beatrice_otter: Ginger Rogers--Dancing! (Dancing!)
2017-05-23 11:14 pm
Entry tags:

Sewing Woes

When my grandma died, she had a huge fabric stash.  Lots of it was either awful, scraps, or half-finished projects from thirty years ago, but there were some nice fabrics in large enough pieces to make stuff out of.  There were also some interesting vintage patterns.  I took the interesting/nice stuff.

Over the weekend, I pulled it out and decided to make some of it into a sundress.  Problem: I needed about 1/8 yard of interfacing, which I do not have.  I live an hour away from the nearest city with a fabric store, and was not about to drive two hours round trip for 1/8 yard.  So I ordered some from fabric.com.  It will get here in 4-7 days.  But it's all cut out and I've done all the steps I can do without interfacing, AND IT'S SITTING THERE STARING AT ME.  The executive dysfunction of autism means that I have two modes: hyperfocused on something, and unable to focus on it without outside pressure.  So not only do I feel really bad about the fact that I can't sew it right now, but there's a decent chance that by the time the interfacing gets here, the focus will be gone and the sundress will sit in a pile on the table for months and possibly never get completed ever.

Also!  This is a light, delicate fabric that ravels if I look at it, and I do not have a serger.  I did the seams of the skirt as French seams (where the raw edges are encased in a sewn channel so they can't ravel), but I don't know what to do about like armhole seams where you can't do that (and in fact need to clip the seam allowance so that there's less bulk and it curves better).  The only time I've done significant work with fabrics that ravel like this was in the costume shop of the theater/dance department in college, where it didn't matter if it ravelled apart quickly, because it was only for stage use.

Googling has not been helpful.  I have seen a lot of seam finishes (some of which are new to me), but none that look like they'd be good for armholes and other curved seams.  Anybody got any advice?
beatrice_otter: Jedi fighting against a blue background (blue Jedi)
2017-05-21 07:18 pm

Fic: Vast Beyond Knowing (The Details Remix)

I just realized that after the [community profile] starwarsrollingremix authors were revealed, I never posted my story here! There was one starter story, The Devil in the Dust by [archiveofourown.org profile] sevenofspade, and three chains of remixes. I was the first remix in my chain. It was an interesting experience. Obviously, we didn't get to pick what story we remixed, and we only got two weeks from the first time we got it to the due date. So there wasn't any time to ponder or think, you just had to get it and go. It wasn't a fic I would have picked to remix; for one thing, I'm pretty sure there were some thematic stuff going on that I was missing that would make the plot make sense. But I didn't have time to let it sit and ponder it, even though that feeling of missing something crucial made me really leery about remixing it. Remixing works best, imo, when you take something to pieces and play with the guts of it. But you can't do that if you're not quite sure what the guts ARE. Which left me ignoring theme and plot and doing a character remix.. But it was a time travel/vision thing--none of the three characters were from the same time period, so I could either just ... retell the story (boring!) or take the setting (desert) and the characters and look at how the deserts they grew up in shaped them. And throw in some meta about the Force while we're at it, because they're all strong in the Force. So that's how I ended up with my story.

As to the title, both the desert and the Force are vast beyond knowing, and the remix subtitle refers to both the problems I was having pinning down the original fic well enough to remix it, and to the old saying the devil is in the details (picking up on the title of the original).

Title: Vast Beyond Knowing (The Details Remix)
Fandom: Star Wars: Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy, Sequel Trilogy
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Rating: kid
Length: 5,579 words
Betaed By: [personal profile] anghraine 
Written for: Star Wars Rolling Remix 2017
Summary: Anakin, Luke, Rey. The desert taught them much. But not everything.

At AO3


Anakin wasn't a baby. He knew how things worked. )
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
2017-05-20 11:05 am
Entry tags:

AO3 Best Practices: How do I choose whether this is a story, a chapter, a series, or a collection?

[archiveofourown.org profile] Jenrose has two great pieces of meta/guides for AO3 use. One is a primer for posting Google Docs fic to AO3 and how to avoid the pitfalls thereof.

The other is about the differences between chapters, stories, series, and collections, and why you should choose carefully which you use for different fics.

