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FC 2016 [Jan. 23rd, 2016|02:41 pm]
Kit and I flew down to FC. The flight was an inauspicious start to the trip...


SF was stacked up due to weather. We actually took off at 11:15 or so. Didn't get to Trey's house (and thus to a bed) until around 2am. Since I had gotten up at 6am for work that morning it made for a long day and a grumpy rat.

But we did finally manage to get to FC, showing up Friday. Things improved from there, at least for me. Trey was feeling ill and unfortunately needed to rest at home a bit. Fortunately he was able to join us for the tail end of the con.

RC Mouse (and bonus background husky)

Midori (in her new colorful gator suit!) and Weichund. Cool folks and glad I got to see 'em.

We got to check out Reveille and the Swingin' Tails doing their jazz concert. (In case you're wondering about the menu, the con theme was "American Diner".)

I hadn't expected to get to hear a jazz concert but it was really great! Lot of fun and they really had some fun with those tunes.

More hanging around and seeing the fursuits around the hotel...

...plus attending panels on fursuit construction and writing. That kinda sums up my con experience. :)

This was the props panel by Matrices (foreground), Alexis Rudd / Redstorm (middle), and Lance Ikegawa (rear). All folks I know, as it happens. I don't tend to do much with props for my suits so this was an interesting one. If you can see the ice cream cone lying there behind the orange popsicle ("paw-sicle"), I ended up purchasing that. :)

A wild Raver Saber appears! Such a pretty suit. :)

Speaking of pretty suits, got to hang with my friend Twig Mouse and his partner Weasely. They were nice enough to invite us up to the room for some cheese and chat. Rodential relaxation!

Around the con, people had stepped up to provide services for the attendees.
Here is our fursuit greeter in requisite blue vest showing all the energy and enthusiasm of a genuine WalMart greeter. (Brilliant performance idea.)

Wolever, a regular appearance in the evening hours, helped ensure everyone got their dose of sugar.

Sugar-glazed free-for-all!

I also met a fellow I hadn't seen before. He was nice but a little hungry... Fortunately this badger carried snacks with him. :)

Badger badger badger... Snake!
It's a snake! Dia (aka Bree) had some of her reptilian pets along so Kit got a chance for some python petting.

So that's a quick visual recap of the con. Hope everyone else who went had a good time too. Squeaks!
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NaNoWriMo 2015 - Won! [Nov. 30th, 2015|07:14 am]
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I started my next novel manuscript during this past month. I used the momentum of NaNoWriMo to get things jumpstarted. I did not expect to reach the 50K goal! I was writing during my normal times (commutes) plus a bit on weekends. I was helped, oddly enough, by a pre-Thanksgiving power outage where I nursed along my laptop battery (because typing doesn't use much energy compared to, say, YouTube videos). I even "finished" a day early.

So this is a strong start... Now I need to do the next ~35K and then a couple of thorough edit passes... polishing... Well, I'm started, anyway. :)

If you're curious about that truncated story teaser:
After his father has disappeared in the wild desert and been declared dead, Marden assumes the traditional family role of executioner to the court. This includes acting as bounty hunter for those sentenced, tracking them between the distant communities in the dry lands. The high magistrate hands down his first assignment: capture and return his childhood friend and sweetheart, Alia, who has been condemned for practicing forbidden magic.
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Summer Family Vacation [Aug. 22nd, 2015|01:14 pm]
This past week we did our semi-regular summer trip. We all piled into the minivan (the Family Truckster, if you please) and drove down to Santa Clara, CA with a stop in Portland, OR on the way back up.

On the trip down we also stopped at Ape Cave, a lava tube near Mt St Helens.

Saw some local wildlife in the park:

Then went into the cave itself. Here's the entrance:

We traversed the lower part of the lava tube (easier hiking, with a smoother mud flow floor). The kids had their own flashlights:

Lottie and Kit made it most of the way down the one mile passage. Tim and I pushed along to the end... And I mean the very end, where you have to belly crawl to reach one final burrow bubble deep within the earth.

California took our cherries! I mean they seized our produce. At the border inspection station. The grapes, however, were fine and dandy. It depends on what crops are threatened that season, evidently.

Then we continued south for another day to reach the Bay Area and beloved Uncle Brian's house (and even-more-beloved Uncle Brian's swimming pool). Here's a lunch stop at the ever-popular Black Bear Diner:

While in the Bay Area, we went to the Winchester Mystery House!

This place has always fascinated me. It was Timothy's first visit and he was entirely entertained by it, too. It also happened to be Brian's first daytime visit as he'd previously only done their flashlight tour.

