Friday, August 31, 2012

Dragon*Con is here!

So I am officially at Dragon*Con and this post is being published in advance.

Every year I like to make goals for Dragon*Con, the things that I must do or have. Everything else is flexible. So what are my goals this year? Glad you asked!
  • Get Richard Dean Anderson's autograph. 
  • Get Connor Trinneer's autograph. I collect fictional engineers, and Connor Trinneer played Trippe in Enterpise. I loved him despite his unnecessary Southern accent. (Really, Trek writers? People in Panama City do not sound like that.)
  • Buy a fancy pocket watch. Specifically, the kind that self-winds from the kinetic energy of the wearer's movements. Also, one that you can see the inside clockwork on. I know Dragon*Con has them. I've seen them before, and my crappy pocket watch has annoyed me enough.
  • Buy a geeky T-Shirt. I do this every year.
  • Get a copy of Legion and have Brandon Sanderson sign it, if available. Legion is a new novella by Brandon that comes out this weekend. A booth is supposed to have it. Hopefully, I can get my hands on a copy. :)
  • Eat at that one restaurant that let's their waiters cosplay. I can never remember the name of it, but its right next to the Dragon*Con hotels. My parents and I eat there every year. 
  • Hang out with friends and have a good time.
So that's it! My goals. Short and sweet!

If you are at Dragon*Con, I hope you are having a fantastic time. If you're not, I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend whatever you are doing!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: Where to Hide

Countdown: Today

In case I haven't already established with these posts that Dragon*Con is crazy crowded, let me restate it here. Dragon*Con is crazy crowded. And unless you are one of the lucky ones staying in a Dragon*Con hotel like the Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, or Westin, then there is no fortress of solitude for you to escape to in the middle of the day when you can't handle the people anymore. 

Well never fear! Because this blogger knows your pain, and I've got you covered!

Where To Hide From the Crowds at Dragon*Con:
  • Hyatt: The International Tower is hands down the best place in the Hyatt to hide, especially the bottom of the International Tower. This area is home to some small panels, and there is plenty of room to curl up in a corner and relax your feet. It's fairly quiet and not very populated. This is probably my favorite place to just escape into. 
  • Hilton: The Hilton is actually a great place to hide in general, because not much beyond the Walk of Fame goes on here. However, if it's evening time and you just want a chair to sit in and a table to lay your head on, go to the Hilton basement. This is the gaming room, as in an entire ballroom with tables and chairs where people are playing board/card games. I can't vouch for during the day, but in the evening it gets quiet and cozy. And of course, if you just want to rest your feet, you can always join a game too!
  • Marriott: There are no places to escape people (that I've found) in the Marriott. It is crazy crowded all the time. However, for people watching, the Atrium level where the two big vendor rooms are is great. Find a corner, curl up, and take pictures of all the people passing by.
  • Sheraton: The Sheraton has lots of nooks and crannies you can curl up in. This building is the home to the Trek Track, though, so beware the Trekkies!
  • Westin: I honestly don't know. It's not that it's crazy crowded, it's that I haven't spent a lot of time here.
So those are my secret places! What about you? Do ever have to find places where you can just hide from people at a convention or conference because you can't take the crowds anymore?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: My Schedule

Countdown: 1 day

So other than stalking Richard Dean Anderson and Brandon Sanderson, where will I be this weekend at Dragon*Con? Excellent question!

I love Dragon*Con but not just for the big panels. A lot of fun happens in the small fan panels. Below is my rough draft of my schedule, which is subject to change at a moment's notice at any moment when actually at the con. :)


Note: the great thing about Friday is that it's fairly low attendance, especially in the morning. So any big panels on Friday are ones you should go to and will probably get good seats in them. Or at least be in the same room.

10:00 am        The Torchwood PanelHyatt Centenial I-III
11:00 am The Richard Dean Anderson Panel Queue     Outside of the Marriott Atrium Ballroom
1:00 pm The Richard Dean Anderson PanelMarriott Atrium Ballroom
2:30 pmThe Lt. Uhura PanelSheraton Grand Ballroom A-F
4:00 pmThe Firefly PanelWestin Peachtree Ballroom A-F
5:30 pmLooney Theories (WoT)Westin Roswell 1-2
8:30 pmWriter's Track/Gods and Goddesses
YA Track/Beyond Hunger Games
Hyatt Embassy D-F
Marriott A707

And I will probably go to bed early on Friday, because Saturday is going to be a crazy long day!


Note: This is hands down the most crowded day of the con.
10:00 am        The ParadePeachtree St.
11:30 am The Eureka Panel    Hyatt Centenniel II-III
1:00 pm Remembering Anne McCaffrey
Cabin in the Woods
Hyatt Hanover C-E
Westin International DE

2:30 pmWhich? Where? What's Coming?Marriott A704
4:00 pmThe Connor Trinneer PanelSheraton Capitol Ballroom
5:30 pmThe TNG PanelSheraton Grand Ballroom A-F
7:00 pmComing Soon (in books)Marriott A707
10:00 pmHeroes and Villains BallSheraton Grand Ballroom A-F


Note:This day will be almost as crowded as Saturday.
10:00 am        Timey Wimey Literary Stuff Hyatt Greenbriar
11:30 am Whedon Universe Countdown        
Book Club-Ender's Game 
Westin International DE
Marriott A707
1:00 pmIn line for Supergate IVOutside of Hyatt Centennial II-III

2:30 pmSupergate IVHyatt Centennial II-III
4:00 pmThe Memory of Light PreviewWestin Atlanta Ballroom
5:00 pmDinner with my Parents
7:00 pmRobert Jordan's LegacyWestin Roswell 1-2
8:30 pmEditors and Agents Tell AllHyatt Embassy D-F
9:30 pmSteampunk BallWestin Peachtree Ballroom A-F


Monday is my free day, when I do whatever whim enters into my head. Like sleeping in, lunch with my local friends, and mostly wandering the dealer's rooms. So I have no planned events, but I will be there all day.

