Got a case of the “Mondays?” Here’s a fun avatar creator to try.

geekmom avatarNothing cures a case of the “Mondays” like doing something thoroughly unproductive for half an hour, right? Here’s an idea…

I love playing with avatar creators, because I’m no good at drawing, and I’m too cheap to hire someone to make me a custom caricature. Now that WordPress has built-in gravatar support, you might be looking for a new image to use when you’re out and about in the bloggy neighborhood.

Here’s one for you to try, from gamedition. It doesn’t build a whole body for you, but you can customize a cartoon head for yourself. There are even some cute and quirky accessories, like a pirate eye patch and 3-D glasses. [EDIT: I had initially linked this post directly to the flash file for the avatar creator, but GamEdition has redirected that to the main page, which contains thumbnails to games that are not G-rated. Just thought you should know before you click.]

Here’s what I came up with after about 30 minutes of messing around with it. I think I like it!

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What I want from the final season of Battlestar Galactica

apollo and starbuck season 4I can hardly wait! There’s just a week left until the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica kicks off. Even though the season/series finale will probably not air until 2009, I am looking forward to a whiz-bang ride of a conclusion! There are lots of questions to be answered before the end, and I have a feeling it will be like a roller coaster that keeps accelerating right up to the finish.

If you’re not a fan of BSG already, you can get all caught up on the previous seasons at the official site. There is a clever video that hits the most important plot points, with video clips and pithy commentary, and it’s less than 8 minutes long. You can also see the promotional photos for Season 4, like this one of Starbuck and Apollo (courtesy of scifi.com).

During the hiatus, I’ve been mulling over some questions in my mind. These are the things I really want to know, before they drive me crazy! Here is a short (okay, not really short) list of what I’ll be looking for during the last season:

  • Starbuck died, but she came back, and she says she’s been to Earth. Did she die? Is she a Cylon? How will she be received? Savior, or harbinger of doom (that’s what the Cylon hybrid in the goo bath called her)? Once and for all, who is Kara Thrace, and what is her Special Destiny?!
  • Four of the five “other” Cylons have been revealed. Each of them seems to have been placed into a strategically critical role, where they will certainly influence the outcome of the story. Will they all work together? Will they save or destroy humankind, once and for all? Are they good guys? Why don’t the other Cylons talk about the Five? They must be different.
  • Who is the fifth Cylon? I must know!
  • What will become of Gaius Baltar? Is he the final Cylon? Six has always said, “God has a plan for you, Gaius,” and I think he might finally believe her. Or is he just a pawn, a weak man, and a traitor?
  • A couple of seasons ago, Six told Baltar that the hybrid baby was the shape of things to come. What was that all about? Now that there are two human-Cylon babies (Hera Agathon, and Nicky Tyrol), where do they fit into the story? They must be important.
  • Laura Roslin‘s cancer has returned. This puts her back into the prophesied role of “a dying leader,” to lead the people to Earth. Will the fact that she was once injected with Cylon-human hybrid blood come into play, or is it just an obscure fact?
  • Will Apollo and Starbuck ever get together? As much as I wish they would, Katee Sackhoff has said that she doesn’t want Starbuck’s story to be wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end. I don’t think things will end happily for Starbuck.

Well, I’ll stop there, because I’m making myself crazy obsessing over these questions. There are other things I’m wondering about, but I just hope that I get some answers quickly once the season starts up!

Are you a BSG fan? Do you think there will be a happy ending for the human race?

He knew she was The One when she agreed to this…

Vinnk over at 4 color rebellion has posted a scan of his actual, formal wedding invitation. Here is what he says about it:

… as it turns out even geeky gamers can find love. Of course that doesn’t stop me from continuing to be that geeky gamer. My wedding invitation proves this. Be warned that it is more than a bit silly and lame, but it’s also, I hope, kind of cute.

And here is a little preview of the photo. You can click on it to see the full scan. It’s very cute, and it features Wii likenesses of the couple.
wii wedding invitation
He goes on to note that his future wife is not a geeky gamer, but that she does like the invitation, and is still going to marry him. So sweet! The only thing that would make it better would be to have the Miis dressed in wedding attire. Congratulations, Kevin and Misako! I don’t know you, but I wish you the best!

