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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in Baron Dave Romm's LiveJournal:

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    Friday, July 19th, 2013
    10:00 pm
    Comics turned into movies: A brief overview
    This was prompted by a Facebook post by former Superman writer Martin Pasko, who decried the current state of the two big comic companies, now owned by Disney and Warner. In the thread, it was noted that the 2013 blockbuster movies based on comic characters features characters, with few exceptions, from fifty years ago or more. I was tempted to see how much of a trend this really was. Sorry for using Wikipedia as a main source, but I was in a hurry.

    Popeye; First appearance: Thimble Theater (comic strip), January 17, 1929. Popeye quickly became the featured character and later the strip took his name.
    First appearance at the movies: Popeye the Sailor. The Fleischer cartoons starting in 1933 and continuing, off and on, for twenty-five years.
    First appearance in radio: 1935
    First feature length film: Well, I'm going to give two dates. The Fleischer studios produced 108 Popeye cartoons, 105 in black and white. The remaining three were two reelers (double length, about a half hour), starting with Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor in 1936. However, a true live-action feature length movie had to wait until the Robert Altman Popeye with Robin Williams in 1980.

    So... Popeye went from origin to cultural icon in the movie theaters (and eventually on tv) in just a few years, but waited many years for a live action film. And is still waiting for a good one.

    Superman. First appearance: Action #1, June 1938
    First appearance at the movies: Superman The Fleischer animated seres 1941-43.
    First appearance in film: Superman: A serial in 15 chapters, 1948
    He was at the 1939 New York World's Fair (in 1940), on the radio in the 40s and on tv in 1952.

    So... Superman went from origin to being on the big screen in three years, but waited nearly ten years for his first live action film serial.
    much more under the cutCollapse )
    What does this tell us?

    I hope this small sample of list of English-language comics turned into movies adds some perspective to Disney's buyout of Marvel and Warner's ownership of DC. Basically, with few exceptions, comic books were a great way to introduce the American public to a character. Then came tv, movies, CGI and big budgets. Comic books writ large can make it in the movies, but only if the characters are well established and their backstories well-known.

    Comic books used to drive people's perception of the heros. Spiderman's unsung hero was Steve Ditko, who gave the hero a distinctive look. Don't step on Superman's cape. The Dark Knight is an image as well as an action. Captain America never gives up.

    Now... not so much. We have remakes and reimaginings. I don't particularly begrudge anyone for trying, but they don't succeed all that often. I'd like plenty of movies and tv shows much better if they gave a nod to the influences rather than trying to reinvent a character and tripping over their cape.

    But that's just me.
    Monday, July 8th, 2013
    9:10 am
    Convergence 2013 photos now up
    Convergence 2013 has come and gone (except for the Volunteers Party 7/20/13). The Souvenir Guide (which is sort of like a Program Book) is available as a pdf download

    Announced attendance: 6789. Roughly 15% larger than last year, iirc. Frankly, it didn't feel as crowded. Aside from the massive influx of people trying to register on the July 4 holiday (wait times were four hours or more), the steps taken to alleviate the crush of people seemed to work.

    On the other hand, this con seemed more drenched in alcohol. Drinking has always been a part of the con, and excessive drink an undercurrent, but this year more people that I read online or encountered in person seemed to brag about it and just assume that getting drunk was part of the con experience. Humph.

    I had a great time. Carole and I took it easy and commuted. We left when we wanted to, got sleep, food and showers. Highlights, in no apparent order:

    Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls. I've seen Courtney's band play several times over the years, but this was the first performance I've seen with a full six-member ensemble. The harmonies were great, the songs funny and risque. Wonderful.

    • All four of my panels were fun, and the two radio panels were erudite, humorous and chock-filled with good advice. On the "Convergence 101" panel, I was an Elder, who had been to more cons than anyone else on the panel, and gave the Inside Scoop to first time congoers (eg explaining why old-timers called the hotel "The RadiShTree"). The "Ask A Scientist" panel, designed to explain things to five-year-olds, was great, and the five-year-olds were rapt.

    • The two digeridoo players in an impromptu concert. Music popped up all over the place. I tried to get the dulcimer player to join the digeridoo players, but the moment passed.

    • Randomly ducking into parties and making friends.

    • Opening Ceremonies was lots of fun. Easy to get a seat, and they nicely balanced entertainment with proffering necessary information.

    • The MN-StF party was packed with interesting people and good food.

    • The official con photographers. Of which I was not one. That freed me up, journalistically speaking. I didn't feel the need to get pictures of, for example, Opening Ceremonies. They had that covered. My usual method is to wander peripatetically and take photos of whatever interests me or of something I haven't seen before. I posed a lot of people, and captured many moments on the fly. I still experienced a lot of the con, but didn't worry if I missed anything. I had fun.

    Public Facebook Galleries:

    20130703-4 Convergence Wednesday and Thursday

    20130705-07 Convergence Friday, Saturday and Sunday
    Sunday, June 30th, 2013
    5:32 am
    20130531-0611 Trip to Boston and Martha's Vineyard -- A Wedding and A Memorial
    My cousin Hal was getting married. Carole had a narrow window in which to hold a memorial service for her father (who died in 2012 while Carole was recovering from her knee operation). We combined the two for a long trip. Forgive the lengthy post. I want to list all the galleries in one place, and post a few select images.

    We left Minneapolis on May 31, 2013 CE, in time to make the rehearsal dinner in Boston. We stayed with my uncle Lee and Aunt Lulu in Lexington, which is always a pleasure. The wedding was great, and we mingled with our new "table family", the bride's relatives. I should like to get to know them better; a fascinating group.

    From Boston, we went to Martha's Vineyard by ferry. Carole as much advance work from here as she could, but she needed to be present for much of the preparation for her father's memorial services and spreading of the ashes. She visited old friends and old haunts, I met many lovely people, we visited as many of the touristy places as we had time for. And we ate fresh eggs and fresh seafood all across the Vineyard.

    The Boston photo galleries were fairly easy to make. The trip to Martha's Vineyard was a hodgepodge of people and events. Dividing up the photos to make coherent galleries was a challenge. Hope you can get a glimpse of our experiences.

    20130531 Rehearsal Dinner

    20130601 Wedding of Jimin & Hal

    20130531-0602 Lee & Lulu's - Summer Shack

    20130604-10 Memorial and Ashes on Martha's Vineyard

    20130603-10 Martha's Vineyard family and friends

    20130603-10 Hannah and John's Farm

    20130603-10 Vineyard lighthouses and Aquinnah Cliffs

    20130603-11 Vineyard Ferry Trips

    20130603-10 Martha's Vineyard Eateries

    20130604-09 Vineyard Beaches, Bookstores and Shops

    20130604-09 Vineyard Art Galleries and places of interest

    20130601Wedding Ceremoney
    Jimin and Hal get married. Boston, 6/1/13
    more photos under the cutCollapse )
    20130610 Carole on the Gay Head Lighthouse
    Carole on the Gay Head Lighthouse. Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard 6/10/13

    The trip was extensive and exhausting, but my cousin is married and Carole's father has been laid to rest. *whew*
    Monday, June 17th, 2013
    10:16 am
    I Am A Convergence and So Can You -- updated for 2013

    Welcome to Convergence 2013

    A Brief Introduction For The First Time Con-Goer

    or I am a Convergence, and so can you

    By Baron Dave Romm

    Updated for 2013 CE: This is an update of I Am A Convergence And So Can You, which I created in 2012. Mostly, what I've done is update the links and add a few bits. The advice, snark and jokes are largely the same.

