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!*

Reflections on a Gift

| Saturday, January 22
...of Time-Traveler Pickles.

As I got back into watching some of my favorite time-travelers over the holidays, and saw many of my friends, real life and online, dive headfirst into falling in love with the Doctor for the first time, I started thinking about these two particular men. 

The time-travelers in question? Obviously, the Doctor, and his on-again, off-again traveling companion and savior, Captain Jack Harkness.

Why the reference to a random John Tobias (not the guy who wrote Mortal Kombat) poem in the title? Because it popped into my head (I have a book with that poem) and it seemed to fit. These guys are seriously old and have been incredibly well-preserved, hence the pickling theory. Also, I think they are a gift. A gift to the world of science fiction television and a gift to the people who like eye candy.

I like both Doctor Who and Torchwood, as many people out there do, but my husband isn't a fan of Torchwood. So we started talking about why he thought DW was better, why he didn't like TW, but why he still thinks Captain Jack is kickass.

Reason #1: 
Doctor Who, while scary, creepy, and serious, is still light-hearted, campy, and fun when it wants to be. Torchwood is basically creepy as frak (see episode 6 from the very first season, "Countrycide" for proof).

 Reason #2:
Apparently Torchwood is too procedural-y and X-Files alien-y for the boy. He doesn't like crime procedurals, and I suppose it is a bit like that, so if that style of storytelling isn't your cup of tea, then perhaps you'd feel strongly about it.

In Defense of Jack: 
We came to the conclusion that he's the perfect foil for the Doctor when he's with the Doctor. When he's leading his Cardiff crew, whatever... But he's kind of the opposite of everything the Doctor stands for, and yet, he saves the Doctor's ass more than once. They're both basically immortal for one reason or another. They both have lived a long time, traveled extensively, seen much of the known universe, and are both incredibly attractive. I think the similarities end there, though, and this is a good thing. We don't really need to Doctors running around do we? Well, ok, there's this one time, but I won't spoil anything. ;)

Like I said, Jack is everything the Doctor isn't. He's dashing, charming, and (wo)manizing. The Doctor, while he does fall for a few women here and there isn't an overt flirt, nor is he exactly dashing. More like charming in an accidental, bumblingly cute kind of way (Keep in mind, I'm talking about Tennant's Tenth here). The Doctor prefers to talk first, a negotiator, upholder of the Shadow Proclamation. Good ol' Jack, who's participated in his fair share of fights, wars, and battles (and isn't scarred by it as the Doctor) is a bit more like Han. Shoot first, ask questions later. I guess what I'm saying is, Jack Harkness is the gangsta to the Doctor's nerdy self, and that's all right with me.

One last note. Because my brain doesn't think in this way very often, I wouldn't have ever discovered this, but did you know that Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who? 

OMG I'm Still Alive! (also: OCD/ADD gaming)

| Wednesday, January 12
This first semester of the new school year was insane! I'm really loving teaching 5th grade, but it's also keeping me much busier than normal. I've kinda let this fall by the wayside since September, and I'm terribly sorry for that. :(

Trust me, though. I'm still here, and I'm still geeking it up! I can't actually say that it's been all school that's been keeping me busy and away from the blog. Nope. It's also been the fact that the hubs and I restarted playing World of Warcraft back in October at level 1 and have been furiously leveling and playing more than anyone ever should.

See, I often apply my OCD to gaming, too. I usually get waaaay into a game for as much time as I can devote to it, but then eventually get bored (there's the ADD kicking in) and put it aside for months, maybe even years. I've done that with multiple FF games, The Sims, WoW in the past, Pokemon on my DS, Cookin' Mama, etc. I even hunted down Skies of Arcadia: Legends (GC version) and a Wavebird controller about a year ago to play on the Wii. I got about halfway through and then lost interest.

This time through with WoW has definitely been obsessive, with me spending too much time playing and shirking other responsibilities or social obligations to play.  But this time around, there are multiple reasons I'm not planning on quitting anytime soon.

1. I'm playing on a PVE server instead of PVP. 
I hated playing on a PVP server. I didn't want to kill other players. I didn't like dying constantly while trying to level my paladin in Hillsbrad Foothills. It seemed lame to have my husband with his level 70 rogue as my stealthed bodyguard just so I could go kill a few furbolgs or whatever. Now I can basically go wherever I want in-game without worrying about getting ganked.

2. I'm not leveling by myself.
Previously, I joined late in the game on my husband's server, in his guild, with some mutual friends. At this time, they were hardcore raiders and all at max level cap. It was when Burning Crusade came out, so I guess they would've all been 70. And they were running Karazhan ALL the time. I was starting over at one. Again. I could have these guys run me through dungeons for gear, but I never got good XP due to the great level gaps. Leveling was slow, tedious, and irritating. I was also playing a ret pally at a time when they were TERRIBLE, I later found out. I got tired of this, plus really not *knowing* or feeling accepted by the guildies, so I quit.
Now I've got not only my husband leveling with me, but a whole guild full of Twitter friends to chat with, goof off with, and hopefully soon run heroics with. Most of the people in the guild either started over at level 1 or transferred characters over, so they're not up to level cap. Not that I am, but I'm almost 84 and have rarely played alone. Only when I wanted to.

3. The game has changed so much! 
When I played all the way back in November 2004, you had to figure everything out for yourself. You might spend an hour trying to figure out where on your map the mobs to farm for the quest were.  As it was the beginning of the game, there were so many elements that hadn't been implemented yet. I got annoyed and quit. Then with BC, they added new stuff, but as I've mentioned, I got fed up with other things and gave up.
Now, I've actually leveled high enough to visit Outlands and Northrend. I've gotten mounts at level 20 (now it's less annoying to travel the world)! There's the Dungeon Finder which makes PUGs easier to find since our guild isn't all at the same point yet...

4. Fun pop culture references
I've noticed lots of little pop culture references the more I've played. So far, my favorite are these two Cataclysm quests:
[Once More with Eeling] in Vashj'ir (yay Buffy!!) and  [Troggzor the Earthinator] in Deepholm.

So, now that I'm almost level 84, have run my first ever heroic (Culling of Stratholme), have run my first Cata dungeon and survived (Stonecore), have lots of friends to play with, and am actually having fun with a class I LOVE (Destruction Warlock), I doubt my gaming ADD will overtake the OCD for a while.

See? Obsessive! 

Level 83 Warlock of DOOM!