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Issue Number : 39 - On The Road (continued)

The last newsletter was written in a hotel room in Austin, Texas, at the conclusion of ArmadilloCon, where I had the privilege of being Guest of Honor this year, mid-way through a series of events across the western part of the country that I'd scheduled through August. Well, I have a pleasant announcement to make. My lady friend Sheryl--of almost five years now--joined me in Austin, and from there we drove to Las Vegas and got married! She'd had to go back to Oklahoma to take care of some personal matters after being in Ireland this spring and for most of last year. She fell in love with the country and calls it "Fairyland," and we had decided on the great event last summer. However, arranging the business can be bureaucratically burdensome in Fairyland, and I was told by several who had been through it that the wait can drag out for as long as six months. So Sheryl said, "If you're going to be in Austin next August anyway, why don't we go to Las Vegas and do it there?" Something different, I thought. So, why not.

I must admit to harboring some inner misgivings at the prospect. The place does have something of an image and reputation, after all. But the experience turned out to be delightful in every respect. It's a two-step process. First, a visit to the Clark County Courthouse in downtown gets you the Marriage License. The form to be filled in is as easy as getting a library ticket, and presenting it at one of the windows results in the license being printed out on the spot. I remarked to the doorman as we were leaving that it was such a pleasant change to see a government department of where clerks dealing with the public, where everyone is smiling. He replies, "Well, it's not always that way. Sometimes they come here straight from the bars a little, what you might call 'ethylated.' Then it can be different." It made me wonder if maybe the addition of an eyesight test mightn't be a bad idea--as is required at the DMV for a driver's license. The next morning's revelation could come as something of a shock, I suppose.

Then you take the license to wherever you want the actual ceremony to be performed. Las Vegas is the kind of place I like in that it can be all things to all people. If the drive-through with the pink Cadillac, Elvis look-alike is what you want, sure, it's your choice and it's there. But the city also offers its own civic ceremony at the Marriage Bureau, even providing a witness if required. Since it was a personal thing that we preferred keeping that way, and hiring the city cathedral and a symphony orchestra isn't our style anyway, that was what we opted for. It a simple yet tastefully done, conducted by a pleasant Asian-American lady, and we were both very impressed.

After that we had over a week to kill before being due at Anaheim for WorldCon, and embarked on a roundabout route up into California and back down through San Francisco and the coast, visiting some old acquaintances from the time I lived there, as well as a few new ones. Hence, the first day of Sheryl's honeymoon consisted of driving on a desert/mountain road along Death Valley in 118 degrees, unsurfaced as a result of being washed out by storms the previous spring, which of course the map didn't say anything about. But we survived that and traversed the High Sierra to spend a couple of days in Sonora where I lived for eight years. Here we visited an old friend called Steve who owns several commercial caves in the area and also farther south in Kings Canyon--in fact, he was my technical consultant for the underground action in The Proteus Operation, which was how he and I met. So the next day of Sheryl's honeymoon involved being dropped on a 200-foot rappel rope through the roof of Moaning Cavern at Vallecito, which is high enough to accommodate the Statue of Liberty, and later the same afternoon, being hauled through a gold mine. Further stops on the way back south to LA included visits with Toren Smith, responsible for getting the Japanese comic-book and graphic novel versions of The Two Faces of Tomorrow translated into English, and quantum physicist Nick Herbert, who helped significantly with the yet-to-be-placed novel Cyberkill (see the web site What's New page).

I returned to Ireland a week ahead, since Sheryl had some things to wrap up in Tulsa before following on. It was just as well in a way, because I got back to find that the roofers whom I had trustingly left to carry on with the cottage extension--some people never will learn--had managed to let rain in, which found it's way through the bedroom ceiling. So instead of collapsing gratefully down to rest as I had been looking forward to after 24 hours of traveling (LA-Chicago-Dublin, then, since the trans-Ireland commuter flights are carefully scheduled not to connect with either incoming or outgoing North American, a bus across to Sligo, met by a neighbor, Tommy John), I had to strip the room, set up heater and fans, and spend the night at a hotel in Dromahair village. But the roofer knocked a generous amount off the bill to cover the cost and hassle, along with the rental of a carpet shampoo machine the next day.

Sheryl has arrived since, and all is well again. The next phase of the cottage extension drama will be for another crew to arrive and add the gutters and fascias, which should happen in the next week or two. We've had a bit of fine weather that was too much to let go without catching up on some of the backed-up work around the farm (when it's growing season in Ireland, you can get to the end of mowing the lawn, look back, and the other end needs doing again), so the writing schedule has taken a bit of a dent. Also, I finally got around to playing with a new laptop that I've been too busy to take out of the box since it was delivered in April. Or rather, Sheryl did. I still use Windows 98 and quickly ran out of patience with XP, so I left her to it and wrote a short story that I've called "Murphy's War" that I'll be sending out. It's about the chaos that results when they try to start the Big One, but can't launch anything because nobody can get the computers to work. I wonder what inspired it.

The other news is that Ryan is practically done on the first part of the web site upgrade, it's looking great, so expect an announcement on that very soon. A lot of people have been missing the Bulletin Board and asking when it will be in business again.

Thanks again to all for your ongoing interest.
James P. Hogan

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