Geeky Gardening: Welcome to My Gardens!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will be a fun series of posts involving…you guessed it! Geeky gardening. Why geeky? I mean, don’t old ladies and homebodies garden? That doesn’t quite follow what might be most people’s mental image of  “gardening.”

I suppose it all depends on the mindset. Like most things, context is key. As has been discussed elsewhere, there is more to geekery than comics or video games or Dungeons & Dragons. You don’t have to be into tech. You just have to be into something. I’ve know people who loved jewelry or rocks or theater or art who are every bit as geeked out about that thing as I am about board games and fantasy novels and Hello Kitty. So, gardening.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Ever since I moved into my very own house, gardening has been important to me. In fact, I picked this house especially because it had so many possibilities in the tiny yard. I’ve fit gardens into every nook and cranny of this place.

Why does gardening get my geek on? Well, it’s related to my love of fantasy. I’ve always associated nature with fantasy, I’ve always felt really close to the things that I’ve always imagined when I’m in the woods or a garden. Not a weed-killed, overly fertilized, bark-mulched garden, but a natural-ish, native flowery, bird-and-bee attracting garden. It’s easy to imagine that the birds and bees are fairy friends, and that there is always something just out of sight, in the corner of my sight, but never quite “there.”

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

There is also the science aspect of gardening. What plants grow in the shade versus in the sun? Which plants like each other? Which plants will kill each other? How much water do these need? What animals will they attract? What type of soil would work the best for them?

And then, of course, there is the artistic aspect of things. Should each garden have a theme? Or should things just run wild? What types of stones or statues should go there? What colors should be there?

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

There are no right or wrong answers to most of these questions. Even the ones that seem obvious, like should this plant be in the sun or shade, have variables. A full sun plant can be in a somewhat shady spot, but might be smaller. A shady plant can go in a sunny spot if you water it enough. The possibilities for gardens are endless, and you can have a garden of any shape or size, even in something as small as a shoe box.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

So stay tuned! I’m going to try to post a new article in this series regularly as my gardens progress through the seasons and as I “finish” each one over the summer. Next up: Gnomes!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors


Fund This! Geek Illustrated Cookbooks, Inked Geek Shirts, and Interstitial Art!

This edition of Fund This features a geek cookbook, geek ink shirts, and art that pushes the boundaries! This month I was really attracted to campaigns that were taking fandom or known genres and pushing them into new and fun contexts. I wanted to see campaigns that were about pleasure and enjoyment, and I think I have found some great examples. Happy Funding!

Photo courtesy of the Interstitial Arts Foundation

Interfictions Online The Interstitial Arts Foundation is raising funds to create an online home for their artists. In case you are unfamiliar, Interstitial Art includes those media and projects that fall outside the accepted standards or boundaries of acknowledged genres. They push the limits of what is expected and/or possible. Funds raised will go towards building two new online issues, paying the artists a fair wage for their work, and maintaining the online anthology free to the public. Interfictions Online is an amazing resource for cutting edge ideas brought to life, and as an artist myself it is one of the places I go for inspiration and aspiration. I look forward to seeing their next issue!

Image courtesy of the Inked Geek Kickstarter

Inked Geek Shirts I am a Geek. I have tattoos. I must have at least one of these shirts, thank you very much. There are only a few days left on this campaign and it is fully funded, but I could not leave it out in case any of our geeky readers wanted in on the action! I have included a picture of my favorite design above, but they also have Pokemon, Harry Potter, and Star Trek represented.

kitchen overlord
Image courtesy of Kitchen Overlord

Kitchen Overlord‘s Illustrated Geek Cookbook From the popular Kitchen Overlord blog comes a fully illustrated cookbook featuring their most popular recipes, and some new exclusive ones too, accompanied by the fandom characters that inspired them. Besides being a very cool and very beautiful ode to food, comics, and culture, the book covers over 120 years of Geek culture, and I am pretty sure my family would beg me for a recipe a day from their favorites. Of course, the book is the primary reward, but if you want to kick out a little more dough (see what I did there?), you can actually have them design a recipe based on your favorite fandom with an acknowledgement. I would love to see what she could do with my family’s requests!

Re-Defining Tea, Re-Defining Me

tea puzzle
Image By Rebecca Angel

Here on GeekMom, we have expanded the term “geek,” beyond STEM, Star Wars, and dice to encompass anything that you are overly excited/obsessed/people-think-you’re-weird about. This is how I am with tea. Yes, I’m geeked about tea, but I’m talking semantics. I consider tea to be any beverage with steeped plant matter.

If you stop by, I offer you a cup, and you say, “Oh, I don’t like tea.” I convince you to just try a wee something I brewed; I give you a cup of eggnog heated slowly with chai and a dash of brandy. You will say, “GOOD GOD, I LOVE TEA!”

I can hear someone saying, “But I can’t drink eggnog.” That’s not the point (and you really should try my alcohol free, coconut milk version). Every culture in the world drinks plants in water for medicinal and comfort purposes. I say all of it can be called drinking tea!

But what about camellia senesis (the Latin name for black, green, white, oolong, ceylon, etc. tea)? I adore this plant, don’t fret. Camellia senesis is the most common beverage in the world. If you ask for a cup or tea in any restaurant in Cairo, Tokyo, or Boston, you will get these leaves in a cup with steaming hot water—except for Boston, where it will be lukewarm with a tea bag of bitter crap… but I digress.

I used to be quite stringent in my definition of tea, using the term “tisane” to mean an herbal drink, not camellia senesis. This did not make me more of a geek, just a snob. Then the migraines galloped into my life. I suffered on a regular basis until I tried keeping away from all caffeine. Goodbye to my beloved tea—even decaf had that .00001% too much. But it worked. My migraines corralled themselves, but I missed my cuppa.

I started experimenting with purchased “tisanes,” garden herbs, bark, ANYTHING. Peppermint and chamomile are lovely, but there are a wealth of options to try. Rooibus (African red bush) is a great one to add warming, full-bodied flavors like cinnamon, licorice, or ginger. Tulsi (Holy Basil) is a perfect base for high blends like mints, citrus, or flower petals. Spiced cider became a tea for me during the winter. In March, the most depressing month of the year in upstate NY, my tea was “whatever” with two spoons of hot cocoa.

With caffeine off limits, my beverage world exploded. I stopped being such a damn tea snob, and started experimenting, enjoying, and expanding my definition of tea.

The only beverage I couldn’t call “tea” was hot buttered rum. Very tasty, but no plants steeping. Oh, and coffee. That was a line I wouldn’t cross. Besides, it has caffeine, so not on my safe list anyway.