    Claimer: I'm Dave Romm, aka DavE or Baron Dave. I'm not on the Convergence Committee and have no direct relationship with the convention except as a member, panelist and, of course, as a volunteer in several capacities. I produced Shockwave Radio Theater, a science fiction program, for almost thirty years, and talked to many authors, actors, con runners and costumers, among others. I've been to all the Convergences, and to scores of other conventions of various sizes. I was Fan Guest of Honor at Minicon in 1990 and Marscon in 2004. Many people have asked about coming to Convergence: What should I see? What is there to do? Let me take you on a short guide, from a personal perspective.

    Welcome to Convergence! There is no Neofan's Guide, as such, but I've provided an introduction to new fans for other conventions so have the template for this Convergence overview. Everyone is amazingly friendly and will be happy to answer any questions you have. Just be prepared to get different answers from different people.

    I'll note here that the Convergence itself likes to be spelled CONvergence, but I'm too 20th Century. The con's shorthand is CVG, good for texting or keeping things short. Unlike here.

    What To Do At Convergence Part I: Planning and Arriving

    • Plan your adventure. Convergence is a four day extravaganza, July 4-7, 2013, and the fun begins with the set up on Wednesday and continues after the con. You don't have to be at the con all four days. But if you're going for any length of time, remember to schedule meals, sleep, showers and downtime. Plan sightseeing or family visits around major programming you want to get to.

    • Arriving at the hotel: Get to the Hotel and rent a room. Okay, renting a room is optional but greatly encouraged (this is why they let us hold cons here). You should do this as far in advance as possible. If you're not sure, call. You may have to stay at one of the overflow hotels. And... remember where you parked.

    • Go to Registration to get your badge and Program Book. Registration should be easy to find (it's on the first floor near the hotel registration desk) or look around for the signs or just ask anyone.

    • Wear your badge at all times. This is not merely a security concern, but will help people know who you are, and you will know who they are. At least by badge name.

    • Read the Program Book. The packet you get when you register will contain a great deal of information, such as the location of events and bios of the Guests of Honor. If you don't have anything else to get autographed, have people sign near one of their listings in the Program Book, and keep it as a collectable.

      Your Registration packet has all sorts of useful things, amongst them: A pocket program (so you don't have to lug the entire Program Book around) and a filled-out form for you to register for next year.

    What To Do At Convergence Part II: Things To Do

    There is a lot of stuff going on at Convergence. More than is listed here, though I've tried to cover the major events. Look around! Ask questions!
    • Plan your day around Programming. Use the web site or the pocket program and pick out the panels you want to go to. If there is more than one interesting thing going on at the same time, too bad. Everybody goes to a different con! Note that most of the panels are hour-long discussions in an hour-and-a-half slot. This means that panelists can go a few minutes over, if necessary, and that you have time to get to the next one. But watch the times: Not all events are so tessellated.

      Program schedules are on the walls in several places on the first and second floor of the Doubletree (and maybe other places too). These are basically large versions of the pocket program, but come in staggeringly handy for figuring out what to see in between the events you specifically circled.

    • Opening Ceremonies (7pm Thursday, Main Stage) is a must, introducing you to the concom and Guests of Honor with a dash of literary wit and geek weirdness. See and be seen. Connect with other fans. For an added treat (and to avoid the crowd) get to the Mainstage and hour earlier for the Mark Time Radio Show. (Earlier Mark Time Radio shows are available at Great Northern Audio.)

    • For many, the con centers around the Masquerade, (7-9:30pm Saturday, Main Stage) with numerous costume workshops and demonstrations around the events themselves.

    • Make time to see the Art Show. Paintings, prints, sculpture and other visual treats are in store. Always varied and always interesting, you can spend a lot of time in the Art Show, or very little. But at least duck in.

      And you can buy the art, or bid on it, both in the Art Show and the Art Auction (Saturday at 9pm, Atrium 4)

    • Wander about the Science and Craft Room; aka Connie's Quantum Sandbox (very kid friendly). There is usually a schedule of activities posted.

    • Reserve some cash to spend in the Dealers Room. Dealers will have everything from books to DVDs to jewelry to swords to clothing. And more. Buy something for your favorite author/actor/concom member to autograph! Create an instant hall costume! Get a new game to play with your family!

    • The various Live performances are fun (though not necessarily child-proof). Check the Program Book or signs nearby for schedules and last minute changes.

    • If you're a Gamer, check the schedule. There are many formal events planned on the 22nd Floor (check the Programming Schedule), and many informal games pop up spontaneously. Or test out that new game you got in the Dealers Room!

    • Autographing sessions are there for you to get your book/whatever signed; perhaps buy something at the table the guest brought just for the con. A personal meeting, however short, helps you get to know the participants better. They also to help you to meet fellow fans with similar tastes. If the line is long, don't dawdle, but if the table is clear feel free to talk to them, especially if you bought something or got an autograph. Some guests are here as publicity or just came for the money, but most are also at these kinds of cons because they like to hang out with fans. This is one of the big differences between Professional cons and Fan Run cons.

    • Movies. Cinema Rex Movie Room will have different movies playing day and night. Midwest Sci-Fi Short Film Festival. I'm not entirely sure where they will be showing this, so look in the Program Book! Theater Nippon Anime will be showing new and classic anime.

    • One of the fun things to do is Volunteer. At the con, you can (and are encouraged to) become a badge checker or other simple (but responsible) positions. Even fairly young adults have fun. You get to meet lots of people, have access to the Volunteer's Den, and get invited to the Volunteers Party after the con. Plus (and I can't say this enough), you are a member of the con, not an attendee. We are for you. You are for us.

    • If you can't make it to one of the larger events, or if it's too crowded for you, watch on CVG-TV. CVG-TV has YouTube channels for year 'round viewing at home. Yes, Convergence is that good.

    What To Do At Convergence Part III: Eating and Meeting on the Fly

    • The Consuite(s), on the second floor of the poolside atrium, will have food and drink and a convivial atmosphere. We won't have meals, as such, but the consuite will frequently have soups and rice and other Real Food options. Feel free to graze on whatever is put out.

      Other dining options: The hotel restaurant has upgraded it's food services from 2012. The Crescent Kitchen, in the bar area, is pretty good and likely to have Convergence specials. The small coffee shop in the North tower is now the Daily Brew in the middle of the first floor. Within a short walking distance is a TGIFridays, a fancy French restaurant (in the Sofitel) a Dairy Queen Grill (Mpls is corporate HQ for DQ, so they go all out), and several fast food places. A quick drive will get you to numerous eateries.

      COF2 E2 Coffee Shop. Get caffeinated with a wide variety of styles and flavors. Tea available too! Look for long lines of sleepy people following the colored tape on the floor to a desired beverage. Peak time lines can be daunting, so plan accordingly.

      Parties will frequently serve specialized alcoholic beverages or have interesting munchies. Almost any party will have some sort of edibles. Come in, enjoy the party, and partake. Some of the drinks/food/etc are expensive to make, so encourage them by putting a buck or so in the tip jar.

    • Staying healthy can be tricky when you're being whelmed by 6,000 of your closest friends over an intense weekend with so much to do that personal hygiene gets overlooked. Take showers. Wash your hands frequently. Get enough sleep. Wear clean clothes. Keep your nose wet (on the inside). Avoid the post-con crud as much as possible: Take vitamin pills, eat real food now and again. Remember to bring (and take) your meds or allergy pills. Don't overdo the alcohol or sugar. Take showers. Get enough sleep. (Yes, I repeated these last two. They're important.)

      Stay Hydrated This means you. In 2012 the outside heat and the mass of Convention members made drinking water (or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids) critical. The hotel has water fountains near the restrooms, there's water in the back of most programming rooms and CVG sells nifty water bottles for your geek hydration (at the Merchandise table near the Dealers Room).

