Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lanterns - Enterprise Edition

When I found out that Wil Wheaton was coming to the Vancouver Fan Expo this year I decided I wanted to build the Enterprise as a lantern... I'd thought about it for a few years, and this seemed like a good excuse to actually build it... the only problem was that I was in the middle of GISH and already deep in build a TARDIS Little Free Library mode. (More about that in another post.) So, while I wanted to build the lantern, I really didn't have the time... until 10 days before Fan Expo was set to begin, when I got the crazy notion to build it anyways. Thus began project #canidothisin10days (spoiler alert - no, I couldn't, but 11 days is not bad!). The following 11 days consisted of very little sleep, but I did get it built in time to bring it on the Sunday. In a last-minute decision fueled by a conversation with someone while we were waiting for Wil's Q&A to begin, I chose to have Wil sign it. It was a rather surreal experience, fueled by sleep deprivation and anxiety, where I was basically incapable of normal dialogue. Luckily, I had written out what I wanted to say to Wil that morning, and was able to give it to him. I got confirmation later that he did read it, and now any time I feel like something I have made or written doesn't matter, I'll look at that screenshot to remind me that it does.

After Fan Expo I was unhappy with the proportions of the saucer compared to the rest of the ship, so I did some emergency surgery on the Enterprise and retrofitted her with a larger saucer. I was careful not to go near the area that Wil signed, and that is still safe and in tact.

There are more pics on my instagram @Tortoisefly.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lanterns - TARDIS Edition

This summer Jacquie and I got coerced into taking over Lanterns for Folk Fest. We are hoping our usual fearless leader will come back and take the reigns again, but in the meantime we survived being in charge... just barely!

I built a TARDIS lantern. It's one I've been wanting to do for years, but one of our former team members built one years ago and I felt like I had to wait for the statute of limitations to run out.

Here you can see the project from frame to final lantern.  I took her to VanFanExpo last month and only hit two people on the head with her. (Sorry people!) She needs a longer pole to go out into public safely.

 More pics can be found on my instagram @Tortoisefly

Sunday, October 28, 2018

My Great Grampa and the Pirates

Somehow this one got lost in the shuffle and saved but never posted. I give to you "My Great Grampa and the Pirates" by Janine aged 8 or 9:

I thought I would share this fascinating piece of literature that I found while digging through old papers searching for a report card for GISHWHES in August. I give you "My Great Grampa and the Pirates" (sic) circa 1988 or thereabouts, complete with scratch-and-sniff sticker.

It's pretty old, from about second grade I think, so I'll transcribe it, complete with spelling errors (as far as the typed word will allow) for you:

my Great Grampa and the PiRates
long ago my Grampa went
on a big Ship to china.
Some Pirets attacked the
Boat Because they wanted
to rob the Boat and kill
the peopl on the Boat
and Grampa helped fight
the Pirets.
and he got home safeley
and Gramma DiDn't
Let him go back
and won day he went Back and got
home Safeley.

This is actually a true story.  My great grandfather (his second wife always signed letters from them " love, Nana and Grumps") was working on a ship that was attacked by pirates.  It even made the newspaper, but since I want to blog about it I cannot for the life of me figure out where I put the clipping.  The government denied the existence of any pirates and claimed that Grumps and his friends had made up the story.  Decades later, when he was in his last days of life, Grumps hallucinated that the helium balloon at the end of his bed was the mast of the pirate ship that had attacked.  If the pirates weren't real, why would he flash back to that event on his deathbed?  I for one believe his story was true.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Scarred For Life

Recently someone brought up a story about how they were scarred for life by the lies their parents told them, and it got me thinking about the odd things my mom convinced me were true. To be fair, my perspective has changed in recent years, and I am glad my mom taught me how to have a healthy sense of humour growing up. My  mom did a lot of awesome things when I was a kid too, but that doesn't change the minor trauma my mom inflicted in those impressionable early years. (Author's note: I may still be irrationally afraid of earwigs, tapioca and shower curtains, but otherwise I turned out alright.)

The look of innocence.
First, a little perspective: I was not a particularly squeamish kid in most instances. I was definitely a tomboy, climbing trees and unafraid to get dirty. In elementary school, the boys would catch garden snakes and try to freak out the girls. Most of them would shriek and run away, while I would say "cool! Can I hold it?" The boys always looked a little disappointed that I hadn't reacted the way they wanted me to.

When I was about 4 years old, my mom told me that Tapioca Pudding was made from fish eyes. It has been 35 years, and I still cannot eat tapioca unless it is ground up as a powder. This became a particular problem when I attended UBC as there was a Bubble Tea kiosk in the Student Union Building. Bubble Tea was all the rage and the mere thought of it made me gag.

When I was 5 I asked why earwigs were called earwigs, which lead my mom to spin a tale for me that earwigs would crawl into a person's hair and then into their ear, where they would eat their brains from the inside out. She quickly refuted her own story, but I still can't see an earwig without wigging out to this day. I can relocate other bugs, spiders, frogs, lizards... but I feel that earwigs deserve to die a horrible fiery death, regardless of their innocence.

