December 20th, 2013


Getting Into The Spirit

It's always tough to get into the mood for Christmas. Not when I was little, of course, because once we were stuffed with Thanksgiving turkey, all eyes turned towards Christmas. That weekend we'd put up the tree and other decorations. In Medina NY, we usually started getting more serious snow. Then a week or two later, we'd gear up and head to the dirty slushy well churned snows of Buffalo and hit the major department stores -- we didn't have malls everywhere then. Department stores meant escalators and toy lands at Christmas. My parents would craftily observe what caught our eyes, then Wendy and I would go wander off with Daddy. That was always a treat, because Daddy was always a little kid at heart. The real secret was that the Buffalo stores had a special delivery service to Medina, so you didn't have to carry everything. They'd get delivered while us kiddies were in school.

Going off with Daddy usually meant going to the big movie theatre, coming into the middle of a movie in the balcony, then leaving when the movie came around to where you came in. Also a little paper bag of bridge mix from the department store candy counter, maybe with some jelly candy fruit slices or nuts. In the car's glove compartment was always a bag of Kraft caramels or Fudgies -- a little hard at first if they were frozen -- but it made the ridiculous wait at the traffic light at NY 78 and NY 5 at Transittown bearable. Half a mile backups and it seemed like only four cars could make the turn under green.

In the some twenty years of teaching, exams and grading took me perilously close to Christmas itself, so it was always a shock to be suddenly done and available for Christmas. Thank goodness for Christmas baking. I told Mrs. Dr. Phil this morning that the smells of roast turkey wouldn't be joyous if they happened half a dozen times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but seven batches of stollen made the house smell festive and cheery. And lights. Mrs. Dr. Phil strung three sets of lights on the front porch yesterday -- we had a new GE set of 200 white icicle lights I bought on sale last year, but it wasn't long enough, so she found a double pack of 150 lights 12' long, and ended up using all three of them. The GE set had a polarized plug and so couldn't plug into the new sets, so had to be taken down to put them at the extension cord end.

The front porch glows now, which is very good for the mood.

Last night ABC ran A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is really only one of the two decent seasonal animated specials -- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas with Boris Karloff please! is the other -- never fails to inspire. Especially after Linus sets everyone straight on the true meaning of Christmas.

Holiday shopping has totally changed. Once we thought waiting 6 to 8 weeks for mail order was pretty cool. Now hopping online and ordering something we know is in stock and Amazon Prime guaranteeing delivery on the 23rd or the 24th is almost routine. We can't abide malls in good weather -- facing them in the current run of weather would have been oppressive, even if I wasn't saddled with my current walking issues.

And in the next week, it'll be time to get online and renew my professional memberships and annual contributions. I actually look forward to that.

So what if the weather forecast doesn't look promising for next week. Raining now. I guess the ice was really bad in Grand Rapids this morning. And they're talking about as much as half an inch of ice accumulating overnight. Winter officially begins at the solstice, tomorrow the 21st at 12:11pm SET. Only then will it be winter.

Never mind.

It's still the season.

Dr. Phil

Detcon 1 Progress Report #1 Is Out

I've been meaning to update about Detcon 1, 17-20 July 2014, but they've done it for me.

Progress Report #1 (PDF) is now out. I got the link on Facebook.

Highlights include:
• Registration rates for Adults go from $55 to $65 on Wednesday 1 January 2014. BTW, 419 Attending members listed so far -- this is more than voted for Detroit's NASFiC bid at Lone Star Con. (grin)

• Hotel reservations open Saturday 11 January 2014. Rooms start at $118/night.

• Still accepting Programming ideas and volunteers. I've put about half a dozen in already -- you can, too. (grin)

• For you gaming types: 24-hour gaming space. Any type of fannish gaming is welcome, including Live Action Role Playing (LARPs), Collectible Card Games (CCGs), tabletop gaming, board games, social network games, and alternate reality games (ARGs)

• Bring the family (grin): Youth-oriented programming for both kids and teens, with authors, musicians, scientists, artists and others.

• Accessibility -- Definitely an issue for me now, was an issue for me at ChiCon 7, lovely as it was. "Detcon1 is dedicated to making our convention as accessible as possible. We do not want either visible or invisible disabilities to prevent you from attending or enjoying Detcon1. We know that recent large conventions have had significant accessibility challenges. We are committed to learning from their experiences and not making the same mistakes, although we can’t promise that we won’t make any new ones."

I cherrypicked a couple of things, there's more info at Detcon 1 or in Progress Report #1 (PDF).

Why am I spending time signal boosting Detcon 1? First of all, I've talked about NASFiC's before. And I had a great time at Chicon 7, the WorldCon in Chicago in 2012. Another big con local to me? Run by many of the same people that have made ConFusion such a great January con? You know I'm there. And while my audience might be limited here -- at least six people these days (grin) -- I'd be happy to see my friends in Detroit. So many of you I rarely see, if ever, outside of online. So come on over, if you can. This year it's in the middle if the summer, so it's not over Labor Day, nor does it compete with WorldCon in London -- which is why we have a NASFiC in Detroit in 2014 in the first place. (grin)

And it should be good.

Dr. Phil