Don’t let me get this men’s trench coat from Lands’ End for $229!

$229 really isn’t a lot of money here in 2014.

On the other hand, I already have a perfectly good raincoat. It’s nondescript, but who cares? I’ll just get a scarf to wear with it. I paid $30 for it at a secondhand men’s store.

I only need a warm coat on occasional trips to the East Coast in winter, one to three times a year for a couple of days at a time. Some years I don’t go back east in winter at all and then I don’t need a raincoat. I have a rain-jacket I wear when it’s raining here in San Diego.

The feeling of coolness I get from wearing a trench coat is an illusion. A trench coat makes me feel cool, like Humphrey Bogart, but really I just look like a million salarimen riding the PATH train to work in New York.

On the other hand, a trench coat is cool. Humphrey Bogart wore a trench coat. John Constantine and Rorschach wear trench coats. And it’s only $229.

Men's Trench Coat from Lands' End

Men's Trench Coat from Lands' End.

Julie just came into my office and I told her I was struggling to not buy the trench coat. She scowled and said, “Let me help you! We’ll probably need a new dishwasher! The wood around the front door gate is rotting and we need to get that fixed! And … and … and… well, it really is a nice coat and it’s only $229.” Not helping, Julie.

Maybe I’ll get a Doctor Who-style scarf. Only, you know, shorter. And it’ll be like a visual secret handshake for fans, but for regular people it’ll just be an unusual scarf. And I can wear it with the raincoat I already have and I won’t be spending that money.

Entrepreneurs say they embrace failure, but if you really want to fail, be a writer

July 8, in case you happened to miss it, was Fitz-Greene Halleck Day, a chance to remember the most intensely forgotten writer in American history. “No name in the American poetical world is more firmly established than that of Fitz-Greene Halleck,” Edgar Allan Poe wrote in 1843. And yet, despite a Central Park statue that still stands in his honor, Fitz-Greene Halleck may now be the most famous man ever to achieve total obscurity.

Failure Is Our Muse.

Via John Scalzi, who says:

My path to defying failure: Tech journalism is satisfying, and pays the mortgage. And the creative writing has become its own reward. I’d like to get published, find readers, make money, get fabulously wealthy and famous, and sit in first class on airplanes. But for now the writing itself is enough.

Same thing for my blogging here. I like doing it. I get a few comments from friends. That’s enougn.

By the way, Scalzi is in fact flying first class today, and is tweeting about it entertainingly. He does not appear to have come into Rowlingesque bucks; he just seems to be enjoying a random upgrade or he cashed in some miles or something ordinary like that.

The story behind the story of “Babylon 5”

The Strange, Secret Evolution of Babylon 5.

We’re currently re-watching a couple of science fiction shows we used to love — Stargate SG-1 and the 21st Century Doctor Who. We tried rewatching Babylon 5, but we bounced off it after two or three episodes.

This article makes me want to give it another try, particularly to see the evolution of Londo Molari and G’kar.

J. Michael Straczynski was as far as I know the first TV show creator to actively engage fans online. Now that’s standard for producers, writers, and actors, but then it was novel.

Tweets from Comic-Con #SDCC


Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Hiro used to feel this way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this was liberating. He no longer has to worry about being the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

That moment

That moment you ask a cute girl if you can take her picture and it turns out she's not in costume and you're middle-aged and you post about it online and your wife sees the post #awkward #sdcc

Posted by Mitch Wagner on Friday, July 25, 2014

How to survive air travel

I arrive about 90 minutes before domestic flights. Now that airports have WiFi, I can make airport time productive or fun, whichever I’m in the mood for.

I don’t know if I’m ready to wear a surgical mask. And an eyemask makes me paranoid — who’s going to sneak up on me? That’s not rational and I’m not proud of it.

Let’s fly — Medium.

