished his goals to his satisfaction. He’s seen me and my sister accomplish our goals, to his greater satisfaction. He’s completed his business in life and wouldn’t want to linger. And that helps me to be philosophical about it. Though I have no idea how hard it may hit me once he’s actually gone.
They gave me a blueberry muffin too. I think I need to go have that now.
I’ve been too busy this week to pay much attention to the blog. I’ve finally started to recover some lost momentum on DTI, but the family medical situation has been a preoccupation as well. I thought things were finally getting better, but now a serious new problem has arisen. I’ve learned something about the cause of the family member’s medical problems that’s reassuring in one sense, worrying in another.
And yet I have to focus on writing DTI because I’m five weeks from deadline. I don’t really have the luxury to devote too much of my time to this. Luckily a family friend is doing the heavy lifting. I suppose maybe it’s a blessing having the distraction of the novel, but still, it’s hard to make myself focus on it.
On top of everything else, I’m having a recurrence of a medical issue of my own, twinges of nerve pain that I’m feeling in my tooth, though it’s not a dental issue. My neurologist recommended a standard drug treatment, but the drug has side effects that concern me, such as dependency issues that make it hard to withdraw from (awkward given that the pain is only intermittent) and the risk of inducing suicidal feelings (which really scares me — I’d rather have the physical pain than feel that kind of despair). And I’m still not convinced of the diagnosis, so I’m reluctant to chance it yet. I think the nerve irritation may be caused by a nervous tic I have, and I’m hoping that if I can manage to overcome that and relax more, the problem might go away on its own. Probably wishful thinking, I know. But for now, the pain is manageable; it’s only in the past few days that it’s gone beyond mild twinges, and so far it hasn’t been as bad as it was in the first two major bouts. Or maybe I’m just getting desensitized to it. In any case, I just don’t have the time or the money to deal with it right now.
But the good news is, I’m making progress on DTI. I’m finally getting into some of that worldbuilding I’ve always wanted to do with a particular Trek species. And I’m working on a section of the book that features guest appearances by some familiar faces from a series I’ve written for before, plus the return of an alien civilization I created in an earlier book. I also jumped ahead a bit and did a chapter that introduced two original characters who will be major players in the story; one of them belongs to a familiar organization. And I went to far more trouble than I needed to in order to construct an alien planet’s calendar for a couple of date references. Best of all, I got to use the word “amaranthine.”
Let’s see, what’s on TV? Eureka‘s new season arc looks promising so far. I’m not crazy about all the changes, but several have potential, and it’s great to have Ty Olsson back as Andy. James Callis is working out okay so far, but his American accent is highly unconvincing. As for Haven, the new Stephen King-ish show that follows it, I find it a take-or-leave show, something I’d watch if nothing else were on but have no burning interest in following. Warehouse 13‘s new season so far is about like the last — it has some appeal and entertainment value, mainly where the cast is concerned, but ultimately is too conceptually cluttered and awkward and gratuitously weird. Over on USA, I’m glad White Collar is back, and it seems to be working as well as before, though it’s only been one episode so far. I like the new Covert Affairs so far; it’s going for sort of an Alias-ish thing, a hot young spy balancing spy work and personal life, but less dark and angsty and mystical. I like Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham as the leads, which is surprising since I really didn’t care for Gorham in Jake 2.0. I’m not engaged by the subplots of CIA politics and the mystery arc about the lead character’s ex-boyfriend.
And I’m really liking Flashpoint, and not just because Amy Jo Johnson and Enrico Colantoni are in it. I love its attitude. It’s nominally an action show, but it’s got a lot of heart, and though the team is heavily armed and rather military in its operation, their policy is to find nonviolent solutions whenever possible, to solve crises by understanding the people involved and talking them down. With one exception, when the bad guys have been killed rather than convinced to surrender peacefully, it’s been treated as a tragedy and a failure and the team have been shown dealing with the emotional consequences of the loss of life. I’m loving this, an action show that doesn’t glorify violence and gunplay, that doesn’t trivialize death, but is more about smart, compassionate people solving problems on a human level, even while it’s also about using cutting-edge technology and tactics to solve problems.