    • Meeting people. Generally, people are friendly and happy to talk to a new person. Approach with a smile or a question. As always, be polite and respectful, and realize that many are very busy and can't spend more than a few minutes on a conversation. Here are a few hints. Remember that everyone is a little different and you can catch good people in bad moods. With that said:

      People in costume love to talk about their costume. Compliment the ones you think are great! This can be a "that's great!" in passing, or a longer conversation when they're not getting ready for the Masquerade or somesuch.

      People in hall costumes also love to talk about their costume. Often, hall costumes are less formal (that is, more comfortable) than many Masquerade costumes, and are well suited to conversation (not necessarily about the costume). Some are in character, or at least willing to talk about the character/movie that the costume comes from.

      People wearing nifty t-shirts, buttons, corsets, jewelry or other ornamentation are (usually) happy to talk about their plumage. Depending on the circumstances, you are encourage to give a quick thumbs up as you pass by in the hall or gush in the appropriate setting.

      Authors, artists, actors and other guests and/or people you want to gush over are there to be gushed over. But not 24/7. Hey, they need to get some sleep too, and you can catch anyone at a bad moment. In general, CVG Guests are most approachable at their autographings or during set meeting times. Right after their presentation or panel is a good time to say hello... usually. Don't take too much of anyone's time, but feel free to compliment a specific piece of work or simply introduce yourself and smile, "I'm so happy to see you in person." See above re: Autographing Sessions.

      People hosting parties are there to be break the ice. Feel free to ask about the theme of the party, who else is involved, and so on.

      Don't Harsh the Squee A brief word about etiquette. We're here to have fun and enjoy ourselves among like-minded people. Do wear a smile. Do compliment people. Do talk to strangers who are otherwise unoccupied. Be a person who others would like to talk to when you're otherwise unoccupied. Enjoy yourself, and help others enjoy themselves. Don't be a jerk. Don't harsh the squee. Costumes are not consent. Everyone's friendly, and you can help make Convergence a positive event for all.

    • Parties are an integral element in The Convergence Experience. Over and above the main Consuite rooms, individuals or groups throw parties. And you're invited. Here is a list of Convergence Room Parties. Most start at 6pm or later, and most will go until midnight or later. Individual parties are not directly under the control of Convergence, and so will have their own start and stop times and ask for id to serve alcohol.

      Most parties have a theme. If previous Convergences are an indication, there will be karaoke, filk, toast, Hobbits, Klingons, costumes, bellydancing and more. SF fans are known as heavy partyers, but that means staying up late. It's loads of fun simply going down to the poolside atrium to look at all the draped signage. Find a party you like and stay for a while. Or party hop. Some parties have stickers; it's optional whether you want to place one on your badge, but they can be a reminder, well after the con, of the fun you had.

      Not all parties are around the poolside atrium. There will be parties on the fourth floor and scattered throughout the Doubletree and probably the overflow hotels as well. Not all of these are listed, or even announced. Party hopping hint I: In the evening when the elevators are crowded, start at the top (of either tower) and walk down a flight, check out the parties on that floor (if any) and go down another flight. Party hopping hint II: Many people in costume or those you wind up talking to have a vague plan for the evening or have been to previous Convergences. Feel free to ask about their favorite parties, and why they like them.

    What To Do At Convergence Part IV: Families and Young Kids

    Convergence is a kid-friendly environment, but we don't baby-sit and you're expected to wrangle your own charges. Parents should keep the very young close by, but young adults have safe options. Here are a few suggestions, many repeated from above:
    • Science and Craft Room aka Connie's Quantum Sandbox. Exhibits and hands-on interactive events for the young and those who remember being young. Use the diy tag in the Programming schedule.

    • Art Show. Not everything in the Art Show is G-rated, so scout ahead, but there are plenty of nifty pieces for kids to gawk at.

    • Gaming. Some kids (and continuing kids) spend most (or all) of their time playing games. There are a lot of games going on at Convergence, plus special events in the Poolside Atrium.

    • Programming varies as to expected audience age. A parent or guardian should read the description. The Programming web listings have tags to find similar-themed events. If a panel doesn't suit your needs, feel free to leave (discretely).
    • Remember, everyone, even kids, are not attendees of the convention, you are members of the con. You are encouraged and expected to go to panels and talk to people. Compliment a really nice costume, or thank a panelist for a perceptive comment. Teens can Volunteer for badge checking shifts: They can earn rewards!

    • Operations is where to report lost and found (including children) or report misbehavior. Also where you can leave compliments for a particularly great volunteer or convention effort!

    • What To Do At Convergence Part V: Reliving the convention

      You can relive Convergences over and over. Well, parts of them. The con itself records Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the Masquerade, and often offers the video for sale. Just made available: Videos on YouTube from the Convergence Masquerades 2004-2012. Check out the Convergence table near the Dealers Room. Audio recordings of the Mark Time Radio Show are available (see above).

      Many people take pictures and post them online. I don't see a comprehensive listing anymore, so I'm just going to list mine from 2012.

      Baron Dave's Public Facebook photo galleries:
      I have a bunch of videos from Convergence 2012 and earlier, plus several others that might be of interest to fans at Baron Dave's YouTube Page

      My Convergence 2012 report in Chris Garcia's Hugo Award-winning fanzine, Drink Tank 335 has photos and such.

    What To Do At Convergence Part VI: Glossary

    Here is a quick and incomplete glossary, so you know what the heck we're talking about and so you can sound like a seasoned pro at your first con!

    The Japanese abbreviation of "animation". You can think of them as the Japanese answer to the US Saturday morning cartoons, but they have a much wider spectrum of animation styles and many of them have adult themes and violence. (Vs. manga, which are Japanese comics, though some anime is based on manga.) Convergence (and/or various members) will be presenting lots of anime and the con has anime programming

    The Bridge or Ops
    The Bridge, like the bridge of the USS Enterprise, is Operations central during the con. Go here to ask any questions, to peace-bond a realistic-looking weapon, for Lost & Found, to Register after Registration has closed, to compliment the convention or anyone on the concom, and so on. Wandering Hosts and other Operations staff are dispatched from here. The Bridge is located in Verandahs 2 & 4 (overlooking the Poolside Atrium across from the Consuite). You can contact them by from a hotel phone by dialing "0" and asking for the Bridge, or dialing x7215 directly. The Bridge is open continuously during the con.

    Short for convention, used (by us) to mean science fiction convention. There are many cons in the Twin Cities area and around the country (and around the world). They're all different, aiming for different interests and at different sizes. If you like Convergence, or like a part of it, check out other cons.
    The convention committee. Convergence is run by Convergence Events, which then set up the Convergence concom structure involving hundreds of department heads, sub-heads and volunteers. They're experienced, competent and have a keen sense of humor. You'll like them... us. None of us get paid; we're in it for the egoboo.
    The Hospitality Suite (or set of rooms) where con members can get a soft drink and munchies or just hang out. Staffed, as always, by volunteers. You will need a membership badge to get in.
    A science fiction fanatic or aficionado. How rabid/geeky you are may vary wildly, but people coming to cons have some appreciation for the genre. We appreciate SF for its speculative nature, the interplay of ideas and freedom to express our inner geek.
    Plural of Fan, used interchangeably with fans. A bit rare nowadays, I'm including it here because I think it sounds cool.
    Femfan or Fem fanne or fanne
    Female fan. More than a little obsolete, thank Ghu, but shows the roots of fandom stretching back to the male-dominated sf fandom of the 20s and 30s whose reputation survives today when people poke fun at Trekkies and such.
    Filk music is a variant on folk with an extremely wide definition that not everyone agrees on. You will likely find many musicians, both professional and amateur, singing all sorts of strange songs. They sing on the Main Stage during the day or in room parties late at night. Some give performances, others encourage you to sing along. Some filkers, such as those in the MN-STF room, will have songbooks so you can sing along. The Karaoke room(s) also have the lyrics. If you play the guitar or some other portable musical instrument, bring it to the circle and join the fun! The song(s) don't have to be funny or parodies or stfnal or original, though we encourage some combination of all four. Like many words in fandom, filk started out as a typo and we were amused enough to keep the term for our use.
    Playing games. Gaming can be informal (such as the card games or board games that crop up in the Consuite or just about anywhere) or formal, such as in the Convergence Gaming Suite (on the 22nd floor). More formal gaming might involve LAN (networked computers, with participants playing each other) or long campaigns that might take days. Many games are for the young adult, but some are more grizzled. Some gaming can be played with no previous experience whatsoever, and some need players with a great deal of experience. Ask, and the person in charge (GM or Gamesmaster) will tell you. Some games use miniatures or other meticulously crafted game pieces, while some just need a fold-out board and some dice. Some people play in the costume of the gaming scenario. Feel free to watch for a while, but be discreet and don't gawk.

