2 Nov

          I'm off to World Fantasy tomorrow. Pen's driving me to the airport so we're leaving today and spending the night in Toronto. That way I get an extra day's fun and relaxation, and Pen gets a night out as well. (I'm sure shopping will figure in here somehow.)
          I'm not bothering to bring my laptop. I brought one last time and never took it out of the case, so why bother with the hassle of lugging it around--not to mention airport security, who lately suspect every laptop of actually being a briefcase nuke or something. Anyway, unless I get onto a computer there this is probably the last update until I get back Sunday. So, until then: Stand-at-ease! Stand--easy!

Darling du Jour: "What's there to worry about? I've been in tons of fights, and I've only been killed once. Okay, twice...but the car bombing doesn't count."

7 Nov

          So I'm back from World Fantasy in Wisconsin. I had a great time, and thought it went rather well, although I'm sure it would have been better were I not so shy and introverted. I am a wallflower. The one instance I did endeavor to break out of my shell, Kelly grounded me, and Jenni fixed me with her laser beam stare of death. (I think she's North Korean, and they have nukes--although she denies it. Being North Korean--not having nukes. I know she has nukes.)
          I only went to a few panels--the one Ebear and Charlie were on , for instance. I'm pretty sure Ebear was--what's the politically correct term again? Oh yeah, drunk. She went on about how the writer has to embrace the fan in the bosom of the writing experience, which if you know Ebear got just about every male's attention right away. Some guy stood up a little later and got a tad snarky with her, and I couldn't help thinking, "All right, no bosom for you." Well okay, I didn't think it. I said it. Out loud, and made Kelly cry.
          And since it was a panel on Bathrooms in Fantasy Fiction, Charlie of course insured that there was bathroom humor. (I didn’t see near enough of Charlie at the con, but then he was busy doing Charlie things, and I understand. *sniff* One moment while I get a tissue, and go watch Oprah or something.)
          We went to Charlie's reading (love the story, but send me the ending you bastard) as well as Josh's and Leah's, because, hey, they're friends, and had chocolate. I had to miss Ebear's because I had to catch a flight home, and was a little ashamed that I had to bale on some good chocolate a good friend like that.
          I think the con was productive for me as far as writing went, not that I had to really work at it. The lovely Deanna Hoak pitched my book to the industry people she knew, and managed to get an agent interested in it--which I think involved large amounts of alcohol, but you go with your strengths. (I didn't see enough of her, either, for the same Charlie-reasons as listed above.) If I ever do get this thing published I'll never make any money from it, no matter how well it sells. I'll owe, like, 20% to my agent, and 25% to Deanna for all the work she did, another 25% to Jenni, for all her help (and the whole nuke thing), 25% more to Kelly for moral support and PR, 25% to Charlie, because, hey, he could use the cash, 25% to Chance to cover the blackmail costs--the evil troll actually writes down the things I say….come to think of it, this book is going to cost me. Money is supposed to flow to the author, not through the author. (No bathroom humor, Charlie, or I'm reducing your cut.)
          I successfully converted half the Americans there into Canadians, saddling them with my Canukistanian accent before I left. (Poor Kelly--eight years of hard work down the drain in the first five minutes.) I met a lot of great people (and I did not ditch Chance, regardless of the lies she tells about me, because she's just too cool, and you can never hang with too many cool people.)
          Jamie played mom to everyone there, but I think she was a bit overwhelmed because--well--we were bad, and needed to be punished. And of course the other Jamie spent half his time proving to everyone that he was not, in fact, a girl. Although cuddling on the couch with me may have lent to other speculations. (Hey, I am The Most Comfortable Man in SF--hence the quote for the book jacket. Oh, and just for the record, SF stands for Speculative Fiction, not San Francisco, because then it would take on a whole other meaning, and there's the whole "I'm not gay. I'm Batman." Remember?)
          I met a lot of other great people--the Merriams, Dr. Stella (and Mike and Roo), Katherine, Kat, Merissa, Amanda…the list goes on and on. Please don't be offended if I haven't mentioned you, because I'm an idiot, eh.
          All in all, it was very sad for me to leave, especially with Jenni and Kelly shouting out, "Come back, Shane. Shane, come back, eh?" as I climbed into my ride for the airport.
          But I have a lot of work to do now, and the impetus to do it. It's just hard when you spend a weekend with writer types--editors, doctors, design architects, theoretical physicists, and the like--and then have to go home and hang out with military people. I swear my I.Q. dropped 20 points just driving through the gate. I'm so screwed, eh.
          Oh, and how could I forget to mention my two great roommates--Daryl Gregory and Tobias Buckell--who made sharing a room with two strange men almost painless. Especially Toby, who can't sleep either, is not the least bit intimidated, and gives as good as he gets. (Hmm...on reading this it all sounds a lot gayer than I intended. Aw, screw it!)

