07.22.14 // Science of Tatooine: Water

Written by Adrienne M. Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services

In the Star Wars Universe, Tatooine is a desert planet with two suns.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary(1) a desert is

1a :  arid land with usually sparse vegetation; especially :  such land having a very warm climate and receiving less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of sporadic rainfall annually

b :  an area of water apparently devoid of life

Clearly, definition b is not in effect for Tatooine, as there is megafauna. Merriam-Webster Dictionary(2) defines megafauna as:

1:  animals (as bears, bison, or mammoths) of particularly large size

2:  fauna consisting of individuals large enough to be visible to the naked eye

On Tatooine, there are krayt dragon, rancor, sarlaccs, dewbacks, banthas, among other animals. Our understanding of life requires water. On a planet with less than 10 inches of sporadic rainfall annually, how do such big animals get their water?

We have to move outside of Universe canon to consider water on Tatooine. (Canon, as of the summer of 2014, has been declared to only include the six movies to date and the Clone Wars television series.) So, there is little to go on. Some of the books, outside of canon, discussed Tatooine as a planet much like earth with large oceans that was altered by an alien race. Whether a planet with suns such as Tatooine could have the described oceans, is another article. However, it does help with how the animal-life could have evolved. Another question arises: in such a change of climate, how did these animals adapt? (Peruse the carnival for an answer to this question!)

One possible source of water includes the very dry atmosphere. Water vapor occurs in the atmosphere, even those above deserts. Relative humidity varies from region to region. On a planet entirely desert, this could be true as well. Not all deserts have the same atmospheric humidity.

Moisture Vaporator. Source: Star Wars Wiki.

Luke Skywalker is introduced on the moisture farm of his aunt and uncle. These moisture farms use a technology called moisture vaporators. Moisture vaporators condense water out of the atmosphere using cooling rods. This works much like a cold beverage getting condensation on the outside of it on a hot day. Water vapor from the atmosphere comes into contact with a cooler surface and condenses. In a fairly humid region, this will happen at temperatures near current temperatures. However, in the desert, the temperature at which the water will condense is lower. Once condensed, the water flows down the rod into a water storage tank. Clearly having working vaporators is a matter of survival for humanoids on Tatooine. Indeed, a moisture farm is necessary to provide water to bigger cities. No wonder Owen Lars requires a droid with translation skills.

“What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.”

“Vaporators? Sir, my first job was programming binary loadlifters—very similar to your vaporators in most respects.”

from A New Hope

Purchase of the droids. Image source.

Another possible source of water on this desert planet is aquifers. Aquifers are a water-bearing stratum of permeable rock, sand, or gravel(3). Aquifers are often linked to rivers. With the evident geology of Tatooine in the various movies, one can guess that at one point there were rivers flowing on Tatooine. In fact, the Sahara Desert on Earth, has seasonal and intermittent rivers, lending credibility to the possibility of the same on Tatooine. Some of the cities on Tatooine could also get water piped in from existing aquifers in the region.

“Aquifer en” by Hans Hillewaert – en:Image:Schematic aquifer xsection usgs cir1186.png. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Obviously, the non-humanoid animals are not using these moisture farms to gather water out of the atmosphere, nor are they digging their way down to the potential aquifers. So how are they getting their water? What other sources could they get for water?

Animals that have evolved to survive and thrive in desert climates may not need to consume water the way we think. Many desert animals retain water using methods such as burrowing into moist soil, and some do not excrete it the way mammals do. Often, due to water retention and evolution to need less water, they are able to get all the water they need through the vegetation (or animals) they eat. As we can see from the aquifer diagram, it is these underground sources of water that lead to the small oasis of vegetation. In addition, groundwater will come to the surface to create little pools, which animals can gather at to consume water.

Sources of water on this desert planet may be sparse but they exist.

Be sure to visit all the posts in this Science Carnival!

 

Citations/References

1. “Desert.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed July 20, 2014. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/desert.

2. “Megafauna.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 July 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/megafauna>.

3. “Aquifer.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 July 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aquifer>.

4. Desert USA http://www.desertusa.com/survive.html

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07.18.14 // Halfblood Chronicles Part II

Written by Adrienne Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services

Possible spoilers for Elvenbane, Elvenblood, and Elvenborn.

Of course, after finishing Elvenbane (Read my review of Elvenbane here), I dove right into the next novel in the chronicles, Elvenblood.

Image by WN Johnson.

Image by WN Johnson.

As is typical of much of the fantasy genre, one issue with Elvenbane is the lack of diversity in the humans presented. While Mercedes Lackey is known for books with homosexual and bisexual characters all the Elvenblood pairings appear to be heterosexual, and it continues through Elvenborn. Everyone also pairs up with people within their own identity: humans with humans, elves with elves, dragon with dragon, and Wizard with Wizard, with one notable exception. Everyone’s gender identity is that assigned to them at birth. And until Elvenblood, every Elf is fair (and stays that way) and every human is white.

