Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Science, ice, toys and space: Some snapshots from the North Coast

Kelsey and I went up to Cleveland on Tuesday for a screening of the new IMAX movie Hubbleour review is over at GeekDad – at the Great Lakes Science Center.

Rock Hall

Yes, I shot THROUGH the Great Lakes Science Center windows. It was sunny but cold enough that I didn't want to take the long way around outside. Click the photo for a bigger version.

Tuesday had one of those late-winter afternoons that practically defines the way Northeast Ohio bridges the seasons this time of year: Blazingly sunny, so that driving in the car is definitely a no-jacket affair, but chilly enough that even with a coat, you didn’t want to be walking around outside for very long at a time, especially in the shade.

Lots of ice still out there on Lake Erie, though, and I’d be surprised if there’s not still one more half-decent snow coming. (Every year since I’ve been back in Ohio, I think, we’ve had at least one early spring snowstorm, most memorably back in 2005, when Jim and I were on our way back from Star Wars Celebration III on April 24 – it was the first snow he’d seen in years.)

I shot a couple pictures from the science center’s atrium just because I liked the way the Rock Hall looked next to the ice chunks and the sky, and even though I also managed to capture the streaks on the glass, I thought the way the giant windows framed the scene was cool, too:

Lake Erie ice

Larger version is here for the clickin'.

The Rock Hall and more ice

The grid pattern on the Rock Hall came out nifty on this one, I think. Click for the bigger versions.

Thawing

Just waiting for someone to come along for a tongue-on-the-chain Triple Dog Dare.

And even though we’ve been up to the science center before, I noticed this for the first time:

Parking Garage sign

Hm. Wonder where this goes?

Check it out – those are Galoob Micro Machines!

Micro Machines Parking Garage sign

Ifitdoesn'tsayMicroMachinesit'snottherealthing! (Click to make the Micros bigger.)

On the way home, among other things, we talked about Hubble, which includes an amazing trip into the heart of the Orion Nebula.

Last night, the sky was clear enough for me to set up the library telescope again, and familiar as that blue-white wisp was through the eyepiece, there was still just a bit more wonder in there.

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March 18, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, Ohio, Science, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Storms and Galaxies and Why GeekDad Rocks.

Photo: SolarStormwatch.com

Photo: SolarStormwatch.com

I have a post up at GeekDad this morning about the Solar Stormwatch project, and it took me back to the very first guest post I did for the site almost a year ago, “So, How Many Galaxies Have You Classified This Week?

When that post went up last April 4, Jenn and Kelsey and I were in Florida, staying with our good friend Jim. It had been about two weeks since I’d lost my job as a news reporter and blogger, and though I was working hard to make contacts and get freelance assignments, things were off to a slow start.

Having been a fan of GeekDad since Wired launched the site, I sent a note to editor Ken Denmead, who suggested I write something up. Since I had just found Galaxy Zoo a few days earlier, I made it my topic.

I remember sitting at Jim’s living room table using the laptop on a quiet morning – I don’t recall if Ken sent me a “Hey, your post is up” email or if I was just obsessively checking GeekDad to see if they’d used it – and there it was.

Quite the encouraging spark: It was the first time post-layoff that I saw my name attached to a piece published outside my former workplace, and it was on Wired. GeekDad accepted another guest post later that month, and I came on board as a full-fledged contributor in May, just in time for Penguicon 7.0.

It’s been a year of learning and building and often struggling with this stay-at-home writing career, and though GeekDad has played a small role financially, it has meant an awful lot to me: Though I’m not the most prolific writer there, I have a ridiculous amount of fun writing for GeekDad, and the group of contributors I have come to know online over the past year is just an amazing, enthusiastic, supportive bunch.

I’ve gotten to talk with people like Bonnie Burton and Jim C. Hines and Tim Kehoe and I mean, holy crap, this month I’m going to be on a PAX East GeekDad Panel, which aside from being awesome in itself, means I get to finally meet and thank a few of my fellow GeekDads in person.

They are a solar storm of fantastic.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Science, science fiction, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Geeky reasons to buy “100 Stories for Haiti”

Go check out some of the nerdcentric contributors to the book as noted on my post at GeekDad. I’m not going to name them here, so you’ll just have to click.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, geek, Weblogs, writing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Neil Gaiman, Arthur, and Geekdom

©2010 WGBH / Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc.

Sept. 2010 – Further update: This entry has seen a bump in traffic since I posted the first images of Neil Gaiman’s cartoon appearance on PBS’ Arthur over at WIRED’s GeekDad blog. For more art and details from the episode – which premieres the week of October 25, 2010 – you should go read the whole article.

Edit 2/5/10 – I wrote something. Neil Gaiman said he loved it. That’s kind of crazyawesome.

Kelsey and I have been fans of PBS’ Arthur pretty much since she was old enough to focus her eyes on the television. We quote lines from the show just the way we do with Star Wars or Fringe or Help!

