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Hyperion Avatar Greetings from Salina, Kansas.  Yes, we are on the road again, foot loose and fancy free, with the hum of our tires as background music!

Getting up wasn’t easy after a late late night … I think I’m getting older at a rate somewhat faster than can be explained by orbital mechanics.  But we finally managed to pull ourselves together (coffee helped) and get all our various belongings packed back where they belong.   Three trips to the car and a half-hour wait in the registration line later, we were off to Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, CO.  It was only about a half hour west of Denver, so we figured it would be a good side visit.  I’ve always been fascinated by Dinosaurs; although I always preferred Triceratops to Tyrannosaurus Rex, perhaps due to early exposure to The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth.  We had to go around in a circle twice due to this, that, and the other thing, but we managed to find the site without an excessive amount of trouble.  The problem is that once you’re there, all the really cool stuff is out on the ridge, about two miles from  the visitor center.  And, of course, the road is closed to vehicles.  You can either walk, or you can take a shuttle bus up, and walk back.  At 90 degrees in the shade (which there wasn’t any), and our still not exactly being completely at one with the rarified Denver air, Gayle and I decided that we’d have to cut the expedition short.   I bought a couple of really cool books and saw a couple of fossils they’d brought down to the visitor’s center, but I’m still really bummed out that I couldn’t get to there really good parts.  <sigh>

Anyway, then we were ready for the long trip home.  As you’ll probably expect, there were a couple of wrong turns, and a map that wasn’t quite accurate but, again, it was only a minor inconvenience.  Not much to report though.  We drove through a major thunderstorm at the Colorado/Kansas border and we saw a really cool windmill farm just outside Salina.  Most of the windmills were spinning, but maybe a quarter weren’t.  We still haven’t figured that out yet.  Now we’re in our hotel room, hoping to get some rest before we pick up the pace tomorrow.  Our scheduled highlight will be the St. Louis Arch.

Now it’s time for:  The Great American Experience!

We were getting a bit low on gas, still had over a quarter tank, so no reason for panic, but we figure there’s no reason to delay until the last minute.  So we saw an exit coming up with food and fuel.  We pulled off, filled the car up and then, instead of just getting right back on the highway, decided on the spur of the moment to stop in at the “I-70 Diner”.  Man I wish these people would relocate to Maryland.  The food was fantastic, and the service was fast and friendly.  The part I enjoyed the least was the french fries … they were merely “really good”.  If you’re familiar with the “Silver Diner” chain, this is just like that, only much more authentic, and much less expensive.  Very 1950’s decor with a southwest twist, and 1950’s rock and roll over the diner’s sound system.  So if you ever find yourself cruising along I-70 near Flagler, Colorado, do yourself a favor and get a bite to eat.  You will NOT regret it.

That’s it for now.  There are pictures, but all the camera equipment is packed away, and I’m too tired (and lazy) to dig it all out.  I’ll see what I can do tomorrow.

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We actually set the alarm today so we’d get up in time. The package we’d been expecting managed to find us last night and we’re to deliver it today after 3 pm to its finally resting place. We got up and finished the blog post from last night, though the pictures still need some work. Got the photos all set to go up on Flickr but haven’t actually had time to upload them yet.

Then it was off to the convention center. We hadn’t finished the Dealers’ Room yet so we decided to check it out. You’d think with all the books that I get for review I’d never have to buy any. Wrong! Damage to the budget was quite steep. I did managed to meet some of the people that I deal with for review copies and such. It is just so nice to be able to fit a face to a name after all this time. Hyperion found that Phil and Kaja Foglio were there and bought the entire collection of Girl Genius and had them autographed.

Hyperion then went to a panel and I checked out the art show. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures in the art show and it’s very difficult to expound on the variety of styles, materials, ability, and just plain weirdness that makes up a Worldcon Art Show. Just about all the major artists that you’ve seen on book and magazine covers are represented as well as a lot of lesser known but no less talented artists are also there. There are also a number of 3-D artists (pottery, jewelry, sculpture, wood carvings, whatever….) . It’s breath-taking in a good way.

