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Thursday, November 28, 2013
A Time to Be Thankful
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Post STLV Depression Therapy
I've been home from the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention (STLV) for 5 days now. I'm just about recovered. Wait, that's not true. This is something us Trekkies never quite recover from. We wait all year to see each other, and when our too-short time is done we slip into a post-con depression, which merely fades, but never subsides, until the anticipation of the next upcoming con takes over. Some people say that social media is ruining authenticity, that friendships made online are not real. BUNK, I say! Twitter and Facebook are how we strengthen those bonds, discuss common fandom, relive our memories through stories and pictures, and make plans for the next time we see each other. We come together from all over the WORLD in Las Vegas every August, and when one of our group is missing, we feel it. When one of us can't make it we almost can't stand to read the posts of those that did, because we ache so much for the camaraderie and understanding that most of us don't get at home. We are a passionate bunch.
I go to several conventions, but nothing is quite like the STLV experience for me. Phoenix Comic Con is fun, and very family-friendly. I take my daughter and that is our mom-daughter trip. San Diego Comic Con is often more work than fun. It's hectic, super-crowded, and meeting up with friends is sometimes impossible. Wondercon, Grand Slam, various smaller Creation Cons are all nice to visit, but I never seem to know more than a handful of people there, and outside of the convention center, I never seem to connect with anyone or engage in lengthy nerdy conversation.
This year's STLV was different for me. It's the first time I ever went totally by myself. I have alway either had my best friend as a roommate or gone with one of my kids. I was apprehensive about going until just before the con. I was worried about feeling awkward, worried about getting into the dreaded Star Trek Into Darkness conversation (thankfully never happened...at least not with anyone that liked the film!), and worried about expenses. If I hadn't been committed to cosplay with my friend Senthil Masilamani, I may have canceled the trip out of stupid anxiety. All of those worries melted away as soon as I arrived!
I got in a day earlier than usual, and I already had friends there to greet me. That night at the Masquerade Bar I saw even more familiar faces...friends and acquaintances that I get to see each year. I enjoyed some action figure play time with Trek Karen, but what really set me right was seeing Senthil when he arrived. I knew I was supposed to be there. Soon our little gang was together again and headed to Joe's for pizza.
A few days before I left home April Hebert contacted me about making matching t-shirts to surprise Dayton Ward with. For those that don't know, Dayton named characters in his book, That Which Divides, after us. We both felt extremely thrilled and honored to have our names in the story, but I've got to say, when I read it I couldn't believe how he had captured ME in Master Chief Petty Officer Starfleet Mom. LOL Anyway... ::spoiler alert:: April's character died in the book but I got to live! Yes, Dayton is the Puppet Master. Here we are in the shirts April made for us just after we surprised Dayton at his signing table Thursday morning. It seemed to really touch him, which made us feel great.
Unfortunately, it's all fun and games until the drunk wears off. Sometime between the proposal and me getting halfway back to my room I hit the wall. Being vertical was no longer fun, and the carpeting in the long hallway between the hotel and the convention center was quite dizzying. Dayton and Kevin to the rescue!! I needed to clarify dinner plans with David K (there are 3 Davids here, try not to be confused) but didn't think I could make it. Dayton literally guided me like a blind woman..I held his elbow and closed my eyes and he took me to registration where I must have been the most horrid sight, using the counter to hold myself up, puffy eyes, hair pinned up haphazardly, and barely able to finish a sentence. I could smell my own bad breath. Worst hangover ever. I barely remember asking David if we could have a normal dinner and catch up after the costume contest. I just wanted to slow down and visit! The con was going by so fast! He's the coolest dude ever, because if someone looking and acting like me would have invited me to dinner I would have ran away!
I managed to get back to my room and try to nap a while and chug as much water as possible before Senthil and I made our appearance as Sylvia and Korob. I'm thankful to Melissa Navarro for taking the time to come to my room and put on my eyelashes and eyeliner, because I suck at it, and because I was pretty darn shaky. OK, next year, no staying out drinking until 4 a.m. the night before the costume parade!! I'm vowing that now. Lesson learned. I watched Catspaw twice while resting/getting dressed. Senthil put on his robe, and it was the first time I saw him in it. OMG SQUEE he was so PERFECT as Korob. I handed him the transmuter I brought and we headed toward the elevator. The minute the door opened on the first floor we were asked to pose for a picture. A mere 10 yards later Mike Okuda stopped us for a photo! I think it took us about an hour to walk to the convention because of all the photos. We got our picture taken on the bridge, got interviewed by GameFob (surprised myself at how articulate I was), and posed and posed and posed. It was fun, but I wished we'd had more sleep. I got to see my dear friend Clay in the vendors room for about 5 minutes and that was it. I wish we had time to visit. Here are a few pics from our debut as Korob and Sylvia.
