Do you hear what I hear? Could it be the dulcet tones of the approaching holidays, sneaking up to ambush us with last minute shopping panic? Why yes, I think it just may be!
No matter what holiday you celebrate, it is always enjoyable to give to others. Seeing their faces light up as they open a gift chosen with care an affection is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the season. To help you spread the love, I’ve put together this list of gifts that may just put you on the nice list with the geeks in your life.
Note: we are not getting any type of compensation from retailers to feature any of these products. These are simply items that I have found fun and useful.
Amazon Kindle: $49.99-$299.99
For the bookworm, I would recommend a Kindle. There are a lot of perks of having a Kindle, and one of the biggest ones I have found is that I always have something to read because I can carry thousands of books with me wherever I go. There are multiple models to fit just about any budget. You can get a full blown ten inch tablet or a simple book reader. Whatever your lover of books desires, you are sure to find something that suits them just right.
Williams Sonoma Harry Potter Ultimate Silicone Spatula Set: $31.96-$39.95
Do you know someone who whips up absolute magic in the kitchen? Make their holidays extra enchanting with this handy set of four Hogwarts House themed silicone spatulas! The set includes two mini spatulas, one medium spatula, and a flat flexible nylon spatula emblazoned with your favorite house crest. The spatulas are heat resistant and dishwasher safe. If you don’t think you will use all four, you can also purchase individuals.
Yes, socks! Hear me out—socks are inexpensive, useful, and fun! Gone are the days when socks were possibly the most boring gift ever. You can find all kinds of silly socks in a variety of styles, from no show, to crew, to fuzzy, to knee high, in fun designs. When your friends don their fun and funky socks, they will think fondly of the friend who is keeping their tootsies toasty.
My Personal Pick: Kitty Cat No-Show Socks 5 Pair, $14.90 from Hot Topic
Channel your inner Holiday Armadillo and gift your friends with the gift of Friends! How many categories of towels does Monica have? What does Chandler do for a living? Test your knowledge of this iconic show with your own gang for a good time this holiday.
Sometimes you really want to give someone a gift, but they insist that they really don’t want anything. Maybe they feel like they have a lot of stuff already, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a heartfelt and meaningful gift—you can donate to a charity in their name. Find a cause that is meaningful to them and reach out to local organizations to find out how you can help.
The theme for our Con this year is ‘Share Your World,’ and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit of mine. I am a huge Pokémon fan, and I have been an avid Pokémon GO player from the very beginning. Coincidentally, Novembers Community Day happens to coincide with day one of GGC! It is a true melding of my worlds.
For any who don’t know what Pokémon GO Community Day is, for a few hours on one day a month, a specific Pokémon is featured and spawns more frequently in the wild. The game also offers other bonuses during this time, such as increased instances of shiny Pokémon, experience boosts, and special moves for evolving the featured Pokémon.
Todays featured Pokémon was Chimchar!
Living in a suburb north of Seattle, I generally have my preferred Pokémon hunting grounds near to my home. Today, however, I had the chance to hunt in the city around the Washington State Convention Center. Just walking around the Con, I could tell that the love for Pokémon was strong, which is great because the area surrounding the convention center is chalk full of gyms and pokestops.
Hunting for Chimchar in downtown Seattle was a new experience for me this time because I set out on my own. Usually, I go out in my neighborhood haunts with my boyfriend to celebrate Community Day. The environments are familiar, the best spawn places are well known, and I have the company of my partner. Today, he was out of town visiting a friend, and I hit the crowded and less known streets of Seattle to catch as many Chimchar as I could.
At first, I was scared. I’m very shy by nature and I also deal with bouts of extreme social anxiety from time to time. The area wasn’t what I was used to, and I didn’t have my partner to lean on if I felt uncomfortable. The people around me were not those I had come to know by sight in my own neighborhood through many Community Days together, but strangers.
Despite these facts, the spirit of the day began to wash away my fears. I saw three people meet on a corner (holding two phones each) and begin to discuss their goals for the event. As I continued to walk, I would make eye contact and exchange a friendly nod with my fellow players. Con goers in full cosplay were out and about playing. At one point, and older woman stopped me to ask for some advice. She was a newer player and wanted to know how to tell a shiny Pokémon from a regular one, and I was more than happy to share my knowledge with her.