After the art show experience, I just needed to sit quietly for a while. Got coffee and sat in one of the couches just outside the Dealers’ Room and Art Show to wait for Hyperion. Timing was perfect. I finished a book that I’d been reading for review so now I get to take another one off my stack (course now I’ve got to write it up).

Then lunch. We still needed to deliver the box. We decided to change for the Hugo Ceremony a bit early since we wanted to go to a panel at 5:30 and the Hugo Award Ceremony started at 7:30 pm. There wasn’t really enough time between the end of the panel and the start of the ceremony to get to the hotel and back, let alone do anything while at the hotel. And it took a while to deliver the box.  Hyperion went over three times.  Fortunately, it was just across the street.   It turns out that everybody was at the back of the suite, and couldn’t hear anyone knocking on the door.  He finally had to call on his cell phone from the hallway to tell them to come open the door.  Took showers. Walked back to the convention center and got there in time for Hyperion to go to a panel he wanted to see on dirigibles.

I decided to get a coffee and sit and read for awhile. I just realized this is the first time I’ve just sat in a while (at least since earlier after the walk through the Art Show. It was a nice experience to just sit for a while. Then it was on to the Hugo’s.

The auditorium is the same one that the Masquerade was held in the night before. It’s huge and even with this big crowd it wasn’t full. We managed to get very good seats in the row behind the nominees and their guests. Still it was very difficult to take pictures from where we were, especially since we couldn’t use a flash. Luckily, my camera has a 12x zoom and the big screens of the view were nearby. I ended up mostly taking photos of the screens rather than the stage.

The ceremony was its usual mix of professionalism, wit, humor, joy, and laughter. The Master of Ceremonies was Wil McCarthy who wished to be known as the People’s Hugo MC — he told us how he could feel our pain in having to clap over 2000 times for the ceremony and gave us instructions to make our lives easier.

First came the First Fandom Awards presented by Keith Stokes.  The First Fandom Hall of Fame Award was a tie to Mike Cashley (or Ashley, I don’t have the spelling) and Ray Harryhausen. There was also a Posthumous Hall of Fame Award for Issac Asimov. The Sam Moskowitz Archive Award was also a tie and went to Frank Robinson and Bob Peterson. The Big Heart Award was presented by John Hert to Suford Lewis.

Denvention 3 exercised their option to give Special Committee Awards. Presenter Kent Bloom, Denvention 3 Chair, gave an award to NASA for 50 years of science and to NESFA Press for keeping great SF in print.

Stanley Schmidt, Editor of Analog, presented the John W. Campbell Award for Best new Science Fiction Writer to Mary Robinette Kowal. Then Jay Lake presented the Campbell Tiara.

The Hugo Administrator Mary Kay Kare introduced the designer of the this year’s Hugo base, Lee Kuruganti who then described the base and the reason each of the elements were chosen to represent this convention.

The Hugo Awards went to:

  • Best Fanzine: File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Best Fan Writer: John Scalzi
  • Best Fan Artist: Brad Foster
  • Best Professional Artist: Stephan Martiniere
  • Best Semiprozine: Locus
  • Best Related Book: Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who “Blink”
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Stardust
  • Best Professional Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
  • Best Professional Editor, Long Form: David G. Harwell
  • Best Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear
  • Best Novelette: “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chaing
  • Best Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis
  • Best Novel: The Yiddish policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

We took lots of photos and stayed to take ones of the winners with all the lights on and using flash. Then it was off to the Hugo Loser’s Party which we managed to get in to because we were helping out. It ended up not being that much work since the area I was assigned to said they didn’t need me so I made sure the door guards had enough water or drink to stay hydrated (the room got incredibly hot) and helped pick up trash as it occurred (picking abandoned napkins, glasses, cups, plates, and such). Otherwise, not that taxing and I got to move around and talk to people also. As the crowd thinned it was easier to talk to people and it got a bit cooler.  (Hyperion here: I was assigned to door guard duty, and, like Gayle, was told my services were not needed.  So mostly I roamed around the room taking pictures of anything that would stay in focus in my viewfinder.)

Now, hopefully, it’s to bed.  Tomorrow is the last day of the convention.  We check out and start home.

