Trans Parenting: Transitioning

"Follow your own rainbow (CC)" by Purple Sherbet Photography Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.
“Follow your own rainbow (CC)” by Purple Sherbet Photography
Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.

There have been a lot of big changes in my life recently, all  of them surrounding being transgender. My original birth records were destroyed and updated to reflect my correct gender. Finally, the government recognizes that I was born male; it isn’t something you become. Plus, I was approved for gender confirmation surgery—legally called: sex reassignment surgery (SRS).

When you are a parent who also happens to be transgender and transition after you have children, there can be a lot of questions from your children and family. How you answer those questions depends upon the age of your child(ren).

As I go through my own process, I plan to share my experience as a transgender parent going through various aspects of transition. I also want to help answer any questions that may come up or have come up if you are in my boat.

First, we need to be clear about what transition means. A lot of people have the misconception that transition equals surgery.

Let me be clear: It most certainly does not mean surgery. SRS most certainly does not mean bottom surgery. It most certainly does not mean hormones. Transition is different for everyone. For some people, transition will involve simply living as the gender with which they identify. They may even legally change their name. For other people, transitioning can go as far as surgery.

Over at TransCanuck, I wrote a basic primer about what transition is and is not, and how it looks for me. I’ve also started a series about seeking SRS in British Columbia, as the guidelines changed three times in December 2014, alone. I was one of the first people to be approved under the new guidelines.

My children are older: nearly 20 and nearly 16. They have known practically their entire lives that I was not like other “moms.” We don’t celebrate Mother’s Day, even though they call me “mum.” Their questions were pretty simple because they are already well aware about the whole process and what it means to be transgender.

The first question they had was, “What pronouns do we use when we talk about you outside of the house? I only ask because we live in a city that isn’t accepting about this whole thing.”

My answer was straight to the point, “Outside of the home, use ‘they/them/their.’  Kid2, your school will be notified and it won’t be a big deal because the school board now requires accommodation for this in all schools.”

The second question they had was, “We call you ‘mum’ at home for reasons. What do we call you outside of the home?”

My answer was pretty simple, “You refer to me as your parent. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.”

If you are a trans parent, or if you have a family member who is transitioning and are unsure how to answer your children’s questions, ask them in the comments, and I’ll answer them in a follow-up post. Please be sure to include the age of the child, so that I can craft age-appropriate answers.

Win 1 of 2 $50 Geeky Pleasures Shop Gift Cards

Image by Jules Sherred
Image by Jules Sherred

To celebrate the launch of the Geeky Pleasures Shop, I’m giving away two $50.00 CAD gift cards.

There are no regional restrictions, and entering is pretty simple.

To enter our giveaway just login to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like/follow us it will still enter you in the giveaway. Two winners will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

You have until 12:00 AM EST on Monday, February 23, 2015 to enter.

On Monday, the winners will receive their gift card via e-mail, as well as coupon codes that can be used at checkout when purchasing multiple items.

For fun, let me know in the comments which bow tie, coin purse, dice bag, phone cover, tablet cover, and/or wristlet you plan to purchase when redeeming your gift card!

And remember, if you sign up for the Geeky Pleasures Shop mailing list, you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for more prizes. There are also more rewards and draws if you become a patron of the Geeky Pleasures Shop on Patreon.

Good luck! I can’t wait to read about your favorite products.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 Signs You’re Raising a Science Nerd

A workbench in a chemistry laboratory. Jean-Pierre from Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire (Nièvre, Burgundy region), France. CC BY-SA 2.0.
A workbench in a chemistry laboratory. Jean-Pierre from Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire (Nièvre, Burgundy region), France. CC BY-SA 2.0.

You might be the parent of a science nerd if the following 10 things go on in your house:

1. You come home from shopping and the following conversation occurs:

Parent: Why is there dirt baking in the oven?
Child: I’m sterilizing dirt for science.

2. You tweet, “I wonder what construction is happening upstairs but I’m too afraid to ask.” Your child responds to the tweet with: “Oh, that’s just me shaving my magnesium block.” (You know, as you do.)

3. You walk into the bathroom to see the following:

bathroom science
Bathroom science. Image by Jules Sherred.

4. Your child never uses the generic names for household items. It’s always things like: NaCl, Na2CO3, 570–590 nm, etc.

5. You hear an, “Oh, crap!” Followed by running footsteps to the bathroom. Followed by somewhat calmer footsteps descending the stairs. Followed by, “I think I need to go to the emergency room.”

6. You tell your child, “Hey! You dropped some of your science on the floor. You need to clean it up.” Upon showing your child where, in a very dire tone they respond, “Oh. That’s not good!” Upon your child learning someone stepped on it, the following is said in a very serious tone, “You should probably go to the doctor for that.”

7. You ask your child what they are making, and they respond with some of the following in an “as you do” tone: Copper (II) Chloride, Copper (II) Acetate, Magnesium Chloride, Ethyl acetate, and Iron (III) Chloride

8. Your child has chemicals they purchased online held for weeks at Customs while they test it for drugs, anthrax, and other dangerous substances that come in a fine white powder.

9. You can’t find side burner, pots, and measuring cups because they are currently in use, because science.

10. The following happens on a regular basis at midnight on your porch:

If you are the parent of a science nerd, what are some other signs?

This post inspired by the actions of Kid1.

Open Letter: Sony, You Can and Should Do Better

Cropped image of <em>The Interview</em> movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures
Cropped image of “The Interview” movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures

Dear Sony,

I’m really not a fan right now. In fact, I’m really disappointed with your recent decision to completely stuff The Interview into a drawer.

I can no longer support a company that completely cancels a movie’s release because of threats and hackers.

I have many reasons. One of these reasons is: If the various places for which I do contract work let me go because they’ve been attacked for hiring me, I’d have much less work. Instead, these places—one of which includes this website–have increased support and circled their wagons around me.

And now, only hours after the announcement was made that you are pulling The Interview from both theaters and video-on-demand release, there are many reputable sources who are pulling apart the claims that North Korea is behind all of this hullaballoo.

To quote Vice President Biden, “What a bunch of stuff.”

Individual GeekMom writers are split on how they feel and what they think about your decision, Sony. Some understand this decision because they worry that some lone wolf, not from North Korea, would use this heightened sense of danger as an opportunity to pull another Newtown massacre. While others think threats, like the Newtown massacre, were already present and almost anything could set a lone wolf off. Individual GeekMom writers are also split on whether or not they believe it was North Korea, and believe unnamed sources in the CIA quoted in the media may not be trustworthy.

However, it is the opinion of this writer that we cannot give into threats. And big companies, like you, Sony, have huge resources that can pay for the best internet security and firewalls, and can properly rally around those who have signed contracts with you. Instead, we get—to paraphrase: we [Sony] are all about free speech and freedom of expression for our writers and directors, but we have chosen to stifle what we believe.

This sets a very bad precedent, and opens the door to bigger threats and more entertainment companies pulling out of existing contracts because they think the subject matter is too risqué.

Over the last few years, several Canadian government buildings have been the subject of terrorist attacks, including a lone wolf gunning down a guard at our federal Parliament building, and a thwarted Canada Day bombing a la Boston Marathon, on the B.C. Legislature building. Instead of giving in to the terror, we chose not to give in and continue our lives as normal. Obviously, this colors my opinion.

And if GeekMom as an entity, who has little resources compared to you, Sony, can rally around me when I’m doxed, and are willing to endure horrible attacks because I write for them, then, Sony, it is my unapologetic opinion that you and other big corporations can—and must—do better.

To completely pull out of any type of release of The Interview is… gobsmacking. There are more options than video-on-demand from which to choose. Why not release it on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and many more online release options? Do you not understand how much revenue that would bring in?

Sony, you’ve let the supposed terrorists* win. I can see a future where no films that challenge certain ways of thinking will be made in Hollywood. You’ve basically said, “Sure, we believe in free speech and all that jazz, but we are completely opened to selling out to the highest bidder.”

If you can swallow the cost of producing The Interview, then you can definitely swallow the cost of setting up better internet security.  Sticking your middle finger up to other corporations and not just supposed terrorists by releasing the movie by other means instead of letting them  stifle your freedom of expression—something you claim to be all for—will benefit you and  take away profits from those other corporations’ that refuse to show the movie.

As one GeekMom said, “If [Sony] decided to make the movie, they have no need to cancel it. Of course, North Korea was going to be pissed off. Of course “something” was going to happen. With the [North Korean  leaders’s] ego, they weren’t going to sit idly by. But if [Sony] decided to make it, [Sony] already decided.”

In short: Sony, you made your bed, now lay in it. Don’t punish audiences and Seth Rogen because you’ve decided to create a complicated bed.

Sony, you can and should do better! You’ve lost me, and many others, as a customer.

Signed with much disappointment and sadness, but without regret,

Jules Sherred

*It is my personal opinion that these supposed terrorists are home-grown hackers who finds it quite entertaining when groups within a country becomes frenzied over any supposed threat.

The GeekMoms’ Christmas Trees and the Geeky Stories Behind Them

A collection of the GeekMoms' trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.
A collection of the GeekMoms’ trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We would also love it if, in the comments, you shared images of your Christmas trees—via a link to your photo(s)—and the stories behind them.

Without further ado, let the sharing begin!

GeekMom Andrea’s Christmas Tree

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.
Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

GeekMom Andrea had this to say about her tree:

I did the unthinkable this year and suggested that for the first time in our family’s history we buy a fake tree. Every year as December approaches my husband and I have moved around the furniture in our cozy living room until it looks like something closer to a garage sale than a celebration in order to fit a giant, live tree in our space. It makes no sense. Plus: I come from a long line of fake-tree people. Pink trees. Aluminum trees…

It was time to stop living the “real tree” lie. It was time for a narrow white tree. With fiber optics. I think our tree this year is fabulous. My dream is to decorate it in an Atomic Ranch style—lots of spaceships and sputnik stars and robots and optimism about the future.

GeekMom Ariane’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Ariane Coffin
Photo by Ariane Coffin

GeekMom Ariane had this to say about her tree:

Here’s my crazy tree. How my husband puts up with it, I’ll never know. Much like the rest of our house, it’s all about BRIGHT OBNOXIOUS COLORS! And Hello Kitty. And being that generation who never has actual prints of photos… I keep thinking, “This year will be the year I insert photos in all of the photo ornaments! I’ll put them in the tree to remember to do it!” Yeaaaaaah, no. It never gets done.

GeekMom Judy’s Christmas Tree

Individual images by Judy Berna. Collage by Jules Sherred.
Individual images by Judy Burna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Judy had this to say about her tree:

Every year we pay ten dollars for a permit that enables us to cut our tree from the National Forest here in Colorado. It helps the forest, by thinning out smaller trees, and it is a grand family adventure, no matter how old our ‘kids’ get. We hike through the woods and try to keep in mind that a tree that looks ‘normal sized’ in the forest is actually big enough to take up our whole living room. We get teased by family members who live in other states that we’ve become the Griswalds (from the Christmas Vacation movie) when we hike out into the woods, but we don’t mind. That’s what family memories are made of!

Geeky Jules’ Christmas Tree

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.
Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Geeky Jules had this to say about his tree:

While my tree isn’t geeky, the fact that my OCD took 13 hours to decorate it kind of is. Plus, I’m still fiddling with little things here and there until my OCD is happy. But not only that, it’s a completely different concept than trees of past. This is the first year I haven’t used garland or tinsel, and decided to go with a very specific color scheme.

In response, GeekMom Ariane said on Twitter:

My response was:

OMG, this is so me!

Oh, how I laughed.

GeekMom Kay’s Christmas Tree

Kay's tree
Photo by Kay Moore

GeekMom Kay  had this to say about her tree:

We are themeless, no geekiness at all. My mom spent several decades collecting handmade ornaments, and I gave her one for Christmas each year. A few years ago, when we were in town, she retired from holiday entertaining and invited the extended family over to take turns selecting favorite ornaments. So now I have a bunch of old family favorites, including some that I made many many years ago as gifts for my mom.

I cherish a handful of handmade embroidered, needlepointed, knitted, etc., ornaments from our crafting family and friends. Our actual stockings are cross-stitched by my mom and me.

The other sort-of theme we have is to hang sturdy, survivable ornaments on the lower branches, where the cat’s mischief wreaks havoc.

We usually have a gold garland, but not loose tinsel. My husband likes loose tinsel but he usually is doing other things during the tree decorating. We often have bubble lites. I like best of all sparkly reflective ornaments, which conflicts with my textile sensibility.

Oh, I make mini stockings. I give one to my mom for each family member below her on the family tree, and I have a small, less custom, collection for decorating a mini tree.

GeekMom Lisa’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.
Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Lisa had this to say about her tree:

Our main tree has always been just a collection of our loves, memories and travel, with several geeky highlights throughout—Batman, TARDIS, Disney, comic book, and video game inspired ornaments— but we felt the ultimate Star Wars vs. Star Trek geek war needs to mingle in a little “Peace on Earth… and Beyond” tree with several ornaments from both franchises. Last year, we also updated our wreath to have a Hobbit theme as a perfect welcome for friends and family. Our girls have created their own little “Ever After” tree with Disney Princess, fairies, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony, as well as decorating their “Doctor” for the season.

GeekMom Maryann’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Maryann had this to say about her tree:

In our house, it’s all about the collections. For years, the boy and I have been adding to our snowman, snowglobe, nutcracker, elf, and ornament collections. We make lots of trips to the local thrift stores looking for new treasures. It’s a real joy each year to unwrap long lost friends and arrange the collections for enjoyment. It’s not so much fun wrapping them up safe and sound until next year. I also pride myself on spending hours taking Christmas pictures of my tree, as well as local neighborhood displays. The geekier, the better.

GeekMom Natalie’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Natalie Zaman. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Natalie Zeman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Natalie had this to say about her tree:

We’ve had an artificial tree for about ten years, so I was very excited to get a real tree into the house again. Our ornaments are a hodgepodge of things we’ve collected over the years and things my children have made, and they all go up every year. The oldest is a little book, Saint Nicholas that
my mom had since before she was married—she’s 86, bless her—and the newest is a 3-D version of Edward Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”–I got him last week when I was on Cape Cod doing research–and I *finally* got to go to the Edward Gorey House. It was loads of fun and very special–his cousin gave us a tour of the place.

GeekMom Patricia’s Christmas Tree

he Vollmer family's new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The Vollmer family’s new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom Patricia had this to say about her tree:

I love our family’s new Christmas tree. After a couple years of wishing, we finally made the splurge for an LED prelit tree that changes colors. The particular one we got changes the colors very gracefully, slowly transitioning between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The decorations plan on our tree has evolved over the years into numerous geeky “zones”: Disney, trains, Penn State (our alma mater), Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other geekery (such as The Simpsons and Ghostbusters). Our 9- and 12-year-old sons have taken over most of the decorating duty, and they are very good about keeping to the zones. In addition to the zones, we have many traditional ornaments, such as souvenirs from our travels, commemorative ornaments, and kids’ homemade ornaments.

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

GeekMom Rebecca’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Rebecca had this so say about her tree:

We do have regular decorations collected over the years, but I rarely put them up. I like to think up a theme of some sort, like origami or completely edible. This year it was knitted: so almost everything is a knitted thing of some sort. Our geekier side comes out in the other decorations. My son has three locations for extensive Lego Christmas displays, usually with some silly stuff happening with random figurines. I included a picture of Wolverine hanging a wreath.

GeekMom Sam’s Christmas Tree

Sam Collage 2
Individual photos by Samantha Cook. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sam had this to say about her tree:

Our family has a pretty traditional looking tree with old fashioned glass ornaments. But every year we all pick a new ornament, and write the name and year with Sharpie on the bottom. It is a wonderful way to remember holidays and interests past. When you look closer, you can see our ornaments tend to be on the geeky side!

GeekMom Sarah’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sarah had this to say about her tree:

I love Christmas trees. I have far more ornaments than I could possibly put on one tree. Before we had kids, we would put one up in the kitchen that had just our Disney ornaments on it, then the main tree in the living room with as many of the others as I can possibly squeeze on. My favorite ornament is my Department of Homeland Security Ornament. I found it in Boston shortly after I became a US citizen. We have many, many Hallmark ornaments, as Ben’s maternal grandparents send everyone a new ornament from that collection each year.  Ben has 22 of his own, we have 12, and the boys have six and three respectively.

It’s a beautiful tradition that I plan on continuing with my own grandchildren, in about forty years time! We have a lot of Disney ornaments, because I am a Disney nut. But my favorite kind of ornaments are the traditional glass kind. There are only two on our tree this year, but I love to find traditional baubles in unusual colors, or to find unusual glass figurines. We have a glass robot and a hiking Santa that are simply beautiful and they are on the tree. With a five-year-old and almost three-year-old in the house, my other glass baubles are still in the box! Last year, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought new lights. I love them with a fervor that is not normal.

GeekMom Sophie’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Sophie Brown
Photo by Sophie Brown

GeekMom Sophie had this to say about her tree:

Here’s ours. It’s a complete mishmash, too: stuff from when I was a kid; ornaments we’ve collected on trips; things Fin has made at school. I like my trees to be totally chaotic but also totally balanced. It takes me forever to decorate them to a level I can cope with!

We don’t have a theme, but there’s a lot of Disney stuff on there. There are several painted porcelain discs from WDW, two of the custom ones you can have personalised at Downtown Disney—one is our wedding, another for Fin’s first Christmas—some special baubles that commemorated the 35th anniversary. This year I’ve added a set of the singing busts from Haunted Mansion. It’s kind of funny because the busts are nestled up next to completely traditional things like robins, angels, and Santas.

I have tiny tree in my office that’s about one-foot high, including the pot. That has a pin badge of Castiel at the top of it! I kind of want to make a Cas costume for one of my old Ken dolls so it can go on top of the tree next year. Not sure what my husband would think of that!

Oh, and we have a Christmas pterodactyl in the living room! #sixseasonsandamovie

Please share images of your Christmas trees and the stories behind them. We’d love to see and read them!


When Your Adult Child Still Lives at Home and Their S/O Moves In / CC BY 2.0 / CC BY 2.0

Your adult child still lives at home and they want their significant-other to move in. What would you do? I said, “No problem!” Why?

With more and more post-secondary students living at home to help cut costs, “empty nest syndrome” is being delayed by many years. For my eldest son and his education situation, he could very well be still living at home well into his mid to late twenties.

My eldest (hence forth called Kid1), has been in a long-term relationship for two years now. Kid1 and his significant-other (hence forth called NKOTB) have discussed marriage after he finishes his BSc, plus his PBDE, while he teaches high school maths and science, but before he begins his MSc or MEd.

We’ve entered a new phase in life; one we weren’t quite expecting. The “empty nest while the adult child goes off to post-secondary education” phase has been replaced with “adult child stays at home and their significant-other moves in” phase of life.

This is a phase I’m sure many parents, and non-parents alike, would take issue with. Different cultural backgrounds, right down to a regional level, are likely to shape opinions.

A Little Bit More Background Information

In our home, we have a rule. The rule is: As long as you are going to school, you can live at home for free; if you do not go to school and want to continue living at home, you must get a job and pay some rent.

I’ve shared a little bit about Kid1’s school situation and his relationship status. Now, on to NKOTB.

