Monday, September 30, 2013

Due to Technical Difficulties...

Going into work on Saturday for a large company project and a general lack of focus the rest of the weekend, there was no entry posted.  Sorry.

I'll try to do better this coming Saturday.  I promise.

While you wait, here is some pleasant hold music...  ("Da-dum, da-dum, da-diddly-diddly-dum...").

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Elephant of Desire

I am searching for the Elephant of Desire.  
It's from that parable, where a bunch of blind men encounter an elephant.  Thinking about it, the situation should make it clear that it's just a parable.  How often do a bunch of blind people get together and stumble across an elephant?  
You know the parable I'm talking about though, right?  The blind people approach the elephant from different directions, and each one gets a different impression of what the elephant is like.  One feels the elephant's legs and says it's like a tree.  Another feels its side and says it's like a wall.  Another feels its tail and says it's like rope.  Another the trunk, and he then claims an elephant is like a snake.  
I think about this parable quite often because I think it describes something very important in the human condition.  That people often deal with only the outer manifestation of things, the tip of the iceberg to borrow another metaphor, and think they are dealing with that matter entirely.  
I think it applies to our desires, too.  
Everyone wants something.  A lot of the things we want are the same.  At the very basis of everything is the desire to stay alive.  And for that, we want food.  We want water.  We want to be able to breathe.  
From that point it gets more complicated.  Once we're alive, other things get wanted.  
Evolutionary geneticists will tell us that it all comes down to reproduction.  That our genes "want" to replicate, and will drive us to behave in ways that will foster that replication.  Like wanting to live, I think the desire to mate is there in foundation of who we are, but I know that it becomes more complicated than that very quickly.  I know a number of people, myself included, who have, either by conscious choice or due to inclinations from the personality, subverted or avoided the impulse for replication.  
But I do think something is there.  There is an Elephant of Desire inside me.  One singular thing that, if obtained, would encompass all the other things I want.  Obtaining this Elephant would give me the ability to obtain all other desires, or would reveal them to be unnecessary.  Illusionary wants that were borrowed from society or upbringing that were filling in for the real thing.  
So, as I stumble through the darkness of my own self-ignorance, here are the things my blind intentions have found.  Pieces of my personal elephant of desire that I'm trying to shape in my mind.  
I want...
To finish the novel I've been working on for the past two years.  To publish it.  To have it become popular.  To have people read it and email me to tell me how much they enjoyed it and complain about how long it's taking me to finish the sequel.  
I want to read, speak and write Japanese as fluently as I read, speak and write English.  
I want to see the lady wearing the wide-brimmed black hat coming out of Trader Joe's the other day naked.  And if you had seen her you'd want to see her naked to.  
I want to have enough "game" where I could approach the lady with the wide-brimmed black hat and tell her of my desire to see her naked without getting slapped across the face.  Or arrested.  
I want that one...  Over there.  No, no...  The other way.  To the right.  Yeah, THAT one.
I want to have a brand new, never before experienced thought every day.  
I want the letter "E" stricken from the English language.  If you listened to Steve Martin's "Cruel Shoes" album back in the 80's, you'd know why.  
I want to know if she is thinking about me.  I want to know in advance what she'd do if I called her.  
I want to form a religion where the highest moral virtue is learning how to leave other people alone (as long as they are not hurting anyone else).  
I want my brain hooked into a computer network where I can get the answer to any question just like that.  
I want to find a place that sells pizza as good as Rocky's New York pizza, the pizzeria near our house when I was a kid.  
I want to sell more short stories.  
I want to get to the point where I can send out short stories more often because I'm no longer fearful of the emotional cut I feel when a story is rejected.  
I want to find a way to play online baseball professionally.  I want my team, the Pasadena Blu-Cru, to be the most feared online baseball dynasty ever.  
I want to be a better person that I claim to be.  
I want to be 35 again because 35 is the perfect age for a man.  It's well past the point where people think of you as being "just a kid," but young enough to where you can still depend only on yourself to get things done. 
I want to sleep eight hours straight through the way, without tossing and turning or waking up in the middle of the night, the way I used to.  
I want Mom and Dad to be there when I call them for as long as there are phones.  
I want a vacation home on the moon.  I want to put a transparent cover over a good sized crater.  Fill the enclosure with breathable atmosphere and create a self-supporting biosphere.  I want to build my living quarters in the slopes of the crater and the entire bottom would be a giant park.  The first thing I would do once I'd moved in would be to put a pair of wings on my arms and fly over this landscape just so I could think, as I'm sure eagles do when soaring, "This is my domain."  
I want to live in Japan for a year.  And during that year, during the winter, I want to bathe in a hot springs with a bunch of monkeys.  Why?  Because it's a hot springs full of monkeys!  How cool is that?  
I want an overlay that puts a balloon over the heads of everyone around me and tells me, through a quick, non-invasive analysis of their data output, which would be the people I could be friends with and which might be a threat.  
I want go to outer space.  I want to see the Earth, with my own eyes, from orbit.  
I want the Dodgers to win the World Series this year.  And next year.  And the year after that.  
I want to know what's going on over there.  
I want a sense of peaceful calm to descend on me at a random moment each and every day.  It would be like rebooting my brain.  
I want to see tomorrow.  
I want to find a way to make my imaginary worlds real, so other people can come and play with me.
I want to not want so much.  
I want to see all of these pieces come together in my head, like a slow motion video run in reverse.  It would be like seeing the Big Bang that created everything run in reverse, to the point where everything was one.  And when these desires have returned to the hot, dense state they enjoyed when part of the unified desire I believe they came from, I want to be able to look at it and say, "Oh, yeah...  That's what it is," and feel content.
And then, I want to give it a peanut.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Lie & Other Acts of World Building