Currently, I am able to drink small amounts of caffeine, and have enjoyed putting back traditional teas on my liquid menu. I’m more than happy to gulp Starbucks chai lattes when I’m on the go, but it’s hard to pay for something I can make so much better at home.

If you do stop by for a cuppa, I will most likely make you the best Earl Grey you have ever tasted. But if vacuum cleaners are “geeky” because they are robots, then my mulled wine can be tea because it’s a hot cup of comfort and hospitality—and that’s the whole point of tea!

Geek the Library Asks “What Do You Geek?”

Question from Geek the Library (photo courtesty

I like paper crafts and posted about the Foldable Me personalized paper figurines a few weeks ago. My own Foldable Me rules over our family room, and was with me when I heard from one of our Foldable Me raffle winners that her little paper doll was featured in a “What Do You Geek?” display at her library. I was curious and followed up to find out more for GeekMom readers.

It turns out this is part of Geek the Library, a national program to get people excited about making connections between their personal passions and libraries and the synergy that brews when enthusiastic geeks and treasure troves of knowledge intersect.

Kim, our contest winner, and library fan and informant, is a Children’s Librarian (aren’t you feeling warm and fuzzy already?) and mom to three geeklings. I got info from her and from the sponsoring group, OCLC, a library cooperative that strives to support libraries by increasing efficiency, innovation, and collaboration. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, OCLC sponsors the Geek the Library program, which helps local libraries to use high-quality marketing and outreach materials to connect with community members to express their enthusiasms in terms of “I geek ____”—with each person filling in the blank with their own individual passion. Once people are talking about their passions, they can explore how the library supports and enriches opportunities to grow in their geeky pleasures. In turn, as we all become friendlier with our libraries, we use them more, educate others about their charms, and defend their honor against library bullies who would cut funding.

The Geek the Library campaign invites everyone to “get your geek on” and “share what you geek,” and complete that phrase “I geek ___” — the answers are shared on the website, along with a story or video describing the delights of our geekery. Anyone can order a preprinted shirt or a customized tee that proclaims the objects of our geeking.

If you are lucky enough to have a library participating nearby, you can join the portrait gallery of geek specimens recorded in a gorgeous palette of black and geek. One library had two photo shoots: the first, the usual suspects of librarians, civic authorities, and similar library denizens. When such eye-catching geek posters were displayed from that episode, people were so enthusiastic that a second shoot was scheduled and the queue stretched across the lobby—you can see photos at the Geek the Library site and at the Waterford Township Library Facebook page.

I asked Kim, a participating librarian, and Linn Edvardsen, who helps coordinate the program at OCLC, to answer some questions about it.

GeekMom: Tell us a little about Geek the Library and how you got involved.

Kim: I’ve been a Children’s Librarian for over 15 years, and am the mom of 3 geeks-in-training. Geek the Library is a movement to raise local awareness of public libraries. OCLC supplies publicity materials nationwide, and then we tailor them to our own libraries.

GM: What do you geek? Has involvement with the organization affected the way you pursue your passions?

Kim: Oh my goodness, so many things: I’m a “classic” geek. I love science fiction and fantasy. I play RPGs, have boxes of comic books in my basement, play with Legos, Skylanders, and have even more boxes of action figures (I’m old enough that my Star Wars figures are originals). I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface.

GM: I understand you set up a display of your own geek passion, Batman, at your local library. Can you describe that for us?

Kim: We’re using one display case to showcase staff geeks—a new one every two weeks. That’s been a lot of fun, seeing what else everyone puts in the case. Batman was the focus of my display, since that’s what’s on my Geek the Library poster, but I wanted to share all my passions. I love the concept of I-Spy books, which make you study the whole page. I’ve done other I-Spy style displays and it seemed like the perfect format to make anyone who glances at the case see everything. I collected a bunch of different stuff from home, then spent three days staring at it, trying to come up with rhymes. The final stanza directed people to go find my poster. It’s full of a sampling of my action figures, dice I use in RPGs, Legos, some Skylanders and Webkinz, and, of course, lots of Batman books and videos. Lots of colorful objects. I even included the Foldable Me I won from one of your contests. The case is in the front lobby, and circulation staff say lots of people stopped to look at it. Mission accomplished!

GM: What has been the most pleasant surprise for you with Geek the Library? What has been the biggest disappointment or let-down? Has anything made you burst out laughing? Which of the “I geek…” slogans on the GtL website is your favorite?

Kim: Biggest surprise? How much fun it’s been. I think this has really engaged our community. I love looking at the different posters decorating our building. Not so much “burst out laughing” as “Interesting—I never would have guessed that based on their looks.” My favorite slogan isn’t on the national site, but I have several here at Waterford—especially those who took the effort to bring in props for their Geek. I think the biggest let-down was when I was at a community event and so many adults still thought “geek” was a bad term.

GM: Do you have any tips for our readers who are interested in libraries, geeking, or Batman?

Kim: Support your local library! If there’s something that interests you, ask the staff—if they don’t know where to find information, most librarians I know would be happy to find out. Don’t be ashamed to be passionate about something—that’s what being a geek is all about. (Just ask the women who run this website. )

Linn Edvardsen, Program Manager for Geek the Library also answered a few questions for us.

GeekMom: What, overall, is the goal of Geek the Library? How does a library become involved? Can just anyone nominate a library to participate? How did the concept develop?

Linn: The overall goal is to get the community talking! Geek the Library takes a light-hearted approach to the very serious subject of library funding. Over the past four years, Geek the Library has helped hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. get attention and start important local conversations about the value of the library and the need for funding. Libraries use the campaign as a springboard to actively engage their communities by making new and personal connections—Geek the Library takes the message out of the library and encourages a community dialogue. It starts with ‘what do you geek’ and builds from there. Talking about what people geek, what they’re passionate about, and how the public library supports it really brings the community together.

The campaign is open to all U.S. public libraries—regardless of size or resources. Printed materials, online templates and other resources, and ongoing support are provided for free. Libraries can get more information about the program at

GM: When did Geek the Library start, and how long will it continue? Is it growing or changing, or does it just do the same activities at all libraries in all places?

LE: OCLC partnered with [communications agency] Leo Burnett in 2009 to create the concept. It was important to develop something that got attention and helped libraries start conversations. “What do you geek?” is an amazing ice breaker and it gets to the heart of the matter: Whatever you are passionate about, the library supports it. We piloted the campaign with libraries in Iowa and Georgia in 2009-2010, during which we confirmed that the campaign gets attention, raises awareness and encourages action.