There was the incident when I decided to run away: I don't remember why I was upset, but I went up to my mom and said "fine, I'm running away!" Instead of arguing, she helped me pack. Really, this was ingenious of her, and she knew my propensity for devouring books would not let me get far, but at the time I was convinced that she was going to let me run away.

      "Well, you can't go anywhere without your books! You need something to read, take these."
      "You should definitely take your roller skates. You might need them."
      "Don't forget your stuffed animals, which ones should you take?"
      "You'll need a change of clothes of course."
      "You'll need your LEGO."

By the time she finished helping me pack, the clunky old pinkish suitcase was full, and to my young standards, very heavy. I got to the end of the driveway dragging the suitcase behind me, and needed to stop and take a break. I pulled out one of the books and got transported into another world. When I finished the books I decided that this wasn't the right day to run away, and I should really go home and try again some other time... besides, I really needed to pick a new set of books to take with me.

Picture this jumping out at you!
When I was a kid I would sneak through the house into the kitchen where I could see the TV in the living room, and would watch TV and movies "with" my dad late at night. At four years old, I somehow managed to watch Psycho without being caught. At some point I must have fessed up, because a few years later my mom hid behind the shower curtain and scared me half to death. You would think that would be the end of it, but no. Every time my mom cleans the house &/or expects company one of her automatic moves is to close the shower curtain to "hide the mess" (there almost never is a mess - this is just one of her quirks). Every time I enter her bathroom and the shower curtain is closed I have to pull it back suddenly to make sure nothing is hiding behind it waiting to murder me. Every time I see a closed shower curtain there is a brief sense of panic and my heart speeds up. EVERY TIME! (In hindsight, Dad is probably equally to blame for this fear as he was the one watching Psycho with a 4-year old at home. Also, I may have hidden behind a shower curtain or two as a child to try to get her back, so all's fair in love and war.)

Mom, you can expect a bill when I find a therapist willing to deal with this deep-seeded childhood trauma. Or, perhaps I could just pay them in zucchini?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Someday, when I'm a grown-up - an open letter to Wil Wheaton

Project #canidothisin10days on my instagram @Tortoisefly
I spent the last 11 days building this. Instagram @Tortoisefly
I grew up in a geek-friendly home, long before that was considered to be cool.

When I was 8, my mom and I read The Hobbit together, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'll go on epic adventures like Bilbo, Gandalf, and their friends."

I watched Star Trek reruns with my dad and I saw Spock find peaceful solutions using reason, science, and logic, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be like him."

I saw Star Wars and found a role model in Princess Leia, who proved that you didn't need a man to rescue you, you could save yourself, be the hero of your own story, and maybe rescue a couple of well-intentioned men along the way. I saw this, and I thought "someday, when I'm a grown-up, I'm going to be just like her!"

Then when I was an awkward 8-year old girl who loved Sci-Fi, but struggled to picture myself as I was, being a part of the narrative, Star Trek TNG came on TV. I saw Wesley Crusher, a boy (unlike me), who like me was smart, and sometimes awkward, struggling to find a place in a universe full of grown-ups. Like me, he had important things that he wanted to say, but the grown-ups often didn't seem to listen, because they thought he was just a kid.

I saw Wesley, and the narrative changed. I was no longer thinking about "someday, when I'm a grown-up." Instead, I found myself thinking "there are kids on the Enterprise who are just like me!" Wesley changed the way that I saw Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Finally, I could see myself in a character, and that allowed me to feel like I was a part of the narrative.

Because of this smart, awkward, geeky kid that I saw on TV, I no longer felt like an outsider, too young to be a part of the narrative of the stories that I loved. Suddenly, this genre that I had always been immersed in was something that I could picture myself being a part of. Not "someday," but "now."

Because of Wesley, "someday" had become "today" and I no longer felt like I had to wait until I was a grown-up to be important.

So Wil, thank-you for the important role you played in my childhood, and thank you for turning into a grown-up that other kids will aspire to be like.

You're awesome!

~ Jeanie @Tortoisefly

ETA: I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to vocalize this to Wil when meeting him at FanExpo Vancouver today, so I wrote it out and while he was extremely gracious and kind about my lantern (which he signed - another of those surreal moments) I handed him a card with the above written in a letter. I think I may have managed somewhere between 5-10 words to him, so good call on the writing it out, sleep-deprived past Jeanie!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Humanity, Inc. Tech Support - TEEN OS Upgrade

HI Sam: Humanity, Inc. This is Sam. How may I help you today?
Frazzled Mom: Hello, tech support? Yes, I’m calling in regards to a malfunctioning CHILD unit?

HI Sam: Make and model?

Frazzled Mom: Yes, this is in regards to a MALE 2004 CHILD unit.

HI Sam: What seems to be the problem m’am?

