Heading across the Atlantic

August 30th, 2015 1 comment

Well, here I am – back on the Serenade of the Seas.

the route

the route

and the schedule


Sun Aug 30 Copenhagen, Denmark 4:30pm
Mon Aug 31 Oslo, Norway 10:00am 7:00pm
Tue Sep 1 Kristiansand, Norway 10:00am 6:00pm
Wed Sep 2 At Sea
Thu Sep 3 Klaksvik, Faroe Islands, Denmark 8:00am 5:00pm
Fri Sep 4 At Sea
Sat Sep 5 Reykjavik, Iceland 8:00am
Sun Sep 6 Reykjavik, Iceland 1:00pm
Mon Sep 7 Akureyri, Iceland 10:00am 8:00pm
Tue Sep 8 At Sea
Wed Sep 9 At Sea
Thu Sep 10 At Sea
Fri Sep 11 At Sea
Sat Sep 12 At Sea
Sun Sep 13 Halifax, NS, Canada 8:00am 5:00pm
Mon Sep 14 At Sea
Tue Sep 15 Bayonne, NJ 6:00am

Other than Iceland – I don’t have a lot planned. I want to head back to the waterfalls but other than that – I am going to relax and otherwise read, study, knit and deal with files if I can get Internet access on the ship with out it bankrupting me.

Probably the only really bad stop is the end in NJ. My plan there is simply to go to the airport – hang out and send Miriam a post card since she says she has never received a post card from NJ. Go figure.


Categories: Travel Tags:


August 29th, 2015 No comments

Which is not a food, article of clothing or disease but the name of the Copenhagen Airport.It was where I arrived late morning after running through the following:

  • taking out the garbage
  • hauling suitcases down to the garage
  • hiking to the train station (forgot till this morning that I didn’t have any Euros which meant neither cab nor street car). I went via the overpass rather than heading under the bridge and past where various homeless sleep. Not before 0515 in the morning when it is still a bit dark
  • taking the train (which of course had swapped the 1st and 2nd class ends of the train such that everyone was running along the platform bound for the other end, Did I mention small kids towing suitcases which they were bouncing off everyone’s ankles
  • dropping off another FORTY (40) books at the USO. Now they need thrillers and SciFi – I have those too.
  • catching my plane.
  • I’m boarding the Serenade of the Seas tomorrow for a 16 night Northern Route TransAtlantic Crossing. Details will post here tomorrow.



1525+40= 1565. There are a number of out dated school books in the garage which will be gone by the time I get back. I didn’t count them (and won’t) since they didn’t start out in the Studio Box pile….

Categories: Travel Tags:

It will be Sept

August 28th, 2015 No comments

Did I mention that George and I are looking to relocate sometime in the not so distant future (next year? Year after?)? I realized as part of the move a requirement to shift from my German web host which I have been using since 2006/7. Using the same system and software for that entire length of time; including Smart-FTP which works so well that I have forgotten how to set it up.

Seriously. My FTP software is running on an old netbook. Old enough that it runs Win98. No hassles, no problems, not supported for a long time. I had a major brain cramp in getting it all organized in the first place. Ran over my limits a couple of times and had to regroup. The help guys are great – or at least they were at last pass in 2007. Under the adage of “if it ain’t broke – don’t screw with it” I have left the system alone.

Webpages are easy. I can cut, paste and reload pix without a problem. But eight years of blog posts just aren’t going to happen without some help. Then I had the brilliant idea of using a WordPress plug in to automate the process. OK – that part sort of seemed to work – except that you first scan and build the backup. My sites + build is higher than my allowable server space.

It is 1900 in the evening. I am packed. And tired. And leaving early tomorrow for the train station. I’ll be home for a couple of days end of Sept. I will deal with it then.


20 Books to Rohrbach this morning and 121 to the Heidelberg Altstadt Shelf.
Basic numbers here 1261 + 123 yesterday = 1384 + 20 + 121 = 1525. I have 40 more children’s books to be dropped tomorrow at the USO.

Categories: Books & Tapes, computers Tags:

To the ends of the earth – or my garage

August 27th, 2015 No comments

Driving to Wallhausen is fun, especially when I do it with someone else. We had a good time there and back. A stop at my house involved Nana and the kids books. And some old shirts for wearing, painting, crafting with kids.

I have the yarn I need which I promised people for later in the year. I have knitting projects for the next month (well, I had those anyway but….).


123 books to the good…. I mean to someone else. Nana, bless her heart, went through both the English and German children’s books and was easily talked into taking boxes home for nieces and nephews.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting, yarn Tags:

insanity or what?

August 26th, 2015 No comments

It isn’t that there aren’t other things to do…. laundry (four loads), cleaning and that every so fun and necessary scrubbing out of the fridge. But I decided to go ahead and start setting up my blog et all on a US based server.


