Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thank You, Elmer!

Chris and Jeff (not Elmer) in front of our ride
Our borrowed-car route

Special thanks go out to our friend Elmer, who saved us a bundle in car rental fees during our seven-week odyssey throughout the eastern U.S. He loaned us one of his cars, a 1980 Mercedes (the first I’ve ever driven!) that he runs on vegetable oil, but which he switched back to diesel for us. We drove from central Florida to Indiana to upstate New York to Massachusetts to Atlanta and back to central Florida, for a total of approximately four thousand miles. Not only did the car always start without a hitch, but it held all the paraphernalia we require when we attend conventions (boxes of books, posters, display panels, decent clothes, etc.). What a great guy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Favorite Dragon*Con Vendor This Year

 When we attend Dragon*Con we have a table in the dealers’ room to sell our books, so we get a good look at the varied goods being sold. Some of them are quite interesting. My favorite this year was the Giant Microbes booth. I just had to have one. It was hard to choose from their wide variety, from the deadly (black death) to the unsightly (mange) to the annoying (mosquito) to the reproductive (egg and sperm cells) to the tiny critters that inhabit the waters around us (amoeba). Each comes with a tag providing the scientific name, a picture of what the real entity looks like under the microscope (the plush microbes are based on their actual forms, except the plush ones have cute little eyes), and biological information about it. I considered getting the STD gift pack, but I finally settled on this adorable copepod (Centropages hamatus) that came under the “Aquatics” category, because I counted literally thousands of them when I did plankton sampling and sea anemone gut-content analyses for my masters degree. Check them out at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dragon*Con – A Taste of (Un)Reality

Mona Lisa lives!
Beautiful dress
Metal and leather, together again

Is this not the sweetest little con-goer?
 Once again, we attended a fantastic Dragon*Con. For those of you who haven’t heard of Dragon*Con (you obviously don’t live in Atlanta), it’s one of the largest science fiction/fantasy conventions in the country. It takes place every Labor Day in Atlanta, GA, occupying most of the large hotels downtown. Take a stroll through the streets of Atlanta over the weekend and you may run in to Darth Vader or squadron of storm troopers from Star Wars; Victorian-era ladies and gentlemen boasting steam-punk gear; elves and superheroes and robots and Klingons and Vikings and Spartans; even that annoying woman from the Progressive Insurance commercials (I kid you not; this year there was a woman dressed up like this). It’s a real family affair; lots of parents (and even grandparents) attend with their kids, sometimes all wearing coordinated costumes. Here are just a few costumes that past by our table in the dealers’ room. Chris always does well selling his books here, and this year was no exception. We have a problem though; he’s got so many books out now, it’s hard to fit them all on a six-foot table. But that’s a good problem!
Zombies galore!
Colonial marine, aliens, and a poor sucker-face victim

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reading – A Way of Life

What more do you need to be totally content than a blue-skyed day on a beautiful Cape Cod beach, a comfy chair or blanket, and a book in hand. Here are Chris and our nieces Lauren, Hannah and Tess (in a pink hat, nearly hidden behind Hannah) all enjoying the day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Woo Hoo! Anne Is Published!

As most of you know, we saved up for years to cruise, and plan to stay at sea until the money runs out. So income is important to us. Well, Anne just got her first article, Dominica Daytripping, published in the Caribbean Compass! Very excited! Check it out at, page 26-27. Dollar-wise, it’s not a huge payment. But as an eternal optimist, I prefer to think of it in “doubles” terms.  Doubles are delicious curried-chick peas-on-flat-bread breakfast food in Trinidad, obtained for fifty cents each, and I’ve just earned ninety of them!

Blast From The Past, And Fun With Family

Quiet campsite
Heading out in Greg's boat
Our first stop in New England was Clearwater Campground in Meridith, New Hampshire. This is where we McMillens used to go camping when we were little, and you know, it still looks almost exactly the same as it did back in the 70s. We met up here with Anne’s siblings Linda, Greg, and Karen and their families. Our campsites were side-by-side, making it easy to visit back and forth. Greg brought his boat for tubing and water-skiing, as well as a peaceful early morning coffee/tea cruises. We squeezed under the canopies and tents when it teemed with rain the first afternoon, cooked marshmallows over the campfires for s’mores, swam in the lake (a one-minute walk from our campsites) and played on the beach, got make-your-own-sundaes at the Kellerhaus in Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee, and had an all-around great time.
The kids: Hannah, Erin, Aidan, Matt, Terry, and Lauren in back, Tess and Bridget in front

The adults: Chris, Greg, Meg, Paul, Karen, Linda, Bill, Anne, Dianne, and Ellen