Con report: LunaCon 2017

Last weekend I went to LunaCon. It was smaller than the last time I went (2014?), but I had a good time anyway. There was some speculation in the con suite as to whether it was so small that it would not be able to continue, but that remains to be seen. I would hate to see the con end as it has such a long history in the region. I don’t really have a network there, though, so there’s nothing personal in these remarks.

On Friday night I attended the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers reading which was 2 hours of good to great fiction. I would like to get more involved with them if I could get my act together to actually write stuff.

On Saturday I went to a panel on “How Star Trek Shaped My Identity.” This was a good panel with interesting panelists. Topics ranged through career pursuits, cultural assimilation, feminist awakening, gender transitioning, and emotional balance. Eventually the conversation devolved into cautious optimism about the supposedly forthcoming new series Star Trek: Discovery. [For those not following Trek news: Caution is warranted because the new series has already been postponed several time and changed show runners; furthermore it will only be available on CBS’s new subscription streaming channel. (I am personally annoyed because the show is set in the near far future, before the original series. We already explored that in Star Trek: Enterprise which was my least favorite of the series.)]

Later on I went to a panel on New York Fan History. In September, there was a great fan history panel at the Star Trek: Mission New York con which emphasized the role of New York fans in getting the Trek fandom rolling. However, that panel was comprised of mostly women. This panel was comprised entirely of older white men who talked about the longstanding feuds of various NY fandom clubs and where everyone’s apartment was back in the day. Sometimes they would mention a great event and then say, “Oh yeah, [woman’s name] did that.” But none of these women were available for this panel apparently. Once someone started talking about the attractiveness of college-aged female fans who were too young for him, I left.

I bought a very pretty ring in the small Dealers Room from Janet Kofoed.

Finally I went to a poetry workshop run by my colleague, poet Christina M. Rau. It was called “Erasing Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Creating Found Poems.” We used selections from random science and fantasy texts and wrote through them to create new poems from their language. It was fun, and there were colored pencils and crayons. I used two pages from a science textbook explanation of genetics and wrote this poem:

Clone Poem

This is the law:
Segregate independently
to any other combination.

Sorted,
we now know the logic of this law
inherited, determined by

Yellow seed
Green seed
Round seed
Wrinkled seed

Rye wry rue roux

It is now known that
the presence of many mistakes
tend to be in groups.

Fragments extracted from any tissue
Using restriction a number of times
The blotting paper membrane splits.

 

 

Maybe I work for Voldemort

I changed my “about” blurb to eliminate the name of my employer. There is a new Board of Trustees policy (still technically in draft form) that proclaims that faculty members will be disciplined if they do not get prior approval for “[a]ny website of or pertaining to the College, including without limitation, any websites concerning a College research program, academic program, social program, or community program.” Furthermore, all websites mentioning the college must reside on college servers. Any website not in compliance will be TAKEN DOWN! (By their authority over all servers, or their endless resources for lawsuits, presumably.) This is supposed to be a policy about marketing materials, but in the definitions section they say:

This encompasses all written, printed, electronic, or graphic representations utilizing the College’s name, logos, trademarks, service marks, or URLs referring to any program, project, service, or operation of the College. For avoidance of doubt, the term “marketing materials”, as used in this policy, also includes any letterhead or print publication, as well as materials uploaded to internet and social media sites that publicize and/or promote the College in any way.

So, for the record, I am not promoting or marketing the college where I work and that shall not be named. Any academic discussions herein reflect my own personal intellectual products and are no reflection whatsoever on my employer.

I could link you to the website with these policies so you could see for yourself but I’m afraid that would involve a URL belonging to the college that shall not be named, and I don’t wish to be disciplined, so you’ll just have to believe me that I’ve quoted accurately.

late Friday link post

Getting ready for #MLA2017

The Modern Language Association convention is in a few days, and I’m still finishing my paper. I posted the abstracts for the panel I organized on my MLA Commons blog. You can read them here, if you want. The panel title is “Teaching Eco-Composition at the Community College.” My paper is about teaching with the Hempstead Plains.

Some New York wildflowers

I’m working on a blooming calendar for the Hempstead Plains on Long Island. It’s part of my ecocomposition course; my students researched information on the various plants. I have been doublechecking their information. For this process, I’ve relied on the Plants Database from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. Many of the images in the database have been generously placed in the public domain. Enjoy these photos of some New York wildflowers from the database.

Tuesday’s catastrophe

I voted for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning, so obviously my week is not going well. I keep thinking of a man in line behind me while we were waiting to vote. He snarled at me to just move out of his way, and not to listen to the older woman who was managing the queues. He was so annoyed being made to wait around for women to take their turn and to say whose turn it was. I remember thinking he was the olden days personified.

But here we are and he is the future the Electoral College has brought us. Four years of a future, anyway.There is so much to be upset about in a Trump presidency, but these two articles stand out for me.

  • Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition” by Robin Bravender at Scientific American‘s ClimateWire. The earth is already approaching, if not past, the point of no return on global warming. A Trump presidency is a catastrophe for the planet.
  • Donald Trump’s Triumph is a Victory for White Supremacy” by Brittney Cooper at Cosmopolitan. That KKK-endorsed dogwhistle sounded a lot louder than just post-Obama backlash. Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies are horrifying. A Trump presidency is a catastrophe for civil rights, equality, and justice.

I don’t have any answers, and I don’t know what to do. As a writer, I’m going to blog more.

 

Distant Hegarty aunts and uncles

There was really no family memory of having relatives in New York, but since I’ve moved here I find them fairly often. I’ve known for awhile that my great-grandfather’s sister Julia Hegarty King (1869-1935) is buried on Staten Island. She turned up in a New York  death index on Ancestry.com and I sent away for her death certificate. Today I took advantage of the glorious fall weather and drove out to Ocean View Cemetery to see her gravesite.


Julia shaved a few years off her age once she got to the United States. So there she is with her husband Thomas. Carroll McLoughlin was Julia’s son-in-law. The surprise bonus of going out there is the discovery that Eleanora (Hegarty) Hughes is there too: she’s Julia’s sister and another great-great-aunt. I didn’t even have a death date for her until now.

In Massachusetts, my Hegarty relatives are mostly concentrated in the Cambridge/Somerville area of Middlesex County. I’ve long wondered why my great-grandfather chose that particular area. Today I found one possible reason: he had an uncle already living there. (Most immigration happens in chains; people go where they already know someone.) Since I pushed back that next generation, I’ve been able to better identify which Hegartys are mine. The FamilySearch matching engine brought forth a Massachusetts death certificate for a 3X great-uncle Jeremiah Hegarty, who died in Cambridge in 1905. He was the uncle of the women buried above and of my great-grandfather. So that’s who my great-grandfather knew in Cambridge. I suppose the next question is about who Jerry knew, but I need to actually work on things for my job for a while now.

The Proclaimers and unrelated events

I went to see The Proclaimers on Saturday night. They were fantastic, as always: pure and joyful. Their set was lengthy and included lots of songs from their new album. I hadn’t even realized they had a new album, which I am now adding to my Apple Music playlists. Last time I saw them (at The Bell House), they were mostly acoustic. This time they had a magnificent full band: Stevie Christie on keyboards, Garry John Kane on bass, Zac Ware on guitar, and Clive Jenner on drums (with drum solo finale!). Terrific show.

They played at the Gramercy Theatre on 23rd Street, and on the way in I thought the security was a little much: bag searching and wanding and wrist banding a crowd of mostly middle-aged people. (The Reid brothers are in their mid-50s.) Afterwards, the security precautions seemed prescient given the bomb that went off a few blocks away. I thought I heard a big boom shortly before the band went on, but no one else seemed to be reacting so I assumed it was an equipment setup sound from backstage, or something connecting to the sound system. Leaving the theatre, the street was blocked off heading west, with lots of police and sirens racing that way, but I assumed it was political motorcades. I didn’t hear about the actual bomb until fellow commuters clued me in on why there were so many subway reroutings. I didn’t even have enough information to be frightened until I was well out of harm’s way. I feel lucky and grateful, both for the music and for my blissful ignorance of the evening’s scary events.

Hegarty of Kilmurry, Cork

This month another couple of million of Irish civil registration records were placed online at irishgenealogy.ie, an Irish government website. Of course I checked if there were any new Hegarty records.

I found a Daniel Hegarty of Brandy Lane in Cork, husband of Margaret Riordan, registering the birth of his son John Hegarty in January 1867. I remembered that a Daniel Hegarty of Brandy Lane was the informant on the birth certificate of my great-grandfather John Hegarty of Gillabbey Lane, Cork in December 1867. My theory is that Daniel was the informant for his nephew; that my great-great-grandfather Michael Hegarty of Gillabbey Lane was Daniel’s brother. I know that Michael’s father’s name was John because it was given in Michael’s marriage record to Ellen Cronin.

I searched the parish sacramental registers that are also online at the same website, and found a marriage for Daniel Hegarty and Margaret Riordan in February 1858 in Kilmurry, Co. Cork. I searched all the parish baptisms for a John Hegarty with sons named Daniel and Michael, who would be the right age to be having children in the 1860s, and sure enough he turned up in Kilmurry with his wife Eliza Kelleher. Between 1829 and 1845, John and Eliza (Kelleher) Hegarty had seven children: Daniel, Jeremiah, Ned, Ellen, John, Michael, and Patrick. John Hegarty is also listed as a tenant in Kilmurry in Griffith’s Valuation in 1853.

Therefore, I’m adding John Hegarty and Eliza Kelleher as my great-great-great-grandparents. I also found a 1796 baptismal record for a John Hegarty in Kilmurry, the son of Michael Hegarty and Mary Donnelly. It’s only one piece of evidence but I’m adding them for now as 4th-great-grandparents; it’s not like evidence is thick on the ground for this period.

So it’s worth checking out the updated Irish civil registrations site if you haven’t already. They took me back one solid generation and one more pretty good possibility.