Not. I started out with menus which have since disappeared. This is, I think, going to be more than balanced by the fact that I don’t have to maintain WordPress myself. And at less money per month than I am know paying.  Oh. Did I mention about 10x the amount of storage as well??

we shall see – that is when I am back from dealing with yet another load of laundry.

Categories: computers, home Tags:

made it home

August 25th, 2015 No comments

It took actually less than 36 hours in real time but it seems like a whole lot longer. Maybe it is because I left Spokane on Sunday and it is now Tues. And I really can’t ignore the 9 hours of time zone change that is trying to wipe me out.

The flight wasn’t that bad. Unfortunately I didn’t pick a seat up stairs while there were still some which meant being within a few rows of the unhappy toddler. Her parents actively tried to keep her occupied; the little one was just bored. And, of course, fast asleep about 90 minutes before the plane landed….

After coffee in the arrivals lounge I made the 0953 train without problems followed by the connection in Mannheim.

I even had enough money for a cab (I don’t mind walking to the train station – it is downhill followed by flat) since uphill with luggage when I am tired is just not going to happen.

Nap. Yes, a nap sounds really good right about now….

Categories: home, Travel Tags:

Journey home – day 2 – not the United Lounge

August 24th, 2015 No comments

Picking up where we left off (somewhere around sound asleep) I woke to the nasty surprise that the particular Doubletree doesn’t have free coffee in the lobby early in the morning. Yes, they have the stupid little coffee makes in the rooms, but no coffee in the lobby. I understand completely that the container should vanish the minutes they have a shop open which can take cash. But this hotel is the contract hotel for American Airlines and I suspect Delta as well. How do they expect aircrews headed out when it is dark to manage without coffee?

I trundled back upstairs after explaining to the desk clerk that other Doubletrees do have coffee. Then my keycard refused to open the room in retribution for me having a negative opinion of the management. Back downstairs. New keycard, across the lobby through the ballroom area and back to the Tower elevators. This time I was able to gain sulky access to my room and make dispenser coffee.

Shuttle, check-in, Lounge. Not the United Lounge!  Several of the non-US carriers have banded together and have a lounge in the S terminal. Some are Star Alliance, some are not. But the important thing is that United doesn’t run the lounge. Instead of cheese, crackers and carrots there is good soup, a full line of beverages without costs and a rotating supply of munchies ranging from jelly beans through wasabi peas and good trail mix to a variety of cookies and crisps.

Here I sit with incredibly fast Wifi (good enough to download Dr Who Season 8 which I haven’t seen in less than 30 minutes) and a full view of one of the jet ways. I now know that SEATAC paints cross bars perpendicular to the pull-in line clearly labeled for each make of aircraft. Makes positioning properly for fast hook ups that much easier.

My flight is at 1340 if everything is on time. I arrive in the morning which means technically it takes 3 days to get home…..

Categories: Travel Tags:

heading home – day 1

August 23rd, 2015 No comments

Which should give you the basic idea that it is not as simple as it sounds. Today is the last day of WorldCon. Noah and I helped set up Registration this morning. It was quickly obvious that we had more people than we needed. There wasn’t anything on the program that really caught my attention so we headed back to the Staff Den and pitched in.

Several dozen scrubbed pans later, Noah moved his hands from the dish water and pitched in on packing. I turned in my towel (hand, bath, whatever was available for the moment) and helped first with the breakfast, then lunch set up.  With a flight earlier than his – I headed to the airport about noon, willing to be bored there rather than at the hotel given that there was a “business center” where I could sit out of traffic, relax and use the free wifi.

The smoke from the forest fires has played havoc on air transportation in the region. Added to the runway maintenance under way in Seattle it meant that flights were a bit delayed. Once again I was impressed by Alaska. They are organized, rapid loading of plane and we actually made up time on the way to Seattle. Even more amazing was the fact that passengers actually let those who had short connections off first. Seriously – the average plane has everyone pushing and shoving to get off. Here – people who had longer connections or were local waited till those who were panicked looking were off the plane and on their way.

Picked up my bag, headed to the van area, handed the driver the luggage and got on the van. 20 minutes later I was in bed and heading for slumber.

Categories: Cons, Travel Tags:

Interesting Hugos

August 22nd, 2015 2 comments

I have mentioned before that the Hugo’s were going to be interesting this year. (the final list is here)A controversy exploded fueled by a couple of groups who felt that the Hugo’s were being nominated and rammed through the system by “persons with agendas.”

From my point of view, I can respect the opinions of anyone who wants to write/read a certain kind of science fiction/fantasy. What I can’t respect is an unwillingness to allow others the same choice.

In reality, science fiction/fantasy is no longer the bastion of the geeky guy with “no one with cooties allowed.” The first changes literally to the face of SciFi weren’t recognized by many. They started in 1975 with the publication of Ursula Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness” which deliberately dealt with the issues of gender identification and conflict of cultures.

