Dear friends and fans in the NorthEast US

So I’m looking at the maps, predictions, and storm tracking for Hurricane Sandy. As someone who has grown up in NC[1], let me tell all our friends, family, and fans in the North East – be ready[2]. Were this a normal storm, it’d be a pain in the ass, but the mix hitting all at once looks pretty rough. Head inland if you can, follow the advisories, and if they tell you to evacuate, do it.[3]

I’ll admit, if it were down here, I’d be pretty “meh” about it. “Oh, and Category 1? Wet and Windy, no worries.” I don’t generally get worried until a storm reached Category 3. All the bad ones we’ve gotten this far in are Cat 3 or higher at landfall. However, y’all aren’t subjected to these sorts of storms the way we are, and don’t build or plan for them the way we do. Be prepared, be informed, and be safe.

[1] Where hurricanes have been a way of life for the last 300+ years and where we learn how to track storms and follow the news on them before age 10. Since 1950, we’ve had over 180 tropical storms of one sort or another, and Hurricane Hazel is still fresh in people’s minds, with Hurricane Fran a reminder of how bad it can get.
[2] Kage has a good reference for you.
[3] No, really. DO IT.

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Bubonicon and That Worldcon Thing

I promised a report on both Bubonicon and Worldcon, and since I’m home fighting off the con-crud today, I figured it’s as good a time as any.

In short – both are AWESOME. Bubonicon is possibly one of the best cons we’ve attended, since the staff and fans are nice, and the regular attendees include SF/F royalty. We didn’t have a table, so Ursula could spend more time with the fans and attendees, and it was AWESOME. The entire con was just pure fun, and in some cases, almost a warm-up for WorldCon, since we would be seeing many of the authors and fans there the following weekend. If you are a SF/F writer, this is one of the “must go” cons for you, since it give you the opportunity to talk with your peers, both past, present, and future.

And see them we did, as we were off to Worldcon about two days after we got home. We were going just for the Hugos, but were able to spend a lot of time at the SofaWolf table meeting fans. And in addition to that, we were able to meet some of OUR favorite authors and creators (and see many of our new friends from Bubonicon). We took the time to see how the sausage was made at the Business Meeting[1], which was really eye-opening. Did you know that a room with about 120 people at WorldCon makes decisions like what Hug categories stay and which go? We didn’t, but now we do[2]. I could go on about how awesome the Foglios are, how much of a class act people like Howard Taylor and Adam Christopher are[3], the fun we had with friend and roommate Mur Lafferty, and the trip to the Asian grocery with Duncan and Takaza[4], but I’m guessing no one cares about that right now.

You want to hear about the Hugo.

If you’ve been living under a rock, you might have missed that Ursula’s Digger was nominated for Best Graphic Story. And – spolier alert! – she won. It was AMAZING.

We were on pins and needles all night, we sat in the audience and held hands tighter and tighter as the category got closer, and then they announced her name and it was just WOW. I lost it and sat there in tears of joy while she delivered her speech like a pro. She looked FABULOUS on stage with all the winners. We went to the after party, and had a lot of fun. The fans were amazing, stopping and congratulating her whenever they saw her. My lady is now part of SF/F history, her comic has the recognition we all felt it deserved for YEARS, and I couldn’t be more proud.

And if I didn’t see the photos on the internet, I’d hardly believe it.

On Monday morning, we were just another couple at the airport, two more people in line for the TSA, and one more car driving home. We had our traditional after-con meal of Burger King (oo, fancy us), and came home to clean up after the beagle, hug the collie who missed us greatly, and remind the cats that no, this is really our bed, not theirs. Get the kids off to school, grab some milk at the grocery…you know, normal things. maybe it was all a dream….

…but there she is, standing next to Cat Valente and Neal Gaiman, holding a rocket. So it must be true. We figure we’ll both be a little giddy for a week, while we adjust to being home, and then it’s back to the grind.

It was a good set of trips, but it’s good to be home – where the cats keep us humble, the dogs adore us, and the frogs sing their songs of love out in the pond every night.

And once we recover, I’ll start thinking about next year.

[1] Where we helped make the Graphic Story Hugo permanent, and fought the opening round of creating a Young Adult Hugo, although we lost that vote – this time
[2] And, I’m sa to say, mostly older fans, many of whom admit their ignorance, and use that as a selling point as to why a category shouldn’t exist.
[3] I could give you a list of awesome people who we were able to meet, hang out with, and get to know, but man, it is a long list…
[4] There will be more on that, including audio if it came out, on KUEC.

Posted in Conventions, Personal, Ursula Vernon | 1 Comment

Quick update from Worldcon

I have been remiss in updating my main blog, but things, as you may know are afoot. We are about 5.25 hours away from the Hugo Ceremonies, and Ursula and I are a bit of a wreck. We are distracting ourselves as best we can. Wish us luck, and I’ll have a full report on this and Bubonicon next week.

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So we lost the water pump….

