dxmachina: (Computers 02)
...or how I spent my summer.

I spent a good portion of the summer teaching — the lab portion of my usual MCC assignment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 to 10 p.m. The three days a week thing got old fast, but otherwise I had a good class and a good time. One of my students was even a minor local celebrity, a features reporter for a local TV station who is apparently chucking it all to become a (male) nurse. Of course since the local TV station is not local to where I live, I had no idea until some of the other students pointed it out. He was totally not the stereotypical self-absorbed TV personality, but was rather a keen student and very helpful to others.

As for the rest of the time, here are the highlights...

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Last weekend of June... )

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Fourth of July weekend... )

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Readercon weekend... )

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First weekend in August... )

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The funeral... )

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Summer ends for me on Tuesday, with the start of the semester at MCC. Meanwhile I have been busy preparing syllabi and lecture notes. I'm teaching my usual general chemistry course at MCC, Mondays and Wednesdays 4-7, and a lab over at CCSU on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30. The department chair at CCSU offered me a second lab section, but it conflicted with MCC, alas.

Hoping I can post this...

Nope, still down... and I lost all my tags. Bother.

And now we appear to be back.

Readercon

Jul. 14th, 2013 11:48 pm
dxmachina: (Books 02)
Friday was the first (and only, so far) truly nice day of weather we've had this month*. Saturday was warmer and more humid, and today is meet the new sweltering, same as the old sweltering.

* I use the word "we've" advisedly, because it didn't really get nice until I was in Burlington, so I have no idea what the weather was like in Rhody.

Spent the weekend at Readercon. After the post-con meltdown last year, the subject of safety was on everyone's minds, and deservedly so. Couldn't miss it really. There were signs everywhere, and it seemed like pretty much an entire program track was devoted to it and related topics. That said, at least one incident of some sort occurred, and is now being investigated. I noticed some of it on Twitter, but am confused about what exactly happened**. This is a shame.

** Mostly because I am unclear about whether there was one argumentative creep, or one creep plus another separate argument with someone else. The argument was about the potential for false accusations, which would be weirdly ironic if that's what escalated to the complaint.

Anyway, the panels — Besides the safety topics, there was quite a bit on gender issues, which doesn't really interest me much. Still, there was enough stuff on the program to find something to occupy me in most sessions. The times I couldn't find anything seemed to coincide with the times I needed to check-in at the hotel or get something to eat. Actually, it worked out in such a way that I really never had to choose between two equally appealing panels, so that worked out... I guess...

I didn't take many notes this year, at least not until Saturday evening, but I still have impressions.

Friday... )

Saturday ... )

Sunday... )

Miscellany

The con was very well attended. The registration line was very long when I showed up. Fortunately for me, almost everyone in line had pre-registered. I hadn't, so I was shuttle to a different, much shorter line. And still didn't have my badge much sooner than the folks I had been standing behind in the original line. This is actually the opposite of what my experience has been in the past. The pre-reg line is usually way shorter than the registration line. I wonder if way more pre-registrations came in this year in solidarity after the troubles were resolved. I usually pre-register, but never got around to it until too late this year.

The number of attendees put a strain on the facility. The two ballrooms still seem more than big enough for any panel, but the smaller panel rooms were too small this year. Almost every panel I attended in one of the smaller rooms was standing room only, and I mean a lot of standing.

Barry Malzberg was, as usual, listed on several panels, and I wondered how the recent controversy surrounding him would fly given Readercon's current emphasis on safe spaces and non-harassment. Then I saw the sign that said he wouldn't be in attendance. So it goes.
dxmachina: (Warp Speed!)
It took a little while, but Readercon finally got it right. The Readercon con committee has overruled its board of directors (which is a small subset of the committee) and upheld the con's stated harassment policy in the Rene Walling situation. Walling is now permanently banned from the conference. The board is resigning and a new board will be elected.

The con committee's statement is excellent, and should be good news for the con and for fans in general. The fact that a con that had previously been considered to be doing things the right way got itself into so much trouble, and that the news of that trouble spread so far beyond the Readercon community*, should help push other cons into taking a firmer stance against harassment. At least, that's the theory. I hope it comes to pass. If nothing else, at least one injustice has been rectified.

* Even Jezebel took note of it.

Also worth reading is Genevieve Valentine's response to the news, especially the reaction of Kate Kligman, who also came forward and was totally ignored by the board of directors. Kligman had been harassed by Walling to where she had stopped attending conventions out of fear of seeing him.

