Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, October 06, 2019
There's Bad News, and There's Good News

Some parts of this weekend have been very, very good.

Thursday was not included in that equation.

James had an appointment with the doctor as a followup from two weeks ago. Unfortunately his regular doctor was out of the office; fortunately he got an appointment with Dr. Julian, who saw the blister on his leg that day. He had finished his antibiotic and Nurse Linda was fairly happy with how the blister was healing up. I thought James might leave it unbandaged in the daytime if it were covered with long pants to let it start drying out.

The doctor was pleased with how it looked, too, and said I'd done a good job.

Except now there was another huge blister on the opposite side of his leg when he pulled his stocking down, and it was dreadful and red and raw because it had stuck to the material, which pulled the loose skin off it. I looked at the back of his legs on Wednesday night! There was no blister then, and his leg wasn't as red as it looked in the doctor's office. So there is another dose of doxycyline, and the doctor wants James to go to the wound clinic, and in the meantime Nurse Linda is back on duty.

We were so disappointed.

It was still hotter than blazes on Thursday; we have set records almost from the first of the month for hottest days ever in October. I would have preferred, and I think what James might have preferred, was to go straight home, stay cool, and metaphorically lick our wounds. But we were driving by there anyway, so we stopped by Publix for the twofers and other necessities, like low-salt ham and yogurt. God sent us an angel and a nice Publix employee took our cart back into the store for us.

We did lay low for the rest of the afternoon.

Friday dawned hot and breathless. Since we hadn't had any success finding more socks for James at the Powder Springs Road Walmart, we tried the one closer to us, at the East-West Connector. We had to search because they are moving the store around, but we did find him more of the Dr. Scholl's stockings. Picked up a few other things, and then just wandered around the store killing time, since it was almost time for lunch. We found a set of Perry Mason DVDs, seasons 7-9, and James bought it for me for our anniversary.

This week's lunch was at O'Charley's. It was so hot that when I tried to open the door to the restaurant, the metal door handle burnt my hand! Luckily an employee opened it from the inside. John Bouler, the Boroses, the Spiveys, and Aubrey were there with us. Alice returned Joe Straczynski's book, which she read twice; she said it didn't make her sad, like it did me—it made her mad. (I was mad, too, that such abuse of kids can still happen in this day and age. His whole family situation was Dickensian, the worst kind of Dickensian, and Dickens would be appalled that in 2019 we still allow such things to happen.) Had a great steak, savory and tender, with a salad and a baked potato. James had a chopped steak (he likes the crispy onions; I don't blame him). Aubrey had a new toy, perfect for her artistic talents: a ReMarkable. I am so drooling!

Once again we went home and holed up. I have lots of magazines to read.

And then it happened: the front came through. We woke up Saturday morning (early, because we wanted to go to the October Hallmark ornament premiere) to find it cool (low 60s), with a nice soft breeze. I can't tell you how wonderful this felt! We drove all the way up to Town Center with the truck windows down. It was better than the ornament premiere, which we nevertheless enjoyed. I had $12 of credit and actually bought a Hallowe'en ornament: the black cat. It will look nice hung up somewhere; I think it's a little large for the Hallowe'en tree. Played with the "Monster Mash" ornaments (monsters playing the song) and the Star Trek transporter, but the only other thing that caught my eye was a Jim Shore fox Christmas figure. Too expensive, though.

I "drove" the power chair across the parking lot to the Barnes & Noble while James got the truck up there (easier than loading it up and lowering it again). We had just a few minutes in the store because we had another lunch engagement; I bought the Christmas issue of "Country Sampler" and the 2019 cross-stitch Christmas ornament magazine. James got a "Cooks Illustrated."

When we got home I got the ladder out to install the new LED floodlights we bought at Walmart. James has to leave for work in the morning when it's dark, so he usually turns the floods in the driveway on so he can see to load the power chair on the truck. Unfortunately my stupid right arm still will not stretch out enough, with this stupid rotator cuff nonsense, to remove the bulb. So James had to get on the ladder while I spotted him. I hated to do it because the arthritis has been giving him such pain. Plus we realize now, with the reappearance of another blister, that the new medication (which he stopped taking because we thought it caused the original blister) probably did not cause the blister as we thought. He is going to get back to the rheumatologist and see if he can try taking the new medication again.

We had a surprise message from my sister-in-law Candy yesterday; they were going to be in Morrow today and she and Mom wondered if they could drive the rest of the way up and join us somewhere for lunch. So we took them to Uncle Maddio's Pizza. I wondered what they were doing in Morrow and it turned out they had to go all the way there—an hour away from us!—just to get the October Hallmark ornaments since there is no Hallmark store anywhere near Warner Robins any longer: not even at Macon Mall or in Macon period! What a fat pain in the neck! So we had a nice chat and a nice meal, and then they headed back south.

After they left we went to Lidl (for milk, bread, juice, cucumbers, and chocolate) and Kroger (I ran in to get no-salt mushrooms), and then came home.

Then it was Saturday night at the Britcoms while James made himself breakfast for Sunday. Also watched a special called I Hate Jane Austen, about a noted British writer who really didn't like reading Austen (this was probably because it was required reading in schools). In the special he talked to Jane Austen fans and other writers and literary critics trying to determine what was so good about her books. At the end he has a new appreciation for all of them, including Mansfield Park.

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» Saturday, September 28, 2019
"Will No One Rid Us of This Turbulent Sun?"

Seriously. Here it is nearly October and it's still over 90 bloody degrees during the day. No rain for days, just some rumblings of thunder on Friday night that came to naught. Just relentless sun over trees that are looking more limp and tired by the day, some of them desperately trying to change color, some of them just giving up. The two oaks out front of our neighborhood have just thrown up their branches in dismay, turned their leaves brown, and shed them posthaste. The scuppernong vines bore fruit, then wilted, leaving mashed grapes thickening to fruit leather on the concrete sidewalks of the main street.

Misery. Sheer misery. We took the opportunity to sleep late on Thursday, James exhausted by three days in the office and the relentless new lights overhead (he calls them "the Nazi interrogation lights"), so ended up at Costco near noon to find out just how many people of all ages are out of work on a Tuesday afternoon. Not just retirees and stay-at-home parents, apparently. We were there to buy additional things that would go off sale on the 29th: more flonase, BreatheRight strips, and Swiffer wet cloths. Better to buy them now when they're cheaper. Also bought Skinny Pop on sale. Came home by way of Publix to pick up twofers.

And that was it. By then it was airless and broiling. We just went home.

Friday we headed out for lunch early. I had done a dumb thing: ordered a book I already had from Barnes & Noble when I had fully intended to order a different one. So I brought the book I was delivered on Thursday and exchanged it (with a 35 cent upcharge) for the one I wanted. James got a "Wargamer" magazine, and then we headed back (we had gone out to Perimeter Mall because James prefers their magazine selection) to Austell, arriving at Hibachi Grill only a few minutes late. Ken wasn't feeling well, but Alice had come, and Mel and Phyllis. Phyllis was already done reading Becoming Superman and passed it off to Alice. We were trading pet stories today, and parental discipline tales.

Normally we would have gone somewhere else after lunch. You guessed it. Too hot.

Saturday all we did was go to Walmart. James needed suspenders and diabetic socks. (His favorite socks were very low in supply; we only found two pair. Nosing around online later I couldn't find them, either. Damn.) Also got some formerly Grade B maple syrup (now classified as Grade A Dark Amber Robust Flavor—could they get any wordier?) and low sodium soy sauce (Walmart brand is lower sodium than Kikkoman), sugarless candy and wild bird seed. I really can't afford to feed them, but I miss seeing my little flock.

Came home by way of Lidl for bread, milk, ground turkey, and chocolate. Found chicken thighs for 79¢/pound. Sunday dinner taken care of [Later: I made cacciatore and there was so much left over we have two more meals]!

We came home, and James was feeling ill for the rest of the afternoon. Not that I was feeling much better. It's not like this is a new thing. I've never liked summer, even when I was a child. The sun gives me headaches, the heat gives me rashes, and if I'm overly hot for too long I get the runs. And after I turned sixteen it was no fun any longer because I had to go to work. I hoped it would get better as I aged; instead I've gotten worse. The heat saps me, saps us so much. Sometimes its scary.

I just wish it would cool off. I know I'm flaky about summer, and I'm used to it. But I worry about James.

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» Saturday, September 21, 2019
By the Clock

Very puzzled last night; Dr. Salazar was supposed to call me after five as a followup to the medication he'd given me. He never called, although I did find out later I'd gotten a phone call about 2:35 from Kaiser. But if it was him, why didn't he leave a message? [Turned out he was called in to the hospital and tried to phone me early.]

Anyway, because of the medication Dr. Salazar was trying him out on, James was scheduled to go get his eyes checked out today to establish a baseline, as the medication can cause eye problems. The appointment wasn't till 3:20 p.m. and was at Cumberland right near us, so we didn't have to leave until 2:30. So we slept late instead of going to the grocery store, and just for the heck of it James logged on to Kaiser—and discovered we were supposed to see a technician before the appointment, at 2:30. It was 1:45.

You have never seen two people get dressed so fast! We got to the office right at 2:30, and they took us in immediately. It was mostly an eye test like you get for glasses, and they dilated his eyes and tested for glaucoma, too. Actually his eyes are in good shape considering he is diabetic; he has the beginnings of a cataract in one eye is all.

We toyed with going to Barnes & Noble, but even with sleeping late we were both tired out and James still had a sore throat, we figured from the flu shot he got on Friday. So it was home, and pot lucks for supper, and more Babylon 5. I walked Tucker in coolness that was almost too cool in a tank top and shorts. Alas, the low 60s at night and highs in the mid-80s are only a brief respite, and it will crawl back up to 90 by next week.

Since we skipped it Thursday, Friday we had to do the grocery shopping thing: first to Publix for the twofers and lunch meats, then to Lidl. I spent a lot more at Lidl than usual along with getting bread, milk, and more chocolate: they had several things on sale this week that we wanted. One was a shower seat. We don't need it now, but I have always wanted one for our bathroom to straddle over the side of the useless garden tub that we've never used, since sitting on the edge of the narrow tub is very uncomfortable. These shower seats are usually very expensive at the medical supply stores. This one was only $20. They also had one of those bicycle gadgets for only $30, you know, the ones on TV where you sit and read or watch TV and pedal. The ones on TV are $200 (mostly because they have bluetooth). This is much simpler, but the principal is the same.

We also filled up the truck in case the fire in Saudi Arabia made the gas stations jack their prices.

Anyway, I mentioned the new medication Dr. Salazar had put James on. This was supposed to be okay for his kidneys, but side effects could cause water retention. Well, boy did it cause water retention. He gained five pounds overnight. But the most troubling problem was that the cellulitis on his left leg, which had been under control since the catheter and post-TURP surgery, was acting up and he had developed a big blister on his lower left leg, which, despite being covered up, had burst. Thursday night before bedtime I had written a note to Dr. Salazar asking about the telephone appointment, telling him the medication he'd given me wasn't doing any better than my taking ibuprofin every night, and also telling him I was concerned about the medication he'd given James. If it had worked on his arthritis it wouldn't have been so bad, but it has not really done anything for his knee, ankle, and hip pain, and his left hand is still so swollen he can't make a fist or wear his wedding ring. He sent me a return e-mail telling me he'd been called to the hospital for an emergency, that if the medication he had prescribed for me wasn't working I should stop taking it and he would try something else, and that James should stop taking his medication immediately.

Anyway, James noticed how angry the blister and surrounding skin was looking Thursday night, and that his leg was getting swollen, and early Friday morning called up Kaiser. He got an appointment with Dr. Julien at 2. She took one look at it, told us to keep up the saline cleaning and the Neosporin and bandaging, and gave him doxycycline for the encroaching infection.

Saturday we had a full day, with morning and early afternoon for Hair Day. They served chili, so I brought a sandwich (proscuitto on a Lidl "dinner roll"...yum!) and enjoyed the sides, especially the olives in Phyllis' relish tray. It was a great time except for hearing the story about Brad Linaweaver's last few weeks (Brad died over DragonCon weekend). He had pancreatic cancer, and Alex was with him most of that time. Brad was such a sharp, sarcastic, and iconoclastic person that it was hard thinking of him ill and frightened and razor-thin.

We had an hour or so breather and then headed to Dallas Highway and the Longhorn, where David Gibson's birthday party was being held. As usual, we were seated at the rear in a long queue of tables lined up. The waitress was excellent, and we had good convo with the Lawsons and the Boulers at our end of the table, but the food was iffy for some people. My baked potato wasn't quite soft enough in the middle, Alice never got her food done properly, and I understood there were some other foul-ups. So when the check came we were astonished that the manager had comped the entire group (about 20 of us!). Our bill was 27 cents (the tax on the meal).

The sun was already set when we emerged and we drove home with a beautiful sky to our right, first yellow and then fading to orange and pink before going to navy blue and then black. Everyone was hurrying home for the Georgia/Notre Dame game, but we chose Babylon 5 instead. 😀

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» Saturday, September 14, 2019
Another Weekend Goes Skimming By

We had to get something important out of the way this weekend.

But before that came Thursday. We got the grocery shopping, that inescapable fact of life, out of the way in the morning. They had chicken and wild rice soup on the soup bar at Publix, which we picked up for a quick weekend supper.

Since both James and Ken had doctors' appointments on Friday at lunchtime, we switched lunch to Thursday. The restaurant du jour was Okinawa, which is at the East-West Connector where Borders (::sob!::) used to be. Only six diners today, since Aubrey was working. We talked about the Breakaway Space: 1999 convention this weekend and wished we were there.

Afterwards James and I stopped at Kaiser to pick up the meds he'd reordered, and then we went home, because it was just too damn hot to be outside. It was almost one hundred today. Summer just won't quit, the wretched beast.

We had finally worked through all the Perry Mason episodes available on Amazon Prime and are now starting Babylon 5 from the beginning. Unlike some people, I really enjoy first season and Michael O'Hare as the commander of the station. He was more like a British series lead than an American one, and I was sorry when he left, even though we didn't know why at the time.

Friday morning we had to find out the results of the PET scan, so we drove out to Glenlake for an appointment with Dr. Shash. He reported that a slight abnormality had shown up in the PET scan: it's in the same small vessel in his heart the doctor let be the last two times. The problem is, if Dr. Shash goes in and fixes it with a stent, the vessel is so small he will have to use the highest contrast dye to view it properly. At this point he feels the contrast dye will do more damage to James' kidneys than the abnormality of the vessel will do to his heart. So we've left it at:

If James gets a chest pain, takes a nitroglycerin, and it goes away, leave it (just let the doctor know it happened). (If that keeps happening frequently, there's something they can put him on.)

If he gets a chest pain, and the nitro doesn't help, we skip going to Urgent Care completely and instead go directly to the hospital Kaiser is affiliated with. Then they do the catherization and we start working on getting the kidneys back to normal. Again.

At least we have a plan of action.

Alas, this means James' teleworking days have come to an end unless the chance of rain is high. With the weather reports we are getting, fat chance. So it is back to him losing 45 minutes of sleep and us eating at night (which is, again, terrible for our weight). Sigh.

On the way home we stopped at Trader Joe's. We wanted to see if they had pumpkin fruit bars yet. They did indeed. And pumpkin soup and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin butter and pumpkin...everything. Even pumpkin dog biscuits, which we bought for Tucker. We have to stock up on the fruit bars because they only have the pumpkin ones in October.

For lunch James stopped at Chicken Salad Chick so I could pop out to buy...guess what...some chicken salad for both sandwiches and after-supper snacks for James. I also ran into Sprouts for a "baby boule," their round loaf of country-style bread. Then when we got home we could have some sandwiches for lunch. Supper was the Publix soup, and more Babylon 5.

We actually may have slept a little later than usual on Saturday. Certainly it seemed like no time at all that James packed up the power chair and went off to his club meeting. As hot and sticky as it was outside, I wanted to rack two things off a to-do list that had existed since spring. I had bought a new hose (ours had a crack in it) and a new nozzle (ours was broken) in the spring. Once the pine pollen is done giving everything a yellow scum in April, I usually wash the porch down. But it's been in the 90s since the pine pollen went away and I just didn't want to go outside for any reason except needing bread and books, so the hose and nozzle have been taking up space in the garage. While it was still shady out front I uncoupled the old hose, threw the whole kit and kaboodle in the trash can, installed the new hose and nozzle, and washed off the porch, finally. I'd put up the autumn wreath, basket, and flag on the 12th, and I took everything down to clean thoroughly before putting them back up.

Sigh, apparently I am incapable of hitching up a hose and nozzle without getting wet. Dammit.

Then I cleaned up and went out. If I don't start using my Tin Drum rewards, they will quit sending them to me. And I wanted to stop at the new Five Below.

I didn't have to stop at Barnes & Noble, but I did. Two mysteries in my series are out, but one is discounted on Amazon, the other isn't. I used my B&N discount for that other, and got a new cross-stitch magazine. Next I went to Five Below, which recently moved into half of the old Sports Authority at Akers Mill shopping center. I was sorely disappointed because they do not stock the dark chocolate Hershey's almond bars like the other Five Below stores do. I was able to get the dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups, which we have for desserts.

Then I waited on my double protein to-go from Tin Drum. This will give me enough food for two small lunches next week.

It took forever to get home. I didn't linger anywhere, but stuff kept delaying me. It took four people to get the don't-steal-me gadget off the turntable being purchased by the people in front of me at the bookstore, and longer for me to check out at Five Below. By the time I got home I was starving, but I just had a little bit of my Okinawa leftover and a slice of the boule. I had to save the calories for Taste of Smyrna.

James got home in time to cool off a little, and then about five we set out for the festival. It wasn't blazingly hot, but sticky, and I felt like I was walking through molasses. After all that, Taste of Smyrna was a little disappointing. The Thai people did not show up this year, nor did the Cajun place James likes and who always show up at these festivals. We both had our favorite "drunken pork" on cream grits from Atkins Park, two potstickers from the healthy Chinese dipping sauce folks, and pork barbecue from Williamson Brothers (but, heck, we can get that anytime). James also picked up some of Rodney's award-winning soul food as a lunch. I didn't see anything else that floated my boat. The Italian place was only giving out big meals (chicken marsala and pasta, chicken something else and pasta, etc.), I didn't want Mexican, or deep fried anything. Almost went back for a gyro, but decided not to. We had Bruster's ice cream for dessert, then came home, and went back into space.

How does it get to be Sunday so quickly?

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» Saturday, September 07, 2019
After DragonCon Comes GroceryCon

So, we've spent the last three days bouncing around from grocery store to grocery store, with some fun stops in between.

But first there was Wednesday, which was James' birthday. After I tossed some clothes in the washer, I was going to sneak into the bedroom, pull a book out of my stash, pair it with a homemade card. Instead I spent the day being sick. At least cooked dinner and did the laundry. In a half-hearted attempt to make the day festive, I put on Solo: A Star Wars Story, which we still hadn't seen. It was fun—whatever chick-lit for guys and adventure fans is called. James was amused by the solution to the Kessel run story; as we got ready for bed that night, he mused, "So I guess all Han needed to make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs was 'Liquid Schwartz'?" ROFL! (If you do not get this, please watch Spaceballs.)

This is the weekend we always attend the Yellow Daisy Festival; we usually go on Sunday because the crowds are low early in the morning. Alas, we didn't have that option this year. So I had an idea: why not go Thursday? A lot of people will be at work, so it should be okay.

This worked better in theory. First, we had to get up at six since we had to go across town through rush hour traffic. I said to James, "We'll get out there, and then we'll stop somewhere like an IHOP for breakfast, then go to the Festival." Well, we left the house at seven, but by eight were barely twelve miles from home because we had had to stop for gasoline, and then we had to stop for money. So while James availed himself of the Presto ATM at Publix, I went inside and bought us two sandwiches for breakfast instead. By the time we got to Stone Mountain, we discovered that the handicapped lot was nearly full. Of course! It was a weekday! Who was here? All the grandmas and grandpas, and all the stay-at-home moms! Even with us getting the Early Bird admission, it was still crowded.

We also missed several of the regular vendors. They were not on the vendors' list at all, so I assume it was not a "we only attend on weekends" problem. 1st Sergeant Salsa, Meadowcroft Farms, and Smack Yo Mama barbecue sauce were nowhere to be seen. Meadowcroft and Mama may turn up at the Jonquil Festival or the Apple Festival, but if James wants the other he will have to mail order, as we've only ever seen them at Yellow Daisy. Also, One Screw Loose jellies was on the vendor list, but we never saw them. I even went back to the space they were assigned to in the vendor's guide, but it was a metalworker's booth there instead.

We did get more maple barbecue sauce, the first of our two yearly Ginny's Fudge purchases, some sugar-free chocolate cheesecake mix, and of course a purchase from the nice folks from Country Pickins. I was delighted to see that this year she has added some Thanksgiving-themed items, a couple of flat plaques with little turkeys, and some other items. Of course I've already done my own Thanksgiving-themed items and didn't need them. I did get a little vignette of Pilgrims and Native Americans, but broke down and bought a Hallowe'en shadowbox and some additional Hallowe'en items for it (I had bought a few some years ago, to put on the fall shelf in late October, but most of the time I kept forgetting to use them).

We were flat wiped out when we finished right before noon. I considered we might stop at Publix on the way home, or maybe have lunch instead of the breakfast I promised James, but we were exhausted from the heat. We basically came straight home and it took us three hours to cool off properly.

Later on we watched Ralph Breaks the Internet, the second of the Wreck-It Ralph films. Very funny satire on the internet along with the story of Ralph and Vanellope's friendship, and they hit every single internet cliché. Seriously. Right until the very end. The scenes with Vanellope encountering the Disney princesses was priceless. Favorite line:  "Look up there! A big strong man who needs rescuing!" Probably won't buy a DVD of Solo, but will this.

Thursday was the chief supermarket day: both of us in Publix, me running into Kroger for mushrooms and Lidl for milk, ground turkey, and chocolate. However, we had a nice break in the middle of the food restocking: lunch at Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint with the Spiveys, Aubrey, and the Boroses. We mostly talked about DragonCon; Aubrey won a keen backpack!

Thursday night I went rooting around on YouTube and found both the David Tennant panel that I was able to see (I didn't realize I had missed so little of it; just the chair racing) and the one I missed on Friday, plus the Catherine Tate panel I couldn't get into. There were very few duplicate questions on the Tennant panels, and, of course, lots of Good Omens discussions.

Today we had to gird our loins, due to it being a Saturday, and go to Costco, as we were running out of both trash bags and Breathe Right strips, and James needed generic Flonase. This was relatively painless, though, since we found a handicapped parking space right away, and found all of what we were looking for, with the generic Flonase and the Breathe Rights on sale. Also got him some Hippeas and a "Cook's Country" magazine and sliced cheese, and noted that we had to come back before the 29th because the Swiffer mop sheets were also on sale. We can get more generic Flonase and nasal strips then, too. Today we were just getting things we needed.

A break: a visit to Barnes & Noble. The fall "Bella Grace" was out, with a breathtaking cover of a woman in a sunset, and I also picked up "Blue Ridge Country" with an awesome fall scene on the cover, and "Country Sampler's" autumn decorating issue. The newest Flavia deLuce mystery was out in paperback and 20 percent off, so I got that as well.

We'd forgotten onions yesterday, so I popped into Publix for them, and then we drove to Town Center and the Kaiser office there which is always open because it's urgent care, too, so James could pick up his new medication for his arthritis pain. We are wary of this because it can affect his eyesight, so he'll have to make an eye appointment to get a baseline reading of his eyes and he will have to keep tracking it going forward if he stays on the medication.

We had bought a streaming membership for DragonCon so James could see some of the panels he missed, but they only have Monday up still. So I've switched to YouTube and we're watching the parade as the sun sets and we wander into the sticky evening.

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» Tuesday, September 03, 2019
And So, Back to Reality one day you're in a magical place with costumed figures, intellectually stimulating or funny panels, and friends, some whom you only see once a year. And then you're back home scrubbing the toilet and running to Publix for this week's BOGOs before next week's BOGOs take over tomorrow. 😊

So let me tell you my Publix story.

Monday is my designated day for bathroom scrubs and kitchen floor washing. Since yesterday I was at Dragoncon, this was now today's schedule. Got one bathroom done, then looked up and noticed something we used a lot was out. And remembered it was on BOGO at Publix, but only through today. So I tossed on clothes and went.

I have the Publix app open, am halfway through my list when I realized that earlier I emptied my backpack of everything.

Except my wallet. I didn't have my backpack, but am back to my waist pack. Darnn. Now I was going to have to abandon cart, run know the drill.

Then I happened to glance down at the lower right hand corner of the Publix app, next to the "list" button. "Pay"? I can pay on my phone? Yep, all I had to do was pick a PIN number, enter my name, Google entered the rest of the info, and I was in. Whew.

Got to the cash register and told them I was using the app for the first time, so to let me know what to do. All you have to do after they ring up the order is hit "pay" and then scan the QR code at the bottom of the screen totaling up your order.

Except I forgot to hand the cashier the "Just Cross Stitch" with the autumn cover that I was holding so the condensation from the yogurt cups and the package of turkey thighs wouldn't get it wet. So she rang the magazine up and I thought I had to scan again, but it said it had scanned already.

Long story short it took three people to figure out what was going on (she had to push a button on the register to get the receipt to print out). Seemed like it took forever, but it was only a few minutes, and I still felt bad for the poor policeman in line behind me who was getting his lunch and had to wait for the crazy lady with the phone.

This is the second time Publix has saved my butt since June. Thanks, guys!

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» Monday, September 02, 2019
DragonCon, Day 4 (Or "A Day With the BritTrack--Stick Around, There are Crisps Later")

So after looking at all the DragonCon literature online, I could still not find out what time the DragonCon Store opened. I wanted to buy a streaming membership, only sold at the Store this year and not at registration as last year, and see if they had any stuffed baby dragons or T-shirts left for James. Finally poked around the website, which said the Store at the Marriott opened at eight, so I headed downtown early. A call of nature sent me rushing from the garage to the Marriott, and the first ladies' room was closed for cleaning. Took the escalator up to the next floor. Same here!!! Argh! Trotted past the DragonCon Store, which was not open at well after eight (so much for the website; bad webmaster!) and found that the much-discussed gender-neutral bathrooms were thankfully not being cleaned. A guy started to walk in next to me, saw me, started to turn away, and I said cheerfully, "It's gender-neutral! Come on in!"

(These bathrooms are not the usual awful type of American toilet stalls that have wide gaps on either side of the door, so that by careful posing you could be a creepy peeping tom and see people "doing their business," but are individual little stalls with walls between them and good solid wooden doors with louvers for air. I had no problem using them with guys wandering around. I really appreciate the European-style toilet stall, which they have at Lidl, which are quite gap-free, although rather coffin-like. I did hear one objection to them, from a guy using the other gender-neutral bathroom which was originally a men's room; he didn't want women staring at him using the urinal! Dude, women aren't interested in your dangly bits as much as you seem to think they are. However, a screen there would probably be nice.)

So the store wasn't open, so I trudged over to the Sheraton, picked up two memberships for next year, and stopped at the info booth to see what time the Store did open. Ten. Sigh. So I went back to the Marriott and got in line. They opened pretty promptly and during the wait I chatted with people in line. Alas, the cute sleeping baby dragons were sold out, as well as the T-shirts with the dragon looking remarkably like the Batman logo. I got the streaming membership, and picked up a DragonCon magnet for James' truck, then beat feet to the Hilton so I could at least see the rest of the Elementary vs. Sherlock panel.

This was very egalitarian; at most of these I've been to everyone loves Sherlock and if Elementary isn't sneered at, it's at least given short shrift and a shrug (unless Louis Robinson is on the panel, and then you get a run for your money). This panel had a couple of people who loved both series equally and talked about the pros and cons of each, so when it ended and they proposed to take a vote, I said, "Why? They both stand on their own merits." And so we didn't vote—hurrah!

So this is what I did on my final day at DragonCon: spent all of it at BritTrack, in the basement of the Hilton, with my "peeps." Now, I'd thought about going to the final Orville panel, but only J. Lee and Mark Jackson were left, and I would  have had to hike to the Hyatt. Not today. I stayed instead for "Doctor Who: Mind the Gaps," about all the gap years there have been in the series (the one during Colin Baker, the long long gap after the classic series was cancelled and when the new series appeared, etc.). Alan Siler and the two Robs were on this panel, and we chatted about how we survived during the gaps, including during the big one when Virgin Books "New Adventures" and "Missing Adventures" books kept the series alive. Ah, I remember those days, perusing the new ones at the Science Fiction and Mystery Bookstore (otherwise known to old Atlanta fandom as "Mark's store), and at the late and so lamented Oxford Books.

The third panel of the day was a history geek's (me! me!) dream: "Just Another Monarch Monday." They had a slide presentation of English kings and queens by era (Angevin, Plantagenet, Stuart, etc.) and what movies or television series you might find them in (for instance, in the Plantagenet era you would range from Robin Hood films like Prince of Thieves (and Men in Tights) and Robin and Marian, to Braveheart (Edward Longshanks), the Tudors everything from Charles Laughton's Henry VIII to things like Shakespeare in Love, with the Georges you get into everything from the comic prince in Blackadder III to Queen Victoria, and thus to modern day and The Crown. Really informative and fun panel. Didn't know there was a new movie out about Queen Anne's court.

And then finally, inevitably, what's always traditionally been my last DragonCon panel: the wrap-up, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish." The trackrunners and volunteers are dead tired, they don't want to take things home, so there are snacks for all while everyone talks about what worked and what didn't. Some of the night stuff sounds like a blast, but we simply can't afford to stay at the con hotels (even the overflow hotels) and take a rest before the nightly revelry. (We stayed at the hotel twice for Timegate/WHOlanta so we could participate in the late-night programming, only to wearily climb up to our room both times after the cabaret/masquerade was over and go to sleep instead, and that was over five years ago!) I snacked on ranch Doritos and plain Fritos, brought crunchy Cheetos and a Coke Zero home for James, tried ham and mustard flavored British "crisps," chatted with folks, and simply enjoyed one more hour with friends until it was time for Butch and I to make tracks for home.

So, no visit to the Dealer's Room for me this year at all. Couldn't really afford it, but regret that I didn't get to go to Artist's Alley (also in the same building; liked it better when they were near the art show) and say hi to Andy Runton and see if there was a new "Owly" book or print out. Heck, never even made it to the art show. As my retirement has proved, even with what seems like all the time in the world, you can't do everything.

Maybe next year...

Doctor Who Gap Years panel: Alan Siler, Robert Alsopp, ?

Doctor Who Gap Years panel: Robert Bowen at right

"So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish..." Rob Bowen in the hat, Caro M. Tidwell (Brittrack director) at his left

And as the Marriott Carpet TARDIS prepares to dematerialize...

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» Sunday, September 01, 2019
DragonCon, Day 3 (Or "Butch and I Go It Alone")

Alas, James was out of vacation time (it was used up with his MOHS surgery and followup), so I was on my own for DragonCon for the rest of the weekend. I couldn't afford to pay for breakfast and for the parking as well, so I ate at home and left the house at nine, arriving well in time to get a good parking space at the Courtland Garage and make my first panel.

William Shatner always gets a good crowd, but his panels are never full to the brim, so I had a good seat about ten rows down on the end of a row. Shatner's the only one, too, who seems to enjoy early morning panels, and he came out smiling and in a good mood. The mood was explained by his announcement that he had won a championship with his trotting horse in a competition against 20- and 30-year olds after coming in second and third for years; his trainer is also in his 80s, just like him. You have got to hand it to this guy. He may not remember much about the series that made him famous, but he does not stop going. I mean really: Be like Bill!

Someone asked the question I wanted to ask: were there moments from Better Late Than Never that were filmed, but didn't make it to air? He said they did have some moments in the second series where they had to eat the spoiled fish that came out of the can (during Terry Bradshaw's Viking epic). No one told them the can had to be opened under water to dissipate the horrible smell and to keep it from bursting open (probably on purpose, if you've seen Better Late Than Never), so the can did burst open, liberally spraying cast and crew with fermented codfish. One crew member actually vomited. Later, Shatner recalled with glee, he chased Terry Bradshaw around with a piece of cod. He also did some reminiscing about some of his old roles, like "who would have thought a story about a guy scared of a little Polish man in a furry suit" would become a classic? (Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet") and how his daughters, when they were little and would fly with him, would urge him "Daddy, do the face!" to the flight attendant.

Some of the panel was taken up with promoting his new show The Unexplained. But, as he told the audience earnestly, isn't everything unexplained? What about Dark Matter? Apparently he asked Neil Degrasse Tyson how they knew Dark Matter existed even though they know nothing about it. But if you think about it, he says, how did we become human? How does life really work? It's all pretty amazing—and it's pretty much amazing that even though Shatner is 88 years old, he wants to keep searching for the answers and know more than he knows. He's so earnest about it that it makes me feel ashamed that I am so fearful.

I had a choice of things for the next panel, but I decided to "go where no man" or, rather, no Linda had gone before: to the Cary Elwes panel. I got there just as they were starting to load the main audience and got my end of row seat, quite happy to be sitting and resting. The two-hour stand yesterday has set my back to tormenting me and I had to put my ankle brace on for the remainder of the weekend.

Don't kill me, but I have never been a big fan of The Princess Bride. I like bits of it, and James and/or I sometimes sent each other or someone off with "Have fun storming the castle," but I'm not crazy about the movie like others are. However, I loved Cary Elwes as the snooty Jonas in Twister and of course as a Robin Hood who could speak with an English accent in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. And his panel was great fun. I bought James his book, As You Wish, as a gift, and he'd already told me this story, but it was wonderful to hear Elwes tell the Andre the Giant story from Princess Bride. Short form: they're performing a scene and he noticed Andre looked a bit distressed. A pause, and Andre lets out a ginormous fart. One that lasts about a minute, with strange up and down sound ululations (and, he added, an incredible smell). Finally it ends and Elwes imitates director Rob Reiner: "Andre, are you all right?" And in another uncanny imitation, he tells us Andre's reply, delivered with a big grin: "I am now, boss!" Too funny. His imitations of other actors are so spot-on! He also talked a little about being on Stranger Things, and that we should petition Netflix to preserve "Starcourt Mall."

Then it was up the Courtland Garage elevator again, across the "Luke Skywalk" to Peachtree Center, to take the "habitrail" covered bridge into the Hyatt to see another Orville panel. Chad Coleman had left, so it was left to Peter, Mark, and J. Lee to answer all the questions. Mark Jackson explained a little more about Isaac's mask, which is held together with magnets! It also has an earphone, a little microphone, and fans in it to keep him cool. He does say his lines on the set, but then overdubs them in post-production as Isaac's precise voice otherwise would sound scratchy. All three men talked about their stage experience as well as other jobs they had held, and Peter Macon talked about some of his favorite science-fiction shows when he was a kid, including Space: 1999 and Star Blazers. We also found out that the plot point in the second season opener, when Bortus goes back to Moclan for his yearly urination, was prompted by Peter's observation to Seth McFarlane that if Moclans only pee once a year, then this must obviously be a Big Thing for them. Hence the "peeing" episode was born.

Happily I was in the Hyatt, so all I had to do was walk out the front door and walk the two blocks to the Westin. The Dealer's Room line was incredible. It went two blocks, turned a corner, went three blocks, then went back around another corner and down the hill. Insane! I never did go to the Dealer's Room, which is a good thing as there is no money for it.

I was at the Westin for the Crusade panel (the sequel to Babylon 5 that TNT hated because it didn't have enough half-naked women and wrestling and fistfights; apparently they killed the show by trying to make it what it wasn't). John Hudgens and Van Allen Plexico from the B5 panel and also Peter David, who wrote B5 episodes and books, were the panelists. I had frankly forgotten most of the Crusade episodes, and I appreciated that they talked about their favorites and the ones they thought were good and the ones that were not so good, so then I could recall the plots. I definitely remember the one with the dedication to the cat! When we are done with Perry Mason, should go back and watch Babylon 5 and Crusade again, but those mid-years are so hard to watch, with characters being tortured or dying.

Next it was down the hill (and that was the quickest way to go, straight down Andrew Young) to the Hilton, where the Classic Doctor Who panel was on once again. This had a wonderful gaggle of old friends (Alan Siler, Rob Bowen) plus Rob Allsopp who has worked on the old and the new series, and others on the panel in a big wonderful discussion of "Who" was your first Doctor, best episodes to show to people who have seen the new series, whether the cliffhanger episodes or the "movie versions" were better, what were classic stories, and about the continuing adventures of the classic Doctors in the Big Finish audios. (Plus I sat next to Roger Nichols and was able to inquire about his broken arm, healed, with an impressive scar on his arm.)

Then it was 5:30. I made a brief trip upstairs to see if I could get in to see Catherine Tate (nope, her panel was already full), so walked down to the Sheraton for "Fearless Fans of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It was just a nice quiet hour of talking about favorite episodes, favorite characters (mine is Dot; I do love Ashleigh Williams!), favorite outfits of Phryne's, etc. We also talked about the new Ms. Fisher's Mod Murder Mysteries, set in the 1960s with Phryne's niece as protagonist, which is running on Acorn, but which I haven't watched. It got good reviews from the audience, and one of the panelists even said she liked it better than the original! Apparently they are working on three Miss Fisher movies, but no idea about release dates or plots.

I had thought to stay and see a spy panel, but I remembered last night that it was dark by the time we started to drive home. I've always had a problem driving at dusk and the stupid cataract in my right eye just makes it worse. Besides, I was missing my running buddy a lot. So I came home as James was on the last hour of work; it had been a very dull day (but not as quiet as he expected) and he was very glad to leave it and have his dinner while I talked about my day. And of course there were doggie greetings and budgie songs to welcome me home.

William Shatner

Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Twister, Robin Hood: Men in Tights)

Mark Jackson (Isaac, The Orville)

J. Lee (John Lemarr, The Orville)

Peter David, writer of everything

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» Saturday, August 31, 2019
DragonCon, Day 2 (Or "Will Someone Get These Damn Scooters Out of the Way?")

James wanted to see a panel at nine; I was hoping to get some extra sleep this morning. This is his only other day at con, so how could I say no? So we got up at six fifteen and left at seven.

Now, when I got the garage reservations a month ago I couldn't find a space available at the Courtland Street garage on Saturday. The garage off Andrew Young Boulevard still had spaces, but Andrew Young goes uphill (or downhill depending on your POV 😀 ) and the entrance is on a slope. We have to watch out where we go due to the chair lift on the back of the truck; I was afraid it would bottom out if we entered or exited on that slope. So I consulted Google Earth photos and then got reservations at the Sun Trust Plaza garage because the entrance looked flat. Since I didn't know where this garage was, we plugged in the address to Waze and we followed directions exactly. But it took us to the wrong garage! (Not Waze's fault! Google Maps gave me the same result when I ran the directions later.) We had to back out (!!!!) and find the correct garage, which was three blocks down!...and the street was indeed flat, but the ramp into the garage was steep and the chair lift bottomed out anyway. Grrrrrrr! You should have heard the scrape!

To top it off the scanner at the entrance would not scan the QR code on my Parking Panda receipt! We went in anyway.

Then we had no way of getting into Peachtree Center for breakfast without going through a hotel elevator (nearly impossible to get in on Saturday). We had to dodge around those ridiculous scooters that are causing so much trouble in downtown Atlanta; three of them were blocking the ramp onto the sidewalk for handicapped access, so James had to ride in the street, and he had to swing once into traffic because another scooter had fallen sideways into the street. We walked all the way back down from the Marriott to the Courtland Garage so we could use their elevator and the skywalk to Peachtree Center. By the time I ate breakfast I was so aggravated everything went down like a rock.

Anyway, I escorted him, so I know James did make it to the Westin for his panel before the police shut the street down for the parade, and, picking my way through the crowd and the lines of fallen scooters around the curbs where people were trying to cross the street, I ended up in the Hilton where it was blessedly cool while I attended the BritTrack crime drama panel. This was mostly about the gritty crime dramas like Luther, which I'm not really into (well, except for Broadchurch and Waking the Dead), but it's nice to know what's out there and any new things that might be interesting.

This is the third year BritTrack has been in the downstairs level of the Hilton and previously I've loved it because it's so nice and cool down there. It was cold today but there was a dreadful stench all over the whole level that almost smelled like gunpowder or something chemical. I was told it's from Trader Vic's, which is set into the side of the hotel. It's their grill. Someone told me they thought it smelled like barbecue, but frankly if I walked up to a barbecue place that smelled like that, I'd hightail it out of there. Ew.

Next I made my way over to the Sheraton for one of the alternate history panels, "Bandits & Leapers: Time Travelers in the Media." There was no love for Voyagers! on this panel; it seemed all the panelists hated it and most of the audience. Well, sorry, I don't understand the love for Time Bandits, either, one of my least favorite movies of all time. However, we all could come together on Quantum Leap, mentioning favorite episodes and talking about the alternate ending in which Al would have leaped in search of Sam. There was a man in the audience dressed up as Al, with a wonderful hand-crafted handlink with all the candy-colored buttons. It made noises if you pushed the buttons and even squealed when you whacked it like Al used to. Too cool. (Also talked about Time Tunnel, Sliders, The Tomorrow People, etc.)

I'd learned my lesson. As soon as I was out of there I went directly to the Marriott to get in line for David Tennant, whose panel was at 2:30 p.m. It was now 12:35. DS folks are asked to get to a panel as quickly as possible, at least thirty minutes early.

The chairs for Disability Services were already filled up. WTF?

So, despite the pain in everything from the waist down, I waited, crowded in with a bunch of other people who also weren't supposed to be standing, but were waiting (I was talking to the couple next to me; she has a knee injury and a bad back). I ate my lunch while I was waiting. I started to have my juice, then realized that if I did, I'd have to pee during the panel, so I put the juice back in the backpack. More people showed up. We waited. People pushed in the crowd. I pulled out my tablet and read my book. Every joint started to scream. People pushed in so close I was getting claustrophobic. Out in the rest of the atrium, someone started playing loud music. Then, finally, the previous panel finished. People spilled out, then the crowd lessened. The call came for wheelchairs. The young mother in front of me started passing down the messages because you could absolutely not hear much of anything with all those hundreds of people milling around. The wheelchairs rolled up, including one with five people following after (you are only allowed one "minion"). Then they called sightline (people who could not see well) and hearing impaired. (Some of the hearing impaired who'd been there for over two hours didn't hear the call due to the cacaphony and didn't get in. They need megaphones and signs.) Folks in wheelchairs who showed up at the last minute got in.

Everyone four people ahead of me and all those in back of me did not. They shut down the disability line to load the folks who had been (patiently) waiting outside.

Usually I just sigh and give up, but this was the one panel at con I truly wanted to see. So I argued with the guy in the wheelchair guarding the door. I didn't shout or swear; I just expressed my frustration at not getting in after waiting two hours despite pain and seeing people who showed up at the last minute getting in. I finally said desperately, "Can I at least sit on the floor?"

He let me in. I take no pride in talking him into it, although I apparently absorbed something about negotiations while working as a purchasing agent, as I seemed to be the only one who managed this. He was really harassed by the crowd. Why they did not have an overflow room with "Jumbotrons" like they have had for previous popular panels I have no idea. Did DragonCon really not understand how popular David Tennant would be? He's still one of the rock stars of television.

Anyway, I got shunted off into a corner about halfway down the room, but I didn't care. I would have sat in the back.

It was a fun panel. I came in just as Tennant was being asked about what he and his father-in-law (Peter Davison, alias the Doctor #5) gave each other for Christmas (electronics, mostly). Then, apparently in a trend that started yesterday, he and the panel moderator (Rob Levy) raced their wheeled office chairs across the stage. (David has longer legs; he won.) Then it settled down to questions. The story I remember most is his talking about working on a Shakespeare play where the understudy in one of the roles did not learn his lines, thinking he would never be needed. Well, he was, and it was immediately apparent that he did not know his lines. Tennant said wryly that you couldn't exactly improvise in Shakespeare! He also discussed being Scrooge McDuck (that is was nice to know that there was a Scot in the Disney universe!) (evidently he's forgotten about Merida 😉 ), playing the pitiless Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, the bromance with Michael Sheen in Good Omens, if he wanted his children to go into acting or if he would discourage them (his son Ty is already an actor, having appeared on Casualty).

I had no panels next and knew James would be at the Tor panel in the Hyatt, so I slogged across the street (it was the most direct route) and found him in Regency V as expected. James loves to go to the various science-fiction publishers' panels, although he has to admit Tor is the most boring. We just sort of sat back there chilling out for an hour while the panelists talked about new books coming out.

Finally I went off to the Call the Midwife panel while James went to the Pern panel. This was just pleasantly low key, discussing plotlines we liked in the latest season, our favorite characters (and characters we'd like to see go away, Mother Mildred being the most popular), and how things are going to work out for various characters. Everyone seems to think Valerie is going to be shut out by the women of Poplar because of her exposure of the abortionist.

I met James back at the Hyatt, as he wanted to see one last panel, "Planning Space Battles," with some of his favorite writers, including David Weber. I don't read hard SF, so most of them were unfamiliar to me, but it was an entertaining panel nevertheless. Everyone on the panel was warned if they didn't talk David and Chuck Gannon would take over the meeting. 😀 But everyone did manage to get a good word in edgewise.

So when we got back to the garage, there was an attendant there. I explained about the Parking Panda code not scanning this morning and showed him the ticket and the reservation and he let us out. I was afraid the wheelchair lift was going to bottom out again on the drive out, so I drove the chair out of the garage myself and James followed behind me in the truck. There was a little ramp just to the right of the exit of the garage. James parked perpendicular to it so we were as far to the right on Peachtree Center Avenue as we could get, threw the flashers on, and then I lowered the ramp, drove the chair on it, lifted it up, fastened on all the straps, lowered the arms and the back, and off we went.

Next stop, pit crew! 😀

And thus ended James' two days at DragonCon.

This Observer made his own Handlink.

David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Good name it)

Just us

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» Friday, August 30, 2019
DragonCon, Day 1 (Or "What Time Does the Orville Dock?")

The most difficult part of DragonCon is Friday.

Not only do we have to get downtown early to pick up our membership badges, so we can then eat, and go thence to a 10 a.m. panel, but we have to drive in rush hour traffic. So the first day is always the worst. However, after we'd remembered to tuck our chicken sandwiches into the already otherwise packed backpack, loaded up the power chair, and head toward the freeway, we discovered the traffic wasn't as frenetic as we'd feared and we made it to the Courtland Garage unscathed.

As we arrived at the Sheraton, it was just eight o'clock and time for registration to open, with the regular line already around the hotel, so we got into the Disability Services line, expecting the door to open any minute, but instead it took twenty, and it turned out the DS people were wondering where everyone was—someone had neglected to unlock the doors! We had our stickers in about twenty minutes, and then went to a remodeled Peachtree Center for breakfast at our restaurant of choice, Café Momo, which is a buffet of goodies. I try for a mix: French toast, potatoes, fruit, oatmeal always, and, for a treat, bacon. This is like the once or twice a year I eat bacon unless it's at a party. Peachtree Center! white! now. They cleared a lot out, and some con favorite eating places, like Subway, were gone, but they put a wheelchair ramp up to the other level from the second concourse, which is a real help. As we left, waved at Ken Spivey from his seat behind us.

James was off to the Westin at quarter to ten, I was off to the Marriott to see how long the line was for the David Tennant panel at 11:30. The seats in the "seat in line" area weren't full, so I went to check out a portion of Rick Goldschmitt's Rankin-Bass panel. Rick is the author of several books about the Rankin-Bass "animagic" productions, including The Making of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and is the guru of all things RB. He was showing a partial video of a special called The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye, which has him narrating and appearing as a a voice in The Emperor's New Clothes. It only reminds me how much I miss Danny Kaye!

Alas, I tarried too long. Hurrying back to the Tennant site 50 minutes before the panel was to start, they'd already loaded the disability folks and weren't letting anymore DS folks in. I went to wait up against the wall where they'd told the other latecomer DS people to congregate. We might could get in after the crowd in the line finished loading, but there were so many people in line they had to turn them away as well. My bad. I would get there early tomorrow.

Good thing I usually have several panels picked for each hour: instead I walked (or rather limped after 20 minutes of standing) to the Hyatt to the Sci-Fi Lit track panel "Being a Fan." Aubrey Spivey was on this panel, and I sat next to Alice (her mom) on one side and Phyllis Boros on the other, with Ken in the back of us. I love the smaller panels just as much as the larger ones, and we had a nice discussion about what makes a fan and how fandom has changed with the internet (loss of fanzines, but much more communication with other fans). Even addressed negative aspects: how some fans think you aren't a "real fan" if you don't know every detail about the comic or book series or the television show or movie; toxic fans who write hate mail to show creators because they don't like where their favorite characters ended up, etc.).

I can't remember where I intended to go next, but Alice said she was going to see The Orville cast. Really, I don't keep track of who's attending the con, unless it's been announced as a big deal, as David Tennant was, so I had no idea anyone from The Orville series was coming to the con. So...hey, Orville, and attending with a friend—a no brainer, and a very fun panel: the guests were Peter Macon (Bortus), Chad Coleman (Klyden), Mark Jackson (Isaac), and J. Lee (John Lamarr). The latter, Alice observed and I had to agree, is pretty much playing himself in space! He has a very dry sense of humor and wry outlook. Macon looked tired (he said to excuse him; he has small children 😉 ) and Coleman was very "up." Jackson comes, of course, with a very pleasing British accent. Someone asked him if he can see out of the Isaac mask and he said in the pilot he couldn't, but now it is painted with a special paint which enables him to see out, but you really can't see in, unless the camera is very close and the light is shining in the right direction. His actual eyes are located under Isaac's "electric" eyes in the mask. They all agree that, no matter what director, this is Seth McFarlane's baby and he has the last word on everything. So if the director says it's good and Seth says it's not, they do it again. There were no hints about what's up for next season, but with their move from Fox to Hulu, they will be able to "push the edge of the envelope" even more.

Went back downstairs to Sci-Fi Lit with Alice for "Why We Read." Well, because it's like breathing, isn't it? How can you not? But there were many answers: one person I know, with a terrible job, said "escape" (which I expected), others read to learn, or for research, or to encounter an opinion different from their own. It was a lively discussion and a very short hour, after which I decamped from the Hyatt and strung my way outside toward the Westin. Of course it was crowded with thousands of congoers, so many in costume, plus downtown workers, and the sidewalks were "bumper to bumper." However, I arrived at the hotel in just a few minutes for the Babylon 5 anniversary panel, where James joined me. The main panelist was John Hudgens, known so long ago online as "Fenn Shysa," the guy who made a Babylon 5 video and sent it to creator Joe Straczynski and was then asked to make more (and get paid for them!) to use in promoting the series! He asked if anyone wanted to see any of them and I immediately popped up with "Holding Out for a Hero," the (mainly) Michael Garibaldi video. So that lead off the panel, to my delight.

But much other talk, including how TNT picked up the show for its fifth season and then was disappointed that it didn't garner the wrestling crowd, and the novelty of the "five-year-novel-for-television" format back then (and how incidental events in a first season plot suddenly made sense two seasons later). There was much chatter about Straczynski's new autobiography and how hard it was to get through the first quarter of the book due to his horrible childhood; have Amazon points and must think about ordering it. [Later: I did, and gave it to James to look at. He read it in two days, and was agog at the terrible facts it revealed.]

James went off elsewhere afterwards, while I traipsed to the Marriott for the Earth Station One podcast folks' panel celebrating the 20th anniversary (already?!) of Galaxy Quest. This was truly fun because what we mostly did was recall all the best lines and all the best scenes, from the convention scenes to the earnest but daffy Thermians to the running gags about Guy getting killed and how chill Fred Kwan was to the really sinister aspect of villain Sarris to the fannish kids who saved the day. There were two cosplayers in the audience as well, one guy dressed as a Thermian, and the other as Dr. Lazarus carrying "a miner/minor." And of course we mourned the fact that a sequel was never made while Alan Rickman was still with us, and ended the panel in unison with the Galaxy Quest motto, "Never give up! Never surrender!"

And suddenly the day was over and I was reuniting with James at the Hyatt Centennial I ballroom for tonight's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance. They were doing three humorous pieces tonight. The first was about the reaction of fans and authorities when a flying saucer lands in Centennial Olympic Park and everyone waits to see what the aliens want. Of course, they are here to attend DragonCon! This was very funny.

The second piece was a new installment of Ron Butler's spoof of 1950s kids' space dramas, Rory Rammer, Space Marshall. In this tale, Rory and his young sidekick "Skip" Sagan must rescue a young reporter named Kyrie Eleison, who is determined to prove there are space pirates, and who has been kidnapped by men posing as space pirates to get a ransom from her uncle. Skip's renegade uncle and some pirate robots figure in her rescue.

The third piece was funny but overlong; a spoof of The Maltese Falcon called The Maltese Omelet, with the supporting characters all nursery rhyme characters (Humpty Dumpty, of course, still takes the great fall). The first two acts elicited many chuckles, but the last needed picking up a bit.

Then we headed home to perambulate the puppy and get ready for Saturday.

Rick Goldschmidt, Rankin-Bass guru

"Being a Fan" panel (Aubrey Spivey at left)

Peter Macon (Bortus on The Orville)

Chad Coleman (Klyden on The Orville)

John Hudgens (Babylon 5 anniversary panel)

Babylon 5 cosplayers (Earth uniform, Delenn after transformation, Kosh the Vorlon)

Galaxy Quest cosplayers

David Benedict and Billy Barefoot as Rory Rammer and Skip Sagan in the newest "Rory Rammer" radio adventure

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» Thursday, August 29, 2019
Pre-Med Pre-Con...
...or "Emory Midtown Has Got to Be Kidding!"

Wednesday afternoon I cooked up five pounds of chicken, half plain roast, half cacciatore, in preparation for DragonCon. But we had one last obstacle to go before our way was clear. You'll remember James had a bout with chest pain several weeks ago that necessitated our going to Urgent Care, and then a followup visit to James' cardiologist. He wanted James to have a stress test and a PET scan. We both knew that if he had one smidgen of pain or distress during the stress test, DragonCon was a no-go. We might even have to face the fact that they would advise that he needed to go to the catherization lab immediately.

Since I began working at CDC and got Kaiser Permanente as health insurance, we have been going to Northside Hospital; it's been thirty (yikes!) years. We've come to love Northside Hospital and their marvelous staff, and even the parking is easy. Last fall, however, Kaiser switched their hospital affiliation because Northside no longer was large enough to accommodate their patient load. So we are now with Emory. Supposedly if we get hospitalized we can go to Emory St. Joseph, which is next to Northside, but for this particular PET scan we had to go to Emory Midtown (formerly Crawford Long Hospital, the place which had almost killed our friend Daniel Taylor after he had a heart attack and they gave him too much warfarin). Despite at least three friends telling us that Emory Midtown was a good place, we weren't reassured.

The hospital was, frankly, a fat pain in the butt to get to on a Thursday afternoon. Midtown is always choked with traffic anyway, and even though Waze took us the back way, once we got to Peachtree Street it was a confusing mess. The hospital does nothing to make this any better: the Emergency entrance, the patient drop off and pick up, the valet parking, and the regular parking are all accessed by the same two-lane driveway. It is a holy mess! We basically did valet parking and they were very nice about it (although when we came out we were afraid they had lost the truck—it took them fifteen to twenty minutes to get it back for us). The foyer itself is huge, like some big Fifth Avenue New York City-type skyscraper foyer, and there are different elevators depending on which floors you are on. We had to go wide to the left to get up to the testing floor on 4. Thankfully we were early and they took James back before his appointment time while I sat in the waiting room and ate my lunch. From the waiting room window I could see the Hyatt and the Marriott and I started getting homesick for DragonCon all over again.

(We were so close! We'd already paid $10 to park, and we were less than a mile from the Sheraton. If it hadn't been so doggone hot I would have suggested walking to registration. Except it was hellishly hot, and Facebook reports said the wait for registration was 2 1/2 hours and we didn't have our blue registration cards. But believe me the want was there.)

So after waiting forever for valet parking to find the truck, and having to get them to help another lady in a wheelchair who was waiting longer than we were, we got the hell out of there. We had to stop by Lidl to get fresh bread, and we spent early Thursday evening making sandwiches, and then packing up the backpacks and making sure the precious blue cards and the parking printouts were with us, and printing out James' emergency QR code for the back of his badge.

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» Saturday, August 24, 2019
Getting It Done and Enjoying It, Too

Today was the kind of day I love. We got stuff accomplished and mostly had fun doing it.

After sleeping late and breakfast and dog walking, we headed out to the Cobb Parkway area. I know Best Buy takes electronic recycling, so we threaded our way through the traffic that surrounds the IHOP and Scalini's Italian Restaurant and I hopped out of the truck and disposed of the bad batteries and the CFL bulbs in the bins at the front of the store. Finally! Gone!

We had some Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons and a real need for more Plinks (deodorizers) for the garbage disposal) and also two hand towels for the hall bath: the towels currently there are getting see-through in the middle. Got the Plinks, and found two very nice aqua-colored towels to match the seashore theme going in that bathroom which will not get confused with the two different shades of blue towels in the master bath. I also finally picked up some sachet for the blanket chest and the "toy" chest, something I've had on the "to do" list for over six months. I picked lavender because they say it helps you sleep.

James also found something he wanted: Forged in Fire chefs' knives! Now he can say, like Doug Marcaida, "It weeell cut!"

James moved the truck over to the other side of the parking lot while I drove the power chair over there. It was broiling hot and it would have taken the same time to load the chair, drive the two minutes across the lot, and lowered the chair again. Actually, having it on the highest speed, I got a nice breeze!

So we strolled around in Hobby Lobby, reveling in the autumn decorations. I wish I could lasso fall and pull it closer! There are trees "berrying" out there, and leaves turning yellow; nature knows summer is dying (and let the bloody summer die, dammit) and the sun won't believe it. They also have lots of rows of Christmas things out now, including at least four Grinch-themed pieces of art!

I picked up a set of three plastic containers (a little bigger than cup size) and two items on clearance: adhesive dots and dowels. James got two clearance model kits.

Got home in time for a late lunch, but kept quite busy. I took the three packets of lavender sachet and put one each into a plastic container from Hobby Lobby, and one pair went in each chest and one in the master bedroom closet. (I wanted the sachets in a hard container because sometimes the oils in them leak and I didn't want that on the blankets or afghans.) I unloaded the dishwasher, started loading it again, put a new garbage bag in the trash can.

Then went into the craft room. I painted two "flashies" to put over the front door of my car, both a bright blue. Have you ever tried to find a white Kia in a supermarket parking lot? There are something like four million of the silly things. I have magnets all over the car, but it still doesn't help me pick it out. I tried copper ones up there, but they weren't bright enough. Hence the bright blue is being tried this time.

Now it was time for a big change. I mentioned a furniture replacement in the foyer in my last post. This is the piece that was replaced. I should call this the "Cat" table, as it has lived many lives. It's 68 years old and was in our house growing up as long as I can remember. Mom probably used it as a side table until the encyclopedia came along (1962). Later when we got something large enough for the World Book it went into any corner it was needed. It was my night table for a while until I bought an unfinished unit at Ann & Hope and stained/varnished my own. We were going to leave it behind as there was no room for it in the old house, but James took a fancy to it and we moved it along with the few other pieces of furniture we took out of my folks' house. It's been down in the foyer for 13 years holding the flag and other odds and ends, but but then I decided to let the table from Vine replace it. (Bennett is posing for you on top. He was Schuyler's stuffed animal, and you can see the mark in the middle of his nose where she used to nibble on him.)

Now it's in my craft room to hold the Cricut-like gadget I got from Vine and only used once (will need to read how to use it all over again, as I never had time to mess with it while I was working—this goes for my label maker, too). I was hoping to put a larger number of craft books at the bottom, but these are all that would fit (I don't think it was meant to take anything larger than hardback books or maybe a large Bible.) The table the gadget was on was a tray table and has now been folded up and put back with the other tray tables.

Also completed two cross-stitch projects I've been working on through the nightly Perry Mason viewings. The little polar bear was a kit that came with the British magazine "Cross Stitcher." The other is the second of two kits I bought in Yorktown in 2012, a Williamsburg pineapple/apple Christmas pyramid. Not sure if it's visible, but I used some of the yellow sparkly DMC Etoile thread in the pineapple and green Etoile in the greenery to give it a tiny bit of Yule sparkle.

James made barbecue pork chops and mushroom rice for supper (because mushroom rice goes with everything), we had one of the Ritter peppermint bars for dessert, and, of course, there was more Perry Mason!

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» Friday, August 23, 2019
Getting It All Out of the Way

Thursday was the usual grocery shopping tic-tac-toe for us. In the morning we headed to Publix, mainly for the twofers, but also to pick up those onions we'd forgotten last week, James' low-sodium lunch meat, and the low-sodium Pringles we'd also managed to forget. Next we headed to Kroger. We're hardly there any more, but James had earned "Kroger bucks" using his credit card, and they still had milk on sale, so I went in fortified with the credit, swooped up the milk and a Ghiradelli bar for dessert, and had a nice chat with a friendly cashier over the mandarin oranges, which were marked on sale, but which did not show up in his computer. He was very nice about it.

In the afternoon, we also made a trip to Nam Dae Mun, hoping they were restocking James' favorite brand of ginger tea. Alas, no. We got some thin steaks, ground pork, more Ritter "Pfefferminz" bars for desserts, and sugar-free cookies for James.

Midafternoon we also had an errand to run downtown, and that went expeditiously as well, but all that hopping around in the breathless heat sent us heading home midafternoon to enjoy the fruits of Mr. Carrier.

Today was a much less hectic day and more fun. A week ago I'd ordered this nice little table (at right) from Amazon Vine. I'd had some thoughts of using it in the spare room, but instead it ended up in the foyer, replacing an end table (more about that in Saturday's entry). One of the drawers was being used to hold recycling, some of which we've had for over a year: two laser printer cartridges, CFL bulbs (now that the LED bulbs are less expensive, I don't want the awful CFLs in the house—nasty things), old batteries. Well, yesterday I decided it was time to get rid of it instead of storing it anew. I put it all in a bag and it was in the truck.

Barnes & Noble was having its "Book Haul" this weekend, selected new and other books at half price, so we went there this morning. I hadn't seen the entire list of what was on sale, but I was hoping for a couple of things. Sadly, didn't see anything at the Akers Mill store, but James got a windfall: three Book Haul volumes and another paperback. We then went by Office Max and I turned in the two printer cartridges. Turns out I will get some credit if I buy something in the next week. Well, I'll check the sales on Sunday...

Then it was time for lunch. This week's choice was prompted by Alice's recommendation of The BBQ Place on Powder Springs Road. We had an almost full house: Alice and Ken, Aubrey, and Mel and Phyllis. The barbecue is quite good: I finally had ribs that didn't have pepper on them. James said his combo of beef brisket and shredded pork was tender and juicy. We talked about work Alice and Aubrey are doing for their church, and admired Alice's new shirt. She has a new Cricut machine and is making custom T-shirts. This had the Partridge Family logo on it.

James asked if I wanted to check out the Barnes & Noble at Dallas Highway, since indeed two of the books I was looking for were at half price. As we arrived there, clouds were building up and it was "spattering" a bit. We heard thunder as we wandered around inside, but the weather held as I picked up Susan Orleans' The Library Book and the paperback edition of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials prequel, The Book of Dust, and also a 20 percent off copy of Matthew Pearl's newest, The Dante Chamber. The sky was mostly grey when we emerged, so we tarped the power chair for the trip.

It was looking more ominous as we approached Lidl, so I went in on my own, and a good thing. James said I'd just stepped inside the door when there was a clap of thunder and it started to pour. I bought bread and chocolate, more cranberry juice for James, and, because I couldn't find one bit of ground turkey in the store, got him some lean ground beef instead. I've never seen Lidl that cleaned out of turkey!

By the time we got home, it was time for sandwiches and Perry Mason.

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