Thursday, July 2, 2015

About 30 Years - Nice Round Number!

Happy 30th Anniversary to my favorite movie, Back To The Future!


Yep! July 3 is the 30th anniversary of the release of the film. (The year was 1985. Where were you when Marty McFly went back in time and crashed into a barn?)

I know other fans have written compelling articles recently, such as: "How Back to the Future II's 2015 and the real 2015 compare and contrast" ... but forget that. Instead, here are some things I wrote, like, ten years ago!

Stepping Back (That time I interviewed 3 twentysomething BTTF fans)


The Life & Times Of Marty McFly, Age 37 (a goofy comic I drew in 2005)

(a professionally-drawn BTTF comic strip that I merely scanned & uploaded)

(something I wrote when I had way too much time on my hands)

Molly Goes To The Emerald City Comic Con (that time I saw Lea Thompson IRL and saw twenty-odd Deloreans drive by in a parade!)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

World Peace & Syrup Of Figs!

Ninety-seven years ago, world peace was declared.


Yeah, yeah, THAT was short-lived. But people were happy for a little while!


"Mad with joy!" The Yanks went "Plum Crazy!" WELL, I WOULD, TOO!


Army calls canceled! Heck yeah! P.S. Does anyone know how I can get the Red Cross blood donor people to stop calling me? :-/

So, what else was happening on November 11, 1918 in Oregon?


Influenza was ravaging nearby towns, and Yale models were absconding with...


CHEESE!?!?!

A well known lady ("Mrs. E. H. Boots," possibly a cat animagus) did something daring...


Across town, hijinks were occurring...


Meanwhile, this guy was trying to make his new catchphrase go viral....


Only 90something years too early for Twitter, dude.

Then there was this lady....


Bitro phosphate. Hmm. Just Googled it. Google asks: "Do you mean nitro phosphate?" I DON'T KNOW

Serathol (now only found in museums, I kid not) was recommended for gastritis. 


"Dr. King's mysterious medicine" wanted to make sure you said nope to dope...iness.


And lest we forget the younguns when it comes to health matters... Here you are, kids! Syrup of figs! Come and get it!


But wait! Were Dr. Williams' Pink Pills better than Dr. King's New Discovery? 


Well, who knows. But what's important is, YOUR BODY TYPE IS WRONG AND YOU SHOULD CHANGE IT.


Bitro phosphate. Because weight is great.

If you can't change your body, why, then chew some gravely tobacco!


Gross.

In 1918, Gluten-free and sugar-free foods were becoming a thing -- but not for health reasons (I'm not sure anything was really about "health" back then, my goodness.)


In other news, telegraph operators didn't realize how little time they had left. :( 
(Be not dismayed, fellas! Your great-grandchildren will one day work at the Apple Store!)


Speaking of communications, Hands-free phones were making their debut. Check it out!


C.F. Corgan is talking to his mom on the telephone WHILE playing Farmville!

In 1918, oranges were a big deal.


And you could get an 8-room house with a garage, a chicken coop, and a cherry orchard for $2500.


Insert "I really need to build a time machine!" joke... 

here.




Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baggage

Maybe I was too just exhausted last week when I wrote this entry... because while I talked about what "packing up my work stuff and leaving" WASN'T like (hint: this), I didn't really go into what it WAS like.

So let me rectify that. 

It was like this:


The stuff of nightmares.

No, literally. I mean, I regularly have nightmares about packing.

My "packing" dreams started around 2006. They go like this:

*I'm somewhere other than home (on a train, in my college dorm, at a friend's house, in a hotel.)

*I realize I need to pack my stuff and clear out.

*I begin to put things in boxes and bags. As I go, I keep remembering more stuff that I need to pack, and more things "appear."

*"Important" mementos fill my brain. I must pack my baby blanket! My childhood toys! My dumb keepsakes!

*I'm scrambling to find bags and boxes to put all these things in.

*I'm wondering if all these things will fit in my car or whether I might have to reassess my packing in the near future.

0_0

Now, as someone who's been having these dreams for roughly 10 years, you can be assured that I've analyzed them for all they're worth, just like I've analyzed the animal dreams, the wacky architecture dreams, and the "Pseudo-Disneyland" dreams (more on those another time, perhaps.) 

After much analysis, I've come up with the following:

*I have too much crap.
*I am too attached to that crap.
*I need to let go.