    Guest of Honor. Pronounced gee oh aitch or sometimes go. These are the featured speakers and guests of the convention. We are honoring their contribution to science fiction. Or else we think they're cool to party with. Preferably both.
    Science Fiction
    Ha! I'm not going to go there.

    A full glossary is beyond the purview of this document (which is a fancy way of saying that I don't want to do all the typing) and you're likely to encounter other bits of fannish argot throughout the con. For larger glossaries, incomplete and possibly contradictory, visit Don Saker's Fanspeak Glossary, Glossary of Major Filk Terms and Words, Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Fanspeak Glossary and others. Google is your friend. If a word zips by you don't recognize, ask the person using it. We're all friendly here, even the Klingons.

    What To Do At Convergence Part VII: I Am A Convergence And So Can You

    Finally, there are, for me, two things that make science fiction conventions feel like Home: Sensawonda and Egoboo.

    Sensawonda, is the sense of wonder one gets at living in the future or getting caught up in the swirl of imagination. Gosh wow boy oh boy is the traditional cry, though hardly used by whippersnappers these days. Hey, this is fun! No one plays with ideas more than sf fans. People who you've never met become instant family. We are connected by possibilities.

    And we only do it for fun. Egoboo, a boost to the ego, is the fannish currency. No one is getting paid, though some of the guests might get a speakers fee. All the committee and all the people on panels and all the people running the Art Show and all the people running the Science & Craft Room and so on and so forth... all are doing it for the love of the genre and to give and get recognition. Sure, Dealers are there for a profit and Artists are often there to sell their work. But the money isn't great, and the main reason anyone shows up is to have a good time. Encourage people! Applaud at performances. Thank Guests of Honor or panel members if you see them in the halls. Talk to people at parties. Let the Bridge know if a volunteer has done a particularly good job. Congratulate the people putting together the Program Book. Gush over a clever costume. Admire the signs. Thank people for running a party. Compliment a writer on their book or say nice things to a musician who's CD you play a lot.

    See you there!

    Baron Dave Romm is a real baron of a fake country. He produced Shockwave Radio Theater, for nearly thirty years. He likes being weird at science fiction conventions, and encourages others to be so. This means you.
    Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
    8:26 am
    Trip to Boston and Martha's Vineyard: Preliminary stats
    Carole and I just got back from our trip to Boston and Martha's Vineyard. Plane leaving Boston was delayed, which had the advantage of fewer people on the flight but the disadvantage of getting us home too late to do much of anything but collapse. I haven't started processing the photos or getting the mail from the Post Office or setting my internal clock to Central Time. I'll have a longer report, or at least pictures, soon. In the meantime:

    Preliminary stats on trip 5/31-6/11 to Boston, MA and Martha's Vineyard, MA:

    Weddings: 1
    Memorial Services: 1

    Photos taken 1263 (approx)
    Miles on rental car: 662
    e-mails waiting on return: 773

    New aunties and other "table family" who escaped from China in the 1940s and fled to Taiwain: 9 (though not all were at the wedding)
    Nieces and extended nieces now more grown up: 4
    Carole's brothers met: 1 (named "David" no less)
    Tilley Hats worn: 2

    Whole lobsters demolished: 2
    Lobster rolls eaten: 2
    Katama oysters eaten: 8
    Clams eaten: Fried, steamed, raw
    Bowls of lobster or clam chowder/bisque: Lots
    Farm fresh eggs eaten: Lost count, but at least a dozen

    Lighthouses visited: 4 (I think)
    Lighthouses climbed: 1
    Pairs of 9EEEE New Balance sneakers purchased: 3 (plus one by Carole)

    Bookstores visisted: 2
    Copies of "World In Collision" purchased: 0 (neither of them had it)
    Copies of "A Canticle for Leibowitz" given as gift when I couldn't find "Worlds In Collision": 1
    Postcards of Minnehaha Falls purchased: 1

    Whaling/ship museums visited: 2
    Native American museums visited: 1
    Upscale painting/photography/glass galleries visited: As many as we had the time to stop for
    Reality show tapings encountered: 1 (Carole has a better story)

    Times attacked by a rooster: 1
    Slobbering dogs now friends: 3
    Car insurance payments missed: 1 (so I paid late)
    Thursday, May 30th, 2013
    8:55 am
    (Spirituality : Religion) : (Science : Technology)
    This is the current draft of an essay that's been bubbling up for a while. If I had more time, it would be shorter. Polite comments appreciated.

    (Spirituality : Religion) : (Science : Technology)
    by David E Romm

    Spirituality is true whether you believe it or not. Religion is political.
    Science is true whether you believe it or not. Technology is political.

    For a long time, those attempting to defend their belief in Creationism (or, worse, Intelligent Design) have tried to compare Religion and Science. As if that would justify denying G_d's gift of a brain. No, the comparison doesn't work on any level. Here's one reason why.

    Religions start with a personal connection to the universe. Usually, one person's great spiritual awakening: Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed. Some stories might be apocryphal, but are no less powerful as tales of enlightenment. Sometimes these people build on previous insights, but their insight is no less for the individual finding their place in the universe.

    Most religious texts start off with those insights. Monotheism. The Ten Commandments. The 8 Fold Path. The Way.

    Spirituality is true whether you believe in it or not. Spirituality is an individual's direct connection to this world, the larger world outside your immediate senses and, perhaps, the next. One person's spirituality may evolve over time, and the lessons may need to be relearned in different contexts. Spirituality is personal, and true.

    These spiritual awakenings flower into religions. How do you uphold the Ten Commandments? People build a complex and interrelating set of traditions, beliefs and physical objects, all to support their spirituality. It is not necessary to have the trappings of religion to realize the personal insights of spirituality. Many people would disagree, which seems the wrong way to honor their creator.

    Religion is the application of spirituality to everyday life. Religion reminds us that we are more alike than we are different, and brings a group of people together through shared beliefs, actions and talismans. You can still follow the Ten Commandments if you don't pray in shul or wear a cross. You can still achieve the right concentration without spinning prayer wheels.

    Once you have achieved enlightenment, you then have to act enlightened. That's what religion is for. At least, that's what religious people claim. But different religions sprout from the same spirituality, as new insights are gained and new acts are called for.

    Religion is true for its adherents. Clearly, religion is a group construct, even if practiced in solitary, and only true for those in the group. Believers are sure that they are right; sometimes they are sure that only they are right. Too often, this leads them to break with their spiritual enlightenment to further the political goals of the religion.

