dr_phil_physics: (dr-mrs-phil-xmas09)
The End of the World is Coming

No, not that Mayan calendar nonsense. You do understand that just as our calendar ends on December 31st, you just roll over to a new calendar, right?

In this case I'm talking about the imminent winter storm. Oh look, The Weather Channel is naming them now. Welcome to Winter Storm Draco. It's been nearly 300 days since we had any appreciable snow -- and while there are blizzard conditions in some places, West Michigan isn't expected to get more than a few inches.

But that's for Friday. Here on Thursday it was just wet. Lots and lots of wet. Cold and raining.

A Day Trip to Chicago

Mrs. Dr. Phil ventured off to see Pat and Will and meet Emma (from New Zealand by way of Siem Reap). We could've driven, but it's a lot of driving, and well, the rain with threat of snow at the time we had to make plans. The day trip via Amtrak gives you about five hours plus on the ground. Given that I'd slow them down, and if I didn't have my vehicle, I doubt we'd all fit in their car, I dropped Debbie off at the Holland Amtrak station in the cold rain and dark.

Then I drove around to the Paragon bank parking lot and maneuvered the Bravada so that I could briefly open a window and keep the Nikon D1X and lens dry. It turned out to be pretty challenging to get pictures. At ISO 800 and shooting wide open at 55mm f5.6, I was running long shutter speeds. Then the autofocus was getting confused by the large rain drops, so I had to go to manual focus. And the bright headlights and side ditch lights of the locomotive threatened to mess up the exposures, so I switch to Manual mode. If it wasn't for the outstanding Vibration Reduction of the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR DX AF-Nikkor, I doubt I'd have gotten anything this good.


Ten minutes before train time and I was struck by the bright red color of the berries on this tree out my front windshield lit up by my headlights. 1/8th of a second exposure. (Click on photo for larger.)


Amtrak's Pere Marquette coming into Holland MI from Grand Rapids. By 8:29am EST I got the exposure up to 1/30th of a second. (Click on photo for larger.)


I had the longer 70-300mm lens, but it isn't VR, so I never put it on. This stuff is a lot easier to shoot in the summertime. (Click on photo for larger.)


Former Amtrak EMD F40PH locomotive, turned into a cab control baggage car (known as a "cabbage"). The actual locomotive is a GE P40DC pushing on the rear of the train. With the train in the station, the front fouls the grade crossing at 8th Street and so the gates and lights continue running until after the train leaves. I wanted to move to a different angle, but forgot that when the lights were flashing, the idiots dive out of 8th Street and carom through the slalom curves of the Paragon bank parking lot I was in like they were running some damned Grand Prix race. So I managed to turn the Bravada around and shoot out of the driver's window instead of the passenger window, but didn't get a chance to do the wide angle shot I'd planned. (Click on photo for larger.)


Before the Amtrak train left, I could see a headlight in the distant siding. I thought it was the CSX freight that often runs either before or after the Pere Marquette, but it turned out to be some local switching run. (Click on photo for larger.)

Pictures Or It Didn't Happen

As for Mrs. Dr. Phil's trip, she had a great time and it sounds like they spent hours having lunch at the Russian Tea Time before wandering by the Land's End store in Sears so she could look for a new winter jacket.


Pat, Mrs. Dr. Phil, Will and Emma at Sears in Chicago, taken by a helpful salesperson. (Click on photo for larger.)

No pictures of the arrival of the evening train on account of darkness. On the other hand, the rain had stopped, which made the rendezvous all much easier. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
I Have Arrived

Yeah, I know it's been a couple of weeks since WindyCon, but I did take a lot of pictures and I was on a lot of panels, so I am going to cover this. (And get back to covering the WorldCon, too.)

I had hoped to get out of the office straight after my 1pm class. But... I had some paperwork that needed to be done, getting quizzes together for my graders. So by the time I left, I knew that I'd not arrive in Lombard in time for the Opening Ceremonies at 7pm CST, durn it, but by the time I arrived, checked in, got a bellman to haul my gear to my room and go through Registration and get my badge -- there was still time to see part of:

Fri 8pm SpaceTime Theater
The SpaceTime Theater comedy/improv troupe returns to the Windycon stage with Rook and Archer: Private Investigators, a show that combines a scripted murder mystery with an occult twist, and their usual hilarious brand of SF/Fantasy improvisation. It's fun for the whole family and you never know what will happen next.
B. Roper, G. Roper, S. Paris, B. Jones, J. Corrigan, S. Salaba, D. Kuczwara
Junior Ballroom BC



I believe this skit, which involved calling "opposites" from time to time, involved a princess in Mordor -- the creature at the right is the closest thing to a horse they could find for her. A "h'orc", of course. (Smells ba-aaaad.) (Click on photo for larger.)

And yes, I really am working on a humorous short story entitled "A Princess of Mordor" -- how could I not after watching this?