I am not affiliated with the Archive in any formal way, and never have been, even as a volunteer, but I do use the archive A LOT both for posting my own stories and reading other peoples', so take my opinion for what it's worth.  Here's my take on stories/series et al on AO3:

To decide how to categorize your writing on AO3, you should take into account both what feels good for you as a writer, and what works for your readers, as well. You want people to be able to find what they're looking for easily (so they won't throw their hands up in disgust), you want everything related to be together, you want them to be encouraged to comment/kudos. And some people (like me) who are fandom veterans and download copies of every fic they like for personal archival purposes (I've seen too many beloved fics disappear), and it takes very little effort for us to be happy, too.

A story/work is the basic unit. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. It may be long or short, and it may or may not contain internal subdivisions (chapters). You should be able to read it on its own with no problems, and nothing other than a few sentences explaining the previous works if it's part of a series. It can be a work in progress, but other than that, it should be complete in itself.  This is what most people think of when they think of a story.

A story/work should not be a dumping ground for short unrelated pieces.
  • If someone likes one of them and then gets excited that "oh, wow, there's 30k words of this story!" they are going to be VERY disappointed when they find out otherwise.
  • If someone is looking for one particular trope (say, wing!fic, or curtain!fic, or "Howard Stark's A+ Parenting," or any particular trope) and you tag the story as that because one piece has it, they will read the first section, maybe the second section, and probably give up in disgust because what they've read has nothing to do with whatever they're looking for. By putting short unrelated pieces together, you prevent people from finding (and hence READING) the stories of yours that they actually want to read.  Lots of people simply are not willing to wade through all of the different tidbits to find the one tidbit that they want.
  • It clogs up the tags, especially if you put pieces of different fandoms in the same "story." Say you have a work/story with three Harry Potter ficlets, two Naruto ficlets, and one Rivers of London ficlet. You tag it with all of those fandoms; it appears in the works list for all of those fandoms. Then you add two more Harry Potter ficlets and a Once Upon a Time ficlet. Every time you do that, it goes to the top of the tag for every fandom it is tagged in. This is especially annoying for the small fandoms, where they don't get much new fic, and they get excited because yay, new fic! only to be disappointed that it is not, in fact, a new fic in their small fandom. They will probably be very annoyed with you and less likely to read your fic in the future because it feels like you are using bait-and-switch tactics. (Yes, I have heard more than one person in more than one small fandom complain about this.)
  • You will get fewer readers. Most people choose to read a story based on the summary. They may use tags to find stories they might like, but a large part of the decision on whether or not to read this particular story is the summary. If you have a lot of unrelated short pieces together, you can't really write a summary that has stuff about them all, and hence you are DRAMATICALLY reducing the number of people who will read any of it.
  • Sometimes people are looking for a long fic, and will click on a tag (fandom, character, pairing, other tag) of stories they'd like to read and sort by length. Your collection of unrelated ficbits now looks like a long story of the type they want to read! Except it's false advertising, because it's not 50k words of what they want, it's 783 words of what they want with 49k words of other stuff they don't care about. Chances are, they will be very annoyed, and more annoyed if they don't figure out what the deal is right away.
  • You will get fewer kudos. If each ficlet is its own thing, and someone reads two of them and likes them, they can kudos both of them. If they are part of the same story/work, they can only make ONE kudos for everything altogether.
  • If someone does read all of it, and likes one ficlet but not any of the rest, and they make a habit of downloading their favorite fics to read while commuting or for personal archival purposes, they won't be able to do so.
  • There are two exceptions to this.  One is for drabbles (true drabbles that are exactly 100 words) and other ultra-short things.  Even if you put 50 drabbles together, that's still only 500 words total, and the very smallness mitigates against many of the problems.
  • The second exception to this is if you have a series of longfics, and also some really short scenes and gapfillers and outtakes and whatnot.  Then you can put them in one story with a summary that tells what it is--"short stories and outtakes from my [whatever] series"--and people won't mind.  Everything is there in one place, easy to find (if they like that series) or avoid (if they don't).  Everything is clearly labelled and easy to find.  It's not clogging up the tags.  Even so, if there's something that stands on its own as a story within the series, I would recommend making it its own work, rather than just a chapter in a jumble of scenes.

