Where Do We Go From Here?

With yesterday’s sad news about the Langdon Street Cafe closing its doors at the end of May, I’ve found myself thinking about other geek related places around the Montpelier area that might be able to sustain some of the activities that have gone on. There’s no way to replace the same blend of activities, ranging from supporting the arts to Geek Week to an incredible blend of music in an awesome locations. Where do we go from here?

There’s a couple of other places around Montpelier that have also supported the geek community to a certain extent.

The Book Garden: Run by Rick Powell, the Book Garden has become a really cool store that’s been growing with graphic novels and gaming on Friday Nights, as well as a fairly good selection of used Science Fiction and Fantasy novels towards the back.

Bear Pond Books / Rivendell Books: Stalwarts in Montpelier, these two bookstores host a number of events, and a wide selection of books. Rivendell has a much better selection in the speculative fiction genres, but Bear Pond tends to be a bit better with some of the newer entries. Rivendell’s second store up in the Berlin Mall also has an excellent comic and growing science fiction / fantasy selection. I’ve urged some of the people there to consider a gaming night.

The Kellogg-Hubbard Library: Anyone who follows along with the Geek Things post in the morning will know that the K-H library is an active one, especially when it comes to kids and instilling a bit of creativity in the young’uns. Plus, there’s a lot of space, tables, chairs and a great selection of speculative fiction to borrow out. And, WiFi.

Village Pizza: Decent enough resturaunt, but they also host a Monday Magic The Gathering card game every week. Not the first place that I’d expect to see gaming, but we’ll take what we can get.

Where else are some good places to look for things, or to fill space for Vermont geeks?

Looking around the area, there’s not a whole lot of places that can really replicate what the Langdon Street Cafe does, or the ambiance. However, there’s a couple of places that could likely do something similar, bringing in music and being suitable for small groups of people.

Fresh Tracks Farm is a place that comes right to mind; I pass it every day on the way to work. New building, open Wednesdays through Sundays (I’m pretty sure, although less sure about hours), with a lot of open space and dedicated to bringing in conversation with wine to go with it. (And their wine is pretty good, and local!) They host some things over the summer. It would be cool to see that place open up a bit more for music and things like that.

Capitol Plaza is another that comes to mind, although for something along the lines of a small gaming convention. That would be a fun thing to bring in, especially if local businesses get involved, such as TBG or BPB.

Where else?

Find GeekMtnState on Social Media

Geek Mountain State is on both Facebook and Twitter, for your browsing convinience. We’ve been using the two sites to link to the main blog, but each side has their own unique experiences: Facebook is a place where we’ve been posting up some links as we find them that are relevant, but not necessarily post-worthy.

Twitter is a bit more actively monitored, and we’ve been retweeting news links, but any of the 200 or so Vermont Geeks that we follow (or other random people using the hashtags that we search on) tend to have anything retweeted that’s particularly geeky.

Use either service? Follow along at:


Geek Week 5.0

With the tragic news that Langdon St. Cafe might be closing, this recap of last week’s Geek Week 5.0 is all the more somber. Geek Week, the brainchild of Ben Matchstick, has been a fun tradition that’s sprung up at the Cafe, celebrating all things geek in Montpelier, with a variety of bands and music, as well as hands on workshops,

I missed most of the week. (I’ve got a good excuse though – I was at a conference on Spaceflight History in DC), but I was able to attend a couple of events throughout the latter end of the week.

Thursday was the Fantasy Life Drawing Class, led by Rick Powell of The Book Garden, which featured superheroes, damsels and a Storm Trooper (Me), for a decently sized crowd that packed the cafe with sketch pads and paper, as the models posed for drawings. The entire event was preceeded by a rainstorm and a spectacular double rainbow, with a number of photos shot for that.

The drawing class was followed up by Anais Mitchell’s 80’s Tribute Band, Sputnik, which apparently went over well (if it’s anything like last year, it would have been quite a bit of fun!)

Saturday was the next day that I was able to make it in, and I manned the Help Desk with armor and information about the 501st Legion. There was a bit of interest for the group, with some people stopping by to look at the helmets that I had out. I met up with another guy, Christopher, who was part of a paranormal investigative outfit, who talked to people after I got out, and Bill Simmons, who spoke about Blogging and Podcasting, as well as Rich Weeks, PC Whipping Boy extraordinaire, who talked about computer things.

My co-conspirator, Tyler, stopped by the events earlier in the week for some gaming, and his reactions will be up online at some point in the near future.

Hopefully, this Geek Week won’t be the last.

