LibertyCon AAR -David Pascoe

LibertyCon AAR -David Pascoe

Part One (I tried to keep it short. You’d think, looking at my Amazon author page, I could write longer than a few tens of thousands of words. This thing’s going to get broken into parts. I just know it. /sigh)

Mrs. Dave and I talk fairly often about Family of Blood (Wife of Mi- /cough) and Family of Choice. Since I was wee – though not as wee as Wee Dave – I’ve lived far from most of my family of blood. Family reunions were a 25-hour drive, in the days when flying was prohibitively expensive (fast approaching those days, again). Our solution was to adopt people we liked. My sister and I had a set of adopted grandparents in easy driving distance.

Aside: now that I’m a parent, myself, I suspect this was as much for my parents sanity as it was for our well-being.

As I’ve grown, this trend has continued. Friends from high-school and college with whom I still interact. Military buddies (subtle, subtle shading of relationship, there) and then people I met at conventions.

Which brings us to LibertyCon, the largest family reunion I’ve ever attended. My first year, Herself adopted me (short story: quicker route to BbES grandbabies), and there’s been no looking back. This year, I went as a guest. I’ve been a professional the whole time, but I actually sat on panels and stuff for LC28, which was pretty cool.

One of the things about LC (there are so many) is the pro-to-attendee ratio. Of the 700 memberships this year, about 150 were professionals in one capacity or another. That’s better than 1-4. I’ve never heard of another convention with that low a ratio. And such (relatively: this is fandom, after all) high profile guests. Practicing scientists of many stripes, bestselling authors, recognizable artists (at least their art is recognizable), editors-of-awesomeness. Throw a rock (and you’ll get it thrown back, with better aim and greater force) and you’re certain to bounce it off of a few pros. It was delightful to be included in that number, this year. Which was great, especially when – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We started packing up Tuesday, as we’ve learned we need some serious pre-game work to make things flow at all smoothly. Mrs. Dave took an extra day of leave on either end, which, as we travel with a just-over-one-year-old-and-refusing-to-walk and have a solid ten hours of driving each way, is a thing we like to do to maintain what little sanity we have left. (hint: s’not working terribly well) Packing: with the Creature, there’s a mess of extra things, clothes for a week for each of us, all the accoutrements of being a professional at a place. Oh, and everything for the Range Trip. Which I won’t detail, but it was a bunch. Not lots, but a bunch. And we left stuff, too. Which I then kinda regretted. Ah, well. Next time, perhaps.

We finally got on the road mid-afternoon, after a late night spent getting new material on Amazon, and making road and con food (homemade gummies, which sorta worked and sorta didn’t. Great in theory; the execution requires some … refining) and then packing like madmen (really, the addition of an almost-toddler (cheap to a good home) is a pretty serious complication to, well, pretty much any process. Especially for people who don’t do a great deal of traveling. Seriously, I barely manage my obligations during the day when I don’t have a looming professional engagement.) and trying to overcome the sleep debt with no time to make coffee.


We finally got on the road, and learned that our delightful son, Wee Dave the Excellent Traveler had been sorcerously replaced with a homunculus of the same size and shape, but with wildly different demeanor. The changeling creature had no interest in toys, in the Nature speeding past his window, or in sleeping the miles away (like a good baby does). Also, the aforementioned gummies didn’t agree with him, to all of our frustration and ill comfort. Lesson learned. We stopped for the night in southwest Virginia, and got on the road again late morning on Thursday, arriving in Chattanooga just in time for a parking lot on I-75 a few miles east of where it tangles with I-24. Not the most favoritest thing of mine, when it comes to times of “I have somewhere to be now, thanks.” Still, rather unavoidable until Docfather installs himself as Emperor and initiates the “Separate But Awesome” travel plan for people who don’t suck (more on that later).