Remember when I said last time that I was posting from an empty salon at the hotel? Well, after I was done posting, I packed up my stuff and headed out, noticing in passing that my backpack seemed lighter somehow. A few minutes later, it occurred to me to check my bag, and I discovered I’d left my laptop in the salon!! Aaaaaa!!!!! So I dashed back there and was relieved to find it untouched. Whew. I’m not usually this forgetful. (Not these days. A couple of times, when I was a kid, I left my stuff in hotel or motel room drawers when the family left. Since then, I’ve been in the habit of never putting anything of mine in drawers at a hotel. So I usually don’t lose things anymore.)
Anyway, after the con, I rode back on the Light Rail with Allyn Gibson. He showed me the building where he works, home of Diamond, the company that pretty much has a monopoly on comic-book distribution these days. We also passed by a building on fire, with firefighters dousing it, but there seemed to be a few flames in the surrounding trees. I hope that didn’t spread.
The Light Rail was still under construction, so I had to get off early and take the shuttle bus the rest of the way into town. I got off in the area I’m most familiar with from previous years and went looking for a place to get dinner. The Subway was closed, it being Sunday evening, but I found the McDonald’s was open. Although their dining room wasn’t, so it was carry-out only. Which meant I had to carry the bag all the way to the Greyhound station before I could sit down and eat. Luckily the 27 bus to the station came just as I got to the bus stop, so my chicken sandwich was still reasonably warm and my smoothie reasonably cold when I got around to eating them.
Then I had two hours to wait for the bus, and I wanted to do some writing, but I just couldn’t focus. Maybe if I’d had a scene in progress it would’ve been easier, but I’m at the start of a chapter so I guess there’s some inertia there. Also, after what happened with my laptop before, I was too afraid to take it out of my backpack lest I forget to put it back in again. So I just read until the bus came.
As usual, I didn’t get any real sleep on the trip, although I did drowse off enough to miss some gaps in time (for instance, one moment we’d be at a rest stop with 10 minutes left, then I’d close my eyes for a moment and open them to discover we were on the road again). Still, the seat was very uncomfortable. Basically, it was a long, tedious trip, longer than I would’ve liked since the bus back from Columbus stopped over in Dayton before moving on to Cincinnati.
But I’m home now. First thing I did was to shower, then I had some lunch while watching the shows I taped over the weekend. I’m glad the VCR worked; most of the shows I missed are being repeated tomorrow or elsewhen in the week, but if the VCR had failed I would’ve missed Flashpoint (unless it’s on Hulu or something).
I guess I’m glad to be home and all, but I wish I had more opportunities to get together with my friends and colleagues. At the authors’ breakfast, Marco suggested that I should consider joining that Facebook thing; I guess maybe I should look into it. Not quite the same, though.
Although I really should catch up on my sleep before tackling much of anything else.
Not to worry — I repaid Allyn and Mike as soon as I saw them at breakfast. I just had a bowl of cereal and a banana, basically, since I haven’t had an ordinary breakfast in a couple of days, but I had it with some strawberries, a muffin, and a couple of sausage links, something I usually don’t eat but indulge in when I’m here.
I did most of my packing last night and got out of my room between breakfast and the 10 AM time travel panel. Checkout’s at noon, and I wanted to attend an 11 AM panel, so that left getting checked out before 10. So I’ve been carrying my backpack around all day, and somehow it feels lighter than it did on Friday, even though by rights it should be a bit heavier. Maybe I have more energy or more practice now.
