Origins Is ON

Laura and I will be headed out to Origins shortly. Or, for Natalie‘s benefit, and as I’ve been intoning recently on Twitter:

“Going to Origins today! Squee! Squee! Squee! Squee! *duck* *WHOOSH* Missed me! Bahahaha! *zip*”

To say that I am vastly looking forward to Origins is a bit of an understatement. It is focused on “table top” gaming of all flavors, which is a favorite hobby of mine. Somehow, despite the fact that it has been held annually an hour and a half from my hometown since 1996, I have never gone, and this is a much belated opportunity to correct said serious transgression. And perhaps most importantly, this will be the first convention this year in which I won’t be “working” at all. While I love participating and speaking at cons in various capacities, there is something to be said for just kicking back and relaxing for a few days with friends, old and new, and focusing on having fun. What? This is something called a “vacation,” you say? Interesting concept… 🙂

Updates shall appear shortly after my return. Tardy convention recaps, as well as some podcast, movie, and novel commentary, have been lingering on the sidelines, and are clamoring to be unleashed. In the meantime, if you are anywhere near Columbus, OH, over the next few days, you owe it to yourself to stop by Origins, and see what it’s about.

Infectious Media Trifecta

This past week, I participated in a veritable trifecta of infectious diseases discussion in various media. Print, radio, and television, oh my!

1. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Baltimore Sun last week about the current Salmonella Saintpaul-tomato outbreak, which was a new experience for me. It was for their weekly Ask The Expert column, which is done in an interview format. In this case, a 30 minute phone conversation was boiled down to a several-paragraph article, with the intent being to have it be “my own words.” While serviceable, the final product had me puzzling at some of the edits, or lack thereof, that were made from our conversation. Lesson learned – next time, I’ll try to be a bit more precise with my diction, or even press for an email interview. Still, it is certainly worth a look.

2. The Ask The Expert show on WHFS this past Sunday was excellent. We spent the first half going over the facts behind Salmonell-icious tomatos, and the fallacies surrounding restaurant and public (over)reaction to the news. The second part of the show touched on tick prevention, and the basics of Lyme disease. Despite the early hour, we ended up with several calls, asking such questions as whether or not the Salmonella Saintpaul strain is somehow worse than other strains (it’s not), whether or not there’s a Lyme disease vaccine on the market (none currently, and an older vaccine was put on the market several years ago and then taken off shortly thereafter due to efficacy concerns and underuse), and whether or not a caller was treated correctly for a Lyme disease-related rash (which I was non-committal about, as the dispensation of person-specific medical advice over the radio in the absence of all the facts is what I call a Bad Idea).

3. My spot on Fox 45 yesterday morning was, as always, fun but brief. We discussed the still-present concerns over human West Nile Virus infections, despite the dwindling number of cases in Maryland recent years – there were only 10 reported in 2007. I also touched on various ways to mosquito-proof your home and property, as well as ideal insect repellent and personal measures to prevent mosquito bites.

I continue to be humbled by having media opportunities like this, and seriously enjoy taking them. Physicians often don’t do the best job of educating their patients or the public on the truth behind important medical matters, and the media often does a poor and inaccurate job of reporting them. As a result, much woo-woo and crazy thinking about medicine has crept into our health culture, which benefits noone. Hmmm… there are ideas brewing. Watch this space for more.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning at 6:45?”

Some of my most favorite phone calls start like that, I assure you. (The preceding sentence is soaked in sweet, succulent sarcasm, in case that needs to be spelled out.) This particular call resulted in my being confirmed on Fox 45 Baltimore for tomorrow morning, at about 6:55 EST or so, to be asked about mosquitoes, West Nile, and other happy summer vector-borne plaguery and prevention. My challenge, as always, will be to get the most appropriate of my occupational catchphrases, “Wash Your Hands!”, in there somewhere.

If you happen to be both awake and in the area, be sure to tune in!

Nominations Open For The 2008 Parsec Awards

Yeah, I’ve got a couple of con recaps pending, but I figure I’ll work backwards from a con that hasn’t quite, uh, happened yet – namely, Dragon*Con.

The Parsec Awards, now in their third year, are presented to honor the best in podcast-delivered speculative fiction. From the official website:

Dedicated to rewarding excellence in various aspects of Speculative Fiction Podcasting, the Parsec Award is available for Sci-fi & Fantasy Original Content, podiobooks and a variety of other categories dealing with the new frontiers of Portable Media.

The 3nd annual Parsec Awards will be held at the Dragon*Con convention held August 29 through September 1, 2008.

Mur Lafferty, Michael R. Mennenga & Tracy Hickman founded The Parsec Awards in 2006 to celebrate Speculative Fiction Podcasting, under the banner of Farpoint Media.

Podcast shows are nominated by fans, and finalists are chosen by a yearly steering committee. Those finalists are then voted on by an independent panel of judges from outside of podcasting. Awards are given in several categories ranging from content to audio quality.

Nominations are currently open to the public until June 15, so if you have a particular speculative fiction podcast that you would like to suggest, swing by the site and give them a nod. The official site has information on all aspects of nominations, the awards process and the people behind it, as well as the results from both the 2006 and 2007 awards. Video from the 2007 awards (in which, for the morbidly curious, I may be seen as a presenter for the Best Gaming Podcast) is here.

And finally, if you prefer to hear more about the Parsecs in audio format, check out the straight-up promo by 2008 steering committee head Doug Kress, or the hilarious promo done by J.C. Hutchins and Scott Sigler.