Monday, August 10, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
at some point the home page (whalertly.com) will actually contain information, but it does not at this point.
Also, not all of the pages have been set up, but they will be added. This is a chance to help create my new website, so chime in with what you like, don't like, etc.
So you know, please update your feeds:
new site - www.whalertly.com/wordpress
New Feed - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/Whalertly
New Comments Feed - http://whalertly.com/wordpress/comments/feed/
if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me personally
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Every year, for the last 44 years, Memorial Day Weekend is a big deal as sci-fi, fantasy, and otherwise "interesting" folks converge in the Central Ohio Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. MARCON, or Multiple Alternative Reality Convention, is a gathering for fans, readers, writers, and anybody who is interested in comics, sci-fi, and fantasy. The three-day event is one of the most enjoyable events I go to in a year, but it is also one of the strangest. Let the tale end:
It's the last day of MARCON and my head is spinning. Too many drinks in the wee hours of the morning at room parties will do that to you. For those of you who don't know, room parties are parties that are forced into private hotel rooms because they get out of hand with either too much drinking or too much sexual play, though never both at the same time. Mine was the drinking kind.
Looking over at my clock, I notice that it's already 9:30 in the morning; I have a panel at 10 so this is a big issue. Jump out of bed, jump into the shower, and run to my car. A quick drive, along with the proper tipping and payment for valet parking, and I am in the convention center. Woot, I make it on time.
I head to Madison and look around; there is almost nobody there. This seems to be what happens on Sundays: everybody who is attending the con is either hung over, still asleep, or taking down the displays. What is officially a three-day con is more or less a two-day convention for most people. This disappoints me; not only am I on two Sunday panels, but I usually think that Sunday panels are the best panels of the convention. Oh well.
So I migrate to Madison and meet up with Madame Heaphy as we are about to start our panel. Low and behold, there is only one person there, a teacher-in-training who is focusing on science and math. Well, our panel is about teaching science fiction (even though I am only 21 I have taught scifi to high schoolers and studied it at many levels). So we'll do a one-on-one, but that's perfectly fine. Instead of the lecture and slide show we have planned, we sit down and simply ask him to tell us the subjects he must cover.
Earth’s layers? Journey to the Center of the Earth. Evolution? The Sound of Thunder. Gravity? Cold Equations. Any and every subject he needs to cover has been talked about in a scifi book, so he will be able to use them in class with his kids. God, I wish I had a teacher like that back in the day.
I have a break between panels so I head over to listen to a talk on 50 ways to leave the planet. We discuss a laser propulsion system which is a potential launch device, along with solid state and liquid fueled engines. We also discuss the various lift-off and landing techniques that NASA and JPL are working on for future spacecraft. Though the talk was advertised as being about 50 ways to leave space, we discussed only about five; but they were pretty interesting.
That's one of the problems with panels at conventions. While you might set out to talk about the new Harry Potter movie, or The Hobbit movies, or even 50 ways to get off Earth, the panel rarely goes where it should have. Take the time travel panel I was on during the first day. While we did discuss the physics behind it, we mostly talked about why time travel is so common in literature. Though I don't necessarily mind when people move off of the subject, it can be annoying when I really want to learn something.
After the panel on leaving the planet I go to my second panel of the day: Life on Mars. As we sit there and start to talk, I notice that most of the attendees have no idea why we are talking about a TV show. I pause and ask: “Who here has seen the British version, who has seen the American, and who thinks that we are talking about the red planet?” About half the room leaves when they realize that we are talking about the TV show Life on Mars, not the planet itself.
After everybody settles down I get to start actually talking about the show. We discuss the differences between the two versions, the sequel (Ashes to Ashes), and how the endings were vastly different. Near the end one of the viewers pipes up about how she didn’t like the World Trade Center scene as it reminded her too much of 9/11. The rest of the time we spend discussing certain gotcha and gut-wrenching moments and why they were used to tell time and set the mood.
Afterwards I decide to wander around the convention one more time. Checking out the dealer’s room, I buy some more dice, a goblet, and a present for my girlfriend. I also head down to the art room to check out the amazing pictures, sculptures, and origami. They also have some computer cases, which are well done, and look very Tron-like (granted, they were a mod based on Tron).
As I am making my way to the exit I notice one more panel which looks interesting: In Space, Can Anybody Hear you Pray? While this a popular line to alter and convert (including as the subtitle of a porn movie), it's an interesting idea. This panel is an interfaith meeting of convention goers who don’t want to leave their God(s) behind. They sit there, listen to a sermon on peace, and basically act normal. I am struck by how different this is from the rest of the convention: here you have a stereotypical Sunday morning, vs. the craziness that went on earlier in the weekend. It was a real surprise.
Overall, I had an amazing time at MARCON this year. Though I was scared by some of the things I saw (the walking vagina and two men dressed in Sailor Moon outfits will forever haunt me), I enjoyed most of it. The masquerade was amazing, the ball was good, and the costuming was stunning. I learned a fair bit at the panels, was able to share my knowledge with the rest of the community, and even had a lot of fun at the parties. It was a great experience for me, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
Here's to next year and seeing you there!Read more ...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Okay, to start this, I want to share a quick story: in Lebanon Ohio two young teens were charged for sexting nude images of themselves. The girl sent a nude image of herself to her boyfriend and both were charged. This is the main story I will be using to prove my great and amazing points.
Anyway, these two youngins decided it was great to send pictures to each other. The court, on the other hand, thought it was not good. Good job to the court. Both got 100 hours of service, along with 30 hours of house arrest for the boy and an essay by the girl. Frankly, I think they both should have gotten the essay and house arrest punishments.