In Elvenbane, we were introduced to a group of traders under the control of the elves that I thought were people of color, but in the end, I was left unsure. In Elvenblood, we are introduced to very dark skinned people. These are free folk, nomads who resisted the yolk of the elves and fled to the south when the Elves came. Elvenblood shows them moving back to the north to find grazing for their herds, searching for precious iron, and possible contact with long-ago allies. Unfortunately, the enigma of these people and their roots breaks me out of the story.

In Elvenbane, the location of Prince Dyran’s estate is given as being on the edge of the Mojave Desert. For those unfamiliar, the Mojave Desert is in the southwest U.S. – on the border between California and Nevada. We are led to believe that the elven estates are massive, taking up huge tracts of land and located very far part. But no mention of them reaching across the ocean is made. So it becomes a little confusing about how the elves have enslaved the human race, but not all the human race, and the elves do have borders to their land, but I also find it hard to believe that the humans on other continents would not intervene for hundreds of years to find out what is going on on another continent.

 

I struggled with the geography of this series through the entirety of it. I believe the forest on the edge of Lord Cheynar’s estate are those of the Pacific Northwest that qualify as temperate rainforests due to all the rain described in the books. The lack of description of bodies of water makes this a little hard to swallow, but is the best I can determine.

In Elvenbane, it is mentioned that the elves wiped out all remnants of human civilization so it is impossible to know when the elves came through from their world to this one. It could have been Biblical times, medieval times, or current times. However, the division of racial diversity implies a time when we believed races were more divided geographically. That time precedes white men settling North America, so having exclusively white slaves near the the Mojave Desert seems unlikely.

The people of color also fall into the typical fantasy treatment of being tribesmen. I looked for a critique of the treatment of people of color in the Halfblood chronicles, but I found none. If someone knows of one, please comment. Or, if someone would like to write one, I’ll send you the three books in exchange for your guest post (following our guidelines) here on GeekGirlCon. (Email adrienne at geekgirlcon dot com.)

Book 2, Elvenblood, was a little slower to get through and took nearly a month. Actually, it took me several weeks to read the first 100 pages and then I raced through the remaining 250. The book is shorter than Elvenbane at about 350 pages compared to 566. Elvenblood is also challenging because it starts out with a new set of characters. By the end of Elvenbane, we have a reasonably sized cast of characters, and one dives into Elvenblood to read more about them. However, we re-meet Sheyrena, her mother, and Myre, and are introduced to Sheyrena’s brother Lorryn. It takes 61 pages in the mass market paperback pass before we even get back to Lashana. I have a 60-page rule: if a book is not sufficiently engaging in the first 60 pages, I don’t force myself to finish it. Sadly, Elevenblood barely makes it through my rule. The story presented in those first 60 pages does not fully engage me, but your mileage may vary. In Elvenbane, the plight of Wizards and humans is sufficiently focused that starting out book 2 with the story of a fullblood Elf, her mother and father, and her halfblood brother, along with the distasteful Myre, is rather off-putting. And I didn’t find the story being presented as attention-grabbing as the beginning of Elvenbane. I persisted because I had enjoyed Elvenbane so much and Elvenblood was beginning to show its potential.

Like Elvenblood, Elvenborn deviates from our main cast of characters at the beginning, introducing us to another elven family – one that has human servants and not slaves (but I’m really not sure how much different this is because it isn’t well described.) We stay with this family for 145 pages of the 382-page hardcover edition of the third book in the series..

While Elvenblood had a brother and sister who shared the limelight, Elvenborn disappoints because it has a male main character. Why did Elvenborn have a male main character after effectively using female main characters previously in the series? These authors both had often written female main characters in other series, so this switch feels wrong to me.

In Elvenbane, the characters get fairly well developed. The characters introduced in Elvenblood are not as well developed and those who continue on from Elvenbane do not get much more development. In Elvenborn, the main character, Kyrtian, gets a lot of character development. However, Lorryn, one of the main characters from Elvenbane, almost gets typical female treatment, seemingly having been introduced only to become the romantic interest for Shana, the original lead. I don’t actually have a problem with this, although I prefer to have good character development for as many characters as possible in books I read.

Like Elvenbane, in Elvenblood the quest and character development are the majority of the story. The conflict comes late in the novel and is short; the denouement basically leaving you hanging and ready for the next novel. Elvenborn differs only in that the main conflict is resolved with little conflict, but rather with political maneuvering fairly early in the book. This smoothly transitions the book to what appears to be the focus for the next books in the chronicles.

I like all the mystery and potential theories this could go to. This is why a fourth book was so eagerly awaited and fans of the series were hoping for it. We have the inevitable human slave rebellion on earth, the enigma of the magic-sucking constructs that kill, the fleeing Elves that didn’t make it (I have a theory about the Elves and those contraptions that is not the conclusion drawn by the story’s occupants), Triana’s potential storyline, and the thing that came through the Portal from Evelon and took her. Is that thing what the Elvenlords of Evelon became after all this time? Is it something new? And, of course, the opening of the Portal from either side means there could be a war between Earth and Evelon later on in the chronicles.

