Saturday, January 22, 2011

Balloonaganza - the short form

I'm exhausted (despite what the timestamp says, it's about four in the morning late Saturday night as I write this), so I'll save the full report for tomorrow. For now, though, I think this photo, which Allyn snapped while carrying balloons and when we were only partway through our giveaway, will give you an idea of how it went. (As always, click to see a larger image.)

Balloons really do make people happy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Want to join me in a random act of kindness?

As I watched that second Mumford & Sons video (see the previous post), a realization hit me: it's been way too long since I committed a seriously random act of kindness. The video, of course, made me think of balloons, which make people happy.

So, I'm going to give away some balloons.

You can join me if you'd like.

Here's the deal. Tomorrow, Saturday, January 22, 2011, I'm going to appear at 3:00 p.m. at some heavily trafficked location with at least a hundred bucks worth of balloons. I'm then going to give them away to people who walk by. If they ask why, I'll say whatever comes to mind, maybe "Just because," or perhaps, "Because balloons make people happy."

If you want to join me, email me--directly if you have my address, otherwise via the contact form on my site--by noon on Saturday, and I'll tell you where to meet me. Buy your own balloons, or help me give out mine; I don't care which you do. When they're gone, they're gone.

I don't have enough blog readers to call this a flash mob, and I know those are oh so very yesterday, so I'm just planning to do it on my own. If you want to join me, though, I'd be happy to have the company, so email me.

I'm hoping to make some people happy.

You need some more Mumford & Sons

You know you do. Admit it.

Try this official video of the awesome song, "The Cave."

One more, you say? Sure. Enjoy this video, a fan piece, I assume, that just made me realize it's time for some random acts of kindness.

More on that random acts bit in the next post, which will follow in an hour.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are you a good brain or a bad brain?

At work earlier today, I had the pleasure of reading, courtesy of Bonnie showing me this article, one of my favorite phrases of recent days:

Increased Cheese Payload
Say it out loud. Go ahead. I'll wait.

It feels good, doesn't it? It's hard not to smile as these words come out of your mouth.

More important to me than the phrase itself, though, are all the questions it brings to mind. What types of vehicles, other than these peppers, deliver a cheese payload? Where else might this phrase apply? What would my cheese payload be? Would people pay for drugs that increased their cheese payloads?

And, bam, I'm in adult and not-for-work space, which is unfortunately where I wandered while standing in the lab and marveling over this phrase.

I couldn't stop myself, though, from continuing to ponder the cheese payload. What's going to happen, after all, when these giant poppers hit the market?

More accidents, that's what. Today, when you bite into a too-hot popper, the cheese sprays out and burns you--but it's a small amount of cheese...excuse me, a small cheese payload. With these big boys, the accompanying larger cheese payload could burn you seriously. Think of all that squirting hot cheese...

...and, bam, I'm back in not-for-work territory. When I hit this point today and starting contemplating the phrase "squirting hot cheese," I knew it was time to leave the company of others before I started saying what I was thinking.

One thing is certain, though: the first time I see a giant popper for sale, I'm buying it. I want my increased cheese payload.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time for a "Little Lion Man"

Just because you need it. I sure do.

These guys are awesome. I thank Sarah for turning me onto them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the road again: Boston, day 7

Travel days are rarely fun, and they're usually far less fun when it's snowing in your departure city and airlines are canceling flights right and left. That was the situation this morning, but it all worked out amazingly well, for which I am thankful. The cab ride to the airport was uneventful, our flight was smooth and departed less than an hour after the scheduled time, and thanks to our pilots, I landed only half an hour late. All things considered, it was a superb travel day.

Of course, an avalanche of work hit me when I walked into my home office, and I'm still digging out, but that's the norm for first days back. I hope to catch up tonight and then be back at full speed tomorrow--or at least be very close to that state.

To those tasks I go now.

Nifty post on how Dan Dos Santos created the cover for The Wild Side

Check it out here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

On the road again: Boston, day 6;
Arisia, day 4

I had the very first autographing session of the convention, so it seemed somehow fitting that I would be part of the last joint reading panel today. As you might expect from an event starting after noon on the day when most fans were checking out, no one showed up to hear me or Michael Ventrella read from our works. Staring at an empty reading room is always a bit rough on the ego, but it's happened to me before, and it'll happen again, so I'm reasonably used to it. In this case, it was nice to get to meet and chat with Michael, who as it turns out plans to interview me at some point for his blog.

The daylight hours before and after the reading largely went to work, as you might expect.

The evening brought a fine dinner at the always wonderful No. 9 Park. Most of the meal was excellent, as always. The two foie dishes were amazing, and the cheese course was the best of this trip. The dessert, however, was weak and not up to the rest of the meal. Still, No. 9 Park remains, for me, a must-eat place when in Boston.

More work awaits, then packing, and tomorrow morning is work, then travel home.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On the road again: Boston, day 5;
Arisia, day 3

I passed most of the daytime in useless indulgence: more sleep by far than normal, reading, a bit of TV movie watching, and of course some work. Okay, the work part wasn't an indulgence, but I needed to do it.

Dinner again took us to Cambridge, this time for a meal at East by Northeast, whose chef, Phillip Tang, won Boston Magazine's 2010 Best Up-and-Coming Chef award. The menu accurately refers to the dishes as locally sourced and Chinese inspired. We sampled quite a few of the small plates--the whole menu is tapas-style--and enjoyed them all. None, however, blew us away. I wouldn't recommend a special trip just for this place, but if you're in town, it's worth a try.

Because the restaurant doesn't offer desserts and because we've wanted to try the place for some time, after dinner we walked the couple of short blocks to Christina's Homemade Ice Cream. With great ingredients, over fifty flavors available, and a growing national rep, this place was tailor-made for an ice cream lover like me. Sadly, though I enjoyed the flavors I tasted, none had that magic that so many of Jeni's ice creams provide. If I lived here, I'd eat Christina's sometimes, but more often, I'd mail-order Jeni's.

We rushed back from dinner for my 9:30 panel on the singularity and how SF writers should deal with it. This panel sat right in the middle of the other two I've done here, with the audience frequently trying to take over and the moderator gamely trying to wrest back control. We unfortunately had one audience member who knew everything and wanted to lecture on all of it, at one point talking for over ten straight minutes until the moderator finally was able to get him to surrender the floor. The discussion also wandered all over the place and never seemed to muster a clear focus, but most of the audience stayed and seemed to have a decent time.

More than any other convention I have attended, Arisia has many panels that end up blurring the line between audience and panel. Sometimes I think that is a horrible idea, and other times, it seems wisely democratic. Regardless of what I feel, however, if I'm going to keep being on programming at this con, I better get used to it.


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