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Fridays WSFS Business MeetingWe nearly overslept this morning but with a lot of chaos and running around (think panic-mode), we managed to get to the WSFS Business meeting without being too late. The highlight of the meeting is that the Hugo for Semiprozine was killed (this needs to be ratified next year) and the Graphic Story Hugo was created (again to be ratified next year). Montreal’s Chairman was present and will test the Graphic Story Hugo for next year’s convention. There was also lots of changes to the wording of the constitution to include web-based material. I’m sure this will all be up in the meeting minutes sometimes over the next several months.Noon came fast as there was a lot to be done and soon it was time to go to a panel or two.

Lois McMaster Bujolds Guest of Honor Speech1:00 pm. Guest of Honor Speech by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold has a sore throat but managed to make it through the entire session. She talked about her writing, how she writes, the way she approaches the material, her characters, how ideas get sparked and turned into stories, and her life.

2:30 pm. What’s New in Science Fiction and Fantasy for Children and Young Adults. Panelists: Farah Mendlesohn, Valerie Frankel, Diana Herald, Susan Fichtelberg, Bonnie Kunzel, and Sharon Rowlens. Whats New in Science Fiction and Fantasy for Children and Young Adults PanelThe group had put together a list of books that they thought were exception and were either just out or coming out soon. Their favorites were: Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, Cinda Williams Chima’s The Dragon Heir (book 3 of a series), Michael Daley’s Rat Trap (Hyperion has read this one and highly recommends it too), Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (this is sitting on my to be read pile at the moment), Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing, and Frances Hardin’s Wellwish. The full list is available at (note as of today — Saturday, 8/9–  this link doesn’t work). They also recommended checking out the Golden Duck Awards site.

4:00 pm. The ages of a writer’s life: writing to get published, writing for fans, writing for posterity. Panelists: Robert Silverberg, Connie Willis, Suford Lewis (moderator), Lois McMaster Bujold, and Larry Niven. The authors each talked about how their careers got started and whether they thought they matched these literary phrases of a writer’s life. They was a lot of banter and jokes as well as some great information on just what the writing life is really like when it’s your life.

BDs Mongolian RestaurantThere was a panel that I really wanted to attend at 5:30 on what to do when your convention needs/has to change venues but I’d committed to having supper with friends before I saw the panel was at that time. So, off to dinner at a Mongolian BBQ place. The food was good. The company excellent. And the conversation information, entertaining, and relaxing.

Masquerade. 7:30 PM. We just managed to rush from supper to the Masquerade without missing anything. Up first was the children’s category. There were some cute entries and of course all were winners. Next was the presentation of the Masters, Journeymen, and Novice categories. As usual, the quality of the costumes was excellent with some in the lower categories showing that, in a year or so, the Masters are going to really be getting some strong(er) competition (as if that category doesn’t already have some excellent costumes and costumers in it). There didn’t seem to be a program for this event this year so we don’t have the names of the entrants, hopefully the winners will be in the newsletter tomorrow and we’ll get them up soon.

Worldcon Masquerade Entrant 
Worldcon Masquerade Entrant 
Worldcon Masquerade Entrant

After the judges adjourned, we went to the fan photography area and took some photos of the entrants. In the main hall during the Masquerade no flash photography is allowed. I did my best with my telephoto lens and the museum setting. I got a few good shots and more okay ones but the best ones are from the fan photography area because there I could use my flash.

Went up for the Capclave, WSFA, and SFRevu party for a while. Met a lot of people, talked to many, many, people and had a good time but it was necessary to get back to our room and sleep. Tomorrow — or rather today — is another day.

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We’re up and seeking breakfast, or something to tied us over for a while. (Hyperion: I went over to Starbucks for Coffee. Place was absolutely packed. I was number 32 in line.) First up this morning is the WSFS Business Meeting. We started going to these quite a few conventions ago. We’d been volunteering at all the conventions that we attended and wanted to learn more about running them. This year a couple of proposal will be submitted: One to give a Hugo to the Best SF Website, one for Best Graphic Novel, and one to set the upper limit on supporting memberships, and then whatever else comes up that I don’t yet know about from reading the SMOFs list. Most people can go their whole lives and never attend a Worldcon Business Meeting. Us, we like to get involved. The meetings can be frustrating but they’re also a lot of fun in their own way — personally, I like to think of them as performance art. All the meeting are run by Robert’s Rules of Order. I don’t understand them very well, even now, but the person in charge of the meeting (this year Donald Eastlake) usually makes a great effort to explain the arcana of the various motions so that the members understand and can vote appropriately. The meetings occur each morning from 10am to noon until all the business is concluded for this convention. Rules made here are then voted on one more time at the next worldcon and (if approved there) then go into the constitution.