Senthil and I grabbed an overpriced and pretty disgusting sandwich from the cart and headed to the pre-judging. We were prepared to say some lines from the episode, but didn't really get the chance as they were trying to hurry the process along. Our number was 13. One of the judges said he loved Catspaw, his birthday was Halloween and he has a 13 collection. I knew then we were in! Haha! We stayed in the room until all of the over 125 contestants went on stage. We should have gone for more snacks and water. Finally the 30 finalists were announced and we were in the finals. We were given our Guinness World Record numbers and told to sit in the first two rows. I looked at Senthil and told him a little part of me wished we didn't get into the finals. He agreed. We were a bit rough around the edges.
I think we were in that room for four hours. We worried about the Xindi, Morn, Salt Vampire and Borg in a wetsuit. They were hot, dehydrated and shaky. We broke the record with 1085 Star Trek Costumes in a single room. As soon as that was over we had to run straight for the big stage. There was just enough time to hit the rest room and grab a glass of water. I was feeling quite woozy, like my blood sugar was -10, and I'm pretty sure David K showing up with a granola bar just before I took the stage saved my life! About 2 hours later it was finally over. After Adam interviewed every contestant and the judges asked some questions, there was a mix-up with the results. We stood on that stage for an eternity. We all felt like our knees were going to buckle. As soon as it was over I made a beeline for my room, showered and changed and devoured a delicious steak dinner like a targ! Thanks for those moments of peace and sustenance David Kempton! Here's the only pic I have of us, and it was taken on Thursday night by Erica Anderson, after David and I completely failed the trivia quiz.
OK, another David made my con amazing. David Taylor was our host in Room 1017. Joe Dickerson mixed martinis & passed out little gifts, I brought my action figures, and we just generally got out of control. New friends Amy and Rachael were awesome and FUN! I missed a bunch of panels, but no regrets! I'm not sure I have any pictures from 1017 that are shareable to a wide audience. I already admitted here to getting way too drunk Friday night. That's a pretty big admission for my generally vanilla Facebook page, where I will probably share this. I remember on Sunday giving my leftover sandwich from lunch to David K. in the hallway as he was escorting Robert Beltran to his room. I texted to let him know I finally found chicken soup (I'd been wanting that for my Harvey Fierstein con voice all week) and that it was just my leftovers, but I ended up texting the wrong David, David T. So now whenever I text or DM David T. I ask if it's the right David. He always says yes. :D Here's the only pic from 1017 I want to share, and I credit David Taylor for it.
Now, remember how I said asking for Irish Nachos on Friday night would be relevant later? Sunday night our little gang took cabs to Mandalay Bay and ate at the Burger Bar. Wow! Delicious! When we got back, we headed to Masquerade and there was Darren Benjamin who said he'd been looking for me. He handed me a bag with a to-go order of Irish Nachos inside! I just can't tell you how that touched me! It was such a sweet surprise. I only wish I hadn't just eaten, because they were so delicious. I shared them with whoever wanted some, and just couldn't believe how thoughtful Darren was. It was another random act that made me feel special.
The first time I went to STLV with Melissa Nickerson, we were starstruck. We saw every panel, signed up for every event, never left the Hilton. It was glorious and the best week I ever had. I cherish those memories, but now STLV to me is the relationships we build, the memories we make, the random acts of kindness, the silly little gifts we give each other, the geeky conversations, the shared experiences. I hardly see any panels. I keep those people close to my heart, I keep in touch online, I even try to visit some if I'm traveling to their area. I know this post got long, but so many people touched my heart and made me feel loved and happy. I couldn't mention them all, these are just the biggest moments. I loved spending time with all of you, even if for only a few moments... Lisa at the TrekRadio booth, Melissa, Ned, Ernie, Scott (thanks for taking care of me and for umox!), Katie, Kerry, Terry, Allen, Cush, Vernon, Amy, Rachael, Charity (best dressed vendor at the khan), Michael H, Michael M, Mary, John, Ken, Deyvid, Chris, Chris and the other Chris (and I thought there were a lot of Davids!), Eric, Nicole, Christine, Chuck, Jor de, Nancy (thanks for holding my purse!), Larry, Matt, Ariel, Wil, Brandon, Alistair, Mikkie, Ryan, Gina, Tory, Lorrie, Daniel (Ponn Farrr!!!!), and everyone else that I'm failing to give a shout out to.