Over the weekend, late at night, a message to me from Kate popped up.

"So if this works out, wanna go to Readercon?"


Makes the whole thing worth while, don't ya think.

We all want to change the world...
dxmachina: (Charlie Brown 2)
Veronica Schanoes, the woman who was harassed at the con in 2008, has posted a petition over in her LiveJournal calling for the permanent banning of Rene Walling from Readercon and the removal of the Readercon board of directors. I've signed it (waves to Knut, too). If you've a mind to, feel free to head over and add your name.

According to this post by a member of the con program committee:

A Board member has resigned, and another intends to do so. I don't know if they're dissenting voices, or committing sepuku.

Meanwhile, the board has tweeted:

We greatly appreciate the feedback we've received on the board's recent decision. The convention committee is working on a response.

Sure you are.
dxmachina: (Adios)
So, I never got around to writing up my thoughts on this year's Readercon. I started to, even grabbed the descriptions of the panels I attended to use as an outline, but I got distracted by other stuff. The short version is that I enjoyed myself. At some point I hope to do a longer version, at least on a couple of the panels that were of great interest to me. Unfortunately, that's not what I'm going to do today.

Rant ahead... )
dxmachina: (Books 04)
Readercon 22...

Friday... )

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Saturday... )

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Sunday... )

As usual, there were a few times when I couldn't find anything I was really interested in going to, but also as usual, mileage varies. Add in some homemade baked goods, two decent bike rides, and a couple of terrific meals at Lester's House of BBQ, and it was a pretty good weekend.
dxmachina: (Bike)
So, I am in scenic Burlington, MA, enjoying my annual summer vacation weekend, aka, Readercon. Been fun so far. I'll talk about panels attended next time.

The weather has been about as good as one could expect given the time of year. Friday was warm and a little humid, but there were some largish clouds for shade and a breeze, so it was really quite pleasant outside. Today was quite hot, but not especially humid, which made things bearable. Slept in this morning*, then headed over to Bedford to ride the Minuteman bike path, aka, Rt. 128 for bicycles. Actually, that's probably a slur against Rt.128. I ride the path every year when I'm up here for Readercon, but I don't recall it being quite so bumpy as it was this morning. The problem is roots that have been frost-heaved up through the pavement, creating multitudes of sudden and, because you occasionally have to look away from the constantly shifting pavement to see if there are pedestrians plodding along ahead so you avoid mowing them down**, often unexpected speed bumps.

* By which I mean I got up at 6 AM instead of my usual 5:10. We're doing summer hours at work this year, which means that I work 6:30 to 5 Monday through Thursday, and have Fridays off. Very handy, except that I seem to be spending a good part of Friday napping to catch up.

** In Rhody, pedestrians on bike paths are told to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic, just as if they were walking along a road. In Massachusetts, pedestrians are told to walk on the right with their backs to the oncoming traffic. This seems inherently unsafe to me.


I usually turn around at Arlington Center because there is a not very well thought out gap in the path before it resumes towards Alewife on the other side of the green. The gap requires riding along Mass Avenue for a block in the space between traffic and parked cars, always a thrilling experience. Worse, the return trip requires that you either ride on a sidewalk (not recommended or legal), or on the wrong side of the street, i.e., facing oncoming traffic (spectacularly unsafe and also illegal), to get from one piece of the path to the other. There has to be a better way. Still, I have negotiated it before, and there was way less traffic early on a Saturday morning than the last time I did it (noonish on a weekday), so I took the plunge. It's really not worth the terror. It's only another mile or so to Alewife, and although you do go by Spy Pond, the rest of the mile ain't all that scenic. In future I think that if I want to extend my ride by a couple of miles, I'll explore some of the other trails at the Bedford end of the path***.

*** Three bike path/trails start within spitting distance of each other and the Bedford bicycle shop. It's almost like a wormhole junction. The Minuteman you know about. Last year I explored part of the Narrow Gauge trail, one that starts out paved then transitions to gravel. There is also the Reformatory Branch trail, which apparently runs through a heavily wooded conservation area towards Concord. I drove by the entrance this morning, and it looked very narrow, and very overgrown. I may need to bring the Univega with it's fatter tires next year**** to better negotiate that trail.

**** Which is what I said last year...


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I made truffles for the Tiptree bake sale. It's the first time I've tried making them when it wasn't the dead of winter. Dipping chocolate when it's 80° with 80% humidity turns out to be a very different experience from doing it when it's 68 and the humidity is more like 20%. I had a hard time getting the chocolate to stick to the centers. Next time I need to let the centers equilibrate to room temperature and then blot off any condensation before dipping. Or maybe do them in a dessicated glove box.

