Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14 Geekolutions for 2014

My Geekolutions for 2014 in all their glory! Some seem a little like goals, but I'm resolving to do these things, so yeah. I tried to be reasonable about the whole thing and there's no hard and fast "do or die" mentality about them. I do what I can. Besides, no one knows what the future holds for me.

1. Watch all of the Original Star Trek.

2. Watch all of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

3. Participate in 3 5K walks (ex: Dirty Girl Mud Run, Turkey Trot, Famous Racing Sausages).

4. Lose 50lbs (min.) using my geek fitness goals.

5. Attend at least 2 Cons. I'm hoping to attend GenCon, Chicago's Wizard Con, and Gameapalooza. I so badly want to hit up some others, but. . . well. . . I'm new to this whole thing and. . . broke.

6. Keep my geek fitness goals for at least six months. (That's a reasonable minimum.)

7. Read 30 books, half of which should be from my Augmenting Geekology List.

8. Organize my closet (give a home to all my geek shirts).

9. Play 5 video games through completely.

10. Play all of my tabletop games at least once this year.

11. Go to Door county (tour lighthouses or learn some paranormal history or something).

12. Complete at least 50 geocaches.

13. Go out of state at least twice. Preferably to new places I've not visited before. This could be a ghost hunt or a vacation or even a Con.

14. Eat at a celebrity chef restaurant (Chicago is really full of 'em). We've been to Graham Elliot's and Gordon Ramsay (when we were overseas). I'd love to, on our 10-year-Anniversary this year, to do a tasting weekend. This totally feeds my food geek.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reasonable Geek Fitness

I've spent a large chunk of my life playing the extreme yo-yo game. The heart of my weight issues lies purely in being able to be active. My eating habits are, overall, monitored alright, but what really makes the difference is getting up and out. Sadly, I'm just not a health nut. I'll talk in general about healthier choices, but I don't do the raw foods thing or the vegan thing or the no-processed-foods thing. I just can't, actually. Trust someone whose been there. . . eating healthy is expensive. I can get a taco at Taco Bell for $1, but make homemade healthy tacos. . . not $1.  I try, though, to make smart choices about calories, fat, sugars, sodium, etc. But my pocketbook does not allow for me to be extremely picky. (Don't even get me started on gardening. . . me and the green thumb have not worked out, despite my passion for wanting an herb garden.)

I was on a good track for a while after I had my daughter. I was working with the Curves workout program in my town. It was great. 45 minutes-wam-bam-thank-you-mame! I was seeing results and I was feeling good about it. Then I moved. . . to where there are no conveniently located Curves. Yet, as my daughter was getting older, her and I were able to venture out into the great big world together on walks and things. Oh yeah, and my work was having a physical fitness competition for the last half of our 2012-2013 school year.

We walked and walked and I was using my Wii games and Wii board to stay on top of things and add in new routines, etc. etc. But then we had a long stretch of inconsistencies. It started with our trip to visit the in-laws. Almost three whole weeks of no home cooking, only eating out and very little exercise. It was in the 90's outside, so you don't just go outside for a little jaunt, especially with all the wild dogs in the neighborhood where they live. We used to live around the corner. We know.

Once we arrived home, it was the most stressful time I'd encountered since that time last year, but it was already too late. I had already gained back 15 pounds and with all the stress, the poundage was quickly rising again.  Sad to say, by October I was feeling like Tim Allen stuck as Santa. I had lost sixty pounds already. . . I didn't want to gain back half of that in only a few months. That was a devastating thought, but things just were not working in my favor. Work, money, mood, you name it. . . It wasn't working out for me. Yet, now is as good a time as ever to jump back on the treadmill, right?

I'm always jump-starting my workouts and things, only to be derailed by life. Such is my lot, but its hard to do alone. So I'm going to be super-motivating and I'm tying it into my geek journey! What a perfect way to get in shape, by tying it to something you love!

First, I started by looking at pre-established geek fitness programs. All of them seem to assume I have some semblance of fitness already. Sure, lifting weights and blending cardio and strength training are the way to go, but quite honestly, this isn't the Biggest Loser and the amount of time I have between work and a three-year-old and housewifery and the need for personal time isn't going to work out for an extreme blending of hardly anything. I also felt like most of these workouts were geared towards twenty-somethings and I am so a thirty-something. There will be no Super Mario Parkouring outta this nerd.

I abandoned most of what I saw, because I was being realistic. I needed to do something that was very much me and not try to fit into someone else's program. So I made a list of things that I want to change and geeked them up a bit.

1. I need inspiration. What better way to inspire than by using inspirational quotes? I love quotes. While I was looking for something on Etsy, I came across two Star Trek quotes that just seemed so geared towards what I was looking to do and I knew that inspirational quotes would be what I would need to motivate myself.

2. I need to get physical. What are the things that I can do to get my ass off the couch? Well, there are my Wii games and my Wii board. No, I'm not a couch-Wii-playing. I'm full-on-intense about it. I even got Just Dance 2014 for funsies. My husband does not approve of that particular purchase. I also want to get walking again, because I need to get some major weight down and walking, the long and short of it, is the best thing for right now. I also just need to get off the couch more often. I know it's winter and harder, but what are my trade-offs? Binge-Watching Trade-Off.

3. I need to be rewarded. I need to be validated for the work that I'm doing to keep me moving forward. To keep caring about what I'm doing. I function very much on a rewards and recognition system. Doing this solo makes it difficult to always feel validated for the work I do, but I came up with some ideas for how to make this happen.

4. I need to consume in a healthy way. Yeah. . . I can't just go whole hog and think that the input isn't affecting the output. So I have my food goals that will be set up through my favorite calorie-counting site, MyFitnessPal. It is not only food, but water. So I'll be keeping track of that.

