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Shit that Didn’t Piss me Off – 9/18

Apologies to regular fans of my Friday blog.  I’m going to do things a little differently today.

I’ve been writing Shit that Pissed me off most Fridays for the last three years.  I enjoy it as an exercise in writing humor and in exploring my opinions about what is happening in the world around me.  Since I’ve started writing the column, it has never coincided with my birthday.

Well this year, it has.

So I decided instead of spending my birthday thinking about stuff that annoys me, I’m going to write about things that make me happy.  I’ll post this week’s shit that pissed me off on Monday. Because even on my birthday, there are things that piss me off.

I begin my 48th year today and in honor of that, here are 48 things that make me happy.

1.  I’ve been married to the same amazing woman for the last 25 1/2 years.  She is brilliant, courageous, thoughtful, sexy, and supportive.  She laughs at some of my jokes.  She listens when I’m in a bad mood.  She corrects me when I’m wrong.  There is not a night that goes by where I am not happy we share a bed, a home, and a life.

2. I’ve got one fantastic mother.  She loves math and has spent her life finding ways to help others love it too. She loves being an amateur artist.  She is a fun travel companion.  Any day I know I’m going to see her is automatically a good day.

3. My oldest son is great.  He’s clever, cheerful, fun, and affectionate.  He grew several inches in the last year and is starting to show signs of facial hair.  Pretty soon, he’s going to learn how to drive and get a job and start looking at colleges.  I’m not sure I’m ready for any of that.

4. My youngest son is wonderfully creative.  The way he builds new Lego structures and describes ideas for new games or parks or dinosaurs shows boundless inventiveness.  His head must be such an interesting place to live.

5. My Brother is full of passion and energy.  He has been remarkably successful in not just the field he has chosen to pursue, but most anything he decides to accomplish.  We have a great relationship hampered only by the distance that separates us.

6. My Sister-in-law has a sharp sense of humor, an infectious positive attitude, and seems like a perfect partner for my brother.

Read More…

Shit that Pissed me off – 7/17

16-Year Old Child of Anti Vaxxers Uses Her Own Money to Get Vaccinated

Good for her, right?  She decided she wasn’t interested in getting the Measles so, of her own free will, she went behind her parent’s backs and solved the problem the way most of us would solve that problem.

The mom is losing her shit because she didn’t consent to the procedure.  Too bad for her they live in Canada and at sixteen, her daughter gets to do whatever the fuck she wants with her own body.

As a parent, I understand that there are certain choices we need to make for our kids until they reach a certain age.  I’ve told my kids that they can get a tattoo if they want but they have to wait until they are 18.  Why?  Because I figure it will give them a little time to think about it before they get a picture of Twilight Sparkle tattooed on their butt.

Nothing against My Little Pony, you understand, I just think this would be a creepy-ass tattoo.

Nothing against My Little Pony, you understand, I just think this would be a creepy-ass tattoo.

If they came to me at 17 and had a good argument, I’d probably tell them it was fine.

Given how my kids respond to pain, this hypothetical conversation is never going to happen.  But I digress.

This pain in the ass mom seems to think that she has some right to control over another person’s body because that body happens to belong to her daughter.

What is she so angry about anyway?  If her daughter develops autism as a result of the vaccines, she is still going to be moving out in a couple of years.

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Friend a Day – David Traylor


Photo by Peter Verrant

David is another very new friend.  I’ve known him for less than a year.  He tried out for Vilification Tennis at this year’s amateur show.  He didn’t make it into the cast because I only have room for one person this year but we did invite him to be a part of Fearless and that has proven to be a great choice.

I have so much respect for anyone who tries out for Vilification Tennis through the amateur show.  It’s about the scariest possible proposition I can think of to try out for a show in front of a live audience.  It’s a lot like American Idol without the slightest possibility of achieving any kind of celebrity.

David is well-known in geek circles as Captain America.  He’s got the look and the costume and he clearly exercises a lot more than I do.

As a part of Fearless, he’s been willing to jump into just about anything we need him to do.  When we wrote the halftime show for CONvergence this year, we decided to plug Captain America into the show because we had the perfect Captain America.

His small role underwent a whole lot of changes between first draft and final staging and he was a complete pro about all of it.  As a producer, it is great to have people who you can plug into a small but important role and know that they are going to rock it.

There are a lot of people who try out for Vilification Tennis and only a few make it into the cast.  The ones who don’t make it into the cast are typically pretty gracious and I don’t see much of them ever again.

The cool thing about Fearless is we have an opportunity to bring some of those new people with us into other performing opportunities.  I’m really glad that we made that decision because it has allowed me to get to know David a lot better over the last few months.

Friend a Day – Ellie Younger

Photo by Peter Verrant

Photo by Peter Verrant

I met Ellie through her ex-husband and got to know her better when she became more involved with CONvergence.

She was also a frequent guest at our regular Sunday movie nights until her career took her to Boston a couple of years ago.

These days, she comes back into town for Omegacon and usually CONvergence (though she didn’t make it this year).

While it is a shame we don’t see her as often as we used to, it is the nature of the world in which we live.  While I understand the issues many have with Facebook, I appreciate the fact that it keeps me connected to people who no longer live a short drive away.

Ellie has always struck me as smart and open about herself.  She frequently stuck around long after movie night to talk about what was going on in her life and in ours.  These weren’t “poor me” conversations but rather discussions good friends have because they are comfortable sharing things with each other.

