Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for July, 2012

My little Hulkling.

I’m lucky. My boys are pretty darn good. They’re compassionate, empathetic and just out and out nice kids.

Except for about 10-15% of the time. Then I wonder where I went wrong.

Sunday was one of those days. We went to Disneyland (we have annual passes) and while we got a bit of a late start, things were going well. Right up until it was time to go. It wasn’t just a meltdown. It was… oh, the return of the Little Rajah. In The Secret Garden, that’s what the main character Mary thought her cousin was acting like when he threw fits and bossed everyone around. So that’s the nickname I’ve chosen (TheBoy calls it him the Little Prince).

My son stamped his foot, and demanded that we do his bidding. And we said no. It escalated and escalated until at some point in time, I wanted a drink. And I don’t really drink.

Though in many respects, the Hulkling is a better description of it. He starts to get angry and goes from my mild-mannered song to a howling creature.

This was honestly much worse than it sounds. I… well, part of me doesn’t want this to possibly follow my son as he gets older, and it’s painful to write about. I’ve tried so hard to make sure that my kids think of others, that they say please and thank you, and that they learn that they’re a small part of a big world. And I didn’t think I spoiled them. We explain that not everyone gets to go to Disneyland or the zoo as much as we do (and we honestly hadn’t gone to Disneyland for months before this summer). I don’t buy them all the foods they beg me to get. I don’t take them to fast food places when they ask. I don’t buy them toys all the time.

Yet. Here we are. They are spoiled, though not intentionally. My in-laws like to buy them little presents. Nothing big. A coloring book here and there, a plastic boat or water pistol… but in retrospect, it’s something they think they’re entitled to.

Though at least it seems he only acts it when he’s tired, and his brother sees how we react, so he doesn’t freak out very often at all. That’s some consolation, right?

By the time we got home, I was furious enough that everyone in the house (except the kidlet in question, weirdly) thought I should go out for dinner. So TheBoy and I went out for dinner and I had a drink- which helped me forget my frustration and at least help me start to look at it a little more openly.

I realized that I take his meltdowns so much harder because it’s one of the many ways he’s like me. (If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ve probably figured out which kid it is by now) I will be completely honest, I was a bitch when I was seven years old. Granted, I was a sly bitch and had figured out that I couldn’t have meltdowns outside of the house and keep up the image that I was this perfect adorable little doll of a girl… but I would throw epic fits at home. I learned to control my temper, mostly by learning to recognize when I was tired or hungry- the two things that usually led to outbursts.

I’ve been laboring over this post for the last couple days. Worried I said too much, worried I said too little. I’m not perfect. But I’m paying attention to the mistakes I’ve made so that I can correct them.

We’ve implemented a chore chart. I figured that this way he’ll learn that he has to earn those fun trips to Disneyland or the LA Zoo, so he won’t feel entitled. If he completes enough of his daily chores, he’ll get the green light for something fun. Could be a trip to a regular park, or something bigger- but it won’t be his choice. His brother has to do it, too.

So far it seems to be working. We had our first real test today when he had a huge meltdown after he stepped on his cheap water pistol and broke it. He didn’t want me to throw it out, he wanted me to get him a new one- it was only my realizing that he’d actually cut his foot on it that got him to calm down, and even then it wasn’t calm by much.

When we were divvying up the points, I asked if he thought he deserved the check mark for “behavior.” He thought about it, and admitted that he didn’t. He asked me if it’s okay to get upset about things. I pointed out that he could be sad about the water pistol, and even get upset. But there’s no reason to scream loudly enough that the entire neighborhood could hear.

So there’s that, at least.

Olympic MANIA

I am obsessed with the Olympics. Even the Winter Olympics. I will always clear my schedule to watch the Opening and Closing ceremonies.

I loved the Opening Ceremonies last night. It felt like a very personal love letter to the United Kingdom, proclaiming that this is who they are and what makes them amazing. And even for those who scoff at it, saying it wasn’t serious enough- did you really want another abstract show about the spirit of a country finding friends, fighting adversity or whatnot? I admit, I’m really tired of that. This at least felt like something vibrant and real. (Except for the Giant Baby. That was odd.) My mother-in-law commented that the feeling was a lot more like the closing ceremonies, and it wasn’t a bad thing at all. It felt fresh.