The business meeting managed to eat up a chunk of our day. We finished up about 1:00 PM. So, food was now on the agenda and we walked down to the 16th street mall for lunch. We decided on Rock Bottom Brewery. Good food. Fast service. Within walking distance.

Denvention 3 Dealers RoomBack at the convention center, we check out part of the dealers’ room. Managed to see about 1/3 of it before the first set of panels came up. I decided to go to Lois McMasters Bujold’s reading of Sharing Knife: Harmony. It should be out in February 2009 and will finish the Sharing Knife sequence. Bujold read from the first three chapters and it begins just after the end of Sharing Knife: Passages. The audience chuckled, laughed, sighed, and made all the appropriate noises at the appropriate parts. Bujold also answered some questions about the writing process, world building, and what she’s up to next.

My next panel to sit in on was “Writer’s and Taxes”. The panelists were an ex-IRS Auditor (now author), a lawyer, and a UK tax person (I’m really sorry on this as she said her title several times but I just couldn’t seem to get it — obviously my caffeine levels are low). Basically, the bottom line is that you need to keep good records and treat your writing as a business. The audience was concerned about what records to keep track of and the panelists said that Schedule C has a list of the records to keep on the back. They also said be reasonable in what you deduct or do. There was a lot of discussion and suggestions about start-up costs, business cost, and the terms usual and necessary. You can claim a lot of things but not everything that people have probably told you that you could claim as a deduction and that it would be worth an authors time to ask other authors who they use to do their taxes and then have someone check them out for them (to save money — do your own and then have the CPA check it over before filing). This was a workshop that was extremely useful and fairly well attended by authors who are starting out and don’t make a lot of money and want to learn how to avoid problems on their taxes.

ASFA bannerFor our last item, we attended the 2008 Chesley Awards Presentation. The Chesley’s are for excellence in art given by ASFA. Actually, this year, because of a number of issues, the ceremony was to list the nominees in each category. The presenters listed the nominees as a slide show displayed art work by the nominated artists. It was a nice ceremony even without the awards being given. You must be an ASFA member in order to vote but you don’t need to be an artist to be a member (check their website for details). The winner will be announced in late September. The announcement of the nominees was followed by a reception in the Art Show but we weren’t able to get to it.2008 Chesley Award Trophy

We walked back to our hotel, dropped our bags and accoutrements and made our way to the Christmas Lights in the trees of the 16th street Mall22nd floor to check out the parties. Last night we just headed for bed, but tonight was the Peggy Rae’s House in 2010 party. The party floor was alive with people moving about checking out the various parties. It really looked like people were having a great time. The only drawback to the parties is that whenever you get a lot of bodies into small spaces it gets really, really, hot even with the air conditioning up high. So, even suites get stifling very quickly. Even so, there were many people to talk to and get reacquainted with. The North American Disc World Party seemed as popular as Peggy Rae’s North American Disc World board member House in 2010, they had food themed for Disc World and some of it was very clever (no pictures — sorry). Peggy Rae’s House had chocolate cake and ice cream. Hmmmm, seems there’s a food factor to a good party.

Finally, we just had to call it a night and turn it. Tomorrow starts with another WSFS Business Meeting, to hopefully work thorough the rest of the agenda. Then we hope to attend even more panels. Also, Friday night is the Masquerade.

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Nebraska: big, green, flat, and more windmills and cows than Iowa and Ohio.

