Year Winding Down

We’re about two weeks out, and at 36″+,  just a little under eight inches shy on precipitation compared to annual normal. Of course, the tree abutting the deck has put on some bulk in the last couple of years, and it’s entirely possible that the current siting of my rain gauge is in tree shadow part of the time. I’m thinking of re-siting it (or even getting a more comprehensive weather thing) in the next year. But that’s a project for another day (month?).

But this year certainly has flown by.

*      *      *

If you saw what I was working on last week, you’ll be pleased to know that I got the sump pit monitor (incorporating a Raspberry Pi, an HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor, and code courtesy of Al Audet) functioning and in place yesterday. The most recent output: “21:06:05,8.0” – That’s eight centimeters of water above pit low. Eventually I’ll graph some of the data, but right now I’m just happy that it’ll send me a text if the water gets too high. There ware a couple of gotchas in the distributed code that I’ll want to document and get back into the public code base – mostly just comments that need to be in the raspisump.conf file to ensure that configuration items are done properly so that people don’t make the same mistakes I made.

*      *      *

I also got some coffee roasted, applied polish and elbow grease to my dress shoes, had a couple of good days on the elliptical, and finished up the monthly patch cycle of a batch of $FIRM systems (late Saturday night and early Sunday morning). What am I forgetting: that doesn’t seem like enough stuff to fill a weekend. Hmmm, oh, yeah: Shopping. Sending some ZFS filesystem snapshots from a production host to a copy of said host for testing purposes. Email read and responded to. Tickets reviewed, commented upon, and resolved, as appropriate.

*      *      *

Recent Reading: I’ve been re-reading Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon on the phone in dribs and drabs. I use the phone as dead-time reading because I don’t carry the Kindle or any dead trees with me much anymore. At the bedside is Aspirin & Nye’s Myth Alliances, which I’ve apparently had on the shelf for a good long time, and somehow never managed to pick up before. And on the Kindle (also bedside reading) is Joseph Lallo’s Unstable Prototypes. Plus I’ve got a stack of IEEE, ACM, USENIX ;login:, and woodworking magazines to get through one of these days.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris, 37, of New York, New York, died Dec. 12, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Wyatt J. Martin, 22, of Mesa, Arizona, died Dec. 12, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

 

Space, Patch, Read

A number of folks who lack a sense of wonder, a sense of adventure, a … spine, perhaps, are whinging in articles here and there online about how awful it is that Michael Tyner Alsbury died testing a near-space tourist plane. How very risk-averse we’ve become, as a culture. I’d do his job tomorrow, in  a heartbeat, if they’d let me. The wonder and joy of experimentation, research at the edges of what’s possible make life worth living, either personally or vicariously (for those of us too old to but dream). Again, risk vs. reward.

*      *      *

Today I finished patching the rest of my Solaris systems. That’s a good thing, and it came off without a hitch, nothing but the 3 hours of time invested, and I was able to accomplish other tasks while monitoring the patch, live update activation, and reboot processes in other windows. Not the life of Riley, but it’s the one I have.

I should have gotten to mowing the lawns and roasting some coffee, but that didn’t happen, so I’m going to have to squeeze those in during the week ahead.

*      *      *

Recent Reading

I finished reading Cheri Priest’s Dreadful Skin this week. Jack is a changed man. Well, a man changed into … something. Avoiding spoilers when discussing stories like this is hard.

Some of the joy of reading Cherie Priest’s wondrously intense writing is the little surprises in the beginnings that set the mood and reveal bits of joy (and horror). As in a well-done horror film, you can tell from cinematography and music that something scary and terrible is about to happen, but you can’t tell what until it jumps out at you from the shadows. Ms. Priest manages that time and again with her writing. I’ve not read the whole of the Priest canon extant, but so much that I have read contains that power to surprise and delight, even in the darkest of places.

I enjoyed this triptych tale, and when you read it (as you should), I hope that you do too. Note – this is probably not for most of the YA and younger crowd. That said, I’d have probably read it by age 10 or 11 without harm. Highly recommended.

I also finally finished up reading Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 97. My favorite of the fiction therein was Taxidermist in the Underworld, a grim tale with a twisty happy ending. I can recommend Clarkesworld Magazine without hesitation or reservation – I’ve been a subscriber (at a very reasonable price, mind you) for the last couple of years.

