Amusement du jour

Geri 2014
The Alps of MIT have their own TripAdvisor page. When they disappear, it will, too. I hope it garners more reviews before then!

Super cool thing du jour

Geri 2014
Scroll down through the Ten Treasures from the Dead Media Museum Sure, the article is cool, but the goshwow is down at the bottom of the page.

Twenty years ago, Bruce Sterling started the Dead Media Project. Tom Whitwell "best of" collection from 20 years of the Dead Media project, published as an ebook and free in most formats. Complete with a list of aromas in Piesse's Smell Organ....

(And what is Pergulaire, anyway? Storax? Pois De Senteur, Balsam of Tolu, Arome, Portugal (the scent, not the country), and Syringa? New Mown Hay, now that one I've got.)

I must now somehow come up with more self-discipline than I know I have by walking away from search engines as well as the 1,147-page PDF and going to bed. Wish me luck!

Kickstarter for Nate Bucklin's new album

Geri 2014
Jeff Schalles just announced that the Kickstarter for Nate Bucklin's new album, My Favorite Whirlwind has gone live! Note that it is a short window, only two weeks until it closes.

I'm in!

221.3 gallons

MarchFrog
That's how much oil was added to my 275 gallon tank today, just in time to ensure I have ample oil in the tank to deal with the sub-zero temperatures forecast for the next couple of nights. Win.

That was supposed to be 3 TO 6 inches...

MarchFrog
Wales is the current leader in the weather.gov snowfall total for Hampden county, and that's based on a broadcast media report from 9am Sunday. Then again, we the only media we have in Wales is the community cable tv station, so who knows?

...HAMPDEN COUNTY...
WALES 9.0 905 AM 2/15 BROADCAST MEDIA
BRIMFIELD 7.0 856 AM 2/15 BROADCAST MEDIA
BLANDFORD 5.0 857 AM 2/15 HAM RADIO
CHESTER 4.5 855 AM 2/15 HAM RADIO
FEEDING HILLS 4.5 247 PM 2/15 GENERAL PUBLIC
SPRINGFIELD 4.5 1235 PM 2/15 TRAINED SPOTTER
WESTFIELD 4.5 841 AM 2/15 BROADCAST MEDIA
WILBRAHAM 3.5 838 AM 2/15 BROADCAST MEDIA
SOUTHWICK 3.5 854 AM 2/15 HAM RADIO
HAMPDEN 3.3 110 PM 2/15 TRAINED SPOTTER

The forecast going into the storm was 3-6 inches, not 3 PLUS 6 inches....

Here at Boskone, I declared Sunday to be Minnesota Day on behalf of all of the Minneapolis fans here. Helmuth editor Mark Richards (the NYC Mark Richards, that is) was kind enough to run the announcement I submitted:

Minneapolis fans at Boskone are declaring Sunday "Minnesota Day" in honor of the blizzard, and, of course Boskone GoH Steven K. Zoltan Brust. Felicia Herman and Geri Sullivan will be wearing their Minnesota Geek shirts featuring Steve's name as well as several of his fellow Scribblies, Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, (which Steve co-founded), Minicon (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year complete with a Cats Laughing Reunion Concert featuring, um, Steve on drums), and many other names you're likely to recognize.

Back in the early 1980s, Boston folk musician and journalist Scott Alarik wrote "Minnesota's Got To Me." It's a fitting tune not just for Minnesota Day at Boskone, but also the blizzard, and the 75+" of snow that preceded it in the 3 weeks before Boskone. Here's a pertinent taste of the lyrics:

"People will say that there's hell to pay,
the whole long year around.
If the heat don't beat you, the mosquitoes eat 'ya,
ya slip in the mud and drown.
Before you know it, it's always snowin'
so deep you cannot see.
But once or twice, it's so damned nice,
it's just like heaven to me."

You can hear the whole song at [YouTube link] ... and maybe at Boskone's Dead Dog Sunday evening.

