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August 2008

Help find a home for Bro!

BroatshelterA few of weeks ago, I wrote about a great cat with the shelter name of Bro I was fostering in the month of August for the North Country SPCA in Westport, NY. You can read what I wrote about him HERE. He's a terriffic one-year-old solidly built charismatic black cat who seems to have respiratory allergies.

Cat on the windowsill
After fostering him for a month, I wanted to adopt him, but my husband says no, and so I returned him to the shelter on Friday, pending our return to Pleasantville for the beginning of the school year. Bro's allergy symptoms improved a lot over the course of the month he was with us, but were not gone.

I find myself quite grief-stricken at having to take him back to the shelter. It is a good shelter full of mostly perfectly good housecats fallen on hard times, and of the shelter cats I got to know this summer, he was my favorite.

He is a smart, friendly, socially oriented and organized cat who gets on well with kids and other cats and would probably do well with dogs. Because he spent his kittenhood in the shelter, he is satisfied to be an indoor cat and would probably adapt well to apartment life as well. Within reason, I am willing to provide transportation for the cat to a good home. He is currently back at the North Country SPCA, a no-kill shelter.

He's a real teddybear of a cat whom I found very pleasant to have around. Surely , someone I know needs to have this cat in his or her life.

And for those who need a dog on their life,
Ozzie here are a few of my favorites at that shelter. Great family dogs: a chow chow mix named "Ozzie" who really likes to run with kids; "Lennie": a young beagle; and "Baby" a small and very sweet older beagle who likes to go for walks and adores children but would also be a good office dog (she'd not listed on the shelter website). BabyThey also have a couple of good younger beagles that came in with Baby who may be her sons that are not listed on the website. (One thing I learned this summer is that I really like beagles.) A good dog for adults: "Teddy", an older chihuahua mix, is another of my favorite dogs at the shelter; I found him really pleasant to walk.

UPDATE, 9/15/08: Bro now has a great new home and has been renamed "Darth." Happy ending!

Hurricane Gustav determined to be a presence at the GOP convention one way or another

Is there anything more emblematic of the Bush presidency than a hurricane? And so it is fitting that a hurricane seems determined to attend the Republican convention. From the LA Times, in an article about whether the convention will be postponed:

In Washington, Bush -- scheduled to speak at the Republican convention Monday -- was receiving what White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said were "regular updates" about the storm's progress.

Perino said it was "too premature to say" whether Bush would alter his plan to speak to the convention.

Matt Burns, communications director for the Republican National Convention, emphasized that officials have not made any changes in their plans related to Gustav.

"At this juncture we are moving ahead with the planning of our convention, and there have been no changes to our schedule of events. We obviously share the concerns of many Americans as we watch the developments," Burns said.

Accuweather's model tracking of the path of Hurricane Gustav is here.  Whether or not Gustav goes to Minneapolis St. Paul, it seems very likely to hit New Orleans on approximately the third anniversary of the Katrina disaster and a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans seems imminent:

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin left the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday and announced that he would order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans if a Category 3 storm got within 60 hours of his city. Meteorologists predict Gustav will swell into a Category 3 hurricane, defined as a storm with winds between 111 mph and 130 mph.


UPDATE 8/30/08: Gustav becomes a Category 4 hurricane and McCain's people float the idea of turning the GOP convention into a Red Cross fundraiser:

A senior McCain source said Saturday that officials are considering turning the convention into a service event, a massive telethon to raise money for the Red Cross and other agencies to help with the hurricane.

. . . as opposed to a fundraiser for McCain? (I'm not making this up.) How 'bout this: why don't they just  pledge to donate all the money raised by the McCain campaign between now and next week to the Red Cross?

