31 August 2010

Accursed mystery ailment

Since the end of June, I've been dealing with periodic nausea. It resulted in leaving for ReaderCon later than planned and missing half of NASFiC because I was in the hospital.

Because the universe finds it amusing, I woke up with nausea this morning. This does not bode well for driving to Atlanta, but we'll see. We're not scheduled to leave until Thursday around 10 am. Today my anti-nausea drugs had kicked in by then, so with any luck they'll work tomorrow and the rest of the week. (With even more luck, I won't wake up sick again. That's a lot more luck than has been on my side lately. I was hoping that I'd have a 3-week respite again, like the one I had for most of July. No such luck.)

For the curious, I've been to my GP, a gastroenterologist, a GYN, and the ER/hospital. I've been tested for food allergies, celiac disease, pregnancy, gallstones, pelvic cysts, parasites, and bacteria. I've had ultrasounds of my gallbladder and pelvis, and an upper endoscopy. The only test that showed any abnormalities was the endo, wherein my GI doc found a polyp, which she sent off for biopsy. Results may be in tomorrow, or early next week, depending on how complicated it is.

If I have to skip D*C, I'll be sure to post here, on facebook, and anywhere else I can think of.

30 August 2010

Official site live!

My friend Tammy did all the hard work, and I'm grateful that she's got an eye for design (I don't!)

Point your browsers to CD Covington.com and have a look.

I'm not abandoning my blog, don't you worry :)

28 August 2010

I got a smartphone.

I got a Samsung Propel in February 2008. It's not a bad phone, really. I got a data plan on it, and Ben and I split unlimited text messaging. At the time, I was looking at a smartphone of some sort, Blackberries mostly, but the data plans for them were sort of insane, so I went with the 3G phone.

I got a bug about researching Android phones a couple weeks ago, and I looked into the ones from AT&T (since they're my carrier). The only Android phone that got good reviews was the newest one, a Samsung Captivate. (I wish mobile phones didn't have such ridiculous names.)

In the course of my errand-running yesterday, I stopped by the AT&T store to try one out, because all the reading on the internet isn't going to let you know what it feels like in your hands. So I asked at the counter when I was eligible to upgrade, expecting the answer to be December or January. I was already eligible. So I got one.

I like it well enough so far, and I've spent way too much time futzing around with it since yesterday afternoon. I've barely had the thing 24 hours and I've already installed 2 beer-related apps and one that has a live text feed of Bundesliga matches. (Plus facebook and twitter.) And rearranged the icons a bit and sorted things out.

Nifty things:
Haptic feedback (it vibrates) on keypresses, because it's a touchscreen and some people like that. I'll probably try it without the feedback and see how I feel. I kind of like the feedback right now.
Swype. You can drag your finger from key to key on the keyboard and it guesses the word, even if you bugger it up. If there are multiple options, you can select from a box. It guessed "endoscopy" correctly, even when I inverted several letters.
AMOLED display. It's a really fancy LED screen that's wicked bright. There's an option to set your brightness, or to let it sense the ambient light and optimize the display. (This is also a power-saving feature.)
Puzzle lock. If you get a text message (or miss a call), when you go to unlock your phone, there's a puzzle piece out of place, and you drag it over to the hole, and it takes you to the message. It's gimmicky, yes, but it's also nifty.
Seamless integration with google accounts. I have all my gmail contacts, my gcal, my picasaweb, and gchat on my phone. I would expect nothing less from a phone running an operating system written by google.
Built-in wifi. When I'm at home (or in a location with open wifi), I can use that instead of my data plan. This is one of the reasons I went with the 200 MB data plan rather than the 2GB.
The phone looks really nice. It's got a big 4" screen and doesn't weigh any more than my Propel. (A downside of this is that it's too big to fit in the cell phone purse I have; but it's the perfect size for my camera.)

Annoyances:
One of the reviews I read mentioned that the design feature of a curved top makes it hard to reach the mini-USB input (aka power cord slot). No shit on that one. I had trouble getting the power cord it came with to stay plugged in so it could charge overnight.
It made me realize how much information of mine Google has. (Annoyance? Kind of.)
A lot of the reviewers talked about the look of the GUI (user interface) and how they hated it; I kind of like it. The UI designers were obviously going for the iPhone look; whether this is a feature or a bug depends on the user in question.

All in all, so far, I like my phone. I'll be signing up for the Boingo Mobile soon, because they have a hotspot at the Marriott in Atlanta, where I'm staying for Dragon*Con. (The Marriott charges $12.95/day for internet access. The math is obvious.)