A bit o' family history: my father's family moved around a lot and didn't keep much; my mother's family is another story. My grandma was a child of the Great Depression, and they kept everything that might be remotely useful. Not that this is altogether bad; after all, keeping things that you might need rather than throwing them away and re-buying the same thing at a later time, from an environmental perspective, makes sense. That is, until it comes to the point that you have so much stuff... it's going to collapse on you and smother you for all you're worth.

I've inherited these family traits.

Plenty of us have seen the Hoarders TV show or at least seen pictures of what extreme hoarding looks like. We say, "well, at least we're not that bad." We pat ourselves on the back for not having 50 cats or an old mattress collection or boxes piled so high that our house becomes a maze that only we know how to navigate. Go us, because at least we're not that bad!

But that's like a 400-pound person saying: "I'm not overweight, because at least I don't weigh as much as that 600-pound guy on TV. Now he's overweight." 

Sometimes we convince ourselves we don't have a problem, because someone else has a bigger problem, so they're the only one that has the problem, really. 


Okay, so I knew what my problem was... now what? Would getting rid of a lot of my possessions make those awful dreams go away?

I was presented with what I felt was a great opportunity to find out, last summer... a chance to move from my bedroom to a smaller bedroom so that my old bedroom could become a guest room. To this day, I'm really glad I made the transition. In the process, I got rid of a lot of things. Good Will, recycling, garbage, eBay. In fact, I made so much on eBay that I was able pay for two Lego conventions (and then some) just using the money from that Paypal account. 

Sure, moving in the summer was a moronic decision, because I don't have A.C. and the whole process was physically miserable.

Miserable, but worth it.

So after I moved rooms and got rid of stuff, I thought my problems were over. I'd purged a lot of things I didn't need or want or anymore. Baggage = less. Huzzah and a half.

And I think it actually did help, for a while, because the packing dreams did seem to subside after that. I didn't have the angst of having too much stuff, so that angst couldn't pervade my dreams anymore.

Sleep well? I think I shall!


But then Last Week happened. It was like the perfect storm; three things that ought never to happen at once... happened at once.

1. It was the end of the school year. I always take some stuff home at the end of any year, like my extra boots, water bottle, stuff like that.

THAT I could handle.

2. I was leaving my job entirely, which had never happened. So I was also packing up my fan, my vacuum, my beanbag chair, posters, signs, notes from children, and anything else that could be remotely considered mine. (And no, I didn't steal a stapler. And not just because someone infinitely borrowed my lone stapler some months before.) In addition, I had to sort through, back up, and/or delete the files from my computers. Oh, and make things ready and accessible for the next person.

A more difficult task... but still possible.

3. Everyone in the building was moving out completely, because our school's floors and pipes are being redone. This meant that every last crumb of equipment had to either be put in a box OR labeled with a fancy sticker OR put into a special plastic bag.

If #2 hadn't happened, I could have probably gotten away with putting everything school-related into boxes and letting the moving company (folks who were hired to remove all boxes from the building before the remodeling happened, and return them to the correct place afterwards... well, in theory.) deal with it. But because I was vacating my position, and I knew someone else would be coming along to fill it, I felt strongly that everything had to be organized and ready for the next person. I didn't want this person to open up a box in September and find tangled-up cords and broken headphones. I wanted them to just be able to smoothly transition into the job and think, "Wow, my predecessor was SO ORGANIZED. She even PACKED in an organized way!"

Well, I tried my best to be organized. But then something else got in the way: THE DEADLINE.

In my packing dreams/nightmares, there's typically a sense of urgency because of an approaching deadline. I don't just need to pack, I need to pack before it's too late. The deadline never actually comes in the dreams, though. I mean, I don't know that my brain has ever gone that far. I'm usually just still packing when I wake up.

But in real life? There was a deadline, and its name was June 12th. June 11th was the very last day we could be in the building. June 12th, the movers were coming in and taking everything away. Construction/remodeling would begin soon after. If I left something behind or forgot to do something? Too bad, so sad.

Even though my last day of work/pay was June 9th, I was there all day June 10th and June 11th, packing -- and panicking.

Organization? Another dream. As June 12th approached, I just started throwing stuff into boxes.

So the person who takes over my job, come Fall, will have some surprises waiting for him or her....

Like, a few boxes that are totally organized and labeled with useful items.

And a few boxes that contain a really odd assortment of plastic things that I wasn't sure if they'd want, so, um... HERE!

And like I said in my last post, by the time I left on June 11th, I had inhaled enough dirt and dust to make me physically sick.