We arrived at the Lady of Baen’s new abode, and – let me tell you – it’s quite the set of digs. I’m particularly envious of her kitchen, and the collection of Le Creuset taunting me from the shelves. And the island. And the ovens. And the … but I’m uncertain where she’s got the anti-lander cannons and the hypervelocity missile rack installed. That probably just wasn’t part of the tour. Her Ladyship, as well as Her BbES Highness (or, as I like to call her: Mum) and her Consort arrived mere moments after we pulled in, and so we were able to foist off The Creature (temporarily: diapers, sigh) in order to assist in carrying in the vittles. After the Tour, and some excellent chit-chat with such luminaries as David Drake and Robert Buettner, most of us decamped to prepare for the Wedding/Renewal of Vows at the Choo Choo. We were staying at the Marriott, so checked in and changed in time to arrive for the – waiting. Seriously, I think most of us Odds can’t start a thing on time to save our lives. Maybe our souls (still think that’s a Hellene conceit. Maybe).

There were many hugs and re-foisting of Wee Dave upon folk who like such things, and eventually, a ceremony in the still 90-something degree heat. All parties were stylishly accoutred, but my favorite was Lady Vivamus, over whom the couples leapt, as gracefully as young near-deer from Gamma Centauri. Afterward, and some cooling down in the Choo Choo lobby, we returned to our room and slept, as the Creature was done for the night, and let us know so in his inimitable manner. And so we slept the sleep of the exhausted.

Yeah, this thing’s going to take a bit. There was lots. Lots and lots.

105 responses to “LibertyCon AAR -David Pascoe

  1. Uhh, don’t quiet get what BbES is… have a theory, but don’t know…

  2. I’ve been working on my post this week, alas, not this weekend, since my main HD on Himawari (My main machine) has started to crap out, and moving everything to replacements had gone swimmingly… if you recall that swim at the beginning of Jaws….

    (Seriously developers, how often is someone going to clone their boot drive when it’s NOT having problems? You should write your programs to be a little more fault tolerant, and not require the user to sit there through three hours of nothing in order to click on the alert at the right time….)

    The good thing is, all the backups are good, and re-backed up to an extra drive I bought. Which is a cautionary tale for all writers. Get an External backup drive and back up frequently. A network connected backup system is also a good idea. Cloud storage for the most important stuff.

    Also, Important safety tip: Windows Backup does NOT save your Windows Folder in the regular backup, you have to make a System Image backup too.

    • I have started running my critical PC as a virtual PC with the drive stored on a Raid 0 drive. I figure if at least one hard drive and some PC remains, I’ll be good to go.

      • I was hoping for a simple RAID solution, but right now I’d settle for having the ability to boot off of anything aside from the failing drive. (I noticed it was a problem when It started trying to boot off a data drive, but WOULD boot if I unplugged the SATA cable from the data drive. Then if I rebooted and plugged it back in, things were okay, unless I read too heavily from the drive (like doing another backup). Then in the Events Viewer, the Windows equivalent of the locked filing cabinet in the disused lavatory in the darkened basement behind the sign saying “Beware of the leopard”, I found all kinds of critical errors that said “The disk has a bad sector!” that I had not known about.

        I only lost three files, that I know about, but the clone program is barfing on bad blank sectors for all I know. If it fails again, I’ll have to try something else. That’s four days of my time it will have eaten.

        • To do this (boot off anything else) you need to interrupt the boot process before it starts to boot off the drive (while it is still in the BIOS), then change the boot order. I normally set my boot order to boot off usb drives first, then dvd-rom, then the internal drive. (of course I run an encrypted filesystem, so I am not worried about someone hi-jacking the boot and stealing/altering my data).

          • Some of the new UEFI (I call it the Universal Everyone’s F’ed Interface) require booting into windows to then boot into the UEFI. A wonderful solution for hardware manufacturers, but a poor one for people with hardware issues.

      • I hope you mean RAID-1 and not RAID-0. 1 is mirroring, 0 is striping, so RAID-0 is 2 hard drives combined to make 1 bigger drive. Data is written across both and if you lose one drive, you lose access to everything. And with the way virtual machines are stored, you lose part of your virtual machine’s disk, you just lost the entire virtual disk. And Murphy guarantees that every virtual disk you have will exist in part on both disks, guaranteeing you will recover nothing if you lose a disk in a RAID-0 array. 21+ years in IT, trust me, I KNOW.

        If you are going to run your VM off of a RAID-0 array, I encourage you to either do a VM backup, or copy all of your virtual disks to some other storage – USB drive, NAS, something, anything that isn’t RAID-0. Doing a periodic copy to a USB drive that is normally unplugged and on the shelf can also protect you from lightning strikes.

