Because sometimes, you just need to make a 12-hour round trip to hang out with some friends and their cats for the weekend.

I think Burt approved of my dedication to cat pettings though.

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Athena mostly found me annoying, but would let me pet her head on occasion. And I got to touch the soft, soft belly and removed my hand before she could maul me. It's an accomplishment, I hear.

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Lemon was... Lemon.

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Yes, she is that big. She also makes an excellent weighted blanket substitute - I could just grab her, set her on my chest, and she'd settle in and start purring. Good kitty :-)

Other than cats, there was food. SO MUCH FOOD. And it was so good.

image

We won't talk about how much yarn I bought at Stitches Midwest - let's just say it was a lot. But most of it has plans attached to it already! I may still skip Wool Gathering this year to let my credit card recover.

AND AND AND! Birthday Fluevogs! I luuuuuurrrrvvveee them.

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Oh yes, you read that right. (My job is so weird sometimes.)

We were asked to work on a video project related to tagging Lake Erie fish, so co-worker and I packed up all the camera equipment we could scrounge up and took a road trip to Cleveland.

Seriously. This was our view for the entire morning. It was beautiful.

image

The fish were basically caught in a net, pulled up into a water tank on the boat, tagged, measured, and thrown back into the lake. All in all, a seriously efficient operation, with pretty minimal handling, considering.

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However, it's basically spawning season. And, well, when you grab a male fish and hold him tight enough to accurately insert a tracker... there's squirting. We may have had some "there's semen on the camera lens" incidents.

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Ah, science. Never change.
I've called my grandma, made holiday coffee, and am about to hit the road. Have a lovely holiday evening everyone! Non-British Europe, enjoy your presents.

I feel like it took a week to recover from that experience... between work stuff and not really getting a weekend off, I've been ridiculously tired. Three more weeks... then at least the work stress should hold off.

But I did still have a blast at the Science Writers conference. I mean, it helped that I didn't have to travel for it, just drive 10 minutes downtown, and then hang out in a nice hotel with good food (although the mid-morning snack was severely lacking in cookies) and with people who are all as excited about science and writing as I am.

Saturday was all about "the craft of writing," with sessions on innovation, how to blog for your organization (yeah, I doubt that's happening any time soon, but I like the idea), and just generally how to cover science in a way that makes sense for both your job and your readers. It was also admittedly a bit strange to meet some of the people I've been following on Twitter for ages - like, Seth Mnookin walked past me multiple times. It was weird realizing he's a real person :-)

But I also got to meet a bunch of new people, which was a nice change of pace from the usual "well yes, you're a science journalist, I'm 'just' a science PR writer." These were science PR writers who are totally ok with that, and who still think there's room for journalism and reporting skills in those jobs. And the cool thing was, aside from the awards night (everything goes to journalists), we really all were on equal footing.

And one girl asked to follow me on Twitter, as an actual professional contact. A, yes, Twitter. It's how we science writers network, apparently. And B, me, a professional contact? Honey, I hope you enjoy the fangirling that usually happens on my Twitter account. It may be time to get a separate "professional" account. Then again, why? It's not like I don't fangirl in person too :-)

The rest of the conference was more about science than writing, but I enjoyed stretching my brain beyond the types of things I do at work (which are already pretty varied). As always with researchers, some people know how to talk about their projects, others would work well as a natural sleep aid. In this case, the bad ones were REALLY terrible, and the good ones were REALLY good. Like the guy who studies coyotes in Chicago, and showed us footage from collar cameras of coyotes crossing busy streets. Like, Lake Shore Drive. And yes, they look both ways first.

All in all, I had a great time, and would definitely do this again. Maybe not every year - I hear that every other year makes sense, and that way I get to skip Boston next year (sorry MIT, but I hate Boston). The one after that is... San Antonio? I have no clue. But I have time, both to find out, and to save up some travel money. While work paid for my registration this year, I'm not sure airfare and hotel and meals are in the budget.

https://storify.com/akasha111182/sci-wri-2014-in-tweets
Some people go to fancy hotels for work. Or they end up in crappy conference rooms for a few days, barely staying awake.

Me? I get to hang out on a Lake Erie island.

Retreat on the Rock 2014

When this is the view that comes with coffee, you don't care what time it is. Promise.

Retreat on the Rock 2014

Retreat on the Rock 2014

Also, my office owns a castle. Yeah.

Retreat on the Rock 2014

And we do the best teambuilding stuff. Yes, that's a snake.

Retreat on the Rock 2014

Of course, occasionally your co-workers get attacked by crickets.

Retreat on the Rock 2014

But mostly, it's all fun and games. And food. So much food.
Oh hi. It's been... ages, hasn't it. Sorry. I kept thinking about fun blog posts, but was always foiled by "ugh, I don't want to pull pictures off the external hard drive" or by "well, I'm not taking pictures in this weather, so whatever," and ended up knitting and watching TV instead. Maybe I'll finally pull those photos this weekend, or something.

Things that happened: a wedding (fun), Great Lakes Medieval Faire (wet and muddy, but fun), shoe shopping (brightly colored and on sale), and Dublin Irish Festival (wet and muddy, but loads of fun). I'm sort of hoping "wet and muddy" doesn't become our theme for outdoor festivals this year. You hear me, Ohio RenFest? Don't do that.

Currently, I'm knitting socks (surprise), slowly packing for France (just how many pieces of clothing can I take and then get rid of?), and fretting over immigration stuff (nothing major, just generic "I kind of hate this"). But hey, France! I haven't been to France in ages, and never to this particular part of it. I'm excited.

Also, you all have to go see Guardians of the Galaxy, like, right now. So. Much. Fun. And I'm never getting "Hooked on a Feeling" out of my head ever again.

So... yeah. Here, have some beaded lace.

Maia 2b

Maia 2c

Maia, designed by Romi Hill, the beaded version, in Apple Tree Knits Plush Fingering (the colorway is "Frost" or "Glacier" or something like that).
Today was hotel room day for Gallifrey One 2015. Otherwise known as Gallygeddon: the Bloodbath.

Seriously. By the time I copied and pasted the group code into the Marriott website, the hotel was basically sold out. By the time I clicked the link to the overflow hotel, I could no longer get all of the dates I wanted.

So I made a reservation at the Hilton :-)

Yes, I'm disappointed we won't be in the convention hotel, but the Hilton is literally next door past a parking garage, and costs basically the same amount of money. It'll be fine.

Mad props to Gally staff for running that popular of a convention. I already can't wait for February.

Wrapping Up

Mar. 7th, 2014 01:55 pm
In the end, Gally isn't really about the famous people for me (though they are a most definite bonus). It's really about the fact that you can stick 3700 people into a hotel, give them cool stuff to do, and most of them will get along splendidly. (Also, the hotel staff is amazing.)

Gallifrey One 2014

Standing in line, you're only ever lonely if you want to be. Otherwise, someone will talk to you. Promise.

Gallifrey One 2014

People will put up random signs and removeable graffiti - last year's Bad Wolf sticky notes were this year's Captain Jack pick-up lines.

Gallifrey One 2014

And of course, ribbons. So many ribbons. Though Paul Cornell wins best ribbon this year.

Gallifrey One 2014

Until next year, sweetie. I've got the ticket sales on my calendars.
I think Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling are my favorite Classic Who companion pair. I love how they're obviously still friends after all these years.

Gallifrey One 2014

Deb Stanish of Verity podcast interviewing Paul Cornell about his book London Falling. A really good book, a really good interview with lots of lovely details about the research behind the book, and overall just a really nice guy, as far as I can tell.

Gallifrey One 2014

Katy Manning and Nicola Bryant have WAY too much fun together. Katy is crazy (seriously, but in a good way), and Nicola is hilarious, so needless to say, my face hurt after that panel from laughing so much.

Gallifrey One 2014

And of course, there were the Sheppards (yes, Morgan and Mark, father and son - how cool is that). I can't tell if I want to hang out with them for family barbecues, or if I'd die from all the friendly snark, but for an hour? Hilarious.

Gallifrey One 2014

I don't know if this story is actually true (because yes, Mark Sheppard lies) (hey, ribbon idea: Rule 1: Mark Sheppard lies), but I love the idea of the DW staff asking Mark when he wanted to come on for the old-man face prosthetics and him going "why don't you just ask my dad?" How perfect is that? :-)

Gallifrey One 2014

Also, I love how Mark does panels: walk on stage with a microphone and go "alright, ask me/us questions." The perfect balance between fan engagement and mercilessly mocking some of them. (To be fair, she asked about shipping. Again. Then Mark made her explain the concept of slash fic to his dad. Priceless.)

Gallifrey One 2014
Too many pictures of well-known names for one post :-) Another reason to love Gally.

Opening panel, all of Radio Free Skaro, interviewers extraordinaire.

Gallifrey One 2014

Paul McGann Has. Not. Aged. Like, at all. Also, he apparently melts into couches. Seriously, I don't think I saw him sit upright on those sofas all weekend. (He also needs to read me things. Like, all the time. Such a lovely voice.)

Gallifrey One 2014

Phil Ford, Jane Espenson, Tom Price. Who really is as funny as you think he would be.

Gallifrey One 2014

Billie Piper was supposed to come for the weekend. Then she wasn't, because flu. Secretly though, she'd already flown to LA and was hiding in a hotel to see if she'd survive said trip. Needless to say, the "Billie Piper is here" announcement was very well received. Even if everyone is now referring to their traditional con crud as Piper Plague.

Gallifrey One 2014

Poor Arthur went out partying with Karen Gillan the night before this interview, and apparently they had a lot of fun - he was so tired, and incredibly loopy. It was awesome. Also, apparently his grandmother has a cardboard cutout of him in her living room. Hilarity ensues.

Gallifrey One 2014

Nice socks, dude.
Because geeks are amazingly creative people.

Brigadier!

Cosplay Awesomeness

This Novice Hame outfit won All The Prizes at the Masquerade. For good reason.

Cosplay Awesomeness

BAMF gun!

Cosplay Awesomeness

Points for tracking down that bright orange suit, and for making it work.

Cosplay Awesomeness

So many Osgoods.

Cosplay Awesomeness

Cute! And creepy! And cute! But creepy! Welcome to Gally...

Cosplay Awesomeness

Ice-skating River, worn by an actual archaeologist. Her ribbon? "Archaeologist. Love a tomb."

Cosplay Awesomeness

On Saturdays, UNIT takes over convention security.

Cosplay Awesomeness

Yes, those are Gallifreyan robes. With embroidery.

Cosplay Awesomeness

More beads. I mean, seriously. How can you not love this.

Cosplay Awesomeness

Moisturise me! (Yes, that's what their ribbon said.)

Cosplay Awesomeness

However, my favorite? These guys. So. Cute.

Cosplay Awesomeness

Good Dog!

Feb. 25th, 2014 07:55 am
My very favorite tin dog made a number of appearances this year. He was a main attraction at LobbyCon:

K9 & Company

He played service dog to one of the attendees (which is why I didn't get a photo - I did snuggle the labrador in the K9 outfit though, since she was very friendly).

And he got some coffee with me one morning.

K9 & Company

Seriously, this version was so cool. I got in line behind him and his owner (who was quite fittingly dressed) and couldn't resist the urge to pat his back :-)

K9 & Company

But really, who could resist this face?

K9 & Company

"No one, mistress!"
Gally wouldn't be the same without daleks. Copper daleks

Daleks

Signed daleks

Daleks

Daleks snarking at each other

Daleks

I have to say though, my favorite dalek part was, when I was waiting with Carrie in the parking lot on Sunday, one of the guys with the remote controlled daleks was casually driving it down the parking lot, down the driveway, and down the sidewalk. You know, taking the dalek home. Like you do.
I love this event so much. It's only the second time I've been, but I had the best time, again, and I can't wait until next year.

Gallifrey One 2014

Oh how I've missed you, old girl.

Carrie went with me this year (and yes, it's pretty much my fault), and we had so much fun. Also, she got an interesting fortune cookie the night she came to the hotel...

Gallifrey One 2014

I've never seen a cookie fortune as true as that one.

But first, donuts! Because when there's two of you, walking a few blocks through Los Angeles doesn't sound like a completely suicidal idea anymore, and, well. You can see Randy's from the plane, so why not get famous donuts?

Gallifrey One 2014

Pouting Tony Stark not included. Sadly.
It's in front of the art museum, and it's... weird. Even more so than most statues in historical cities.

IMG_1852

Honestly, it felt slightly pornographic to even be taking photos of it. (Not that that stopped me. This thing is too odd not to document.)

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IMG_1851

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I think this was my favorite random discovery on the way back from the art museum.

IMG_1868

This thing moved. And roared. Also, I love the little girl in front. I still can't tell if she loved it or was about to run away screaming.

IMG_1867

Where was this magic?

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Another thing I was really sad to not have more time for.

IMG_1870
The Rocky steps at the Art Museum. Obviously a mandatory visit :-)

Philadelphia 2013

And yes, that's people running up the steps. Some of them multiple times.

On the way back, I also passed by the Franklin Institute, sadly missing the Pompeii exhibit by two days.

Philadelphia 2013

Philadelphia 2013

Beautiful architecture yet again. I kind of want an apartment in there (you know, once I win the lottery).

Philadelphia 2013

And then there was the time someone decided to build a Masonic temple right next to a church. Only in National Treasure city.

Philadelphia 2013
I went to Philly for a work trip, but had most of the first day free, so I decided to get some walking in after my flight and see at least a little bit of the city. (They kept telling us to go see stuff while packing the rest of the week with stuff. It was kind of annoying.)

The hotel was close to one of the main drags, a few blocks down from a Philadelphia landmark.

Philadelphia 2013

Except it's totally too small to be a landmark. It's... tiny. And kind of disappointing.

Across the street is City Hall - which is gorgeous. I wish I'd had more time to look at it.

Philadelphia 2013

What was this church called... Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, I think. Again, very pretty, when you weren't forced to look at the highrise hotel behind it. Philly is a random mix of historic and new - sometimes it works, sometimes it's awful. Like most big cities I guess.

Philadelphia 2013

The Free Library is both pretty and has a Shakespeare statue out front. Again, wish I'd had more time for it.

Philadelphia 2013

This was probably my favorite building. It looks like something out of an old horror movie. And it has apartments on top ;-)

Philadelphia 2013
I mean, we all know that already. I say it often enough. But part of my job, at least once a year, is taking a trip to one of the biggest vacation destination on Lake Erie: Put-in-Bay. The most recent trip up there was for a two-day workshop/conference thing, and part of that was a visit to Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial, which is a national monument run by the Park Service. Third highest monument in the US, I think, after the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch. And the view is pretty awesome.

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Yes, I went from one of the lowest NPS spots to one of the highest in the span of less than a month :-)

IMG_1697

This was only a little while after the Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, and while most of the remnants of the festivities were cleaned up at this point, we did see one last tall ship floating by the neighboring island. Kind of sad I missed the actual party - then again, I think I was in a hot air balloon at the time. I still think I win :-)

Of course, I also took some of the traditional "fish staring at me while I take photos" pictures... because seriously, fish stare at me when I take photos of them.

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And... well. There's a reason half the pictures I get sent at work are of Lake Erie sunsets. They're really really pretty.

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