Monday, May 9, 2011

Geeks Rule, and Here's Why

" exclusion as a teenager can be one of the best indicators of future success."

Can I get an "amen?!"

That quote is by Alexandra Robbins, a self-described "dork," talking about her new book, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School.

She goes on to say, "Popular students are more likely to be involved in aggression (whether physical or alternative - gossip, rumors, backstabbing, etc.), both as targets and aggressors," and actually encourages parents to discourage their children from joining the "popular crowd." Kids should instead be encouraged to do the things they love - especially outside of school - so that they can meet others with similar interests. Because, hey, get this! It turns out the very personality traits that get you ridiculed in school are the ones that will make you extremely successful out of it.

Now, while I doubt this surprises any of us grown-up geeks, it's still nice to offer the next generation [smirk] a new hope. [double smirk] It also may help comfort and inspire parents raising little geeklings of their own to know that theirs are the kids who really will be coming out on top.

Read the rest of the article (which I highly recommend) here. (found via @kiala and Jezebel) I'll be putting Robbin's book on my to-read list.

So tell me, fellow grown-up geeks: have you found that you and your outsider friends from school are more successful now than the "popular" kids? Personally, I've never made much effort to check in on my former classmates (I avoid reunions and have only a handful of FB friends from school), but I firmly believe my outsider experiences led directly to my career successes. How about you?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

When Flamingos Attack

I'm happy to report that last week's Caribbean cruise was, in a word, lovely. We splurged on a balcony cabin, and I spent every spare second outside, breathing in the ocean air and just watching the waves go by. Ahhhh.

This was our view leaving Miami:

I spent hours just watching the sea foam wash along below me:

It's really mesmerizing. Plus, the wake from the ship would send up little sprays, which flashed quick little rainbows in the sunlight. You can just see one in this shot:

Our first port was in Freeport, the Bahamas, but we were too busy relaxing to even think of leaving the ship. We had a nice view from the balcony, though:

See those trees with the orange flowers? Those are Royal Poncianas, my all-time favorite tree. (Is it weird to have a favorite tree?) You'll find them all over the Caribbean and south Florida, and they have the most delicate, fern-like leaves. Super pretty.

Now, I know what you're thinking: GET TO THE GOOD PART, ALREADY!!

Ok, ok. Let's move on to our stop in Nassau, the Bahamas, where I inadvertently made my own remake of Hitchcock's The Birds.

In Nassau there is a sweet little park called the Ardastra Gardens. It's technically a zoo, but the main attractions are all birds.

You'll have to humor me a bit longer, though, because I have some beauty shots to share:

There were lots of parrots on open air stands stationed around the park, but this guy in particular demanded our attention. He'd squawk out increasingly desperate "hello!"s and do all manner of tricks and tumbles to get us to watch him. Here he's hanging by his feet:

...but he also flipped upside down and hung by one leg - and then, when we turned to leave, performed his pièce de résistance:

Such a ham.
(While hanging, he continued squawking - I'm guessing the parrot equivalent of "Look, Ma! No hands!")

Having escaped this first avian encounter relatively unscathed (unless you count our eardrums), we then thought it'd be a great idea to go feed the lorikeets.

Here our friends Ray and Julianne (along with Ninja Baby Isaiah) and John are being swarmed by the horde:

Now, lorikeets are beautiful birds. However, being birds, they are, naturally, from the devil. (I say this as the daughter of a bird-lover, and having grown up with everything from cockatiels to african grays.) So, naturally, once I acquired my own apple slice to feed the little flying hell hounds, one immediately nipped me on the finger while another busied himself pooping on my shirt.

Good times.

When we tried to leave, this little bully decided to claim John's sneaker for all Hell-kind:

He wouldn't relinquish his hold for anything, and it took over a dozen steps and some rather exuberant hokey-pokeying to get him to flap off. Heh.

Next we went to see the flamingos.

(Ah, you perked up there, didn't you? I thought so, you blood-thirsty lot, you.)

Ardastra is famous for their marching flamingos. They have a show/demonstration where the flock is paraded around a circular open-air theater, responding to a drill sergeant trainer's commands.

Before the show, the birds roam freely outside the theater, eating, sleeping, and honking at each other:

You can even walk right up to them and take shots like this:

That beady little eye popped open the second my shutter clicked. Creeeepy.

(In case the suspense is killing you: this is not when I was attacked.)

(That came during the show.)

Heeere they coooome!

It was neat watching the flock parade around and about-face on command. They'd stop mere inches from our seats, too:

During which this guy was clearly sizing me up for later:

To quote Pete Venkman, "That's the one that got me."

