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!