Better than salt money

Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation


About the Hugos

For those who don’t know, they are something like the Oscars for Science Fiction works.  Like the Academy Awards the voting pool is limited, and also who most people think it is.  Anyone who is a member of the WorldCon (this year in London) or the subsequent year’s Convention (next year in Spokane), and the previous year’s convention (which was in San Antonio, Texas) is eligible to nominate.  Anyone who is a member of the convention at which the awards will be announced (in this case LonCon) is eligible to vote.

This year it seems an author made a pretty specific pitch to be nominated (Somewhere Puppies are Smiling) Among the slate he endorsed was one Theodore Beale, who goes by the hubristic nom-de-net of vox day.  He made news, recently, for getting kicked out of SFWA.  He’s a shit.  Racist, misogynist, white supremacist and all other manner of unlikable things.

He’s also a crap writer.

So, In my opinion, on the merits (i.e. his crap writing) he doesn’t deserve a Hugo.  On his other merits he ought to be shunned.

Thankfully the Hugo’s have a means for the voters to do that (and so I am commending it).  One, they need to vote (in any given year a lot of the eligible member of a convention don’t vote: many because they don’t feel competent to choose; for having not read the eligible works.  I often refrain from voting in categories I can’t really evaluate).

Two, they need to understand how Hugo Voting Works.  It’s an instant run-off; and I am pretty sure most people don’t understand how to best use it.

The idea is simple.  You have X candidates and get to rank them 1-X.  If your first choice loses, those votes are removed and the second choice from those ballots are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates, until there is a winner.

Where one has to be careful is remembering that one need not vote all the way down the ticket (and if you have a strong preference for one, or two, candidates you need to stop there).  If a ballot has no subsequent choices, no new votes will be added to the tally of any other candidate.  This can make, or break, who wins.  If you only have two strong choices, only vote for two candidates.

But, where the Hugos run-off voting differs is that there is another option.  No Award.  It’s an option to declare that, should your preferred choice(s) be eliminated you don’t think anyone else who was nominated deserves the award.  It’s a way to say a nominated work was (in your opinion) undeserving of consideration (it’s happened, at least once. that the community put No Award ahead of a nominated work, in 1987, L. Ron Hubbard came in 6th in a field of five)

So if, as I don’t, you think the quality of Beale’s work is worthy of a Hugo fine, you should vote for it.  If you think his work isn’t worth a Hugo, don’t vote for him.  If you think his work isn’t worthy, and his social behaviors, are unacceptable in civilised society then, even if you have no opinion on the other novelletes, you should cast a vote for No Award.

Because, as lots of people have said, it’s a great ballot this year.  It’s not the first year a dipshit asshole has been nominated.  It’s not even the first year a dipshit asshole I think is a blight on the face of humanity has been nominated.  We, as a community have the option to show that we discourage that sort of dipshit assholism.

The voting isn’t a closed book. You can take part. I’m going to quote Cat Valente here,

“A final note: you do not have to go to Worldcon to nominate and vote for the Hugos. You can buy a supporting membership for $40* and get that perk. I realize $40 is a lot to express an opinion, but every year we hear complaints about the ballot and every year I hope that my generation will vote a little more, because the Hugos are kind of a bellwether for the field, and I want new crackly risktaking goodness in there, too. Since I have no control over the price of the supporting membership all I can say is—give it a thought, if you have the scratch.”

*in the original it was $50.  LonCon is charging 40 for a supporting membership. In addition to the Hugo balloting (and really, what other prestigious award do you know of, for which you; as a fan, can vote?  I know that, for those years in which I voted, I helped shape what was seen as the best in the field; for the year.  I made my opinion known; in a very visible way, about authors to watch), you also have the chance to decide where the convention will be two years from now; which means you could try to vote for someplace close to home; or someplace you’d like to visit.  It’s a win/win/win proposition (because every con needs money to run).  For that $40, you will get a whole lot of stuff to read, and look at, because the Hugo ballot comes with a lot of files to make it easier to cast an informed decision when you vote.


Too much of a good thing

I have the trial of pleasant excess, which is to say I have a plethora of fiber. I’ve been trying, but life is busy and it’s not just that I’m failing to gain on the gifts of the holidays (when I gained 8-plus lbs of fiber), but I’ve fallen behind the acquisitions since then. I was weak. I saw that Paradise Fibers had some of a rare breed (California Red), and it sounded interesting, so I bought a lb.

