My Mind is My Own

My mind is my own.  I am not a number.

My mind is my own. I am not a number.

Over the last few days, I have been voraciously combing the internet, reading anything and everything I can find on the nominees for the Hugo awards and wrestling with my own conscience. I think I have finally come to a conclusion as to what I am going to do.

I will read all the Hugo nominees as if this were a normal year. I cannot betray my own sense of professionalism and well, I’ve read Glenn Beck and the entire Left Behind series without throwing the books through the window or across the room. I am, as I said in my earlier post, not looking forward to this. I am not reading these because the Sad Puppies demand that I must — I am because I feel an obligation to my own conscience to do so, just as I would any other year.

That said, I will rank all the nominees on either the Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies slates below No Award.

There are some things on the ballot for which it pains me to have to do this. I have loved the Dresden Files ever since my good friend Eileen introduced them to me by giving me the books for Christmas — but Jim Butcher is on the slate. Guardians of the Galaxy was my favorite movie of the year and a work I might have actually nominated if I’d felt well enough to turn in nominations. Nope. The Lego Movie is right behind it in terms of movies I loved last year, and would have been a very close #2 to Guardians. Sorry.

I am especially grieved to make this decision in cases like Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Black Gate, and Annie Bellet. It grieves me because Jen Brozek, a person I know and respect, is on the short form editor ballot and I would love to see her win a Hugo.

But I can’t vote any of these folks above No Award. I am sorry, but this is what my conscience demands of me. I will read your work in my packet. I will consider you for my own nominations in 2016 — and I plan to participate in the nomination round next year. But any ranking you may earn by the quality of your work will go after No Award this year.

I have decided this because I care about the Hugo. I have cared about the Hugo ever since I found out about it in an introduction in one of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, and I dream of winning it someday. But in order to keep that dream alive, I have to make sure the Hugos survive. If it comes to a slate vs. slate situation, I would have even less chance of ending up on the Hugo ballot than I already did. So the only thing I can do is express my horror and displeasure at slate voting, and use what few tools I have to express that displeasure.

For those who are saying that I am only doing this because I disagree with the political stances of Sad/Rabid Puppies, I would be doing this if it were the John Scalzi/Making Light Slate of Rainbow Joy Kittens.

My mind is my own, and I make my own decisions.

It doesn’t really matter. I am just one person, and my blog is so minuscule that it won’t register. My vote is but a drop in an ocean, but it is mine. My mind, my thoughts, my opinions — they are my own.

Posted in fandom, my life, ponderables, science fiction, worldcon | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Grimly and Without Joy

Even this puppy isn't looking forward to the Hugo reading this year

Even this puppy isn't looking forward to the Hugo reading this year

The 2015 Hugo nominations have come out.

Normally this is a great moment of satisfaction for me. I usually have not read all the nominees on the slate, so it’s like getting a Christmas present from my fellow science fiction geeks. Hugo nominations are generally so broad that what percolates up from the mass hive mind are usually stories that I don’t mind giving a bit of time to read and compare against each other. Most of the time, I find something interesting in this.

This process only works if it’s a true random percolation, though. The last few years, though, there has been a campaign called the Sad Puppies that suggests that the Hugo award is too liberal and too invested in identity politics, thus choosing works that are turgid and uninteresting instead of stories full of spaceships and laser guns and manly men, I suppose.

Now the first year of this slate, it fell under the radar. The second year, they managed to get a few works on the ballot — works I read, and in some cases, enjoyed. Were they truly Hugo-worthy? No, not as much as other things on the ballot, but with one exception, I didn’t mind reading them.

This wasn’t enough, I suppose. This year, the Sad Puppies managed to put together a slate. Not just one or two works in a category — that wasn’t enough. This was enough to disrupt the random percolation of works to the point where whole categories of the Hugo awards are dominated by this slate — and I wonder what I’m missing that would have risen to the level of a Hugo nomination in any other year. (I suppose I’ll find out when the long list comes out — it’ll be harder to dig up the works, but I might have to read them.)

I’ll read the works. I take my duty as a Hugo voter seriously, and I will rate the works as I see fit. I may end up ranking No Award above them all if I don’t feel any of the works nominated rises to the level of a Hugo in my opinion. It’s the best I can do in a situation I am obviously not happy about.