Meanwhile, on a very serious note, here is a list of the key words that brought the last ten visitors to my website:

Kathryn Cramer
Recent Visitors by Referral Search Words
Detail Search Words Referring Web Site
  1 new orleans levee map
  2 new orleans levies map
  3 before and after
  4 new orleans levee breaks
  5 new orleans levees
  6 "new orleans" levee map
  8 new orleans levee map
  9 escape routes from nola
10 new orleans levys

While I did do a lot of work on disaster relief maps following Hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan Earthquake, I do not have detailed maps on how to escape from New Orleans in the event that levees fail again. I hope someone else does.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Summer is coming to an end and it is with some regret I will return to Westchester County for the beginning of the school year. I would be more than content to stay up here in Westport, New York and paint more pictures of Lake Champlain and walk dogs for the local animal shelter and work towards our various goals for the new house. Our amazing granite retaining walls are now full of wildflowers I planted from seed and I get a real kick out of watching hummingbirds checking out my poppies and sunflowers. And although a number of people I know up here are leaving at the end of the summer, many people are not. I feel like both my kids and I have more friends up here than down there.

This is a Great Place: there are a number of cool houses and store fronts on on the market around here that can be had for very reasonable prices. I have personally looked at a number of them, some while shopping before buying this one, others while shopping in hopes of convincing friends and relatives to buy around here. (I can tell you all about what's on the market here if you'd like to know.)

It used to be a resort town before the advent of air-conditioning, so it is a very comfortable place to be in the summer. There is a lot to do here, especially in the summer: concerts, theatre (both professional & amateur), art events, fairs, never mind the kind of activities people come to the Adirondack for like, say, hiking. (The kids and I did less of that kind of thing than I'd expected since there were a couple of unusually stormy weeks up here and I didn't want to strike out on unfamiliar trails during flash-flood or thunderstorm warnings. On the other hand, watching a production of Pippin in the Depot Theatre during a particularly violent thunder storm was pretty cool; there were some especially serendipitous thunderclaps in the second half after intermission; I think that if I see it again I'll miss them.

A few days ago, I was in complete panic at the thought of having to go back to Pleasantville and resume the life we have there. I'm not exactly reconciled to it now, but sort or resigned, gloomily thinking of what I can do there to prepare further for life up here. (As I write this, Elizabeth has just spelled "YouTube" out loud, presumably typing it into Google, and then asked how to spell "exploding" and "Elmo"; perhaps she is more ready for Westchester County than I.)

This summer, we have made more progress on fixing up the house than we had expected. We'd had a whole bunch of estimates made before closing last October and weren't sure when and in what order contractors would appear, but suddenly we're well past what we thought we'd be able to do this year and well into what we thought was going to get done next year. They've temporarily run out of scaffolding for the back of the building, giving us a several day respite from people pounding on the walls with hammers from 8AM to 4PM.

On Saturday, we had a small but instructive equipment failure: the lock to the door in the store part of the house -- yes, we bought a house equipped with a bookstore -- failed, locking us out completely unless we were willing to break a hand-painted glass window to get in. The store had previously been a liquor store (hence the hand-painted grapes on the windows), and so conforms to all of the nutty NY state laws involving how it is possible to access a store. There is no way in but the front door of the store and the lock broke.

Much is made on the Internet of "social networking" these days. Let me tell you about real social networking: real social networking is when you know the guy who can take your hand-painted window out and get you into your space and then put the window pane back intact in the same shape it was, and you get him to show up and do it. (The nearest currently practicing locksmith on this side of the lake is about 40 miles away, in case you were wondering.) We did that and now the lock has been replaced. Now David can proceed on to organizing his books in his Westport book space.

We have a dinner guest coming, so I should stop now. I guess this is the traditional What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay that one writes with the utter certainty that what one did on the summer vacation is better than what comes after that. But life may surprise me.

TV News gets desperate

I avoid getting my news from TV and instead try to get it from the web or newspapers. Nonetheless, I find this statistic, reported by The New York Times, startling:

According to Nielsen Media Research, the median age of the top-rated Fox News audience is 63.9 years old, nearly four years older than that of the second-highest-rated news channel, CNN, and eight years older than for the third-place channel, MSNBC.

The median age for the three evening newscasts is 60.5.

The news story concerns attempts by TV news to attract "young voters." The idea is apparently to put young reporters on TV because the young like to watch their peers. I'm 46, but my reasons for preferring to get news almost any way except TV is that I want to read immediately about what I want to know about, rather than waiting through endless and repetitive commercials and coverage of other things. Also, waiting through the crap is a gamble: most of the time you don't know if they are going to get around to your subject matter. (There are additional and obvious reasons not to watch or read Fox News.) TV news abuses the viewers patience in ways I find unacceptable.

