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Oh, so it’s going to be that sort of Worldcon

Went to a couple of parties, one small and informative the other packed to the second Zoom page. Did a little more last minute Exhibits stuff, bounced around a few enjoyable Discord conversations, and ate some Tim Tams.

Then it was the fallow time so I napped, we ordered pizza and watched a super bummer episode of For All Mankind and I was ready for the evening. Did a little more last minute stuff, potentially got roped into a probably super fun (??) fannish project, contemplated getting a drink…

… and then I remembered the artist reception is at 6am my time, whoops. There are good panels all night, but I think the better part of valour is to get some sleep now.

CoNZealand Day 1

The first half of today was last minute convention set up, my own (art show) and theirs (Exhibits pages). Then after dinner, going through the schedule a ticking off far too many panels, as is tradition. I spent too long trying to figure out how to get Grenadine to show my schedule local timezone – turns out that isn’t a feature it offers, it will only show the local time when you click on a specific item. However, someone on Facebook mentioned that it does allow you do download an .ics file of your schedule and your calendar will do it for you instead. After some struggles with the download I eventually achieved my goal! So many panels, so many conflicts… that’s how you can tell it’s a real Worldcon.

I got a little nap in before Opening Ceremonies, grabbed a half pint and clicked on the event link. It didn’t work, and along with some other folks in the Discord events channel I clicked around trying to sign in. With their help I eventually did so, and it was a lovely video. Both the retro and regular Hugo bases are fantastic this year.

And then the first panel; Shared Common Myths, which was very enjoyable and will probably add to my reading list. Having the Discord to chat in during the panel is nice.

But now it’s twenty past two, and the next panel on my list isn’t till three am. At that point there are actually four panels/events I am interested in, but I think I will sleep instead.

Well that went fast

Right around the time of my last post I had signed up to volunteer for CoNZealand, and a solid chunk of the hours between then and now were filled by helping out with Exhibits. There’s been a lot to do, but its also been fun playing around with some tools that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to, specifically building WordPress pages in Divi. Also learning quite a bit about the New Zealand fandom and genre scene.

I also spent most of last week in the pre-Hugo deadline crunch, absorbing a lot of written material in a short time. It’s funny how every year I think I’m actually ahead and then realise I have a bunch of novellas unread! Still, thanks to furlough I have definitely read far more of the nominees than usual, might post later with more detailed thoughts.

Probably have not gotten as much art done as I should have, but I think I’ll have a decent display for the convention art show all the same, so I’m trying not to feel too bad about that. I did paint our bathroom, which while less artistic is very satisfying in a mundane sort of way. Also finally managed to make a loaf of proper sandwich bread that would pass muster at the cafe I used to work at.

We had our first visitors since pre-lockdown, John’s parents came down for a couple of days. They stayed at a hotel but it was a proper visit with errands (paint for the bathroom, the traditional Costco trip), and an outing to Lyndhurst. We are participating in an NHS testing program, so we were actually tested just before they arrived and a few days after (negative) so that was fortunate timing.

And now it is just a few days till Worldcon, which I will attempt to time-shift for. Looking forward to seeing what they pull off!

ID2020

I mean, it’s a weird year for Independence Day on every level, even if it was something I was invested in. Last year we had a barbecue, I made a playlist with songs about places in the US (it’s much harder to find good songs for some states than for others), and it we enjoyed the sun. I added to the playlist it over the past year; I Am America by Shea Diamond is a current favourite, but lockdown plus greys skies mean no barbecue even if the mood lent itself.

On the other hand, Hamilton is on Disney, and we are only human. So I’ve made shredded beef in the slow cooker, and (hopefully) tortillas, and we have beer from out local, so that’s us sorted for the evening.

Life in the UK

Yesterday we went to Southsea so I could take my Life in the UK test. This was our first train trip since the before-times, I don’t know how busy that route used to be, but it was pretty empty around 2pm when we went down and a bit busier but still chill on the way back around 5pm. Masks are mandatory on public transit and everyone was in compliance, outside I only saw two or three others.

