Geek Girls Network

| Friday, February 4
So, first of all, I've been apparently living under a rock, because one of my favorite blogs, which I read quite frequently, has me linked on its front page under its "G33KTASTIC LINX"!! Yes, good ol' Geek Girls Network has little ol' me right there. And I've never noticed it until now. I feel so honored and so lame at the exact same time.

Now, why get so excited about this you ask? Well, let's start right here. If you're reading my blog, then you're probably a geek. I don't know what kinds of geeks you are, but I'm assuming you're a geek of some kind. Comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, cosplay, food, LEGO, toys, Shakespeare, Lovecraft, whatever.

So, if you read blogs and are a geek, then you need to check out GGN if you haven't already. It's run by an awesome group of ladies. And no, it's not just for girls. It's just *mostly* written/run by girls. The wonderful Kristin, Nicole, Amy, Katie and MANY MANY others write about pretty much anything you can think of. And a lot of stuff you've not. Some of their recent postings have been about dirty comics of old, regular comics of new, and how it's okay for kids to play video games.

Then there's the podcast. Yes, Kristin and Nicole host a bi-monthly podcast that can be found on iTunes or here. It's fun, it's silly, and they have had some incredible interviews. My favorite ones so far have been, well, I can't honestly narrow it down. Recent highlights have been an interview with MythBuster Grant Imahara (can't tell you how jealous I was!) and listening to the two hosts geek out over Kristin's recent exposure to Doctor Who for the first time ever. It's so much fun.

They've hosted some epic tweet-ups and parties, most notoriously (?) the one at SDCC that was sponsored by the Science Channel! From what I understand, that one was absolutely insane, and I'm so sad I wasn't there. I hope to get to one some day. *cough*GenCon*cough* *sneeze*Dragon*Con*sneeze* For now, I just have to experience them vicariously via the blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

So, if none of this awesomeness has convinced you yet, what about this last bit? The website is all purple-y!! My favorite color!

Teaching Science with the Force

| Thursday, February 3
I've not posted a teaching blog in quite a while, so I thought I'd throw this at you. The past two weeks in my science class at school, we've been learning about force, motion, and Newton's laws. I try to make the things I teach as easy to relate to as possible, because educational psychology has discovered in some study or another I read in grad school that the more connections a person can make to a concept, the better they comprehend and remember said concept.

So, how do I teach about force (as in F=ma)? By equating it with The Force, of course. By our 10 year-old definition, a force is a push or a pull. What is one way the Sith use the Force? Force Push. They even tried to equate a Force Choke with a pull somehow.

Picture from Force Unleashed, property of LucasArts

When discussing balanced and unbalanced forces we talked about the Jedi and Luke being the one to bring balance to the force.

Another SW reference I've used was in Social Studies (back when I was still teaching that before the winter holidays). In the pre-Civil War lesson on the Fugitive Slave Law, we were talking about bounty hunters. The kids didn't really grasp the concept until I said, "You know, like Boba Fett. And Greedo." Then it clicked.

I love being able to geek out with my students this way. About 80% of them get the Star War references. And those that do *really* get it! Like I said to a friend the other day, if I can figure out a way to connect my lesson to Star Wars or SpongeBob, it suddenly makes more sense.

Giving In

| Thursday, January 27
I've despised Facebook's games for a very long time. I admit to getting sucked into one where you built a cafe and made food for a while, but since they all required you bugging your "friends" and getting bugged by them, I got annoyed and decided to ban them all from my account. I didn't want to see what my friends were playing nor did I want any more invites for games I didn't want to play.

And then, information was released yesterday that two games from my childhood that I was absolutely obsessed with will be available on FB. I think I'm gonna have to cave on my "No FB Games" stance This Huffington Post article shares with the world that The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? will be launching in February. AHHH!! I'm SO gonna die of dysentery over and over again. And travel the globe looking for that woman in the red trench and oversized hat. I can't cussing wait!!

Remember, always pay for the ferry. Don't try to ford the river. You'll lose half your gear.


Edible Galactica

| Tuesday, January 25
Inspired by two Battlestar Galactica sweets that were brought to my attention yesterday, a really detailed Galactica replica in cake form and custom insignia chocolate molds, I decided to round up a bunch more that I'd either seen in the past or had hunted down myself. Thanks for the inspiration Autumn

Insignia Cakes
 By Archana Rao at Love Street Cakes, Brooklyn, NY

Simplified version in fondant from Cakes by Charissa

A very sparkly version by Jen in Omaha

A Very Special Galactica Cake
This incredible tiered masterpiece was made by Zoe at Whipped Bakeshop in Philadelphia, PA for Geekadelphia's BSG Party.

Cylon Cakes
 Cylon Centurion cake from Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale, CA

Cylon Raider cake from Homemade by Jill

Cylon Centurion cake with working eye! (from YouTube)

Mandala Cakes
Starbuck's Mandala cupcakes with pulled sugar mandalas!! By Jessica Petersen at Pie of the Tiger

BSG Cake
"Eye of Jupiter" cake by catoholic (also made cool mandala chocolates!)

Level Up!

| Monday, January 24
Girls and Gaming...

Like that isn't a topic that's been approached from a million angles a billion times over, on my way home from school today, while listening to "All Things Considered" on NPR like I always do, I heard an interesting piece. It comes from WNYC's Radio Rookies program that allows teens to record their own short radio segments and air them for the world via public radio stations nationwide.

The story comes from a 17 year old gamer named Jessica. She, like many of us, plays games, but is frustrated by the way girls are represented (and underrepresented) in the medium. There are very few games with female protagonists (this doesn't include games with customizable PCs), and those games that do have them so idealized or objectified with little clothing and perfect bodies. How are girls supposed to look up to that? I mean, if the game has a strong female lead who can kick butt, such as Bayonetta, or Tomb Raider, they're practically naked. If  the main female characters are there at all, they're probably whiny sidekicks (See FFX) or the damsel in distress who needs rescuing (Princesses Peach and Zelda). I'm not much of a console gamer, so I'm really not "up" on whether or not strong "normal" girl main characters exist, but from what I've ever seen, no.

Video game bondage anyone? 

Also, the games marketed towards girls and women are pretty much terrible. Ok, I'll admit, I like Cooking Mama. It's a quirky Japanese game that appeals to my love of cooking. It's ADHD like me, and you don't think about the protagonist at all, since there's really no "story". But all of the Imagine line from Ubisoft makes me gag! Make some real games for girls. We like more than ponies and styling hair. I enjoy seeing people's reactions to the fact that these games even exist, like Marian Call's response on Twitter last week. Do you have a favorite "girl" game?

The point this story eventually made was the incredible catch-22 about girls and games. In order to have more games that are really, truly for girl gamers of any age, we need more women working in the video game development and design industry. And to entice more women who want to make positive female games into the video game industry, more girls have to be truly passionate about the games that exist (and more than just a few just don't exist yet).Plus I'm gonna guess it's pretty intimidating for women to even try breaking into such a male-dominated industry. So, I beg you to encourage any girls you know who might have an inkling of interest to go for their dreams. I think we could use many more women working on creating strong, positive women in video games. I'm looking at you, Vanessa (@gAMgRL)!!

Wake up gaming industry. There are women out there who like to game. Who don't want to look at T&A all the time.

*Like I said, I'm not a huge console gamer, so if there are games out there that fit what I'm talking about, feel free to share!*