Daily Chance to do Good: HUGHCON!!!

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If you’ve attended a science fiction convention in the past 20+ years on the east coast, your path is very likely to have crossed with this man’s..

hugh-chair

…Yes, he travels with that chair.

…….Ok, not really.  But he totally could, and no one would  question it.

Why, you ask?

Because this gentleman  is Hugh Casey, one of the finest people you’ll ever find in (or out of) the world of science fiction fandom.  As his bio states, Hugh is…

A long-time con-goer, he’s been a member of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) since the early-’90’s, where he served, at various times, as President, Vice-President, and on the Board of Directors. He’s also served as Chairman and Vice-Chair for PHILCON, Philly’s regional SF con, as well as it’s head of programming for several years …. He is a filmmaker with his own production company, Parents Basement Productions, and his short films “Teddy’s Big Escape” and “Young Geeks In Love” can be found on YouTube. He is also a writer, director, actor, blogger, photographer, event manager and promoter, and more. He tries to live by Clarke’s Law, “Specialization is for insects”.

(His bio neglects to mention, of course, that Hugh was a Guest of Awesome at Pi-Con in 2010.  Perhaps no one has earned that title more than Hugh!)

Now, east coast fandom hasn’t seen as much of Hugh in the past few years because of his fight with, and now recovery from, cancer.  To help out with his financial needs, a bunch of his friends have organized…HUGHCON!!

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“What izzit what izzit WHAT IZZIT???” you ask?

HUghCon is a fundraiser where all proceeds will go to Hugh!  Throughout the day/evening, attendees will be treated to the music of Philadelphia’s own Star Trek tribute band, The Roddenberries, as well as the musical tapestry that is This Way to the Egress!  (If you’re not familiar with them, there are some music links at the bottom of this post.)

Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on some fantastic silent auction items such as a copy of the book Who Killed Amanda Palmer (signed by photographer Kyle Cassidy, writer Neil Gaiman, and musician Amanda Palmer!), a first edition of the board game Conquest of the Empire (unopened, circa 1984), a geektastic gift basket of goodies from the Pennsylvania Browncoats, and much more!  Book, jewelry, and garb vendors will be on hand for your gift buying needs, with a portion of those proceeds going to Hugh as well.

SO MUCH STUFF, Y’ALL!!

Admission for the event is $15 pre-sale ($16.20 with tax), $20 at the door. The best part of this event?  You can buy a ticket even if you can’t go to the event, and that money goes directly to Hugh!!  So even though I can’t go because of prior obligations and, ya know, Philly being 12 hours away, I’m delighted I could still purchase a ticket and help support this love-filled event for this fantastic man.

You should, too!  It’ll make you feel good!  🙂  Go HERE! http://hughcon.brownpapertickets.com/

For the most up-to-date information on HughCon, check out their Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/911674232296899/.

Thanks for reading.  Please share if you’re so inclined!  And, really, go take a peek at the FB page..there’s so much awesome being planned to support Hugh, one of the best people and brightest stars in fandom.  ❤

The Roddenberries music: https://soundcloud.com/the-roddenberries

This Way to the Egress music: http://thiswaytotheegress.com

hughcon-poster

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on the issue of selfies, snapchat, and consent

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Over the next stretch of weeks, I’ll be writing about my recent trip to work a haunted attraction in Australia – yes, really! Australia! – and it’s a mixed bag of experiences, to be sure…but one of the biggest things sticking in my memory is not exactly related to haunting.

Selfies.

What I found, while being in costume at the haunt, was that everyone wants a photo of characters.  That’s not unusual, but it was…extreme in Sydney.  One of our team members literally couldn’t take a step at times without being asked to pose for a photograph. (I videotaped this because it was truly amazing how many requests he would get.)

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the daytime crowds were nicer about this than the people that showed up as the sun went down.  We moved from having family groups with babies to teenagers and early 20-something year olds that were more aggressive about their requests.  I realized, as the requests came in, that they weren’t requests.

They were demands.

As a woman, this was far from a comfortable situation.  It didn’t matter if I was working, if I was obviously busy, even if I was talking to someone else.  The only answer to, “Can I take a selfie with you?” is, “Yes.”

If you say no, you find a celphone-holding hand being slipped around you and a photo being snapped.  In my case, I was taking tickets in a line queue, so there was no way I could avoid having people surround me, and honestly after 12 hours of work, I didn’t have the patience I had earlier in the day to just grin and bear it.

Also?  That’s a disturbing thought right there. I can’t say no. I can’t stop this from happening. My best bet is to smile and pretend it’s ok.