Today is/was our last day on the road until we head back home on Sunday. We got into Denver about 4PM. The hotel lobby was standing room only with people from three conventions checking in at once. We managed to get our room and find it. We’re in the Tower so you have to go down to the concourse level and then under and around and through and find the elevators for the tower — finally, we’re in our room.Big Blue Bear peering into Denver Convention Center

The convention center is a short walk away — except it was raining slightly; but it felt so good after the hot stuffy weather of the day. The convention center has a huge Blue Bear looking into it’s front windows. Hyperion and I collect bears so this just made us giggle (yes, it was a giggle not a guffaw or laugh — it was a pure joy giggle, I think I’m going to like Denver even more than I previously thought — they have a sense of whimsy here.)

It is now 5:31 and we need to get to the convention registration in the Convention Center, get our badges and get to Opening Ceremonies. We didn’t make it. We got our registration stuff but got to Opening Ceremonies just as they ended. But we did get to the Baryaran Summerfaire, a get to know the authors and fans get-together after Opening Ceremonies. There were some wonderful costumes being worn and we got some photos. Managed to catch up with friends and acquaintances.

We decided to call it a night. Okay, so it was only about 7:30 by then. It’s been a long day (and our bodies are still on Eastern Time, which makes it 9:30). Tomorrow we plan to attend the business meeting and then panels and whatever we can fit in. Hopefully, we’ll update throughout the day but at least at the end of each day.

Hyperion AvatarWhat can I add? Hmmm. I’m not as young as I once was, that’s for sure. I’ve been drinking caffeinated sodas all day long so that I could keep moving. Now my nerves are all fried. Youth is wasted on the young.

Important things learned in the last 24 hours: Be careful how you hold the car remote when you’re trying to unpack the car at a motel around midnight. Otherwise what you think is the trunk release might just be the panic button. Now, I’m not saying that this actually happened, and you can’t prove otherwise! Also make sure you wear shoes with at least a little bit of tread left on them. When it rains, fancy paving stones start acting a lot like ice.

It’s good to finally be here. There looks to be a lot of great talks over the next couple of days on a variety of science topics. So, with any luck, I’ll have more fodder to foist off on you as the week progresses.

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Hyperion Avatar Shortly after posting last night, we pulled in at a rest stop, got one of the coupon books and found a el-cheapo motel (motel 6: It has a locked door and horizontal, slightly padded surface. What more do you need?).  We got about seven hours of sleep and now we’re back on road and making good time.  We stopped for coffee (of course), and other than that we’ve just been driving and driving.  As of now (about 11:00am) we’re just through Toledo and heading for the Indiana border.  Mother Nature seems to have a few plans of her own though.  There’s a big “weather system” just southwest of us and heading towards us.  If we’re lucky, we’ll just skim over the north edge.On the Road, Day 2

Just as a special mention to one of our readers (and you know who you are!), we’re passing 40 miles south of Kalamazoo on Highway 80.  And Mother Nature never did manage to get that “weather system” anywhere near us.  Take that, M.N.

We’ve been playing with our Satellite radio.  We’ve listened to Latin, which is naturally in spanish, which we don’t understand, but at least it has a rhythm, actual music, and words I’d be able to understand, if only I spoke the language.  Question: When did performers decide they didn’t need to enunciate anymore? As Whoopi said in Jumping Jack Flash: Mick, Mick! Speak english Mick!   I’m so sick of “mumble, mumble, curse word, slur, mumble.”  Yeah, yeah, get off my lawn you damn kids!  I know I’m old, I don’t care.

It’s now later (about 5pm).  We’ve been driving and driving, but there’s nothing much that’s exciting to write about.  The only exception would be the bright yellow crop duster we came across.  It zipped and wheeled across the sky, spraying here, spraying there.  And it was a very pretty plane to.  I’d include a picture except: Gayle’s camera is in her purse, which she can’t get to as long as she’s driving.  I can get to my camera easily, but the battery is still in the charger, which is stuffed into the electronics bag in the trunk.  Next stop we’ll rectify that small mistake.