So I was sick, plus:

1. Semi-emotional from saying goodbye to the kids.

2. Semi-emotional from saying goodbye to my job.

3. Semi-emotional from the physical labor and the dusty chaos and regret over things not being ideal and the strange feeling that I was in Inception all of a sudden.

But then, as the days passed and my summer vacation commenced, I began to relax, to unwind, to feel good again.

:-D

And then, last night, I had another packing dream.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Exodus

Look... I know that movies and real life are not the same. I know that when I come home from grocery shopping, I'm not going to be carrying a singular paper sack with fresh greens and an unwrapped baguette sticking out the top. I'm fairly certain that if my car gets into a minor accident with another car, neither vehicle will explode. My phone number doesn't start with "555," I rarely have an accompanying soundtrack, and if I decide to go to the bank to make a deposit, you can rest well assured that I'm probably not about to be involved in a hostage situation or bank robbery.

Despite knowing all that, when I decided to resign from my job recently, I thought it would be like how it is in the movies. When movie people quit or get fired, they clean off their desk and leave the office carrying a box, much like this one:


If only it were that simple.

Four days, four car loads, and a living room that currently looks like Woodstock: The Aftermath, but I'm finally out of there, ready to begin the next phase (which I'm either going to call The Great Adventure or the Glorious Unfolding... and hope that Mr. S.C. Chapman doesn't mind either way.)

I'm ready!

Sure, I've inhaled enough dust and dirt in the past week to give me an allergy attack of epic proportions. My eyes are watering, my head is throbbing, and my right nostril wants me to sneeze, while the left one doesn't seem interested. I'm tired and achy and cranky and dirty and I still have a ton of stuff to put away.

But it will get put away.

And these aches and allergies will pass.

And the story has only begun.


Friday, May 29, 2015

The Truth About Ghosts


I've been working with elementary students for about 12 years. In that time I've seen a lot of crazy kid creations. Normally I don't feel it's my place to share kids' work, however silly or hilarious it may be. They're just kids, after all. Leave 'em alone and let them be their innocent, goofy selves.

But I'm going to make an exception this time. First, because this particular creation was displayed at a public event... so, really, it's fair game. And second, because I think it's very important that you, dear readers, were made aware of the true and indisputable facts about:


Ghosts.

This research project was created a while ago by a young student in our school district's "Talented & Gifted" ("TAG") program. 


"Ghost let them see them in a ball of light or not."

This entire list is awesome or not.



TAG kids are often unique in some way, or super bright in a particular area or two. That gets them into the program. High intelligence is expected, but not necessarily guaranteed.


Full disclosure: I was in TAG in 6th grade, and I was not the brightest bulb. 

My personal year-long research project was on The Mayans. I made a diorama of a small house for a nice Mayan family to live in, complete with an electric pottery wheel made out of a LEGO motor.


Like I said, not the brightest bulb.

But hey.




Monday, May 25, 2015

Favorite TV Shows: May, 2015 Edition

Favorite TV Shows: May, 2015 Edition


 (Previously: January, 2011, May, 2012May, 2013, May 2014

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

My Top 5 Shows That Are Currently Airing (Or Have Aired Within The Past 6 Months), Regardless Of Whether Or Not I'm Caught Up With All The Episodes...

1. Community (thanks Yahoo!)
2. Call The Midwife
3. Reign
4. Jeopardy
5. Rick Steves' Europe
Honorary Mention: Grimm


What The Above List Looked Like Last Year (May 2014):

1. Community (-TIE-) Call The Midwife
2. Jeopardy
3. Rick Steves' Europe
4. Antiques Roadshow
5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


Guilty Pleasures I Like To Watch On Cable When I'm Housesitting:
1. Love It Or List It Too
2. American Pickers
3. Property Brothers
4. Flip Or Flop
5. Love It Or List It


Shows I've Been Watching Via Netflix Lately:
1. Community (Seasons 1-4 in the past two months)
2. ANTM Cycle 1 (oh, the good old days!)
3. Rick Steves' Europe
4. Merlin (finally finished the series!)
5. Reign (season 1)


Shows I Need To Catch Up On/Finish Watching:

1. Call The Midwife (I've been ignoring it this season, but I plan to binge-watch it on DVD at some near point.)
2. Reign -- I haven't seen the last two episodes of the season.


Shows I'd Like To Check Out:

1. Firefly
2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (I guess because everyone says it's so great?)


Shows I Said I'd Like To Check Out Last Year:

1. The Tudors (Tried it; didn't care for it.)
2. Reign (Tried it; enjoyed it in all its crazy splendor.)
3. Firefly (Still haven't watched it!)