Anyway, the time travel panel was better attended than I expected for 10 AM on Sunday, at least on the audience end. A. C. Crispin was a no-show as a panel member, and Howie Weinstein had another commitment, so it was just me, Greg Cox, and David Mack. So I talked about DTI and they talked mainly about their novel sequels to The 4400, which was a nice bonus. I’d forgotten that show even involved time travel, since they shifted emphasis so much to the present-day social/political stuff in later seasons. The audience was engaged and active, and I got to do some of the scientific discussion I was hoping to do. I’m surprised that nobody asked about the new movie’s temporal theory, or about the Temporal Cold War. But panel audiences often take things in unexpected directions.
Our panel segued neatly into the 4400 panel run at 11 by Dave, Greg, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore, all four authors of 4400 tie-in fiction. It went pretty well, and I picked up copies of the last two books courtesy of the authors. Then I needed to get a quick lunch, since I had a panel at 1 and didn’t have time to go across to the mall. So I shelled out 6 bucks for a hamburger at the downstairs concession the hotel sets up. I don’t usually eat ground beef, but like the sausage, a once-in-a-while indulgence is okay. And it was actually a pretty decent burger. I ate it while hanging out at the Borders Books table and shooting the breeze with its operators, Russ and Cindy (I think that’s her name, apologies if I got it wrong). Then came the Myriad Universes panel with myself, Marco, Keith DeCandido, and Scott Pearson. I mainly talked about Places of Exile, my contribution to the series, but this turned out to be the panel where the audience wanted to hear about the Abrams movie and my experiences writing a tie-in to that, working in an alternate timeline. Even though it’s a tie-in that may never be published.
That was the last panel I was on, but I attended a panel on original-to-book tie-in series run by Michael Jan Friedman (Stargazer), Peter David (New Frontier), Dave Mack (Vanguard), and Kirsten Beyer (post-finale Voyager). Although it turned out to be mainly Dave and Kirsten talking about pitching to Voyager and Peter telling his Imzadi story.
Since then it’s been saying my farewells to people, and now I’m sitting in an empty salon catching up on my Internet stuff. My bus leaves at 9:40ish tonight, so I’ve got plenty of time to pass.
All in all, it’s been fun. Quieter than I’d hoped, since Pocket had no new books out this month, but it was nice seeing the gang again and doing panels and so on. And it was nice getting away from the family medical stuff for a few days.
I woke up this morning to find my lost Greyhound ticket shoved under my door. Apparently the hotel staff found it after I called lost & found (or so I assume, since I haven’t been out of my room yet). I’m grateful to them for finding it.
I’m also grateful to Allyn Gibson and Mike Barr, both of whom chipped in a few bucks to help me pay for a new ticket. I’ll be returning their money as soon as I see them. I’m gratified that my friends and colleagues were so ready to help me out, but I’m also glad I won’t need to impose on their generosity.
It’s just about time to go down to the authors’ breakfast. Then I have my time travel panel at 10 and a Myriad Universes panel at 1. I’m glad I’ll be able to enjoy them without ticket problems weighing on my mind.
I’m disappointed that what with one thing and another, I haven’t gotten any writing done on this trip. The past couple of years, I’ve gotten some significant work done while travelling. However, I made some significant progress working out the next chapter in my head while lying in bed not sleeping this morning. (I’ve always used time in bed as quiet time for thinking, which is probably why I’m such an insomniac — for me, going to bed is a trigger to start thinking, not stop.) Hopefully I can get some work done on it tonight while waiting for the bus which I now have a ticket for again.
I’ve spent the past hour exhaustively searching my hotel room, calling lost and found, etc. What I’ve lost is my Greyhound ticket. For the life of me I can’t remember when I had it last, but I must have lost it before I reached the hotel room, so it could be anywhere.
I called Greyhound to ask if they could print a new copy of the ticket if I gave them the reference number, but instead I got a condescending spiel about my responsibility to hold onto the ticket. I guess a ticket can be considered a form of currency, so maybe the lady had a point, but she could’ve been kinder about it.
I guess I have no choice but to spend another 72 bucks to replace the ticket. Unless I can find someone who’s driving to the vicinity of Cincinnati and can bum a ride.
