Monthly Archives: November 2001


For now I’m skipping Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which I will write more about later. Short version reads, “The con was cool, we read a lot and watched TV,” but this doesn’t quite do justice to the full version. Sorry about this skipping around a bit, but I will try to come back to the missing days later.

We packed our bags in the morning, including the extra bag we bought at Fry’s near our hotel, and packed the art items in padded envelopes and cardboard with tape. We considered packing the glass thing, but thought it would be safer to carry it with us, and the matted print was too big to go in the suitcase. But the suitcase held the jewelry box and the wood block for the glass thing rather well. During this time I also called voicemail at work and changed my message, and forwarded my cell phone business line back to my desk for that true “on vacation” feeling (though the personal line still works – as always LJ friends can still reach me by alpha pager here.)

We had breakfast in the restaurant again, and took the shuttle over to the airport. We again checked in and made it through security in record time, so we again waited nearly two hours in the gate area reading Terry Prachett.

On landing in SFO, Michelle stayed at the carousel to claim our bags, and I went up the stairs to see about a van ride. When I got back down, I could not find Michelle, so I walked back up to see if we had crossed each other on the elevators. I then went around the baggage carousel, walked up and down the concourse on both lower level and upper level, went back to the van ride area, then gave up and had her paged. When she didn’t show up for 5 or so minutes I went back down and found her, standing by the baggage carousel near where I had left her… apparently she had been sitting in the baggage claim area waiting for me when she heard the page, but had to call the paging guy to repeat the information. So we finally left the airport about 45 minutes late.

The ride home was very long… there were three people getting dropped off in Palo Alto on our way down to Santa Clara. Leaving Palo Alto we ended up on 101, then 85 and missed 280, looped back and caught 280, then got home. The result was a 2 hr 20 minute ride which probably would have taken 50 minutes if we drove ourselves. (Mental note, the van that you catch at the airport without making any prior arrangements seems to be more crowded and more expensive, probably because there is much less selection in vendors. The van from home to the airport on Thursday was $31 for 2 people and was just us, and the van from airport to home was $46 for two and we were 2 of 6 people going 5 places. Next time we will call ahead for the ride home too.)

By some miracle, my phone still held a charge after all this, thanks to judicious use over the weekend, and was just starting to beep-beep its complaint on the van ride home. We ordered out for Chinese from Cuisineer and watched TV. I wrote a bunch of backlog entries and I’m expecting to go to bed soon.

Catching up

Looks like I haven’t written much of anything since the 10th. Shame on me!

I have decided not to write a novel this month, due to that it’s only five days from deadline, and I only have 234 words out of 50,000 done (that’s 0.6%) and I would need to erase those words to make the work compatible with the outline. Defeat. Oh well, I will continue writing when the mood strikes me.

The convention was fun… I’ll write more about it as I post some catch-up entries. (If you’re reading this from the “Friends” view in LiveJournal, they will appear in order of writing rather than in order of date-of-events, but I’ll arrange my own journal page by date-of-events.)


Writing on Wednesday Nov 28, but this actually happened over the weekend on Sunday Nov 25.

I don’t think we went to any of the sessions on Sunday. We got down to the con area about 11-ish and walked through the art show area. We found 3 things we wanted to buy: an engraved-glass art piece, a jewelry box, and a print; total damage was about $110, not bad compared to what we would have done going to the actual auction and bidding on things in live mode. We hustled our treasures back to the rented lair.

We walked down a block and across the street to Fry’s (actually this was more like under the street, up some stairs, and over the other street). We found another suitcase very similar to the one we brought for $17 and grabbed some empty cardboard boxes, packing tape, and padded mailers to help pack the art items for travel (this worked pretty well, see Monday).

On returning to the hotel, we ate lunch (soup and quesadillas) and went up to the room to eat the ice cream (kinda melty) and read some more. After a while we ordered room service and watched Star Wars Episode I on TV.

That about wraps it up for the convention… most of the interesting stuff was on Saturday anyway. We will probably go again next year, but it was not quite as fun as the three previous years. We were hoping to see JMS but he didn’t show this year.


