edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
This morning there was frost on my windshield, for the first time this season.

That's not the bad omen.

The bad omen was the fact that the train two trains ahead of mine this morning ... died. In the single-track stretch (at South Acton station, in fact). Which meant that the train immediately ahead of mine had to tie onto the dead train and push it all the way into North Station. Which also meant that my train was stuck behind this mess all the way in. Which meant my train was an hour late this morning. Just to make matters worse, the train before the dead train also had mechanical problems and ran about twenty minutes late. And the train I rode home departed North Station four minutes late (although they were able to make up the time en route).

Keolis (the private outfit contracted to run the MBTA's commuter rail) rather spectacularly failed to handle this past winter's record snowfall; there was a five-week stretch where two-thirds of the trains I rode were late. Supposedly they spent the summer fixing old locomotives, leasing spare locomotives, and loading up on spare parts. But if the equipment can't handle cold weather now, we're doomed come January.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
My knee surgery (to repair a ruptured quadriceps tendon) was one year ago today.

I'm almost back to where I was before rupturing the tendon, as far as leg strength and mobility are concerned. My knee isn't quite at full strength (especially when nearly fully extended), so walking on uneven terrain can still be an adventure. On the other hand, with the help of a pair of trekking poles I successfully hiked the two-mile main trail through the town forest this afternoon. (Typical Massachusetts forest trail: granite ledges, exposed tree roots, and random rocks left over from the last glaciation. Not great footing, in other words.)

Also, the last year of walking as much as possible has had a pleasant side effect. When I first went to see my doctor about the knee (back when I thought it was only sprained), I weighed just shy of 275 pounds. Yesterday, at my regular physical, I was down to 255.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Well, shit! Lookit what the National Weather Service has posted for my neck of the woods!
TORNADO WARNING
MAC017-027-041830-
/O.NEW.KBOX.TO.W.0008.150804T1807Z-150804T1830Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
207 PM EDT TUE AUG 4 2015

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TAUNTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
  NORTHEASTERN WORCESTER COUNTY IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS...
  NORTH CENTRAL MIDDLESEX COUNTY IN NORTHEASTERN MASSACHUSETTS...

* UNTIL 230 PM EDT

* AT 206 PM EDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM
  CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED
  OVER LEOMINSTER...AND WAS MOVING EAST AT 35 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
  LOWELL...LEOMINSTER...FITCHBURG...BILLERICA...CHELMSFORD...
  WESTFORD...ACTON...CONCORD...CLINTON...BEDFORD...TYNGSBOROUGH...
  GROTON...LUNENBURG...LITTLETON...LANCASTER...STERLING...AYER...
  SHIRLEY...STOW AND HARVARD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW! DO NOT WAIT TO SEE THE TORNADO. GO TO A BASEMENT OR
INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING...AWAY FROM
WINDOWS. IF IN A VEHICLE...A MOBILE HOME OR OUTDOORS...GET TO THE
CLOSEST SHELTER. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

&&

LAT...LON 4242 7177 4254 7183 4269 7140 4249 7127
TIME...MOT...LOC 1806Z 253DEG 42KT 4250 7173
$$

KJC




Hopefully this won't actually spawn any tornadoes. Because it would really suck to take the train home and not find a home there :-(.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
This year's Hugo Award ballot is open. Last month, I started reading my way through the Hugo Awards voter's packet. Given the fact that so many of the nominees made it onto the ballot via the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slate nomination campaigns; given the fact that I despise slate nominations as a Hugo nominations tactic; and given how utterly infuriated I was at Vox Day's pushing his own press (Castalia House) so blatantly, I decided to vote for No Award above:
- any non-Puppy nominee that was not, in my opinion, at least good enough for a Hugo nomination in a "normal" year
- any Puppy nominee (apart from the Castalia House nominees) that was not, in my opinion, truly great
- any Castalia House nominee that was not, in my opinion, utterly and mind-blowingly excellent

And my votes go to ... An awful lot of No Award, alas.
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: (summer house)
As threatened promised earlier, I've put some of my photos from this year's Star Island trip up on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/edmundschweppe/sets/72157655684432790
edschweppe: (summer house)
I'm back from another fun week on Star Island. Had some fun singing, had some fun dancing, had a lot of good food and some good conversation. I even had the chance to do a bit of photography and will hopefully have links in the near future.

And, unlike last year, I made it through without rupturing any tendons! (Star is wonderful for many things, but is not a fun place to find oneself suddenly on crutches.) My knee held up quite well, despite the seriously uneven terrain of the island (and my room being on the second floor of Gosport House, which meant many more stairs than I would have preferred).