Since we opened up the campaign to all U.S. public libraries in August 2010, we’ve enrolled over 1,000 library locations. We are very thankful for the continued support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has allowed us to extend program enrollment through June 2014 (with support through June 2015), and provide robust support, including one-on-one assistance.

GM: Do you have a favorite response (story, video, poster) so far? Have any of them made you laugh, cry, shout, or meet a new friend?

LE: There are so many great stories from local campaigns. Most library participants localize their campaigns to include local people, and the result is a wonderful story about their community. One good example is Chelsea District Library in Michigan. This library partnered with a local photographer (who ended up doing the majority of the work for free) and produced hundreds of unique posters highlighting what the community geeks. It’s amazing to see!

GM: What do you geek?

LE: I geek the American Dream!

Check out the photos below and go to to share your passion. Tweet your geek declaration to GeekMomblog or post your geek portrait on our Facebook page. And support your library!

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?

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?

Integrating a New Geek Into Your Family

Rory, our new geek. Photo: Jenny Williams
Rory, our new geek. Photo: Jenny Williams

The past several months have been an interesting and very rewarding experience. The kids and I have managed to integrate a new geek into our home and our family.

Rory moved in last December. It was an easy transition for me, since I’m the one who wanted him there. It was a bigger challenge for the kids, since they’d had a much harder time with the divorce than I did. Plus, Rory was now in a role that, while not replacing their dad to the kids, filled the partner role in my life. But, we found that with shared interests, both those that had already been established and those that were newly acquired, everyone bonded more closely.

The kids and I brought a lot of board games to the table. I’ve loved games my whole life. My daughter also enjoys them. My son is obsessed. Rory’s often up for a good challenge, and has really enjoyed playing games with us. We also have been introducing and encouraging a lot of geek culture in him. Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the like.

Continue reading Integrating a New Geek Into Your Family

Confessions of a Lonely Geek

I'm a lonely geek in an office of non-geeks \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
I’m a lonely geek in an office of non-geeks \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Most of my life I’ve been the only geek among those I see everyday. As a child, I was usually the only girl in boy-dominated courses and as an adult I’m the only female in my department. I’m also the only geek at my workplace. All of this can make for some lonely days.

The only daughter of three kids (and the middle child at that), I’m the only geek in our family of five. Before I was in high school, I received my first laptop for Christmas and I took it everywhere (even the grocery store). I saved up my allowance for a printer and scanner and eventually my parents bought me a tower PC with a flat screen monitor. When something computer-like broke in my house, I was the one they called to fix it.

At school I was one of two girls in my HTML and PC troubleshooting courses. The guys never seemed to mind and I really enjoyed learning. I experienced the same thing in college when I was going for my Associates of Science in Computer Engineering degree. In my three years in college, I only had another female in my class three times. Continue reading Confessions of a Lonely Geek

What It Means to Be Geeky

Photo: Judy Berna
Photo: Judy Berna

I have to be perfectly honest with you. When my writer’s group friend approached me after one of our monthly meetings, and asked me if I’d ever be interested in writing for the GeekMom blog, I immediately had my doubts. GeekMom? Wouldn’t a Geek Mom be someone who understood a whole lot more about electronics, computer programming, and , um…math, than I ever would? I was an English person in high school and college. Math and the sciences were not my strengths.

But my friend, who is an editor for the blog, wouldn’t let me off so easily. She was on a mission to gather a group of women who were passionate about a lot of topics. I quickly came to see that the term ‘geek’ in the world of GeekMom actually stood for more than just a love of science. Now that I’ve been around the block a few times as a core writer for GeekMom, I’ve fallen in love with the concept.

GeekMom Laura Grace introduced us, as we branched away from the GeekDad forum, in this way – “Every day demonstrates that fostering our own passions requires us to value them. Give them a little space. Hoist up our geek flags and let them fly.”

Here at GeekMom, when we say you ‘geek out’ about something, it doesn’t matter the topic. Anything that makes you happy, keeps you engaged, makes you squeal when you get to participate in it, can be considered geeky. Some of us geek out about science related topics. But beyond that, many of us geek out about so many other things.

Through this adventure I’ve met some of the most amazing people. Well, I use the word ‘met’ quite loosely. Most of the smart, funny women I’ve learned from and grown with, as we’ve discussed a huge variety of topics on this blog, I’ve only met online. We’ve had long email exchanges and encouraged each other in our individual passions. I’ve learned about conventions and hobbies I’d never known about before. I have come to understand huge areas of interest that were always foreign to me before. That’s not to say I adopted their hobbies. But I’ve loved learning about them, and understanding in a much deeper way, how we are all amazing women because we are all made up of a unique variety of passions.

I decided it might be time to show our readers just how diverse our group is. If you think you can’t relate to a website called GeekMom, read on. I almost guarantee that somewhere on this list you’ll see yourself. When I put the question out to our GeekMom writers, “what makes you geek out”, these were some of the answers I got back. Who do you relate to the most?

GeekMom Jules –

Academia and learning (specially STEM, some history)


World religions

Star Trek

WordPress Design (seriously, if I can find an excuse to buy another domain and design another website, I’ll do it)

GeekMom Rebecca –

Tea. Check out her tea blog!  

Science literacy and creative arts


Making a labyrinth for a history camp for kids

Sexy fictional men

FONTS! I am a total geek about fonts!

GeekMom Dakster – 

Comic books – I read pretty much anything that doesn’t involve sex or drugs. Batman and Booster Gold are my favorite characters in DC and the X-Men and Avengers are my favorite in the Marvel Universe.

Cosplay – I already own three professional grade costumes and hope to make some more.

Photo: Dakster Sullivan
Photo: Dakster Sullivan

Retelling’s of classic stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.

Music – I love all types of music. Soundtracks and Taylor Swift are my current favorites.

Dancing – I allow myself one hour a night to pop on my headphones and dance to my hearts content

Justice League, Batman and Superman animated series

IBC Root Beer – My happy hour drink of choice
Computers – I’m a notwork admin after all
New Tech
Shiny objects
Writing – I love to write stories, especially comic book stories.

GeekMom Ariane –




Casual gaming

DIY/Crafts (though I’m terrible at them!)


Playing music (saxophone)


New experiences (I am easily bored, so I tend to obsess over a topic and then move on. You should have seen me in my saltwater aquarium days! Ah, back in the good ol’ days when I had no kids and unlimited time and money to pour into random hobbies! I also love seeing new sights, trying new foods, and making an adventure out of everything.)

