Tag Archives: travel

The Dismal Diarrhea of Defeat!

I thought I would end July with a productive week.

Alas, not so much.

I spent last weekend at ConGregate, a Winston-Salem con, and had a great time. I was on eight or nine panels, chatted with a lot of NC writers I know and discovered an excellent coffee/tea shop across the street (really good loose leaf tea). The hotel restaurant was reasonably priced. I also picked up some good used books at a sale table (two Philip K. Dick, one Andre Norton) though that kept me from buying anything new from my friends.

There was also a nice moment on one panel — I forget which one — in which I was commenting on how many of my stories get turned down of late, and John Hartness of Falstaff Books commented “and yet, you’re in this side of the table as a published author.” I think I needed to hear that.

Oh, and I sold one of my books after one of the attendees heard me give a reading from The Wodehouse Murder Case.

I came home Sunday and decided to devote Monday to various tasks around the house, such as finding a contractor to fix a small siding problem. Then back to work Tuesday. In hindsight, not the best call … and not productive on the task side either. Neither of the contractors I asked for quotes were free to do the job.

Monday afternoon, Trixie began demanding to go out and crap every couple of hours. The poop wasn’t as runny as in some times past, but it was semisolid at best, and in remarkably small quantities every time. Knowing this could keep up a while, I volunteered to sleep with Trixie in the spare bedroom (the shot of her in the laundry basket has no relation to her being ill, it just looks cute) so that TYG could get some sleep. Sure enough, every couple of hours Trixie decided she needed to go out. I’d thought I might be able to work in between walkies as I wouldn’t get back to sleep but various matters distracted me so no sleep and no work.

Needless to say, I was a total wreck Tuesday, unfit for work; besides sleeping I think I might have done some blogging, but not much else. We tried making an appointment for Trixie but had to settle for Wednesday. Tuesday night passed without problems and I slept like a log. So soundly I woke up late which left me off-balance the rest of the day. I know it’s a weakness but I really need a couple of hours before the dogs join me downstairs if I’m to get my head in the game.

As Trixie seemed fine we canceled the appointment, then guess what happened Wednesday night? I slept through it with an Ambien — I was going to drive the car to our dealer for some servicing and I wanted to be awake for that — but we canceled that and made another appointment for Trixie that day. The doctor decided the antibiotics from her UTI might be the cause. We have her on a concentrated probiotic regimen for a couple of days. Last night she slept with me in the spare room again, just in case. She had no problems but as often happens the night after I take Ambien, I didn’t sleep well.

So the long and short of it is I got next to nothing done. What I did accomplish included proofing the golem article I worked on last year and doing some promotional work for Questionable Minds. I signed up for a blog tour to promote it so I spent Thursday getting a lot of details for that in place. We’ll see if it gets results down the road.

I didn’t get my exercise routines or most other routines done this week either. Though looking over my July goals, I got way more of them done than usual, and all the important ones done. That’s cool, even if this week doesn’t feel that way.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, all rights remain with current holder.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Writing

I am tentatively optimistic I have neither long covid or monkeypox

Which is a roundabout way of saying I spent the past week on vacation in Florida, realm of “Typhoid Ron” DeSantis. in Fort Walton Beach, which is dedicated Trump Country so I doubt vax rates are very high. And, of course, flying there alongside god knows who. But if I don’t show any symptoms this week, I guess masking as much as possible paid off.

I picked the date because I’d missed my sister Tracy the last couple of times she went on stage and last weekend she was directing Daddy’s Girl, a comedy about a diner owner possibly meeting his long-lost daughter. Here’s the set:It’s a fun show (review in the next couple of weeks).

TYG has always mocked me for showing up the recommended 2 hours before departure and treating 90 minutes as the absolute minimum. At 5:30 June 9, though, Raleigh Durham Airport was packed, inside and out.I feel justified.

As the overheads on all the flights were packed, it turns out I made a smart move just bringing my backpack. Only three hard-copy books but I had a ton of ebooks I wanted to catch up on, so that worked out well for me.

During the trip I got to spend time with Tracy, our mutual best friend Cindy and her sister Deborah, and meet their dog, Raven Marie. Raven was initially suspicious about a stranger in the house, but she soon warmed up. She showed this by licking me at every opportunity.

I wound up spending more time with my Dad than anticipated, hanging out at his apartment and driving him on a few errands. That was fine, but left me without much time to see anyone else. It’s been two years-plus since I made it down so I think it’s excusable to prioritize family, but I still feel a little guilty. Next time I go, I’ll plan in advance so that I can see Dad and still make time for friends.

And what the heck, I did get the excitement of following Dad around Publix and Sam’s Club. I also got to use his car for myself which let me visit the waterfront during the morning without having to use Lyft or a rental.It’s pretty on the waterfront.Mostly, anyway.

In addition to the gunk, I also got to see a homeless man washing in Santa Rosa Sound and a woman in a cart riding after a black guy she’d been arguing with and shrieking racial epithets. I thought about intervening but he was easily outdistancing her, she wasn’t drawing a gun or calling cops on him so I stayed back.