Now it's time for laundry, grocery shopping, showers, and other bits of domesticity before returning to work on Monday ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The short answer: Yuck. Well-earned No Awards for all three categories (Short Story, Novelette, Novella).
The somewhat longer answer )

As things stand, none of this year's Short Story, Novelette or Novella nominees are worthy of a Hugo. Sadly.
edschweppe: (vote at your own risk)
Just a reminder of why the Fourth of July matters.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And, finally, the last of the novellas!

Title: "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
Author: John C. Wright
Published in: The Book of Feasts and Seasons (Castalia House)
Slates: Rabid Puppies only
Trigger warnings: assisted suicide
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "Pale Realms of Shade"
Author: John C. Wright
Published in: The Book of Feasts and Seasons (Castalia House)
Slates: Rabid Puppies only
Trigger warnings: assisted suicide (arguably)
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: Myself in a black suit and black bow tie (bow tie)
Joyeuse fête du Canada [1] à mes amis au nord de la frontière, qui continuent de démontrer délicieusement bon goût en célébrant leur fête nationale sur ce, mon jour natal.

[1] For Canada Day salutations in English, please press 2.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: One Bright Star to Guide Them
Author: John C. Wright
Publisher: Castalia House
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
Trigger warnings: assisted suicide
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "Flow"
Author: Arlan Andrews, Sr.
Published in: Analog, Nov 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
On to the novellas ...

Title: Big Boys Don't Cry
Author: Tom Kratman
Publisher: Castalia House
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
Trigger warnings: child abuse, rape
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "The Day the World Turned Upside Down"
Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator
Published in: Lightspeed, April 2014
Slates: Not on either Puppy slate!
Trigger warnings: obsessive ex-boyfriend
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale"
Author: Rajnar Vajra
Published in: Analog, July 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "The Journeyman: In the Stone House"
Author: Michael F. Flynn
Published in: Analog, June 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "Championship B'Tok"
Author: Edward M. Lerner
Published in: Analog, Sept 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And now, the nominees for Best Novelette!

Title: "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium"
Author: Gray Rinehard
Published in: Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, May 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
Trigger warnings: assisted suicide
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "Turncoat"
Author: Steve Rzasa
Published in: Riding the Red Horse (Castalia Press)
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "Totaled"
Author: Kary English
Published in: Galaxy's Edge July 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
Trigger warning: assisted suicide

cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "A Single Samurai"
Author: Steven Diamond
Published in: The Baen Big Book of Monsters (Baen)
Slates: Sad Puppies only
Trigger warning: multiple suicides
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Title: "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds"
Author: John C. Wright
Published in: The Book of Feasts & Seasons (Castalia House)
Slates: Rabid Puppies only
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I'll start my reviews of this year's Hugo Award nominees with the short-story nominations, going in alphabetical order (not coincidentally, the order in which the nominees are listed on the Hugo ballot).

Title: "On a Spiritual Plain"
Author: Lou Antonelli
Published in: Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014
Slates: Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies
cut for those who don't care )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Behind the cut tags you will find:
First, a brief history of previous years' Sad Puppies campaigns. I will not speculate here as to the motives of the campaigners, but limit myself to the facts as I understand them.
Next, the current Hugo ballot.
Finally, what I'm going to do next.

Puppies past )
Puppies present )
The nominees are ... )

Why have I devoted so many lines to this mess? For context, mostly. I'm a supporting member of Sasquan and thus get to vote on this year's Hugo awards. I'm hugely opposed to the slate-nomination tactic used by the Puppy slates, and am utterly appalled that Vox Day would push himself and his personal publishing house (Castalia House) so heavily. The obvious way to punish such tactics is built into the voting process: No Award is automatically on the ballot in each category, and voting No Award over Puppy nominees would be a pretty clear signal that slate nominations are unacceptable. On the other hand, what's on this year's ballot got there in a perfectly legal manner and arguably should be evaluated on the merits of the individual works rather than the meta-narratives of the slates.

Based on my reactions to the individual works, I've decided that I will vote No Award above:
- any non-Puppy nominee that was not, in my opinion, at least good enough for a Hugo nomination in a "normal" year
- any Puppy nominee (apart from the Castalia House nominees) that was not, in my opinion, truly great
- any Castalia House nominee that was not, in my opinion, utterly and mind-blowingly excellent

I'm planning on following this up by posting reviews of at least the short fiction nominees.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
And I had my final session of physical therapy earlier this evening.[1]

My knee's not at 100% yet, but I can go up and down stairs without holding on to the banister, I can walk on uneven surfaces without the aid of a cane, and I even went for a (short) bicycle ride last night.