        • Yes indeed I meant Raid-1 a.k.a. mirroring. Two drives with identical data. I did do one PC with Raid-0 SSD , but I didn’t notice any performance boost over a single SSD, perhaps in the old days of *mechanical* drives.

          • Oh, good! The performance boost with raid-0 is theoretical and largely dependent upon the efficiency of the quality of the array controller and manufacturer. The theory being that half of any given chunk of data is written to disk by one drive, and the other half by the other drive. Reality is most of the time we don’t write enough to disk to realize the efficiency. And I’ll take safety over negligible efficiency any day of the week!

            • Howdy from upstate NY where I am on assignment. RAID-0 works like a charm if you have an application that pumps big streams of data — video editing is probably the main prosumer-level scenario, and I’ve set up such arrays (under Linux) for scientific applications that are in similar usage regimes. The main thing is to relate to whatever your RAID-0 drives are as scratch devices.

          • This is because most (non-budget) modern SSDs perform at or very close to the maximum 6 GB/s SATA bandwidth. If your machine uses older 3 Gb/s SATA, the drive will be capable of going much faster than its connection allows. RAID 0 with SSDs results in a very flat maximum sequential transfer rate right at the 6 Gb/s limit , minus a bit of overhead, unless the SATA ports are entirely separate and each get a separate 6 Gb/s of bandwidth… which is available on some SATA and most SAS RAID controllers. This is also the entire reason behind PCIe SSDs and the PCIe version of M.2. I’ve got a laptop I’m reviewing here with a PCIe M.2 drive and it turns out around 1 GB/s transfer speeds…

        • I need a like button…

          • Please be more specific; there are like buttons all over FoolBook, in my youth I used to wear button fly trousers and believe me, you better like me before you touch those buttons … and then there is this:

            … which is very like a button.

    • Cloud storage for the most important stuff.

      Don’t use the Google one; their EULA has a clause about them being able to use anything you save to their servers without paying you or violating copyright.

      Husband takes it seriously enough that he’s moved all his email plotting for the world he’s building over to Microsoft. (Which is…well, business aimed.) Can click here and get an extra half-gig for free. (and so does the buddy that signed me up!)

      Amazon Prime also offers a drive, I think t’s just 5g, pictures for free.

      • Yeah, don’t put anything even slightly important on Google Drive without encrypting it first. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t with any of the “free” services – if it’s not in your hands, you can’t control access to it 100%.

        • I’m told DropBox is better than average, and use it for stuff. It’s quite handy when transferring larger-than-email-friendly files from one person to another. Just create a new folder and offer permissions.

          • snelson134

            Dropbox works just fine for sharing vacation photos; using it for any kind of serious collaboration is insane. It’s never heard of permission limits; if you can write anywhere you can write everywhere. It also gets easily confused by multiple users accessing the same location.

        • Remember, if you can’t figure out what they are selling TO you, what they are selling IS you.

    • Just FYI … EaseUS ToDo Backup Workstation saved my tooshie when my hard drive was faltering and about to go belly up. I was able to create an image from my drive and restore to a replacement. I did have to repair some files that were on the bad sectors, but sfc /scannow did the trick quite nicely.

      Hint: I first downloaded and installed the free personal PC version. Then they sent me an offer for 30% off the paid workstation version, which has more powerful capabilities and options. It can create drive clones, system images and regular backups.

      • Windows has been particularly annoying right now. The recovery disk I created with Windows 7 puts up a message after booting that says it’s not compatible with the version of Windows I’m trying to recover. Image recovery will only recover to the bad drive. It’s like they’re assuming people will only use these utilities when nothing is wrong.

        I’m sure I’m about to run into the situation where you can’t change the drive letter of the new drive to C: because it’s in use by the drive you’re trying to get rid of. (I did it once, I have no idea how.)

    • The final lesson being . . . whatever system you use, whatever program you use, BACK IT UP, at least once, preferably two or three times. Because it will happen to you, probably when you are on a deadline or just wrote the final sentence of the Greatest Novel Ever Sold.

      (TimeMachine and two back-up portable hard drives)

  3. I envy you your trip, but not with the wee bairn. BTDT

    • I’d leave him to fend for himself, but I’m given to understand there can be rather unpleasant … repercussions.