NKOTB works very close to our home. Her other house is in a town about a 20-minute drive from my city. She doesn’t have a license—which is very common now in certain Canadian urban areas because of public transportation—and the buses to her town don’t run when she’s off shift, which can be anytime between 8 pm and midnight.

She started staying here a few days a week because it was convenient for work. Then, she just happened to be here seven days a week.

She fits quite well into this crazy household and we love having her around.

And I really like being in a position where we can help them out. Kid1 is helped because all he has to worry about is going to class, finishing his assignments, and passing. NKOTB is helped out because she can save money for their future and be in an understanding and supportive environment.

Present-Day Information

Because of our “no-school-pay-rent” policy, NKOTB pays rent in the form of helping out with the cost of groceries because that is the only bill that increases with her living here. When we brought it up with her, she was completely understanding and happily agreed to the amount. Part of me feels bad because she is so great to have around, but the rules are the rules.

Benefits of Having NKOTB Live Here

I love being able to watch how Kid1 and NKOTB interact with each other. I like hearing how they resolve conflicts and communicate. I love seeing Kid1 walk NKOTB to work or to the bus stop for work; and then pack a backpack with a cool drink in NKOTB’s water bottle, and walk to pick up NKOTB from work or meet her at the bus stop. I love seeing how Kid1 will cook dinner every night and keep a plate warm for when NKOTB gets home from work.

NKOTB made some tweet about how she likes watching Andrew and I interact and how cute she thinks it is. So, I like the fact that Andrew and I are able to model some good relationship qualities and be a guide for communication and conflict resolution and what it means to be in an equal partnership where all parties involved do little things to care for the other.

I also like that we can give both Kid1 and NKOTB a warm and loving environment, and often chaotic environment, as they practice cohabitation. A little bit of experience with chaos and crises—with some support—before venturing off alone is a good thing, I say.

Kid1 teaching NKOTB how to play MtG. I had to sneak attack this photo from outisde, otherwise Kid1 would have ran away. - Photo by Jules Sherred
Kid1 teaching NKOTB how to play MtG.
I had to sneak attack this photo from outisde, otherwise Kid1 would have ran away. – Photo by Jules Sherred

I adore watching Kid1 indoctrinate NKOTB in many things geek. A few things of note: He’s introduced and hooked her on MtG; she’s learning about chemistry because when Kid1 isn’t in class, he does chemistry experiments as a hobby; and Kid1 is introducing NKOTB to Star Wars—which caused much debate in our home over which order she should watch the movies in. I assume he’s already indoctrinated her in all things Doctor Who, and will eventually move to Star Trek.

It’s Not All Positive

There is one drawback. But it’s not a huge one. The drawback is: aside from the animals, NKOTB is the only woman in the house.

For the first month or so, I quietly wondered what it is like for her to be living with four men. One day, I decided to bring it up with Kid1. He said something along the lines of, “Yeah, it’s come up a few times. Like, she’ll ask me if you have something she needs, and I’ll respond, ‘There is none of that in this house. You have to remember, you’re the only woman here.’” I assume one of these things is feminine hygiene products.

NKOTB knows I’m a trans man. She has no issues with it. She understands why Kid1 and Kid2 still call me “mum” even though my gender is man. But, I’m not sure she’s aware that I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago.

(Aside: I find it absolutely amazing how many pairs of shoes she has. This is not a negative. But, I’m fascinated over what appears to be a new pair of shoes showing up every other week. I’m a one-pair-of-shoes kind of guy.)

Another slight drawback is: No one gets a quiet night to themselves for some un-muted coitus.

Before NKOTB moved in, Kid1 would spend the odd weekend at her house. A lot of those times, it fell on a weekend that Kid2 was at his dad’s or staying at a friend’s house. So, everyone had some alone couple time.

Now, there isn’t a time when someone outside of the coupling isn’t home.

I not only feel a little stuck (for lack of a better word) in my sex life, but I feel bad that Kid1 and NKOTB also have to be consciously aware of other people being in the house during their time together.

But these things are not insurmountable. They’re just little bumps we have to navigate.

The Possible Future

I can imagine a time when children stay at home long after marriage and the beginnings of their own families. It is more economically feasible to move into a bigger house that has room for adults and new children, than it is for two separate households.

While I’m not sure if it would happen with my family because Kid1 will have a good paying job, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea. I have a little bit of envy over cultures where families stay together, despite not liking how women tend to be treated in some of those cultures. If I could be around my grandbabies 24/7, and help take care of them, I’d be stoked! Andrew may have other thoughts on this issue.

What Other GeekMoms Had to Say

GeekMom Rebecca said:

My daughter is 18, and my son 16, so this is certainly on the radar. I don’t have a problem with extended family moving in, including long-term partners of my kids. Twelve years ago we bought a house with an “in-law” apartment above it so my mother could be with us, but have her own place. My nephew moved in with my mom when he started college in the area a few years ago, and with regular babysitting of my two young nieces by all of us, we have already had to deal with the frustrating but rewarding experience of extended family living.

Things like food, paying for WiFi, taking out the garbage, respecting each other’s space, etc., are all constant discussions. If one of my kids needed to live at home, and their s/o moved in, there would specific expectations beforehand. That makes is so much easier. Vague agreements like, “you’ll help out with rent” can only lead to miscommunication. “You will cook dinner for everyone three nights a week and clean the kitchen, do all yard work, and snow shoveling etc…. Having other people over is fine, but no large gatherings unless okay’ed by us, etc. And we will re-evaluate each semester” may sound strict, but is the more peaceful route. Since I’d only agree to this for an adult, serious relationship, I’d assume they would share a room.

My son already announced he wants to take a “gap year” when he graduates high school since college is so expensive and he isn’t exactly sure what he wants to do. So we’re already talking about what that means.

GeekMom Karen said:

I have this fantasy that my kids will (like I did) go off to college and only come home to visit after that. Considering that they’re three and one right now, I’ll be able to hold on to that fantasy for a few more years yet. But I know it won’t be that simple. My parents were always willing to host our friends for extended periods of time when they needed a roof over their heads for various reasons. I expect that I’ll do the same from time to time. For adult kids with partners, I hope in the most hopeful way possible that my kids will pick cool partners who will do their share around the house and cause the least drama possible, if it comes to that.

GeekMom Lisa said:

I have no experience whatsoever on this topic but there was another article recently that touched on this and I couldn’t help but think that in other cultures, children stay with their families their whole lives. Their spouses come to live with them. Multi-generational homes!  It is only here that we force a very particular strain of independence, and then judge others against it.

For the record, my children will always have a home. If it works for a family then why not? Geez Louise!

GeekMom Judy said:

If we had the space, I’m pretty sure we’d be open to it, IF they paid rent and bought their groceries. And it would have to be a privacy-oriented living condition (MIL apartment). When we stayed with our in laws while moving to NH (for a few months) in our early married years, there was an apartment above the garage. Rough, but livable.

But I think we’d always lean toward inclusion. If our kids, adult or otherwise, need help, we are there. If they truly needed housing we’d make it work!

GeekMom Patricia said:

I do think this is something we families need to be prepared for. Except for some very outlying circumstances, my husband and I would have no problem being there for our sons and their S/Os if they need a roof over their heads. Beyond a certain age (college graduate, probably), we will fully expect some sort of contribution to the household, whether it’s financial (if employed) or service (if not employed).

The part of this where I might not have the most popular opinion is for how long we would be willing to have this setup. If our house is big enough I think we can do this for quite a while, but as a military family, we aren’t in the same house for very long. There’s no prediction of how big/small a house we might have next. Many Americans gravitate towards only getting “as much house as you need” just for the immediate members. We tend to do that ourselves. So unless we get a house with the intention of having the extended family living with us permanently (such as is the model in many other countries), we would expect our adult sons and their partners/families to live with us just temporarily.

A GeekMom who wishes to remain anonymous said:

I have no issues with my adult children coming back to the roost, if need arises. As for allowing a long-term partner to move in, that is a little bit trickier because of issues with space. But in a perfect world, if I did have the space, I wouldn’t be opposed. But we’d have the same house rules as my own kids: pick up after yourself, quiet after a certain hour for the younger members of the family, etc.

Another GeekMom who wishes to remain anonymous said:

While I was in college, my parents let my long-term college boyfriend move in with us. They even gave us two bedrooms to use as a bedroom and living room, like a private mini-apartment within the house. It didn’t seem weird to me at the time, but since becoming a parent myself it seems weird to me now! I can’t imagine doing the same for my daughters, but they are so young I can’t even imagine them ever dating. Only time will tell what kind of parents we will become, and what kind of teenagers and young adults our daughters will become. There’s just too many unknowns to make any sort of prediction about our lives in 10-15 years!

It’s interesting though to see how other cultures handle the multigenerational housing issue. It’s easy to think that they do things differently somewhere far away, so far away that it doesn’t affect us in any way. But we live on a small planet and there is always something new to learn from the people directly in our lives! I work with a lot of Indian guys, who were born and raised in India but that have been living in the US for many years. They’ve all gone through with the tradition of arranged marriages, despite living in the US. Then when they had kids, their parents and/or in-laws visited them from India for months at a time to help with the baby, meanwhile staying in their house. Every time I hear about this, I can’t help but sympathize “wow, it must be really hard to have your parents around all the time!” They always respond that it’s no problem at all because in India they would all share a home their entire lives anyway. My own mother must have gotten a taste for freedom since my at-home college days, because when she came to help me with my babies, she took an apartment in my town rather than move in with us. She said we would all appreciate having our own space, herself included!

So, let me ask you something. What are your thoughts about your adult child (future or present, depending on your family situation) bringing their significant-other into your family? Would you consider it, or is it a flat out, “No”? If the answer is “No,” why? If the answer is “Yes,” why?

Trans Parenting: I’m Called “Mum” But We Don’t Celebrate Mother’s Day

"Follow your own rainbow (CC)" by Purple Sherbet Photography Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.
“Follow your own rainbow (CC)” by Purple Sherbet Photography Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Some Rights Reserved.

Ninety-nine percent of people in my life neglected to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. The result: It was the best Mother’s Day of my parental life.

I have two children. They call me “mum.” Mother’s Day is not a thing we do in this house. In fact, because it has never been mentioned, Andrew asked, “Does Canada have Mother’s Day?”

I’m a trans man.

Oh, how confusing all of this must be for some readers. It must be. It can not only be confusing for my immediate family — Andrew, Kid1 and Kid2 — but, also, for me.

Maybe we should rewind time to nearly 19 years ago to when I gave birth to Kid1.

I carried him for just over nine months. I birthed him. The forms I filled out to register birth never asked for “Mother’s Name” or “Father’s Name.” Instead, they asked for “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”” The same followed for school enrollment forms, medical forms, passport forms, etc., etc.

However, as the result of biology, automatically, I was given the label of “mum,” never thinking that much about it.

Just over 15 years ago, the same followed when I gave birth to Kid2.

When I gave birth to Kid2, I still didn’t know much about this whole transgender thing. That would come about a year later, once I took my Abnormal Psychology class, as part of my psychology degree requirement. It was at that point that things finally started to click. I stopped praying that I was born intersex and that my parents made the wrong choice, and began my journey to accepting that I was a trans man.

Before I publicly “came out” three years ago, my children always knew that I was different than the mothers of their peers. Without prompting, they would describe me as a gay man trapped in a girl’s body. They just knew. They always got it, on some level. But, because of biology, I was still called “mum.”

Around the time that I came out in public, as my boys were older and could formulate specific questions about what it means for me to be a trans man, Kid2 asked, “Do I have to start calling you ‘dad’ now?

I thought about it for a bit and decided, no, because I am the parent who birthed them. I see the labels “mum” and “dad” more as labels to describe biological functions, rather than societal constructs. Though, most people see them as societal constructs, which can cause so much confusion.

Fast-forward to this past Mother’s Day. It was late in the day and I had realized that neither of my children, nor Andrew, had wished me a happy Mother’s Day. Andrew didn’t even know Canada does Mother’s Day, so that explained that. Late in the day, I decided to ask Kid2 why he hadn’t wished me a happy Mother’s Day for the last few years, and he said, “Well… I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate because, well… you know. It’s just not you.”

Again, my children simply “get it.” They understand all of this, without ever needing to sit them down for “talks.” If only it was that simple with the adults in my life. More on that in a bit.

Then, there was a brief discussion about how wishing me a happy Father’s Day would probably be more appropriate. However, I’m not even sure that fits because I label myself “parent,” and for most of my children’s lives, I was the parent, having to “play” both roles.

Andrew’s mum also had questions about it because they call me “mum” but I’m not a “mum.” Andrew said, “Jules is the parental unit. However, there is no Happy Parental Unit Day, so it’s just not a thing in our house.”

Each year, I get less and less “Happy Mother’s Day!” wishes. This year, I only got one, which made me feel good as, slowly, people are understanding.

Though, part of me wishes it didn’t take people so long. Most trans people I know, it took their friends only six months to stop using the wrong pronouns. Three years later, I’m still having to correct 99 percent of the people who know that I’m transgender in regards to proper pronouns, including my closest friends — the ones who signed relationships contracts.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

As always, if you don’t know, are curious, or are unsure, simply ask the question. Especially as each transgender person has their own preferences.

Because of biology, I’m okay with the my children making use of the word “mum.” Other trans men may prefer “dad.” So ask. As for the greater world, I prefer “parent.” That is what I am.

As a reminder about pronouns, I prefer the singular “they/them” because it forces people to view me as a person instead of a gender. That said, I love it when people use “he/him” in reference to me. So that is okay, too. Or, just simply use my name instead of a personal pronoun. But, it’s never okay to use “she/her,” “wife,” “lady,” “ma’am,”or anything else that feminizes me.

There are no hard and fast rules. Each transgender person has individual wants and needs. When adding children to the mix, it can get even more confusing.

Maybe one day we’ll have a Parental Unit Day to honor families who do not fit into the “traditional” makeup.

Until that day happens, I’m just happy that I’ve finally experienced a Mother’s Day where I didn’t feel like a complete fraud, and, as a result, had a marvelous day. It may have been a slow road, but I think people in my life are finally starting to see me for me.

It feels wonderful.

If this post has brought up any questions in your mind about transgender parenting, please let me know in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them in a post. While my experiences may not always work for you, like my geeky-queer wedding planning series, maybe it will help you to find the road that works best for you and your family, while knowing that you are not alone in your journey.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Lessons Learned and Miscellaneous Extra Touches

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

It’s been nearly nine months since we said our I wills and I’ve yet to write this final post in my geeky-queer wedding planning series. Between many international trips, Andrew moving to Canada, everyone becoming accustomed to extra people and two extra pets inhabiting a shared space, looking for a bigger house, moving into a bigger house, and more, it has been a very busy nine months. Plus, there are a couple of things in this post that are difficult for me to write.

But, now, the time has come to wrap up this series with lessons learned, and the miscellaneous things we did that were not mentioned in previous posts.

Lesson Learned

Lesson #1: Learn to let go.

Near the end of the planning, I had to learn to let go. I didn’t have to let go in terms of things I wanted. But, I did have to learn to let go over things of which I had no control. This was extremely difficult for me because when I’m stressed, my OCD symptoms become more difficult to control.

Lesson #2: Expect the unexpected.

People warned me that there are always guests who don’t show up, even if they RSVP’d as a yes. This was new information to me, as I had no input the first time I got married. But, as the majority of my guests were coming from out of town—half of whom were coming from out of country—I didn’t expect this to be a reality.

But, the unexpected still happened: a death in the family.

Andrew’s dad, former Rep. Bob Edgar, D-Pennsylvania, unexpectedly passed away a couple months before the wedding.

The death of Andrew’s dad meant that neither of his parents would be physically present at the wedding. Obviously, his mom was too upset to make the long journey from Virginia on her own. This was very difficult for all of us. We now had to figure out a new way to include his parents into the ceremony. More about that at the end.

Lesson #3: Be truly accepting of your non-traditional wedding and don’t worry about what others may think.

Right from the get go, we were very happy with the choices we had made in order to make our United Federation of Planets wedding a reality. However, we were a little shy about sharing it outside of our geeky circles.

What we ended up learning was that vendors and their staff were extremely excited after learning about the theme of our wedding. They all became extra-willing to make our day that much more special. Wait staff wanted to join in the costumes. The menu had themed items. Even the minister wore a costume. And, the night before, strangers eating dinner at The Quamichan Inn asked if it was okay just to drive by the wedding in order to see the costumes. They learned about the wedding because the wonderful staff couldn’t stop talking about it.

Everyone with whom we worked said they enjoyed our wedding more than the traditional affair because it broke the monotony.

So, if you’re worried about what others may think, stop. Especially as those who truly matter—your guests—will be joining in on the fun.

Lesson #4: Technology works great when it works, but when it fails, it really fails.

The above should be a “No, duh!” But, it should be something you keep in mind. Two critical parts of our wedding involved technology: our online guestbook and our in person guestbook (more details below). None of those logs saved properly because of a mixture of user error and technical error.

So, if you decide to do any of the technology-dependent things we that we did, you may later come to find that they did not succeed, despite multiple testing.

Lesson #5: Don’t purchase any crafting books two months before the wedding.

Two months before the wedding, I purchased Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting and The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! Both books contained so many wonderful ideas for party favors and decorations. Lo and behold! I wanted to make them all!

I made grandiose plans to craft all the things but ran out of time.

Do not make this mistake. Be sure to purchase any craft books that may coincide with your theme the moment you’ve decided on one.

Miscellaneous Extras

We did many extra things not previously mentioned. They are so numerous, that I cannot possibly list them all. But, I think the following are worth noting as they may help you plan your geeky and/or queer wedding.

1. Create a website.

Instead of having to keep track of paper RSVPs and relying on people to actually put them in the post, we created a website. The website was not only used for RSVP purposes, but it also contained crucial information about the location, the wedding day schedule, accommodation information for out of towners, local restaurants, and activities. That helped cut down on repeatedly answering the same inquiries.

The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.
The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

2. Stream the wedding.

When people RSVP’d, they had the option to attend the wedding virtually. Many people couldn’t afford to travel to our wedding, yet it was still very important to us that they could still have a way to attend and participate. So, I installed Wowza media server on my server, and we created another website, complete with LCARS theme, for our virtual guests to watch the wedding and chat with each other, also with video capability.

If you do not have your own server, you can still stream your wedding via a number of media server hosts.

Dave and Patricia Vollmer in the chat room. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

3. Create a digital guestbook.

Marrying a software developer is a great idea, for many reasons. One of those reasons is they can write software specific for your needs. Andrew wrote a LCARS-themed program that allowed people to make “Captain’s Logs,” instead of signing a traditional guestbook. We installed in on my Surface Pro tablet, so that it had a touch-interface, just like on-board a starship. We even included the sound of the Enterprise engines and the Enterprise computer’s voice saying, “Initializing,” on start-up, and “Transfer complete,” on saving.

After the ceremony was over, the people who attended virtually also made “Captain’s Logs” via the video chat.

Unfortunately, the external memory got knocked out of the Surface Pro and those logs didn’t save, and the virtual videos didn’t save to my server because of a typo I made in the save configuration file.

Party favors. Image via the @AandJWed Twitter account.

