Monday, August 17, 2015

What to Wear to World Con

Much to my wife's chagrin, I've never been one to put much thought into what I wear.  Generally, what I wear consists of the top item in my drawer.  Thus how I look is fully determined by my dryer, because the order the clothing is in the dryer determines the order it gets put into the basket which determines the order it is folded in and finally the order it is placed in my drawer.  I put a lot of trust in my dryer.

But I'm currently packing for a little trip I'm taking this week.  I'm going to the World Science Fiction Convention (World Con for short) in Spokane, Washington.  (You guys, I'm totally gonna be at the Hugo Awards.  That's like the Oscars for nerds.)  As I'm packing, I have to decide what to wear to World Con.

The con is 4 days long.  You would think the decision would be easy.  I should wear the top 4 shirts in my drawer.  But it's not that simple.  If I want to be cool with this crowd, I need shirts that properly express my membership among nerds.  But not just any nerds, World Con nerds.

I know what to wear to Comic Con, but I've never been to World Con.  What should I do?

Here are my finalists.

This one is obvious.  Everyone there will love the three laws of robotics.
I think Doctor Who is popular with this crowd.  This one should be a winner as well.
There are Star Wars fans in every crowd.  I feel safe with this one.
I think those first 3 are definites.  The last slot is a debate among the remaining ones.
This one pays homage to The Matrix as well as Superman.  It could be solid.

Every fantasy lover has seen The Princess Bride.

This doesn't have anything to do with science fiction or fantasy, but everyone there will appreciate math, right?  And who doesn't like pie?

Everyone there appreciates the periodic table.  And everyone everywhere appreciates bacon.

As you can see, I have quite the dilemma.  Whatsoever shall I do?

Friday, August 14, 2015

My 2015 Hugo Votes

I know you've all been wondering how I voted this year on the Hugo Award.  I usually like to get my favorites out there before the voting is closed, but I was reading right up until the day the voting closed.  I had my votes in but then it took me some time to actually write up this post.  I'm lazy.  Deal with it.

But I realized that World Con is coming up next week, so I better get this out there.  And guess what!  I'm going to be at World Con!  I will totally be in the room when the Hugo winners are announced!  So get excited for me to geek it up.  But while you're doing that, here are my votes.  Each category has more than just a vote.  For the Hugos, you rank all of the nominees in order from best to worst.

Where I could find them, I linked to where you could purchase or read the works in question.  Also, in cases where I had written a review on Goodreads, I linked to that as well.


Best Novel

I really enjoyed The Three Body Problem.  I loved that it had lots of science, but it was also kind of a mystery as I tried to figure out what the three body problem was.  Once that was figured out, it became a whole new kind of novel.  Great stuff.

1 Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (My review)
2 Skin Game by Jim Butcher (My review)
3 The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
4 The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
5 Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (My review)

Best Novella

I really enjoyed One Bright Star to Guide Them.  It was a tribute to fantasy that features children such as The Chronicles of Narnia but the book features children who have had such an adventure but they are now adults.  I thought it was really unique and fun.

1 One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (My review)
2 The Plural of Helen of Troy by John C. Wright
3 Big Boys Don't Cry by Tom Kratman (My review)
4 Pale Realms of Shade by John C. Wright
5 Flow by Arlan Andrews, Sr

Best Novelette

1 The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)
2 The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed, April 2014)
3 Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
4 Championship B'tok by Edward M Lerner (Analog, Sept 2014) (My review)
5 The Journeyman: In the Stone House by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014)

Best Short Story

I was really sad that Annie Bellet withdrew her nomination for "Goodnight Stars".  That was an excellent story and I would have voted it in first place.  Nevertheless, "A Single Samurai" is a great story too, and I'm happy to give it my first place vote.  We all knew samurai were cool, but did you know they were "take down a kaiju as big as a mountain" cool?  Well, they are.  Read the story.

1 A Single Samurai by Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters)
2 Turncoat by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse)
3 Totaled by Kary English (Galaxy's Edge magazine, July 2014) (My review)
4 On A Spiritual Plain by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
5 The Parliament of Beasts and Birds by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts and Seasons)

Best Related Work

I'm sorry there's no cover art.  It was published on a website.  Should I just put the Baen logo?

I really enjoyed "Why Science is Never Settled."  I think it's easy for people to think that all science is 100% truth and all scientists have a 100% consensus.  This did a good job of helping us remember that science is a process of discovery.  It is not settled, and it never will be settled, and that's what's fun about it.

