stusegal: (The 70s)
[Poll #1503695][Poll #1503695

So far, Bruce has 3 more votes than is showing above (3 people, who are not LJ users and could not vote, emailed me to say if they could vote, it would be for Springsteen).

The Killer

stusegal: (Smoke til ya Croak)
An establishment just opened in the next town, and I love the name.
Winoland Logo

What could be inside?  Is it an amusement park for winos where the logflume ride ends in a vat of Ripple?  Or maybe a day spa where you soak in Thunderbird?



stusegal: (Show some respect!)
I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying all the Sci-Fi on TV this year - and this is despite the absence of my two longtime favorites, Star Trek (yes, I'm a fan of all the iterations) and Dr. Who (I'm not a fan of all the Doctors - but I'm only not watching because I don't get BBC America).

Is there anything else good out there that I'm missing?

What I am watching is:
  • Flash Forward - creative plot, mostly good acting
  • Stargate Universe - surprised I like this, as I disliked all previous Stargates. But I'm a sucker for spaceships - and now they have a spaceship, and a stargate and magic stones - the only thing they lack is the "Guardian of Forever", but I'm sure they'll find a way to time travel too.
  • Heroes
  • Fringe - not quite as quirky as the first season, but still entertaining.
  • Dollhouse - Hey, I like this show (the skimpy costumes don't hurt). But it's apparently cancelled and they're going to play out the remaining episodes in the next 2 months.
  • Smallville - the plots have become so painful I've stopped watching (besides, isn't Superman supposed to fly . . . and how 'bout the phonebooth?)
  • Sanctuary - I like the show, but Amanda Tapping's acting is beyond horrible. I can never tell if she's smiling or grimacing - she seems to have the same expression for every emotion.
  • V - what could be better than deceptive all-powerful aliens surreptitiously taking over the planet? And eventually doing things too horrible to mention to the humans? Especially when we all know, and they don't.
So am I missing anything good?
stusegal: (Default)
Well this is upsetting. Interesting little video about "Kick A Jew" day at a school in Naples, Florida. Naples, Florida!!

I'm sure you'll find the below video as unbelievable as I did, so this is a link to an independent article in the Naples News that confirms this disgusting behavior and the lukewarm reaction of school officials in Naples, FL.

Am I the only one who has the feeling that if it were "Kick The Ethnic Group To Which Barack Obama Belongs Day", these little bigots wouldn't have got off with a slap on the wrist?
stusegal: (Default)
A piece of Photoshop editing from George Mahlberg, a New Jersey DJ who saw something in Oswald's face that made him look like he was screamin' the blues. "Wired" ran this in August '97.

BTW - to say the original incident was an image indelibly burnt into the memories of the baby boomers would be an understatement.

Oswald in a Jam
stusegal: (Default)
We just recently picked up a new car and this is the front plate that was on it.

Any of you Spaceballs fans who may want this front plate before I toss it?

May thew Schwartz

stusegal: (Big Ol' Dinosaur)
First of all - she's fine. Car's totaled.

She was sitting at a traffic light in a line of cars, and some guy on his way to work, exiting US Interstate 287 just didn't see that the cars were stopped, and instead of using his brakes just used the back of her car to stop.

Must have been pretty hard, because his airbag deployed on impact, and he was taken to the hospital (the police subsequently issued him a "careless driving" ticket).  The back end of her car was pretty smashed up, but it looked fixable.

Except for being shook up from the accident (she watched this idiot in her rearview mirror as he hit her, but there was nothing she could do), and having a bit of soreness, she's fine. Just angry.

She really liked the car, and wasn't planning to get a new one for a couple years - but the insurance company says the damage is approaching $20K, and the frame of the car is bent, so by the time it's fixxed it could actually cost more than the value of the car  -  so they "totaled" it.
2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe

I got this car in early 2003; it was one of the first G35 Sport Coupes that Infiniti brought to the US.  (For you not in the USA, this is the car that Nissan originally brought to the US instead of the Skyline GT-R).  I drove the car for a couple years, and in '05 when I ordered a Corvette, Rashmika moved into this car - don't be thinking she gets my "leftovers", because at the time she had her own Jaguar, but loved the Infiniti so much that she dumped the Jag for the Sport Coupe (she claimed the Jag didn't have any "zip").

We both really liked this car.  Too bad.  But the good news is . . .she's fine.

stusegal: (Big Ol' Dinosaur)

I'm pretty sure the neighbors think I'm nuts when they see me out in the rain, in my duster, washing the car . . .