“Kawaii Not”: cute on the outside, twisted on the inside

Here are a few samples of what you can find over at the web comic called Kawaii Not, the comic for cute gone bad. (In case you’re wondering, “kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute.”) Kawaii Not is a clever and sometimes strange combination of cute, innocent-looking characters (such as food, flowers, and office supplies), with a twisted sense of humor and a strong dose of irony. The strip is in a novel vertical format, and many of the featured comics have been converted into animated icons for posting on your own page. Watch out — they blink.
cassette vs ipod peanut legume wonton plunger
Note: Despite the pastel colors and smiling clouds and rainbows, this is not a comic for children. I have chosen some of the cute, tame ones to share here. But if you enjoy irony, or have been told you’re “weird,” “warped,” or have a “unique” sense of humor (join the club), you might like Kawaii Not. What do you think?

Spelling Geeks on Nationwide Crusade Against Typos!

I heard a story about the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) on public radio, in a “guess which news story is real” game. The mission of TEAL (dedicated to a more perfectly spelling union) appeals to me.

You see, I try not to be uppity when it comes to language, grammar, and spelling. I know I’m not perfect! However, I am the kind of person who gets annoyed when there are errors in publications. I catch myself thinking, “Come on! Proofread that before you put it on television!” “Why didn’t you spell-check before that magazine was printed?” “Don’t they know the difference between there and their?” And don’t even get me started on the topic of apostrophic abuse (the misuse of apostrophes). Please!

Now, a TEAL team, led by passionate proofreader Jeff Deck of Boston, Massachusetts, is traveling the country to clean up spelling mistakes on public displays around the United States.

This March through May, we, sworn members of TEAL, will be taking a road trip around the country to stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language. We do not blame, nor chastise, the authors of these typos. It is natural for mistakes to occur; everybody will slip now and again. But slowly the once-unassailable foundations of spelling are crumbling, and the time has come for the crisis to be addressed. We believe that only through working together with vigilance and a love of correctness can we achieve the beauty of a typo-free society.

Armed with markers, chalk, adhesive letters, and white-out, they are circling the US, fearlessly correcting typos on all kinds of signs and labels. You can follow their progress on Typo Hunt Across America, and see before and after photos of their noble work. It almost makes me want to put a typo correction kit in my purse and do a little vigilante editing around my own town.

Keep up the good work, Champions of Correctness! 🙂

Geek Sweets: Super Mario Cupcakes

super mario cupcakes by naomiThese are simply amazing. Click the thumbnail to take a closer look at these perfectly crafted Super Mario cupcakes! I would love to bite into that cute little 1UP mushroom, or give that piranha plant a taste of his own medicine! Chomp!

These are crafted by Australian artisan Naomi, who must be a fondant coloring and sculpting genius, to render these Super Mario characters so well. From the perfect shade of sky blue in the background, to the placement of the buttons on Mario’s overalls, these are just wonderful! I don’t know what I crave more after looking at these — eating cupcakes, or playing Super Paper Mario!

According to her profile, Naomi works with robots by day, and is a “cupcake ninja” by night. Sounds like the perfect combination! See more of her amazing creations, including robot, Lego, and Pacman cupcakes, as well as lots of beautiful non-geek designs, too.

Thanks for sharing, Naomi!

GeekMom on life: What’s in your intellectual junk drawer?

Since I finished graduate school and became a full-time mother (nine years ago), my life has become extremely cluttered. There are school papers, coupons, tiny Lego blocks, snack wrappers, odd socks, unlabeled CDs, and mountains of laundry… I could go on, but I won’t. Everything from the important things, like my kids, to the dirty, dusty detritus of life, it all takes up space in my home and in my head.

The point is, with a wonderful husband and three dear children to take care of, and so many truly important codes, passwords, dates, and numbers to remember, why do I still have old, useless bits of trivial information taking up space in my brain? I don’t have room for extra stuff! It makes it really difficult to find what I’m looking for!

For instance, say I’m looking for that very small screwdriver. You know the one I mean? It’s very thin, and it has a standard shaped end, which makes it perfect for unlocking the bathroom door when there’s nobody in there. Oh, yes. This happens sometimes! It’s quite mysterious.

So the first place I look is the kitchen junk drawer. I’m looking for the special little screwdriver, but what do I find? Everything else we’ve stashed in there since we moved into this house! Rubber bands, vegetable seeds, lip balm, marbles, tape, pens and pencils, an old checkbook, super ball, assorted coins, little rocks, and various things with sharp edges that find their way under the fingernails. Ouch! No screwdriver.

