January 21st, 2008

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Home Again

I'm Confused

This weekend was High Voltage ConFusion, a SF/F/H con held at the Troy MI Marriott Hotel in mid-January. I've been a number of times and always look forward to it -- they do a great job of organizing the weekend. But of course I was worried that my cold would make it impossible, or at least foolish given the sudden frigid cold snap. Other than forgetting to bring a full box of Real Sudafed, the cold did okay and is slowly going away. (grin)

The Guesties:

* Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier, Author Guests of Honor
* Carl Lundgren, Art Guest of Honor
* Kevin M. Dunn, Science Guest of Honor
* Throwing Toasters, Music Guest of Honor
* The Roving Pirate Party, Fan Guests of Honor
* John Scalzi, Toastmaster

I've been running into John Scalzi at ConFusion for years and he was a delightful Toastmaster, amusing everyone with tall tales as way of introductions at the opening ceremonies. Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier are both currently writing YA SF and Fantasy, respectively, and are married to each other, despite coming from opposite ends of the planet. John is billing Scott as "the most influential science fiction writer of the first decade of the twenty-first century" -- and the sales of his four-book trilogy which begins with Uglies have topped the two million mark. Justine started off studying SF history and fandom, and describes herself as having "gone native."

Other Notables

I got to meet Canadian Suzanne Church, who I'd heard of and sometimes read her LJ blog at canadiansuzanne because she was in the 2005 Clarion South class in Brisbane and later in 2005 was published in the same anthology I made my first sale to, Northwest Passages: A Cascadian Odyssey. Scott Westerfield was one of her Clarion South instructors. See? This is why it is good for authors and new writers to go to cons -- everyone is connected to everyone in this business. (grin)

Other people of note include Jim C. Hines, Tobias Buckell, Kark Schroeder, Violette Malan (who went through three iterations of name cards for the panels she was on before getting one with her first name spelled right -- grin), editors Jim Frenkel, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Mike Resnick, and of course my 2004 Clarion classmate Al Bogdan.

ConFusion was also running two rooms, one of anime and one of B-movies featuring episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000... spent several enjoyable hours over the weekend watching, laughing and making smart remarks with the robots. (grin) In previous years the anime and film rooms were off in a corner of the convention center part of the hotel, which is fine in the middle of the day. But this year they had them on the 15th floor on the other side of the elevator from the ConSuite, which meant that snacks were close by. I thought it worked out really well.

But it's late now. Perhaps I'll write more details about some of the sessions later. Or not.

Dr. Phil
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LiveJournal, Carbon Monoxide and Serendipity

Life Is An Odd Assortment Of Confluences

Ain't it true? There are things I could get annoyed about, but so often I find myself realizing that things worked out pretty good, all things considered. So I shan't complain.

Yesterday I blogged about attending ConFusion in Troy MI, and how I had a chance to meet canadiansuzanne, who I knew indirectly as an attendee of Clarion South who also had a story in the "Northwest Passages" anthology in 2005. With the free conference-level WiFi, I was able to call up her LJ blog on my PDA to verify that Suzanne Church was indeed the same person -- and I read a couple of recent entries. 'Cause that's what you do when you run across someone's LJ, right?

Which Brings Us To Today's (Non) Crisis

This morning at 11am my CO detector chirped once. I'm not sure I've ever heard it other than when I tested it after taking it out of the packaging. But that was years ago. You're not supposed to have them in a kitchen, because cooking vapors can gunk up the CO sensor, and we tend to run our bedroom cold, so I'd put it in the front bedroom, aka the quilting room. Anyway, I wasn't sure why it briefly sounded, once I figured out which device with an alarm it actually was. About fifteen minutes later it chirped again. This time I noticed it went off when the furnace blower was on. Oh crap.

The unit was underneath the cutting table and not easily looked at. So I unplugged it and carried it out to the dining room and plugged it in. Pressed the TEST button. Actually it said it was the WEEKLY TEST button -- guess that hadn't gotten done in years.

A few minutes later the CO detector went off. No longer warning, but a full-blown CO alarm.

Semi-Safety Mode

Turn off furnace, open some windows. I had been napping -- I am still getting over this cold and WMU celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which meant I didn't have classes on this MLK Day -- so I then got dressed. Went downstairs, checked the kitty room. Our three furry little canaries came running towards the door. Since their room is on the other side of the wall from the furnace, and they weren't all collapsed on their backs, feet up, with X's over their eyes, I figured things couldn't be so bad.

Closed the door to the disappointed kitties, opened the back door for a minute, while I did a visual inspection of the furnace. Nothing obvious. And the cap on the Y-joint in the stack from where the old water heater used to connect hadn't fallen off or anything. So I vacuumed the furnace filter, closed up everything and put in a call to the heating company's answering machine.

The Zen of CO Detectors

See, I had just this weekend -- Saturday afternoon in fact -- read canadiansuzanne's post on CO detectors and how they go bad in 3-5 years... and this one was way older than that. In fact, I was going to replace it this week anyway, after her tale of having her CO detector going off, calling 9-1-1 and having the firemen come in and tell her, after finding nothing wrong, that they go bad. (grin) So no big time panic. Though you will note that I did turn off the furnace and ventilate the place.

Off to TruValue Hardware of Allendale, where I got a nice Kidde Nighthawk unit which not only has a digital readout but does Explosive Gas monitoring, too. How can you not like something that warns you of explosive gasses? Its plug also detaches, so you could move it from out behind the cutting table and read the thing, should one to decide to install it in a quilting room, for example.

Oh, and while I was gone, the heating company called and noted that CO detectors give a lot of false alarms, especially if a car has been warming up in the garage (didn't apply in this case).

Bottom line -- the new unit has read 0 ppm of CO ever since. We're back up to warm-and-comfy, which is very nice in the middle of a fluffy snowstorm, and the house isn't on the verge of blowing up due to an accumulation of explosive gasses.

Uh, By The Way

You checked your CO detector lately? Know how old it is? How about the batteries in your smoke alarms? Just checking...

LJ and writers score another victory. Dovetails nicely with the discussions held at yesterday's panel on "The Internet as Career Tool" and how blogging isn't just about promoting your latest writing. Being Useful really counts, too. Oh, and going to SF cons? How many other activities offer Real World advice on housing safety AND prevent expensive emergency heating repair calls? Now that's real value... (grin)

Dr. Phil
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