I find myself wishing I was either a much better liar, or that I was much more forthright and honest.  One of the two.  Pick one and go forward, and handle the consequences as best I can.  
I used to be a very good liar.  This was back when I was a Theatre Major, studying Acting at California State University, Fullerton (Go, Titans!).  
I didn't think of it as lying at the time.  I thought of it as...  Acting.  
What I would do would be to make things up and see if I could convince people they were true.  I wouldn't take it very long.  And I would always let the person I was telling the lie to know, eventually, that it was all just a story.  That made it all right.  Right?  
I came to understand that it didn't make it OK, but I'll get to that in a bit.  
People lie a lot.  We lie to keep from being hurt.  We lie to keep from hurting.  We lie to get out of conversation without telling the other person we think they're boring.  I'm starting to believe that what separates us from the other animals that walk, crawl, creep and buzz about isn't our opposable thumbs or our ability to contemplate our own mortality.  It's our ability to create a pretend world and then present it to someone else, knowing that it's all made up, as Truth.  
I went online, to Wikipedia, and found they had a page devoted to "the Lie."  They had twenty-eight different types of falsehoods listed there, and I don't believe it is a complete list.  In fact, I know it isn't because I went there looking for the specific term for a type of lie that I can't remember.  It's a lie that, while truthful in the facts it presents, gives an inaccurate impression of a situation.  
Here's the example I remember: Let's say I run an advertising agency (since we're talking about misleading people, it seems an appropriate company to choose).  I have five account representatives working for me.  One has forty years of experience working in the field.  The remaining four all started last week.  A client asks about the experience of my staff.
"Oh, my account representatives average eight years of experience in the field."  Do the math.  It's entirely true.  But I wouldn't want the client speaking to my staff directly.  
Does anyone know the term for a falsehood like that?  
The term for what I used to do in college is a "Jocose Lie."  It is a lie that is meant in jest.  Something understood to be false by the parties involved.  Understood at the beginning, as I know understand.  There is a group in London, England, called the Crick Crack Club, which organizes a "Grand Lying Contest" every year.  A storytelling tradition where the storyteller insists that everything he or she is saying is true, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  
Evidence to the contrary is important.  
If it feels like I'm creeping up on something, I am.  Creep, creep, creep. 
One of the most useful concepts I learned as a writer was, "the lie you wish were true."  I want to say I got this from Lawrence Block, the famous mystery writer who wrote a great book on writing called, "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit."  I'm not sure that it is him or not.  His book title fits the theme of this entry, so I'll stick with him for now.
This isn't a lie.  It's an unverified recollection.  
The lie you wish were true is a way of finding a story in a situation.  Take something that happened, a break-up with a girlfriend/boyfriend for instance.  It probably didn't turn out the way you wanted, whether you were the dump-er or the dump-ee.  
I think this is another reason why people lie, because the circumstances they find themselves in are often so very far from how they want them to be, that imagining another reality where they are better is the most natural thing to do.  So natural that we "forget" to tell the person we're relating to that what we're expressing exists no where in the reality being shared.  