Do we have a date next August?
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I'm So Verklempt
She was working independently on a writing assignment from school. I had not looked at the assignment yet, and didn't know what the topic was.
I was on my MacBook and saw a notification pop up that a document, mom.doc, was saved to our school dropbox, so I went to take a look at it. Here is what I found:
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Mad About Valentines
I have a twitter pal who shares a love for the show Mad Men with me (you know who you are, Sassy!). She had already seen most of it before me, as I have just marathoned five seasons in the past few months on Netflx. I have had so much fun discussing the episodes and characters with her as I get caught up! I'm one disc away from being up-to-date and dreading having to wait a week between episodes when Season Six begins in April.
I got a little silly and creative this afternoon and designed some Mad Men Valentines for her. I used photos of our favorite bad boy, Don Draper, and added references to some of the ad slogans from the show.
I simply couldn't wait to share them until Thursday, so I posted them to her on Twitter first. Here they are now for the rest of the world. You probably won't "get" them if you haven't seen the show.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
I've had a vacuum sealer for years, but have made little use of it, other than to seal bags of meat or leftovers for freezing. I have the jar sealing attachment and have probably never used it before.
Romaine lettuce is cheap at Costco, but the packages contain 6 large heads and by the time we get to the last 2 it's almost always turning brown.
This leads me to another subject: my garden. I built a couple of wooden raised planters last year and placed them just outside my fence. I extended some irrigation tubing from the risers out there and planned to grow larger plants that take up too much space in my other vegetable beds, like pumpkins and zucchini. Within days the squirrels had eaten my plants and I gave up. Squirrels aren't usually a problem inside the fence, as my schnauzers tend to murder, mutilate, and or eat any that get inside the yard in hope of grabbing a few bird seeds.
After our trip to New Zealand, I was inspired to get my garden into better shape. I hated seeing those wooden boxes that I spent money and sweat on go to waste, so I devised a squirrel-proofing plan. Here is what I came up with. It took me 2 afternoons to build, without a plan. Yup, I just improvised with a staple gun and some cable ties. CABLE TIES FTW!
In order to keep track of all the various goodies I've planted, I simply took pictures of each bed and labeled them with Skitch. It's my first practical use of the service. If you don't know what Skitch is, you can check it out here: Skitch from Evernote
Skitch is a free app from Evernote (also free) which you can use with your iPad, Mac or PC to draw on your photos or annotate files. I can open the files from any device and they are synced into my Evernote notebook! Here is an example of one of my planters, after Skitching:
I can continue to annotate the file with fertilization, pests or harvest notes. I also took pictures of the informational signs at the nursery when I bought the plants. Into the Evernote Garden Notebook they go! Then I can refer back to this information later. This one is especially handy for me, because I'd never heard of this lettuce before!
So my outside-the-fence garden is doing well but inside my fence is another story! A couple of weeks ago I spent a day gardening in the rain. I weeded my planters. I turned the soil, I laid out new weedcloth. I gingerly planted tender young cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, kale, sweet peas, carrots and asparagus. It was HARD work.
|Me and a couple of hoes in the rain.|
|Mostly stems. :-(|
By the way, when I was digging in one of my vegetable beds I unearthed several of these. They are tomato hornworm pupae. Remind me to plant my tomatoes in a different bed this summer!
Finally, I'll just say a few words about hummingbird feeders. I have four of them. At certain times of the year they need refilling almost daily. I see many people filling their feeders with that red mixture that you can buy in stores. Please DO NOT use that stuff! It's more expensive, and the birds certainly don't need artificial dye. They will see the red on your feeder and investigate.
All you need to put in your hummingbird feeder is sugar water. Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water. That's all. Many people boil the water, dissolve the sugar, and let it cool. I just use hot tap water. Stock up on regular granulated sugar when it goes on sale, usually just before holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Clean your feeders EVERY time you refill them. Use a tiny brush to get the mold and dirt out of the little feeder holes, and use a bottle brush to clean inside. Use HOT water and a little vinegar or household bleach if you've accidentally left them to get moldy. Be sure to rinse very thoroughly.
With a regularly stocked supply of nectar, we get 5 species of hummers in our yard here in Southern California: Anna's Black-chinned, Costa's, Allen's and Rufous. The latter two are seen in migration, and the first three nest here. We've had tiny nests in our yard and they are amazing.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
In Search Of....
