FenCon

Typing one-handed sucks – I just lost my lovely post and must now reconstruct it. Ah well. here’s hoping I can be as witty as I was.

FenCon 2010 was a very nice con, indeed.

Friday started with a visit to the doctor’s office for pre-surgery testing. They found one class of anesthesias with minimal reactions, so they’re going with that one.

We arrived at the hotel before rush hour – always a happy event! We checked in and were put on the party corridor. Then we wandered and met friends and talked way too much. In the ConSuite (the Ambassador’s Room), we met up with John, a happy circumstance. We ended up in the bar, where I had a very immature beer that was improved substantially by the addition of cranberry juice. We talked of books, science, tea, projects. Eventually, we went off to our respective rooms for the night.

We met up briefly the next morning, where John gifted me with a loaf of cheddar bacon bread. I immediately began to make plans on how to include it in the Tea that afternoon, but I had to conclude I lacked both the right equipment and the right ingredients to make it a successful addition.

John went off to his panel (I guess, because I didn’t see him for a while) and I wandered, talking to various people. I met up with the Captain of the Steel Rose and we talked Tea – her aethership was hosting a Tea in the Ambassador’s Room at the same time I was hosting a private Tea for pictures for my Steampunk Tea Book. Then I got waylaid to let Itzl get his picture taken – him being in is steampunk gear – tailcoat, top hat, goggles.

Then I retired to the room to put together the Tea – boiling eggs and making cucumber sandwiches and such.

The Tea went off quite well. I had 8 tea sets, and Mel White very kindly went to the Con Suite to get styrofoam cups and paper plates for everyone else. Jas, Libby, Bev, Barbara, Rie, Mouse and Spouse, and others were there, which made me happy. I got a couple of usable pictures and a lot more that make for great scrapbooking.

I passed around my Autograph Book, and Bev passed hers around, too. Autograph Books were a Victorian tradition that lived on in autographing yearbooks. These are a combination memorabilia book, guest book, and collection of witty sayings and such from friends and other people attending the same event. You might have the same person signing the book many times, not a hardship for Victorians who memorized epigrams and pithy quotes and sayings just to share in these Autograph Books. I hope to revive the tradition, because while social networking media is great for connecting with people, it’s kind of hard to paste your name badge, concert tickets, menus, scribbled napkins, and such into them or collect signatures of friends and others.

So, the Tea went well, and Jas and I ended up in the bar again, where we ate dinner with The James Burk. Then Jas went to a panel and I met up with John again. I’d just eaten, but he was starving, so I joined him in the bar where he ate his dinner and I drank another weak beer improved with cranberry juice. Then we sat together with Jas and Mouse and Spouse at the Masquerade. Jas went off to do her thing, so John and I hit as many of the room parties as we could, starting at one end of the corridor and working our way to the other end. We talked to people, sampled teas, watched movie clips, and John committed (no, not “was committed”) to doing a panel or so at a Houston convention.

Then we went off to our rooms and met back up again briefly the next morning, where I learned John missed the Tea because of car troubles, so I dragged him off to the Con Suite and made him tea and fed him macaroons. We discussed a wide variety of things, wandered through the Dealer’s room, where we discussed the good and bad points of giving his Nonny a dragonfruit plant from the Texas Triffid Ranch.

He left early to get home before his car died on him (he made it, I learned, and did so in good time).

Jas and I left to shop at Whole Foods. We're going to be getting one here in the City soon, and I can't wait. I didn't buy anything because everything I wanted was too perishable to make the trip, but Jas bought a few things, and we ate there.

The trip home was long but uneventful. Construction was annoying, as always because there was always a semi way up front who slowed to 30 mph in a 60 mph highway zone and left a string miles long of cars trapped behind him.

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FenCon Preparations

Now that I have the car all checked out for the trip (and that’s always a dreaded ordeal because mechanics are only open 4 short hours on Saturdays and I’m not wasting vacation hours during the work week for something routine like oil changes and tires rotated and balanced), it’s time to get ready for the rest of the trip.

Most of the time, all I have to do is pack a couple of changes of clothes and Itzl’s potty pads, food, dishes, ID, bed, blankie, and clothes.

This time, because I need to test a couple of recipes and get pictures for a Steampunk cookbook I’m writing, I have to do much more.