In progress: I’m still reading Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Doubt Factory. I’m finding it harder to get into than I’d hoped. But early impressions are rarely reliable, so I’ll forebear any judgement until I’m done. That’ll be a while, because unless I’m mistaken, I’ll not be through before I leave the book behind for a week while I’m at LISA’14 in Seattle.

On deck: Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 98.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, who was lost at sea on Oct. 1* while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf.

[* DoD says “previously reported”, but I haven’t seen Corporal Spears mentioned in the DoD timeline]

Patch Sunday, plus Valentine and Banks

A week or two ago, the Oracle quarterly CPU (Critical Patch Updates) notification went out. So I scheduled my Solaris patching for the maintenance day I have: Sundays. The first round went fine today. Next Sunday, I’ll do the rest. Solaris patching is just about the least troublesome thing I have to do. It takes a fair bit of time, but the reversion path on Solaris 10 with the Boot Environment (BE) feature is as safe as houses (well, not houses badly built in an earthquake zone, or ramblers built on slabs on a flood plain, but you know what I mean).

Boot environments enable me to use the ZFS file system tools to make a copy of all the important bits of the operating system, mount that copy, and patch that. Then I can set it to be the new active BE, and reboot. Once done, I test. If all is good, and patching didn’t break things, I move on. If patching breaks things, I simple set the prior BE to active, and reboot again. Then I’m back to the state of the system prior to patching. It’s an excellent feature.

On the home front, I’m still happily running FreeBSD 10 as my main OS. I think there’s an update available, to 10.1, but I’m not going to try for that this evening. I’m tired – I pushed really hard on the exercise front this last week, and my knees ache a bit. No yardwork at all this weekend. The lawns could have stood to be mowed, but next week will be fine for that.

*      *      *

Recent Reading

Today I finished reading Genevieve Valentine’s SF novella, Dream Houses. You may recall my mentioning that Ms. Valentine read from this work at Capclave ’14 a couple of weeks back. It’s a bit eerie reading a story someone wrote, and hearing the words in her voice … wowsers! A note: You can get Dream Houses in eBook format. Mine is an inscribed trade hardcover edition.

I really liked this story. From the opening words straight through to the end, I was hooked – if it had been as long as this week’s second book, I’d be half dead from sleep deprivation. That’s one of the joys of the novella length. You can get the intensity of the short story form, and add in the missing character development that there isn’t room for 3000 words or so. Ms. Valentine has written shorts that I’ve read and enjoyed in Clarkesworld, but Dream Houses gets under the skin. It’s not a happy tale, I’ll give you that much. It seems that many of the novella length stuff I like, isn’t. (See Scalzi’s The God Engines, for example.) I care about Amadis, last of the crew alive on this run to Gliese. I pondered the motivations of the ship’s AI, Capella. I still wonder how many times Capella binge-watched 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dream Houses is dark, exquisitely crafted, and deeply creepy. I’m going to have to read it again, sooner than later, to get more out of this marvelous confection. Highly Recommended.

A couple of days ago, I finally finished reading Iain M. Banks’s Against a Dark Background. I’ll give you this: If you’d read two or more of the Culture novels, it’s trivial to identify this tome as one by Banks. Against a Dark Background is deeply embedded in the Banks school of SF, but without any of the redeeming (IMO) quirks of humor that spice up the Culture books.

I guess it was one of those weeks, since this book is dark, dark, dark, too. And at about ten times the word count of Dream Houses, it was more of a workout, too, in trade paperback format. More to the point, it was a mental and emotional workout, almost more than I wanted. I very nearly put this book down. And by the end, only the protagonist, Lady Sharrow, continues to be damaged goods. Damn near everyone else is dead. It’s as if this story was Banks doing a dark, humorless SF version of a season of Black Adder. Everyone dies at the end there, too.

I wanted to like Against a Dark Background. I’ve enjoyed all the other SF written by Banks that I’ve laid hands on. The intricacy and attention to detail that are the mark of Banks are present. And in the details of sections here and there throughout, I was hauled into the story, against my will. Oddly, both books this week are about a woman as (eventual) sole survivor, ending badly even so. But while I loved Dream Houses, Against a Dark Background was a slog for me. I keep books I plan on reading again. I have SHELVES full of books I plan on reading again. This book isn’t staying. And that’s a darn shame.

