MileHiCon 46

It’s that time of year again! MileHiCon 46 is just around the corner, taking place from October 24th through the 26th, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, 7800 E. Tufts Ave., Denver, CO  80237. Here’s my panel schedule:

Saturday, October 25, 2014, 4 pm
Poetry Fantastique — Mesa Verde A

I will be moderating the poetry panel this year, as David Lee Summers won’t be able to make it to the convention. I will do my best, and with a panel including Laura Deal, Gail Barton, and the energetic Dr. Rob S. Rice, it should be an easy job.

Sunday, October 26, 2014, 11:00 am
Dark Net/Net Neutrality — Wind River A

This is a tech panel about current Internet privacy trends moderated by Arlen Feldman, with panelists Margaret Alia Denny, Deena Larsen, Marc MacYoung, and yours truly.

Sunday, October 26, 2014, 4:00 pm
Privacy, Facebook, and Other Social Media — Wind River B

In a similar vein, this is another tech panel focusing on privacy rights in relation to Facebook and other social media platforms. Arlen Feldman is again the moderator (sorry, Arlen, you only get one link), with panelists John Barnes, Kronda Seibert, the mysterious T. Simpson, and myself.

I hope to see some of you there!


On Not Being a Writer

I came to grips with something at the end of 2011: I’m not a writer.

Sure, I have some writing skills, and my thirty-odd non-fiction articles and a few published poems bear that out. But having skills is different than using them. Knowing some things about writing is not the same as writing, and that’s where I consistently fall short.  Writing is active; knowledge is passive, and knowledge fades with lack of use.

So, if I’m not a writer, what am I? I’m a husband/father/computer technician/sole breadwinner. In the past, I have also been a writer/reader/amateur musician/gamer, but in the last few years, I have engaged in precious few of those artistic and entertainment pursuits, and that lack of creativity is wearing on me.

Some of the above responsibilities are not flexible.  I can’t very well stop being a husband or father, nor do I want to. Being the sole breadwinner sometimes becomes tiring, but that’s not really negotiable. Lannette and I learned a number of years ago that her particular combination of disabilities make her incompatible with the 9-5 corporate working world, so the responsibility for regular income falls to me only.

The computer technician portion is the responsibility that I have the most control over, and still seems to intrude the most on my everyday life.  It’s my job, for one thing, but it’s also my hobby and an occasional source of outside income.  I never charge market value for my computer consulting work, not because I don’t think I’m worth it, but because I think the prices for service in the computer industry are wildly overinflated, especially compared to the worth of the machines themselves. I don’t make much from computer consulting, but I do get a good feeling from knowing that I’ve helped someone solve a problem while saving them money. That “Mr. Goodwrench” feeling only goes so far, though, and more often than not, when I have my head stuck in the side of a computer, or I’m trying to wrap my brain around some bit of confusing PHP code while the clock ticks and a client’s website delivers database errors, I find myself wishing I was doing something else entirely.

I think it’s time to cut back on the computer consulting.  I won’t drop my current web hosting and regular consulting clients, but I’m not going to take on new clients. If clients drop off for reasons of their own, I won’t look to replace them right away, if at all. I need to build some creativity and entertainment time back into my schedule, and when I get there, I need to own and enforce it.

By this time next year, I hope I can look back and say that I’ve written a few more short stories and poems, made some progress on that mythical novel, and learned to play some songs that I’ve always wanted to learn on guitar. Maybe I will have even sold a piece of fiction or two, if I’m lucky.

Rumblin’ to Life

I open the lid, dust off the keyboard, and sit in the driver’s seat.  I’ve been driving a lot of other blog traffic lately, but I don’t have the same history with them as I do this one, my blog from before the term “blog” existed.  I miss it, and I need to spend time with it.

I put my username in the login screen, then my password, and the blog rumbles to life.  It seems to be running just as well as when I last visited, despite my neglect.  I need to update the version, turn comments back on, and get back in the habit of driving traffic.  It’s key to getting in the mindset of actually writing, if I’m ever going to do it.

The look and feel needs a facelift, too.  I need to get back to the format that the rest of the blog has, and then I need to add all the static content to the database so it truly becomes part of the real blog.

In due time … in due time.  You can’t take a trip without making sure you have a course mapped out and the time and materials to get there.  I’m gathering all of that right now, and hopefully I’ll get back to the daily updates I was doing several years ago.

Only One Space?

I was always taught that two spaces follow a period. When I got into web design, I was disturbed that HTML only acknowledges one space, but I was able to get past it because it’s a programming language. Two spaces can be ambiguous in code.

Now, a writer friend tells me that the Chicago Manual of Style recommends using only one space after a period. I like to think of myself as an open-minded, transformational grammarian, but some changes–like this one–really stick in my craw.

I wrote this entire post using single spaces, and it almost hurt to do it.

Tweets from a Twoll

There’s a science fiction writer whose work I admire, and whose personal integrity and discipline I admire even more.  I’ve known for some time that this writer has a group of anti-fans and Twitter trolls (twolls?) but I never expected to interact with them.  However, after I sent out a tweet mentioning the writer yesterday, I received responses from one of the twolls shortly thereafter, insulting the writer’s abilities and success.

What drives people like that?  Why do they hate this writer so much that they resort to baiting and taunting him in a public forum?

Is it just jealousy?