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Fanzines from Tynecon III: the Corflu

I picked up or was handed several fanzines and related publications in relation to this year's Corflu. Here's the list, somewhat organized and then re-organized during an edit after posting.

Received the Sunday before Corflu

Caroline Mullan and Brian Ameringen arranged Sunday brunch at a local pub on my behalf. Joseph Nicholas, Judith Hanna, and Rob Hansen all showed up bearing items they'd already done to have ready for Corflu.

The Night Is So Black That The Darkness Cooks from Joseph Nicholas. 10 pages A4.

Nonsense said the Numbat #2 from Judith Hanna. 6 pages A4.

Corrected to add: THEN: The Audio 2 audio cds from Rob Hansen, who digitized tapes supplied by Peter Weston.

Received at Corflu

Flipping Heck #3 from David Hicks. 10 pages A4, with thanks to Dave for numbering his pages.

Vibrator 2.0.14 from Graham Charnock. 18 pages A4.

TAFFWORLD (TAFF newsletter) from Jim Mowatt. 6 pages A4 including the ballot. Note: voting closes 23:59 on Tuesday 7th April 2015 (British Summer Time aka UTC+1). Here's the online ballot.

Wave Without a Shore #2 from Tom Becker. 4 pages A4, published at Corflu, just in time for the 5pm Saturday panel, "We Get the Fandom We Create" and discussed in its pages.

SAM #17 from Steve Stiles. 6 pages, US letter size.

Banana Wings #58 from Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer. 52 pages A5.

Nowhere Fan #3 from Christina Lake. 12 pages A5

Unreliable Narrator #3: Vienna Calling from Doug Bell. 16 pages A5

"Wolf for TAFF!" campaign flyer from Murray Moore. 2 pages US letter size.

Tynecon III: the Corflu publications

Tyne Capsule fanthology celebrating Gannetfandom. Edited & published Rob Jackson and distributed with the Corflu program book. 80 pages A4.

Programme Book edited by Graham Charnock. 34 pages plus covers A4. (Including an article "Rude Dancing" by yours truly.)

Pocket Programme from Doug Bell, Claire Brialey, Christina Lake, and Mark Plummer. 4 pages A5.

Restaurant and Pub Guide from Pat & Harry Bell. 3 pages A4.

"We Get the Fandom We Create" programme pre-reading from Geri Sullivan. 1 page A4. (Many thanks to Claire Brialey for editing and Rob Jackson for printing.)

Auction takings

ATOM 2000 (second edition) and The Millennium ATOM (first edition). Collections of Arthur Thomspon art published by Ken Cheslin, 2000. 102 and 116 A4 pages plus covers respectively. I dropped out of bidding, then Nigel Rowe continued bidding on my behalf, gifting them to me and starting a an auction-livening trend.

SPANG BLAH #19 published by jan howard finder 1978. 16 pages US letter size, all Jim Barker art, originally intended to be a cartoon duel with Phil Foglio. "A bargain of Barker," indeed! Tucked inside: a half-page flyer for Novacon 9 West (in Albany, NY).

In sum: 142 pages in 12 publications new in time for Corflu, 122 pages in 5 publications published by the convention, and luggage'n'budget-constrained 234.5 pages in 3 publications bought at auction. 504.5 pages all told, including covers! No wonder I haven't finished (and, indeed, have barely started) reading it all yet!

Link: Dave Kyle at 96

Dave Kyle originally planned to celebrate his 96th Valentine's birthday at Boskone, but was among those who cancelled shortly before the blizzard-bound convention.

This past Saturday, friends celebrated his birthday, and Bill Burns took a splendid photo of Dave. He gave me permission to share the link as well as his description of meeting Dave 50 years ago this Easter and the help Dave gave him during Bill's 1967 trip to North America.

Bill wrote:

I first met Dave at the 1965 Birmingham Eastercon, then saw him again at Great Yarmouth the next year. At the 1967 Eastercon in Bristol I mentioned to Dave that I would be spending the summer in the USA on a student charter, with a 99 days for 99 dollars unlimited travel Greyhound bus pass. I was 19 at the time and it sounded like a good idea, especially as I could visit my brother in Canada and also get to the Worldcon.

Dave immediately gave me his phone number in Potsdam, told me to call him collect when I arrived in New York, and said he would then arrange with fans across the country to host me as I travelled. And he did.

Along the way I stayed with Dave and Ruth in Potsdam for a few days, and said that I would like to visit Expo 67, the World's Fair in Montreal that year. We checked the bus schedules, and there was one Greyhound a day to and from Montreal - the outbound and return buses crossed in Potsdam at 4am. So Dave dropped me off at the bus station in the middle of the night, I spent a full day in Montreal and took the next bus back, and he picked me up at the bus station in Potsdam at 4am the next day.