      • snelson134

        Chloroform: the essential child rearing aid. 😉

        • FlyingMike

          Family lore advised retaining a bottle of brandy “for rubbing on their gums when they are teething.” The amount to be “rubbed” was left to the user, presumably proportional to degree of “I have to get some sleep!”

          • Child strength benedryl, useful when flying as well and probably not a frowned upon by the busybodies.

          • Sounds like dad’s cough solution.

            Cover the inner bottom of a mug with honey. Cover that honey with lemon. Cover that lemon with whiskey or similar. Add boiling water to fill, have the kid drink it.

            And it worked. I got enough sleep to recover in a day, rather than a couple. And dad got to sleep, too. 😀

            • I think you have the ratios of water and whiskey reversed. But that could just be me.

            • Yup. Great grandma used to feed us the same when we were coughalotapus wee tykes. When I still drank, a good shot of whiskey and honey tended to get me to sleep when I couldn’t otherwise, because of drainage/cough/whathaveyou…

              And considering the relative concentration of ingredients in cough syrup, Robitussin probably knows that, too. *chuckle*

              • Yes, but Robitussin has to make it taste like medicine, even if the “hot tottie” works better (in my experience) you just can’t sell something that doesn’t taste bad as medicine, people won’t buy it.

              • snelson134

                NyQuil, at least, used to be 50 proof. Then someone realized that teenagers were using it to get drunk… No alcohol in any OTC that I know of.

          • Gummy bears were mentioned…
            I don’t know whether this will “work” (or how well) but the classic sneak-booze-into-concert-method of soaking gummies in Everclear might be of assistance.

            Don’t let the kid pick his own and keep them away from the driver. 🙂

      • More importantly, you risk missing out on all the fun that justifies the early investment in not strangling in the cradle.

  4. c4c

  5. Back when the Daughtorial Unit was fresh outta the oven I would often marvel at the quantity of accouterments required for even the shortest of trips (and the longest of trips seemed to grow 50% longer!)

    Really, it is simpler to keep them wombinated although my observations indicate that at least half of any couple would dispute the convenience of this (and I admit the play value is greater once the packaging is removed.

    As for being non-ambulatory, enjoy it while you can. Toddlers share with kittens that inexplicable ability to transit from here to there without occupying intervening space, with there often being in the direct path of charging behemoths.

    • And while toddlers don’t have needle-sharp claws made of adamantium, they do come with sticky hands…which can sometimes be worse than the miniature demon claws.

    • Or the table displaying Granny’s hummels, which may amount to the same thing.

  6. I’ll take him. I’m sure having six kids counts as providing a good home environment. (They’re all alive and none have missing body parts.) Shoot, we wouldn’t even notice another. Would he like to start by chewing on the dog (she doesn’t mind), eating grass (it’s, um, good for the immune system) or swapping hair pulling techniques with Baby (at ten months, she’s up for it)?
    More seriously, since I know you’d miss him, if you lived close enough I’d take him for a few hours once a week just so you could have a worry-free shower.

    Should I warn you about the climbing? Yeah, probably. Once they figure out the walking thing, they start the climbing thing, usually. So if you’re missing him, check the top of the upright piano or the refrigerator first–whatever is highest and provides the best vantage point.

    I’ve done a lot of traveling with small kids (Baby’s done the least, I think, only the one Youth Group trip so far). If you didn’t, next time find out if the hotel you’re staying in has a laundromat. Often they do–just a single washer and dryer, coin-op, for guests. Cuts down on parental anxiety so much, doesn’t matter if you use it or not, just having the availability in case he blows out four diapers in twenty minutes makes the whole thing less stressful.

    • Nah. I taught my sister to climb trees when she was 18mo. I’m expecting it. He keeps trying to chin himself up on the dining room table, as it is. Just that matter of time. He could walk now. He occasionally forgets we’re watching and takes both hands off whatever he’s using for support, in order to fiddle with whatever he’s scooped up. Stands just fine, until he remembers, then looks up to see us watching and drops to his rump. “Oops. Pay no attention to that, Daddy. I, um, I, um … I slipped! Yeah, that’s it…” Little wisenheimer. He’s just being lazy, at this point. In a few days or a week or two, he’ll see something he wants and forget to drop to all fours to get it. And then we’re doomed. DOOOOOOoooOOoOoOoOOMED, I say!

