Starry Wisdom Retreat: Part 2

On Thursday I rented a car and drove down to Mystic to visit the aquarium and seaport there. Got to feed a stingray, which was one of the oddest feelings I've ever felt, like a muscular vacuum cleaner was grabbing my hand. Saw belugas, seals, petted a small cat shark. It's not a huge aquarium, but it's definitely high quality. Mystic Seaport was a place me and my folks went to when I was a kid, and it's been on my list to revisit for YEARS. Lots of ships, including a visiting Viking longboat that I went on board without knowing it with still offlimits to visitors (oops). Did go on board a 19th century whaling ship, an 20th century full ship rigged training vessel, and a fishing vessel from the early 20th century. Plus there's a number of historical buildings that were part of the Mystic sea trade. Definitely was good to visit, next time I'll go later in the year so more things will be open. Oh yeah, and while I was in Mystic I stopped by Mystic Pizza for a slice (or 3). Not a fan of the movie, but really...why not.

Random stuff. Visit Providence, and you'll eat well. Italian food, Irish pub food, sushi, so much good sushi. Found a little breakfast place that I ate at repeatedly while I was there. Had pizza a few times, quite a bit of variety in New England, some was like NYC, but thicker, others were like Chicago, but not as 'pie' like. The only less than great meals I had where when I had to do chain food, all the local places were top notch. Another oddity, Providence has really good tap water. Probably saved myself a bunch on bottled water bills. Lots of people with dogs on the streets of Providence, but unlike most of the random dogs I run into in Texas, they were well trained and didn't suddenly lunge at me randomly. Well other than one fluffy still mostly puppy, who just radiated 'I want to be friends'. The bus system was decent, a little confusing, but then again I have less experience with mass transit. I ended up walking a lot for that reason, and the occasional Lyft ride.

So that's the Cliff Notes version of my trip to Providence. I really had a good time, and I'll be back, probably for NecronomiCon 2019. I'm really fond of how the city looked, and how it felt to wander around. Definitely glad I decided to go. Thanks to Grandpa Theobald for inspiring me to go, and to all the nifty people I met while I was there. Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Starry Wisdom Retreat: Part 1

I had an amazing time in Providence. Not everything went according to plan, but my plans were made to be flexible, and with the understand that this would probably not be my only trip there. So while I didn't get to visit all the museums I wanted to, or the zoo, I did get to explore Grandpa Theobald's stomping grounds, see lots of nifty old building, and eat some amazing food.

I'm not going to do a day by day, action by action post...I'd be writing for hours. I'll ping the high notes and interesting bits as I think of them. Start with my hotel. The Dean is a small 'boutique' hotel a few blocks from the Providence Biltmore, where StokerCon was being held. I later found out from a friend that it used to be one of the more notorious strip clubs in Providence, with the rooms being rented by the hour. Was a fun place, staff were friendly and the room was nicely sized and mostly comfy. There's a leather reading chair I wanted to steal somehow. Recommended if you're in town and like smaller hotesl.

Now lets move on to Lovecraft. I visited 3 of the places he lived, though only one house is still around (and moved from it's location when he lived there). I also visited the house he used as the setting for the story 'The Shunned House', the Fleur de Lys building which is mentioned in 'The Call of Cthulhu', and where the Church of the Starry Wisdom was in 'The Haunter of the Dark' (though the church was torn down and made into a park.) I also wandered around Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, on College Hill. Lots of climbing that hill. I visited the John Hay Library, but I didn't request to view the Lovecraft collection, I felt funny about it. I also didn't go see his grave marker at Swan Point cemetery. I found walking in his footsteps more interesting that visiting a grave.

Now lets talk books. Oh lord, is Providence a city for me. 3 used/indie bookstores in downtown (including the amazing Lovecraft Arts and Sciences), and 2 more a bit east around where HPL's birthplace was. I spent a lot on books, oh so many books. I ended up shipping a decent sized box of books home...then I went to StokerCon for more. Cthulhu books, history books, esoterica, stuff on Providence, things that just looked cool. At StokerCon I bought a few books based on author's elevator pitches, or from authors I've been talking to online. So many books...my bookshelves are groaning in pain.

StokerCon itself was fairly low key. It's mostly a 'con for writers to network and talk ideas and techniques. But there were some panels that were less focused, like panels on pulp and weird fiction, or Stoker's writing habits, or Hammer & Universal movies. I also listened to long time favorite authors Ramsey Campbell and Caitlin Kiernan do readings. Every one was really friendly, even the bigger names in the business, and had one author correct me when I said I was 'just a reader'. Also, the above mentioned Lovecraft Arts and Sciences hosted a poetry reading by a number of weird poets, including Donald Sidney-Fryer, who blew me away with how he read. Definitely worth braving the Nor'easterner that hit Friday. The whole con was fun, relaxed and well organized. Definitely recommend. The next one will be in Grand Rapids, MI. See details at stokercon2019.org.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I discuss stingrays, food and friggin' in the riggin'.

Been a while

Haven't had the ...whatever powers blogposts in a while. Part of it is the less than great headspace I've been in. Work is somewhat stressful, with us being short an admin, and the different groups I am matrix managed by are pulling in various ways. Brainmeats are pretty annoying too, with all my usual issues showing themselves, usually when I could really use a break.

Took a long weekend from work, off Friday through Monday, back on Tuesday. Probably one of my better decisions. I've caught up on sleep, caught up on laundry and chores and managed to rearrange bookshelves to make room for... more books. *chuckle* I expect to come back from my trip to Providence with a bunch of books, so I'm trying to make room for them. I've also spent yesterday and today updating the VM horde. New versions of Fedora, OpenSuSE and LinuxMint, so I've been busy. It's also therapeutic, I find patching to relax me.

Speaking of Providence, I leave in less than 3 weeks. Half a week of wandering Providence and nearby environs, and the StokerCon fun and games. My plans are kind of nebulous, I really should sit down and get my list of stuff down on paper (virtual). Museums and history sites, bookstores, and of course all things Lovecraft, plus whatever insanity I get up to at StokerCon. Should be a lot of fun, and I'm finally getting to go visit Grandpa Theobald's stomping grounds.

I'm about to call it a day, turn off the movies and spend the rest of the night in a book. Or several. Books that is. Hopefully tonight is restful and full of good reading, and tomorrow I get a final day of time off before back to the crazy. Wish me luck.