Despite the issues I’ve described in these two reviews, I am again excited for any follow-up chronicles in this series.

 

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07.17.14 // A Day of Love and Dancing: The 2014 Seattle Pride Parade

Pride Parade GeekGirlCon

Ever since I attended my very first Pride festival years ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota, walking in a Pride parade has been something I wanted to do. Supporting love in such an open and spectacular fashion feels important on multiple levels. The event is filled with people from all walks of life, progressive as can be, and symbolic of acceptance of others’ lifestyles. To me, it’s a gorgeous way to commemorate the work done each year in the fight for equal rights, and to celebrate how far we’ve come.

Oh, and there’s dancing. Such dancing!

When I discovered it would be possible for me to join the Seattle Pride parade this year, I was beside myself. Boogieing through the heart of the Emerald City with GeekGirlCon staff members, volunteers, and community — not to mention hundreds of thousands of other revelers — was an absolute dream come true.

And have I mentioned yet that our “approved vehicle” for the parade was a Dalek?

Pride Seattle 2014 GeekGirlCon Dalek

Shaylee Bell, the builder of Dalek Clara, was there with the fantastic robot, creating waves of photo-happy merrymakers and shrieks of “Exterminate!” Seeing people of all genders and sexual identities come together and absolutely geek out was almost too much for me. Several times, tears of pure joy and gratitude trickled from my eyes. I just kept thinking about GeekGirlCon’s values, especially the one listed at number five:

“We are the world.

GeekGirlCon embraces all types of people. PERIOD. There is no way to list all the subsets of folks that now or in the future will make up the body of GeekGirlCon. ALL: ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, sexual preferences, sizes, abilities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, creeds, religions, familial statuses, alien species, earth species, education levels, science specializations, operating system preferences, fandoms, etc., are welcome.”

If that isn’t beautiful, I don’t know what is. Hope to see you all there again next year — same bat-time, same bat-channel. Cheers to the next twelve months of working for equal rights and enjoying pure pride!

58Pride 50

41Pride 36

GeekGirlCon Pride Parade Seattle AJ Dent40Pride 3537Pride 32

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07.11.14 // Strong Female Character: Alana of Saga

Written by AJ Dent, Copywriter

Alana book.jpg

Image Source

Foul-mouthed. Dirty-minded. Hot-tempered and hell-raising. These terms describe many of my closest friends — so it’s only fitting I liked Alana of the comic book series Saga from the very first panel.

Published by the prolific Image ComicsSaga is an ongoing series written by award-winning Brian K. Vaughan, and gloriously illustrated by Fiona Staples. It showcases the love story of Alana and Marko — a couple reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, but with literal stars crossing to foil their relationship. Alana is a winged creature from the planet Landfall, while Marko is from Landfall’s moon, Wreath, whose residents boast horns or antlers. The two celestial bodies are wrapped up in a ceaseless war so large, even citizens of surrounding galaxies get drawn in, though they have little to nothing to gain.

Realizing the fight’s absolute pointlessness after his first battle as a soldier, Marko surrenders to Landfall as a “conscientious objector.” While in prison, Alana is stationed as his guard, and the two bond over Alana’s favorite book — a romance novel rife with anti-war symbolism — and their disdain for the feuding between their homelands.

When Alana learns Marko is to be transferred to a confinement center for life, she spontaneously breaks his chains, and the two flee together, conceive a child, and quickly get married. Talk about love on the run!

Alana badass.jpg

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As the unlikely trio is chased through space by family members, foes, and political forces, this epic story only gets wilder and more addicting — as does the intense personality of Alana. When it comes to protecting her child, Hazel, she is aggressive with a bone-chilling calm. In one scene, for example, a character attempts to kidnap Hazel for a financial reward, and Alana’s reaction is to put a gun to her own baby’s head, threatening to kill her to save her from a life of slavery. Almost every relationship Alana ends up enjoying — with her in-laws, Hazel’s babysitter, and Marko himself — begins with her being violent in order to protect herself or her loved ones. I admire these warrior-woman actions and attitudes because they occur out of necessity, not sick pleasure. (Most of the time, anyway!)

Another aspect of Alana I admire are her two favorite hobbies: reading books and having sex. Her passion for books is as voracious as her libido, and she’s not afraid to express either interest. You know that sick myth that women can’t be both sexually active and smart? Alana blows it out of the water without a second thought. In the same breath, she can express a cunning assessment of dangerous situations and her fierce desire to get it on with Marko. And she does it all with wit and unapologetic sarcasm — now that’s someone I want to hang out with.

Given her strong opinions and fiery feelings, Alana does have her faults, of course. She’s fitfully jealous over an ex-girlfriend of Marko’s, and is often detrimentally stubborn. My view, though, is that rather than making her emotionally unstable, these internal challenges actually help her become stronger, as she attempts to rein in her reactions for the sake of her family. Her jealousy isn’t petty, but born of justified concern, since Marko originally hid his past relationship, knowing the ex wasn’t exactly cool with the way things ended. Alana’s temperament isn’t tied to an affinity for drama, but is rather a result of the worlds she’s always inhabited. Her life has consisted of fight-or-flight situations over and over, and as a damn good combatant, she’s developed hair-trigger methods that help her stay alive.