It is better to have a single work marked as a WIP than to have each chapter of your story posted as a separate work.
  A chapter is a short piece that does not stand on its own but must be read in order with the other parts of the story.
  • Someone looking for a complete work will be very disappointed.  They thought they were getting a complete story, and all they're getting is one chapter in a WIP.  There are some people who don't read WIPs, only complete fic.  If each chapter is a separate work, they can't tell if it's complete or not ... so they won't read it.
  • The default at AO3 is to view a fic chapter-by-chapter, but you can also set it to view an entire work all at once.  If you post each chapter as its own work, nobody can do this.  Those readers who prefer to read a whole work in one page will be annoyed or disappointed.
  • Those who download fics to read offline or for archival purposes will find it much more difficult.  Instead of downloading one story, they'll have to download a lot and figure out how to get them in the right order on their device.
  • It's false advertising.  People know what a story is, and they know what a chapter is, and if you give them what is basically a chapter and tell them it is a whole work they will be annoyed.  Annoying your readers is counterproductive.
  • You clog up the tags.  This is especially annoying if you're posting frequently in a medium/small fandom.  Someone clicks on that fandom and they get a whole slew of "works" that are, in fact, just different chapters of ONE story.  It drowns out other stories and thus annoys other authors and any potential reader who wants to find more than just your fic.
So what do you do if you have more than one story (complete works that stand on their own) that goes together?  How do you handle that?  On AO3, you make them into series or collections.

A series is a group of related works/stories in the same plot arc set in a particular order, be it chronological or otherwise. When you put things in a series, you are telling your reader a couple of things. First, that all of these stories belong together quite closely (more closely than a collection) and that they should be read in a particular order.

A collection is a group of works or stories that you believe belong together for whatever reason.  Maybe it's "all the fic I've written about Bitty cooking."  Or maybe it's "all the fics I've written in any fandom with kidfic."  Or maybe it's "all of my favorites."  Or maybe it's "all of my tumblr meta ficlets."

Note: I don't think there's much point in creating collections or series with all of your works in a particular fandom in them; it's super-easy for a reader to find them without you doing anything. They click on your username, and get taken to your dashboard with a list of the fandoms you've written in right up there top center. Clicking on the one they want will take them to all of the works you have written in that fandom. On the other hand, it's not like there's any problem with it, or any inconvenience it causes your readers, so it's purely a matter of personal preference.
beatrice_otter: This looks like a good day for World Domination (World Domination)
2017-05-17 03:14 pm
Entry tags:

Political Action Alert: The Fight for Net Neutrality

As you know, Bob, Net Neutrality is (among other things) the principle that your ISP shouldn't be able to play with your browsing speed to drive you to their services and away from their competitors.  There are a lot of great explanations of this online, including John Oliver's.  A couple of years ago this came up for a vote, the American people spoke firmly and coherently in favor of net neutrality, and the FCC so ruled.

Now, Trump's government is trying to undo that.  If you haven't already done so, please go comment on the FCC's proposed rule change.

Second, the FCC and others are trying to prevent real comments and put fake ones using stolen names and information, instead.*  So please check and see if your name has been used to send a fake anti-net-neutrality comment.

*It's possible that the FCC is completely innocent and that it really was a DDoS attack that just HAPPENED to take down their servers when John Oliver's piece on the rules change aired, but in that case, why would they not publish the evidence on it when questioned?  And why would they not respond to evidence from multiple news organizations that many of the comments on their website were completely fake? 

beatrice_otter: Cartoon Obi-Wan and Yoda: The thing is, there were just no warning signs. (Warning Signs)
2017-05-15 07:53 pm
Entry tags:

What would really change the future

You know what Barry should do if he REALLY wants to change the future?  Forget flailing around trying to prevent all sorts of things he doesn't understand from happening.  Forget being a control freak.  Forget time travel.

Get therapy.  Both for himself and possibly couples' therapy with Iris.

Seriously.  It has been obvious for a looooooong time that his coping skills ain't so hot.  And with each trauma he gets worse.  Well, now he knows where that ends up.  Time for new and better coping skills, and some serious work to unfuck the insides of his head.  And hopefully actually learn to treat Iris as she deserves, as a woman he loves and his partner, instead of as an object to be protected.