Since then, women have become increasingly both fans and authors. It isn’t just vampires and it is not romance. Both fantasy and hard science fiction have expanded beyond being the bastion of white males. Personally, I like having a variety of authors and perspectives from which to chose. Not everyone feels the same way and let us just leave it at that. The end result this year is that there were categories in which the nominations had been “stuffed” but when it came to the final vote, many of those entries just weren’t high enough quality to win.

Back to Discworld

Death today –


One of the Wee Free Men got loose


Nanny Ogg made an appearance

and finally – the sign in front of some of the most fantastic hats I have seen in a long time….


Categories: Cons Tags:


August 21st, 2015 No comments

For those of you who don’t know anything about science fiction – Sir Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series, died in March of this year. Not old at all he was 66. Pratchett had early onset Alzheimers. He was very open about it, made a lot of appearances and campaigned for research. The Wiki is quite good, accurate and avoids being overly fawning. I had the privilege of meeting Sir Terry at Glasgow in 2005. Unlike a certain number of authors, he was an incredibly nice human being.

One of our community (John Kentner) is in the process of producing a film which he has funded through Kickstarter to document the effect that Pratchett and Discworld have had on people’s lives.

The Discworld Exhibit is in the main hall:

where you can be greeted by Venari

where you can be greeted by Venari

learn the basics of washing things

learn the basics of washing things

Think about wearing an apron  sponsored by "Cut me own throat" Dibbler

Think about wearing an apron sponsored by “Cut me own throat” Dibbler

Death going to a party

Death going to a party

Making Money

Making Money

For the Librarians (Yes, Pat, Ann, Linda – I do mean you….)



The Luggage

Teeth, and feet

Teeth, and feet

the Luggage

the Luggage

Sgt Cherry

Sgt Cherry

Outside of the Exhibit – I found

Noah hanging with a dragon

Noah hanging with a dragon

And posted at all outside doors…

and reality of the outside air quality

and reality of the outside air quality

Our evening ended with the Masquerade and a concert by Tom Smith. I didn’t last till the award presentations. 2300+ is way past my bedtime on any continent.

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 20th, 2015 No comments

This morning wasn’t as insane as yesterday. We had the line cleared out by about 1100 which meant breaks were possible. I did some wandering around. No shopping and and a lot of people watching.

It was also the main day for big campaigns. Voting for the 2017 location closes 1800 tomorrow. DC in 2107 is pushing hard and had a BBQ lunch on offer. Not only did they have drinks and munchies, but they also had burgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs and items for the gluten free crowd. It was also nice to get out of the building for a short time if not to breath the smoky air.

Tomorrow I am going to bring a camera. That way I can share both costumes and the Discworld Exhibit.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 19th, 2015 No comments


We are not all that far from the wildfires. I think most of us could give up the spectacular sunrises and sunsets in favor of thousands less burning acres of land and forest.

As this is the opening day of the Con, we expected a large number of people to show up at reg to claim their badges.

And we got hammered. The line was there at the 0900 start and it took until about 1500 before the insanity stopped. Over 2400 picked up their badges, including new registrants. With mostly six but sometimes eight computers up, it was a lot of people standing in front of me. Someone who is pre-registered takes almost no time unless they want to update everything we have on them. But a new registration requires data entry and money collection. And that takes more than a minutes or two.

But I have to admit, this is the way I get to see Mike Resnick, Connie Willis, P.C. Hodgell, Larry Niven, Michelle Sagara, Brandon Sanderson and a host of other authors.  Yes, everyone stands in line to pick up their badges. Famous authors, not so famous scribblers, artists, normal fans, lots of kids-in-tow and the occasional stuffed toy.


Categories: Cons Tags:

Move – in

August 18th, 2015 No comments

There are two intensive work periods associated with conventions that are labor intensive but rarely seen by attendees. Affectionately or not so affectionately known by the moniker MI-MO the front half is MoveIn which means the ending half is MoveOut. World Con is entirely volunteer organized and run. That means that in the run up to a convention there is a core group of people putting in a lot of time and effort. Once the doors open at the location where the Con is to be held, the need for people drastically increases as the physical tasks start to mount up.

This morning I spent a significant time early (before the sun came up and sunrise) trying to figure out the nearest US Post Office Location. According to Google – there was one at 421 W Riverside as well as one down somewhere in the 500-600 block.

Wrong. 421 Riverside is a tattoo and piercing parlor so I think that whomever submitted those addresses really needs a new pair of glasses. Finally, I decided to believe the map I had rather than the Internet and found the main post office at – you guessed it – between 500 and 600 – on Riverside. Better yet? Even side of the street. It opened at 0800. By 0730 I was checked out of the Red Lion, luggage dropped off at the Double Tree and on my way down the sidewalk again to mail packages. New York City, Chicago and Georgia this time.

From then on, it was somewhere around madness and chaos. I put time into Registration, loading dock, and exhibits. When Noah arrived from the airport, he dropped off his luggage and came over; being put to directly to work. By about 1830 I was the walking stupid. We had opened up reg at 1500 being swamped for the next 90 minutes. Whomever thought that we wouldn’t be busy prior to the convention opening is just nuts. Why not come early, standing in line for 15 minutes or less then go on your merry way rather than take a chance of getting stuck in a line with all those poor souls who didn’t pay up front and at a lower rate?

