Ask GeekGirlCon: What geeky names and nicknames do you have for your pets?


by GeekGirlCon Manager of Editorial Services Adrienne Roehrich

I’ve mentioned before how much the GeekGirlCon staff loves animals! And, of course, we give our pets geeky names. So I asked the team what monikers we have for those in our lives, whether official or nicknamed we’ve—because one of the joys of companionship is using terms of endearment.

My own family loves animals. We almost always have a menagerie. We’ve had kitties named Ytse (after a song), Puppy (because as a college student I thought having a kitty named Puppy was funny and we called him Puppy-cat), Korben (named after Korben Dallas from The Fifth Element and of course called her Korby),  Jam (the other half of the song and called him Jammy), and Boo (short for Peek-a-Boo—my kids were young, calling her Boo-boo). You can see we like naming after our music geekiness and from our favorite characters. Other than a lizard named Liz (ever watched The Magic School Bus?), we had frogs named Yoda, Darth Vader, and Leia. I bet I don’t have to tell you where those come from. Liz has an expected lifespan of 35 years, and he is now about 5. He’s just cranky enough to live that long. Sadly, all our other kitties, frogs, hermit crabs, and parakeets have gone.


D’Argo and Vala

Currently, D’argo and Vala, two boxers, are companions in our home. Do these names sound familiar? My favorite television show of all time is Farscape. When we got D’argo, it seemed like he fit the character, but perhaps we should have named him Rygel since he is more cowardly than brave, and certainly quite stinky. He thinks he is human and since he was two, we’ve called him “old man.” We’ve had many of his pet-sitters offer to keep him if we ever need to give him up, which we’d never do. He’s now eight, entering elderly years for a boxer, but you’d never know it.

When Vala came to us, she was a 10-month-old rescue from the Midwest Boxer Rescue. We were trying to find a name to go with D’argo, but none of the Farscape characters really fit her. We needed someone fairly feisty. So we took the actress who played Aeryn Sun on Farscape and used the character name from another of our favorite shows, Stargate SG-1. That’s how Vala got her name, and she certainly fits the attributes of the character. In the tradition of calling our pets a hyphenated nickname, we call her Vala-Wala often. She’s now six years old and just now is realizing she is no longer a puppy, but she continues with her rambunctious ways as much as possible. Both our dogs are wonderful additions to our family.



Other GeekGirlCon staffers shared about their pets. Erin Doherty, copywriter, contributed, “I have an 11-year-old rescue mutt (part Shar-pei, part German Shorthair Pointer, part who-the-heck-knows) named Madison. He’s the first dog I’ve had as an adult and he’s my longest relationship (ahem). He was only 4 or 5 months old when I found him in an alley in Oakland, and he wanted nothing to do with me. But I’m not one to let a mangy, starving puppy fend for himself, so my then-girlfriend and I maneuvered him into a dog crate and I took him home and named him for the street I found him on. I didn’t know how to get him to trust me so I decided that the only way he could eat was if he ate from my hand. Hunger quickly outweighed fear and the rest is history. Ridiculous, heart-wrenching, adorable, expensive, pain-in-the-ass, light-of-my-life history.

Nicknames include Mr. Handsome, Mr. Madman, My Little Bertha Mason, My Little Hannibal Lecter (have I mentioned that he’s fear-aggressive?), Shnoofies, Puddlebumps, Poodleboo, and Booboo (yes, I tend toward nonsensical nicknames).”



SG-1, copywriter, shares her home with a cat named Wanda, a family name. “Wanda’s originating name source is family names: my grandmother is Wanda, and her sister was Theodora. My cats are sisters Wanda and Theodora (deceased). Not nerdy or cool, but my dad’s fam seems to have a habit of naming pets after family members.

My cat Wanda is the sweetest, most clingy cat I’ve ever known. She is almost 13 years old, and I’ve nicknamed her my “Velcro kitty”—wherever I am in the house, she’s either right with me, or staring at me from the doorway of my room. I’ve had her since she was small enough to fit comfortably in my hand, and my life would definitely not be the same without her in it.”


