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The LiveJournal of Michael Liebmann
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Over the past I don't know how many years, I've been collecting books to read as president of the Atlanta Science Fiction Society and I finally broke down in 2014 and bought about $100 of books from Larry Smith Booksellers at GaFilk. I've started reading them now, and so far this summer have gone through books 2 and 3 of the Mercedes Lackey "Collegium" series, books 4-6 of seanan_mcguire's October Daye series, and 1/2 of Chenda and the Airship Brofman by Emilie P. Bush (it's taking a bit to get into that book). I'm presently reading book 4 of S.M. Stirling's series which started with Dies the Fire called The Sunrise Lands. I've got something like 5-6000 pages of books to read, and I hope to make somewhat of a dent in it during the summer.

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These days, when Saturday morning comes, I end up going to several farmers markets - Morningside, Peachtree Road, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs (except if it's the second weekend of the month, then I don't do Sandy Springs because I have to travel up there a few hours later). I'm finding that I happen to enjoy the "fresh air," the walking around, the farm fresh produce and other items, the interacting with the vendors, the interacting with the dogs who are brought there. When I don't do Sandy Springs, I may do Decatur instead. It made me realize earlier this week that in one way, I'm like my maternal grandfather. He used to go shopping from one supermarket to another to save two cents here or five cents there on one product or another. For me, it's more a case of each farmers market has something that the others don't. There is no one all-encompassing farmers market that has it all. It would have to be HUGE to do that, and the biggest one by size and number of vendors that I go to is Peachtree Road. And the DeKalb Farmers Market (which isn't like the others: it's a million-square foot market that brings in food from around the world) doesn't have the farmers and stuff.

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This is just to let everyone know I'm OK. I just haven't felt the need to post anything since GaFilk.

Current Location: I'm at work
Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: elevator music

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After getting to the hotel about 9:30, and eventually letting the other dealers in (after leaving the application for 2015 on their chairs), it was time to hope for the best, that people would do their last-minute shopping. The first sounds of noise I heard after the dealers came in was a prayer service that was going on down the hall. Their preacher was LOUD!.

I had gone into the con suite when it opened to get some hot water for tea (only to find no cups for tea yet). kitanzi asked me if I was enjoying myself, and I answered honestly: "No, I'm not enjoying myself, and I've not done so for years." I signed on to be huckster head, which is no problem, and I signed on as a huckster. As a result, I see very little of the convention. I don't have anyone who can spell me because there's too damned much to know. I realized "the job was difficult when I signed on" to be the filk dealer. As a result, I've not participated much ever since about 2006, because I get up at too early in the morning, so I can't sing all night long. Save for one exception, I've not sung (except for Auld Lang Syne) since 2006. There are now a few who notice, like filkferengi and asg_qa_s7, and for them I'm grateful. Otherwise, I'm more concerned with ensuring that I make costs and a profit so I can keep Southern Fried Filk going. I do provide a service for southeastern filkdom by selling filk CDs, but it's also been at the cost of not participating that much. I had been warned about that back in 1999 after GaFilk 1 by Juanita Coulson, and it's coming back to haunt me.

What would I like to do? Honestly, I don't really know. I do know I had a song prepared for the 2x10's ("Is Somebody Singing" by Chris Hadfield and the Barenaked Ladies), but no one would have been able to sit at the table while I was gone because no one knows the system (and I do??). And I'm not sure how my performance would have been received.

For the first time in a long time, I went to the closing ceremonies. I've been avoiding them because: 1) I start crying at the singing of the closing camp song; 2) I'm not sure I'm appreciated for what I've done for GaFilk, from being the one who originally said, "Well, why can't we do one?" to being the filky dealer to the accepting of credit cards and eating the statutory processing fee so that Interfilk could get more money through credit card payments (that part was answered for me today when autographedcat thanked me in front of the masses and I got some applause - it turns out I'd been accepting credit card payments for Interfilk for something like 6 or 7 years at least?). I didn't like the fact that with me sitting there in the audience that when the thank yous came around that I had to be pointed to by several people (including, I've been told, bedlamhouse in order to be thanked (I'm hoping ladyat was thanked as well - I forget), but I also know that I was apologized to for being forgotten. I was on the list, but was skipped over. Terminal humanity strikes again.

I missed out on the Decadent Dave Clement's Stan Rogers concert, though I got to hear parts of it because of breaking down Southern Fried Filk to take home. It's been unpacked from the sport cute and I have 2 deposits to make (because one check has to be deposited on Tuesday, which is fine). The money from the charges will show up in a day or so. I'm told the concert went over very well. I look forward to hearing it, someday.