And to think — my biggest concern this morning was that the sole of my sneaker was falling apart. I tried tearing off the loose flap and tore off so much that the shoe was wobbly to walk on. I brought along my dress shoes just in case, but they aren’t comfortable for long use. Thanks to Howard Weinstein for suggesting I ask at one of the model-ship tables for superglue. I was thinking of something along those lines, which was why I was in the dealer area, but I was thinking too narrowly in terms of clothing repair materials.
It’s been a full day of panels, though I was only on one of them, the Pocket Books Preview panel, along with Marco Palmieri, Scott Pearson, Dayton Ward, and Peter David. I got to talk a bit about DTI along with the others talking about their upcoming books and novellas. Then I went over to Panera for lunch, just by myself. I had a Mediterranean veggie half-sandwich and chicken noodle soup, which were pretty good. I got back in time to see most of a panel on the future of Voyager fiction featuring Kirsten Beyer (whose adorable baby I got to meet today) and Marco. Then I sat in on the Vanguard panel with Marco, Dayton, Kevin Dilmore, and David Mack; the Typhon Pact panel with Dave, Dayton, Marco, and Keith DeCandido; and finally a panel on the Merlin TV series and Arthurian lore in general with Marco, Mike Barr, Terri Osborne, and Allyn Gibson. Marco sure is getting around this year considering that he’s no longer the Trek editor.
For dinner, I wanted something simple and light, so I got a turkey sandwich and fruit salad from the hotel cafe. It was expensive, but it was surprisingly good. I forgot to get any mayo or mustard or anything for the sandwich, but the turkey was moist and the tomato was juicy, so I didn’t need anything.
And then I started searching for my ticket and found myself in my current mess. Oh, boy.
Let’s see, I last posted yesterday afternoon, right? Well, by the time I got out of my room to look for dinner, most everyone else had apparently gone off already or was busy with other stuff. I did run into Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore at the Dealers’ Room, and we chatted a bit and got geeky over the goods. I expressed a vain hope that there might be action figures of Lucsly & Dulmur, which might’ve been cool props to have for the Time Travel panel tomorrow morning, but apparently they’re among the only Star Trek characters never to have been immortalized in plastic. Even the folks who used to do custom action figures couldn’t help. Well, I couldn’t have afforded it anyway.
But I ended up going to dinner on my own, since Dayton & Kevin had other plans (they were participants in the roast of Michael Jan Friedman, which I sat out since it’s not my style of humor; I went to the roast of Keith DeCandido last year, and once was enough for me). I was in the mood for pizza, so I tried going to the California Pizza Kitchen, where several colleagues took me to lunch last year, but it was jampacked. So I went looking for somewhere else to eat in the mall, and I discovered another pizza establishment, Carmine’s New York Pizzeria, which seemed to live up to the name, being set up roughly like the various pizza places I’ve visited in Manhattan. They had a good variety of different specialty pizzas. I was planning on getting a single slice of vegetarian pizza, but I was enticed by a chicken florentine pizza in rosé sauce. Which was pretty good, but I underestimated two things: 1) how big the single slice was — I’ve had entire personal-size pizzas that were smaller — and 2) how rich rosé sauce is. Apparently it’s a mix of tomato sauce and cream, or something dairy, and it was rather heavy. So it turned out being a bigger, richer meal than I’d intended. It’s good it was a substantial walk from the hotel, so I got to burn off a few of those calories.
Then I just hung out in my room until it was time to go down to Meet the Pros. I watched half an episode of Flashpoint, so that if my cheap old VCR failed to record the two consecutive episodes last night, at least I wouldn’t have completely missed them both. But I decided I’d better head down early enough to set up the pile of books I was going to have on sale.