That's at the heart of the lie you wish were true.  Take the situation and imagine how you would have wanted it to go, how it "should have" gone, had you been smarter, more eloquent, or if the other person came to the realization about the wonderfulness that is you in time to avoid the whole messy situation.  In that reality there could be a story you might want to write.  
Lies start things.  They rarely end them.  There the saying, "Show me a liar, I'll show you a thief."  The Japanese have a similar saying: 嘘は盗人の始まり。Uso ha nusubito no hajimari.  A lie is a thief's beginning.  People hate being lied to because it feels like something has been taken from them.  Con-men often express distain and contempt for their victims.  It's their own fault for being stupid enough to be tricked.  
I learned that with my last Jocose Lie back in college.  I was in the green room of the school's Theatre Department, going through my wallet.  It slipped from my hand and its contents spread across the floor in front of the sofa.  A freshman sitting nearby helped pick up the fallen items.  
"Oh, she's cute..."  She was holding a picture of my little sister.  She was ten years old at the time, but the photo was from years before, when she was about two years old.  "Is she...  Your daughter?"  
Yes, I replied, my brain spinning off a wild tale.  I won't go into details.  After so long, I've forgotten most of them.  It was filled with separation and tragedy.  Heartbreak and loss.  
"Oh, wow..."  The freshman's eyes got really big.  I took the picture from her and put it back in my wallet.  I excused myself and went to the bathroom.  I told myself I'd tell her the truth, the real truth, when I got back.  
Someone else beat me to it, though.  Someone in the green room who overheard what I had told the freshman clued her into what I was about.  When I got back and started telling her that my previous story was just a story, she told me she already knew.  
"We could have been friends..."  She gave me a little shrug that said the possibility was closed forever.  Then, she cocked her head to one side.  "You know...  You lie with your eyes.  I didn't think anyone could do that."  
Well, there are people like that.  I'm like that, though because of the look on that freshman's face I stopped the practice of telling those stories.  
Correction: I stopped the practice of telling those lies.  
I recall the scene in the Star Trek episode, "I, Mudd."  It's near the end, after the crew has started their efforts to get the androids to go into loop-locks by doing all sorts of illogical things.  They've turned their efforts toward Norman, the only android of his class, under the assumption that he is the master controller for all the androids.  
The final blow comes when Harry Mudd tells his former servant, "Listen to me carefully, Norman...  I am lying."  Norman starts trying to parse the "liar's paradox."  If the statement is true, then Harry is lying, but then the statement would have to be false, since he's saying that he's lying, but if that is the case then he is in fact lying, which would make the statement true...
We don't have smoke coming out our ears and get stuck in programming loops like Norman did.  Lying is too well integrated into our programming.  
So, the answer to my quandary posed at the beginning of this entry?  The lie I wish were true: I am a completely honest person.  I never lie.  I will go forward in life toward the bright light of truth, even if it means I will make things more difficult for myself by crossing people more powerful than me.  I will do this to keep from stealing from other people their faith in me.  
Cross my heart.  Scout's honor.  Honest.  
Now...  There's some beachfront property in Arizona I want to tell you about...