Current reading:

Clarkesworld Magazine: Issue 97. This is my “five free minutes, I’ll read a story on my phone” target. I’ve been a subscriber (through the Kindle store) to Clarkesworld for a couple of years now. The quality and curation of the fiction is superb, the non-fiction is usually interesting and enlightening, and the cover art is awesome. I can always recommend Clarkesworld!

I’ve just started (as in, I’ve finished the prologue) of Paolo Bacigalupi’s newest novel, The Doubt Factory. At Capclave, Paolo referred to this as his “Public Relations Thriller.” I enjoyed The Windup Girl immensely, so I’m please to be able to add this one to my collection. I’ll let you know in a week or two how the ride was.

On Deck:

Unidentified Funny Objects 3, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal, 19, of Riverside, California, died Oct. 23, in Baghdad, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Oceanside, California, died Oct. 24, in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related incident at Al Udeid Air Base.

End::Garden

2014 Garden is done

2014 Garden is done

Yesterday, along with a bunch of lawn work front and back, I put the garden to bed for the year. I’ll probably break out the tiller in a week or two and turn the soil, for good measure. I did get one last batch of assorted (and unexpected) peppers from the maze of weeds, though:

Last of 2104 peppers

Last of 2104 peppers

All told, about 7 hours of yard work yesterday, in utterly lovely weather. Today, I worked inside. More basement floor prep, a bit of cleaning here and there, and I made a pot of spicy turkey chili. Yum.

Recent Reading

I just finished reading Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi. It was a read that I’d been putting off for a number of years. I knew (in a non-spoilerish sense) that Zoe’s Tale was a revisit of the events from Scalzi’s The Last Colony, told from the PoV of Zoë Boutin-Perry. My problem is that I’m still tired of most retells, more than two decades after I read most of Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series. On the other hand, I really enjoy just about everything that Scalzi has written. So when a copy found its way into my hands while I was in the Dealers Room at Capclave last weekend … the time had arrived.

Like most good YA speculative fiction these days, Zoe’s Tale involves young adults in substantial trials and tribulations, and not all ends well for all participants. So, realism: check. That said, Scalzi works hard at a consistent voice as well as honest growth and reactions from his young protagonist. While it’s a bit much to put the politics and martial fate of a big chunk of the galaxy in one set of hands, the plot makes utter sense in the context of the byplay of the preceding three novels in the Old Man’s War series. That an extraordinary young woman rises to, and above the occasion … well, it could happen. Youth are unrestrained by the cynicism and can’t-do attitudes that affect so many of their elders.

If, perchance, you’ve read Old Man’s War, and the others of the series, but skipped Zoe’s Tale for any reason, it’s time to give in and read the book. I cared about the characters, and their fates. That matters to me in a good book. Recommended.

Reading in progress (still): Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks. On deck: Genevieve Valentine’s Dream Houses.

*      *      *

No new casualties were announced by DoD in the last week.

Capclave Wrap

Capclave 2014 is a wrap. I was not involved. I was just an attendee who had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time.  It’s not nearly as much work to attend as to be celebrated, though…

Capclave 2014 GoH Signing Table

Capclave 2014 GoH Signing Table

At the Capclave 2014 GoH Signing Table last night Genevieve Valentine, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Holly Black. These folks (along with many others) worked hard at this literary Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. I commented to Paolo last night that clearly, being Guest of Honor at a con is a lot harder than previously assumed. I wondered aloud if it was much like a goose being the Guest of Honor at a Christmas Dinner? I got a fair laugh out of that one.

But these folks, along with about 75 other program participants and the talented hardworking team from WSFA that put on the con, worked hard on panels, in workshops, and in the hallways, putting on a good show for the fans and current/aspiring writers who attend this show. I attended the following panels, readings, etc:

  • “Holy Shuftik!” he cried. (partial)
  • The League of Substitute Heroes and the Inferior Five (partial)
  • Dealers Room (spending money)
  • Fast Forward TV interviews GoH Paolo Bacigalupi
  • The 2013/14 and 2014/15 TV Seasons
  • Don’t Go There. Unless You Really Want To.
  • The Charms of Dystopia
  • Interview with GoH Genevieve Valentine
  • DC in 17 Worldcon Bid
  • Reading (Genevieve Valentine)
  • Best Short Fiction of 2014
  • Author Table / Dealers Room (spending money)
  • I Hate His/Her Politics But I Love His/Her Books
  • Creating Religions for your Secondary World Fantasy
  • Mass Signing
  • Awards Presentation and GoH Gifts
  • Beyond Sword, Spear, and Shield: Exotic Weapons for Fantasy
  • Astronomy Through the Ages
  • Bookstores: RIP or Not Dead Yet?
  • Why So Many YA Dystopias?
  • Even Hard SF Uses FTL

Finally, with two sessions left in today, I ran fully out of steam. But as you see, I sat in on a lot of interesting material in two and a half days. I came home each night, and didn’t stay for the late night parties and filking – I don’t have all of the energy I once had… But I did come away with some wonderful memories of a great small con, I met a great number of smart, eloquent people, and I have a nice, shiny stack of reading material. WIN!*      *      *DoD has reported no new casualties in the last 7 days.

Last of the eighties

At least, one may hope that we’re now done with high temperatures for the year. Both weekend days have got to 80 or thereabouts. I managed some yardwork yesterday, and a washing of the car today. Certainly not an interesting weekend by any stretch of the imagination.

*      *      *

Recent Reading –

Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam

In this latest Discworld book, pTerry brings back Moist von Lipwig and Harry King as chief protagonists in this tale of steam locomotives. Aided by The Patrician, The Low King, and an unexpectedly large assist from the recently ascendant goblins, von Lipwig battles extraordinary logistics problems and a recidivist dwarvish community who lay most of their problems at the feet of Ankh Moorpark and upon Moist’s head as an accessible and vulnerable symbol thereof.

Self-taught engineer Dick Simnel solves the most fatal of issues with steam engines, and ushers in a new future on the Disc, and in doing so brings a host of problems to the surface as well. Harry King (at first) and Moist von Lipwig (shortly thereafter, following the usassailable logic provided by Lord Vetinari) guide and protect Mister Simnel along the path (one might say, rails) that Vetinari wants and needs.

Initially distinct plots quickly coalesce into a fast, absorbing and rollicking read that held me right on through the book. As usual with the work of the estimable Mister Pratchett, Highly Recommended.

Unidentified Funny Objects 2, edited by Alex Shvartsman

From the editorial submission page: “We’re looking for speculative stories with a strong humor element. Think Resnick and Sheckley, Fredric Brown and Douglas Adams.  We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny.”

I met Alex Shvartsman at Capclave last year, and picked up a copy of Unidentified Funny Objects 2 from him. I finally dug out my stack of reading material from that event, and quickly found myself absorbed in this excellent anthology of new, original works by such authors as Silverberg, Liu, Reznick, Hines, Nye, and fourteen others. I smiled, giggled, and laughed my  way through the nearly 300 pages of nicely bound trade paperback. I enjoyed meeting the stories from each of these authors, both old friends and new (to me, anyway) arrivals. If you like Science Fiction and Humor, this is definitely up your alley, as it was mine. I’m looking forward to UFO3, due out in the upcoming week (but I’ll wait and get my copy from Alex in a couple of weeks). Excellent!

Gordon R. Dickson’s Necromancer

Paul Formain, a survivor of the first water, most recently rendered one-armed due to a mining accident, contends with Walter Blunt of the Chantry Guild, and with the super computer that runs Earth. His metaphysical powers make him both the lynchpin of the changes that society is undergoing, and a target of every party that’s interested in a different agenda. Later tales in Dickson’s Childe Cycle stories reveal a bit more about Paul Formain than appears in this book. Necromancer is a superbly constructed tale (as usual for Dickson, then) that allows for the suspension of disbelief both for the SciFi and Fantastic elements in the story. While the story stands well on it’s own, I must recommend ALL of the Childe Cycle stories to you. Find them. Read them. Be Happy.

Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke

I’ve been a subscriber to Clarkesworld Magazine for a couple of years now. Neil Clarke puts together a world-class collection of new science fiction, as well as reprints, non-fiction, and art, every time. How do I mean, “world-class”? Hmm. How to put this to you … Three time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. Does that cover it properly? I thought so.

