Monthly Archives: November 2015

#WeekendCoffeeShare- On My Phone Edition

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Just a quick blurb for today. So if we were having coffee, it’d be a small coffee, not my usual massive or multiple coffees.

As I tippety-type this away on my phone, on LTE because we hit our home data limit, I mostly wanted to say we had a good vacation week. It was our first distance travel with the Geek Baby, and she did great. 

And I want to say thank you to all our contributor assistance for blog posts as well. Did you read them? Check them out!

Gone Home

This is a guest post by fandom correspondent LM, author of The Lobster Dance, a blog about about geekery, Japan, and gender, and I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog with a lot of fandom cakes and gender analysis of food marketing. Find her work on Comparative Geeks here.
My younger sister and I used to play Nintendo together as kids, and now that we’re adults, we can play games together on Steam even though we  don’t live in the same time zone anymore.

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When I joined Steam, the first game she sent me was Gone Home, a game about sisters. You’re Kaitlin “Katie” Greenbriar, the older sister, who arrives back in Oregon after a year abroad in Europe to discover the lights are on but nobody’s home at her parents’ house–and there’s a mysterious note from her younger sister on the door.

(Mild spoilers ensue.)


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Thanksgiving and Cooking Geekery

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In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to talk about something that everyone will be doing a lot of today – cooking and eating.

I’ve had a lot of free time lately, and Netflix has also started to carry collections of Food Network and PBS cooking shows. I’m obsessed. So I have some recommendations for fellow cooking hobbyists and geeks;

Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics is on Netflix, with only a 25 or so selection of episodes. They’re amazing. I’d never gotten super into Ina Garten’s show when I tried to watch it before, but now as an adult who hosts parties and cooks dinner for more than just myself, it’s one of the most helpful shows I’ve watched. She really does go back to basics, and shows a lot of common cooking tips that a lot of shows assume you know instead of explaining them fully. Most of the episodes close with her answering viewer submitted questions as well, which cover lots of questions like how to peel garlic and how to temper chocolate. Incredibly useful, especially for beginners.

America’s Test Kitchen has some too, and oh wow is it a really fun show. I love that they go through and try so many different things with each recipe, even classics that we all basically make the same, and they figure out what the easiest, perfect way is to get the results wanted from the recipe. I watched their episode on the Julia Child method of making turkey, and while I couldn’t bring myself to break tradition and try it, there’s a chance if I host Thanksgiving again I will. They break it down and it seems incredibly easy.

My absolute favorite though is Good Eats. The mixture of science, skits, and cooking make it one of the best shows I’ve ever watched (and yes, I’m a Whovian. I have a high standard.) I think I love it because he explains why we do what we do with cooking; why do we sear meat? Why do we let yeast work on rising bread for so long? Why and how do flour and water make gluten? Once you understand how some of the basic scientific principles of cooking work, you understand where you can take shortcuts in cooking, what you can modify in recipes, and what things you absolutely should not mess with ever. Plus, humor makes everything better and the show can be hysterical as well as informative.

There’s my Thanksgiving cooking geekery. I hope everyone is getting to chow down on their favorite holiday meals, watch some TV (ours is currently playing Kung Fu Hustle, because it’s amazing and hilarious), and spend time with loved ones, whether friends or family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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This. Re: Age of Ultron

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how the YouTube review shows were starting to hit Avengers: Age of Ultron. Well, we watched the one from Honest Trailers and… yep. That kind of sums it up.

What do you think? Too harsh? Or was it inevitably an impossible movie to make everyone happy and do everything? And did they break Joss Whedon? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

How to Build A Fictional Education System

Few things say as much to me about a culture as its education system. What a society values, it teaches to its young, and that means its values are at the core of any system designed to teach and enculturate children.

Education is a big issue right now. People are drowning in student debt, but many of them are unable to get jobs in the fields that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire qualifications in.  We’re wrestling with questions about what education is for, what constitutes a good one, and how much it should cost.  Eventually, questions like that will (or should) filter into our speculative fiction.

There are lots of middle grade and YA books where schools function as a setting element.  Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid come to mind. In those stories, if education is relevant at all, it’s a catalyst for adventure or an obstacle that the characters have to deal with while trying to get what they want.  So the education systems are familiar: residential English school, American-style public school. They’re a backdrop, or a motif, not a problem in themselves.

Adult lit doesn’t spend much time on education at all, unless we’re dealing with some kind of magical initiation and training. In those cases, again, the method and problems associated with the educational system are usually not discussed beyond the protagonist whining or complaining about the hardass mentor. I’m betting we’ll see a shift in the next 10 to 15 years because more and more people are returning to school later in life, and we have increasing numbers of college grads who can’t get the jobs they want.

Check out The Foxes of Synn by Rose B. Fischer

I’m also betting on this because, in the past five years, I’ve had two long-term, large-scale spec fic projects up-end themselves and decide that they were suddenly going to start making a HUGE DEAL about how the education systems in their societies are broken, holding people back, and need to change.  Well, I’m not a political writer, and I’m not a psychic, but I do pay attention to social movements, and I listen to what is important to people.  I didn’t plan to write about education, but I figure if both of my story worlds have decided that education needs to be written about, I’m gonna go with it.

So, when I realized this was happening in my work, I took a step back and started asking myself some hard questions. What is the purpose of education? David’s tackled that here in a Feminist Friday Post and here in an analysis of education in Naruto. What does the ideal education system look like? Who should have access to education, and who should pay for it? Is education really the social equalizer? The more questions I asked, the more I didn’t have good answers – and I still don’t, but that’s okay with me because I never want to preach to my audience.  I want to pose questions and let my readers make up their own minds.

I decided to get more purposeful about the education systems in my universes, though, and to that end, I came up with a list of “ideal education system criteria.”

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