I'll post what the actual goals and plan are in another entry, but I think this is going to be pretty awesome. I've made geek badges to earn along the way that I can post. I'm even constructing a list of reward items that I can purchase when I meet certain goals (that are also hubby approved purchases). I'm really looking forward to making all this work together and it feels like it's going to be fun. I just need a swift kick to the ass to get myself out the door.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Don't Forget the Wrapping Paper

I wanted to have some special wrapping paper this year to have fun with. I didn't want the traditional glossy sparkles of candy or Santa images. I do enjoy the classic snowflake styles, but I wanted something special this Christmas. So far it's turned into the most fun Christmas, because of all the neato geek stuff I've done.

Googling around the net, I discovered this pretty nifty site called Spoonflower.com. They print custom fabrics, gift wrap, wallpaper, and decals. They have some incredibly cool patterns for the modern hipsters out there, or anyone, quite honestly. I spent a good while browsing the keyword "geek." What I turned up made me squeal with girlish delight!

The wrapping paper of my dreams started to appear before my eyes. So much so that I couldn't contain my need to geek and purchased more rolls than I intended.

I found:

Chemistry Christmas

Chemistry Christmas (which reminded me of Ho3 = The Element of Cheer). I loved this one so much I ordered two rolls of it so that I wrap the majority of my gifts in it.

Red Christmas Dice

Then I saw two awesome dice designs that I just loved. I figured I could wrap some of my gaming clubs gifts in one of the two and gifts for my family with the other.

Minion Hearts

As I browsed even more, I saw this minion wrapping paper and figured it would be perfect for the special Santa gifts for our daughter. Only the gifts from Santa would be wrapped in it. We'd keep the paper hidden, so she wouldn't see any of our gifts, and it would stand out under the tree!

Trek Stripes

Last but not least, I ordered a selfish little purchase of Star Trek paper. As a little bit of backup for if I ran out of paper, but I couldn't help it. It was just too cool. 
Can I just say, my gifts look so geekin' awesome! I am loving this site and I'm already finding My Little Pony paper for my daughter's birthday and even trying to get my husband to tell my mother-in-law so that she can make some cute little summer dresses out of some of these really awesome material! Part of me even wants to take a stab at being more crafty so that I can buy some fabric and make some quick dresses and things. . . or bags. . . hmmm. . .

Bottom line. . . check out this site for all our geek cloth or wrapping or decaling needs! It is AWESOME!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Promoting My Tabletop Gaming Club

At my school, they read announcements over the loudspeaker. So whenever I have something to add for the clubs I run, I just write up a little announcement and it'll be read by the kids assigned on that day to read them. I usually try to make things exciting or funny. I found the students who actually are asked to listen to announcements get a kick out of them. Doubly so in our Dean of Students reads them, because he gets all sports announcery. So I always try to come up with something fun and witty to get the students attention isntead of just "Don't forget about gaming club at recess."

Also, our weather here in Wisconsin was getting pretty snowy and really cold and is projected to be even more snowy and cold. Most of the recess times were being spent inside. So the students had to either sit in the balcony of the gym or they got the gym floor, depending on the day (alternating between the grades). So instead of just sitting on the balcony, why not come play a tabletop game, right?

Caching in on the season and the reason, I made this cute little announcement and then had my club members pass them out to their teachers and friends to promote the club.  I also put it up on my projector background in my classroom. It was awesome! Just imagine a kid coming to this announcement on a page and having to read it aloud on the spot. Poor girl on Monday didn't know what to do. Today, the Dean of Students actually got in on it and gave it a nice little melody. I'll have to change it for tomorrow. Maybe. . . Winter Wonderland?

BONUS: Our "Game of the Week" from the previous week was Smallworld! I actually used his brief tutorial at the beginning of the episode of Tabletop to help explain the game

Edited 12/20/2013: We had 5 new people come to check out the club this week and even had an inquiry about Magic: The Gathering. I'm super excited about having a very productive school group with a consistent group of kids who participate.

I also made the Winter Wonderland announcement for Thursday and Friday:
School bells ring, Are you listening?
In the hall, snow is glistening.
A beautiful day, We're not outside play.
Walking to a gaming wonderland (In Mrs. B######'s room.)      
Tabletop Gaming Club is open every lunch/recess. Come on over to Mrs. B#####’s room, A###, and check out the game vault!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What St. Nick Brings to the Geeks

St. Nick was something I grew up with. It's a December holiday celebrating one of the origins of the Santa Claus mythos. St. Nicholas was a Bishop in Turkey who used to secretly leave coal or coins in the shoes that children would leave out. It wasn't because you weren't naughty or nice, it was a way for this man to help poor children who didn't have money for food or coal to keep warm by. At least, this is how I was taught the story. There are so many legends and myths about this man, it's hard to know if you were taught the correct one or if there is mass confusion. I suppose if I were a scholar on all the saints, I could have a better list of information, but oh well.

St. Nicholas died on December 6, which is why the Catholic Church dubbed December 6th the feast day of St. Nicholas Day. So on the eve of December 5th, St. Nick fills your stocking and on the morning of December 6th, you will see what was left to you. The mythos has been bastardized to encourage children to behave. Coal would be left if you were naughty or presents/toys would be left if you were good.

As I moved out of my central location in South-Eastern Wisconsin, I learned that not everyone knew about St. Nick or the importance stockings had. See, I didn't have my stocking filled on Christmas most of the years. Stockings were reserved for that special day in early December. As I started celebrating the holidays with families from different parts of the country, as well as abroad, I learned that the tradition of celebrating St. Nick was a very German-Central-Midwestian thing. Throw in the Lutheran thing, too, and I think it makes it an even more interesting story. With the people I met, I had to constantly look up the story and explain it to those around me. Some just chalked it up to being extra greedy during the holidays. Others thought it was interesting that there was this kind of sub-culture of celebration.