I look forward to the first of each month so that I can discover what Neil found for me to read. My particular favorite story from the current (September) batch is Brendan Dubois’s Falling Star. It’s a tightly constructed post-apocalyptic short story that features one of the last of the astronauts as the protagonist. I can’t say much more without spoiling some part of the tale.

In related news, Neil announced that his recent secret project is a push to get more translated works into the magazine, explicitly from China at first. The initial funding is being done through Kickstarter, with the intention of building more readership and other revenue sources to carry the feature going forward. Visit the Clarkesworld: Chinese Science Fiction Translation Project page for more details, and to support it if you can and if it floats your boat.

Clarkesworld Magazine: Highly Recommended.

Oh, I nearly forgot! I’m currently reading Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks.

*      *      *

There have been no new casualties announced by DoD in the last 6 days.

Work Week Plus

The work week started early … really early. I was up at 0500 this morning, and at my desk at the office by 0555. We had an 8 hour maintenance window to do a raft of VMware and other patching. Licensing issues prevent us from doing things the easy way, so we get outage windows and do things the hard way. That includes getting key virtual machines back online before 0800 on Sunday morning. It was actually a pretty good day – we finished up with two hours left in the maintenance window, which is good estimating. Had something gone horribly wrong, two hours is enough to fix much of it.

Side note – first night down into the 40’s – it was about 47°F out in the back yard when I got up.

Since nothing went horribly wrong at work, I was home and out in the yard mowing by 1300. Got inside and relaxed a bit, and grilled some lovely marinated chicken for supper.

As Sunday’s go, not too terrible.

*      *      *

Recent Reading – Caliphate by Tom Kratman

No piece of fiction I’ve read in recent years has filled me with sadness for our future like Tom Kratman’s Caliphate. (Note, if you want to read it, the Kindle price at this moment is $0.00.) There is nothing in this book that seems implausible to me. If anything, I find it to be a bit optimistic in the reading of the tea leaves. All civilizations fall, but Europe falling to the radical Muslims through willful ignorance and apathy seems like exactly the path they’re already on. Will events play out as they do in the book? I don’t think so. The radical muslim world are the latest batch of humans happy to play hardball in a brave old world that keeps wanting the game to be played by the rules set by first grade teachers. Be clear: the world is not a kind and easy place. We’ve had it pretty good for the last century or so, but to expect these conditions to last is implausible. What is plausible is Tom Kratman’s premise in Caliphate.

I found the book to be a more-than-good-enough read. Not tightly-paced enough to keep me awake while I read it through. But the story is compelling. I was able to care about the characters, and weep for the world that we’re making for ourselves in this work of fiction. For me, it’s also reminiscent of the Daybreak series by John Barnes. But while there’s tech that doesn’t exist in Daybreak (thus allowing me to distance myself from the action), no such issue exists to prevent me from buying into everything that happens in Caliphate.

You can (and oh, people do) criticize his writing, his stance, his service to America, and everything under the sun. It’s clear how he receives his criticism, right at the top of his website. I wouldn’t say he revels in it, but he want to be sure that before you proceed, there are people foaming at the mouth to disagree with him and his perspective. Frankly, I hope this particular vision of the future is wrong, but I fear it isn’t.

Out of the batter’s box is Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam.

*      *      *

DoD has announced no new casualties in the last week.

Late Summer

With three weeks to go in Summer (proper), summer in terms of weather and humidity finally arrived this week. A few days up into the low 90’s brought us some unpleasant heat and occasionally lots of rain. Last night we had 1.3″ here alone. I didn’t look at the weather  radar at the time so I don’t know how broad that front was. But we had lightning and rain for the best part of three hours.

Leading up to that, I spent about 5 hours working out in the yard. Some of that was regular stuff like mowing and cleaning out some dying plants in front.  But I also gave a couple of hours to fence-mending…

A few days ago, Lexi was out hunting bunnies in the back yard, then … she wasn’t. Lexi followed a rabbit, not down a hole, but out a hole. Yep, a hole in the fence which Lexi was able to rapidly enlarge enough to chase through and after. Sigh. The good news is, once discovered, we went out calling her name, and she came running up to me from out of the small wood in the common area behind our property. The bad news was that the fence needed mending.