Afterward, I wandered over to the ConSuite. I ate on the road to Chicago, but there's always time to have the traditional white bread, peanut butter and jelly ConSuite Sandwich™. The jelly was in little prepackaged tubs and there weren't any utensils around, but they were flexible enough and the commercially processed jelly jelled enough to push it out from the bottom. Nearby was a cooler with jugs of milk. Yup -- totally terrible and just hit the spot. (grin)


Almost never does anyone ever think to bring a long handled, heavy duty and non-breakable/non-flexible serving device for peanut butter -- or jelly if it's in a jar. Somehow I managed to make my sandwich without gooking up my hands with peanut butter. (Click on photo for larger.)

Up "Early"

Though my first panel on Saturday was for 11am, I got up early to make sure I could get to:

Sat 10am Firefly Wedding
No power in the Verse ...
Can stop these two souls ...
Not the Alliance, Not Reavers, and Definitely NOT Zombies ...
From uniting their crews and hearts this day
Come and watch Alex and Tracy get married in Firefly style.
Junior Ballroom BC

Not that I know this particular couple, but come on -- it's a Firefly wedding (for reals) at WindyCon. These are my people, so to speak, so I felt an obligation to witness their union. First time I attended a wedding at a con, though I know there have been some others at cons I've been at.


The ceremony was a mix of genres, Firefly with some Star Wars and Star Trek thrown in. But the wedding party was all dressed in Firefly. (Click on photo for larger.)


The vows took a while. Things like "Will you annoy your spouse?" "Probably." "Is that your intent?" "Nope." Which actually, was rather sweet. Too many wedding vows are sickly sweet aphorisms and don't deal with the real issues of two people getting onto each other cases and surviving for better or poorer, in sickness or health, etc. (Click on photo for larger.)


I had another camera person stand up and so missed the actual clench. But this is rather nice anyway. (Click on photo for larger.)


The armed guards at the back of the ballroom to keep the groom from running were a nice touch. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)

Next... on to the serious programming.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
So Was It Windy At WindyCon?

Actually, yes. I finished up my last panel at 2pm CST on Sunday, and when I eventually made it out to Level 2 of the parking structure, the wind was blowing something fierce. But other that having the 1996 Blazer pushed around on the road a bit like a flying billboard, the drive home was unexceptional. There was a Bears game Sunday night, so just in case the hardcore tailgaters were slowing things down, I skipped leaving via Lake Shore Drive and took the Damn Ryan instead. Big heavy traffic -- going the other way, as usual.

The expected rain didn't even start until I was nearly to M-45 Lake Michigan Drive, and even then it was just spitting. 24 hours later the temps had dropped by more than thirty degrees and the spitting was flakeage. (grin)

Lunch

Of course Saturday night was my Zombie Steakpunk Dinner (DW) -- and I ate all alone. But Sunday I met up with my friend Jeff Karp, in the hour between my two Sunday panels.

As we did three years ago, had a pleasant lunch at Holy Mackerel, the more casual side of the Harry Caray restaurant -- which is also open for breakfast and lunch. I had a terrific turkey club sandwich and we caught up on things. Or at least swapped stories until I had to run to my last panel. Thanks for lunch, Jeff!


A nice picture of Jeff, looking much more relaxed than in 2009 (DW). (Click on photo for larger.)


Handed the D1H over to Jeff who took this shot of me. The wide angle lens didn't do me any favors of making me look any better, but it's who I am. (grin) It's a nice shot, too -- amazingly I don't look too tired after a long and busy weekend. (Click on photo for larger.)

A Very Good Weekend

I've got some decent pictures I should post, as well as talking about my panels, which were well attended. Of course I haven't finished posting my WorldCon stuff either, so don't hold your breath. (grin)

With WorldCon in Chicago just two months before, a number of my usual suspects weren't at WindyCon. But I was very glad to get away and help out.


Saturday evening, between my Reading For None and the Zombie Steakpunk Dinner for One, I sat in the main open space and watched people slowly show up in costumes. This one gaggle of furries, with big bushy tails and heads with eyes that lit up, camped up at the end of the corridor. I balanced the D1H on my messenger bag on a table and shot a couple of shots at low shutter speeds -- like half a second -- and then the lights came up and I was able to get a better shot. (Click on photo for larger.)

See ya next year!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
I'm Here

Arrived Friday night and checked in. Saturday was my busy day, with three panels and a reading.


Actually I'm rather impressed with this self-portrait -- centered and all. This is the second shot -- the first had a grim looking face as I concentrated on lining up the lens and... forgot to smile. Yeah, that's a little wry grin. (Click on photo for larger.)

About That Reading


I did read my zombie murder mystery police procedural... (Click on photo for larger.)


... to an empty room. (Click on photo for larger.)

I expected this, or at least anticipated it. Readings were scheduled late and weren't in the Program book -- and I'm not a Mike Resnick, whose 4pm reading sounded pretty full. (The door was shut.) There was no 5pm reading, so I couldn't even watch an audience file out on me. (grin)

And for the record I DID read my story. Found two missing words, so it wasn't totally unproductive.

The Zombie Steakpunk Dinner

The three people I'd expected for dinner couldn't make it, but I'd made a reservation at Harry Caray's for four at 7:30pm anyway. But without an audience I couldn't even invite anyone -- still I wasn't going to miss my steak dinner. I can dine alone.