9 Nov - I'll Never Write the Great Canadian Novel

          Someone asked me the other day why I write SF, and not more mainstream or literary fare. I lay the blame solely at my parents feet.
          First off, they had the audacity to be born Canadian Citizens. Second, they where upper-middle class, and--yes, I'm ashamed to admit it--white! (Mostly. "I'm not white, but I play one on TV.") Third, they were both strong role models--my dad the strong, silent, hardworking type; my mom a loving, caring, hard-working, obsessively over-protective mother, wife, and provider. Neither of them had any real vices--no drinking, gambling, or adultery, and managed to remain married for some 45 years and counting. And neither of them ever beat me, or tried to have sex with me. (Okay, I probably just lost half the southerners there, and the newfies.)
          To make matters worse, I get along well with my brother and sister, and can count on my family to always be there when I need them. I was fairly popular in school, too.
          In short, the odds of me growing up in some impoverished fishing village or desolate farm and running off to escape my abusive family and crappy life to become a drug addicted rentboy in the big city were pretty slim. Hence I was severely deprived of any source material that one normally finds in the only thing that passes for Canadian Literature. I had no choice but to use my imagination and make stuff up, and so doomed myself to pursuing the dream of becoming an SF novelist.
          Damn you, Mom and Dad!

10 Nov

          Grrrr. It's snowing here today, the first snowfall of the winter. Little pathetic flakes that don't have a hope in hell of staying around. Their sole purpose is to demoralize me.
          It's enough to make me want to take up Kelly's offer to move to CA and be her design assistant. Although I secretly suspects that the title of "design assistant" she keeps offering me is in actuality euphemism for "cabana boy."

11 Nov

          For those of you who couldn't attend WFC, don't believe all the hype you've been hearing. It was basically a bunch of Audio Visual Club geeks standing around debating the whole Star Trek vs Farscape issue for days at a time. The high point of the entire con was when the girl showed up.
          Feel better now? *Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*
          I just got back from the Remembrance Day Parade--a bunch of people standing perfectly still in a straight line while being lectured. Sort of like a massive time-out. The trick is to see if you can stand through the entire thing without passing out, falling down, and driving your face into the pavement. Yeah, I know, it sounds like something you'd see on Jackass, doesn't it?
          And in the interests of historical accuracy, I was sitting in Charlie's lap, and Jenni was snorting noodles.

15 Nov

         Apparently most people think I'm a better writer than I think I am, which should be proof positive that I'm not a writer at all. Still, they all seem to feel I have the Mona Lisa in me, when all I'm channeling is Dogs Playing Poker.

Darling du Jour: Azrael bent over the cauldron and inhaled the fumes. Maybe I'd been wrong about him. Maybe this was just some freaky Otherworld Avon party and he'd invited all his friends over for a steam facial.

Maybe not.

17 Nov

          So I was working away at my desk this morning, (no, honestly, I was) when I heard the Sarg and our Data Entry Clerk mention something about how she was going to bring butter tarts in to work today, but the cleaner had already brought in cupcakes. Of course I commented that I'm sure we could have accommodated both. I had to clarify, of course, that I actually hadn't been listening in on their conversation. What I had in fact heard was: "Blah, blah, blah...blah blah blah...butter tarts." Occasionally I may hear the word "Steve" but that's just a primitive survival instinct.

19 Nov

           Pen bought me a new treadmill! Or allowed me to buy a new treadmill. Or…whatever. Either way she loves me, and now I have a treadmill of my very own. No fighting my way to the gym in the middle of winter, waiting my turn, having to get off halfway through my workout because someone else is waiting their turn. I'm so happy. I spent forty-five minutes on it today--and abruptly wondered what I was so happy about.

21 Nov

          We saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Sunday. (Although the Americans probably changed the title to Harry Potter and the Cup of Burn-Burn Don't Touch.) I really liked it. *nuff said*
          Pen and I had some shopping to do, so we figured we'd stop and buy tickets first, do our shopping, then come back and catch the flick. I parked the car out front of the theatre while Pen went in to buy tickets. A few moments later she came back and told me that Harry was sold out until the 4:30 showing, so she bought us tickets to see Derailed instead. To which I calmly replied, "F**K no!"
          I mean, you can't tell a kid me that I'm going to see Harry Potter, and then try and pawn Derailed off on me. That's like telling me we're going to see Green Day, and when we get there saying, "Oh, sorry, Green Day was sold out so I got us tickets to the opera instead." Not that I have any thing against the opera. *ahem*
          Anyway, we traded our tickets in for the 4:30 showing of Harry, which made me happy, and spent the extra time shopping, which made Pen happy. So everybody was happy. Well, except for the people who made Derailed, I suppose.

