Happy World UFO Day! Today is an opportunity for people to gather together and watch the skies for unidentified flying objects or ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ as they are now more commonly called. So what is the history of UFOs and the likelihood that these phenomena are actually evidence of extraterrestrial life?
Allegedly there have been sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena since ancient times, although the number and nature of reports have significantly increased since the second world war. The so-called ‘Modern UFO era’ was established with a sighting near Mount Rainier in 1947 that popularised the name ‘flying saucers’ and began an obsession with flying saucers that lasted a decade. The term ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’ was adopted to better describe more common later sightings of different shapes such as cigars and triangles.
Yesterday was World Bicycle Day and therefore an excellent time to celebrate bicycles and cycling. It’s also a perfect time to introduce eRacing – a hobby that has kept me both fit and sane during these strange pandemic times!
There are lots of good reasons to celebrate bicycles. They are a fun way to travel and enjoy the outside but also have big benefits for our health and the environment. For millions across the planet, the bicycle is a vitally important form of transport – their simplicity makes them both affordable and easy to keep working. Bicycles are especially important in rural areas of developing countries enabling healthcare workers to reach their patients, students to safely reach their schools, and businesses to reach their customers or new markets.
When Colorado expanded their COVID vaccine eligibility to include all adults, I was thrilled. I spent hours that first day chasing leads for anywhere that still had appointments available, before a coworker hooked me up with a drive-up vaccination clinic he’d learned about through a FB group created specifically to connect people trying to get the vaccine with clinics and pharmacies that still had doses in stock.
Four weeks later, I was fully vaccinated and eager to start living a slightly safer, slightly freer life. My fiancé and I moved to Denver last summer in the midst of the pandemic, and I couldn’t wait to actually get to know this city I’d been living in for almost a year. And that’s when my mental health started to take a turn.
I didn’t know I could be so excited for New Pokémon Snap to come out until Becca posted about replaying the original Pokémon Snap from 22 years ago. Her post immediately transported me to my childhood TV room, trying to capture all 63 featured Pokémon on film. Would the New Pokémon Snap scratch the nostalgia itch and be worth the full price? Would I still get excited about taking pictures of Pokémon I didn’t know? I found out soon after I started playing—the answer is YES!
Here are three little ways New Pokémon Snap captured my heart, and one way it did not:
For the past several years I’ve been setting myself a goal of reading 50 books per year. Somehow, I always feel certain I’ll easily accomplish it and reliably come out five to ten books short.
Last year was the first time I’ve ever officially succeeded. In the final few days of December 2020, I forced myself to rush through a forgotten stack of graphic novels I’d already decided I didn’t want to read. I guess this was the way my particular brain compromised between the incessant call to be “productive” above all else and my absolute rejection of that value in general.
It’s halfway through 2021 now—both months after last year’s “triumph” and months into this year’s challenge. (Again, 50 books. Again, I’m behind and feeling guilty about it.) It’s an odd time to be thinking about this, I guess, but the charge to write about something interesting for this blog post forced me to confront just how depleted my capacity to fully engage with media has been during the pandemic. The bleak truth is that though I might have finally met a goal I’d been striving for, I don’t really remember anything meaningful about any of the books I read last year. In some ways, that claim might be an oversimplification, but it’s also an accurate description of the emotional toll the past year and a half took on me and, consequently, my media habits. So, in other words, when it came down to it, I placed more value on the quantity of books I read than the effect that media had on my life.
When I was growing up, I often observed that there was a distinct lack of good women role models in film and TV. Women characters always seemed to fit into a limited set of stereotypes: the damsel-in-distress, the leading man’s beautiful-but-personality-free love interest, the femme fatale, and the Cruella de Vil-style villain. The first good woman character I remember as a small child was Wonder Woman from the 1970s TV series. I adored her; not only did she beat up the bad guys with ease and always came back from adversity to save the day, but she had some fantastic moves! The twirling transition from Diana Prince to Amazon Goddess, the iconic crossed bracelets stance to defend against gun attacks, and best of all her boomerang tiara! Dressed in my Wonder Woman pyjamas, I would proudly strike a pose with my arms crossed. Usually indignantly whilst being given a ticking off for leaving my toys on the floor!