Some of my particular favorites: The cauldron. I loved that each nation brought part of it in with them. Just seeing all those individual petals come together to form the torch said everything that the Olympics should be. David Beckham. That is a man who loves his country and is so proud of them. You could tell. Also, David Beckham + a suit + speedboat = James Bond movie. Just saying. Glastonbury Tor. So many Olympic Stadiums are shrines of metal- it’s nice to have something organic. The TARDIS. Yes, they worked the sound of the TARDIS into the Opening Ceremony, which is a lovely nod to the episode where The Doctor lit the cauldron at the 2012 Olympics. (Don’t watch Doctor Who? Try it! I’m certain you’ll love it) And a tribute to children’s lit!

As much as I loved the Opening Ceremony, NBC’s coverage of it was terrible. Meredith Viera was nervous and unprepared (she said “I didn’t know that” a lot), Matt Lauer was rude to Meredith and didn’t even seem to care about being there, and Bob Costas… okay, Bob Costas was awesome, but made it more obvious how much Matt Lauer lacks these days. Bob Costas had passion and knowledge, and while he talked a lot- it was . And a lot of inane prattle during moments that were best left quiet (including stuff that spoiled some of the surprises). That’s ignoring the fact that they didn’t have a live feed for it online, which seems to be what most of the internet wants.

Beyond that, they actually edited out an entire segment from the opening ceremony- not just editing out some segues to make room for commercials. And what did they replace it with? An inane interview with Michael Phelps.

We’re at a point where with the internet and social media, we’re aware of things as they happen. It seems odd to not air events live, and simply replay the high profile events during peak broadcast times (and/or make those available online). I would have appreciated getting to watch the Opening Ceremony live, uninterrupted and unedited. If this is how the UK wants to introduce themselves, I’d like to see it all.

Technology-wise, we’re at a crossroads. Either we continue to insist that we can tape-delay live events or we acknowledge that life doesn’t always happen during prime time. It’s not hard. You can still re-air the high profile events during prime-time, but simply give people the flexibility to watch it live, even if it means during the middle of the night. It is the Olympics- it’s a time for us to come together and see the best that humanity can offer. Shouldn’t you be allowed to get up at 2 am and watch something if you want?

(Apparently you can get up at 2 am and watch it, but I had to dig through my DirecTV menu to find their listing with Olympic events and what channel offers the coverage- and I know that the only reason I can watch it is because we have the sports package. I know that I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but is it too much to ask for everyone to be able to have access to the Olympics?)

Play nice, Geeks!

At this rate, I’m never going to blog about my vacation.

It would seem that the new thing to do to get some page views is to suggest that most attractive female geeks are posers. Sometimes it’s just done by drunken idiots (like the guy who tweeted about Felicia Day being a fake geek without actually knowing anything about her- it didn’t quite end well). But most of the time it’s done by people trying to protect the geek community (and yes, by both men and women).

FACT: it’s impossible to look at anyone and know whether or not they’re actually geeks.

Remember how geeks used to try to hide it in order to be popular? Guess what? Now that geek is chic, other people are going to try to fake being geeks. And all you can do is just try to get to know people and hope for the best. You know why? I don’t think any of the people faking it are doing it to be malicious. Most of them just want somewhere to belong. The ones who are just doing it for the attention will move on, they usually do. Some might realize that we were interesting all along and become geeks themselves.

My husband and I are both geeks. In totally different fields of geekdom. But nobody ever questions whether or not he’s read a Green Lantern comic book if he’s wearing the t-shirt.

Think about that, will you?

ETA: This isn’t addressing booth babes, which I think is a lame PR tactic. Don’t blame the poor girls who showed up for a job. If you’re upset about it, blame the PR people who hired them- either way, it has nothing to do with people co-opting geek.

I’ve seen plenty of geeks upset about this “co-opting” as though their interests are something to protect. Guess what? ANYONE can enjoy a comic book, video game, sci-fi/fantasy book or series. And they are. If you’re so insecure about other people enjoying these things, perhaps the problem isn’t them… it’s you.

ETA2: Reading the author’s rebuttal to his CNN piece and the Achievement: Internet Kerfluffle he unlocked, it would seem that he uses “Booth Babes” to refer to anyone who is at a convention mercenary- just there for the money and exposure, not because they care about it. Which honestly, I have never heard used as a perjorative. So that would be his problem.

In fact, I did read his piece and it would seem that his biggest problem wasn’t his opinion- it’s that he seemed to have expected his readers to know who he he is. In this day and age of the internet, you can’t assume that people will take the time to look back over your portfolio to see what you stand for. Assume that all they have to judge you by are the words in your post.

Want to mock people using a perjorative your friends use? Make sure that you explain it- otherwise, 99% of the internet will be confused. Trust me.

8 years!