If you're going to Dragon*Con, are there any big panels/events that you are looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: Do's and Don't's

(Did I forget to mention that Countdown to Dragon*Con is all I'm doing this week? Yes? Well, here is your PSA. This week is all about Dragon*Con. And next week is all about post-Dragon*Con processing. I apologize to the people who don't care about this stuff, but such is life.)

(Also apparently I'm posting every day this week. Turns out I have too much to say about preparing for Dragon*Con!)

Countdown: 2 days

So you're going to Dragon*Con, and you are super excited, because well it's super exciting! But maybe it's your first time or maybe last time you didn't get to do everything you wanted to do because Dragon*Con is just crazy! Well, never fear. A Dragon*Con vet is here to help you! This will be my fifth Dragon*Con, and despite it's insanity, I love it. So let me be your guide.

So what can you expect? What should you do? Let's look at my handy-dandy list!
  • DO carry cash. Always. Sure with modern technology you can swipe a credit card on a cell phone, but when you're in the Vendors room in the basement of the Marriott there is very little cell phone reception. Not to mention that with dozens of dealers trying to do the exact same thing at the exact same time, the signals can get a little erratic. You may not be able to buy that limited edition Sailor Moon if you only brought a card. I also recommend, for those of us without unlimited pockets, taking out your entire budget in cash for the weekend and then refusing to use credit cards for anything. This way you limit how much money you spend by how much cash you have and you don't end up spending tons of money. Because with credit cards you can forget how much you've spent. 
  • DO pack snacks, if not entire meals. I don't care if you're local or flying in from Europe, you should bring snacks with you. When I lived in Atlanta, I packed my lunch everyday for Dragon*Con. Now that I'm coming from far away, my parents and I will be hitting up a grocery store Thursday night to stock our mini fridge. Food at the con is crazy. There is Peachtree Center with it's complete food court, but the lines are probably some of the worst lines at the entire con, especially at food times. The only other restaurants around are sit down. There will be little kiosks that sell like Papa John's Pizza in the hotels, but the prices are ridiculous. At some point you will be hungry, and you will want to eat. It's so much easier to eat a sandwich you packed while sitting in line then trying to get through the Checker's line.
  • DO pack extra clothes and sensible shoes, ESPECIALLY if you're cosplaying. Even if you're not cosplaying, after a spending Saturday morning outside watching the parade and then heading to the incredibly crowded dealer's room, you're going to be more than a little sweaty. You may find you want to change clothes at some point during the day. And if you're cosplaying, this is rachetted up a few extra knots. Depending on your schedule and wear you're staying, you may want to wear regular clothes to the parade and then switch into your costume after it. The parade is outside in Atlanta. It gets hot. And the extra sensible shoes are a must. Sure your steampunk costume calls for Victorian boots, but unless your feet are made of steel, at some point your feet are going to hurt so bad that you'll want to curl up in a corner and just die there. Trust me, I know. Bring sensible shoes.
  • DO plan your entire schedule before hand, BUT don't forget downtime or to be flexible. If you haven't looked through the Pocket Program for Dragon*Con yet, do it now. Dragon*Con has dozens of tracks, and trying to figure out what you're going to do at the con can be overwhelming. So look through program and figure out what you want to do. But remember things change. Sometimes panels get cancelled at the last minute and sometimes you realize you just really don't want to sit in the very back of the Atrium Ballroom and squint at the stage. So always plan secondary panels. With so many tracks, there is literally a panel you can be going to at any time, but don't forget that you'll need plenty of time to exploring the dealer's rooms. There are three, and they're huge. You'll want to explore all of it, and you'll need free time to do so. Also don't forget that schedules are made as guidelines, not rules. Feel free to change what you want to go to at the last minute.
  • DO bring a camera. Seriously, the cosplaying at Dragon*Con is intense. It's one of the better cons in America for cosplay. If you forget your camera, you will highly regret it. Also, don't be afraid to ask people to stop for a picture, but DON'T do it in highly trafficked crowded areas. You don't want to be the person responsible for creating a Dragon*Con traffic jam.
  • DO sit early for the parade. I don't think I can stress this enough. The parade is a big deal. People who don't buy tickets for Dragon*Con or go to any other event go to this, and since they're local (usually) they get there early. If you're not sitting on the curb by nine am, odds are you won't be able to sit on the curb. You need to claim your parade spot by nine am at the latest. 
  • DON'T ever wait longer than two hours for an event, EXCEPT for that one event you care about more than anything. I've never had trouble getting into a panel at Dragon*Con. Granted, sometimes I've had to sit in the very back. Also, technically at Dragon*Con, lines aren't allowed to form more than an hour and a half before an event (i.e. you can't form a line for an event until the event before it has started). I say "technically" because sometimes you can get little pre-lines starting. But generally, if you're there an hour and a half before, you'll get a good seat. However, I suggest looking at the schedule, and figuring out which event you'll never forgive yourself if you don't attend. And if it's something big, get there early. I waited 5 hours for Anne McCaffrey's signature, and I don't regret a single second of those five hours.
