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the tree fort

The kids decided that they wanted a tree fort in the back yard. Despite not having a lot of experience constructing things, I decided to help.

We scouted the back yard for a good location. After deciding that I didn't want to attempt the kind of tree fort that is built around a single tree, we selected four trees in a roughly rhomboid distribution. I took measurements, drew up plans, ran kite string where the beams would go so that I could get things level and squared off, and then measured again. We bought lumber and other supplies.

It was planned to be a platform of approximately 12 feet by 6 feet, 7 feet off of the ground on the low side and 16 feet off of the ground on the hide side, due to the slope of the hill.

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Notes for Next Weekend

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/05/29/tunnel-digging-as-a-hobby/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/aug/08/communities.uknews
http://ourhouse.ninemsn.com.au/ourhouse/factsheets/db/openhouse/09/938.asp
http://www.rotteneggs.com/r3/show/se/139655.html

My plan is to cut a hole in the wall of the basement, install a door, and then start digging steps (with a side ramp) down into the Earth. I figure I'll go down forty feet or so, then level off and start digging tunnels and chambers. I want to have a whole network down there. It'll take years, I'm sure. I need to do more research into how to brace the walls and ceiling -- I'd like to cement things rather than using lumber -- and ventilation. I'm going to need to buy a jackhammer, and possibly a winch. Planning ahead with respect to how the dirt will be removed is crucial. Max wants to get a mining car, lay tracks, and use the winch to pull it up and out; while that sounds like the most efficient method, it also sounds a little pricey. It sounds like the most fun, though, so maybe it's worth it. I need to find out if there's something I could rent to probe the ground, like sonar, for existing caverns; Virginia has a lot, but they're mostly to the West. I know nothing about earth/soil/rock dynamics -- I should probably do a little more research there, too. And I'll have to clean the basement first. I should probably clean out the garage while I'm at it, too.
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Numbered comments in Blogger with pagination

(I'm putting this here just so I can link others to it easily.)

If you google "blogger numbering comments" you soon end up on this page, or one linking to it (or one ripping it off).

It's simple and it works -- mostly. For threads of greater than 200 comments Blogger paginates, at which point the comment numbers start over from 1. But this is easily fixed.

Just replace:
<script type='text/javascript'>var CommentsCounter=0;</script>

with:
<script type='text/javascript'>
<!--
  var regexS = '[\\?&]commentPage=([^&#]*)';
  var regex = new RegExp( regexS );
  var results = regex.exec( window.location.href );
  if( results == null )
    var CommentsCounter = 0;
  else
    var CommentsCounter = (results[1] - 1) * 200;
//-->
</script>

Example of it in action.

UPDATE: If you're going to leave a comment complaining that this doesn't work for you, you might at least give the URL of your blog so that I can drop by and help you to fix it. Without proof to the contrary, I'm just going to assume that all of you anonymous commenters are incapable of simple cutting-n-pasting.
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Another plea.

I am the Guest of Honor Coordinator for Balticon, which takes place in Baltimore, Maryland over Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, 2009).

Item, the first :: Those of you who are able should totally come. Among the many excellent guests, Charlie Stross, Scott Sigler, Lisa Snellings, and Gene Wolfe will be there.

Item, the second :: I need Guest of Honor Liaisons for two of the following: Charlie Stross, author Mark L. Van Name, the currently unannounced 2009 Compton Crook Winner, and artist Kurt Miller. Liaisons get free admission to the con and, for the very brave, the option to eat and sleep in the Berzerker's Lounge (a suite where volunteers are fed and, if they can find an available spot on the floor, sleep).

It's a lot of fun. Don't make me beg.
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time to start thinking about liaisons...

I need liaisons for Guests of Honor at Balticon this summer.

Balticon is an SF convention in Baltimore, MD over Memorial Day weekend. This year that's May 22-25, 2009.

(Apparently, I am Balticon's Guest of Honor Coordinator by default now.)

