41 thoughts on “Quick Ping

  1. Hot – it got over 100 in the SF Valley. But the Universal Studios fireworks sure were pretty from our pool!

    Have fun in Indy – is it raining? I seem to remember that whenever the Dayton weather guys showed Indiana, there was a ring of radar hits around that city.

    For your sake, I hope not.

  2. It rained here, and I spent the evening sitting around rereading this really great book called The Last Colony and trying to figure out how high to place it on my Hugo ballot. Tough choice with Halting State on the ballot as well!

    Thanks for the whole trilogy. I can’t wait for Zoe’s Tale!

  3. Was really good 4th. Ate Lobster tail, tiger shrimp, and magaritas! No major fireworks though, California is burning.

  4. Extremely unhappy that I can’t be at InConJunction. I live in Indy, and I still can’t make it — too much going on over the holiday weekend.

    Have fun without me….

  5. Great in Nashville. One hour after the downtown fireworks we had a big rain shower. Everybody got to see the professional fireworks on a comfortable and temperate evening, get home at a leisurely pace, and then the amateurs were washed out allowing us all a good night’s sleep.

  6. I’m not there because they are holding in the wrong part of the country. Might get to Denvention though.

  7. Got to stand in the rain and watch fireworks.

    Got to stand in the rain and help grill dinner.

    But I also got to visit with friends and family, so that made up for all the rain.

  8. Great Fourth here in MN. Perfect weather, no humidity.

    Started the day by listening to the Declaration of Independence read on NPR. Then saw my youngest child reading it in the paper at breakfast.

    Ended the day with BBQ ribs, watermelon & city fireworks viewed from our mosquito-free enclosed porch.

    Spent the day cooking at my kids’ camp (meal for 300) in Hudson, Wi. They have the camp the week of the fourth every year and it was our 9th year there.

  9. I’m typing this from a beach house on the Gulf coast, with 50 yards of white sand between me and the water. There are dolphins 10 yards beyond that. It is 85 degrees… Why would I go to Indiana? Why don’t you come to someplace with a decent beach?

  10. Our 4th was excellent! We threw a party and invited all the local psychologists, gamers, geeks, and sf fans. It ended up an interesting and eclectic mix.

    It also ended up being something of a retro-Americana evening. We played scrabble, yahtzee, cranium, and a killer game of uno that lasted two hours, while listening to 80s music.

    Glad you’re having fun!

  11. I pan-fried chicken. Successfully.

    That doesn’t sound like much, but in the past, whenever I tried to fry chicken on the stovetop like my grandmother used to do, it would lose its batter, or have gummy spots next to crisp, or come out undercooked inside, or scorch, or whatever. It just never came out right.

    Yesterday, everything worked. Crisp, browned evenly all over, cooked but still moist inside. It was perfect fried chicken.

    I think frying the chicken in butter, rather than oil or margarine, may have been the trick.

    (What? Unhealthy? Don’t be absurd! It was the Fourth of July! Anything you eat on the 4th is good for you, with no calories, no cholesterol, and no guilt!)

  12. It got over 100 in the San Gabriel Valley, too.

    Nice BBQ at a JPL physicist SF-fan friend’s home. We watched the first 1/2 of “Hogfather”, after grappling with deep questions: What is the 4th of July actually the 232nd anniversary of, since the Declaration of Independence was neither signed, printed, nor frist read out loud that day? George Will has a nice op ed piece on this.

    Was Christie Brinkley better off behind the wheel of Olivier Chandon de Brailles or Billy Joel, in front of a webcam for Peter Cook?

    Is Wired nuts for claiming that Google represents the End of the Scientific Method, or does that make sense in the context of the 3 crises of Mathematics in the 20th century (Godel, computer-aided proofs, lack of global consistency)?

    When will we see the restored 20-25 minutes longer Fritz Lang Metropolis, given the Argentinian discovery?

