Daily Chance to do Good: HUGHCON!!!


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..


…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!!


“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.


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


easy ways to do good


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. 🙂

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



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.



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.



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.



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.  ❤


in which i seriously reconsider my 5K fixation


This past Sunday was what might be my last 5K of the season – maybe my last one ever.  Not because of this experience, but because overall I feel…well, a little silly.  A little defeated.  More than a little convinced I could be getting the same actual workout by going disc golfing with my husband.


Sunday was World Run Day.   I signed up over a month ago to do the Dirty Herd 5k up at Pretty Lake, Mattawan, partly because it was sorta kinda local, partly because money raised goes back to Pretty Lake Camp and its work with at-risk kids,  and partly because the name of the group made me laugh. Bones had a thing to go to as well and somehow from agreeing the night before that us leaving at 8:30AM was fine to when we actually started to leave, I panicked and announced I would never make it on time.

This was to be true in ways I couldn’t anticipate at that point.

We got Bones to his thing a bit early, and me to my thing on time.   As in, the runners hadn’t left yet.  But by the time I figured out where registration was (“Oh, we already shut down!  Hold on…”), confirmed that yes I still wanted to do the walk, and made it back outside, everyone was gone.

I walked up to people that looked like they were working the event.  “Can I still go?”

“Oh!  Sure!  You’re just..let’s see…about 11 minutes behind the group.

“Is it well marked?”


I started down a road. As it turned out, this would be the only paved path for the entire walk.  Initially there were white arrows painted on the road, but as I turned onto a dirt road, that wasn’t the case.  I fairly quickly found my path blocked by plastic orange tape, with no obvious markers telling me where to go next.

This was the…well, the fifth time that morning that I seriously considered not doing this silly thing.  I could have totally ditched and no one except Bones would have known.  I next considered crying out of frustration.  I finally decided to just duck past the ribbon and keep walking.  Worst case scenario, I figured, was that I’d have a nice walk around Pretty Lake.

So pretty, y’all.  I could hear the music of the start/finish area pouring across the water and I thought at the time that maybe the 5K/10K was just a trail that would go all the way around the lake.  And then I finally found some people working the event, stationed behind a table covered in cups of water.  They informed me that I was indeed on the right path (surprise!) and I wanted to follow the path marked by the orange ribbons rather than the blue ones.  (As a side note:  I didn’t see a single walkie on any staff person, which really surprised me.)

I hadn’t seen any blue ones yet, but I thanked them and continued..and finally did find where the path broke off.  This album gives you an idea of what the start of this event looked like.  (I never saw this many people.  Alas.)  What isn’t shown is that the trail took us off road and into the woods.  It was gorgeous and just hilly enough to make my calves ache for a day or so afterwards….and honestly, it was a little nerve wracking to be alone in the woods so afraid of falling.  My right foot is still not fully healed from all my falls last month. 😦  But!  I did not fall!

A lot of the trail followed ones they clearly use over the summer, and people that know how to read trail markers would have felt more comfortable than I did, as those trail markers were frequently placed and highly visible.  And it was honestly so lovely.  Even with my feeling nervous about falling, I loved this location and trail, and kept thinking that Bones should be there because he would have really enjoyed the hike.  At the same time, I started thinking that yeah, I could probably get the same benefit from walking along with him while he’s disc golfing…so, there’s that.

I did finally start to encounter people doing the 10K, and I passed one walker (!!!!), so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t DEAD last.  We didn’t have timing chips on our bibs, but I think my total time was probably my worst one yet – just over an hour.  OTOH, it was hilly and I got lost and I’m actually ok with my time being not too speedy.  I had a lot of time to think about my 5K fixation and just as I was thinking to myself, ‘This is really stupid.  Everyone knows you’re slow.  You’d rather be riding a bike.  You’re not ever going to run.  Hell, walking is a challenge!  What the hell are you doing?  This is your last one,’ a 10K runner passed me and said hi.  I looked up and saw he had a prosthetic foot.

I assume he also managed not to fall on this trail.

Soooooo…ok, brain weasels.  STFU.

Will I do another 5K? Maybe.

Is it in part because I got another medal?

Hell yes.


buy this! (features a small bit of me!)


Back Story:
Several years ago, the ever-magical SJ Tucker found herself in need of emergency medical care and, being an uninsured musician, this was a pretty scary financial monster to face down alone.

Fortunately, she didn’t have to.  A collection of varied bits of creativity was put together under the title Ravens in the Library and all proceeds from the sales went directly to help cover s00j’s medical costs.

It was an amazing act of love..and it was a smashing success.

One of the people that helped make the book happen, Elizabeth R. McClellan, (also known as Popelizbet in other realms) has found herself in need of some financial help for shoulder surgery, and so a call went out for submissions for an e-chapbook with a similar financial goal.  And I’m in it!  🙂

Pre-orders for Angels of the Meanwhile are being taken now, in a pay-what-you-wish format, here: http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/636831.html.  Please note that the final e-chapbook won’t be available until June; pre-orders are being taken for some emergency fundraising in relation to Elizabeth’s surgery, so you’re very encouraged to order NOW, but you’ll have to wait a bit to actually get your hands on the finished product.

There’s more info about the book here: http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/tag/popelizbet+makes+things+happen

I’m very happy to be a very small part of this project. Popelizbet has done a lot of really good things for a lot of really good people…it’s lovely to see her community coming together to help her now.