Therein lies some of my problem, I want to make a useful quantity of yarn. I look at Etsy and see skeins of 1-2 oz., and think it’s inane. How is someone going to make anything out of so small a quantity, so I tend to get between ½ and 1 lb. of fiber (that, or I take a pair of 4 oz rovings and combine them to make some sort of interesting yarn.

It doesn’t help that I like to spin fine. I’ve gotten decent at it too. I’m no longer, “chasing cobwebs”, but rather I’ve moved to spinning gossamer. The cashmere I bought at Christmas is ridiculously fine. I decided to ply some of it up with the tail end of the Targhee I had left over from plying. I expected to have a thinner strand around a thicker one. Nope.   They were the same diameter. As I recall it was 1/45 for weight (these are cones used to hold the yarn for the weft on commercial looms), which is about 11,000 yards per lb. My estimation (from the skein length on the 4 oz I’d spun up) was about 13,500 ypp).

Spinning that finely takes longer.

So I’ve spun some, but I doubt I’ve managed more than a pound since New Year’s. It’s been interesting. The Finnish is nice, Polwarth is a dream. The Kraemer Mauch was really nice. The yarn has a very pleasant heather/tweedy look, and the hand is soft. It also spins up easily, needs little in the way of prep to go from roving to wheel and is easier to spin in a heavier yarn, which I am trying to teach myself to do. Right now I have two project on the wheel, and both of them are a bit frustrating.

Part of the frustration is that I want to spin a bit thicker, and I have trained myself to spin fine. That’s not too much of a problem, save that I have managed to choose rovings that don’t want to be spun “thick” (which for me means an end weight which a knitter/crocheter would think of as, “worsted”). The one is an alpaca, which is just not a very well prepped fiber. It’s been over carded and is not only chock full of noils, but clumps in the hand, so I get “slubs’ of fat fluffy stuff. At first I thought it was me having trouble with the nature of the roving, because, it’s, “pencil” (which means it’s a long thin strip, instead of a fatter “tube” of fiber). Pencil is supposed to be easier to work, because it doesn’t have to be thinned out as much to feed into the “drafting zone”, but I’ve mostly spun from the thicker sort of rovings.

That isn’t it. Looking at the slubs, when I try to thin them out, what I see is a tight yarn, surrounded by a halo of fluff. I’m going to finish this skein, and think about not spinning the rest of it at all. I may need to find someone who is interesting in felting and sell them the remainder of the two colors I have.

So decided to spin something else, and take it in stages (so as not to have something which seems a bit of a chore when I think about sitting down to the wheel). Silly me, I chose some alpaca/silk. It’s got, for different reasons, some of the same habits. First, it wants to spin fine. Second it needs a to be held with a firm looseness; a bit further back in the fiber bundle, or it becomes a slippery mess in the hand.

The other quirk is that if the twist gets into the fiber, the silk locks it right up. That makes opening a section which is too thick a lot harder than it would be if this was wool, or even pure alpaca.

I’d forgotten that. I’ve spun alpaca/silk blends before, it was sort of cranky, but I’ve gotten better, and I figured it would be ok. Mostly it is, but it’s not the best of “relaxing interludes” from the other.

The other thing making it so that my fibercrafting friends just laugh at me when I state a desire to reduce my stash, is that I joined a fiber club when I bought the California Red. My first delivery came today. Three rovings, 7 oz. total. A plain merino, a merino/tussah, and a merino/yak/silk blend. They are all lovely. The yak blend, in particular, is amazingly chatoyant. It’s a white yak, and a grey merino, it’s got a charcoal-silver effect. I may set aside the other 2 oz. of the alpaca/silk I’m using now, and spin it up very fine (which will be easier than what I’m doing now) and perhaps one of the other silvery alpaca blends I’ve got and make a 3-ply yarn with a really nice drape.

I can, of course, get the yak blend at a 10 percent discount, if I decide I want more of it; though that means I need to spin a little up in a hurry.

The last thing I’ve been doing is (finally) getting to work on spinning the Arapawa I got as a gift.  I bought some viking combs  and a set of Howard hand cards (I tested them out at WEBS, and was able to limit myself to just a bit more of the Kraemer Mauch. I didn’t buy a small loom, which was really tempting, nor any of the really pretty fibers.  We did get some dyes, so I we can play with making our own colorways from things like the California Red, or Polwarth, etc.).  I’ve got to work on the scouring, because the wool still feels a bit greasy.  It’s really fine, but crimpy, and I need to work on getting the carding done, since it’s full of vegetable matter, and the locks are kind of clumpy, which makes it hard to gauge the amount of distance to keep between my hands.