I did not sleep well — unless I’m beyond exhausted, I wake up between 3:30 and 5 no matter how late I go to bed. And that’s Eastern time, where the Florida Panhandle is on Central so when my hosts go to sleep at 9 or 9:30, it’s 10-10:30 PM for me.

Even so I relaxed a lot. Nothing that had to be done beyond hanging out and relaxing, and after the past couple of months with TYG’s job, that was a welcome break. Even though I didn’t do any stretching while I was there, my body felt quite relaxed. Even my feet were comfortable, which is interesting. Here at home, they routinely feel so stiff I assumed it was age and arthritis, aggravated by bad posture (I get in some weird positions when Plushie stretches out in my lap). Apparently it’s all posture and none of it’s age. So I can fix it if I just figure out how to sit or how often to get up or whatever it is I was doing in Florida that I don’t do normally. This is cool.

I made it back Wednesday and will resume work this morning. For obvious reasons, no week-in-review post this afternoon as this one covers the week.

I had a great break but it’s good to be back home with TYG, the pups and Wisp. Worryingly, Snowdrop hasn’t shown in four days. Fingers crossed he’s okay (and I hope he comes back soon, because TYG adores him).



Filed under Miscellanea, Personal

Back from ConCarolinas!

I had a great time, as I usually do at cons. I connected with a number of writers I haven’t seen in two years, had some excellent food and picked up several books by writers I know (I plan to buy a couple more online soon).

As a business venture, it was a flop. Due to the chaotic schedule here the past couple of months I didn’t think to set up a sale table and I mis-scheduled an autograph session opposite a panel so I had to drop the session (I don’t know that anyone would have wanted my autograph, but still). So no books sold and a modest amount of money spent. I’m still glad I went.

It was also a very pretty area. The Hilton is located next to a river or lake and a boardwalk so I got some good photos.I also took some photos of things like this, because I do that.#SFWApro.

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Today I travel. Let’s hope I return safe and COVID-free

ConCarolinas starts today and I’m in! I’m quite pleased as this was my second or third time applying. Hopefully I’ll give a good account of myself.

It’s the first time TYG and I have been apart for a weekend — she’s staying home — since the pandemic started. The first time I’ve driven outside the Raleigh-Durham area in almost as long. It feels a little freaky so send positive thoughts. My programs:

Let’s Build a World today at 6pm, followed by an autographing session. Not that there are many people craving my autograph but perhaps I can sell them a book and then sign it.

Dive Into Marvel and DC tomorrow at 11 AM.

Steampunk & Gaslamp. I think I may bring up Questionable Minds.And at 5pm, Superheroes as Vigilantes. Needless to say, the two comics/superhero related ones are going to be fun.

The rest of the time I guess I’ll be hanging around, trying to handsell books, browsing the sale table (not that I have much money to spare) and hanging out with the writers I know. Find me if you’re there; if not, have a great weekend just the same.

#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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My trip to Fort Walton Beach, in photos

I had a great time. Hung out with friends, ate out a lot, stayed with my sister and our mutual best friend Cindy. Sat out in the morning behind the house, watching the sun come up over the lake, with egrets.

Later Cindy and I made it to the beach.

And we visited the Destin docks.I also visited my old teacher Jo Yeager, and hung out with her and her husband. Among the many items in their house was an honest-to-god Victrola record player.

And because I find airport architecture endlessly fascinating, here’s a look at one of the Atlanta airport’s tall elevators.It was a great trip and I haven’t lost the sense of relaxation yet.

#SFWApro. photos are mine.


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It’s like a fly in your chardonnay, except this really was ironic!

So Monday the 8th I flew down to Fort Walton Beach for Dad’s 90th birthday. During the Atlanta stop, TYG texted me there was a hurricane on the way, providing irony #1:  I no longer lived where hurricanes were a constant occurrence, but I’d made a conscious choice that put me in the part of one.

Still, I wasn’t that worried about Michael. It was just me, no TYG, no pups, no need to fear damage to our house. And after Florence proved milder than expected, I wasn’t worried much by the terrified TV warnings. Which shows that even a hurricane veteran like myself can get overconfident; Michael really did come in as a Category 4 and the damage it did to Panama City and other communities east of us (a couple of them are no longer there) was horrifying.

Still, here at my friend Cindy’s house (which she shares with her sister and my sister) everything was fine. Irony #2 was that Durham, by contrast, got hammered. Internet outages, much to TYG’s frustration, and then the power went out Sunday night and stayed off for 12 hours. Plushie completely freaked at his schedule being off and the sudden darkness. It’s probably just as well TYG couldn’t go, as the dogs would then have been at the dog boarding facility, in the dark, with no power, and alone for at least part of the time.

The worst I suffered was that the hurricane disrupted my plans to catch up with people and I didn’t see all the friends as I’d hoped. I still had a great time hanging out with family; I haven’t seen Paige since my wedding, and she’s now 24 (she can buy beer. I feel old). We had Dad’s dinner at a restaurant on the beach, played a marathon game of rummy and a round of Goofy Golf. It was a great trip.