  • DO talk to total strangers. Part of the fun of a con is making friends, and it's really quite easy to do. Sitting in a line by yourself waiting for the Firefly panel? Strike up a conversation with the people around you, or join in on theirs. You are all in line for the same event, so odds are you all have a passion for Firefly. Talk about it. I've made tons of friends at cons: the college kids sitting behind me at the Adam Baldwin panel, the writer's I've met at the writer's track, some steampunkers at the Masquerade, and more. These are my con friends, people I touch base with every year at the con. It's fantastic. And that's the joy of a con. Everyone who is there cares just as much as you do about something fabulously geeky and accept you for who you are.
  • DO ask questions during panels, BUT make sure you know what your question is beforehand. I highly encourage asking questions at panels. I try to as much as possible. There is nothing like asking a question of one of your favorite stars/authors/casts and getting an awesome answer. But don't be that person who (A) gets up there and has no idea what they want to ask so rambles for a while, taking valuable time away from people who actually have questions, or (B) doesn't actually ask a question, just gushes. This time is for ASKING QUESTIONS. So...ask a question. The answers are usually awesome. Trust me.
  • DON'T PANIC when you get lost. It's going to happen. There will come a time when you realize you were supposed to go to the Roswell room in the Hyatt, not the Westin, you're already ten minutes late, and the Westin is a couple of blocks away from the Hyatt.  There might also come a time when you realize not every escalator in the Hyatt leads to the same place, or if you're really clever like me, there might come a time when you accidentally lock yourself in a stairwell that you apparently weren't supposed to use. Don't panic. Just remember, it's all for fun, you'll probably be able to get a seat in the back, and ask a stranger for help. (Or wait at a door of the stairwell and shriek at the next person who opens it, "DON'T CLOSE THE DOOR." As the case may be).
  • DO go outside and use the sidewalk instead of cutting through the hotels. Dragon*Con gets really really crowded. I remember a time when I literally could not go the direction I wanted to because the sea of people was so great, and I ended up on an escalator going the opposite direction then I wanted to. Trying to get through the Hyatt or the Marriott is like trying to swim against the tide. I don't recommend it. Cutting through never makes for a shorter amount of time. I know it's hot outside. I know that in some directions, the steep inclination is unappealing. But in the end, it will be faster. Trust me.
  • DO obey the laws of the line. Most of you are probably Americans, and so recognize that waiting in line is a sacred pastime.  Dragon*Con is usually really good about lines. The people who come are good about waiting and the staff are really good about making sure the line enters the room in the same order it was formed (i.e. first people in line are the first people in the building). If you are confused about where a line is, ask the volunteers. They are the keepers of the line. If you think you may  be waiting in the wrong place (aka an unrecognized line), ask. There is nothing worse than realizing you've been waiting two hours for nothing. Also, if you're saving places for other people, making sure the people around you in the line know. My general rule is you should never save a place for more than two people in line. Anything more than that is unfair, and even that I only use rarely. Usually, everyone in my party is in line, except when they have to go to the bathroom/grab food/remember they forget their purse in another room. If you're confused about what is fair and not fair, just ask yourself, would you be ok if the person in front of you in line was trying to pull this over on you? And talk to the people around you. Make sure they are aware of what's going and aren't going to be upset. The last thing you want is for someone to get upset and call a volunteer over to kick the rest of your party out of line for cutting. 
  • And just in general, DON'T PANIC or get upset. Remember, this is all for fun. And if it stops being fun, you're doing it wrong. Take a deep breath, wander through a dealer's room or the Walk of Fame, and above all, do not take it out on the volunteers. They are not paid to be there or to help you. They are doing it out of the kindness of their geeky little hearts. And do not freak out on the hotel staff. We are eternally grateful they allow Dragon*Con to come back every year, despite the insanity. 
Well, that's all I can think of right now! Above all, remember to  have fun. If you have any specific questions about Dragon*Con or cons in general, please ask in the comments. I'll be answering up to noon tomorrow, when I will be getting on an airplane for Dragon*Con. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: Prepare to Go Fangirl

Countdown: 3 days

I don't care who you are, how old you are, or whether you are male or female. If you are a geek, there will be a time at Dragon*Con when you will find yourself turning into a twelve-year-old girl, squealing and jumping for joy as your favorite person walks by/gets on stage/autographs your poster. 

Case and point: My middle aged father with a career of being an awesome cool pilot in both the military and airlines, when Richard Hatch from BSG walked by, pratically bobbed on his feet and squealed, "It's Apollo!". Suddenly this middle aged, military-vet, pilot was transformed into a fangirl.

There is at least one person for every geek that turns us into squealing balls of excitement. For me, there are a couple. I have this habit of stalking Brandon Sanderson, who is my favorite author. (Luckily, now that I'm done with my thesis, I'm allowed to read his books again). I tend to be the sit in the front row, shove a book in front of him for his signature, and then a walk away kind of person. I have no idea what to talk about. (Networking is not something I'm good at). But last time, at Jordan*Con, when I walked up to Mr. Sanderson and handed him my book, he looked at me and said, "You look familiar, do you go to these things a lot?" Cue fangirlish glee. 

(Of course, on the outside, I just said, "Well, I live in Atlanta and have been to Dragon*Con every year for a while plus some of your signings, so yes?")

