Sunday, August 23, 2009

Let Me Sum Up: Virginia, Kitten, Matrix, GenCon

It's been a busy couple of weeks. Laura and I spent a week in the Washington, DC area visiting her family, and I spent the next week working 40 hours plus attending all four days of GenCon. So now that I've got a minute to sit down at a keyboard, let me sum up:

It's always nice getting a chance to spend time with Laura's family. We took a side trip to visit her brother Gary, and that was a blast; I like him and his family. We also made a lunch date with Laura's old friend Bruce, and I'm always happy when we can get together with him. The real adventure of the trip was that we had to take a kitten with us; we've recently acquired a fifth indoor cat (you may commence with the Crazy Cat People jokes), and she's been sick for most of the time she's been in. She barely survived a fight with an opossum, so we took her in and rescued her from Certain Doom, and took her to the vet for repairs and a tune-up. One of her wounds had gotten infected, so she had a huge abscess on her chest; she went to the vet the day before we left and had kitty surgery, and the vet put a drain in her chest. We couldn't leave her unattended here, and we would've felt bad dumping her on any of our friends, so we took her with, where I could engage in the wound care regimen and give her antibiotics. Traveling with a cat -- especially a sick kitten -- takes a lot more energy and planning than a normal trip. But it was a fun trip, and the kitten is excruciatingly cute.

Of the fun, we rented a Toyota Matrix for the drive. We really liked this car. It might be even better than our previous favorite, a Toyota Rav4. Its fuel economy was impressive (it's rated 32 mpg on the highway, but our number was closer to 35), it was smooth and quiet and comfortable to ride in, and it was surprisingly roomy. The seats were nice, the stereo was good, and it was well-designed in lots of little ways. We originally picked up a Dodge Caliber, which we were happy with when we got it; then it developed a mechanical problem, and we had to trade it for the Matrix, which is a similar vehicle. And the Matrix was a step up in every way. Plus, they're cheaper. Seriously, the Caliber should come with a factory-installed bumper sticker that says, "I didn't do my research!"

GenCon was a lot of fun, too. Laura got me a four-day pass for my birthday, and I spent pretty much all of my non-working time at the 'con. Along with the games, GenCon also features a writer's conference, and that's where I spent my time. This year's guest writers included Jean Rabe, Pat Rothfuss, Anton Strout, Richard Lee Byers, Paul Genesse, Elizabeth Vaughan, and a dozen or so others. They offered seminars on world building in speculative fiction, on selling your novel to a publisher, on a pile of different subgenres, about the mechanics of writing. I enjoyed all of them. And, I've gotta say: if you get a chance to see Pat Rothfuss on a panel, I highly recommend it; he's an interesting guy and a good speaker. And, he and I share the tendency to answer a question with a story. I've always wondered if it was amusing or annoying for the people around me. If I do it anywhere near as well as Pat Rothfuss, it's amusing....

I'm not entirely sure the gaming crowd is still my crowd. I walk through the show floor at GenCon every year, and it's becoming increasingly apparent that I'm out of the loop on a lot of this stuff. I've never played a collectible card game; I've never LARP'ed; I haven't played a real Dungeons and Dragons campaign for almost twenty years. I'm even years behind on my video gaming; I've never played MMORPGs, or online multiplayer games, or even Counterstrike. On the plus side, I'm probably close to the median age at GenCon; there are a lot of folks older than I am, who are still playing tabletop games and still painting miniature battlemechs. Still, whether it's my crowd anymore or not, I still have a blast wandering around and seeing what's new.

So, that's been my life for the last few weeks. Now I'm trying to settle into a regular routine that includes writing....

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