Alana gun.jpg

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On the flip side, Alana is a hopeless romantic at heart, and has so much compassion for the underdog it could fuel a solar system. She’s constantly scrutinizing individuals around her and frequently gives them the benefit of the doubt, so long as they’re not messing with her kin. Thanks to her volatile dedication, proud sexual prowess, love of books, and hilarious quips, Alana reads like a intriguing, intricate universe. The series is still being created and released, so who knows — she could totally end up disappointing us in the end — but for now, I’m rooting for this winged woman for sure.

If you’ve read any issues of Saga, what do you think of Alana’s disposition? Who is one of your favorite strong female characters in comics?

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07.9.14 // Make Believe

Written by GeekGirlCon Copy Writer Jess Downs

Like a lot of kids, I loved the kind of unstructured make-believe games you’d play when all the toys got boring. Whether we were fairies with magical powers, or adventurers fighting minotaurs in the heart of a labyrinth, my friends and I loved telling impossible stories and being someone else for an afternoon.


Photo source: little girls R better at designing superheroes than you

I’ve tried many roleplaying games since, but nothing quite scratched that itch for collaborative creation–until I discovered Story Games, tabletop storytellng games with an emphasis on narrative and invention.

Whatever kind of story you want to tell, whatever scale you want to tell it on, however structured you want the game to be, there’s a story game for it.

If you like having the details of your setting defined, there are games like Durance, which explores power hierarchies on a prison planet, and guides the players through figuring out what particular shortages the prisoners suffer. If, on the other hand, you like a game that leaves the setting up to the players, pick something like Shooting the Moon, a game for three characters (one beloved, and two suitors vying for their favor). It has plenty of info on creating complicated relationships, but can take place on a pirate ship, in a law office, on an alien planet, in ancient Rome, or anywhere the players can imagine.

Genres? We’ve got genres. There’s Zombie Cinema for action horror, Shock for political sci-fi, Dungeon World for a classic dungeon crawl, and Hot Guys Making Out for yaoi manga, to name a few.

A few of these games need someone to step up and take the storyteller role, which is kind of like the Game Master in a traditional RPG like Dungeons & Dragons, but it usually has far less control over the direction and outcomes of the story. Rather than waiting for the storyteller or MC to fill in what happens next or what’s behind the locked door, players chime in with suggestions, making it a much more collaborative experience. A good example would be Apocalypse World (and all the games that grew from it, like Dungeon World and Monsterhearts). If you want your character to find the diary of their rival, just narrate that you find it. Of course, that doesn’t stop the person playing your rival from interrupting you reading it, or from saying you find out something you were better off not knowing. The Apocalypse World games also use dice to resolve some conflict situations, which can lead to some interesting unintended consequences.

Shock and Shooting the Moon don’t have MCs or storytellers, but there are very clear rules about taking turns in framing scenes, driving the scenes toward a conflict, and resolving that conflict.

At the other end of the scale, there’s Ribbon Drive, a meandering road trip set to a soundtrack. (And yes, players get to make the soundtrack!) Scenes tend to be longer, quieter, and more conversational. Scenes don’t have to contain conflict or obstacles at all, and when they do, it’s more likely to involve interpersonal tension than violence. One of my favorite things about Ribbon Drive is that the whole group collaborates on creating the setting and the characters based on the first two songs of the soundtrack, which gives you an excuse to sit your friends down and make them listen to songs you like. Or maybe that’s just me.

Most games I’ve mentioned so far are roleplaying games in the usual sense, where each player takes one character (or sometimes more) and speaks their words, narrates their actions, and advocates for their interests. While other players and MCs may introduce new events, facts about the environment, and so on, players get the final say on their individual characters.

Some games, however, are on a completely different scale. Microscope, described as a fractal game of epic histories, has the players explore vast swaths of invented history, only occasionally zooming in to play out scenes with individual characters. Even then, the characters don’t “belong” to any one player, and if they show up again in the story they might be played by someone entirely different. The typical scale of a game of Microscope might be the rise and fall of a galactic empire. This is a great introductory game for someone who feels nervous about roleplaying as specific characters.

Map-drawing game The Quiet Year is smaller in scope, covering one year in the life of a small post-apocalyptic community teetering on the edge of destruction, but rather than playing characters, players represent subgroups and factions engaged in a tug-of-war about how the community should prepare itself for the trouble to come. They don’t collaborate or make suggestions, they just show their contempt in the form of a token whenever another player takes an action they don’t like.

The Quiet Year: amateur cartographers welcome.

