Soul for Cookies

I just sold my soul for a box of Girl Scout cookies. Well, actually five boxes. Mormons (of which I am one) usually take the Sabbath day holy thing seriously. We don’t eschew driving or turning on/off lights like Orthodox Jews might, but we do try to avoid many non-Sabbathy activities and instead use the day for family and church. How exactly this is defined will vary from person to person, but unless there’s an urgent reason (and cookies don’t count), shopping is out.

A couple friends are out of town for a long weekend and asked me to take care of their cats. I thus found myself driving home this afternoon after dropping by their house to give the kitties food and water. I took a roundabout route because I thought, “Hmm, I drive this road all the time up to this point, but where does it go if I keep going?” Sometimes you just need to check out some roads to fill in the gray areas in your mental map. As I crossed an intersection I saw a girl sitting at a table on the sidewalk. I thought of lemonade, but that didn’t seem to be what she was selling. I didn’t give her much attention, though, since she was sitting and thus unlikely to dart into the road and thus not something I needed to pay attention to. As I drove past, she raised a box and shouted, “Girl Scout cookies!”

I registered what she said half a second later and slammed on the brakes. No parking and not a good spot to stop. I thought briefly about the Sabbath, but figured I could justify that this was a good cause (okay, not the cookies, but supporting Girl Scouts) and looped around the block and stopped illegally on the corner (not a high traffic area; it was okay). I got out of my car and said, “I was just thinking, I need to find me a Girl Scout!” Seriously, earlier this weekend, I was indeed thinking that. Her mom was a couple doors down and said, “Well I’m glad you found us then!” I gave them a twenty and they gave me five boxes. Mmmm… thin mints and samoas….

So that is the tale of how I sold my soul for Girl Scout cookies. It was a good trade, don’t you think?

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Farpoint 2013

The weekend was fabulous. This was my first Farpoint, and I’m totally planning on going again next year. I liked the size of the con – small so there were no lines and it was easy to move about and interact with everything.

C and I arrived around 5:30 on Friday and settled in for the weekend. The opening ceremonies were entertaining with music (Boogie Nights, Insane Ian, and someone else) and a radio show. The radio show was pretty amusing – a twist on Alien/Aliens where the aliens had alcohol for blood. The large cast even included all the actor guests. There were a couple more smaller radio programs, but I lost interest in those and headed back to the hotel room to crash for the night. Well, in theory to crash for the night. The half the rooms have windows over the atrium rather than outside. We had an inside room. Karaoke went on in the atrium until 2:00 AM. It was loud. Sleep was not to be had. It was torture. There was loud partying Saturday night too, but after little sleep, I was pretty exhausted and managed to sleep through it anyway.

During waking hours, though, I was amused and delighted. I started with a video about the galaxy, but then moved on to a Boogie Knights concert. The science programming is my favorite, so I spent much of the rest of the two days learning computer forensics, computer traces we leave behind, astronomical observatory collaboration, NASA near Earth programs, and Mars exploration. Very fulfilling. I didn’t actually care about the actor guests, but I sat in some of their discussions. Giancarlo Esposito seems lovely, and Lee Arenberg seems cranky. John Billingsley and Bonita Friedericy, however, are hilarious.

There were, of course, fabulous costumes on display. The Klingon Stormtroopers were my favorite, but there were some fantastic steampunk costumes, too. The Klingons learning the Thriller dance were highly amusing. The Masquerade showcased some great costumes. The kids dressed with the Minecraft/Gangnam Style mashup were hilarious. The Ironman costume was impressive. The Geico Gorn amused me. The Phantom of the Mariachi group won the well-deserved top prize; they were great.

Definitely going back next year.

(All photos here.)

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Preliminary Geekfest Report

Just got back from Farpoint. Loved it. It’s a small con, and I really liked that it was small. I’m totally returning next year. Full report later, but…:

  • Spent most of the time in the science panels learning about astronomy and internet security. I love the science panels best.
  • Dr. Phlox (or rather the actor who played him whose name I can’t remember right now) married a couple.
  • I love that even if I don’t care at all about the actor guests, it’s still much fun to listen to them on stage. Doctor Phlox and his wife, the General from Chuck, are completely hilarious.
  • The Stormtrooper Klingons (exchange program) amused me to no end.
  • Water with lemon and strawberry (not juice, just a few slices) is really yummy.

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A memory

I was thinking about when I learned to pronounce the word “three” correctly (as opposed to saying “free”). I was walking to school with a friend. We were past the crossing guard, so it was along the block between “the busy street” (i.e., State Street, hence the crossing guard) and the school. The trees were green. I was in first grade.

I don’t remember the topic of conversation, but at one point I said “free” instead of “three”, and my friend Roxanne, a grade older than me, corrected me.

“It’s THREE,” she said. “Th-th-three.”

Well, this was news! We continued walking while I said it correctly over and over. “Three. Three. Three. Three.” I remember how the word suddenly felt so different in my mouth.

“Don’t say it too many times or…” and I can’t remember why. The memory ends there.

I can’t think of this memory without thinking more about Roxanne. We were good friends for a year or two. Somewhere within a year of this memory (might have been much less than a year, but I can’t place the times concretely enough) my parents decided I wasn’t allowed to play with her anymore. She was a bad influence. I must have been a mellow, agreeable child because I remember being slightly confused, but shrugging and saying “okay” and not playing with her any more.

