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Saturday at Balticon

No weight today, obviously, but my BG readings at breakfast and lunch were both under 140, so I have that going for me.

Got up very early (0630) and did breakfast with Mark at the Chick-Fil-A before going to a couple of Connie Willis panels on writing, which were both very entertaining and somewhat instructive, and then spent a couple of hours chatting with Kyle McAbee about A.E. Van Vogt and other authors*. He also suffered through my synopsis of Starfighter Girls and suggested something to make Reiko more sympathetic and not so much of a cold, calculating, manipulative bitch, which I am afraid is how she'll look to people as the novel stands now. We also discussed in passing L. Sprague DeCamp's opinion that older writers should seek younger collaborators to help them with plotting, since apparently plotting skills weaken with age, and I commented that this seemed to be what Jim Baen had done with David Drake and Eric Flint, who have been teamed with entire stables of younger writers, many of whom have gone on to solid careers on their own, e.g. S.M. Stirling, Chuck Gannon, etc., and later Kyle came up to me while Mark and I were waiting for an elevator to inform me that at the Baen Roadshow panel (which I missed because after eating lunch at CFA I was hanging out with deathquaker getting caught up and talking a lot about Fallout) Jim Minz confirmed that this was exactly what Jim Baen had done.

I spent some time after that while Mark was trying to nap working on the FMJRA and posting it, after which we went off to McCormick & Schmick's, where I was entranced by the waitress (who turned out to be a geek**) and enjoyed my BLT salad and soft-shelled crab. Went to an 8 PM reading at which the O'Floinn was supposed to be reading, but alas, he was not. There are panels and readings he's scheduled for tomorrow, though.

The one dark note in the day was hearing from my Aunt Maureen that my godfather is quite ill - his liver appears to have revenged itself upon him, and after being hospitalized and treated for edema, he's given up the creature (one hopes this lasts) and lost 30 pounds, but I notice she didn't give any indication of whether he'd completely recover or how long the doctors were giving him or what. He may be a mean old drunk, but it doesn't mean I want him to croak off just yet.

May be spending most of Sunday sleeping in/working on Rule 5 Sunday/watching anime, because there's no programming I really want to see until 1600. We'll see how that goes.

*I'd previously met him and the lovely Monica outside the dealers' room, where I bought a used copy of Firestar and may be acquiring a duplicate set of Robert Frezza's Suid-Afrika trilogy so I have a backup against the day when my original set wears out.

**I mentioned to her that Balticon has day passes and invited her to drop by tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, better late than never

So I threw all my shit in the big suitcase, after carefully wrapping the nose hose in bubblewrap recycled from the printer and PC boxes, and found that despite putting most of my clothes, the CPAP machine, a power strip, and various sharp objects I didn't feel like surrendering to the TSA in it, the suitcase was only half full. Maybe I'll put a box of books in it on the return trip. Bandages, tape and medicines went into the backpack, along with shaving gear & toothbrush & toothpaste, and I also stuck the phone charger in the side pocket. The Kindles went in the computer bag. All in all, I got packed in plenty of time to drag all my stuff downstairs and summon an Uber driver to lug me to the airport.

As it happened, since my ear buds had gone missing and I didn't feel like lugging my Koss cans along, I had to buy replacement earpieces at the airport, and a brief look at what Brookstone convinced me I didn't want to buy any kind of headphones or earbuds from them. Wound up buying a set of Sony earbuds and a bottle of overpriced Diet Coke from the Hudson News down the hall, and that sufficed. Preboarded the flight to BWI, which turned out to be full, and dozed uncomfortably for about an hour or so while reading Sarah Hoyt's Through Fire. Got my suitcase fairly promptly, pinged Uber, and somehow missed my driver the first time he went by. We compared notes on driving in Baltimore versus driving in Las Vegas, and I tipped him $5 because life is hard.