This is why I love this game. It encourages people to get out, see their community, and make friends. I have seen all types of people out playing at any given time—kids and their parents, couples, friends, and even the elderly. In my experience, there is not any one “type” of person who plays Pokémon Go. People of all genders and ages are able to find enjoyment in the game, and it gives us all a common bond.
In my everyday life, I won’t really go out of my way to talk to people. But on Community Day, that all changes. I almost become a different person. I will go up to groups of people and ask if they want to become in-game friends. There are people gathered around gyms to take down whatever featured legendary Pokémon raid is happening, excited at the prospect of having more people in their raid groups to give them the best chance to catch a rare Pokémon. After raids, people will congratulate or console complete strangers on their luck (or lack of) in catching the raid Pokémon. Children will come up to me to show off their best catches. Pokémon GO creates a safe place to enjoy something fun.
By the end of the three-hour event, I had caught right around 100 Chimchar, which really isn’t a bad haul. Within the first hour I had already obtained a three-star shiny Chimchar, which made the entire day a victory in my book. All in all, I walked away with three three-star Infernapes, including my shiny, with candies to spare to train them up. I ventured outside of my comfort zone to play a game I love, and I feel that my efforts were rewarded.
I’m looking forward to the announcement of next months Community Day! Check in game for details and play safely!
With GeekGirlCon 2019 only days away, now might be a good time to bring up something we all know and love: Con Crud! We all know what it is, but what are some ways to make sure you don’t get it? We at GeekGirlCon care about your health and well-being, so we wanted to share some tips and tricks that have worked well for us in the past, combined with some advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A healthy Con is a happy Con!
General Good Health Practices:
Here are some tips that will serve you well not only before, during, and after Con, but in your everyday life as well!
Wash your hands often. Hand washing is a very effective way to prevent the spread of diseases. When washing your hands, good technique is key. Wet your hands with warm water, then scrub your hands with soap for around 20 seconds. Don’t forget areas like the back of your hands, between your fingers, or under and around your nails. Rinse your hands well and make sure they are completely dry. If you don’t have access to water and soap, alcohol based hand sanitizer will work in a pinch. For more information on when and how to wash your hands, click here.
Stay hydrated. Water makes up most of our bodies, and it functions best when we keep replenishing the water we lose through daily living. Try to stay away from the sugary stuff if you can. Pure H2O is best.
Eat well. Food is the fuel your body uses to live, and, in terms of energy, you can only expect to get as good as you give. Try to eat healthy, nutritious foods with a good balance of vitamins and nutrients to give your body what it needs to stay healthy.
The best way to make sure you don’t catch anything during Con is to prepare yourself before hand. As they say, a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Get the flu shot. We hear this every flu season. Get the flu shot so you don’t get the flu. It is good advice that should be followed for personal protection against the potentially deadly virus, but there is another factor to consider when getting the flu shot. When you immunize yourself against the flu, you are also protecting those around you from catching the virus as well. Flu vaccines work on the philosophy of herd immunity, meaning the more people who are vaccinated, the more protection it offers to those in our society who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (think babies, the elderly, or people undergoing chemotherapy). This is a good thing to keep in mind when you know you will be going someplace where there are likely to be a lot of people, like Con. If you have questions or concerns about getting the flu shot, talk to your doctor. More information about the flu shot can be found here.
Take immunity boosting vitamins. It can’t hurt to shore up your immune system any way you can before going to Con. Not only can taking vitamins help boost your immune system, but it can help to give you more energy as well. Vitamin mixtures such as Airborne or Emergen-C are good options to take once a day before attending Con. Please be sure to follow dosage directions on packages.
Get lots of rest and manage your stress levels. Bodies that are sleep deprived or strung out on stress have lowered immune responses. Give yourself the best shot at not getting sick by getting some good sleep and making some time to relax or meditate. A little self care can go a long way.