Frazzled Mom: The unit was functioning great until a few months ago. It performed well in the areas of DISPOSITION, THOUGHTFULNESS, MOOD, and RESPECT, had moderate performance in EATING and HYGIENE and usually performed adequately in CHORES and CONVERSATION. Though it could glitch in these areas on occasion...

HI Sam: Yes, this all seems to fall under the expected operating parameters for that model. What seems to be the problem?

Frazzled Mom: Well, recently the unit received an automatic upgrade to the TEEN operating system, and now it seems to be underperforming and/or experiencing glitches in all of those areas. The RESPECT and CONVERSATION programs seem to be constantly bugging out, MOOD seems to be operating at the lowest possible level 95% of the time, then jumps unexpectedly to high levels for brief periods of time before plummeting once again with no notice or obvious cause. EATING seems to use an immense amount of energy which affects SLEEP mode, especially in the mornings. When we attempt to engage the unit in CONVERSATION mode, if it responds at all, it does so with a curt “whatever” or a sigh of disgust. We would really like to revert back to the PRETEEN operating system. Can you help us out with that?

HI Sam: I’m sorry m’am, but the automatic upgrade to the TEEN operating system is permanent. I’m afraid that it isn’t possible to revert to the previous OS. We are working on a new operating system called NEW ADULT which should solve many of the issues you are currently experiencing, but it won’t be ready for installation on that unit for approximately six years.

Frazzled Mom: So what you are telling me is that you automatically updated our CHILD units’ operating system to one that has known issues, and now we can’t even go back to the last known version that worked reasonably well?

HI Sam: That is correct.

Frazzled Mom: That is unacceptable! I’d like to speak to your supervisor about this. We’ve been loyal customers of your company for 13 years now. We stuck by you through the early INFANT operating system when it experienced issues with the CRYING and TOILET TRAINING programs.

HI Sam: Yes, those were some tough years...

Frazzled Mom: And we worked with the unit until it was able to run the WALK and SPEECH programs on its own after the TODDLER upgrade...

HI Sam: Yes, and we thank you for sticking with us through those trying times...

Frazzled Mom: But this latest upgrade... it seems to be the worst yet. Are you telling me that it will function like this for YEARS?!

HI Sam: Well, yes m’am. There may be some minor upgrades to some of the programs, but the OS is here to stay for the foreseeable future...

Frazzled Mom: Well that is just awful customer service. Isn’t there anything that you can do? Can we trade the unit in?

HI Sam: I’m sorry m’am, but we have a strict no returns, no exchanges policy. There is not much that can be done at this point. There are some facilities that you could send the unit to in order to try and improve performance. The local facilities tend to work on the units for a few hours a day during the week, or there are off-site facilities that take in the units for intense programming, but they are generally quite costly, and time consuming. By the time they complete the reprogramming, the NEW ADULT OS should be ready for installation.

Frazzled Mom: Well thanks for nothing!

HI Sam: Is there anything else I can assist you with today m’am?

Frazzled Mom: We also have a CHILD unit that is a 2007 model. Is there a way to prevent it from receiving the TEEN upgrade?

HI Sam: Well, no m’am. We can delay it for two or three years, but there comes a point where the upgrade cannot be avoided any longer.

Frazzled Mom: So what you are telling me is that soon we will have not one, but two malfunctioning CHILD units running on the TEEN operating system?

HI Sam: Yes m’am. I’m sorry m’am.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Goodbye Blue

It is with great sadness and regret that I must say goodbye to my old companion Blue.

Blue, you and I were together for the better part of fifteen years.  We went for countless walks together in all sorts of weather.  We braved the rain at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival as one. We survived the nasty garbage compacter attack of 2012... both of us left with cuts on our arms from that evil monstrosity at work. Patches for you, a band aid for me... I healed, while sadly, you did not.

Through the years you've been with me, keeping me safe and dry, but you've started slacking off in the areas that made you a good companion for all of these years.

I mourned the loss of each one of your button snaps, but still I stuck with you.

I've spent the better part of five minutes each morning and afternoon struggling to zip you up since your zipper became damaged, still I stuck with you.  It may have been a hassle, but I could handle the faulty zipper.

Where you have failed me the most lately, is in the one area I always thought that I could count on you.  You no longer keep me dry.  Your waterproof fabric and seams are no longer so. I walk home in the rain, then peel you off when I get home only to find that my shirt beneath is soaked through. You have failed me in the worst way Blue. You are no longer waterproof, and I'm afraid that is the one quality I simply must insist on a raincoat companion possessing.

So, with regret, I must bid you adieu, and welcome my new companion Burgundy. You see, Burgundy is lightweight and 100% waterproof.  She's not as long as you, but she'll keep me dry where you could not. Burgundy and I will have to make new memories of walking through the park and braving the rain.

Goodbye Blue, it was nice knowing you, but it's over now.

~ Your former human, Jeanie

Raincoat - Kelly Sweet

Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen) - Tori Amos