August 21st, 2011

Both Ends + Middle

Really Late (for me)

Staring this at 1:35 am. Today was my first con day of not taking the Reno bus, though I should have done so for dinner. 20-20.

SF Physics Myths, with Gregory Benford, Joe Haldeman, Mike Flynn, Alistair Reynolds (whose Hugo-nominated novelette I just finished) and a young woman with a brand new PhD in particle physics were the panel. You would think they would be given one of the huge rooms, but no. Pretty good content.

Next hour I went to Return of the Killer B's, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin. Again, too small a room for three powerhouses of sci-fi. I only stayed long enough to snap a couple of pictures, because it was also time for another Meet The Artists in the art show, and I actually got to talk to some fans. Many remarked at how few photos were in the show. Most of the photographers went for selling numbered prints. I'm not in this for the $$, and it's a PIA to print and matte mount a bunch of photos (and I was traveling light). Missed a reading by John Scalzi, which should not have been in the same space as the killer B's.

From there to the Unwoman's second concert, having missed the first I needed to go to this one. She is amazingly hot, and I love watching her play the cello. She is capable of serious classical music on that instrument, and she has a solid, beautiful voice, but the songs she writes don't take full advantage of that. Hopefully she will grow some more complexity into her songs. Missed Designing Believable Languages and I Was There: A-bomb Tests also in that slot.

Decided to skip the next three hours of panels to hang out in the fanzine lounge and go over to the hotel and get some lunch. BTW, I was wearing scrubs, a lab coat and phony nerd glasses all day. Got a lot of comments on the "Dr. howeird: Terminal Caseworker" monogram.

Back for a reading by David Brin, another too-small room. Half an hour did not do him justice either. He read a chapter from his next book, which is already at the publisher's, though probably not in its final form. I'll be buying this one - it's his first original sci-fi in a long time.

Took a peek at Microbial Madness: How I Made Money Off Biowarfare, but bailed quickly as the speaker was presenting at a Jr. High level. Across the hall was Home Recording II, with a panel of professional grade filkers, only one of whom had any real technical background. They all had done home studio recordings, and the moderator tried real hard to bring them into the conversation, but he really was the only one who knew what he was talking about. I did learn about a better piece of free audio software than what I have been using, and the moderator threw out a neat suggestion on how to enhance a cardioid mike with a figure 8 mike, and also some hints on overhead and tube mikes.

Next, Ellen Klages read a short story which is in a new anthology, one which twists the knife twice in an unexpected way. I don't think the first twist would happen IRL, and don't buy the science behind the second twist, but I love her writing, and I think it's a story to take seriously.

That ended at 5:30, and I had nothing on the agenda until 10, so I hopped on the shuttle to the Peppermill, and after almost an hour of going in circles trying to find a particular restaurant there (signage for restaurants in both casinos sucks) I found the Italian place. They said there was an hour's wait, unless I sat in the lounge, so I said okay, take me there. On the way we passed half a dozen empty tables which were not set up for customers except for being clean. The lounge was a dark hole in the back of the place, great for an alcoholic who needs a place to hide, but no thanks. Finally ended back at the cafe where I had the banana split last night, after a 10-minute wait. Huge portions. I finished the bowl of clam chowder, which was excellent except for the bits of shell, then moved on to the chicken fried steak (which they called Southern Fried steak). There were two full-sized pieces. Mashed potatoes were lumpy. Veggies not so bad, except for being 40% broccoli. Mud pie for dessert was weird, hard chocolate shell around it, not the Oreo crust promised in the menu. Huge piece, I finished about 3/4 of it. 

 My cell phone battery was almost dead. I have been carrying a spare around all week, and changed it out whenever, but had forgotten to transfer it to my scrubs. It was still way early for the 10 pm Match game SF show, so I took the shuttle back to my hotel, swapped batteries, and went back to Peppermill with plenty of time to spare. And then some because the Match game could not start until the Hugo awards were done, and the Hugos were running about an hour late.

Dr. Ellie found me and sat next to me through the game, and it was a lot of fun, as usual.

In other news, I was able to add an Amtrak reservation which will get me back to SJ from Emeryville no matter how late the Reno train arrives. Took four tries, Amtrak's reservation system was offline in the morning, and I see it is down again right now. So is the train status lookup, so I can't tell you how late it was today, or what they are predicting for tomorrow. Anyhow, with that done, I was able to cancel my $400 last-minute plane ticket for a full refund (paid the premium just in case, glad I did).

Just now was planning on noshing on grapes and/or lychees I had in the fridge since arrival, but both have gone moldy. :-(

Plans for tomorrow:
Morning: try for a late checkout
10 am pick up my photos (none of them sold)
11 am standard check-out time
11:30 Try to go to figmo's concert
Noon try to go to Moira Greyland's concert
It all depends on Amtrak departure times, because I need to be there an hour before pay for the EMY-SJC leg and to check my bags.
Home by midnight, maybe.
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