Okay, here it is! The big event! It’s going to be hard, but try not to get so carried away in all the excitement that you forget about your health! Remember that there are lots and lots of people around, each bringing with them a various mixture of germs and bacteria. Many large event spaces use air conditioning, which will dry you out faster than you might imagine, so remember to keep drinking water. Think about how you feel after getting off an airplane, and take steps to keep yourself safe.
Cover your coughs and sneezes properly. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to cover your cough or sneeze. When you sneeze into your hands, you are getting all of the germs on your hands, which then go around touching stuff. If you feel a sneeze coming, first try to direct your body away from what you are looking at (or who you are talking to). Place your nose and mouth firmly in the crook of your elbow and let loose. Not only does your arm create a more effective barrier to flying germs, but the germs are also more likely to stay put there. For more info on correct coughing and sneezing etiquette, click here.
Try to avoid touching your face. Even with our best efforts, our hands still come into contact with millions of germs every day, and your face is like a gateway into your body. Touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, or any of the surrounding areas is giving germs easy access. It is a tough habit to break, but keep it in mind.
Bring a small container of hand sanitizer with you. We can’t always have access to soap and water, especially when walking around a Con show floor. We touch a vendors wares, wipe a toddlers nose, sneeze, cough, then go back to touching stuff again. We are all human and we all do these things. Just try to use a bit of hand sanitizer after.
Pace yourself and know your limits. Con is exciting and you want to cram in as much cool stuff as you can! But, you should also listen to your body if it is telling you it is tired. Take a few minutes to sit and rest. Go back to your hotel and take a quick nap. Keep hydrating and eating well. If you over-tax your body, you are making it that much more vulnerable to germs.
Just because the Con is over, that doesn’t mean you should forget about taking care of your body. This is a critical time. Sometimes it can take a few days for Con Crud to make itself known. You should keep up with hand washing and other good hygiene practices, as well as some other tricks.
REST! Your body and mind are going to be tired. Take some time to relax and recuperate. Your body will thank you for it.
If you do end up getting Con Crud after all, please stay home. It is hard to pass on germs to other people if you keep yourself away from people in the first place. Everyone will thank you for not getting them sick too. Keep resting, hydrating, and taking vitamins. If you feel like you need to see a doctor, please do.
Attendees of GGC 2019, harken to me! For the brave, adventurous, and those who liketh to win free stuff, we have a fun side quest to be undertaken. Shalst thou accept the challenge?
Whilst thou art journeying through GGC, we charge thee to seek out Agents of GGC and earn their seal for completing various tasks.
The rules of this quest are simple–complete the tasks, find nearby GGC Agents, and have them stamp thine GeekGirlCon QUEST page in the GGC program. Each stamp will gain thee one entry into a prize drawing. If thou completeth all six tasks, thou shalt be rewarded with a GGC avatar pin! Present thy collected stamps to the good people at the GGC QUEST Table (located next to the Info Booth on level Yakima) to redeem them for drawing entries.
Though tasks may be completed in any order, they are laid out for explanation thus:
A seal can be earned by attending any panel at GGC 2019.
A journey to the Game Floor to play a game of thoust choosing shall be rewarded with a seal.
Attending any workshop or meetup shall reveal another seal.
A post on social media with #GGC19 wilst earn thee another seal from the good people of the GGC QUEST Table once shown.
For the adventurous and inquisitive, a seal can be found by conducting an experiment in the DIY Science Zone.
A last seal can be uncovered at the GGC QUEST table by completing the Con survey, for we sincerely appreciate any feedback thou hast to give. This task comes with the added reward of a GGC avatar pin!
It is prophesied that the drawings shalst be held at the SassyBlack Concert at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and at the Cosplay Contest at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Thou must be present to win!
Now, I implore thee! Go forth and quest! Fun, adventure, and prizes await!
Ahh… fall is in the air! Which means that GeekGirlCon 2019 is rapidly approaching. With that knowledge, I have the distinct pleasure of unveiling to you the first peeks at our amazing lineup of workshops! Here is a sample of what we will be offering at this years Con:
Wellness for Geeks Who Sit by GeekGirlStrong
In our daily lives we often pursue activities in which we have to sit a lot ━ working at a desk, bending over a sketchbook, or getting lost in a video game. All that time sitting can take a toll on your body. Our workshop ‘Wellness for Geeks Who Sit’ is geared towards improving the health and well-being of geeks of all ability levels. Pick up a few techniques to take to your next RPG day and become the wellness hero you were born to be!