I've been there more than a half dozen times but always enjoy seeing it. Here are the back gardens:

Here's a view looking out through the daisy windows at the front gardens:

And finally, the bell tower:

While in the Bay Area I made a stop at Bob's Foam Factory over in Fremont. The guys there still remember me! Yes, I do stop on family vacations to buy fursuit materials and there's nothing wrong with that. :P

On the way up, we stopped outside Sacramento to meet up with my cousins. My paternal grandparents passed away, with grandma dying earlier this year. My grandpa's woodworking was among the items being distributed to family. I received grandma's recipe box (with recipe cards!), a shelf for Lottie's room, and this lovely bowl he made:

After a pleasant visit, we resumed heading northwards. Stopped in Yreka at a classic no-frills motor lodge. Fine if rather unremarkable. But quite accommodating about a 1:15am arrival.

Visited with family in Portland. Enjoyed some blueberries from my father-in-law's garden:

And got a chance to cook at my mom's house. (Chicken limonatta, pasta, and green beans with peppers, in case you're wondering.)

Very early Monday morning, Kit drove me over to the Max light rail. I was heading back early while Kit and kids stayed for a few extra days of family visiting. (I was going back to work. Ah well.)

From there I got to the Portland train station:

A beautiful old building with marble interior and high windows:

Hopped on Amtrak Cascades:

And enjoyed a pleasant ride through Washington:


Then I walked to work -- taking the trolley there and then ferry boat home, just to maximize the number of different mass transit options. :)

A very nice summer trip!
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Bipedal Beavers on the Moon! [Aug. 2nd, 2015|09:06 pm]
Did ya hear about the bipedal beavers living on the moon?

It was front page news in the New York Sun.... back in 1835!

The Great Moon Hoax

The "bipedal beavers" are shown off to the right in this original illustration, though they're tailless and look rather like bears. (Furry art has come a long way?)
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New Horizons Arriving at Pluto! [Jul. 13th, 2015|09:59 pm]
After many years of waiting (and many journal updates here), the New Horizons spacecraft is finally arriving at the Plutonian system!

Pluto Flyby Coverage

They are already getting some fantastic new images showing the surface of the mysterious (dwarf) planet. New Horizons will have closest approach tomorrow, 7/14, and be beaming back heavy amounts of data starting tomorrow afternoon. So look for great images to show up in the news.

And it will be imaging other bodies as well during the pass. It'll particularly get good studies of Charon and Nix. Styx, Hydra, and Kerberos are small enough that images will only see them as 10-50 pixels across.

New Horizons is expected to make a closest approach of 12,500 km to Pluto as it barrels through. Note the scale of the system diagram below -- it will fly within Charon's orbit. (The idea being the debris in the accretion disc should be cleared in that band, with Charon acting like a shepherd moon, thus minimizing chances of a crippling collision.)

Kerberos and Styx are recently-discovered moons, in 2011 and 2012 (respectively). Think about it: We've discovered TWO new moons of Pluto since we launched this craft! That's how little we know about the oddball Plutonian group out on the edge of our solar system. Exciting exploration!
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SpaceX Launch Failure [Jun. 28th, 2015|10:27 am]
SpaceX unmanned resupply rocket lost

SpaceX had been bucking the trend with 18 successful missions. This morning, a launch of their Falcon9 on an International Space Station resupply run disintegrated shortly before first stage shutdown.

Though it's been labeled "explosion" it's not clear to me from the footage whether that's the right description. The first stage engines continue to burn smoothly through most of the event. It appears there is some rupture or tear in the upper stage and the rocket got basically torn apart by aerodynamic forces. Less "burst", more "shred."

No details on causes released as of yet. SpaceX is looking at the data. Again, this was an unmanned vehicle so no lives were at stake. Though it is the second ISS resupply mission to have failed, making it important that the next reach the station.

In other space news, New Horizons is about to make its pass around Pluto! 17 more days.
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New Horizons Approaches Pluto [Jun. 14th, 2015|10:15 am]
Though it's fast approaching, it's still about 30 million miles away. But the team is starting to get some good images of the enigmatic ex-planet.

Read more in this article.

The close flyby will occur July 14th. Only one month to go! We've been waiting since 2006 for the spacecraft to make this long journey. The good news is that it seems to be in perfect health.
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A State-ly Word Puzzle [Feb. 27th, 2015|08:17 pm]

...because every now and then I get inspired to make a word puzzle. Enjoy! LMK what you think. Assume the comment section contains answers/spoilers.

“A Change of State”
Combine a two-letter state postal abbreviation with a word to form a different word.

In the blue hen state, illumination becomes a joy.
DE + light = delight

1. In the island state, a bell’s sound means companies are gaining employees.
2. In the show-me state, this flower by any other name would be sad.
3. In the commonwealth, thieves’ jargon sounds like an empty room.
4. In the palmetto state, this colony insect is tiny or meager.
5. In the heart of Dixie, a factual basic statement or saying is seen as selfless concern for others.
6. In the Great Lakes state, carmine becomes stuck in mud.
7. In the beaver state, this leafy vegetable grows into a maintained grove of trees.
8. In the Liberty Bell state, a delicate openwork fabric becomes a home fit for a king.
9. In the ocean state, part of your torso is the wealthiest.
10. When you’ve finished first, then you go to the bluegrass state, things end up kind of off-balance or broken.