1 Why Science is Never Settled by Tedd Roberts
2 Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli
3 The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF by Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse)
4 Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright (My review)
5 Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson

Best Graphic Story

It's probably not fair to the other entries that I've been obsessed with everything from Marvel Comics this year.  But I really did enjoy this comic book.  I mean, it beat out a comic about zombies.  And we all know how much I love zombies.  It's a fun coming of age story and a super hero story all rolled in to one.  It's a little confusing, because Ms. Marvel is different from Captain Marvel, but who cares?  It's a great story.

1 Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics) (My review)
2 The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)
3 Saga Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
4 Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
5 No Award
6 Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Interstellar was easily the best movie that came out last year.  It was no contest.  However, the other movies on this list were all really good too.

1 Interstellar
2 Edge of Tomorrow
3 Guardians of the Galaxy
4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5 The Lego Movie

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

"Listen" was such a good episode!  Have you ever wanted to know what's under your bed?  Do you know what it's doing there?  It's listening....

1 Doctor Who: Listen
2 The Flash: Pilot
3 Grimm: Once We Were Gods
4 Orphan Black: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried
5 Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

Best Professional Editor (Short Form)

Galaxy's Edge is a great magazine and Mike Resnick is a great editor.  I particularly enjoyed the issue featured above where he printed a long list story by Robert A. Heinlein.

1 Mike Resnick
2 Jennifer Brozek
3 Bryan Thomas Schmidt
4 Vox Day
5 Edmund R. Schubert

Best Professional Editor (Long Form)

There are some great editors on this list, but Skin Game was a great book and it was edited by Anne Sowards, so she gets my number 1 vote this year.

1 Anne Sowards
2 Toni Weisskopf
3 Sheila Gilbert
4 Jim Minz
5 Vox Day
Best Professional Artist

I have to admit that I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to art and artists.  However, I really enjoyed this picture by Julie Dillon.  I like to think that's how the ocean is.  So much awesomeness that we need to discover.

1 Julie Dillon
2 Kirk DouPonce
3 Alan Pollack
4 Nick Greenwood
5 Carter Reid

Best Semiprozine

I've liked John Joseph Adams for a while now, and I think Lightspeed is a great magazine.

1 Lightspeed Magazine John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
2 Strange Horizons Niall Harrison
3 Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine David Kernot and Sue Bursztynski
4 Abyss and Apex Wendy Delmater editor and publisher
5 Beneath Ceaseless Skies Scott H. Andrews
No Vote No Award
Best Fanzine

I enjoyed the reviews in Tangent Online.  I also really enjoy Elitist Book Reviews.  I guess the point is that I enjoy fan reviews.

1 Tangent Online
2 Elitist Book Reviews
3 The Revenge of Hump Day
4 Journey Planet
5 Black Gate

Best Fan Writer

I'm not very familiar with any of these writers, but I judged them by what was in the voter packet.  I really enjoyed Dave Freer's write up about golden age authors.

1 Dave Freer
2 Cedar Sanderson
3 Laura J. Mixon
4 Amanda S. Green
5 Jeffro Johnson
Best Fan Artist

It's a mushroom with a beard.  How cool is that?

1 Ninni Aalto
2 Brad Foster
3 Steve Stiles
4 Spring Schoenhuth
5 Elizabeth Leggett

The John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo)

I really liked The Lives of Tao.  I haven't gotten around to reading the sequel, but I definitely think it makes Wesley Chu worthy of the John W. Campbell award.  P.S.  if Tao wants to come live in my head and make me a super secret agent, I'd be cool with that.

1 Wesley Chu
2 Jason Cordova
3 Kary English
4 Eric S. Raymond
5 Rolf Nelson


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Portland Adventures

The last day of our trip was spent enjoying the city of Portland.

We started out the day with a fancy breakfast at a french restaurant called La Provence.

I should note that I have eaten at fancy, expensive restaurants like La Caille, in Utah.  La Caille is good, and it has a beautiful atmosphere, but there was something about this restaurant that made me feel like I was in Paris.  They brought us a croissant with jam and a fancy brie cheese.  We were seated in the outdoor seating, and between the outdoor atmosphere, the gentle breeze and the taste of the croissant and cheese, I had Deja Vu to when we were in Paris.  I have never had that strong of a feeling that takes me back somewhere, but this restaurant really brought that to me.  I know that the restaurant is actually trying to emulate Provence, France and not Paris, but I haven't been there, so for me it took me back to Paris.
After the croissant, they brought me my omelette filled with stretchy cheese.  Sooooo goood!