Got stuff up to the room; Paul was absent; according to Mark, he'd fallen behind the laundry curve and would be along Saturday. We ate dinner at Five Guys - just a bacon cheeseburger and Diet Coke, no fries - and went back to the hotel via the third floor bridge from the Galleria, except we couldn't get in because there was a fire. That got settled in about half an hour, and we went back inside (via the Galleria, which was a useless collection of high-fashion stores) and back to the room. Presently I got pinged by cipherpunk, who inquired as to my dinner plans; I agreed to come along and have a nosh, maybe a salad or something. I wound up at Uno with him getting wings because the pseudo-Irish collision cuisine at Tir Na Nog did not appeal. We had a long conversation over dinner about how the world was going to shit and then went back to the hotel, where I changed my bandages, set up the nose hose, and babbled at Mark while doing so. Fortunately I fell asleep very quickly and slept most excellently.

Trump, Cruz, and the delegate question

I can't remember whether my friend L. is still on LJ, but in case she's not, I'm leaving the post public but pre-emptively closing the comments, since I don't feel like arguing about this.
Caveat: While I may have been active in conservative (usually Republican) politics since 1988 or so, this is the first time I've been a delegate to a state GOP convention, so I'm not exactly a master of the parliamentary procdedures, inside baseball, and arcane rules used to run these things. Still, I'm going to answer the question as best I can.
"Now that Cruz has dropped out of the race how does that affect his delegates? (I seem to remember you were one? Maybe I'm crazy.) Could he still win on delegates even though he left the race or is it Trump uncontested now?"

Well, first of all, Cruz hasn't dropped out of the race. He's suspended his campaign. It's a subtle but important difference. If he'd gotten out of the race entirely, he would be releasing his delegates to do whatever they wanted to do. As it is, he still has control over his delegates (mostly) on the first ballot. What complicates this is that different state party organizations have different rules. MOST of them only require that a delegate vote for their candidate on the first ballot, after which they can vote for whoever they want. SOME of them don't even require that. Some state parties have penalties for not sticking by your candidate and others don't. So it's possible that some delegates who are generally considered to be in Trump's camp may not vote for him at all. (South Carolina's delegation in particular has been much speculated about in this regard.)

Secondly, although Trump has won a number of primaries in states like Arizona and Virginia and Nevada, his people have failed to follow through and ensure that Trump loyalists are named as delegates to the state conventions, and it's entirely possible that at these three state conventions, the state GOP may decide to give no delegates at all to Trump, lump all the not-Trump votes together and give Cruz a number of delegates in proportion, or screw Trump completely by selecting either uncommitted (but pro-Cruz) or pro-Cruz delegates. The press has paid surprisingly little attention to this maneuvering except when Trumpkins throw a hissy fit about their delegates being "stolen".

The bottom line is that it's entirely possible that when the GOP National Convention is convened in Cleveland, most of the delegates present may not, in fact, be committed to vote for Trump on the first ballot or any ballot. We'll have to wait and see how the delegate selection process works.

Anime Detour 2016 AAR

tl;dr: I went to Anime Detour as a staff member for the first time since getting canned (for cause) in 2007, had fun, didn't work nearly as much as I thought I should have, didn't see all the people I wanted to see, and didn't get sick.
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Woke up at 0700, and despite yesterday's poor meal choices, I lost a pound and a half. No ketones and my BG was up a touch, and my BP was marginal. Had a cup of the Atomic Blast coffee and sloped off to the Rio, where all was chaos and confusion. They had my badge, but initially wouldn't release it since I wasn't on their list; after about an hour, the sergeant at arms made an executive decision that I and people like me could just add our names to the list, since we had obviously registered at the caucus and paid our $40. Nobody could tell me if my precinct's delegates had shown up, there were no designated seating areas, and after sitting around listening to various candidates not running in my district make speeches, I decided to go get breakfast.