GeekMom Laura  –

Subversive cooking,

Open source and collaborative solutions to social ills

Small scale sustainable farming

DIY, particularly pushing myself to learn new things

Mediation, peace-making, history and current application of non-violence

Neuroscience and other research as it pertains to learning

Natural learning and homeschooling

Body-mind health, lately focused on healing from/preventing trauma

Anthropology, particularly relating to hunter-gatherer lifestyles

Foreign films

All things pertaining to reading including libraries, book-related art, writing, and most of all, reading itself

Outsider art

Strange maps

All things bookish

GeekMom Brigid –

Music (indie,punk and Yann Tiersen)


Food – husband and I are gourmands of the local and sustainable but wholly decadent variety

Wine – wait thats also food

Cheese – oh wait thats food too

Art – nouveau, pre-raphaelite and some contemporary



Books – both for their contents and their value as artful objects

Mythic & Magic

Squirrels! (Yes, you read that right. Some day I’ll get her to write a post about why she loves squirrels)


 GeekMom Corrina –

Also a tea geek. Loose tea all the way.

Comic books, especially superheroes.

English royal history. Yes, I have the entire royal line of English Kings from William the Conquerer to Prince William memorized.
Sherlock Holmes

GeekMom Patricia

College sports

Star Wars

Books, books and more books (which is why I got my knickers in a knot about my oldest son not loving books as much as the rest of our family, but that seems to have resolved itself now, phew!)

Military: history and current affairs

Running, fitness

STEM, especially when it comes to seeing youngsters develop a love for STEM

Gadgets and gizmos <– this is part of what I LOVE about GM!

Gardening geekery

GeekMom Andrea

Scifi (not so much fantasy, though I’ll read anything with a dragon or King Arthur on the cover).

Emotional health/mental health/how the brain works/what drives behavior.

Special education/how we learn.

Contemporary music–anything recorded since the 40’s. Classical: not so much.


How things work. Especially things with knobs or screws or wires.

Learning new stuff.

 GeekMom Natania –

Rock music

Ukuleles, guitars, amps, gear

Romantic poetry

Middle English romances


Thrift stores/antique stores/old stuff/vintage stuff

Pre-Raphaelite art/William Morris/furniture

Cooking (especially making complicated things, like beer)


Social media/the web/analytics/data

GeekMom Kriss –

Growing things. You should see my collection of seeds.

A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa
A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa

Real food.

Vintage fabric.

Treasure hunting (thrifting/garage sales)

Hawaiiana/‘ukulele music.


GeekMom Mandy

Fantasy and Sci-Fi (I like fantasy a little better)


Disney (just found out that my in-laws might start being snowbirds in Orlando, which means more Disney trips for us)

Movies in general – my husband and I see a lot of movies in the theater and have a huge collection of Blu-Rays. We rank our favorite movies throughout the year.

 GeekMom Rachel –


Cooking (baking and making bread)

Gadgets (tech and cooking gadgets)

Home Entertainment (movies and TV)

circuits with without soldering)

GeekMom Melissa

Books, books, books, especially children’s books, and especially especially the work of L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Noel Streatfeild, and Maud Hart Lovelace. I’m a card-carrying member (literally, it’s in my wallet) of the Betsy-Tacy Society.

Bee-and-butterfly gardening. We’ve planted milkweed everywhere we’ve lived.

Gardening literature, especially the work of Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. And Allen Lacy. I could read nothing but horticultural lit and be happy.

Japanese candy. Fortunately I have Kristen in my life to keep me supplied. :)

Fiber and fabric, all the fiber arts. I haven’t *made* much since my kids came along–my old loom is gathering dust in the garage–but anything to do with yarn makes my heart go pitty-pat.

British period dramas. Helloooo, Downton Abbey. And Lark Rise, Cranford, Garrow’s Law, Berkeley Square, all that stuff.

Education & homeschooling philosophy. Charlotte Mason, John Holt, the works.

I get very excited when I have a new social media platform to figure out.

GeekMom Amy –

– Kids’ books, especially the picture book variety

– Kids’ games and apps

– Kids’ TV

– Animated films

I guess I have a few grown-up things, too:

– Design

– Movies (particularly the libraries of directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers)

– Violent or otherwise adult TV (play really well in contrast to the kids’ stuff: The Wire, Lost, Breaking Bad, etc.)


GeekMom Sarah – I’ve really learned a lot from reading the posts on GeekMoms and I now get excited about things that I wouldn’t have before, like the space program, STEM and Firefly which I just started to watch last week.

I geek out over amigugrumi and knitted goods. For example, I just created a Jayne Cobb hat for a friend and am working on some Amigurumi patterns of the Octonauts for my son. I avidly follow several amigurumi blogs and am constantly trying to come up with my own. I will spend a fortune on Red Heart Yarn and get high looking at the colors!

I also geek out over books. Old books, new books, vintage books, paperback books, hard cover books, pre-release editions, first editions, foreign language editions. I love to judge a book by it’s cover, as long as I can savor it for a while!

I geek out over Disney, that is my life long passion. I wrote my Bachelors thesis about how Disney represents foreign cultures to America.

I’m a big TV geek, some sci-fi, some not. X-files, Star Trek (TNG), Buffy and the life. I am currently devouring Heroes, having missed it the first time around. But I also have an obsession with Mash, The Good Life (Good Neighbors in the US) and anything from old school British comedians. Old cartoons, new cartoons. Okay this list could be endless!

GeekMom Sophie

Well obviously X-Files is my number one geek out, I can literally talk for hours about even the tiniest detail of the show. I cosplay Scully, have two shelves of books, another shelf of the VHS tapes, the complete DVD collection plus other DVDs and random collectibles. I’m now building a collection of art pieces based on the show, got a private commission and a limited edition show piece in there already along with an original sketch drawn by the actor who played Langley. A friend’s old boyfriend did some graphic design and made her and some friends (including myself) these adorable cartoon badge sets, they’re like XF for kids so Mulder’s shooting an alien with a water pistol and the Cigarette Smoking Man has a lollipop instead. So freaking cute and there’s only three or four sets in the world.

As you might be able to tell, geek art is another huge geek out of mine. I wish I’d had time to keep Geek Art going but I couldn’t manage it alone alongside GeekMom and life.

Disney theme parks is a biggie, I’m not especially bothered about the films although I own most of the classics, for me it’s the parks. I have a whole shelf of books on the architecture, conceptual history and behind the scenes information. It’s why I was so thrilled to interview Len Testa last year, he’s an idol of mine for really getting into the nitty gritty of how the parks run. I’m hoping to get the Poster Art of the Disney Theme Parks book at some point.