When we went on a vacation with Ellie a few years back, she brought along her new boyfriend.  There is a level of trust in such a decision since Johnny didn’t know any of us at all.  It’s one thing to feel comfortable with your friends.  It’s another to feel comfortable bringing someone new into an existing dynamic.

As a friend, a choice like that makes you feel valuable and trusted, which is cool.

I think Ellie does that all the time.  She makes her friends feel valuable and trusted.  When she comes back through town, she makes major efforts to get together with the people she doesn’t see that frequently any longer.  It’s an awesome feeling to know that you are part of someone’s agenda when they are only around for a couple of days.

The internet may make the world a lot smaller, but it is not a perfect substitute for seeing folks you like.  Ellie didn’t make it to CONvergence this year, which is a shame.  I suppose it is about time we tried to make it out to Boston.

Friend a Day – Kammy Lyon


I met Kammy through CONvergence.  She was the primary Skepchickcon contact and I was running programming so we talked a lot.

She was also one of our first two guests on Geeks Without God – long before we actually knew what we were doing!

Working with her on programming was a dream.  She was organized and would always answer questions quickly.  With her group representing 10 – 15 panels per year, it was great to have someone who would act as a one point contact for all of them.

Sometimes people don’t appreciate the quiet background types who keep all the balls in the air.  That was Kammy.  She didn’t sit on a lot of panels but she got a whole lot of great people on a lot of great panels.  And she helped organize a terrific room party.

She’s got an upbeat attitude that has taken a beating with some personal stuff over the last couple of years but she’s also a fighter.  Right now she’s going to college, which is a difficult task at any time.  It is a lot harder when you have a life filled with family and work already.

And good for her!  Good for anyone who makes that decision.  I’m really happy for her.

One of the things this Friend a Day project does is remind me how little time I spend with people I like.  Kammy got us over to her house for some yummy grilled burgers two years ago and we’ve been trying to set up a follow-up to that night for two years.

I think once I get done posting this, I should send an e-mail to her trying to figure out a date we can grill.  Actually, I should do that before I get done posting this.  BRB.

OK.  Done.

Kammy is a great person to know.  Hopefully I’ll be enjoying some grilled meat with her soon!


Friend a Day – Paul Cornell


This is my final installment for CONvergence week.

Paul Cornell was a Guest of Honor at CONvergence 2010 and he, like most of our guests, left completely in love with the convention.  Also like many of our guests, he promised to return.

Unlike most of the people who have said they would return, Paul has turned the con into a yearly destination.  He has brought his wife and son along and it seems as if we have become a family tradition for them.

Since 2010, I see Paul for a few days every year during a weekend in which I have about 200 brief conversations with 200 different people who I really like.  Paul and I talk for ten minutes (if I’m lucky) but he pays me the genuine compliment of being happy to see me.

Paul loves to play games.  He introduced me to “Just a Minute,” which I have bastardized beyond all recognition.  And still he talks to me.

He is the perfect kind of guest for the convention because he doesn’t just produce work that is of interest to the geek community. He’s also a fan of the same things as everyone else at the convention.  While he can talk about his contributions to that fandom, he can also talk about how much he loves Urban Fantasy or Dr. Who or Cricket.

Speaking of Cricket, he is slowly teaching Minnesotans about the intricacies of the game.  It takes time when you only have one hour a year. I imagine we’ll have a convention Cricket league in another few years.

What I love about our convention is how people like Paul become a part of the community.  So many former Guests of Honor have become once-a-year friends because the convention encourages that kind of relationship.

When those people aren’t there, they are missed.  The con feels just a little less enjoyable.

This year, the absence of convention friends like Brian Keene, Bridget Landry, and John Kovalic was made a little easier by the presence of people like Paul, Cargill, and Joseph Scrimshaw.

Thanks for making us a part of your family, Paul.  We are truly flattered.  I hope we see you next year!

Paul has a great blog and he just posted a glowing write up of the convention.


Friend a Day – Tish Cassidy


Photo by Sunny Wylde

I got a little bit behind on my Friend a Day posts as CONvergence got into full swing.

Today’s friend is a person I hadn’t expected to write about because I didn’t know her that well.  Her passing over CONvergence weekend reminded me that so many people touch our lives and we ought to take a few moments to show gratitude for those moments.

I first met Tish Cassidy through the Renaissance Festival.  She was one of many fellow performers I didn’t know that well.  She always had a smile on her face, which is an endearing trait in almost anyone.

She dated a roommate for a little while and spent a lot of time in our house.  She was very charming and chatty.  When the relationship ended, we didn’t see much of her for a while.

Later, she began to work with CONvergence and was one of the people tapped to take over the con when a new organizational model was adopted.  That model was a disaster but Tish was a fighter.  She and I had more than one conversation in which I saw her desire to find a way to make the whole thing work.

She loved the convention and while she was frustrated with the direction it was going, she was trying to do everything in her power to fix things.  The ship was flagging a little bit but Tish (and the people she worked with) was working as hard as she could to keep it afloat.

It is perhaps appropriate, then, that her last memories would be of the convention she loved.  From my last few encounters with her, I could see she was ill.  It turns out she was seriously ill.  She collapsed at the convention on Saturday night and expired Sunday morning.

Her sudden loss cast a pall over the weekend, which was unavoidable.  I at least took comfort in the fact that she died doing something she loved surrounded by people she loved and who loved her.

I didn’t know her that well so my sense of loss is not as great as some of my friends.  But I knew her.  Her life touched mine.  We lose friends all the time and for all sorts of reasons.  It’s worth appreciating them while they are around.


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