      • I think you may have misspelled “DOOOOOOoooOOoOoOoOOMED” … shouldn’t that have been DOOOOOOoooOOooOoOoOOMED?

      • Our older son wanted to perambulate as soon as possible. He approached this barrier in the following method: He would approach the couch (as I remember, he scooted on his butt, rather than crawling), climb up to a standing position, turn to face out into the room, and launch himself away from the couch at full power.

        This may not seem like the most sensible approach to such things. However, he seemed to be indestructible, as even though his progress was measured as, “One step, fall on face. Go back to couch and start over. Two steps, fall on face. Go back to couch and start over,” he would go back, rinse, repeat, until he had to make a turn so he didn’t run into something on the other side of the room. Repeat some more, until he was running circles in the Living Room.

        He learned to run at 9 months. He learned to walk at two years or so.

        • Sounds like Dear Husband, but in his case they got him a walker. Then they got tired of him running into walls, and put him on his own two feet. He’d start against a wall, then run full speed until he ran (head first) into another wall.


          Get up.

          Turn towards the next wall on his route.


          • Something girls and women seem to have difficulty grokking is that — for boys! — running into walls is fun. I think it has to do with testosterone but I doubt anyone could get grant money to study the phenomenon.

            • Hm…. is masochism cool this week? If not, you could probably spin it as something like “early indications of pleasure from self-harming actions as related to eventual testosterone production” or something.

              • Masochism? That would require they can recognise that what they are doing is harmful. I don’t think small boys a) recognise that nor b) generate sufficient force to do any serious harm.

                Surely you’ve observed the toddler phenomenon of delayed tears — where the kidlet smacks into something, falls on butt and sits there wondering what happened, right up until helicoptering parent runs over calling out “Oh my gawd, are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”, whereupon child bursts into tears. Learned response. Same kid, same accident, if there is no adult ready to speed deliver sympathy will get up and run off to discover other mischief.

                I’ve seen it happen many many times.

              • Not masochism, machismo.

            • If I had money to study the phenomenon, I’d use it to build a padded room.

              • I think it’s more that the pain is brief, but the fun lasts a bit longer. Go fast! Bounce! Do it again! We as a species seem to have a general fascination with go-fast, and it starts early. *grin*

            • Oh – after we moved to a different house, he started using door frames for turning assistance. Run to doorway, crash into door frame, keep going in new direction.

      • Joe Wooten

        Once they walk, within a week they are running……..

  7. snelson134


  8. As a determined Lurker, can someone please explain what LibertyCon 28 is?

  9. When my two were wee ones, I would plan the trip driving across the length of California to start early evening so the kids would be getting ready for bed as we were leaving. Unfortunately they would usually wake up for the last 5 or 6 hrs right around time for us, the drivers, to start getting cranky from sitting in the car for the past 10+ hrs. We’d have to play “look at the deer” or other type of games to keep them occupied until we arrived at the grandparents. Then the grandparents could watch them for the obligatory parental post drive nap.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Chuckle Chuckle

      One vacation, my parents decided to drive from Danville, IL to Gettysburg, PA all night.

      Mom & Dad were to switch driving while my sister & I (grade school or older) would sleep in the back seat.

      We didn’t do so.

      When our family reach the National Park we didn’t rest and toured the battlefield.

      Oh, everybody slept well that evening. [Grin]

    • Oh, yeah. This is old hat for me. Growing up, we’d drive from Washington State to Orange County almost every summer. I’d sort of rouse when Mom and Dad would load us in the back of the station wagon, and typically wake up when we crossed over to the Oregon side of the Columbia. A few times we went straight through, which was, thinking about it, mildly insane. I can’t imagine Dad got more than a few hours of sleep for the whole 25 hour drive. Then there was the cross-country motorcycle ride a few years ago. That was fun. Except the plains. And Nevada’s high desert. Could have done without those. The salt flats were fun, though.

  10. Pingback: Rich Hailey » CONclusion: At Last the Long Winded Bugger is Through!