    Someone who does not follow a long-established religion can be spiritual. The theists, who believed in a Supreme Being, and the Unitarians, who believe in a Supreme Being but not the divinity of Jesus, are all exploring their spirituality while questioning if not rejecting much of the constructs of Christianity. And a reminder: Religion is for those sill living. What happens in the next life, if there is a next life, is unknown. All religions claim that their beliefs, actions and talismans are the way to please the creator, yet the creator is notoriously silent on specifics. We are created in G_d's image, says the scripture of many religions. It is a severe mistake to create G_d in our image.

    Again: Religion is the application of Spirituality. Spirituality is personal. Religion is political. Religion is hierarchical, requiring paperwork and someone in power to sign the paperwork. Religion means money, ego and power.

    Science starts with observation, then proceeds to questions, then testing, then analysis. Often, science starts with a personal connection to the universe. Some stories may be apocryphal, but are no less powerful as tales of enlightenment. Newton and the apple gaining insight into gravity. Archimedes in the bath realizing the principle of buoyancy. August Kekule dreaming of the benzine molecule. Einstein's thought experiments leading to the Special Theory of Relativity.

    Most science texts starts off with those simple insights, then build. The inclined plane, leading to the design of the screw and the pulley. zero, leading to algebra and calculus.

    Science is true whether you believe it or not. Because science is based on the known universe as described by the repeatable experiment,the principles of science can be refined and even changed, but dcience is how the universe was created, and out search for better questions and better answers. If you will: Science is G-D's will.

    Science flowers into tools and devices that help us reach farther. How do you deal with Einstein's equations? You develop the laser, the transistor, the atomic bomb and develop atomic power. It is not necessary to develop technology to realize the implications of a range of scientific discoveries. Many people don't see it that way, and claim that the device is the science, which seems the wrong way to apply the scientific method.

    Technology is is the application of science to everyday life. Technology reminds us that people do more or less the same things more or less the same way, and everyone likes to use a tool to make things easier or more powerful. You can still make a phone call if don't want to use a smart phone. You can still cook on a wok even if you don't use an electric stove. You can still play a musical instrument even if it isn't amplified.

    And yet, once you have achieved a certain level of technology, you can't imagine the world without it. The printing press, recorded sound, the scientific method and others have made a synergistic change to how we think. Not what, but how. Each answered question leads to more questions. Each insight leads to more insight.

    2001: A Space Odyssey posited that there humans were defined as tool users, with no difference between bone-wielding apes and h-bomb wielding 21st century armies. Tools are to use. At least, that's what their adherents claim.

    Again: Technology is the application of science. Science works for everyone in the same way. Technology is political. Technology uses resources, and recourses require management. Technology is hierarchical, requiring paperwork and someone in power to sign the paperwork. That means money, ego and power.

    An apt comparison can be made between Spirituality and Science: Both are true regardless of anyone else's belief. And an apt comparison can be made between Religion and Technology: Both involve hierarchies, academia and subject to interpretation. To compare Science and Religion are wrong, as would be to compare Technology and Spirituality. too many people mix up the universal with the specific.
    Sunday, May 19th, 2013
    5:09 am
    Monday, May 6th, 2013
    7:35 pm
    20130505 May Day Parade and Festival -- photos on FB
    The day started cold, as predicted, but then got much warmer. By the time the parade started, I regretted bringing my jacket. But it was too late: No MN-StF picnic. So I didn't stick around for too long.

    Because of the nice weather, attendance was very high. By comparison: Two years ago. it snowed. Last year, the parade was delayed a week due to the weather.

    This year, the parade was underfunded but very nice, and what I saw of the Festival was great. Didn't stay for the music or whatnot. Probably just as well. I'm sore from all that walking and a bit sunburned on the back of my hands. Glad I was wearing a jacket after all.

    Public FB gallery: 20130505 May Day Parade and Festival
    Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
    12:49 pm
    Vegetology vs. BE-fit
    An Examination of Major Religions
    Special to Milky Way Today
    by Religion Correspondent, Lloyd Preservus
    (Intercepted by Etherwave Surfer David E Romm circa 1994 CE [YML 25], minor emendations by Baron Dave Romm circa 2013 CE [YML 44].)

    Everyone has a vegetable, spice and a condiment, which both reflect and rule aspects of your life.

    You determine this by taste and experience: eg Eggplant/Ginger/Relish.

    BE-fit, The Bowman-Emerson Fannish Inventory of Type:
    Everyone's personality revolves around these four axes:
    Media/Print (M/P)
    Fannish/Sercon (F/S)
    Con/Zine (C/Z)

    People are designated by their four letter Type: eg, PFZW, and if an axis is smack dab in the middle that designation is an X, eg. XSCJ

    Romm's Corollary to Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced philosophy is indistinguishable from religion.

    Dateline: Year of Our Moonlanding 5,271,009

    The hostilities between by the Curry System and the Fijagh Empire have concluded with the Broccoli/Hyphen Accord. While the big news is the end of the longstanding conflict which has caused the death of several billion people and three indigenous races, it is also signals the end of the religious conflict which has dominated the last two millennia. Much has been written about this conflict, but a brief overview of the root causes is warranted.

    On Old Old Earth, two of the biggest phyla of pre-electronic hardcopy were Cook Books and Diet Books. The people were lost in the spiritual garden. Vegetololgy started as a series of Fanzine articles and testifying at Conventions by Founding Farmers Elise ("I Yam what I Yam") Mattheson and Sharon ("If it doesn't have onions in it, it better be dessert") Kahn. That the Root of Vegetology was nourished in the fertile soil of the BE-fit purview was later a cause of both indigestion and common ground. Soon, seedlings of thought had spread to the pulpits and talk shows all over the planet. Disbelievers were weeded out. Secular authorities tried to halt the growth of Vegetology with anit-stalking laws, but the flock kept coming to the Farmer's Market for spiritual nourishment. The religion can be summed up with this major tenet: You are what you eat.

    As the religion grew and flavored more and more lives, cults and sects spread. The Fruitarian Heresy, after much strife, was allowed into the Recipe of Life. The Ovo-Lactorians claimed further restrictions on diet, but were constantly at odds with Jews for Cheeses. The Fiber Sects, the Oat Quakers and the Bran Davidians, tried to keep all life regular.

    BE-fit derived from the proto-cult of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. The religion's catechism is a series of questions that determine where you are on four major personality axes. It started out as a system for modeling and interpreting behavior, not a religion. But then again, so did Dianetics. The original epiphany was by First Editors Jeanne Bowman and David Emerson, hence the name. They saw the how George HW Bush got burned, and was revealed to them that a test to indicate how you thought about issues relevant to Fandom was good. It's hard to believe now, but at the time of the revelation, Fandom was barely known outside of a small group and Fans had little political power. The original range of questions was developed by Editors of the Flame Steve Glennon and DavE Romm, and honed by Glennon, Romm, Emerson and First Consulting Editor Barb Jensen. Introduced at Reinconation III, in Year of Our Moonlanding 24, it was an immediate sensation. The first True Believers and the necessary balance of the Doubting Unbelievers were revealed there.

    Soon, BE-fit had expanded from a way to help Fans communicate with each other to a Way which Believers could establish their Special E-Mail Account with the Creator. They were granted Net Privs with the Sysop of Cyberspace. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time; 'Beefies' and 'Fitters' were on the Fast Lane of the Information Superhighway.

    It is difficult to call variants on BE-fit 'heresies' before the Dimensions of Life were established, but some did create false axes. There were attempts to add a Dog/Cat axis, but that can be determined in one question. Those who claimed the axes were too specific to Fandom were thrown into the Myers-Brig. One of the early tries at reconciliation was the genetically altered Vegetable/Spice/Condiment triple axis, but this got poor ratings during Sweeps Week.