Giles and Wesley

Jen Stuller, Director of Programming and Events, is wild about her two dogs. “We live with the two best four-footed Watchers in the world—Giles and Wesley! They even take after their namesakes! Giles is proper but with a wild side, and Wesley is nothing less than a Rogue Demon Hunter. They keep us safe from vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness—all with a side of adorableness.”

Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator, now understands why people brag about the members of their families. “People always like to brag about the cuteness of their pets and children. I never got into this headspace until this guy came to live with us back in Texas.

Andy and I went to a local shelter and started our search. He gestured toward a cat who stayed asleep amidst the din and during our meet-and-greet, stayed calm. We didn’t need to see other cats. We fell in love instantly.



The shelter named him Nubby because of his shortened tail. We felt Nubbin was a more suitable name for our new family member and it fits him perfectly. Nub is also a polydactyl cat with extra toes on his front paws so what he doesn’t have in tail, he makes up with in toes!

Sir Nubs-a-Lot has been our constant companion through two moves, an apartment, one loft space, a townhouse, and finally our house in Seattle. He dislikes seeing our suitcases but loves when we settle in the HT room for some Netflix.

Nubface has endured a hurricane, a tropical storm, monsoon season, and Snowpocalypse several years ago. He decidedly didn’t care for snow. He does, however, love watching the daily squirrel show from his silken pillows.

Nubblins has been our constant companion since 2000 and life would be a sad place without that sweet face.”

So, GeekGirlCon Readers, do you have pets? What are they named and why?

Adrienne Roehrich
“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: What was your favorite childhood video game?

Here’s today’s Geek Fact of the Day: The Sims launched on February 4, 2000. Happy Birthday to The Sims!

In honor of this nostalgic video game many of us played growing up (or still play today), we asked GeekGirlCon staff members to share their favorite video game from childhood. Check out some of their answers.

Elevator Action NES Cover

Elevator Action NES Cover

“Choosing only one game was really hard for me as I have so many good memories of game time growing up. However, there is one little known game that I always come back to partly because I played it so much and partly because almost no one has ever heard of it. It’s Elevator Action. In this 1983 NES classic you’re a thief trying to get into the hotel, steal the goods, and get to your getaway car (using the elaborate elevator system, of course) without getting shot by the good guys or squished by one of the many elevators. It’s partly puzzle, partly reactionary, and mostly just plain fun! There’s nothing better then hearing that short few notes that said you made it to the car and you’re headed to the next level!” – Jex Ballard, Manager of Volunteer Administration

Torin's Passage

Torin’s Passage

“My brother and I LOVED Torin’s Passage. It’s a point-and-click PC game, and you play Torin, who’s on a quest to rescue his family from an evil sorceress called Lycentia. Torin travels to the “lands below” to worlds beneath the surface of the nested planet, through colossus crystal columns called phenocrysts. He is aided by a purple cat-like creature called Boogle, which is able to change itself into a variety of shapes. It’s got lots of fun puzzles (some of which were pretty hard for a children’s game), but the best part was the humor. The game was designed for parents to play with their kids, so a lot of the jokes went over my head as a child, but they are hilarious now. BRB, searching Ebay for Torin’s Passage…” – Amber Dawn Bushnell, Designer

Classic Frogger

Classic Frogger

“Frogger! At the end of every semester when I was in Catholic grade school, we had a school party day at the local roller rink, Rollero. I never had very good balance with wheels on my feet (I still don’t), so I spent most of my time–and lots of quarters!–in the little video arcade room. There was Donkey Kong, some ridiculous shooting ducks game, Ms Pac-Man (also a favorite), and then there was Frogger! For some reason I loved being the little green frog dashing across all those lanes of traffic. I wasn’t terribly good at it–we only went twice a year, plus a birthday party here and there–but I just loved it. Play the game here.” – Sarah Grant, Copywriter

Classic Centipede

Classic Centipede

“The game was simple: one button, one 2 ¼” trackball.* Me versus one determined centipede! I would play that game for an indeterminate amount of time on a pair of quarters at our local arcade. Once I played before a high school volleyball match and I played so long, that the next day, I had to hit the ball with my left hand because my right was so sore. If I see the game, I’ll get a nostalgic twinge and dig for quarters in my wallet so I can play.

