Thursday, February 28, 2008

Customer Reviews of Tuscan Whole Milk on Amazon

I don't know what else there is to say. There is a certain subclass of person who finds these unique products and comes up with some marvelous reviews. Every one is different, and one of the few times in these past few months that I've cried from laughing so hard. (Via.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What if Garfield Wasn't There Anymore?

This is so brilliant and so absolutely disturbing as well. "There's something wrong with my pants" especially stands out for me.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

There Were So Many, and it's So Hard to Remember Them

Last night was the annual single malt whiskey night at our friends the Clynes, and 15 bottles (all different!) were brought by guests. I dragged along two, a 14-year-old Oban and a 15yo Extra Dark Bowmore from Islay. Of course I didn't sample either of my own, but rather went for a variety of others. Not all of them, mind, but I did end up sampling seven. Don't know if I can remember them all (I should have been taking notes), but I'm going to try.

There was an Arran, no age listed, but it was a limited edition, bottle number 76 of 825. This was very nice, mild, with quite a strong caramel nose to it. Our friend Dave brought a 25yo cask strength Port Ellen that I had purchased for him in 2003 when I was in Glasgow, at that time for the low low price of 95 pounds. Strong and peaty and smoky and with the highest alcohol content of the lot at almost 60%. Someone else brought a 15yo Bowmore, but this one was a Mariner, much lighter than my own, but still quite nice. The lightest and smoothest of the night was a 15yo Dalwhinnie, and the other cask strength I sampled was a Glenrothes, good but not outstanding. My last (or so I thought) was an 18yo Glenlivet, very nice, and up until that point the best.

And then I thought I'd retire for the evening, but my other friend Dave (there are many) came and sat beside me and asked me to take a whiff of the beverage he was carrying. The problem with that, I had trouble handing the glass back to him. It was a 16yo Lagavulin and the smell was richly smoky and peaty, so nice I couldn't even bring myself to drink it (although I ain't stupid, of course I drank it).

There was also haggis, scotch eggs, men in kilts (not me), a new(ish) puppy named Rodeo, a honking big dog named Hank, and great company. All in all, a fine evening.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Ten Teams Now Signed Up For Google Moon Race

As the natural sequel to the Ansari X Prize, the race to reach the Moon via private interests seems to be ticking along quite nicely, with ten teams registered as of now. And hey, looking at the X Prize site, I see that they're sponsoring an auto prize as well, and one for genomics and another for building a better lunar lander. That's excellent, a good response to this sort of concern, and it's nice to see private enterprise trying to reward innovation no matter who does it, and it's also nice to see such innovation covering such a wide field of endeavor. It would be nice to see government also trying to reward innovation, although these days that's harder to find, unless it's something for military use.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Changes and Trouble at On Spec

It's been awhile since I left On Spec, having decided I needed to allow time for my writing and family life. Jena Snyder and then Holly Phillips had left before me, but Peter Watts and Steve Mohn were still there, representing, I believe, a view of spec fic that more closely met with my own than the views of Diane Walton and Susan MacGregor. As a matter of fact, long before he joined us I remember arguing vociferously for a story of Steve's, one that had pretty much everyone lost. I won that fight, and was proved right in the end.

Not that that is wrong. The whole idea is to have a broad spectrum of views so that you mix it up and get a variety of fictional flavors.

But now Peter and Steve have left, and been replaced by Barb Galler-Smith (whom I like very much, but I do suspect is very close to Diane in her views) and by Robin Carson (and I have no idea who this is, and Google is not my friend in this case). For Peter's take on the matter, see here and here. Diane's take is to issue a notice on Facebook that they have two new editors and to thank Peter and Steve "for their loyal service."

I had talked with Peter on the phone just a few days ago, and he had mentioned his plan to write the editorial and include the art and the likely need to use the Cliff Burns Memorial Anti-Veto Bomb (and right about now would be a good time to go back and read what he wrote, in case you haven't yet. Go ahead, I'll wait). I didn't say anything to him at the time, but it seemed to me that this could be a losing cause. Not because it's a bad idea, but because, in spite of the best efforts of Peter and Steve, On Spec is and always will be an inherently safe publication.

Yeah, there have been exceptions, including some of Peter's own fiction, and I once had to go to the mat with someone else about cover art I wanted (I won, and it proved out for me). But, in spite of its small press status and the chance to take on a mantle of responsibility in response to that status, On Spec is primarily there as a venue to showcase science fiction and fantasy and horror writing, hopefully good writing, and any ideas that come along for the ride are probably going to be of the neat-o keen-o sensuwunda variety, rather than of the skullfuck variety.

