May 27th, 2014


Another Memorial Day

It's midnight and already Tuesday's first hour. There are exactly two movies on about war and those that serve. AMC is showing the dreadful Ben Affleck Pearl Harbor. TCM has the gutwrenching The Best Years of Our Lives. The latter is a far, far better movie, but best seen from the beginning. So I'm watching the other -- I'm a sucker for Doolittle.

As usual, retired Navy CWO Jim Wright has the right words to say on Memorial Day.

This certainly wasn't a usual Memorial Day weekend for us. We never once turned the TV on in the hotel room, though Mrs. Dr. Phil did get the WGVU NPR station on her Kindle Fire HDX. We didn't watch any of the Indianapolis 500 or its NASCAR cousin the Coca-Cola 600. We saw no blockbusters in cineplexes or IMAX. We didn't have a backyard barbecue. Skirting around Chicago we did listen to WGN-AM and heard the Cubs beat the Giants in San Frisco 8-4, apparently after ten losses in a row. 1-11 is not good odds. Can I pick 'em or what?

I didn't choose this weekend to hold a con, but it's one of the big weekends for SFF cons. It's not about dissing the nation's honored dead, so much as we are by and large wedded to jobs that don't believe in long summer vacations. The last Monday in May makes a three day weekend, right when the weather starts getting nice.

Memorial Day 2014 -- it's come and gone.

Dr. Phil

And Here's My WisCon Spontaneous Writing Story

WisCon 38
Spontaneous Writing Contest Final Report

The 8 submitted entries in this year’s Spontaneous Writing Contest are on display at Each contestant was given 60 minutes to build a story around a couple of paragraphs of supplied dialog.

There were 13 registrants, and the 1st 8 who were physically present on Saturday morning became the official contestants. Winners were:
• 1st prize ($50): Story B: We Service All Imported Vehicles, by Tucker McKinnon
• 2nd prize ($30): Story A: Politics and Religion, by Cislyn Smith
• 3rd prize ($20): Story C: The Boron Carbide Lathe, by Philip Edward Kaldon

Other entrants were:
• Story D: The Choice, by Katie Clapham
• Story E: Alpha and Omega, by Anna Black
• Story F: Dorm Room Drama, by Genta Sebastian
• Story G: Plotting Everest, by Zorah Quynh
• Story H: An Innocent Question, by Joe Blaylock

Many thanks to our judges for generously taking time out of their convention schedules to read and rank the entries:
• F. J. Bergmann, editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association
• Darrah Chavey, chair of next year’s Tiptree Award jury
• Anaea Lay, caster of Strange Horizons pods


The contest dialogue paragraphs that had to be used -- like the ingredients in Chopped or Iron Chef -- were:
“Wrong? How can writing be wrong?”

“Structured backwards. Bad magic.”

“Backwards, you say?”

“Yes. Left to right. Idiots human subset write also top to bottom.”

“Surely the preferred direction of writing is arbitrary.”

“Gods say not. See also stupidities your other. Zones time many. Nouns follow descriptors. System measurement adequate but universal not. Flow electricity plus to minus. Humans backwards ways many.”

“Well, we don’t have a single planetary government to set or enforce standards.”

“Problem also. Gods like not. Humans sloppy. Query: we fix."
A fun challenge.

Dr. Phil

Well, @#!&$%€*¢¥£

Five hours ago I was a relatively free man. Now I am back, once again in the clutches of Butterworth Hospital. Hopefully this won't be another 5½ month odyssey. Like last year.

The heel wound, which had reopened after I got home in October, had been very slowly healing. But this weekend at WisCon, there was some blood on Friday, and there was damp fluid seeping on Monday morning. So, not being a fool, I called the wound clinic this morning for someone to look at it. 2pm appointment.

Now my pediatric surgeon had just seen me less than two weeks ago. The dimensions, especially depth and undercutting were much worse. By 3pm they were sending me to the third floor to get a heel bone X-ray. By 3:30 they wanted me admitted to examine the bone and put me on an IV, do some blood work.

I did drive home. And had Mrs. Dr. Phil drive me back. Much easier not to have the Blazer sitting in the parking structure. Also, we've been through this and knew what to pack -- including the Kindle lifeline with the world. (grin)

So basically we know nothing. And it'll be a while before we know anything. Meanwhile, I have a wrist band, I have an IV set in my arm, but no hookup yet. Nurses changing shifts. (double-grin)

Dr. Phil

I Knew It

A little after 2½ hours here and I met my first Spectrum employee who remembered me from the 5th floor at Fuller. She saw "Dr. Phil" on the board and knew it had to be me.

It amused me -- she remembered me talking about Physics with her.

Dr. Phil


At 2:30 today, in the doctor's office, my temp was 98.6°F. When I was admitted around 6:30pm, it was 99.5°F. And at 10:30pm it was 38.2°C = 100.8°F.

Hmm. Maybe I am in the right place.

Antibiotic IVs running.

Dr. Phil

Oh, and I got a new boot to keep my unfeeling, uncontrolled ankle straight. (grin)