I ended up replacing about 20 boards, and blocking off a few more bits with patching. I’ve still got to mix up a slightly matching stain combo and get those boards coated. But between the fence and other yard work yesterday, I dropped about 6# sweating. So, I rehydrated for much of the afternoon.

Today: Shopping and patching systems at work consumed the bulk of the day.

*      *      *

Recent Reading: The Big Aha by Rudy Rucker.

Last year, I backed Rudy’s Kickstarter ™ for his new book, The Big Aha. I’d been a fan of Rudy’s since reading Software in the early 1980’s. The Big Aha is a big departure from the style of fiction, and of writing, from that earlier era. The author credits Bill Craddock’s Be Not Content as his primary stylistic influence. Using quantum mechanics instead of Lysergic acid diethylamide as his tool for making an entire world behave like a bunch of loons is … interesting. However, I found it difficult to follow the story. I found it difficult to care about the characters – they remind me of everything that’s bad about soap operas. And, sadly, though I persevered to the very end of the book (and it’s taken me a good long while), I just didn’t like it.

That doesn’t mean that you might not like it. You will want to be happy in a place where there are lots of new, made-up words. You’ll want to like characters that make even less sense (when straight, aka not in “cosmic mode”) than people on this screwed-up planet. If you like soap operas, and fantasy, and science fiction, you might like this story. My clear personal failing is that I don’t like soap operas.

The better news, from my perspective, is that with The Big Aha done, I now have my permission to start reading pTerry’s Raising Steam.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts, who died on Sept. 4, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

A Lovely Day for an Anniversary

Yep. Sixteen wonderful years I’ve been married to Marcia. To celebrate, she worked on a t-shirt quilt for a customer, while I … went to work. But this evening, on the way home …

Got my gal some roses

Got my gal some roses

She seems to like them. She also got a sewing thing accessory as a pressie, while I’ve got a set of E. E. “Doc” Smith paperbacks headed my way. We’re so romantical. We’ll go out to supper to complete our celebration one of these days.

*      *      *

Marcia got a FitBit thing a while back, and she likes it very much. It helps her keep track of a lot of the things she needs to. Since I’ve been trying to do better on that front, like this (this evening):

Burned a kilocalorie

Burned a kilocalorie

I could also do better at keeping track of such things, as well as managing my portion control through better records keeping. But I chose a different bit of gear: a Jawbone UP24. I executed the purchase through Amazon, which saved a few bucks, and I have had very few problems puzzling out how to make the App interface operate. I’ll report further on the product, the app, and how/if it’s helping me with any of my goals at some ill-defined later date.

Downs and Ups

In one sense, it was a really bad week. Hours after I posted last Sunday, I became violently ill, almost certainly due to something I ate. After about 24 hours, I was able to start re-hydrating, and taking in such challenging foods as soda crackers (in small quantities – I had ten crackers, all of Tuesday). Wednesday was slightly better, and that night I slept through the night. So I went to my one day of work on Thursday, and got enough done.

The upside of the week was Capclave, which I attended on Friday and Saturday. It was going on today as well, but I am still not fully recovered, and decided to lump Sunday and holiday Monday together into another period of recuperation instead.

Capclave was, just like last year, awesome. I had a lot of fun hanging out with a bunch of really smart people, many of whom write F&SF or work with writers, from editors to artists to publishers. Clearly, I’d get even more out of the conference were I in the biz, but time for that sometime later. Because I’m not nearly as much of a George R. R. Martin fan, I was able to spend more time learning about new writers, and other fun stuff. Last year, with John Scalzi as GoH, I frankly spent more time in squee mode, to the detriment of the balance of my conference. Capclave peeps, I thank you for a wonderful Con, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

*       *       *

Mmmm, rain. I almost left this out. Since last Monday, we’re just shy of 5 inches of rain in our back yard. That brings our 11-1/2 month total to 44.06 inches, just over the 30-year annual mean rainfall for our area.

*       *       *

My message to Congress: Do Your Freaking Job!

*       *       *

Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr., 19, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died Oct. 5 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, California, died Oct. 6, in Zhari District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, died Oct. 6, in Zhari District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, Missouri, died Oct. 6, in Zhari District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Oregon, died Oct. 6, in Zhari District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Angel L. Lopez, 27, of Parma, Ohio, died Oct. 5, in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.