    After these humble and occasionally violent beginnings, the religions grew, supplanting local worship. Religions based on achieving an afterlife died off when contact with the Flatliner race determined that God did not communicate through one book, but by interactive media. By seeing a virtual afterlife, people could get a good read on how their life was going. After a few millennia, those diehards waiting for the Third Coming just couldn't find dates, so their race died off. Any religion based on ancestor worship found that there were too many people at family gatherings who couldn't get along. Recombinant DNA and nanotechnology made dietary restrictions irrelevant. Religions based on reincarnation couldn't find enough people for caste parties.

    By the time of the first Meganium, Vegetology and BE-fit had become the dominant religions throughout Known and Suspected Space. These religions do not, now, seem mutually incompatible. There was no reason that, for example, Fourth Meganium Over-President McMoishe, a Celery/Pepper/Chutney, couldn't get along with Junior Executive Al-Ras O'Tomisha, a MSZW, but you know how it goes. They both kept admonishing the other until hostilities broke out, and the Scold War lasted over 5,000 years.

    The Curry System established itself in the last Meganium by distributing favors among the followers of of Vegetology. It dominated the Spice Trade between Andromeda and the Cauliflower Cluster. That brought it into immediate conflict with the growing Fijagh Empire, who wanted to have a mustard-tasting panel at their Conventions. At first they didn't care that much, as Befitting their J axis, but after a few hundred years of store-bought yellow mustard, the leaders began to get testy. The Concom held an Organizational Meeting, and it was decided to go to war. The Curry Chefs responded with a Bamboo Shoot. Slowly, the conflict simmered, coming to a boil and adding other religious disputes as side dishes and apazines. At last, the stalemate in the Twiltone System forced peace talks last year, leading to the Broccoli/Hyphen Accord. The peace talks reached fruition despite initial disagreements about which hotel to use, and what kind of dip will be used at official functions.

    Most major rhubarbs are more politically based than religion based, of course, and this one was no exception, being about control of trade and resources. But some of the more radical elements really hate each other on religious grounds. The Spicy Vegetologists and the XXXX Milksops will probably never sit at the same table. Still, many people did expand their philosophies to include both, and there is once again Good Food in Consuites.

    So let us rest under the Palm Tree of Peace, as the Opening Ceremonies of a New Convention of harmony begin.

    Note: Originally published in Rune 85, March 1995 CE.
    Saturday, April 20th, 2013
    1:34 pm
    Adventures in Culinary Multiculturalism: Vaguely Huevos Rancheros and Vienna Press Coffee
    We have some corn tortillas. They fall apart if not heated, or something. I decided to use them in breakfast.

    In a large Pam-sprayed pan, I fried four eggs to just under where I would normally serve them sunny side up. Separate the eggs in the pan. I cut slabs of sharp cheddar cheese as thinly as I could, which wasn't very. At the right moment, I used the spatula to lift the eggs, one by one, slid a tortilla in the pan and a slab of cheese, then put the eggs on top.

    Let melt. While it was melting, I looked up a recipe for huevos rancheros. I probably should have done that first. It had a much fancier recipe, cooking with oil and lots of ingredients. Oh well. I added leaves of cilantro on top, which made it look pretty. I took salsa from the fridge, but we never used it.

    When the cheese melted and the eggs were slightly more done, serve. We had some ham spread, which we used as a side.

    No spicing, no salt (except what was in the ham spread). Dee-lisch, but we needed a knife to cut the tortillas.

    Carole needs coffee in the morning, and has this K-Cup one-cup coffee maker. Easy and fast, but I find the coffee is weak and not particularly to my taste. So my birthday present to myself was this campers coffeepress. You need course ground coffee, and I've been experimenting with various mixes to extend the ground coffee I got for Carole which she doesn't use and I don't think is worth the effort.

    Added cinnamon. Real coffee!

    Aaah, now I'm awake.
    Monday, April 1st, 2013
    5:05 pm
    Minicon 48 galleries
    Minicon was great. Our Guests of Honor were wonderful. Programming was interesting. The music (most of which I didn't get to) was marvelous. Children's programming looked fun. The Teen Room and Next Generation events went well, even the ones that didn't have much Next Gen participation.

    MN-StF President Carole wasn't assassinated. As I raised the scimitar, she proclaimed, "The pen is mightier than the sword!" and resigned. Well! We haven't had a President resign in more than 600 parsecs. So we convened a Council of Cards, and with three different decks played out a hand until Patricia was declared the new President.


    20130327-29 Minicon 48 pt. 1, from the Work Party through Friday.

    20130330-31 Minicon 48 pt. 2, Saturday and Sunday

    Added 4/8/13: 20130406 Minicon 48 Post-Mortem

    The video I made of Richard's games, which we played behind the interview at the con: Richard Tatge on Gaming

    I didn't get to everything I wanted to, but I was busy. Mom had a great time. Whee!
    Saturday, March 9th, 2013
    4:37 am
    Interview with Richard Tatge and tour of his game-filled basement
    A long-standing project finally reaches fruition. Minicon 48 Fan Guest of Honor and MN-StF Foundling Father Richard Tatge, interviewed 3/7/13 in his home. Lots of video of his load-bearing games (he estimated he has between 5000 and 6000), and some of my photos of him going back to 1979.

    Richard Tatge on gaming, with a tour of his game collection. March 2013

    There's actually more to our talk about light shows and filking and such, but I wanted to keep this short. It's just under 13 minutes. The thought was to show it at Opening Ceremonies, which might still happen, but I prefer Richard's idea of leading us all in "Golden the Ship Was Oh Oh Oh".
    Monday, March 4th, 2013
    10:52 am
    Marscon 2013 photos up
    20130301-03 Marscon public FB photo gallery finished, though I'll probably tweak the annotations and such.

    Another good Marscon. Thanks all!
    Sunday, February 24th, 2013
    1:04 pm
    20110223 MN-StF Pool Party
    Public FB gallery: MN-StF Pool Party of 2/23/13.

    Carole and I arrived early, to help set-up, to find many people there for the Minicon meeting and things proceeding apace. Thanks to first shift host Mark Richards and everyone who helped out. And thanks to everyone for coming! We had to leave before the music got started, but had a great time.

    Special consideration goes to Alex, who's first MN-StF event is now chronicled.
    Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
    3:17 pm
    Comedy of Doom: A review
    Claimer; I contributed to the Kickstarter program that helped Comedy of Doom get published, and heard several of the essays in live performance. I've watched Joe perform for a long time, and have interviewed him and his parents for Shockwave Radio Theater.

    Comedy of Doom is scads of fun. I expected to have a scad of fun, maybe even a scad-and-a-half, since Joe's been on a roll recently. But I had scads. I lost track of how many.

    Joseph Scrimshaw, live, comes off like Frank Gorshin as a perpetually petulant Kirk Douglas. (Feel free to Google any Geek Topics you don't recognize.) His controlled reading style masks a deep sense of theater and an ever-inquisitive mind. It probably helps to hear Scrimshaw as you read him. Not necessary, but useful. I recommend going to one of his performances even if you don't buy the book, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    The book chapters alternate between longer essays, from his shows, and shorter bits, little slip-on-a-banana-peel gags. Here, let me give you an example of the latter:

    "There's a lot of meat in team." -- Zombie motivational saying.

    There, that's the entire chapter, minus footnotes. The whole thing. I probably should have issued a spoiler warning, but forgot. Sorry.

    As is often the case with Joseph Scrimshaw, a little leads to a lot. Really makes you wonder: How much movitation do you need to be a zombie?

    Responsible adult zombie: "Braiiiiins."
    Teenage girl zombie: "Whatever."