As far as Interfilk, we raised somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000. After being shut out last year in all the auctions in which I participated, I'm proud to say I won 3 this year: I got the Mexican chocolate, the Jenna Cooke chocolate truffles (in the freezer) and a Celtic CD.

I do not stay for the dead dog because I have to be at work tomorrow, so I'll be heading to bed soon. We have a pretrial conference on January 23. I also found out that the dinner for concom and guests is now pizza, which I cannot eat, so it's not big deal for me. There is some new stuff in the Southern Fried Filk store, including Cat Faber's new CD, "Dr. Faber's Medicine Show." Haven't heard it yet. I'll check it out probably during the next few weeks, along with the concerts (maybe, eventually).

GaFilk 17 is set for January 2015. Guest of Honor is S.J. Tucker. The toastmasters are the Blibbering Humdingers from the Carolinas. I forget who's the Interfilk guest, and the SSG won't be announced until December 1. In the meantime, I'll be waiting to hear about the Ringgold Highland Games as in are they happening this year. The next GaFiA meeting is in March at the Goldsteins' place. I just sent out the announcement and directions.

I hope everyone who attended GaFilk 2014 had a great time.

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It turns out I was unable to get the duck eggs due to the deluge I found when I stepped out of my apartment, so I headed to the convention.

I can tell you that it was easier listening to the concerts yesterday for whatever reason. The sound coming out of the remote speaker was far superior to what it had been in years past. It was nice to hear Gwen Knighton, our esteemed guest of honor, though I still can't figure out the name of the person who was performing with her (that part didn't make it through the speaker - I just know it was a male voice).

Thank goodness the con suite had cheese! I ended up probably overdosing on cheese yesterday, since I had only had breakfast and hadn't made plans regarding lunch and dinner. I ended up grazing for lunch and going to Barbecue Kitchen (right down the street) for dinner. Now, Barbecue Kitchen is a high-Zagat-rated eatery (in the mid 30's) which, up until sometime in 2013, would only take cash, but for the cash they took, you got a fantastic meal. And it was very inexpensive.

The only concert I actually got to see live was Brad Denton, the Super Secret Guest, who was discovered by bedlamhouse at a convention in Texas? He did a good job of entertaining, especially as his alter ego, whose name I don't recall right now.

The Interfilk auction didn't do as well as I had thought it would. What surprised me more than anything else was that the Xenofilkia DVD (with all 150 issues in PDF and DOC format along with MIDI files of a lot of the songs) went for only about $100.00. Right now, it costs $225.00, and it's well worth it!. It's 25 years of Xeno in a small enough format that I can carry it without having to carry a whole lot of binders. The Dr. Who stamps I'd bought went for $100.00. The Interfilk Quilt raised a bit over $200.00, and it was won by Atlanta's own Dawn Benton. Congratulations!

I got home a bit after midnight and was in bed by 1:00 AM. I really fell asleep because the next thing I knew, it was 7:57 AM. Time to get up and get ready to go back to the convention for Day 3. More after I get home.

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Current Location: the GaFilk dealers room
Current Mood: zoned out
Current Music: Prairie Home Companion

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With all the madness at work - are we going to trial, are we not going to trial - the case settled literally the night before the trial started, which meant I was able to go to GaFilk for day 1. However, since I'd not taken the time to pack up sport cute due to not knowing, I waited until Wednesday and did most of it in 2 evenings (with the weather slightly improving to help the cause).

After going into the office on Friday morning to do the few things which needed to be done, I stopped at the bank for the extra cash box money, and then to Office Depot for extra receipt books, seeing that the flood at the Ringgold show last September had ruined the rest of the ones I had the.

Traffic on The Connector was bad, so I stayed on city streets until further into town, then the fire engines blocked part of Spring Street, almost making connecting onto The Connector more than just a bit difficult. When I arrived at the hotel, who should I see but the people from Larry Smith Booksellers, who had just driven up as well. We both unpacked (them taking longer than me) and after finding a wonderful parking space, I sat down and waited. The person I expected from Spiral Rhythm did not show up - she had the flu. Her minion Jon did (and several hours later, I found her Facebook message to me). Then Lee Billings and Russ Ault showed up and the dealer's room began to take final form for the weekend.