Turns out I needn’t have bothered. Trying to sell my Trek books at Shore Leave was like bringing coals to Newcastle. Everyone who would’ve bought them already had them. I brought 22 mass-market paperbacks and 6 trade paperbacks, and at the end of the night I’d sold one copy each of Star Trek: Ex Machina and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder (which I sold once I assured the buyer that it was set pre-One More Day). At first I figured it was because I’m a lousy salesman, but then it turned out that Keith DeCandido, whose gift for patter impresses me, didn’t sell much more of his stuff. I think it was a slow night overall, less busy than past Meet the Pros events. Perhaps it’s because there was no new Trek book debuting this month. If the Abramsverse books had come out on schedule, then Seek a Newer World would’ve still been new and attracting attention, and Dave Mack’s More Beautiful Than Death might’ve been debuting at the con.
I was also hoping the Borders people would’ve managed to get some back issues of the Analog containing “The Hub of the Matter,” but no such luck. Maybe I should’ve just bought some extra copies myself at author rates and sold them at my table, but if they hadn’t sold, I wouldn’t have made up the overhead, and I can’t afford to take that kind of loss right now.
Still, it went okay as a social event. I got to talk to some fans (though fewer than usual) and touch base with a number of my colleagues, including Mike Barr, Keith, Greg Cox, Bob Greenberger, and mainly Kirsten Beyer, whom I was glad to see again after she had to miss last year’s event due to maternity leave.
On the downside, my shoes are falling apart. I knew I should’ve bought new ones before the con, but again, I’m in penny-pinching mode lately. A big flap of the bottom sole of my right sneaker came loose from all the walking I’ve done and was flopping around all evening. I tried tearing off the loose flap this morning and tore off too much, and now the bottom of the shoe is uneven and I hesitate to walk around in it lest I hurt my ankle or knee. I brought my only other viable pair of shoes, my dress shoes, as an emergency backup, so I guess I’ll try them, though I’m not sure how much walking around I can comfortably do in them. I might decide to buy a new pair of shoes at the mall here, but breaking in a new pair of sneakers would probably be more uncomfortable than using either of the pairs I have with me. And if I buy a pair of shoes in Baltimore and then find out back in Cincinnati that I need to return them for some reason, I’d be out of luck.
As usual, for my Saturday room-service breakfast I had the french toast coated in corn flakes and served with strawberry and banana slices. As well as the usual orange juice, I used the coffee-and-tea kit in the room to brew a cup of English Breakfast tea, and found that two packets of sweetener was more than I needed.
And then I went online and started writing in my blog. And then I wrote a paragraph saying that I went online and started writing in my blog. And then I… aaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!! Recursive loop!
Well, I made it. The Greyhound ride was largely uneventful. We were stuck in a traffic jam at first, taking over 40 minutes to cover a distance I can generally drive in maybe four minutes. It would’ve been quicker to go by the non-freeway route. But I had an hour layover in Columbus, so no sooner did I get in line for the new bus that they started boarding — perfect timing, no waiting. After that, it went smoothly, except I only got an hour or so of sleep. I closed my eyes for what seemed like a few minutes, but when I opened them, over an hour had passed. I hoped that was a good sign that I’d get more sleep, but at Pittsburgh I changed buses again and the new one had more cramped and uncomfortable seats than either of the others. Anyway, I spent an hour in the Pittsburgh terminal with the TV going, as a result of which I know more than I ever wanted to know about some guy named LeBron James.
I tried listening to music on my phone during the traffic jam, and it worked for a little while, but then the audio started jumping back and forth from the headphones to the speaker, so I turned it off so as not to disturb the other passengers (and because it wasn’t fun to listen to that way).
I got in about 7 AM and had an oatmeal bar and a cup of apples and cream as a makeshift breakfast. Then, since fellow attendee and Baltimore resident Allyn Gibson (also an occasional commenter on this blog) had informed me of Light Rail construction, I took the #27 further north than I have in the past, to where the Light Rail started again at the Cultural Center. From there it was about 40 minutes up to Hunt Valley, where it occurred to me to go to the nearby shopping mall and find someplace to get a real breakfast. Panera offered a parfait with maple butter granola, fresh strawberries, and vanilla yogurt, which was very good. I had it with iced tea to help compensate for my fatigue, but Panera’s iced tea is way too bitter for my tastes. Maybe I should’ve taken Alton Brown’s advice from a recent Good Eats episode and put in some salt, which apparently blocks the perception of bitterness, as well as sugar, which merely competes with it.