    Do zombies have teams? What's their logo? Do they have leagues and announcers and playoffs? Can the coach put a zombie on Injured Reserve? Do they do ads for Sports Brain Drink and sell products by surrounding themselves with beautiful undead women? Do they have hoax zombie girlfriends and take illegal embalming fluid to pump up their bodies? Does the team with the most movitivation win meat?


    The mind boggles, and that's just one sentence. Joe never keeps things boggled up. (<-- wordplay. You're welcome.)

    I laughed out loud at For Your Expense Report Only, but I'm a sucker for tales of bureaucracy behind world saving secret agents. Joe has an obsession with Star Wars, Superheros, the Zombie Apocalypse, Word Porn, and The Muppets, among many other geek topics. Seems reasonable.

    The book is meticulously put together by people who understand that books are different than social media. I like that. One can dip in and actually turn the pages; no hyperlinks here. Various bits of information and humor are scattered before and after the essays proper. I like that too.

    I have a few complaints. Quibbles, really. Nitpicks. The index of Geek Topics doesn't include page references. Sorry, not geeky enough. And my name isn't mentioned often enough. In fact, it's only mentioned once, in the Hall of Gratitude listing of Kickstarter contributors. Some, perhaps most, would say this is sufficient mention, if not too much, for a book that I had absolutely no creative input into. Hey, discuss what you like in your own review. How many times should I be mentioned? I leave that as an exercise for the writer.

    To conclude, let me finish by ending. I highly recommend Comedy of Doom for anyone who has enjoyed Joeseph Scrimshaw's work over the years, and still recommend it if you haven't. Written comedy is a different art form than spoken comedy, but Joseph has mud on his boots from both worlds.

    Geek Topics Covered: Geek Topics, Comedy of Doom, Shockwave Radio Theater, Frank Gorshin, Google, teenage zombie angst, write your own damn review.
    Monday, February 4th, 2013
    3:53 pm
    2012127-31 Trip to Oregon Bonus: Photos by Legend
    Carole let Legend, her seven-year-old grandchild, use her lighter camera for a few days. By Native America culture, he's also my grandkid, and you can tell by these photos! Here are my favorites, which I cropped and edited. Sorry for the photo-heavy post, but he's got a great eye! I'm not entirely sure what to do with his photos (or with the photos Carole took with her other camera), since I don't necessarily want to post other's photos in my FB galleries. But I'm proud of Legend, so maybe. In the meantime, enjoy seeing the world from a kid's viewpoint!

    Legend Self Portrait, Spaghetti Factory, Clackamas, OR 12/27/12
    Legend Self Portrait, Spaghetti Factory, Clackamas, OR 12/27/12
    He saw me taking photos of myself by holding the camera at arm's length, and wanted to try it.

    Dave and Carole in Spaghetti Factory, Clackamas, OR 12/2712 photo by Legend
    Dave and Carole in Spaghetti Factory, Clackamas, OR 12/2712
    I scouted a good locale, and asked him to take us together

    more photos by Legend under the cutCollapse )
    Thursday, January 31st, 2013
    3:37 pm
    20130105-6 Trip to Oregon and Back: Zipping home through South Dakota and Minnesota
    Continued from 20130105 Trip to Oregon and Back: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial

    We left the Crazy Horse Memorial after dark, letting the GPS direct us to I-90.

    Within 36 hours, Carole had to be at work and I needed to get cracking on delayed projects. I had planned no more touristy things to do, just get home without stress and arrive early enough on Sunday to get a good night's sleep. The tactical plan here was to pick a hotel as far east as we felt comfortable driving to on Saturday night, to make the last leg as short as possible. We picked a place about three hours drive east, and took off.

    Along the highway, well away from any city or building, we made a quick stop at a truck pull-over to change drivers. I looked up, and saw stars! Here in the middle of nowhere, the whole panoply of the universe was on display. Most of our journey was bitterly cold and we didn't go outside at night on the open road. The night was warm enough that we opened the moon roof. Wow.

    Red Rock Restaurant, Wall, SD 1/5/13
    Red Rock Restaurant, Wall, SD 1/5/13
    Carole admires the horses

    We hadn't eaten since Custer. We could have made it to the hotel and grazed on the various mixed nuts and other emergency food that seemed less necessary now, but in keeping with the winding down theme we picked an exit with "Food" signs. Avoiding any chain restaurant, we took our chances and kept going down the rural Wall, SD road until we came to the Red Rock Restaurant/The Rock Lounge & Casino. Another winner!

    The walls were graced with photos of horses, apparently owned by the family who ran the restaurant. Carole was happy. She had the Prime Rib with baked potato. I went with the "local favorite" of country fried steak with potato oles. ("is it really a local favorite?" I asked the waitress. "Well, a lot of people order it." Good enough for me.) The prime rib was excellent; the country fried steak was nothing to write home about, but was solid fare. They, and the included salad bar (western states have a different version of soup/salad bar than around here), made a very full meal.

    We talked a bit with the couple at the next table. He was a trucker from Montana who had driven to Florida to pick up his mother who was moving in with him. *whew* An even longer trip than ours! I ducked into the bar/casino next door. People who knew each other were conversing, one person playing pinball. Maybe not the most exciting Saturday night, but everyone was having a comfortable time hanging out at their familiar watering hole.
    As an added bonus, the Vikings were playing. We missed the last two weeks of the regular season, including the surprise of the Vikings in the playoffs. Well, perhaps bonus is the wrong word, as the Vikes got trounced by the team they'd beaten last week. Oh well.

    The Super 8 in Murdo, SD nicely fit our needs, and had the added psychological boost of being just to the east of the line separating Mountain Time and Central Time. Interestingly (at least to me), the timer on the GPS in the Camry connected to the sattelites, and updated when we crossed into the Central Time Zone. The clock in the car didn't. We set it manually.

    Super 8 Motel, Murdo, SD 1/6/13
    Super 8 Motel, Murdo, SD 1/6/13
    didn't have amenities like an elevator to the second floor and one of the chairs was falling apart

    The next morning, we were off again. An easy 430 mile jaunt back home. Clear weather, reset clocks, bags repacked. Ah, but it was nice enough for the State Troopers to be out as well. One warning later, we were off again, a bit slower... until we got to Minnesota.

    I thought about asking the trooper to have his picture taken with us, but that seemed like tempting fate.

    Empty street, White Lake, SD 1/6/13
    Empty street, White Lake, SD 1/6/13
    not really a ghost town, but we didn't see anyone outside of the restaurant

    Nick of Claudia's Cafe, White Lake SD 1/6/13
    Nick of Claudia's Cafe, White Lake SD 1/6/13

    I bent my "keep at least a half-tank of gas" rule for our final push, but a hundred miles from the hotel we needed gas and could use a good breakfast. So around noon we pulled into White Lake, SD. Not much activity on a cold Sunday. We drove down the street to what may have been the only non-bar restaurant open, Claudia's Cafe. Just what we needed! Friendly service, decent breakfast (really brunch at this point). We were served by a nice kid with an arm damaged from playing HS sports. Carole had all sorts of advice for him. He nodded politely.

    We found a gas station down the street. Well, some place with a gas pump with no attendent. The pump took my credit card. I filled up, didn't get a receipt, and we were off again.

    Map showing location of Adrian, MN rest stop.  1/6/13
    Map showing location of Adrian, MN rest stop. 1/6/13

    The rest of the trip was uneventful. We zipped through various highways in Southwestern Minnesota, with a pit stop along the way. At some point, I began to recognize the city names and the territory looked familiar.

    We turned off the GPS and I came home by familiar roads.

    We arrived after dark, tired but happy. The Cosmic Starship drove 4212.4 miles with grandeur and good mileage. We dragged some of the suitcases upstairs but left a lot of stuff.

