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Nov. 27th, 2014

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Giving Thanks

Giving thanks publicly for the things for which I am truly grateful always makes me feel a little self-conscious. I become overly aware of the blessings I have that others do not, and I wonder if I should be more sensitive to the friends who don't necessarily have the same things I do.

But then I realize that we all have things for which we are grateful, and it is good for me to pause and reflect on my blessings. So, for Thanksgiving Day 2014, a short list.

I am thankful for how my parents raised me, giving me opportunities in life that have allowed to me to work toward my potential.

I am thankful for the education I received, both formal and informal.

I am thankful for the many years I taught and was able to work with and influence students. I feel an odd paternal pride when I read about their accomplishments, and I am grateful that they choose to stay in touch.

I am thankful for the writing career I have had up until this point, and I hope that I manage to continue to write stories soon that entertain people and make them think.

I am thankful that I am reasonably healthy and employed.

Most of all, I am thankful for my family, particularly for my wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters, who have brought so much joy to my life.

Nov. 21st, 2014

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The Brookline Parent: Night Terrors

My latest column for The Brookline Parent is on dealing with Night Terrors. Not exactly a column to enjoy, but I think some folks will find it of interest.

Oct. 15th, 2014

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The Brookline Parent: Sukkah to Me!

To quote gnomi:

New holiday-themed The Brookline Parent column up! Read about how Muffin and Squeaker celebrate Sukkot!

Oct. 13th, 2014

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I Remember the Future Film - Baltimore Science Fiction Society - November 15, 2014

Great news for folks in the Baltimore, Maryland, USA area who are interested in seeing the "I Remember the Future" film! By special arrangement with KAS Creations, it will be screened at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in November.


Details:
Saturday, November 15, 2014, at 7 pm
3310 E Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21224
Preceded by coming attractions and Balticon film festival items of interest.
Snacks and beverages. BYOB.


For more information, call (410) 563-2737


I'd like to thank KAS Creations for making this special screening available for fans in the Baltimore area.


Official trailer http://vimeo.com/84752786
Interview on File 770  http://file770.com/?p=16563

Sep. 11th, 2014

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9/11: Thirteen Years Ago — Personal Reflections

Exactly thirteen years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States of America. They flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. They most likely would also have flown a plane into the Capitol building but were stopped by the passengers of United 93. Almost 3,000 people died that day.

Because I'm obsessed with exactness, I've made sure for a while now to know the exact times of certain events that took place on 9/11. The bare sequence of events at the World Trade Center was as follows:

8:46:26 AM: North Tower Hit
9:02:54 AM: South Tower Hit
9:59:04 AM: South Tower Collapsed
10:28:31 AM: North Tower Collapsed

I'm a New York City native, born and raised in Queens, and I grew up in a city in which the Towers always stood. On 9/11, I was a teacher at a private school in Newton, Massachusetts. The following comes from my journal, a hand-written one that I was keeping at the time.

"The second [staff] meeting ended early, and I went back to the Science lab to check my e-mail. I idly noted a message...which said that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center.

"I didn't really think much of it and I went back to the Information Center. Shortly after the meeting...began, [a colleague] walked in and asked if we had heard the news. He told us that two planes had hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and he set up the small TV to receive CNN. They showed pictures of two commercial jets crashing into the twin towers...

"I ran to the phone...to call [my younger brother] at work. At 9:35 AM I called and got him. He had just gotten in, and he said that he seen the smoke from the 7 train. I told him to stay in touch, but due to circuits being busy, I wasn't able to reach New York City again for a while.

"The rest of the day passed in a blur of rumors and news. I kept checking webpages; when I couldn't reach cnn.com, checked the New York Post webpage and the Newsday webpage. [I had called Nomi, and she had suggested the second-tier news sites.]

"At 10:15 AM, the...students returned from their physical education class...and...we told them the news...

"When the meeting with the students ended, I collapsed in tears..."