Okay, it’s a bit later in the day.  The camera is by my side, and I’ve even taken a couple of pictures, which I’ve scattered throughout this post.  You might be wondering why Gayle is letting me do these posts.  Wow! That’s a great question.  Thanks for asking.  It’s nice that people pay so much attention here.  Anyway, the simple, unvarnished truth is that Gayle is doing the majority of the driving.  And, superwoman that she is, she finds it a bit difficult to type and stay in her designated lane at the same time.   Why am I not driving?  Man, that’s two great questions in a row.  You people are the greatest!  The reason I’m not driving is because every time I take over (and I have done a fair amount, don’t get me wrong), I start dozing off at the wheel.  No matter how bright the sun is.  And Gayle, rightfully terrified for her very life, has decided that maybe me driving isn’t such a great idea at the moment.  The strange thing is, once I’m in the passenger seat, I perk right up and become a veritable bright-eyed and bushy tailed … well, not squirrel, that would just weird for someone with a cat motif to claim.  And we wouldn’t want that!   But that, in a nutshell (there we go with the rodent stuff again, I just can’t win), is the reason I’m typing this rambling, incoherent missive.  Where are we?  I haven’t got a clue, let me wait for a sign to go by.    …. [time passing] … oh, there we go.  We’re one hour east of Des Moines, Ohio.  We’ve been dodging the weather all day, and our luck is holding so far.  Des Moines just got hit by some heavy rain, but the system broke up and vanished before it could come as far east as we are.  Oh, speaking of strange laws (we weren’t but just play along), did you know that Illinois and Iowa allow you to go 70 mph?

Hey, guess what this is:Mississippi River

That’s right, it’s the mighty Mississippi.  We were driving along and saw this little blue bridge in the distance.  We weren’t thinking that much about it until we came to the sign just before the bridge that tells you what river you’re about to cross.  We got really excited, in that pathetic, geeky way some people do.

And another thing; here we are, driving through the heartland (or maybe, the liverland, since we’re a bit north of center), and we haven’t seen a single windmill anywhere.  Lots and lots of farms, lots of corn fields, silos, cell phone repeater towers, and even a cow or two.  But not one single, solitary, windmill.  Hollywood promised us windmills.  Could Hollywood have lied to us?  They can’t have.  All the movies about the central US have windmills.   The people of Iowa must be hiding them from us.  Maybe painted plaid and hidden behind a somebody-elses-problem field.  Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.  I’m glad we figured that one out.  On the other hand, they do have some nice rest stops with very pleasant picnic areas.First Rest Stop in IowaPicnic Area in Iowa

And you know how traveling America is suppose to be such a broadening experience?  You travel the highways and byways and see all kinds of true American Culture.  Here’s a great example of one we didn’t stop at.  It’s unlike others we didn’t stop at only in that we had absolutely no inclination to stop whatsoever.Worlds Largest Truck Stop

Just to be annoying, we finally found windmills, but only within about 15 miles of the Nebraska border.  Iowa just had to be contrary.  After this thrilling find, we zoomed through Omaha and Lincoln and finally pulled off at a Comfort Inn.  It’s only about $10 a night more than the Motel 6, but it 3 times larger and has a refrigerator and a microwave.  Which would be good to reheat some of the cold food we packed in the freezer bag.  Only problem is that the freezer bag is still in the car because we didn’t think we’d need it.  I could just go out and get it, it’s not that far away.  The problem is that every time you lock the car, the horn beeps.  And, as with most hotels of this kind, we’re pulled up in a space right in front of someones room.  And I accidentally hit the panic button instead of the open trunk button.  So after the panic, plus normally locking the car twice, I really don’t want to subject the poor people in that room to even one more beep.  It’s nearly midnight now.  So, it’s going to be a cold sandwich for dinner, finish off this post and then hit the sack.  We’ll be up at 7:30 tomorrow morning to complete the journey.  The guy at the front desk says it shouldn’t take more than six hours to get to Denver.  That pretty much agrees with my estimates, so I’m inclined to believe him.

More tomorrow!

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Hyperion Avatar It’s time for a report from the cat.  It’s been a long day, and it’s not quite over yet.  This post is being written on the road … literally, we’re doing about 65 miles per hour, and we’re passing though eastern Pittsburgh.  We’re such geeks!  Anyway, we got up this morning, did bills, laundry, errands, cleaning, packing, etc.  Then  we went and got the new rental car.  While we’re there they ask us if we’d like a compact SUV instead, for no additional charge.  We asked them what the mileage was on it.   They looked blank, then looked in the computer, and smiled and told us: 18 miles per gallon.  We said in unison “No way!”.  Sure our own car has a slipping transmission, but it’s full sized AND we get 28 miles to the gallon (which I thought was pretty bad for a road trip to Denver).  So we got a Chrysler Sebring instead.  Not as good mileage as we would have liked, but still better than either the SUV they wanted to give us, or our own car.