4. Create your own decorations and party favors.

For the ceremony, I made the “Make it so” banner found within the The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! book. For the party favors, I made everyone a Tribble, also found within the craft book. I also made everyone three Star Trek-themed cross-stitch patterns, found within Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting. Every guest also received a United Federation of Planets pin.

We didn’t have a wedding cake, but we still had cake toppers. Instead of the traditional groom and groom wedding cake topper, I purchased figurines of Mister Spock and Captain Kirk from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, to match our wedding attire.

You can see more pictures of the party favors, the “Make it so” banner, and the “cake toppers” in the Storify story below.

Kirk and Spock forever. Photo by Jules Sherred.

5. Create a special Twitter account and Storify your wedding.

In order to easily track tweets from the wedding, and to allow others to follow along whilst protecting everyone’s privacy, we created @AAndJWed. All of the guests who attended in person were given access to the account.

Because all of the tweets were made in one place, not only did it make for easy sharing and following, but it also made creating a Storify post that much easier.

And to think, some places charge $3000.00 in order to tweet and track your wedding.

6. Create a unique wedding invitation.

If you are artistically inclined, you probably can create some amazing cards for your day. After all, you cannot have normal invitation to commemorate your geeky-queer wedding. If you’re not, then spend a little extra money and commission someone to create the perfect cards for your wedding. We commissioned Matt Schubbe to create our cards, and I cannot recommend him enough.

7. Involving family members who cannot be there.

With Bob’s sudden death, we were put in a very sad place. For a few weeks, we couldn’t even think about the wedding. What we did know is that we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob.

Bob had a huge impact on Andrew and on me. He spent his entire life teaching about inclusivity. So did Andrew’s mom, Merle. Without them, Andrew may not have grown into a person who could accept marrying a trans man. Without their acceptance of me as a transgender individual, I would not have been able to marry Andrew.

However, we had a bit of a problem. We knew we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob but didn’t know how we wanted that to happen.

Thankfully, we had a little bit of help. Some years ago, Bob wrote a book titled Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right. I had two copies. After Bob’s memorial service, I gave one of those copies to the minister who would be officiating the ceremony. I asked him to read it in order to get to know the man who was Bob Edgar and figure out a way to have Bob with us on that day.

The minister decided to read the following Franciscan benediction Bob included at the end of his book. Neither Andrew nor I knew this was going to happen, and it was all we could do to not burst into tears during the ceremony:

May God bless you with discomfort…
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your hearts.

May God bless you with anger…
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears…
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness…
To believe that you can make a difference in this world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Followed by Bob’s own words:

And to that prayer, in whatever language we express it, in whatever tradition it is heard, let all us all say in a joyful and faithful and prophetic voice that weds prayer with works and hope with action: Amen.

That was the perfect way to end the wedding ceremony.

Chances are your missing family member did not write a book. If that person is recently deceased, maybe tell a story about them. If they couldn’t be there for other reasons, maybe they can write something to be read during the ceremony. Or maybe you will also be blessed with a wonderful officiant who figures out the perfect thing to say or read.

That pretty much sums it up. Our wedding is long over but not near forgotten. Guests continue to relay how much fun they had. Nine months later, and both Andrew and I are still trying to get over how much love was present that day. Guests are also trying to figure out some other good excuse to travel from far and wide for another really excellent party.

I’ll leave you with a few images via Storify. But first, don’t forget to read the rest of the series. They may help you come up with your own ideas to plan your geeky-queer wedding. The posts include my earlier GeekMom posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location, and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

Remember: There are no rules. This is your day. You can make it whatever you want it to be!

If You Are Transgender, Google May Out You. Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself.

Google products
Google Plus, Google Gmail, and Google Hangouts icons by Google. Image by Jules Sherred.

There as been a lot of news this past week about the very sad suicide of Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, which was the result of Grantland reporter Caleb Hannan outing her as transgender.

In the wake of this news, Violet Blue wrote an article for ZDNet, which uncovered how Google has also been outing transgender people after upgrading to Android 4.4 aka KitKat.

The TL;DR version of Blue’s article is:

  • Some trans people use one name on Google+—we will call this their real name. People on Google+ may or may not know they are transgender. That part is irrelevant. The part that is relevant is that is that their Google+ world is their real self. They may not be ready, for a variety of reasons, for their “in real life” world to know about this real self. But, because they are not “out” at work, with some peers, and/or family members, they use another name on for their Gmail and messaging on their phone—we will call this their assigned name at birth.
  • After upgrading to Android 4.4, Google Hangouts became their default SMS app.
  • Google Hangouts is tied to their real name listed on Google+.
  • Their assigned name at birth—which once appeared as their name in the old messaging app and Gmail—has suddenly been replaced with their real name, thanks to Google’s infinite “wisdom” of integrating all of their services with Google+.
  • Now, they’ve been outed without their consent or transparency on the part of Google about what will happen to your ID when you upgrade to Android 4.4.
  • Google is saying, to paraphrase, “This isn’t our fault. It’s user error.”

When I read the news last night, my heart sank. I frantically went through all of my accounts associated with my Google+ account to make sure my real name is listed everywhere. My Galaxy Note III is still running Android 4.3, so I didn’t have to worry about the Google Hangouts thing, just yet. But, I wanted to make sure that when the upgrade finally becomes available to me, I won’t have to worry about my assigned name at birth popping up somewhere.

You see, I’m already mostly out. So, that isn’t something I necessarily have to worry about. I’ve legally changed my name, which also means that my assigned name at birth was destroyed and new birth records and a new birth certificate was created. But, I do have a different type of “outing” to worry about.

There are people, including my entire family, who, despite a legal name change, refuse to call me by my real name. New people come into my life who do not know I had an assigned birth name that differs from my legal name. I don’t ever want to give anyone any more “reason” to use my wrong name, or gain knowledge of it without it being on my terms.

After all, this is my life, my name, my identity. I should have control over this very private part of my life. And, so should you.

After my legal name change, I had to update all of my online profiles. It is very easy to miss one, especially if some of your online profiles are throw-away accounts. The Gmail account attached to my Google+ profile is one of my throw-away accounts, because of privacy and personal safety reason.

Missing from Blue’s article are some steps you can take in order to protect your identity. Here are two things you can do, right now, in order to protect yourself:

  1. If your situation is similar to mine, meaning: you are out; or, have recently legally changed your name, but you don’t want new people to know your past self; and/or you have people who refuse to call you by your real name and you don’t want to give them any more “reason” to be transphobic towards you, then do the following:
    1. Log into your Gmail account.
    2. Click the spokes button under your avatar.
    3. Click “Settings.”
    4. Click “Accounts.”
    5. Beside “Send mail as:” make sure it’s the same name as your Google+ account. Make sure your assigned name at birth isn’t listed when you click “Edit info.” After my legal name change, it took quite some time for Google to erase my old name. It’s only quite recent that it was no longer listed in Gmail.
  2. If your situation is such where you need to use your assigned name at work, with your peers, and with your family, then you’ll have to set up another Gmail account using your real name. It’s not ideal, but it is what a lot of my trans peers have done. Once you setup the new Gmail account, you’ll need to do the following:
    1. Create a new Google+ account that is attached to the Gmail account that uses your real name.
    2. Start re-adding people to your circles, rejoin all your communities, notify your Google+ pals of the changed account, etc. Yes, it’s a lot of work.
    3. Deactivate the Google+ account that is attached to your assigned name at birth. Because, despite your Google+ account using your real name and your Gmail account using your assigned name, soon the Google+ name will overwrite your assigned name. If you need to keep that account as your assigned name, you cannot have it attached to a Google+ account unless you want to change the Google+ account name to your assigned named. I really hope this point makes sense, because it is a little convoluted and it shouldn’t have to be.
    4. Add the new account which is using your real name to your Android devices. The upside to Android is that you can be logged into different accounts for different apps. I am logged into my throw-away Google account for Google+ (I never check my Gmail and I don’t use Google Hangouts), and my real name account for Google Play.

While the above steps are not ideal, these are some things you can do. The ideal thing would be for Google to wake up and realize that there are valid reasons for using different identities for different products. Not everyone who uses a pseudonym is a troll. Not only could these people be transgender and, for very valid reasons, have to hide this fact. But, they could also be people escaping abusive relationships, who still have to use two sets of names. And the list can go on.

I hope I made sense. If not, please feel free to ask a question in comments, and I’ll do my best to clarify.

Book Review: Ex-Purgatory Is a Welcomed Addition to the Ex Series

Ex-Purgatory Cover
Image: Broadway Books

Ex-Purgatory: A Novel by Peter Clines is the fourth installment in Clines’ Ex series. It’s a solid read and a very welcomed addition to one of my favorite series.

Overall, I was very satisfied with Clines’ latest offering.

Unlike the first three books in this series (Ex-Heroes: A Novel, Ex-Patriots: A Novel, and Ex-Communcation: A Novel), Ex-Purgatory: A Novel is not a republication. It’s a brand new story set in a post-zombie apocalyptic world, featuring a rich cast of superheroes.

Without giving spoilers, St. George and his team of superheroes have forgotten who they are. Slowly, St. George’s life, as he perceives it, begins to unravel causing reality and dreams to collide and bleed into each other. But, what is reality and what is a dream?

Ex-Heroes: A Novel was one of my favorite reads in 2013. So was Ex-Patriots: A Novel. Clines was also one of my favorite Geeky Pleasures Radio Show guests of 2013. I have yet to read Ex-Communcation: A Novel.

In the first two novels of this series, I loved Clines’ ability to paint vivid action scenes, create a wonderfully dynamic cast of superheroes, include many geek and pop-culture references, and balance gruesome descriptions of zombies with humor.

It takes a lot to cause me to squirm in my seat, and I always appreciate it when an author succeeds in making me uncomfortable. In the first two books, Clines’ managed to cause me to squirm, then quickly offset that with humor. Another bonus for my personal tastes.

In Ex-Purgatory: A Novel, the gore factor, which I loved so much in his previous novels, was missing. That’s not to say it was without gore. It did have that, but the depictions never made me uncomfortable. I thought most of the gore was fun because it accompanies great action sequences. The rest of the elements, which I loved in his previous novels, were very much present:

  • Vivid action scenes fit for a movie screen, using very little words: Check.
  • Geek and pop-culture references: Check.*
  • Humor that caused me to, at a minimum, chortle out loud: Check.
  • Dynamic superheroes: Check.*

In some ways, Ex-Purgatory: A Novel reminded me of Q-Squared by Peter David. The latter frustrated me in many ways because there was too much jumping back and forth between realities. Plus, it took way too long to reveal what was behind all of the alternate timeline events. While Clines doesn’t reveal the full cause of the alternate states experienced by our superheroes until near the very end of Ex-Purgatory: A Novel, thankfully the reader has a pretty good idea of what is going on within the first 60 pages. But, like in his previous novels, there is always a wonderful twist.

The two items marked with an asterisk need some elaboration.

Some of the geek and pop-culture references will not be fully appreciated unless you have read Ex-Heroes: A Novel. Other geek and pop-culture references stand very nicely on their own. There is a Star Trek: The Next Generation season six episode reference, and a Matrix reference made near the end of the book which I really much appreciated, as I was already thinking the same thing. I would have also added an Inception reference to that part in the novel.

Unless you have read Ex-Heroes: A Novel, the subtle new details added to our favorite superheroes will be lost to the reader. As a stand-alone novel, the characters lose most of their dimensionality and appeal. Clines writes the novel as if you already have a very firm grasp on who these characters are and the world in which they live. Past events are only mentioned in passing, and you’ll be completely lost in this post-zombie apocalypse reality without the first book.

You could get away with not reading Ex-Patriots: A Novel and be fine. Yes, events from Ex-Patriots: A Novel are referenced, but Clines included enough information in Ex-Purgatory: A Novel so that you will not be lost, even if you won’t be able to fully appreciate the dynamics of current events. As for how much you’ll lose by not reading Ex-Communcation: A Novel, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything overly crucial because I have yet to read it.

Overall, I do recommend reading Ex-Purgatory: A Novel, once you have read Ex-Heroes: A Novel. You’ll probably want to read the other books in this series, too. But, if you’re impatient, yes you can jump from the first to the fourth book with relative ease.

Dynamic, fun, and fast-paced action scenes, humor, and characters I have grown to adore, Clines manages to, yet again, deliver in Ex-Purgatory: Novel.

GeekMom was provided with a copy of this book.

55 Canadianisms: The Fallout and the Aftermath

Canadianisms 1
Image by Jules Sherred.

National news headlines. Multiple radio interviews. A very honourable mention from the English department at the University of British Columbia.

This was just some of the “fallout” of the Canadianisms survey.

On October 1, 2013, when I decided to satisfy my curiosity regarding my use of Canadian English, I never imagined or anticipated the crazy bananas (in the best way possible) reception that would follow. My “55 Canadianisms” post was shared and discussed in various forums across the internet.

I’ve decided to share some of these experiences with you, plus address some of the most frequently asked questions and comments, because I simply am unable to address the thousands of comments left around the internet. Doing so as a new post seems to make the most sense.

For me, the most bizarre things started to occur once Tristin Hopper from the National Post interviewed me and wrote a very fab article about me and the Canadianisms post. If you are outside of Canada, the National Post newspaper is a pretty big deal. This article was syndicated in a number of newspapers in British Columbia and Alberta. Next, came an article by the CBC (the CBC is to Canada what the BBC is to the UK). Then came many radio interviews, which I was very happy to do. Sadly, I had to turn down a national TV news interview because, while all of this is happening, I’m also down with influenza, which resulted in laryngitis.

The radio interviews included:

–          CBC Radio One in B.C. for the B.C. Almanac radio show. That interview is available as a podcast.

–          CJAD Radio in Montreal, Quebec, where I was interviewed by Dan Laxer during a drive time show.

–          The Bill Good Show on CKNW based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. That interview is available as a podcast. My segment begins at about 19:58.

–          CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan for the Blue Sky radio show.

–          The Todd Veinotte Show in News 88.9, heard in Atlantic Canada.

–          The Kingkade & Kelly show in Calgary, Alberta, on News Talk 770.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think a post about Canadian English would skyrocket the way it did. I did the survey to satisfy my own curiosity and shared the results to satisfy the curiosity of those who were wonderful enough to participate. When I was on the Kingkade & Kelly show in Calgary, on News Talk 770, we decided to speculate about why people, Canadians in particular, were so thirsty for this type of information; information deemed worthy enough to make national headline news.

In the end, we decided that it is the result of Canadians, as a general rule, who like it when the things that make us “goofy” and unique are reinforced. While there are some things that we do share with not only our neighbours to the south, but also our Commonwealth brothers and sisters, Canada is also a unique country, with a unique culture, and unique language that is an interesting mix of “proper Queen’s English” and American English. Sometimes this is overlooked, not only by the world at large, but also by Canadians.

There were a number of questions and comments that I wish I had the time to address, never mind being healthy enough to do so. I also found it very interesting to see the amount of bickering over “toque” versus “tuque,” as well as “gotch” versus “gitch” versus “gonch.” My previous comment may sound negative, but I sincerely mean it to be a positive statement. I find it absolutely fascinating the things we, as Canadians, decide to fight over. Overall, most of the comments I read were quite positive. Considering the nature of the internet, I found this to be pretty amazing.

I saw a number of comments from people wishing they had more information on my methods and some who thought I approached people directly for this survey. I think this comment is important to address here, even though I was asked the same question, and answered it, in all of the interviews.

I didn’t approach a single person for this survey, because, unintentionally, I would have most likely approached people who speak in a similar fashion to me. I created it in Google Docs. Then, I tweeted a link to the survey, which didn’t include images, and posted it on Google+, asking non-Canadians if they wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to complete the survey, testing them on their knowledge of “Canadianisms.” No one was able to see the results after they filled out the survey, leaving them completely in the dark as to how others were responding.

Once I had just over 100 responses from non-Canadians, I shared it again, this time asking Canadians if they wouldn’t mind helping. Because this was purely a vanity project, once I reached the 17, 000 data points threshold, I stopped sharing the link and began sorting the data. Eight of the 10 provinces were represented in the survey: B.C. (eight people), Alberta (13 people), Saskatchewan (three people), Manitoba (one person), Ontario (19 people), Quebec (one person), Newfoundland and Labrador (two people), and Nova Scotia (five people). No one from the three Canadian territories decided to participate.

Another frequent comment was that I forgot words. I didn’t forget them. I simply haven’t used words like “Duo-Tang” or “double double” when speaking with Americans, because it simply hasn’t come up. Other words mentioned are included in the downloadable full report which includes all 82 words on the original survey. I will say that immediately after sharing the link to the survey, I facepalmed because I did forget “First Nations.” But, when I was creating the survey, I was quickly thinking of words. Once I realised I was at 82 words, I stopped.

People have said I should do another one. I really wish I had the time and resources to do so. However, the first survey took just over two months to sort and write. I simply do not have the time, as much I would love doing another.

Finally, I want to address a number of people who decided the survey was worthless because it wasn’t rigorously scientific, or because it didn’t match their own personal experiences, or who made comments similar to:

Given sample size, the survey results lack statistical significance. At best it represents American familiarity with idioms the surveyor considers Canadian, with a massive margin of error.

One of the first things I addressed in my Canadianisms article was that it was far from scientific. The article was based on my personal experience. It was simply for fun and done on a lark. It is one of the reasons I’m finding the large reception to be so bizarre, as I did it to satisfy my own curiosity and that of others who took the time to participate. Also, I find the subject matter to be rather fascinating and thought other language nerds would also find it fascinating.

That said, even though I knew the resulting snapshot wouldn’t be rigorously scientific, thanks to lack of resources and sample size, the way in which I approached it (I was blind to who was participating, the participants were blind as to how others were responding), it was enough for me to think, “Okay. So these words may actually be quite common and they’re not just ‘Jules-isms,’ as some of my non-Canadian friends would say.”

But, the best “fallout” came when the Department of English at University of British Columbia posted the following on their English Language Studies blog:

This blogger (Jules Sherred), not a professional linguist, has done quite a good job identifying a number of new Canadianisms (by using a survey questionnaire).

Most all of these will appear in the forthcoming Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, 2nd edition, forthcoming from the University of British Columbia Canadian English Lab:

Personally, I cannot wait for this volume to be published. I’m quite curious as to what “most all of these” words will be making an appearance. I suppose I was much more accurate with my findings than I gave myself credit for, and they’re not “idioms.” As a language nerd, having the English Department at one of the best universities in Canada say, “quite a good job,” caused me to squee, just a wee bit.

All said and done, it was a very interesting way to end 2013. I want to thank everyone who got excited by this story, who shared it, and who discussed it with much passion. I really wish I could address even more than what I’ve addressed above and respond to everyone individually, but there really are not enough hours in the day. I also want to thank everyone, once again, who participated in the survey.

The response has been very overwhelming, especially while being on holiday, and juggling family and influenza.

Thanks for geeking out with me over a little piece of Canadian culture.

6 Downton Abbey Needlepoint Projects While You Wait

Downton Abbey Cross Stitch
Image by Jules Sherred.

If you are eagerly anticipating the series four premiere of Downton Abbey on Sunday, why not pass the time working on one of these six needlepoint projects?

Downton Abbey Embroidery
Image by April Heather Art.