Photo source: Buried Without Ceremony

Getting Involved (in the Pacific Northwest)

 I hope this has given you some idea of the variety of different experiences you can have playing story games, and piqued your interest. If you want to try out the hobby among welcoming, experienced players, a group from Story Games Seattle camps out in the gaming area of most big local cons, including GeekGirlCon. They’ll help you figure out which game you might like, and then play a demo with you on the spot. There are also the annual gaming conventions Gamestorm (in Portland) and GoPlay Northwest (in Seattle), which both feature story games as well as more familiar roleplaying games.

If you can’t wait that long, get yourself to a meetup at Phoenix Comics and Games on Thursdays, or Wayward Coffeehouse every other Saturday. Phoenix’s next session is July 10 at 6:30 p.m., and Wayward’s next session is July 12 at 2 p.m.

Meetup groups:

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07.4.14 // Reflections on a Holiday

Image courtesy of nirots / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nirots / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Written by GeekGirlCon Copy Writer Sarah “SG-1″ Grant

In my hometown of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, there was a July 4 parade every year. When I was really young, there was a competition for the best decorated vehicle (cars not included). This meant bicycles, tricycles, little red wagons, and homemade carts pulled by dogs. Or other family members. I always decorated my sparkly blue bike with the banana seat with tissue paper, streamers, and pinwheels–all in red in red and white, since my bike was already blue.

When I got to junior high, we began going to downtown Milwaukee to watch the Great Circus Parade, started by The Ringling Brothers and based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. My brother was a freshman in high school when I was in 7th grade, and he played in the South Milwaukee High School Marching Band, which marched in the 5 miles long parade every year. So we would get up very early and head downtown with our lawn chairs, cooler full of food and drink, and the umbrellas–just in case it rained, which it sometimes did (especially if we forgot the umbrellas). We would watch all the marching bands, the acrobats, the caged animals in horse-drawn carts, the elephants, and the 40-horse hitch that was the Budweiser wagon–just like the ones in the Super Bowl commercials. The end of the parade was always announced by the fire engines, and then followed up by the street cleaners–there were a lot of animals relieving themselves during that parade!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Great Circus Parade bandwagon

 Image credit: Wikipedia

I marched in the Circus Parade when I got to the high school as well, first playing piccolo, and then the bass drum. My brother had played the bass drum, and when he graduated, our band director discovered that my brother was the only drummer who could walk and keep a beat. She assigned me to the bass drum immediately, and I was one of the only bass drummers in our band to make it through the entire parade without passing out.

There were always fireworks in Grant Park, right on Lake Michigan. The majority of people in South Milwaukee (population 21,069) gathered in the biggest meadow with their blankets, children, sparklers, and–most importantly–multiple cans of mosquito spray. Even the crowds of people doused in mosquito spray couldn’t protect those of us who didn’t have our spray, but thankfully there was always someone generous enough to share. My parents never let us have sparklers–much too dangerous for us kids–but lying back on our blankets to watch the fireworks was one of the highlights of the year. The only thing better was Santa Claus!

My next favorite memory of July 4 is after I graduated college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and spent two years in Madison as a working stiff. There’s a show there every year called Rhythm and Booms that is set to music played simultaneously on the radio. It was a much larger show than South Milwaukee’s, and the best place to watch it was the north side of Madison–along with everyone else in the city, of course. A good friend of mine bought a house a block from the park, and we sat out on his lawn to watch the fireworks with our beer, grilled brats, lots of good friends, and the ever-present mosquito spray. Those nights I rarely got home before 1 a.m. because traffic out of the area was so bad, even though it was usually only a 15 minute drive.

I have lived in Seattle for almost 9 years now, and I haven’t been to the Lake Union fireworks even once–far too many people for me! For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve driven to Kirkland, where my friends have a condo right on Lake Washington. The barge where Kirkland’s fireworks are set off is always set straight out from the back porch, so we gather around 8 p.m. for drinks and dessert, and we wait for the fireworks. They’re not as spectacular as the Lake Union fireworks, some of which we can see from where we are, but it’s like having our own private fireworks show. It lasts just long enough that I start feeling edgy from all the explosions, and then it’s done–and you hear the applause and cheering from all around.

Kirkland

Image credit: Aaron McCaughey

July 4 is Independence Day, and every year of my life, it has meant parties, marching bands, friends, family, food, and fireworks. This year is going to be special for me, because my roommate and best friend for more years than I’m willing to say will be there with me, and so will my mom–whose birthday was July 3, so happy birthday, Mom! The day started as a celebration of our independence from Great Britain, but for me, it’s about coming together with my friends and family without the pressure of presents or anything other than not burning myself with the sparklers–which my mom finally allowed me to light a few years ago.

Whatever you do for your July 4, whether it’s celebration with friends and family or spending the day in solitude, I hope your holiday is as bright and pretty as a the fireworks will be tonight.

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06.30.14 // Five Tips for Making Networking Fun – and Productive

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By Susie Rantz

Finding a job can be an intimidating, challenging, and frustrating process. There are a million job boards to sift through and resumes and cover letters to customize. How do you stand out in a sea of other job applicants?