Scores/sountracks from film/TV. I have dozens of them and look forward to their releases almost as much as the film itself. I’m so excited at the prospect of Volume 2 of The X-Files scores, more Hobbit and Hunger Games this year. I’m also hoping that the Room on The Broom score by Rene Aubry will be released and dream of a Castle score one day. The first X-Files autograph I collected was Mark Snow, I have a limited edition signed CD sleeves from the Vol one box set, the demand was so high the site crashed minutes after I got through!

GeekMom Kelly –

Video games, in particular the creation/development and game soundtracks

Comic books

Star Wars

Harry Potter


A long time ago I used to geek out about anime big time. I wrote something like 100 reviews for an anime review site, and I watched every series completely before I reviewed them. I shudder to think how much time that adds up to. It later turned into love for Japanese dramas, which I still enjoy.

Oh this is a weird one, dancing shows. I love So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. I even figured out the choreographer for a random commercial and geeked out that I got it right. Dancing With the Stars isn’t my thing because I don’t think it’s fair to the stars to be judged.

 GeekMom Helene  –


New advances in science

Science education




Doctor Who

BBC shows

My Little Pony

Cake decorating


Girl Scouts

GLBTQ equality activism

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Info

And that leaves me, GeekMom Judy –

Reading/books (I have a library card from the NYC Public Library System, because I couldn’t resist, even though we lived in Upstate and just visited New York City 3 or 4 times a year)

More specifically, Memoirs. (after having written my own, and having spent decades reading others, I am still fascinated to see how a person goes from childhood to adulthood and becomes who she’s supposed to be. It’s twice as fascinating to me as a story someone made up)

My newest 'baby'.
My newest ‘baby’. Photo: Judy Berna

Prosthetics and Amputees (I love telling you about the amazing products and professionals that have blessed my life, and the athletes who have inspired me)

The new Revolimb
The new Revolimb. Photo: Joe Mahon

Lego anything, including learning about the behind the scenes action. (with three sons, and having collected sets for almost 20 years,at each holiday and birthday, we have about as many bricks as Legoland)

Travel/Exploring new places (with an archaeologist husband, we’ve seen some pretty amazing places, following his job around the country)

Winter Sports, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowman creating. It was a huge treat for us to attend the Winter X Games, just up the road from our house, for the past two years. Those athletes are our rock stars.

Super Pipe Practice. Photo: Judy Berna

And speaking of rock stars, in the past few decades I’ve come to really appreciate and love small indie bands. You know, the chicks and dudes who play because they love to? Check out this amazing song, “Not Born to Beauty” that says it so well (track 8).  We have a fantastic local venue in my hometown, and I have an old artificial leg that has the whole Bacon Brothers Band’s signatures on it. I’ve met the most amazing people, who also happen to be talented musicians.

The whole band signed it!
The whole band signed it! Photo: Judy Berna

So that’s our list. What would be on your list? What topics would you like us to write about more, or cover less? We’d love to hear what you love to read about. Welcome to the new, independent GeekMom. Welcome to your






Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding Reintroduction

Jules and Andrew Save the Date-01
Imaged commissioned from Matt Schubbe

With just over three months until the big day, and with GeekMom moving to a new home, I thought now would be an excellent time to reintroduce my geeky-queer wedding planning series to existing GeekMom readers, while giving new readers an opportunity to easily catch-up with the series.

What happens when two previously married people — one a trans man from Canada with two teenage children, the other a pansexual from the United States with no children, both geeks — decide to get married?

For your convenience, I’ve turned each of the previous six posts in this series into downloadable files — PDF, ePUB, and MOBI, all DRM-free.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction is the first post in this series. In the introduction, you’ll get a little taste of the many things my partner and I have been learning as we began this next chapter in our lives.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings is the second post in this series. Because of the nature of our relationship, people often wonder, “So, who did the proposing and how?” The answer is no-one. In fact, had he proposed, automatically my answer would have been, “No.” You now may be wondering, “Wait, so how are you engaged?” You may also be curious as to why I would have said no, had he asked. The answer to these questions, and more, is very long and complicated, and is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire is the third post in this series. The most difficult decision Andrew and I faced when planning our wedding was answering the question, “What are we going to wear?” In the end, we decided to have a United Federation of Planets wedding. What that means and entails is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests is the fourth post in this series. When you are planning a wedding, tradition and etiquette will tell you there are many things you must do. You must select a wedding party. Traditionally, there are also rules about whom you should choose. Traditionally, the parents of the individuals getting married must assume certain responsibilities. The guests are also seen to have specific roles within the whole affair. But, what if both parties have already been once married and divorced? What if one of those individuals is a trans man? What if the people getting married have different cultural backgrounds? What if a geeky element is being added? These questions are only a small fraction of things Andrew and I had to sort out as we began to plan our geeky-queer wedding. Our solutions — including the possibility of the kal-if-fee — are found in this post.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony is the fifth post in this series.In this latest geeky-queer wedding post, I explore the ceremony, including vows and legalities; the type of ceremony we will be having; and the process of going through a legal name change, and the reasons behind that need.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception is the sixth post in this series. When planning our geeky-queer wedding, Andrew and I had to make up a lot of things along the way, while balancing some of the traditional aspects that we find appealing. Sometimes, creating a new guide for our circumstances has been a little difficult. Other times, it was as easy as figuring out what aspects we really do not like in traditional weddings, and simply eliminating them; sometimes replacing them with our own special touches. The reception is another one of those situations where the end result is due to a process of elimination and supplementation, balanced with a couple traditional elements.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you’d prefer to download these posts as one file, you can download Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Parts One – Six as a PDF, ePUB, or MOBI.

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

  • Last names and culture
  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did or are doing.

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, did you do anything unique or out of the ordinary for your wedding and/or reception?

ChatWithTheBand – A Ustream/ Google+ Hangouts-esque Facebook App For Musicians and Artists

If you are a musician, or artist, and have been lamenting over the lack of interactive chat features on Facebook similar to Google+ Hangouts, finally, there is something similar available to those who make use of Facebook fan pages. The app is called ChatWithTheBand. ChatWithTheBand lets you video chat with fans and listen to tracks as a social group right from your band/artist Facebook page. Some may liken it to having your own dedicated room hosted on your Facebook page, but with extra features including video chat, virtual gifts and SoundClound integration (coming soon).

