Best of 2014

It’s that time of year and I haven’t updated my blog since it was that time last year. So bad!! Anyway, these are my faves from 2014, which will probably show up on my Hugo nomination ballot.

Novels

Since I have a very long to-read list, I often have trouble getting to current novels in the calendar year. But this year I did read some really great ones.
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Best of 2013 (books and stuff)

Hugo nominations are open and everyone’s been putting out their “Best of” lists. Now, no one cares what I think about these things but I can’t resist putting in my two cents. I read A LOT last year. For me, that is.

Novels

Best (new) novels that I read last year: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Leckie’s is her debut novel and it’s the start of what looks to be an awesome space opera series. I’d never read Gaiman before but Ocean blew me away. It’s a beautiful, sad, and haunting fantasy. Of the other 2013 novels that I read, the final Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light, was a great ending to the series. Brandon Sanderson really stuck the landing and did the late Robert Jordan proud. Though I wouldn’t call them award-material, I also enjoyed the latest Charlaine Harris and Jack McDevitt books. Harris’s last Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Ever After, was another fitting series ending. McDevitt put out a prequel to his Academy series, Starhawk, and it was his usual great fun.
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The Year that was 2013

Grand Canyon

Rob and me at the Grand Canyon

It hasn’t been a bad year at all for me. Lots of traveling.

In January I attended the Winter AAS meeting in Long Beach, CA, and got to hang with a bunch of my friends from grad school. (Also got to go to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo with my friend Laura). Sadly, it was my only visit to my homeland of Southern California for the year. Must go back home again in 2014!

I took a trip to the Southwest with Rob in May. We saw the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, and Chaco Canyon. Lots of amazing sights. Chaco Canyon was a big personal achievement because we hiked out to see the famous supernova pictograph. I hadn’t thought I could do a six mile hike in the desert, but we did. Rob made me do it, actually. He said we couldn’t pass so close to something I had always wanted to see without trying. We took lots of walks and hikes pre-trip to prepare ourselves and it paid off.
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Rhuarc (2000 – 2013)

Rhu

Rhu, a few years back

It’s been a tough holiday for me. My kitty Rhu (Rhuarc, if you want to get technical) became ill a couple of weeks ago. He stopped eating and eventually masses were found in his chest. My parents, to whom I am grateful for many things in my life, took him to the vet while Rob and I were in New York City for our birthdays. Ultrasound found the masses and fluid in his chest. They took him to a 24 hour care vet hospital, where his chest was drained and he was watched. Mom and Dad took care of him until we got back. Analysis of the fluid wasn’t conclusive but it was a definite possibility that the masses were lymphoma. Chemo and surgery were mentioned as possible courses. I wasn’t willing to entertain either, since they would most likely be extremely unpleasant for him and only extend his life by a little bit. Not to mention the fact that they could easily take up all of my life savings. I hate that part of it, but that’s how it is.
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My renewed love of short science fiction/fantasy

I’m a few months late in writing about this but what else is new.
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I attended Worldcon for the first time this year and thus was eligible to vote for the Hugo Awards for the first time ever. As a lifelong science fiction and fantasy fan, this was a big deal for me.

How it works is those eligible to vote (those with Worldcon memberships that year and the previous year; maybe others, I’m not sure) submit nomination ballots. The works with the most nominations go on to the final slate of nominations. (Ok, I don’t know how the ballot counting process actually works but I’m guessing it’s something like that.) I was able to put in nominations for Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentations (Long Form and Short Form) but most of the other categories I had nothing to nominate.
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The Year So Far

Damn, I never update this thing…I really should make the time to do it!

What have I done in this year so far?

I presented a poster at the Winter AAS meeting in Long Beach, CA. We (my dept. at USNO) are among those trying to drum up public interest in the August 2017 solar eclipse and put together a new web page on the event. I also attended a workshop at the meeting on diversity in teaching Astronomy 101. Opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never thought about in dealing with my students. I hope I am a kinder, gentler professor!

Taking advantage of my being in California, my friend Laura and I went to Disneyland and then on a weekend excursion to the San Diego Safari Park and Zoo. We are zoo freaks and really wanted to see the new baby panda (he was adorable).

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NYC – Empire State Building

Just looking at old pictures and was reminded of how much I miss New York. Need to go up there again for a visit. If the date on this is correct (it was taken with my first dinky digital camera), I took this during the time I lived in NYC.

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Cruising to the End of the World

Since you are reading this, the world didn’t actually end, duh! Not that anyone with a brain actually believed it would… But for fun, a bunch of us astronomy/space/science fiction geeks got together for a “Not the End of the World” cruise. We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl from Miami the week before Christmas 2012, visiting Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico (with a day trip to the Mayan ruins in Coba).

Great Stirrup Cay

Great Stirrup Cay

My friend Rob and I had never been on cruise before. I convinced my co-worker and friend Beth to go as well and she brought along her boyfriend. I’d even met the organizer of the group at a workshop earlier this year, so I felt like we were in good hands, even if the travel agency handling us seemed to be staffed by old people who can barely work their computers (very nice old people, mind you). After almost a year of anticipation, away we went…

Rob and I went down to Florida the day before the ship sailed, flying into Fort Lauderdale (because: JetBlue) and staying overnight at the airport La Quinta (because: rewards points). I was advised by the travel agent that we might save money by renting a car at the airport and returning it at the rental car company’s Port of Miami office. Unfortunately, it ended up costing us more than the cruise line’s bus transfer from the airport would have been, since Budget didn’t have a shuttle to take us to the Pearl and we had to pay for a taxi. But at least the car allowed us to go out to dinner with an old co-worker of Rob’s who now lives in Miami.
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Website’s new look

I recently gave my website a new look. I recently took a class in HTML 5 and am currently taking a CSS3 one, so I really wanted to try stuff out.

So, obviously, I’m trying to update this blog more but sadly I can’t login to it from work, though that’s probably for the best.

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Long overdue update 2012

I, as always, have been sadly neglecting my blog. So, here’s what’s been going on.

Longwood Gardens Lily

Lily at the Longwood Gardens orchid show.

I tried once again to get a job in California this year, this time at Orange Coast College, my dad’s alma mater. No go. Starting to lose hope that I will find a full time teaching job out there. But I’ll keep looking.

I had a lovely time at this years Boskone, where John Scalzi was the guest of honor. The convention made me excited all over again to write, though I still haven’t accomplished much in that area. But I will someday soon, I swear!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with the DC Area Flower Safari Meetup group, taking lots and lots of pictures of flowers. The organizer, Patty, is a total doll. You’d think it would get boring after a while, but it really doesn’t. Of course, I have a horrifically long backlog of pictures to upload to Flickr, but that’s to be expected. You can see one of my lily pictures here, from Longwood Gardens in PA.
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