What always made days like St. Nick's Eve and Valentine's Day special for me as a kid was knowing about the story behind the day. I was taught the St. Nicholas story and I was taught about St. Valentine, which allowed for a deeper appreciation for the days beyond the commercialism. Yet, how do you explain the difference between St. Nick and Santa Claus? Well, first of all, St. Nick isn't supposed to be a naughty or nice thing. It's a recognition of giving and sharing with those who are less fortunate than you, so when you share in that day, you are sharing the gift of appreciating others regardless of their status as good or bad.

And while St. Nicholas was the inspiration for the jolly ol' St. Nick we've come to know and love as Santa Claus, there are other stories that filter into the creation of our renowned Santa Claus. Here is not the place for me to go into this. I merely wanted to share what our little geeky household did on this wintery celebration of sharing and gift-giving.

I've mentioned in previous entries that I've taken it upon myself to add a little geek to my Christmas this year, because, quite honestly, it makes me beyond happy. I smile and laugh and it's not an attention-seeking thing. It's something that literally makes happy. So this year for St. Nick I had up my Chewbacca stocking, which stands out greatly against the other three VERY Christmasy stockings.

I filled both my daughters and my husband's stockings. For my daughter, I loaded her up with books for the winter season. The crowning item was her very first "graphic novel." We purchased her the My Little Pony Graphic Novel compilation of the first set of comic books to be released. She also received a Rainbow Dash keychain. Already at this young age, I'm exposing her to all different types of reading material and I can't wait to read over the comic book compilation with her!

Next, I filled my husband's stocking with ornaments. I know I've talked about my husband's growing issues with my geek-ornament purchases, but I HAD to get him these. See, a few years ago I bought him the mini-hallmark Boba Fett and Frozen Han set. I remember he kind of was like "meh" at that point about them, because they weren't CHRISTMAS (he doesn't like to mix his geek with his Christmas decor). This year, though, they had released a Jabba the Hut and Boushh ornaments that would build the perfect scene with his already owned ornaments. I had to get them! Then, they also had the ewok ornaments and I needed to get those for him.

Sad to say, he was a little irritated with his stocking, but I hope deep down he really did like the thought I put into the gift. I mean, heck, they're even all from my favorite movie, Return of the Jedi!

My stocking was almost completely empty, because, well. . . St. Nick's gifts weren't ordered fast enough. I got a copy of Just Dance 2014 when it went on sale on Black Friday through Amazon and I had gotten myself a Bilbo Baggins ornament to hang in my classroom (since it's not an offensive item that I can use to show my love of literature and geekism). Luckly, but the time I arrived home, St. Nick had made a round-about turn and deposited my gifts in my stocking. I got three geek charms for my charm bracelet. All from ThinkGeek! How did he know?


And that's how we geeked out our St. Nick! W00TS all around! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day

I totally raved about this before today, but Turkey Day is back for a special 2013 streaming YouTube LIVE EVENT! Joel Hodgson hosted an MST3K Marathon. Between classic ep sodes of MST3K a real live Joel had all sorts of fun bumpers of flashbacks, tearful moments, and new hilarious moments.

But before I ever even got to sit down and cross my fingers for some Wi-Fi at our Meal-Time-Destination. . . my daughter and I participated in the 6th Annual Festival Turkey Trot in Oshkosh. Yes, yes, the 2 mile walk, but what could be better to work up an appetite than walking two miles in 20 degree weather with snow flurries all around and dogs pooping even couple of feet?!?! It was a great time for me and my daughter. We even had our matching turkey hats and our matching Turkey Trot shirts. We had a ball.

And what trot-type-activity would be complete without a stop over at Starbucks on our way down to Milwaukee? Some tea and hot chocolate were just what the weather ordered and kept  us going for the two hour drive to our friend's house.

Once we arrived we had all sorts of issues trying to get on to watch the MST3K Turkey Day. Not that there was anything wrong with their broadcasting, it was all of our equipment and location and all that. I got on through my phone for a little while and watched a little bit of the first movie. Then we were at the mercy of the Packers vs. Lions game. . . and the epicness of the Packer loss.

We tried again a little later to watch, but we were having youtube issues on our kindle device. When we finally arrived home, at the end of a long day we got to sit down and watch the live streaming of Turkey Day. And it was amazing! Joel is always such a breath of freshair and is such a talented individual. He has such a knack for coming up with hilarious comedy that somehow resonates in a positively meaningful way.  Joel was able to do that with his return to MST3K hosting. Especially so with the ending. . .where we got to see Crow and Tom return to feast with Joel and we were serenaded with A Patrick Swayze Christmas. Here was the schedule for the episodes if you feel compelled to recreate the day:
  1. Space Mutiny
  2. I Accuse My Parents
  3. Werewolf
  4. Cave Dwellers
  5. The Final Sacrifice
  6. Mitchell
I hope they do this again some year. This was incredibly awesome and I was glad to also be able to watch the clips and break out the movie when I couldn't finish watching them streaming. Here's a compilation of the host segments from this very special Turkey Day presentation.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - 25th Anniversary

Posted by MST3K on Facebook this morning. . . I'm borrowing it, because I thought it was perfectly written.

25 years ago a guy named Joel, not too different from you or me, debuted a little show in Minneapolis that featured a ground-breaking comedy style and started a cultural phenomenon. That little show went on to produce 197 episodes, a movie, inspired followup ventures like Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax, developed a huge fan following, and influenced many in the entertainment world. It's incredible for a show that's been off the air for 14 years to still have such an impact today, and shows how special it was.

Let's celebrate 25 years of Mystery Science Theater and keep circulating the tapes so we can celebrate in another 25 years!