That’s exactly what I found myself thinking, and in light of the growing awareness of rape culture, that’s friggin’ disturbing.

There’s no WAY this is ok. 

“But it’s just a photograph, right?  Why is that a bad thing?”

Because ANY time your right to say no to something that involves your body, your personal space, is taken away?  There’s no damn WAY that’s anything BUT a bad thing.

I’m in no way familiar with the world of selfies and Snapchat, so maybe the aggressive taking of these pics is only news to me.  But seriously?  I ever catch someone I know treating anyone the way I was treated in Australia, I will make sure that behavior stops ASAP.

And if you’re one of those people thinking you have a right to take a photo of someone just because you want to do it even though you’ve been told no?

You’re wrong.

You’re being abusive.

You need to check your privilege and re-educate yourself about what ‘no’ means.

 

easy ways to do good

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Over on Facebook, I keep seeing ideas shared on easy ways to help out the homeless that you pass on the street, so as we move into the winter months, I thought it might be useful to compile the ideas I’ve seen into a blog post.

  • Meal Bags – The following incredibly simple idea comes from Thomas Willeford.  (Photo credit is his.)foodThese cans of food can be purchased for about $1/each on sale, and are examples of things that can be made into self-contained easily carried-and-opened meals that don’t necessarily need to be cooked.  Add prepackaged take-out packs of forks/spoons/napkins and a bottle of water, and store them in bags in your car to be distributed as needed.  Total cost per bag is roughly under $2.
  • Fill-A-Bag  purseYou can obviously get creative with this idea.  Add in snacks, gift cards, socks, gloves, combs…the possibilities are endless.  Or if you have other types of bags, customize one for the guys.  These items can be so easily found in the trial size section of a grocery or drug store – or, if you’re staying at a hotel and you don’t use the soaps and shampoos in your room, take them with you for these packages!
  • Suspended Coffees – Being a lover of coffee, I love this idea…although it can easily extend to meal times, not just coffee.  There is a network of cafes around the world where you can prebuy a coffee (or a cup of soup, or whatever you’d like), and ask the barista to ‘suspend’ the purchase.  When someone in need comes in and asks for a suspended coffee, they get this item.  It’s truly a random act of kindness and you can do it knowing that your money is going directly to a person in need, not to someone’s salary or overhead. (You can learn more about how this idea came to be here.)
  • Restaurant Leftovers – This is a no-brainer, especially if you pass people in need on your way into the restaurant.  Should you not finish your dinner?  Depending on what’s left over, get it put into a take-out dish and give it to someone.  Does your meal come with something you’re not going to eat, like soup?  Get it and give it away. (My friends and I have gone so far as to order an extra appetizer, or sandwich, or meal – especially easy if you’re getting fast food – and give that away.)  Note:  We were all working at a museum for minimum wage, so please don’t think that this is something for wealthy people to do.  Anyone can do it.
  • The Bloggess and Her James Garfield Miracle – Once a year, Jenny Lawson puts up a post that allows people that want to help others to network with people that can use some help.  If you don’t read The Bloggess, please do click on that link and see what it looks like when a community of people come together out of a desire to help strangers have a better holiday season.  (It’s pretty amazing.  It’s also officially over for 2015, BUT the links for the wish lists are still active, so if you’d like to go buy a holiday present for a kid, go take a look.)

Obviously, there are LOTS of ways you can help people out…from saying yes at the register when someone asks you to donate a dollar or two to a cause, to chipping in on online fundraisers.  I like these ideas because they’re personal. You are in control of the focus of the help.  And most of them are so, so, EASY to do!

…Thanks for reading this.  Now go be awesome. 🙂

…except for stupid cockroaches…

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“Tell me something nice?” I asked Bones the other night.

I ask him that a lot, when I’m feeling sad or insecure.  He never questions why I’m asking.  He just answers.

“I think you are the kindest, most thoughtful person I’ve ever met.”

I kissed him, said thank you, and snuggled up close, wishing I could see the me he describes.

I have been thinking a lot about Chris, and Ant, and so many other people.  People that I think are amazing and kind and thoughtful and patient.  People like my friend Heidi, who has this way of showing me that there’s always a little more compassion to find when looking at a situation.  And I’ve been considering how I talk about stories.  I catch myself not being kind or patient; I catch myself being demanding, expecting a lot, being easily frustrated by things rather than taking the higher road.  I complain and point out a mistake that I could just as easily fix and stay quiet about, knowing that I’m just as likely to make a similar error.  More often than I want to admit, I am not the best helper at home, finding it easier to work on cross stitch than to get up and help Bones with something he’s working on.