Didn't have to get a players card for a discount since 1) the Rio is part of the Harrah's/Caesar's/Planet Hollywood Total Rewards crowd and 2) they didn't give a discount at the buffet, it was $34 period. Well. Not eating there again. The food was good, but I wasn't hungry enough to have more than one plate, and after finishing that I went back to the convention hall. I never did find out if my delegates showed up, but I left at 1230 anyway since I had a client at 1300, but not before I signed up with the Cruz campaign to be a delegate to the state convention in Reno next month. From what I gather, I might be going anyway since only half the 6000 delegate seats were filled at the caucuses, and nobody is sure how many of those 3000 are interested in going to Reno.

My 1300 client was a no-show, but Mike came in and paid for his return; managed to use the last of the office's wallet to get the price down to merely annoying instead of completely unreasonable. Had another walk-in around 1600 which was moderately profitable, and that was it. On the way home from the office I made a field in the Commercial Drive shopping center, nuked Lurnberry Towers, which had been flipped, rebuilt LVCC and threw links (and some fields) in all directions, and arrived home all tired out despite the ham & turkey & bacon sub I had mid-afternoon. Beginning to wonder if I have an abscessed tooth or an infected gum or maybe just a cavity. I'll find out after the season.

The Block Rewards Card replacement showed up today with $35 on it. w00t. Think I might go see Deadpool tomorrow before tucking into Rule 5 Sunday.

...and everything arrived at once.

Weight dropped like a rock this morning and BG did likewise; it probably would have dropped further had I not forgotten to take my meds yesterday evening. I am below 390 for the first time in a long while. Probably need to start wearing the size 56 pants soon, and maybe investing in a new belt besides.

The TV arrived today, as did the Fire Stick - and the vacuum cleaner, which I had stupidly sent to the office. Picked up the TV en route to work and hauled it inside once I got there, since the trunk is unreliable, and left the vacuum behind when I went home. I can always fetch it home tomorrow night. On arriving home, I hauled the TV upstairs, went down to the mailbox to fetch the Fire Stick, and spent the next half hour assembling and plugging stuff in. The HDMI sockets were a pain in the butt both on the video card and the TV, but I got it all working. I know I'm going to have to shell out for an MLB.TV account, but the ESPN Watch app seems pretty useless since it insists on me having a TV provider. What's the point of having a Fire Stick if I'm paying for cable? Ah well; most of their programming is shit anyway. Will need to repurpose one of the empty Amazon boxes to elevate the screen a wee bit.

Work was busy, busy, busy. My first hour was free, but otherwise I had clients (or their work) from 1400 on through to closing. The first and last clients paid off; for all the first one's grouching about the cost, he took a Federal and a State RAC along with an Emerald Card. Fred's return, of course, was pretty hefty and we're going to talk in the off season about getting his expenses more organized and paying some estimated taxes so he doesn't have to write a five-figure check to the IRS. One of my clients from Virginia finished their return and paid for it tonight as well, so I had a REALLY good day from the revenue POV.

Didn't eat much today for lack of time. Lunch was the first meal of the day - a half-pound guacamole bacon thickburger with side salad - and I had a protein bar around 1600 when I finally finished going through two years of bank statements for a client who'd dropped off his returns. So for the day I'm sitting at ~1500 calories, 14.7 net carbs; I'll have a bite of cheese before I retire so I don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night like I did last night.

Tomorrow is going to be busy as well - need to clear out a bunch of boxes so that the deliverymen from Walmart can get the bed into my bedroom. It'll keep me busy and out of trouble, I reckon.

Matthew 27:27-54

And now a few words from the patron saint of accountants.
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Spoiled by videogames?

It occurred to me this morning after finishing a rare Saturday morning In The Mailbox that I am probably missing out on a lot of webcomics and podcasts I might enjoy because I'm simply not aware of them.