The final part of the show involved victims volunteers being brought into the arena for a photo op. The trainer brought the whole flock around each individual, which was when that beady-eyed specimen there took a particularly keen interest in me.

Fun fact: flamingos can reach five feet in height with their necks extended. Being five foot tall myself, I can now personally verify this fact after being nose-to-beak with Mr. Beady Eyes. He got closer, and closer, and closer, and then started going for my head.

For my dignity's sake, I tried to simultaneously laugh off being attacked by a giant lawn ornament while attempting to keep my shoulder up to shield my face.

It...was not a pretty sight.

But, for your amusement, I'll show you anyway:

I have other shots of me leaning waaaay back, stark terror in my madly grinning "no, really, I'm not scared!!" face, but I'll be leaving those visuals to your imagination.

But wait, there's more!

After the flamingo show, we spied these pretty black swans in a nearby pond:

We stopped to ooh and aah, and after a few moments, one of them heaved himself out of the water and started waddling towards us.

"Oooh, he's coming to say hello!" I squealed, forgetting, again, the whole demon-spawn thing.

Sure enough, the swan came right up to the little hip-high wall separating us, and lunged. At the last possible second, I realized he was going for my water bottle, which I'd set on the wall to take a photo:

John snatched it out of the way just in time, but the bird made a few more desperate grabs for it, shooting his head forward snake-like. I guess he really doesn't like plastic bottles.

Despite the bird attacks, we still had a fantastic day at Ardastra - and in all seriousness, I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting Nassau. In fact, I'll leave you with a little more eye candy:

This gorgeous guy paraded around for us for a full five minutes with his tail extended, showing off his feathers.

And finally, the eighth wonder of the world:

The backside of peacock!!

Heh. Aheh. Heh.

(Hey, once a JC skipper, ALWAYS a JC skipper.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Better Suited: Two Easy Bathing Suit Mods

I'm baaa-aaack!

Who missed me? Huh? C'mon, ya big lugs, I know it was you!

Before I detail the many, many adventures I suffered during my four-night Caribbean cruise (I was attacked by a flamingo. I kid thee not.), I want to share some quick and easy, down and dirty suit mods that I came up with before said cruise.

Now, as anyone with a uterus knows, shopping for a bathing suit sucks. S-U-C-K-S. Suh-Ux. Sucks. And, as anyone blessed with moderately large-ish metaphorical tracts of lands knows, finding an inexpensive suit that won't have you metaphorically hangin' ten (two?) is nearly impossible.


I found this at Target:

Cute, right? The problem, however, lay with that circular cut-out. If you've ever worn a tube top or bandeau, you know how the middle tends to, um, hover a bit. Well, this one hovered a lot, becoming a veritable port-hole into the infamous land of the dreaded side boob.

Fortunately, the solution was ridiculously easy:

See? Ridiculously easy. The removable strap was the perfect length for a halter strap through the circle. I attached the two ends together like this:

...but for a permanent fix you could also break off one plastic clip and hook the remaining one through the fabric loop left behind. This was fine on my neck, though, so I left both on.

And the best part? No more porthole! The strap kept the circle down and provided much better support.

I thought that was the end of my suit-shopping, but the day before we left I spotted an ok-looking halter design at Wal-Mart - and at only $10, I couldn't pass it up:

However, it had a similar problem: the cut was just too low for comfort. So, I whipped out my Crop-A-Dile (a grommet-setting tool one of you readers told me about) and...


Here's a close-up:

The cord was the handle off an old gift bag, and I already had the copper grommets (although silver would have looked much better), so the fix didn't cost me a penny. The grommets held fast, too; after a day at the beach there wasn't a single pucker or pull. Success!

Well, I hope this helps inspire some of my fellow land owners out there to go ahead and modify a cheaper suit to save a little money - and also to have a little fun in the process. :)

Now, stay tuned for...[dun dun DUUUUMM] "When Flamingos...ATTACK."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spontaneous Combustion

By the time you read this, dear readers, I will be gone.

Well, not GONE gone...I mean, I'm not breaking up with you or anything.


Let me start over.

By the time you read this, I will be traveling south (ok, further south) for a few days of rest and all-you-can-eat buffets on the high seas.

(Why do they call them the "high" seas, anyway? Wouldn't you say they're about sea-level? [rimshot!])

Where was I?

Ah, right: this feeling of being a bit scattered of late. Mostly, though, I've been concerned about John. Or rather, the way I treat John.

(By the by, I'm about to get really real here for a sec. Hope you don't mind.)

See, sometimes I can be a work-a-holic. Because I like what I do it doesn't always feel like work, but even when it does, I want to answer just a few more e-mails, or file just a few more photos, or - yes, I admit it - check just a few more tweets. Sometimes those "just a few more"s overrun other things in my life, though. Things like weekends. Or rest. Or tolerant spouses.