Writing on Tuesday Nov 27, but this actually happened over the weekend on Saturday Nov 24.

I went and hunted down breakfast in the restaurant again. We arrived a little late for the first session, but not by much.

The first session was Writing for Smart Kids and the panel was Gilden, Wrede, A. Turtledove and Smith. A. Turtledove turned out to be Harry Turtledove’s teenage daughter, who served as the “typical young adult reader”. The general consensus seemed to be that an author shouldn’t talk down to a young audience, or try to dumb down the material… kids are smart. I can’t actually think of anything they said you should do differently for a Young Adult audience… hmmm. Pat Wrede was asked “What inspired you to write X?” where X was some book she had written that I didn’t recognize, and Pat then gave her Rant about how Inspiration is overrated, and that a writer’s life is 90% Perspiration and 10% (or less) Inspiration. Another writer, Mel Gilden, took a moderate stance and said that all the little ideas that you string together to make a single work also count as inspiration.

I didn’t comment on this, since it was a bit off-topic for the discussion, but my opinion is that Inspiration is important, not to do your work for you, but to make the work more enjoyable. Perhaps the word “inspire” was not quite right for the question–this caused Wrede to go off on a bit of a tangent–it probably should have been asked as “What made writing X enjoyable for you?” or could even be shortened to “Why did you write X?” The premise is that writers write about a topic that is interesting to them, not a topic picked from a hat or from the marketing reports on what kinds of novels are selling well this year. I mentioned this to Michelle later, I think…

At 11:30 we attended Psychotic Fantasies with Hartman, Turtledove, Nazarian and Gilden. This was all about what it is like to write about “not quite sane” individuals as either heroes or villains. The discussion was interesting, but was hampered a bit by a rude audience member who kept commenting out of turn and interrupting people. I asked what it was like to write from the perspective of someone who is not quite sane or does things the writer himself would never do, and the consensus seemed to be that it was both difficult and rewarding (and also could be a release-valve of sorts.)

At 1:00 we went to Robocop Meets Real Cop which the panel was Cady, Hartman, Pournelle, Green and Hackworth. Two of these were real cops, two were writers, and one was a scientist? technician? working for a military equipment supplier on government contracts or something. The discussion revolved around what futuristic or dream technology cops would like to have in order to do their jobs better, and what scientific advances have revolutionized police work or might do so in the future. Unfortunately, reported the cops on the panel, no dramatic invention has removed or altered the “violent confrontation” aspect of police work… you will still have “us vs. them” and situations where you have to fight and subdue someone without killing or maiming them… there’s pepper spray and tazers but these are still not totally reliable and still kill and/or maim people from time to time. It was also generally agreed that we are a pretty long way off from having either a robot or AI or both to do the job for you, since you need to make decisions that are both quick, judicious, and custom-fitted to the situation by a human. On the brighter side, there have been lots of advances in communication, especially video cameras, personal wearable communication, telemetry that tells HQ when an officer is down and where he is, etc. Interesting discussion.

At 2:30 we grabbed some soup and brought it back to the same room for Victoria’s Secret. This one was all about why authors like to write stories set in the Victorian era, and featured S. Smith, Hambly, Shetterly, Bull and Gilden. There was general agreement that the Victorian era (including the States’ version involving steam engines and the frontier and all that) was a Great Time to be Alive, and it is much-romanticized by contemporary folks looking back. Victorian times were also the time when Science Fiction first appeared (with such as H. G. Wells and Jules Verne) and coincidentally (or not?) was when Horror and Western genres appeared too. Early Victorian writers scorned the New-Fangled Industry for its woes, but later Victorian writers took it as read that Industry was here and made technology play a prominent part in things. One important thing about Victorian-age technology was that it not only worked, it also looked good; everything made of metal had to be brass, and engraved, and shiny. In our modern world, we have machines that execute incredible technical marvels but look for all the world like boxes with a couple of flashing lights, which tendency has no sense of style at all.

