Sunday, June 29, 2014


My first LibertyCon. I went to panels on neurophysiology (led Tedd Roberts), writing epic fantasy, warfare in science fiction, and how to kill zombies as messily as possible. Saturday included a talk on how independents can increase their sales on Amazon (e.g. have a well designed book cover, where the title can be read at thumbnail size), structured socialization for geeks, a reading by John Ringo, a worldbuilding workshop led by Bill Fawcett and Jody Nye, and an introduction to the Tiny Epic RPG, plus a few minutes in the Con Suite at the end of the evening. Sunday was standing on the front steps where a few guys were around John Ringo, each telling or embellishing tales, and then a two hour game design workshop with Bill Fawcett. And on Saturday evening we had dinner with Jonathan, who was in Chattanooga due to the vagaries of the railroad.
People met include Miriam Ringo, Dorothy and Peter Grant, Todd Lyles, Michaux Dempster, Bill Fawcett,  Toni Weisskopf, plus others I'd met before including John Ringo, Mike Williamson, and Sarah Hoyt, and others. About 600 people at the con, which is a nice size, not too crowded. Quite a drive to get there, but a lot of fun.

Friday, June 27, 2014

U.S. Space and Rocket Center

On the trip from Nashville to Chattanooga, we went by way of Huntsville AL to see the US Space and Rocket Center, with a pause at the Tennessee/Alabama border to pick up some fireworks. We spent about three hours, which wasn't enough time to see everything, but we did get a look at the Wernher von Braun exhibit, the Moon Program hall with the Saturn V in it, the A12 (precursor to the SR71), and the park with a timeline of interceptor missiles. I was tempted to go on the centrifuge--the G Force Accelerator, which subjects the rider to 3g--but, perhaps fortunately, it started raining and there was no one at the machine.
In retropect, we should have allocated a full day to this.

Monday, June 23, 2014


After a leisurely morning which included crepes, honeyed Greek yogurt and strawberries, and then watching Jon's video from their Belize expedition, we went into Nashville. First order of business was lunch at House of Kabob, which we'd been to before. Kubideh, felafel, hummus, and doogh. Kabob kubideh is minced beef and onion with spices, and was excellent; doogh is milk-consistency yogurt with mint, and would be more to my taste if it had a bit of sugar, and less mint.

After that we went to the Frist Museum for an exhibit of animation, showing clips from early kinetiscope shows Sailor Moon and CGI parts of Hulk.  There was also a gallery of photos from Marty Stuart, about half being country music stars an fans, and the rest from the Lakota reservation.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Driving to Nashville

Today we drove from the Farm to Nashville--according to Google Maps, 432 miles, up Route 100 to I-81 and I-40. The road didn't seem as crowded with tractor trailers as I-81 north of Roanoke, and the terrain was bland enough that it went by pretty quickly, without being so boring as to induce sleep (as compared to the stretch between Richmond and Charlottesville).
I wore my Vols Orange shirt so the natives wouldn't suspect me of being an outsider.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wild Turkey

On the way back from Blacksburg to the Farm, we stopped and had Italian--well, Diaa had lobster, I had lasangna--at Mickey G's in Floyd, which was pretty good Then I took the back route from Rte 221 to the farm via Rte 754, which is still unpaved in parts. I saw some movement by the roadside, and it turned out to be a wild turkey with a couple of chicks. The adjacent field had a wire fence, six inch mesh, and the adult took a few tries before she got the idea "this isn't actually open and you can't get through here." We drove off so she could back up into the road and then fly over it.
Also saw a deer in the field before Vincent & Reva's.