If you’ve made use of Google+ Hangouts to interact with others, you are already familiar with the benefits of having a video chat. The interface for the ChatWithTheBand is a little bit different. Fans are not automatically added to the video chat portion, even if they are part of the chat conversation. They have to be invited by whomever is hosting, similarly to how you’d invite someone to share your stream on Ustream. One benefit to this Facebook app is that your friends can sign-up for notifications when broadcasts begin. That feature is something that is missing on Google+. Another benefit is that it does not appear to have the limited seating that Google+ Hangouts has.

ChatWithTheBand is currently in beta. They are looking for people to join. I personally have not been able to test this app as I am not on Facebook. Therefor, I cannot give a proper review of it. However, I think the premise behind it and what I’ve seen in the demo videos are very useful. I know a good number of independent musicians and artists who’ve had a lot of success using Facebook to interact with their supporters, and I think they could benefit from this app. I also know a good many musicians and artists who’ve lamented about some of the drawbacks to using both Ustream or Google+ Hangouts to host listening parties, live concerts, Q&As. This may just be the answer.

Find out more, see which artists are already using ChatWithTheBand & watch demo videos at or click here to join the beta.

If you do decide to use this app, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts, especially if you’ve used other services such as Ustream and Google+ Hangouts.

Tips for Dating Geeks

GeekMom Chaos Mandy and her date (now her husband)

Who knew dating a geek could be so confusing or controversial? GeekMom Ruth‘s post concerning Alyssa Bereznak’s online rant about her date with Jon Finkel, was just the tip of the iceberg. I’d bet every geek out there has had to deal with an “Alyssa” from time to time in the awkwardness of dating, mind you few of those experiences are made public on a blog.

Geek is a very broad term and really only means that someone is passionately involved with something. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes and their interests are incredibly diverse, just ask Scott Johnson the creator of The 56 Geek Project.

It got me thinking, what advice would I give my children if they ever found themselves dating a person they didn’t understand? Conversation on a first date can be excruciating, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little insight into the interests of the person across the table? Sometimes breaking the ice is all it takes to get a geek to break out of their shell and become comfortable with the situation they are in.

So here it is, a primer. Tips for dating the:

  • Astrophysics Geek: When units are measured in lightyears and parsecs, pi equals 3.
  • Trek Geek: Kirk or Picard? You must have an answer, it will come up and its important.
  • Jedi Geek: Han shot first.
  • Apple Geek: Its release is purely speculative, no one knows what it will actually look like, no one knows what it will actually do, but its been pre-ordered.
  • Engineering Geek: Duct tape can fix everything, and yes they have it with them.
  • Food Geek: Do not ask for steak sauce with your $100 steak.
  • Hitchhikers Guide Geek: 42 is the answer.
  • Linux Geek: That source could be a little more open.
  • Board Gaming Geek: No, you can’t put your stuff in their trunk, its full of games.
  • Physics Geek: A cow is simply a series of spheres.
  • Doctor Who Geek: Bow ties  are cool.
  • Conspiracy Geek: Gas prices too high? Global Warming? Fluorinated Water? Burnt the toast? All the Illuminati.
  • Electronics Geek: If you just add one component to that clock it could also bake bread.
  • Simpsons Geek: They are so smart, S-M-R-T, I mean S-M-A-R-T.
  • Photography Geek: Yes thats a camera in their pocket, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to see you as well.

Mind you this is an incredibly short list of the possible geeky realms, only the ones that I (and my husband GeekDad Brian McLaughlin) are personally familiar with.

If you are a geek, what one tidbit would be imperative to getting to know you?

Juggling And Balancing On The Tightrope


We all know them. The moms who seem to be always doing. Whether they are balancing a chequebook in one hand whilst nursing a babe in the same arm, simultaneously talking on the telephone with the other hand to schedule a playdate for the other sibling, all the while going through the grocery list in their mind. Or the mom who is busy jumping from soccer practice to dance classes to Parent Advisory Committee meetings whilst preparing the agenda for tomorrow’s big meeting. We look at them and think, “Dear FSM, woman! How do you find the time for it all!?” I have a confession to make. I am one of those women. I’ll admit, I often find that I’m asking myself the exact same question.

I’m new here. I suppose that is pretty obvious. Let me give you a very brief snapshot into all that I do. First, I’m a mom of two wonderful boys. My oldest will be sixteen in September. My youngest will be twelve on April 16. I would describe my oldest as a nerd and I would describe my youngest as a geek/gamer. Our home consists of a 24 hour nerdfest.

My educational background is in Psychology. I had planned to eventually get my PhD, specializing in abnormal psychology of children and adolescence, but then life threw me a huge curve-ball which goes by the name of Lupus, causing me to have a hysterectomy at 29 and a full-blown left-sided stroke at 30. I had to build my career doing things that I could do from home.

Roughly three years ago, a job opportunity crossed my eyes. I saw an advert for internet radio personalities. The job was remote with no previous experience necessary. Having acted and danced on stage for many years and with a passion for entertaining, I knew I would be perfect for the job. Despite the fear that my application would never see another person’s eyes, I applied. Within five hours of sending my application, I received an interview request. The rest is, as they say, history. But what is this history?

Shortly after being hired as an on-air personality, I was promoted to programming director. Eventually, I would also hold the title of assistant general manager. Among my various radio shows, I began a radio show known as the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show. After she launched, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Wil Wheaton, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait PhD, Shane Nickerson (MTV executive producer), Jonathan Coulton, Runic Games and musician Mike Lombardo. I had a personal blog on Blogspot, however my radio show became so popular that I had to launch my Geeky Pleasures website and a separate personal blog. Eventually, I had to step away from my position at that radio station. However, my Geeky Pleasures website and personal blog continued on.

I had it in my mind that running a website that requires updating at least three times a day, Monday – Friday, plus a personal blog, plus raising two children on my own, was not enough to keep me busy. So I launched the Lupus Awareness Virtual Art Gallery. Because of my work to raise lupus awareness, I was asked to interview Patrizia Hernandez, the lead actress in Love Simple, and John Casey, producer of Love Simple. I was later asked if I would write for The Lupus Magazine and I accepted.

But still in my mind, I was not busy enough. I would later be asked to contribute to Star Wars vs Star Trek and NerdsInBabeland. Still not enough to do, I volunteered my time as the layout and design editor of The Vaccine Times. One would think that would be enough, right? Wrong. Late last year, I was asked to help build another internet radio station and I agreed. That radio station would become The Force 925, where all my old radio shows, including the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show and frequent co-host of a political talk-show, would find a new home.