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Week 1 AWC (After WorldCon)

I knew I was back in the "Real World" when I started imagining myself killing the driver of the shared van I was riding in. It was going to be an execution style killing.  It was going to be after he told me he was going to pick up someone else before taking me home. 
In the hopes of being fairly evaluated for this imagined killing, which I assure you was never carried out, I need to tell you that I was exhausted after 10 hours of travel.  The airline that I took to get home from San Antonio, where I attended WorldCon, United Airlines, had pushed back every single flight I booked with them.  Getting to WorldCon the week before, they turned my 8 AM departure to one around 12 Noon, which I didn't find out about until I checked in for my flight online and printed my boarding passes.  My connecting flight out of Houston to LAX had started boarding a half hour before my flight from San Antonio was scheduled to land.  The next flight they put me on was scheduled to depart 3 hours after the one I was supposed to be on, though it didn't actually lift its wheels from the ground for another 45 minutes or so after that.  
But that's OK.  I got home.  About four hours later than expected, and with only about five hours before I had to get up to go to work the next day.  But I did get home.  
It was that day-dream execution, sitting in the back of the shuttle bus as I kept checking the GPS on my phone to see how much longer it would be before I got home, that told me I was out of the imaginary world I'd entered going to WorldCon and back into the nitty gritty of daily existence.  And by reminding me of that, it reminded me of the promise I had made to myself, inspired by the experience of going to WorldCon, that I wanted, still want, to carry forward in my life.
I want to be Perfect in All Things.  
I've already blogged about the panels that I went to at WorldCon.  At least one of which, the Screenplay Structure for Novelist, is already impacting my writing.  The novel I'm working on, A Spell of 13 Years, is getting a new outline because, after reviewing my story with the Screenplay Structure tenets in mind, I decided that I had chosen the wrong character to be the antagonist.  This also changed who needed to be the "relationship character," or "impact character" as I knew the concept from the story creation program, Dramatica Pro.  As I go over my notes and work on different stories, I'm sure the panels will give me more leads and suggestions, or basic things to consider.  
The desire to be "perfect," though, comes from a realization as to how differently I think and behave when I'm at a WorldCon than when I'm going about my "real life."  
At WorldCon, for instance, I talked to strangers.  Quite often.  I say "good morning" and "Hello," to everyone that stepped into the elevator I was riding.  I would take responses as invitations to say something more, and would often find myself talking at length to someone who was just passing by.  
I recognize the fact that while at WorldCon I was, 1) On vacation and 2) Had a reasonable expectation that the person I was talking with had interests and attitudes that broadly paralleled mine.  But wouldn't I have a similar overlap with someone I meet walking their dog through my neighborhood.  They're an animal lover.  They live in Pasadena.  Those are things that we have in common, right? 
I feel like I'm starting to preach now, and that isn't what I wanted to do with this.  
I had a number of very stimulating conversations with one of my convention going friends, Jo Rhett.  It is the most we've talked together since first getting to know each other through our shared experience with the writing workshops at the WorldCon that took place in Montreal, Canada in 2009, and the online Anticipation writing group we both joined subsequent to that.  Most of the time we were talking about stories and writing.  But we also talked about our real lives, too.  
One of the things I got out of these conversations was a realization that I am pretty good at what I do to earn my living.  It may sound odd, but I've been struggling to come to terms with that.  For years upon years, my hopes and dreams, my sense of self-identity and self-worth, was tied to my creative life.  I was a writer.  The stories and comic books I published represented who I was.  "That" over there, that activity I did to feed and clothe me, was "just my job."  When I was praised by someone for what I did doing "just my job," I would often shrug it off.  Because it was, "just my job," and because what I really wanted was praise for the stories and comic books I created.  
I am thinking now that this was a mistake.  Not because I'm thinking of giving up writing or I'm changing what I think is important.  Writing is very, very, VERY important to me.  Going to events like WorldCon, talking about writing with my writing friends, reaffirms that for me.  Never was it more clear than when I was at the Hugo Awards presentation ceremony, watching someone win their first Hugo for something they created, and feeling in my gut the twisting burning desire to be on stage in their place.  
But just as I'm not "just" a writer, what I do is no longer "just a job."  When I first took over the production department for my company, the unit had not met the monthly goal set for it for the previous 15 months.  After taking over, we beat the goal for the next 11 months in a row and processed a million dollars worth of work in a month for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th time in the company's history.  
That's not bad.  Not at all.  
What is bad is that I've not taken advantage of that accomplishment.  My writing life and my work life have been kept separate.  Kept at bay, is perhaps a better way of saying.  By doing that, I haven't allowed my work life the benefit of what my writing life has given me.  Nor have I allowed my work life to teach me how to improve on my writing.  
My first inkling along this lines came in a panel about running a convention.  It was the first time I had attended a "fannish" panel.  At one point, the moderator asked the audience, "Who here has experience running a large project?"  
I sat there for a moment, not raising my hand.  Then it hit me, I run a department that produces three million plus pages of documentation each year, with a level of accuracy high enough to satisfy attorneys as clients.  
I raised my hand.  
After the panel, based on questions I'd asked during the discussion, a number of people came up to offer me suggestions.  Apparently I struck them as someone who could run a convention and was thinking of doing so.
Running a convention...?  Huh...  But if I did...  I know the theme I'd use.
Whether I follow up on this inkling or not, I do want to bring these parts of my lives together.  I want to be more like the person at WorldCon, who is genuinely curious about the people I met and is more engaging.  I also want to be more like the character I've portrayed at work, who thinks through problem, anticipates disasters and stays on top of monster sized pile of work.  
In short, I want all parts of my life to benefit from the other parts.  That way, I am doing more of what I want to do, without imagining murdering the people that frustrate me.
Unless, of course, they deserved to be killed. 
But that's another discussion for later. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