Half order of calamari (part of their secret is that they marinate the calamari the day before), 9 oz. filet encrusted with Gorgonzola, asparagus. First two... perfect. Alas the asparagus was grilled and I didn't like it. Wasn't going to have dessert, but they had key lime pie. Came with candied shavings of lime peel -- really intense flavor. And the manager bought it for me, as I'd been "stood up". (grin)

Y'all missed a great steak dinner.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
WindyCon 39: Zombies
November 9-11, 2012
Lombard Westin


This coming weekend, WindyCon 39 opens at the Lombard IL Westin. Weather looks to be in the 50-60s in Chicago. Barring any last minute emergencies, I should be there from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.

I have five panels -- moderating two -- plus a reading:
Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon: Choosing the Right Technology for You
Lilac C
Every few months, the newest, best, and shiniest new gadget is introduced to the market, but how do you determine which is right for you? Is it better to have the latest bells and whistles or a simpler device that does just what you need it to do? How do you separate the hype from the chaff?
P. Kaldon (M), F. Salvatini, R. Martinek

Saturday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.: Living in the Post Scientific Era
Lilac D
Polls show that increasing numbers of Americans are scientifically illiterate. What does this mean for the future? For science fiction?
J. Helfers, P. Kaldon, J. Plaxco, D. Burkhard, K. Strait

Saturday, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.: What Everybody Knows Is Wrong
Lilac A
We all have preconceived ideas about science, but often what we know is wrong. Not just on the big things, but on the little things too. Sometimes this is caused by oversimplifications presented to the laity, and other times it is because knowledge has changed since we learned it.
P. Kaldon, J. Nikitow (M), R. Martinek, R. Garfinkle

Saturday, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m: Reading
Walnut Room
Dr. Phil will be reading from his zombie murder mystery police procedural short story that's been making the rounds. I just got the nicest rejection letter for this particular story over the weekend. (grin) This will be followed by the Zombie Steakpunk Dinner at 7:30 at Harry Caray's Steakhouse in the Westin Hotel.

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon: Is the Internet Making Us Dumber?
Lilac C
As more knowledge and information are available online, are we thinking less? Some studies indicate that the Internet may be shrinking our attention span, and our ability to create and follow complicated logical thoughts. Is this true? Or is it developing different parts of our brain that we didn't use 100 years ago?
K. Hughes, N. Rest (M), P. Kaldon, R. Martinek

Sunday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.: Why Is Your Protagonist a Straight White Male?
Lilac C
Writers, fans, and readers have so often bought into a common default that they don't even realize there is a question to ask.
P. Kaldon (M), M. Ryan, D. Burkhard, R. Martinek, E. Hull

Zombie Steakpunk

So back in 2009, I arranged Steakpunk at the Westin's Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse (DW), following my Saturday reading.

I have to say, the steaks I've had at Harry Caray's have been some of the best I've had anywhere -- and the kitchen can accommodate a wide range of dietary issues if you ask.

I plan on getting a 7:30pm dinner reservation for this Saturday night -- if you're at WindyCon, or even just in Chicago, and want to join me, let me know.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
WindyCon 39: Zombies
November 9-11, 2012
Lombard Westin


In just two weeks, WindyCon 39 opens at the Lombard IL Westin. And this year, barring any new disasters, I should be able to go. It's not as big as a WorldCon, but it's a decent con. And the theme this year is Zombies, so bring your cricket bats.

Anyway, got my preliminary schedule the other day for panels. There was a lot of crossover between the people running Chicon 7 and WindyCon, so they got a late start. (grin) Still have to schedule readings.

So I have five panels -- and moderating two:
Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon: Choosing the Right Technology for You
Lilac C
Every few months, the newest, best, and shiniest new gadget is introduced to the market, but how do you determine which is right for you? Is it better to have the latest bells and whistles or a simpler device that does just what you need it to do? How do you separate the hype from the chaff?
P. Kaldon (M), F. Salvatini, R. Martinek

Saturday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.: Living in the Post Scientific Era
Lilac D
Polls show that increasing numbers of Americans are scientifically illiterate. What does this mean for the future? For science fiction?
J. Helfers, P. Kaldon, J. Plaxco, D. Burkhard, K. Strait

Saturday, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.: What Everybody Knows Is Wrong
Lilac A
We all have preconceived ideas about science, but often what we know is wrong. Not just on the big things, but on the little things too. Sometimes this is caused by oversimplifications presented to the laity, and other times it is because knowledge has changed since we learned it.
P. Kaldon, J. Nikitow (M), R. Martinek, R. Garfinkle

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon: Is the Internet Making Us Dumber?
Lilac C
As more knowledge and information are available online, are we thinking less? Some studies indicate that the Internet may be shrinking our attention span, and our ability to create and follow complicated logical thoughts. Is this true? Or is it developing different parts of our brain that we didn't use 100 years ago?
K. Hughes, N. Rest (M), P. Kaldon, R. Martinek

Sunday, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.: Why Is Your Protagonist a Straight White Male?
Lilac C
Writers, fans, and readers have so often bought into a common default that they don't even realize there is a question to ask.
P. Kaldon (M), M. Ryan, D. Burkhard, R. Martinek, E. Hull

Zombie Steakpunk

So back in 2009, I arranged Steakpunk at the Westin's Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse (DW), following my Saturday reading. I hope to arrange a similar dinner assuming I get a 5 or 6pm Saturday reading for my Zombie murder police procedural I've been working on for a while.