    Which of these is (a) the best, (b) the most accurate, movies or TV episodes about mental retardation:
    The Other Sister (1999)
    Protozoa (1993)
    “Rescue Me: Retards (#3.10)” (2006)
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
    Forrest Gump (1994)
    “South Park: Timmy 2000 (#4.3)” (2000)
    Walter and June (1983) (TV)
    “Family Guy: Petarded (#4.6)” (2005)
    Bill (1981) (TV)
    Tipping the Velvet (2002) (TV)
    Phantasmagoria (1995) (VG)
    Best Boy (1979)
    “The Simpsons: HOM’R (#12.9) (2000)
    Sling Blade (1996)
    Of Mice and Men (1939)
    Amma Cheppindi (2006)
    Amarcord (1973)
    Do the Right Thing (1989)
    Straw Dogs (1971)
    Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)
    Dodesukaden (1970)
    The Execution of Wanda Jean (2002)
    “Joan of Arcadia: Death Be Not Whatever” (#1.7) (2003)
    A Thousand Pleasures (1968)
    Left Luggage (1998)
    or the explicit science fiction:
    Charly (1968)

    Or whatever?

  13. Estivated. I do that on hot days.

    Since you’re into big ideas, here’s one somebody can try out. To explain what it is, we start with this scene from a British boarding school.

    The boys tumbled in to the dormitory in that peculiar mix of exhaustion and excitement that is the preteen child at the end of the day. They were fed, they were washed, they, one and all, had been to the lavatory and done their duty by the municipal sewage authority. Now it was bed time. Slumber time, so the masters forlornly hoped.

    The masters knew however that when the lights went out and the dormitory doors closed, the boys would play. Inducing urination in the pack’s omega boy, or buggering him. Carnal trysts among the more adventurous children. Nighttime rambles up and down the halls in search of adventure. Tours of the facilities whilst fast asleep. But, maybe, not tonight.

    Tonight the masters made their way up and down the twin rows of beds, as they knew other masters were doing in other dorms. As they did they got the children settled, talking with them, counseling and comforting them. Moving with long practiced efficiency, dealing with equanimity both honest concerns and delaying tactics.

    And as they made their bed time rounds they chanted. A soft, still chant. A chant of restful slumber. Every now and then they would interrupt their chant to answer a question, then return to it without missing a beat. When finally every boy was tucked in they made their way to the doors, still chanting. Listening as the boys’ breathing became easy, and the children settled in for the night.

    The lights went off, the doors were closed, and the chant came to an end with its final round. The boys would not awaken again until morning. Though it was still a fretful time for the masters, this first night of the experiment.

    As the two men walked away one asked the other, “The instructions are reliable?”

    He replied, “You saw what happened when we cast that freshening spell upon the moldy bread.”

    “But in the posts? In what sort of world does magic return through the Royal Mail?”

    His companion shrugged and replied, “Our sort of world apparently.”

    That’s the big idea. Magic is returning, through the postal system. Also packages, email, advertising, any place a message can be sent. Books of spells, magazines of spells, spell blogs. People aren’t discovering magic by happenstance, but via some medium or another. How would you handle a set-up like that?

  14. My 4th of July was splendid, thank you for asking! I spent the late afternoon/early evening at a city carnival with hordes of people I didn’t know, eating copious amounts of food, and downing copious amounts of non-alcoholic drinks, listening to 4 bands on two stages and waiting for the fireworks show to top it all off.

    You wouldn’t have known that Southern Nevada was in a HUGE recession by the fireworks show that the city of Henderson put on. It was the largest yet, lasting darn near 20 minutes in my estimation.

    Today, I’m getting ready for a more LOCAL party, as my fellow neighbors and I are having a pot-luck barbeque this afternoon.

    Oh and as to why I’m not at InConJunction, I think the question that should be asked is, “Why aren’t YOU here? Really John, do you have something against Las Vegas?