1. Lady Mary, Edith, and Sybil, Plus Matthew Set of Four Embroidery Patterns

Designed by April Heather Art, this instant download PDF contains all of the information you will need in order to stitch ladies Mary, Edith, and Sybil, plus Matthew. Even if you’ve never before embraced this art form, April has included basic stitch instructions. Each of these four designs will measure approximately 8-by-10 inches. And if this set isn’t your particular cup of tea, April Heather Art has a number of other embroidery pattern sets from which to choose.

Downton Abbey 2fer
Image by cottagenestinteriros.

2. Downton Abbey Cross-Stitch Pattern Two-Fer

A traditional sampler and a pattern of the great Highclere Castle: Two great ways to capture the era. Created by cottagenestinteriros, the “Downton Alphabet” pattern measures 7.56-by-9.78 inches when stitched on 18-count aida cloth. The “Down with Downton” pattern measures 8.5-by-7.5 inches when stitched on 14-count aida cloth. These patterns will fit in 8-by-10, and 10-by-10-inch frames, respectively. The instant download PDF contains a full DMC color chart with full color symbols, floss counts, and a supply list. If your local craft store lacks a good selection of cross-stitch supplies, then I recommend purchasing all of your supplies online from Everything CrossStitch. That is where I purchase all of my supplies.

If you’d prefer only one of these patterns, then the “Down with Downton” pattern and the Downton Alphabet” pattern are each sold separately.

Dowager Countess Quote
Image by crossstichheroes.

3. Dowager Countess Quote

Many of my favorite Downton Abbey quotes come from the mouth of the Dowager Countess. I think many of us cannot wait until we are older so that we can be free to be that person. Designed by crossstichheroes, this pattern contains a quote from one of my personal favorite Downton Abbey moments.

The color chart includes a legend for both DMC and Anchor floss. The pattern is also perfect for framing, either in a regular picture frame or hoop. When stitched on 14-count aida fabric, it will fit in a 5-by-7-inch frame or a 7-inch hoop; 18-count will fit a 4-by-6-inch frame or a 6-inch hoop; and when stitched on 22-count, it will fit in a 3.5-by-5-inch frame or a 5-inch hoop.

Mini Cushion Cross Stitch
Image by SheenaRogersDesigns.

4. A Visit to Downton Abbey Mini Cushion Cross-Stitch

It may not be enough to frame pieces of Downton Abbey. You may want to include Highclere Castle as an accent to your furnishings. When finished, this Downton Abbey mini cushion, designed by SheenaRogersDesigns, will measure 6-by-6 inches when stitched on 14-count aida fabric. Included in the instant download is a cover sheet with color photo of the finished product; stitching instructions; a list of required materials, including DMC thread quantities and instructions on how to make the cushion; and a large chart and DMC floss key. Most of the pattern uses whole stitches. However, there is a little bit of back stitching involved.

Grantham Arms Cross Stitch Bookmark
Image by AdLeones.

5. Downton Abbey “Grantham Arms” Cross-Stitch Bookmark

I think it’s safe to say that people look upon the Grantham’s library with envy. Your library may not be as grand as the Grantham’s, but it is deserving of an upper-class bookmark, all the same. Designed by AdLeones, the “Grantham Arms” cross-stitch bookmark will measure 1.75-by-9.25 inches when stitched on 18-count aida fabric. This pattern is a little more complicated as it includes whole stitches, quarter stitches, three-quarter stitches, back stitches, and French knots.

Favorite Quotes
Image by April Heather Art.

6. Favorite Quotes From Your Favorite Characters

Last, but certainly not least, April Heather Art has some more embroidery goodness for you to enjoy. Included in this set are six of April’s favorite Downton Abbey quotes, courtesy of the delightful Dowager Countess. Again, I think it is safe to say that the following quotes are also some of our favorites:

  • “Stop whining and find something to do.”
  • “I’m a woman; I can be as contrary as I choose.”
  • “Don’t be a defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.”
  • “Why must everyday involve a fight with an American?”
  • “What is a weekend?”
  • “So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Excerpt and Giveaway: Win a Copy of Dark Talisman

dark talisman
Image: Azimuth Books

If you live in the United States or Canada, you could win one of five copies of the YA fantasy Dark Talisman by Steven M. Booth.

Published by Azimuth Books, Dark Talisman tells the story of the strong and determined Dark Elf, Altira. She is fierce. She is not always likable, which adds to her depth of character. She is feisty.

Dark Talisman is a very good introduction to fantasy for the younger reader. It isn’t weighed down with some of the qualities that can turn people off from what is described as “epic fantasy,” yet it contains all of the fantastical creatures and elements that draw people to this genre.

The official synopsis reads:

Meet the Dark Elf, Altira. She set out to rob a sultan, and ended up stealing the deadliest gem in the world. This mistake could cost Altira her life or save her race, and possibly the world as she knows it. As Altira struggles to triumph over the vast forces arrayed against her, she acquires (mostly against her will) a rich cast of unexpected allies perceptive dwarves, giant Phoenix birds with mysterious powers, and ephemeral creatures made from nothing but air. Together they must find a way to defeat the army of assassins set against her, overcome the wrath of three nations, and forge allegiances with despised enemies, to reveal the truth to a people kept in darkness for millennia.

If you’d like a little preview of the writing style, you can download this short excerpt from chapter 17.

When Dark Talisman was first published, it was only available in hardcover format. Now, Steven M. Booth is excited to announce that you can purchase Dark Talisman in eBook format from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you live in Canada or the United States, to enter our giveaway just login to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win).

You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like/follow us it will still enter you in the giveaway. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

The giveaway ends on January 2, 2014 at 23:59 EST.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GeekMom received a copy of this book.

55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently

Canadianisms 1
Image by Jules Sherred.

I surveyed 175 people, quizzing them on their knowledge of 82 “Canadianisms.” The results are in, including 42 words with which you are probably unfamiliar, unless you are Canadian.

All of the words included on this survey were the result of at least one American being baffled over my Canadian English. Many times, I have felt as if we were two people separated by a common language. These words have been used during my many trips to the United States. (I have traveled to Washington, California, Idaho, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Maryland, DC, and Virginia.) They’ve also been the source of confusion when speaking with my American partner or talking with my American pals, who are spread throughout the country.

Because of how many words and pages it takes for a complete breakdown of the results, I’ve decided to only include words where at least 50 percent of Americans said they were unfamiliar with the word, plus a couple of other bonuses. At the end of the post is a link to all of the results, which include the 42 unfamiliar words, 10 questionable results, and three honourable mentions, plus 16 “familiar but not used,” and 11 “familiar and used” words.

The geographical breakdown includes: 104 Americans, 52 Canadians, and 19 people from the following Commonwealth countries: New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, England, and Wales.

The method of this completely non-scientific, yet still extremely fascinating survey was pretty simply: I presented respondents with a word, a short definition, and four answers from which to choose.

When giving a definition, intentionally, I gave minimal information. My thinking was, either the people responding to the survey knew the words without giving a context and definition, or they didn’t. In retrospect, I should have been more concise with a couple of the words, as many of the American respondents seemed confused by their meaning or my intention. This was even more prevalent when I gave an example of how the word is seldom used in Canada, which caused the respondent to give conflicting responses in the “other” field. These words are included in this post, even if over 50 percent of Americans said they were familiar with the word, but didn’t use it.

After reading the word and the short definition, respondents were presented with the following choices:

  • I am unfamiliar with this term;
  • I am familiar with this term, but I never used it or have I heard it used in my area;
  • I am familiar with this word and I use it regularly, or it is used in my area;
  • Plus, “other” to elaborate and enter the word most commonly used by that person.

I’ve also included three honourable mentions: words that could have very easily fallen within the “unfamiliar” category.

Contained within these results are a number of terms that are sociolects: words we tend to use only when among certain social groups, and our geographic location does not determine the extent to which Canadians have knowledge of the word, or use it. With the exception of a couple of regional words, most Canadians were familiar with all of the words, even if they didn’t use them. Regional dialects are very rare in Canada, but we do have many sociolects. Because of Canada’s emphasis on being multi-cultural, we tend to be very familiar with each other’s word choices, which sometimes can give the appearance that we are a “melting pot,” when we are not.

It is also interesting to note that in cases where the word was not clearly “Canadian,” it was the result of people in and around the greater Toronto area not making use of the word. It almost adds to the joke that there is Canada, and then there is Toronto, Ontario. Canada versus Toronto is the source of many jokes and stereotypes; some of which are not always nice, even if they may have a lot of truth in them. And, in a couple of cases, Albertans were the exception to the rule, which also plays into some Canadian-grown stereotypes.

Without further ado, the results!


1 Tuque
Image by Molly Leonard via Wikimedia Commons.

1.       Tuque: A knitted cap/hat, referred to as a beanie in the United States. A beanie is a completely different type of hat in Canada. 100 percent Canadian.

In the United States, the most common alternatives were: beanie, knitted cap, ski hat, and stocking cap. In the Commonwealth countries, the most common alternative was “beanie.”

It may be interesting to note that very recently, the CBC did an article about the spelling of “tuque,” while calling all of us “hosers.” Tuque is the proper spelling, though many Anglophones spell it either “toque” or “touque.” Growing up in French immersion, it was always “tuque,” with “toque” meaning something else. You can read what the CBC has to say about this very topic, including a reference to their style guide.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 53% 84% 0%
Familiar but not used 35% 0% 0%
Familiar and used 12% 16% 100%
1 Runners
Some rights reserved by Luke,Ma via Flickr.

2.       Runners: Referred to as sneakers or tennis shoes in the United States. 85 percent Canadian.

In the United States, the most common alternatives were: sneakers, tennis shoes, Nikies, running shoes, walking shoes, and walkers. Across the Commonwealth countries, the most common alternative was “trainers.”

One American noted the following, “Runners are a piece of table linen, which runs the length of the table under the centerpiece and dangles over the edge.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 60% 37% 4%
Familiar but not used 32% 58% 11%
Familiar and used 7% 5% (1 person) 85%
3 Parkade
Some rights reserved by Jan Tik via Flickr.

3.       Parkade: A multi-level parking structure. 71 percent Canadian.

In the United States, the most common alternatives were: parking garage and parking deck. Across the Commonwealth countries they were: car park and parking garage.

Out of the Americans who knew and used the term “parkade,” one left the following comment: “City-owned parking in Eugene is usually named ‘Location Parkade.'”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 85% 100% 4%
Familiar but not used 11% 0% 25%
Familiar and used 4% 0% 71%
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

4.       ABM: Automatic Banking Machine. 38 percent Canadian or maybe it’s becoming a sociolect.

The thing I found most interesting about these responses comes from the Canadians. Despite automatic banking machines being labelled “ABM” and the terms “automatic banking machine” and “ABM” being used in most bank service agreements, Canadians are starting to move towards the American “ATM.” Personally, I still use ABM, or just “bank machine.”

Perhaps the term “ABM” is starting to turn into a sociolect, as the 38 percent of Canadians who still primarily use “ABM” are from across all regions of Canada.

In the Commonwealth countries, the most common alternatives were: hole-in-the-wall, cash machine, cashpoint, and ATM. In the United States, the alternative is “ATM.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 95% 100% 8%
Familiar but not used 5% 0% 54%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 38%
5 Eavestroughs
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

5.       Eavestroughs: A trough that runs along the eaves and catches rain/leaves. 90 percent Canadian.

The most common alternative given by both Americans and people living in Commonwealth countries was “gutters.” I found the percentage to which Commonwealth respondents were unfamiliar with the word to be very surprising.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 80% 89% 2% (1 person)
Familiar but not used 7% 0% 8%
Familiar and used 13% 11% 90%
6 Garburator
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

6.       Garburator: A mechanical device that “eats” garbage in your kitchen sink’s drain. 62 percent Canadian.

Disposal is a propriety name for a garbage disposal in the United States. Garburator is the propriety name in Canada. I’m not sure what the difference is, but they must be different enough to have different propriety names. And that is about all the insight I can give you on “Garburator.”

The most common alternative given by everyone, regardless of location, was “garbage disposal.” Many Americans commented that “Disposal” is a brand name.

Most of the Canadians who were unfamiliar with the word, or don’t use it despite being familiar with it, were from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 91% 100% 12%
Familiar but not used 7% 0% 30%
Familiar and used 2% 0% 62%
7 Wicket
Pubic domain via Wikimedia Commons.

7.       Wicket: You stand at a wicket when speaking to agents in government offices, bank tellers, etc. Sociolect, with most who don’t use it despite being familiar with it, living in Ontario.

The most common American alternative was “window” or “counter.” There were a couple of people who said they were totally lost. A couple of Americans noted that a “wicket” was for cricket, with most Commonwealth respondents making the same comment.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 91% 84% 15%
Familiar but not used 9% 11% 62%
Familiar and used 0% 5% 23%
8 Homo Milk
Island Farms is one of the leading dairy producers in British Columbia. Some rights reserved by scazon via Flickr.

8.       Homo Milk: Milk with 3.25% milk fat. This is not to be confused with Canadian “whole milk,” which is milk that separates when left sitting. 92 percent Canadian.

A couple of Americans commented that they were offended by this term because in the U.S., it is a derogatory reference to a homosexual person. In Canada, it is difficult for that word to be a slur when it is plastered all over stores and on milk containers in reference to a specific type of milk. Canada has different derogatory terms. Calling someone a “homo” is laughable to most of us because that would be calling someone “milk.”

Swears and derogatory words differ a lot between cultures. It is one reason why I can include words like “bugger,” “bloody,” or “merde” when writing for a U.S.-based website. Most readers wouldn’t know why it would be, at the very least, quite rude and offensive for other readers.

The common American alternative given was “homogenized milk,” which is a little odd, as all of Canada’s milk is homogenized. Other forms of homogenized milk include: skim milk, 1%, 2%, buttermilk, plus various types of cream. One person in N.E. Ohio commented that they have never seen 3.25% milk.

Out of the four Canadians who said that they don’t use the term, I’m very curious to know what they use, instead. They didn’t give an alternative.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 81% 79% 0%
Familiar but not used 16% 16% 8%
Familiar and used 3% 5% 92%
9 Pencil Crayons
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

9.       Pencil Crayon: Pencils used for colouring. 96 percent Canadian.

I’m really not sure why we call them “pencil crayons.” Maybe it is a result of us mashing the English “coloured pencils” with the French “crayon de couleur,” and the middle of packaging reading “pencil crayon” as a result. Even our school supply lists read “pencil crayons.”

The American alternative is “colored pencil.” The Commonwealth alternative is “colouring pencil.”

The two Canadians who said they were familiar with the term, but don’t use it, were from Nova Scotia. The rest of the respondents from Nova Scotia all use the term.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 85% 47% 0%
Familiar but not used 9% 16% 4%
Familiar and used 6% 37% 96%
10 Bachelor Apartment
Image by AlexiusHoratius. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported via Wikimedia Commons.

10.   Bachelor Apartment: A flat that has no bedroom. 92 percent Canadian.

The most common American equivalents given were “studio apartment” and “efficiency.”

The most common Commonwealth equivalents were: bedsit, studio flat, and bachelor pad.

Until this survey, I had never heard the word “efficiency,” and I was unsure as to the meaning of “studio apartment” whenever I would hear it.

Among the Canadians who do not use the words, three are from Alberta, with one from Saskatchewan.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 71% 63% 0%
Familiar but not used 20% 26% 8%
Familiar and used 9% 11% 92%
11 Gasbar
Image by Trekphiler licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported via Wikimedia Commons.


11.   Gasbar: A filing station. Sociolect with 44 percent of Canadians using it regularly.

The most common American word is “gas station.”

The most common words used in the Commonwealth countries are “petrol station” and “garage.”

The difference between the Canadians who know the word but don’t use it regularly and those who do use it regularly was two people. The alternative word given was “gas station.” Seventy-five percent of the respondents who were not familiar with “gasbar” were from Toronto.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 98% 100% 8%
Familiar but not used 2% 0% 48%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 44%
12 Donair
Some rights reserved by FreeRishad via Flickr.

12.   Donair: A pita containing spiced meat and a sauce made from sugar, vinegar, milk, and garlic. 71 percent Canadian.

Part of me thinks I should correct the above to, “100 percent Canadian,” as a donair is a Canadian-invented food item. It’s also as Canadian as poutine, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, and split-pea soup. All of the Canadians who said they were unfamiliar with this term were from Ontario, with six out of nine being from Toronto. If you live in Toronto and have no idea what a donair is, I’m not sure there is an excuse, as Toronto is a food haven!

The closest thing America has to a donair is the gyro. In the Commonwealth countries, it is similar to what they call a kebab, but different from what Canadians refer to as a kabob. Unlike a “doner,” it doesn’t contain lamb and the sauce is quite different.

For the four Americans who say they use the word or find it common in their area, especially the one from Seattle, I’d like to know where? I’ve travelled to Seattle many times and have yet to find a donair. Poutine is finally making its way into the U.S. Hopefully, the donair will be soon to follow.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 86% 84% 17%
Familiar but not used 10% 16% 12%
Familiar and used 4% 0% 71%
13 Icing Sugar
Image by Evelyn Clark Weddings.

13.   Icing Sugar: A type of finely granulated sugar used in making icings and glazes. 96 percent Canadian.

The first time I was made aware that Americans do not have “icing sugar” per se, I was very surprised. It was awhile before I would learn the alternative, which is either “powdered sugar” or “confectioner’s sugar.”

There is one Canadian who is unfamiliar with this term. I can only surmise that they don’t do any baking.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 56% 0% 2%
Familiar but not used 32% 0% 2%
Familiar and used 12% 100% 96%
14 Whitener
© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons.

14.   Whitener: A powder or liquid used to whiten tea or coffee, not made from dairy. 81 percent Canadian.

The most common American alternatives are “creamer” and “non-dairy creamer.” In the Commonwealth countries, the most common alternative is “non-dairy whitener.”

Two Canadians were unfamiliar with the term: one from Nova Scotia and one from Ontario. Out of the eight people who are familiar with the term but don’t use it, 50 percent were from Ontario, while 25 percent were from Alberta, and 25 percent from British Columbia.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 69% 26% 4%
Familiar but not used 23% 16% 15%
Familiar and used 8% 58% 81%
15 Fire Hall
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

15.   Fire Hall: Where firefighters work. 92 percent Canadian.

“Firehouse” and “fire station” were the alternatives used by Americans, with “fire station” used among those who responded from the Commonwealth countries.

The one Canadian who said they were unfamiliar with the term is from Toronto. Among the three people who responded “familiar but not used,” two were from Toronto, with one from Hamilton, Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 72% 89% 2%
Familiar but not used 19% 0% 6%
Familiar and used 9% 11% 92%
By Luigi Zanasi licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Canada via Wikimedia Common.

16.   Robertson Screws/Screwdriver: A type of screw with a square hole. 92 percent Canadian.

This is another word that, despite results, is 100 percent Canadian. The Robertson screw/screwdriver is named after its Canadian inventor. The reason why it isn’t popular in the United States is because of a dispute involving Henry Ford.

In the U.S., those who are familiar with this type of screwdriver call it a “square head.”

The following comment was left by one of the Commonwealth respondents, “Note – only familiar through professional use, very uncommon fixing in UK, generally in applications that require tamper-resistant fixing as tools are uncommon.”

