Saturday, June 4, 2016

I'm not dead. I'm just at the weirdest villa in the world.

I'm in Italy, on vacation, staying with a group of people at one of the weirdest houses I've ever experienced.  Bandwidth here is so bad that doing anything online is painful, so I'm not blogging.

I'll resume the blog late this coming week, when I am home again.

Monday, May 30, 2016

On this day, we honor those who died while serving

in the armed forces.  It's a sobering celebration, a reminder that throughout our nation's history people have paid the ultimate price in the service of their county.

I haven't agreed with our country's choice to enter many of the wars we've fought in my lifetime, but I have never blamed those who served for doing their duty as members of the armed services.  Instead, I have always respected that service--even as I was glad then and am glad now that I was not drafted into the military.

No matter how busy you were today, I hope you dedicated at least a little time to remembering and honoring those who died while serving.  Let us also hope that we participate in fewer wars in the future and cost fewer people their precious lives.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Raising money to buy books

Balticon's main charity is BSFS Books for Kids, a longstanding focus of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) on buying books for area kids who could not otherwise afford them.  The Liars' Panel, an event I've run many times, raises money for this charity by making people pay a buck each to challenge a panelist when they think that person is lying.  If the panelist is telling the truth, all those dollar bills go into bowls that runners use to collect the cash.  If the panelist is lying, the panelist pays ten dollars into a bucket.

Today, I had the privilege of participating in and moderating a Liars' Panel with Joe Haldeman, Mur Lafferty, George R.R. Martin, and Jody Lynn Nye.  Over the course of 85 minutes we answered questions I had previously distributed to the panelists and told both lies and outrageous truths.

I'm happy to report that this panel set a Balticon record by raising $850 for the charity.

In this photo, four of the people who took care of the money--Boots, Rebecca, Eric, and Christine--join me with the baggie of cash I then delivered to the con.  (Jennie, who ran the money-collecting effort, took the photo, and a few other folks, whose names I unfortunately don't have, helped collect bills from the audience.)

Everyone laughed a lot, we all had a good time, and we did a little good.  Not a bad outcome for a con panel.

Later, I introduced George R.R. Martin's reading, at which he entertained a very large audience full of fans of his series.  The reading was quite entertaining, if dark, and the audience loved both it and the brief Q&A session afterward.

My last con activity of the day was a large group dinner with the returning and current guests of honor and many con staffers.

Everyone at Balticon treated me very well, and it was a great pleasure and honor to act as the Toastmaster for the con.


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