But I feel as if something I enjoyed has become a grim, thankless task. Politics is never far from any human endeavor, but this year, it feels like it’s all politics. Because here’s the part I elided around: part of the reason for this slate is that certain folks thought the Hugo wasn’t conservative enough.

Now I’ll freely admit, I’m not exactly conservative in my politics. I went to Berkeley, after all. But everything I was taught both in my deeply conservative home town and in liberal Berkeley is that you treat people with courtesy and respect, no matter where they’re from or what they look like. Do I always live up to this? I’m a human being, I’d be lying if I said I did. But it’s a good yardstick to work from.

There are people nominated this year that seem, from my vantage point, to go against this yardstick. Their words are, at best, ill-conceived, and at worst, vile hatred of anybody not like themselves. Bigotry and misogyny are rampant. Is this truly the best science fiction has to offer? I don’t think so, but apparently I’m wrong.

There’s a saying that when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. And while I’m not going to just toss every work on the Sad Puppies slate out without actually looking at them first — see the above about treating my duty seriously — I can understand why others would be tempted to do just that.

But it means this year’s reading will be done grimly and without joy.

I’ll probably have more to say about this in the future, as I start to read, but this will do for now.

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A sunset and an update.

Hi, my name is katster and I like sunsets.

sunset

Sunset at the grocery store 1/9/2015

And an update on the situation in my last post.

I called the Giants and talked to somebody who’s part of the group who’s doing the trophy tour. She offered, if I could go to Vacaville on Tuesday, to make sure that I get to see them. She said they were surprised and overwhelmed by the response in Sacramento and that they’re thinking about bringing them back again so that more people get the chance to see them. As it was, they were there a few hours later than they planned even after they extended the time the trophies could be seen an extra hour. (Also that they’re thrilled to have the Rivercats, the local AAA team, as their shiny new Triple A affiliate.)

Jill can’t make it on Tuesday. I might go with her to Lodi in a month, but I’m thinking of going to Vacaville. The offer seems good. I’ll call on Monday and let her know that I think I’ll be there.

So, a happy ending for me, at least, even if it wasn’t for a lot of other people. Squeaky wheels get grease, I suppose.

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Heartache

sunset, raley field, west sac

Sunset over Raley Field

The San Francisco Giants, my all-time favorite baseball team, said that they were going to have the trophy at their new Triple A franchise today, and that they would bring all three trophies. Having missed the stop on both the 2010 and 2012 trophies, I figured I’d go down to Raley Field and see them all.

After three hours in line (arriving when the gates opened, and looping around three sides of Raley Field), my sister and I had almost arrived at the gate when they closed them. Sure, I got a voucher for some Rivercats game. But it wasn’t really what I wanted. I mean, sure the Rivercats are going to be the Triple A franchise for the Giants starting this season, and I was probably going to go out to a few games.

But a Rivercats game is not the world series trophies for a team I have been following since I was a kid.

So I feel pretty miserable and awful right now — especially considering it’s pretty amazing the Giants had won *three*. To have to wait for #4 — a trophy that may not come for 50 years, as it took 52 years and three tries for the Giants to win their first in San Francisco — is a huge slap in the face that a Rivercats voucher isn’t quite enough to make up for.

And the fact that this event was the *only* event in the entire Sacramento Metro Area…yeah.

The Giants should have made this a longer event on a weekend. It would have been an awesome way to welcome their new Triple A franchise into the fold, and it could have been a festive day. It would have been good for both the Giants and the Rivercats. Instead, I’m left with a sour taste for both my favorite baseball franchise, and their Triple A team.

This wasn’t the way to do it, guys.

This blog isn’t exactly a big blog on the Internet, and I really don’t expect either the Giants or the Rivercats to say anything about this clusterfsck. But it hurts, in its way.

My sunset over Raley Field (the picture that accompanies this blog) feels oddly appropriate. It got retweeted by the Rivercats. At the time, I was so excited, but I thought I’d see the trophy at that point, too. So much for that.

Posted in baseball, sactown, sports | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hanging out at the twenty four hour diner

Sunset

Sunset

Saturday night and I’m doing my usual thing, hanging out at the local Denny’s with good friends and … well, maybe not *good* food, but decent. Of course, when I was a kid, Denny’s was sorta my idea of fine dining, so it’s amusing that I type that.