I need to pack enough tea cups, saucers, and cake plates to provide for the invited guests (more can show up, but they must bring their own tea cups and plates). I need to pack 3 teapots, the tea kettle, the sugar and creamer (no lemon dish – I don’t do lemons and my guests this time will have to have cream instead of a choice of lemon or cream), the serving dishes and utensils, the tablecloths and napkins, and the camera!

These, I can pack in advance.

Thursday night, I will bake the Time Tarts, ginger snaps, tea bread, and prepare the rest of the treats and pack them so we can head out Friday.

Some of the tea treats will be made at the hotel. I have figured out how to make deviled eggs in a hotel room, so I may add those to the tea treat list. We are in the south and it just isn’t a party without deviled eggs. And I will make the finger sandwiches there, too, because those really need to be fresh.

I LOVE my Lawn Buddy rolling cart. Granted, it was made for lawn work, but I have adapted it to be a rolling tea box – it can carry the tea cups and pots and such safely and I can load the top with other tea things. I really ought to steampunk it up and maybe I will have time this weekend to do so… Right now, it’s lawn green and tan. Perhaps I can paint it? And attach tubes and gears to it? I have plenty of PVC left from painting the bedroom (don’t ask, but trust me wen I say PVC pipes were essential in painting the bedroom). I have gears. And old watches. And I’m going to a flea market in the morning. maybe I can find a broken cuckoo clock so I can rob it of the cuckoo? I could make it look all time travelly. All I need is sufficient metallic paint. I may have enough in my paint box.

I have 2 decent steampunk outfits, if I can find my black boots. One looks a bit more piratical than the other, and since Sunday is ITLaPD, I ought to wear that one then and the other one Saturday.

I also need to bring my notebooks on the Gosplodey Alchemical Laboratory to discuss with my partner-in-crime, who will be there (yay!).

It will be a busy weekend. Good busy.

Links to Proof of Religious Persecutions

Please note that none of these persecuted religions are Christianity, and most of the persecutions perpetuated against these religions are instigated by Christians. Those who can instigate persecution are privileged, not persecuted.

I was going to pull up links and quotes for the past 5 years, but realized that if I merely documented the actual religious persecutions of the past 12 months, I would exceed several pages, so I decided to just hit the more spectacular ones of the past 5 years and still exceeded several pages, so I narrowed it down further to only the ones that were more representative and well known, which got it down to a mere 2 pages in the last 3 years.

I could not find any articles of actual persecutions perpetuated against Christians that were not instigated by other Christians, and I’m not going to get involved in their family bickering. I could not find any documented instances of persecutions against Christians in the US by our government, or some governing body. Persecution is defined as deliberately and maliciously causing harm with the force of the law behind the harmful acts. A religion is not persecuted if it is caused to comply with the same laws with which all other religions must comply, for example: requiring people to remove religious based jewelry of one religion if all other religions may not wear their religious jewelry. There are, obviously, other examples, but they are compliance issues, not persecution.

One thing not noted in these links is the extreme difficulty many smaller religions have in getting wedding officiants who are legally allowed to sign the marriage licenses. If they were Christian, they get an automatic approval, most other religions have to prove they are a real religion, and to prove they have a “congregation” (and many don’t have a Christian hierarchical structure with congregation/priesthood, which is right there a form of persecution to not even acknowledge the different structures religions may have), and to prove they aren’t frauds. The same type of discrimination and persecution exists in hospital chaplaincy, military chaplaincy, and prison chaplaincy – Christians get an automatic approval, all other religions have to jump through hoops. At this time, there are still no official Wiccan, Asatruar, Hellismos, Numenist, Thelemic, or other non-mainstream military chaplains even though there are service members of these various religions in the military. The Christians are privileged here, not persecuted.

http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2010/07/15/news/doc4c3fc33b945cf477239911.txt

http://www.storzerandgreene.com/images/KingComplaint.pdf

http://www.storzerandgreene.com/press.htm#king

http://marygreer.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/fortunetelling-protected-under-first-amendment/

http://witchdoctorjoe.blogspot.com/2008/09/order-of-pentacle.html

http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/241820

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20100903/NEWS03/309039951

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/aseem_shukla/2010/09/becks_false_inclusivity.html