- The high-pitched electronic theme music is really awful.
- Native American legends/origin stories. Man and Animals were the same.
- stone ruins in Mystery Hill in New Hampshire.
- Indians of this region did not build in stone. Where did these ruins come from?
- Wyoming: Medicine Wheel, another curiosity in stone. Covered in snow much of the year. Most investigators now agree the wheel was an indian calendar. Lack of settlement breaks it's ties with Mystery Hill. Why was this mentioned?
- Mystery hill's layout reminiscent of ancient european cities. walled streets ending at a type of temple.
- Charcoal deposits between the rocks have been carbon dated at 3000 years old.
- Comparing now to Druids at Stonehenge. Were human sacrifices made on large flat slab with grooves in it? Did blood once run down those grooves?
- an inscription on a boulder is thought to be Phoenician, the style of masonry is the same. So the conclusion is that the Minoans crossed the seas from Crete to North America. Perhaps they saw no future here and left.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
To the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan
I am dismayed that the dolphin meat is sold to Japanese citizen and served to Japanese schoolchildren, despite it being contaminated with mercury.
I am sickened that instead of preserving and protecting Japan's national resources, you allow the destruction and squandering of it. Why not consider promoting tourism to the area?
The slaughter of cetaceans in Japanese waters is not sustainable.
Millions of people worldwide consider dolphins and whales to be intelligent social creatures and are appalled by the practices those that break up their families and keep them in captivity.
I urge you to do the right thing, to protect your citizens, the environment, and your national heritage and stop the Taiji dolphin hunts.
This took 5 minutes of my day. You can do it to. Here's the link:
Wanna know more? Click some of these:
and follow this account: @CoveGuardians
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Non-Antarctic Penguins at the Antarctic Centre
International Antarctic Centre
We had a great day, learned a lot, and got to meet a Blue Penguin up close.
After a delayed flight from Christchurch to Auckland, we barely made our flight out of Middle Earth. I'm posting this on FREE wifi at a restaurant somewhere in Orange County, CA! Soon we'll be home and ready to crash in our own beds.
Reality is beckoning.......
Monday, January 7, 2013
While The Alien drives I will pass the time between incredible vistas by sharing some more interesting observations about NZ.
+ the emergency telephone number is 111 here, not 911
+ they call stands stalls here, for example: fruit stalls, not fruit stands.
+ I saw machines in the ladies' bathrooms here selling 'sanitary towels' instead of 'sanitary napkins'. Maybe they flow heavier down here @_@
+ every little town or settlement has at least one war memorial, usually from WWI. If there are more than one, they are for the Baal War and WWII. they almost alway say 'Our Glorious Dead' on them. The names of the fallen soldiers are listed, and the dates of the war, not the name of it, are also engraved on the memorials.
+ most every town we've passed through has a Salvation Army Store on the main drag.
+ Speights appears to be to NZ what Pabst is to Wisconsin. Every pub and tavern, even in the remotest areas, has a Speights sign out front, and several Speights advertising posters displayed inside. A noable difference between Speights and Pabst/Bud/Miller is that it is actually good beer. Technically, it's a light ale.
+ Dominion Bitter might be my new favorite brew. I hope BevMo or World Market imports it!
+ While Kiwis are generally friendly and offer hospitality, they give crappy and overly complicated driving directions.
+ Marlborough and Hawkes Bay generally grow white wine grapes, but Central Otago is 80% Pinot Noir.
+ there are some road signs that are different than ours. Instead of "passing lanes" on hilly roads they have "slow vehicle bays" A white circle with a black diagonal line in it is an "Open Road" sign, meaning the speed limit is 100 kph. There are pedestrian crossings marked with white stripes on the road and black & white poles on the sides. A blue circle with a red outline & red X in it means no parking. And my favorite sign is the Exclamation Point. It's usually got another sign with it to explain what the caution is for.
me in a kayak
Speaking of dinner, this may be the best one we've had since Christmas! Also, I must brag that I drank a delightful porter called Wobbly Boot.
Sheep and Dolphins
This morning we had a delicious breakfast of freshly baked bread, fruit, homemade yogurt and granola. The more I looked around, the more I fell in love with this farmhouse and garden. The bathroom and guest rooms look like something out of a magazine. I had a free hour or so and busied myself taking artsy photos.