WorldCon Day 5 - What I REALLY Want Is...

As I write this, WorldCon is pretty much over.  The last panel has been attended.  People have started going home.  Farewell dinners are being eaten.  The Dead Dog party should be coming up soon, when you get together and say your last good-byes.  
"It's been fun!"  
"See ya in London!"  
"You really ought to go to Westercon next year..."  
I just sighed, in case you couldn't hear me.  I am a bundle of wants right now.  I want what I want and I'm going to keep on wanting until I get it.  
Here are the last panels I attended for the last couple of days.  I point out my wants as I go along.  
Disaster & the LIterature of the Supernatural - This was a presentation put on by the Japanese contingent.  The moderator for the panel, Masao Higashi, was in the Tohouku region of Japan collecting ghost stories from people in the area a couple of weeks before the earthquake and tsunami hit.  He completed his work to include the ghost stories that have come out of the region since the disaster.  One thing I didn't realize was the underpinning of the Japanese festival Obon.  I knew it was a time to honor one's departed family and ancestors, and that part of the celebration was the telling of ghost stories.  What I didn't know until this week was the belief the Japanese have that the dead continue to exist through the telling of these stories.  They live on by being talked about.  I also learned about a Japanese custom of telling 100 ghost stories in a room lit by 100 candles.  With each story one of the candles is extinguished until, after the last story, when the living are in darkness, "something" happens.  
Before the panel I was talking with one of the panelist about a previous panel she had been on, about the difference between Japanese giant monster movies and American giant monster movies (think Godzilla and King Kong).  She asked me if I had since the movie Pacific Rim.  I tried to say I hadn't seen it yet ("mada mite imasen"), but ended up saying that I hadn't held it yet ("mada motte imasen").  She gave me a funny look and asked me again if I'd seen it before I caught my mistake.  
I want to speak Japanese better.  
Rapture of the Geeks - A panel about the possibility of uploading one's consciousness into a computer and achieving digital immortality.  Most of the discussion was either about how far we are from achieving such a technological feat (or even if it was ultimately possible), or about the possible pitfalls if you allowed your "self" to be put in such a situation.  "If you're just a brain in a box, what happens if they decide to unplug you?"  The most interesting question was the degree to which our physical sensations shape our sense of self.  How much of "Me" would be in there if the sensation of having a pepperoni pizza, or having sex, or being hugged by someone I loved was not part of my sensual input.  
I have to admit I hadn't thought of that part before.  Maybe I need to have a better body made to go along with the improved brain.  Still, I want to be uploaded.  
Care & Feeding of your Aliens & Magical Beings - A panel about how to create imaginary creatures that are just humans in rubber suits.  Very little about fantasy creatures was discussed since all three panelists thought of themselves as science fiction writers.  A lot of the same "things to think about" as I've heard before.  What senses do they have?  What range in the spectrum, frequency, etc, do they perceive.  Better parts of the panel were from the aspect of story creation.  What does the alien need in the story?  Plus examples of well designed aliens from stories past.  
I'm working on a story about a first contact right now.  I want to make the aliens in this story believable.  
You might be seeing a pattern in this blog at this point.  
First Contact without a Universal Translator - A panel about how we would establish communication with an intelligent alien species without the technical gizmos sometimes found in popular entertainments.  All of the panelists seem to have backgrounds in linguistics and psychology, so a big part of the time was spent define terms, such as the difference between "Language" and "Communication."  Toward the end of the panel, when I asked them directly what protocol would the panelists set up if an alien was dropped into the room right they and they were tasked to communicate with it.  The answer was, "teach it our language by pointing at something," she pointed at the glass before her, "and saying something like, 'glass.'"  
It was an interesting discussion, but I wanted to get more out of this panel.  
There wasn't a lot on the program that interested me today.  I decided to take some time and go see the Alamo.  It's only two blocks away from the hotel I was staying at.  