The first major landmark of the day was the Portland Temple.  As most of you know, we have been going on a tour of all the LDS temples near us and we love to make the temple part of many of our vacations.  This temple was really beautiful.  I wrote a little more about it on my temple blog.

After the temple, we headed in to downtown Portland. The first and most important landmark we wanted to hit was Powell's City of Books.  I can't express to you how awesome this place was.  I tried to get a picture to show how big it was, but there isn't one picture that captures it.  It has about a dozen "rooms".  Each room is roughly the size of the Barnes and Noble in my hometown.  Here is a view looking down on a small portion of one room.
I wandered around for a bit, I looked at the rare books room which was super cool.  It was fun to look at books that were being sold for thousands of dollars.  Finally I came to the important room which had science fiction and fantasy.  Robyn and I had separated to look at different genres, but she knew exactly where to find me when she was done.  She snapped this picture (below) of me perusing the excellent selection of stories.

When we got out, we had to snag a picture of us in front of the store.  I didn't buy tons of books, I limited myself to books that were either out of print, hard to find elsewhere or were cheaper because they were used.  (They had both new and used books in the store.)  Below is a picture of me with one of my spoils.

After Powell's it was time for dinner.  We asked Foursquare where we should go and it suggested a place called Oven and Shaker.  It was a pizza place and I figured the title was for the oven where they cook the pizza and a shaker for parmesan cheese or something similar.  It turns out that the shaker part was for mixing drinks.  Apparently, they are very famous for their alcohol.  The waitress was kind of blown away that we ordered water.  Who drinks water at a place famous for its alcohol?

Mormons.  That's who.
Robyn posing with delicious pizza. 

Me with delicious pizza.  (And my pitcher of water.)
Finally, it was time for dessert.  We had heard of a super famous ice cream place called Salt & Straw.  It's somewhat of a Portland icon, so of course we had to head there.  When we got there the line wove around inside the building and then went out the door and wrapped half way around the block.  I have never seen such a long line for ice cream.  That's what happens when the place is super famous.  We decided to wait in the line and I was super impressed with how fast it moved.  I looked at my watch and there were only 22 minutes from the time we got in line to the time I was holding ice cream in my hand.  Not bad!
Showing off my delicious find.

Look at that cutie and her ice cream.
After ice cream, we decided we had experienced enough of the city and headed back to our hotel room for the night.

The next morning it was time to begin the long drive home.  We stopped off at one last landmark on the way out of town.

I wanted to go to Multnomah Falls.  It's been on my bucket list for a long time.  We had tried a few days earlier when we were done backpacking, but the parking lot was so packed that we would have had to park miles away.  We figured we'd give it a go early in the morning in hopes that there would be at least one parking spot.

We got there pretty early and the parking lot was less than half full.  So we got to make the super short hike to see it all.

By the sign on the way in.
Looking up at the falls
Of course we hiked up to the bridge.

Selfie on the bridge

The waterfall from the bridge.

An animation from Google

A fancy version from Google.

Our total time at Multnomah Falls was probably less then 30 minutes.  After that, we got back on the road and drove to Boise.  Our final landmark of the trip was the Boise Temple.

Here's a fun silhouette of the temple.  You can see more pics on my temple blog.
We spent the night in Boise and then completed the road trip home.

Unfortunately, that meant our trip was over.  That also means I'm done blogging about our trip.  I know that saddens your soul.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Backpacking in Oregon

Remember when I bought a sweet sleeping bag to complete our set of backpacking gear?  Remember how I said that I would be using it in Oregon.  Well, the time has come to tell you about backpacking the Eagle Creek trail.

I totally got a picture of the sign so you know i'm not lying about the name of the trail.
Eagle Creek is a trail in the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland.  It's a beautiful area hiking through a rain forest.  The whole trail is about 13 miles long and ends at a lake.  We decided we weren't quite hardcore enough for that entire length.  I decided the destination I wanted to hike to was Tunnel Falls, which is a little over 6 miles one way.

But truthfully, it's all about the journey as much as the destination.  We really enjoyed the experience of travelling along that trail and seeing all that there was to see.
Look at that cute backpacker.

That is a less cute backpacker.