I have to say, the steaks I've had at Harry Caray's have been some of the best I've had anywhere -- and the kitchen can accommodate a wide range of dietary issues if you ask.

This time, though, I'll make a reservation -- so let me know if you want to have dinner 6:30-7:30-ish on Saturday 10 November 2012. That's the Marine Corps birthday, by the way, so a toast to the Corps is always in order. (I've an uncle who's a retired Marine colonel.)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
Scheduling versus Reality

First WorldCon. No way was I going to miss it in Chicago. When hotel reservations opened up, I booked us from Wednesday 29 August to Monday 3 September. But realities of our schedules, plus the expense, led me to cut a day off of each end. That would mean that we'd miss the Hugo ceremonies, but it gave us a recovery day on Labor Day.

We headed out before 11am EDT Thursday morning. Our goal was to get checked in, off-loaded, re-rig in the room, hit Registration and make it to the 3pm Opening Ceremonies. Mrs. Dr. Phil had thought about her options, including getting day registration for just part of the time -- we even bought a ticket from the pool of 75 tickets that ChiCon 7 had bought to Friday afternoon's Cubs game with the San Francisco Giants. But then I got my schedule and that would mean she'd miss two of my events. So in the end we gave up the ticket and Mrs. Dr. Phil bought a membership. Actually, someone was there having accidentally bought two early memberships, so she ended up buying their extra membership, and the difference in price was about what we'd pay for the Cubs ticket. Deal.


Our badges, the conference book and the "pocket" schedule. (Click on photo for larger.)

WorldCon has some differences from the other SF cons I've been to. For one thing, it's bigger, some 5000 in attendance. Now I've been to American Physical Society March Meetings that are that large and larger -- and an American Chemical Society national meeting that was nearly four times larger. The point is, it takes a big space for all those people. My bad leg got a workout. Second, most sessions were scheduled for an hour and a half -- 70 minutes plus 20 minutes for questions and changeover. Opens things up a little bit more than hour-longs. But it also means that ultimately you go to fewer sessions. All told I went to, or was part of or saw a piece of, thirteen sessions Thursday to Sunday. Plus two outstanding dinners.

Butterflies

When you're raising Monarch butterflies, you can't just leave them for a weekend. But as we're winding down the season here, we had one adult emerge on Wednesday and one that we had to bring with us to Chicago and release on Friday. Also had one caterpillar. This late in the season, they grow fast and big.


Friday morning in the hotel room. (Click on photo for larger.)


Sunday morning in the hotel room -- same caterpillar! He's about twice as big. (Click on photo for larger.)

The Green Room

Some cons have a Green Room where panelists can meet beforehand or you can go to meet other panelists and get something to drink or a bite to eat. Usually it's a suite somewhere in the hotel, but depending on the elevator overload, you have to be careful about scheduling yourself.

ChiCon 7 had to combine the Green Room with the canteen for their staffers, due to some space issues. But it was located on the 2nd floor with easy escalator access to the meeting areas. And though crowded, they did a really great job. Decent mix of sliced cold cuts. And like the Con Suite, they had salad fixings.

I got a sandwich and a couple of Cokes on Friday and Saturday before I "went to work". Got to meet SF writer and blogger K. Tempest Bradford, who I've read for years, on Friday. And sat near where my Sunday panelist Jonathan Vos Post was holding court on all three days.

Sunday Mrs. Dr. Phil came down with me, so we could grab lunch before the Sunday panel and then leave and still make the 2pm checkout time. I hadn't, however, thought about Sunday brunch. Ohmygosh, they had cheese. Real cheese. Serious cheese. Like blue cheeses, huntsman, Irish Derbyshire cheese with port. Sliced thin bagels, cream cheese and thin slices of lox. Yum. Up to now the best Con Suite we've ever seen was at WisCon. But this Green Room brunch beat that. (grin)

Home

It was 92°F when we arrived and 88°F when we left. Slipped out of Chicago without any trouble. Stopped in South Haven MI and hoped to have dinner at The Thirsty Perch, but alas they were running 45-60 minutes for a table. So we went across the street to the Vineyard Italian restaurant and had the spinach lasagna. And while there, decided to have them make us a spinach and sausage and mushroom stuffed pizza for today. All good. (double-meal-grin)

We'll detail more about each day and throw up more pictures in the next few days.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (ucf-logo)
WorldCon Report Pending

One more partial day at WorldCon for us and then back home. We'll write up about WorldCon and the Wendy Wake at WorldCon later. But since the latter featured what was probably the largest physical space meat-up in UCF history -- 9 members in attendance -- I thought I'd drop a line about our second dinner on Saturday 1 September 2012.

I tried. I tried to explain that there isn't just ONE kind of Chicago pizza. That it's something of a religious war. That deep dish and stuffed pizza are not the same thing. And that Gino's/Gino's East was likely to be mobbed on a Saturday night on Labor Day weekend. At not too long a distance from the Hyatt, I of course lobbied for Giordano's, as opposed to Edwardo's. And was -- sigh -- overruled or overlooked. Gino's East at 162 East Superior it was. They don't take reservations for less than sixteen or something like that.