And of course, there was the time I met LeVar Burton, where I walked up to him, shook his hand, and while he was signing, I blurted, "I'm an engineer because of you." I imagine he gets that a lot, because he took it well.

But this year, I get to go fangirl on a completely new and awesome person: Richard Dean Anderson. That's right, MacGyver and Colonel O'Neill himself. My love of Colonel O'Neill knows no bounds. When I was in high school, I used to wear O'Neill shirts, which are surfing shirts, but I wore them to show my love for my favorite member of SG-1. When the writers decided it would be a good idea to freeze Colonel O'Neill at the end of season 7 of Stargate: SG-1, one of my friends and I did an entire project on Colonel O' Latin. That's right, we did an entire presentation in Latin about how SciFi better not kill off Colonel O'Neill because he was our favorite character. (They didn't kill him, for the record, but they did phase him out of the show. Sad day.)

I've arranged my entire Dragon*Con schedule around Richard Dean Anderson's Dragon*Con schedule, so I can stalk him all weekend. :)

I will not be the only one going crazy over Richard Dean Anderson, since he rarely makes appearances in the United States. So I imagine getting into a Richard Dean Anderson panel is going to require getting in line early and waiting a long time. However, as a Dragon*Con vet, I'm prepared to do just that. Everything else I want to see/do is flexible. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, he's only doing two panels. One is on Friday and therefore, will be less populated, so it will be easier to get in. But this panel is just him. Sunday is the "Supergate" panel, Richard Dean Anderson plus several other Stargate stars. Sunday is the second most crowded day, and the Stargate panels are always super crowded, so this one is going to be crazy. I will definitely have to get in line early. But at least, I'll have already seen him on Friday if I don't make the cut.

So, if you were going to a Con (or if you are) who would you go fangirl over? Who is the one actor/author/artist that you would love to meet and shake their hand?

Friday, August 24, 2012

What I'm Watching: Web Series

I've only recently started watching a handful of web series, and all of them are thanks to Felecia Day. Not that I've met her, rather, I have at Dragon*Con in the past, but I mean not that I have a personal relationship with her and she was like, "Hey, you should watch this show." Rather, I became aware of Geek and Sundry through, which ran an article about Geek and Sundry right when it started.

I had known about the Guild but I had never watched it before. Then through Geek and Sundry I did, and I loved it. I watched all five seasons that were available, and then watched season 6 as it aired. The Guild is about a group of gamers who plays a World of Warcraft esque game, and the hijinks that begin to ensue when they start actually meeting each other in person. It has a lot of gaming humor that the layman may not get, but I'm not much into gaming, and I still found it to be highly enjoyable. I suggest giving the entire first season a watch, it's only about 45 minutes long all together, episode one alone is below and it's only a few minutes long.

Through Geek and Sundry I also started to watch Felecia Day's weekly video blog (known as The Flog) and Wil Wheaton's show TableTop, a show about tabletop gaming. Neither is a fiction show but both are highly enjoyable.  

The next two shows are both fiction shows that I learned about through the Flog. The first is called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in the modern day, as if Lizzie was a real person with a video blog. I absolutely love this show. Each episodes it only about three minutes long and they air new episodes every Monday and Thursday. You would think it might get boring, and just be Lizzie talking at a camera the entire time, but that's not how it goes at all. We're currently on episodes like 35 and we've seen Jane, Lydia, Mary, Charlotte, Bingley (known as Bing Lee), his sister, and Mr. Collins all on the show. So far only Darcy and Wickham have yet to make personal appearances (though they have both been referenced many times). It's a highly enjoyable show and I eagerly anticipate each new episode. It's pretty much the first thing I do when I get home from work every Monday and Thursday: download and watch the latest episode. You can watch episode 1 below. 

The other show I watch is called "Save the Supers" and it's essentially the Justice League meets The Office. It's about a group of super heroes, called the Super Force. They presumably fight evil, but the show is about the stuff that goes on in the background of that. The major issue of this season is budget cuts, since presumably super heroes do have to get paid to continue doing what they're doing. The Super Force is obviously a parody of the Justice League since the heroes are World Man (Superman), Night Knight (Batman), Merman (Aquaman), Morph Man (the Green Lantern), and Elementra (Wonder Woman). I think it's pretty funny, but if you're not a fan of superheroes, it probably wouldn't interest you.There are only four episodes so far, so there isn't a huge backlog to catch up on.

So there you have it! The online shows I watch. How about you, dear Reader? Are there any online shows that you watch and think are awesome? If so, please share in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I'm Watching: Summer TV

Recently one of my friends asked me what shows I was looking forward to in the fall. It's not a question that should have surprised me, since I watch a lot of TV--probably more TV than anyone else I know. However, I found I had trouble answering it. I knew there were a ton of shows coming in the Fall, shows I've missed in the summer hiatus, I just couldn't think of what they were. So I figured I would give it some thought and then write a blog post about it. And here we are!