I also made some of Cook's Illustrated "best" chocolate chip cookies, which were quite good. I love Cook's Illustrated, but they often make some very optimistic assumptions about the equipment inventories of their readers' kitchen. The recipe calls for a #24 cookie scoop. This is apparently a largish one, which they say holds about 3 tbsps of dough. The cookie scoop I bought for one of their other recipes only holds about 1 tbsp. Bother. I did have an unmarked ice cream scoop, and when I spooned 3 tbsps of water into it they all fit, so I used that. It made for some humongous cookies. I wound up with 13 cookies. The recipe quotes the yield as 16, so the ice cream scoop wasn't all that far off. Anyhow, now I know what to get the next time Bed, Bath & Beyond sends me a coupon. Come to think of it, that's what I did for the last time I bought a cookie scoop.
dxmachina: (Books 04)
Spent a long weekend in Burlington, MA, riding my bike, eating terrific barbeque, and attending Readercon 21. The weather was really muggy, but otherwise I had a pretty good time. I drove up Friday morning, so I missed Thursday night's session, which looked like it had some interesting stuff. Anyway....

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Friday Sessions... )


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Saturday Sessions... )


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Sunday Sessions... )

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Other... )

 
dxmachina: (DX-Opus)
...thinking about the countryside and sunny days in June. Or July. Whatever.

I am actually sitting in a hotel room, a very nice efficiency at a Candlewood Suites in Burlington, MA. Only $50 per night, which is a terrific deal around these parts. The place is very new, and has all sorts of amenities included in the price, like the full kitchen in the room, free washers and dryers, and free DVDs available for checkout from the desk. The only sort of normal thing that isn't available is wireless internet, but they hand you an ethernet cable when you check in. How do they do it? The one obvious thing is that housecleaning only cleans your room once a week, which is fine with me. That's still way more often than I clean at home. If you need clean towels, you can get more at the desk. The only negative in the whole experience so far is that the desk/table is a bit too high, maybe 36" or so versus a more normal 30", which makes typing or writing a bit uncomfortable. Some one shorter than me might need to sit on a phone book to make it work.

I am here on a little two-night mini-vacation while I attend Readercon 20. I could've just driven up each day, but while it wouldn't quite cost me $50 a day in gas, it wouldn't be a lot less, and I certainly wouldn't have to deal with the bumper-to-bumper on Rt. 128 like I did Friday morning. I did this last year, too, although just for one night. That was in a much shabbier hotel in Bedford, the next town over. The main reason I stayed there was that it was within easy riding distance of the north end of the Minuteman bike path.

Friday was spent at the con, which went well into the evening, so there wasn't much in the way of side travel. Saturday morning I was up bright an early, so I drove to Bedford to get in a ride on the Minuteman path. I rode as far as Arlington Center, where the path disappears for a bit. To get to where it starts up again for the rest of the trip to Alewife one has to ride along Mass Ave through an incredibly busy intersection (being the center of town and all). Been there, done that, experienced the terror, so I decided to skip that part.

Spent more time at the con, but apart for some special evening events (a rock concert, for one) I found myself with nothing to do after 4:00. This was the point last year when I took my ride, but since that was already done, I just drove around for awhile, and shopped. Got a 1 TB portable hard drive at BJ's for $80, which is amazing to me. Stopped in at the local Barnes and
Noble, and the local Borders for awhile. I also found a place called the "Used Book Superstore," where I picked up a copy of the Landmark Books edition of The Battle of Britain to add to my small collection of other Landmark Books I had when I was a boy. I also looked at netbooks and laptops at Staples. I'm typing this on Slick, a ten year-old laptop running Win98, and it's about time for a replacement. Slick has soldiered on for more years than I had a right to expect when I bought it, but it just can't handle a lot of modern web sites.

After that it was dinner in the bar at the Outback while watching the Royals play one of the worst innings of baseball I've ever seen versus the Sawx. The shortstop chucked a ball into right field, the catcher chucked one into center, and the left fielder, after actually catching a ball, began running in to the dugout with it thinking it was the third out. But it wasn't. Oops.

We had a rainstorm last night, but it seems to have cleared out. I will look at the con schedule again, but last I looked there was nothing there to interest me this morning. I may head over to Concord to visit the bridge and take a few photos, then perhaps stop on the way home at Blackstone Valley for a ride.

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