We checked into the DoubleTree, swapped goodies (books, yarn and costuming coming my way – pantry supplies, nutella, chocolate and gummis going his), grabbed snacks from the Con Suite and I hit the bed.

After all – I had only been up since 0130. Not bad – internal time clock already starting to adjust…

Categories: Cons Tags:


August 17th, 2015 1 comment

Actually, it was a two USO day. After taking the train to Frankfurt early this morning and checking in at Lufthansa Rail-Fly I wandered to the USO. The hours changed several years ago as the number of service members stationed in Germany underwent a dramatic increase. Now open M-F 0700-1500, the hours pretty much cover the official arrival/departure times for service members and their families in transit. Imagine my surprise and delight to find it open at 0645. I was stopping to drop off 40 children’s books. (An aside – 35 more were added to the Heidelberg City Shelf on Saturday).

The flight from Frankfurt to Seattle was lovely. I was upstairs in a 474. We didn’t have small screaming/crying children or obnoxious adults. My seat-mate turned out to be an IT Systems manager for Lufthansa Systems with an area of expertise in GPS who lives and works in the Zurich area. So much for small worlds.

Arriving at Seattle – they have the Kiosks which means that my total transit time for immigration was 10 minutes which included the hike from the plane leaving plenty of opportunity to hang out at the baggage carousel for an extensive time period.

This was followed by a stop at the Seattle USO. I think the last time I came through Seattle was either 2011 or 2012 for a cruise and I don’t remember spending any significant time at the airport. This time I had over four hours between flights. The USO is amazing. For one thing – it is open 24 hours a day. There are great volunteers, food, lounge chairs in which one can sleep, a computer area, several other seating areas and a baggage holding area. The rest rooms have showers and real towels…..I managed to keep myself aware for several hours by drinking coffee and munching before heading through security to the Alaska airline gate.

Switching to Alaska Airlines for the short hop to Spokane, I was impressed. For a small airline, the service was great and friendly. Most of the local flights are prop planes with 22 rows or less of interior passenger seating which means essentially no overhead storage bins. They do plane side check of carry-ons.

I got to the hotel via shuttle after a kind fellow passenger made the call for me. There are draw backs to not having a stateside phone.

Book Count

1186+35=40= 1261 if my brain is working correctly.

Categories: Cons, Travel Tags:

Staff Chat

August 16th, 2015 No comments

As one of the registration team for Sasquan I am part of the routine “staff chat” mailing list. It makes for interesting reading most days. Few if any flames, which is more than balanced by an exuberant excess of bad, bad puns. For a while it was all about carts.

In any case, reading the dozens of messages coming through was a nice break from packing. Yep – packing as in suitcase. It didn’t take all that long to pack a week’s worth of clothes considering that no matter the weather outside – the convention center will be colder than I like. Took a bit longer to pack up some knitting. Three projects, all WIP. One I should be able to finish in the airplane.

Then there is the “stuff” for various off-spring households in the U.S. I have clothing, books, spices and …. well stuff to pass along. Did I mention nutella, chocolate and gummi bears? Leaving tomorrow for Spokane via Seattle. The first flight will be comfortable Lufthansa. The second is a quick transfer via Alaska Airways. Smaller bag which will be a carryon for the second flight is all “stuff.” 1/2 of my regular suitcase is stuff… In return Noah is bringing me a few things which I don’t think will even fill the larger suitcase.

Wait! I am going to a Con! I am sure that I can find something to buy….

Categories: Cons Tags:

Back to Red

August 15th, 2015 No comments

I’m not even sure how long it has been since I made a Saturday afternoon Heidelberg Strikktreff at Red. I am thinking months and months. Probably this year although it could have been last. I just didn’t think of it last week. I am leaving on Monday so this was my chance.

Good decision. There were only a couple of women I didn’t know; but the rest? The core of the group over the last 5-7 years. Some I have known even longer.

There was some catching up. But mostly a sharing of current work and projects that had just been finished. Saturday afternoons are the time-out from all the rest of the week and challenges of living, surviving, working. Why spoil it?

Besides – when there were enough of us who don’t make it regularly it is just too hard to figure out what to say and how far to go back in the recitation.

I finished the yarn I had for the Ocean Wave and now await digging more out of somewhere it is stashed.

This is where I am. Size is currently ~ 2 feet by 3 1/2 feet. The measuring instrument in this case was my bare right foot. So go figure whatever you want.

end of 15 August

end of 15 August

Categories: Knitting Tags:

This year from the Oktoberfest …

August 14th, 2015 No comments

After conducting a thorough search on their website, I had decided that Paulander wasn’t making anything special for Oktoberfest this year. For that matter, neither were any other breweries.