So. Yay!

[1] Although I don't think I'll be sending the PT doc a thank-you note. The last time he treated a patient with a quadriceps tendon rupture, the patient dropped dead of a sudden heart attack three weeks later on a Friday. The next Monday, the thank-you card that the patient had sent the PT doc arrived in the mail ...
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred two hundred forty years ago today. In previous years, I've briefly discussed the battle from the viewpoint of today. This year, though, I thought I'd provide the view of some of the eyewitnesses.

Shortly after the battle, the Massachusetts Congress appointed a committee to collect testimony regarding the conduct of the British regulars. A copy of their report was sent to the Continental Congress, and reprinted in the Journals of the Continental Congress for May 11, 1775.
Read more... )
And that was the news, two hundred and forty years ago.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It snowed most of yesterday. Not heavily, but enough to put a frosting on the trees and windshields, and scare the highway departments into breaking out the salt trucks again. Fortunately, the trees haven't started leafing out yet, so there was no damage done (we had a very nasty May snowstorm back in the day which took down a lot of tree branches and, IIRC, ended up killing a bunch of trees completely). Most of the big snowbanks in downtown Boston are gone - but not all of them. There are bare patches on the ground out here where I live - but most of the ground still has a noticeable snowpack.

I'm getting just a wee bit tired of this weather pattern. More below-normal temperatures are expected for the early part of the week, and the six-o'clock news guy said the early indications are that we might get more snow flurries next weekend.

Meanwhile, Keolis says they'll be operating their pre-snowpocalyptic commuter rail schedule starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, they couldn't actually keep to that schedule before all the snow started falling; odds that they'll suddenly get up to snuff seem kind of ... remote. Last week, of the ten rides I took into and out of Boston, four arrived on time. Three more were less than five minutes late (which is the standard Keolis has to meet to avoid fines) and the remaining three were respectively nine, ten and nineteen minutes late. The MBTA contract calls for 95% on-time performance; last week was at best 70%.

(For bonus fun, the ten-minute-late train also didn't have working HEP - thus no lights, heating or ventilation. Or WiFi, for that matter.)

Oh, and my physical therapy appointment on Thursday got cancelled because the physiotherapist was out sick.

There is one bit of good news on the knee-healing front, though. In the last couple of days, I've been able to (occasionally) walk up flights of stairs without having to grab a bannister for support. Still haven't dared to try that going down stairs, mind. But I'll take signs of progress wherever I can.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Friday was the vernal equinox, and it snowed. Not much, but it snowed.

Yesterday was the first full day of spring, and it snowed some more. Again, not much - maybe a bit over an inch between the two snowfalls, and it melted almost immediately - but, still, it snowed.

Tomorrow morning's National Weather Service forecast is calling for early morning air temperatures around 14F and wind chills around 3F in my neck of the woods. Which really sucks for late March, waiting on the platform for the commuter rail.

And said commuter rail still hasn't recovered from the seven-plus feet of snow we got this winter. Keolis (the French outfit that took over the contract last summer) has put out a schedule that includes most of the pre-snowpocalypse trains, but that's a far cry from actually meeting said schedules. Over the last five weeks, I have only once had a commute where both my inbound and outbound trains were on time (Wednesday, March 11th). If I count the times when the train was less than five minutes late (which means Keolis doesn't face a fine for it), I can add four more round trips (2/27, 3/2 and 3/12) to the list. Overall, of my 42 total rides since President's Day [1], only 16 have qualified as "on-time" by the less-than-five-minutes rule, for an on-time percentage of 33%.

Which, to put it mildly, sucks, even worse than normal. Keolis is supposed to maintain a 95% on time percentage. The Boston Globe Magazine ran a story back on February 22, Will the MBTA commuter rail ever run on time?, which noted that the November 2014 OTP for the Fitchburg line was only 66%. Even a 95% OTP means that someone who rides five days a week can expect a late train about once every other week.

At least last week I didn't have any trips where the lights and heat died mid-trip; I'd had three of those in the three previous weeks.

And today's offertory in church was Sydney Carter's Julian of Norwich (aka Bells of Norwich), which is always good for lifting my spirits. "All shall be well again, I know."

[1] There were several days where I just plain didn't go into Boston for various reasons, and a couple where I had to drive in because the train wouldn't get me out in time for important appointments.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I missed noting this in all the snowpocalyptic excitement of the Second Blizzard of 2015 (not to mention the last hours of Boskone), but my temporary handicapped parking placard officially expired last Sunday.

Nice thing to have when you need one, but it's far better not to need one in the first place.

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edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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