So then I went to the hotel, aware that I’d neglected to ask for early check-in but hoping a room would be available nonetheless. It wasn’t. So I just hung around for a while. Eventually Mike W. Barr showed up and invited me to lunch. He drove me to a Chik-Fil-A in the general neighborhood (actually a pretty fair schlep). I’ve never eaten at that chain before. I tried a chicken salad sandwich and a carrot-and-raisin salad, and it turned out to be pretty good, though the sandwich could’ve used tomato. Then it was more waiting around and wandering the convention floor. While going up the escalator, I noticed convention guest Edward James Olmos descending the other one. I’m not usually the type to get fannish around actor guests, and am generally too shy to speak to them at all, but having recently seen Blade Runner: The Final Cut four times (since there were three commentary tracks on the disk), I did experience a momentary temptation to call out, “It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?” I think I also saw Dominic Keating walk by in the hallway, but it might’ve been his Mirror Universe duplicate, since he had a goatee.
Eventually other author guests started to show up — Bob Greenberger, Michael Jan Friedman (who sounded trepidacious about being roasted tonight), and finally the bunch who usually drive in together, Keith R. A. DeCandido, David Mack, and Marco Palmieri, whom I only got to speak to briefly before my room was finally ready.
So here I am, in my room and on wi-fi. I should really take a shower and a nap, but I guess I’ll do some of my usual websurfing first.
I’m in the midst of final preparations for Shore Leave now. My family member who’s in the hospital will probably be getting discharged while I’m out of town, but everything’s been arranged and is in good hands, and I’m always reachable by cell phone. On the one hand, it’ll be a relief to get away from the situation for a few days, knowing that it’s not at major crisis level anymore, but on the other hand, I expect I’ll spend the whole trip worrying that something will go wrong and I’ll have to come home early. Though I guess I shouldn’t worry. I’m concerned because last year I came home from Shore Leave to find a message on my answering machine claiming that the same family member had had a heart attack. It turned out to be simply a bruised rib instead, but I hadn’t been reachable at a key moment because various people didn’t have my cell number. Now, though, I’m easily reachable, other people besides me have authority to make decisions, and my family member is recovering and under constant care.
So now I should just try to set that aside and enjoy the convention. I’m mostly packed already; I took care of a lot of it last night just in case the release from the hospital was today (which it isn’t). I’ve just updated all my important files onto my laptop and gone online with it to get my antivirus files current, and I’m posting this from the laptop now. Let’s see, really the laptop and its power cord may be the only things I have left to pack. This is my sixth Shore Leave and, let’s see, maybe my tenth convention, so I’ve kind of gotten it down to a science by now.
Still, spending twelve and a half hours on an overnight bus trip is no fun. I wish my car’s mileage were good enough and gas prices low enough that it were cheaper to drive. I’ve gotten enough experience with long-ish drives by now that I think I could handle that — maybe four hours tonight including rest breaks, then stop at a motel for the night, then another five or six hours the next day.
Well, on the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to use the time for reading or writing. And I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately anyway due to the humidity and all the stuff on my mind. I’m feeling rather fatigued right now, and I’m hoping I’ll be sufficiently worn out to get a halfway decent amount of sleep on the bus.
Which reminds me — I mustn’t forget to pack my travel pillow! Thanks for reminding me, blog post!
There, it’s done. You know, I thought there was a void in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure what was missing.
Well, I leave for the bus terminal in a little over an hour. And I have a bit of work I want to get done on DTI before I go. So I’ll sign off for now.
On to Baltimore!