The best way to find these opportunities is by connecting with people around you. Your network of friends, relatives, and new acquaintances can be one of the most valuable job search resources. Networking can sound intimidating, but it can also be rewarding and fun—even if, like me, you shudder at the thought of approaching people you don’t know. The very idea of attending one more networking event gets my stomach churning, my palms sweating, and my throat tightening.

So how can you ensure networking advances your job ambitions and is more fun than a chore?

Type “job networking tips” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find a ton of great ideas. I don’t want to duplicate this heap of expert advice. Instead, I invite you to join me in thinking outside the box about job networking. Here are five tips for making the experience fun—and productive!

1. Go where you feel comfortable

There are a lot of career-focused networking events, and those intimidate me the most. Talk about high stakes! Hobby or skill-based groups can be a great alternative. One friend found multiple job opportunities while attending a meetup group for a game-development program he was using for fun. He worked in construction at the time—nothing remotely close to computer programming. In addition, I once attended a casual event for Seattle Sounders fans, and while I wasn’t searching for a job, I had multiple opportunities to talk about my work and skills. Yes, this happened at a soccer meetup, where I felt comfortable and the career stakes were low.

2. Find ways to help others

Networking is a two-way street; it is not just about asking for favors. Your side of the street should focus on helping others. This help can be as big as volunteering regularly for a cause you love, or as small as offering to babysit for a friend. As fellow GeekGirlCon staff member Laurel McJannet put it, “Do good work with people who share your values, and they’ll remember you or be a reference for you when a job opening comes up.” Another friend found a job in her desired career field as a direct result of her volunteer experience with GeekGirlCon.

3. Be the connector

Another form of giving is introducing people. Find ways to introduce friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with one another. Do you have a friend and a coworker who both like to brew their own beer? Offer to introduce them. This makes you a valuable connector and invites others to do the same for you—providing an opportunity to expand your network. One friend started a blog about Pittsburgh, focused on connecting people and businesses across the city, and said the experience was not only a great networking tool, it also helped her gain confidence in talking to people.

4. Don’t discount those chance encounters

I am an introvert, and the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger terrifies me. But I have talked to more people than I can count on my hands and feet whose job opportunities came as a result of random conversations with a stranger. One friend told me she was offered an interview and was eventually hired by the guy sitting next to her on an airplane. They were both coming back from a major industry conference, and the plane was filled with other techies. Be open to putting yourself out there when you least expect it.

5. Attend GeekGirlCon 14

Our annual convention provides one of the best opportunities to meet career mentors or get job leads—especially if you are looking to enter a career field where women are underrepresented. Our Connections Room will feature booths from some of the leading technology, video game, nonprofit, and science companies. We will also host networking hours throughout the convention focused on specific career interests, and we’ll have a Connections programming room for panels, workshops, and Q&A sessions focused on education opportunities and leadership and career development.

These are five tips that can help enhance your networking experience. What other tips would you offer? Please share them below!


Susie Rantz is the Manager of Connections, a GeekGirlCon program focused on providing career mentorship, leadership development, and networking opportunities for women and girls

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06.27.14 // July Geek About Town!

Happy July, readers!

Here’s a few events in the Seattle area for you to get your geek on in the summertime! Enjoy!

Monday, July 7: Stitch and Bitch at AFK Elixrs and Eatery
Knit and crochet meetup at Renton’s AFK Elixrs and Eatery.

Friday, July 11: GeekGirlCon Board Game Night at Wayward Coffeehouse
From the Meetup page: “Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge! Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers, Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!”

Saturday, July 12 and Sunday, July 13: Dragon Fest
The Seattle Chinatown/International District neighborhood hosts the largest Pan-Asian American street-fair in the Pacific Northwest. Dragon Fest has been a community event since 1975. This annual two-day event includes kids & family activities, authentic cultural performances, $2 Food Walk, Anime Costume Contest, and over 100 booths featuring arts & crafts, local business, community organizations and much more!

Sunday, July 13: GeekGirlCONcert 2014
From the Facebook page: “GeekGirlCon has amazing news. We are throwing a 21+ nerdtastic dance party on July 13 and you won’t want to miss this night of music. Coming together for the first time for one night only, some truly epic music from some amazing nerdcore artists. Performers include:

GeekGirlCon’s own Shubzilla, a rap artist representing Renton, WA. She debuted as an artist for Nerdcore Now’s Vocalist/Producer Challenge 2011, where she was ranked tenth overall. The following year, her talent and bravado earned her second place. Since then, she has not looked back and her sets are as high-energy as the artist herself. Already a denizen of the nerdcore scene, Shubzilla aims to be a part of the growing Seattle music community and beyond.

Seattle’s 9K1 is an electropop group who made their debut last year at GeekGirlCon’s first annual benefit concert. Since then, they have performed all over the PNW and were a featured act at Nerdapalooza!!. 9k1 is DJ/producer Bill Beats, rapper/singer/producer Lex Lingo, and rapper Shubzilla.