When we were staying in a hotel in Orlando for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, for mysterious reasons, the hotel had flatscreen TVs, mostly tuned to Fox, all over the place. There were even TVs in the publicly available bathrooms: I was really bothered by having to listen to the broadcast of George W. Bush reading from the Bible while in the toilet stall. This struck me as vaguely obscene.

While I am not in the age group targeted by the strategies described in the article, I somehow don't think that what's broke about TV news can be fixed by substituting younger talking heads. The NYT article opens,

Television networks are assigning reporters to a new beat this election year: people who don’t watch the evening news.
Ohh-kaaay. And why don't they translate all those running captions into text-messaging-speak? And maybe all the male announcers should be required to have those funny little Jesus beards. And . . .

Ah, marketing. The networks' plans seem to me like new shades of lipstick for the pig.

Really great cat available!

Cat on the windowsill

This summer, my kids and I have been occasional volunteers for the North Country SPCA in Westport, NY, which is a couple of blocks from our Westport house. My motivation, other than just our family love of animals, is that I am preparing for the possibility of a dog, so once a week or so, I walk three or four dogs.

The pets we already have include two cats, a tortoise named Flower, a frog, a hermit crab, and a Madagascar hissing cockroach, all of who are up here is Westport for the summer.

The shelter has a sign up calling for volunteers to foster cats. Two weeks ago, on whim, I volunteered to foster my favorite of their cats, a solid black short-hair cat they'd named "Bro." He's about a year old.

He's a very social people-friendly and cat-friendly cat who was left over from a batch of kittens the shelter had, the rest of whom have already been adopted. He had the sniffles in the shelter, seemingly because of allergies, and so didn't get adopted. Usually when one speaks of "cat allergies" the referent is people who are allergic to cats, but in this case it seems that the cat is allergic. His respiratory issues are a lot better since coming to our house, though his occasional heavy breathing has earned him the nickname of "Darth" after a houseguest remarked that she'd dreamed about Darth Vader when he'd sat on her chest while she was sleeping.

Bro is a charismatic cat who gets along with both cats and people (we haven't tried him with dogs), and at times has seemed to be trying really hard to learn the household rules. He has the British short-hair body type; he's heavy-boned and seems likely to grow up to be a very big cat.

We think our current limit is two cats both because of the need to shuttle all the pets between Pleasantville and Westport, and because of my hopes for a dog in the next year or so. I am very much hoping to find a good home for Bro by the end of August. Westport -- which is in the Adirondack park -- is 2 hours south of Montreal and fairly easily accessible from the Burlington, VT area via ferry.

Let me know if you think this cat is for you. Veterinary records should be available via the North Country SPCA. I can give Bro an excellent character reference.

Cat on the windowsill

UPDATE, 9/15/08: Bro now has a great new home and has been renamed "Darth." Happy ending!

A good line from the NYT review of James Woods' How Fiction Works

From "A Not So Common Reader" by Walter Kirn:

The grosser elements of fiction — story, plot and setting, as well as the powerful drive of certain authors to expand or alter perception by exalting the vernacular, absorbing the anarchic and ennobling the vulgar that has impelled such messy master works as “Huckleberry Finn,” “On the Road” and Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” — intrude not at all on Wood’s presentation, which proceeds in the steady, dark-gowned, unruffled manner of a high-court judge.
I am not, in general, a promoter of killer reviews, but doesn't that line just cut Woods' book right to the marrow? All by itself?

100+ writers who have never won a Hugo

I have been irritated enough by discussions as to why more people under 30 40 haven't won Hugos, that I have spent a few hours composing a list of people who you might think had won Hugos, or perhaps ought to have won a Hugo or two, or are just plain pretty good writers —— but haven't won a Hugo. There are bestselling writers here, hall-of-famers, and at least one person who turned down the Nebula.

Looking over this list, I think it's fair to say that most good writers in the science fiction and fantasy field have never won a Hugo Award.