I ran into people slowly while the other dealers were setting up. The big surprise, I guess, was Terrence Chua, all the way from Singapore. Then I looked in the program book and found that he was going to be the "super secret second concom choice conert." Funny, I don't remember there being a discussion of the first concom choice concert participants, no less that there was going to be a second one. Not that I minded the concerts, mind you, but you know, I would've liked to have known? Granted, autographedcat didn't know either, but someone did and never made mention to this concom member in order to keep it secret? Plus, in the program book, it did say the concom was asked to keep it a secret. Uh, what secret?

Of the three items I'd bought over the last few years to donate to Interfilk, the Dr. Who Stamps and the Xenofilkia DVD (with the first 150 issues on it) were marked to immediately go to voice bid. I'll talk about that in a later entry. The concom choice concerts went well. I'm thinking that the first performer, who had come to the table earlier in the day, sort of sounded familiar. Susan Hickey, did you get married or something? Terrence, as always, was his usual self-effacing self. It's nice to see you again.

As far as the silent auction, I've bid on some chocolate, a belt, a few other things as well. I don't know what I'll end up with, but am not concerned.

The only difference this year is that I'm commuting to the convention. By doing so, I save 75% of the costs. It also meant, last night, that a little before midnight, the door to my apartment got knocked upon. When I opened it, there was this DeKalb Police Officer who was asking questions. Now mind you, I was only in sweatpants (having taken off my clothing and getting ready for bed), but this young officer asked me if I had called DeKalb Police Department about a strange vehicle and strange individuals around the complex. When I responded that I had gotten home about 20 minutes ago and had been gone all day, he understood, then I asked for the phone number to see who made the call. It turns out it was a cell phone with a Connecticut area code. When the officer tried calling it, the call went to voice mail. He then realized that I couldn't have made the call. It also turns out that the strange individuals were the guards who walk around the complexes owned by the realtor who owns this apartment complex several times a night. What was even stranger is that they described the vehicle said people were in as a Nissan when in fact it was a Kia. Go figure.

I'll be heading back to GaFilk in about 50 minutes after going and getting another dozen duck eggs.

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What's been surprising to me over the years is the whole concept of food being part of a trip that people actually want to experience with you. What I did on my flights, to just about wherever I ate on the Emerald Isle, I took pictures of the food (if you want to see the pictures, ask):

Since I was flying business class on Delta, the foodie experience started there. Since I was on an evening flight, the experience started with dinner: shrimp with grilled pineapple, and iceberg wedge salad with tomato basil soup (which would become more popular to me on the trip), followed by a choice of beef short ribs (with garlic smashed potatoes and broccolini), fontina cheese stuffed chicken (with tarragon lemon sauce and farro risotto), pappardelle pasta (with mushroom bolognaise and fresh mozarella cheese) or an antipasto plate (prosciutto, soppressata, bresaola, stuffed grape leaves, mozarella balls and sun-dried tomato bean spread) (I chose the chicken), followed by a choice of desserts: vanilla ice cream sundae (with your choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts), a tasting of sweet treats, or a selection of fine cheeses (offered with fresh fruit) (I took the sundae - after all, we're talking real ice cream). For "almost there" (about 90 minutes out), there was seasonal fresh fruit and a choice of vanilla french toast (and scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese served with chicken sausage and maple syrup) or granola cereal (with milk). I had the french toast. It had been so long since I'd had french toast.

After the recording session, the group of us from Star Trek Grissom went to dinner at a place called Pho Viet (the link will take you to some information about it). It was my first real meal in Dublin, and it was what I needed. The following morning, I had the full Irish breakfast at the Ardmore House.

Once I reached my host's home in Belfast, I was able to sample some of the eateries local to him. I tried fish and chips at a place called "Suttons" which was about 1000' down the main road from where I was staying. The chips were what Americans would know as steak fries. The fish wasn't as plentiful as, say, what I'd have gotten at Leo Burdick's in Dublin, but it was fresh, as were the chips, and I slathered it all in malt vinegar (no tartar sauce or anything like that for me!). One night I tried Chinese takeaway from Golden Sand Chinese Takeaway (no link, I'm afraid). It was sort of OK, I guess. Nothing really to write home about. Wednesday night, I was taken to Sakura Restaurant. The one aspect of this restaurant which surprised me (and which caused me to take 2 videos) was the fact that there was inexpensive sushi coming around on a conveyor belt! The price of each plate was based upon the color of the plate the sushi was on. Wasabe an pickled ginger came in small buckets! For Thanksgiving, my host and I did Indian takeaway from Everest Restaurant, which is an Indian/Nepalese eatery. The food was rather good, and definitely different for Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, for that matter).