Back in “Pictures from my phone,” I said,
Don’t expect me to post any Shore Leave photos until after the convention, though, since my laptop is relatively old and doesn’t have a port for the SD card adaptor. At this point, I can only copy between my phone and my (now-repaired) desktop PC.
Well, after writing that, it occurred to me that maybe there were adaptors between a microSD card and a USB port of the sort I do have on my laptop. So I found one and I bought it. Maybe I spent a bit more than I had to, since it came along with an SD card adaptor of the type I already have, but I guess a little redundancy doesn’t hurt in case I lose an adaptor. Anyway, the microSD/USB adaptor is this really tiny thing, barely big enough to hold the card and plug into a USB port. It looks a little like a miniature plastic whistle. To make sure I wouldn’t lose it, I attached it to the same lanyard as my USB flash drive, although I had to swipe the little metal ring from an older, smaller flash drive and put it into the teensy hole on the adaptor.
Now, this isn’t a guarantee that I will be posting Shore Leave photos during the convention. I’m not really a big photo-taking guy in the first place, unless there are cats involved. But if I should have reason to do so, now I can. And maybe the convenience of having a camera in my phone will make me more likely to take photos. As for uploading videos, it looks like I wouldn’t be able to do that unless I paid WordPress an extra fee, which is a luxury I can’t afford right now.
As for the other reason I got the microSD card, so I could copy music onto my phone, that’s not turning out so well. It seems the LG CF360 phone has a widespread problem with its music player, a tendency to freeze up completely, with the only way to unfreeze it being to eject the microSD card (something you’re not supposed to do with the phone on for fear of damaging it, but there’s no choice when the phone freezes). Sometimes it plays fine, sometimes it freezes up several times in a row. I guess I’ll have to decide whether to take my chances with the phone or to bring my CD player along as usual. If nothing else, I’ve just used the SD/USB adaptor to copy all my uploaded music so far onto my laptop, which I will be bringing with me (although it woudn’t be practical to listen to music on an open laptop while I’m on a long bus trip).
A few posts ago, I said that I’d probably be able to make it to Shore Leave 32, provided the medical situation involving a family member didn’t take a turn for the worse. That hasn’t changed; to all indications, the worst is past and I’ll be able to attend the con.
So here’s my tentative schedule of events and panels for Shore Leave:
Friday, July 9
10 PM-12 AM, Hunt Valley hallway: Meet the Pros (author signing event). I have no new book to sign this year, but I plan to have copies of my old books available for sale at my table, and I’m hoping the Waldenbooks people will have some copies of the Analog issue containing my story “The Hub of the Matter.”
Saturday, July 10
1 PM, Salon A: Pocket Books Preview. Marco Palmieri, Scott Pearson, Dayton Ward, and I will discuss the upcoming Trek novel schedule for the remainder of 2010 and 2011. There’s no official Pocket editorial presence this year, since editor Jaime Costas is on maternity leave, so a few of us who have books on next year’s schedule are putting together our own presentation. (Marco was the Pocket Trek editor until a couple of years ago; now he’s on the panel as an author in the upcoming Vanguard: Declassified anthology and as a contributor to the Star Trek Magazine issue that contained the official schedule announcement.)
Sunday, July 11
10 AM, Chase: Time Travel Gives Me a Headache! Time Travel in Trek. This is where I’ll plug my upcoming Department of Temporal Investigations novel Watching the Clock, but I’ll be joined by other novelists with Trek time-travel tales under their belts, including A. C. Crispin (Yesterday’s Son/Time for Yesterday), Greg Cox (Assignment: Eternity), and David Mack (Destiny).
1 PM, Salon E: Star Trek: Myriad Universes. Keith R. A. DeCandido, Scott Pearson, Marco Palmieri, and I will discuss our contributions to this alternate-history anthology series.
Plus I’ll generally be hanging around the convention for most of the weekend, attending various other panels and so forth.
The full (if tentative) convention schedule is available here: http://www.shore-leave.com/info/news.htm