Washing the car in the rain - 2009

The only time I ever wash the car is in the rain. The thing is, the only time any one else washes their cars is on sunny days, because I guess they like to wash it, and shine it, and admire it, and maybe drive around in the shiny car.

I have however noticed that I have what I think is called "hard water", which has a lot of minerals in it, and wherever it air-dries it leaves behind a white residue. This residue builds up on certain of our plumbing fixtures and, even with the chemicals that are supposed to remove it, is nearly impossible to remove.  So exactly what would this residue, or the chemicals, or the required compounding, do to a relatively fragile surface like the paint on a car?

I could spend a lot of time on this but I won't, because the easy answer is - - - I wash the car in the rain.  Then the rainwater washes away the hard municipal water.  And it looks fine.  And I never have to worry about whether it's going to rain after I wash the car.  Makes perfect sense to me.

stusegal: (VITO)
Sept 11, 2009 - today we lost Vito. Rather than dwell on the battle against declining health made by this stoic dog, I’d like to tell you how he affected so many people over the years:

We adopted Vito, a 145 lb. bullmastiff with a head the size of a basketball, at age 2½ . So fierce looking that people would cross the street rather than approach him, so fierce looking that delivery people would start up our front steps then stop when they saw him sitting inside the house behind the storm door.

But we found out in short order that Vito liked everyone. I mean everyone - people, dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels. (In seven years we never heard him growl – not once). Over the years we learned he had a special affinity for people who are old/infirmed and children. He somehow comprehended people’s frailties, and when he was with an old person or a child he was always on perfect behavior, never knocking into an older person, and never objecting when a child would hang on him, or pull his ears, or stick their fingers in his nose or mouth.

Vito met hundreds of people over the years, because we took him to either the park, or Main Street, every day - - and he’d meet strangers. Dog lovers were fascinated with him and would want to say hi, and non-dog lovers and people who were afraid of dogs would often inquire (or we would ask them if they wanted to say hello). There were an enormous number of people who were skeptical or scared, who approached and petted Vito after being assured by us that it was safe, who learned that big fierce-looking dogs are not necessarily what they thought. I just can’t describe the feeling of watching Vito win them over.

Vito ID smaller

And then there was the Therapy work. My Mother became terminally ill in late 2003, and it became very obvious that Vito understood her situation and wanted to comfort her. So obvious in fact that I decided to take him for the Therapy Dog Certification Exam as I thought he might be able to bring a little happiness and comfort to other terminally ill people.

So I read about the certification process and registered for the exam. Let me tell you, while the certification isn’t hard, it does require a dog that is extremely obedient - much more so than a normal housepet or companion dog, more like the obedience expected from trained K9 dogs. The reason of course is that these dogs are expected to go into sickrooms, hospitals and convalescent centers and not wreak havoc either intentionally or unintentionally. So I showed up, and here I was with a bunch of people and trainers who had obviously put their dogs through extensive training and were warming them up putting them through practice exercises. I, on the other hand, sat down next to Vito, looked him in the eyes and gently told him to just look and listen to me, and to stay calm. I don’t want to brag about how Vito’s behavior put to shame all the trained dogs, but it did. Somehow he knew it was important to pass this exam, and he performed flawlessly.

Which led to visiting terminal patients and their families at the Barbara E. Cheung Hospice. Vito went twice a week – he would visit the nurses station, then go bed to bed (he would go into each room and check to see if anyone was in the beds) visiting patients. Truth is, most patients at the hospice were in their final days, and were heavily medicated. But occasionally he would have a tremendous impact on the family members, who were there on what was basically a “deathwatch”, and were tired, stressed, sad. I could tell when it was about to happen because I would see some family member, slumped in a chair, who would make eye contact with Vito, and their face would just light up (after all, the last thing anyone expects to see in a hospice is a big friendly bullmastiff). Which would usually lead to them getting down on the floor and spending a half hour patting Vito and talking about their dog or maybe dogs they used to have. And for that half hour or so they would be transported away from their deathwatch to a place where they were just happy to be with big Vito.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Vito enriched the lives of hundreds of people. The loss to Rashmika and I, and the ones closest to us, is more than you can imagine.


