May 22 2015

Alas, I cannot be at Wiscon…


Gosh, all the cool kids are going…

There’s Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman.

Charlie Jane Anders, whose posts I enjoy over at io9.  Suzy McKee Charnas.

 Karen Joy Fowler.  Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press (who publish Laurie J. Marks and Delia, among others).

Oh, lots of writers, and editors, and publishers, and related personages.   If you’re not already there –  well, there’s still time to get there.   It’s in Madison, Wisconsin; maybe that’s a day-trip for you.

I’ve been to Wiscon  a couple of times, and had thoroughly enjoyed myself there — but not this year.  My travel budget’s kind of used up with Readercon (July 9-12) in Burlington MA, the Schrodinger Sessions (July 30-August 1) in Maryland, and the big one: Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention (August 19-23 ), all the way on the other side of the North American continent in Spokane, WA.

Also, I seem to have acquired tickets to three events in the World Science Festival on May 30th and 31st, which, while merely a train ride away in New York City, cost some bucks, to be sure.

Add in some non-SF related travel and hotel in December, and that’s basically it for expensive places to go this year.

Actually, looking at that list, it seems rather daunting…

I’m still working on getting my strength up to full power, so it’s good I have some time to work up to the bigger trips.

Speaking of which, I must get home and get a good night’s sleep, as I’m hopping the train for a day-trip to the big city tomorrow.

Meanwhile, just because it’s cool,  here’s a link to the Dawn spacecraft’s animated views of those mysterious bright spots on the surface of Ceres….

Click ‘n’ go.




May 17 2015

How many random things does it take to make a post?


Still at loose ends, trying to plow through a collection of largely disconnected chores and tasks and stuff that otherwise need action or decisions on my part…

But!  Need to blog… So, here are some random things I’ve done, read or noticed:

Over at Chad Orzel’s science blog at Forbes online from a couple of weeks ago,  Chad explains why a particle’s momentum will increase when you confine it (contrary to what intuition tells us), by relating it to strings on a guitar, which was THE critical analogy for this finger-pickin’ gal (Emmy the dog’s contributions aside).   When he said that, I went from “WTF?” to “Of course! Makes perfect sense.  Could not be otherwise.”

When you shorten a guitar string, you limit the number of frequencies at which it can vibrate.   Some wavelengths just won’t fit on that string anymore.  The longer wavelengths go away.

On a guitar string, frequency relates to pitch.  You shorten the useable length of the string by putting your finger down on it, pressing it against the fret.  Only the part of the string between your finger and the bridge can now vibrate.  And it’s shorter.  So: you get a higher note.

Obviously –  and absolutely according to my natural intuition as a guitarist.  Makes perfect sense.

And for a quantum particle, wavelength relates to momentum.  Confine it, and the range of possible wavelengths becomes limited — to shorter wavelengths.  So the damn thing is moving faster.

Could not be otherwise, right?  That’s lovely.

Then Chad gives us a video of guitarist Richard Thompson (ALIAS GOD!), so, that’s  a bonus.

Also, speaking of guitars:

Once the crazy chemo finger-pain was gone, and my post-chemo peripheral neuropathy diminished (probably as much as it’s going to), I had wanted to get my playing chops back.  I’m spending tons of time at my new office, and for a lot of the time I’m the only one in the building.  So, why not play guitar there?  But I  didn’t want to be hauling my guitar back and forth every day…

I already owned a “backpacking” guitar: a sturdy guitar with a small body.  I figured I’d just bring that to the office one day and leave it there, handy to grab at odd moments.  Sure, it didn’t sound particularly good, but as long as it stayed in tune, it would keep my fingers exercised.

Except: it was the crappiest instrument ever!   The strings were a mile above the fret board!  The intonation wandered away to the hinterlands by, like, the third fret.  The neck was fat enough to double as a baseball bat!

There are some guitars where you’re just doing yourself damage to play them, and that is definitely one.  I’d forgotten how evil a device it was.   I think it was made by LL Bean.

I’m trying to get myself back to performing level, but playing a guitar that PUNISHES me was not going to encourage me in any way.

So I did a bunch of research and settled on this lovely:

Washburn Rover

Washburn Rover


The Washburn Rover is a  “travel” guitar – essentially a higher-end backpacking guitar.  Absolutely playable,  quality materials, great workmanship.

Key points: A full-length fingerboard, instead of a shortened one.  I’m going to be establishing habits, and I want them to translate directly over to my full-sized instrument.  Of the travel guitars available, this one had the full-sized fingerboard.   Strings not too high off the fingerboard.  Spruce top, mahogany body.   Compensated bridge, which I did not expect! And very, very affordable.

It feels way better in my hands that I’d thought possible for a guitar at that price.   And the tone does not suck!   It doesn’t sound like a full-size guitar, by any means — but it has its own characteristic tone, which I actually like.  I’m thinking that for certain very roots-style songs, I might even prefer the sound.

Last random thing: over at xkcd, Randall Munroe has an Emojic 8-Ball that has to be seen (and used) to be believed.

If you believe in that sort of thing…


May 12 2015

Post in which I am too busy to post.


Too many things needing my attention right exactly now, as in:  now.

So, here’s a fish:



Found in the brook next to my office.   There’s a little branch-off from the mighty Quinnipiac River that wends its way mostly underground beneath the big old factory/warehouse complex where my office is located.  Just before it dives under, there’s a footbridge right outside my office door where I can pause and muse.  This time I saw a fish.  Not a generic carp.  Not a decorative koi.  A honking great all-caps FISH!

Seriously.  Like, a foot and a half (46cm).  And muscular.  A major fish.

May 8 2015

And then this happened…


Last Thursday night, just before turning in, I thought I’d check how my ebook sales were doing on Amazon…

Hm, said I.  I just looked around lunchtime, but now there’s, like… three times as many units sold.  That’s a puzzle.

And I went to bed.

The next day I did a Google search for the previous 24 hours, and this came up on Twitter:

Completely unexpected.

Completely unexpected.


@femfreq is the Feminist Frequency web series, founded by Anita Sarkeesian.  The series examines how women are represented in popular literature, media, and especially (as –let’s say — you just possibly have heard) gaming.

I had no idea that Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency knew of my work at all…  This is quite a nice endorsement.  I immediately tweeted back my thanks.

It’s really encouraging how many people have said nice things about my books (including, by the way, most of you!).   It helped boost me when I was ill, and helps sustain me now.

So,to  all of you (not just Anita, and Jo and Chad…) — my thanks.