One thing about the Alamo is that it's a lot smaller than you expect it to be.  The map tells you that what you're actually visiting is the chapel of the original structure, which actually covered the equivalent of several city blocks.  There is a spiritual aspect to the place.  The woman asks anyone wearing a hat to remove it before stepping inside.  No photography of any kind is allowed.  
Heading toward the Alamo I passed a group of protesters.  They had signs about lowering the rate of cesarian births and knowing about your rights to have a mid-wife.  They were down the street when I passed them, but by the time I came out of the Alamo they had moved to stand right before the moment to have their picture taken with it in the background.  
They wanted something and I guess they thought it would help to have the Alamo on their side to get it.  
Can Traditional SF Communities Survive Multimedia Conventions - This is the first "fan" panel I've attended at a WorldCon.  I'd been having discussions with my con-going friends about the difference between the two conventions I attend each year.  Comic-Con in San Diego (which gets about 120,000 people attending over a four, or four and a half if you count preview night, day period) and WorldCon, which gets somewhere in the general neighborhood of three to five thousand, depending on where in the world it's held.  The panelists were all people involved in the running of fan conventions and seemed to be quite militant in their desire to not have WorldCon become like Comic-Con or similar large conventions.  
One panelist put it this way: "You go to Comic-Con or DragonCon to get something.  The latest issue or a glimpse of a star in your favorite show.  You come to a convention like WorldCon to meet the friend you haven't met yet."  
I have to admit that as time progresses I find myself more interested in coming to WorldCon than Comic-Con.  I find the experience to be more enjoyable.  I look forward to the discussions about favorite books or discovering books I haven't read yet, or "talking shop" with my writing friends.  
At one point, a young fan, 22 years old, offered his opinions about the draw for larger conventions for people his age.  The panelists invited him to join them up front and tell everyone what he thought.  Unfortunately, they kept interrupting him to explain what he meant as he tried to put his thoughts into words.  To give him the opportunity to speak his mind, I tried to ask him to describe three or four panels that he would have liked to have seen at this year's convention.  
After the panel was over, I had several people come up and tell me what panels they thought I should have.  I seemed to have given everyone the impression that I was thinking of running my own convention and was looking for ideas. 
Do I want to try to run a WorldCon style convention?  Uh...  I'm setting that question aside. 
Computers Using DNA for Storage - The title of the panel says it all.  I got in late, so I missed a lot of the technical information as to how it is being done.  I did get some interesting tidbits.  There have already been successes using artificial DNA to do things like save the entire collection of Shakespearean sonnets.  And that 1/2 kilo of DNA could be used to store all of the digitally generated data created in the entire world.  Discussion about how, since our bodies are already pretty well functioning harborers of DNA, this sort of data storage should be relatively easy to splice into use to carry.  Followed by discussions as to how advisable that would be.  
I want to think about that a little before I try it.  
That was it for the convention, pretty much.  Except for one thing...
Sunday was the Hugo Awards.  I was tweeted about some if while I was there.  The parts that surprised me.  Dr. Who finally NOT winning a Hugo was the biggest surprise for me.  You can find the winners online if you want.  No need for me to give out those names here.  
It was while sitting there, I think during Pat Cadigan's acceptance speech for her first win, that I felt it coming over me.  
I want to win a Hugo.  
I want to write lots of stuff and have it published.  
I want to finish my novel and have lots of people read it and nominate it so that I can win the Hugo I mentioned wanting to win above.  
I want to be very, very, very, VERY good at this so that fans recognize me and get made for now coming out with the sequel as fast as they want it. 
Yeah...  That was about the time that WorldCon does what it usually does for me.  Makes me want to keep doing this until I get it right.
I just sighed again.  Got to pack for the flight to reality tomorrow.  
See ya'll in London.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

WorldCon Day 4 - Quantum Lightbulbs are A-Popping!