Lunches were sort of miss and miss. The only time I had lunch out was at The Nook at Giant's Causeway, which I described in an earlier entry. For some reason the pub's website wouldn't work for me. Maybe you'll be luckier. I don't know.

Once returning to Dublin, I stayed near my hotel and splurged a bit at Eurospar, as I explained in my last entry.

For the flight home, since it was an 8:40 AM flight, the menu looked as thus: smoked salmon (I don't eat salmon), seasonal fresh fruit, yogurt, roasted chicken breast ((with olive and tomato sauce, saffron orzo and sauteed sugar snap peas), been tenderloin and omelet (with Swiss cheese and carmelized onions, served with sauteed potatoes), apple ricotta crepes (with pecans, pork sausage and syrup), granola cereal (with milk) or a chilled deli plate (bresaola, ham and smoked turkey breast, with a deviled egg, brie, smoked gouda cheese and grilled asparagus) (I chose the tenderloin and omelet), followed by a choice of desserts: vanilla ice cream sundae (with your choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts), a tasting of sweet treats, or a selection of fine cheeses (offered with fresh fruit) (I took the sundae again). This was followed close to landing by "warm chocolate chip cookie service" followed by a choice of a chicken cobb salad (topped with corn, tomato, egg and cheddar cheese, served with breadsticks) or a hamburger (with Swiss cheese, onion, tomato and pickle) (I took the hamburger).

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I decided not to do much of anything Friday after arriving at the hotel since I had to be up and ready to head to the airport no later than 5:30 AM (for an 8:40 AM flight). Seeing that there were two markets nearby, I went to the closer one, Eurospar, and splurged a bit. This particular Eurospar has a salad bar plus a sandwich shop and a hot meal area (small in scale than, say, the local Kroger or Publix, but you get the idea). The hot meal area (fixed to order) had a choice of several Oriental-style dishes, so I got duck with veggies and noodles. Then I saw that they had a ration of rashers! I will say this: Americans don't know bacon about bacon. The Irish do bacon right! No crispy skinny pieces of bacon. These were fat and cooked and limp and delicious!

After finally falling asleep (after having a third hypoglycemic attack) and getting up at 3:30 AM (instead of 5:00), I left the clothing I had planned on leaving and headed to the airport. What surprised me this time is that U.S. Customs (where you have to declare what you bought while overseas) is now located in Dublin and not at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport! The upside to this is that you don't have to go through customs as I'd done in 2007, where you got your luggage, when through customs, gave your luggage back to the airline, went from Terminal E to baggage claim, and then wait for the luggage to show up there. The downside is that there was no duty-free shop on board the return flight, and the watch I was going to pick up for myself, well, I didn't. *sigh*

The business class lounge at Dublin is considerably smaller than the Sky Club at Atlanta Hartsfield. No showers, for instance. The food choices were OK (especially considering I was there before 6:45 AM). It also serves more than just a few airlines. About 80 minutes before the flight, I left the lounge, went through passport control, headed to the gate and was one of the first ones on the flight to come home. Again, the flight was fantastic. The flight crew was not as good as the outgoing crew, but they still did a bang-up job. The food? Well, I'll leave that for another post where I talk only about the food I experienced.

When I got to Atlanta, I found out after leaving the plane that I had to go to Terminal F to get my luggage, as that's where international luggage goes now? When I got to Terminal F, my luggage was waiting for me (it took about 10 minutes to get to the terminal and to find the carousel). I then got on a shuttle van to head back to the south terminal, where I walked to the MARTA station (not having been able to get someone to pick me up), took the train to Lindbergh station and then took the bus home.

Next time: the food experience from wheels up in Atlanta to wheels down 8 days later.

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There was one last-minute mission I had to take care of: two people from the Atlanta Science Fiction Society wanted a first-edition copy of the new Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. Each cost $24 US, and were set aside to be packed.