And that's okay, if that's all that it is. A damn shame, too, if you ask me, but in the end that's the right of the person in charge. Unfortunately, the person in charge, Diane, seems to have reneged on a deal made with the other editors, and to have done so in a fashion that indicates her contempt for the deal in the first place. Hell, she seems to have called it a "joke." At the same time, it appears she has rewritten the rules, all rules that only existed in the ether, mind, but they were there nonetheless. When I was an editor with the magazine, and afterwards as an Art Director, nobody ever broached the topic of democracy vs. editorial monarchy, but I don't remember one occasion where a majority was overruled.

So, good for Peter and Steve for packing up their principles and moving on. Seven years is a long time, and I'm honestly surprised Peter lasted this long. As for Diane and the rest of the editorial staff, I wish them continued success. I'll keep reading, but my expectations will be tailored by this latest set of events.

And as far as continuing to read the magazine goes, I'm now going to take a moment to respond to the doofus who posted on Peter's blog that he would now boycott On Spec (while also noting that he doesn't actually, you know, already read the thing): a boycott is not, I hope, the reason for Peter having posted his thoughts on the matter. Last year when a certain SFWAn did a remarkably stupid thing in public, there were people out there who actually stated that they would for now on boycott and SF/F by any SFWA member. This is all very short-sighted. You want to make an impact? Read the damn magazine, find the stories that you feel are worth singling out, and write letters about those stories to the authors and the editors, and seek out those authors elsewhere in order to encourage them. Strange and challenging stuff will still slip through, especially if people continue to send it in.

If it doesn't, well, vanilla is still a flavor to some people. That makes me sad, but it's the truth. Whether it's flavor enough to continue to grab attention is another matter.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Three Baskets, One Helper

That's Aidan with the ball, wearing the Away jersey since they ran out of Home uniforms. His team is not really a team, but rather a collection of grade 6 kids who got impatient with the fact that only the grade 7s get to play, so they whined and fussed and cajoled and wheeled and dealed and convinced their gym teacher to let them form a practice team, and one the dads and one of the moms actually do the coaching.

Then, still not satisfied, they put on the pressure again and got themselves an exhibition game with a school from down the road. So the other school pulls up with 7 boys and sees that Aidan's team has 8 boys and 6 girls, and they all get to play. Lots of subs, and a surprising amount of skill. We won, 42-29, I think, and all the kids had fun. As noted, Aidan got 6 points, and since basketball really isn't his game, that was nice to see. Plus, even though soccer is still in my blood, it was nice to see him play another sport.

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Smokey and the Bandit

Or, "Say hello to my little frien'."

With the weather getting nice, each day one of us whispers the word "squirrel" and Smokey barrels for the back door and then rushes out to protect the house and to protect the bird feeder. The squirrel, being lighter and fleeter of foot, rushes across the top of the snow, and if Smokey tries it she plunges in. So then she comes back to wait near the feeder, and the squirrel eventually comes for a visit. Smokey will stand like that for about ten minutes, although the squirrel will go back and forth.

Of course, if Smokey ever caught the squirrel, we suspect she'd only want to play, based on how she used to be with the hamster.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

One of Those Buncha Questions Memes

Madeleine Robins has posted a list of questions and I promised to put it up here. I haven't got the ability to screen your comments, but since the comment traffic here is so light, I'm not so concerned. If you want to say something, you'll do so.

1) Ever been in a relationship lasting over 5 years?

2) What was your dream growing up?

3) What talent do you wish you had?

4) If I bought you a drink what would it be?

5) Favorite book?

6) What was the last book you read?

7) What zodiac sign are you?

8) Any Tattoos and/or Piercings? Explain where.

9) Worst Habit?

10) Best attribute?

11) What is your favorite hobby?

12) Do you have a Negative or Optimistic attitude?

13) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?

14) Worst thing to ever happen to you?

15) Best thing to ever happen to you?

16) Tell me one weird fact about you.

17) What if i showed up at your house unexpectedly?

18) What was your first impression of me? (hmmm...careful!)

19) What scares you?

20) If you could change one thing about how you are, what would it be?

21) Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?

22) What color eyes do you have?

23) Ever been arrested?

24) Cake or pie?

