Saturday, January 19, 2008

Arisia report, day 2

After not quite six hours of sleep--far less than I needed but more than I've been getting--I got up and immediately fell into work. A couple of hours later, I headed to the hotel gym for some treadmill time. It won't burn off all the calories from the great food I'm eating, but it will help.

Lunch was again at Trident, followed by very good ice cream at one of the local J.P. Licks ice cream shops. Our old friend, Marty Gear, joined us for lunch. It was great catching up with him.

After some time roaming a bit of the con, I spent most of the rest of the day working--not what I'd planned, but necessary. An hour prowling dealer's alley and a lot of time seeing the beautiful work of Angela Jones-Parker of Angelwear Creations ended when we had to rush to dinner.

A cab ride later, we arrived at No. 9 Park . As we did last night, tonight we opted for the chef's tasting menu--and every option on it. Unlike last night's meal, however, every dish in this one was spot on. Picking a single highlight is almost impossible, but I should give a special nod to their signature dish, prune-stuffed gnocchi, because the little potato pastries were perfect, better than perfect, better than I though gnocchi could be, little pillows of food love. The flourless chocolate torte that finished the meal was also amazing, moist and thick but in no way dry. I've never tasted a better flourless chocolate torte.

On the writing front, I remain frustrated with myself for not being farther along, but I keep finding problems in the Overthrowing Heaven plot I have to address. I now fear plotting will spread into February, though I very much hope not. Still, the book is benefiting from all this work, and that's what matters most.

Back to it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Arisia report, day 1

After a not very refreshing two hours and forty-five minutes of sleep, I rolled out of bed, trimmed my beard, showered, and headed to the airport for the delight that is air travel in America today. Everyone was quite kind, though the sheer quantity of electronics in my briefcase caused the nice TSA folks to swab many different parts of it. In the Admiral's Club I enjoyed a bagel I'd purchased earlier and caught up on email, courtesy of their now-free-to-members bandwidth.

The flight was on a commuter jet and uneventful. I dozed a tiny bit, read, and tried to keep my water from spilling during the bumpier bits of the descent. I carry an older pair of glasses for use on the plane, because I've lost glasses on planes before. Well, I did it again. I am dropping too many stitches--and I'm now out of spare glasses.

The con hotel is a pleasant Hyatt, though like most of its type (maybe all) it has the poor taste to be a Pepsi products establishment. The room is the usual adequate con hotel room, though the wireless is better than normal and the cell phone service in my room far worse--non-existent, in fact. I must make calls from the lobby. The only upside is that while doing so I ran into and chatted briefly with multiple fan friends.

We had lunch at the very nice Trident bookstore/cafe, then strolled Newbury Street for a bit before stopping in a quickie mart to load up on Diet Coke and water and then cabbing back to the hotel.

The early evening brought the gift of a lovely hour and a half with Dave Seeley, whose work I like and who did the cover painting for Transhuman, which as the link shows you can now order, and Rick Berry, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I've long admired Rick's work; maybe someday I'll be able to afford it. I hope to be able to spend more time chatting with these two in the future.

Dinner was a tasting menu at Clio. Had this been my first tasting menu and my first top-drawer restaurant, the meal might have blown me away with its greatness. Instead, I found it overall a disappointment. The place charges prices comparable to the top-tier places, so it should provide food as good as theirs. Though the courses were indeed quite tasty, they were often a bit overwrought and frequently missed the mark by using one ingredient that overwhelmed the rest. A perfect small scallop, for example, sat in a shell in a pool of cranberry juice. Both the scallop and the juice were tasty, but eaten together the juice masked the flavor of the scallop. (I had two, so having learned my lesson with the first, I drank the juice of the second and then ate its scallop.) A perfectly seared piece of foie gras vanished in the face of the hot pepper shavings on the plate with it; I made that mistake only once. And so on. I recommend the place overall, but I would not again pop for the price of the tasting menu.