Even though I know all these things have been outsourced, I sort of expected the testing centre to be a large government-type facility. It was actually about the size of my local dentist practice; one a small office, a waiting room, and a testing room (plus the toilets). It was pretty well organized though; coloured tape on the floor to mark where to go and where to wait, the staff had masks and guards, and everything was as distanced and sanitized as possible. The test itself took about five minutes and was easy, they emailed me my results ten or fifteen minutes later (I passed).

If it had been slightly less windy we would have enjoyed a proper wander up the beach and maybe a takeaway along the promenade or common, but as it was we hustled back to the train station to catch the earlier once-an-hour train back to St. Denys. Once home we celebrated with Indian delivery and a movie; Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, which I recommend if you like Eurovision and/or silly fun movies.

Who watches the shadows

The weather is gorgeous and the garden happy, I harvested my first (and maybe only?) courgette. The plant is self-fertilising but there are almost never male and female flowers at the same time, but then again the internet claims the plant should continue producing for a while so fingers crossed. In any case it was a little round thing, rather than long, but tasted good and it’s always satisfying to eat produce from your own garden. Keeping an eye on those tomato plants now.

In other news, we watched all of Watchmen during the HBO free streaming. It was pretty great, and I was impressed that they were able to make it current and relevant while also maintaining the style and feel of the book, the production design is top notch as is the cast. I also just finished series one of What We do in the Shadows. It isn’t as great as the movie version, but I am enjoying it quite a bit and loving the cameos, especially in the season finale.

Looking forward

Bathroom is halfway done, so everything is still a bit of a mess but we can take baths again thank goodness. It should be finished by the middle of the week and you can see how much better it’s going to look. Plus also not being broken, so hooray to that.

The garden has been a bit neglected while I haven’t had proper access to it, so I may have to spent some time today and tomorrow making sure everything is happy out there. I might even get to harvest one single courgette! It’s round for some reason, but the internet assures me this is a valid variety.

Tearing down, building up

Work has started on the bathroom, which involves a fair bit of awkwardly trying to maintain social distancing while conversing about the work done/needed. It’s just one guy doing the work for obvious reasons (it’s a small bathroom) and we have exiled ourselves to the upstairs except when he needs to tell us something. He assures us he’s been mostly isolating anyway, as have we, so in spite of not being able to maintain strict distancing due to the limits of the architecture I’m reasonably comfortable so far. The main disadvantages so far are that the poor cats have spent the day locked in the bedroom and that we obviously have to, well, hold it all day until the bathroom is accessible again.

Without access to the rest of the house I basically spent most of the day updating my website, tagging old posts, and recovering some pre-2018 posts from my Dreamwidth account. Glad to get it done, even though reading old travel posts is bittersweet just now.

Books and bathrooms

It’s the middle of the month, I have two weeks of furlough left probably. I’ve gotten quite a few overdue personal projects done, but I have a bad habit of having so many projects on the go that even if I complete several I don’t maintain much of a sense of accomplishment. It’s tricky.

Still, one of them is tidying up the website a bit, cleaning up the menus and links, and updating the art pages. It needed doing anyway, but if I’m planning on entering any virtual art shows, an up to date website seems critical. It’s also nice to have something to keep tidy, since the house is going to be in disarray while our bathroom is being fixed. It’ll be really great to have a shower again though!

Meanwhile the Hugo reading chugs along, I’m halfway through The City in the Middle of the Night and am digging it. I’m also reading This is How You Lose the Time War, which I had trouble starting and am reading more slowly but am interested in finding out where it is heading.

John had the day off on Friday so we set it aside to just sit and read Superior: The Return of Race Science, by Angela Saini. A lot of the bare facts I already knew, many I did not, but the most valuable aspect of the book the clarification of a timeline and narrative – so many times the separate facts of any situation feel important but almost anecdotal. Like all good writing on this sort of topic, what Saini does is reveal the bigger picture of how systems are connected, tracing their origins and their modern effects, while also making the point that these are not just passive cultural holdovers that live on despite being obsolete, they are nurtured, revived, reinvented, and disseminated by people and organizations that profit from them. It’s an essential read, even if you know the basics already.