According to Satellite News on This Day in 1988: “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ premieres on Minneapolis UHF TV station KTMA with a double feature: K01- INVADERS FROM THE DEEP and K02- REVENGE OF THE MYSTERONS.

If you've read me, you'll know that my love of MST3K is no secret. Additionally, my husband is an even bigger geek about MST3K than I am! He has a journal that he's been working on for well over a decade. I've shared my love for the show and my continued passion about MST3K. Granted, I was only 7 when they started the show and I was about 10 when I started watching, but this show has been a big part of my development as a geek girl. Thanks to those who kept the tapes circulating and for those who continue to produce the amazing compilations today.

Thank you, members of MST3K, for the amazing years of awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys "Princess Machine"

I bought GoldieBlox for my daughter back in July for her third birthday. She LOVED it! We played with it together at the beach. Soon, she was making her own little experiments with the materials. Now she still creates her own things, but all the pieces have been blended with her Thomas tracks and Mega-Block cities that she builds. She's well on her way to be a little geek completely enamored with the way the world works and all its integral parts.

When I arrived home I saw this awesome video and article posted by George Takei. Sure, there are all the jokes out there that a GUYS built the Rube Goldberg machine, but honestly. . . I used Rube Goldberg in my classroom last year when I taught Science and girls are totally capable of this. So just to have that wonderful moment of GIRL POWER, watch and enjoy and think about how you can help your girls break the gender-mold and be their own, original, investigative-selves removed from the cattiness that comes with the immersion in the overly pink princess lifestyle.

Also, you can vote for this to be one of the Super Bowl Half-Time Ads! DO IT! EMPOWER THE NEW GENERATION!

Monday, November 18, 2013


I saw this article not long ago and was beyond joyful at the announcement that Turkey Day will be with us, once again, this year. As a celebration of their 25th Anniversary, Turkey Day will air via SHOUT! Factory, hosted by Joel himself. A popular tradition was for MST3K to host a whole day of MST3K watching on Thanksgiving.

Long after MST3K went off the air, my husband and I hosted Turkey Day specials. We'd choose about 4 MST3Ks show share with family and friends. Most of our friends and family at the time weren't the sports watching type.

When I became a teacher, my first year I chose to impart the magic of Turkey Day to my students. I chose to share a MST3K with my students, which prompted me to explain what Mystery Science Theatre was and explain the connection it has to Wisconsin and the Midwest in general. It was an amazing experience, which led to me teaching my students about riffing as a form of text comprehension.  I'll be sharing some MST3K with my kids this year, but I won't be able to do a movie this time. Instead I'll have to find some great shorts to share. Either way it'll be awesome!

So you want to be part of this tradition on this very special occasion? Well, all you need is the internet or a Smart TV with access to the internet (especially a web browser). At noon (ET), 11AM (CT) or 9AM (PT), turn in to http://www.mst3kturkeyday.com/ and follow along on twitter! It is going to be awesome! And I am so excited! I'm hoping me, the hubby, and the wee-one get to a WiFi location in time to watch. It will be an amazing Turkey Day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Does the Shark say?

My daughter (3) likes to pretend that she's a shark. . . or a dog. . . depending on the day and time. She's got the puppy noises down, because we have a dog who she mimics. We don't, though, have a shark. Additionally, I've tried to convince her that sharks are the soundless predator. They don't make any kind of noise, which is why they are so scary.

Not to encourage the idea that I had her thinking that sharks are scary, I'd like to back-up my story for a second. My daughter and I have had a long love-affair with sharks. I had started taking her to the Chicago Aqarium when she was only six months old. Then we took her to Sea World when she was almost two and almost three. There is also "shark" on Word World on PBS Kids. Finally, there was the classic Sharknado that aired over the summer. She heard mommy and daddy constantly talking about it and making jokes and she watched the trailer with us. Mommy also got a shirt with a Sharknado on it and she loves to point out that there are sharks on mommy's shirt.

Even before my daughter was born, I had been passionate about sharks. I had wanted to be a marine biologist and study sharks. This was during my time in elementary school. It didn't work out that way for me, but it's still something I'm passionate about. I always geek-out a little when I see an article in the news about sharks or it's Shark Week on Discovery Channel (um. . . except this year, which kind of sucked with all this overly dramatized stuff).

My daughter, though, is beyond fascinated by them, demanding we see them whenever we can. It was a wonderful day for her when she got to meet a shark in person and talk to them. Not only did she get to pet real sharks swimming in a shallow petting-pool, but she got to meet a Land Shark. The Land Shark gave her a temporary tattoo and she was in heaven all day. She even needed to purchase replica sharks in the gift shop at the Myrtle Beach Ripley's Aquarium after her encounter. This little kid just LOVES sharks!

So for my daughter to be into sharks and want to pretend to be a shark, was a-okay with me. Yet, when she's pretending to be this vicious, yet friendly, predator, she "swims" around saying "Shark, shark" and substitutes all English words with "shark," but speaks in proper sentence structure, so you know exactly what she's saying despite the swapping out of words. I begged and pleaded with her to give it up and I tried to use toddler-logic to encourage her to see my way on this. Sadly, I don't think this "toddler-logic" is a real thing and I couldn't make my convincing arguments work.

Instead, I pulled up the classic John Williams score to the original JAWS and let her listen to the classic, first 55 seconds.

She was smitten! Trying to open her mouth as wide as the shark on the poster and demanding to hear the shark song over and over again. When I asked her, "What does a shark say?" she actually was "singing" back the score!

This then prompted my husband to engage the hilarious "What does the fox say?" He turned it into a "What does the shark say?" spoof and the sounds like the  26 - 30  second marks with the first french horn spot.  I wish I could duplicate it or that my stubborn husband would let me record his genius, geeky quip moment! It was so brilliant and caused us to erupt into all kinds of laughter. Then, of course, we had to watch the video and my daughter just laughed and laughed.