  15. I was there. Thanks for signing “The Sagan Diary” and have a good con. (How in the hell do you have time to blog with all of the stuff that they had going on there? I almost lost my daughter to the gamers room)
    Dave

  16. I spent a big chunk of the day cleaning up MP3 tags and tracking down album artwork. I streamed Eden’s Curve on Netflix and then tried to find a soundtrack album. No joy on that, but I did find another cool band for the new-cool list when I was searching for the composers. Trevor Lisseau and the Glass Plastiks.

    It is possible I need to get a life, but I don’t see them offered on Amazon.

  17. I’m not there because I don’t have vacation time yet and I was hoping to see my brother this weekend (he would have been driving to Pittsburgh from Aurora, IL). It turns out that my brother and wife have a sick bunny (pet rabbit) and can’t come. So my husband and I saw the latest Indiana Jones installment followed by Wall-E yesterday. I consider that a salvaged day.

  18. Be glad you weren’t home – the lower half of Ohio was a total washout yesterday.

    But today’s been pretty nice.

  19. The fourth was boring. We ate bratwursts and watched the neighbors dog, and endured an hour power outage.

    How was yours?

  20. I’m not there because it is in the wrong country. And my July 4th was just another fun day at work. Fun if you like rebuilding broken mail servers, that is… Snark, snark, snark…

  21. Trying to decide whether to go for the “this is great literature” voting scheme for the Hugos, or “I just really enjoy this a lot and reliably so” voting scheme.

    I never really know with these things. So far I seem to like ALL the nominees (and even wrote up a little bit of my various stalking… I mean, research… into the nominees in my blog).

    This both rocks and sucks at the same time. How can I reconcile voting for Brasyl because it knocked me sideways in a literary sense, versus voting for The Last Colony because I simply just love it? It’s kind of like having to choose between Gene Wolfe and Terry Pratchett.

    Just about all my voting choices are like that.

    Oh. And I was on-call for 72 hours straight with some issues here and there and backlogs that took 48 hours to clear. No barbecue for me, although my neighbors with their… perfectly legal I’m sure… fireworks show brightened the sky considerably for miles around.

  22. I’m not there because it’s on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean.

    And 4th July – regretting that those pesky colonists got away, of course…

  23. Spent some time joshing with English people about giving away the biggest, best bit of Real Estate they ever owned. Drank lots of beer, played lots of Rock Band with a crowd of brit chums who then cheered me on as we marched to the Thames to ceremonially chuck a tea-bag into it.

    In other words, as best a 4th of July as can be had in the UK :)

  24. Thank you Patrick M. (#28). Good catch!

    “Rain Man” seems logically connected to “Charly” in showing something of the spectrum of below-average and above-average mental ability, oddly both contained in the same character.

    It is politically incorrect to use the term “Idiot-Savant” — yet the phenomenon has been observed and written about for a long time. Consider also the Cajun brain-damaged supergenius inventor character in John Varley’s Jubal in “Red Thunder.”

    I could tell anecdotes about extremely weird Mathematicians that I’ve known, with anomalously high Math skills and missing aspects of normal behavior, but compared to almost all SFWA folks but Vernor Vinge, Rudy Rucker, and Greg Egan, I mean in terms of a very strong Math brain-lobe, not any deficiencies, I’m one of those myself.

    My mother’s mother worked as a child in a New York sweatshop, sewing buttons and frogs. One day she glanced at the boss’s payroll computation, upside-down to her.

    “That 4 should be a 7,” she said.

    The boss laughed. Then checked the figures. Then immediately promoted her to bookkeeper. I’d seen her, when I was a child, glance at a strip of a cash-register receipt a foot long, while I covered the sum, which she had not seen on the cash register, nor heard. She instantly spoke the total. She also had an extra rib, and never did appreciate any poetry (frustrating to her daughter, my Mom, who had a B.A. magna cum laude in English, minor Journalism, from Northwestern) but was otherwise normal.

  25. It was recommended I try viewing fireworks from the office, near the top of a highrise over Centennial Olympic Park, so as I had no other real plans, headed to downtown Atlanta on the train for fireworks.

