Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for June, 2010

Embracing my inner geek: New Wonder Woman costume & Spidey casting

Lately I’ve been letting my freak flag fly. Tweeting about gaming, and writing at least 4 geek related blog posts that never made it past my drafts folder.

Today, however, has been a big day for all of us geeks. (Yes, I wear the label with pride) DC unveiled the Wonder Woman costume for an upcoming storyline, and it’s been rumored that Josh Hutcherson has been cast as Peter Parker in the upcoming Spiderman reboot. Read More…

Ow

I know, I posted about my triumphant trip to the beach in which I went into the water after being a little traumatized by almost drowning. What I hadn’t discovered yet was that I’d gotten a fairly bad sunburn on my back. I felt warm, sure, and sore. But it was a warm day and I’d been pulling kids about and carrying heavy buckets of water from the ocean. Who wouldn’t be sore?

Shortly after I blogged, TheBoy took over kidlet duty so that I could go take a shower, and as I pulled off my shirt I saw that my back was pink. And that parts of my arms and thighs were as well.

Despite the fact that I am olive-skinned, I’m actually quite fair for me. I spent much of my childhood out in the sun and was pretty tan. I never burned, and no matter how much sun block I put on, I just kept getting darker. But then I stopped going out in the sun. I was a cubicle rat, and had been told I couldn’t tan by my mother, otherwise my wedding dress would look silly. So I didn’t! Then I was pregnant and didn’t go out much… and well, soon enough it had been 5 years since I really spent much time outside. Normally I apply lots of sunblock, but on this trip I forgot to reapply. I was so caught up in the fun of building sand castles, that I forgot that I could burn. So I did.

Helpful tips: When out at the beach (or just outside for an extended time), remember that overcast days are the most likely days that you’ll burn. The UV rays come down through the clouds and bounce up from the earth towards the sky- then bounce back down from the clouds. So while you’d think that it’s worse on a sunny day, a cloudy day is much worse. Always reapply. I paid plenty of attention to my boys, who both spend plenty of time out in the sun, but completely forgot about myself.

Skimming tweets? Why?

Just a few minutes ago, I logged into Facebook to see that one of my favorite ex-Jungle Cruise Skippers, Dr. David Marley (comedian/professor) had posted this:

So the GOP’s plan on stopping Kagan from getting on the Supreme Court is by attacking Thurgood Marshall, the nation’s first African-American Justice. Way to keep it racist, GOP!

Why am I posting this? Almost immediately, two women that I don’t know personally replied that they weren’t racist. Which would be a valid response if he had remotely been calling out Republicans as a whole. Marley does tend to make fun of the GOP a fair amount, but obviously, this was geared towards the Republican senators at Kagan’s confirmation hearing that were using the proceedings to bash Thurgood Marshall.

I was going to write about how common it’s become for people to automatically defend their political party without always reading the original post they’re trying to defend, but I’ve noticed that it’s becoming more and more common for people to skim Facebook status updates and tweets and simply respond.

In the last two weeks, I saw someone comment that they went to the Apple store for a wireless mouse, and someone asked what they bought. I’ve said that I made strawberry ice cream for dessert, and someone asked me what kind of ice cream I made. These weren’t verbose blog posts- they were short status updates or tweets that were around 140 characters. But somehow, reading them in their entirety was too much for people.

Obviously, I don’t believe that 140 characters is too many. I’m a big fan of Twitter, enjoy browsing Facebook statuses, and hope that you’ll read this much longer blog post. But honestly, if someone’s writing something that short- you might as well read it twice just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

And I didn’t die!

We went to the beach today, and had a lovely time. But most importantly, I went into the water.

I suppose, some background is needed. While back, I went to Florida with my then future in-laws. We went to Orlando to go to Walt Disney World (and Universal) and went to Daytona Beach. While we were out at Daytona, we went into the water and I went a little deeper than I’m used to. Only, there was a rip current and… I’m sure where you can see this going. I’m not the strongest swimmer, nor am I particularly buoyant. I struggled and Ronnie pulled me back to shore. That was about 10 years ago. I hadn’t set foot in the water since then.

We aren’t talking swimming- there were rip currents, and I’ve certainly learned that lesson. But we were building sand castles, so we needed water. I went in up to my knees and didn’t freak out. Definitely a big moment for me. Maybe next time, if we go somewhere with more favorable surf, I’ll go in deeper!

It was a lovely trip. I built a couple sand castles (we let D-zilla stomp those to bits), the boys dug a hole and we buried D up to his neck in the sand. He was surprisingly fine with that, and wanted to be buried again. In fact, the only part of the trip that wasn’t fun was a kid that decided he wanted to play with D. We never caught his name, and D kept calling him “Kid.” We’re used to D being a little over-bearing and bossy (though he stops when you point it out), but wow. This kid was worse. And we just couldn’t get him to go! So sadly, we had to pack up, because he was just the rudest kid I’ve ever met. (Which is quite rude- I worked for 5 years at Disneyland. That’s a lot of bratty kids)

A new laptop!

About three years ago I bought a brand new laptop. It was a Dell, not particularly strong. And I promptly ran that thing into the ground. I used it to play World of Warcraft, and had cooling pads to keep it from overheating on me. Then it died.

My brother-in-law (well, one of them) gave me his old laptop, which wasn’t anything special. While it got the job done for browsing and writing, it didn’t have much in the way of memory. I quit playing Warcraft.

It was always meant to be temporary, and so I have a new laptop. I won’t say what kind, or what the specs are- I’m not part of the Cult of Mac, where if anything non-Apple is substandard, and I’m not going to say that PCs are perfect. I’ll just say that a computer is a computer.

However, it does have a good webcam, so I was able to Skype my dad while he was traveling. Kidlet #1 definitely appreciated that.