The moral of the story? It's good to be a geek mom. Look at all the cultural stuff my toddler just engaged with in a positive and self-affirming way without gender-stereotyping or bias. I love that I can do these things with her and it's fun for everyone. . . and I can hear John Williams instead of a shrill "shark, shark" during imaginary play time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Epic Volvo Moment

I frequently arrive home to links on my messenger that my husband insists I should look at or watch. Today, I didn't have many, but I became the messenger. As I sent an image over, he sent a link back and so forth. All while making faces at each other from across the room while our daughter and puppy run wild! Maybe I really do live in a zoo!

So Ray sent me this link. I watched it over and over and over again. I watched it so that I could focus on the trucks, the drivers, the road, the camera angles. . . EVERYTHING! It is seriously amazing. Enjoy Jean-Claude Van Damme's Volvo Truck Epic Split!

Then go watch the other video of him learning about the stunt he's about to perform. You can just seem him processing the information and actually thinking about how seriously epic the whole thing is.

Then go watch all the other ones (like the hamster and the tight-rope walker and the running of the bulls. . . seriously awesome watching and quite impressive).  And I am still geeking out about this four hours after I originally watched it. My husband cannot believe I am still going on about it. This is too awesome. Who else can I show!!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2 Geeks Are Better Than 1

Also Known As. . . CAH's 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit


I was at work this morning and I got a message from my husband that he needs our card number so he can buy an awesome $12 purchase (yeah. . . yeah. . . we have to share a debit card for just one more month. . . it's his, but. . .I'm the wife). So I quickly sent him over the info and didn't ask any questions. Then he tells me it's something fun for him and I. Well. . . that could be any number of things. Maybe he signed us up for some sort of awesome tasting menu or purchased something movie related. I mean, there are lots of things it could be.

I had actually forgotten about it with all the hectic things going on at work. When I arrived home from work, my husband kept giving me these little hints about the $12 purchase, telling me I'd probably see it online or on twitter or something. Being the snoop that I am, I jumped on twitter, but wasn't really sure what he was talking about, so I didn't even know what I was snooping for. Finally he broke the news to me: Cards Against Humanity was doing this 12 Days of stuff. 12 Days of stuff? What in the world? What could this possibly mean? My husband just said they'll send us 12 gifts over 12 days.

Ya' know, that's pretty cool. I'm game for that kind of cute holiday neatness. Me, the lover of advent calendars and St. Nick (not. . .another name for Santa. . . no. . .no. . .the stocking filling guy on like December 5th). So I was super psyched and super proud of my husband for catching wind of this.

And that is why 2 Geeks are better than 1. Without my geek husband, I would have been too bogged down at work, teaching and enriching young minds, to know that this awesome deal was going on and I would have missed out on this elite opportunity sponsored by the card game that will make you feel dirty just for thinking about playing it.

I can't wait to post more about this as the gifts arrive. ::GIRLY SQUEALS OF EXCITEMENT::

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Olympic Torch Space Walk

I'm going to be honest. . . I was rather naive about the International Space Station until about a year ago. It wasn't until Canadian Astonaut Chris Hadfield took youtube geeking of his Space Station exploits to a new level that I became interested in what kinds of things were going on with the ISS. Hadfield is probably most geekingly famous for his farewell video from the Space Station. There are a good handful of pretty interesting space videos from teeth-brushing in space (and the difficulties of such an elementary task) to making Space Burritos. There are a good number of liquid oriented ones and they are seriously interesting. The one I remember the second most after Space oddity is the video on shaving in space, because my husband was awed (facial shaving = super hard in normal gravity).

Commander Hadfield totally hit my geek-strings with this video and, after entering back into the tweetisphere, I started following NASA on twitter and I was getting all sorts of awesome information to share with my students. It was around this time that Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory started his story line about the ISS and I was hooked in even farther. I thought it was pretty funny and I actually wanted to find out more about what was going on with space programs around the world. Were they really taking off from Kazakhstan or was that a Borat joke? Are the Russians dominating space travel at the moment?

So I started watching Hadfield's incredibly interesting videos about how things work in space. It gave me renewed hope in the international space program and what it could mean for our future or our children's future or our children's children's future. Sci-Fi seems that much more closer to reality, but it also makes you wonder why more isn't being done with setting up orbiting colonies or that steps aren't being taken to actually move forward (hello moon. . .it's still out there waiting for us). Even in the bleak state that the United States has put NASA into, the worldview on space travel is not directed solely on the United States. What a horrible self-centered world view.

As I was keeping tabs on major events, I missed such cool things as the launch of the Olympic Torch into space, but I wasn't about to miss the live footage of the Olympic Torch being handed off right outside the ISS! So I logged on this morning and watched live as Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy took the torch outside of the ISS and passed it back and forth, relishing the special historical moment. Here is the footage that I watched (after waiting like 36 minutes for it to start).

This was incredibly cool and I even got my daughter to sit and watch it for a little bit with me. It was incredibly watching them outside of the Space Station and listening to them list off every single thing they have to do. They then had to set-up the camera and move this and shift that and it was CRAZY! I said "you have got to be the most patient person in the world to be an astronaut!" This was just too cool and I had to geek a smidge today about the awesomeness of the ISS and how they really are trying to reach the rest of the world and remind them about how incredibly amazing the global space program is. . . inspiring a whole new generation.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Geeky Halloweeny

I just want to go on record saying I had my most, hands-down, favorite costume ever! My husband tried to say it wasn't a costume, but 1) I had to think about functionality in my class and 2) something I can handle doing on my own. This birthed. . . ZOMBIE TEACHER, Great Minds Taste Alike.