27 August 2010

Interview: Outer Alliance Spotlight

Retro Spec (specifically editor Karen Romanko, fellow contributor Leonard Richardson, and I) was featured in the Outer Alliance spotlight this week.

Have a read! (And thanks, Julia!)

26 August 2010

Reading at Dragon*Con

I'm participating in the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, which will be on Saturday, September 4, at 11:30 am in one of the lit track rooms. I'll be reading from "U8: Alexanderplatz (1989)".

If you're at the con, stop by and have a listen!

18 August 2010

Retro Spec is available!

In my inbox this evening was a great little piece of news: Amazon and B&N have Retro Spec available for purchase!

You can get a copy at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Book review: A Woman's Liberation

A Woman's Liberation, eds Connie Willis and Sheila Williams, 2001.

This is a collection of short stories reprinted from Asimov's and Analog, where Williams was an editor (at the time; possibly still). All the authors are female, and the main characters are all female. It's a collection of stories of "futures by and about women," as the book's subtitle declares.

(Note to anyone who thinks it's so hard to make a TOC in an anthology not composed 100% of men: you're not looking hard enough.)

Willis' story "Even the Queen" is a hilarious look at the politics of menstruation. S.N. Dyer's "The July Ward" is a haunting tale of a doctor's day on a neuro ward (though it barely counts as speculative, IMO; it's still quite good). The piece that lent its title to and inspired the anthology, Ursula LeGuin's "A Woman's Liberation," is a story about freedom (literally; the POV character was born a slave).

There are stories of loss: "The Kidnapping of Baroness 5" by Katherine MacLean is about loss of collective memory (thanks to prions), and Octavia Butler's "Speech Sounds" is about the loss of verbal communication. "The Ship who Mourned," by Anne McCaffrey, is also about loss.

The other stories are also good, but harder to summarize. "Fool's Errand" by Sarah Zettel is about saving the universe from rampant AIs; "Rachel in Love" by Pat Murphy is about a chimpanzee imprinted with a human teen's personality; "Inertia" by Nancy Kress is about people isolated in camps because they had a communicable, non-fatal disease; "Of Mist, Grass, and Sand" by Vonda McIntyre is about a woman who heals people with snakes.

I highly recommend this anthology to everyone, especially anyone whose bookshelves are populated with mostly male names.

17 August 2010

Book review: Total Oblivion, more or less

Total Oblivion, More or Less, Alan DeNiro. 1st ed, 2010.

I picked this up at ReaderCon, while I was looking for Ellen Kushner's chapbook "The Man with the Knives." Alan was working at the Small Beer table, so we chatted briefly, and he signed my copy. He's a nice chap.

The story begins with a teenaged girl in Minnesota whose world changes completely overnight. Technology stops working, and armed barbarians (Scythians, for example) invade. She and her family travel down the Mississippi in search of a new life (or at least a safe place to live), and they encounter villains and ad execs and a strange plague that involves wasps.

The story is billed as humorous, though it's a very dark sort of humor in most of it. It keeps the story from being overwhelmingly bleak, through the sheer absurdity of things Macy and her family encounter.

I liked the way DeNiro told the story: it's mostly in first person (Macy's POV), but there are short mini-chapters between the regular chapters, which are things like pamphlets, news bulletins, and background info told in third person. To fill the reader in on things Macy has no reason to know and give hints of what's coming up.

I enjoyed the book. If you like the idea of an absurdist apocalypse, this book is for you.

08 August 2010

Crisis managed (for now)

I spent about 24 hours at UNC hospital, where I got 3.5 liters of IV fluids (thanks to not having eaten for most of a week and having, shall we say, digestive issues) and some drugs to treat the symptoms. They kicked me out yesterday evening, because there's no reason to keep me there, since I was rehydrated and they don't need to keep me there to wait for test results. Hospitals are loud and full of germs. But they still don't know the root cause, so I'm going to the GI specialist in 2 weeks. Hopefully she'll have an idea.

The fabulous Julia read my story for me in the RFR Friday night, while I was stuck in the ER with 2 bags of normal saline dripping into my arm. She said people liked it, and that makes me happy.

I went back to the con today, attended a panel, then hung out with Natania and Julia for a while, and Lee Martindale was outside for some fresh air, so she joined us. It was a nice chat, ranging from GLBT rights issues to feminism and writing and what books we'd read recently and writing and stuff.

But I'm home and fixed up, temporarily, at least. I'm starting to get my appetite back, even.

06 August 2010

NASFIC: Change of plans

I'm going to the hospital instead. I haven't eaten in a week, and a diet of clear liquids hasn't helped.

I hope they can figure out what's wrong with me. I'm tired of being sick. Hopefully this'll fix it in time for Dragon*Con.