Performing in Seattle for the first time, Sammus is an upstate New York-based rap artist, producer, and PhD student with Congolese and Ivorian family roots. Her production is characterized by her use of uniquely chopped samples and video game-like synths. Labeled the “rap Aisha Tyler” by MTV Iggy for her intelligent lyrics, she has become one of the faces of black female geeks within the growing nerdcore hip hop movement.

Veteran nerdcore storytellers Death Star have been rapping, awkwardly dancing, and gasping for air on stages around Seattle for last 5 years. Enjoy their tales of sad villains, sexual misadventures, video game addiction, and aggressive sandwich making. Death*Star is MC-3PO, C0splay, and Bill Beats.

Jonny Nero Action Hero is a Chip Rock artist, mixing up sounds of his childhood with the music of his adulthood. Get ready to dance when Jonny Nero Action Hero takes the stage because his frenetic energy will compel you to dance!

Here’s the 411 on our 21+ show at BARBOZA. Doors open at 6:30 with the show kicking off at 7PM. Tickets are $8 advance, $10 at the door. Either way, that’s a bargain for ALL THIS MUSIC!

Don’t forget your I.D.s when you come because this show is 21+ only. If you’re under 21, don’t fret. Check out their band pages and ask someone to buy you some sweet merch from these folks!

Thursday, July 17: Outdoor Movies @ Magnuson Park
From the website: “Seattle outdoor movies at Magnuson Park feature big screen flicks, cirque performances by The Cabiri, movie trivia and Seattle’s best food trucks. 2014 is the fourth season of the Seattle outdoor cinema at Magnuson Park. Events run weekly on Thursdays evenings from July 10 – Aug. 28, 2014. Presented by Seattle Children’s.
Magnuson Park – 7400 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA”

Thursday, July 17-Saturday, July 19: The Danger Zone: Burlesque Inspired by Archer
From the Facebook event page: “Something, something The Danger Zone! Smooches & Science (JOYstick!, JOYstick! Level 2, An Evening at Merlotte’s) and Sailor St. Claire (Tuesday Tease, Accio Burlesque!) in association with Theatre Off Jackson team up to bring you burlesque inspired by the animated comedy series Archer.

Set inside the highly dysfunctional ISIS offices, The Danger Zone is a fully-scripted burlesque play that combines all the hilarity of the animated series with the sexy fun of neo-burlesque. When Malory invites a reporter to the ISIS office, her chance for good PR is quickly ruined by the nearly-naked antics of Archer, Dr. Kreiger, Pam, Cheryl, and the rest of the ISIS gang. But in a world of espionage, not everything is as simple as it seems, and the ISIS team gets more naked surprises than even they could have imagined. The Danger Zone promises to be so filthy and funny that internet porn won’t even know you’re cheating on it.

Tickets for The Danger Zone go on sale June 9 via BrownPaperTickets. The “Shitass Seats” are general admission and are available for $20. The “Sploosh Zone” is preferred reserved seating in the first two rows of the theatre and is available for $30.

This show is how you get ants.

Details:
Date: Thursday, July 17 / Friday, July 18 / Saturday, July 19
Times: 8 PM (Doors 7:30)
Cost: $20 “Shitass Seats” (General Admission); $30 “Sploosh Zone” (Reserved Seating in Preferred Areas)
Place: Theatre Off Jackson
Accessibility: TOJ is wheelchair accessible. Please contact the producers or TOJ if you require accommodations for wheelchairs or other assistive devices.

Tuesday, July 22nd: Live Girls! Ladies Night Performance Series at the Annex Theatre
From the website: Live Girls! Theater is dedicated to fostering new works by women, and our new Ladies Night performance series expands our horizons by highlighting female artists in multiple disciplines. For three months this spring, April to June, each 4th Sunday we will take over the stage at Annex to showcase a different genre of work that we love: music, burlesque, and comedy. These evenings provide a platform for female artists to experiment, perform, and inspire – the LG way! All hosted by Daisy O’Day: Seattle’s Sweetheart who’s up to no good.

Wednesday, July 23: Movies @ Marymoor: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
From the King County Gov website: “Pre-movie seating is $5, and entry includes live acts, movie trivia and tasty food trucks. Movies start at dusk. Seating opens at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit moviesatmarymoor.com or facebook.com/moviesatmarymoor. The series is produced by Epic Events, the Pacific Northwest leader in outdoor movie entertainment.

Seating opens at 7 p.m., movies are shown at dusk.
Seating is on the grass; low-back chairs or blankets are recommended.
A $1 parking permit is required to park at Marymoor, which can be purchased from the vending machines located throughout the park.
This is a dog-friendly event. Pets must remain on a leash at all times.
There are no ATMs on site.
All movies are shown at MacNair Field, unless otherwise specified.

Friday, July 25: GeekGirlCon Boardgame Night at Wayward Coffeehouse
From the Meetup page: “Do you love boardgames and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge! Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers,Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses,Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more!”

If you have any geeky events you would like to see on Geek About Town, email shubz@geekgirlcon.com. Please note that we reserve the right to include or exclude events from our list.

