Hello and welcome to the March 2019 issue of Aphelion!
Two weeks ago, Lindsey and I were at AnachroCon in Atlanta. It was our
first time ever being there as part of the convention staff rather than
as just attendees. Lyn was helping out in the Tea Room and Green Room,
and I was the Literary Track Director. We’ve been asked to do it again
next year, too! We turned out to be pretty good at those jobs, so we’ve
been asked back to do it again, LOL! We heard nothing but praise for
everything we did, so I’m counting that as a win. Lyn wants to try
helping out in the Con Suite next year, and all the writers I’d dealt
with agreed to try and come back next year if the con scheduling works
out for them. I fond that running the Lit Track was kind of like being
Aphelion’s Publisher, but in a different direction, so to speak. Having
been an attending pro at LibertyCon for the past dozen years helped me
out a lot with putting the Lit Track together, since I’ve been on
discussion panels and I knew how they worked—albeit only from the
writer’s point of view. I’d also talked a lot with Tish and watched
what Rich did to lay out the LC Lit Track, too. Of course, I didn’t
know I was doing research at the time. I thought I was just spending
time with friends and having interesting conversations, LOL!
For those who may not already know, LibertyCon is a small, intimate,
750-person Summertime convention in Chattanooga, TN. This year marks 32
years since it began. Some of the biggest, middle-est, and with me the
smallest names in SF&F show up year after year because LC is like a
family reunion for them. It’s a literary con, but artists and crafters
and cosplayers show up too. “After one LibertyCon, you become part of
the family. After two, you can’t imagine how you lived without it. From
then on, you plan your life around the next time you are able to go
back…” AnachroCon is becoming somewhat the same thing for Februarys in
Atlanta. This year was the tenth anniversary. It started off as a pure
steampunk convention, and has now evolved into a more general Alternate
History con so as to embrace more of fandom than it had before. It has
had some bumps and glitches along the way, but it is now better than
ever, and a whole lot of fun. If you get the chance, give both of them
a try and see how you like them. Neither will ever become Dragon*Con,
by any stretch of the imagination. And that is part of their charm, to
my way of thinking, at least.
So, great convention, great friends, good time was had by all—The 2019
AnachroCon was a resounding success! We’re looking forward to next year
and I’m working on making the panel scheduling for all the different
tracks a tad easier from now on. My skills with spreadsheets will come
in handy there.
And speaking of spreadsheets—here’s an interesting tidbit…
I wound up using algebra again Friday at work. My boss needed me to
pick samples for one test that had to be as close to the official
specifications for a product as we could get. This variety of
fiberglass insulation has a paper backing on it as a vapor barrier,
stuck to the glass fibers with a thin layer of asphalt—but what I
needed to know, and as quickly as possible, was what the weight in
grams per square foot of *just* the glass itself happened to be for 13
pieces of insulation in each of 4 bags of product. So, it was either
slowly and carefully strip the paper and asphalt off of 52 individual
pieces of insulation that were each two feet wide and not quite eight
feet long so I could weigh the bare glass, or use algebra to simulate
having ripped the paper off. I still had to weigh all 52 pieces, but
using algebra is faster than doing it the hard way.
I know how many grams per square foot the paper is *supposed* to weigh.
And the grams per square foot of asphalt on the paper had already been
measured (three different times by three different people!) the day the
insulation was made so I had that number, too. So I made the computer
add the gram weight of both per sqft using an average sqft of the
glass, then subtract that from the weight of the pieces of insulation
as I weighed them with the paper on. That gave me a fairly accurate
gram weight of just the glass, itself. I managed to turn five minutes
of ripping the paper off and weighing into five seconds, each. Now
repeat that math for the other 51 pieces! That part of the job went
from four hours and twelve minutes to just forty-three minutes.
Now, as to personal stuff: I was recently able to recover a scan of a
photo of my original Map of Bethdish--the big, poster-sized thing that
I spent months hand drawing and hand-coloring as I wrote my earliest
Mare Inebrium and History Of Bethdish stories back in the early
1990s--before the Internet was a thing. I'm involved in
computer-coloring the faded out photo of my map--that was destroyed in
a house fire back in 2007--so that I have a reproducable copy of my old
artwork. The same artwork that was essentually a mnemonic device to
help me remember all the details from my planned stories from back in
the day. The map is like a huge notebook of planned stories, history to
make said stories work within the framework of my created universe, and
between the map and my Timeline file, it's how I want stuff to go when
I make it go. And things are still going, all the time!
This is an accurate measure of how lazy I am. I’d rather waste ten
minutes making a spreadsheet do the math for me so that I reduce the
time a job takes to 10% of the time doing it the hard way would take.
And I’m dyslexic, so I have to be really careful with making sure I
don’t typo any numbers. Spread sheets can work like those function box
thingies we were taught in fourth grade. One box has the function, the
algebra bit, the formula—think of that as if it were music. Other boxes
hold the data, the measurements that can be variables—those are the
dancers. The formula tells the variables how to dance. Still more boxes
show the results of the variables dancing to the music of the formula.
That’s how I do algebra. It’s the magic of the music that shows you how
the dance goes. It’s the formula that tells the data the dance steps
and the results are the patterns of the square dance they perform...
Wow! THAT was philosophical, LOL!
All right, it's about time I shut up and let y'all get to reading the
new issue of Aphelion! Enjoy!
Title: Protostar HH-34 in Orion
Photo Credit: ESO