I committed to this costume 100%! I zombie-walked (Romero style) and posed with my kids for whole-class pictures of costumes and I always ate one of the brains of one of the kids. Also, in my first hour class, I was eating an apple cake from Starbucks and it looked like a brain cake! So there was some gross fun with that.

The shirt I got from snorgtees forever ago and I knew I wanted to wear it for Halloween. And I know I didn't commit to the full face paint or the full body paint, but I had to work. . . all day. . . with kids. . . in a black shirt. . .  But I was very thrilled with it. More than last year's Ghost Hunter costume. I just wore my Ghost Hunter t-shirt that I purchased while at Ohio State Penitentiary. Then I wore a bag and had some of my ghost hunter equipment with me. It was neat, but not as cool as this.

I got to school Halloween morning and I pulled out my cream paint and hair spray and went to town. I started out a bit too green (and turned a bit too blue by the end of the day), but I really pushed the whole grey look and the bloody mouth. I told my first students who came into my classroom who reacted to me that this was from the first student who tried to come into class early. Even when I had to go around the school, whenever I ran into people in the hall I'd act like a zombie. It made getting places slow-work, but it was well worth it. Later in the day, I had to return the Chromebook Cart to the Library and I really sold pushing that cart as a zombie. It was HILARIOUS!!! I won best drama personality, because I thoroughly commit to my personalities. So for my kids who are counting. . . I've had Aviator Bonilla, Beatnik Bonilla, Yogi Bonilla, Bonilla the Bard, Ghost Hunter Bonilla, Gamer Bonilla, and Zombie Bonilla.

This particular Halloween costume was a huge success and a great deal of fun. Other awesome costumes that showed up in my classroom this year: Philip J. Fry, complete with can Slurm can and Pizza, Captain Kirk; Slenderman, Princess Peach, Properly Dressed Jedi Knight, and the Apocalypse Prepared Guy. My kids were awesome and their creativity was impressive.

Halloween Eve was also the first time we would be taking our daughter out into our new neighborhood to Trick-or-Treat. Last year we didn't realize that our neck of the woods was devoid of houses to visit and no one out here does anything, because they're all snowbirds. This year we knew to go in a bit farther to the main town and Trick-or-Treat along our walking route. So our daughter dressed up as a pink unicorn and I still was a zombie and we went out Trick-or-Treating.

To top off the evening, Ray and I were hosting our first Thursday game night. Sadly, only two people came. Ray had worked hard to create a nice environment. He cleaned and made sure there was enough open space. The house looked quite impressive and Ray was really keen to impress any visitors. Two of our awesome club members showed up, but I was so exhausted from the long school day and going out with our daughter that I had to call it a night. The night wasn't over, though. Our daughter was so excited that people were there that she couldn't help herself and wanted to constantly come downstairs. She was was interrupting the gaming and our dog was being a pill. I felt bad for my husband, because it wasn't as perfect as he wanted it to be. But I do hope that he had fun. . . and that we didn't scare away our gamer group friends. Poor kid was hopped up on candy and the need for GAAAAMMMESS!!!

So all and all. . . it was a Happy Halloween. The Ghost Adventures Dracula Special was really quite fun and the Halloween Scooby-Doo was fun for me and Isabelle, too. It was a good Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Humble Bundle Virgin. . . No More

I wrote about how I got involved in Steam with Dear Esther. Well, this weekend I went full balls to the wall and finally committed to a Humble Bundle of my own with a Steam account of my own. I am totally psyched and haloed in an after-glow.

What did I Humble Bundle?

The selling point for me? Worms Reloaded! Worms Armageddon is totally something from my early years dating my husband. I had so much fun picking out the cool voices and launching holy hand grenades! It was a game that, in a way, put a new spin on how I viewed video gaming. I became so addicted to Worms that I literally drove my husband nuts wanting to play it so much. I liked the strategy and all the different things you could do. I also appreciated the skill it took to really get yourself in the right place to do the right things to take out your opponent. May I add that I was also pretty good at the game and actually won more than I lost. As someone who is always competing against the big dogs, it was awesome to be able to win at a game.

It didn't hurt that Organ Trail, Broken Sword, The Bard's Tale, and Ticket to Ride were there. The others I don't know much about, but I am really excited to play!  I already broke out Organ Trail and have been trying to make it the whole way. I've been freaking out over the inverted mouse! AHHHH!!! I also love all this because I am able to challenge my gaming boundaries.Stupid mouse.

So yeah. There it is. It's official. I purchased a Humble Bundle with Steam Keys. . . oh yeah. I am feeling so uber special right now. . . like I know a little bit more about a life that has been hidden from me for so long. Mmmmm..... games..... love it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dear Esther

I have these bouts of craziness where I become completely obsessed with video games. I loved playing WoW, but I had sort of entered the fray when the fad had somewhat ended, which made it hard to play as a single-player (for a non-hardcore player like me). This was mainly because to level up faster I needed to do quests or dungeon runs with people. I became frustrated with the game and turned to other games that I liked., such as The Sims, Sims 2, or Sims 3. Those games typically ended in the standard development of Sims, no matter what expansions I added and I'd fall into doing the same thing over and over and over again anyways.  Then I wonder about my web-based games like Kingdom of Loathing or. . . my high school favorite, Neopets. I play Neopets only for the little webgames that mimic other popular webgames. Some of these games now have popular versions on Facebook, but I don't have to worry about paying or ads or anything if I play them on Neopets.
So I continue to re-enter WoW now and again to try to pick up my character, but I still fall into my old rut or not being able to get far or level up in a faster way. So I pull out my old standby. . .