On the other hand, I've stopped following a lot of the webcomics I used to follow religiously. Sinfest was balanced for a while between feminist BS and amusing story, but now it's tipped over into the feminist abyss. Screw it. Day by Day became less funny along with the politics it was satirizing. Penny Arcade...got tired of the crudity and the references to games I'd never heard of and knew nothing about, and the constantly aborted story plots got on my last nerve. There were tons of cool possibilities and they just threw them away, or couldn't figure out where the stories were going. or maybe the stories were just extended in-jokes that I never really understood. Skin Horse and Rip Haywire stopped being amusing for different reasons, while with xkcd, the snark outweighed the amusement more often than not.

I am still following Girl Genius, Schlock Mercenary, Freefall, The Specialists (on hiatus), Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Erfworld, Terminal Lance, and Megatokyo. Exterminatus Now is done, unfortunately, and with the death of Larry Latham, so is Lovecraft Is Missing. I was hoping his widow could find someone to wrap it up, but I guess that's not going to happen. 319 Dark Street is done.

Podcasts...for some reason, I've never taken a shine to those. I was too young to really appreciate radio dramas, which were petering out when I was a kid, and despite the recommendations of friends and family, I just haven't gotten into Welcome To Night Vale or any of the other 'casts that might be relevant to my interests.

Given my druthers, i would rather read or play videogames than watch TV online or listen to podcasts, and movies these days just cost too damn much for me to just up and go to see if something's worth watching. I think I've been very, very lucky that the last few movies I've seen (The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) have all been worth it.

What kind of foolreader am I?


Some jokes do need to be explained...

So yesterday I posted this picture to my Facebook account with the title "Ironic gesture of appreciation".

Now, since as far as I know, nobody I used to work with at the Foxchase H&R Block office is on my friends list, I guess I do owe folks some explanation of why I found this ironic and funny. It all goes back to December of 2014, when we were sitting through our obligatory pre-season Skills to Win classes, and the word was coming down that we would be expected to do most of our returns using the new Blockworks software, which was replacing the old DOS-based TPS. Kansas City wanted 75%, as I recall, but our district manager, not to be outdone, said he wanted 80%. Much eye-rolling from the veteran tax pros, who were (justifiably, as it turned out) wary of the new software. Over my protests, I was appointed Blockworks Advocate for my office.

Among the many things I disliked about Blockworks was that the workflow was exactly backwards from TPS: in TPS, you entered the information from the clients' forms into the software, which shuffled the numbers to where they belonged on the various 1040s, schedules and forms. Not so with Blockworks, which had some of the documents available for entry (mostly W2 and 1099 forms) but mainly expected you to put the data directly into the various forms and schedules via screens that looked nothing like the actual forms and schedules and sometimes didn't even have the information in the same order. In addition, some of the older tax pros had problems reading the small. overcrowded screens full of the tiny 10-point Arial font instead of the spacious TPS screens with the large, easy to read 12-point Courier New font. Also, Kansas City hadn't increased the number of tech support people available to answer questions; in fact, we were supposed to rely on (incomplete) F1 help screens, a continuously updated technical manual, and forums where we could get questions answered, but not in real time. I warned my fellow tax pros of this at our pre-season "dress rehearsal" meeting, and it went over about as well as one might expect.

The worst was yet to come. It quickly became obvious that many of the forms we needed in Blockworks weren't ready, especially for various states, and we started running into problems with Virginia state returns in particular. After a couple of weeks with all kinds of problems related to Blockworks' defective Virginia software, the word came down from District that 1) KC acknowledged that the Virginia software was hosed, and 2) they weren't going to fix it before April 15, so 3) we might as well do all the Virginia returns in TPS. Which we'd been doing for a week already, thank you very much. I think I maybe did ten (10) returns on Blockworks all season, mostly 1040EZ returns for military taxpayers whose homes of record were in Florida, Texas, or other states that didn't tax military income.

So when my new manager here in Vegas gave me the pin by way of thanks for pulling long hours and being generally helpful, I admit I giggled a little bit after she walked away. Because it was funny, damn it.




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