The Author Guest of Honor is Charlie Stross.
The Musical Guest of Honor is Mary Crowe.
The Artist Guest of Honor has not yet been announced.
The 2009 Compton Crook Award winner has not yet been announced.
The returning 2008 Compton Crook winner is Mark Van Name.

I need liaisons for all of them. If you want to get in free and be involved, being a liaison is the way to go. You're only "working" when your guest has a commitment, which is usually only a few hours a day. You get to come to the GOH Dinner with the Guests of Honor. It's a lot of fun.

Preference will be given to returning liaisons, because my crew last year was so, so wonderful.
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2009

This was the last time, for another 990 years, that they were able to sell those New Years Eve glasses with the year across the eyes, balanced around the double 00s. Of course, last millenia they didn't have plastic novelty glasses and in the next one they probably won't either.

Life just gets better as it goes on, in my experience. It's all a matter of perspective.

I hope all of us have a fantastic 364 days and change ahead of us.
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I inscribe this in the card with every wedding gift...

...and pray that they never get it backwards.

"Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal -- it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

It is not your love that sustains marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Attention residents of the Minneapolis metro region!

I will be visiting Minneapolis beginning Sunday June 15th.

I will be available for social calls the evenings of Monday June 16th through Wednesday June 18th, and then can be found at Charlie's the nights of Friday June 20th and Saturday June 21st, attending the performances of Paul and Lorraine. (They will be taping both shows for a live CD -- I encourage all who can to attend!)

I believe that there are a number of people on my flist who currently reside in and around Minneapolis. I'd love to do dinner, if you're amenable. Please reply via comment.

If left to my own devices, I will likely endeavor to spend a lot of time sitting in Borders reading and/or catch up on the various recent movies that I haven't managed to see yet, namely Iron Man and Indy IV. (Come to think of it, if anyone wants to do dinner *and* a movie that's cool too.)

UPDATE: it has been pointed out that I will be in town for Fourth Street. I will see what I can do about making it there, because it sounds incredible.
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Balticon 42

This year, it was a lot easier to be the Guest of Honor Coordinator. This year I brought in people from outside that I could trust. randimason liaised Connie Willis. wilhelmina_d liaised naominovik (and, by extension, her friend claudiagray). tesla_aldrich liaised John Jude Palencar. notshakespeare liaised Mark L. Van Name. gorgeousgary (the lone BSFS member) liaised Urban Tapestry (allisona, jodimuse, and ohiblather). And last but not least, Adrienne Reynolds liaised the Ghost of Honor, Douglas Adams. (If you think that was the easiest job, you're wrong.) They were all amazing: able, organized, and entertaining. They took such good care of their guests, in fact, that, unbeknownst to them, I snuck back to bed Sunday afternoon and took a nice nap.

The con was marked by serendipitous occasions all around, from running into Collette exactly when I needed to see her to Tesla turning out to be the best suited of all of us to liaise John. (I just received a gushing email from him; he had a great time.) Of course, all of that serenditpity would have meant nothing if not for the hard work and planning of Sue and daecabhir.

I got to pick Connie Willis up at the airport, hang out with her at the library, take her to dinner, take her to lunch, sit in on several excellent panels and talks including/by her, and finally take her back to the airport. She's really fun and nice and cool. The other guests were awesome too, but I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with them. As far as I know they all left happy.

I think that, had I discovered cons and fandom some time around middle school, I would have found my confidence and my sense of self a lot sooner. I also wonder if I wouldn't have grown into a very different person, though, so it may be for the best that I did not. Some of these people (guests and attendees both) are my tribe. Others of them are why, next year, I will implement a new policy whereby GoH liaisons will carry Nerf guns with which to thwack "enthousiastic" attendees who forget that we are there to hear the GoH and not to hear them ramble at length about unrelated matters or hear them ask a twelve part "question" that is really a string of assertions and the insistence that the GoH agree.