I started playing Kingdom of Loathing in 2007 during a time when my life was chaotic. Ray introduced me to the game and we played together. We'd share items and we joined a guild together. I still pop on to play once in a while, but they've had some changes and it makes it hard for me to log in or I feel too out of step to achieve certain things. I usually head back into the game in December when the site celebrates Crimbo, which is always a great deal of fun with special christmas-based quests and items. Sometimes they break out and do great holiday themed stuff. I try to check-in often for neat gimmicks. Like right now they're doing something for their Trick-or-Treat quest and I'm keeping an eye on it. I enjoy being a Pastamancer, but there are some pretty fun characters you can be.

I love the game so much that I have Kingdom of Loathing pint glasses and Friend Jim funded Mr. Card Game from Kickstarter as a present for me a year ago (We're hoping it arrives someday. . .haha)! I like the nerdland quality of the webgame and I love the stick figures. When I teach my kids and ask them to draw stuff and they get all self-conscious about drawing pictures. I tell them to try their best and stick figures are alright by me. I'm anxious to see the game, though, because I'm excited about how I could potentially use it in my classroom.

Sadly, there are times when these oldy-but-goody games don't feed the need I have for gaming. Sure I could pick up one of my gaming consoles and play out my games there. I am still a firm believer in the awesomeness of Wii. My daughter now loves playing with it, so that's a bonus. Our Xbox360 is always left in question for me. A certain owner of a certain system tried to fix some of the problems with it and I still haven't ascertained its current functional status. If I did, though, start a game on a console on our TV, my daughter wouldn't give me the space I needed. Plus a certain husband wants to watch his MSNBC shows. . .bllllaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.

That leaves me with computer games. I have been lurking around Steam for a while. I learned about Humble Bundles over the summer and I found out that Friend Jim and Ray were playing games they purhcased through Humble Bundle on this site called Steam. Look at them leaving me out of everything cool. Granted, my time is incredibly limited for gaming, but sometimes you just need that release from all the anxiety and stress.

Since my husband left for the night to tabletop game (I didn't go, because we didn't have a sitter for my daughter), I wanted to play a "video game" (I also had a day off the next day). I'd been itching to play for a while. So I kept browsing Steam, but I also didn't have the money to drop on a new game. I texted Friend Jim and when he got home from work he listed off a bunch of games that Ray had on Steam, since I didn't hear back from my husband about the PC games he had and where they had been stored during the move. So I logged into my husband's Steam account (oh evil wife that I am) and started browsing the games Friend Jim recommended. Not surprising, none were what I was really looking for, but it was something different to engage with.

The game I opted to play, because upon opening the game the visuals stunned me, was Dear Esther. Dear Esther is a story-driven game from The Chinese Room, a British game development company. You walk through a landscape and have elements of the story revealed to you. Instead of it just being a clue-finding game, you have parts of the story shared as you arrive at each location. What throws me off is it being a first-person point of view. I'm used to having a more third-person perspective on a game. It feels more comfortable. That's probably why I don't play FP-shooter games.

Bottom line here is that I branched out into a new gaming platform and I am totally psyched about it. Dear Esther told an incredibly spooky story that offered great visual surprises throughout the story. You are on an island and you are listening to voice-overs of letters to a woman named Esther.  It has a very British feel to it, which I found enjoyable. Replay-ability has at least an additional play or two out of it now that I've gone through it once for the standard effect of the game. I learned that certain pieces of information are omitted and offered during certain plays depending on which letters or areas are accessed. The game in its four parts was long, but I found it to have unique gaming features and a compelling storyline that had me spooked enough to be freaked when my daughter snuck downstairs and ambushed me with claims of her face hurting (she has a mouth owie). 

I was pretty into the game. It was like watching a movie, but not. It wasn't a stressful game and I was able to finish it in one sitting, which always makes me feel a little bit more fulfilled. I mean, for example, I have so many half-done entries on this site, I have anxiety over whether or not they'll be finished! So it was one less anxiety on my plate.

Now I recommend a play of it if you're looking for something a little disturbing this time of year and you're looking for something visually stunning with a simplistic gameplay style. Just watch out for the water and the shadows!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Sometimes the smell of something can just make you smile for miles.

It's getting pretty cold out here in Wisconsin. The temperature where I live was registering around 27 degrees this morning. I was incredibly cold. So I decided to grab one of those delicious apple cakes from Starbucks for my breakfast. The dilemma over what to order to drink emerged. Do I want to order a hot chocolate? I immediately had some issues with the idea. First and foremost, it didn't feel like a rich drink day. It felt like a light, soothing drink day.

Forget the hot chocolate then. You're at Starbucks, get some coffee! Well, I don't drink coffee, so that was immediately out. As I went through my registry of preferred quick-drinks, I mentally happened upon my old standby. . . the drink I always ordered when I went to Starbucks until just a little while ago. Tall Earl Grey, Splash of Half with 6 Splenda. 6 Splenda exactly. . . no more. . . no less.

Brilliant! Perfect combination for the morning. Even before I arrived at the window to pay I was proud of the order. It felt perfect. At the window, I passed them my gold Starbucks card and they handed me the apple cake. Mmmmmm.... the smell of sweet apples filled the car and a tiny smile played on my lips. Then they opened the window again to handed my card. . . and my Earl Grey.

The smell hit me immediately and I was transported to a happy place. I felt calm and peaceful and that tiny smile that had been toying on my lips was now transformed into a full blown, unstoppable grin! I even had a moment where I thought to myself, "what is wrong with me?" And as I inhaled the alluring smell of my tea again, I was just beyond content, calm, and happy.

As I pulled out of the Starbucks parking lot, I just smiled a silly grin and smiled all the way to the school parking lot. I was feeling chipper and positive and ready for whatever the day threw at me. It was a tingly happy feeling. . .and now I feel compelled to start brewing my favorite tea at home. I was a huge Earl Grey addict until about four years ago. But if this is how it makes me feel. . . well. . . I've been missing out.