Since launching at the beginning of his year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview: musician Jeff MacDougall; Paul and Storm; GeekDad and musician John Anealio; Len Peralta of GeekAWeek fame; Lauren Crace and Sylvester McCoy; and New York Times best selling author Steve Hockensmith. Scheduled to appear in the coming weeks are 101010 Productions and Richard Hatch of The Apollo Awards, plus Maurissa Tancharoen-Whedon. You’d think that would be enough, but here I am at GeekMom.

In my spare time, I do a lot of crafting and creating in more ways than I think I can currently list. I also found time to write two books whilst doing all of the above.

It is no wonder that many, including myself, ask me how do I manage it all, whilst raising two boys on my own and dealing with a disease that likes to attempt to royally kick my behind. I think the easy and lazy answer is to say: It is just like having children. The more that you have, they tend to keep each other busy and occupied. It is nothing for me to be updating one website while I have the dashboard of another open, editing and updating them simultaneously. Plus with Twitter, it is easy to find material as most of my content inspiration comes from there. However, a great deal of it comes down to planning, organizational skills and scheduling. The first four hours of my day are busy spent receiving press releases, deciding what I’ll post, making a list of updates which need to be made to other sites and taking a break whenever my body demands it. I also remember to take a lot of time to breathe. Many of us forget to do that.

If I did not have the luxury to work from home, none of this would be possible. Once my posts are scheduled on any given day, then I am free to fart around for the rest of it, surfing the internet for inspiration, chatting with my tweeps, interviewing new personalities for the station and training them, doing my radio shows, thinking about the articles I will write for projects that I am not personally responsible to maintain, nerding out with my children whilst they are busy playing WoW, watching Doctor Who, or asking me some question about astrophysics and what would happen if they jimmied open the microwave in such a fashion that it is fooled into thinking it is closed and turning it on. It also helps that the Geeky Pleasures website and the radio station are the only things that must be done daily. The Vaccine Times is a quarterly print publication, NiB and SWvsST is when I have time, The Lupus Magazine is once a month, health and life willing. Writing here is also casual for the time being.

In the end it is a careful juggling act whilst balancing and walking a tightrope. The smallest misstep and I drop my balls. Thankfully, they are picked up easily enough and the world will not end if I have to stop for a day or two or ten. However, being an extreme overachiever, it is difficult to stop.

If you think I’m busy, I know many other moms who do far more than I. Maybe we are all a wee bit insane in some way. Perhaps this comes with the territory when one is a geek, especially if one is creative.

So let me ask you, how do you mange to juggle family and career? What are some of your tips?

CABIN FEVER: How to Play “Spot the Geek” (Classic Movie Edition)

Film images L to R: 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Liberty Films, Cineguild. Mashup: Kate Miller

Recently my family endured a week of cabin fever brought on by snow, weblessness, and our general proximity to one another. We survived by watching movies together each night after dinner, but were limited to our rental cabin’s movie collection. This included only dusty classics that every adult Homo Sapien has seen at least fourteen times. The movies were on “videotapes,” which we played in a big machine called a “VCR.”

The films we saw were made long before high-tech gadgetry, Dungeons & Dragons, or the rise of nerdy-cool. The word “geek” had not even arrived to brighten our world. Yet as I watched each movie, a proto-geeky character emerged, someone who embodied a certain early, nascent geekness.

(For all you definition hawks out there: I take a geek to be a smart person with an intense interest in something — as opposed to a nerd, who may have more trouble with social interaction. Here, this Venn diagram explains the whole thing. Come on back when you’re done.)

So without further ado, I present you with the four great classic films that we watched, along with my votes for their ur-geeky characters.

The Sound of Music, 1965

This one’s easy: Max Detweiler is the geek. He’s that friend of Herr von Trapp and the Countess, always ready with a bon mot and an impeccable suit. He’s also the one obsessed with his music festival and on the lookout for new acts. If he existed today, he’d be a gigantic Gleek.

Through most of the film Max cares more about putting on a fabulous show than about the recent Nazi occupation of Austria. Now that’s some impressively geeky singlemindedness. But in the end of course, he wields said fabulous show to thwart the Nazis, proving that geekiness can be a great tool for any underground resistance.

(My husband interjects that Max is also the prototype of the Swishy Gay Friend. Food for thought.)

Great Expectations, 1946 (David Lean version)

If geekiness is part obsessional interest, then Miss Havisham is our 19th century gal. Perhaps you remember this nutty old bat. Jilted at the alter as a young woman, she avoids her pain by freezing time. She stops the clocks, boards up the windows, and remains in her wedding dress, sitting beside the still-set wedding dinner table for, oh, about fifty years. At the start of the movie she’s absolutely ancient, surrounded by ancient cobwebs and ancient cobwebby servants.

“That’s not geeky,” I hear you cry, “that’s downright insane. She’s several cards short of a Pokemon deck.” OK, good point.

But hear me out. Think of how singlemindedly Miss Havisham focuses on that one day! She’s had no visitors, no news from the outside, for decades. If anyone wanted to get accurate historical information about that day –What were people wearing? What were the headlines? – she’d be the undisputed go-to geek. She is to her own wedding day what a Civil War geek is to the battle of Antietam. I rest my case.

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

You may be thinking that the geek here is Boo Radley, the reclusive neighbor of Scout, the little girl who narrates. But friends, do not be fooled!

The geek is none other than Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, played by Gregory Peck. Oh, Atticus makes me swoon. Really, if that guy stepped out of the movie and proposed to me, I would have to disappoint my husband brutally. (Sorry, honey. The truth hurts.)

Atticus is smart and tall, and has the geekiest glasses possible for the Depression-era deep South. But what really clinches his status is his obsessional interest in justice. He is – dare I say – a justice geek. He puts himself and his kids at risk of life and limb to pursue his fight against intolerance, which he wages with his quiet, firm, intelligent, decent ways. Oh my. I’m getting all worked up again.

It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

This one is verrrrry tricky.

Could the geek be protagonist George Bailey, who is second in my heart only to Atticus Finch? (Sorry again, honey.) George certainly has his interest — traveling the world — but isn’t too obsessive about it, distracted as he is by little things like love, marriage and fatherhood. No, not so geeky.

I sifted through the movie’s truckload of characters: Mary Bailey, Uncle Billy, Mr. Potter, little Zuzu, and all the others with whom director Frank Capra viciously manipulates us into feeling a deep love for humanity. None of them are geeky. Could it be that Wonderful Life is geek-free?