I think being at WorldCon violates Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.  I noticed that my entries are being dated the day I'm writing them, but the content is about the day before.  
Does this mean that time is slipping?  Am I getting closer and closer to the speed of light, which is causing time to slow down in my relative time-scale?  
I certainly seem to be gaining mass.  But that could be from all the convention food I'm scarfing down.  
Maybe my consciousness was uploaded to a massively parallel processing quantum computer, and my sense of time running away from me is from the clock speed being sent to infinite.  
Or maybe I've just become unstuck in time, just like Billy Mummy.  No...  Wait...  I mean, just like Billy Pilgrim, from Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five.  Billy Mummy played the weird kid with that corn field in that Twilight Zone episode, and was Lost In Space, not Lost in Time.  
Gotta keep my references straight.  Unless the character was named Billy Mummy in an alternate dimension.  Woah.  And my neural engrams have been imprinted with that information!  Of Course!  
Or not.  But the ideas just keep popping in my head.  A bunch of quantum light bulbs going "pop, pop, pop!"  They are flashing into existence at the event horizon inside my brain, allowing some of them to escape and enter the general consciousness stream I'm sharing with you.  
I wonder if they have any more of those barbeque meatballs in the Con Suite.  Now THERE'S an idea.  And that's what this day was about.  Ideas.  Pop, Pop, Pop.  
How to Write a Short Story - Good panel.  Quick and lively.  I like writing panels like this.  Even when they don't tell me something knew, it makes what I've heard and learned before pop back into the foreground of my mind (pop, pop, pop).  Statements that shifted my perspective were: "A short story is about a moment that changes a person's life."  Michael Swanwick said that.  That put things in a good perspective for me. 
Planning a Starship - A panel that focused on existing technology to trigger others to build a working starship.  A powerhouse group with David Brin, Gregory Benford, Joe Haldeman, Laura Burns and Albert Jackson.  A lot of the same material that was brought up in Benford's Starship Century panel the day before, though it did range a bit wider into areas that haven't been disproved as of yet.  Listening to the banter of Brin, Benford and Haldeman made it entertaining at least.  Some discussion as to why the aliens haven't visited us yet, despite the numbers indicating there should be millions of inhabited systems out there.  That touches on something in my own universe.  
Screenplay Structure for Novelists - A presentation by Lou Anders, chief editor at Pyr Books, who used to write screenplays in Hollywood.  A new way at looking at how to plot novels.  It overlaps some of what I learned from using Dramatica Pro, the story generation software I use, but it is very clear and concise.  Anders is an entertaining speaker as well.  Gave me things to think about concerning my own novel (pop, pop, pop).  
Consensual Reality - How our ability to augment our reality might change us, especially if Real reality contradicts it in a bad way.  This is something I've thought about, how this sort of enhancement could improve our lives, personal, economic and political.  Imagine if, while hearing a politician speak you could see a bubble over his head telling you who is paying for his campaign.  The panelist focused a lot on the negative aspect of augmenting reality, which gave me other aspects to consider (pop, pop).  It also reminded me of the presentation on AR Poetry I saw in the SF in Japan panel the day before.  
One thought I had in the midst of the panel: In 1984, we were warned about Big Brother.  The problem today seems to be more from a swarm of little brothers that we have all around us.  
Starship Patents - This was a hoot!  Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf from the Swedish patent office brought some copies of actual patent applications from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and Russia for spaceship designs and space related equipment.  My favorite's included the Greenhouse Helmet, which has plants growing inside the astronaut's headgear to provide oxygen from his/her expired carbon dioxide, and a flying saucer which used an "Unknown Einstein Effect" to slow down light and use the increased energy to power magnets that would allow the craft to fly to the nearest star system in two weeks.  The best one, though, was the "Spiritual Eye."  It's a "device," a wooden frame with a plexiglass panel dividing it in two, which, the inventor claimed, he had already used to project his consciousness over 400 light years to communicate with representatives of the Pleiladian Federation, with whom he has already signed, on our behalf, a treaty allowing Earth to join.  Wow.  These are genuine patent applications that can be looked up on line, and some of them were actually GRANTED!  There is a story in this somewhere (pop).  