Now that is just wrong. Remember, I don’t drink so it is not a question of wanting to taste something new and different. It is rather that it is a chance to add something new and stupid to the house. After all, I have been emptying out cupboards and closets. I deserve to add something….

Last year the local Rewe had cute bags and backpacks from Paulander on display by the 13th of August. We were there a couple of days ago. I spotted only a basket of beer. Kind of like the helmet of beer some ships have only from wicker. After thinking about it, I decided that this could be my toy. Besides, I am headed to Spokane next week and have promised decent chocolate to my son who is meeting me there.

Imagine my surprise when rounding the bend at the beer displays. There were two choices besides the basket! Paulander had come through with a bag and backpack in different colors than last year. Both are lined with water resistant cloth.  The basket is from the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery; two each of light, dark and radler in fancy top bottles.

three choices!

three choices!

I am contemplating uses for the basket; I am sure that knitting would be happy in a lined basket… The bags will will travel to Spokane before making further journeys.

Categories: home Tags:

What do I do with this?

August 13th, 2015 4 comments

I have this yarn –


My Silk. ~ sport weight - 175m/50 gm and 200gm total

My Silk. ~ sport weight – 175m/50 gm and 200gm total

It’s a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3rd mix of silk, cotton and acyrlic with a nice feel, shine and bounce. It’s not my color but it seems to want to be knit. But into what?  Never mind it is just a bit orange which is so not my usual color..

It is growing

It is growing


The blue will eventually be an afghan. It will be as big as it gets (i.e. till I run out of yarn…) . Right now it is just knitting back and forth as I listen to a course on Antimicrobial Stewardship. Actually both interesting and entertaining (except for one speaker who has an unfortunate voice quality of about a nasal six year old with a lisp. Neither cute nor particularly comprehensible).  I will finish up the lectures tomorrow, then go pay my fee, take the exam and hopefully claim my CME credits.


137 books this morning along with the 60 yesterday+ another 35 added to the previous 954 (which made it actually 989 I forget to include one trip to the community bookshelf and books dropped off at the Fraport USO).

Resulting in a whopping 1186 books gone. Of which 40 were childrens’ books, five cassette audio books and the rest a mash-up of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance and politics. Guess which ones were George’s contribution……

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting Tags:

Also in the box

August 12th, 2015 No comments

We dropped off books this afternoon in Rohrbach, the next community down the B3 from Heidelberg. Apparently they have added a community bookshelf. While George talked to a neighbor who was walking by, I unloaded books. Sixty of them.

Children’s books in German, adult political books in both German and English and a miscellaneous collection of novels, romance, science fiction, fantasy and mysteries mostly but not complete in English.

I also found these in the box

say what?

say what?

The sheep card is unopened, the two photos have to date from Blue Factory days, the negatives don’t have a date but I am guessing about 1996, 25€ and a tube of K-Y jelly. It is the last one about which I don’t have a clue

Categories: Books & Tapes, packing out, Photos Tags:

Ocean Waves

August 11th, 2015 No comments

Although it wasn’t quite as hot today, I was dreaming of water. Oceans surrounding me; keeping me cool. Helping me relax.

Actually, since the self hypnotism wasn’t completely working I decided instead to completely check out. I had just downloaded Siren from Audible and was hoping it was better than the last Jayne Castle book (that one failed in a lot of pretty blatant ways.

On the side table next to my bed was this lump of knitting which had been marinating in dust since somewhere around the first of the year. Give or take, I claim oldtimer’s disease along with succumbing a complete lack of interest. Take an excess supply of singles fingering weight yarn that is seconds. Blessed with enough thick & thin sections that it needs to be knit double for stability. Add in a free pattern from Drops Studio (garnstudio.com) which is offered in weights from fingering up past worsted. Cast on a few stitches. Knit a strip. Then follow with short row corner mitering before continuing along each edge. Makes for a rectangular spiral of sorts.

I looked at it. Mindless knitting. So mindless in fact that I had completely screwed up the short rows on one end. No sweat. Frog or adjust on the next round. Really? As if there was a decision at all. This is a project that is going to get dragged around and land unceremoniously in a chair. It doesn’t need to be perfect. While I was at it – I changed needle sizes from 4.5 to 5.0 mm and decreased the strip width from 15 stitches to 14.

one wooden hand carved basket from Africa

one wooden hand carved basket from Africa

center strip, now on the third outer strip

center strip, now on the third outer strip

now on the fourth side - and you can see the short rowed end

now on the fourth side – and you can see the short rowed end

I finished the book today. I knit, I played solitaire. I sorted more files. I finished a second audio book – Mary Roach’s My Planet which is a collection of columns she wrote about ten years ago. They are funny; it is too bad Angela Dawe doesn’t have the same ability as Emily Woo Zeller who narrated Gulp.

Head phones, iPad, blowing fan, ice tea, knitting. Not a bad day at all….