Next stop was the dealership, which was suppose to call us two hours before with a time-to-completion estimate on  our car.  But, as usual, they still hadn’t managed to let us know anything.  While we were there, we dropped off the loaner rental car, since we had the new one and didn’t need two.  Then we popped into service to ask in person.  Nobody knew anything.   But when they checked the bay, our car wasn’t there, and it had been earlier.  So they assumed it had been finished and taken out for a test drive.  Lacking critical, need-to-know information, we sat in the waiting room for a half hour until they came to find us and let us know that the car was indeed finally ready.  We went out to pay the bill, and found they had charged us for the rental car, which they swore they weren’t going to do.  At least they the decency to look embarrassed and took the charge off.    But I’m still rather miffed that I had to find it first.

Now with car in hand, we headed back home and finished packing up all the food.  Gayle, of course, had to dither over what knitting projects to bring.  She is such a girl!  In case you’re interested, that’s three sock projects and one sweater.  Plus just a soupcon of fleece to spin with a drop spindle (which she’s now gotten good enough at that she doesn’t drop it anymore).

Okay, finally the car is packed, I’ve run back inside twice for the things we forgot but remembered before we got out of the driveway (we remembered something else, but we were 10 miles away, and I was not going back!).   Next stop was the bank for spend’en cash, and then Starbucks for a caffeine fix.  And finally we were on our way.  Of course that put us on the highway during rush hour traffic.  Fortunately, most of the HOV lanes around here are for two people, which if you stretch your imagination to include me, qualifies us.  So we were a bit delayed, but not as bad as the poor schmucks sitting all alone in their bourgoise-mobiles in the three-lane, glacially creeping, parking lot.

Western Maryland, heading for Pennsylvannia

Late Breaking News:  We just crossed the border into Ohio!  Yeah us!!!!

Ooops, Later Breaking News: Never mind.  We misinterpreted a sign.  It would seem that the elusive Ohio  border is still about an hour away.  Sigh!

Late Late Breaking News:  We just crossed into Ohio!  For real this time.  Seriously!  You couldn’t miss the sign.  It was big enough to have it’s own weather system!

Question:  You’re on the freeway, driving down between little hillocks, only slightly raised, not even taller than the car, and sloping away from the road.   And the road is plastered with signs warning “Beware of falling rocks”.  What’s the deal here?  Asteroid strikes?  Avenging Angels?  Hill Giants?  Tired and slightly off-kiltered minds want to know.

Not much else to talk about.  We’re glad that Starbucks is omnipresent, and so therefore is caffeine.  I’m a strict adherent to the old adage: Better living through chemistry.  But only caffeine.  I may be a radical, but I’m a tame, boring one.

We’re looking for Highway 80 heading west.  That’s our ending goal for the day.  Once we find that, we’ll look for cheap accommodations and call it a night.   Back tomorrow, same cat time, same cat channel!

 On the road again!  I can’t wait to get on the road again!  Although the wind make my fur stand up on end!  I still can’t wait to get on the road again!

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August Coffeee CupFirst, it’s August and that means a new coffee cup. This month it’s a large cup with a bit of bamboo motif in light tans, and beige-green-yellowish. I like it a lot; used it yesterday as I was angsting over some very stressful news which follows….

Well, I made it to August. I’ve got a few things to get done to finish up July but that’s neither here nor there — which is where I am actually. Hyperion and I are heading out to Denver for Denvention 3 for the 66th World Science Fiction Convention. I’ve never been to Denver or Colorado before so I’m really looking forward to this visit. I have been to Worldcons before — we go just about every year because it’s our anniversary trip. We got married in August and spent our honeymoon at Worldcon in Boston and we go every year that we can as an anniversary trip. Last year, even though we worked on the Nippon 2007 website, we couldn’t manage a trip to Japan so we hope the Japanese will bid for the convention again some year in the future.