    Found my favorite neighborhood corner burger joint open, they were glad to see a regular on a touritsa day, then headed to the office for my picnic. The security guys laughed as they saw me heading to the elevator with a bag of food on a “closed” day.

    As I suspected, many of the offices that face the park were the scenes of impromptu “picnics” of family, friends and coworkers. Found the suite next door having dessert and festivities with their families, about 20 or so. And one other person in our suite.

    Now, here is the really great part…watching outdoor festivities from inside a building on a hot, July day has many advantages…a/c, clean bathrooms, not sharing your space with well over 50,000 other sweaty bodies, and a fabulous view.

    The best part…The fireworks were spectacular, worth the trip into the office on my day off. Managed to get some great photos even through our building’s mirrored and tinted windows. Could even see occasional flashes from other fireworks displays at surrounding celebrations.

    Even funnier on the way home…going past one of the malls just as people were getting out of that fireworks display, sitting bumper to bumper in unmoving traffice…This IS the reason the city tells everyone to use public transportation!!!

    EVERYONE on the train laughed, no matter which event or firesworks we’d been at for the evening. We all knew we’d be home long before some of those folks got out of their respective parking spaces…

    Hope everyone else had a great 4th!

  26. JVP: One more movie you might want to add to your list:

    There’s Something About Mary.

    Yes, in a lot of ways it’s one of those movies where you cringe at the same time you laugh, but the character of Mary’s retarded brother is actually presented in a pretty good way. The cringe-worthy characters are the “normal” guys played by Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, etc.

  27. JVP: How about another?

    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
    Depp & DiCaprio are excellent in their portrayals.

  28. Wasn’t there because I had a prior engagement one state in the opposite direction with a beautiful woman. We got married 25 years ago last Wednesday, you see, and thought we might observe the date by touring Fallingwater and environs.

  29. I was attending a family wedding in Connecticut. A most lovely time, well worth the hassles of air travel. Which I can’t complain about really; despite the cramped planes and the Long March from Gate C43 to A17 at the Detroit Airport, all connections were made, and Northwest Airlines got me (and my suitcase) where I was supposed to be on schedule, give or take 15 minutes. And there was no line to speak of at security at either Dayton or Bradley airports.

  30. I attended a wedding of a good friend who lives in Akron, Ohio. It was held at Stan Hywet, formerly the palatial estate of the family who started the Goodyear Tire Co. http://www.stanhywet.org/ If you are ever in the neighborhood, you should go. Very lovely, and well preserved property.

    The wedding was very 4 weddings and a funeral, w/o the funeral stuff, but with the drama. My friend’s DJ had disappeared and she asked me to fill in at the last minute. (I do DJ stuff on the side)

    So, instead of getting a giftcard, she received a much more valuable present, and I got to be a bigger part of her day! :)

    I stayed over the weekend with other close friends in their new home. They have a view much like yours, John, just on the other side of the state. They moved from Akron to the country, just outside of Jeromesville (which has a great roadhouse tavern in the center of town). The nearest ‘big’ town is Ashland, and my friends are loving living in the country. They already had an impromptu ‘watching the storm roll in party’ on their porch with the neighbors.

    So yeah, I missed Indy. I’ll catch you next time. :)

  31. I have a very good reason for not being there. You see, there was this earthquake, see? And I was on the interstate when a truck full of Cabbage Patch Dolls overturned and I nearly plowed into horse drawn carriage that…

    Hey, wait a minute! I WAS there.

    Good thing too, because that lie was getting away from me.

  32. Cliff,
    Just sit down and take this paper bag and put it over your mouth and breath slowly.
    If will be all better soon.

  33. David,
    The last time I took that advice, I ended up married.
    Well, that worked out pretty well, though, so I guess it’s good advice.

  34. I was there! I wish I’d known at the time that I was in the presence of the Great Bacon Meme Instigator. hee!

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