We crept out a bit early to hear Pat Wrede read from some new work which would probably not be published for 18 months from now, it was about two women, both recently married, who both (along with each husband) go off on a joint post-wedding trip, along with a few others for good measure. It was a sequel to some work and one of the characters was named Kate, but more than that I can’t remember at the time of this writing.

There was another session-period at 4:00 but we decided to knock off for a bit and retire to our room. We emerged again for the masquerade at 7:30.

The Masquerade was supposed to start at 8:00 PM but due to a last-minute problem with the seating (where it conflicted with the light rigging, according to the Fire Marshall) so lots of seats had to be removed and we weren’t allowed to enter the room until 8:30 or so. The show didn’t start until 9:00 I think. Notable entries for costuming were God II The Sequel, In the Beginning (featuring authentic-looking old-style Star Trek uniforms and a red-shirt guy wearing “Shoot Me” on his back), and Wolverine and Nighthawk, (very well-done costumes). Oh and there was a dog dressed up as a turkey, that was cute. After the showing of costumes, there was judging, during which the audience watched the Virtual Masquerade (a video showing interesting hall costumes and interesting sights of the show, which went on probably twice as long as it should have) and then sat through the blood drive raffle, a couple other award presentations, and finally were presented with the judges’ decisions on the costume awards. I’m not sure who won what, really.

We finally escaped back to the room for some more reading and bed.


Writing on Tuesday Nov 27, but this actually happened last week on Friday Nov 23.

We got up around 9 am and I went down to the hotel restaurant and got breakfast to go, and brought it back up to the room. We finally got ready to go, and went down and presented ourselves for registration. Once equipped with name badges, we wandered the dealers room and the art show. I bought the ceremonial Jewelry for Miche (this one in the shape of five spiderwebs chained together to form a necklace, which should look good with the Corset bearing spiderweb patterns.

We went to a session called Researching on the Net, the panel for which was Sprague-Morgan, Ontell, Turtledove, Tomomatsu, Killus and Weber. As of this writing I don’t know who was who in the panel except for Harry Turtledove (a writer) and Tadao Tomomatsu (a fan, con organizer, and the son of an important-sounding doctor), but I remember one of the other lady panelists who was a librarian (probably Val Ontell) and seemed to know the material best. I didn’t really learn much from this… there were all sorts of hints and tips but most of them were familiar to me. There was a lot of emphasis on triangulating and verifying your sources (rather than believing anything displayed on your screen is a Primary Source).

We then attended the blood drive. Michelle donated, but I was unable to donate due to high blood pressure (and was again reminded to go see a doctor about it).

I think we retired to the room after this, and read books and watched TV. At some point we ordered room service, I think…


Writing on Monday Nov 26, but this actually happened last week on Thursday Nov 22.

I got up at the usual time and I let Miche sleep in. I paid all the bills.

Then I wanted to get some better headphones for the trip, so I went to Fry’s, but found it closed. (We had never heard of an electronics store that was closed on Thanksgiving before, so with tears in our eyes, we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to get headphones… we didn’t find one… *)

I woke Miche up about 11 and we packed clothes, snacks, toiletries, etc. The van came and took us to SFO. We checked bags at the curb and got through the security thing in record time. We then had about two hours to sit inside the secured area and eat a bit of lunch (teriyaki chicken, after a fashion, and Jamba Juice) and then we both read Terry Prachett for an hour or so until the plane was ready for us to board it.

It turned out that the guy at the curb checked in our bag but hadn’t checked US in, so we had to do this before we could board, which involved showing our ID again and answering the questions again. The ID was checked a third time at the door to the jetway (a yard or two from where the other lady had checked them moments before) but luckily we didn’t look suspicious enough for a spot-check. The flight was really short (about an hour) so I just read my book and didn’t even listen to the CDs I had brought.

At Burbank airport, we found out that this is really a tiny airport, which was nice, and it was within walking distance of the hotel, which was nicer. We took the shuttle anyway, and I left my fanny-pack on the bench where we had waited for the shuttle. I continued riding the shuttle back to the same point and the pack was still there. Try that in LAX or SFO! (On second thought, don’t.)