To start with, I agree that they should have been punished. The kids committed a serious offense (child porn) and so they should be nailed. I also like the essay (even though it should have been both) as it gets the girl to think about it and explain why it was wrong. Frankly, I like how the case was decided, as courts (juvenile) should work to change the kid, not punish them. They made sure the kids knew it was wrong and made them explain why.
Moving on, let's talk about how stupid teens can be. We know that teens do stupid things, and we know that they are normally not appropriate. However, we also know that they are just teens. In this case, the girl showed extremely bad judgment in taking the picture and sending it to her boyfriend. Sure, you two are in ”love”, but when you break up it is sure to circulate the Internet. As for the guy, I am understanding that it is hard to get rid of pictures of your girl, but he should have known better two. Frankly, both kids made mistakes, and I hope that both learn from them.
Now, moving on to my favorite topic in the world: how parents screw up.
in this case, it seems as though the parents were left in the dark. Normally I would argue that they were not at fault, but then you need to realize that this was done via text-message-pictures. This means that the parents have access to all records and can easily check in on their kids. Frankly, if the girl and boy were sending this sort of image, I am assuming that their verbal exchanges were even worse. Frankly, I would be checking up on my kids texts if I was paying for them, and the parents should have been doing here as well.
Read more ...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Every year, for the last 44 years, Memorial Day Weekend is a big deal as sci-fi, fantasy, and otherwise "interesting" folks converge in the Central Ohio Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. MARCON, or Multiple Alternative Reality Convention, is a gathering for fans, readers, writers, and anybody who is interested in comics, sci-fi, and fantasy. The three-day event is one of the most enjoyable I go to in a year, but it is also one of the strangest. Let the tale continue:
Today I decided that I really didn't want to deal with the whole bus issue. Even though it is free for me, COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) is an annoying experience and one which I rarely like to deal with; it sucks that I need to ride COTA every day for work. Instead, I choose to drive to the convention center myself. I pull in, pay to have my car parked for me, and head towards the green room. One coffee, two bagels, and some cream cheese later I'm ready to hit the floor of the convention.
I start to wander around, heading towards the Franklin room so I can check out some movies. I step into the darkness, let my eyes adjust, and notice that there is a Harry Potter marathon going on. God, it's Chamber of Secrets, what crap. Sitting in the audience, however, is an entire mob of Potteresque characters. I see a Hagrid, 15 Harrys, 12 Rons, and a random Loona Lovegood – seriously, who wants to dress up as Loony Loona?
I wander away from the movies, and decide that it is time to go sit in on a panel about the Middle Earth movies being produced by Peter Jackson. I sit next to an Obi-Wan Kenobi (I must say, his beard and hair were perfect), and just listen in. Pretty quickly I notice that there are several elves in the audience, along with a few wizards, and some goblins. Cool. Now, the problem with this many people dressed as characters is the fact that they all "know" Tolkien perfectly. That is, they think they know the stories, and then argue amongst each other for hours. Needless to say, we don't talk about the new movies, merely about how the three other movies butchered the books – trust me, I contributed quite a bit to this.
As I flee from this "debate" I start to wander the halls yet again. During this meandering, hundreds of costumes jump out at me. From the stereotypical Steam-Punk costumes, to the Klingons who exist everywhere, I see many of the typical nerdy outfits. However, along with these uniforms, I see several that were not so usual. I see a Dr. Horrible costume, a few Firefly costumes, and one or two Princess Leia bikinis. These, thankfully, are upon attractive females.
Even though I have prepared myself for the types who attend these conventions, I am unprepared for a few of the more interesting costumes that I encountered. For example, I run into two men – yes two, not one – who have decided that it's great for a 50-year-old to wear a Sailor Moon outfit; frankly, I have never seen a hairier anime character in my life. I also see a young black man who has decided to wear a vagina, yes, a vagina, as his costume. I quickly run away from these people.
Though there are some acceptable and cool costumes (mainly the Renaissance ones and the hot chicks in bikinis), most of the costumes are either insane or inappropriate. I am sure that this comes with the convention territory, but this is probably why many people do not attend these events. It is one thing to drive by a bunch of people wearing Klingon or Captain Jack Sparrow outfits, but it is another to drive by people wearing almost nothing, or that giant vagina. Although conventions need this to build the atmosphere, it also scares away the less crazy fans.
The same is true of the personalities of those who attend MARCON and other such conventions. Though the average IQ is exceptionally high (which is why Mensa recruits there), the social aspect tends to be lacking. There is a reason that the convention pamphlets include instructions about showering, eating, and basic personal care. The attendees are not just devoted fans but also, in many cases, people who have no idea of what the proper social norms are. Thus you have interrupters, rude people, and people you would normally flee from if they sat next to you on a bus.
I fled from them.
Overall, though, MARCON is exceptionally fun because of all of the characters and costumes. Sure, there are the crazies and the Sailor Moon men, but the full experience is worth it. You meet some of the most intelligent people in your life, hear some interesting ideas, and look at some stunning, and amazing, costumes. Always remember, at a convention, the odds are 50-50 that you are either talking to a rocket scientist or a crazy fan.
My post about day 1 was about my first panels and a general intro to the convention. Day 3 will be about what Sunday is like at the con, and a few more panels.
Read more ...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
In the last year hundred of our men and women died serving their country. Agree with the war or not, these people sacrificed their life so that we could live in freedom. Not only do these people sacrifice, but their children, wifes, and families lose their loved ones. They do this for you.
As millions of towns and cities across our country have parades today I recommend that you go see one. Stand up, honor our flag, and honor those who have served. Be they wounded, dead, or merely a vet, they deserve your support. If you see a vet, thank them. If you know a vet, call them up. No matter what, you should honor our soldiers today. Read more ...
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