===

I didn't wait for the Dead Dog, singing it, oh, going on a dozen times or so from morning on, once with Steve, and 2-3 times with Felicia (but not 5). Fun.

An early Valentine for Stan fans

4 tulips
The Stan in question is Canadian folksinger Stan Rogers. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across and ordered One Warm Line: The Legacy of Stan Rogers. Friday night, I watched the 1989 CBC documentary for the first time. It won't be the last. The bonus tracks include footage of Stan & his band performing two live songs: Archie Fisher's "Witch of the Westmoreland" and Nigel Russell's "White Collar Holler." I saw Stan perform both at the Coffeehouse Extempore. Oh, the memories....

But even more than the music, I enjoyed the thoroughly Canadian approach to the documentary itself. It brings added insight to Stan's life more with maritime and farming footage than with images from his performances, much as there's an ample amount of the latter, too. There are interviews with his widow and mother as well as some brief comments from his brother, Garnet. And photos of his children, including his son, Nathan, who has a music career of his own. My favorite of the bonus track interviews is the first. I found myself hanging onto every word from poet Bill Howell, talking as he did about all-night conversations he and Stan had about writing and more.

The Kensington website linked above sells the DVD for $20 (plus postage) and has a streaming option for $2. When I ordered it, the only Amazon listing was for an overpriced copy from a third party seller. Tonight, the DVD is on Amazon for $14.99 with free shipping for Prime members, so that's an another option if you're an Amazon customer and want the documentary.

When I returned to my computer after watching the DVD on the TV in the living room, wandering around the web turned up another new-to-me discovery: From Coffeehouse to Concert Hall. How the heck did I miss this album when it was released in 1999, or through all the years that have passed since then? I now have 20 tracks of studio and live performances, none of which are on any of the other 5 Stan Rogers albums I own. My oh my.

And no matter how certain I am that surely decadentdave has long known and been familiar with both the documentary and album, I'll talk with him directly about both. Because none of my friends would have thought they'd be news to me, either.

Happy Valentine's, all. If you'll be at Boskone on the day, please be sure to stop by the MidAmeriCon II table and pick up a heart or three from me.

What's another foot between friends?

MarchFrog
A hell of a lot of shoveling, that's what. Shoveling I haven't done yet; shoveling that will wait until tomorrow.

Arrgh.

Inch by inch

MarchFrog
Snowfall total here at Toad Woods at 1am Wednesday: 20"

I thought I was going to top out at 18", then 19". Even at 20", that's still 10 fewer than friends in Framingham were clobbered with, but I can't say I got off easy. Just a bit easier than I might have....

Electricity hasn't flickered. (Knocking wood, and All That Jazz....) Ditto both for internet connectivity.

Primary shoveling is done except for the last 2 inches. Plow Guy has been by twice to clear the drive; it's in good shape. I still need to shovel out the path to the oil tank refill cap at the back of the house, and probably shovel plow chunks and other snow piled up around my mailbox. I didn't make it up the drive today to see, but it's a safe bet with this much snow.

BackDeckThruPatioDoor_20150127_144732

My back deck, Tuesday afternoon. Window crayon art by tnh, fredcritter, Gavi, and me.

KarenArt_Snow_20150127_144816

Ditto that about the deck. Window crayon art by minnehaha K.

SoftPeaks_20150127_145233

Whip until soft peaks form. Do not overwhip.

Pictures from February 2011 in my Toad Woods snapshot album (see pages 2 & 3) certainly help put Tuesday's storm into perspective.

Onward!

7am update

MarchFrog
Snowfall total here at Toad Woods at 7am: 12"

Wind: present and gusting a bit, but not too noisy now.


Second pass of shoveling done an hour ago, when the total was 11". Snow is super-fluffy, super-light powder. Shoveling 8.5" was easier than shoveling 4" of our "typical" snow. It's of no use whatsoever in terms of building snow forts or sculpting snow frogs, but I'm okay with that. (I'm soooooo okay with that!)