When I was in High School, Dad bought a sailboat. A nice little 16-foot with a small cabin and a heavy keel, she was a great little boat that could handle all kinds of waters. And it was a lot of fun to go out on the lake, and sail all day, and picnic in the sun. Good happy memories.

We went to a meet-up of owners of this particular brand of boat one weekend in New Bern NC, and were sailing in the brackish end of the Neuse River. And it was a lot of fun, until the winds picked up, the clouds rolled in, and the thunder started. Frankly, it was time to head in. We dropped the sails, Dad fired up the little outboard on it, and headed back towards the ramps where we put in.

About halfway across the river (it’s not that small at that point) Dad yells “We lost the motor!”
Mom yells back “So start it up again!”
And Dad replies “Uh, no, we LOST the motor.”

And we look, and he’s just sort of staring into the water at the back of the boat. Seems the motor tangled in an unmarked fishing net, and the clamps holding it to the boat gave way and off it went to the briny deeps.

We eventually got a tow in before the storms got in, but it is one of those adventures that become family stories.

Flash forward 25 or so years.

Our water pump started to misbehave Monday. We had the plumber out yesterday, and found that the water heater had ruptured internally, and the pump had been running 24×7 for a while (possibly up to 4 months) trying to keep up as the water heater slowly got worse and worse. And so Moses, our totally awesome plumber, began the process of pulling up the old pump for a replacement. This involves several hours of slowly lifting 300 feet of PVC pipe and electrical wire to get the pump out (The original installer, it seems, neglected to install a rope for just such an event – and many choice words were said by all involved about *THAT*). With less than 6 feet to go, the pipe snapped, the cable snapped under the weight of the pump, and down it went to the bottom of the well, some 300+ feet down.

And there it will stay until the end of time, much like a small outboard somewhere in the depths of the Neuse River.

With any luck, the new pump, flexible pipe, cables, and rope will be installed before lunch, and shortly after I can have a shower from our new water heater.

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Post-ConQuest Report

So ConQuesT invited Ursula out as Artist GoH, and as per our usual arrangement, I went along as her Sherpa[1]. We had some slight difficulty getting there – the flight into Kansas City, MO was scrubbed and we couldn’t get a flight until Saturday – but after that, it was a fun time for everyone (we hope). We got to meet some fans, made new friends, and saw some old ones as well. We had the famous Kansas City BBQ[2], and got an inadvertent tour of KC on our way to Breakfast Monday.

Thank you to everyone who came out and saw us, you guys were awesome. We had a great time, and if ConQuesT were closer, we’d be back next year. Y’all were fantastic, and we look forward to seeing a lot of you at WorldCon[3] later this year.

Next stop : AnthroCon 2012, and I’ll be taking the Hugo voter packet[4] along because we have a LOT of reading to do before WorldCon…

[1] We used to say “assistant” and “booth bitch” but it didn’t seem to properly convey the amount of heavy lifting involved.
[2] At the original Arthur Bryant’s BBQ – best of KC, I’m told, and almost as good as NC BBQ. And we know how I feel about that.
[3] We’re still amazed that we get to go to WorldCon this year, and Ursula is VERY honored for the Hugo Nomination. We still have trouble believing it – again, thank you all!
[4] If you are registered, go get yours and vote! This year’s packet is an INCREDIBLE value, and includes the complete run of Digger as a PDF. Just remember – if you get the packet, you have to vote!

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Summer Appearances

Here’s where Ursula and I will be over the summer. If you happen to be attending any of the following cons, stop by and say hello!

  • May 25-27 : ConQuest, Kansas City MO
  • Jun 15-17 : AnthroCon, Pittsburgh PA
  • Aug 24-26 : BuboniCon, Albuquerque NM
  • Aug 31-Sep 3 : WorldCon, Chicago IL

And in there somewhere we’re going to Minneapolis MN for a wedding, and I’ll be visiting Bellevue WA a few more times. I’m going to try to drag Urs along to WA at least once more this year, so we can hang out with friends and she can go bird watching with the ever-awesome Tina.

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Skating away on the thin ice of a new day

In 2005, after a particularly bad patch, I lost my shit. I had just been laid off from my high-pressure job, my marriage was falling apart[1], and I found myself weeping in a parking lot waiting for my oldest’s bus to arrive.

Not pretty, right? Clinical depression brought on by stress and burnout. It took me another year to figure out that I had burned out, and probably two to get close to fully recovered. It was not easy, nor was it pretty at times. Meds helped, and so did the divorce, and some counseling, and the support of friends.

So when I took stock this last month, and saw what I now know are the early warning signs of burnout and depression, I did, as they say, the needful. Talked to Ursula to see what she thinks. Talked to my doctor about getting back on the meds[2]. Talked to my new manager[3] on how we can start to mitigate things and keep me from going back over the deep end.

So we’ll see how it goes. At least this time I know the signs, I know what I need to do, and I know how to get better[4]. And if things go a little pear-shaped, I also have a supportive environment to keep me from losing it completely.

This time.