WorldCon Day 3 - Time Alterations

Late, late, late, late, late...
My sense of time is slipping away from me already.  And this is only Day 3.  I must be getting older.  
When did 11 AM become "early"?  
I was speaking to a member of the Japanese contingent the other day, and she was telling me how the Americans that go to WorldCon are different from other American's she's meant.  "Futsu no Americajin ha..." or, "As for normal Americans," always look her in the eye with what she perceives as a startling directness.  They make and hold direct eye contact while speaking to her.  
Convention, goers, however, are more Japanese-like.  They will often look away, shielding their gaze from her.  She thought this distinction interesting, though it was surprising.  
It was a simple thing to me.  The fans at WorldCon are "otaku," using the Japanese word for "super-fan" or, more colloquially, "geek."  They have been taught by society that the things that interest them, comic-books, science fiction, science itself and the desire to know as much as possible about all of this stuff, is weird.  We're used to being embarrassed.  We're used to being polite to hide our true selves and get along.  We watch new people out of the corner of our eyes to see if they share our particular bent.
A nerdy life is a lonely life.  You spend the better part of your existence dealing with normal society.  It's why we go to conventions like this, to meet other like minded people to tell ourselves that we're not as weird as other people think we are.  Or, with greater honesty, to tell ourselves that just because we are weird, it's not a bad thing to be.  
The ultimate state to reach is, "Yes.  I am THAT weird, and it's the way I want to be."  The more militant among us would add, "So, deal with it."
Coming down the elevator, it came to me that I had to establish my own reality for a bit.  I was riding in the express elevator, that went from the 25th floor to the lobby in one shot.  While passing all the floors that it doesn't stop at, the lighted floor indicator above the door will show a big, glowing red "X."  
When it appeared, I said out loud, but as if talking to myself, "The X-Dimension...  I've finally made it home."  
The others in the elevator laughed.  I turned my back toward them, facing the door.
"I am truly sorry for what's about to happen to you all."  They laughed again, just as the elevator stopped and I entered the world I had just made my own.  
The Relationship between Writers & Editors - This was an OK panel.  A lot of common sense advice that I'd heard before.  A lot of funny horror stories about writers using their editors as ersatz counselors, or conveying secrets about their life the editor would rather hadn't known ("I won't be able to turn my manuscript on time because I'm leaving my wife next week.  But don't tell her 'cause she doesn't know yet").  One interesting point, brought up by Sheila Williams is that she gets less of that sort of contact since they've gone to online submissions and emailed communication.  
The Year in Physics & Astronomy - This panel was standing room only.  Lot's of people interested in science at a science fiction convention.  Some of the things mentioned: 
*) A Chinese group has announced that they've developed a working "Dean Drive," a spaceship engine that is supposed to produce thrust without reaction mass.  As their results have yet to be duplicated, this claim is met with skepticism.  
*) The discovery of quantum mechanical effects in the metabolic substrates of our cells.
*) The discovery that quantum mechanics is behind the reason why plant cells use the sun's energy to photosynthesize more efficiently than anything man has created thus far.  It seems the molecule controlling the process can hold a photo in an non-collapsed state for longer periods (measured in pico-seconds) so it will collapse where it will produce the most energy output.  Woah.  
*) Lots of claims about dark matter and dark energy.  Described as a "food fight amongsts physicists."  
*) Unbound planets traveling between solar systems may outnumber the stars in the galaxy.  
Starship Century - A presentation by Gregory Benford about the laying the foundation toward creating and launching a spaceship to another planet within the next century.  It follows a symposium that was held at UC San Diego in La Jolla, and a book that came out this week collecting the talks and presentations from that symposium.  Benford read a quote from Thomas Jefferson in 1804 who said that the American frontier would reach the Pacific Ocean in about 1,000 years, and then noted the fact that the intercontinental railway was completed in 1869, beating Jefferson's prediction, considered to be one of the most intelligent people of his day, by an order of magnitude.  Topics brought up included nuclear rockets, 3D printers, space elevators and transhumanism.  
Science Fiction in Japan - Very different style of panel than I think most western convention goers would be used to.  Very presentation.  Talks about conventions in Japan, including one bringing together writers and publishers from China and the West together.  One woman presented her work which she calls "AR Poetry."  She will visit a location, such as a clean-up site in the tsunami-hit Tohouku region in Japan, and will use her smartphone to place visual tags on what she sees.  Using the same software on your smartphone, you can see her tags through your phone in a form of visual poetry.  I also found out that the Japanese version of YouTube allows viewers to post their comments on a video in the form of subtitles across the bottom of the screen.  Very interactive.