Technology And This 80's Baby


Why 80's Babies Are Different Than Other Millennials: This PopSugar post has been shared on my Facebook feed many times this week. This 80's Baby was all over that title before I even got to the article, because hello, duh, of course we're different (AND SPECIAL. AND UNIQUE.) You must never link me, of the DuckTales generation, to kids born in the Quack Pack era, because riots will ensue.

Actually, the article originally came from socialmediaweek.org, with a comparatively boring title: The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech.

Whatever name it's got, I thought I'd use the article to share some of my own experiences of growing up in this strange period of time.

If you can distinctly recall the excitement of walking into your weekly computer lab session and seeing a room full of Apple 2Es displaying the start screen of Oregon Trail, you’re a member of this nameless generation, my friend.


My first computer lab experience was actually with a roomful of Commodore 64s, not Apple IIs. Our elementary school had ONE Apple computer... this arrived around 1988-89, maybe. Our librarian was the one who taught us such necessary skills as "dragging" and "dropping." (Not to be confused with the ever-important "Stop, Drop, and Roll.")

Oregon Trail was around in middle school, I remember, but the game that got me the most excited of all was Sim City. Give me floods and tornadoes over snakebites and cholera any day.

Did you come home from middle school and head straight to AOL, praying all the time that you’d hear those magic words, “You’ve Got Mail” after waiting for the painfully slow dial-up internet to connect?  If so, then yes, you are a member of the Oregon Trail Generation.  And you are definitely part of this generation if you hopped in and out of sketchy chat rooms asking others their A/S/L (age/sex/location for the uninitiated).


We did the AOL Free Trial when I was in 9th grade. It was only "free" for so many hours; then you got charged. (Woe the day my parents got that bill in the mail.) In 10th and 11th grade, we had Compuserve, the scruffy cousin of AOL. On both services, you got 10-20 hours free per month, but then paid $2 an hour thereafter. Finally, in 1997, AOL began offering unlimited use internet, and we switched to that for the next decade.

I did pop into a few chatrooms during those early days. One laughable memory: me PMing (IMing? What did we even call it then?) my home address to a young man, because I wanted to stay in contact with him (through letters) and I had to get offline rightthatsecond. (I never did get a letter from the fellow.)

We were the first group of high school kids to do research for papers both online and in an old-fashioned card catalogue....


Making this transition was a bit annoying, actually. I was quite adept at using the card catalog. Why mess with a good thing?

Speaking of research papers, there was this terribly awkward period during which teachers would tell us that our papers had to be typed, yet to do that required either using an electric typewriter, having a computer at home with a printer that hadn't run out of ink, or staying after school to use the computer lab (which was impossible if you were a bus rider, like me.) This caused lots of stress.

By the time I was in college, they were beginning to explore the option of turning your paper in via email or via a flash drive.

For today's kids, Google Drive saves the day.

The importance of going through some of life’s toughest years without the toxic intrusion of social media really can’t be overstated.  Myspace was born in 2003 and Facebook became available to all college students in 2004.  So if you were born in 1981-1982, for example, you were literally the last graduating class to finish college without social media being part of the experience.


It's true that Facebook was born after I graduated college. But social media was still in place. We may not have had Facebook, but we did have group emails and group chatrooms, IRC (internet relay chat) and plenty of message boards where we talked about any and all of our interests. I had a personal website, a "Home Page" as it was sometimes referred to, where I had my photo and information about me. Honestly, by the time Facebook did rear its head, linking everyone together, my reaction was basically: "Well, it's about time." (And then it was only available to college students for the first few years, and since I'd already graduated, I was shut out of Facebook then.)

When we get together with our fellow Oregon Trail Generation friends, we frequently discuss how insanely glad we are that we escaped the middle school, high school and college years before social media took over and made an already challenging life stage exponentially more hellish.


Indeed. In those days, I connected online with people from other cities, even other countries, but it was unlikely I'd ever connect with someone from my own school, save for my best friend at the time. We might act like immature jerks, but we were acting that way with people from Australia, so somehow it didn't seem to matter. (No offense meant, Australians.)


But unlike our older Gen X siblings, we were still young and dumb enough to get really into MySpace and Facebook in its first few years, so we understand what it feels like to overshare on social media and stalk a new crush’s page.


I came to the Facebook table a little late in the game (2007), but MySpace, oh, MySpace. How often did I sit around, rearranging my Top 8 Friends? Man.

This article neglects to mention LiveJournal or other blogging sites. From 2003-2007, "LJ" was my social media platform of choice.