Nuclear Power that Wasn’t

Seven Days has posted up a facinating article about two other proposed Nuclear Power Plants that could have been located in the state of Vermont, but were rejected by citizen movements against their construction:

But what if a nuke with a 50-story-tall smokestack had been built in Orwell, alongside the Mount Independence historic site and half a mile from a fault line? And how would Chittenden County residents feel about a nuclear plant with roughly twice the generating capacity of Vermont Yankee on Lake Champlain in Charlotte?

Those weren’t hypothetical questions 40 years ago. Few remember the controversies today, but in the 1960s and ’70s, Charlotte and Orwell were seriously considered as sites for nuclear energy facilities.

Nascent citizen movements put an end to both plans. And their victories helped nurture a conservation ethic that has since spread around the world.

Many concerns were expressed in regard to the nuke that Central Vermont Public Service proposed for Charlotte, recalls Nancy Wood, now the editor of the Charlotte News. “The big one that ended the idea of the plant was the impact of thermal pollution on Lake Champlain,” she says. Activists associated with the Lake Champlain Committee argued in the late-’60s that heated water discharged from the 1000-megawatt station would badly damage the lake’s ecosystems.

In Orwell, the fledgling Vermont Public Interest Research Group aided locals opposed to a later plan by the same utility and by the Vermont Electric Power Co., aka VELCO, for what would have been known as the Hough Crossing nuclear plant. One of the key objections involved its potentially destructive impact on Mount Independence, which was then gaining recognition as Vermont’s most important Revolutionary War site. The Orwell plant was “the first project of its kind defeated for reasons of historic preservation,” says Shoreham attorney Ron Morgan, a leader of the Mount Independence Coalition.

Two other locations in Vermont came up as potentially suitable for nuclear plants in addition to the one on the Connecticut River that became the home of Vermont Yankee. CVPS spokesman Steve Costello says his company purchased “several hundred acres” in Shoreham in the ’60s with a view toward possibly constructing a nuclear or fossil-fuel facility there. At least theoretical consideration was also given in a 1974 VELCO report to splitting atoms for energy on the banks of the Missisquoi River in North Troy.

Full Article

This is the first that I’ve heard of these two plants, and despite the numerous issues that we’ve seen with Vermont Yankee, I can’t help but wonder what the state would have been like with these types of resources at our disposal. Despite the problems in Japan, the risk with earthquakes here is rather minimal: the bigger issue seems to be with the actual handling of the plant itself, as Vermont Yankee seems to have pieces falling off of itself every couple of months, or springing a leak. I’m not overly concerned with the safety of nuclear power: the health record, especially placed into context with things coal and oil fired power plants, looks much better.

Additionally, what could have happened in Vermont with the power avaliable the state at these sites? Safety and risks non-withstanding, Vermont Yankee provides a lot of power to the state, and there are persistant rumors that IBM wouldn’t be thrilled with the loss of Vermont’s only nuclear power plant. Would we have gained other, high tech industries here in the state? It’s a game of ‘what if’ that we might see happen in the state when VT Yankee goes offline.

That being said, I’m really beginning to dislike the passive-aggressive ads that have been playing on 107.1 FRANK FM that has people talking about the jobs that could be lost with the closure of the plant, and how horrible that would be. Yes, while I agree that the loss of jobs in this day and age is not a good thing, that shouldn’t be the defining criteria or motivation for keeping it open, especially as the plant has some serious issues that have undermined our confidence in the running of the plant. While it’s power for the State, I really don’t think that an increased risk is a good thing for all Vermonters. It’s best to play it safe here.

Poli SciFi Radio #141

The latest episode of Poli SciFi Radio is up!

Episode 141: Sometimes Give Up, Sometimes Surrender.

Syfy’s Being Human
Ezra’s Galaxy Quest joke (and the interesting Twitter follow-up)

The Killing
China makes time-travel TV/movies illegal
10 ways of looking at Blade Runner

Full episode here!

National Library Week PSA

I am so happy this blog exists, not just for the interesting Vermontiana,
but because the posts thoughtfully aggregate so many free, lifelong
learning, continuing education events happening in our state. Many of the
events posted here also happen to be at public libraries. Which is fitting
because this week is National Library Week, and I am writing this also as
a librarian at Rutland Free Library.

In a time of declining and stagnant budgets, attacks on public servants,
paradigm shifts in technology and publishing, and increased usage as a
result of the Great Recession, libraries need boosters and geeks more than
ever before. Libraries are many things to different people, offering
services from the cradle to the grave, while simultaneously trying to
reshape and define what a library should or shouldn’t be to a community.
Running a building and maintaining the current level of services can be so
overwhelming that we forget how much we rely on our users.