Anyway. Trying to think of things to write about and get my brain gathered, and I also really need to put a bunch of effort into finding a job. That’s the plan for Monday, I think. Of course, there’s also a lot of other things on my mind. But the job thing is the most pressing.

I should write more about that. Maybe tomorrow. Tonight is for friends and geeking out and all sorts of crazy bits of conversation.

…and the next table over is taking a selfie. Hilarious. I have also been informed of the existence of a selfie stick.

That’s enough for now. I’m putting these scribbles away before the laptop dies.

Posted in flotsam, my life | 7 Comments

Cutting it a bit close…

sunset at rancho seco

sunset at rancho seco

Day two of this new year. Spent it fighting a headache all day, but I did manage to complete The Wolf Among Us on my xbox one and spend a bit of time messing with the theme on this blog. So far, none of them is quite right. I’ll get it figured out.

Also, Mom is home from the hospital. This is good news. There’s an oxygen machine in her room. This is the not so good news.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do the next thing on my list of things in regards to this blog. It’ll involve the picture function.

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Is anybody there?

wpid-2010-12-07_16-04-48_760.jpg

wpid-2010-12-07_16-04-48_760.jpg

I’m hardly expecting much in the way of a response, but for my own notes, mind telling me if you see this post? Part of the reason I want to know is that I’m going to try revamping this blog, and it would be nice to have a baseline, and part of the reason is simply because I’m lonely and struggling.

Hopefully I can spend some time thinking tomorrow and work out a small plan for 2015.

That is all. Please say hi.

Posted in flotsam, site news | 89 Comments

Two Ronan

image

I admit I have an odd fascination with these silly bobbleheads. (As well as Guardians of the Galaxy,  but that’s another story…)

But here’s the odd thing.  The Ronan on the right,  with the full beard, isn’t on the mystery box. The Internet isn’t clearing it up either.  What’s going on here?

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A little gift

So…with some trepidation, I decided to participate in the Reddit Secret Santa.  Yes,  I lurk on Reddit.

A box from UPS showed up yesterday.  I didn’t really have the time to properly disassemble it,  although I did open it before I remembered about Secret Santa.  And thus…a proper unveiling.

image

It’s a box.  A very secret box.

image

Packing peanuts!  Best gift ever!

image

Wait…there might be a prize in this box of packing peanuts?

image

There is!  There is something here!  Let’s lift that bad boy out!

image

Two board games!  Awesome!

image

And a very nice note from Reddit user digitalsmeg.  I think I will enjoy this.  Any Sactown locals wanna have a board game night?

image

And… hmm. Many packing peanuts.  What can I do with these?

*scurries off to think of ways to use a packing peanut.  Or, clean up my mess.*

Thank you,  digitalsmeg. It was a wonderful gift.

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(no title)

This is Ebony.

image

She is a big part of why,
instead of some big introductory post, you get this.

Because right now,  I am tired,  worn through,  and otherwise about to crash out with a migraine. This is partially due to a certain cat deciding that nighttime is not for sleeping.

Hopefully,  I’ll be more coherent tomorrow.

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I just applied for a job.

Because everything is made better by having some long fancy code name, this is Operation Gd Jb Mo Pa. The name comes from a shorthand advertisement that read something like ‘f u cn rd ts u cn gt gd jb mo pa.’

Took a state exam. And now I put in my first job application to join one of the many tentacles of the company that controls Sacramento — the State of California.

Here’s to hoping.

Anybody want to be a reference?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I really suck at updating my blog

I start with the best of intentions and I never quite manage to succeed. I need to devote more time in my life to things like my weblog but there’s always something getting in the way.

I need to devote time to finding a new job. The one I’ve got is nice, but it’s been nearly six and a half years and I’m still part-time, and I’m getting a sense that I’m not as important to the company as I would want to be at this point. This is not a good place to be.

Not to mention there’s a lot of personal issues that keep getting in my way. Most everybody reading this knows about the bipolar. I also live with my folks and that is…well, for a diplomatic word, challenging would seem to fit the bill.

So I’m trying to inspire myself to move. But…I’m still around. Sticking my head up for a moment to breathe.

Trying to figure out what to do with myself.

It’s a rough life.