Today’s my anniversary. 8 years ago, I was lucky enough to be marrying a man I loved deeply then, but even more-so now.

We had a lovely ceremony at a building that’s no longer accessible. I would talk about it more, but it’s not available as a venue anymore, since it was bought by Scientologists (I am not making that up).

The building was an art deco affair in Santa Ana, with an old elevator, as well as a theater. We used the theater for both the wedding and the reception. Chairs were set up for the wedding, and after the ceremony, guests were whisked away to a cocktail reception while they set up the reception.

The room was transformed into a 1930′s nightclub, with a live band, and even a Maitre’d to tell the guests where they would be seated. The tables were named after nightclubs and dance halls, and the signs served as the guestbook.

We danced! Our first dance was to “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” my dance with my father was to “Moonlight Serenade”- since he introduced me to Glenn Miller’s music, and TheBoy’s dance with his mother was to “Unforgettable”. And the rest of the night was a blur of dancing- with just about everyone.

Pictures and helpful links behind the cut. Read More…

RIP Sally Ride

It’s no secret that I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger. Even after the Challenger explosion happened on my 6th birthday. In fact, the only thing that killed my urge to go into space was the realization that heading into high school, I wasn’t even 5 feet tall.

Even then, I painted the Milky Way on the ceiling of my room. We painted the ceiling a dark dark blue and I took white paint, a toothbrush and a rag to create stars and the galaxy.

I made my sister help me with the intricate launch sequences for the space shuttle- I had a book with schematics for all the switches, as well as the sequences for launch and landing. Any time I could get her to help me, we’d run through it.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

If it weren’t for Sally Ride, I don’t know that I would have ever considered space a possibility for me. But knowing that she had paved the way for other women, it certainly made it much more possible.

She showed me I could reach for the stars, and I could not be more grateful for that.

RIP Sally Ride.

ETA – And apparently she came out in her obituary. In the statement released by Sally Ride Science, it mentioned she was survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, the COO of SRS. And was confirmed by Ride’s sister.

At a loss for words

Last night as I went to bed, I watched my timeline preparing to head off to see The Dark Knight Rises. And I longed to be with them. It’s been some time since I’ve gone to a midnight show- it’s hard to manage when you have two little ones.

Waking up to hear about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado has been rattling to say the least. A gunman entered a theater showing TDKR, threw in a cannister of tear gas and opened fire. It is the very definition of senseless violence.

I don’t have any answers. I’m not sure that anyone ever will. I can only hope that pundits focus on the fact that this is one man. That if there is any reason, it won’t be found in the genre of movie he chose. (I’m still upset that people try to blame video games and comics for deranged individuals)

Hug your friends and families tight. If you can, keep your children away from the TV. And if they hear about it, make sure they know that for every madman out there, there are millions of wonderful people.

Peace and love,

PS – Working on the trip report now, but I felt I needed to comment on this.

ETA: Unfortunately the news is focusing on every little aspect of the shooter’s life. While I’m sure he’ll make an interesting case study, splashing every little detail only gives him the infamy that he probably wanted.

Calm in the face of madness.

Today was an odd day- I know I was going to start sharing my trip report, but today was just too weird not to blog about right away.

Earlier this week, I tried to refill my medication, but CVS didn’t have it in stock. So I had to wait. On the way back from the pharmacy with the boys, I spotted a sheriff’s helicopter making a tight circle.

Please be over the freeway. Please be over the freeway.

It wasn’t. It was circling over an area just a few blocks from the house.

Not knowing what they were there for, I assumed the worst. You see, about two years ago, there had been an incident at a fast food place nearby. A guy robbed the fast food place, and as he came out of the restaurant- an off duty sheriff was pulling in. He called for backup, was shot (he’s alive), and the guy ran into our neighborhood.

We were under lockdown for four hours while they cleared the neighborhood. So I assumed that it was a similar situation and pulled into the driveway. Instead of going through the gate into the backyard where I usually park, I stopped in front of the gate and rushed the boys into the house, locking the door behind me.

No, I didn’t tell the boys why we were doing what we were doing. I just told them I needed them to race to the doorstep and not to move until I got there. One of the things I’ve learned (learned from working at Disneyland) is to keep a clear head and stay calm when things are going wrong.

If you freak out, they will.

As to why we didn’t attempt the backyard, I am the sort of person who weighs her options. On the porch, I can see the only places that someone nefarious could hide. As opposed to going through the gate into the backyard where there are too many places that someone could pop out and harm us from.

…Doesn’t everyone think that way?