Among the Canadians who are unfamiliar or don’t use the word, I can only assume they aren’t familiar with tools, in general.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 86% 79% 2%
Familiar but not used 9% 5% 6%
Familiar and used 5% 16% 92%
17 Keener
Image by Jules Sherred.

17.   Keener: A brown-noser. 77 percent Canadian.

Brown-noser, suck-up, and kiss-ass were the most common alternatives given.

Out of the 11.5 percent of Canadians unfamiliar with the term, 66 percent were from Ontario. Out of the 11.5 percent of Canadians who were familiar but didn’t use the term, 50 percent were from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 95% 90% 11.5%
Familiar but not used 5% 5% 11.5%
Familiar and used 0% 5% 77%
18 Jiffy Marker
Image by Jiffco.

18.   Jiffy Marker: A generic term for permanent markers, similar to how people use “Q-tip” for all cotton swabs or “Kleenex” for all paper tissue. Regional with 31 percent of Canadians who regularly use the term.

This was one of the few responses that were answered in the way I had expected. I expected many more words to be regional dialects and not be the result of sociolects, as was demonstrated. A Jiffy marker is a brand name for an amazing type of marker created by a Vancouver-based company. When I was in school, all permanent markers in the classroom were Jiffy markers.

When it comes to breakdown, it worked out as British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan versus Manitoba through the Maritimes.

The most common alternatives in the United States are “Sharpie” and “magic marker.” In the Commonwealth countries, “felt-tip pen.” Among the Canadians who are not familiar with the awesome that is the Jiffy marker, “Sharpie” was the most common alternative.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 96% 89% 50%
Familiar but not used 3% 11% 19%
Familiar and used 1% 0% 31%
19 Hooped
Image by Jules Sherred.

19.   Hooped: Similar to FUBAR, if something is hooped, it is screwed up so badly that it probably can’t be fixed. 54 percent Canadian.

Hooped is one of my favourite words. I’ll also never forget the “what the what?!” face that greeted me the first time I used it when saying something to my partner.

The most common American alternatives given were: hopeless, royally screwed, and FUBAR.

FUBAR was the most common alternative given by those who live in the Commonwealth countries.

Canadians gave “borked” as their favourite alternative.

Among the 36 percent of Canadians who were unfamiliar with this term, 74 percent of them were from Ontario. Among the 10 percent who said they were familiar but didn’t use the word, 80 percent were from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 90% 95% 36%
Familiar but not used 10% 5% 10%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 54%
20 Mickey
Product shot via BC Liquor Stores.

20.   Mickey: A measurement of alcohol, usually 13 ounces (375 millilitres). 88 percent Canadian.

After reading some of the American responses, a couple of American movies and television shows finally made sense. I once wondered to myself, “Why is slipping someone a mickey a bad thing? People would slip me mickeys all the time when I was in high school.” Then, I learned that “mickey’ is used how Canadians use “roofie.” Light bulb = DING! And a bunch of conversations with Americans also finally made sense.

While many Americans weren’t sure if there is an alternative, some suggested: jigger, pony, and mouse. Both “pony” and “mouse” have me confused. However, after reading the responses, I’m sure “mickey” confuses some Americans.

Canadians travelling to the United States: Do not ask someone to give you or buy you a mickey, or ask where you can get one.

Commonwealth respondents were stumped to come up with an equivalent.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 69% 89% 2%
Familiar but not used 27% 11% 10%
Familiar and used 4% 0% 88%
21 Two-Four or Flat
Image via BC Liquor Stores.

21.   Two-Four or Flat: A case of 24 cans of beer. 90 percent Canadian.

Some Americans said that the alternative word is “case.” In Canada, a “case” is commonly reserved for 12 beers, while a half-sack is what we call it when you purchase a case of six beers. I nearly included our definition of “case” and “half-sack” in the list, but I already had a lot of alcohol-related terms.

In the UK, beer is purchased in different quantities.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 86% 95% 4%
Familiar but not used 10% 5% 6%
Familiar and used 4% 0% 90%
22 Twenty-Sixer or Twixer
Image via BC Liquor Stores.

22.   Twenty-Sixer or Twixer: A bottle of alcohol containing 750 millilitres (just over 25 ounces). 64 percent Canadian.

The most common American alternatives given were “bottle” and “fifth.” I have two questions. The first question: A fifth of what? The second question: When sending someone to the liquor store, how do they know what size to get if you don’t have different names?

“Bottle” was also the alternative given by the Commonwealth respondents. My second question, I also ask of them.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 98% 100% 17%
Familiar but not used 2% 0% 19%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 64%
23 Forty-Pounder
Image via BC Liquor Stores.

23.   Forty-Pounder: A bottle of alcohol containing 40 ounces (1.14 litres). 60 percent Canadian.

The American alternatives given were “40” and “40-ouncer.” Again, no Commonwealth alternative.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 93% 100% 27%
Familiar but not used 6% 0% 13%
Familiar and used 1% 0% 60%
24 Sixty-Pounder
Image via BC Liquor Stores.

24.   Sixty-Pounder: A bottle of alcohol containing 66 ounces (1.75 litres). Sociolect, with 39 percent of Canadians using this term.

Many Americans commented, “not sure this quantity even exists.” One American said, “You guys are clearly way more serious about your drinking.” To which I have to say, “Yes, we are <insert joke about our first prime minister being an alcoholic here>.”

Once again, no alternative in the Commonwealth countries.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 97% 100% 42%
Familiar but not used 3% 0% 19%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 39%
25 Texas Mickey
Image via Liquor Connect.

25.   Texas Mickey: A bottle of alcohol containing 3 litres (101 ounces). Sociolect, with 46 percent of Canadians using this term.

One American commented, “They make those?! Jesus Christ, Seriously?!” Yes, seriously.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 99% 100% 33%
Familiar but not used 0% 0% 21%
Familiar and used 1% 0% 46%
26 Pablum
Pablum cereal carton (center), circa 1935. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

26.   Pablum: A type of infant food. 71 percent Canadian.

Despite the results, this word is 100 percent Canadian. Invented by a Canadian pediatrician, Pablum was the recommended first food for infants, no sooner than six months of age, followed by the introduction of sweet potatoes and squash. In 2012, the Canadian guidelines changed to meat at six months, in addition to Pablum, followed by root vegetables. Fruit is always the last recommended food to introduce to your baby.

The other less-used word for Pablum is “infant cereal.”

The words really stumped everyone who was not Canadian, with suggestions ranging from “Gerber” (which would cause me to assume you mean jarred meat, vegetables, and fruit) and “baby food” (which would lead me to assume the same about jarred food) from Americans, and “rusk” from those in the Commonwealth countries.

It also made me wonder to what extent we feed our babies differently.

As for the Canadians who are unfamiliar with the term, I can only wonder about their family status.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 62% 100% 10%
Familiar but not used 27% 0% 19%
Familiar and used 11% 0% 71%
27 Chip Truck
Some rights reserved by Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr.

27.   Chip Truck: A type of food truck that typically serves chips (French fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, fish and chips, etc.) Sociolect, with 50 percent of Canadians using this term.

The number one alternative Americans gave was “food truck”, with “burger truck” being the number one alternative among Commonwealth respondents.

One American commented, “Chip truck is a semi hauling wood chips.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 83% 79% 29%
Familiar but not used 17% 21% 21%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 50%
28 Give'r
Image by Jules Sherred.

28.   Give’r: To put in an enormous amount of effort. 71 percent Canadian.

In other words, “to give it all you’ve got.” Some Americans added, “the good old college try” or “elbow grease,” though I’m not sure the latter is synonymous. When you tell someone to “give’r,” you’re telling them to give so much effort that they bleed, and perhaps, even die. A few people said, “Give it 110 percent,” while adding, “We’re bad at math.” “Give it 110 percent” would probably be the most accurate equivalent.

Out of the three Canadians who were unfamiliar with this term, 66 percent were from Ontario. Of the 23 percent of Canadians who were familiar but don’t use the term, 58 percent were from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 87% 100% 6%
Familiar but not used 10% 0% 23%
Familiar and used 3% 0% 71%
29 All-Dressed
Some rights reserved by Chinkerfly via Flickr.

29.   All-Dressed: A type of potato chip. Or, if you are having an “all-dressed” hot dog or hamburger, you are having it with all the fixins. Also, pizza with pepperoni, green peppers, and mushroom. 94 percent Canadian.

This term I fully expected no one outside of Canada to know. The United States has waffle and chicken chips. Canada has all-dressed and ketchup chips. I suppose you can say all-dressed chips are as Canadian as poutine and maple syrup.

As for the definition in regards to hot dogs and hamburgers, “the works” and “everything” is the U.S. equivalents, while people in the Commonwealth countries noted that they ask for dressing individually.

The two Canadians who were unfamiliar with the term were both from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 89% 100% 4%
Familiar but not used 9% 0% 2%
Familiar and used 2% 0% 94%
30 Take off!
Image by Jules Sherred.

30.   “Take off!”: “Are you serious?” “Are you kidding?” No way!” Sociolect, 35 percent of Canadians using this term.

Of the Americans who said they were familiar with this term, even if they don’t use it, they attributed their knowledge to the movie Strange Brew. Some Canadians remarked that, even though they are familiar with the word, they haven’t used it since the days of “hoser,” and said it is outdated. I’m not sure if it is outdated, as the difference between people who know the word but don’t use it, and those who do use it was four people. Maybe those of us who do use it are just getting old.

Out of the 23 percent of Canadians who were unfamiliar with this word, 46 percent were from Ontario, and just over 50 percent of those who know the term but don’t use it were also from Ontario.

The most common alternatives given were: “Get out!” “Seriously?!” For real?” “Shut up!” “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 61% 90% 23%
Familiar but not used 32% 5% 42%
Familiar and used 7% 5% 35%
31 BFI Bin
Image copyright BFI Canada.

31.   BFI Bin: A dumpster. This word appears to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Pronounced “biffy” in the olden times, when I was a wee lad, we would call the bin or dumpster “biffy,” after the company.

Among Americans, the common alternative is “dumpster.” For those who reside within the Commonwealth countries, the alternatives are “bin” and “skip.” Canadians have moved to an equal mix of American and UK English, with an equal number of Canadians saying they usually use “bin” or “dumpster.”

The following comments were left by Americans:

–          I learned it from Canadians.

–          “Biffy.”

–          We just say dumpster, though we have BFI down here, too, in some areas. (From a person living in Arizona.)

–          When we had BFI in our community, I’d hear that term, but I haven’t seen that since I was a kid. (From a person living in Colorado.)

One Canadian from Alberta said, “Yes, BFI is the company, but not heard anyone refer to the bins as BFIs.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 95% 100% 78%
Familiar but not used 5% 0% 10%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 12%
32 Kangaroo Jacket
Image by Jules Sherred.

32.   Kangaroo Jacket: This term is now only amongst us “old” people. Among the younger people, they refer to it as a “hoodie.” Regional Western Canadian word.

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I should note that “kangaroo jacket” tends to be reserved for the type of hooded sweatshirt that doesn’t have a zipper and has pockets in the front. People in the Prairie Provinces also refer to it as a “bunny hug.”

One American remarked, “Only used jokingly and rarely by the people now 70+.”

One person from the UK remarked, “I see where the older term is going with the pocket on the front), hoodie also used disparagingly to refer to youth hanging about, possibly from dissatisfaction/disenfranchisement, perceived potential for juvenile crimes in commission/conspiracy.”

Out of the 17 percent of Canadians who are familiar with this term but don’t use it, 60 percent are from the western provinces. Among the 31 percent who do use the term, 81 percent are from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 94% 100% 52%
Familiar but not used 6% 0% 17%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 31%
33 Freezies
Image copyright Kisko Freezies.

33.   Freezies: Frozen flavoured sugar water that comes in a tube. 98 percent Canadian.

I had to look up one of the American equivalents: Otter Pops. Yes, that is exactly what these are, but in Canada, they are Mr. Freeze Freezies. The other alternatives given, such as “popsicle” and “frosties,” are not at all the same thing. At least, they would mean something entirely different in Canada.

One American noted that the only reason they were familiar with “freezies” was because of @mrwordsworth.

As for the Commonwealth equivalent of “ice pole,” I’m going to have to guess and say that they are the same thing.

The one Canadian who doesn’t use this word is from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 73% 89% 0%
Familiar but not used 15% 11% 2%
Familiar and used 12% 0% 98%
34 Stagette
Some rights reserved by ginsnob via Flickr.

34.   Stagette: A female-only bachelor party. 75 percent Canadian

The most common alternative among American respondents was “bachelorette” and “hen party.” “Among Commonwealth individuals, the equivalent is “hen party.”

I’m not sure how well “hen party” would go over for some people in Canada. Calling a female a “hen” or a “cow” isn’t acceptable to many. For some, it is worse than calling them the b-word.

Out of the 10 percent of Canadians unfamiliar with the term, 80 percent were from Ontario. Is that the result of a micro-sociolect?

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 77% 95% 10%
Familiar but not used 19% 5% 15%
Familiar and used 4% 0% 75%
35 Turfed out
Image by Jules Sherred.

35.   Turfed Out: When someone is evicted from their home, thrown out of a bar, or when you throw something away. Sociolect, with 37 percent of Canadians using this term.

This was one of the closest scoring sociolects, with 17 unfamiliar, 16 familiar but not using it, and 19 familiar and using it.

The most common alternatives among Americans were “thrown out” and “evicted.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 87% 5% 32%
Familiar but not used 10% 11% 31%
Familiar and used 3% 84% 37%
36 Gotch
Walmart product image.

36.   Gotch: Men’s underpants, usually of the brief variety. Sociolect, with 27 percent of Canadians using this term, or the equally acceptable “ginch” and “gonch.”

Americans call them “briefs” or “tighty-whities.” In the Commonwealth countries, they are “pants.” Admittedly, for some Canadians (myself included), they are also called “pants.” One Canadian remarked, “Underpants is a much more hilarious word now.” If Canadians are not calling them “pants,” then they are calling them by the more common “underwear.” The one American who said they use this word also remarked that their husband is Canadian.

Out of the 44 percent of Canadians who were unfamiliar with this sociolect, 52 percent of them were from Ontario. The difference between “familiar and not used” and “familiar and used” was one person.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 97% 100% 44%
Familiar but not used 2% 0% 29%
Familiar and used 1% 0% 27%
37 Hydro
BC Hydro’s Ruskin Generating Station in Ruskin, British Columbia. Licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic via Wikimedia Commons.

37.   Hydro: Electrical power and heating. 69 percent Canadian.

In British Columbia and many provinces across Canada, our main source of electricity and heat is from hydro power. In fact, Canada is one of the top producers of hydroelectricity in the world, accounting for 58 percent of all electric generation in 2007. Many of our provincial hydro providers use the word “hydro” in their names: BC Hydro, Manitoba Hydro, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Hydro One, etc. Prince Edward Island is the only province that does not have a hydroelectric power station.

The one respondent from Scotland noted that they do the same as the result of “Scottish Hydro Electric,” who supplies power to Perth and the surrounding area.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 60% 37% 0%
Familiar but not used 30% 47% 31%
Familiar and used 10% 16% 69%
38 Skookum
Image by Jules Sherred.

38.   Skookum: Mainly heard in British Columbia, it means: strong, awesome, great, good, best, etc. Regional, with all of the 10 percent who use this term living in British Columbia.

For the complete definition of this term, based on Chinook Jargon, head on over to Wikipedia.

I was actually surprised by the number of non-British Columbians who are familiar with this term. Then, I remembered that “Skookum” has been used on SCTV and other Canadian television shows.

Of the three Americans who used this word, two of them live in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington), with one person from Minnesota.

The one person living in England who is familiar with this term, even though they don’t use it, noted that it was the result of seeing me use it.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 90% 95% 61%
Familiar but not used 7% 5% 29%
Familiar and used 3% 0% 10%
39 Fill Your Boots!
Image by Jules Sherred.

39.   “Fill Your Boots!”: “Whatever floats your boat!” “Whatever creams your coffee!” “Do it if it makes you happy!” Sociolect, with 33 percent of Canadians using this term.

In the United States, “Whatever floats your boat” and “Whatever trips your trigger” were the most common alternatives, with “Whatever floats your boat” being the most common throughout the Commonwealth countries.

Out of the 55 percent of Canadians who said they were unfamiliar with this phrase, 55 percent were from the Toronto area, and 24 percent were from Alberta.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 93% 11% 55%
Familiar but not used 7% 26% 12%
Familiar and used 0% 63% 33%
40 Bugger the dog
Image by Jules Sherred.

40.   “Bugger The Dog”: If someone is “buggering the dog,” they are being lazy or doing a job very slowly, taking their time. Sociolect, with 21 percent of Canadians using this term.

Yes, the regular term is a bit ruder, but it can’t be used on GeekMom, hence the use of the word “bugger.” “Bugger” is equally rude, but would get by U.S. censors because of the lack of profane meaning in the United States. It’s like the time Captain Picard got away with swearing because he said “merde.”

I wonder how much the Canadian results would have changed if I used the slightly less-polite wording?

“Bugger the dog” is not to be confused with “screw the pooch.” They have two completely different meanings.

“Lollygag” is kind of similar, but not really.

One of the Commonwealth respondents said they were familiar with the term thanks to its mention in the September 18, 2013 episode of QI, when a Canadian guest made mention of it.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 89% 100% 61%
Familiar but not used 11% 0% 17%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 21%
41 Pogey
Image by Jules Sherred.

41.   Pogey: Employment Insurance (Unemployment Insurance in the United States). Sociolect, with 44 percent of Canadians using this term.

A couple of Americans noted that they only refer to it as “unemployment.” In Canada, the full term is “Employment Insurance,” but most people simply refer to it as “EI.”

Once upon a time, it was called “Unemployment Insurance” or “UI,” but that changed because the “unemployment” part of it is deceptive. In Canada, not only do you receive EI if you are laid off from your job, but you also receive it for extended medical leaves, the birth or adoption of a child, if your child dies, if you have to take care of a family member with a terminal illness such as cancer, and more. When you are on EI, your employer must hold your job, filling it as a temporary position, while you are on leave.

The most common alternative noted by both Americans and those living in the Commonwealth countries was “dole.” In Canada, “dole” would mean welfare/income assistance.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 95% 95% 21%
Familiar but not used 5% 5% 35%
Familiar and used 0% 0% 44%
42 Serviette
Walmart product shot.

42.   Serviette: Commonly called a “napkin” in the United States. 58 percent Canadian.

Some Canadians commented that they only use “serviette” for the paper type and that “napkin” is reserved for the cloth type. Others said they use “serviette” for both the paper and the cloth types. Others said they use both terms interchangeably with equal frequency.

  United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 50% 0% 0%
Familiar but not used 42% 5% 42%
Familiar and used 8% 95% 58%


Questionable Results

43 Chocolate Bar
Snickers chocolate bar, cut in half. Made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons.

1.       Chocolate Bar: Commonly called a candy bar in the United States. 100 percent Canadian.

The reason why this word is on the “questionable” results list is because many Americans responded with, “But only if 100 percent chocolate,” or something similar in nature. In Canada, the term “chocolate bar” is used for all bars that contain any amount of chocolate, even if it is a bar of candy covered in chocolate. A Skor is one example. This term isn’t reserved for bars that are solely made of chocolate.