Trainers! Today is the day! After a 22-year wait (yes, you read that right) we are finally getting a new Pokémon Snap. As I have waited not-so-patiently for this long-desired sequel, this week I thought I would fire up my Nintendo 64 and play through the original Pokémon Snap for a trip downmemory lane. I was not disappointed.
Originally released in 1999, Pokémon Snap was a delight to fans of the franchise. Up until this point, the Pokémon games had only been available for the Gameboy. Pre-dating the wildly successful Pokémon Stadium, this was the first time that many Pokémon had been rendered in 3D (and it kinda shows. I mean, look at that low-poly Eevee). This could be a big reason why only 63 of the original 151 Pokémon were available in the game.
After a little (okay, a LOT) of dusting and some fiddling with cables, I was able to hook up my N64 and boot up the game. Oh my, it was like a literal time machine! The instant wave of nostalgia that flowed over me as I heard the familiar theme music was intense. All of a sudden, I was a 12-year-old girl again, giggling with my siblings about the silly pictures we would take and begging my parents to take me to Blockbuster so I could have those images printed out as stickers so I could share them with my friends.
Professor Oak greeted me like an old friend and explained the rules of the game. But I was in for a little bit of shock on that first run though the beach level of the game. I was having a hell of a time aiming my camera and it took me a minute to figure out why—I have been so used to modern gyroscopic controls for aiming that I have totally forgotten how to aim with a joystick! Yep, I was trying to aim the camera by moving my whole transparent purple N64 controller. Needless to say, I didn’t get many good pictures on that round.
Even once I came to my 1999 era senses, this game was still challenging. In every level there is so much going on! In this rail shooter style game, once the level starts you are on a set path and pace, with a limited time to capture any given scene. Trying to get just the right pose at just the right angle as you are continuously moving through the environment is hard, but so satisfying when you get it right.
Though there is a limited number of Pokémon available in this game, one thing that still impresses me about it is the replay value. You will play through the first few levels, then Professor Oak will give you the apples. Apples can lure out Pokémon and make them exhibit different behaviors, and you play through the levels over and over again to find how they react to the treat. Then later you get the pester ball which can bother a Pokémon out of hiding or encourage it to spontaneously evolve, and the Pokéflute which will wake up sleeping ‘mon and make some others dance.
On top of that, there is so much happening in the environment around you that you would be hard pressed to get everything in a single run through a level. Pokémon are appearing on all sides of you, sometimes only offering a good shot for just a moment before disappearing off screen. I found that it was easier to do several runs of a single level and only focus on getting shots of a few Pokémon each time so that I would have a maximum chance of catching Pokémon in a rare pose and get the highest score possible.
Even now, I’m still finding new things in this very old game. For some reason, it never occurred to me to look behind me while on the track. I decided to do so while playing through the cavern level. Nearing the end of the course, you can free a Pikachu from a Zubat with a well timed pester ball, which will result in Pikachu flying past you tied to a bunch of balloons. It took a few tries, but I managed to get it, and I thought this was the extent of the interaction. I proceeded to play through the level, playing the Pokéflute to make the Articuno egg hatch. Now, Articuno is my favorite legendary bird, and I was hoping to get one last chance at a good shot of it, so I turned around behind me to see if it would come up again. I was almost too shocked to take a picture when I saw the Pikachu riding Articuno!
It is interactions like this that made the original Pokémon Snap so popular. There was always something new, a hidden Pokémon, a new pose. As the Pokémon franchise has grown over the years, fans have continuously asked for a new Pokémon Snap so they could have that same fun again with all new Pokémon. Well trainers, that day is finally here!
As I fidget through the rest of my workday until I can rush home to open my mailbox and start a whole new Pokémon Snap journey, I’m curious. What will this new game be? Will all 932 Pokémon be available? What new features can we look forward to? I suppose I will just have to find out.
Yesterday marked the 51st Earth Day! I’m sure that there are many sites that will list tips to reduce your carbon footprint and be a better steward of the Earth. This is not that kind of post.