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06.25.14 // When Did I Realize I Was A Geek?

by Elsa S. Henry, founder and author at Feminist Sonar, and the new community manager for Storium.com

It all begins for me with a Sherlock Holmes book. I can remember it, clear as day. A thin volume containing the Hound of the Baskervilles, and another containing The Last Vampire, and another with The Red Headed League. They were marbleized in style with an oval Sydney Paget illustration in the center.

It all begins with Sherlock Holmes, but it certainly didn’t end there. My geekery has always been rooted in the written word. Whether it is my lifelong love of Sherlock Holmes (as a child I insisted that I was going to marry him), I had a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery themed birthday party.

Elsa GeekGirlCon When Did I Realize

But what really makes me a geek is that I have always loved to play “pretend” for lack of a better word. I created a whole world to play in (and yes, sometimes we would play Sherlock Holmes), and as I grew older that love of stories turned into a love of doing theater, roleplaying, and the occasional LARP.

In high school, I spent so much time at the comic book and gaming shops that I made friends. We played RPGs on the “Geek Stairs” (the back stairwell of our high school), where we would eat lunch, hang out, and often roll dice. Prior to those years, I had been teased for loving books and playing pretend, and when the days of free play outside ended, my refuge for open play became the theater.

So, I became a geek because of my love of words, stories, and creating new places from scratch. I guess that’s why, as an adult, I’m a game designer and disability advocate who works fervently to create access for people with disabilities to video games and roleplaying games. Because for me, without the stories and the books and the ability to play, I would have been lost. Without the support of my family to continue doing what I love (even when it got me teased in school), I wouldn’t be writing this article.

I’ve been a geek for most of my life, and as an adult, I now work in the industry of geeks, and I married someone who loves books as much as I do, who also enjoys going to Barcade (a bar with arcade games from the 1980s), and I never stopped telling stories.

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06.23.14 // Geek Role Models: C.L. Moore

Written by Corrina Lawson

“Cinderella and the Prince were married with great ceremony. No one approved from the first, and now more often than not there was a gleam of I-told-you-so behind the King’s spectacles, and the Queen’s three chins quivered with bitter satisfaction as her predictions were realized one by one. For Cinderella and the Prince were not happy. No one had really expected them to be. You cannot pluck a kitchen girl from the cinders and set a crown on her head and let it go at that; and small feet are not the only prerequisite of a princess.” –Happily Ever After, Catherine Moore, 1930, Vagabond student magazine.

“Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress.” –Tumblr Meme, 2014

Corrina Lawson GeekGirlCon

In my first column about why geek role models are important, I talked briefly about Catherine Lucille Moore (C.L. Moore), best known for the Jirel of Joiry fantasy series, and who published in early days of the pulp magazines Weird Tales and Astounding Science Fiction. Her very existence inspired me because she proved not only that a woman could write this kind of story and do it well but that she could do it while writing a female protagonist.

While I knew her stories back then, I knew little about the life of Catherine Lucille Moore. What I read at the time was frustratingly brief: that she was born in 1911 and also wrote under the pseudonyms of C.H. Liddell, Lewis Padgett, and Lawrence O’Donnell.

But her life story reads like fiction. Kirkus ran a terrific short biography of her last year. Some highlights:

Moore wrote for the student run magazine at Indiana University, The Vagabond, where the story quoted above was published. She was only 19 years old then but 100 years ahead of her time.

She met her first husband, Harry Kuttner, when they corresponded about science fiction. He was unaware at first that she was a woman. After they married, they collaborated extensively and the pseudonyms I listed were the result of that partnership.

After Kuttner died of a heart attack in 1958, Moore never returned to writing science fiction. Instead, she wrote television scripts.

At the 39th World Science Fiction Convention in 1981, Moore was the Guest of Honor and the final person to receive the Gandalf Grandmaster Award. She also received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award the same year. Unfortunately, she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died in 1987.

As good as Kirkus is at detailing Moore’s major life events, it also only scratches the surface of who she was. I’ve read biographies of some of the other early SF/F pioneers — Asimov, Frederick Pohl, Robert Heinlein — but there’s frustratingly little about this woman.

I believe the lack of information and renown surrounding Moore certainly contributes to the fact that many today probably hadn’t heard of her. It also doesn’t help that most of her work is out of print and often hidden in anthologies where other writers are listed first.

In my research, I stumbled across The Vagabond stories and one frustratingly short tale in Project Gutenberg. Amazon currently has a collection of Jirel of Joiry with multiple used paperback copies starting at one penny. I suspect the market has been flooded recently by people with older editions in their basements. But there’s nothing extensive available online.

This makes me sad. Moore deserves to be remembered. I hope this column intrigues some of you enough to check out Jirel of Joiry and raise a glass to a woman who walked through barriers and made the path easier for the rest of us.

Corrina Lawson GeekGirlConCorrina Lawson grew up reading Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and reading all she could order from the Science Fiction Book Club and everything she could buy from the spinner rack at her local drug store. This might be why she now writes fiction ranging from steampunk to superheroes to alternate history.

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