Just posing in front of the wilderness.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a huge fan of heights.  Most of the trail was just fine.  Even though the trail was often pretty high above the river, I'm fine as long as it's not a sheer dropoff and I don't have to be close to the edge.  However, every once in a while the trail would get relatively thin and it would have chains you could hold on to.  This usually meant there was a fairly steep dropoff.  Even if I didn't notice the dropoff the chains were there to notify me that I should be terrified.
The trail itself doesn't seem that scary.  But you're supposed to be terrified.  The chains tell you so.

Look how not scared of that dropoff Robyn is.

More cutenes
The trail follows the river, and though we were hiking to a specific waterfall, there were a number of really pretty ones along the way.
I don't even know the name of this waterfall.  But it's pretty.

We saw several of these birds along the way.  I'm not sure exactly what it is, some kind of grouse I'm guessing.

This was a common sight.  Robyn is much faster than me.
I think the destination of Tunnel Falls was perfect.  By the time we got there, I was tired and ready to quit, but it wasn't so far that I was dying.  The first view of the waterfall is through the trees.
Robyn makes the waterfall look precious.

The waterfall makes me look precious.
The trail is super cool, it wraps around until you actually go through a tunnel underneath the waterfall.  (Hence the name Tunnel Falls.)
I'm pretty sure this is Shelob's lair.  But the good news is that I was eaten by zero giant spiders.

This is what it looks like coming out of the tunnel.

This is what I look like coming out of the tunnel.

Looking back on it from further up the trail.  From here it looks less like Shelob's lair, and more like a hobbit hole.

It's important to get both of us in a picture.

After finding tunnel falls we decided to head back to one of the campsites we had seen on the way up.  It was about 3/4 miles back.  We setup our tent, and more importantly our hammock.  My back was super tired, and I was way excited to lay in the hammock.

The view looking up at the sky from the hammock.

That's what I look like in pure happiness.

Robyn took a turn too.
There was one negative to the hammock.  I had changed into flip flops when we got into camp, and I had kicked off the flip flops while I was in the hammock.  Robyn looked over at me and said, "There is something moving on your flip flop."  I looked at it and there was a 6 inch slug crawling over it.  I picked up the flip flop and shook it to get the slug to come off, but to no avail.  I finally had to get a stick to pry it off.  (Because clearly I wasn't going to touch it with my hands.  Gross!)

Neither of the slugs below are the one that crawled on my flip flop.  I didn't have my phone on me in the hammock because I left it in the tent.  But I took these pictures the next morning of a couple others I saw.

Ginormous + slimy = gross

My encounters with wildlife in the hammock weren't over.   I settled down to read some more and then this spider was crawling on my hammock.  I don't mind spiders at all when I know what kind they are.  I'm always uncomfortable when I can't identify them and don't know if they're dangerous.  I just flicked this guy off my hammock and all was well.

 After resting for a bit, I had to go gather us some water.  We have a little filtration system that filters out the dirt and then we have a little lightsabre that you stick in the water to kill all the germs.
She is a Jedi, like her father before her.

That evening before going to bed we put our food up in a tree.  We didn't want any bears visiting us in our tent to get at our food.  We also didn't want any squirrels chewing through our tent.  In the middle of the night, Robyn woke me up because she heard something she thought was eating our food.  She told me I needed to take a look so that if it was dangerous it would eat me and not her.  I poked my head out of the tent, shined the light on the food and saw nothing.  I showed her that we couldn't see any animals.

The next morning we looked at the garbage bag that was also outside our tent.  It had a hole chewed in it.  Robyn used that as evidence that she really had heard something.  I conceded that point, but I did point out that she strongly implied that she heard something larger than a chipmunk, which was the likely culprit of the tiny hole.  But who knows.  Maybe it was a mountain lion that chewed the quarter inch hole in the bag.

The next morning, we made breakfast, relaxed a little more and then headed back down the trail.

Robyn took this selfie to show how gross she was.  I thought she looked precious.

More evidence of preciousness

The bridges frightened me, but look how brave I was.
After backpacking, we headed back into town and checked in to our hotel.  We showered, which was glorious, and then went out to eat at Giant Burger.  It was the perfect meal to end our backpacking adventure.

After a backpacking trip there is pretty much nothing better than a good hamburger, and The Giant served us well.  My sister, who is a Portland expert, had suggested that we eat there, and I'm glad she shared her wisdom on this issue.  She had sent me a picture of her in front of the sign, so naturally I had to emulate her picture.

I know I did such a good job of copying her picture, that you can't tell the difference, so I'll just let you in on the secret.  The first one is me.  The second one is my sister from Christmas time.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...