We might be in for another 10-15 inches. Or maybe not. I don't know what time the National Weather Service starts counting "Daytime" accumulation. Ditto that for the Accuweather forecast.

Other data points: electricity is solid. Internet connectivity is solid. Knocking wood and hoping both remain so. But, yeah, this isn't the kind of snow that breaks trees or takes down power lines. Even a foot of it simply doesn't have the weight needed to do either. The winds will knock down a few branches that were already dead, but if National Grid loses power to a third of its customer base as they were anticipating yesterday, well, I'll reconsider switching suppliers. (National Grid had a huge rate jump a couple of months ago and ever since, multitudes of suppliers have been calling promising the sun, the moon, and the stars...or at least massive savings...if I switch. Most of them start out with a lie, telling me that Massachusetts just passed a law allowing me to chose my supplier when that law took effect in 1998. I haven't been inclined to do business with any of them.

Plow Guy came around 6:30 and did his first pass. I bet he was surprised to see my part freshly shoveled!

Plow Mountain has returned to my front yard. By the time this storm ends, it's likely to have grown into Plow Mountain Range.

Midnight update

MarchFrog
Okay, it's past midnight. That's because I did the first pass of shoveling after measuring the total as the day ended. And other stuff.

Snowfall total here at Toad Woods at midnight: 2.5"

I don't have an anemometer (and don't have any kids around to turn them loose constructing a homemade version tomorrow), so my wind report is simply: noisy and brisk.

The Weather Underground station at Haynes Hill Road puts winds from the NE at 3.4 mph, gusting to 4.9. It's windier here. The station up in Brimfield has the wind a 2.9 mph with gusts to 26.2, and swinging from the SW to N to NNW. The gusts didn't seem that strong when I was out, but 15-20 mph for sure.

And the Award for Most Prepared goes to:

MarchFrog
Bill Burns!

Bill and Mary Burns live down on Long Island. Bill not only has the gas tank on his Prius full and the connection set up to run the inverter from the car to provide AC power, he's also set up his house wiring so he can leave the Prius in the detached garage and send the power from it to an isolated AC circuit running back to the house so it's available for critical systems should the need arise.

He used the inverter during the Nor'easter that came in on the heels of Superstorm Sandy just over two years ago and posted details about that on the Prius forum.

To my eyes, adding the isolated AC circuit is the Perfect Artistic (Engineering-Grade) Finishing Touch.

Current snowfall total here at Toad Woods: 1"

Storm quotes'n'forecasts

MarchFrog
1. Seen earlier today: "After 11pm tonight, no cars other than emergency vehicles would be allowed on streets in the state of New York - and the Mayor de Blasio emphasized that 'a food delivery bicycle is not an emergency vehicle'."

2. On MassLive.com:

▶ Complete Blizzard 2015 coverage
▶ Gov. Baker activates 500 National Guard troops for blizzard
▶ Western Mass. parking bans for winter snowstorm announced
▶ PVTA bus service suspened
▶ Will your nearest Dunkin' Donuts location be open?

I've lived in Massachusetts long enough to find the presence of that last item unsurprising. Heck, it's downright expected.

3. The forecasts: last night, weather.gov was forecasting 21-31" for Wales. This morning, it was 22-32". It's now dropped to 18-28". I'm all but doing a happy dance over the latest numbers. Accuweather has us at 28.9"; The Weather Channel has my favorite (if untrusted) numbers with 14-21" and Weather Underground is even better at 13-20". According to MassLive.com, the top three single-storm snowfalls in Western Massachusetts have all happened since I moved here. I'll be happy if this one fails to make the top ten.

Didn't know until I tried

MarchFrog
Snow tires are the best.