We got checked in at the hotel and went downstairs to the restaurant for turkey dinner. They had a really good turkey dinner. (Well, the turkey itself was a bit dry, but everything else was great.)

I found out that I had failed to bring my charger for the cell phone! Oh well, I guessed I would just have to turn it off whenever possible and see how long it would last.


Writing on Monday Nov 26, but this actually happened last week on Wednesday Nov 21.

Meeting this morning, and I was a little late due to picking up Bruce at the car place. Bruce and I talked about the latency problem and how strange it is that he and I seem to be the hardest-working guys in Netops aside from Shawn, and how our production network kind of sucks.

I spent the day catching up on email and tickets, and creating a vacation-responder for my email. We successfully arranged for someone to come look after Sophie’s medication while we were gone. I also arranged a van service to pick us up at 1 pm thursday for the ride to the airport.

Watched TV (Enterprise is cool) and decided to put off packing until tomorrow.


Writing on Monday Nov 26, but this actually happened a week ago on Tuesday Nov 20.

Many things happened at work today, but the most remarkable was probably the fact that we had a “bad response time” event (which had actually started on Saturday night). Many people looked at it and fussed over it; Bruce’s observation was that it was between the front end and the outside world, since Gladiator showed no change in back-end or total round-trip time. This was confirmed by Queryint logs which showed backend performance much better, not worse, starting Friday afternoon. My only guess is that it was a problem with one of our ISPs and could we try switing to the other ISP, at least in New York. This was not done, and no real progress was made until after 5PM when Bills called an emergency meeting with me and Brett.

During the meeting we found out that according to Keynote, Sunnyvale response times were way higher than New York, and that the 4-sec “average” response was not typical; it was more like 1 sec most of the time, but with some 25 and 40 sec responses mixed in. Since it was pretty clearly in Sunnyvale and not in New York, that meant that we could place more load on New York, to take advantage of the better response there, at least to the point where times in NY would degrade. This immediately improved the user experience. The netops team then found a problem with one netswitch in NY, which they swapped the management module and everything got better. I waited an hour to confirm and then set the split back to normal.

All of this lasted until about 9:15 but I actually got to leave the office at 6:30 and do the rest from home. This was good, because C had made Beef Stew and bread sticks (yum) which we all ate greedily.


Writing on Monday Nov 26, but this actually happened a week ago on Sunday Nov 18.

I had a big argument with M today. I’m not going to write the specifics here, since it’s kind of personal and not really resolved.

We got invited to dinner with Christine in Berkeley. I was sort of navigating by memory, which didn’t work well, since I had only been there twice by two different routes, and neither matched what Chris was telling me on the phone. Then as Chris was trying to guide me through the streets by speakerphone, I decided to back up and try to turn a different way, and backed right into someone else’s car! It was a very light tap and I was pulling over to the right to talk to the guy, but he just honked at me like he wanted me to keep going. I turned right and stopped and it didn’t look like he was following me, so oh well. We eventually made it to Chris’ house.

We went and had Ethiopian food, not at Blue Nile, but at one of the other 258 Ethiopian restaurants on Telegraph (well, I don’t know if there are 258 but we counted at least six on the stretch we were on.) This restaurant was called “Ethiopian Restaurant”. The food was way spicy, but the honey wine was nice.

We stopped at the grocery store for ice cream, and went back to Chris’ house and played Unexploded Cow with another one of her friends. This is a really excellent game, very fun. We drove back home and I dragged my tired butt to bed.

Spent most of my day today reading Elf Life (a comic strip). It’s pretty fun.

We went to dinner and tried to see a movie, but it was sold out until 2 hrs later and we didn’t want to see it with a huge crowd. So, we’re back home.

I’m still not sure what to do about the writing, maybe while my outline is in flux I can make up by writing something else, but I have been tired all week and haven’t been motivated enough to do anything besides work. Luckily next week at work should be a lot better.