Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The marsh is not yet entirely green, but it's making progress. There is a yellow-crowned night heron (as identified by Jonathan) who has laid claim to the section of the marsh just behind our deck. A lone bumblebee has made a project of pollinating the blueberries by herself, day after day. And we've planted half a dozen azaleas, plus daisies and others.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


My first time to RavenCon, and lightning struck the building.
That's what I heard, anyway. A fire alarm went off as I was in the gaming room between seminars, and we all reluctantly ambled toward the exits. While it was pouring rain. Fortunately not too many people (ie, not me) got into the rain before Con Security started herding people back in, telling us that it had been a lightning strike. The gaming room has no exterior walls so we didn't hear a thunderclap ourselves.

My schedule:
Friday: Writing Believable Villains (panel); Agile Writer (Greg Smith) ; Historical Airships (Iver Cooper)

Saturday: Creating Believable Magic (panel); Working with an Editor; Writing the Other (panel); Baen Traveling Road Show (Jim Minz moderating, with authors Michael Z Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Chris Weuve, Iver Cooper, Patrick Vanner, Steve White, Joelle Presby and non-innocent-bystander Tedd Roberts); Game mechanics.

The most informative session was the one on airships; Iver Cooper had slide after slide of detailed information and obviously knew the details of what he was talking about. I thought, in fact, that he might be an aeronautical engineer, but in fact he's a patent lawyer. The session with the most fun was the Baen show, in which Jim Minz told us which books were on the production schedule, talked about some of the art on the covers and some of the new authors, and got (and gave) some good-humored heckling from the authors. The most useful one, from a "writing insights" standpoint, was probably the Believable Villains one, although when I go back through the notes for Agile Writing I may change my mind. 

Good quotes: 
Kate Paulk: "I'm actually disappointed that I haven't gotten a fatwa over Impaler."
Eric Bakutis: "There's always the sequel. It's important to have goals!"

Sarah Hoyt: "Your well-rounded character can be deflated by something sharp and pointy."

Sarah Hoyt, speaking of one of Tom Kratman's characters: "He is seriously lacking in ruth."

Met Michael Z Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Chris Weuve (who I'd met at Trafalgar Day 2005, although he was towards the rear of the Franco-Spanish fleet, while I was close to the van in Heros, so "met" might be an overstatement), Iver Cooper, Greg Smith.

Bought Cthulhu Fluxx (as a gift), Pirate Fluxx, four of the Flashman books, an autographed hardback of Freehold, a draft edition of Agile Writer, and a couple of miniatures, and added a few more books to the wish list (Paulk, Bova, Tony Daniel, Hoyt). 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Disturb us

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, 
where storms will show Your mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
Sir Francis Drake

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, yields the true glory."
--Sir Francis Drake

A Wind on the Bay

We had 30-40mph winds predicted last night, but what we actually got, out on the Bay, was 60-70mph. One 750ft ship went aground off the beach east of Lynnhaven inlet; eleven more dragged their anchors.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Saw the movie this morning. It had a nice libertarian, don't-trust-the-government streak to it. It didn't explicitly say "we think Obama's kill list and drone strikes are bad, and people like Edward Snowden are good", but it sure didn't miss saying it by much. And the theme of "you get to choose between freedom with risk, or security with slavery" was explicitly stated. Cap's "I'm always honest", and the contrast with the villain, could be taken as a comment on our current administration (quite a few of our previous administrations, but it was made during this one). Lots of action, of course. A couple of fan-service shots of Black Widow but not obnoxiously so. Nice introduction of the Falcon. I saw this one in 3d; I'm likely to go see it again in 2D.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Knotts Island

We took a trip to Knotts Island after church today. It's about 45 minutes drive, past Pungo and the aviation museum. It's flat and has water all around it; looks like new construction needs to be raised on pilings--we saw two houses being built that way. A small community, with a restaurant (closed until May), a vineyard/winery (also closed), and one mini-grocery/general store (which was open).  But they did have the ferry, and a street sign that said "Fat Boys Nip Joint", and open water and ospreys. There were lots of green open fields (which always puts me in mind of cavalry actions) and the trees were covered in blossoms, so it was pretty enough for a spring afternoon drive.

Friday, April 4, 2014

First Kayak

Took the kayak out for the first time this year. The water is still cold, and I didn't see any first jumping, but I did see a goose on a nest, and pair of ospreys hunting where the river widens.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Yet More Snow For My Birthday

We went up to the farm for the weekend, with Mom & Dad, Gwen & Josh, and Tabitha and her kids. It snowed on Saturday night--not a real nuisance, but enough to dissuade us from going to Whitetop Mountain and enough to say "winter isn't quite over yet". Josh and I put Ironclads on the pool table; he trounced me, but I had him laughing when my ship aimed for a riverbank and I ordered "Stand by to portage!"
We had poundcake and butterscotch pie for my birthday, and good family time. Drove back by Floyd, Fairystone Park and Bassett, which is a few minutes longer but much less windy and twisty than going by Laurel Fork and Bent Mountain. The countryside apparently decided that enough was enough and it was going to be Spring; trees were flowering and beginning to bud.