“The coolest thing is that several years ago, I learned that the game was designed by Dona Bailey, one of the few female game programmers in the industry.

*The same size as a billiard ball.” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator

The Magic Map!

The Magic Map!

“When I was a kid, I bought King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow at my neighbor’s garage sale (for 25 cents!). It quickly became my favorite game of all time. As a kid, it was thrilling to use the game’s magic map and discover some seriously awesome lands. I loved that Sierra incorporated stories like Wonderland (the Isle of Wonder), Beauty and the Beast (Isle of the Beast), and Theseus and the Minotaur (Isle of the Sacred Mountain). Both my sister and I played through King’s VI many, many times – frequently as a team. I sincerely hope a King’s Quest reboot is on its way!” – Stephanie Little, Web Administrator

“Mine was Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego? One of my earliest memories of DOS games. My dad was a total astronomy enthusiast and just sat me down with this and I was hooked, engaged by the graphics and enthralled with researching V.I.L.E. operatives, planets, and moons. Since I love space, this definitely stood out for me more than any of the other games in the series. The imagination behind the dossiers was particularly impressive. I remember reading that thing more than a few times, for sure. A few years ago I wanted to play it again to see how it held up but there’s next to nothing on the Internet about that installment of the Carmen Sandiego series. Definitely the best one, too.” – Kathryn Storm, UX Designer

So readers, what’s your favorite childhood video game?

“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: What was your most memorable gift?

Hi folks! In this installment of Ask GGC, we asked our staff members about the most memorable gifts they’ve received. Read up on what some of them had to say:

“My first pet, a baby black and white kitten I named Domino! I asked for a cat (from Santa) when I was seven and decided to test Santa’s reality by putting my christmas list in a neighbor’s mailbox down the street (instead of my own where my parents could find it!) I never mentioned wanting a kitten to my parents, and I wanted one SO badly … and it turns out the neighbors found my letter and brought it back to my parents the next day. So Christmas morning, I woke up to a little black and white ball of fur under my neck! It was seriously one of the most magical moments from my childhood! I was convinced Santa was real!” – LB Chambers, Manager of Fundraising

Sarah’s gift: a talking Dalek!

“I dated a very nice guy several years back, and he was pretty good with gifts. For my birthday, he got me a pair of sterling silver earrings with pretty purple stones, and a gift card to Barnes and Noble — both right on the money. The best gift he ever got me came wrapped in the newspaper — comic section, of course. I opened as we were driving to dinner, and I remember bursting into delighted laughter. He got me a talking Dalek from Doctor Who — black case, flashing lights, rollers underneath it. When I hit the button it croaked out, ‘Exterminate the Doctor!’ and ‘Obey! Obey!’” – Sarah Grant, Copywriter

You can’t go wrong with Snoopy!

“One year, I asked Santa to bring me everything Snoopy … which were my exact words. ‘Bring me everything Snoopy!’ My mother saved all the letters, so there’s tangible proof. Among the avalanche of Snoopy memorabilia, two items tie for some of my most memorable gifts. There was the super-cool Snoopy snow cone machine that my cousins always wanted to use during the summer. It was a lot of work for a little treat! And I loved my Snoopy soap dispenser. The contraption attached to the counter with a suction cup, and it used a weird granular dry soap that looked like dry laundry detergent.” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator

“My most memorable gift was a Super Nintendo from my dad that was bundled with Donkey Kong Country when it first came out. We didn’t have much money growing up, so any kind of gift more than $50 wasn’t something I could hope for. My Pa and I used to play on the NES together (he’d ALWAYS AND FOREVER beat me at Tetris) so he thought of it as an investment in family time. My SNES still works perfectly, and I marathon Donkey Kong every so often!” – Meg Humphrey, Assistant Volunteer Coordinator

Stephanie and her boyfriend, Robert, celebrating after completing a half-marathon.

“My awesome boyfriend spoiled me on my birthday! He bought tickets for Wicked and got me a Camelback — complimenting my geeky and sporty interests.” – Stephanie Little, Web Administrator

Thanks, Staff! Readers, what was your most memorable gift?

“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: How have you benefited from your time at GeekGirlCon?