In the end, we were fine. One of the BILs said that he heard the helicopter ordering someone to surrender to the police outside of their house. But really, better to be safe than sorry.

I also found the most annoying ice cream truck yet, but I think that’s another story for another day…

I’m back!

Today’s post is going to have to be a short one. Most people come back from vacations with a ton of dirty laundry and a cold- I have a migraine.

Obviously, I survived without having internet in the room. I might have had to recharge my phone twice each day- but I survived. (And that was with just taking pictures on my phone, instagramming the ones I liked, and sending a few tweets)

I got a DM asking me how confusing an internet policy could be. Here’s how it went:

When I opened my browser, up popped a window welcoming me to AT&T’s wireless spot. It gave me the following options: Bill my room, Pay by Credit Card, Buy AT&T wifi service, Log in to existing AT&T wifi service, …and there was one more. I don’t remember what that option was, but maybe it was just to go to the AT&T store.

Paying by credit card gave me options about how many days and how many devices would be accessing from my room. I’m a little paranoid about using credit cards over unsecured wifi, so I wanted to bill it to the room.

Billing to the room said that I was authorizing a charge of $9.95 per connection for one or two devices for as long as the device was connected to the service.

That wasn’t exactly the verbage, but it was pretty darn close. I called the front desk to ask for some clarification, since to me it read as the charge only lasting as long as my computer was connected to the internet. As in, if I shut down my computer, I’d have to pay again. Which seemed wrong.

The front desk wasn’t entirely clear either, but she did say that while the first device was connected, I could connect as many other devices as I wanted- like an iPad or Kindle. But there wasn’t an hour limit.

So we decided not to do it. TheBoy suggested I give it a shot on the night we were mostly in the room, but it just seemed like a waste of money.

One of my favorite hotels I stayed at that charged for internet access, charged a small fee at check-in. You got their wifi password, and that was that. It wasn’t a per day fee, it was just a one time fee. The next time I went there, the wifi was free, but I appreciated a simple process that didn’t require me to remember when my 24 hours I paid for started.

…so for anyone affiliated with hotels or wifi providers- just make sure your policies are clear. Connection means so many things!

What will I do?

I had a blog post ready to go on my laptop…

We’re on vacation, you see.  Returning to a hotel we’ve been to several times- only to discover that their wifi isn’t free and I’m not entirely sure what their connection policy entails…

So no internet.

But enjoy this picture of my boys with Mater.


As well as this abandoned doll I spotted a little while later.


Catch you later!

Don’t be that person.

I went to my gastroenterologist yesterday. Things are good. No flare ups. I’m still anemic, but so far as health issues go- I’d rather hear that my anemia is my only problem, as opposed to needing more tests. (this is the initial post about my health issues for those who are newish here)

Today, however, I’m here to share you the story of the woman (I believe she was at or about her mid 50′s) who had the appointment ahead of me. As a cautionary tale for anyone seeing a specialist for the first time.

Now, the walls in this office are painfully thin and this woman was loud. While I was busy trying to read Mansfield Park, I was having a hard time focusing on Mr. Crawford’s shenanigans (and Fanny’s polite outrage) because I could hear every detail of this woman’s health history.

I won’t go into the details, but this should give you a rough idea of how it went.

“Here’s the file from my general practitioner, and here are the test results from the tests that he ordered.” That’s how it started. Promising, right? Then she veered off on a long tangent about how she was so worried that her medically necessary tests were going to give her cancer, and that they hadn’t done the right kind of ultrasound- since her girlfriend had another kind. So he looked over the results and started to talk about what seemed to be the likeliest cuplrit and how they could test to rule it out. All while she suggested diseases. Because she’d done research on Web MD.

“Oh. I forgot. Just last week, I fainted at the store and the paramedics said it was vertigo.”

So he went back to the beginning to discuss her symptoms. That’s when she mentioned symptoms that worsened in the last month. So he asked if there had been any changes in her diet or lifestyle. “Oh no.”

So he started to re-evaluate where to start. “Oh. I just remembered.” That’s when she mentioned that for the last month she’d been on one of those fad diets where you drink shakes for two meals and only have one solid meal. “But that shouldn’t change anything.” (This is the point where I had a hard time keeping quiet, because it’s a gastroenterologist! Diets can change everything!)

At which point he told her to go back to regular meals, and that losing weight was less important than ruling out her diet as the cause of the symptoms.

THIRTY MINUTES of this. Don’t be this woman. If you’re seeing a specialist for the first time, give them the tests and then tell them ALL your health problems. All at once. Not one at a time.

And stay off Web MD.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with weird stories like this…

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