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The Outside, still there apparently.

I had to go into town yesterday! It wasn’t as exciting as all that, I had to go submit my biometrics for my indefinite leave to remain. Luckily there is an office in town to do that, so I was able to walk down get everything done without much fuss.

It gave me a chance to have a quick look at the pedestrianization of Bedford Place as I walked back home. It looks great, I hope they keep at least some of it once things are back open.

JFC

Look, I’m among those counting Jan 1st-20th as part of 2020 but even by those standards all I can say is Jesus fucking christ what a clusterfuck.

Seems frivolous to post about anything else, especially with so many revelations and developments. What an ugly end to an ugly chapter.

2021

So far so good.

Yesterday Alison Scott held an Around the World in 24 Hours Zoom party to celebrate in all the timezones!

We popped in on the early shift to say hi to the antipodeans and watch the Sydney fireworks (very impressive). It was my turn to make lunch, so I logged off and made cabbage and ramen noodle soup from the last of the Xmas duck stock. It was very tasty, if I do say so myself. I took it easy for the next few hours and had my own little Twilight Zone mini-marathon, while I think John popped back into the Zoom for a while. Once evening rolled around we ordered far too much food for Unikebab, on the assumption that our future drunk/hungover selves would appreciate the leftovers (speaking as a now hungover future España, we were entirely correct on that count).

We settled back into the party just before the Dubai’s new year’s show, which involved an amazing LED lightshow on the Burj Khalifa with accompanying fireworks. Our delivery arrived right around then though, so we excused ourselves to have a our dinner before rejoining the party.

I was delighted at the strong Bay Area presence over the course of the night, I got to see a lot of familiar faces including Bryan and Mette, Kevin and Andy, Tom and Spike, Karisu and Richard, and I’m many others my January 1st brain won’t remember until I hit “post” on this entry. There was good chat with only the occasional detour into politics or similarly depressing topics. Luckily there were plenty of break rooms and usually at least three of them were busy, plus a scattering of smaller conversations, and if needs be the lobby.

Alison used one of the breakout rooms to screen Dinner for One, which Mette had shown me way back when, and which was even funnier than I remembered. The Patio room was set up for fireworks displays, with a volunteer searching out live-streams for the appropriate locations. Then there was a craft room, plus other rooms you would expect like the kitchen. For some reason the Electrical Supply Closet was the happening place for much of the night.

The next display up was Athens, which was a pleasant display live-streamed by some random person in Athens. I honestly found it sort of adorably low key after the extravagance of Dubai. Only one timezone left before London, but there was some difficulty finding a feed for a bit so while that discussion happened I decided to find if the usual Puerta del Sol festivities were on, eventually finding that there was a livestream of the NYE show. I watched the ball drop and still got back to the Zoom in time for some Paris fireworks, which later googling suggests were actually from Bastille Day, but they were still pretty.

And then it was our time! No London fireworks could be found so we ended up watching a neat but decided lower key drone show from Edinbrugh. There was cheering and toast and kisses, though, and then Alison accidentally(?) closed all the breakout rooms at once! We all tumbled into the lobby in a chaotic pile, but then we were treated to a Glasgow in 2024 end of year video which cased more than one teary eye.

Back to the party, it became apparent that the festivities in the next couple of timezones had been entirely shut down, with no livestreams to be had. I decided to take this as a sign to get some sleep in before the West Coast celebrations, so off to bed I went. Alice came to bed immediately, clearly relieved I had come to my senses and John joined not too long after. When I woke up at my 7am alarm I figured I could probably sleep a lil’ bit longer, so of course I woke up again at my 8am alarm, having just missed the fireworks. Still, I got myself composed and joined in time to see a whole bunch of friendly faces from that neck of the woods. So now I’m afraid that UK fandom now knows just how loud I am when I am conversing with a bunch of loud American friends. Kevin and Andy had set up their black light party, Bryan and Mette waved their cats at us, and Spike had only just opened the parcel with the fan she bought off me at CoNZealand. It was a very good time.

Hawaii was the last timezone, and we got to see some pretty solid backyard fireworks via a laptop held up to a window. The Zoom automatically closed down around ten past ten in the morning, giving Alison a solid twenty minutes break before Cafe Moose.

Xmas everywhere

Aside from a trip to get my passport replaced, which was mildly stressful but also sort of a nice change of pace, its holidays at home for us of course. So I am compensating by watching as many holiday movies as I can this year. Sticking to stuff available on streaming services we already have, but that still offers a whole lot. And lots of it is pretty bad, frankly.

On the nice list; Let It Snow, Noelle, A Bad Mom’s Christmas, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, Jingle Bell Rocks, The Holiday. I wouldn’t necessarily say any of them are a keepers, two and a half to three and a half star fare, but I’d happily watch them if they came on the tv while I was visiting family for Christmas.

On the naughty list; Love the Coopers, Pottersville, Four Christmases, Christmas with the Kranks. These are ones I would take a cold walk in the snow with awkward chitchat in order to avoid.

Honourable mention to Dash & Lilly, which is a miniseries rather than a movie, and which I found charming.

Burritos and pizza

With Lockdown 2 in place for November it seemed a bit silly to do a big turkey and trimmings just for us. So I made pumpkin pie, we ordered burritos with the reasoning that they are the American food most likely to give us that replete Thanksgiving feeling and we watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Then on the Saturday John hosted a Zoom party for his birthday, which started at 4pm for him to play boardgames for a few hours and then proceeded to regular drinking and chatting into the night, it was good fun and there were some faces I hadn’t seen in a while, which was lovely.