The most common American alternative was “Hershey bar.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 2% 0% 0%
Familiar but not used 35.5% 0% 0%
Familiar and used 62.5% 100% 100%
44 Track Pants
Hard Candy Piped Skinny Track Pants. Walmart product shot.

2.       Track Pants: Jogging pants or sweatpants in other places. 81 percent Canadian.

The reason why this word is on the “questionable” list is because a large number of Americans responded with, “I am familiar with this term, but I never used it or have I heard it used in my area” and “I am familiar with this word and I use it regularly, or it is used in my area.” However, then they went on to say, “Not the same as sweatpants” or they added a description for “track pants” as something other than fleece pants, when I mean them to be synonymous with sweatpants.

The most common Commonwealth alternative was “jogging pants.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 20% 21% 0%
Familiar but not used 50% 63% 19%
Familiar and used 30% 16% 81%
45 Rubber
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

3.       Rubber: Found at the end of a pencil or sold individually, to erase pencil marks. Sometimes used as slang for a condom. In Canada, the use of the word “rubber” to mean “eraser” is a sociolect.

The conflicting results for this word could be the result of me adding, “Sometimes used as a slang for a condom.” Most American respondents focused on the “condom” use and not the “eraser” use, as intended. The majority of the 68 percent in the “familiar but not used” category stated, “But only used as slang for condom.”

By comparison, Canadians specifically left comments stating that “rubber” is a very old slang word for condom, noting that “rubber” is most commonly known to be an “eraser,” even if they don’t use the term themselves. The difference between “familiar but not used” and “familiar and used” was six people.

In the Commonwealth, people left notes that “rubber Johnie” is the sometimes used as slang for “condom.”

The takeaway for Canadians: Yes, Americans may know the word “rubber,” but not in terms of “eraser.” If you want to avoid confusion, you may want to remember to not use this word, like I have, quite often, while in the United States. No wonder people were confused and sometimes, shocked.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 21% 0% 8%
Familiar but not used 68% 0% 52%
Familiar and used 12% 100% 40%
46 Thongs
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

4.       Thongs: A type of shoe. Though sometimes, also used to refer to g-string underpants. 75 percent Canadian.

This is another word that I question for the same reasons as “rubber.” I cannot help but to wonder how different the results would have been if I had taken out the “sometimes” part. Again, for the same reasons as above, with many Americans stating they use it often, but then added, “But only for the g-string” in the “other” box, adding that they no longer hear it in reference to the shoe.

Given how Americans responded, I’m not sure I feel confident re-starting use of the term “thongs” for the shoe when I’m down there.

The most common alternative given was “flip flops.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 13% 26.3% 4%
Familiar but not used 25% 47.3% 21%
Familiar and used 62% 26.3% 75%
47 College
Camosun College image by the Province of British Columbia.

5.       College: A post-secondary institution where one goes to learn a trade, get a 1-year certificate, study health care fields (LPN, RCA, medical support staff, dental hygienist, etc.), train office support staff, or get a 2-year diploma, or take university prep courses/upgrading. 92 percent Canadian.

The reason why this word is on the “questionable” list is because most Americans said it can be used interchangeably with “university,” when in Canada they cannot. They are two entirely different types of schools. You cannot get a 4-year (or more) degree at a college. Some Canadian universities have colleges inside of them, but they offer different programmes, with very different “pieces of paper” and qualifications when you are finished. Also, there was one person who called a 2-year diploma a “degree.” Here, a “degree” requires a minimum of four years or equivalent credit hours.

The most common alternative words in the United States are: trade or vocational school, junior college, community college (which again is a whole other kettle of fish in Canada), and technical institute.

One person from New Zealand remarked that “college” means “secondary school” in their location.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 25% 5% 0%
Familiar but not used 21% 5% 8%
Familiar and used 53% 90% 92%
48 Lineup or queue
Customers waiting in line to check out at the Whole Foods on Houston Street in New York City’s East Village. Image by David Shankbone licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported via Wikimedia Commons.

6.       Lineup or Queue: You stand in a lineup or queue when going to see a movie or waiting to pay for your groceries, etc. 98 percent Canadian.

The reason why this word is in the “questionable” category is because even though 58 percent of Americans said they were familiar with this term even if they don’t use it, most of them also commented that they are only familiar with “queue” and not the more common “lineup,” further stating that they use “in line.”

I also question the Commonwealth results, as some people also commented that they are not familiar with “lineup.”

The one Torontonian who responded with “unfamiliar” used the American “in line.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 6% 5% 2%
Familiar but not used 58% 16% 0%
Familiar and used 37% 79% 98%
49 Brown bread
Thrifty Foods product shot.

7.       Brown Bread: Bread that is brown in colour, made with various percentages of whole wheat. When ordering toast in a restaurant, they will ask, “Do you want your toast white or brown?” 98 percent Canadian.

This is included in this category because too many Americans responded with “familiar and used,” but then stated that it referred to a specific type of bread.

The American alternatives were “whole wheat” and “wheat bread.”

Some comments of note include:

–          Usually used for a high molasses content bread, possibly not containing any whole wheat.

–          Only Boston Brown Bread, which is baked in a can.

–          What do you guys call pumpernickel or dark rye, then? That’s what I mean when I say brown bread.

To answer the question, we call it by the type of bread: “pumpernickel” or “dark rye” or “sourdough” (though sourdough is a white bread), etc.

The one Canadian who responded with “familiar but not used,” was from Toronto.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 44% 0% 2%
Familiar but not used 40% 0% 0%
Familiar and used 16% 100% 98%
50 Pissed
Licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license via Wikimedia Commons.

8.       Pissed: When used alone, it means “drunk.” Denotes anger when used as “pissed off.” 94 percent Canadian.

The reason why this word is on the “questionable” list is because over half the people who said they used “pissed” also said, “It doesn’t mean drunk.” My intent was specifically to ask about the singular “pissed.” The qualifier was so that people wouldn’t confuse it with “pissed off.” I’m probably at fault here for being vague.

A couple of Canadians mentioned that, in a few instances, “pissed” can be used to denote anger, depending on context. If you were to say to me, “He was so pissed,” I would assume you are talking about his extreme level of intoxication, as that sentence on its own is without context. Though, I only use “pissed off” to denote anger and never the singular “pissed,” within context, yes, I would know you meant a level of anger.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 10% 0% 0%
Familiar but not used 28% 0% 6%
Familiar and used 62% 100% 94%
51 Dish cloth
Excello Windowpane Combo Dish Cloth White and Black.

9.       Dish Cloth: A type of cloth used to wash the dishes. Sometimes, the more general term “washcloth” is used, though rarely. 96 percent Canadian.

For similar reasons stated above, the reason this word is on this list is because of the large number (over 50 percent) of Americans who selected “familiar and used” for this term in the context described above, but then stated in the “other” box, “Used to dry dishes” or comments very similar. Others commented that the alternative is “dish towel,” which, again, is an item used to dry dishes and not wash them.

The other American alternatives were: washcloth, sponge, and dish rag.

The other alternative given by both Canadians and other Commonwealth respondents was “dish rag.”

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 9% 0% 0%
Familiar but not used 11% 11% 4%
Familiar and used 80% 89% 96%
52 Housecoat
Some rights reserved by minor9th via Flickr.

10.   Housecoat: A type of robe generally worn by men. 88 percent Canadian.

Again, for similar reasons. A majority of Americans said they are familiar with the term, but then added, “Only used in reference to women.” A small sampling of these comments include:

–          A housecoat is typically a woman’s garb where I come from.

–          Housecoat would be considered effeminate. A man’s robe would just be a robe or bathrobe.

–          I don’t use it, but my grandmother did. (There were a few of these comments.)

–          Who wears coats in the house?

–          Women can use housecoats just as much as men.

Bathrobe was the number one alternative given by Americans. A bathrobe is a different type of garment. Bathrobes are made of terry cloth. Housecoats are not. Others said “robe.”

“Dressing gown” was the alternative given by those in the Commonwealth countries and by a couple of Canadians.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 33% 21% 0%
Familiar but not used 54% 53% 12%
Familiar and used 13% 26% 88%
Dressing gown
Dressing gown. Walmart product shot.


Honourable Mention

 1.       Two-Way Ticket: Referred to as “round-trip” or “return trip” in other places. Sociolect, with 37 percent of Canadians using this term.

If three people had answered “unfamiliar” instead of “familiar but not used,” this word would have made its way on the list of words for Canadians to avoid whilst in America.

In the United States, the most common alternative was “round-trip.”

In the Commonwealth countries, the most common alternative was “return ticket.”

Among Canadians, the alternatives were “return ticket” and “round-trip.” The difference between “familiar but not used” and “familiar and used” was six people.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 48% 37% 15%
Familiar but not used 37% 42% 48%
Familiar and used 15% 21% 37%


2.       No-See-Ums: A small biting insect. Sociolect, with 50 percent of Canadians using this term.

A no-see-um isn’t the name for an actual insect. It’s just what some call any of those annoying, small, biting insects that bite you, yet are unseen. You hear them. You feel them. But those bloody things… you just no-see-um. I suppose some of these no-see-ums would be gnats or chiggers or midges, if we could actually lay our eyes upon them.

One American added the following to their “familiar and used” response, “Almost exclusively preceded by an expletive.” To which I say, “Yes!”

Out of the 33 percent of Canadians who were unfamiliar with the term, 53 percent were from Ontario. Out of the 17 percent who were familiar with the word but don’t use it, 33.3 percent were from Ontario and 66.6 percent were from Alberta.

Just like with “two-way ticket,” this could have easily gone into the “unfamiliar” category.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 46% 95% 33%
Familiar but not used 17% 5% 17%
Familiar and used 37% 0% 50%


3.       Chesterfield: A couch or a sofa. Sociolect, with 54 percent of Canadians using this term.

Despite the Barenaked Ladies gaining popularity in the United States, there are still nearly 50 percent of Americans who are unfamiliar with this term. As with the other two honourable mentions, this could have easily gone into the “unfamiliar” category, if a couple of people gave different answers.

A couple of respondents from the Commonwealth countries said that “chesterfield” is reserved only for leather couches.

Of the 46 percent of Canadians who are familiar with the term but don’t use it, 58 percent of them were from Ontario.

United States Commonwealth Canada
Unfamiliar 47% 32% 0%
Familiar but not used 50% 36% 46%
Familiar and used 3% 32% 54%


If you want to read the full breakdown of all 82 words, then download this PDF.

Update: A follow-up to this post, including a mention from the Department of English at the University of British Columbia, can be found here.

Win 1 of 3 Copies of Marian Call’s New Album Sketchbook

Marian Call Sketchbook cover
Marian Call’s Sketchbook. Image by Marian Call.

On December 1, 2013, Marian Call released her newest album, titled Sketchbook, which, for many reasons, is a splendid album. I am gifting three copies of this album.

If you are unfamiliar with Marian Call’s music, now may be the perfect time to get to know her music. Call’s music is always filled with a lot of heart and multiple layers, but Sketchbook is something extra-special.

Sketchbook isn’t a studio album. Call recorded the album in the houses of people nice enough to give Marian a venue, and a home, during her crazy touring schedule. She recorded them while sick, while hurried, while tired. They are imperfect recordings, which, for me, makes this album one of the best albums I have heard in some time. The reason being is that the sound of the album is more reflective of the raw emotion contained within the music and the lyrics.

Sketchbook contains music that is dark and vulnerable, yet hopeful, songs with dragons, getting back to basics, racing the clock, rain, Iceland, and so much more. The wonderful thing about Marian Call’s music is that her lyrics not only entertain, but they are bound to speak to a wide range of experiences.

Marian Call‘s music has given me many gifts. In fact, I probably would have never met my partner and, subsequently, never would have gotten married, if it didn’t exist. This fact made her performance at my wedding and reception even more special.

In an effort to give others what Call’s music has given to me, on Geeky Pleasures, I am gifting three copies of Sketchbook. Just follow the link to read a mini-review of this wonderful album, and to enter the giveaway. The giveaway ends on December 17, 2013, at 23:59 PST.

If you already own Sketchbook, then tell a friend, or two, about the giveaway, and help them to discover great new music.

Star Trek Book Club Coming Soon to an Internet Near You!

Generic Star Trek Book Club Badge
Book club badge commissioned from Matt Schubbe. This is not the special badge, mentioned in the post.

Very soon, I will be hosting a Star Trek book club over at United Federation of Planets, and you are invited!

Every other month, participants will read a Star Trek novel, chosen by participants, based on readers’ suggestions. Each week, during the months we are reading, discussions will be held on the United Federation of Planets’ discussion forums. These discussions will be led both by participants and by me.

But, reading and discussing Star Trek novels, with like-minded individuals, are not the only benefits of participating in the book club. I’ve commissioned some graphic goodies from Matt Schubbe, the ridiculously talented artist who illustrated my book, Five Little Zombies and Fred. The graphic goodies will be awards, of sorts, given out to participants of the Star Trek book club.

Not only will people receive a uniquely designed book club badge, as a reward for participating—each book will have a newly designed badge—but, you will also receive points on the United Federation of Planets website, based on your participation, and you will also receive ranks, based on points accumulated. The point and rank system isn’t meant to be a competition, but rather, act as a way to entice people into greater participation.

There is a schedule, of which you should be aware. The schedule will repeat, with one month dedicated to voting and acquiring the book, and the following month dedicated to reading and discussing the book. The following schedule is subject to change:

  • Now until November 30, 2013 – People who are planning to participate can enter their book suggestions into the Google Drive spreadsheet.
  • December 1 – 14, 2013 – A poll will be posted on the United Federation of Planets website, consisting of those suggestions. Participants vote.
  • December 15, 2013 – January’s book will be announced.
  • December 15 – December 31, 2013 – People will purchase, or borrow from their local library, a copy of the selected book. They can begin reading if they choose.
  • December 31, 2013 – Discussion and reading schedule will be posted on the United Federations of Planets website, both as a post and in the discussion forums.
  • January  2014 – Weekly discussions about the book on the United Federation of Planets discussion forums.
  • January 15, 2014 – Time to start inputting suggestions for March’s book.

To ensure you don’t miss out on any book club related announcements, I suggest you subscribe to the United Federation of Planets’ RSS feed.

If there is a book you’d like to read during the month of January, don’t forget to enter it in the Google Drive spreadsheet below. On December 1, 2013, remember to head on over to United Federation of Planets to vote.

I am very much looking forward to reading and discussing Star Trek with you!

Live Long and Prosper.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Google Doodle

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Google Doodle
Image: Google

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is just around the corner, and Google is celebrating with one of the most amazing Google Doodles, ever!

For those of us in North America, you may not yet see this doodle that will both entertain, and maybe horrify… You know, if you, too, as a child, had nightmares that involved Daleks.

But, thanks to the magic of TARDIS, I mean time zones, if you head on over to Google New Zealand, you can play with the Doctor Who Google Doodle, now!

Complete with the first 11 Doctors, well-known Doctor Who sounds, and an almost Pac-Man-must-escape-the-ghosts-feel, you must complete a series of puzzles/tasks before the Dalek exterminate you.

Allons-y before this doodle regenerates into the next one!

Online Harassment Is an “In Real Life” Problem

Image by Jules Sherred

With so much press recently, both in Canada and the United States, about how online bullying has led to suicide, often the discussions tend to be framed in terms of online versus “in real life.” This is also the case in many other discussions that happen when someone decides to publicly come forward because they’ve received threats of rape or death or harm, and the list continues.

As someone who is constantly under attack because of my online profile, I have a lot to say on this matter, but it is only in very rare circumstances do I ever talk about it in public. The reasons for my lack of public disclosure may become clearer as I share my own personal experiences. Sharing these experiences either makes me extremely brave, or extremely stupid, depending on who you ask.

If you take only one thing away from this, I hope that it’s recognizing the fact that online bullying and harassment is a “in real life” problem, with “real life” ramifications, including loss of income and people removing themselves from the target of the harassment’s life.

One of the reasons I have stayed quiet for so long about this issue is that, very often, I see people refer to this ever increasing issue as a “woman’s problem,” or a “teen bullying problem,” or a “feminist issue.” I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. It’s a “people problem.”

Warning: The following does contain some language that some will find offensive. However, I feel it is necessary for the sake of honesty.

Some may automatically assume that because I was born a female, that I receive threats because of how the world perceives my gender. I have never once been threatened with rape. I have never once been told by someone online to shut up because they think I’m a woman. However, I have been called a pedophile and a tranny.

Recently, when a group of internet trolls decided to really stick it me because of something I dared to write about, I was called a “homosexual pedo tranny,” plus this group conspired to create evidence that I force my children to participate in the creation of porn, and threats that that they will turn this fabricated evidence over to child protection authorities and the local police. Some may be surprised to learn that “tranny” isn’t only reserved as a slur for trans women. Twitter accounts were created to flood my mentions with a very special pedo hashtag dedicated to me. Fake Facebook accounts were created to also attack publications for which I write. My address was discovered and posted online, with someone saying, “Kill it and post pictures,” after someone else said they lived just down the street from me. They threatened to vandalize my property. They attacked my friends. They tried to find out information about my children so they could attack them, too. They even posted a link to a local school’s website, because they thought that is where my children attended school. They also tried to hack my social media accounts so that they could tweet on my behalf, and used my throw-away e-mail address to sign me up for a bunch of porn and spam. There was a series of DDoS attacks.

There isn’t a day that I do not receive some form of threat. At least every six months, someone decides to do a DDoS attack on my servers. I’ve even had someone from a well-known online community of anarchic hackers take down all of my websites and replace them with their calling card. I’m now approaching four years of daily threats and like-clockwork DDoS attacks.

The reasons for these attacks are various. One reason is because I’m a trans man. Another reason is because people assume I’m an atheist. Another reason is because people assume I’m sympathetic to Muslims. Another reason is because I dare to speak out against anti-vaccine proponents. These are just a few reasons.

I’m feel I have a certain amount of privilege living in Canada. Most of the time, I can shrug off these daily threats. Twice, I’ve had to call the R.C.M.P (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) because I felt the threat to my safety and my children’s safety was immediate. The R.C.M.P took these threats as credible. The first time, eventually the person making the threats was arrested and went to jail. Most recently, they opened a new file and are investigating as much as resources allow. However, because of the nature of the threats I receive, and how slowly the Criminal Code has been to adapt to the changes in technology, there is only so much they can do. But, at least the R.C.M.P have an open investigation for if the attackers actually make good on the physical threats of harm, death, and vandalism, and the threats to try to have my children removed from my care.

But, it isn’t only the threat to my children’s physical safety and my physical safety that make this an “in real life” problem. It also damages my ability to make money. Every time my server goes down because of an attack, I lose income streams, not only because my own websites are down, but also the websites of clients. I am thankful that I have very understanding editors, who stand behind me when they, too, get attacked, instead of asking that I no longer contribute to their publication, as it also puts their enterprise at risk.