But before I delve into what I'm looking forward to in the fall, we should have a discussion of what I'm watching right now. Some of these shows may surprise you, since they're not all Science Fiction or Fantasy. But well, I'm also a girl, and I have only ever been honest about my love of chic-flics, so whatever. To make things easier on my poor little mind, I'm going to go in order of the days of the week the shows come on:

  • Falling Skies: This show is basically an alien apocalypse story. It follows a militia who are trying to survive and fight back against the aliens who have invaded and occupied our planet. This is supposed to be taking place a contemporary time, not in the future. The main characters are a family: a dad and his three sons. Really, everything about this show says I should love it. And I do. But if you're going to get into this show, you must start at the beginning. Watch season one on netflix. The current season is the second season, and since it's a summer only show, it's finale just happened this past weekend.
  • Eureka: Ok, you caught me. I'm not currently watching this show, but it was one of my traditional summer shows. However, this was the last season of the show. After five seasons, it came to an end. I couldn't leave it off this list, because if you missed it, you really should watch it. It's about a small town where our nations best and brightest scientists and engineers live, and the hijinks and shenanigans that happen there, which have to be sorted out by the ordinary, but lovable Sheriff Carter. It's a great show.
  • Warehouse 13: The premise of this show is that amazing people or significant events can basically impart a bit of their characteristic awesomeness into an object, thereby making it a magical object, like Lewis Carroll's mirror in which a person can become trapped. These objects are collected and kept in a warehouse, where they can't cause trouble. The show follows the warehouse agents, two secret service agents, a cranky but lovable old man, and a young computer whiz. I really love this show, another Syfy summer show, and it's only a couple of episodes into its season right now.
  • Bunheads: The first non-SF/F show on this list, this show just started this summer and had it's finale this week. Though a show about ballerinas doesn't seem like it would be my thing, it's made by the creator of Gilmore Girls, and fills the nitch that Gilmore Girls left in my life. If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, you will see many familiar faces and you'll find the banter to be similarly witty, fast-paced and filled with pop culture references that I don't get at all. Like Gilmore Girls it has a balance of teenage and adult angst. And I've really enjoyed the first season.
  • Surprisingly, I watch nothing on this day. Nothing. Which works for me, because that's the night I have my local friends over and I expose them to series they've never seen before. Like Sherlock. 
  • Melissa and Joey: I started watching this show when it first came on because of the leading actors. And really it's a fun little thirty minute sitcom. It's not going to change your life, but if you're looking for a summer sitcom, this one is a pretty good (and really your only) choice. Mel is a Toledo councilwoman who inherited her sister's kids after her sister got herself thrown in jail. Because she works full time, she hired a nanny to help her take care of the kids: Joe, a former businessman who lost his job due to the crime that put Mel's sister into jail. Together they are raising two teenagers. It's a fun, light show.
  • Tron: Uprising: I love Tron, and in many ways this animated show is what Tron Legacy should have been. A show about the grid and about Tron. This show takes place between Tron and Tron Legacy. It follows Beck, a young mechanic program that is unhappy with the dictatorship that Clu is setting up. He ends up meeting Tron, who is too injured to continue his fight, so Tron begins to train Beck to take up his mantle. This is a "kid's show" but if you like the Tron movies, this has everything you could possibly want: a great cast, a great story line, and tie-ins to the movies. 
  • Project Runway: Another non SF/F choice, this season of Project Runway just started a few weeks ago. I love the fashion and the designs. I don't necessarily love the drama. Essentially, everything I know about fashion I learned from this show. Of course, I'm not very fashionable, so that may not mean much.
  • Say Yes to the Dress: I don't watch this with dedication. It's not set on my DVR and I'm not upset if I miss it. However, if I'm home and it's on, I watch it. It's entertaining, and the dresses are nice. However, it galls me that people spend so much money on wedding dresses. If you want to spend $1,000 on your dress, that's between you and your budget, but I feel like spending more than that is unconscionable. You could put a down payment on a really really nice house with some of the money these people spend. Heck, you could buy a nice car. It's rather shocking.
So that's my summer cable TV schedule, but it's not all I'm currently watching. What does that mean, you ask? Well, there is a whole world wide web out there with it's own programming. More on that on Friday. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: A Steampunk Fascinator

First off, let me apologize for posting absolutely nothing last week. I thought I would have some time before my engineering conference to write up a couple of posts, but I didn't leave work as early as I thought I would on Friday (which means I in fact left later than I normally leave work) and I spent all of Saturday cleaning and packing before flying out on Sunday. Alas. 

Secondly, let me note a change in schedule. From now on, we will have posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That might seem like shooting high since I don't always make the Tuesday/Thursday schedule I've been on, but I have my posts planned out for at least the next month. At least for that time, we will have three posts a week. Yay! 

And because of this schedule change, Countdown to Dragon*Con is posted on Monday instead of Tuesday. 

Okay. Are we all on the same page now? Good. Finally, to the topic at hand: my preparations for Dragon*Con. 

Last Dragon*Con I wore a steampunk outfit which you can see in the picture to the right. I thought it turned out well, considering that last year was the first year I ever cosplayed. Of course, I didn't make that costume. I can't sew to save my life. Heck, I can never even remember the correct spelling of sew. But I ordered a Victorian suit off of a website called Recollections and I accessorized it with gloves, an oculus, a pocket watch necklace, and a fan. Nothing too fancy or crazy, but people seemed to like it. I like to think it was my attention to period specific detail that caused people to like it. Nothing too crazy.

Anyway, this year, I wasn't really excited about wearing this costume again. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've worn it before. Maybe it's because I'm totally not wearing those boots again. They absolutely murdered my feet. (Going to wear a nice comfy pair of Converses instead). Anyway, I was just thinking about this costume and was like "meh."

Then when I was walking throw Hobby Lobby trying to figure out how I was going to make my throwing knives, and I walked into an aisle of clock making kits. And suddenly an idea blossomed in my mind. What if I made a clockwork hat/fascinator? 

