Saturday, March 28, 2015

A small cut from the bleeding edge of car technology

Bill, my business partner and friend, and I are both big fans of electric cars.  He was the first of us to own a Nissan LEAF, and I followed suit.  I then moved to the Tesla Model S, and he later changed to the BMW i3.  In the course of driving his new car, which he generally quite likes, he discovered a very interesting--and unpleasant--side effect of an otherwise very useful bit of technology his car includes.

This video tells the story of his discovery.

Clearly, North Carolina car regulations and the range-extender technology have some synchronization issues!

Friday, March 27, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 5

I'm home, and I'm very glad to be here.

I can't complain at all, though, about today's travel.  Hotel checkout and the drive to the airport went smoothly, I scored upgrades on both legs, and I even had a small ice cream at Amy's before leaving the AUS airport.

I was able to work almost all day, so though I am behind, I am not terribly behind.

And now, I crash.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 4

The weather turned slightly colder today, so the high was only in the sixties, but the day was still amazingly pretty.  This week is a lovely time to be in Austin.

Work filled the entire day and late into the night.  Dinner was a tasty meal with colleagues at St. Philip, a bakeshop and pizza parlor from the folks behind Uchi and Uchiko.  Though not extraordinary, everything we sampled was quite good; I'd go back again.

Tomorrow, I journey home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 3

Another day with perfect weather; I could not ask for a better time to be in Austin.

If only I weren't working over 16 hours a day. 

But I am, so I have little to report in a day full of meetings and other work. 

Fun tidbits:  We stopped after some meetings for a small ice cream snack at Amy's.  That's always a treat.  Dinner was a quite good meal at Swift's Attic.  All the dishes I tasted were at least good, and a couple were excellent.  The menu was creative and interesting.  Though the kitchen doesn't seem able to quite yet live up to the inventiveness of the menu, I'll still go back. 

For bonus points, the restaurant had an extremely cool light fixture.

Click the image to see a larger version.

For no particular reason, the bird cage around the chandelier really worked for me.

It's nearly four in the morning, so it's past time for a little rest. 

More work tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On the road again: Austin, day 2

Walking down the row of rental cars yesterday to find mine, I encountered this pair.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Quick quiz:  which one was mine?

If you guessed the Corolla--or anything "not the Jaguar"--you would be correct.  Of course, I couldn't afford the mechanic I would have needed to retain to fix the Jag's problems while I was in town this week.

Today was an eighteen-hour work day, so I have little I can report.  Lunch was a meal with a friend and client.  It contained so much meat, courtesy of a local Salt Lick, that I was still full when I went to bed.  (Dinner was two side salads in the middle of the evening.)

I can say that the weather here is perfect, spring idealized, as good as Texas has to offer.  Lovely indeed.

Tomorrow, more work!

Monday, March 23, 2015

R.I.P., Peggy Rae Sapienza

While standing in an airport earlier today, I learned that my longtime friend and one of SF/F fandom's great people, Peggy Rae Sapienza, had died early this morning. 

A lot of people can tell you about Peggy Rae's many achievements as one of the true masters of SF fandom, so I won't spend time on those things.  (A good starting point if you'd like to read about them is the SFWA memorial page for her.)  Instead, I'd like to tell you two short stories about how she and I became friends.

In the late 1970s, I was attending one of my first SF conventions in the Baltimore/Washington area.  I honestly can't remember which con it was.  I do vividly recall, though, sitting in the back of a very crowded room watching an interview of Frederik Pohl, one of the grandmasters of SF.  I knew Pohl's work and, as someone who was hoping to one day be an SF writer, was more than a bit in awe of him. 

As the panel began to break up, Peggy Rae breezed by, heading from the back of the room to the front.  She spotted me--I was sitting alone--stopped, and asked if I was new to cons.  I said I was.  She asked if I was a fan or a writer or an artist, and I said I was definitely the first and hoping to be the second.  She nodded and moved on to the front of the room, where she collected Pohl and began heading out with him.  I stayed seated to give them a clear exit; he was an important SF writer, after all. 

Peggy Rae stopped directly in front of me and said something I've never forgotten, something that still chokes me up for its sheer kindness. 

"Fred," she said, "I'd like to introduce Mark Van Name.  He's a new writer." 

I stood, Pohl stuck out his hand, we shook, and he talked to me for a minute or two, completely collegial and friendly, one writer to another.  Then he apologized for having to run to the next event, and off they went.

That single event taught me a great deal about how to behave with grace, how to treat our fellow writers, and how generally to dispense kindness with no thought to personal gain from doing so.

Over the following three and a half decades, I witnessed Peggy Rae doing similar things too many times to count.

About six years after that first contact--again, I can't remember exactly when--I drove with some friends from NC to a convention, Paracon, in State College, PA, where I had gone to grad school at Penn State.  Peggy Rae was there, being as helpful and kind as always but looking more than a bit out of sorts.  I went up to her and thanked her for that early convention kindness; she didn't remember me or having done it, which in no way diminished how I felt about her behavior.  When I asked what was wrong, I learned to my embarrassment that her first husband, Bob Pavlat, had died fairly recently, and she was still getting used to being at cons without him. 

I made a point of staying with Peggy Rae for as much of that weekend as she wanted company.  A group of us went to a movie, ate together, and generally had a good time.  It was the least I could do for Peggy Rae.

From then on, we were friends--not such close friends that we chatted often, but the kind of friends who could ask each other for the occasional favor and reasonably expect to receive it.  I also became friends with John Sapienza, to whom Peggy Rae introduced me and whom she later married.

My sympathies are with John and with her children and grandchildren, whom I did not know.  I cannot imagine how they are feeling.  

Peggy Rae was famous in fandom for running conventions, for having an almost wizard-like knack for knowing what people were good at and helping them reach that potential, and for her instrumental role in major convention after major convention.  She deserves each and every accolade she is now receiving and has earned in the past. 

For me, though, she will always be the friend who showed me kindness when she didn't know me and I least expected it, who treated me like a real writer before I was one, and who always always greeted me with a smile and a hug. 

Damn, Peggy Rae, the world is so much poorer for your passing. 

On the road again: Austin, day 1

After about an hour of actual sleep and many hours of tossing and turning and coughing, I showered and headed to the airport, more exhausted than usual at the start of a trip.  I was lucky enough to receive upgrades on both legs, so the flights passed in greater physical comfort than usual.  The quality of the seats wasn't enough to halt my frequent coughing, but it was a vast improvement over sitting in my original seats.

While traveling I learned that a dear friend, Peggy Rae Sapienza, had died.  More on Peggy Rae in my next blog entry, which I'll also post tonight. 

Lunch was the always delicious Red Mango mixed berry parfait at DFW.  Red Mango continues to be my personal chain gold standard for frozen yogurt. 

After the usual joys of travel--luggage, rental cars, hotel check-in, and so on--I spent a few hours working and then headed out for dinner with a client and friend, as well as his family.  We observed my first-night-in-Austin tradition:  dinner at the County Line On the Lake, and ice cream afterward at the Amy's in the Arboretum.  The food was quite tasty, as always, and the night was warm and slightly breezy and entirely lovely. 

More work and more coughing carried me late into the night. 

I am hurting from the sickness, exhausted from coughing, and very sad from Peggy Rae's passing.  Here's hoping six hours of sleep--all I can afford--will help.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What to do with old servers

When your business moves to a new server (or set of servers), what do you do with the old one(s)?  In this episode of Now with PT, you can learn five great ways to handle old servers.

If you don't drink soda but do have mice you can't stand, well, let's just say that you can adapt some of these ideas to other purposes.




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