I know, I know.  We’re all only human, right?  We all get frustrated and impatient and annoyed and discouraged and stressed and…

I really want to do better.

I want to be the person my husband says I am.

You and me, Opus.  Let’s go do better.

 

 

 

$winterholiday shopping? here are some ideas

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I’m a little late this year, but heeeeey!  Need some nifty $WINTERHOLIDAY presents?  Consider the following!  (And please note, as you read over this list, that a great deal of these fabulous people are doing good things with their profits…so purchases here really are a gift that does ongoing goodness.)

BOOKS

    • Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway) by Jason Michael – A charming tale told by a cat about what it’s like to be adopted into a new family.  Proceeds of this story of a special sort of blended family are being donated to two animal charities in Virginia.  This would be a lovely bedtime story book.
    • True Haiku for You:  A Daily Dose of Spiritual Growth by Jason Michael – A book for the adults!  “Begun as therapy writing in 2001 after the death of his father, and inspired by watching Dr. Wayne Dyer’s PBS special, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Jason’s “Haiku Project” has amassed some 4400 haiku to date and there’s no end in sight. True Haiku for You is a collection of 366 haiku primarily on inspirational, motivational and spiritual themes designed to be a daily reminder of our self-worth, of our need to persevere, and of our innate ability to overcome any crisis. Meant to be read one haiku per day True Haiku for You strives to be a reminder that God is all around us, without and within.”  (I also love this book.)
    • Acting Out Yoga books by Danielle Palli – If you’re looking for new ways to get your youngsters moving around and trying new things, you should really consider buying one (or both!) of these two books.  Harvir in the Amazon follows the adventures of young Harvir in the Amazon rainforest; Anna in Paris recounts the journey of a ferret, Fondue, and his wanderings through Paris.  Both books illustrate varied yoga poses, and kids are encouraged to try out these poses as well!  The Acting Out Yoga series is an innovative introduction to yoga for both the storyteller and the story listener!  An additional bonus is that portions of the purchase price are also donated to children’s charities – Harvir proceeds go to a nonprofit organization that provides much-needed school supplies and medical care to young children in the Amazon Jungle, and Anna purchases support the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County!

JEWELRY

    • Belethil – Home of the best dang elf ear jewelry you’ll find.  Alanya makes absolutely gorgeous stuff and right now, she’s running a half price sale to help out a friend, so you should really go take advantage!  (As of this writing, the store is active, but she’s going to be putting it into vacation mode in early December, so shop while the shopping’s good!)

ART STUFF

    • Celtic Art Store – I discovered this artisan at a local Ren faire last year.  I was feeling completey overwhelmed by the crowd and the day, and when Erin invited me into her booth to trace a knotwork pattern with a small instrument, I had ZERO interest in complying.  That said…wow, did it help my brain calm down and focus.  A lot.  It’s like walking a labyrinth for those of us that have no time and no access to a labyrinth.  🙂  These bits of magic are called Mandalynths, and they’re truly great for helping with stress, anxiety, autism, ADHD and PTSD.  (Click on the type of pattern to see which version is recommended for what ails ya.)  You’ll also find a new-but-growing line of glass dome jewelry in this brand spanking new web store!  Catch their sale prices from now until Dec 12th!
    • Alternate Histories – A Pittsburgh-based company that I love madly!  These guys take old images and maps and insert monsters into them, or twist them into reflecting a history where monsters and aliens are a common part of life in America.  You can search their store by US regions, which is something I think is pretty great.  Want proof there’s a creature running rampant in Sacramento?  A lake monster in Cleveland?  Do you suspect robots were involved in the Revolutionary War?  Would you like a map showing exactly where the zombie outbreaks have been in Pittsburgh? Look no further!  You’ll also find some of the most unique holiday cards on the market as well as a series of prints advertising why you should flee America‘s monsters.
    • Jeanine Leclaire – Jeanine is selling varied types of prints and cards from her shop to help raise funds for one of the kindest people I know, Anthony Paino.  I’m going to also say that if you are feeling extra special generous and would like to help Ant out directly, you can click on his name -OR- you can visit http://www.sokindregistry.org/registry/7217 and choose a gift of varied price points to help him out.  It’s a lovely way to send a Random Something to someone that so desperately needs some help.
    • There Are Squirrels in My Head – I’m tossing my own hat into the ring this year. 🙂  I have a Zazzle store!  From holiday cards to blank cards featuring some of my photography, to items for that Special Someone in your life that is made of awesome and win and cookies, my store is small but growing.  And during December, Zazzle runs all kinds of sales, so it’s a great place to do some shopping.  (Thank you!)