Eleanor Arnasen
Catherine Asaro
Kage Baker
Iain M. Banks
John Barnes
Stephen Barnes
Stephen Baxter
Gregory Benford
Michael Bishop
James P. Blaylock
Ray Bradbury
Damien Broderick
Edward Bryant
Emma Bull
Pat Cadigan
Jonathan Carroll
Storm Constantine
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
John Crowley
Jack Dann
Charles DeLint
Stephen Dedman
Bradley Denton
Paul DiFilippo
Cory Doctorow
Candas Jane Dorsey
Sarah Douglass
Terry Dowling
David Drake
Andy Duncan
Carol Emschwiller
Michael Flynn
Jeffrey Ford
John M. Ford
Karen Joy Fowler
R. Garcia y Roberston
Mary Gentle
Lisa Goldstein
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Stephen Gould
Nicola Griffith
Eileen Gunn
Barbara Hambly
Elizabeth Hand
Harry Harrison
M. John Harrison
Robin Hobb aka Megan Lindholm
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Robert Holdstock
Nalo Hopkinson
Alexander Jablokov
Kij Johnson
Diana Wynne Jones
Gwyneth Jones
Graham Joyce
Guy Gavriel Kay
John Kessel
Donald Kingsbury
Ellen Klages
Ellen Kushner
Tannith Lee
Jonathan Lethem
Paul Levinson
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Ian R. MacLeod
Ken MacLeod
Barry N. Malzberg
Richard Matheson
Paul J. McAuley
Wil McCarthy
Jack McDevitt
Patricia A. McKillip
Robin McKinley
Sean McMullen
China Miéville
L. E. Modesitt
Judith Moffett
Elizabeth Moon
Michael Moorcock
James Morrow
Pat Murphy
Linda Nagata
Kim Newman
Garth Nix
G. David Nordley
Jerry Oltion
Susan Palwick
Paul Park
Steven Popkes
Jerry Pounelle
Tim Powers
Terry Pratchett
Christopher Priest
Kit Reed
Alastair Reynolds
Mary Rosenblum
Rudy Rucker
Geoff Ryman
Pamela Sargent
Karl Schroeder
Melissa Scott
Deliah Sherman
Joan Slonczewski
Norman Spinrad
Brian Stableford
Sean Stewart
William Tenn
Mary Turzillo
Lisa Tuttle
James Van Pelt
Jeff VanderMeer
Élisabeth Vonarburg
Howard Waldrop
Peter Watts
Scott Westerfeld
Liz Williams
Sean Williams
Walter Jon Williams
Gene Wolfe
Jack Womack
Jane Yolen
George Zebrowski
Sarah Zettel

This is a loose & sloppy list probably full of typoes and with glaring omissions. Nearly of the writers on this list have been nominated for some award at some point. No particular age cut-off was used, just my sense of who has an established enough career to be interesting on such a list.

(Later, I will go through my years' best notes and compile a list of pretty good writers who have never been nominated for any award tracked by Locus. But not today.)

CHALLENGE QUESTION: What commercially and/or critically successful writers in the field have never been nominated for a Hugo, or perhaps even for any awards in the field? We can start with L. E. Modesitt. Who else?

Correcting what appears to be a common misapprehension

In reading the Internet's post-Hugo coverage, there seems to be a misapprehension out there that David G. Hartwell has been winning Hugos for decades and really ought to stop that and let someone younger have a chance. Perhaps people have him confused with Gardner Dozois or Charles N. Brown. The Hugo awarded David the other night in the category of Best Editor, Long Form, is only his second Hugo, ever.

According to the Locus list, his total award wins of all kinds are 2 career awards: the Milford and Skylark, plus 2 Hugos (counting the new one), 2 World Fantasy Awards, 7 Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Awards, 1 SFRA, 2 Readercon Awards. There are also a few more whimsical awards kicking around the house that Locus doesn't list (one involving a bird wing encased in lucite). But no secret stash of rocket ships except in Hugo-Nominee-pin form.

Semiprozine rules change & NYRSF

Regarding the Semiprozine Hugo Award rules change reported by Cheryl Morgan . . .