For more photos and info about Vito, see: Vito’s Webpage

At age 2 ½ Vito was diagnosed with a number of serious orthopedic issues, including hip dysplasia, a condition which usually prevents dogs from living a full life. Under the guidance and treatment of our friend, veterinarian Kurt Blaicher, Vito lived a long, happy life, making it to the ripe old age of 9 ½, very old for a bullmastiff; I’m sure without Kurt this would not have been so.

There are several organizations which helped Vito and/or with which he was involved. If anyone would like to make a donation in memory of Vito those organizations are:

Rawhide Rescue - who rescued Vito and placed him with us.

University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School - who provided specialized health support for Vito.

Therapy Dogs International – who certified and insured Vito as a Therapy Dog.

Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey - who do amazing work supporting Hospice patients, and
                                                                    who even let 140 pound bullmastiffs volunteer to help their patients.

Humane Society of the United States – who fight every day for humane treatment of animals.

stusegal: (Default)
Like most people from my generation, I have felt for a long time like I know the Kennedy's . . . almost like they are extended family.  Over the years, the decades, we have celebrated with them, and we have cried with and for them.

A viewer wrote in to one of the cable channels today, in response to the question "Just what is it about the Kennedy's?"  And I thought his/her answer was right on: 
"They were rich, handsome and famous, and all they ever cared about was helping people less fortunate than themselves".

I've never agreed with Ted Kennedy's politics, but I've always admired his determination and sincerity.  I'm glad to have been here to see our first "young" President elected, glad to have cut school one day to see Bobby on the campaign trail, and glad to have heard Ted's 1980 DNC speech.

With Ted's passing we have lost the family who can only be described as America's First Family, even in the hearts of conservatives like me.
stusegal: (Default)
One of the things we again this year at WorldCon was the morning Strolls. We got great authors, artists and editors to join us and stroll around beautiful Montreal.

And over 200 fans showed up to stroll with us!

To read more, and see photos, click here . . . )A couple years ago [ profile] frankwu and I kicked around the idea of bringing a healthier atmosphere to the con, then with the help of [ profile] stephenhsegal and [ profile] capybaron we organized the strolls.

We were joined on the strolls by John Joseph Adams,   Lou Anders,   Peter Atwood,   Paul Cornell,   Ellen Datlow,   Cory Doctorow,  Scott Edelman,   Felix Gilman,   Joe & Gay Haldeman,   Mary Robinette Kowal,   Jay Lake,   Farah Mendlesohn, Larry Niven,   John Picacio,   Lawrence M Schoen,   Stephen H. Segal,   Ann VanderMeer,   Kaaron Warren and Frank Wu.

Below are some photos - the ones in front of the cool old building are on the steps of the Basilique Notre-Dame, and the others are in front of the Place des Arts.

WE'LL DO IT AGAIN!  (maybe Melbourne, definitely Reno)

stusegal: (Show some respect!)
Less than a month away, now I'm starting to get excited! One of the things I'm participating in is Stroll With The Stars - an opportunity to go for a morning stroll with some of our favorite Authors, Artists and Editors.

This was the idea of a number of the participants who were looking for a way to go to the Con, do all the stuff we normally do, but also get out in the fresh air for a healthy stroll and some good conversation. (And let me stress, we mean "stroll" - def: a leisurely walk. This will not be a heart-pounding aerobic activity, it will be a stroll).

Some of the most interesting Authors, Artists and Editors have agreed to lead the Strolls, and will be strolling along at the right pace to have a good conversation.

This year's schedule:

Friday 9AM - Ellen Datlow, Scott Edelman, Jay Lake, Stephen H. Segal, Kaaron Warren
Saturday 9AM - Peter Atwood, Cory Doctorow, Joe & Gay Haldeman, Ann VanderMeer
Sunday 9AM - Lou Anders, Paul Cornell, Felix Gilman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Farah Mendlesohn, John Picacio
Monday 9AM - John Joseph Adams, Frank Wu, Lawrence M. Schoen, Stephen H. Segal
We are going to meet each morning, Fri-Mon, 9AM, at the Riopelle Fountain by the Palais des Congrès (right across from the Palais, at the corner of Ave Viger and Rue de Bluery); returning before before 10. NOTE: You don't need to "sign up", just show up.

ps: Some of us are also doing a "practice lap" at 9AM on Thursday morning if anyone wants to join us.
stusegal: (Show some respect!)
There are three categories I find particularly interesting this year (but I urge you to vote in all categories, and do so before midnight, July 3):

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
– There is a lot of debate about whether METAtropolis was appropriate as a nominee for the category (seems a little strange that fans who claim to be so forward-looking can be so close minded).  If you are unaware, it’s an audiobook, nominated in a category traditionally populated by full-length feature films.  Let me tell you why METAtopolis has my vote:

It is just an outstanding piece of work  -  5 excellent stories by great authors, all which fit within the framework that John Scalzi and the other authors developed  -  beautifully read by 5 pros, led off by a dramatic performance by Michael Hogan.  The concept and the execution (content and production) are simply outstanding, and very different than what’s expected in this category.