There's more, of course, but to summarize, I spent the day trying to get news of family and friends, making sure they were all safe. The drive home was surreal, knowing that fighter planes and battleships were protecting New York City. Nomi was already home, as her office had sent everyone home early. The rest of my family was safe, but my older brother, an emergency medicine physician, had been called up to report to New York City. Nomi and I took a walk at 5:30 PM, which included browsing at Brookline Booksmith and getting ice cream at JP Licks. Everything on TV was the news; we watched C-SPAN, which was running a feed from the CBC, so we could get the Canadian perspective.

The next few days, the events were fresh in everyone's mind. On Wednesday, I flinched at hearing an airplane in the sky, then remembered that all commercial flights had been grounded, so it had to be one of our military aircraft, protecting us. I bought my regular comic books that day; Adventures of Superman #596 had an eerie panel of the twin towers of Metropolis being repaired. A friend came over that evening after attending a local religious service.

On Thursday, Nomi and I were sick of the news, and Animal Planet had gone back to regular programming. We watched a documentary about moose to help us get our minds off things.

And life went on. Today, I'm no longer teaching, but editing science curricular materials in Boston; my younger brother no longer lives in New York City, but in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and three children; and my older brother is still an emergency medicine physician in the Boston area, specializing in disaster management.

And as all my friends know, there have been other changes in my life. In 2007 I lost my mom. In 2008 I published a book collection of many of my short stories. And in 2009, Nomi and I welcomed two precious and adorable girls into our lives. Being a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things, and 9/11 is no exception. When the attacks happened, I was worried for my mom and my brothers; if something were to happen today, my first priority would be to make sure that my children were safe.

I probably don't need to tell anyone this, but today's a very good day to remind your loved ones, families, and friends how much they mean to you.

Sep. 4th, 2014

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Why I Support Steve Grossman for Governor

I’ve mentioned in a few places that I am supporting Steve Grossman in his candidacy to be the new governor of Massachusetts. I know that some of my friends (and possibly others) are interested in my opinion and endorsement and where it comes from. So to that end, here’s a short article explaining why I support him. If you’re still undecided in this race, please consider reading it.


The short version is that having met Steve a few times over the past 12 years, I have seen that he is an intelligent man who also cares about the people around him and listens to the voters. He is one of those rare political figures who really does put other people’s interests and needs ahead of his own. Steve cares about making Massachusetts (and the world) a better place, and he has a lot of great ideas for doing so. Take a look here to see where Steve Grossman stands on the issues.


The longer version:


Obviously, Steve’s political leanings are consonant with my own, which is where my endorsement starts from. But here’s my personal experience with him, which is how my support for him crystallized.


Nomi and I first met Steve at a campaign event in 2002, when he first ran for governor.  We got to know him a little bit then, even though we only had a few minutes of personal time with him. One of our concerns at the time (which is still a concern for us) was the lack of affordable housing in the state. We mentioned this to Steve, and he not only explained his plans to us for building more affordable housing, but when it came time for him to address the whole crowd, he brought up affordable housing specifically as one of the issues he had been asked about. It showed me that he not only thought this issue was important when talking with us but thought that it was important enough to bring up with the whole group.


We didn’t meet Steve again in 2002, but I did read a news article at the time that impressed me. The voters of the commonwealth had passed a referendum to reduce the state income tax rate, and the legislature put together a budget that kept the old rate in place, basically saying that they couldn’t make it work. When Steve was asked about this, he said that he disagreed with the voters on this issue, but then he went further and noted that this was something that the majority of the voters wanted, and so if he was elected, he would make it work. I too disagreed with the reduction of the income tax, as I know how important those revenues are for state and local services. That said, Steve impressed me with his willingness to listen to the voters on this issue. I suspect that had the income tax rate been reduced, we wouldn’t have had the later referendum on reducing it to zero (which, thankfully, the voters rejected).


