Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diversicon, Drought, and Depression

First things first: Jusqu’au Dernier Mot is translating a bunch of my Writing World articles into the French. They have five of them up now. And I wrote two haiku! Wowza!!! It felt ridiculously good. AJ the Rottie caught a baby bunny in the backyard and killed it a few feet away from me. First time in 15 years of big dogs chasing bunnies that anyone’s died. [shrug] That is the natural outcome for a baby bunny. Very few survive to adulthood and get to make more baby bunnies. If they did, we’d be overrun with bunnies. AJ seemed mystified as to why the bunny didn’t get back up and play. I gave it a burial and wrote a haiku about it. Then I wrote a haiku about my very dry garden soil. Which takes us to . . .

. . . the weather report: Not nearly enough rain. Doug went out and bought me a sprinkler. It’s not nearly as efficient as directing water at each plant’s roots with the hose -- you lose more to evaporation, and you water ground where no plants are -- but it sure is nice to set it up and be able to walk away. Effortless! Like magic! (Yes, I take pleasure in simple tool use. You should see me when I’m reading something in dim light and Doug turns on a lamp. Wow! The words leap from the page. Like magic!) One good thing about drought: hardly any mosquitoes!

Diversicon went well this year. We got mostly positive feedback from the attendees. Guest of Honor Anne Frasier’s suggestion of a Flash Fiction Contest attracted some great entries, and the awards ceremony was fun. The vibe was awesome: intelligent and thoughtful and warm and friendly. The location, with a variety of affordable, healthy eating options within five minutes’ walk, was great. One downside was that the hotel dropped the ball at numerous points (e.g., telling people the room block was closed when it wasn’t, not being able to direct people to the con when they showed -- indeed, not being aware the event was at the hotel, losing our catering order for the Auction, “checking out” our suite space a day early, charging our Guests’ rooms to their cards instead of mine, not having the expanded suite available that they said would be built in time for our event and then charging us the wrong amount for the space they did give us). Each individual hotel employee seemed dedicated to giving great customer service; however, the communication didn’t seem to be in place to allow them to do so. Another downside was that attendance dropped. It’s a real little gem of a convention, and we simply have to get better at attracting people to it.

Had a thoroughly icky major depressive episode for about eight days starting during the con. I guess technically eight days isn’t long enough for something to be classified as a major depressive episode, but I know one when I feel it. I’m worthless, never done anything right, everyone hates and despises me, want to slash myself all over to let the pain out, can’t see the point of doing anything, no appetite, crying for no reason, can’t focus on anything -- that last bit was really pronounced this time and made working hard. The good news: This lapse of brain chemistry had a specific trigger -- I knew I was being triggered as the triggering event happened -- I could literally feel the brain chemistry starting to cascade out of balance, like a chain of dominoes falling -- and I figured that if I gutted it out, my serotonin levels would climb back to normal eventually. And they did. I’m still kind of tired, but I’m feeling good about myself and hopeful about the future, and I’m enjoying my work and gardening, etc.

Politics: I’m delighted with Senator Obama’s choice of Senator Biden for vice president. Biden was my top choice when the Democratic primaries began, so I’m thrilled to see him on the ticket. On the other hand, I’m disgusted with our stance with regard to Russia -- we haven’t seen this coming for, like, at least six years? I’m sitting here in Minneapolis with no information except from TV and newspapers and MPR/NPR, and I could see that Putin, the former KGB head, is taking the country back to its imperialistic, autocratic past. Why couldn’t the Bush administration?

Workwise, I’ve got a bunch of live projects, but with all of them, I’m waiting for something from the editor or from the author. Which means there’s absolutely nothing I can work on this weekend! Whee!!! Although living without pressing deadlines takes a bit of getting used to. I have to structure my own day? I can do anything I want? How do I do that? LOL!

Very entertaining book: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. There’s lots of history in it, but it’s her asides and ramblings that bring it to life in a deliciously funny, ironic, truth-telling way.

Summer Olympics: I’m too wary of doping scandals to let myself get excited about most of the sports, and being decidedly not thrilled about China’s human rights record takes away a lot of the luster for me, too. I did enjoy the tennis, oddly enough. I used to think tennis shouldn't be an Olympic sport -- they've got pro tours and four Grand Slam tournaments each year, so what do they need the Olympics for? But a lot of the players clearly brought a lot of passion to it and it was really meaningful for them, and there were a lot of good matches. I loved that Roger Federer got a gold medal in doubles. I feel terrible for the female Chinese gymnasts -- I'm sure those girls had zero say in being put on the team despite being too young, and they've clearly worked like crazy and sacrificed a lot and are outstanding gymnasts. If they'd been allowed to wait until 2012, they could probably have won Olympic medals legitimately. As it is, even if the results are allowed to stand, they'll always have an "asterisk" next to them.

Fun:

Arienne Cohen writes in the NYTimes about a woman, with the stature of a superhero and the personality of a nice person, and a remaining barrier of difference in our society.

Check out the Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection, “an online selecton of titles from the Cornell University Library's extensive collection of materials on Witchcraft. The Witchcraft Collection is a rich source for students and scholars of the history of superstition and witchcraft persecution in Europe. It documents the earliest and the latest manifestations of the belief in witchcraft as well as its geographical boundaries, and elaborates this history with works on canon law, the Inquisition, torture, demonology, trial testimony, and narratives. Most importantly, the collection focuses on witchcraft not as folklore or anthropology, but as theology and as religious heresy.”

For when you desperately need a way to procrastinate, there is the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Try typing in your last name and finding out what sequences other people with your last name have discovered. Or type in a series of numbers and find out all the sequences they might be part of. It’s fascinating in a thoroughly geeky way.

A fishie pedicure sounds like fun! I love sticking my fingers in my tanks and feeling the fish nibble-nibble looking for food. It feels really good.

Whatever the NYTimes’s problems, its health reporting remains top-notch. I found this multimedia presentation on bipolar disorder, featuring the voices of people with the illness, gripping and helpful in understanding the effects that chemical imbalance in the brain can have.

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