I had a 9am meeting here in town this morning. Ah, yes, after 10 years I have succumbed and am now serving on a committee to help the Town of Wales figure out what we're going to do with a piece of property the Town bought last year. When we scheduled this morning's tour of the house (built in 1875 or thereabouts), the snow wasn't expected to start falling until mid-morning. When I got in the Cardis to see if I could get up the driveway at 8:50am, there were already 4 inches of fresh white stuff on the ground. And, more importantly, on the driveway. The uphill, curved, 275' driveway.

For the first several years I lived here, there'd be a few times each winter when it took both a running start and multiple tries to get up the driveway after 2-3 inches of snow, before it was plowed. Heck, sometimes it would take a couple of tries even after it had been plowed and sanded, though the time I had to call AAA for a tow wasn't one of those.

Then I bought snow tires. I haven't had to back up and try again once since then, but I've also not tried getting up the driveway through 4 inches. I didn't know if I'd make it out this morning, but those snow tires carried the Cardis right up that hill and out onto Monson Road without complaint or hesitation. I didn't even hit that point of hoping, hoping, hoping the car had enough momentum to carry it up the steepest bit. It just plain went.

The Road Commissioner, who couldn't be at the tour because he and his crew are all out plowing roads, had plowed out the utterly flat, wide driveway at the house we were touring, which is right on Hwy 19. So we all had a place to park. Win. He'd even warned us all in email yesterday afternoon to not park alongside the road itself as the state highway plows and sanders would be coming through.

Seeing the house, getting a feel for the space and how much clean-up work will be involved...it was all great. I even got to wear my Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner hat a few times. From my early days at Toad Hall, I knew that a small tank in an attic crawl space that one of the guys didn't recognize is quite likely an overflow tank for the hot water heating system. And from my more recent years here at Toad Woods, I was able to point out the well pump and an inline water filter to a couple of the women as we were exploring the basement. And when one of the guys pointed out how a load-bearing wall had been removed, I knew enough about how support pillars should work to see the problem he pointed out in how the pillar had been installed. Doing it over so it's right won't be a big deal and the house itself feels both spacious and solid.

A good start to a snowy Saturday!
Geri 2014
The Kickstarter clock just turned over to 28 hours to go on the campaign for the Cats Laughing reunion concert at Minicon 50.

The campaign currently has 282 backers and is just over $20,000, which means that not only will the reunion concert happen (complete with rehearsals beforehand), it will be Livestreamed, there will be a concert CD, and a concert DVD! They're aiming for Stretch Goal Tier Four, which would include an Opening Act (to be named later, IIUC), various audio and video improvements, and a T-shirt cannon. They're already well enough along on the 4th Stretch Tier that they've added Scott Keever as an additional Cat, bringing the band to its original Cat 5 size.

Beyond the sheer fact that it's happening, I'm most excited about the Livestream of the concert because that's the only way I'll be able to see it in real time. I'm jumping at the unexpected chance to attend Eastercon thanks to the Corflu Fifty (fan fund) sponsoring my trip to Tynecon III: The Corflu in Newcastle upon Tyne the weekend before. I've only wanted to go to Eastercon for 25 years and then some. It's pretty much the only thing I can imagine voluntarily keeping me away from Minicon 50 even before plans were hatched for the Cats Laughing reunion there. Meg Frank and I will be at Dysprosium and plan to watch the concert in whatever wee hours it runs. I hope we're able to turn it into a viewing party with others there. Twenty-four hour fandom lives!

So, yes, I'm supporting the Cats Laughing Kickstarter. For $73, of course. $19.73 would have worked, but I wanted to support (and get a copy of) the concert DVD even before I knew if they'd hit the funding level needed to create it. $197.30 and other likely permutations were appealing, but beyond my current means so I resisted temptation.

Most people reading this post have likely already supported the campaign at whatever level works for them. But a few could be reading about it for the first time here. If so, and if you're so inclined, please head on over to the Cats Laughing Reunion Concert Kickstarter page before midnight Saturday Minnesota time and kick in whatever works for you. Or just add a comment telling Dee & Corwin Brust how awesome they are for launching the campaign in the first place. You can also follow the updates on the Cats Laughing Facebook page, open so those of us not there can see it.