(I love Iris.  I was a strong Iris/Barry shipper until they actually got together, and he started treating her so badly and the show started using her as nothing but manpain-fodder.)
beatrice_otter: Peggy Carter handcuffed to a table (Peggy Carter)
2017-05-13 01:44 pm
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Agent Carter Beta needed

I'm working on my [community profile] ssrconfidential 2017 fic, and I could use a beta.  Well, right now I need some plot advice/brainstorming and in about a week I'll need a beta.

ETA: actually, I just finished it!  So, no brainstorming needed, but still need a beta.

beatrice_otter: The Schuyler sisters from the musical Hamilton, pointing to the sky (Schuyler Sisters)
2017-05-11 02:17 pm
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US Political Action Alert: Regulatory Accountability

You know and I know that, although not every government regulation is good, a lot of them are vitally necessary to protect the average citizen, and that the Republicans would LOVE to gut every single one of them and make it impossible for government to do anything to protect people from corporate greed.

Enter the Regulatory Accountability Act, which has already passed the House and is up in the Senate.  It would make it virtually impossible for any new regulation to rein in Wall Street to be passed.  If you would like to contact your Senators to urge them to vote against it, Americans for Financial Reform has an email ready for you to customize and send.  It's got some background information and the email itself ready to go.  You can just enter your name and address (to get it to the right Senator), or you can customize the letter.  Me, I added some stuff about good regulations being necessary to prevent another financial meltdown such as we had in 2008 and how most regulations protect the average American citizen.

beatrice_otter: Peggy Carter handcuffed to a table (Peggy Carter)
2017-05-10 09:30 pm

Dang it, canon timelines!

I had a GREAT idea for my [community profile] ssrconfidential fic.  But then I checked the timelines and there is no way to make it work.  And I have 700 words of it written already.

Ah, well.  I can do pieces of it, but it won't be as cool.  ::pouts::

beatrice_otter: The Schuyler sisters from the musical Hamilton, pointing to the sky (Schuyler Sisters)
2017-05-10 11:29 am
Entry tags:

It's always nice to feel like I'm having an impact!

Today, an issue which I called my congresspeople about twice came to a vote, and the Senate voted the direction I lobbied!  The bill in question was about the Bureau of Land Management's waste methane rule.  Basically, when you drill an oil well, you usually get methane first.  Oil companies can capture most of this and sell it, but it's not as profitable as the rest of the stuff they get out of an oil well, so they'd rather just burn it, wasting taxable resources and polluting the atmosphere.  There BLM has a regulation that says they have to capture it.  The Republicans tried to overturn that, and failed!

I call my congresspeople pretty much every day.  I do this using the 5calls.org website, which makes this easy.  It gives you a list of issues, you pick one, it gives you some background on it and the phone numbers for who to call about it and a script for what to say when you do.  It's really easy.  And if you have social phobias, you can call after hours and leave a message.  It's effective political activism made simple!  I highly recommend it!
beatrice_otter: Mystique in X-Men gear from First Class (Mystique)
2017-05-08 07:41 pm
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X-Men: Days of Future Passed

Okay, I just saw this and I enjoyed this.  I would like some fic recs, if anyone has them.  In particular, I would like Mystique fic, or fic about the new timeline (especially anything after Logan woke up).
beatrice_otter: Sam and Teal'c (Sam and Teal'c)
2017-04-30 11:21 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

The story I was scrambling to get a beta for?  The deadline got extended!  For everyone!  Apparently, multiple people had contacted the mods saying they had a story mostly done but it wouldn't be done on time, and one of the mods was having computer trouble such that they can't get their FINISHED story off the hard-drive, and so they said, screw it, we're moving the deadline back a month.

On the one hand: Yes!  This story is one of those which I have occasionally, in which it is just going to go on for a while and even if I know where the ending is going to be (I do now, thanks to excellent betaing from [personal profile] tielan and [personal profile] princessofgeeks) it's not going to get there without many thousands of words in the middle.  Like, no, no shortcuts, either you write all this other stuff or you don't write anything, even if you know the ending you will not be able to write it until all the other stuff your hindbrain wants to put in have been exhausted.  So, having the extra time to get it done is good.

On the other hand, I had staggered my ficathons so I could finish up [community profile] stargate_summer and then concentrate on my [community profile] ssrconfidential fic.  And now ... I will have to be working on both at the same time.  Aaaargh.
Worldbuilding problems caused by real-life linguists )

beatrice_otter: 1633--knight and ironclad (1633)
2017-04-29 10:53 pm

(no subject)

Tonight, I ate dinner in the only restaurant in town, which is also one of the two bars in town.  On one of the televisions a hockey game was playing.

