Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween at World Fantasy

Most science fiction conventions involve massive numbers of fans honoring a few professionals in the field, but World Fantasy is different. It's all about the professionals (writers, publishers, agents, reviewers, book dealers) doing business with each other while a smaller group of (mostly local) fans runs the logistics and looks on respectfully.

So forget the convention stereotype of Star Trek fans stomping around dressed as Klingons, or furries in full fox suits...the look here is definitely chinos and t-shirts for most, with black jeans and black t-shirts for the urban noir contingent. It turns out that the governing board even prevented one of the book dealers from displaying their steampunk hats — the three jewelry dealers (two high-end, one not-so-high-end) apparently got in as fantasy-themed artwork and are doing a brisk business in steampunk-related items.

However, with the convention coinciding with Halloween this year, the unwritten "no costumes" rule is tough to enforce, even with raised eyebrows and management disapproval. As the day goes on, more and more witches and wizards are turning up in the elevators. In fact, they've got one running Ops.

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Fantasy Convention initial impressions

Arrived in San Jose late last night and discovered I'd forgotten my decorative stuff (jewelry, makeup, steampunk hat). The Scholarly Gentleman had already set up the shop in the dealers' room and wanted to take me to a party to meet famous and about-to-be-famous writers and editors.

I met one extremely famous writer in the elevator and chatted just a bit about his books set in Tibet and Nepal. After a fairly exhausting hour at a huge party that stretched on for several rooms in the Fairmont, I concluded that the older a famous writer is, the friendlier he or she will be.

I'm working on my own projects in the hotel room (no power outlet within 15 feet of the desk; marble desktop that doesn't work with a mouse, exorbitant wi-fi charge) in between running down to the dealers' room to help out the Scholarly Gentleman. Tomorrow I'm going to help out Sarah in Ops.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Steamcon I: Hold on to your hat!

The first SteamCon event, in SeaTac this weekend, was a resounding success by just about any measure. Having planned for 600 attendees, they managed to accommodate 1200 before closing off memberships.

The panels were great, and the Sea-Tac Marriott hotel couldn't have been friendlier. The place was packed with elaborately costumed Steampunkers have a whale of a time. I heard there was even one fellow who wore a vintage bathing suit into the pool.

I had other commitments Friday and Saturday, but I went down with Hank early Sunday morning and took in the art show, the vendors room (packed to the gills with hats, corsets, goggles, and enthusiastic shoppers), and a superb presentation by pro-Steampunk author Tim Powers. I came away from hearing Powers thoroughly inspired, with a reading list and two ideas for short stories. Hank took several dozen photos, which I'm hoping he'll soon post on Flickr (account: dionwrbear). The Flickr Steamcon photo pool is here.

Unfortunately, I didn't wear a Steampunk outfit Sunday morning. There just wasn't time to figure out what went with what! But once at the convention, I did manage to purchase the costume element I've been missing: high-quality goggles -- brass and leather. Inspired by the goggles, and the costumes I'd just studied, I went home and put together a really smashing desert-style Steampunk getup (black vest, sage skirt, and cranberry blouse and hat with brass and leather trimmings) that I plan to take with me to...the next convention I'm attending. Which is sooner that I'd like to think.

The SteamCon folks will be doing it again next year, same place. Watch their site for registration info.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cranky. Swamped.

There's this list stuff to do around the house — projects that take a whole day, or at least five hours of uninterrupted focus. Very little on the list got done this summer, and now there's yet more stuff on the list. But I look at every weekend, and it's full of either travel or events.

I have yet another phone interview tomorrow with Company X. They have two jobs open, and it's finally dawned on me that while I might be qualified for both of the positions, only one of them is more interesting than my current freelance work (which I really enjoy).

Zoe has just jumped into my arms. She doesn't like to sit on my lap while I type; she likes to be held in my arms, which makes thoipaoksdflknujn lksdnf lkas...

I can has LOLcats?

We have a visitor cat in the house — in the basement TV room, to be exact. Mabel is down there recovering after spending a month outdoors (she was effectively exiled by a new cat in her household).

If you follow the LOLcat photoblog I Can Has, you'll recognize the phrase "basement cat." In the lexicon of LOLcats, "basement cat" is the Devil — a black cat with burning red eyes and fangs.

The LOLcats also have "ceiling cat" — an angelic white cat that is often shown at the very top of the set of stairs or on a tall bookcase.

Ironically, Mabel, our "basement cat," is a black cat. And Sheba, who likes to be in the highest place in the house, is a white cat.

Today, basement cat and ceiling cat met briefly in my office. Sheba was completely relaxed. She looked at Mabel, and went back to purring. Mabel, clearly traumatized by her recent persecution, gave a sharp hiss. But since Sheba couldn't hear it, there wasn't a problem.

Mabel soon calmed down, and was disappointed when she was taken back down stairs to her den.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Monday report

Yet another round with HR at The Mysterious Company today, bracketed with calls and visits to the accountant to try to get the 2008 taxes resolved so they can be filed by Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, I had bouts of trying to earn more money to share with IRS next year.

Setting up a WordPress blog for a client today was far more complex at the technical end than I had imagined. The WordPress theme I use for my professional blog is extremely easy to configure...I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the template I chose for him is downright annoying. As a result, I've only got the blog half way set up. But the client loves the iStock photo of the tropical beach I used for the banner. So, yay! something went right.

While dashing back and forth to the accountant and generally feeling sorry for myself I got a smack from reality. A fire truck pulled up to the home of one of my neighbors and EMTs went racing inside carrying all sorts of gear. My neighbor, who is disabled from a work injury, lives alone with his teenage son; his wife and he are getting divorced, and she had been around this weekend with a whole crew of folks, moving what looked like much of the furniture out.

As I drove in town to the accountant's, the ambulance passed headed for his house. By the time I got home my neighbor had been "transported" to the hospital. Poor guy.

Things in my office finally wound down a bit before six. I went for a wonderful walk up to 75th while there was still a bit of sun out, then came home and cooked little zucchini with onions and homemade breadcrumbs for dinner. The Scholar Gentleman cleaned a basket of grapes, and I'm making grape juice. (Squash grapes, simmer, squash some more, drain and cool.)

Random thought: If I had another life to live, I'd like to have red hair and wear it in a braid.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Last week I got the oddest email

The email was from an HR person, saying that her company was interested in hiring me for a senior communications job.

I remembered the email at about 8 p.m., while I was cleaning up after dinner. It had arrived mid-afternoon, while I was busy trying to finish up a client's project.

I went back and looked at it again. Spam, I figured. But I looked up the HR person on Linkedin and, sure enough, she really did work at that company. So I sent back an email saying I'd be happy to talk.

The following day we chatted, and she asked me to send along my resume.

I updated my resume and sent it off. The woman wrote back and asked for another phone conversation, and that's set for tomorrow morning.

I love running my own company, but this is a challenging opportunity (to put it mildly). There are times when I wish I hadn't left Apple, and this would certainly be my chance to apply all the things I've learned as a small business owner in the past three years — things which I believe would make working a corporate job, at the right company, as much fun as being an indie business person.

Is this the right company? That's what I'm going to try to find out.