For November 2013, I decided to try NaBloPoMo and post every day this month. I’d been getting all the NaNoWriMo emails, and while I didn’t have the time or story ideas (and Katie’s covering the “writing a novel” thing), I was a little nostalgic for a writing challenge. Today wraps up my participation in the event.

I learned two things about daily posting:

  1. It’s not as easy as it sounds, unless you’re willing to count the equivalent of a Tweet or Facebook status as a blog post.
  2. I would rather write fewer, higher-quality posts than more, lower-quality posts.

That quality vs. quantity issue especially bugged me when it came to my ongoing Les Miserables commentary. Those take a couple of hours to put together, and as a parent with a full-time job, free time is at a premium. I can think of a number of occasions when I sat down to work on my next article and realized no, I need to get a post up today, and I don’t know if I’ll have time to finish that one. Some of the resulting posts are worth it, including a few where I would have written a short note, but found that I had a lot more to say on the topic. Some, I’d probably delete tomorrow if I didn’t want to keep them up for the record.

I thought I’d do a breakdown of this month’s posts:

Broad Categories:
11 Life observations
9 Entertainment/reading
6 Photo-centric
4 Tech

Recurring Topics
5 Les Misérables
4 Trip to San Francisco
4 Local city observations
4 Comic conventions (the actual Long Beach con, wondering about WonderCon’s future)

19 Substantially new content at this blog only
4 Built around previously-posted photos (mostly from Instagram)
4 Short commentary posts linking to other content (3 of which were at least to my own stuff at another blog)
3 cross posts (two at Speed Force, one at Reading Les Mis)

I only resorted to blogging about blogging twice (except to fill out the links to my Les Mis articles and give them a little more substance), and only once did I just toss up a random photo to make deadline.

Full list (or if you prefer, a standard blog view of the posts):

Les Miserables Book Falling ApartLast week I finished re-reading Les Misérables. I’ve been working on this off and on for most of the year, taking breaks to read other books along the way.

I don’t feel finished yet, though, because I set myself the challenge of commenting on the whole thing as well, and I’m way behind on that. The main problem is that when I switched from carrying around the rapidly disintegrating copy of the book to reading on the tablet, I also switched from writing notes on my phone to highlighting passages in the Kindle app, with the idea that I’d write my commentary later. You can build on digital notes. With highlights, you have to do all your composition new, so my commentary started taking longer to write…and the longer it went, the less fresh those chapters were in my memory, and the more my commentary began to resemble summaries.

I did manage to write two commentaries right within days of finishing the chapters: the sewers, and Javert’s suicide. But I can’t post them until I get to that point.

Today I finished a new section of commenatry. This covers Marius and Cosette’s six weeks of secret meetings in her garden (during which Hugo is very insistent that nothing is going on), Eponine staring down hardened criminals with an awesome “You think I’m scared of you?” speech, Marius trying — and failing — to reconcile with his estranged grandfather, and what they’re all up to in the days (or in Marius’ case, the daze) before the revolt.

That brings me up to page 882 out of 1201 (not counting the appendices, which I’ve already covered). There’s about 180 pages to cover, the entire barricade sequence, before I can post the sewer commentary I’ve already written. I’m no longer certain I’ll be able to finish it all by the end of the year, but I’ve at least got a shot. Um, so to speak.

Read on for the new commentary, Over the Edge.

Halo Towers

I developed an interest in sun halos a while back. Bright rings and arcs can appear in the sky when ice crystals are lined up just right with your viewpoint, much as a rainbow forms when water droplets are lined up just right.

You see a lot more of them, and especially the most spectacular ones, in colder climates where ice crystals form more often. But I still see several circular halos and sundogs each year even in Southern California, particularly when there’s a thin layer of cirrus clouds. The ice crystals only need to be in a line of sight, not near the ground.

The arc at the top of this photo, looking like it’s bridging the two buildings, isn’t a rainbow — the colors are wrong and too pale, and it’s in the same direction as the sun (which is behind the building on the left). I think it’s a 22-degree circular halo, but I’m not certain. It looks a little bit too shallow, so it could be a tangent arc, but I’m not sure the sun was quite high enough for it to point downward from the tangent instead of upward.

Here are some other sun halo photos I’ve posted on this blog in the past.

Publisher’s Weekly reports that WonderCon still wants to return to the Bay Area, but that the limiting factor is scheduling.

  1. A convention needs additional days at the convention center to set up and tear down the event. So for a 3-day weekend event, they need to be in Wednesday or Thursday through Monday.
  2. They’ve been trying to avoid conflicting with other big comic conventions, specifically C2E2 in Chicago and Emerald City in Seattle. I remember one year they were the same weekend as MegaCon, but it was all the way on the East coast, so the two events were drawing from a different pool of guests and attendees.

With Moscone basically the only convention center in the area that’s big enough, their options are limited.

WonderCon’s last year (so far) in San Francisco was 2011. C2E2 launched in 2010, and grew to 41,000 attendees in 2012 and 50,000. Emerald City has been around for a decade, but expanded dramatically over the last few years, jumping from 13,000 attendees in 2009 to 32,000 in 2011. This year, all three cons* were in the 53-56K range.

The other shows’ explosion in size coincides with WonderCon’s move out of San Francisco. Both shows were already growing before WonderCon moved to Anaheim, so while I’m sure some former regulars decided to go to Emerald City instead, I doubt it accounts for the bulk of the growth. It makes me wonder (no pun intended) whether WonderCon might be facing similar scheduling conflicts even if it had stayed in San Francisco back in 2012.

If they do have to go up against another high-profile convention, it’s going to be one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. My feeling is they’d be better off scheduling for the same weekend as C2E2, since Chicago’s three times the distance and two time zones away. Sure, it could be seen as a proxy battle between the NYCC and SDCC juggernauts, but it would play better than looking like they’re stepping on the little guy.

*I couldn’t find figures for ECCC 2013, but Wikipedia cites 53K in 2012, and they’ve been growing every year. C2E2 2013 was 53K, and WonderCon’s site cites 56K for 2013.

What is it about the holiday season that makes people forget how to drive, especially in parking lots? The other day, while I was trying to back out of a parking space at the grocery store, two cars independently barreled down the wrong way in a crowded one-way aisle. A third tried, but another driver’s honk made them realize they were asking for a head-on collision.

I actually shouted, “My three-year old can read those signs!”

OK, that isn’t entirely true. He’s not three yet.

But that kid can read the heck out of a “Do Not Enter” sign.