So I bought a clock motor, a clock face, and some extra long clock hands to make this clock:
It's hard to tell in this picture but it's not huge. The face might be six inches in diameter, but no bigger than that. All of the hands extend beyond the edge of the face, which is how I wanted it, but smaller clock hands could have been purchased. 

Anyway, the idea was somehow to make it stick on my head. My first thought was to use some hairclips. So what I ended up doing was attaching a barrette base to the clock via velcro (I'll explain why about that in a minute). Then I tried hot gluing some clips to it. You can see the result below plus the beginning of the next step:
Now there is about a half an inch of space between the barrette base and the clock face, which means anyone who catches it at the right angle would be able to see the clock motor. That simply wouldn't do, since such clock motors did not exist back in Victorian times. If I was going to use it, I needed to disguise it so no one could see it. So I bought some black satin ribbon. I cut about three inch segments, glued it so the two ends met and it was one continuous piece, and then glued that to the clock face, as you can see above. The end result looked like below:
I removed the barrette base for that photo so you can see the velcro. As to why I used velcro instead of just directly gluing the clock motor to the barrette back, well the answer to that is easy and can be seen in the picture. I wanted to be able to change the battery and the time. This way, I can remove the barrette piece and access all the necessary parts of the clock motor. 

I then put the base back on and tried to attach it to my hair. It was a failure. the clips I used couldn't hold the weight (which isn't that heavy. Maybe I did a poor hot glue job) and luckily I caught the clock before it fell to the ground. This unfortunate incident did bend the hands a bit, but luckily I was able to bend them back.

So what was I to do? Well I still had a ton of ribbon left so I cut a good length of ribbon, glued it to the barrette piece, and now I can wear it like a ribbon in my hair (or like a headband if that helps you picture it better). The ribbon holds it quite well (I went a little crazy with the glue), but to keep it from slipping around on my head, I'm probably going to use bobby pins to secure it. The end result looks like:

Lovely isn't it? I think I did a great job, especially considering I generally do not consider myself yo be crafty. And I'm really excited about this fascinator, and the extra edge it's going to give my steampunk costume this year.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


At one point, I am sure my plans for today's post were something thoughtful or geeky. But life has other plans. My brain can barely function to write this post, because work has recently been uber stressful.

I don't often talk about what I actually do on this blog, mainly because I worry about getting in trouble about saying too much or the wrong things. Not that I work on anything even remotely classified. Most of the stuff I work on you can find on public websites. But I just don't want to get in any sort of trouble, you know?

It's definitely fine to say I work on satellites. And in the past month, two of the satellites I work on decided to be tempermental and not work like they're supposed to. So I've been going crazy trying to balance the two satellites and figure out what's going on. While doing this, we've been getting ready for a big conference that starts next Monday. This conference also coincides with a big review of several other satellite programs. I have to read a ton of documentation and be prepared to discuss in detail the design of two satellites at this review. Two satellites that are not the satellites I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. Two different satellites.

As if all that wasn't enough, my contract ended (I'm a contractor) and a new contract started. This means that though I am still working the exact same job, the person who pays me is different. Essentially the government pays a company who still pays me. The government and myself haven't changed. Just the company in the middle. But this means I have to resign from my old company and get hired at a new company. So while I've got all this actual work I'm supposed to be doing, I also have to fill out all the paperwork for my resignation and all the paperwork for starting a new job. You know: retirement, insurance, etc. Because I work on a military base, I also have to do what we call the Scavenger Hunt. Basically I have to simultaneously out process for one job and in process for a new job, and this involves going around the base, running around to different people and buildings to get them to sign this form. It's exactly like a scavenger hunt across the base. 

So yeah, my life is stressful right now. 

But this too shall pass, and eventually I'll be done with the out/in processing and we'll figure out what's wrong with the satellites and after next week I won't need to worry about the conference anymore. 

But that's my story this week. Stress stress stress. Hope your weeks are going better!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: Taming the Beast

So I have crazy curly, light brown hair. It's unmanageable and insane. Loki has slicked back, black hair. Not exactly the same thing. At all. What's a girl to do if she's trying to make a Loki cosplay?

Seriously, below is my hair...or was my hair last Dragon*Con before I chopped it all off. Do you see that color? Do you see how no matter how tightly I bind my hair there is frizz coming off everywhere? And do you see that beautiful Gibson Tuck I mastered for my steampunk costume? Dedication. That's what that was. Anyway, my hair is clearly not the same color as Loki's.
My hair is short so now it looks more like in the photos below.

Well clearly temporary hair dye is in order. But it has to be something that simultaneously tames my hair. And it has to be something I can wear for twelve hours without driving myself insane. I've used the spray-on temporary hair dyes in the past, but it gets everywhere and will come off into your hands if you accidentally touch your hair. Seriously. It's a good thing my entire outfit was green when I dolled myself up as a capitol person for the Hunger Games premiere. Because that green stuff came off everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And I don't think I could go 12 hours without touching my hair.

Also, that green hair, my friends, is not a wig, despite the fact everyone seems to think it is. That is my hair essentially spray painted green. See that volume? That's what happens when I brush my hair when it's dry. My hair in the photo to the left is what happens when I let my hair air dry. And it just curls itself up.

Yes, I wear a lot of green. And see how crazy curly my hair is? It bears repeating that Loki's hair looks like this:
Smooth. Sleek. Black. Not my hair.