Removal of Semiprozine Category
A proposal to remove the Semiprozine Hugo was passed and forwarded to Montreal for ratification. The old qualification criteria from semiprozine are now used to define what is not eligible to be a fanzine. (We’ll post the actual wording later when we get official electronic copy). The vote was 40-28, and the issue continues to be hotly debated.
. . . I note that The New York Review of Science Fiction only meets 2 or the 5 criteria for "Semiprozine", by virtue that it pays contributors (token payment: $10/review & $25/essay) and acknowledges being a "semiprozine." As for the other criteria, our circulation is well below 1,000 copies and has been for the life of the magazine; while occasional and rare issues may contain more than 15% advertising, most contain much less; and the magazine does not provide a substantial portion of anyone's income.

If -- speaking purely hypothetically and only for myself -- NYRSF stopped making token payments for reviews and essays and instead gave contributors credit toward a subscription (say, 4 issues for a review, 10 issues for an essay), then according to Hugo rules, NYRSF would be a fanzine and would compete (and perhaps even win) in that category.

Many NYRSF contributors already use such an arrangement to pay for their subscriptions, so this would not be a big change from our end. Those obsessive enough to care about such things might want to go through the past decade of Hugo Award Final Reports to see how this would have played itself out in the Fanzine category, had NYRSF been classed as a fanzine.

A quick look at this year's report suggests that NYRSF would have won in that category on first ballot. Whether things would actually have worked out that way is hard to know. That really depends on what portion of NYRSF's Hugo constituency is old-line fanzine fans and how offended they would be to see a perrenial semiprozine nominee in the fanzine category.

Though NYRSF is one of the iconic semiprozines, we are only in the awards category by a hair, rules-wise.

FURTHER REMARK: Does anyone have an actual transcript of what was said at the meeting in which the rules change was discussed? The emerging impression I'm getting from what I can gather online is that some very smart people said some unfortunate things based on perhaps foolish assumptions.

And yet: I am wary of drawing conclusions about the true nature of the discussion based on online and second-hand information, having read too many mangled accounts of the goings-on at convention panels. So. Did anyone either record or take careful notes of the discussion preceding the vote of whether to eliminate the Semiprozine Hugo category? If so, can you either publish it online or email it to me?

Note additional discussions here, here, & here. (Also there Kevin Standlee had a discussion going somewhere on his LJ which I can't seem to find now.)

David won a Hugo last night!

David G. Hartwell's 2008 Hugo Award for Best Editor (Long Form)

David Hartwell at the World Fantasy Convention, Fall 2005So, as I was saying, I didn't go to Denvention, so I was not at the Hugo Award ceremony last night. When the phone rang last night some time after midnight, I was quite solidly asleep. I stumbled around trying to find it in the dark, but it stopped ringing. I figured either David had won a Hugo or it was a wrong number and I could know in the morning. (That chances that we'd both won for NYRSF were smaller than those of a wrong number.) So now it's morning and now I know! David G. Hartwell won for Best Editor in the Long Form category (the category for book editors, created 2 years ago). Whee! Congratulations, David!

Wish I'd been there last night, though it's pretty nice in Westport, NY. My Facebook status line from last night reads, "Kathryn Cramer is not at the Hugo nominees reception; she is bathing mud-covered children following a concert in the park."

Here's Lake Champlain this morning.



Since I wasn't there, I would really like to see some photos of David winning the Hugo. Can people please send them to me?

Congratulations, David

Playing Hookey from the WorldCon


Cheryl Morgan has noted that my kids and I are absent from Denvention. Ah, I'm busted playing hookey from the WorldCon. No, I'm not in Denver, I'm in Westport, NY painting my basement and painting pictures of Lake Champlain.

SN852014Meanwhile, Peter & Liz performed last night at the Deport Theatre as part of the theater's summer apprentice program. Amazing action photos here. Today Elizabeth goes on a trip to a local farm.


SN852038This evening, the kids and I are going to an event at an "art farm." If by chance NYRSF wins a Hugo, I'm sure David will bring it home. I will, however, be in Montreal next year.