We’re all set to begin our trek to Denver on Monday. However, we ran into a slight snag. You see the car had been making a slight chuffing-shushing sound occasionally when shifting so we decided to have the next service level done and get it checked out before we leave. We took the car in on Friday (just after the zines went live Thursday night — so with not a lot of sleep and a very early start on Friday to get to the dealership by 7am).

The first surprise was that the full service level would be about $1,700 with the timing belt check/replacement included and from the sound of things we needed that because of the noise. Okay. You do what you have to do and just move on and we’re going on a long trip so this is reasonable for a car that’s over ten years old and still running great.

Then comes the first phone call. The transmission is slipping and we need a new one. Damage estimated at about #3,800 or so. Yikes! That’s a bit steep, but after conversation with the techies it turns out that it won’t go catastrophic, just get more and more sluggish over time so we’ve got a bit of a breather maybe — could go this week or in six months or longer…or today. Okay, we decide to get a second opinion and check into getting a rebuilt transmission elsewhere. But, we still need all the maintenance we’d signed up for. Fine.

Hours later just when we’re expecting a phone call to tell us the car is ready for pick up we get another phone call. They found a leak and needed to order a part and it will arrive on Saturday and they’ll have the car done by 5pm on Saturday. Well, that would be nice but we made an appointment at another garage to look at the transmission on Saturday at 9am. So, that’s off. After asking some questions, it turns out that IF we don’t get this part installed, we could ruin the entire engine and lose that. So, not a lot of choice here. After all, it’s only an additional $155 and they won’t charge us for the extra labor because the car is already all apart. I haggle and they’ll say they’ll try to get the car done by noon Saturday.

Today, it’s Saturday. About 9am, the dealership calls to let us know the overnighted parts have not arrived and they’ll probably get them on Monday, so therefore they’ll have the car done by 5pm. We’re leaving for Denver on Monday and we need the car, can you put a rush on it, we ask. After some haggling it is agreed a Manager will call us back. An hour later, we get a Manager and go through this again. We realize the part didn’t come in but:

    This is the third time the parts didn’t get delivered on a Saturday. They don’t do full maintenance on Saturday and in the past when full maintenance is promised on a Saturday…well, the truck doesn’t get there with the parts so the work gets done on Monday.
    Now, I fully understand having to order some parts because the place would have to be huge to hold everything they’d ever need for all the models they repair, so that’s understandable, but really, 3 out of 3 times the truck doesn’t deliver the overnighted parts would be a bit too much for me if I was a manager and I’m sure we’re not the only ones who don’t get the parts delivered after an overnight so, one has to ask — is this really a parts deliver problem or a we don’t do the full maintenance on Saturday but don’t want to admit it problem…. Inquiring minds wonder about things like this.

Anyway, the upshot is that we get to keep the loaner they gave us at no additional charge. They promise to put a rush on the car so it will get done as early as possible on Monday so we can hit the road before 7pm (We’re aiming for 1pm now.)

We rented a car to drive to Denver. The rental is supposed to get 35 mpg which is better than our 28 mpg so we’re hoping to make up the rental costs in the gas savings. But now we have the problem of returning the loaner, getting our car back, getting the rental car, getting it packed and hitting the road at a reasonable time to miss the DC rush hour traffic in the afternoon as we head west.

It also means that today and tomorrow, we have to run errands in a loaner that isn’t big enough to take the recycling to the center so we’re stuck with all that stuff in the basement until we get back from Denver after the convention. We still need to get a second opinion on the transmission set up when we get back because we can’t do it before we leave. And now, we’re thinking of getting a second car — a Smart Car for Two … if we like it when we see and test drive one. We could change our minds but that’s the plan and to keep the current car with a rebuilt transmission if that’s doable as a large backup auto when we need storage space for big loads.

All in all, I’m in the midst of writing lists and just looking so forward to getting on the road for our anniversary trip and spending some quality time with my husband.

Did I mention that we’re covering the convention for SFRevu? There will be coverage there and detailed daily coverage here in my blog. We’ll be putting photos up on the Flickr account, I’ll post a note here when that happens.

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