In my mind when I was researching options I wanted something that I could use to color my hair and then be able to mess with it to make it smooth and flat. Most spray-ons don't allow that because they're essentially hair spray. I needed something different.

And then I found Manic Panic's hair dye gel. Essentially it's a color gel. It dries hard and makes your hair the color you want it to be. And it washes out. 

Boom. That's exactly what I need! With a gel I could tame my hair in the wet state, make it maintain the straightness it has when its damp. And I could change the color. Simultaneously color and tame. But does it work? I needed to try it before Dragon*Con. I needed to figure out what to do. So I ordered a tube of it and when it arrived, one of my friends came over to play with my hair. The results? See the photo below:

That's my hair! My hair! Black! And smooth! And sleek! For the most part. It still managed to curl in some places, as you can see on the right side of the photo. But that area was only lightly gelled. A little more gel and it could have been as sleep and smooth as the rest.

I wore that stuff in my hair for an entire afternoon and it didn't come off in my hands or anything. It was a hard gel but I can deal with that. I could still touch my hair. Heck, I could touch my hair without messing it up. And none of the color came off into my hands or onto my shirt. 

And it came out easily. I only had to shampoo it twice, unlike that green stuff which took like four times. Basically, this stuff is magic and is going to work perfectly!

Now all I need to complete my Loki cosplay is the actual costume and some leggings. I already have the boots. It's going to be amazing!

Friday, August 3, 2012


Whenever a conversation on being a geek, jock, hipster, or whatever happens, someone inevitably makes a comment like the following: "Why do we have to care so much about labels? Labels are stupid. Let's just all hold hands and get along."

Well, I'm not opposed to getting along (holding hands might be going too far, labels or not), but I do want to talk about this topic of labeling. And my feelings may not be politically correct or mainstream or cool, but here it goes:

Labels matter.

This fact has been a part of my life since the beginning. I have always been labeled "third of four", i.e. the third of four children, and that label was deeply important to my entire childhood. It explained my standing, where I stood, who I was. I didn't exist in a vacuum where only what I did mattered. I was third with two older siblings who came before me and a younger sister who came after me. Nothing could change that fact. The label just described it.

Perhaps the biggest example of labeling defining me--and everyone around me--was band. In the sixth grade I chose to play the clarinet and that decision set the course of my life before me, though I didn't know it at the time. It would define who my friends were, how I looked at the world, and even how my personality developed. Don't believe me? Well then clearly you've never been in band. Because if there is one thing I've realized, it's that all band stereotypes are true.

I think this is because we choose our instruments at such a formative age, and our instruments give us very defined roles within a piece of music. That entwined with the influence of the upper classmen molds everyone who plays one instrument to be a certain way.

Trumpet players are arrogant, but hard working. Why? Because their instrument takes skill to master, but is one of the loudest, most prominent instruments in the band. Essentially, if they're good, they get all the attention.

Saxophones are arrogant but lazy. Why? Because the saxophone is a "sexy", "cool" instrument to play; one that is showcased in jazz band. But in the words of my beginning band instructor (who was a saxophone player): "Any idiot can learn to play the saxophone." Maybe not well, but it is the easiest instrument to become half way decent on. And since the saxophone isn't a classical instrument per say, a lot of times halfway decent is all you need.

Trombone players are low key and laid back, like their instrument.

Flute players are girly and flirty (which I attribute to the fact that playing the flute makes you extremely light headed).

And clarinets: hardworking but bitter. No matter how much we master our instrument we will never be the showcase instrument that the trumpets, our polar opposites are. Does this description sound familiar? It should, because that's me.

My brother is a saxophone players. Both of my sisters are flute players (though my younger sister is tempered by also being an oboist, which aligns amazingly with the fact that she is for realz OCD).

These "labels" defined me for the eight years I was in band. No clarinet players wakes up and says, "I want to live up to the stereotype and be bitter." But the reality of the instrument makes you that way. And everyone else in the band is going to view you that way.

Labels. They matter.

When I ascribe a label to myself, I'm saying this is how I view myself. I view myself as a Christian, as a geek, as an engineer, as a girl, as straight, as weird, and as nerdy. Instead of saying, "Hey, I have a completely obsessive love of movies, books, comics, and film that means I love to delve into trivia and debate topics relating to them as passionately as some people debate politics", I can say three words. "I'm a geek."

Instead of saying, "I believe Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and you can only be saved by having a personal relationship with him--not through actions or your parents but through grace," I can say, "I'm a Protestant Christian."

Labels are a language of their own, a language we use to describe ourselves.

People also use their own labels to package people into nice little boxes, and this is where trouble happens. People get typecasted. Or you speak up once and suddenly someone in authority views you as a trouble maker. It can be hard to overcome the labels other people put on you, labels you yourself don't believe describe yourself. I've come across this. I dealt with the fact that for most of my college career, the adults in power at the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) thought I was a trouble maker who personally opposed them on everything, all because I made the mistake of speaking up my sophomore year.

This troubling fact doesn't mean labels aren't important. Labels are important because you need to understand how other people label you. You need to understand how other people are viewing you and how that affects everything they say to you. If I understand the BCM officials view me as a trouble maker, it makes their response to a request I might make logical, instead of completely out of nowhere. If I realize they view me as a trouble maker, I can change how I behave around them and I can spin what I say so they take what I say more seriously. And if I undermine the label long enough, maybe one day they'll view me differently. It didn't happen in the six years I was at Georgia Tech but it's possible.