So last Thursday night, with the crack house done, and the book done, and some extra CW posts written, I decided to do that one thing we work-a-holic hermits absolutely abhor: be spontaneous.

"Whoah there, buddy, let's not do anything crazy, now."

"John," I said, "I think we should take a cruise next week."

It's not often I see my husband's jaw drop, so that next moment was quite a treat.



I should mention here that cruising is John's heaven-on-earth.

Cruising is John's heaven-on-earth.
I should also mention that he had one researched, price-shopped, and booked in record time. Probably so I wouldn't have a chance to change my mind. Clever boy.

So, if you need us, we'll be drifting around the Caribbean this week.

Hopefully on board a ship.

I expect I'll still be posting, but no promises. (Although I really do need to vent about the whole bathing-suit shopping experience. You know, for recovery purposes.)

And, since I'll be trying to do this myself, here's a little challenge for all of you: go and appreciate your loved ones this week. Whatever that means to you, and whatever it takes, just try. I'm betting it'll pay off in spades for all of us.

See y'all in a few days.

(Oh, and yes, I have my passport.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sharing the Love [GiveAway]

Not to be all, "lookie what I got!" but...

Lookie what I got!!

Every once in a while one of you fabulous readers will send me something sweet and make my day. I don't always mention it, because showing off how nice you guys are could be misconstrued as just plain showing off. Ick. However, today I'm going to share!

A little. [grin]

First, let me break down the goodies:

Melonie A. sent those adorable Kawaii capsule toys on the right, plus the oh-so-cute Kingdom Hearts cellphone charm in the middle, all the way from Japan! (The tubes are candy.) I'm currently working on a crafty way to display the toys. I'm sure you'll hear about it when/if I do.

Not three days later, reader Somara *als0* found and purchased the Mickey charm for me. Which is amazing, since I don't think either even knew I'm a Kingdom Hearts fan!

When she learned I already had one, Somara sent the charm anyway, suggesting I give it to one of you. (Told ya you readers are awesome.) Though if you don't mind, I'll be keeping the hilariously creepy vintage clown heads she also included. :D

And lastly, the sweet and squishable Ewok clothed in my favorite color and boasting a hand painted Epbot 'bot to boot (woot!) is by the über talented Stephanie Kotkin. I certainly won't be giving him away - ever! - but you can get your own (among other cute things) at Stephanie's Etsy store.

Now: where my fellow Kindgom Hearts fans at?

If you'd like a shot at winning this Sora-wearing-Mickey-ears charm, just leave a comment on this post. I'll announce the winner at 11 pm EST today, both on the Epbot Facebook page and on this post, so be sure to check back!

UPDATE: And the winner is....OnceBitten! Congrats, Once (can I call you Once?), and please e-mail me your mailing address!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hidden Treasures at the Magic Kingdom

You know what the only good thing about this time of year here in Orlando is?

('Cuz it's definitely NOT the 100 degree weather. [Yes, it really did hit 100 this week. FAN ME NOW.])

It's the fact that the Magic Kingdom has been staying open 'til midnight or later.

Awwww yeeeeeaah.

About a week ago John and I headed over there at 10:30 at night, ie, the time when it starts to cool off a smidge. Sure, the humidity is still at 3,000%, and it never gets under 75 degrees, but at least the sun is down. And they sell ice cream on Main Street. Which we ate at 1:30 in the morning, before catching the last tram out to our car.

Awwww yeeeeeah.

Anyway, the other day we made dinner plans with some new friends at the Columbia Harbour House, and I brought my camera to grab a few detail shots:

Gee, I wonder why? Heh. I'm so predictable.

You guys know I'm all about the details at Disney; I just love finding and photographing the little things we usually walk right past without a second thought.

Disney restaurants usually have great theming, too, so anytime you eat at the parks try to take a minute to walk around and take it all in.

Oh, and if you ever eat at Harbour House there's only one place to sit: on the bridge upstairs with windows overlooking the walkway from Fantasyland on one side, and the rivers of America on the other. Unless the park is really busy you'll probably have the entire area to yourself, and it's a great cozy spot that most folks never discover. In fact, it almost makes up for the lousy tuna fish sandwiches! [Zing! Sorry, Disney.]

After dinner we wandered through the new queue at the Haunted Mansion (amazing - check it out online if you can't come see it in person) and then over to Splash Mountain...

...where I waited outside snapping photos while everyone else got drenched. (I'm not a big drop person. Or a roller coaster person.) I love all the lanterns in the trees at the queue, though, don't you? We have a giant tree in our backyard - bigger than these - and it's my dream to someday have it wired for hanging lanterns like this. It's so dreamy, like Lothlorien!