How good is the webcam?

Pretty darn good, I’d say.

Get vaccinated!

Right now, California is experiencing an epidemic of Pertussis, better known as Whooping Cough. There have been 5 deaths, all were children under 3 months.

They believe that the reason for the epidemic is the growing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. While it’s mandatory for all school aged children to be vaccinated, you can get a “personal belief exemption” that doesn’t need to show basis rooted in religion or medical reasons.

I am firmly in the vaccination camp. Most of these vaccines have been out there long enough that we know that they’re safe. They’ve essentially eliminated polio and other diseases that killed children in earlier generations. Yet, because of faulty research that tried to link vaccines with rising cases of autism, parents are balking.

Nobody knows what causes autism. To be honest, we can’t say for certain that cases are on the rise, either. All we know is that more and more children are being diagnosed as having varying degrees of autism. Who’s to say that we aren’t simply more aware that children have autism? Meaning that other children with mild autism might have been labeled as slow or difficult in the past. Honestly, we don’t know.

The difficulty in blaming vaccines (particularly the MMR vaccine) is that usage of the MMR vaccine has predated this increase in cases. Also, it’s hard to tell if a child is autistic until they’ve reached a certain age where social characteristics and verbal skills are more obvious. Because we don’t yet know exactly what causes autism, it’s extremely dangerous to place blame based on gut judgements.

Part of why vaccines work as well as they do is not just the individual benefit, but because of the herd effect (mentioned in the article). When a large percentage of people are vaccinated, it lessens the effect of the diseases on those who aren’t- because those vaccinated don’t become ill themselves. Instead, you have more people who aren’t vaccinated. The diseases have more people to infect, and because it’s more common to find someone who’s susceptible, more people become ill.

I fully understand parents worrying about over-vaccinating or any side effects from the disease- but at the same time, these vaccines were created for a reason. Diseases like Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Pertussic and Polio are all serious illnesses that killed many, and left lasting damages to others’ bodies. If you aren’t vaccinating your children (or yourself), you’re exposing your family to that risk as well as other families. Is that really a risk you’re willing to take?

Vacation Planning: the beginning

TheBoy and I are going on a weekend getaway in August, and as soon as the opportunity presented itself (read: my mother-in-law offered to watch the kidlets), we began planning our escape.

Vacation planning seems to begin the same way- we start mentioning every location we’ve mentioned wanting to travel that’s within a day’s driving. Which, honestly, becomes: San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas. Then, we start discussing where we’ve been dying to go and why. Which usually is a discussion about restaurants we’ve wanted to try.

Yes, I pick my vacations based on where I want to eat.

Read More…

The Ultimate Sandwich

So, I got a Flip UltraHD for my birthday. I got it, on the promise that I’d take more videos of my children. But really, I had fond memories of my sister and I, making silly home movies with our camcorder. Somewhere there is a tape with our bizarre version of Wizard of Oz, lip-synching songs from Sleeping Beauty, Barf-o-vision, and naturally… a cooking demo by yours truly. My mom wasn’t thrilled that we didn’t clean up the kitchen before we shot it, but it was fun.

Then, when my point and shoot died a horrible death, I got a notion that I could make videos about my culinary exploits.

Which led to this video. I had already posted this recipe, but you get the video and the recipe:

Warning: I sound like I’m 14. Also, I didn’t have a tripod. So, it’s a little bit shaky. I also said “um” a lot.

Additional warning: I now have a tripod.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe: Read More…

Not defined by genre.

I like to give myself labels. I’m a mom, a writer, an artist, a gamer and a geek. Okay, I don’t play many video games anymore, but I do try to keep up with game news. However, I don’t think that simply by stating what I am, will give you an idea of who I am.

I bring this up because the New York Press posted a review by Allen Houston of a reading from some of the authors involved in the short-story anthology “Stories,” which included Neil Gaiman. It’s well known that Neil Gaiman is a rock star in the literary world. His works have a wide range of fans who will wait for hours to get to hear him read and have him sign their books.

Read More…

It’s the little things. AKA I scream for ice cream

Note: Sorry I don’t have any pictures. The digital camera’s still broken and I can’t get clear pictures on my camera. Boo.

It’s not the big things in life that make you happy- it’s the little things. While I’m sure that winning the lotto might make things easier for us financially, I’m quite happy with things as they are.

I’m especially happy with my ice cream machine. When I was in Arizona not that long ago, I got a belated birthday check from my grandma, which immediately was spent on an ice cream machine. Last summer I’d said that I wanted one, and from then on, any time we had extra money we talked about buying one.

When I was in second grade, my teacher had an ice cream party as a reward for our class. He got one of the wooden ice cream makers that you crank and have rock salt- and all the students took a turn cranking it.

This one you plug in! It whirrs for 25 minutes and then you have ice cream! The first ice cream I made was a vanilla. It was adored by my family, but I thought it was a little too sweet. Which it was. I confess: I misread the recipe, and accidentally put in 1/3 cup too much in sugar. Oops. But it was lovely, and quickly vanished from the freezer.

This week, I made strawberry ice cream. With the exception of my strawberry pieces being a little too big, it was perfect. Just sweet enough, with the strawberry flavor coming right through. Nothing fake about it- you can taste that it’s all the real deal. Judging by the fact that this one’s going even faster than the vanilla, I think the rest of the family agrees.

My only problem is that right now I”m using a Tupperware container, and despite putting plastic wrap over it, it still gets a bit icy. I’m guessing the container isn’t as airtight as I need. Any suggestions from anyone out there with an ice cream maker?

So expect a lot of ice cream posts from now on. I’m hooked on making this stuff. So far I haven’t tried a custard based recipe, but that’ll change this upcoming weekend.

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