The end of my trip was NyCon3. I arrived in Manhattan directly from three days and nights on the bus from California, spent the first night of the con in a room with a bunch of Canadian fans, then Dave offered me the couch in the living room of his hotel suite for the rest of the con. He also got me on a radio show call-in late one night, following which we went out for ice cream.

Two days after the con I was back home in Manchester, ready for my final year at Leeds University. I've never forgotten Dave's many kindnesses and would do anything to help him now.

My 60-year-old, sleep-deprived eyes....

...just scored a ZERO on the online Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test.

BTW, zero is the perfect score. Age has caught up with my eyes in other ways, but not with hue, apparently.

Either that, or the online test is bollocks, as the tetrachromacy test that's making the rounds following the whole dress color excitement appears to be.

I note with disappointment that the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test is sadly lacking in llamas.

Linky Monday

My hovercraft is full of eels - A multilingual celebration -- with a tip o'the link hat to coth, who I will see in just 19 days! (The languages are listed in the "show more" part of the description.)

And how is it that I don't have THIS?!?

And for the place I'm likely to spend not-insignificant portions of my week? That'd be pretty much everything that will help me properly and usefully configure MySQL Community Server. pnh, you may be my only hope.

(Mail seems to be working. MailStewardPro, not so much. Not yet, that is; I'm confident it will. It would be already, if I had so much as two clues to rub together. Instead, the syntax errors and getting only 82,399 messages archived when the count is known to be over 380,000...well, I'm entertained by some of the absurdities pointing at how much I don't yet know.)


The end of an era?

Perhaps. MailSteward Pro is 59030 messages into archiving all of my Eudora mailboxes into its database. Thanks for the pointer, pnh! I started by testing the free version of MailSteward on a select number of mailboxes. It archived something in the neighborhood of 34,000 messages and gave me access to 15,001 of those, as the free trial indicated it would. The search functionality is considerably more robust than what I'm used to, but I poked at it enough to determine that I'm likely to be able to learn how to use it well enough for my needs. So I downloaded MySQL server, installed it, opened Terminal and typed in the easiest of the commands indicated, then followed help screens to launch the server and then the program. Setting the server to archive large attachments will wait for another day.

Back over in a copy of Eudora on another computer, I'm paring back the files I'll attempt to put through Eudora Mailbox Cleaner and then import into Mac Mail. So far, I've gone from 2.54GB in my mail folder to 634.7MB, and from 733 mailboxes to 340. I'm not done yet. But there, at the very top of my fredcritter mailbox, I found the following:

11/3/95, 2:42am

To: falh@maroon.tc.umn.edu
From: gfs@toad-hall.com (Geri Sullivan)
Subject: Eudora

Hi, Fred! This is my first attempt at using Eudora to send mail. I have some configuration questions for you -- or at least expect I will have after researching what I can find in balloon help and the like. Whee!

So, the modem is up and running. I've connected to Winternet at 28.8, and done an AOL session at 9600 (I seem to remember that they had special software for 14.4 modems, and the listing of available options jumped from 19-something to 57-something, no "38,400bps," which is what the 28.8 apparently really runs at.

This is fun and only somewhat bewildering. I had email from Winternet saying that the "toad-hall" registration is done and will be effective "tomorrow." But I won't broadcast the information until I see for myself that it works.

Thanks, bunches and tons, for the modem. I still think I'm gonna cry.

More later, no doubt.


I've put off moving away from Eudora for years. My first real attempt, following all of the advice and pointers I could gather, ended in a hard fail over this past Thanksgiving weekend. The imported mailboxes and numbers looked right on the surface, so I just kept updating them before proofreading. Not only were the number of messages "off" in several cases, many of the message inside were pure garbage. Horrors.

But I have to change. Eudora doesn't run on Yosemite, and Yosemite is what I'm running on my "new" 17" MacBook Pro. The one built in October 2011, IIRC, and bought refurbished from Apple long after they discontinued selling new 17" MacBooks. The one coming with me on my Corflu Fifty trip across the Pond. So here I am, giving the move another shot, deleting as much cruft and just plain stuff that belongs in an easily-searched archive rather than in Mail, whose search function is reportedly pathetic compared to Eudora's. Stuff like email Fred and I exchanged 19+ years ago.

Wish me luck! I do have a back-up plan in mind, but I really, really, really don't want to have to use it.

Amusement du jour

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

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

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

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...

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, the only media we have in Wales is the community cable tv station, so who knows?


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

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?

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


Inch by inch

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.


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


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


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.


7am update

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

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:

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

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

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!
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.)
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.


For what it's worth....

...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...

...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

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...

...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

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


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.



Geri 2014
Geri Sullivan

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