25) If you won $100 today, what would you do with it?

26) Tell me something you wanted me to know about you.

27) What's your favorite place to hang out?

28) Do you believe in ghosts?

29) Favorite thing to do in your spare time?

30) Do you swear a lot?

31) Biggest pet peeve?

32) In one word, how would you describe yourself?

33) Do you believe/appreciate romance?

34) Strangest place you've had sex?

35) Do you believe in an afterlife?

36) Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you?

37. Do you want me to un-screen your answers?


A Way to Prove Creationism

On the SF Canada listserve, someone was asking where they might be able to find a mad scientist. Matt Hughes, never one to be slow off the mark, suggested the following:

"I think it's easier to create your own. Go up to one and say that Darwin was a tool of the devil and, anyway, all this science stuff is just a matter of opinion. If you keep it up, they get really mad. Thus you have created your own mad scientist. That's why it's called creationism. Well, at least, that's my opinion."

Sounds simple.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008


At work two days ago, I was minding my own business, busy slugging parcels from the belt to the monos (moving parcels from metal rollers to containers that are basically a 4'X4'X4' cage), when a forklift driver came up behind me to pick up the mono but forgot to drop the forks all the way. She hit the mono at a good clip, which then hit me and knocked me down onto the belt.

The doctor says I'm out for one to four weeks. It's all soft tissue damage, so no visible abrasions, bruises, cuts, and of course no breaks. But from my neck down to my thigh, mostly on the left side (the side that hit the belt, interestingly; I know the mono hit me, but I wonder if my cat-like reflexes saved me from a worse injury and yet contributed to what I have).

Updates will come when I see the physiotherapist.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Flash!

I do love me these seriously insane headline writers. (Via)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Actually, This is Pretty Damned Funny Too

Because she's F***ing Matt Damon.


Lip Synching As it Was Meant to Be Done

It probably helps that I'm a fan of both the show and the movies. Needless to say, I think this is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. (Via)

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Derryl Makes Another Sale

This was an interesting one for me, because of the time frame involved. It started when I was at WFC in Saratoga and Claude Lalumiere approached me and reminded me that he was editing Tesseracts 12, and that this anthology would consist exclusively of stories between 10,000 and 20,000 words in length. Since I had previously sold him a story in this range ("More Painful Than the Dreams of Other Boys" in Open Space), he suggested that I ought to submit. Actually, he pretty much insisted.

I came home and started to think about things, and eventually decided to write another story in my "Magic Canada" series, which up to now includes "Cold Ground" from Arrowdreams, "Northwest Passage" from Realms of Fantasy, and "Over the Darkened Landscape" from Mythspring. (Told about this, Jo immediately smelled blood: "Sounds like you have a collection in this!" Yup, that is eventually the plan.) Unfortunately, the first story I started working on stalled, and it stalled only after I had done reams of research and a fair amount of writing. And so I scrapped it, quite late, and got to work on one of my backup ideas.

The new story, "Ancients of the Earth," is a little less research-intensive than some of the other stories - both written and conceptual - because it is based on an urban (rural?) legend. That said, it still took me almost to the bitter end to get the thing written, including about 7000 words in the last three days, four thousand of those in the last ten hours or so. In spite of the rush, I was quite pleased with the final result, and I'm glad to see that Claude was as well. I still have some fixes to do this weekend, and Claude will likely have some specific requests, but we have a story, coming out this autumn.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

An Interesting Experiment (And a Place to Find Some of My Stories)

Anthology Builder is a new site that takes story submissions (reprints, naturally) from authors and then offers them up to the public so that readers can, as the name suggests, build their own anthologies. This is a smart use of POD technology, I think, a way for people to find the stories that they want and to format them as desired (provided they want dead tree product, instead of digital). As the site grows I worry that it may grow a tad unwieldy, but right now there aren't too many stories up.

The pay is low, of course. It's a tiny percentage of each book, and not paid out until it passes the magical $20.00 barrier, which, unless I suddenly become remarkably popular, is a long time from now. But I'm cool with that. My name gets out to a few people, and stories that are currently not available anywhere else (or not too much, anyhow) get a new airing.

I have two offerings right now, and will roll a few more out soon, I think. Check them out here.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Peter Watts Posts a Fiblet

And it's a doozy. A fiblet, according to Peter, is a niblet of new fiction. It's just a tiny little piece, but damn, it's got me wanting a whole lot more.


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