And when you don't understand how people label you, it can crush you, because you don't understand why people are behaving as they do around you. You don't understand why your Calc teacher thinks you suck at math, even though you've been making all A's. You don't understand why your band director doesn't care about you, even though you've dedicated four years of your life to the band and done everything possible to make your section a better, more cohesive group. And the reality is your Calc teacher labelled you as a "white girl", who will never go anywhere in math. Your band director labeled you as a "mediocre woodwind" so your leadership is unimportant.

It's crushing and angering, and this is why people get mad at labels.

But labels are a reality. And they matter. They show how you view yourself and how others view you. You need to understand them, and you need to learn how to operate in order to use those labels to your maximum advantage.

I am a geek. I am a nerd. I am a clarinet player. I am a pianist. I am a writer. I am a Christian. I am a traditionalist. I am an engineer. I am a rocket scientist. I am me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Geeks and Posers

I am a second generation geek. My parents are geeks. My mom is a huge Trekkie and has been since the original series aired when she was in elementary school. She’s had a framed, signed picture of Kirk and Spock for my entire life. The night Star Trek episodes aired was the one night a week she was allowed to stay up late as a kid. My dad grew up watching classic Doctor Who and reading all the big fantasy authors of the seventies.

Because my parents are geeks, there are many geeky things I can’t remember my first exposure to, like Terminator, Star Trek, and Star Wars. I often joke that as soon as I was born my parents sat me in front of the TV to watch these shows. My mother read to me A Wrinkle in Time when I was five years old. When I hit the fourth grade, I was handed A Wrinkle in Time to read for myself plus The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. Everyone in my family was required to read these books when they hit the fourth grade. I grew up watching Star Trek: Voyager, The X-Files, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Stargate: SG-1, The Outer Limits, and so many other great science fiction shows—watching them with my parents and siblings, as a family. My uncle gave me my first Star Wars book. He let me borrow The Thrawn Trilogy. I tell you all of this so you know geek is in my blood. I was born a geek. I was raised by geeks and raised as a geek. If there is anyone who is not a poser, it is me.

I tell you this so you’ll know I seriously mean my next words, because if there is anyone who should feel they have the right to judge others, it’s me—who has been a geek for all twenty-five years of my life.

Now listen close.

There is no such thing as a geek poser.

All you need to be a geek is a deep-seated love and enthusiasm for something. Anything really. People seem to confuse “love” and “enthusiasm” with “knowledge” and “longevity” thus corrupting the simple truth of geekiness. Knowledge certainly comes when you discover a deep love for something, because you often search for everything you can find about it. You consume the thing you love, as much as you can find. And eventually, if your search deepens your love, time will do its thing and you will find you’ve been a fan for years instead of months.

Anecdote time.

I’ve been a geek all my life, but not a geek in all things. My first, true geek love was Star Wars. I have all six movies memorized. SIX. Not just the original trilogy, but the new ones too. I’ve read every Extended Universe book between the Truce at Bakura and The New Jedi Order, plus a smattering of the new stuff that takes place during the new trilogy as well. I can tell you things about the Star Wars galaxy that you probably didn’t even know someone thought or cared about. I can pulverize people in Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. I love Star Wars.

But through the years I have acquired other areas I love to geek out in: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Dragonriders of Pern, The Wheel of Time, Doctor Who, anything by Brandon Sanderson or Isaac Asimov, Stargate, Batman, and so many other things.

Despite all of this, there have been times I’ve worried people would think I’m just a poser. Me.

The first time I really felt this was with Doctor Who. I didn’t get into Doctor Who until the fourth season of the new series. That’s right, the Donna Noble season. So you could say I was way late to the game. And at the time, I confused the truth of being a geek, and I thought I had to have knowledge and longevity instead of love and enthusiasm. I didn’t go to Doctor Who panels at cons because I was worried people would judge me. I thought I had to wait until I’d seen all of the new series plus as much as the old as I could. And eventually, I did do that—but it wasn’t necessary.

The next time I went to a con I had maybe two full seasons of Doctor Who under my belt and smatterings of a couple of episodes. I went to a panel. And it was amazing. People accepted me. The people who had been fans longer wanted to share their knowledge with me and tell me what the best episodes were to watch. They wanted to relive those first moments when they saw Doctor Who for the first time through me, by asking me what I—a fresh pair of eyes--thought. I wasn’t a poser. I was just new.

And being new doesn’t make you a poser.

Now my newest geek is comics. You all know how Thor and The Avengers affected me; how the character Loki changed how I viewed the world. I want to get into comics, but it’s an amazingly hard world to just break into—which I’m sure I’ll talk about in a future post. And part of me is worried that people will think I’m just a poser, just a fair-weather fan, or that I only like it because it’s now popular. And you know what? It doesn’t matter.

If you’re just a fair-weather fan, if you only like it because it’s cool and popular right now, that’s ok. Because the more people giving money to the things I love, the more likely things I like will continue to be made. So why should I hate on you? And what may start as fair-weather-ness may turn into a deeper love, which just expands my community, my culture further.

Because geek is my culture, and the more people I can expose to it the better, the more people who share my joy and enthusiasm, the better.

There is no reason for hate in geek circles, no reason to exclude. Being a geek isn’t about that. It’s about love and enthusiasm. And that’s it.

That’s what being a geek means.

You are not a poser, even if you just discovered Star Wars or Sailor Moon or Batman two minutes ago. You are a geek. Welcome. If you need help finding your way around, just let me know. I would love nothing more than to share my culture with you.