Fixing (unrelated) annoying problems with Google Voice and the Mac App Store

The Google Voice problem was that incoming unanswered calls were going to an automated switchboard for some San Diego financial service that I have no relation to. If somebody called me and I picked up, that was fine, but if I didn’t pick up the call got forwarded to this financial service’s switchboard. Frankly, the financial service sounds shady. This was merely annoying rather than a big deal because people would just call back, or send an email or a text. But still it was a problem needing solving.

I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to fix this for months, when yesterday I thought to check which numbers were connected to that Google Voice number. Sure enough, one of the numbers Google Voice was set to ring was a landline number in my home office. But I disconnected that phone when I left my previous employer. Solution: Disconnect that number from Google Voice. And now incoming calls to my Google Voice number correctly go to my Google Voice voicemail. Yay!

For good measure, I configured Google Voice to no longer ring my iPhone when I get an incoming call and instead ring the iPhone Hangouts app. I tested it out and call quality is actually clearer through Hangouts than it is on the native iPhone app. And now I have two phone numbers on my iPhone, which could prove useful.

So I’ve gone from hating Google Voice and wishing I hadn’t signed up to … well, if not loving it then at least enjoying renewed hope for it.

The App Store problem was that I have iMovie installed on this Mac, and it’s due for an update through the App Store, but this is a company-issued Mac, and the iMovie update requires me to enter a password for another account, one that’s not mine. I don’t have a password to that account. This has been going on a couple of years now. Today I finally thought of a solution — I deleted iMovie. I haven’t edited a movie on the Mac in ages.

No big deal but that red 1 by the App Store was driving me crazy. And now it’s gone.

Minnie got into the cat food again

The last time this happened, her crate the next morning looked like something out of a Lovecraft story, if Lovecraft had written about puppy diarrhea.

Late this afternoon, I was standing in the kitchen and saw her Minnie wal out from the back of the house. No, “walk” is not the right word. Minnie strolled out from the back of the house, as though it was the most ordinary thing in the world.

The back of the house is a catzone, not a Minniezone. Minnie is still destructive, she has monthly accidents, and two of the cats avoid her. Also, the catfood is in the back of the house. Minnie loves catfood, but the catfood does not love her. The catfood causes Minnie to generate substances normally only seen in early Roger Waters movies. So when Minnie is indoors off-leash, we keep her confined to the kitchen, sunroom, and laundry room, and always supervised. When she’s indoors outside those rooms, she’s leashed, and mostly supervised.

Except this afternoon somebody forgot to leash her and left the kitchen gate open. This someone was almost certainly me, though I don’t remember it at all.

I checked the catfood dishes. Minnie had eaten about a cup of dry food, maybe more. And she ate half a small can of wet food.

I hope we have no disasters tonight. Hopefully she’s had enough time to work it out of her system.

Who owns science fiction?

Nicola Griffith ponders how her straight historical novel Hild got nominated for the science fiction and fantasy Nebula Award.

Richard Russo is one of my favorite writers. He satisfies a quality I get from science fiction and fantasy, of living in an alien world. Russo’s alien worlds are contemporary small towns in upstate New York and Maine. Likewise, the Easy Rawlins novels let me live for a time in post World War II black Los Angeles.

I’ve added Hild to my Amazon wishlist.

Who Owns SF?.


Wallace Shawn: I wish people knew me as a radical playwright instead for “The Princess Bride”

Disappointing article. The interview is good but the headline and introduction are terrible. The writer is simply making up attitudes and statements that Shawn never makes in the interview.

I made an offhand comment a couple of days ago about how I dislike the phrases “highbrow,” “lowbrow,” and “guilty pleasures.” Like what you like, I said. Shawn’s career spans the brows (so to speak) as broadly as can be imagined. I’m curious how he looks back on, basically, his two careers. Is he ashamed of is work on Star Trek, Toy Story, and The Princess Bride? As proud of one body of work as he is of the other? Or does he view the character acting as just his day job — something he does to pay the bills for his real life’s work?