Foulplay Presents: A Murder Mystery Pop-Up Party
There’s a mystery afoot and we need your help to solve it! Come and enjoy an evening of deception and deduction to solve the who-done-it murder mystery of The Curios Carnival! This workshop is recommended for ages 15 and up.
Adult Lightsaber Choreography Class with Saber Guild: Kamino Temple
In this workshop presented by the masters of the Kamino Temple, you can realize your dreams of becoming a true Jedi (or Sith). Here you will learn the skills to wield a lightsaber in capable and elegant movie-quality combat. While this particular workshop is for adults and teens with parent or guardian supervision, there is also a special class for the younglings!
Space-Travel Puppet Performance on Interactive Stage
Let your child’s creativity reach for the stars in this workshop that combines the ideas of interactive storytelling and engineering! Make learning fun while using recycled materials to create a unique space adventure and a lifetime of memories.
Mini Battle Bots Workshop by Reign Robotics
We have all had daydreams about building our own battling robots (Anyone? No? Just me?). In this special workshop hosted by Reign Robotics, participants will get to build actual mini battling robots from mini-motors and toothbrush heads. At the end, participants can have a chance to show off their new little mechanized creations in an obstacle course or in a mini sumo ring! Whose mini-robot will reign supreme?
Mystery-Box Game-Design Challenge
In this workshop, teams will be given boxes of mystery items with which to create a game! Working with tabletop gaming industry experts, you must use your ingenuity and creativity to make the best game you can. The best game will win a special prize!
For those of you who love to play all kinds of games when attending a Con, I have some great news for you! This year the game floor at GeekGirlCon will be expanding! We will be featuring both video games and tabletop games on the third floor of the convention center.
It’s time to grab your squad and brush up on your trivia skills to win fabulous prizes! Join us this Saturday at Mox Boarding House in Bellevue for some ultra-fun trivia that has the added bonus of supporting GeekGirlCon! It’s not too late to get a sweet deal on advanced tickets.
Prizes: First place: VIP passes to GeekGirlCon 2019, Second place: weekend passes to GeekGirlCon 2019, Third place: Super awesome mystery prize!
There can be up to six players to a team. No worries if you are a solo player; we can help you find a team to play with or you can be a team of one. Kids are welcome to come and play, and we will have special activities for kids who don’t want to participate in trivia.
Come show off your mad pop culture knowledge and trivia skills! We can’t wait to see you there.
So, I have this cat. If I showed you a picture of him, you might think he is just a long haired black cat, albeit an exceptionally beautiful one, but you would be wrong. A picture isn’t enough to convey the silky softness of his fur with its subtle tones of red that shine in the sunlight and the few stray strands of white on his chest. Nor would it convey to you the depth of his absinthe eyes, dilated with playful excitement. No, a photo would never do him justice.
His name is Loki, but he goes by many other nicknames in our house: Bub, Bublin, Mister Baby, Brother, and many, many others. Loki is the best cat ever! But Loki also has this weird habit—Loki sucks. Loki sucks on shirts, like a baby sucking on a bottle. He has from the minute we brought him home as a kitten.
At first, I was beyond confused by this behavior. I’ve had cats all my life but had never encountered this behavior before. After a few months, I grew worried and did a little research into the matter. What Loki does is called “wool sucking,” even though he almost exclusively chooses my cotton shirts.
