July 7th, 2015


The Morning After

First day back at work after the long weekend. Got my machine back, ran a test (it passed), and updated to the latest software. Instead of going out for lunch at 1, I had some noodles in the break room at noon, where most of the team eats daily, some while playing pool. It was boring. And I didn't get a chance to read. But that means picking another book on the Kindle app because I finished the one I was reading all week.

Mini review:
The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda Book 1) by Richard Phillips
The plot is simple. Two alien spacecraft shoot each other down over Los Alamos. One has been in the hands of the lab for a decade, the project under the direction of a megalomaniacal evil genius.  The other is just now discovered by accident by some high school kids. This second ship has been hidden by a camouflage field, which is why the lab did not know about it. The kids don't report it, because it is making them into Something More™.

It's a long read, regardless of how many pages. The author is fond of the "tie the beautiful heroine to the railroad tracks" school of adventure writing. Way too many reverses of fortune in the too-many fights. The writing is not awful. Once in a while there is a phrase or slang word out of place. While this is definitely sci-fi, the author makes no effort to tie the miracles of the space ship technologies to believable science. It's magic to the readers.

I give it 2 stars. Would have been 3 if the ending had not been so abrupt, with way too many loose ends left hanging. Of course there are sequels. Which I will not be buying.

The eye is not better. It may even be a little worse. Or else I am noticing more artifacts, now that I am using it actively. There are Moiré patterns at the edges when I am not looking directly at them. With both eyes open, there is what looks like an ocean wave shadow below my right eye's vision. Further research says I will probably be stuck with this, if not worse. :-(

Put out a feeler to porch.com, looking for someone to replace the glass in two of my windows. I checked the "email only" box. Almost immediately I get a phone call. Juan says he can do it, and when I told him I have a day job and won't be home till 6:30, he suggests to make it 7. By 7:30 he has not arrived or called or emailed. I phone, and there are screaming children. I tell him let's not do this tonight. He said he would email me a ballpark estimate within half an hour. Nothing. So, he's not getting the job. And then there is a voicemail message from someone else saying he doesn't do windows. So why call, asshole?

Porch has not impressed me. I think I'll stick to the ads in the neighborhood magazine.

Delivered to work was a new cable modem, so while I was waiting for Juan to not show up, I pulled the combo modem/router, and activated the new modem. 7 minutes on Comcast. Then hooked up the router, and took about an hour to tweak it so the webcams worked. It's a lot more complicated than it sounds. The only holdout now is the Tivo in the bedroom, which uses the plug-in network adapter, and I will probably have to reset the box to get that working.

Dinner pickings were lean = beef pot pie vs DeGiornio mini pizza.

Plans for tomorrow:


Westercon 68 Stuff

Town & Country Resort is a beautiful setting, with about two or three times the space the con needed. I think the room assignments were very well thought out, as far as size and location go. My only gripe is the resort's signage is horrible, and the con's efforts to add their own was minimal. But to their credit more letter sized pages popped up during the week to help. But by then most fans had figured out the map.

The con chair said there was supposed to be kiosk signage, but the sign maker missed the deadlines.

I didn't see any conops security. Nobody was checking badges, that I could see, at any of the rooms.

Registration was way slow. Badges were ugly, and everyone's name was FULL WEEKEND. Except for the lucky few who were not pre-paid, and were handed a pen and a blank badge to write on.

At the feedback session, it was made clear that the con was nowhere near staffed up to what was needed.

There was a lot of kudos awarded to the a/v crew, and while they worked very hard, the one place it was critical, the Masquerade, they sucked. I say that as a professional A/V tech. 

Another FAIL was the masquerade stage design. Contestants had to climb up to the stage from what appeared to be ground level, at the center, from behind a curtain, with no lighting. Exit was stage right down a couple of steps, after being called stage right.

A big WIN was Tadao as the Masq MC - he needed all his skills to pad for the messed up tech and not-ready contestants.

The programming was deep and wide. It would have been nice to have had a grid more than a few days in advance. If it was there earlier, I missed it, because clicking on the web page's Programming tab brought up a blank sheet. Later I discovered that each tab was a drop-down menu. Not intuitive, that.

What I saw of ConChord was well run, but very sparse. OTOH, there was a lot of talent in the small field of performers.

I enjoyed the con, despite having to take most of Friday off for a medical issue. Had it not been the 4th of July holiday, I probably would only have missed an hour or two.

And then there was the hook which got me there - Spider Robinson. He had a rough year, and backed out of the con early in the year. I am still angry that no other Legend of Science Fiction was arranged to be replacement GoH. They kept Spider on the posters and flyers and ads right through the con. I definitely felt cheated on that score. It was nice to see David Brin on some panels, but one would think that with ComiCon coming the following week and all the legends who live in the area, someone could have been found.

As was pointed out at feedback, most of these woes can be blamed on not enough volunteers. And ComiCon can be blamed for siphoning off a lot of those. But then, why bid a con that close to the biggest commercial crossover event in the country?

I see this kind of thing in my theater work. Some companies hold auditions for the whole year, months before the first rehearsals start. It's not all that rare for people to lose jobs, move, get sick, or even die between the time they signed up and the time of the event. Spider is an example.

Excrement occurs. Bottom line is the con staff handled it as best as they could, which was a lot better than many would have done.

As I said, I enjoyed myself. And as they say at BASFA, worth Senior Matiné price. :-)