[1] It would be two years for us to figure out it was not something that could be salvaged
[2] Hello Zoloft! It helped a LOT last time, and I’m not scared of it now.
[3] I’ve been without one for about 6 months, and man, is it nice to have one again.
[4] I hope.

Posted in Personal, Work | 2 Comments

Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s back we go

About two years ago, I quit Facebook. There are many, many reasons to quit facebook, and at the time, it was the right thing to do. The privacy policies were, frankly, about as abysmal as you can get, the bit where Facebook reset your privacy settings to the default “everyone can see everything” on a UI change got old quick, and the bit where turn off apps and updates from shit you didn’t want to see didn’t always work just sort of grated.

After much thought, some mental anguish, and a review of the current settings, I re-opened an account there yesterday. But why? Why do such a thing given their track record?

Frankly, it was a combination of Mom & Dad, a local B&B, and the fact that, frankly, it’s become the news source for all my friends.

The first, and most confusing bit, was hearing all the family updates from Mom & Dad that they had been getting via Facebook. My cousin went into business for herself (whoo-hoo!). Another getting married. My own travel and excitements were being missed, because no one in that group looks at twitter. Stuff like that. I could wait until the monthly talk or dinner to find out, or I could cave in and re-open my Facebook account.

Second was Small Street B&B, a local cafe (and eventually a B&B). I ran into the owners at the local farmer’s market the other week, and said “Hey, is there an email list or page where you post the daily menus?” and the response was “Facebook, baby! Get with the times!”[1] Color me chastised.

And then the third. As the last two years have gone on, I’ve been getting more and more frustrated by the lack of events we would find out about. Email invites dried up. Hell, I almost missed a friend’s wedding, and if I hadn’t run into her and her fiance at a party two months prior, it would have gone by completely. Local events at Davenport & Winkleperry. Parties, gatherings, and more. All being organized, broadcast, and talked about on Facebook. And since I wasn’t on Facebook…

…this, my friends, is how they suck you in. And back in I go. Because no man is an island, and there is only so much one can isolate oneself in the current digital world.

So, given my initial complaints, how does it look now? Well, the privacy settings are better but not perfect. That’s to be expected – “When a service is free, you are the product,” and Facebook is really good at making you info the product. I’ve set it as best can be done, and will continue to tune it. We’ll see if on the next upgrade to their stuff if I have to reset it. So we’ll see.

I’m taking a MUCH tighter view on who I add and don’t add this time around. Mostly family, real-life local and distant friends, and businesses or events I’m interested in. I’m going to be more of a consumer on FB than a producer for a while, although I did link it to Twitter (my primary micro-blog platform) so that at least Mom & Dad can see when I drop an f-bomb and my depressingly (to them) liberal politics. That’s all I plan to link, app-wise, until I get a decent link to/from G+. [2]

I’ll probably end up making pages for KUEC and In The Evening in the next few weeks, once I get the hang of how it’s changed in the last two years. That makes sense, and might broaden the audience for both.

We’ll see how it goes this time. And in a few months, if I can’t take it anymore, or the information flood is too much to handle, I’ll just turn it back off. And try again when peer pressure or a lack of information drives me back in for a while.

[1] This from a pair of hippy, local-vore, small business owners in a mostly rural town to a slightly older, bald, tattooed, local-vore, mostly-goth tech worker. The SHAME.
[2] Google+ is still going to be it’s own thing, since it’s still lacking an API for me to link to. Frankly, I like their UI better, and I get a different set of content there than on Twitter and Facebook. And I suspect linking G+ to FB will be a long time coming, given how the two companies are now head-to-head competitors in the Social Network space.

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Convention Time! MystiCon in Roanoke, VA

Just a reminder that Ursula and I will be at MystiCon in Roanoke, VA this weekend. We’ll be in the dealer’s room when we’re not at the panels they have scheduled for Ursula. Visit! Buy Art! Get your books signed! See the traveling Kevin and Ursula Show!

…OK, it’s not that much of a show, but still, come see us!

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I hate it when I have to do this (SJK vs. PP)

Update:It would seem that shortly after my post, SJK Took it all back and then some. You should still support PP, though.

As many long-time readers may remember, I have been a supporter, in the past, of the Susan J. Komen foundation. My grandmother had breast cancer. I’ve participated in the local Race for the Cure in her memory. I’ve done fund raisers and made donations and encouraged other to donate.

This week, I have to stop all that. Because they’ve publicly stopped funding Planned Parenthood, for reasons that are superficial at best, and politics of the worst kind if we are honest with ourselves.

Look, I believe in the SJK mission. I think they’ve been a great organization over the years. But if they are going to step outside that mission to make a statement, to cut funding to the women who actually NEED the services they were funding, perhaps it’s time to find another breast cancer prevention and awareness charity. And when I do find one, I’ll share.

In the mean time, please help out Planned Parenthood. They do more for women and women’s health than damn near anyone else, and that’s a hell of a lot more important than politics.

Posted in Personal, Politics | 1 Comment