I think I have remained publicly quiet about this for too long. But, I’ve had my reasons. The reason is a by-product of identifying as a man. Women are not the only people who receive physical threats. Men, who have any type of online profile, also receive frequent threats. But, as men, we are taught to deal with it quietly and in the background. Basically, we are taught that we must “man up.” The other reason is that I am always very worried about the blowback I’ll receive from some people who use the label “feminist” in reference to themselves. I’ve had it happen. I’ve been told that I’m a male rights advocate who is trying to take the spotlight away from this extremely real problem facing women bloggers. I’ve been told, “Yeah, it sucks to be intersectional. But you chose this lifestyle.” I’ve been called a misogynist. I’ve had people tell me, “Well, you should hear what I get told every day in real life,” because it is their perception that being told I’m a pedophile and being called a tranny via an online medium does not count as “in real life.” There is also a lot of “these are just words on a screen” personal mentality.

Every day, I’m given messages that I need to shut up and sit in the corner, for so many different reasons, none of which have to do with being born in a female body.

In some ways, these people are correct. I don’t know what it’s like for women who receive threats of rape. I don’t know what it feels like to worry about my safety when walking alone at night. I don’t know what it feels like to have anxiety because I’m alone in an enclosed space with a man. I don’t know what it is like to be harassed at a con, or wolf-whistled when walking down the street, or all of the other real issues women face during the day. These have never been my experiences. As a result, often I feel that I’m not qualified to discuss these issues. Also, I really do not want to distract from the real issues that women face, especially women in the United States, as feminist issues in the United States are very different than feminist issues in Canada.

But, I do think it is time we change the channel. I think it’s time that we recognize that this is a very real issue, not only for women, teens, gays and lesbians, and trans women, but also for men, trans men, skeptics, atheists, and really just anyone who dares to stand up against any sort of wrongdoing and injustice. This is a very serious people-problem that isn’t contained within the boundaries of the online world; it reaches out to the real world. While I’m not going to commit suicide as a result of my daily threats, I do face other extreme dangers that are just as valid.

Of course, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Advocating for certain self-protections is not victim-blaming.

Some of the things I do to protect myself and my family is that I never mention my children’s names online. I keep my phone number unlisted. I’m very selective about what information I share with the public. I don’t have a profile on Facebook, which with Graph Search makes stalking and hacking your account very easy, even if you post everything privately. I change my passwords every three months. I keep my domain registration information private–though because of an error with my domain registrar, recently they become public and that is how my recent attackers got my home address. My registrar has since fixed this. I keep my children as much removed from my social media accounts as possible. And, very importantly, I’m not afraid to call the R.C.M.P. when things get serious.

Some of these things, especially not using Facebook, is not something everyone can do. For some people, it may be too late to keep their children’s names unassociated with their public life. But, if you do use Facebook, don’t have your real e-mail posted. If you use Facebook, don’t have your phone number listed, even if it’s private for friends only. Ask yourself, “What steps do I take to protect my child from online predators? Why am I not taking these steps for myself? What more can I do?” People who want to do you harm have a lot of time on their hands, and they will take extreme measures to really mess with your life. They know they can get away with it, too.

While I doubt I’ll see the day where I don’t live in some sort of fear, simply because I dare to exist, I do hope that I see a day where I can talk about these things freely and people recognize that I’m not trying to distract from the many other real issues facing people in this online age. There is room for us all.

What to Expect With the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 Part 1: The Freebies

The Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2. Image provided by Microsoft. Used with permission
The Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2. Image provided by Microsoft


I spent the weekend in New York City, as a guest of Microsoft, to help them launch their second generation of Surface tablets: the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Aside from watching the launch event on September 23, with press and fellow special guests, I also talked to the press about why I love the Surface Pro, especially from the point of view of a gamer and tech enthusiast.

There are many things which excite me about the next generation of tablets, due for release on October 22, 2013, in 22 markets around the world. Additional markets will be announced in the coming months.

There will be two models of the Surface 2 (formally known as Surface RT), and four models of the Surface Pro 2. The Surface RT will also remain available at the new discounted price.

As for the things which excite me, some of these things are the new accessories. Some of these things have to do with hardware upgrades. While others have to do with software and other add-ons. Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you about some of my first impressions and take a little bit of a closer look at what you can look forward to with the second generation Surface tablets.

But first, let me tell you about a couple freebies that will come with the next generation of tablets. These freebies will be very beneficial to users.

One of the freebies comes exclusively with the Surface 2. Unlike its predecessor that only came with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT, the Surface 2 will come preloaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT, including Outlook 2013. This upgraded preloaded software will be beneficial to both students and professionals.

The next freebie that has me pretty excited has to do with Skype. This freebie will be available when you purchase either the Surface 2 or the Surface Pro 2. I use Skype a lot. I spent a fair amount of money to be able to make international calls to landlines when interviewing people who live overseas for my radio show. The first part of the Skype freebie is unlimited international calling to landlines for one year. The second part of the Skype freebie is one year of free unlimited Skype WiFi.

The last freebie will also be available when you purchase either the Surface 2 or the Surface Pro 2. With your purchase, you’ll receive a whopping 200 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, free, for two years! That is a lot of storage, and will be a huge benefit for people who live in the cloud. Even for someone like me who has to make use of a lot of external storage, I can see the benefit of 200 GB in the cloud, outside of the built-in benefit of automatic backup and syncing of system settings, across all devices.

These three benefits are pretty simple, but will have a sizeable impact on many users. But they are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’ll talk more about what to expect as we get closer to the release date.

The price for the Surface 2 will start at $449.00. The price of the Surface Pro 2 will start at $899.00.

Starting September 24, 2013, at 8 am ET, you can pre-order the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 online at the Microsoft Store in the U.S. and Canada, and at select retailers in North American and around the world. Quantities are limited and no deposit is required, so you may want to hurry.

Canadians: Win a $25 Gift Certificate From Fortress Geek

Fortress Geek
Image courtesy of Fortress Geek

One lucky Canadian GeekMom reader will win a $25.00 CAD electronic gift certificate courtesy of Fortress Geek.

Fortress Geek is Canada’s destination to shop for geeky toys and accessories. Fortress Geek launched their online store in May 2013. Canadians enjoy many benefits shopping at Fortress Geeks, including big savings, free shipping on all orders over $100.00 CAD, multiple payment methods including cash, check and money orders, the ability to request items, and much more.

Now, Fortress Geek wants to give one Canadian resident $25.00 to help celebrate their launch.

To enter our giveaway just login to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like or follow us, you’ll still be entered in the giveaway. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Comparison Shopping at Fortress Geek

Fortress Geek
Fortress Geek logo provided by Fortress Geek. Used with permission.

In May 2013, Fortress Geek launched their online store, Canada’s destination to purchase geeky toys and accessories.

I wrote earlier about some of the benefits my fellow Canadians will enjoy when shopping at Fortress Geek, such as saying good-bye to high customs and brokerage fees, free shipping on orders over $100.00 CAD, and multiple payment options, including cash, check, and money order. But what about pricing? How do Fortress Geek’s prices compare to their American competitors?

To answer these questions, let me compare three items that are available at Fortress Geek with one of our favorite U.S. competitors: ThinkGeek.

Star Trek Tek Classic Phaser

Star Trek Phaser
Image: Fortress Geek

This prop replica is a must have for any fan of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is a Type I and Type II combination, complete with lights and sounds, with four power settings. These settings include progressive lights and sounds, the light control knob is an on/off switch, it has a flip-up sight, and you can set your phaser to overload. The only thing you cannot do with this phaser is actually fire at Klingons.

Price at Fortress Geek: $42.95 CAD

Price at ThinkGeek: $39.99 USD

The Big Bang Theory Soft Kitty Slippers

Soft Kitty Slippers
Image: Fortress Geek

I have to say, I like these slippers more than I thought I would. I have Tribble slippers. I love that the Tribbles purr when I walk. However, the Tribble slippers are a one-size fits all type of deal. So, in order to not send the Tribbles flying as I walk, I have to curl my toes. Now, the Soft Kitty slippers don’t purr, purr, purr when you walk, but they do come in different sizes. Small fits big kids’ 3-5 and women’s 6-7, medium fits men’s 6-7 and women’s 8-9, large fits men’s 8-9 and women’s 10-11.

Price at Fortress Geek: $34.95 CAD

Price at ThinkGeek: $29.99 USD

The Big Bang Theory Bazinga! Mug

Bazinga Mug
Image: Fortress Geek

Coffee. It fuels many a geek’s day. If coffee isn’t your thing, I’m sure Sheldon would approve of adding your favorite hot beverage to this mug. Fortress Geek’s product description says that it holds 11 ounces, while ThinkGeek’s description says it holds eight ounces. Both are correct. Filling it with eight ounces of coffee leaves plenty of room for cream and sugar. Filling it with 11 ounces of your hot beverage of choice leaves a one-ounce buffer zone to the mug’s brim.

Price at Fortress Geek: $8.95 CAD

Price at ThinkGeek: $9.99 USD

Now, it’s time for some math.

Even though I would never choose DHL for the shipping method at ThinkGeek, because it is the cheapest method, I’m using that price instead of UPS. For the cost of customs and brokerage fees, I’m using the cost associated with my last ThinkGeek order that had a similar total. The exchange rate is based on the rate for September 15, 2013.

Item Fortress Geek ThinkGeek
Star Trek Phaser $42. 95 CAD $39.99 USD
Soft Kitty Slippers $34.95 CAD $29.99 USD
Bazinga! Mug $8.95 CAD $9.99 USD
Shipping $13.98  CAD (Canada Post) $24.94  USD (DHL)
Subtotal $100.83 CAD $104.91 USD
Adjusted for exchange rate from USD to CAD. N/A $108.47 CAD
Customs and brokerage fees N/A $25.20 CAD
Total $100.83 CAD $133.67 CAD


That is a total savings of $32.84 CAD.

If I were to add just a little bit more to my order, I would be eligible for free shipping for even more savings. Or, if I lived in the Vancouver, B.C. area, I could arrange to pick up my order for free.

Next week, I’ll be giving one lucky Canadian GeekMom reader a $25.00 CAD electronic gift certificate, courtesy of Fortress Geek.

GeekMom was provided these items for the purposes of this post.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! No! It’s Superman Coins!

Image provided by the Royal Canadian Mint
Image provided by the Royal Canadian Mint

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Superman and its Canadian connection, the Royal Canadian Mint has partnered with DC Entertainment to release an exclusive line of Superman coins.

There are seven coins in this collection, ranging in cost for as low as $29.75 CAD to as high as $750.00 CAD. The face value of the coins range from 50¢ CAD to $75.00 CAD. The reverse side of most of the coins are engraved with, “75 years of Superman,” in Kryptonian. Each coin comes in a unique box featuring some of the most memorable signs associated with this iconic superhero. Also, some of the coins come with a commemorative stamp.

However, it wouldn’t be a proper Superman tribute without art. Each coin features some of the most iconic art from the past 75 years, including a really cool “Then and Now” coin which makes use of lenticular image technology. When you tilt the coin, the image shifts from Joe Shuster’s original image to a Jim Lee’s modern intrepation of the same pose. There is also a Superman hologram coin!

Each coin has a limit of two per family, and the Royal Canadian Mint will only ship to Canada and the United States. The coins will begin shipping today and can only be purchased from the Royal Canadian Mint website.

I’m not sure much more needs to be said, because Superman coin!

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If you are unfamiliar with Superman’s Canadian connection, you can read the full Royal Canadian Mint press release. Also, to help fellow “old-school” Canadians relive our childhood memories, here is another Superman story, presented by Canada’s Heritage Minutes series:

Canadians: Say Hello to Fortress Geek

Fortress Geek
If you are like me and live in Canada, you may be frustrated when it comes to buying geeky toys and accessories for you and your family. Why? Because most of our favorite online geeky retailers are based in the United States, which means being hit with high shipping costs, plus customs and brokerage fees on most orders exceeding $50.00 USD.

Canadians, you can now say “goodbye” to those fees and say “hello” to Fortress Geek.

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Fortress Geek launched in May 2013.

As Fortress Geek is a new company, they are still building their inventory. Currently, they have just under 400 items from which to choose. These items include toys, clothing, and accessories from our favorite fandoms, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, and Game of Thrones. Fortress Geek is constantly adding to their inventory, nearly doubling their stock since launching in May. If there is something you’d like them to add to their stock, let them know and they’ll see if they can make it so.

Aside from saying goodbye to all those extra costs, Fortress Geek has some other benefits that may excite my fellow Canadians:

  1. Free shipping on all orders over $100.00 CAD.
  2. You can pay with BitCoins, cheque or money order, PayPal, Visa or MasterCard, and American Express or Discover Card via PayPal.
  3. If you live in the Vancouver area, you can wave shipping and arrange to pick up your order at their West 7th Ave location. This option also allows you to pay with cash. If you attempt to drop by the Fortress Geek warehouse without first placing an order online, there is a $2.50 CAD service fee.
  4. For a $5.00 CAD fee, you can have your entire order gift wrapped, with a custom gift message.
  5. Fortress Geek has electronic gift certificates.
  6. Fortress Geek will hold your order, for up to one month, if you want to arrange for your shipment to coincide with some special date. Full payment of the order will be charged when the hold is lifted.
  7. Fortress Geek has weekly sales.
  8. Yes, Fortress Geek will ship internationally, if you want to send gifts to friends who reside outside of Canada.

If you are wondering about savings, I’ll be comparing prices in another post.

I, for one, am excited to welcome Fortress Geek; our new Canadian geek overloards!

The Enormous Power of Simple Pronouns

Most people never think twice about the pronouns used in reference to them. But, for those who are transgender, pronouns carry enormous power. This power needs to be respected.

Unless you’ve ignored the news for the last few days, I am going to assume you’ve read the news that Chelsea Manning — born Bradley Manning — is taking the next step in her transition by requesting she be referred to as, “Chelsea” and that female pronouns be used in reference to Manning. For some people, the fact Manning is transgender is new information. Other people are a little confused about why it is suddenly news because it was brought up during her trial.

Despite this request, most mainstream media outlets are refusing to honor it. Around the internet, I saw a range of reactions, from honest questions about this issue to some very hateful commentary, even from within the trans community. Some of the more harmful comments included things akin to, “He’s only doing this to get attention, and, “He’s faking it,”—because we all know how wonderful those death threats, and resulting increased suicidal thoughts will be.

Despite whatever you think about Manning and her actions, there is one very good reason why I am honoring her request, and why you should to: how your reaction will affect transgender children.

Transgender issues are some of the most complicated issues facing the public. It is such a diverse community of people. Mental health awareness around this issue is constantly changing. Mainstream media still needs to catch up with the fact that “Gender Identity Disorder” is no longer a classification in the DSM, and is not something that can be cured with therapy. It is not a mental illness.

Instead, treatment for the effects of the dysphoria, such as severe depression, need to be supported. This includes supporting, when necessary, sex reassignment surgery.

Not everyone needs sex reassignment surgery. Treatments vary depending on the extent to which the person in question is debilitated because they were born in what is often described as, “the wrong body.” Even, “the wrong body,” is too simple of a term.

However, there is one simple thing we can all do that makes a world of difference when it comes to the mental well-being of a trans individual. Respect.

This respect starts with respecting a trans person’s preferred pronoun.

If you are a cis male, how would you feel if people always referred to you as “she” or “her?” If you are a cis female, how would you feel if you were always referred to as “he” or “him?” Just think about it for a bit. For your entire life, you are subjected to something that you feel is so very wrong for how you perceive yourself. Then, you ask people to stop. They refuse, deciding to refer to you in terms of your opposite identified gender in very forceful ways.

Even with this thought-experiment, you may never fully grasp how debilitating it is when people refer to you in a way with which you simply do not identify.

Pronouns can be confusing. Different trans people have different preferences. My preference is to either just use my name, or refer to me using “they” or “them.” For the most part, I will let “her” or “she” slide, because, in my mind, those words don’t define my gender or attempt to feminize me. However, every time someone refers to me as a “woman,” the reaction is visceral, causing me to want to vomit. That word causes me not only mental and emotional pain, but also physical pain. I am a person.

Because all trans people have different preferences, there are two rules you should follow:

1)      Ask them what is their preferred pronoun;

2)      Use that preferred pronoun, regardless of how you’ve learned of it.

Changing pronouns is one extremely important step in the long transition process from male to female, or female to male. These words are how the world defines us, and also how we define ourselves.

While there may be some adults who do not care about how their words affect Chelsea Manning, please keep in mind that there are closeted trans children who are witnessing a good portion of the adult world not respecting the simple use of a pronoun. This may have an extremely detrimental effect on their well-being. These children do not care about what Manning did. They care about how they see the media and adults treat trans people.

I don’t ask that you get it. It really is difficult to understand. I do ask that it be respected, as doing so doesn’t hurt anyone. But, ignoring it has serious consequences, especially when you stop to consider that murder and suicide rates are highest amongst trans individuals.

One final thought: You didn’t wake up one day and decide, “Man, I feel like a wo/man!” Neither do trans individuals. This is just who we are. It has nothing to do with sex, sexuality, or sexual identity.

It is just who we are.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

Gift-giving is one of many traditions associated with weddings. In fact, there is a whole area of psychology surrounding the act of giving gifts. This act makes people feel good.

When Andrew and I were planning our wedding, our original plan was to not have any gifts. Both of us have been previously married. Unlike couples who are just starting out in life, counting on wedding gifts to establish their home, both Andrew and I are already established. There really isn’t anything that we need.

When I told a few of our friends that we weren’t accepting gifts, they were a little put out, for lack of a better word.

There was a part of me that couldn’t understand why. After all, it would save them money. Also, their presence at our wedding was their gifts to us. The majority of our guests traveled from great distances, spending a lot of money to share in the celebration. The amount of love present at our wedding continues to be overwhelming for the both of us. We will never be able to say, “thank you” enough.

The part of me with a formal education in psychology understood that it was important to our guests, for whatever reason, to do more than simply show up.

Andrew and I didn’t feel right accepting physical goods that we could purchase for ourselves. So, we reached a compromise.

The solution—one that would give everyone involved those warm fuzzy feelings—was to request that in lieu of gifts, people make donations to either the Lupus Research Institute or Marian Call. Both of these mean a lot to Andrew and me.

Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

I have lupus. It is the source of a lot of pain and frustration in my life. It is a disease that is greatly misunderstood and does not receive a lot funding or attention. Donating to a charity that helps fund research around the world is something we always encourage. Even though I felt uncomfortable with people making donations in our names, I took one for the team because it was for a good cause.

As for donating money to Marian Call, the reasoning behind that was two-fold.

The first reason—one that both the guests and Marian learned about during the reception—was that unbeknownst to Marian, she played a vital role in how Andrew and I met. The second reason was that Marian was the independent musician we hired to perform a private house concert instead of having a traditional reception.

Yes, we hired Marian, so that means we paid her a flat rate, plus travel and accommodations, instead of the usual way people compensate her for a house concert, which is often by donation.

Because of the nature of the house concert, Marian wasn’t going to sell her music or ask for donations at the event. However, because of how much we value Marian’s music and what it means to the both of us, because of her role in our relationship, because we strongly believe in supporting independent creators, and because both Andrew and I feel we cannot place a price on the value of having her share in the celebration—there really isn’t enough money in the world—we asked people to give her more money. Again, without her prior knowledge.

People got to feel good by giving. Andrew and I got to feel good by surprising Marian with extra well-earned and well-deserved money. It was a win-win situation.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "I'm Yours" during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “I’m Yours” during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

This is the part where I awkwardly ask that, if you’ve yet to do so, check out Marian Call’s music and buy it. Also, if you are in a position to play host to a Marian Call house concert, I cannot recommend her enough. She’s one of the most amazing performers I have the pleasure of knowing. It isn’t only because she is an insanely talented vocalist and lyricist. It is because she knows how to read her audience and play directly to the crowd.