Hey readers! Shubz here with another installment of Ask GGC. We asked our staff how their time with GeekGirlCon made a difference for them in their lives outside of our organization. Here’s what they had to say:

Kristine Hassell

“I’ve started getting back into comics and science, two avenues of geekdom that I enjoyed when I was younger, but fell to the wayside when I discovered RPGs, video games, and anime. I’ve also become more vocal when I find things offensively misogynistic or racist. As a female Filipino-American nerd, it’s important to speak up about these things. Being on staff has stepped up my game on many fronts including how to succinctly convey my thoughts in 140 characters or less when needed without textspeak abbreviations! Grammar nerds FTW!” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator

Erica striking a pose at GeekGirlCon 2012

“I’ve been an idealist for most of life, and the world has in many ways tried to stop me from believing in the ability to change the world. GeekGirlCon has really proven that through community momentum, we can change the world. When we first started planning for GeekGirlCon ’11, we would’ve been happy if 400 people showed up; but instead we had almost 2,000. And even more for GeekGirlCon ’12. We’ve inspired people, helped build new skills and interests, and fostered women-positive geeky community. We can be the change in the world.” – Erica McGillivray, Director of Marketing

Left to Right: Shubz Blalack, Tammy Vince Cruz, Raye Abellar

“GeekGirlCon changed my life. It opened my eyes, my mind, and best of all, my heart, to an amazing community all working towards a sincere goal. Admittedly, GeekGirlCon consumed me; it consumed my time, my energy, and my life – but it’s all been worth it. I’ve worked with remarkable people, many of which I would consider good friends. Beyond that, the rad folks I’ve had the chance to meet along the way, reinforced that genuine people do exist, and they support what you believe in.

GeekGirlCon pushed me to work my butt off. I’ve produced some of my best pieces for GeekGirlCon. While giving me that challenge, it’s resulted in a rejuvenated design portfolio. I’ve definitely forced myself to learn a lot of better habits when it came to my work – learning communication is vital, especially leading my own team, and overall organization is detrimental to making things run smoothly. I was known as a mute when I was a kid, but helping lead meetings and represent GeekGirlCon helped build my self-confidence, and improve my own public speaking and interaction skills. A lot of these skills I’ve applied to my day job and personal life, and it makes me feel all sorts of awesomely weird – like I’ve definitely stepped full fledge into “grown up” territory. And I’m quite happy with that.

– Tammy Vince Cruz, Manager of Design

Susie and Stephanie cosplaying it up as Hawkgirl and Starbuck, respectively

“Working at GeekGirlCon opened my eyes in so many ways. It opened my eyes to the hundreds of geeky things out there I didn’t even know existed. It opened my eyes to the fantastic community of geeky women and their amazing supporters. And it opened my eyes to the fact that GeekGirlCon is still a needed organization — there are too many people out there who still feel mistreated, misrepresented, and misunderstood. GeekGirlCon staff members bring a range of personalities to the table, which has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in ways I never expected. It has seriously been a gift to be on this staff.” – Susie Rantz, PR Manager

GeekGirlCon is currently looking for enthusiastic and driven individuals to join our staff and continue to make a difference with us. Could that be you? Check out our Open Staff Positions for more information.

“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: What’s your favorite part about being on staff?

Hiya, readers! For this edition of Ask GeekGirlCon, we asked our staff what their favorite part of being on staff was. Here is what some of them shared:

Kristine on the GeekGirlCon clock giving you the updates from the Twitterverse!

“Joss Whedon once said that he was a great believer in ‘found families,’ and I really lucked out with the family that I found in GeekGirlCon. I don’t have to explain my current nerd obsession or be apprehensive about my fandoms — they just get it and then share their own! My co-workers are smart, witty, and all-around amazing people that never cease to inspire me and crack me up. I less-than-three you all.” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator

Erica with the Chicks Dig Comics Panel geeking out and sharing in camaraderie

“I love being part of GeekGirlCon’s staff because I truly do believe we can change the world or, at least, geekdom. We’ve created a wonderful space for celebrating geeky women of all stripes. The best reward for being on staff is the smiles on our event-goers faces; seeing amazing cosplay; meeting creators, shakers, and makers; and hearing all the incredible stories. We’ve helped women (and our allies) get new jobs, build skill sets, make new friends, and just generally have a safe space to gather.” – Erica McGillivray, Marketing Director and President

Great minds think alike! Melanie with another Princess Peach cosplayer

“My favorite part is being able to look back on GeekGirlCon ‘12 and know I totally made some little geeky girl’s day. :D” – Melanie Werts, Customer Service Coordinator

Are you interested in joining the ranks of our staff? Check out our Open Staff Positions!

