Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eating at conventions for cheap

We've all been there. You've paid for your ticket, your room, and transportation to the con. Maybe something awesome to wear. You were on a shoestring budget to begin with, but now your wallet is almost empty. And you haven't even hit the dealer's room yet!

There are many ways to eat for cheap at a con. Which ones you use depend on what perks your convention offers, your food preferences, and how much you want to plan ahead. Planning ahead obviously gets you the best advantages.

1. Eat at the Con Suite. Large conventions like DragonCon have a room where they hand out snack food, drinks, and popcorn for free. You can't live off it, but it does take the edge off.

2. If your hotel has a restaurant, see if they will throw in free breakfast with your room reservations. It doesn't hurt to ask. Buffets are the best! You can feel full for most of the day on one free breakfast.

3. Carry your own water or soda with you. It keeps you hydrated and might save you from impulse purchases at the snack bar.

4. Compare the restaurants nearby. Which ones give such generous portions that you can save half and eat it later? Or buy one meal and split it between two people. Skip the combo deals and the sodas. At $2 each, you'd do better to ask for a free cup of water and save your cash for food.

5. Bring your own cold foods. Plan ahead and bring a cooler of ice (the mini-fridge probably isn't big enough). Fill it with your own drinks and food. Good stuff, not just boring yogurt and granola bars. Pack food you actually want to eat! Salami, ham, cheese, something from the salad bar, salsa and chips. Anything from the deli case is fair game.

6. Hot foods. Sooner or later, you're going to get tired of cold food. Probably sooner. Most hotels don't have microwaves in the room. If yours does, you're in luck! I've never lugged a microwave to a con. It seems too silly. Well, too troublesome rather. The following suggestions are silly, but they do work in a pinch.

The hotel usually provides a number of gadgets. One of them may be a coffeemaker. You can use the coffeemaker (without the coffee) to heat water for ramen, hot drinks, or condensed soup. Do not make ramen noodles IN the coffee carafe. Trust me, this is a mistake.

Tired of liquids? Use the coffeepot's warming plate to heat your food. This takes for-damn-ever, so plan to do something else for half-an-hour. Food needs to be in glass, Pyrex or ceramic, NOT PLASTIC. Make sure it is the right size to fit where the coffee carafe goes.

I prefer the boil-in-bag approach, where I make hot water with the coffeemaker, and soak the food jar or packet in the hot water until it gets warm. I've found some brands of Indian food (Kohinoor, House of India, Maharaja) that work very well with this. They come in a foil packet, don't need to be refrigerated, and cost about $2-4 a meal. It's more than I usually spend on a meal (at home, we try to eat on $3 a day) but the curry tastes great and is much cheaper than eating out.

If it's a hot summer day, or my car is parked in the sun, I've heated the packets on the dash of the car.

No coffeemaker? I don't like to suggest this- it's a fire hazard and injury magnet- but there's probably a travel iron in the room. Prop up the iron (and do a good job; you don't need nasty burns!) and heat a sandwich or slice of pizza on it. Toast bread. That's about as much as it's good for. Don't put plastic on it. Don't rinse it under the tap, especially while plugged in. Wiping it with a damp paper towel is fine.

That's about as far as my experience goes. I'm there to enjoy the convention, not cook food. Do you have any tips you'd like to add? Feel free to share!

Ahh, bills...

Ahh, bills.... You and I know what that's like, don't we?

I've picked up a second job for September & October, but I'm working on getting far enough ahead that I can update on schedule. Plenty of items on sale on Ebay, too...

I can probably avoid working a second job for Christmas, but we'll see.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I don't know either

Oops! It seemed I scanned pages 10 & 11 out of order. Now that I've got that straightened out, the conversation should flow better.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

18th century bookstore?

Saturday night bonus post: I'm at home trying to draw the last pages of Chapter 7, but my brain doesn't feel like cooperating tonight. Have a few more questions I can't yet answer:

Books weren't as rare in 1760s as in previous centuries, but how did people buy them? The wealthy and educated prided themselves on their private libraries, but how did they stock them? Did they travel to purchase books in person, belong to some kind of book-of-the-month club, trust the task to a personal servant, or say to the sellers "just send me whatever is appropriate"?

If you went to buy books in a city, did they have a typical "bookstore" or did you go to the printer's, full of printing presses, newspapers and playbills?

Also, Allan and Stephen must eventually come out of mourning, so I'm debating the color and style of their new clothes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A few notes on my research

When trying to learn about logging in England in the 18th century, I couldn't turn up anything. Why? England had practically no forests left. I could and did turn up information on logging in the New World, but had to look at it with a critical eye and a grain of salt.

Why? Well, if you read about logging in a New England context, it was done in the winter. This was because it was easier to drag those great big trees around when there was a thick blanket of snow on the ground. New England had so much snow and ice that horse-drawn sleighs were the winter mode of transport.

Yeah, England doesn't get that much snow. If they travelled more in fall and winter, it's because the roads were an impassable muddy mess in wet weather.
Perhaps it would be similar to logging in the American West in the 19th century. The two cultures are completely dissimilar, but the tools could be the same...? I couldn't find out which season logging took place in. It's not the kind of thing people write in books. Transportation? Where the railroads didn't go, the trees were transported by water. Railroads weren't invented yet in the 1760s, so river it was. That team of horses is dragging the trees to the river, where they will float downstream to their destination.

In the end I used mid-1800s photographs of logging in the American West... and  didn't go into much detail, since my information is not too reliable.