Did you know that the first Earth Day was a massive protest? What started as a nationwide environmental teach-in became a 20 million person protest, demanding the US government do more for the environment. The Earth Day protest proved successful; over the next few years, the US enacted a slew of environmental agencies and standards. Here’s a sample of what happened within the next three years after the first Earth Day:
The Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
Clean Air Act (1970)
Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970)
Banning of DDT (1972)
Clean Water Act (1972)
Endangered Species Act (1973)
Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out (1973)
While we have many environmental protections in place, we have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone has access to clean water, pollution-free air, and opportunities to recreate in beautiful parks. Most often, it is underserved and underrepresented communities that suffer environmental catastrophes. We don’t have to look far back in history for examples: the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Flint water crisis from 2014-2019, and the ongoing battles against the Dakota Access Pipeline clearly show how environmental issues intersect with racism and poverty.
While it’s too early to truly celebrate any recent victories in social and environmental justice, I find this spring more hopeful than the last. Where is the hope I speak of? Hope is found in every piece of trash we compost, in every company we hold accountable, and every environmental act our governments pass. Hope is found in standing in solidarity with protestors, donating to bail funds, and fighting white supremacy. Hope is found whenever we view environmentalism with an intersectional lens; it’s all connected, as they say, in a loop that never ends.
Who We Are Vaguely and in Terms Only of the Media We Seek Out Most Often:
Teal (plain) Literally any teen TV show, YA, women’s and feminist media, everything Star Trek Caitlin (italics) Star Wars, Marvel & the MCU, documentaries, and trope-defying comedy.
Jill (bold) Superheroes, space, sci-fi, out-of-the-box sitcoms, cartoons, and PUNS.
Welcome to #GeekGirlTalk, a (biased, subjective, opinionated) conversation about the pop culture we’re currently loving, hating, and obsessing over. To launch this series for the year, I’ll be chatting with Caitlin, one of our content strategists here on the GGC blog, and Jill, our former workshop coordinator, about the Netflix series Bridgerton.
Spoiler disclaimer: We definitely talk about a couple of big plot moments, but not in a ton of detail. If you really don’t like spoilers and you intend to watch the show, you might wait before reading.
Since I’m starting us out, I have a confession. I was really, really frustrated by almost everything about the show. Yes, it had our beloved cringey/dreamy regency social customs. It had the effervescent Nicola Coughlan. It had, if we’re being honest, the kind pure, unadulterated vibes that are getting us through this pandemic. But, as a lifelong fan of romance and period fiction and Shonda Rhimes (the show’s executive producer), my expectations were high….and entirely unmet.
In our eleven years, GeekGirlCon has made it our mission to celebrate and honor the legacies of underrepresented groups in science, technology, comics, arts, literature, gameplay, and game development. To keep our community mission alive, we must take a stand against white supremacy and show support for those who are currently living in fear for their lives and safety.
Since March of 2020, reported hate crimes against Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Americans (APIDA) have increased over 150%. The APIDA community has been impacted disproportionally from COVID, with over 223,000 APIDA-owned businesses forced to close their doors. Eight lives were lost on March 16, 2021 as a result of one of many hate crimes targeting those in the APIDA community. GeekGirlCon staff are mourning. We hurt for not only the lives of the eight that were lost on March 16, but also for the thousands of lives that are impacted by white supremacy every day. We understand that while the increase of reported hate crimes against the APIDA community is alarming, these crimes are often not reported, spoken about, or acknowledged.
Our values of community, empowerment, diversity, and inclusion cannot be honored if we stand on the sidelines and ignore the impact of hate crimes in our community. We must acknowledge our peers in the geek community who are victims of hate crimes. We must give them the microphone to hear their experiences, and we must educate ourselves to understand why those who are APIDA are afraid and hurting right now. We must fight for those who are too tired to keep fighting. More importantly, we must create a space for those who need the shelter to recoup. As long as we stand silent, we give the megaphone to those who spew hate and normalize racism.
GeekGirlCon stands with the APIDA community and will ALWAYS condemn white supremacy. Though we are apart, we still stand with all of those who need our support at this time. We understand that many of our volunteers, supporters, and community members use GeekGirlCon as an escape from the hate, attacks, and harassment. We will continue to create a community that serves as a safe haven for all who need it and to work towards our mission to ensure that GeekGirlCon celebrates underrepresented groups in all things Geek.