OTHER AWESOME STUFF

    • Shadow Elements – Mary creates some of the best cat beds out there.  She uses organic buckwheat, and you can purchase varied covers to fit your and your kitty’s needs.  Pair it up with a soothing travel dream pillow and case for your own snoozing needs!  (The pillows are not currently listed, but let her know you’re interested and she’ll hook you up!)  Mary also creates lovely stained glass pieces and an assortment of tote bags for your gifting needs! Be sure to check out her gallery at http://www.shadowelements.com/gallery/ to see what kind of custom marvels she can create for you.  (Purchases made from Mary is a gift that helps her keep her house and pay her substantial medical bills from her ongoing fight against breast cancer.)

There is NO way I can list every awesome person I know that creates fantastic things.  😦  But this is a good start!  🙂

Hope the start of your $WINTERHOLIDAY season treats you gently! ❤

daily chance to do good: help out one of the kindest people i know

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https://www.youcaring.com/anthony-paino-your-favorite-former-non-profit-naturalist-458373

Memory:
I am working in the Live Animal Unit, having recently become a weekend manager.  Behind me, I hear the sounds of someone walking into the room, talking as he enters.

I turn to see who he’s talking to, and am surprised to find that he’s more or less talking to me.

I stop working and watch him move around the room, talking the whole time as he checks in on certain animals, fiddles with other stuff, grabs some things he needs, and leaves via the back entrance to the room.

I blink. I’m not sure who he is, if he was allowed to be in here, or what exactly just happened.

This is my first introduction to Anthony Paino.

~~~~~

Memory:

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and one of our skunks in the Crazy Critters exhibit is having a grand mal seizure.

I seriously have no damned clue what to do.  I’ve crawled into the exhibit space and am cradling the unresponsive skunk.  His name is Classic, I’ve helped raise him from a baby, and he’s in shock.

I might be, too.

Ant runs up.  “I’ll go get a carrier.” He runs off do that.

Visitors are commenting on how nice it is that I’m keeping the skunk company.

I try to smile.

I’m so glad Ant is here to help me.

~~~~~

Memory:

Our animal center’s coyote, Chinook, has gone to live in Maine, away from cities and concrete enclosures.  Ant has put together a trip to visit Chinook in his new home.  It is a frenetic adventure and of the four of us, only one will ever make this trip again.  More than once.  And that person is Ant, because he loves Chinook enough to drive into the wilds of Maine over and over again to check up on his friend.

~~~~~

Memory:

Ant and I are walking to Starbuck’s to get a mocha before the museum opens for the day.  He is not someone that one would say needs coffee; he’s always animated, always seems to be moving.  But he’s introduced me to the joy that is Starbuck’s, and this quick walk down the street to get an overpriced mocha is maybe one of the best parts of my day, because he’s kind and friendly and makes me feel included in a way I generally don’t feel.

~~~~~

This is the Ant that lives in my head, in a snapshot of a world that no longer exists.  If you’ve ever visited the Academy of Natural Sciences up to about 2011 or so, you’ve probably encountered Ant in Dinosaur Hall, doing a natural history demonstration, working with the Women in Natural Sciences program, or handling one of the myriad small jobs a museum manager encounters every day on the job.

A few weeks ago, I learned that he’s been struggling a lot.  The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him, but they suspect it’s a rare condition called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) – his immune system is attacking his nerves, leaving him so weak he is struggling to do things as simple as eat, or stand up if he falls down.  You probably haven’t heard of this condition before, but it looks a little like MS..or stress.  Which is why his doctors are having a hard time actually diagnosing him.  His health has deteriorated over the past few years and he needs help.  A lot of help.

This is where you come in.  🙂

There’s a fundraiser for him here:  https://www.youcaring.com/anthony-paino-your-favorite-former-non-profit-naturalist-458373 You’ll see that the request is for money, and for other things as well.

Tis the season, of course, where we are inundated with pleas for help. And honestly, too many of us are a paycheck or two, or just one health crisis away, from needing help ourselves.  I’m boosting the signal for this request because Ant is truly one of the best, kindest, most dedicated people I’ve ever known.  I have zero doubt that he would do anything in his power to help his friends.  So we, his friends, are doing everything in our power to help him.

Because of Ant’s health, he’s been unemployed for too long.  We all know how terrifying hospital costs are even if you *do* have a job.

So.  This your daily chance to do good, y’all.  Even donating the cost of a Starbuck’s mocha would help.

If you can’t help?  Please consider boosting the signal.

Thank you.  With all of my heart, thank you.  ❤

ant