There are several reasons why Loki might wool suck. The most likely reason, I found, was that Loki was weaned from his mother too early. This makes a lot of sense. When we adopted him, he was barely eight weeks old. I will always remember the day he joined our little family. It was the middle of July and it was stupid hot outside. We went to a local no-kill shelter in the height of kitten season. This shelter had kittens coming out the wazoo! Everywhere you looked there were dozens of baby cats ranging from 6 weeks to 6 months old. They had so many that they had to put up temporary kennels in the lobby to hold them all. I am a cat lady, so this was my idea of heaven and I wanted to take them all! I had gone into a few rooms to play with some kitties, but none of them felt like they were mine. Then I stepped out into the lobby and I saw him: a black ball of fluff with greenish-yellow eyes in a kennel all alone. I was done. Dazzled by cuteness and the instant cosmic connection, I told my boyfriend that that was the one. The shelter attendant asked if we wanted to play with him a bit to make sure we were a good match. Nope, I didn’t. I was completely certain.
The people at the shelter gave us a temporary cardboard carrier and we put him in it. I left the top open while we did the paperwork, because it seemed mean to shut him in for longer than I needed to. He was so fearless. He kept popping his head out of the box to stare at my boyfriend and me. His shelter name was Jeff… It didn’t suit him at all. Then the shelter lady began to give us a rundown of his (brief) history. Jeff (Loki) had been separated from his mother at four weeks because of a bad upper respiratory infection, which is common in cats. Though he had gotten better, he had been kept in isolation so he didn’t infect other cats. He had only been placed in the kennel for adoption that day.
Can you imagine? This poor, adorable kitten had been taken from his mother before he could even eat solid food. He must have been so scared… sick and alone, with no other cats to comfort him or teach him how to be a cat. This separation and isolation may be a big factor in Loki’s sucky behavior. Not only did he still want to nurse on his mom, but it also provided him a sense of comfort in a new, scary situation.
I may have made a mistake by indulging his behavior. But how could I not? It was the only time I could get him to purr! And, this is going to sound weird, but it was like a bonding time for us. It let us get to know each other. And we needed each other—he needed a home, and I needed a friend. My house was often empty because my boyfriend was spending the majority of his time at work and school. I was also suffering from terrible anxiety at the time and, now I realize, Loki was too. So really, when Loki would suck on the shoulder of my shirt it was comforting to us both. The sucking gave him a new nickname—Oedi-puss.
I took Loki for a checkup at the vet a while later to get some flea meds and vaccines. I mentioned the sucking to the vet, and she assured me that he would eventually grow out of it. He did not grow out of it. It’s been five years and he still sucks all the time.
I can always tell when Loki wants to suck. As is with many males, when a mood overtakes him…he will not be denied. His eyes get very round, until there is almost no green left. His tail gets puffed up and he swishes it back and forth vigorously. He is already purring as he approaches me. This is a special purr—it has a trilling undertone to it that is meant to tell me that he needs attention now. It doesn’t matter to him what I’m doing at the time, it simply can’t be more important than snuggling. He will walk over whatever I have in my lap and hug me. He presses into my chest and nuzzles at me with his velvety muzzle. And then comes the noise. When Loki sucks he is loud! The insistent snuck snuck snuck fills the room and tells everyone what he is doing. His tail whips back and forth as drool spreads over my shoulder and his claws knead my chest and tummy.
For a long time we tried to discourage Loki from sucking. We tried to play with him, we pushed him away, we closed the bedroom at night. But no matter what we tried, and we really consistently tried, he would force his way up to suck. Recently my boyfriend and I decided it was time to give up the fight. So now when Loki wants to suck I let him. It isn’t hurting him to do it, though his claws sometimes hurt me. But I grin and bear it. I will wrap my arms around him and hold him close as his cat spit permeates my clothing. When I get right down to it, it isn’t only soothing for him, but for me too. Loki needs me like nothing else on this planet needs me. Loki may suck, but he is my fur baby.
Well, folks… it’s that time of year again! Time for planning barbeques, buying fireworks, and trying not to be maimed or seriously injured by said fireworks. That’s right y’all! It’s Independence Day!
For many people, and in latter years I think particularly, the Fourth of July is a mixed bag of emotions. Everyone loves an excuse to have friends and family gather around to gorge themselves on Costco hot dogs, vats of potato salad, and luscious summer watermelon. The weather is (generally) pretty good in most places of the US, and it is a day off work for many to celebrate the bravery of the founding fathers.