Sometimes, that’s how I feel when I’m trying to think of something important, like… my own phone number. Yes, I forgot my phone number. Picture me on the phone, leaving a message for an acquaintance. “So if you could call me back, that would be great. My number is… Four… I’m so sorry, but I’ll have to call you back with my phone number.” I couldn’t believe it. After that, I wrote my number on a sticker and kept it inside the kitchen cupboard, so I would never have to sound so stupid again! (At least not while leaving a phone message.)

I might not feel so bad about having forgotten my phone number, if the data taking its place were actually important, but they’re not. It’s just a bunch of stuff that I’ve stashed in there for the last 35 years. I’ll show you. Let’s give the old noggin a shake and see what falls out

  • High school locker combination (35-9-35)
  • Names and colors of all four Wiggles
  • First telephone number, from 30 years ago
  • Memorized lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Ex-boyfriend’s birthdate
  • Mnemonic phrase for the 12 cranial nerves (On Old Olympus’ Towering Top A Family Very German Viewed Armadillos Hop), but not the actual names of the nerves
  • and more…

I’d say my brain is in need of a good sorting out, but I guess that’s life. Maybe I’ll need this stuff someday, like if I’m in a coma, and my family will be sitting around the hospital bed, talking quietly. Some young doctor will say, “Oh, by the way, do you know a good mnemonic for the 12 cranial nerves? I’m having trouble remembering them.” And one of my brilliant relatives will say, “Of course! On Old Olympus’ Towering Top…” And then, I’ll wake up! It could happen.

So, what’s in your intellectual junk drawer? Care to share your most useless bits of trivia with us? 🙂

GeekMom’s latest “this is not my child” moment: Tantrum at Target

I don’t know who came up with the phrase “Terrible Twos,” because with my three kids, age three has always been much worse than two. I was reminded of this today, when my three year old daughter had her first humongous public meltdown. It happened like this…

This morning, I needed to get some things from my favorite store, Target. I love going to Target. There is a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell snack area up front, and I can grab a soda to sip while I shop. Usually, I get a sugar cookie for my daughter, and she sits sweetly in the cart, smiling at strangers, waving at old folks. It’s a nice outing. Not today.

About halfway through the shopping, she decided to throw a big screaming fit. It was really magnificent. On the International Tantrum Scale (based on how many strangers would stop and stare), it was probably a 9 out of 10. There was crying, whining, screaming, falling on the floor, scratching, bleeding, hair stuck to snot, kicking… No vomiting, though. That would have made it a 10.

I will spare you the rest of the little details, but let me share some of the things I learned from today’s Tantrum at Target:

  • Age three is more terrible than two, because a three year old is heavier, more wiggly, and can cause more damage during a tantrum.
  • The first time a child has a huge tantrum at the store, it will be unexpectedly crowded, even though it’s a Monday, and people should be at work.
  • The more difficult your child is being, the more people will stop their carts directly in your path, blocking your way.
  • The ear-splitting shrieks of an angry toddler would make a highly effective torture device.
  • The ear-splitting shrieks of an angry toddler would also make a highly effective birth control device.
  • Chanting “this is not my child” to yourself while you wrestle the kid and try to drive the cart around the oblivious morons parked in the middle of the aisle does not help to block out the screaming noise.

I’m sure some of you parents can relate to this experience. It’s one of those things that we all go through with our kids, right? Do you have any favorite tantrum lessons you’d like to share?

Today is a Geek Holiday: Happy pi Day!

Hip hip hooray! Today is PI DAY!

Okay, I don’t really get that excited about mathematical constants, but I didn’t think I could let the day go by without an acknowledgement. Pi, which is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, is approximately 3.14. At least, that’s the way most of us learned it in school.

If you have continued your education beyond high school, you may have memorized a few more digits for pi, such as 3.14159. And if you’re a complete genius (freak?), you might know even more, such as 3.14159265358979323846…

My husband pointed out to me that the ultimate pi day will be March 14, 2015 (the first five digits being 3.1415), although an argument could be made for the following year, March 14, 2016 (rounding up from 3.14159 to 3.1416) being a truer representation of the value of pi. Either way, I’ll be using it as an excuse to wear a geeky t-shirt and eating some extra pie!

If you were hosting the ultimate pi day party, what kinds of pie would you serve?