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People I Think Are Quite Keen: Richard and Jennifer Crawford

(What is this? An Introduction)

So, it’s Thursday. Who’s going to get the first nod as a person I happen to think is quite keen? Well, it’s actually two, partly to make up for the fact that I’ve just decided to start this, thus I missed last Thursday, and partly, they’re married, so it’s fitting to honor them together.

So, the first entry in the people I think are quite keen goes to my good friends Richard and Jennifer Crawford.

I’ll start with Richard. I’ve known him since 2006, and have been herding cats, err, Wrimos with him in the Sacramento area since 2007. He’s the best damn co-ML anybody could ask for. He’s also a really good writer with a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. (Don’t believe me? Just go peer at his bibliography page. Anybody that writes zombie stories about Santa’s elves is my kind of person.)

Ah, but that’s not all Richard does. He’s also an excellent code monkey, keeping systems running. Always good, and it means he’s inclined to a technical bent as well. This comes in handy at times, such as the wonderfulness of the Virtual Plotbox, a virtual rendition of the black container I carry to Sacramento NaNoWriMo get-togethers. This means he’s a geek.

Lastly, he’s my GM. I’ve never actually played at a table with people and real dice before, but now I’m getting the chance. So very awesome. Add to that the randomness he posts to his twitter feed, and it’s really a shame not a lot of people know about Richard, because he’s just that awesome.

Ah, but somebody as cool as Richard needs somebody just as cool to be married to him, and that’s where Jennifer comes in. Jennifer is quite amazing. She’s a bit of a tech geek too, but more to the point, she’s a singer, a hell of a baker (she made Richard Dalek cupcakes for his birthday once and a Cthulhu cake another time, and does a wonderfully tasty kitty litter cake), and an artiste with the knitting needles. Totally an amazing woman.

With all this, she still manages to keep Richard and I on task when it comes to keeping the region organized and she’s decided to join us in writing every November. She’ll never share, but I consider it awesome she just comes and writes.

She loves cats. (Richard does too, but Jen does especially.) Between the two of them, they’re host to six furballs — Rosemary, Azrael, Nutmeg, Rupert, Ingrid, and Sherman — and manages to find the time and attention for all of them as well as happily posting their pictures to the internet, which is required. Cat people are generally good people in my book.

Plus they are both big-time geeks. Don’t believe me? Go look at their posts on the Dalek invasion at their house: Infested! (Richard) and The Doom That Awaits You All (Jennifer). Such geeks. Such wonderful, wonderful geeks.

My kind of people, and I’m glad I know both of them.

Want more of either/both of them?
Richard can be found at his blog and @underpope, his twitter.
Jennifer hangs out on her blog and @jenipurr, her twitter.

Posted in people I think are quite keen | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

People I Think Are Quite Keen: An Introduction

People of Berkeley - Up a Tree

People of Berkeley - Up a Tree

So I’ve been poking around Ryan Macklin‘s blog. He’s a wonderful creative guy whom I worked with on the (now no longer available) Finis project (and I kick myself that I didn’t get a PDF copy while they were still around!), and he came up with a little series called “People I Admire”.

So…like a good creative does, I’m stealing the idea and filing off the serial numbers to come up with my own little series called “People I Think Are Quite Keen”. This is a collection of folks who are my friends or whom I otherwise think are really cool for various reasons. I’m going to try to do this every Thursday in my quest to put words on this here blog in 2014. There’s 52 weeks in a year, and I should be able to wrap it up on January 1, 2015.

A bit later today, you’ll find the first (two) people I plan to honor with this little exercise (one for last Thursday, and one for now), but for now, just consider this a bit of a note and an explanation.

(Photo credit: John Morgan, “People of Berkeley – Up a Tree“. CC BY 2.0)

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He can’t fool me…

So I was reading XKCD’s What If again, this time on the subject of T-Rex calories. Halfway through the article, one of the illustrations caught my fancy, and I jotted off a quick email to my friend Cal, who moved from Brooklyn to Minnesota in the last year:

To: Cal
From: me
Subject: The real reason you moved to MN…

Can’t fool me…

Never leave Cal any room, because he responded with this gem:

To: me
From: Cal
Subject: RE: The real reason you moved to MN…

Stupid hipsters:

Okay, it made me laugh.

And Cal adds this video as the source of his gif fu, which just had me cracking up — but you’re probably going to need to understand a bit of code to really find it funny.

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