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/aseem_shukla/2010/04/national_day_of_platitudes.html

http://wildhunt.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/112509_Amici_Curiae_FL_Justice_Institute_n_Legal_Aid_Society_NYCs_Brief_Suppt_PlfsAppellants.pdf

http://www.au.org/media/press-releases/archives/2009/12/prison-fellowship-amicus.pdf

http://www.religioustolerance.org/wicgf.htm

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/08/18/allen-west-islam/

http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf

http://www.navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=36&SubSectionID=73&ArticleID=12681

http://courts.arkansas.gov/court_opinions/coa/2008b/20081001/20081001.htm

http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2008/oct/01/1001_psychic/

A Southeast Arkansas woman who argued she lost custody of her son because of a judge’s perception of her alleged practice of Wicca lost her appeal Wednesday before a divided state Court of Appeals Wednesday. In a 4-2 ruling, the appeals court affirmed a decision granting custody to the child’s father, though the judges disagreed on whether the lower court considered the mother’s religious beliefs. In her appeal of Chicot County Circuit Judge Robert Vittitow’s decision, the mother noted Vittitow described Wicca in his opinion letter as ‘a religion, movement, cult or whatever it that may be.’

http://courts.arkansas.gov/court_opinions/coa/2008b/20081119/published/ca07-1321.pdf

http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/10/23/Wiccan_Says_Firing_Was_Religious_Bias.htm

And this occurred in our very own Senate on July 12, 2007: “…two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer. They shouted ‘No Lord but Jesus Christ’ and ‘There’s only one true God,’ and used the term ‘abomination.’”

Rigid Standards

Some of the worst human-made disasters in our history have been born of judging others by too rigidly held standards.

Oxymoron

On a friend’s FB, she commented about how she was tired of Christians whining about being persecuted in the US. She’s a sweet heart of a woman, charming, funny, warm-hearted, everything you’d want in a friend. She’s always a very devout Christian. I don’t think we’ve ever really discussed religion, there are so many other things to talk about when we get together.

But her wall post attracted a Christian who very plainly felt she was personally put upon and persecuted by society for being Christian. When this woman (I’m calling her CP for “Christian Person”) commented that she viewed verbal comments to be persecution, I’m sorry, but I rolled my eyes. When someone asked her for examples, CP wrapped herself in her privilege and accused the querant of attacking her and not caring, that :::sob::: nobody cared!

Shades of the old Fascist Meanie Pooh Pooh Head days!

Then, CP made me just gape in awe at her cluelessness. She actually commented that she wished Christians had the same rights as other religions!

Really? I don’t think she knows whereof she speaks.

Christians have convinced our country to allow one of their primary holy days to be a legally recognized paid holiday, something no other religion has ever accomplished. That’s privilege, not persecution.

Christians can use their religion to practically guarantee an election. People of any other religion, were they to use their religious adherence as part of their political campaign, would never be elected. That’s privilege, not persecution.

Most government bodies, when they convene, open with Christian prayers. Those few that don’t open with Christian prayers open with “non-denominational” prayers that are still very Christian in feel. That’s privilege, not persecution.

Our Pledge of Allegiance (that patriotic little ditty penned as part of an advertising campaign) was altered by Federal Government intervention to include the words “under God” . That’s privilege, not persecution.

Since I live deep inside the Bible Belt, it’s common for people to ask, right after getting your name, what church you go to, so privileged they never once consider that you might not be Christian. And when you say, “I’m not Christian”, in their mind, the only other thing you could be is Satanist, or, if they’re feeling charitable, maybe you’re just “going through a phase”. That’s privilege, not persecution.

Cashiers, clerks, strangers on the street, all feel comfortable saying, “God bless you” and they know, beyond any doubt, that you must also be Christian and welcome the Christian blessing. That’s privilege, not persecution.

There are more churches per capita than there are places of worship for all the other religions combined in the US, mostly because when other religions seek permits, they must prove they are a legitimate religion, but if they’re a Christian denomination they are automatically granted the permit. That’s privilege, not persecution.

When a Christian’s religion becomes known at work, they don’t have to worry about being harassed by co-workers or even fired. That’s privilege, not persecution.