Categories: home, Knitting Tags:

Four tasks done

August 10th, 2015 No comments

It wasn’t a very eventful day. Simply cleaned more, finished the photo books. While I was at it – I ordered a mug from the same people on the principle that spending another four dollars would put me over the amount required for free shipping. Since the cost of the mug minus shipping wound up being a bare couple of dollars more than my original amount (have to love California sales tax) I considered it a win.

With a rapidly approaching 65th birthday, I registered for Medicare. Never mind it doesn’t pay outside the US. Never mind that I have full care through the VA anywhere in the world for emergencies, and for everything else with pre-authorization. Did I mention also covered for meds and dental? I made the inquiry on the application anyway.

Lastly I updated a few lists, read email and a bit more sorting on the photo back-ups. Just another simple day

Categories: home Tags:

A day with Shutterfly

August 9th, 2015 No comments

which started to resemble the proverbial fish without a bicycle…

Remember that Carmen and I cruised on the Star Princess this past February. From San Francisco to the Mexican Rivera and back – we enjoyed some sunshine and several days of relaxation. As it turned out, other than the day of whale watching, I wasn’t all that concerned with taking pictures which is now presenting a bit of a challenge.

Unlike a couple of the other photo books which I made (other companies) the book planning methods are not particularly user friendly on this site. The live chat worked wonderfully well – at which point we figured out it was my browser causing the worst of the difficulties.

Why am I going through the effort? Can you spell Free Coupon which expires the end of this month. Prepaid by Princess, it would be a real shame to waste it, now wouldn’t it?

Meanwhile – the heat wave has just broken and the thunder is booming and roaring. George got the last of the laundry in before the skies let loose.

And Stu has volunteered 7950 as a new guess in the “how many books does this insane lady have” while Cat concurs that she might need another bookcase as most don’t realize how many books can be lovingly packed into a small space.

Categories: Travel Tags:

The Book Pile

August 8th, 2015 4 comments

I waved good bye to our household goods; all boxed up and on their way to California. Actually it was 7 Aug 2014 but this is close enough. Since then, they were delivered. Shifted around several times. Several things have been relocated to storage since the house was under construction . A few things made the trip across the ocean and have (are finding) new homes.

Which still leaves the house here with its invaders (the four footed kind) along with the more than occasional house guest and friend. It also explains why I still have too much furniture here, a partial closet of clothes, knitting supplies and three storages + the garage full of what could most politely be called junk.

George has found a local agency that is similar to the Goodwill/Salvation Army. They take just about anything that can be redistributed, refurbished, gifted or sold. They don’t, however, take books.

You knew I was going somewhere with this didn’t you?

It was on 8 August last year that I asked everyone to guess how many books I had left over that needed to be redistributed. No guess below 4000 was allowed and I took pictures of my former studio. The offer was for a dinner gift certificate

Nana guessed an oodleplex
Cat bet me it was less than in her house (I have been there – it is a close call).
Alison picked 4444 (cost of a hearing aid)
Carmen 4567
April – 6289
Isobel – 4882
Mary – 5777
Steven – 5280 (feet in a mile)
Christian – 4997
Kim – 7012

and I started dropping off books anywhere I could manage
9 Aug – 148, 10 Aug 130 = 278, 11 Aug – 67 = 345, 12 Aug 72= 417. It wasn’t till Oct that I managed to off-load a dozen books on Zandra = 429,

And then I headed off to LonCon, Denver, the Legend, the Oasis (Chaos of the Seas), Serenade, before bopping to both Berkeley and Germany before the end of the year.

Won’t get into this year’s travel summary, but over the course of this past year I have managed to drop off another 537 books. Hardly a dent in the pile at 954 which is still looming mightily in the studio.

just a close up of the disaster..

just a close up of the disaster..

from the window size

from the window size

most of the children's books

most of the children’s books

as you enter the room

as you enter the room

Starting today – I am going to make a concerted effort and see how much I can diminish the pile in the next ten days. Secondly – if you want to compare the size of the pile – 8 Aug 2014 is the original post.

I am also going to reopen the bidding on guestimating the number of books. For those of you already in the running – I am going to honor last year’s effort at the end of the run. If you want to enter the new bit of insanity – please feel free to do so as you could be a double winner. Cat? I am assuming that you still want all numbers above the highest bidder to infinity? In any case, please add your vote to the comments on this post.

Categories: Books & Tapes, packing out Tags:


August 7th, 2015 8 comments

Yes, I know if you live in Perth or Scottsdale my attitude toward the heat is only going to be amusing. But, according to the official weather reports, it is 39*C here in Heidelberg which is way hotter than anyone here wants to know about or experience. Those of you in the US – just remember that air conditioning doesn’t exist. Not in normal buildings. Traditionally, you just open the windows and turn on a fan if it gets really hot. Really hot being defined somewhere around 32-33*C, not the current over 100*F for those who are still on the beloved but outdated English measurement system.