Next I want to show you my two favorite hidden treasures in the Winnie the Pooh ride. If you like hidden mickeys and park trivia, then you're going to LOVE these. (Assuming you don't already know about them, of course!)

The first is found at the very entrance to the queue:

Photo via DIS Unplugged - hit the link for lots more pics of the updated queue.

Dizgeeks will recall that this giant tree has been moved. It used to be in a playground across the main walkway, where - as you longtime dizgeeks will recall - once upon a time the 20,000 Leagues ride used to be.

When the tree was first built, the Imagineers decided to leave a small homage to the ride it replaced: a tiny imprint of the Nautilus, tucked away where even those who are looking for it have a hard time finding. Eventually, though, those people will locate it above the right-hand doorway and take a picture for you:


And inside the ride, there's an homage to another attraction: the one Winnie the Pooh replaced.

That's a picture of Mr. Toad (of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) handing Owl the deed to his house. To find it, you have to look to the left in the very first room of the ride. It's near the entrance, so you may have to turn around and look behind you to catch it.

(In Disneyland in California, WtP replaced the Country Bear Jamboree. So in one of the rooms on the ride, if you look up and behind you you'll see the three mounted animal heads - the ones that used to sing in the Jamboree - up on the wall. You'd never spot them if you weren't looking, though!)

And finally, that most elusive treasure of all:

Ghost Tigger! OooooOOoooo!


Ok, that's all for now! I hope you guys don't mind my Disney ramblings. I even have a few more tidbits for later, if you like these. Since so many of you have been e-mailing me lately for Disney advice on upcoming vacations, I thought sharing a few of my favorite often-overlooked details would be fun. So, let me know if you want more sometime!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now THIS is Geektastic Wedding Dress

Hyla W. found a spectacular example of geek girl ingenuity over on Offbeat Bride. In a nutshell, bride Kouhotaru wanted her dress styled after Rydia from Final Fantasy IV.

This is Rydia:

So, ok, not exactly traditional wedding dress material.

However, throw in one amazingly talented cosplay designer, and you get...




Soooo beeeeautiful!!

And doesn't it channel Rydia perfectly? I especially love the boot designs worked into the skirt.

Head over to Offbeat Bride to see the lovely Kouhotaru and her groom on their big day (they got married at a Renaissance Fair! Woot!) and for more information on the fanTABulous dress.

So... how many of you ladies are dreaming up video game inspired wedding dresses now? Besides me, I mean?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art Attack: Double Takes!

It's always fun when artists put a fresh spin on familiar characters. Check these out:

Snow White gets a more "historically accurate" dress makeover by shoomlah, who's also drawn Jasmine, Belle, and Ariel. Hit the link to see the others! [Found via @TheDisneyBlog]

How about a Victorian Mario?

Epbot reader Brandi spotted this one on artist Shane Parker's blog. Perfect for stereoscope viewing!

More Mario art, this time done in one of my favorite styles:

Art Nouveau! This is actually a sticker found by reader Holly K., but artist Megan Lara also has it available as a t-shirt, along with lots more geeky heroines (including The Guild's Codex!) drawn in the same style.

Another artist rockin' the geeky Art Nouveau is Bill Mudron, whose Amy Pond print went viral not too long ago. It's a gorgeous print, but I like *this* one even more:

Awwwesome. It's currently sold out at his store, but at only $20, I'd check back if I were you.

Gotta have a little cute in here:

Michelle V. sent these in - they're by ginormousrobot over on Etsy, and there are several more in the series. My favorite is R2 and C3PO in the sandbox; I knew R2 was a mischievous little imp!

Plus a little Ghosbusters!
I just bought this print (only $10!) not too long ago from Dave and Tracy, the artistic duo behind henNchicks. Isn't it a fun retro style? Plus, check out their Edward Scissorhands:


Also on Etsy is the Gorgonist, who has a fantastic "fancy dress" series I think you'll love:

Seriously: So. Fabulous. And I cannot tell you how tempted I am to make a Death Star cosplay dress based on that last painting - which is ironic since Robin, the artist, was inspired by people cosplaying in the first place. :) I think I'd wear it with the X-Wing hair piece, tho, and then have a light-up strip down the middle channel to highlight Luke's flight path. Eh? EH?

So, what geek art makes you smile? Share your links in the comments!

UPDATE: Oops, nearly forgot: artist James Hance of the adorable Wookiee the Chew fame is raising money for his daughter's medical expenses. So, if you're in need of any adorable Star Wars/Disney mash-up art, now's the time to buy!