His actual birthday wasn’t until Thursday, we had originally planned on going up to Botley, but that seemed unwise even before the weather turned a bit. Instead we went to Paddle and Peel for pizza and beer in their outdoor area. It was very cold, so we were hilariously bundled up, but still nice. Time to invest in some thermals I think.

Election and convention

I settled in on election eve with junk food and wine and braced myself for doom scrolling and stress eating. I had read all the stats and felt intellectually good but emotionally fragile, and even seeing the first day numbers do exactly what was predicted by fivethirtyeight, it still made for several very long days. But eventually the results were in and now it’s all over but the yelling (though boy is there a lot of that).

Luckily, my return to work had lasted all of two hours before the furlough extension announcement came down and off I went again, so I was able to commit full attention to obsessively refreshing the news. More importantly, once the dust settled, I was able to get ready for Punctuation!

John, Alison, Liz, and Steve put together an online convention for British fandom for the middle of the month, basically intended to fill the gap left by Novacon. I was on two items; Your Favourite Book Nobody Has Ever Heard of, lifted in its entirety from a 2011 Fogcon panel, which seemed to go well, and then a panel on fannish cookbooks where we each made something from a themed cookbook in our possession and showed it off, reviewed the book, and generally chatted about food. Being fandom, there was a surprising variety and the conversation kept going till we had to vacate the room.

I had planned about half an hour to decorate these, it took three.
Doctor Who and the Coffee of Doom.

The convention was intentionally a social-focused, with scheduled zoom party blocks, channels set aside for socialising specifically as well as others for programming chat, gaming (them tabletop people) and games (scavenger hunt, jigsaw), and a fair amount of activities aimed at getting people to hang out (breakfast zoom, cheese tasting, beer tasting, park run).

I had a great time, stayed up late both nights and woke up slightly hungover, so it’s as close to the real deal as I’ve had recently. But obviously I’m biased, living with one fourth of the committee.

Badges! Ribbons! Honk!

Scariest time of year

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader whether the above refers to Halloween, Election Day, or Lockdown 2.

In any case, yesterday was Halloween. John and I watched all three Evil Dead movies! Army of Darkness is way goofier than I remembered, and I remembered it being pretty damned goofy, but the first two hold up well I think. The first is a solid low budget horror movie and for me the all-around best of the three, but the second is probably more re-watchable; it’s weirder, leans into the mythology, and the characters more distinct- if a bit broader. There’s a reason Evil Dead the Musical is based on it. We ordered Chinese food and I decorated the windows in aid of the push this year for trick-or-treaters to do a Halloween trail instead, we did hear groups of kids outside on and off so hopefully they enjoyed that.

Tomorrow I go back to working (from home) which is gonna be interesting after several months away.

Ineffable 2

Once again two conventions occupied the same weekend, but this time I did have to choose between them, alas. New con on the block FIYAHCon which by all accounts was awesome, and Ineffable 2, a Good Omens convention in its second year. Only Ineffable had an art show, so I signed up and got to work on some new fans! Or I say got to work… I did everything but work on fans until a three days before the convention when I finally had a good idea of what I wanted to do. I only got two new fans done, but I sold one of them and was happy with the result on both, and on a third one I am still finishing.

As for the con itself, I love the book and the series, and both authors together and separately, but am not a Good Omens superfan as such, so I only dipped my toe in. That said, it was a lot of fun, in some ways it reminded me of Gally – the enthusiastic and friendly vibe, the cosplay, and to some degree the demographics. The platform was Accelevents, which is clearly designed for business. There was a certain amount of clutter in the design and I did not find it particularly intuitive, but I got my booth set up and generally navigated around well enough, it’s clear Accelerants has a lot of good functionality – it just needs a better interface really. But the con staff was helpful and clearly making an effort to be accessible and updating as needed, there was a ton going on, and people were obviously having a blast. I’d definitely do it again.

Futuricon/C’Monfluence

Doing two virtual conventions the same weekend is easier when both have significant differences in timezones, like these two – Croatia and Pittsburgh respectively.

Futuricon is the one I spent the most time at, given it was only an hour off. It followed the website-streaming-video plus Discord model, although the streaming video platform they used was buggy and had the (dis)advantage that it also provided a chat form. Obviously it’s useful for folks who can’t or don’t want to use the Discord to be able to chat, but it also can dilute things by splitting the conversation. There were three video “programs rooms” with corresponding Discord channels, Futuricon 1, 2, and 3, but the result was mixed, either because things didn’t always start on time, or because less of an effort was put into staffing the Discord chats, so sometimes there was no discussion in Discord (but some on the website) or the discussion was for something else. Still, it was all friendly and relaxed and there were good conversations to be had.

Some of the programming I checked out were a quiz, which I was bad at, Alison Scott’s TAFF trip report, and a Deep Sea and SF talk recorded by someone in the Arctic Circle – which was pretty cool.

For C’Monfluence I mostly just popped into the Discord for the occasional chat. I was amused by randomly running into someone living in Pittsburgh who had just attended a Professor Elemental show streaming from the Art House, which is a half hour walk from here.