Time after time, we late 70s and early 80s babies were on the cusp of changes that essentially transformed modern life and, for better or worse, it’s shaped who we are and how we relate to the world.


True enough, but honestly, I don't think our "changes" were as drastic as the ones experienced by the generation of kids currently going through school. 

A kid who's 16 now was born around 1998 or 1999, when her own parents possibly didn't have a cell phone yet... and if they did, it was one that made calls and maybe texted. Now, it's probable that this teenager not only has a cell phone of her own (and so do her parents) but that she has a phone that can take photos, browse the internet, and do so much more.

A kid who's 16 now probably had her baby photos taken with a film camera, her preschool-elementary school photos taken with a digital camera, and her most recent photos? Selfies. Thousands of selfies.

Kids nowadays have access to thousands of free games on the internet... available with just a click, and maybe a Flash update. Recently I was attempting to explain to some of my fifth-grade students how we used to "game" when we were their age. "So you'd take these six 5-inch floppy disks and install them one after another..."

With each generation, technology marches on. And thank goodness for that.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bricks Cascade '15

Portland's 4th Annual Bricks Cascade came and went -- two months ago -- and I have been putting off blogging about it for reasons unknown. Well, here I go.

This year's convention was the first in which I was a theme (co-)coordinator. What a job! Instead of getting to just relax and enjoy the convention, take lunch breaks whenever, and come and go as I please, I had to be present, engaged, and organized. I was one of the coordinators of Town & Train, which is usually one of the biggest themes with the most MOC entries. While I definitely know ways I could make things run more smoothly in the future, I don't think the endeavor was a disaster. Trains ran, the town stayed standing, and the MOCs on our tables brought smiles to many faces.

One of the jobs of a theme coordinator is to build trophies, and then, during the convention, look at all the MOCs in our theme and pick winners for various categories. Here are the two trophies I built:


video

Judging was tough! I did not want to do judging alone, so it became a team endeavor (me, my co-coordinator, and another AFOL friend) and these three builds came out on top this year...


Structurally Sound (Best Building) went to The Ridge by Paul Hetherington. Both the outside and the inside (yes, there were things going on inside!) looked great, and there were so many cool details. One of my favorites was the blue fish "fountain".



Moving Right Along (Best Train or Vehicle) went to the Post Zombie Apocalypse School Bus, by Cory Janssen, which I'm sorry to say I didn't get more photos of, because the back looked really cool as well. This Moc stood out because it was unique (not  your typical yellow school bus) and it had a story connected to it (zombies!)



Stellar Scene went to the Octan Motorsports Park by the Olson brothers. What ultimately set the Octan Motorsports Park apart, for me, was its cool details that kept bringing me back to look at the setup again and again. 




I especially loved the concession stands/shops... that hot dog shop! That pretzel shop! 


Some other Mocs that were definitely in the running (and are making me think we need to have more awards/trophies next year) include this fantastic house by Allen Smith:


And this one by Lori Clarke... (those gables! that roof!!)


And this charming cabin by Laura_KQB and Arwyn...



Below is a video I made of some of my favorite Mocs from throughout the show (yes, it includes some of the ones seen above). Hmm... I can make a video faster than I can do a blog entry, how 'bout that?


Finally, here are some of the things I made & brought:



I know I'll need lots more tan if I do an Old West Town layout again, but I worked with what I had....


I made most of these buildings (the hotel/saloon, sheriff's office, bank, church, barn, and shed) in the month leading up to the convention. The train station & the haunted house were already built.)





"Look! Woody!" is the comment I heard by far the most often during the public show.


I also brought some of the items from my Washington Square Lego Store display, along with my Lego-made word "Creativity". 


Each letter on the word features a different creative medium: C: woodworking, R: sewing, E:  writing, A: music, T: filmmaking, I: painting, V: sculpture, I: cooking, T: science experiments, and Y: computer programming.


I also finally made a Moc that I'd been wanting to make for years: 


I did this one last-minute, so I'd like to improve on the floor and do the right & left - side walls/scenes eventually, but I think it turned out okay. Eventually I'd like to do many more scenes from Last Crusade, including the booby traps, the train from the beginning of the film (lions! snakes! magic!), and perhaps the zeppelin ("no ticket!") (There are three official sets for the movie. There need to be more is what I'm saying.)

In conclusion, while my 4th Bricks Cascade convention felt a little "different" to me, it was still enjoyable, and I plan to be there again next year!

Happy building, everyone!