When Christians want to start a new church or new organization, they know filing for tax exempt status is pretty much a given, that they won’t have to prove their religion is a real one, and may still be denied. That’s privilege, not persecution.

If a Christian wants to hold a retreat at a camp ground, or a picnic in a park, they know they will get the permits without any problems and they won’t have picketers trying to force them to change venues or not have it at all. That’s privilege, not persecution.

Christians know they can publicize their religion in their business and attract customers, not rocks through the windows. That’s privilege, not persecution.

If Christians want a chaplain in the military, no bars are placed in their way, yet soldiers of minority religions go without military chaplains – even when the religion is recognized in the Military Chaplain’s Handbook (I have a copy). Not one minority religion chaplain has been able to leap all the hurdles placed in their path to date. That’s privilege, not persecution.

If Christians want to be married by officiants in their religion, they have thousands of choices all across the country, yet adherents of many minority religions don’t have licensed officiants to perform marriages because many states and county clerks make it not just difficult but virtually impossible for them to be licensed. That’s privilege, not persecution.

If Christians truly, truly want to be treated like other religions, they either have to give up all those privileges they enjoy, or they have to allow other religions the same level of privilege.

If CP truly wants the same “rights” enjoyed by other religions, then she must mean she wants to be afraid to lose custody of her children should she get divorced because of her religion. She wants to search the stores during her holy days looking for religious symbols and decorations and gifts without being able to find them. She wants to work on her religious holy days if she lacks enough vacation days to use on them. She wants to be afraid she’ll lose her job if her boss or co-workers discover what religion she is. She wants to have her pets stoned to death as a warning that “her kind” isn’t welcome in that neighborhood. She wants to have her home egged and vandalized regularly as her neighbors of a different religion try to force her to move. She wants government to stop passing laws that favor her religion over others (the Blue Laws spring quickly to mind – businesses that must close by law on Sundays so they can “go to church”, or items that can’t be sold on Sundays because it violates Christian morals). She wants to have tax exemption denied her religion because it’s not a “real” one.

Other religions don’t necessarily want the same privileges that Christianity enjoys in America, what they want is to be allowed to exist without harassment, without fear, without being accused of being “in a phase” or belonging to a “fake” religion. Asking for the right to exist peacefully isn’t persecuting Christianity.

And it’s not persecution for someone to wish another “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

Steampunk Tea Party at FenCon

I know people are going to think it’s horrible of me for doing this, but I am going to hold my little Steampunk Tea Party at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Normally, I would not schedule anything during the GoH speech, I’d be right there watching, but this year, the GoH isn’t going to be there in person and I’m not good with electronic remote interviews, I always miss a significant portion and am left with a wha-huh? feeling. People are cheering or laughing and I missed it because I can neither see lips (a significant portion of my hearing is via lip reading any more – I’m not good at it, but it helps fill in a few blanks or bridge gaps) and I feel such a churl asking people with me to explain what I missed, making them miss the next good thing.

I know there are probably people who want to attend the little Steampunk Tea who can’t because they are going to be happily ensconced in the room watching the interview, and I totally get that. Were the GoH to be here in person, I’d be there, too.

For those who will attend the GoH interview, perhaps some other time?

That said, if people bring their own tea cups and plates, I can probably accommodate far more than the 8 people I originally said, as I only have 8 tea cups and plates.

I’ve settled on a menu: Time Tarts, Fairy Cakes, cucumber sandwiches, puffed curry, macaroons, and ginger snaps. The tea will be the last of this year’s Queen’s Garden Party tea blend (teas from India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya touched with bergamot and jasmine, and enhanced with cornflowers and rose petals), Baroness Earl Grey (more suitable for an afternoon tea than Earl Grey), a Windsor castle blend (Darjeeling, Assam, and Kenya teas), and will have available for the more adventurous a smoky pressed Yunnan tea, a pu-erh, and a Sichuan Ring Tea (the green leaves are hand rolled and curled so they form rings). And for those who must have decaf, I have a fruity Moroccan blend that will complement the snacks – a blend of hibiscus, apples, rose hips, passion fruit, raspberry, rose petals, jasmine, cornflower, and Assam.

I may still reschedule.

Nope – 4:00 pm, Saturday. Nearly everyone who planned to attend it agrees that’s an excellent time for it. We few shan’t be missed from the GoH interview.

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