Our terrace faces south, the better to capture light. Which means it also gets plenty of heat in the summer even with the awnings fully extended. Opening the door to the terrace is out of the question as it just seems to invite the furnace into the dining room. Our bedroom faces west. I could pull the rolladen and keep the room cooler, but then I would be bumping around like a blind bat since the light fixtures seem to eat bulbs on a regular basis. The new energy saving bulbs certainly do save energy as they don’t seem to put out much light at all.

So here I sit in the dining attempting to clear out drives without a breath of moving air. Regular breaks are needed. The laundry room is quite a bit cooler – even after running a load of clothes. The back hall isn’t bad either. For that matter, the kitchen is a good source of snacks and cool. Who says that only teenagers stand in front of the fridge trying to make up their minds?

It was about an hour ago when my stomach said something about nice cold pasta salad or perhaps potato salad. I have pasta, right? And there are four baking potatoes looking much sadder for their sojourn in our house. Maybe they were hoping to be forgotten in their dank corner. Of course, it might be nice to have something other than potatoes….. I tossed in some chopped up onion and gerkins; then was faced by the challenge of the fridge. No mayo, no mustard and 1/2 gallon of vinegar.

It was at this point that I went for the pasta. Spicy Penne to which one could always add some garlic. Nothing is ever wrong with adding garlic. But see remark above about anything to use as a dressing. I don’t think the dusty can of german tomato/herb sauce I found in the bottom of the cupboard was past expiration and it seemed like just the thing to go with the mildly pink tinged pasta. Which was a lot spicier than one would think.

The sun is still up (1930) and heat is radiating off the terrace in waves. I think this calls for chocolate ice cream with strawberries…..

Categories: home Tags:

Still clearing out

August 6th, 2015 3 comments

Seriously – take a look at your backup situation. Exactly how many CDs, hard drives, DvDs and Flash Drives do you have lying around with some of your precious data tucked within? For some of those items – do you have multiple copies? So many that you don’t have a clue which is the best one, and which are faded and tattered bare imitations of the data which is so precious? For others, you are going to be lucky if what you want isn’t stored on a 5 1/4″ floppy buried somewhere in the garage/basement/attic/store room.

Never mind that it was probably saved on a medium which you can’t read any longer since you have advanced operating systems since, oh lets say 1984, 1990 or 2002? I am not thinking about all those unaccessible email files on Eudora or those backups of years of professional drivel on Outlook. None of which are readable.

But they are all precious and can’t be discarded? Right?

I am leaving out all those CF, SD, mini-SDs that just might fit in a camera that died several years ago. Or all those battery chargers, cables, cords, keyboard from computers which have long gone to an electronic graveyard helping to grace the landfills.

Obviously, I am still working on consolidating backups fueled by a fair amount of coffee and some really spectacular nectarines.

Categories: Travel Tags:


August 5th, 2015 2 comments

It is a new day and my sense of humor is somewhat restored. Made better by my husband getting back safely from Switzerland last night and taking me out for dinner on the way home.

I was getting pretty sick of nutella and string cheese (don’t ask).

For the last several days there has been a chorus of “oh poor me” signing a song in my head; distracting me with high levels of whine, self pity and other assorted irritants which has made me a not very popular person in this household.

Please consider that I am currently in Heidelberg and George, as mentioned above, spent the last two days in Switzerland. Leaves us all with the understanding that I haven’t been particularly fun to be around. Not for anyone else and certainly not for myself.

I have been attempting to sort out my multiple backup drives, consolidating important things like photos, edit a couple of articles, audiobooks and just generally be a bit more organized than I have in the past.

Never mind (grin). I will be fine. And here till the 16th of Aug.

Categories: Books & Tapes, computers, Photos Tags:

Backup try two

August 4th, 2015 No comments

Sure enough, the nightmare which woke me was true. My lack of patience with iPhoto resulted in the program attempting to back up everything twice. And execute both at the same time.

The end result wasn’t pretty. For one thing – I ran out of memory due to other programs being open which seemed to have slowed things down to a crawl. Secondly, instead of executing the backup in a simple, orderly and chronological manner, the idiot program seemed to be almost random in the order in which both photos and events were backed up. Somethings were backed up twice, some not at all. Some dates completely and some missing key events.

Summary? I need to do it again only keeping my impatience under control.


By (what is it now? 2220?) I have come to the end of the backup with an error message listing only 8 photos it was unable to export (not 6xxx). The whole flipping day. Dealing with the computer and the one program. Unable to do anything else so as to avoid slow downs.

Listen to me whine… wah, wah. Unable to spend money on Amazon e-Books. Unable to download from Audible, or Tantor or BigFish Games. Unable to Skype, FaceTime or otherwise drive others insane.  And it rained today which was my excuse for not accomplishing any more on the laundry front.

My sense of humor restored, I am going to finish listening to one of the free short stories by Jodi Taylor out of the St Mary’s series that was free on Audible followed by Lilith Saintcrow’s Trailer Park Fae, which, when you think about it, is such a wonderful contrast as to be almost obscene.