23 Nov

          We had our Career Manager's briefing today, where they explained to us all how the process works. So at least now I understand just exactly how they've been screwing me all these years.
          They've always told us that they take getting posted into consideration when your evaluations go before the career board. (Your evaluation always drops on a posting, simply because of the fact that you're new, no one knows you, and your new unit already has people they want to promote.)
          Anyway, they went on to explain how they take our last three evaluations and score them out of 100, so theoretically you could have a final score of 300. They then set a line--say 250, and only those people whose evaluations scored 250 and above are looked at by the board.
          My question was: If you had two really good evaluations, and then the average evaluation you got on your posting, your final score would invariably fall below the score of 250, hence the board would never see your evaluation. If they never saw your evaluation, how would they know it was a first evaluation at a new unit, and be able to adjust accordingly?
          To which he replied: "Um...good point."
          *Sigh*

25 Nov

          I just finished putting up the Christmas decorations in the Squadron canteen. We are now filled with Christmasy spirit and holiday goodness. I found a pack of LifeSavers tucked away in one of the boxes of decorations. They've probably been there since the 40s. I snagged the butterscotch ones. :-) 

28 Nov

          Shopping malls should come with traffic cops--not outside in the parking lot, but inside. Because after spending the weekend fighting the crowds in the malls, I have come to the conclusion that there has to be some rules!
          Let's start with everyone moving in the same direction. People on the right side of the corridor move counter clockwise, and people to the left move clockwise. Go with the flow, people, not against it. No walking five abreast, especially if you're old and using a walker, or young and oblivious to your surroundings. No stopping abruptly in the middle of the corridor to chat, or answer your cell phone. If you need to chat, and apparently can't walk and talk at the same time, move into the centre where' they've placed all those nice benches and chairs and stuff just for that purpose.
          Anyway caught breaking these rules can be pounced on at anytime by the rest of the crowd, and pummeled into the ground. (Trust me, even if that last one isn't a rule, it's apt to happen anyway.)
30 Nov
          So I scored a perfect score on my rifle qualification shoot. And I made Exempt for my Military Express Test (Physical Fitness Test) which means I don't have to do it next year. I am, however, still getting old.
          My eyes have been burning lately--too much time spent in front of a computer monitor at work--so I went for my eye exam. My distance vision is still excellent, but there's been a slight deterioration in my "reading vision". The doc said that it was so slight that normally he wouldn't even prescribe corrective lenses, but since I spend all day at a computer, what they hey. So I'm getting reading glasses. Two pair, covered by the military. I went in to town today to pick them out.
          Which brings us to the other sucky part of the day. My car is getting old, too. Old enough that I pretty much use it only for going to work and back. But I had to get into town today, so I chanced it. Unfortunately it began to overheat. Apparently I have a coolant leak. I watched the engine temp gauge climb, and decided to get to Canadian Tire right away and top up the fluid. I made it as far as the traffic lights directly in front of Canadian Tire before my car died. So I sat at the lights with my four way flashers blinking as morons drove right up behind me before figuring out I wasn't going anywhere, and waited for it to cool down. It took about ten minutes before it cooled enough to start, and I pulled into the parking lot and got some fluid. I topped it up, and everything seemed good, so I was off again. Made it to the opticians, where Pen helped me pick out a couple of pair of decent frames, and then headed home.
          Whereupon the car started to overheat again. I pulled over, and the radiator was still low, so I topped it up some more, and that seemed to do the trick. About 3 miles from home the car sputtered and died, so I pulled over to the side of the road. I thought maybe it had just overheated again, even though the temp gauge didn't show that that was the case. So I waited, and it still wouldn't start. Well, that's not true--it started, it just coughed out every time.
          That's when I decided I might be out of gas. (My gas gauge doesn't work anymore, so I set the trip meter when I fill up. According to it I still had at least 50K to go, but I figured it was worth a shot.) So I started walking into town. A nice guy in a pickup pulled over and offered me a ride to the gas station, whereupon I had to buy a gas can, and a couple of gallons of gas. I lucked out again on the way back, and someone else picked me up and drove me to my car. (Note: I wasn't hitchhiking either time, which just shows you how nice some people are.) The gas seemed to do the trick, and the car started and got me to the gas station.
          I filled up, and drove the rest of the way home, but…the car started overheating again.
          Life sucks. *sigh*