This is the kind work that deserves a Hugo.  If you haven’t yet listened to METAtropolis (yes, I know, it’s 9 hours long), stop what you’re doing and start listening  -  it will be well worth your time.

Best Professional Artist – an unbelievably difficult category to vote on, for a couple reasons. 

First, there is no specific piece of work to vote on as there is in the literature categories – so as a voter you are left much more to your own resources than with many of the other categories.  Second, the talent nominated in this category is always just unbelievable  -  every year it is a choice from amongst nominees who are masters in the field, every one deserving a win. 

This year I want to point you toward the work of John Picacio  -  there is a very lot I could say about his work, but the most convincing argument comes from the work itself (see: John Picacio’s 2008 published work).  Review John’s work and I think you’ll agree – this is the work of a grandmaster, the kind of work that honors our genres.

Best Semiprozine
– there is a lot of excitement around this category, not because of the nominees but because of the possibility that the category may be discontinued after this year.  I’m told the reason is because Locus has won so many times that a foregone conclusion is that as long as the category exists, Locus will win.

But I think the Hugo should go to a magazine which publishes literature.  And I think Weird Tales has done an outstanding job of bringing us some of the best new authors, and the best established authors, in the last year (see – Year In Review).  From Peter Atwood, whose Weird Tales story “All In” is nominated for a Prix Aurora Award, to Michael Moorcock’s all new Elric novella  -  Weird Tales hit a home run bringing us great stories from great storytellers.  And isn’t that what the Hugos are all about?

This is the small print that says the opinions above are mine and mine alone.  These opinions may be biased – perhaps by many factors, not the least being my attention to Science Fiction and Fantasy, on screen, in print, and in the spoken word, for over 50 years.

stusegal: (Smoke til ya Croak)
About 6 weeks ago I posted about North Korea's test firing of a missile.  I expressed my concern that if allowed to do so, the North Koreans would forge ahead with their nuclear armament plan, and ended my post with  "And, by the way, when they all said during the election that "the new President would be tested"  -  well, this is it, this is the test, and the terrorists and terror nations of the world are watching."

So from what I could see  -  "we" (meaning the US, led by President Obama) did nothing.  Yes, I know, we went to the UN and got the UN to issue harsh words, and we continued our sanctions.  Maybe our new administration hasn't noticed, but North Korea has ignored the UN for 60 years, and our sanctions have been ineffective.  So my conclusion - we did nothing.

From a North Korean paper yesterday  -  "It is a laughable delusion for the United States to think that it can get us to kneel with sanctions," it said in an editorial. "We've been living under U.S. sanctions for decades, but have firmly safeguarded our ideology and system while moving our achievements forward. The U.S. sanctions policy toward North Korea is like striking a rock with a rotten egg."

I believe 6 weeks ago was the "test" of our new President, and terrorists everywhere observed his "retaliation" (speech).  So this week North Korea actually performed an underground nuclear test, and five (yes 5) test firings of missiles.

Do you think it's just a coincidence that this is happening now?  Do you think it's a coincidence that the first test firing came  less than 100 days after our new President took office?  Do you think it's a coincidence that one month after the first test firing North Korea moved to nuclear testing?

I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence, and I'm also pretty sure that President Obama and Prime Minister Brown making more speeches condemning the North Koreans won't have any effect.  I think something needs to be done before these people develop an atomic bomb and use it to blackmail the world (or sell it to other equally crazy terrorists or terror nations).
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We were lucky to catch Peter Paul & Mary at the State Theater last night. I first remember them from my teens, when they were leading the Peace March in Washington, and they were marching with Dr. King - and their songs like "Blowin" In The Wind" were essentially the musical soundtrack of the protests.

As you can see from the photo, they don't look quite the same as you may remember - a tall willowy blond with long flowing hair and bangs, bookended by tall darkhaired men with goatees. Yes, they're older, and yes they're sitting, and yes (what you may not be able to discern in the photo) Mary Travers is on oxygen.