There were eight of us, no nine (later), who headed off from the hotel -- five UCFers and three spouses of UCFers. Most walked, but with my leg I took a cab, along with the Incomparable Anne, who didn't want to walk in her shoes and long dress. Naturally we in the cab got there first, only to find a HUGE line that went around the corner and into the alley. Sigh. Forty-five minutes was the estimated wait time for a table.

Still, it turned out there were some chairs outside so I could actually sit down rather than stand, and also there was a second, shorter line for large groups. And eight qualified. So in around 25 minutes we got sent up to the third floor.


5 UCFers and 3 spice at Gino's East. (Click on photo for larger.)


Including Dr. Phil -- along with the Incomparable Anne. (Click on photo for larger.)


Ooh, look! A late addition. (Click on photo for larger.)

And the pizza was pretty good. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
WorldCon in Chicago

My revised list of WorldCon panels:

Fri Aug 31 Noon-1:30:pm Game Show: Iron Chef Flash Fiction
Grand Suite 3 The aim of the game is to write a short story in less than 5 minutes. The moderator will give the panelists a subject to write about, and after 5 minutes our writers will each read their masterpieces and let the audience decide the winner before they head into the next round into the next challenge. Three rounds are planned but a fourth will be added if time permits.
Christopher J Garcia, Dr. Phil, Janet Freeman. Lawrence M. Schoen (M), Mur Lafferty

Fri Aug 31 4:30-6:00:pm Scale and Space: Seeing Neil Armstrong's Footprints
Columbus EF What can we see from space? Popular TV shows suggest we can infinitely enlarge any image without any loss, but the real world is both much more complicated and much more interesting. We know Neil Armstrong's footprints are still on the Moon - but can we see them? And from how far away? And what else can we see? The Internet is full of fascinating images. (This is an updated version of a Science presentation I made at ConFusion 2011 -- I wonder if the audience will be larger with this weekend's news of the death of Neil Armstrong?)

Sat Sep 1 3:00-3:30:pm Reading: Dr. Phil
Dusable
I'll be reading from the opening of my second unpublished military SF novel, Out of Ashes Rises The Phoenix and Ensign Marie Rossetti's Really Bad Day in Port Outboard Engine aboard the starship USFS Llewellyn.

Sun Sep 2 12:00-1:30:pm The Role of SF for Teachng Critical Thinking
Comiskey A discussion of science fiction's role in the academic world, and how using science fiction in the classroom promotes literacy and encourages students to think critically.
Chris Mirell, Dr. Phil, Erica Neely, Jonathan Vos Post, Val Ontell


And then there's the Wake For Wendy At WorldCon (WFWAWC):

Thursday 30 August 2012 -- 7pm

For years my sister Wendy tried to get us down to Atlanta over Labor Day for DragonCon. But she was going to come up to Chicago for WorldCon in 2012. Sigh.

This is the Official Notice that we will have the Wake For Wendy At WorldCon (WFWAWC). The dinner is at Ron of Japan -- Wendy was very fond of Teppanyaki. Indeed, we went to Ron of Japan in 1979 when she visited me at Northwestern after the Great Blizzard of '79.

Website with menus and pricing -- there are vegetarian options and I was asked about whether they do gluten free soy sauce or tamari -- they emailed and said they just ordered some gluten free soy sauce:
Ron of Japan
230 East Ontario Street, Chicago IL
Google Maps
Thursday 30 August 2012
7pm to 9pm ?

You don't have to attend WorldCon to be a part of WFWAWC -- several members of the UCF in fact already are likely to wake but not con. We're up to 15 friends and family so far. Teppanyaki is not cheap but it is one helluva show. If you want to be added to the reservation and come celebrate my sister Wendy K. Braxton, you can leave a comment here or email me at:
drphil at dr-phil-physics dot com

Afterwards... I still haven't taken a picture yet, but I HAVE received a Viking Boat via Amazon.com. There might be some sort of ceremony involving some of Wendy's ashes, the Viking boat and a fuel load of Jack Daniels... and the Chicago River is between the restaurant and the Hyatt.

I'll enjoy seeing you there and supporting me in remembering my sister.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (wkb09-purple)
Thursday 30 August 2012 -- 7pm

For years my sister Wendy tried to get us down to Atlanta over Labor Day for DragonCon. But she was going to come up to Chicago for WorldCon in 2012. Sigh.

This is the Official Notice that we will have the Wake For Wendy At WorldCon (WFWAWC). The dinner is at Ron of Japan -- Wendy was very fond of Teppanyaki. Indeed, we went to Ron of Japan in 1979 when she visited me at Northwestern after the Great Blizzard of '79.

Website with menus and pricing -- there are vegetarian options:
Ron of Japan
230 East Ontario Street, Chicago IL
Google Maps
Thursday 30 August 2012
7pm to 9pm ?


