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Below are the 16 most recent journal entries recorded in Chuck Rothman's LiveJournal:

Monday, January 5th, 2009
8:39 am
Writer's Block: Church and State
Today in 1893 U.S. President Benjamin Harrison declared full amnesty for Mormon polygamists. Is it the government's place to define which marriages are valid and which are not?
Yes (I'm assuming you're talking about the US).

All marriages are licensed by the state.  The ceremony only formalizes it.  This has been the situation since long before the US existed.

Thus the state defines a marriage.  (Not the Federal government, BTW, so Harrison's actions are legally dicey.)  You can be "wed" in, say, a church with a full religious ceremony, but without the license, it doesn't count. 

The good side of this is that a state is free to define a marriage in any way it sees fit, thus allowing for same-sex marriages.
Saturday, November 17th, 2007
6:31 pm
News from Namibia
We heard from Lisa this morning and now know some details.

She's gotten her assignment: a small town in Nambia called Aroab. It's on the edge of the Kalarhari about 170 km east of Keetsmanshoop and over 600 to the southeast of the capital at Windhoek.

This map shows where it is (look at the lower right).

As is typical, the person who was supposed to brief her didn't show up, but evidently she'll be living in a nice two-bedroom house and teaching middle school physical science (which is physics and chemistry).

She also got a cell phone. I was hoping she'd text me, but it doesn't seem to be working (althought it may be a function of her number). Susan was getting concerned that she hadn't tried to contact us (we phoned her today at her training center), but there's something about texting.

I tried phoning back. Calling internationally means punching in a lot of numbers. Calling internationally using a dial-around service so it's not a $200 phone calle requires quite a few more. And I kept getting a "number does not exist" error. So I'd do it again. Same "no such number." I knew I was doing it correctly. Finally it occurred to me: the phone number she gave me started out with a leading zero. That seemed odd to me, so I tried again without the zero. Went right through.

It looks like Aroab has wireless phone service (she got a data package so she can eventually be able to send e-mail). Probably no real Internet (we don't know if there's a cafe there), but it does seem to have a grocery, a health center, and a Catholic church. But it's in one of those areas where the satellite photo is only so-so, and too blurry to show individual buildings. And the town isn't even listed in Wikipedia (at least, not in the English version).
Monday, November 5th, 2007
10:15 am
World Fantasy Con
I spend the weekend at World Fantasy Con in Saratoga. I used to go to a lot of SF conventions, but once Lisa started performing in the school play, it became difficult since most of the local conventions took place during "play season." Then, with Lisa in college, we saved our travel money to visit her. I've been going (and helping run) Albacon, and that's been fun, but plenty of people don't get there. So WFC was a nice way to renew old contacts (as well as make new ones).

It's a major event: 1200 people, with a very high percentage of professionals in the field: writers, editors, artists, etc. Here's a picture of the Guests of Honor:

Left to right: George Scithers , Carol Emshwiller, unsure, Lisa Tuttle, Jean "Moebeus" Girard, Kim Newman, Christopher Roden, Joe Bruchac, Barbara Roden, Guy Gavriel Kay.

Scithers bought my first published story, many years ago at Asimov's. I also met Eric Flint, who just bought a story for Baen's Universe.  Turned out he didn't want to buy it, but was overruled by the other editors.  (So much of getting published is luck.)

I'll add more later.
10:08 am
Heard from Lisa
We finally heard from Lisa in Namibia. It's harder to get Internet there, but she says she's doing well and loves the country.
Sunday, October 28th, 2007
9:52 pm
Now it's Namibia
The Peace Corps decided that Lisa was having too much trouble learning Portuguese, even though she seemed capable in other respects. So they're transferring her to Namibia, where English is the official language.

She goes this week. It's a big change, mostly because of the climate. Both countries are at about the same latitude, but Mozambique is hot and rainy while Namibia is cold and dry (due to a higher altitude). She didn't really pack for the cold, and will have to pick up things when she is there.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
9:57 pm
Sale to Baen's Universe
I just received word from Baen's Universe editor Eric Flint that he wants to buy my story "A Date with Patti Pleezmi."

It's a good sale -- Baen pays well -- but one of the best things about this is the fact that I wrote the story 12 years ago. It's been rejected by 15 editors in 14 markets (two editors at Fantasy and Science Fiction). Seven of the markets are out of business, one for over a decade.

I sent it off without much hope, actually, but I wanted to get something to Baen and figured it couldn't hurt. Obviously, it didn't. And it just goes to show -- in writing, keep at it. This is the third time I've sold stories I never expected to sell, and all to good markets.

So I guess I can give the advice to any aspiring writer: don't give up.

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
11:19 pm
Going to Mozambique
Our daughter, Lisa, finally heard from the Peace Corps. She's known for quite a while that she probably was going to be accepted, but tonight it's official: She's been invited to go to Mozambique.

It's going to be quite an adventure.

Current Mood: excited
Saturday, July 14th, 2007
6:16 pm
Busy few months
It's been a busy few months, so I haven't been posting too much. I'll try to get back into the habit.

I'm doing another blog, it seems -- and getting paid for it. Or, at least, it's part of my job. It's called "Technology Goes to College" and I've been discussing technology issues from a college I&TS perspective. Just about finished a long series discussing web browsers.

The blog can be found at http://techgoestocollege.blogspot.com.

In sad news, the great movie actor Charles Lane passed away last week at age 102. Lane never was a lead, and many of his roles were a single line or scene, but he is one of the most familiar faces in movies and TV, with over 300 films to his credit (he sometimes acted in three or four films in a single day. You know his face and voice, even if you don't know his name.