Whether it’s a program you want to happen at the library, or some titles
you think we should buy, a service we should offer, or what direction you
want the Board to go, libraries need geeks. Without community involvement,
libraries may not be the vibrant institutions that they are, offering a
host of services free of charge, forever. We rely on your involvement to
determine what is relevant to you. So in the spirit of National Library
Week, we’re asking folks, “What do you geek?” Whatever you’re into,
whatever you’re about, the library can help.

Ed Graves
Rutland Free Library

National Library Week is April 11-16
check out geekthelibrary.org
Get your geek on. Show your support. | geekthelibrary.org

Supporting Libraries

This week is National Library week, and we’ll be looking at libraries over the course of the week. Over the past couple of months, as the nation focuses on national and local budgets, the role of the library in the community have received more attention from all sides, and in my mind, have continued to validate their existence as a community anchor point.

Libraries have been important to me throughout my life. Some of my earliest memories are centered around play group and story times at the Brown Public Library in Northfield, where my mother took me when I was little. When I entered middle and high school, Harwood Union High School became the place where I hung out the most, working off and on as a page, or checking in and out books when the librarians were busy. Instead of a locker, I stashed stuff behind the circulation desk, and often convinced the librarians to enable my growing reading habit by ordering me books from a new website, Amazon.com. At the same time, I worked as a page at Brown Public Library, where I learned all about circulation, returning books and so forth. Libraries have been a familiar world, and while I’ve yet to work in a library since high school, I’ve attempted to frequent them as much as I can, either at the Kellogg Hubbard Library in Montpelier, or the Kreitzberg Library at Norwich University, as I work on various historical projects or look for a quiet place to work and read.

Libraries are on the verge of great changes, and I’ve been fortunate to see some of the early changes when it comes to distance learning and books in an electronic age. Libraries were important before not only because of their books, but because of their ability to provide access to information for any citizen of the republic to better themselves and to seek out some better understanding of the world around them, either through the insights available through a novel to a non-fiction work. That access will continue to change, but I firmly believe that the role that a library will play in the community will grow beyond town and organization lines, and that the time to support libraries is now, rather than shrink back along with town budgets.

Libraries are more than walls, more than shelves of books and computers: they are the heart of our communities: we need to recognize and support these, in order to properly support the health and well being of our own existence. It’s more than ever important in this day and age.

PoliSciFi Episode 139 Now Up

Bill Simmon and Steve Benen’s podcast is now up online. Here’s part of the list:

Episode 139: Stop Fracking Now

Original air date: 3/27/11
Total run time: 1:58:50
File size: 57 MB

Syfy’s Being Human
BBC’s Being Human
Fringe – renewed!
Futurama – renewed!

Artifice (webcomics.yaoi911.com)
Source Code
Jim Dean email: Stop Fracking Now
Community – directed by Moss!
30 Rock – Sorkin

Full episode and shownotes here.

Poli Sci-Fi Radio is back!

After a hiatus, Poli SciFi Radio is now back, with episode #138! Here’s their show notes:

Programming note: Bill forgot to record this episode so the audio file was pulled from the emergency back-up recordings that the Radiator makes. Occasionally there appear to be some weird fast-forward glitches that result in the 2-hour show clocking in at 1:48. It’s not your player, it’s the original files this episode was edited from.

Original air date: 3/20/11
Total run time: 1:47:41
File size: 51.7 MB

S&E finally saw “Inception”
Steve finally finished reading Buffy Season 8
“Paul” opens to strong reviews
The Event (ratings collapsed after hiatus)
Syfy’s Being Human (just renewed for a second season)
BBC’s Being Human
V (season finale, probably series finale)
The Cape’s ignoble fate
Steve Re-watched all of “Sherlock” (has he mentioned how great it is?)
What’s with that new Wonder Woman costume?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play Alberto Falcone (The Holiday Killer) in Dark Knight Rises

Attack the Block
Dragonslayer – Knowles/Del Toro

For the rest of the episode, click through to give them a listen!

Vermont Edition: How The Electrical Grid Works


Today’s Vermont Edition on VPR outlined two very geeky topics: Electricity and Cartooning:

The alarm clock goes off, you flip on the light switch and the automatic coffee maker starts brewing. And while these actions are simple and mundane, the electric grid that powers our everyday electric devices is a vast and complicated system. On Tuesday’s Vermont Edition: everything you wanted to know about how the electric grid works. As people in our region debate the best ways to generate energy, we’ll take a look at the infrastructure that transmits electricity from massive generating sources to our homes and offices. We talk with Paul Hines, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Vermont, who’s research focuses on the stability and vulnerability of the electric grid.

Miss the episode? It’ll be back on at 7 this evening, and in podcast form.