Meeting #3934 Jan 01, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Menace of the LASFS
Meeting # 3934
Jan 3, 2013
Matthew Tepper, presiding,
Karl Lembke, Scribe
Patron Saint Dan Alderson
Patron Saint Joe Zeff

Call to order at nine minutes after 8 and Joe’s battery is dead.
The President thanked our outgoing Scribe Elizabeth Carlie, and welcomed back Karl Lembke
He also thanked Greg Bilan for Veeping, and welcomed our new VP team, Marcia and Eylat

The Menace from the previous meeting were read and accepted in perpetuity as “The last will and testament of Elizabeth Carlie”.  Marcia Minsky paid $10 for the privilege.
It was noted that keeping something in Perpetuity is a problem since Perpetuity has gone to pot.

Passages: Writer Peter A David has had a stroke which has left him with little or no use of his right arm and leg.  His thinkology appears unimpaired.  

Committee Reports

Marcia Minsky as VP/2 announced that tomorrow evening for gaming, the club will not open until 6 PM.  So there.

CLJII reported on his magic number: 316, 216 new, and will be higher than this year’s movies.
316 feature films seen in a calendar year, 50 minutes and longer.

President Tepper had a report from Eylat Poliner, for the Grilled Cheese Throwdown. We have a throw-down, and there are rules. Judges will be Mark Poliner and some stranger named Karl Lembke

The Registrar reported that we have a new member. John P. Reidy is one of us now.  And we have people returning from decades past.
John D. Evert showed up after an absence of some years.
DeVera and David Johnson returned after decades.
James Ransom is a new member.
Consensus: The new new building is awesome.  The library is a real library!

There was no old, and no new, business.

We honored patron saints.
Patron Saint Dan Alderson was first:

People said nice things about Dan:
Scratch said he worked at JPL, and was a mathematical genius. He had a wonderful collection of books and a neat personality.  He enjoyed being around Dan.  Unfortunately, diabetes took him from us piece by piece.  Joe Zeff was his seeing eye person.

Hare Hobbs:  Dan was one of those who was quiet and soft-spoken, but very interesting to listen to. He’s one of those who was very worth knowing

Milt Stevens: Most memorable quote: Dan commented they were thinking of having a self-denigration contest at LASFS.  “But I’d lose.”

Joe Zeff:  I don’t know what he was like when he was young, but by the time I became familiar with him, it was known that if he were ever at JPL at 8 AM, it’s because he’d been there all night.  This casualness toward the clock became a complete disregard for what time it was, to the point where he’d leave fora 3 PM appointment at 3:30.

CLJII: His birthday was 10/31.  It was not until he was an advanced age he learned people weren’t dressing up for his birthday.  He developed TRAM, which allowed spacecraft to maneuver, and helped Voyager get through the asteroid belt.

Jerry Pournelle:  Niven and I got several books and characters out of Alderson.  As usual, we showed him as he wanted to be rather than as he was.  He was a self-educated polymath.  He had few external credentials, but he was one of those who understood what small computers could do.  Home computers didn’t  exist. Dan could do magic with an old 1620 that no one else could.  Some of his programs on low-thrust trajectories -- a matrix system that could take account of gravitational perturbations -- still remain in bits and pieces in software NASA and JPL use. 40-year-old code that’s still in use, because no one can figure out how to improve it.
Dan would make the mistake of assuming people who read his instructions were as smart as he was.
The Alderson Drive came about when Jerry Pournelle told Dan the conditions he wanted for a space drive were, and Dan came up with the science underlying it. (Jerry needed choke-points stage battles in.)
Dan would solve problems no one else was interested in.  (E.g., planets where vampires are the natural life, and humans the invaders.)

Marty Cantor: Dan had a major failing we should all take to heart.  He did not take care of his health.  He could have gone on many more years had he taken care of himself.

CLJII:  There was a time he was incredibly scrupulous about his diet, and the government kept outlawing stuff he could eat -- he gave up.  

Joe Zeff: In defense of Dan, if you are familiar with how computer algorithms were described in the 70s and 80s, Dan’s description of the LASFS voting method is very simple, clear, and straightforward.  Joe finds it easy to understand.  

WE had three rousing cheers for Dan Alderson. -- And a brand new map of Toadland and a car license plate that reads Froggy.

Next up was Patron Saint Joe Zeff

Hare Hobbs: Joe Zeff took care of Dan when he was at his worst, right to the end.

Scratch:  Has known Zeff for a day or two.  He enjoys games, he has an active mind that comes up with things just a little different.  He enjoyed the ideas Joe came up with for AD&D.  He had to tone them down for his students who were teenagers.

Patrick Fahy: Joe is the one with whom I could walk in the door and we could discuss naval history.  He did honorable service as a member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club.

Jerry Pournelle: There is one person who did understand Alderson’s explanations of stuff, and that is Zeff.  Some of the senior management of the founders of Earthlink considered him a last resort tech support guy because he could explain things to people who were considered irretrievably stupid.  And he did not get complaints from customers. His problem was, he didn’t care to manage anybody else.  He used to report on Computer Users Too Stupid To Live.

DeVera Joe: When we used to have LASFS and Loscon meetings at the Hilton, there was one time, she didn’t know Zeff very well, and there was one time at one Loscon when he had his cart filled with stuff. She heard it beeping.  “Joe Zeff -- Gamemaster for hire,” she said to her future husband.

Patrick: almost forgot:  He has this staff which he absolutely cannot take into an airport.

Marcia Minsky:  His sister.  Joe and she share living space.  There are times when Joe gets on her last nerve.  There has never been a time that any of her computer problems go unsolved.  He annoys the crap out of her, but we’re family.

Joe Zeff was given three cheers and a hamburger for which I will gladly pay you Tuesday.



Fannish Committee Reports



Hare Hobbs:  Someone who has appeared in SF movies and the Planet of the Apes TV series -- Paul Williams -- was at Amoeba Records today.  He’s very friendly and a nice guy to talk to.  He’s a big SF reader.   He was given a LASFS card

DeeDee:  Met Alex Kingston at Ikea, and the crazy thing is, she looked just like River Song. 

“Excuse me, are you... “

“Hello, sweetie, Yes, I am.”  

She doesn’t mind fans fanning over her.

Hare: Paul Williams and Carol King are working on an album together.  Either one may walk into Amoeba at any time.

The Veep announced that people need to police their areas, and we may yet have a program tonight.  If you feel like staying, keep a chair for yourselves.  
Rows 3-5 were put away.

Scratch moved to run away, and DeeDee seconded.  The achoos had it, and we sneezed adjourned!

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