Looking back, yeah, she was a bad influence. I was late to school a lot for a while because I’d go to her house first and then we’d go to school together and she was always late (though my mom put a stop to that once she went to parent-teacher conference and found about my tardiness), we dared each other to pull down our pants and show our bums (my sister was there for this and we tattled on each other; we weren’t too bright), and (my mom doesn’t know this, though now she will) once we shoplifted some gum. Well, she shoplifted some gum, but I saw and didn’t say anything, and when her mom said, “Where’d you get the gum?” she said she got it at my house and I nodded. So… yeah. Were there more things I don’t remember? Because looking at that it doesn’t sound too horrible when we take out the shoplifting that my parents didn’t know about. (Or did they?)

In any case, our lives separated. Since she was a year older we’d primarily only been playing together outside of school, so even though we went to the same school, we didn’t have much interaction there. Over the following years, my family moved a couple times. In high school she was in foster care, and one of her foster moms was one of my mom’s friends. Small world. We awkwardly crossed paths once through that connection but I was shy and it was weird and our lives were totally different by then. From her foster mom I knew she later had a couple kids before she finished high school. And then, in her 20s, she died from cervical cancer.

Life takes horrible turns sometimes. Sorry about the depressing memory.

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Football and alien invasions

I fast-forwarded through the Super Bowl last night to catch the ads. (The Clydesdale one was sweet.) As I passed the power outage portion, I stopped because it looked wrong, watched it for a half-minute, and rewinded (rewound?) to the beginning of the power outage. I watched it for a few minutes and was filled with terror. (Mild terror, sure, but there was a twinge of terror there.) Alien invasion. Had to be. I was mostly relieved to find no more signs of alien invasion once I continued to fast forward.

Later, as I prepared for bed, I realized it couldn’t have been an alien invasion. If TV and movies have taught me anything, it is that aliens will first invade New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC (though we’re more often a secondary target), or Great Britain. New Orleans is never a primary target. So it couldn’t have been an alien invasion. Thus comforted, I went to bed in peace.

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Geese, Ravens, and Meetings

Weird email of the day: “Beginning 2 Feb 2013, goose control services will be working at [work place] to encourage Canada geese to find a new home. Goose control handlers, using highly trained dogs used specifically for the control of geese, will initially be at [work place] seven days a week and as necessary over the next several months. In addition to the use of these specially trained dogs, all the techniques used by handlers will be environmentally safe. Handlers are educated on the behavior of Canada geese and their migratory, nesting, and breeding habits. No harm will come to the geese.”

- . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . –

A meeting was scheduled for today at work. I hate meetings. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But I am a good minion and dutifully showed up. Our group was going to go over a document, making the last changes to it.

“We’re actually just going to make the final changes here and over the next few days,” my supervisor said to me as we waited for everyone to arrive. “You’ll be seeing it then, and you can clean it up and get it ready as a deliverable. So you don’t really have to be here if you don’t want to.”

“Sweet!” I replied and practically bolted out the door. Halfway down the hall I caught myself and realized I shouldn’t have been quite so enthusiastic to leave.

Oh well.

- . – . – . – . – . – . – . – . –

Superbowl weekend! I’m pretty excited that I actually have a preference this year. Go Ravens! I’m not planning on watching the superbowl or anything like that (though I might record it and fast forward through the game to watch the commercials), but I’ll tune in to see who won at the end. Or, wait… when is it supposed to end? Will I be in bed already? Well, I’ll at least check in the morning.

If I had any interest in football and wanted to join sports fandom (and, let’s be clear, I don’t; sci-fi fandom is my preferred subculture), I would totally be rooting for the Ravens for the whole season. (Does one root for a team outside the season? If so, then to.) I love their team colors – purple! – and the fact that their name comes from the Edgar Allen Poe connection.

So with my ever-so-slightly-outside-of-indifference enthusiasm I say, GO RAVENS!

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Day After Inauguration

I’ve grown to really like inauguration day. I barely noticed it before living in DC, but now it’s a local celebration, and I kind of dig it. Oh, I don’t go out and actually participate in the events. No. Are you mad?

Crowds. Hours of standing. Porta-potties. No direct routes to anything due to security and closed roads. Cold. It would be hard to come up with a more miserable scenario. (Maybe set it all in July. Can you imagine the heat stroke?)

So I stay home and watch it on TV. I live 10 blocks from the Capital, so I like to step outside during the proceedings and take a deep breath and revel in the fact that I’m breathing the same air as those actually participating. I like to listen to see if I can hear the cheering, too. It’s hit or miss on whether I can – if the wind is just right I can slightly hear it. And then I return to my warm apartment and my comfortable couch, and I pick up my knitting and turn the TV volume back up. It’s the best way to watch the inauguration. I don’t even have to put on pants. (Don’t worry – I put on pants before stepping outside for the breath of inauguration air.)

There’s something about the energy of being so close to it. I’ve found that it is the one day every 4 years when I can set aside my loathing for the politicians of either party and just enjoy the happiness. I can sit back and say, “This is America, and this is pretty cool.” For one day there is no need to focus on morally reprehensible practices and policies from any branch. I can enjoy the pomp and ceremony and celebration. Just one day.

Sadly, that day is now over and real life is back. Four more years till the next day of reprieve.

One final thought: Did you see Michelle Obama’s red ball gown? Holy carp, that thing was crazy beautiful! I love that dress!

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