    Dashboard of the Cosmic Starship showing 4212.4 miles, Mpls, MN 1/6/13
    Dashboard of the Cosmic Starship showing 4212.4 miles, Mpls, MN 1/6/13

    I eventually replaced the windshield, pitted from rocks thrown up by trucks in the mountains. A month later, the car still smells like sweat, coffee and mixed nuts. Ah, good times.

    We're not quite recovered; Carole's knee is still not finished healing. I still have a cough. I've processed my photos, though not the few minutes of video, but Carole hasn't started on hers. Or the photos Legend took with her camera. Now that I'm done with these reports, I may look over her stuff.

    Thanks for reading through all the trip reports! I hope you got a taste of the fun and excitement of the Epic Trip to Oregon and Back!
    Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
    3:28 pm
    20130105 Trip to Oregon and Back: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial
    Continued from 20130104 Trip to Oregon and Back: Salt Lake City and Antelope Island. More images at 20130103-06 Road Trip 5: OR, ID, UT, WY, SD, MN

    Approaching Mount Rushmore 1/5/13
    Approaching Mount Rushmore 1/5/13

    Approaching Mount Rushmore 1/5/13
    Approaching Mount Rushmore 1/5/13
    All the states are represented

    Dave at Mount Rushmore 1/5/13
    Dave at Mount Rushmore 1/5/13

    Our last day in the Mountain Time Zone was a brilliant strategic success and a brilliant tactical success, but the day started off inauspiciously.

    The hotel near Casper, WY was okay. Cheap and old, for a hotel, but we didn't demand much. Still, breakfast was skimpy and the tv was blaring some anti-government rant instead of useful weather information. I mean geeze, I know Wyoming is a red state, but the hotel in Montana was great. Waking up to hatred every day hardly makes for good customer relations.

    Driving through Wyoming in the daylight was great. We were still in the mountains, though not the sharp rise of the Rockies, and the countryside rolled by pleasently.

    The highway connection between Casper and Rapid City took us through more back roads than any other leg of the journey. Back on US 20, and only on an Interstate for a short shile, then through a series of local roads. 25 mph in the SD mountains with no guardrails...

    more narrative and photos under the cutCollapse )
    The Crazy Horse Memorial has a museum complex of 80,000 square feet. I'm not sure that includes the restaurant or the artist's workshop or outside walkways. The museum and gift shop were open much later than dark. Just exploring the museum took several hours. Carole, with limited mobility, stayed to see the movie about the sculpting while I went deeper into the museum/workshop/quarters. We met back in the gift shop. One of two gift shops: One just for products made by natives, the other more touristy shop, both in one big room with separate registers (but either could ring up any purchase).

    We asked when the gift shop closed. "Oh, we'll stay open as long as anyone's still here." We had made the right decision as to the order of the monuments. *whew*

    Crazy Horse Memorial at night 1/5/13
    Crazy Horse Memorial at night 1/5/13

    To be continued... and finished... in 20130105-6 Trip to Oregon and Back: Zipping home through South Dakota and Minnesota.
    Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
    2:17 pm
    20130104 Trip to Oregon and Back: Salt Lake City and Antelope Island
    Continued from 20130103 Trip to Oregon and Back: Down the mountains to Boise. More images at 20130103-06 Road Trip 5: OR, ID, UT, WY, SD, MN

    Our trip to Utah was strategically brilliant but tactically squirrely.

    Carole and Mormon missionaries, South Visitors Center, Temple Square, 1/4/13
    Carole and Mormon missionaries, South Visitors Center, Temple Square, 1/4/13

    When the mapping software showed that the sourthern route back home went through Salt Lake City, I smiled. Another city and state I always wanted to visit. Still, we had maybe half a day for exploration. After consulting various touristy listings, I concluded that I wanted to see two things: The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake.

    Mindful of Carole's lack of mobility, we booked a hotel just across the street from Temple Square. SLC is laid out with the Temple in the middle, and parallel squares of streets as you get farther out. For a place right in the heart of the city, the hotel was cheap. Not completely cheap: Breakfast was extra and parking was separate.

    Indeed, I found Utah to be glaringly commercial. After a nearly billboard-free drive in Oregon and Idaho, the proliferation of roadside ads in Utah looked garish and sleazy. Close to the Temple wasn't too bad, but I could see where a snake oil salesman like Mitt Romney came from.

    more narrative and photos under the cutCollapse )
    Driving through Utah, 1/4/13
    Driving through Utah, 1/4/13

    I didn't really have any tourist plans for Wyoming. Carole made vague mentions of Devil's Tower, but that's too far off our path.

    So I'm glad we picked a great truck stop. We got gas, looked at windmills, and had a marvelous trucker dinner. We could have had seconds on the steaks, if we ate them there.

    Somewhere on this drive, we passed a small sign indicating the continental divide. We had to be careful of time zone changes, now the water direction changed too.

    We got to our hotel near Casper, WY, a nice place but a bit on the antiquated side. Still, it worked for us and we fell into a deep sleep. One more night on the road and we were headed home!

    Continued at 20130105 Trip to Oregon and Back: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial
    Sunday, January 27th, 2013
    3:58 pm
    20130103 Trip to Oregon and Back: Down the mountains to Boise
    Continued from 20121231pm-0102 Trip to Oregon and Back: High Desert Environs.. More images at 20130103-06 Road Trip 5: OR, ID, UT, WY, SD, MN

    We left Bend early Thursday. We headed East, which means that we were going to lose the two hours gained on the way here, but the sun would be behind us in the evening. Basic plan was to do touristy stuff in the morning and daylight, then drive in the afternoon and into the dark. This worked splendidly.

    Starting off: Getting down from the mountains. More than 300 miles from Bend, OR to Boise, ID, almost all of it on US 20.

    Riley, OR 1/3/13
    The mountains and lone gas station within miles, Riley, OR 1/3/13

    A word about our return route. My basic wunderlust on long trips is generally to go back a different way. The fastest way home was to go the way we came, North through Spokane/Coeur D'Alene/Butte/Fargo, and the second fastest way was to diverge at Butte to visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. But we had an extra day, and we demonstrated that being in the car, even driving, wasn't too bad on Carole's knee as long as we took it easy. The longer way wasn't that much longer and wouldn't take that much more time overall.

    So taking US 20 scratched several itches: First, we would be driving in the mountains during the day. We'd already seen the northern route on our side trip to Portland. Hence, south. Second, we could see several cities neither of us had been to.

    Third, we got to drive on a western part of US Rt. 20. I went to college in Albany, NY, and lived on or near US 20, which starts in Boston and goes almost all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Ever since then, I've wanted to drive US 20, or at least see other parts of it. Forty years later, another itch was scratched.

    And I must say: A brilliant move. The drive down the mountains was spectacular. Most of the trip was on a two-way road with a speed limit of 65 or 70, iirc. At night in bad weather the trip would have been a nightmare. For us, the roads were clear and the weather fine. Terrific. No sceneic overlooks or any one place I could say was more exhilarating than another, but I'm so very glad we did this.
    more narrative and photos under the cutCollapse )
    Dave in front of Basque mural, Boise ID 1/3/13
    Dave in front of Basque mural, Boise ID 1/3/13

    ETA: Oh, I almost forgot. We managed to accomplish something great on the trip: We (probably) found a game that Richard Tatge doesn't have! We'll get it to him.

    Plan A went off without a hitch. Okay, we got lost in Salt Lake City at night, but eventually found our hotel and crashed. A long day, but a good one.

    Continued in 20130104 Trip to Oregon and Back: Salt Lake City and Antelope Island
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