You don't have to attend WorldCon to be a part of WFWAWC -- several members of the UCF in fact already are likely to wake but not con. We're up to 15 friends and family so far. Teppanyaki is not cheap but it is one helluva show. If you want to be added to the reservation and come celebrate my sister Wendy K. Braxton, you can leave a comment here or email me at:
drphil at dr-phil-physics dot com

Afterwards... I still haven't taken a picture yet, but I HAVE received a Viking Boat via Amazon.com. There might be some sort of ceremony involving some of Wendy's ashes, the Viking boat and a fuel load of Jack Daniels... and the Chicago River is between the restaurant and the Hyatt.

I'll enjoy seeing you there and supporting me in remembering my sister.

Dr. Phil

UPDATE 8/20/2012 Mon: I was asked about whether they do gluten free soy sauce or tamari, so I emailed them. At 10:14 this morning, they said no, they used regular soy sauce. At 10:30 they emailed and said they just ordered some gluten free soy sauce. Now that's service! -- Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
WorldCon in Chicago

I just got my revised list of WorldCon panels and they've added one panel:

Fri Aug 31 Noon-1:30:pm Game Show: Iron Chef Flash Fiction
Grand Suite 3 The aim of the game is to write a short story in less than 5 minutes. The moderator will give the panelists a subject to write about, and after 5 minutes our writers will each read their masterpieces and let the audience decide the winner before they head into the next round into the next challenge. Three rounds are planned but a fourth will be added if time permits.
Christopher J Garcia, Dr. Phil, Janet Freeman. Lawrence M. Schoen (M), Mur Lafferty

Though I have a tendency to write long, I have also produced shorter works in shorter time scales, including the WOTF workshop 24 hour challenge story. Five minutes? Piece of cake. (gurk!) Looks like I'm up against 2012 John W. Campbell nominee Mur Lafferty, amongst others. (eek!) Oh, and our moderator Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen is the publisher of Alembical, which is devoted to the longer work of novellas. How long again is a five-minute novella? (grin)

Already on the books:

Fri Aug 31 4:30-6:00:pm Scale and Space: Seeing Neil Armstrong's Footprints
Columbus EF What can we see from space? Popular TV shows suggest we can infinitely enlarge any image without any loss, but the real world is both much more complicated and much more interesting. We know Neil Armstrong's footprints are still on the Moon - but can we see them? And from how far away? And what else can we see? The Internet is full of fascinating images. (This is an updated version of a Science presentation I made at ConFusion 2011)

Sat Sep 1 3:00-3:30:pm Reading: Dr. Phil
Dusable
(I suppose I'll have to figure out what something suitably short I can read here... grin.)

Sun Sep 2 12:00-1:30:pm The Role of SF for Teachng Critical Thinking
Comiskey A discussion of science fiction's role in the academic world, and how using science fiction in the classroom promotes literacy and encourages students to think critically.
Chris Mirell, Dr. Phil, Erica Neely, Jonathan Vos Post, Val Ontell

Science, Applied Science Fiction and literature. And now Iron Chef: Short Story!

(You know, I really wanted to be on this Iron Chef panel, but figured with all the talent showing up at WorldCon, what chance would I have?)

Dr. Phil

I've Got Panels

Saturday, 4 August 2012 00:28
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
WorldCon in Chicago

Since all the cool kids seem to be doing it, I just got my WorldCon panels the other day.

Fri Aug 31 4:30-6:00:pm Scale and Space: Seeing Neil Armstrong's Footprints
Columbus EF What can we see from space? Popular TV shows suggest we can infinitely enlarge any image without any loss, but the real world is both much more complicated and much more interesting. We know Neil Armstrong's footprints are still on the Moon - but can we see them? And from how far away? And what else can we see? The Internet is full of fascinating images. (This is an updated version of a Science presentation I made at ConFusion 2011)

Sat Sep 1 3:00-3:30:pm Reading: Dr. Phil
Dusable
(I suppose I'll have to figure out what something suitably short I can read here... grin.)

Sun Sep 2 12:00-1:30:pm The Role of SF for Teachng Critical Thinking
Comiskey A discussion of science fiction's role in the academic world, and how using science fiction in the classroom promotes literacy and encourages students to think critically.
Chris Mirell, Dr. Phil, Erica Neely, Jonathan Vos Post, Val Ontell

You might notice that only one of the three involves compatriots -- but that's not because I don't play well with others! It's just the nature of the panels/readings. (grin) Science, Applied Science Fiction and literature. The trifecta FTW.

Oh, and my ChiCon 7 hat came today. Stylin'.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
WorldCon Adds An NPR SF Geek To It's Guestlist

Funny, we were listening to Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me when I saw this press release on Facebook. Yeah, we're multi-tasking multi-media moguls around here. (grin)
Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon"), is delighted to announce Peter Sagal, the host of National Public Radio's irreverent weekly news quiz "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me," as a Special Guest. Sagal, who has often identified himself on the radio as a science fiction fan, will impart an additional dose of Chicago into Chicon 7 with his knowledge, humor, and skills.