Now, what I know about all sports except baseball mostly amounts to "cheer when everyone else does."  Since the nearest ice rink to where I grew up was an hour and a half away, and it rarely got below freezing so no ponds to skate on, until Hockey RPF started becoming one of the big fandoms I knew even less about hockey than about any other major sport.

But tonight, I looked up at the screen, recognized the teams (Penguins vs. Caps), saw Geno go into the penalty box (I think?  It might have been just back to the bench?), and thought, "Wonder how Sid feels?"
beatrice_otter: Sam and Teal'c (Sam and Teal'c)
2017-04-28 07:19 pm
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I am in DESPERATE need of a plot-theme beta for a Stargate fic

  • It's like 11k words (now, but it's not finished),
  • it's Teal'c-and-Daniel focused stranded-fic,
  • it has two possible endings and I'm not sure which to go by,
  • the thematic/stylistic stuff I'm trying to put in to get it to match the tone of the artwork is NOT WORKING,
  • it's due on the 30th (though it won't be revealed until a week later so if I can bang out a finished draft, post it on the 30th, I should have time to actually whip it into shape by the time it's revealed.)

HALP PLEASE

beatrice_otter: Sam and Teal'c (Sam and Teal'c)
2017-04-24 10:00 pm
Entry tags:

Canon gets me every time.

I'm like halfway done with my Stargate Reverse Bang fic (due in a week, omg I am so panicking), and I just realized I have a MAJOR CANON PROBLEM.  There was no time when a) Teal'c had a prim'ta, b) the SGC had reliable access to their own interstellar ships, and c) Daniel Jackson was on the team.  And for the plot to work as it is designed, I sort of need all three?  Like, Daniel and Teal'c are stranded for a while (longer than Teal'c would reasonably have tretonin supplies for) and the SGC needs to be able to come find them.

I suppose I could set it in, like, season 5 and have the SGC get ahold of Bra'tac?  He is more reliable than the Tok'ra, at any rate.

This is what I get for trying to write a story for a show I once knew encyclopedically but haven't watched in a while.
beatrice_otter: SG-1--Walter in his seat, sparks flying. (Walter)
2017-04-23 07:09 pm
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Firefox grumbling

Months and months ago, I got a new laptop. Well, new to me, because I wanted to keep with Windows 7 (I use Win 10 at work and HATE it, it's better than 8 but that's not saying much). Anyway, it was a used laptop, but it was inspected and certified, and it has been running just perfectly.

EXCEPT that Firefox kept freezing and crashing. All other programs were perfectly fine, it was just firefox. I did some troubleshooting, refreshed firefox, deleted and reinstalled, all that jazz. Nothing worked. So, today I backed up my firefox profile using MozBackup (which has always worked perfectly for me before). Then I uninstalled firefox and deleted the profile and then deleted the firefox folder in my program files folder. Like, EVERYTHING COMPLETELY GONE. NO EXCEPTIONS. So that whatever the problem is, it couldn't possibly come over, right?

Then I reinstalled Firefox, completely clean new installation. Then I tried to use MozBackup.

It didn't work. The backup I made today was "not a valid backup file."

Fortunately, the backup I made two weeks ago DID work, so while I've lost some tabs that were open and a few passwords to websites that I just started using, most of my stuff should be there.

If this didn't work--if I did all this and firefox STILL FREEZES PERIODICALLY, I will be so pissed.

ETA: nevermind, fixed the problem by running MozBackup again and this time, instead of taking the 4/23 backup that it came up with, browsed for and clicked on it from where I saved it in the first place.  Don't know why it made a difference, but it did!

beatrice_otter: Vader and Leia (Vader and Leia)
2017-04-20 11:19 pm
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Importing an old community--Starwarsficfest

So, waaaaaaaaaay back in 2008, when fandom was still mostly on LJ and AO3 was only just beginning to be talked about but was not yet open, I was discouraged because there was like no Star Wars activity on LJ.  You had to go to other websites for it, pretty much.  And even then, the activity from the prequels was dying down and Clone Wars was only just starting, so there was a bit of a lull anyway.  So I decided to do something about it!  I ran my first and only ficathon, the [livejournal.com profile] starwarsficfest.  And I had vague ideas about doing a second run of it, but that never materialized.