On Thursday, I went early into the Belfast City Centre. See, there was a food and crafts holiday expo at the City Hall, and I spent some walking around. I finally bought some French soap for me and a hot chocolate (I needed it). I had planned on staying longer, but my host needed the house key (I figured I'd be back before he awakened). I got to the bus and rushed back to the house. Turns out it was a good thing I returned, as my host needed to do an audition and needed someone to record it using his smart phone. I ended up using my camera (I took both my camera and my smart phone) to record him 3 times. It was the least I could do since he gave up his bedroom for me and was sleeping on the floor in what I'd call his living room (I'm not sure of the equivalent term in Northern Ireland). Once he reviewed them and decided which he felt was best, I returned to the City Centre and walked around for a while at the food and crafts expo. The funny thing is, I ran into someone at the Windy City Cupcake booth (that was the name for it) who was actually from Decatur, Georgia! When I started describing the Decatur Farmers Market and its two locations, she realized I was from Georgia. She had been spending some time in Ireland getting engaged. The wedding is going to be in Georgia. I wish her and her fiance the best of luck and a long happy life together.

Since Thursday was Thanksgiving, I figured I'd do something different for dinner, so my host and I did Indian takeaway. It was good.

Friday morning, after having packed and repacked, my host took me back to the Europa Buscentre. After a two-hour bus ride, I was back at Dublin Airport, where I found out where I needed to be in order to get to the Hilton Hotel, which is where I was staying the night before returning home. I was able to get a fantastic deal for the night, with the caveat that I wouldn't have WiFi in the room (so I ended up going downstairs and using the WiFi down there - no big deal).

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Monday was to be the first time I went to a destination I was told to head to. However, it did not work out. I left too late from Belfast to go to Carrickfergus, an old castle. I should have left about 5 hours earlier instead of at 3:00 PM as when I arrived there (it was a 2-bus trip), they literally just turned off the lights of the castle. *sigh* I ended up walking around the castle and taking some pictures. I also took a picture of a mine that had been pulled out of the sea near the castle (there was a plaque in front of it explaining). I knew that from then on, I'd have to leave early (even though my host usually doesn't wake up until about 10 AM).

For Tuesday, after doing my laundry, I'd arranged for a therapeutic massage from someone I'd met online. His office was about 3 miles from where I was staying, so rather than taking the buses, I walked the 3 miles to him. I'd given myself an hour to get there, and boy was that good exercise. After a 90-minute session, I felt even better. The masseur and I were going to have some lunch, but it was not to be as he got a last-minute call for a massage session at 3:00. I ended up catching a bus near his office and went to Belfast City Centre, where I saw the holiday crafts fair I'll describe later on.

Wednesday morning, I left early, took the bus to the Europa Buscentre (the central bus station) and ended up getting a 1-day multi-zone bus pass (can you say souvenir?) so that I could go across quite a bit of the country. I took the bus to the Giants Causeway (with only one transfer, at Coleraine). When I got to the Causeway, I realize you have a choice: you can either go into the visitor's center and pay £8.95 for that and extra for an audio tour of the Causeway, or you I could just go and walk it and discover it for myself, which is what I did. Granted, it's about a kilometer down, but I figured I could use the exercise and the fresh air and it turned out to be a lot more fun that way. The walk was down a good enough grade that I realized I'd have problems getting back up at a decent pace, so with the bus pass, I took the bus back up. I got some pictures what I think was the entire area, and had some other tourists take some pictures of me part of the way down and in the "Wishing Chair," which is one of the geological formations there. See, for those who haven't seen it before, the main geological feature of the area is all the hexagonally-shaped columns which form certain items, like the Wishing Chair or the Organ. The rest of the area is shaped like items like an onion, a camel, Finn McCool sleeping, that sort of thing.

By not spending a whole lot of time at the Causeway, I found I had about 50 minutes before the next bus would come to take me back to Coleraine, so I went into the only eatery by the Causeway, a pub called The Nook at the Causeway. It's built in what used to be an old schoolhouse. Never really having partaken of "pub grub," I looked at the menu, chose a tomato & basil soup and an all-Irish cheeseburger for lunch (with water). The soup was delicious; the cheeseburger hit the spot (especially considering that I'd not had much for breakfast about 6 hours previously). Granted it was a bit pricey, but I felt I was worth it to experience pub grub for once. I took a bunch of pictures inside the pub and promised to send one of the two people not in the kitchen to the pub. I'll also send a CD with the other pictures. I also put a review of the pub up on TripAdvisor (my first).

The only bad side to the trip was at the Coleraine bus station. It seems that a schoolgirl got into more than just a tussle with another schoolgirl, for what reason, I don't know, but it appeared as if the first was going to push the second into one of the windows at the bus station. I yelled at the first girl to stop, threatening to call the police, which I did. The second girl, however, didn't want to talk to the police and instead talked to a staff person at the bus station. I went on back to Belfast.

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