But with the good can also come the bad… Political tensions are running high. Fireworks can often be seen as a nuisance. Perhaps you are a person suffering from PTSD, a small child scared of loud noises, or a pet fearing the apocalypse. Or maybe you are just a person who enjoys peace and quiet, which is okay too. No one likes being taken off-guard by the random whims of the neighbor down the street who only get the kind of fireworks that are so loud they rattle your windows. Beyond that, fireworks are expensive and are also a safety hazard when handled improperly.
When asked, most people will proclaim Thanksgiving or Halloween as their favorite holiday, but I would have to say that the Fourth of July is one of mine for a very special reason.
When I was little, we were pretty poor. My dad worked a crummy construction job for a slum lord and my mom was a bookkeeper for a few small businesses. While my parents always made sure that we always had everything we needed, with three kids there wasn’t a lot of room in the budget for luxuries.
As an adult, I now kind of see fireworks as a symbol of literally burning money, so it is surprising to me that my father would insist that we buy fireworks every year, even if it was just a few. My town was small and there wasn’t a community fireworks show until I was older, so if you wanted fireworks you had to buy them yourself. I remember getting positively giddy when I would see the small Lion’s Club stand being erected in the grocery store parking lot at the end of every June. I would scour the couch for coins, saving up to buy my favorite firework, The Climbing Panda. As the calendar flipped from June to July, I could barely contain my enthusiasm, and sure enough, the time came to purchase our fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday.
I was the middle child of three. My older sister was a strong willed wild-child, and my younger brother always needed more attention as the baby. With young kids and working full time, it is hard to find one-on-one time with any of your children, but my dad made it happen for me every Fourth of July. A few days before the big day, my dad would scoop me up and whisk me away to the store to pick out the fireworks, just the two of us.
I would hold his hand as we walked up to the red shack, savoring the scent of gunpowder. It was so unlike any smells that I would encounter normally and it acted like a stimulant to my excitable mind. I would stand on the little wooden steps that the proprietors placed before the stand so that the smaller patrons (ie, me) could see over the counter. I remember emptying the coins from my pocket, carefully counting them out, and asking politely for a Climbing Panda. Looking back on it now, it is slightly laughable that the Lion’s Club would sell a small explosive to a six-year-old, even if I was accompanied by an adult.
My dad and I would look over the wares of the stand carefully, calculating out how many sparklers we would need. Ten in a box, three kids (plus some of the neighborhood kids), two adults, and at least one box of each color. We would pick up a few Roman Candles, some smoke bombs and ground flowers. Then my dad would point to a twenty dollar pack of bigger fireworks, and I would goggle at the fortune he was spending on something that would only last for a night. Twenty dollars seemed like quite a lot compared to my ninety-nine cent panda.
Once the sun went down on the evening of the Fourth, we would get to show off our selections to my family and the neighbors. We would pretend to be fairy queens with sparklers, and army commandos with the multi-colored smoke bombs. Pop-its littered the sidewalk as ground flowers glowed in their short, whirlwind blooms. Dad would be the lead technician, always stressing safety when enjoying fireworks. I would snuggle in a blanket near my mom as we watched the glow and pop of the mostly fountain-style fireworks, and most of all, my Climbing Panda. And in a whiff of sulfur, it was over and it was time for bed.
Now I am an adult, and my dad and I aren’t on speaking terms. Life happens, and the years go by, and all that other cliche stuff. Oddly though, even after all these years and everything that went down with my dad, I still get excited about the Fourth of July. I will walk into a fireworks tent, smell the gunpowder, and I am instantly transported back to being a little girl counting out sticky pennies to buy a tiny firework. And I remember how much fun I had with my dad.
Fireworks are kinda like life, yeah? An expensive and inconvenient nuisance that might burn you, but beautiful to behold, best shared with friends and family, and over far too quickly. So, things might not be great now–like my relationship with my dad, or the state of our country–but that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to better times. And when those better times come, I will appreciate them all the more for knowing that the moment is fleeting.
That is why I love the Fourth of July.
Happy Independence Day everyone! If you are planning on enjoying fireworks, always practice proper fireworks safety! And please remember to be courteous to your neighbors.