Whoohoo! Yay, Cats Laughing!

(Why, yes, the reunion concert makes me extraordinarily happy. So glad it's happening, and to be helping make that so.)
Geri 2014
Yesterday's call was just plain weird. A heavily-accented male voice called to offer me a loan. I went with my standard, prompt reply: "No thank you. Please remove my number from your calling list."

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Please remove my number from your calling list."

"Please be my girlfriend."

"Please remove my number from your calling list."

"Please be my girlfriend."

"Please remove my number from your calling list."

"Please be my girlfriend."

"Please remove my number from your calling list."

We went through another round or two with each of us playing broken record until I finally added "Good day" to my side of the conversation and hung up.

Okay, that "good day" was overly generous given how I was feeling toward the caller at that point. I wish I'd asked to speak to his supervisor. That wouldn't have gotten me anywhere, but it might have sent a clearer signal that the telemarketer's behavior was not welcome or appropriate.

The phone rang a few minutes ago. The business name wasn't discernible to my ear, but it wasn't the same as yesterday's name. Again, a heavily-accented male voice, the same accent I associate with scam calls for Windows security fixes. Not the same voice as yesterday; this one was a bit lighter/higher in pitch. Again, an offer for a loan, this time with an amount attached: $5,000.

"No thank you. Please remove my number from your calling list."

"You don't want it?"

"No. Please remove my number from your calling list."

Followed by an immediate, polite goodbye...and "love you!" at the end.

Not as obnoxious as yesterday's call, but, still, WTF?

Caller ID is $138/year, so I don't bother with it. In fact, looking up the price just prompted me to drop Call Waiting, which I've been paying $102/year for. It used to be worth it, but these days I'm at the edge of dropping my landline all together. Anyone needing to reach me when I'm on a landline call most likely has my cell number and can try that if the call is urgent. Otherwise, a busy signal pretty clearly suggests calling back later.

I won't credit the telemarketers with saving me $102/year (plus whatever taxes were on that $8.50, which are likely to be rather a lot given the $16.24/month taxes and fees currently added to my $21.20 phone bill). But I will thank LJ readers for the excuse to post about it here since the process of doing that directly led to the savings.

Tags:

For what it's worth....

Geri 2014
...those horrible pile-ups on I-94 in Michigan? The ones that occurred on both sides of the highway and are being counted as a single 193-vehicle event?

I've driven that stretch of road both eastbound and westbound literally hundreds of times since first taking drivers' ed and getting my learner's permit in 1969. Exit 92 was my default for trips heading west or when taking eastbound 94 from the west as I was coming into Battle Creek.

My sister was on that stretch of road fewer than 11 hours before the pile-up. If she'd packed her toothbrush and a book, she likely would have stayed over with friends in Mattawan Thursday night and either been on the road heading home Friday morning when it happened or horribly delayed in the immediate aftermath.

Six of the 23 injured people sent to hospitals were treated at the hospital my dad was in both when he got his pacemaker and shortly before his death. I know those corridors, though only my sister spent time with him in the emergency room there.

So, yeah. While I don't (or don't yet) know of anyone personally involved with or affected by the pile-ups, was 750+ miles away at the time, and didn't even hear about it until Sunday evening(!), this one was way too close to home.

I'd say it's bloody cold out there...

MarchFrog
...but blood would have frozen 28 Fondly Fahrenheit degrees ago, even in places sheltered from the wind.

And I simply refuse to talk further of the wind.

I'm going upstairs, getting in my heavy flannel nightie and crawling between cosy flannel sheets under:

1) a down blanket,

2) a heavy Pendleton wool blanket, doubled up, and

3) a down comforter.

And the only thing that could possibly entice me to leave that cocoon tomorrow (I've seen the forecast) would be Gavi's arrival at BDL and my promise to meet her there for the journey back up to Smith.