Dogs Mustering Sheep
Our two-hour catamaran ride was a bit rocky, and standing on the outside deck was very cold. Thankfully, we all had seasick medicine! We were rewarded with a couple of dozen Hector's Dolphins bow riding, and several Southern Fur Seals in the sea caves. Hector's Dolphins are the smallest dolphin species, and they are quite speedy, too. We also saw a few species of cormorants nesting on the cliffs, and lots of gulls and terns. We sailed past the salmon farm, and past a large cruise ship. By the time we returned to the harbour it was raining and the cafe and shops were closed.
The Long and Winding Road
Our fine weather didn't last long! After nice breakfast and chat with John and Ann we left Glen Dendron and headed north. It was misty or raining all the way up the coast.
We made a short stop in Oamaru so I could snap some pictures of the old buildings. Being Sunday, there was a bustle of activity in the historical district market.
When we at last came to an intersection that we thought would lead to our farmstay, the sign we were looking for wasn't there. Luckily, my cell phone had reception, and we were able to call for direction. We ended up down a gravel road, and confused again, only now the phone had no service. We eventually found our way to the farmhouse and and a cheerful Sue waving us to our parking spot. I must admit we were pretty frazzled and cranky after 90 minutes of twisting and turning, not knowing where the end of our journey would be, but Sue's cheerful demeanor (and her offer of a beer & wine) soon had us relaxed.
Shortly after our arrival, our prearranged evening meal was ready. Sue served us a Lamb roast, a quinoa salad, and some new potatoes and steamed veggies from her garden. After a coffee and berry-peach crumble for dessert I felt much more settled, and started making plans for activities during our stay here.
In the Trenches With Yellow Eyes
Today it finally felt like summer! It got up to 28 degrees! After a hearty breakfast with our hosts, Anne and John, and their other guests from Germany, we set off for Dunedin. First stop was the southernmost Harley-Davidson shop in the world. If you know me, you know I hate motorcycles, so you maybe asking, "WHY?" The answer is, simply, because I am a good friend. ::wink:: my neighbors and my BFF are avid Hog enthusiasts and wanted t-shirts. I only hope after seeing the price tags that hey are still willing to pay me back!
Next we headed out to the end of the Otago Peninsula, where we had a tour reservation at Penguin Place. The road is insane! It is a narrow, winding road that literally hugs the bay. It was high tide and at times we were no farther than a meter from the edge of the water! To make things even more exciting, there were cyclists on the road, too, and a bike lane only part of the way.
Otago Peninsula Drive
We began our tour with a short talk about the location, organization and the Natural history of the Yellow-eyed Penguin. They are the rarest penguins in the world, with a population totaling only about 4000 birds. There are colonies on several subantarctic islands and along the coast of New Zealand's South Island. The South Island population is about 700 and the number if birds using this particular colony is about 40.
Yellow-eyed Penguins are not social birds like the Blue Penguins. They are solitary and the pairs mate and nest in seclusion in the shady underbrush above beaches, up to 1 km from the water. Natural predators are sharks, leopard seals and sea lions. On land, introduced mammals including dogs, cats, stoats, and weasels all mean death to eggs and chicks.
The birds here have chicks now. Some are still in the guarding phase, with one parent babysitting while the other fishes. Others are now old enough to leave alone while both parents fish.
The Penguin Place reserve is on private property, on a sheep station! The farmer realized he had penguins and set aside the beachside portion for their protection. He has since passed away, but his family carries on. There is no government funding, but there is government oversight. The reserve is run solely on revenue from tour charges.
After our short orientation, our guide drove us on a bus through the pastures and down to the Pacific side of the peninsula. The view overlooking the beach and adjacent penguin reserve was spectacular. We walked down a short trail to the viewing area.
There are a series of tunnels dug into the hillsides, covered for camouflage. At the end of the tunnels are hides where people can see the nests up close. We were instructed to keep our voices to a whisper and not stick out arms or cameras through the viewing holes. We were able to get within 2 meters of one bird with its chick!
There are nest boxes set up on the property for temporary use by the pairs until the trees and bushes they have planted grow big enough to provide the shade and privacy the birds require. Hundreds of saplings are dotted around the landscape with green plastic boxes protecting them from rabbits.
Red-billed Gull Colony
We stopped for supper in Palmerston, bought a few bottles of Speights to go, and went back to the peaceful Glen Dendron Farmstay. It was a beautiful evening, and we enjoyed our beer outside while visiting with John and Ann. Ann made up some bottles for the orphan lambs and Treklet got to feed them and the alpacas.