So, having just remembered it, I imported it so that the stories are now at [community profile] starwarsficfest. Interesting thing: I didn't build any long-term relationships with any of the people who wrote for it at the time, and none of them have since claimed their LJ OpenID on Dreamwidth.  But!  One of them, [personal profile] fialleril ([tumblr.com profile] fialleril ) is someone I follow on tumblr.  I love their fic and meta!

beatrice_otter: A Beatrix Potter illustration of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Lucie having tea. (Mrs Tiggy-Winkle)
2017-04-20 09:28 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

My next-door neighbor mows my lawn in exchange for using my large garden space. I think that this is more than enough recompense (NO MOWING YAY, and I don't garden anyway), but she just showed up with a hand-knit scarf for me as well.
beatrice_otter: Delenn--We are Starstuff (Starstuff)
2017-04-18 12:12 am
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Fic Rec: The Blue-Collar Scholar of Minbar

The Blue-Collar Scholar of Minbar (2260 words) by keerawa
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Tags: Original Character, Worldbuilding, Cultural Differences, Alien Culture, Anthropology, Epistolary, POV Outsider, POV First Person, Ethics, Alien Mythology/Religion
Summary: The blog post by our first Earth-Minbar cultural exchange participant, Ms. Baker, is as chatty, iconoclastic, and controversial as its author.

This is a wonderful entry in the Worldbuilding Exchange 2017 ficathon.  It's about an OC, but I feel like I really got to know her in 2200 words.  She's interesting, and the meta about both Humans and Minbari is so rich.  My only complaint is that it's too short, I could easily read a whole series of this!
beatrice_otter: Babylon 5--Vir waving (Vir's wave)
2017-04-15 10:05 pm
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It's so satisfying to see someone get their just desserts.

For background, Jim Frenkel was a big-name editor in the SF community who had a long history of harassing women, and in 2013 WisCon (a feminist SF/F con in Madison, Wisconsin) banned him for harassing women at the con. He subsequently lost his job at Tor Books because of it.

OdysseyCon is a different SF/F con also held in Madison, Wisconsin, and unlike WisCon, the ConCom is all made up of Frenkel's friends. Who chose to disbelieve the maaaaaaany, many women who have come forward saying that Frenkel was a creep to them. And so they invited him to do many things at the 2017 con. He was on a panel and, in what is possibly the WORST POSSIBLE ROLE TO GIVE AN ALLEGED SERIAL HARASSER, he was the Guest Liaison! No, sorry, I was mistaken, chair of the Abuse committee would have been worse. But, uh, pretty bad.

So one of the guests of honor was an author whom Frenkel had previously harassed. And when she found out Frenkel would be her liaison and on a panel with her, she sent a private message saying she couldn't come if he was there. So they said she wouldn't have to deal with him, which she took to mean he had been removed, and actually meant they had someone else handle contacting her.

She found out the truth recently, and politely informed them she would not be attending the con after all. They ridiculed her on their Facebook page.

There was GREAT pushback.

From their current frontpage:
Odyssey Con regrets to announce that Christopher Mihm, Tad Williams, and Monica Valentinelli have decided that they are unable to attend Odyssey Con 17. We respect their decisions, and wish them all the best.

James Frenkel will not be attending Odyssey Con 2017. Mr. Frenkel is no longer associated with Odyssey Con in any way.
That is, uh, ALL of the guests of honor for that com. All the people that attendees come to see? None of them will be there.  OdysseyCon will not be much of a con this year.

Hope this sounds a LOUD and CLEAR message to other cons.

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
2017-04-15 12:15 pm
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Burn, baby, burn

So in a Facebook group for young clergy people, there was a discussion about what to do for your Easter Vigil service if it's raining and you can't start the service with an outdoor fire. Suggestions were mostly practical, some better than others, ranging from "get a boyscout to figure something out" to "drag a hibachi grill inside the church narthex" to "put some rubbing alcohol in a stainless steel bowl and set that on fire (but don't forget to put a tile under it to absorb the heat)."

My favorite came from a friend from seminary: "This is a perfect time to get those Left Behind books out of the church library...."