I'm even looking forward to that happening a mere 12 hours from now.

I am not looking forward to the part where I have to leave my warm cocoon, though. Not even a little bit. Not only can I read books in it, I can check email and surf the web on my phone, drawing my fingers back under the flannel sheets when they start to feel the slightest chill. Like they and the rest of my body has ever since returning from being outdoors 8 hours ago. And it's more than the slightest chill. Hot cocoa didn't even put a dent in it.

It may be time to set the thermostat a few degrees higher in recognition that fuel oil prices are 32% lower than they've been for the last 3 years....

(Of course, if I did that, I'd have to be warm in the dark considering last month's electric rate hike t/o/ t/h/e/ s/t/a/r/s/.)

Stay warm, all!

2014 Nights Away from Home

Geri 2014
Last year, I celebrated being home a more normal number of nights compared to the absurdities of 2011 and 2012. Yowser, I was home even more in 2014!

Total nights gone:

By the time 2014 ends, I will have spent just 43 nights away from Toad Woods. That's home 88% of the time and gone just 12%. That may well be the most time spent at home since I moved here!

As usual, * = more than one stay.

City, State List

Long Beach, CA*
Manhattan Beach, CA

Boston, MA
Danvers, MA*
Framingham, MA
Middleton, MA*

Dearborn, MI
Detroit, MI
Ypsilanti, MI*

Verona, NY

Clarion, PA

Middletown, RI

Addison, TX

Stowe, VT

Overnight visitors were here for 44 nights in 2014, one more night than I was gone. They included:

• Bill Higgins
• Sandra Bond
• Gavi Levy Haskell* (27 of those nights, with visits in May, July, and November!)
• Susan Levy Haskell
• Karen Cooper
• Ben Yalow
• Joe Siclari & Edie Stern
• Doug Faunt*
• Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Good times. Y'all come back now, hear?

Conventions in 2014 included ConFusion, Boskone, Detcon1, FenCon, and Smofcon. I regretfully cancelled on Corflu at the last minute after the Cardis got rear-ended in Sturbridge and wasn't fit for the drive to North Carolina. As expected, I didn't make Loncon 3 or Shamrokon despite having memberships to both.

Thanks to the Corflu Fifty, I'm heading to the other side of the Pond in 2015! The fund is taking me to Tynecon III–The Corflu and I'm then staying over for Dysprosium the following weekend. So my 2015 nights away from home list will include Newcastle-upon-Tyne, London, and other English cities and towns. As for the rest, I'll make it up as the year passes. The only other certainty at this point is Boskone. And lots of work.

See you on the Funway!

Best Christmas...

Santa Monkey
...since 1995, which I believe is the last time I hosted Toad Hall Christmas. So many delights: friends, conversation, food, drinks, and Santa Ducky, of course. Much-appreciated prezzies, too. So good.

And now, so tie-tie. Looking forward to 8 hours of downtime tonight. Maybe even 9. Starting, oh, now. For values of "now" equaling "within the next 10 minutes."

Such a fine day, such a fine, easy night. Hoping yours was the same.

Success du jour

Santa Monkey
Number of Rubbermaid bins and cardboard boxes of Christmas decorations moved down the stairs from the Flamingo Loft: 8

Number of falls, missteps, and stumbles in the process: 0

Win.

I learned to be cautious while carrying things on stairs back in 1996, when missing a step while carrying a full laundry basket down the basement stairs left me with a broken foot. Today, I was extra careful. My friend Jonathan Adams is in the early days of his recovery from a broken hip, and I really didn't want to find myself in a position to share recovery notes with him.

The eight bins and boxes are now on the first floor of the Zeppelin Hangar along with the five bins and boxes that never made it up to the Flamingo Loft following Christmas 2013. That's a container for each of the 12 days of Christmas, plus one to grow on. Hmmm...perhaps I will make more progress trimming back on my trimmings this year. I started out full of Good Intentions on that front last year, but ended up pretty much trimming only the tree itself.