In '04 Mary was diagnosed with leukemia, since then has had a bone marrow transplant, and though fortunate to be alive has suffered damage to her lungs, thus the oxygen. And at 73, still has the gumption and guts to perform. OK, she is no longer has that iconic long blonde hair that flowed with every twist of her neck, but what she does have is readily apparent on songs like "If I Had A Hammer", where her voice just shines.

It was great to see them, and great to see how they were able to still work together and perform so well, given challenges that might easily prevent most people from going on the road at all.

So we got to hear, "Puff The Magic Dragon", "Leavin' On A Jet Plane", "If I Had A Hammer", "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" and two and a half hours of other stuff, and I got to sing "This Land Is Your Land" with them (well, actually me and about 2,500 other people).

It was really bittersweet to see them, all now in their 70's, Mary struggling with her health - if you can find a way, see them soon.

stusegal: (Default)

When I was a kid, and even a young adult, I had certain expectations of what would happen in the world.  This year I’m going to be 60 . . .and I’m thinking about those expectations, and realize some have happened, in some cases way beyond my imagination. . . and some have not, and may not.

Are you surprised or disappointed by “the future”?

Click here for what I thought, back in the 50’s and 60’s: )

stusegal: (Default)
Occasionally I have something to say. Usually it takes several paragraphs. I find LiveJournal is a good format.

A few months back I joined Facebook, because many of my friends who were on LiveJournal, and many more who were not, joined. I've learned FB is for the more social aspects - but whenever I actually have something to say, I crosspost a link to my LJ post on FB, just in case someone wants to read it.

Now I notice some folks crosspost their Tweets onto FB. So I know who's having coffee, who's in a cab and who took a shower this morning. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have this information - how I've gotten through life without knowing that Lamar was having his green tea is a mystery. My life now feels complete.

(BTW - now that we have gone from the paragraphs of LJ, to the photos and links of FB, to the sentences of Twitter, I wonder where it goes next. Can our attention span get shorter? Can we just send a symbol? Perhaps the artist that was formerly Prince, who was then represented by a symbol, but is now again known as Prince because nobody really "got it", was really on to something when he was represented by the symbol).
stusegal: (Default)
Today North Korea tested a missile.
  • I am told the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) declared the test a failure, as no satellite was put in orbit.
  • I am also told that since the "satellite" story was just a big lie, and the real goal was to test the missile (which did launch correctly, and separated, and the second stage fired correctly), NORAD's position is just ridiculous  -  as this was a successful missile test.
  • And now I'm hearing that this means North Korea can hit all of Europe or North America with a missile; and presumably with a nuclear warhead.
  • And further, that given their relationship with Iran, it puts this capability within Iran's reach
So today  -  North Korea thumbed their nose at the rest of the world and through their actions declared their intention.  And so far, we made a speech (Gordon Brown and Barack Obama "condemned the action, and indicated we were going to go to the Security Council - which seems a little strange since North Korea has defied the world repeatedly and clearly couldn't care less about UN sanctions).

There are two events I remember pretty clearly:
  • The Cuban Missile Crises - and President Kennedy's response was to deploy the US Navy to blockade Cuba, and examine the contents of every incoming ship.
  • The Russian Invasion of Afghanistan - and President Carter's response was to "condemn" the actions of the Russians and to boycott the Moscow Olympics.
In the next couple days we'll find out if Obama has the heart of JFK or Jimmie Carter.  And, by the way, when they all said during the election that "the new President would be tested"  -  well, this is it, this is the test, and the terrorists and terror nations of the world are watching.
stusegal: (Show some respect!)
 . . . but let me set the record straight.  While I appreciate the congratulations, I had nothing to do with it.

Stephen H. Segal and Ann VanderMeer are the editors of Weird Tales, John Betancourt is the publisher and George Scithers is the editor emeritus.  Yes, you see me each year at the World Science Fiction Convention with Stephen; this doesn't mean I'm his publisher, I'm his father (and his fan), and at the conventions I'm his support staff. 

I may admit to subjecting the poor impressionable boy to a house full of Doctor Who and Star Trek, and bookshelves full of Heinlein, Verne, Norton and Asimov when he was a child; perhaps I'll even admit to taking him to conventions.

But the congratulations for the Hugo nomination should go to Stephen and Ann and the team at Weird Tales.  They've done an amazing job.

see: Weird Tales nominated for a Hugo Award

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