Then it hit me. I’m the geek. I’m the one absentmindedly reciting each line along with the movie, down to the syllable. I’m the one who in high school painstakingly transcribed all of George’s speeches from the VCR (“The moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair…”) and affixed them to my bedroom wall. I’m the one who still – still! – sobs uncontrollably at the end. Every. Damn. Time.

And I’m not alone. There are thousands of us Wonderful Life Kool-Aid chuggers, and I submit that each time one of us watches the movie again… well … we’re the geek.

Playing “Spot the Geek” is like discovering fossils of ancient creatures that turn out to be our ancestors. “Aha,” we geeks say, “so that’s where we came from.” The whole process is enriching, enlightening, and of course an exquisite waste of time.

Perhaps you’ve played this game with other classic films. What’s your vote? Citizen Kane, anyone? All about Eve, Gone with the Wind, Philadelphia Story?

Geek Author Ethan Gilsdorf Talks Names, Games, and Giveaways!

DSC_0203-EthanEthan Gilsdorf is the celebrated geek author of the very awesome book, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. It’s the sort of book that, if you’re a lifelong geek like me, you can’t put down. The book chronicles Ethan’s life as a young geek, his escape from his roots, and then his return. From Tolkien to tabletop roleplaying, from Boston to New Zealand, the book is a pitch-perfect account of one geek’s journey in a very, very wide world.

F_final_FFGG_front_jacketI met Ethan earlier this year at PAX:East, where we sat on a panel together. At that point, his book was just in hardcover: but lo! It has landed in paperback!

So, in celebration this great book going paperback, I asked Ethan to do an interview for us here at GeekMom. And since he’s done quite a few interviews, I didn’t want it to be the same dull questions as usual. So we delved a little deeper into the depths of geekdom to tease out some unusual answers.

Hark! There is more, indeed.

In addition to the interview, Ethan is also giving away 5 signed copies of his book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks to our readers.

How do you win this coveted book, you ask? Ethan, among other things, is also a poet. So I thought it’d be cool if you could give us a verse or two. Be it a free verse, a limerick, a sonnet, a haiku, or a villanelle, on the geeky subject of your choosing (think “An Ode to Harry Potter” or the “Ballad of Bilbo”). Just put your entries in the comments below and we’ll choose the best five entries by Friday!

Good luck, and geek on!

Ethan Gilsdorf Answers GeekMom’s Curious Questions

GeekMom: You’re playing D&D. Your first character choice?
Ethan Gilsdorf: First, a caveat: I come from the dark ages of AD&D, back when we covered our holy texts (the Monster Manual, et al) with brown shopping bag paper and we didn’t have funky classes like Avenger, Invoker, or College Professor, or races like Minotaur, Shardmind, or SpongeBob. No siree! We walked to wizard school through 3 feet of snow and we didn’t have d20s, only d2s and d3s. But to the question: I have always preferred the sneakier, tree-huggier classes like ranger or thief. As far as races, I go hobbit (ooops, silly me, I mean “halfling”) or half-elf. I guess I have a schizophrenic Aragorn … no … Bilbo! fetish. I like the idea of stealth rather than brawn, and I really dig the dark-and-stormy loner types with haunted bloodlines.

GM:  The Hobbit movie. Is it going to happen? Your thoughts on PJ vs. Del Toro, and what is in store for the franchise?
EG: The news on this darned movie changes daily. Now that GDT is out, at least those who worried he’d Hellboy it up too much or front-load it with too much action and creatures and special effects, should be breathing a sigh of relief. GDT is a wonderful director, don’t get me wrong. But there’s some solace in knowing that PJ will be at the helm (at least that’s the last news) and the visual and directorial style will be consistent with LOTR. Now the bigger question is whether The Hobbit will be filmed in New Zealand or not, due to, first, labor/union issues, and now tax break issues, and whether Warner Bros. will want to make a film in a country where the actors threatened to strike. There have been huge rallies in NZ to keep the film there. As I write this, Warners is reportedly headed to NZ to meet with PJ’s company Wingnut Films to move the production offshore. (Weirdly, Facebook pulled a “Keep the Hobbit film shoot in New Zealand” page after it got 10,000 fans — is Facebook in cahoots with Time/Warner?). Tempers are flaring and folks are upset. It’s unfortunate, but since everyone involved stands to make a crapload of money, the film will get made, if not in NZ then the UK or Eastern Europe. (Editor’s note: the film will officially be made in NZ.)

GM: Do you think giving your child a geeky name (Zelda, Frodo, Superman) is a good thing, or a bad thing? Are parents setting their kids up for a geeky upbringing, or will this overt geek indoctrination end up backfiring?
EG: Will naming your spawn Arwen, Neo, Buffy or Leia condemn them to endless torment? I doubt it. There’s already a trend for crazy non-geek mash-up names that seem equally ridiculous, i.e., Breckin? Chance? Maxigan? Attica? Not much goofier than Samwise. Besides, by the time your babies are in high school, Lord of the Rings will be required reading, and they’ll be able to study French, Latin and Na’vi.

GM: What are your geeky black holes? Any fandoms or pastimes you just aren’t into/don’t get/wish you could like but don’t? (Me: Dr. Who, for instance)
EG: One problem is I don’t watch TV as much as I used to, so I’ve missed a lot of the recent shows like Battlestar Galactica and Lost (I know, it’s embarrassing to admit! They’re on my list to get on DVD!). And in terms of gaming, I don’t own Xbox or Wii, so I don’t have much first-person experience with the most ground-breaking games like BioShock or Gears of War. What can I say? My hand-eye was always pathetic (although I’m pretty good at old-school arcade games like Galaga and Robotron 2084). I never got into anime or manga, either (but weirdly loved “Star Blazers” as a kid). Like you, I never connected with Dr. Who, despite it airing each night on PBS between Julia Child and MacNeil/Lehrer. Those BBC special effects were just too cheesy a kid who was spoiled on ILM-quality effects. I’m too old for Joss Whedon fandom and wish I had gotten into Magic: The Gathering. But I do my best to keep up and make sure my black holes aren’t too deep. Lately, I’ve been diving into steampunk for an article I’m writing for the Boston Globe. I even attended a steampunk LARP. That was a hoot.

GM: Gilsdorf. Seems like the name has some geeky undertones. I think Gil-Galad, and dwarf. Were you just predestined?
EG: On my book tour, I’ve gotten a zillion comments from people asking me if my name is real. Yep, I say, my parents actually named me this tongue-twister “Ethan Gilsdorf.”. People wonder if it’s Elvish. Or Elvis. At the time, the name Ethan was about as rare as orc teeth. Friends in high school called me Nahte Frodslig.

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