Had an OGRE game with Josh and Kelson, using the Breakthrough (expanded) scenario. I got an Ogre IV and six GEVs; the defenders got 40 strength Infantry and 30 Armor, including a couple of superheavy tanks and one howitzer. My GEVs followed the river, with some maneuvering to make sure that I was just out of range for him to move and shoot; my Ogre came in at the center, then cut east toward the water. My GEVs, of course, mostly went poof but I pushed two into the swamp at the far east, neither of them was disabled, and they exited on turn 7. My Ogre lost its missile racks early, and about half its treads by the end game, but then it crossed the last stream, nothing could follow fast enough, and I got off the map on turn 8. Final score was Defenders 47 points of damag to the Ogre plus four GEVs at six points apiece = 71; the Ogre side killed 84 armor value (12 tanks plus the howitzer), 18 infantry (which, as I recall, was three platoons), 46 points for exiting the board on turn 7 (two GEVs) and 8 (Ogre) = 148.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


We went to Blackburg to visit Josh and Gwen while Gwen's dad and his partner Julie were there. On the way back to the Farm at twilight, a bit west of Willis, I saw a black cow in  the road.
Hm, rather short cow.
It's a bear!
I flickd my headlights a few times to alert the car coming the other way, and came to a stop. The bear  was just standing in the road, unconcerned. He ambled into the right lane, stood there for a bit as if wondering "I came over here for something...what was it?", then turned back to the left lane. I eased the car forward a bit, and he slipped into the woods.
I know we've had a bear at the Farm but this is the first time I've seen one in person outside a zoo.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


We went to a wedding for a friend of Josh's; at the reception they served oysters Rockefeller. First time I've had that. I also had a sip of a gin and tonic, with Tanqueray, which was also a first time. Both were better than I expected.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Civil War Battlefields

One of my goals for the year was to go and see some of the Civil War battlefields around Richmond, and as Diana was in Toronto this weekend, I went and saw. Drewry's Bluff, where a Confederate fort turned back an attack by Union ironclads including Monitor; Tredegar Ironworks, which made ordnance; and Cold Harbor, where Lee turned back an attack by Grant with what was described as the "highest casualties for that short a period".

I enjoyed Drewry's Bluff. You go down a side road to a little parking lot with space for perhaps ten cars, then walk about a mile through woods to the site of the fort. The earthworks are a little eroded, and some trees have grown up, but you can still see the gun emplacements and see the part of the river to the southeast, where the Federal vessels were. The bombroof and well and shot oven have collapsed with age, but you can tell where they were. There's an 8" gun sited on one of the platforms.

Tredegar felt more to me like a general ACW museum than one specifically for ordance. They did show some small arms, a few guns (i.e. cannon), and about two dozen different types of shot and shell--the flat-nosed cylinder for 6.4" Baker shot, for instance; on the other hand, I didn't see anything showing how the guns were produced. A second floor had displays showing the progress of Union forces over time, as they occupied Southern seaports, pushed up from New Orleans and down from Ohio to control the Mississippi, and then marched through Atlanta to South Carolina. I hadn't seen that sort of "area controlled over time" series of maps, and it was quite helpful.

I was a bit disappointed in Cold Harbor, but I think that's because the tour path is a loop, and I went counterclockwise. If I'd gone the other way, I'd have first seen well-defined trenches with fairly good lines of sight, and had a better feel for what was going on.  As it happened, my first view was of eroded trenches overgrown by woods, with no feel for the terrain. If I were doing it again, I'd want a map of the original battlefield, showing slopes and woods as they were at the time. The welcome center did have a good operational-level presentation, showing how Grant come down from the north, Less blocked his approach, and both lines jokeyed for position.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


A hummingbird breezed onto our back deck for a quick visit to the hibiscus. She sampled all the blossoms and darted off before I could fetch the camera.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Horned Melon

I was in the grocery, and so was the horned melon. I said "I've never had one of those before!"

The inside is a lot like a pomegranate. You've got a lot of tiny capsules with seeds inside. The seeds are edible and a bit more noticable than cucumber seeds, but less than watermelon--about the same as the white seeds from a watermelon. The rest of the capsule is green and has something of a tart taste, although not as much as a citrus fruit. If you cut open the melon and scoop out the insides, you'll have essentially a green jelly with seeds mixed in.