What a great start to a day that would turn out to suck the very life out of me. Boy oh boy. It wasn't even anything in particular. It was just all my hard work catching up with me. And the kids. . .they don't mean to, but they do have a tendency to drain teachers.

(Note: I kept the teabag in my mug on my desk and every time I needed a happy moment today, I took a quick whiff of that sweet scent and everything seemed just a little bit better.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What Star Trek Character Am I?

 A friend of mine posted this and I couldn't help but take the quiz. I always waffle on some answers, so I'm not sure how hardcore this response is. I also just felt the need to record what I did. So don't mind me and my need to validate myself through quizzes.

Your results:
You are Deanna Troi
Deanna Troi
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Beverly Crusher
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Mr. Scott
Jean-Luc Picard
Will Riker
Mr. Sulu
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.
Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

Like all good quiz-takers, I have to go BACK and take it again, fixing those answers I was waffling on and here it what happened when I did THAT!

Your results:
You are Beverly Crusher
Beverly Crusher
Deanna Troi
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Jean-Luc Picard
Mr. Scott
Will Riker
Mr. Sulu
A good physician and a caring parent.
You are devoted to your children
and to your occupation.
Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The T-Shirt Treatise (con't.)

A while back I wrote about how I wanted to use t-shirts as a teaching tool in my classroom. Of course I was being a bit hyperbolic at times and not every shirt was a direct link to the classroom. I have now, though, had the time to start using the shirts in the classroom during certain lessons and on certain days and I wanted to share some of the results that I've collected from the use of the shirts (plus add a few shirts that were recently released by snorgtees.com).

I did wear this on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It was awesome. I had a whole list of pirate lingo and the students had to write pirate stories using the story dice in my class and an awesome pirate name generator. And we used the shirt as a joke and the hook them to the awesomeness of the day. It was a win-win situation and it was a lot of fun. They were trying to figure out the shirt and we talked about why the pirate crossword puzzle would look like this and how hard it would be to solve. Hilarious! A definite shirt to wear again next year for International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

My students were working on plot in the narratives they are writing. My seventh graders were working on a plot for the origin stories they were writing for their super heroes. Whenever I had a student say they were done, I'd always say "Cool story bro, needs more dragons." It usually meant they were missing the action in the story. They just told me some things, but nothing ever really happened in the story. Plus, many of them needed excitement and we talked about that in one-on-ones to help them improve their writing. The students also got a kick out of the fact that my shirt said "bro." While I don't know how memorable the t-shirt will be, it was a fun way to break the tension for ushering in a need for revisions.

My students are struggling to understand what literally and figuratively mean. So when I ask them to tell me what the idiom of the week LITERALLY means, they give me the idiom definition. When, literally, it means "to hit a sack" or to "find a needle in a haystack," instead of "go to bed" or "finding something small in a big place/area." If I am figuratively speaking, I am using "coded" language to explain something. It was an interesting discussion. Does it bother me that people say "literally"? According to this shirt, no. I'll be wearing it again, especially when we're working on figurative language throughout the year in both of my grade level literacy classes. It doesn't hurt that red is our school color, either.

This shirt was a fun puzzle shirt for my kids. The students who are keeping their eye out for what I'm wearing were already trying to solve the puzzle before I ever even introduced it. I  used this t-shirt on the day we were starting spelling in the classroom. Someone said "I don't get it." I flattened the shirt and let them take a moment thinking about it. I said, "Don't words usually follow the 'I before E' pattern, except after a C where the E would come before the I? Don't you think that's wEIrd?" It was great the students won't forget weird, but I used it as a reminder that the "ie" combination doesn't always go "ie," It might follow the "ei" pattern. That is why we are learning features in spelling, so that they can be aware of the certain types of word structures that occur naturally in the English language. It is a great thinking shirts where the students have to start applying what they know to solve the problem. It also causes that kind of awareness that they need to start developing to be more participatory members of a productive community.

This is a Friday or before a break shirt. Sometimes you just need just exude an indifference to high stress situations. Sixth graders can be incredibly worrisome over things that don't necessitate worrying. I have found this has a tendency to stem from not listening to directions or guidelines. It happens. So I have to "meh away the stress." Plus the kids laugh and I have a tendency to say it alot. It helps facilitate a positive atmosphere before the weekends (especially for me).

What? A Sharknado shirt? Yes! My students were working on their narratives again and I wore this shirt as a reminder of how EPIC they needed to be! I said "we're going to need a bigger classroom with all these amazing ideas!" It worked for my students writing a standard narrative AND those who were working on their super hero origin stories.

This is the shirt I am anticipating the most. While teaching spelling this last week, my students had to deal with certain spelling features which focused on vowel/consonant combinations. So, for example the long a using the CVCe word pattern. (Yeah, it's a little intense, I think, as far as spelling is concerned.) As a review, I asked the students, what are the vowels. . . they are sixth graders. . . and they were like "It's like. . . a-w-sometimes y." I mean, they kept saying w. . . and it made me wonder what disconnect happened where they thought u was w. So I went home that night and I saw this shirt on  snorgtees.com and knew it was a must. Here are all the vowels that are always counted, partying inside and Y is only invited sometimes. Love it! Hopefully they'd never forget it. We'll just assume they're drinking soda and punch. What? You thought it was alcohol? Shame on you! Be an adult!

Now that I'm getting to wears my shirts in the classroom, it's wonderful to see that my plan for hooking the students is seriously working. My peer coach also recommended having reference posters that remind the students about some of the t-shirts. I'm not sure what I want to do about that. Either way, I am loving being able to wear my t-shirts in the classroom. Complete with dress pants! It's a great idea for use in your classroom if you're a teacher, especially in middle school.