As for my writing, I'm working on finishing a novel for World Fantasy Con in November. It's been a struggle mostly because I've been working on it for quite some time and I need to get everything in place. Still, it seems to be going OK, so it looks like I'll have it in time.
Thursday, May 17th, 2007
1:09 pm
Strange phone call
I got an odd call last night.  I picked it up and they asked for my wife.  OK, so I ask who's calling.


"John?  From where?"


This is unhelpful, of course.  Usually they will mention an organization.  "What are you calling about?"

"Who are you?"

That throws me.  "I'd like to know your reason for calling."

"Why are you screening her calls?"

"Goodbye," I said, and hung up.

It was weird -- most solicitors will tell you where they're from, and I've never seen any of them who didn't tell you who they were calling for. 

He didn't call back, so whatever it was, I missed out.  I'm heartbroken.
Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
4:06 pm
Lisa's a graduate
After four years, she's finally finished.  Last weekend, our daughter Lisa graduated (from the Honors Program) at American University. 

It's been a good four years for her, and AU was the perfect place.  She fell in love with it the moment she got on campus and knew she was going to go when they talked about the plays they put on.  We misunderstood what they said, and Lisa never got involved in any plays (she did them in high school), but it was a great fit for her.

About two months before going, she was inspired by the book I'd Rather Teach Peace by Coleman McCarthy. It tells about his work in creating peace studies programs in high school.  After she finished, she realized he lived in DC.  Then, when she got to campus, she discovered he taught at AU.  She took two courses with him, and helped him with his volunteering.  And he, in turn, wrote some amazing references.

Lisa is interested in the Peace Corps, and Coleman wrote a glowing recommendation with what Lisa called "the name dropping paragraph."  Coleman said something like, "Lisa is the type of person my friend Sargent Shriver had in mind when he formed the Peace Corps, and is just the type of person my student, Carol Bellamy wanted when she was Peace Corps director under President Clinton."

Pictures of the graduate are at http://picasaweb.google.com/cwrothman/graduation
Sunday, April 29th, 2007
9:10 pm
Ludwig Van
We went to the final concert of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra today.  

As I get older, I like classical music more and more, and Beethoven is definitely my favorite.  So today was a treat:  the 3rd Symphony.  It was the first time I've heard it live (I've heard the Philadelphia Orchestra doing the 5th, 7th, and 9th).

Just before the concert, the conductor gives a short lecture about the upcoming piece.  This one was particularly interesting, since I was somewhat familiar with the symphony.  Defintely made it more fun.

We'll be renewing our subscription; next year, they'll be doing Beethoven's 5th, Resphigi's "The Pines of Rome" (see Fantasia 2000 -- the whales), and some Gershwin.
Friday, April 27th, 2007
3:46 pm
The continuing saga of our college website
or "The Neverending Story Was Taken as a Title"

I've been working at my job for almost ten years.  At the time I was hired, there was general agreement that the college website was a little bit old fashioned and needed to be replaced. 

But, other than a few cosmetic changes, it's still the same website today.  Attempts to update it over the years have been few and aborted by lack of interest.

Finally, the college president laid down the law:  he wanted a new website up by May 1, 2006. 

It is nearly a year later, and we're still waiting.  The website is being run by our Enrollment and Planning Department, and they've been working over 18 months on trying to get things done.  With a speed that makes a glacier seem like a cheetah, they hired someone to handle it.  The contracts were signed in May 2006. 

Then the information trickled out.  The new site would be ready the end of September, 2006, so everyone had to convert their pages so it can be put into the new format.  Everyone worked hard to meet an early September deadline.

The website was going to take longer.  The consultant hadn't realized how many pages it involved (despite the fact this information was in the contract).  It would be ready in November.  No, December.  No, we needed to get the server ready in December, so it could go live on January 31.

At the end of March, they held the first training sessions in how to use the new system.  After the training, the training accounts were disabled, so people wouldn't be able to practice on the system.  I pointed that out, but got no answer.

About three weeks ago, I discovered I could log on and try editing my web pages.  No notice of that.

Finally, early this week, the college president said, "Do it by May 3, 2007."  The web managers waited until yesterday at 6:00 pm to tell anyone this.  Everyone has four days to check their pages and fix them (and, remember, all information is over six months old). 

Stay tuned.  People are already saying the deadline is much too short.
Monday, April 16th, 2007
8:21 pm
World Fantasy Con

I've been roped in to be on the committee for World Fantasy Con.  It's one of the major conventions (probably over 1000 attending) for fantasy writers.  Much more literary and professional (and, man, is that term loaded at the SFWA discussions here).  

I'm handling publisher relations.  There will probably be a lot of publishers there, all having parties and other events.  My mission is to facilitate things.

I've been to many cons (including one Worldcon), but no WFC.  I'm looking forward to it.

8:19 pm
Snow and floods

Very ugly the past few days.  It's been a mixture of rain and snow and snow and rain.  Luckly, it all turned to rain overnight, so brushing off my car was easy.  But the road were flooded at various points.

Usually, I turn off the heat around April 15.  Not this year. 

Friday, April 13th, 2007
2:27 pm
Phone not working
We've been without phone service since yesterday. Evidently, Verizon works
when the power is off, but not when it rains.

The odd thing is that we still get DSL. Weird.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
7:31 pm
Trying out a blog

I've decided to get this working.  I can't imagine my words have all that much interest, but I'll try to jot things down outside of my regular web page.

If you're curious about the name, it comes from a friend of mine back in high school.  Ricky Graves made stop-action animated films.  Quite good, considering.  One of his first was a creature something like the Blob, but he was so unhappy with the attempt that he called the creature "Ozob" -- "Bozo" spelled backward.  The film was thus Ozob the Blob Monster, a name that has always stuck with me.

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