“Interstate Trip"
Combine two two-letter state abbreviations to form a four-letter word.

11. Driving from the highest state to the bayou state earns you a Coke.
12. Driving from the peach state to the pine tree state makes for an entertaining diversion or event.
13. Driving from the bay state to the empire state yields lots and lots.
14. Driving from the keystone state to the land of Lincoln gives you a bucket.
15. Driving from the evergreen state to the cornhusker state causes one to diminish.
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SpaceX Launch Tomorrow [Feb. 7th, 2015|03:08 pm]
Tomorrow SpaceX will do another satellite launch. This will be their second attempt to land the first stage booster -- something no one has done and which would open the way to reusable boosters to cut the cost of launches.

The launch window is tomorrow, 6:10 Eastern / 3:10 Pacific.

UPDATE: Launch was scrubbed on Sunday due to an issue with an avionics transponder. They're going to set up for tomorrow but we'll see. If it's hardware though it's unlikely to go.

They land on barges around 250 miles out to sea. They're autonomous vehicles that use multi-directional engines to hold their position.

In a tribute to the recently-deceased sci-fi author Iain M. Banks, Elon Musk decided to name the barges after spaceships in his Culture series of novels. Those ships tended to have somewhat quirky names, chosen by the AI minds that ran them. The two SpaceX ships are now "Just Read the Instructions" (east coast) and "Of Course I Still Love You" (west coast).

By a strange coincidence, just this past week I finished listening to "Use of Weapons," the third book in the Culture series on Audible. Pretty good narrator. Strange book, as they are in that series. Of the ones I've read/heard, "Player of Games" is my favorite. It'd be among my all-time top novel picks.

Last time they tried this, SpaceX got close. They reached the ship but the booster crashed onto the ship's deck as it ran out of maneuvering fuel. (Elon commented that they'd added 50% more maneuvering hydraulics, so if it crashes "At least it should explode for a different reason."

Good luck tomorrow, SpaceX!

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Further Confusion 2015 [Jan. 23rd, 2015|11:38 pm]
Kit and I flew down to California for FC this past weekend. We went a day early to have some time to hang out with Trey and decompress before the actual con started. We’ve both been very work-focused recently so some time to chill out was nice.

This year I was not responsible for running any events or panels so it was a pretty “easy” con. Didn’t even attend too many panels. I wanted it to be a more social con than I usually manage.


This year was a Victorian mystery theme. I’m not sure exactly what they have in mind with some of these con themes but I’ll at least give them points for creativity. (American Diner is next year’s.) So the three of us commissioned some Clue-themed badges from Mitti Mandy. (Note the character, room, and weapon details.)


I did get to see a lot of fursuit friends. (Including other makers; thanks Lance for the pep talk!) Hugs were given and received. Fursuits always manage to be delightful; something in them is just inherently fun to me. Even managed to finally get a hug from Sparky, who vies with Kingsford for the “cutest dragon” title. :)


Got a chance to chat with some writing folks I know. (Thanks Kyell, Kit, Not Tube, and Rikoshi!) Didn’t get to see Fuzz Wolf except in passing. He’s the publisher of the anthology I’m in so was hoping to chat. But he runs a busy dealer table and I was scurrying back and forth so… con schedules work like that sometimes.

Speaking of schedules, the low point was the 4am fire alarm. Our floor was one of the ones evacuated. Managed to somehow get clothes on and get down the stairs. Our room was right next to the end stairwell, so that was convenient, but we were on the 8th floor, which was less convenient. (Especially as the elevators get soooo overloaded at the Marriott so most of the weekend I was doing stairs up and down for each room visit.)


Great GOHs this year! Two of the puppeteers from the Mongrels TV series and various
Muppet productions were there. They brought most of the puppet cast of Mongrels, too! So I got a chance to really examine them and see details in the construction. One of the guys there was half of the team that built all the puppets too.


I asked him about coloring details and what sort of airbrush paint he recommended. He admitted “Airbrushing would probably be the proper way to do it but I just used colored markers.” I pointed out that he was the professional so markers must be a proper way! He did concede it seemed to get him by. :)


The other GOH was Lex (Alexis Rudd), also a puppet builder and performer, who’s worked for Folkmanis and Henson. I’ve actually known her for years now. Brilliant builder with such great enthusiasm and dedication. I really liked her panel on advanced construction techniques. She showed her work as well, both completed and as parts.


She also delivered a new rat fursuit for Sketch Ratner which is gorgeous! He was wearing it around so I got to see it several times. (And I met a new rat friend!)

Good times, all in all. Thanks to all my fine furry friends! (And a special thanks to Minnie and Scruff for delivering the new rat hat!) I look forward to seeing you at the next con.


Local press coverage:
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