I don’t know how she does it. I look at her and experience a sort of envy with her ability to interact in the way she does. She’s this amazing mix of introversion and extroverted exuberance. She takes the time to listen and keenly observe, getting to know her hosts and the environment in which she is performing. She takes what she has learned and transforms herself from a warm introvert to a crowd-pleasing performer.

Our situation was not Marian’s normal venue, so she had extra time to get to know everyone, and feel out her surroundings. Simply having her there helped to make our celebrations perfect; she helped make our wedding better than we could have ever imagined.

Marian helped me feel a little more comfortable being emotive in public, reminding me that I was surrounded by friends and by people who truly cared. I was comfortable enough to openly cry when she performed “Dark Dark Eyes.” (I’m sure the couple, or three, glasses of wine also helped.) She also made observational comments and other tokens—ones that I consider to be private—that really meant a lot.

It is at moments like this where I really wish I could be more expressive about my feelings. Over a month later, not only am I still overwhelmed by how superbly wonderful everyone made our wedding day, but I am still unable to find the proper words to articulate just how wonderful Marian is, both as a person and a performer.

Whether she is livening up a crowd with roaring renditions of “Shark Week,” “We’re Out For Blood,” and “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side,” or putting something in people’s eyes and throats with “Dark Dark Eyes” and “Good Old Girl,” or just having fun with “Love and Harmony (Karaoke),” plus singing not-yet-released music, each Marian Call performance is unique and guaranteed to be amazing.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "It's Good to Have Jayne on Your Side." Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side.” Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

Also, Scott Barkan—Marian’s accompanist—deserves all kind of praise. Watching him play the guitar is mesmerizing. The guy is not only a crazy talented and amazing guitarist, but he is a talented musician doing his own thing. You’ll want to give Scott’s music a listen and a purchase, too.

While you may not be able to have Marian Call at your wedding, it is just as good to have her perform in your living room or backyard. I cannot recommend the experience enough.

Still to come in this series:

  • The conclusion: Things we’ve learned and other miscellaneous things we did.

My earlier posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location are both here on GeekMom. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

If you are not getting married in a church, picking a location for the ceremony and reception can be difficult. However, the location was the only thing about our wedding that was not a difficult decision. Andrew and I had the wedding and reception at a beautiful, Tutor-style mansion, bed and breakfast called The Quamichan Inn.

I’m not sure I can say enough about the awesome that is The Quamichan Inn. Getting married at The Quamichan Inn was the only thing that was not negotiable. People often asked, “Why did you choose this location?” The only answer I could give was, “Because it is my favorite location in the Cowichan Valley.”

Everything from price, to service, to location, to atmosphere and ambiance, to food, to comfort was, in a word, perfection.

The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

We had the ceremony in their beautiful gardens and had the reception indoors in the room dedicated to conferences, meetings, and receptions.

Andrew and I decided to rent all of the rooms from the Friday before the wedding to the Sunday after. Plus, we rented our suite—the Quamichan suite—and one more room until the Monday following the wedding. We didn’t have to worry about settling our bill for the weekend, which included the rooms, all the food and alcohol, minus the $500.00 deposit, until it was time to check out. A lot of places require that you pay for the food and alcohol before hand, based on the number of guests who RSVP’d. However, because of a combination of the small party and the number of services used, The Quamichan Inn didn’t create a bill until afterwards, and only charged us for those who actually attended, instead of the anticipated numbers. We still had to give them anticipated numbers so they could shop and prepare accordingly, but it was one less bill to worry about leading up to the event.

Even though we live in the same town as The Quamichan Inn, staying at the location of the wedding and ceremony meant that all we had to do on the big day was get up, eat the breakfast that was prepared for us, get dressed, and show up by walking down stairs. We also didn’t have to worry about how much we drank the night of, because all we had to do was walk upstairs to eventually go to sleep. Everything else was done for us by the amazing staff at the bed and breakfast.

Considering I only managed one hour of sleep the night before the wedding, and two hours the night of the wedding, staying on location without any added worries was an even bigger benefit than anticipated.

The three rooms that were not occupied by Andrew and I, and my boys, were used by out-of-town guests. The Quamichan Inn wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of our out-of-town guests, as they made up the majority of our guest list. But, renting the entire bed and breakfast for the weekend meant that the guests who were staying at hotels just down the road were free to come and go at any time during the weekend. The Quamichan Inn became our home, but without the worry of having to clean up after entertaining our guests.

We didn’t have to do any set-up or take-down. We didn’t have to worry about hiring a catering and wait staff, or a bartender. Guests didn’t have to pre-select their meal choices. Andrew and I pre-selected the soup, salad, and dessert. Guests chose one of three mains when it was time to sit down for dinner.

Getting married under a "Make it so" pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.
Getting married under a “Make it so” pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.

All people had to do was show up and have a good time.

And what a good time it was. Even the staff got into the fun. They couldn’t stop talking about it, even after it was all over. The head waiter, Daniel, was absolutely superb. We had one waitress who was excited beyond words when she learned she would be on service the day and night of our wedding. She even squee’d when we told her, after she asked if it was okay, that she was welcome to wear a costume, too. After that conversation took place on the Friday night, my youngest, in bewilderment, asked, “Did that just really happen?”

At first, we were concerned that there would be an issue with a bunch of people running around in costume the day of the wedding. But, as soon as we told The Quamichan Inn’s coordinator, Colleen, what we had planned for our day, the entire staff at the inn started to bustle with enthusiasm. The chef, Steven, who is also a geek, asked if it was okay to create a sci-fi themed menu. We obviously said, “yes,” and forgave the typo on the menu because everyone was so excited about our day.

The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.

Even people who came in for dinner on the Friday night, after learning about our wedding because the staff couldn’t stop talking about it, asked if it was okay to drive by the day of and take a look at all of our costumes.

Another thing the staff did was come in early on Saturday to open the bar early. We served the hors d’oeuvres at 2 p.m.—an hour before the ceremony—which amounted to a late launch. Some guests started to consume their alcohol then. We had a mix of a cash bar and provided a half of a liter of wine for each guest who was drinking. Then, at last call, we ordered another four liters of wine for guests. When we woke up the next morning, we still had two liters remaining.

The food was to die for. I was worried that I didn’t order enough hors d’oeuvres, but I was wrong. There was plenty left over. When it was time for the ceremony, the staff put the leftovers in the fridge. Then brought them back out to help people sober up (with plenty of free coffee) once the evening’s entertainment was over, and the guests were mingling.

The dinner, again, perfection. Huge portions. Delicious. Served with precision timing.

Talking about money and costs in public is not good manners. All I can say is that between the amount of food we received for the price charged, and the beyond amazing service, which started when I booked The Quamichan Inn last year, I feel like I ripped off the location, even after paying the tip.

The staff at The Quamichan Inn made everyone feel like they were in their own homes, and helped to make our wedding weekend celebrations better than we could have possibly imagined. There are no words to express just how amazing they were.

The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.

I cannot recommend enough going the bed and breakfast route, if it is available to you. Weddings and receptions are stressful enough as it is. If you can find a location that does it all for one price, it is one less thing to stress out about. If you live anywhere near The Quamichan Inn, meaning anywhere on Vancouver Island or the lower mainland, definitely consider getting married and having your reception there. You will not regret it.

Still to come in this series over the next few months:

  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can read Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture here. You can download the first six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you got married outside of a church, what about your location made it special?

Kickstarter is Coming to Canada – The Good and the Bad

Image: Kickstarter

Break out the poutine and maple syrup! Later this summer, Kickstarter is coming to Canada. Hailing from Canada, I have many thoughts about this. Some good. Some bad.

The good news is, now Canadians have more options when it comes to funding their projects. Having options is always a good thing.

But, sometimes, these options are not always in the best interest of person. Or, in this situation, the project.

Kickstarter has two things going for it that are missing from Indiegogo.

The first is the ability to create stretch goals. I believe having this ability results in a bigger incentive for people sharing the campaign. It’s gamification of crowdfunding. The more people share, greater is the potential for receiving funds. The more funds over the initial goal, the more perks people will receive, without having to give any extra money. Sure, people can create some sort of extra-reward system on Indiegogo, but that requires a great deal of added effort, as it isn’t something built into the system.

The second thing Kickstarter has is a larger community. Indiegogo is a great platform. For reasons beyond my comprehension, it doesn’t have the same brand power as Kickstarter, which makes it less likely that people will just stumble upon the campaign and fund it.

But, in my opinion, I think that is where the positives of Kickstarter end.

Indiegogo has many things going for it that are missing from Kickstarter.

The first is that with Indiegogo, you can have either flexible funding, or fixed funding. If you are willing to pay any extra costs out of pocket, then you can choose flexible funding, and you’ll receive all funds, minus a larger service fee. The larger service fee is waived if you reach your goal. Plus, for payments made via PayPal, you’ll receive those funds immediately. Or, if you must raise a specific amount of money to create your project, then you go with the fixed funding model, and will only receive the funds if you reach your goal.

The second advantage of Indiegogo is that they offer multiple payment methods. Backers can pay via credit card or PayPal. With United States Kickstarter projects, if your potential backers don’t have a credit card and an Amazon account, then they can’t fund your project. For UK projects, the Amazon requirement is removed, but your backers still need to have a credit card. Sure, you could always create a web site with a PayPal link, but those funds won’t count towards your total. Also, that requires more work in an already labor-intensive undertaking. They have yet to announce how payments will work for Canadian projects, but I assume it will require, at the minimum, a credit card. However, now that Canada finally has Visa debit cards, this barrier may slowly disappear. Visa debit cards in Canada are different than the ones in the United States, so they have their own set of issues that may prevent Canadians from switching to them until those issues are resolved.

The third advantage is that with Indiegogo there is no approval process. While some will argue that this can lead to sub-par projects, I’d argue that no one is under any obligation to fund or share a sub-par project. I use the same argument for celebrities who are criticised for using Kickstarter. No one is ever under any obligation to fund a project.

The fourth advantage is there are less restrictions regarding types of projects and types of perks you are allowed to offer. Here is the list of restricted perks for Indiegogo versus the restricted perks for Kickstarter. With Indiegogo, projects do not need to fall into specific categories. With Kickstarter, projects must fit into one of the following categories: art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater.

The fifth advantage is that Indiegogo doesn’t have regional restrictions. You don’t have to live in the United States, the UK, and soon-to-be Canada, to create a project. Indiegogo’s current community may be smaller than Kickstarter’s, but, because of the lack of regional restrictions, this may soon change.

I used Indiegogo to create Five Little Zombies and Fred. Even though I didn’t reach my full goal, I still consider it successful because I raised more the bare minimum I needed to get the book into the market.

Would I have gone with Kickstarter if I had the opportunity? I don’t know. If I went with Kickstarter, I would have started with a $1,000.00 goal—the bare minimum I needed—with stretched goals onwards to $10,000.00+, and it would have appeared to be more successful. But, without the ability for backers to easily use PayPal, for me that is a huge negative.

I have an idea for a second book. With the news that Kickstarter is coming to Canada, I have a lot of thinking to do about the funding platform I will use. Does a larger community and the ability to gamify my campaign outweigh the benefits of flexible funding, multiple payment options, and no approval process? That is a difficult decision.

Difficult decision or not, positives and negatives aside, I am happy that I, and other Canadians, will soon have a choice. In the end, it will come down to what I think is the smartest choice for my project. Without knowing if an Amazon account will be needed for both backers and Canadian creators, pondering this choice will be put on hold. If Amazon is required, then I will not use Kickstarter, because it is just one barrier too many for me. If Amazon is not required, well, it could be a fun experiment.

And, if the experiement doesn’t work out, there is always Indiegogo.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

There are many differences between marriages in the United States and Canada. I explored some of these differences in an earlier post about the ceremony. The change of last name after marriage is another one of those differences.

In Canada, the rules around this are relatively simple. At least, in my mind. One of the reasons this post is so far overdue is that the United States has 50 states, each with their own rules about such things. In some states, the bride simply has to check a box when signing the marriage registry and her last name is changed. In other states, the bride has to notify difference agencies in order to change her last name. In only a handful of states, it is legal for the groom to take the bride’s name. I’m not even sure what the rules are in the states that allow same-sex marriage. Trying to research the rules in the United States surrounding this left me a little bit weary in the brain.

But, what I do know, or at least what I have been lead to believe, is that in the United States it is considered a legal name. In Canada, that is not the situation. Because of Canada’s views on multiculturalism, and there are many Canadians who come from countries where it is not the norm for the bride to assume the groom’s last name, the act of changing your last name is one of culture and not law.

When two people get married in Canada, either spouse is allowed to assume the last name of their partner. It doesn’t matter if it is a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage. But, that is all it is. It is a legal alias, one that can only be used if not intended for the purposes of fraud. In fact, up until recently, you had to have your spouse’s permission to use their last name on your passport. Of course, with the exception of Quebec, where you are not allowed to use your spouse’s last name for any reason whatsoever. Also, Quebec does not recognize common-law partnerships.

Some people decide to assume their spouse’s last name in the workplace and add the legal alias on their bank account, which requires proof of marriage, but keep their identification under their birth name because it is both expensive and time consuming to change these things. There are only a couple of provinces that do not charge to change identification after marriage.

Also, because Canada has common-law marriage laws, in some situations you don’t have to be legally married to assume your partner’s last name. Recently, passport laws have been changed to make it easier for both legally married partners and common-law partners to use each other’s last name on their passports. Spouses are no longer required to get permission for use of last name and common-law partners are now allowed to have a passport issued using their partner’s last name with a letter attesting to the fact they’ve been living in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 months.

In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, they have a common-law marriage registry. If your common-law relationship is registered with the province, you are allowed to assume your partner’s last name for the purposes of a driver’s license, healthcare card, and other provincially issued identifications.

In all provinces except for Quebec and British Columbia, you are allowed to create a double-barrelled last name comprised of two parts, either hyphenated or not. Unlike some South American countries, it does not matter in which order the last names are places. In Quebec, there is no way around this law. In British Columbia, you have to undergo a legal change of name in order to use a double-barrelled last name.

The process in British Columbia is very simple. When I changed my first and middle names, it took less than two weeks for Vital Statistics to process the change, even though the website says four to six weeks. However, undergoing a legal change of name in Canada is not something you do lightly. If you do decide to legally change your name, for all intents and purposes, you are going through a rebirth. Your original birth records are destroyed and new ones are created in your new name. Then you are issued a new birth certificate, not an amended one, reflecting the new name.

I changed names because I’m a trans man, and for my marriage to be legal the officiant has to use the names on my birth certificate, and I couldn’t get married with a feminine first name. In this case, there aren’t too many ramifications involved in making this decision.

Because of how our name laws work, if you want to legally change your last name after marriage, one really needs to think about that. Why? Because in Canada, upon getting married, you can either use your last name at birth, assume your current spouse’s last name, or assume the last name from any other marriage. You are allowed to go back and forth between your legal name and any other alias at any time, as long as you are not intending to do fraud. This means that once I am married, there are three last names both Andrew and I are allowed to use, as we have both been previously married. But, if you go through the process of legally changing your last name, you cannot just simply go back to the last name with which you were born. If you got divorced and wanted to go back to your last name at birth, then you would have to once again go through the legal name change process, paying all of the fees involved, and spending a lot of time updating your identification, bank records, employment records, etc.

Even though it took less than two weeks for my legal name change to be processed way back in April, two months and hundreds of dollars later, I have only now received the last of my new identifications.

Many times when talking with my American pals about my name change and a handful of my Canadian pals who were unaware of our laws, they assumed that I was referring to changing my last name. I was actually changing my first and middle names, a process with laws no less conflicting between provinces. In British Columbia, it doesn’t require going to court, or placing adverts in the paper declaring intent because doing so places people in jeopardy. It really is as simple as filling out a form and having the Royal Canadian Mounted Police do a criminal record check so that any record that may exist will follow to the new name. Other provinces have different procedures, so confusion around all of these things is very understandable, especially from a cultural point of view.

In case you are curious, I will not be assuming Andrew’s last name after we are married. I’m very attached to my last name. Andrew has somewhat suggested that he would be willing to adopt my last name, but I think that would sound funny. Also, for those curious about what middle name I ended up choosing, I went with Coniah.

Still to come in this series over the next few months—I will finish the series after the wedding:

  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can download all six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you are an American, what is the procedure for changing the last name in your state? Please let me know in what state you live. That would be very helpful. If you live outside of Canada and the United States, what are the laws where you live?

Win 1 of 5 Copies of Doctor Who: Harvest of Time

Image: Broadway Paperbacks

Broadway Paperbacks is giving five lucky GeekMom readers a copy of Doctor Who: Harvest of Time.

Published on June 4, 2013, by acclaimed science-fiction writer and astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds, Doctor Who: Harvest of Time features the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee. If you are already going through Doctor Who withdrawals after the season finale, and cannot wait for the 50th anniversary special, this book will help fill the gap.

The official synopsis reads:

In Doctor Who: Harvest of Time, the vicious Sild have broken out of confinement a­fter billions of years of imprisonment and plan to conquer the past, with the ultimate goal of rewriting history by enslaving an intellect greater than their own. But on Earth, UNIT is called in to investigate a mysterious incident on a North Sea drilling, and the Brigadier is starting to forget about UNIT’s highest-profile prisoner. As the Sild invasion begins, the Doctor faces a terrible dilemma. To save the universe, he must save his arch-nemesis. . . the Master.

You can read a 14-page excerpt below:

Doctor Who Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds – Excerpt by Crown Publishing Group

You can purchased Doctor Who: Harvest of Time on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

To receive one of five copies of Doctor Who: Harvest of Time leave a comment answering the following: Who is your favorite Doctor, and/or who would you like to see play the Twelfth Doctor?

Only one comment per person. Residents of the United States and Canada only.

When leaving a comment, please use a valid e-mail address so that I can notify the winner. If you fail to enter your e-mail address, your comment will not be counted.

Giveaway closes Monday, June 17, 2013 at 11:59 PM PDT. At that time, I’ll use a random number generator to choose five winners. The winners will be notified by e-mail on June 18, 2013. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to the e-mail. If the winner does not respond, I’ll then choose another winner.

Welcome Home, Hadfield, Marshburn, and Romanenko!

Last night, at 22:31 EDT, after spending 146 days in space — 144 of which were spent on board the International Space Station (ISS) — and making 2,336 orbits around the planet, clocking close to 62 million miles, astronauts Chris Hadfield (Canada), Tom Marshburn (United States), and Roman Romanenko (Russia) touched down safely in southern Kazakhstan.

They call the landing a “soft landing.” But as you can tell by the plume in the above video, it is anything but soft.

Shortly after they landed, Romanenko, Marshburn, and then Hadfield were carefully extracted from the Soyuz TMA-07M Spacecraft.

As I watched these events unfold, with millions of others around the globe, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of two things: Superman and childbirth.

Below is an edited video of Marshburn and Hadfield being extracted from the Soyuz. We never did get to see Romanenko being extracted.

Continue reading Welcome Home, Hadfield, Marshburn, and Romanenko!