The rest of the night has been all work. To that I now return.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The night before a trip

is always a nightmare for me unless I don't have to leave the house until 2:00 p.m. or later. Well, I have to get up at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning to shower, dress, and head to the airport, so tonight is indeed not good. I have yet to write, finish a fairly large chunk of PT work, pack, and so on, so I will keep this short.

Once I'm conscious and ready to go, the morning's next obstacle promises to be the weather, which is threatening to be sleet. Lovely. If you've never been in a North Carolina ice storm, you have no idea what you're missing. Be thankful.

Once I make it to Boston, however, I'm hoping to have a good time at Arisia, a con I've enjoyed in the past. Maybe Larry Smith will even have One Jump Ahead for sale (unlike at PhilCon); hope springs eternal in an author's heart. If you're going to the con and would like to chat, feel free to find me. I should be easy to spot, at least on the days I have panels.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A simple realization

I've always said that were I ever to reach a certain level of wealth--a level I am now convinced I will never achieve--I would quit working in tech. Thinking recently about that claim, I asked myself this question: If someone gave me all the money I could possibly ever need, vastly more than my goal, say $100 million or more, what work, if any, would I do?

I'd write, of course.

But I'm already doing that.

True, I'd write more if I had all that money, and I'd not be running a tech company, but I am writing now.

I would also train more in a gym, which I'm not doing now.

So, obviously, I must get back to doing that.

Now, I just have to figure out where to make the time in each day, but as I do so I should take more cheer in the fact that I am getting to do what I want--write--each day, even if for only a little of the day.

The slowest zipper in the world

is on my brown corduroy pants from J. Peterman. Yes, I know that Peterman is generally overpriced, but all the clothing I've ever bought from them has been comfortable and astonishingly durable. As someone who values comfort and often wears garments until they're in tatters, these two properties make the high price acceptable.

These pants, however, are driving me crazy.

I was hesitant to get them in the first place, because I don't wear a lot of brown. It's a color that can lead to looks--usually from women--that sneak into your auditory brain centers via your optic nerve and scream loudly, "You can't wear those colors together." Blue jeans and black pants, by contrast, go with just about anything--which makes my life simpler.

The issue of the color of these pants, however, pales beside the problem with their zipper. It simply won't go down without a battle. Up is easy; it's fine with closing. It resists opening with the extraordinary determination of a close-mouthed child refusing even a single bite of particularly nasty squash.

I consequently find myself at urinals tugging on the zipper while simultaneously pulling up on the front of the pants and cursing--a situation that instantly mutates from merely maddening to terribly embarrassing when anyone else enters the restroom at, say, the office. Not that this has happened to me. Well, not since I left the office this evening.

I'm sure others have faced this problem and resolved it with some appropriately high-tech zipper technology, and in the end I'll probably have to resort to using said tech. For now, though, I'm falling back on the classic male solution of tugging like hell while getting increasingly angry. It's me vs. the pants, and I refuse to lose.

Until my eventual and ultimate triumph over these corduroy demons, please accept my apology now if we happen to share a public restroom while I'm wearing them.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

One redundant expense

later, and we are back in the MI-5 business. Episode 5 was amazing. This is easily the best season yet of what is probably the best show on television--and certainly one of the top five. Because anything can change, tension is higher than on most shows, and the sense of political nuance that pervades the events is extraordinary. Wow.

Plotting proceeds apace on Overthrowing Heaven, though the pace is too slow for my taste. The good news is that the story keeps getting deeper, richer, and more complex as I understand more and more about all the players and their agendas. My notes must appear positively insane--odd snippets of barely legible arguments with myself--but the process is working. I think.

Yesterday, Sarah showed me the Leeroy Jenkins Youtube video, making me one of the last Americans to come online about this particular bit of hilarity. I mean, sheesh, it was even a Jeopardy question. I couldn't help but recall some of the many times I've been on projects with someone who behaved essentially like Jenkins.

Lessons, like magical moments, are everywhere.


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