Peter Sagal attended Noreascon 3 (the 1989 Worldcon), where he got to meet some of his literary heroes, including Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl. In January 1998, he made his debut on "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me" as a panelist before becoming host of the show in May of that year. Sagal published his first book, The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them in 2007. He also recorded the narration for a self-guided walking tour of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

Speaking of Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me

They mentioned that you are supposed to be able to order off-menu items at McDonald's, including the Land-Sea-Air Burger -- which has a beef patty, fish patty and piece of chicken on one bun. Oddly, Mrs. Dr. Phil and I would try that once... Anyone want to try ordering this and let me know?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
I Knew This Day Was Coming

But when I got to ConFusion this year, as I entered the hotel from the parking elevator, two women looked at me and one said, "You look like George Martin." It's true. I've seen pictures of George R.R. Martin, best-selling author of Game of Thrones and more -- Time magazine named GRRM to their "2011 Time 100" list of the "most influential people in the world" -- and he looks very much like Dr. Phil, especially in hats.

I always figured that if I made it to a WorldCon, I'd probably have to wear a "I Am Not George RR Martin" hat or button. Well, getting confirmation of the resemblance seals the deal. After all, I intend to be at WorldCon 70 / ChiCon 7. And GRRM will be there, too. Maybe I'll order I AM NOT GEORGE RR MARTIN stickers for the name badges, so I won't be alone. (grin)

Separated at Birth?


Dr. Phil vs. George R.R. Martin

Born September 1948 1958
Graduate of Northwestern University
Writes Epic Fantasy Military SF
Large, Beard, Glasses
Wears Black, Hats, Suspenders
Taught Attended Clarion West
And attending WorldCon 70/Chicon 7

Even In The 80s



I hope George will see the humor in this. We really need to be on a panel together. (double-trouble-grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (worldcon-70-2012)
The Hyatt Regency Chicago on the Riverwalk

Today ChiCon 7, aka WorldCon 70, set up the link to the Hyatt Regency reservations system. They've got a $145/night rate for single and double rooms, plus the usual additions for taxes.

The convention runs Thursday 30 August 30 to Monday 3 September 2012 -- that Monday is Labor Day, in case you're keeping score.

I've got my membership and my hotel reservation. You?

Further Plotting

For years my sister Wendy tried to get us down to Atlanta over Labor Day for DragonCon. But she was going to come up to Chicago for WorldCon in 2012. Sigh.

Just serving notice that we will have some sort of Wake For Wendy At WorldCon (WFWAWC). I haven't taken a picture yet, but I HAVE received a Viking Boat via Amazon.com. There might be some sort of ceremony involving some of Wendy's ashes, the Viking boat and a fuel load of Jack Daniels.... possibly on Thursday night 30 August 2012... I am planning on setting up a dinner at Ron of Japan, which is just a few blocks north of the hotel and the river.

You don't have to attend WorldCon to be a part of WFWAWC -- several members of the UCF in fact already are likely to wake but not con.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-in-person)
Alas... Atlanta Bound Soon

This weekend is WindyCon 38 in Chicago (Lombard IL) -- 11-13 November 2011. Unfortunately, I shall not be able to make my panel:
How Not To Get Published
Sunday, 11:00 am–Noon, Lilac D
Mike Resnick, Bill Fawcett, Phil Kaldon, Jim Hines, Steven Silver

Hope everyone at WindyCon has a good time -- and eat a good steak for me.

I'll be there next year. They've already rolled over my membership. Winder if that means I get Badge #1? (grin)

Dr. Phil

PS -- You know that story I mentioned the other day? The Version 1.00 sent in at the last minute? It sold. More details anon...
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Sabbatical 1.34 Report -- October 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress, I've made 27 submissions -- 83 since I officially started Sabbatical 1.3. Currently, two days into November, I have a staggering 30 stories out to market -- a new personal record -- including 1 new story. If editors aren't reading it, they can't buy it.

Working on some new writing, of course, but though the conceptualizing phase is going great on all these things, I wish I had more words written. Still, I know of at least two or three stories under consideration. And actually, I've been getting more rejections with comments, even from markets which haven't sent comments before. So this massive sending of stories is certainly not a wasted effort, even though nothing's sold. Yet. (grin)

Next weekend is WindyCon 38 in Chicago (Lombard IL) -- 11-13 November 2011. As of right now, I'm on one panel:
How Not To Get Published
Sunday, 11:00 am–Noon, Lilac D
Mike Resnick, Bill Fawcett, Phil Kaldon, Jim Hines, Steven Silver

This should be a great panel, and if you're a new writer, or have thought about writing, you need to come to this one. Mike Resnick is a powerhouse and tells excellent stories and knows the publishing business. Jim C. Hines is a wise, wise man, who is also a terrific writer.

The Double-Edged Sword of New Stories

I mentioned above that I churned out one new story in October. I wanted to get in one more submission to an anthology which closed in the U.K. on Monday, but I needed another near-term SF story. The good news is that between Clarion and the WOTF workshop's 24-hour story challenge, writing 4600 words in a little over a day is quite doable. The downside is that it was pretty much one writing and one editing session. The danger in shipping a Version 1.00 of a story, is that I always feel like it's 80% there. That is all the major components are there, but surely it would benefit from a rewrite or two, pumping up the conflict, etc. On the other hand I've sold first versions of stories, so what do I know? Mrs. Dr. Phil is just now reading it, so it didn't get the benefit of my first reader/copy editor. (grin)

We'll see.

Classes Looming

I've picked up a second class starting in January -- so I'll have PHYS-1000 for the 1st time and PHYS-1070 for the 24th time. Something old and something new.