Categories: computers, Photos Tags:

Backing Up

August 3rd, 2015 No comments

which, to no surprise is involving a lot of forward motion as well. I had planned on backing up photos and sorting as I went while in Tanzania. Didn’t happen as there was this small issue. Forgotten/misplaced external hard drive. It’s not that I don’t have a few of them. Counting nine right now sitting on my dining room table. But it was that the one I thought I had packed was no where to be seen.

So either I lost it, forgot it or misplaced it. In any case, it wasn’t with me which left me in Africa without the ability to back up my photos or permanently empty out my memory cards. When I stop and think about it, that particular backup drive is probably hiding out along with several other items (mostly underwear = smalls) that seem to have decreased in number as I went along.

Returning to the back-up. I first had to find the hard drives which only took a couple of minutes. Then there was the small matter of finding enough space on any of them for the thousands of pictures which seem to be inhabiting the largest portion of my MacBook. It would be nice to free up some space. Only going to happen after a back up. After all, one never knows when one of those totally lousy, out of focus photos might just be the key to ….

Perhaps I have been reading too many cozy mysteries?

In any case, my basic tendency is to delete after backing up rather than before.   Starting the program, I thought I had it figured out. Ten minutes later, I checked and a big nothing was happening so I tried the keyboard controls again. Another ten minutes and a box popped up so I could choose where to plonk those thousands of photos.

So far, so good? With me? Right. So was the computer.  It looked like hours so I went to bed, waking to realize that I was backing everything up.



Categories: computers, Photos Tags:

Ok, I voted

July 30th, 2015 No comments

for the Hugos.

Hello? I don’t know where you live, but I haven’t ever lived anywhere that there is much of anything to vote for at the end of July.

Small things around home – like do I sit inside or out? Do I sit in front of the fan? Do I drink this nice cold glass of water or just pour it over my head? Important things to me but of no relevance to anyone not in my immediate vicinity or responsible for mopping up my mess.

The end of July marks the closing of the Hugo voting. For those of you who aren’t SciFi/Fantasy fans – these are the annual awards nominated and voted on by fans. Nothing to do with which books are promoted by publishers. No committee of experts deciding what book/story/graphic novel/bit of art is the best from the past year. There are other categories as well – fanzine, pro-zine, podcast, long and short forms (think TV episode & movies), as well as editors and some fan recognition awards.

Most years the nominations are about what would be expected, the voting is without controversy. At WorldCon you find out if your concept of great matches everyone else’s. Anyone who is a member of WorldCon (last year and current year) gets to vote. In recent years (say, from when eBooks became popular) those voting are also provided a link which allows downloading of a personal copy of the written material.  It isn’t actually a bad deal, provided the fiction is worth reading.

And there in lies the rub. For various reasons, this year’s nomination and voting process turned extremely ugly and political. There was a group which decided to “stuff the nominations” in order to have some less well know authors have a whack at spaceship for their mantle. In response some extremely misogynistic group got their friends together to stuff the nominations.

Two significant issues: the first is that sometimes not well know is because you just aren’t that good. Both excellent writing and some heavy duty self-promotion are required. Real world, way it goes. The second issue is that I am a liberal – I believe in the right of the totally idiotic to be able to write whatever they want.  I can chose to read it or not.

But I don’t want them to tell me what I “should” be reading. Or flame those who question or have characters in their fiction which don’t conform to someone’s 1700’s view of skin color and gender superiority.  And the solution, apparently, for the second group which really can’t write at all it is to establish one’s own publishing house. Outside the US of course since the IRS believe that electronic publishing generates income. Authors with income should pay taxes.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, marking my electronic ballot which was blessedly free of hanging chad but not of “no awards.”  Must be that I am old fashion, but an internationally recognized award means something to me. And that means quality is required. Not a statement of “I’m important and deserve it!” but writing that is interesting, gripping and carries you out of this world. This year, for the first time, I couldn’t get beyond the first couple of pages of most of the nominees before quitting in disgust.

Here’s hoping the children pack up and go home, leaving the adults to discuss minor things like plot, consistency in word building and spelling…..

Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons Tags:

reading & Hugos

July 29th, 2015 1 comment

I seriously thought about what I should be doing this morning. Two loads of laundry won over cleaning. Then I remembered that the Hugo voting closes in two days and I hadn’t read everything.

There is such thing as intelligent voting and then there is blind pick and chose. Because of the all the controversy this year I am unwilling to take a chance on voting and felt the need to really be honest and objective.

And for the first time in my life I will be using the “no award” button because, frankly, in some of the categories the ballot stuffing by certain groups resulting in nothing worth reading much less awarding.

So much for an objective process based on quality in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy field. Perhaps all the pundits and essayists are correct in believing that most of the fans are influenced more than a little by factors outside what is on the page, screen or in their ears (podcasts).

Me? Drek is drek.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:


July 28th, 2015 No comments

home yesterday. no clue as to time/space continuum.

Categories: Travel Tags: