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cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
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» Sunday, February 16, 2020The Somber End to a Fun Weekend
Well, this was it. The final Anachrocon.
We've been going to Anachrocon since it was a mostly steampunk convention at the Hilton at Perimeter Mall. (221B Con, the Sherlock Holmes convention, was also there for a while.) We sampled our first one just on a Sunday, enjoyed the few panels we saw (candy-making exhibitions, mostly), and signed up for the entire con the next year. The con branched out further once it moved to the Marriott at Century Center (where Timegate/WHOlanta was held after they moved from the Holiday Inn in Chamblee). They started having a whole track of history panels and there was also a Doctor Who track, along with costuming, fabrication, literature, and science. There are literature and science panels at DragonCon, but no real history tracks, just alternate history panels. It was so good to be able to talk to others about things that interested you in real history, like an infamous circus train crash in Georgia. Two men who re-enacted Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson also used to come to the con. Then there was a shake-up in the con committee, the con was held one year near our house (the Wyndham at Powers Ferry), and then they moved out to the Hilton at the airport like everyone (WHOlanta and 221B) else. But it was obvious at the Wyndham con that attendance was down. So...long story short, this year was the last.
We had our own obstacle this year since the lift on the truck had been broken and we were still waiting for the insurance claim to process so we could arrange to have a new one installed. There was no way James could get the power chair there. Instead we decided to take the Kia and the rollator, since it was supposed to rain most of the weekend anyway. So on Friday we packed up our food (since the restaurants in the hotel are too expensive for words; the "Italian" place has spaghetti and meatballs for $22! Even the sports bar is expensive and tiny portions; I don't want to know what the lah-de-dah "Magnolia Room" charges), headed down to the airport about 2:30, annoyed to find out rush hour had already started. I let James off at the door and went to park the car out back. Our friends Clay and Maggi had also just arrived and they turned up soon afterwards.
Spent most of this convention at the literature track, which, like last year, consisted of mostly writing panels. We spent Friday evening, in fact, solely in the literature track, where there was the one non-writing panel, the history of alternative history. The other Friday panels were about editing, writing effective villains, "That Took Me Out of the Story" (unforgivable errors mostly), and tropes.
Saturday we were there from eleven until 9:30 p.m. (and probably would have been later had I not considered poor Tucker's bladder). We did a cruise around the Dealer's Room when we arrived, then went to sit down in the 17th Century Medicine panel given by Jo Frost, waiting for the Writing Historical Fiction panel (which, as always, boils down to "research! research! research!"), and we both went to the "Writing Alternative Universes" panel.
At 2 p.m. I attended the Science Track's panel about "20s" technology. Debbie Viguie and a friend ran this as a humorous look at technology that came out in the 20s (1920s, 1820s, 1720s, 1620s...) doing a Bill and Ted riff. It was funny, and we voted for our favorite technologies and added things. (James had gone to a panel on tommy guns, and remarked wryly that he know more about tommy guns than the moderator.)
Attended the "Effective Research" panel back in "litrachure," then went wandering back to History track to see the "Untouchables" panel. Jeremiah Mitchell was still finishing the Battle of Atlanta, and it ran way, way over, so his "Untouchables" presentation was a bit truncated (but still ran over). Jeremiah loves to talk about the things that interest him, and, boy, can he talk. I'd seen the Capone/Ness presentation previously but he attacked it at a different angle this time.
So I was late getting out of that one and decided to give "Tesla vs. Edison" a miss.
The next panel was about unusual roles for women, which we all went to, but it was different from what I expected. The moderator was talking about specific people; I thought it was going to be more general (talking about women who became soldiers, perhaps, like Deborah Sampson, or about women being tram drivers in World War I, etc.). After that Clay, Maggi, James, and I stood around swapping pet stories—and watching the cute dachshund, Dobby, walk back and forth with his human, wearing a little doggy three piece suit.
The final Saturday panel was about the Kennedy assassination, which Maggi and I remember, but Clay and James don't, so they stayed outside and talked and we stayed in and watched Jeremiah, who had corralled all the conspiracy theory evidence (although there's enough non-conspiracy stuff to be puzzled about, like why no forensics teams ever saw that limousine) and started talking at 8:15, and, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going. Maggi left because her back was hurting, and I would have stayed if I hadn't started thinking Tucker was really going to need a walk—I tiptoed out at 9:30, Jeremiah having just reached the investigation that took place after the Warren Commission report.
So in we walk Sunday morning, and the first person I run into is Jeremiah. I ask "What time did you finish last night?" He said "Eleven." I just laughed.
We did three panels on Sunday, a literature one about developing story ideas, and then a panel in the history track about re-enactments and the value of historical accuracy. Instead, with the meager audience's help, it developed into funny re-enactment events and the crazy things re-enactors are asked (Jeremiah and Jo said they were both asked if their campfire was "real"). The third guy on the panel (Bill?) said that it was hard for beginners to attain historical accuracy anyway, because most re-enactors start in their teens when they have no money, and they don't have the cash to order handmade Civil War-era-like brogans ($400!). But, yeah, sneakers did kind of take you out of the moment. 😊
So we (well, Maggi and I at least) ended up back at the beginning for the last panel in Literature, "Give the Princess a Sword." Strong female characters—but don't make her a guy in a girl outfit. (The guys were outside in the open area, watching a demonstration swordfight.)
We probably should have stayed for closing ceremonies, but being on his feet was catching up with James, so instead we headed home. We did buy Girl Scout cookies before we left.
(And who was the last person we said goodbye to? Jeremiah. So he got the last word. 😉 )
There was one perk out of the Hilton this weekend: we never had to pay for parking! The ticket reader didn't work all three days—you couldn't insert the ticket into it; the feed did not work—and when you pressed the call button they just opened the gate for you. There's at least $15 saved.
Which, of course was a good thing, because as we got on the freeway we had problems in two ways: we just went straight up through downtown because I-285 had construction all weekend, only to find out the freeway was backed up all the way through downtown. Of course being stuck in traffic was the perfect time for the car to start giving me trouble. It was idling low (500 RPM) with a visible vibration, and it was fighting me as I tried to accelerate. Any speed under 2000 RPM and there was a vibration. (There was also a tick when it idled.)
We owe the hospital. We owe the IRS. And now this. Arrrrgh!
» Thursday, February 13, 2020Stop the Rain--I Want to Get Off
So we've been following this weather pattern. It gets cold for a few days. The air is bracing, and you can sleep deeply at night. Then the rain comes in and it gets warm. It's wet, clammy, but still not cold enough to sleep properly. Urgh.
So far February has been mostly boring. And I was wishing for boring, so that's fine.
Trouble is, it keeps being peppered with these little things like the neverending rain. Normally we like rain. Rain mean James gets to telework if it falls on one of his weekdays. Rain on the weekend is a pain because we can't take the power chair out, which means James doesn't go anywhere but supermarkets. And that certainly fits the description of "boring." Saturday we had a little dusting of snow that promptly turned into slipper slush. James decided discretion was the better part of valor and didn't get to go to his club meeting.
But we got a double whammy last week.
On Wednesday I sat down with my copy of TurboTax and played with numbers. And boy did we get a shock. I figured we might owe money. Last year we had a month of my old salary and the unused annual leave I got in a lump sum which was taxed to the max, and those would override the fact I wasn't taking any deductions. This year I knew would be a different animal. It turned out to be a mountain lion. We're getting a small amount back from the state, but we owe an enormous amount to the Feds because I had my withholding at about $13 a month. (Yeah, I went in there and changed it. There goes $100 a month out of my pension check.) This combined with knowing we were going to owe Emory St. Joseph the co-pays for James' hospital stay last month was one whammy.
Alas, that paled to what happened last Friday. Thursday we started a series of James' doctors' appointments that were partially already arranged and partially a result of his hospital stay, and he went that day to the podiatrist so he can get new orthopedic shoes (the old ones are three years old and very scuffed). Today we had the cardiologist and tomorrow we have the nephrologist.
Friday we went to Kaiser Glenlake for James' MRI to determine if he had spinal stenosis. It took about 20 minutes, and then we thought we might stop at MicroCenter on the way home. We got back out to the truck, let the ramp down, got the chair on it, and I started the lift. About halfway during the process there's this terrible racket like the lift is struggling, although it gets all the way up. We stared at each other in bewilderment. Then I looked down. The "shoe" (that's what they call it), the little curved piece that comes around the triangular cog when the ramp goes up, and which folds the ramp up when there's nothing on it, was bent to the left and twisted. The terrible noise was the metal frame of the shoe grinding against the part that the rubber roller at the tip of the shoe usually rolls up against when it is straight.
James grumbled about having to call Mobility Works and my having to take the truck up there on Monday and more money going out, so I asked why we couldn't take it up there right then? We couldn't go to MicroCenter—if we let the chair down again the ramp might not come back up at all—so we'll see if they can look at it. Maybe they kept that part in stock, and if not, we'd order a new part. And maybe they could tell us the best way to get the chair down.
So there we stood eventually all looking at this bent piece, and the service guy said "let me take this around back and check it closer," and drove off to the back with the truck. About ten minutes later, he and Scott (who's our contact at Mobility Works) came back out. There is no way, they said, that it bent like that by itself. Not only that, but the spring that holds the ramp up was also broken, and part of the shaft was bent. Basically the whole lift would be eventually unusable; it would fail because sometime while we were in the Glenlake office, someone hit the lift and then just drove off. Mobility Works told us to call the insurance company and if the adjuster didn't understand the structural problem, they could call them and they would show him or her just what's wrong.
So there I was on the phone with Nationwide as they talked to James about all the broken parts, standing at the back of the truck, juggling the phone, my insurance card, and my tablet case (I was reading at Kaiser and while we were waiting at Mobility Works). I kept talking on the phone as we got back into the truck preparing to go home, and when we crossed Hwy 41, and when we used the small road that cuts through Cobb EMC's property. It is only when I try to find the Mobility Works card in my tablet case for the Nationwide representative that I realize it is not in the cab with me.
Like an idiot I left it on top of the power chair!
So we turned around and went back to Mobility Works, with me having a cow all the way there because of the tablet and also because I had a cross-stitch kit in there with my good Gingher scissors. We got back to the parking lot, where I figured the Case Logic pouch I had everything in had fallen off, hoping no one had run it over. But it wasn't there. Went back inside just in case. Not there. They start helping us look for it. In desperation I started walking back up the road to 41 in hopes that it was at the side of the road.
Just then Scott who had just left for the day, came back down the road with the case in his hands. He found it on the other side of 41, at the side of the road leading through the Cobb EMC facility; I guess it had stayed on the chair until we went over a bump and then it bounced off.
It didn't get run over and everything appears to be safe except one corner of the tablet cover is cracked. I was furious at myself for doing something so stupid. And also royally pissed at whomever hit the damned lift and didn't even say anything.
Case Logic, on the other hand, makes good tablet cases. Thank you, Case Logic!!!
To make sure we could get the chair down off the lift and then raise the lift back up (otherwise the truck cannot be driven), they took off the bent "shoe" and another part. So the ramp will not stay up anymore; it has nothing to hold it. When we got home we had to tie it up with some rope and three bungee cords.
And this of course means James will have to use the rollator at Anachrocon. Oh, aren't his back and ankles and knees going to love that.
At least the insurance is going to cover the claim. The adjuster came on Monday, could see all the other damage we couldn't, and said we'd be seeing the check next week.
» Saturday, February 01, 2020Between the Raindrops
No, no, weather. You don't understand. You're supposed to rain Monday through Wednesday, so James can stay at home. Not Thursday through Saturday when we're (mostly) having weekends.
Thursday we got the grocery shopping out of the way as soon as possible, which is fine with me; I hate grocery shopping. James didn't need lunchmeat, which meant we could go to the Publix on Floyd Road (which doesn't have the low-sodium ham). Of course first we stopped at Lidl and got fresh bread, three gallons of milk, and an assortment of vegetables (cucumbers and onions) and fruit (oranges and Granny Smith apples), which I got 15 percent off on as a shopping reward. That was a nice surprise! Then we picked up BOGOs at Publix and headed home for lunch.
Since we'd done our due diligence, we now could go have fun. We settled for wandering around the Barnes & Noble at Town Center, although James couldn't have the hot chocolate he was craving, as the Starbucks next door had closed. (I don't have any hope that they will do the right thing and expand the bookstore into that space...)
And that was our big doings for Thursday. I'd wish for something interesting to happen, but these days, instead of being museums and trips, "interesting" usually involves hospitals and illness, so I wish for "routine" and deal with it.
Friday was damp, drizzly, and raw, and we stayed inside during the morning until it was time for lunch. We met Alice, Ken, and Aubrey at Uncle Maddio's, and then they followed us home. Aubrey was taking our old exercise bike for her own, and she was also going to contribute the box of food I had put together to the food bank at the church she works for. I don't envy Aubrey her taxes: she is working for a nonprofit, and also has her own small business, so it's complicated.
Alice invited us over later in the afternoon to watch the new Star Trek: Picard. Since we had already had our dinner at the pizza place, we told her we'd bring along our own sandwiches and we could have a picnic. We watched the first two episodes and also the interview show "The Ready Room," hosted by Wil Wheaton, about the series. It is very good! I wasn't particularly enchanted with Discovery, but this was quite compelling. Jean-Luc Picard has retreated to the family vineyard, closeted away from a world which has outlawed androids (like Data of the Next Generation series) after the android workers at the Starfleet Mars outpost went berserk and killed all the sentient beings working there. Suddenly a young woman shows up. Earlier in the episode she and her boyfriend were attacked by strange assailants; he was killed, but she automatically defended herself, she knows not how, and killed all of them. She somehow knows Picard can help her with this, but he no sooner tries than she is killed. Feeling responsible, he does some research, and comes to the conclusion that she was a perfect human-appearing android, and the daughter of Data! Plus she has a twin sister!
It only gets better from there!
And there was today: still cloudy, not as raw. James needed "plastic" cheese (Kraft cheese slices) and it was on discount at Sam's Club, so we risked the Saturday crowds and made the trip. As always, it was crowded, but the crowd was stocking up on distinctly different products than they usually buy, which was the only reason I remembered that tomorrow was the Stupor Bowl. Instead of a variety of staples, people were loading their carts with party supplies, bags of chips and bottles of salsa, long slabs of pork ribs, steaks, pre-made shish kebabs, big bags of Tyson chicken wings, pork roasts... I was starving by the time we left and the smell of the rotisserie chicken we bought did not help.
Nor was having to drive down to Hobby Lobby to get something I needed before we could go home. Found some nice calligraphy pens on discount and came home with those as well. Then James made tater tots in the air fryer and we had those with the chicken. We still have enough left for at least one meal, too. Yummmmm. Tater tots in the air fryer are prime: crispy outside, soft and tasty inside, no grease whatsover. Just crisp and potato flavor.