Onward! Here's to joy-filled holidays for all who celebrate any or all of the plentitude of holidays accompanying this time of year.

Tags:

Design for People: the power of promotion

Geri 2014
The Cats Laughing Reunion Event & Album Kickstarter campaign has me dropping in at Kickstarter more frequently than is my usual wont. And instead of going to one of the updates and from there directly to the Cats Laughing page, I've just been typing "kickstarter.com". Danger, Will Robinson.

That's how I stumbled across Design for People, Saturday's Kickstarter Project of the Day.

Funny how when I found the page a few hours ago, they were still a few thousand dollars short of they $50,000 goal. Funny how a few hours after I watched Scott Stowell's brief "Pay Attention" lunch talk and supported the Kickstarter, Scott was sending out an unscheduled update announcing they'd hit the goal with 48 hours to go.

Thursday's AIGA article by Liz Stinson didn't hurt either, I'm sure.

I'm looking forward to refreshing my own thoughts about and approach to collaborative design. I only wish the book were coming out now rather than planned for next June. Still, there's no doubt I'll still benefit from the creative kickstart then. :-)

For Don Fitch

Geri 2014
Just in case you can read lj, but not email...

Flight *just* landed. See you 3ish.

Adventures, I tell you. Adventures. Good ones, except for the added hours.

I remember Stu

Indian Pipe
I met Stu Shiffman sometime in the 1980s. I think I knew him before he was Artist GoH at Minicon 20 in 1985, but can't point to a specific time or event, or even remember any specific conversations with him before Corflu 3 the following year. I surely saw his art and heard about him long before we met, mostly from Fred (pre-Levy) Haskell. The first thing I remember hearing about Stu was that he was a fan artist. The second was that his day job was in ladies lingerie. I've long since forgotten the details of that...something about the Garment District...someone who knew Stu back in the day, please fill me in.

My fanzine files contain RAFFLES #5, which Stu and Larry Carmody published in 1981 and a few copies of THE BIG SCHLEP (Part One; 1983, I think). But I'm pretty sure that POTSHERD number one (1985) is the first of Stu's fanzines that came in the mail.

Thirty years, that's not too many. Not nearly enough, as it turned out. Much as I can type the words, "Stu died last Wednesday"...much as I admire and appreciate the detailed obituary Mike Glyer wrote and published in File 770, my heart and mind are still back in the pre-Wednesday place. The place where Stu was unresponsive following a fall, where we were all waiting. Where we expected to keep waiting for another 90 days while brain swelling decreased, hoping Stu would regain responsiveness then. Instead, here we are, remembering.

SFFY10_elephant_20141129_220639


I mostly knew Stu thanks to our shared love of fanzines. When I finally published my own, the ToC page of IDEA #1 included additional credit and thanks to "Stu Shiffman and Mike Glicksohn: for encouragement to do a 'real' fanzine." Stu gifted me with bespoke art, fillos, covers, and more over the next 20 years, for IDEA and SCIENCE-FICTION FIVE-YEARLY as well as special projects like BEYOND THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR...TO THE ENCHANTED CONVENTION. Snapshots of some of that art, mostly mimeographed onto Fibertone.Collapse )

When Fred was Fan GoH at Minicon 22 in 1987, Stu, along with Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden, published WORKINGMAN'S FRED. It's one of those 'zines that's impossible to quote without printing the whole thing, so here's the cover art & fan club ad:

WorkingmansFred_20141129_221732

FredHaskellFanClub_20141129_224531


In October, 1988, I attended a Fanoclast meeting in Stu's Washington Heights apartment at 19 Broadway Terrace. That was just a few months before he moved to Boston to be with Andi, and two years later, they moved to Seattle. And two years after that, they published FOLKAL POINT, "A Fanzine of Folk Music Opinion." Given my own interest in folk music, I'm surprised that I can't remember ever talking with Stu about it.