Sunday I came home without any problem.

Below: a frog I found on Cindy’s window the day before Michael hit. I’ll post some more fun photos from the trip soon.

#SFWApro. Cover by Pat Broderick, all rights remain with current holder.

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Indiana wants me, but I can’t go back there … oh, wait, yes I can

(Title courtesy of the R. Dean Taylor song).

One thing TYG and I love doing on our Mensa trips is visiting zoos, aquariums, anything of the sort. And wouldn’t you know, the Indianapolis Zoo was located within a mile of our hotel. A very hot mile, but it was worth it. We caught the morning dolphin show (later we found a room offering a view from under the water), saw a cage full of macaws (didn’t photograph well, alas) and a colony of meerkats and hydrated a lot. Like I said, hot.

I thought this bear was a small bear. Then I got close and realized how much of him was in the water.

The flock of helmeted guinea fowl were a hoot as they clucked at us. That’s a crowned crane in the background.

There’s an orang-utan house with several apes. We got to watch one of them practice identifying symbols on the computer. It did pretty well. Below, a mother and child clown around.

Gila monster!


Lion fish!

And seal! Regrettably I didn’t photograph the walrus exhibit.

One moment of comedy was when a kid next to us informed his mother very seriously that he’d counted the rhino butts and there were definitely three of them in the exhibit.

It was definitely worth getting hot and exhausted for.

#SFWApro. All photos are mine.

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Indianapolis Mensa gathering: the basic economy trap!

So Monday we arrived at the Raleigh Airport and discovered we’d booked our flight basic economy. This is a low-cost, low-service option designed to wean travelers away from bargain airlines. But airlines and travel sites don’t emphasize the drawbacks (only one bag on board) or alert you, so we arrived and learned we’d have to pay to check our third and fourth bag. No upgrades possible (I’m surprised, as airlines make a packet that way). And TYG has another trip we made the same mistake on — but next time we book, we won’t be so foolish.

We arrived in Philadelphia for our plane change, and it was surprisingly compact. Narrower aisles and the gate was just a desk inside the bar/restaurant above (which isn’t a bad idea). A few hours later we made it into Indianapolis, then to the hotel (the big blue slab).

As usual the highlight of the trip was hanging out with friends. Lots of Mensans I know from Florida, or who’ve moved away from Florida, or whom I know just from annual gatherings. Wednesday, the first day of the gathering, I was pretty much social-whirling for the entire day, catching up with people, going out to dinner, chatting with strangers in the line at Starbucks (there was a Church of God in Christ convention the same weekend. Starbucks was packed). The next couple of days I still socialized but gave myself a little time to sit and read — now that I’m accustomed to spending most of the day with nobody but the pups, constant people sometimes felt overwhelming. TYG got out and hung too, though she’s less of a social butterfly than me.

I also explored the area: a skywalk connects the hotel to the convention center to the mall and beyond. Made for a lot of walking.

I didn’t do much in the games room but my friend Zarya convinced me to play a round of Azul, a new tile-based game. It was a lot of fun. And I couldn’t resist the bestseller covers-jigsaw above.

I attended several presentations, although I didn’t give one — I’d applied but the new scoring system shot me down (no idea why). I did have the pleasure of getting several “You’re not presenting? But I love your presentations!” compliments when people found out. The good ones included one on tombstones and art; one on the Green Book used by black motorists for a chunk of the last century; and a Roma college professor who’s written a book about her people (TYG picked it up). A couple of others were dull enough I walked out. I won’t name names.

Hospitality, despite the excellent company, was piss-poor. No vegan alternatives according to one of the other attendees, and the vegetarian alternatives, except for a good hamburger, were uninspired. The pasta with marinara sauce? It was pasta with the tiniest possible streaks of sauce dabbed on. Seeing as we only had lunch and breakfast served (a new thing, IIRC) I think they could have done better — vegetarianism aside, the food was bland. I know it’s cafeteria food at these things, but how about a better cafeteria?

Fortunately there were excellent restaurants in the hotel and around the area, so we spent quite a bit of money enjoying them. Below, some decorations at one of the Italian places (we ate a lot of Italian).

TYG and I also spent a lot of time just reading in bed (yes, reading). With her crazy schedule and the dogs to take care of, we rarely get to spend an evening doing that the way we used to.

Sunday we left early so we could pick up the dogs before the vet closed. Much as I enjoyed the break, it’s good to have them with us again.



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My vacation has given me the secret to best-seller status

So as I mentioned Friday, I spent last week with TYG attending the annual Mensa gathering. And it hit me late in the week: John Scalzi devotes blog posts to photos from his hotel room windows. John Scalzi is a best-selling SF novelist. So if I show photos of the view from my hotel … QED, am I right?

And besides I didn’t have time to get anything else about our trip written up, so—


Next, a day view

And a view of some of the roofs below.

Here’s a view of a rainy Indianapolis street, just because I think it’s a good photo

Tomorrow, some actual blogging about the trip, plus more photos.


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