“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: What was your favorite school subject?

Hi everyone! With the new school year starting, we asked our GeekGirlCon staff what their favorite school subject was. Here’s what some of them have shared:


Jex Ballard, Volunteer Coordinator and Board Secretary: “My favorite subject in school was always math. I was a founding member of my elementary school’s math team, where we traveled all across Washington state competing against other schools. The best part was that Friday practices were game days where we played games like Set, Pylos, and any other game that enhanced our mental ability.”

An accurate depiction of Kris belting out a sweet tune.

Kris Panchyk, Vendor Coordinator: “My favorite subject through high school and college would definitely have to be choir. I was lucky to have stumbled into a fantastic group of people in high school, and musically we were AWESOME. It’s carried over into a love of music now and getting involved with local choirs.”

Ellen Ripley and Buffy (photo from

Susie Rantz, PR Manager: “Geez, it’s hard to pick a favorite subject, because I feel I was a completely different person in high school than I was in middle school, and was yet another person in college. I will say the class I enjoyed the most was “Action Heroines in Contemporary Cinema.” We got to examine powerful female action heros, which meant watching Alien, Terminator 2, Buffy, Thelma and Louise, and more! I realized there were many more complex action heroines than I expected — and made me want to search for even more!”

What about you? What was or is your favorite subject in school?

“Rock On!”

Ask GeekGirlCon: How awesome is your mom?

Hey everyone and Happy Mother’s Day! Some of us here at GeekGirlCon decided to take the time to share the difference our mothers have made!

PR Content Producer Shubz and her mom on her wedding day

“My Mom is a fantastic leader in our family, and also one of my biggest fans. I have always been in the performing arts, and for every recital, dance competition, and (recently) gig or open mic, Mom has either been there or has put it in her calendar to come through and check out. I gave her a 1337ology article I was featured in for nerdcore and she absolutely loved it. Rap and hip-hop may not be her thing, but the fact that she is so ready to support and love the work I do is such a confidence booster.” – Shubz Blalack, PR Content Producer

“I never really thought about my mom having an influence on my geekiness, because it was always so obvious. What I did not really appreciate until later was that she was actually quite a bit of a geek herself. She always encouraged me to follow my passions and not worry about what anyone else thought. She also made sure that my brother & I saw Star Wars (the original/only three: episodes IV, V, and VI) and loved it when we recreated scene after scene verbatim ad nauseum. She has passed along two ‘family jewelry’ necklaces — one C3PO and one X-wing. She pledged PBS when we couldn’t stop quoting lines from Red Dwarf; and she’s bought expansion packs for Carcassonne, while getting all of her friends to play on and offline. Funnily enough, neither of us is a big fan of Mothers’ Day. It feels a little small to limit appreciating her to a single day a year. She is frakking awesome, and I’m so proud every day that she’s my mum.” – Amanda Powter, Copywriter

“My mom can certainly be blamed for my fall into the geekdom, and that’s a great thing! As a pharmacist, she instilled in me a love for science and math at an early age. But she did so much more than that! She encouraged my strange and unusual behaviors. When I stepped out of my room in a plaid top and striped pants, she smiled. When I said I wanted to paint my car pink, she and my dad took me to the auto detail shop. She came with me to see Lord of the Rings at midnight. These seem like little things, but when you grow up around someone who shows you she’s proud of who you are and what you love, you have the freedom to truly be the person you’re meant to be.” – Susie Rantz, PR Manager

PR Manager Susie Rantz and her mom after running a half marathon in Hawaii

So you’ve heard from us, how about you? Tell us about the awesome mom/mother figure in your life!

“Rock On!”

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