I saw him and Andi only rarely during the 1990s and had even less contact with them after I moved east and stopped flying here, there, and everywhere. But Andi's mother's death brought them to Connecticut in January, 2011, and the timing of that coincided with one of my early trips down to New York to spend time with Susan Palermo before her own death later that year. I stopped in West Hartford to express my condolences and visit for a brief hour or so. We'd all of course aged in the years since we'd last seen each other, but Stu was one of those rare people who looked better in his mid-50s than I'd ever seen him before. His always-boyish round face had matured into *woah* one darned attractive man. Stu was comfortable with his body in a way I'd never before witnessed, and his conversation reflected the fact that he was similarly comfortable with himself and his life. I loved being in his and Andi's presence, seeing his understanding and support through the shared grief and the reality of the work at hand.

It was a sad time for a visit and I couldn't have imagined it would be our last. Alas, that's what it turned out to be. And now we remember. Now we remember and grieve.

After Stu's stroke in June, 2012, I followed all of Tom Whitmore's updates on CaringBridge, all but holding my breath those first six months, when every step forward seemed to be accompanied by two steps back. Then the year turned, and slowly the balance shifted, there were more and more steps forward, then the joy of Stu and Andi's engagement, and their wedding this past summer. I'm thankful for all of that, and so loved their announcement when they decided to marry:

"We have been together for 25 years. On June 13, 2012, Stu suffered a serious stroke from which he has recovered to a major extent, although he still has more healing to do. In March of 2013, Andi turned 60 years old, while Stu will have his 60th birthday in February of 2014. We feel that we have good reason to talk about love and commitment.

Indeed. My heart goes out to Andi. I'm so very glad that she and Stu shared that love and commitment 'til death did them part, and I wish so very, very much that death had waited a good deal longer to come knocking.

That it didn't thoroughly sucks, dammit.

By popular demand

Santa Monkey
Santa Ducky's First Night at Toad Woods

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Giving thanks

Carnegie Hall
In these wee hours of Monday night/Tuesday morning, I am especially thankful to my father because the right socket and a ratchet handle beat the came-with-the-new-office-chair knock-off Allen wrench hands down and then some when it comes to putting said chair together. Said socket and ratchet followed me home from his basement workshop when we were cleaning out the house after his death. It's already been three years, and I'm usually as okay as one can be, but a few days ago I was standing in a grocery store and found myself missing him madly. Tonight, I was just thankful that he gladly and eagerly taught his all of his children how to use and respect tools, not just the boy-child.

I'm also especially thankful that Gavi is spending her Thanksgiving break here at Toad Woods, and that she prefers the companionship of setting up a work table in my office instead of being in a different room (or even a different floor -- there's a desk in the primary guest bedroom). Because said chair is now assembled and oh, so comfortable, and rolls oh, so smoothly instead of sitting in the box it arrived in...um...very early September. There would have been room for her even with the chair still in its box over by the supply bureau, but it was nice to have a motivational date for getting the job done, and tonight was it.

Much as I miss Tillie and Jinx, I'm also happy knowing that I won't be applying decorative duct tape to said chair to keep the innards from spilling all over the floor after Tillie and her claws had her way with it for a few months. She and Jinx left most household furnishings alone, but the vertical blinds in the dining area and my old office chair were the exceptions. Jinx left the chair alone since she wasn't inclined to seek close-up attention from her human. Tillie was rather the opposite of her daughter in that regard.

The old office chair served me well for seven years then limped along through one more year after it was worn out. Not bad for an $89 deal at Staples bought in Michigan to get me through a few weeks working at my sister's dining room table after she had hip replacement surgery. Not bad at all considering how much time I spend at my desk. The new chair is sturdier. Comfortable, too, and probably more so once I figure out the various settings and adjustments.

Onward.

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Geri 2014
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Geri Sullivan

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