I've been printing out worksheets of my sabbatical progress about once a week. Just printed out the 13th set. Hard to believe that there's just two months left.

Dr. Phil

A Busy September

Saturday, 1 October 2011 22:43
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
October Already?

September ended cold and rainy and gusty. October dawned with blue skies and sunshine and cold. Sweater and jacket weather.

Sabbatical 1.33 Report -- September 2011

In the last month since I reported on my sabbatical progress, I've made 22 submissions -- 56 since I officially started Sabbatical 1.3. Currently I have 25 stories out to market. For a brief time I had an insane 28 -- a new record of sorts. One new story shipped. At least two stories are in the second round.

My plan is to spend a bunch of October-November working on a new novel. I've had several projects lying around, both new ideas and taking some novellas to novels. Well, Monday I attended a nice colloquium on the Crab Nebula -- funny how most semesters I'm teaching or have to leave at colloquium time -- and now I have started my new novel. And it's definitely a novel, because the complexity doesn't easily lend itself to pull an episode out for a short story or write it in 20,000 words. Ex-cellent.

And future planning for Chicago. Registered for WindyCon in November. And caught next year's Chicago WorldCon attending registration before it went up. Should be a couple of really great events.

Spring 2012

Also this week I received my contract letter for next semester. And a new course for me: PHYS-1000 How Things Work. Yay.

This was also the first time I made it down to my office since August. I'd planned on missing the first week of class, because the students always count on not getting ticketed for filling up the faculty spaces for the first week. Then we had the flu, then I had an allergy to an antibiotic... Thank goodness I wasn't teaching! (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (miss-michigan-usa)
No Apologies Here

As I mentioned the other day, one of the most impressive Super Bowl ads was the two-minute Chrysler 200 ad "Imported From Detroit". It didn't pull punches and it didn't apologize for being from Detroit. If anything, it suggested that being forged in Detroit is a positive, not a negative.



The more I think about it, the more I like this ad. Except for five years in White Plains NY outside New York City and three years of high school in Greensboro NC, I've spent my whole life along the Great Lakes. And at this point, over half my life has been spent in Michigan. Up and down economies, progress and Rust Belt. And a lot of people, including a lot of movers and shakers from the East and Left Coasts, are ready to write off Detroit and Michigan. Hell, Newsweek declared Grand Rapids to be a dying city -- Number 10 on their list of ten. This was a shock to West Michigan, which has sort of basked in the knowledge that things are much brighter over here than in Detroit. GR Mayor Heartwell responded with a letter to Newsweek saying that they didn't know what they were talking about.

And the Chrysler 200 ad did about the same thing.

How Does One Roll With The Punches?

Monday night FOX-TV premiered their next big new cop show, The Chicago Code. The hook is that it is about a war between a bright new police superintendent and a corrupt alderman. What? A Chicago show about crime, murder, corruption and rigged city bids? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. I'm sure Chicagoans might feel the same way that Detroiters do about Detroit 1-8-7. On the one hand, the latter surely reinforces stereotypes about Detroit as the Murder Capital and a decaying city. On the other hand, there's Hamtramck! And you can see the love some of the characters have for the old city. After all, New York has survived all the countless murders of several incarnations of Law & Order plus CSI: New York, Philadelphia has survived Cold Case and, perhaps even more germane, Baltimore survived the stellar Homicide: Life on the Streets.

In other words, a little publicity is good, especially if they spell your name right.

And in that spirit, Chrysler certainly poked America on Sunday and said, "Detroit. Deal with it."

Dr. Phil

Monarchs R Us

Saturday, 14 August 2010 22:54
dr_phil_physics: (minions)
No, Our Lawn Isn't A Mess -- It's Deliberate

We haven't mowed our lawn in a number of years. Laziness? Oh, perhaps. But a lot of it has to do with the fact that we live in the country and if we let it go, then we get milkweed plants. And milkweed brings monarch butterflies. And we can bring the caterpillars in and raise them in jars and increase the odds that they'll mature to butterflies.

So we're raising monarch butterflies. Or at least that's what we tell people.

Alas, Slim Pickings

The last two years have been poor for monarch caterpillars, though. We think it was because the shrubbery farm to our west dug themselves up, planted corn for a year, then started over. That corn year involved enough pesticides that we noticed, along with our one neighbor, a real shortage of monarchs around here.

I know we got at least one, maybe two monarchs raised last year. This year? We've seen the butterflies, but it wasn't until Sundaythe 8th that we spotted a honking big 'un on one of the milkweeds just outside one of the kitty room windows:


The Queen of Monarchs

This weekend Pat, Mrs. Dr. Phil's stepmom, is visiting us. She's the one who got us started on monarchs -- so far this year she's started 490+, with about a 16 percent failure rate. And since she's got all these hungry, hungry little caterpillars, she shows up with a cooler filled with jars and ziplock baggies. Last night she did some sorting and repacking:


Of course she's picking leaves to feed her brood and keeps finding more. (grin)

Here are some of the more advanced ones:


Three became butterflies today -- I didn't get a shot of them in their jars and wasn't around when they were released. But life goes on. And monarchs continue.

Dr. Phil

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