I check dictionary.com on any words that I'm not certain are period-correct. Here's a sample of the things I looked up yesterday. I'll let you try to figure out why:

Correct: dwarf, pygmy, freak (certain meanings of the word)
Not: Circus(not invented), midget, side-show(American West), penny gaff (1800s), belittle (American in origin).

Uncertain: The difference, at this place and time, between a tea house, coffeehouse, and tavern. All were places where men gathered socially and talked sports, gambling, politics, etc. A club was similar but required membership. An inn offered overnight accommodation? One of more of these is probably the equivalent of bar, but it's hard to be sure. None of them equates to a dance club- these were men's haunts. There were dance hall assemblies, viewed somewhat dubiously, and private parties where dancing might take place, but on the whole, the sexes didn't mingle much socially.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not so rhetorical questions

Shipbuilding, and yes. But that's for the readers to know, and the characters to guess at.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


And that is the end of THAT conversation. Now we can return to discussing casual murder.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bizarre Abraham Lincoln memorabilia

..there's a lot more wrong in the elfy forest than we first thought.

On an unrelated note, I have to admire the way dead guy's head thunks off the cliff.

Yesterday, I got to evaluate a collection of Civil War letters dated 1862-63, penned from Simeon Darling to his wife Melinda. They were bundled together with a print of Abraham Lincoln and a partial copy of the Gettysburg Address. The letters were originals. I can't verify the age of the other documents.

But it really opened my eyes to the bizarre types of memorabilia available. It goes way beyond photographs and newspapers. Would you like to buy wallpaper from the room where Abraham Lincoln died? Ebay has it. You'll pay a pretty penny. How about a word penned by Abraham Lincoln? Someone has cut one of his letters into single words, printed up certificates of authenticity, and is selling them for $59 per word.....

I think I'm in the wrong line of work. With a little more creativity and a little less honesty, I too could be hawking single words and shreds of old wallpaper...


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A change in weather

It must be summer.

Up til now, it's more like an extended spring. It's rained almost every day for 6 weeks, and the 4th of July was so chilly I wanted a sweater.

So this heat wave is a bit of a surprise.

Tell you what. Instead of sitting here sweating buckets as I type out a long blog post, I'm going to go into the one room that has AC, work on Chapter 7, and try not to die of heat stroke.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Update note

Siloen updates every Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday evening.
I have been updating on time for the past several months.
If you are not seeing the newest page, try deleting your browser history. It works like a charm.
If you are too lazy to delete your browser history, hit the Back button, and then hit the Next button until you run out of pages. You may need to hit the Refresh button occasionally.

Mairelon the Magician and Jane Austen's Persuasion

Today I finished Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.

It wasn't as engaging as I expected from the synopsis, and includes perhaps the most extreme example of passive-aggressive nonsense I've ever heard of.
Anne is visiting her friend Mrs. Smith, who congratulates her on her anticipated marriage to Mr. Elliot and how happy she will be. Anne tells Mrs. Smith she will not marry Mr. Elliot, no way, no how. Mrs. Smith then admits of how Mr. Elliot isn't as gentlemanly as he seems and how he did her a great wrong in the past.

And she would have let her innocent friend marry this jerk? 'If she doesn't know, I'm not going to tell her?' I know Mrs. Smith is the opposite of other characters in the book who are a bit too free with the advice, but that's craaaazy.

What I admire are writers who can craft an interesting plot and intriguing characters without clubbing us over the head with trauma. Take a book like Mairelon the Magician, a modern work of Regency fantasy. Mairelon is on good terms with his parents, who are still living. He doesn't get on with his brother, but it's not a big deal. He was in the war, but doesn't suffer PTSD. He's something of a spy, but he's not out to avenge a dead girlfriend or good buddy. And yet, I would never describe the story as boring.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looong week

I just realized it looks like the dead guy is talking.
...yeah, sorry about that.

The doctor's bag I wrote about a while ago is now for sale at the store. Only, after further examination, I think it's a veterinary bag. Still, if you like old farm stuff....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It is not impossible

 Damn but it's sticky. The humidity is higher than the temperature (that's in degrees Fahrenheit, for you Celsius people). Maybe that's why I'm so crabby today.

...nah. Probably not.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And the last member of our elven cast appears

A few more humans may join us, but the fae cast is limited to four.

I was listening to a history of the Celts while I colored today, and some of it was spoken in Gaelic and Welsh. If you have seen written samples of either, you'll know they are pronounced nothing like they are spelled. You see, the Celts never had a written language. It was an oral tradition. Then the Romans conquered the British Isles, and record-keepers that they were, said that they must have a written language. "Fine," said they, "But you'll never be able to read it."

This might actually be true.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Aille gives the sort of advice no one wants to hear.

Aille: his name is pronounced like "I'll" or "aisle" or "isle."

On the subject of names, my husband & I were discussing Lord of the Rings and the movie Willow. In Lord of the Rings, just about everything has an unusual, meaningful and literate name. If by 'literate' I mean 'elven' or 'backstory appears in the copious appendices of the Silmarillion.' Then he names their destination Mount Doom? Major imagination fail.

The movie Willow was unusual in calling the human race something besides human, man, race of man, etc. They were the Daikini, and the little people were Nelwyn. It's cool to find something that gives the two equal footing rather than treating one as normal and the other strange. Willow is a good title name, easy to remember; but alongside names like Bav Morda and Mad Martigan, it sounds rather....bland.