Nomi and I met Steve again in 2006 when he ran for Treasurer. Once again, the personal touch showed me how genuine Steve is, as he remembered us and our concerns. Steve made a bunch of promises and commitments when he ran for Treasurer, and when elected, he fulfilled every single one of them. Although Treasurer is an important job, it’s not one of those that seems to be high-profile, and many of my friends seem unaware of Steve’s accomplishments in the job. So I encourage everyone to do some research and read about his achievements. Here’s an endorsement from The Bay State Banner that goes into details, including Steve’s commitments to diversity and to women. And here’s Steve’s own agenda as explained on the website of the Treasurer’s office.


Finally, I met Steve again this year as he traveled the state talking with voters about the issues (which he talks about much more often than his own accomplishments). Steve’s campaign is very well-run; when I got in touch with the office and asked for the Brookline coordinator to contact me, I heard back the very next day. How efficient a campaign is run is a pretty good metric for how well the governor’s office will be run. Steve is humble when meeting the voters while at the same time passionate about his public service. He has a vision for Massachusetts that will make it a better place for all of us (again, see where he stands on the issues, such as earned sick time and supporting science and the arts). Furthermore, he has the background and experience to make it work.


I would encourage all my friends to strongly consider voting for Steve Grossman in the Democratic primary next Tuesday.


(About me: I am an elected Town Meeting Member and Library Trustee in Brookline, Massachusetts.)
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Aug. 29th, 2014

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The Brookline Parent: Kindergarten: The Journey Begins

In this week's The Brookline Parent, I discuss the decisions gnomi and I had to make as we send Muffin and Squeaker to Kindergarten in the new school year.

Read Kindergarten: The Journey Begins and find out what those decisions were...
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Aug. 22nd, 2014

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My Week in Facebook, August 17-22, 2014

Another week, another bunch of posts to Facebook. (I wish LJ were as active as it once was.) So what was my week like?

On Sunday, I congratulated the winners of this year's Hugo Awards.

On Monday, I posted a picture of me with Harold Feld (also known as osewalrus.)

I also continued playing the game Nomi and I play of finding band names.

On Tuesday, I expressed my shock at the cost of the new Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook.

And I noted a conversation between me and Squeaker, which is either cute or morbid, depending on your mood.

On Thursday, I expressed my disappointment in the movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." And I also noted that my daughters are fans of both My Little Pony and Doctor Who.

And finally, I backed the Kickstarter for Chronosphere.

What did you do this week?

Aug. 15th, 2014

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My Week in Facebook, August 10-15, 2014

Let's go through the week! Here are links.

On Sunday, the family attended the Boston Comic Con. We had a blast. I posted a photo album called Boston Comic Con 2014. It includes pictures of Squeaker posing with cosplayers, me and the kids emerging from a TARDIS, me meeting some of my favorite comic creators, and more. Go on and take a look.

We also got a TARDIS and Dalek salt and pepper shaker set.

On Monday night came the news of the death of Robin Williams, and I posted something I call Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, and My Teaching on Facebook. I decided to post it on LiveJournal as well, and for what it's worth, I got a lot of response to it on Facebook and none (as of this writing) on LJ. Moving on...

Tuesday I linked to a post by David Mack on the need for diversity in science fiction. Here's his post on LJ, as infinitydog.

I also reminded people about the Kickstarter for Chronosphere. Come on, folks, I want to play this game!

And I took these pictures and posted them: Robin Williams Bench, Boston Public Garden, 2014-08-12.

Wednesday night we showed the kids the move Aladdin.

Thursday I ate lunch.

And today I posted a link to our new The Brookline Parent column, Adventuring Through Comic Con. But if you keep up with my LiveJournal, you already know that...




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The Brookline Parent: Adventuring Through Comic Con

In this week's The Brookline Parent column, gnomi writes about us taking Muffin and Squeaker to Boston Comic Con, and all the fun we had. There are lots of pictures of Squeaker with cool cosplayers; check it out!

Adventuring Through Comic Con

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