It’s hard to say which of us is more excited that Neil Gaiman‘s going to be on the show, but the news inspired me to write this post for GeekDad.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | geek, Television, writing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PAX East 2010: GeekDad Road Trip!

Though I made a brief note when this was initially approved and there has been some related Twitter chatter, I wanted to hold off on mentioning anything more about it until there was an official public announcement. So, check out this morning’s post over at WiredPlease Join GeekDad at PAX East 2010!

Boston. March 26-28. Be there, because This. Is Going. To. ROCK. \m/

Even with the 11- to 12-hour drive involved, I jumped at this as soon as GeekDad Assistant Editor and Frakking Genius Matt Blum put forth the proposal. And I can make it a totally budget-friendly trip since I’ve got a place to crash nearby, essentially making my costs for the weekend gas and food – and I’ve got no problem whatsoever packing myself a cooler loaded with bread and PB&J.

I absolutely cannot wait to meet and hang out with my fellow panelists and GeekDad writers, in whose mighty company I hope I shall not feel ashamed: Dave Banks, Natania Barron, Matt Blum, Doug Cornelius, Michael Harrison and Corrina Lawson. Sitting down and talking geek stuff and parenting with this crew is just so incredibly loaded with Potential Awesome.

(Penny Arcade? Of course the strip has addressed some of the issues of being a geek parent –just last month, in fact!)

And despite not considering myself a hardcore gamer, I have long been envious of those attending past Penny Arcade Expos out west, because it has always sounded like just a crazy fun nerdfest.  While the official Pax East site doesn’t have a schedule up yet, I did find a few unofficial compilations of just some of the stuff that should be going on, like this one, which mentions among others Bill Amend of Foxtrot(!!!) and writer Lev Grossman.

It also looks like this thing is going to be freaking HUGE: Joystiq is predicting 60,000 attendees, and the Penny Arcade founders said in mid-January that it’s going to be a sellout.

I’ve already got my T-shirt packed.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, geek, Science, science fiction, Travel, video games, Web/Tech, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

X-Files, Glass Robots and Star Wars.

I finally introduced Kelsey to The X-Files last weekend, and it was so much fun I wrote about it over at GeekDad , so why not take a few minutes to check it out and revisit Mulder and Scully and our stretchy friend Eugene Victor Tooms?

And speaking of GeekDad, an interview I did last week with Oregon artist Eric Bailey about his flameworked glass robots got linked and quoted yesterday by Cory Freaking Doctorow over at BoingBoing, which is, um, awfully neat. No, seriously.

Last thing for this morning: One day in, My Quest for 1,000 Star Wars Fans is approximately 1/250th of the way there, so many, many thanks to those who ordered Collect All 21! and for everyone’s continued support through sharing, blogging Twittering and ReTweeting.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Books, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From a trusted source.

I was reading to my daughter Kelsey since before she was born. We’ve covered a lot of ground together, from the neighborhoods of Richard Scarry’s busy world to the road that passes through a Phantom Tollbooth. Been beneath the Misty Mountains with a certain Hobbit and ridden the train to Hogwarts over and over again.

Click to read the related GeekDad post at Wired.com

As she grew into an independent reader, I loved suggesting books to her like Donuthead, Whales on Stilts and Zoe’s Tale. Of course, she also found a ton of stuff on her own, and has shelves full of books in which I have no interest at all – and that’s more than OK. The fact that she’s piling them up at all is fantastic.

All this is part of the reason why writing my latest GeekDad post brought me a really special kind of joy, not because it’s about a couple books I really enjoyed, but because this time around, the books were Kelsey’s discovery, and it was my turn to say, “Hm. Okay,” and then, later, “Wow! Thanks!!!”

They get some prime real estate on the memory shelf.

January 9, 2010 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 10 Things I Had The Most Fun Writing For GeekDad In 2009

Not long after my change in employment earlier this year, I got in touch with GeekDad editor Ken Denmead, who generously ran a couple guest posts I wrote in April and later included me on a very cool invite list, bringing me on board as a full-fledged contributor to the site. I’m incredibly thankful, because a) It’s GeekDad, and How Freaking Awesome; b) I’ve gotten to write pieces I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to, which inspired some writing I’m proud of.

It has been tremendously neat playing a small role in the site and watching it grow, and one of my resolutions for 2010 is to write more for GeekDad than I did in 2009.

That said, I had a TON of fun with this year’s entries, and while I truly enjoyed many of my shorter blog entries, there are exactly 10 longer GeekDad pieces about which I was most excited and got the most enjoyment out of writing, so Yay for a Ready-Made End-of-Year List! (Cop out: I’m presenting them in chronological order because it’s easiest.)

1) May 6Hands-on and Close-up Fun: Penguicon 7.0 . That weekend in May was absolutely one of the highlights of the year, and even the decade, for me. (I did a longer, more personal and detailed post here.)

2) May 21 Girls Against Girls – Figuring It Out With Bonnie Burton – It’s incredibly difficult to accurately describe how enjoyable this interview was, and the book’s lessons have come in handy more than once in my daughter’s middle school years.

3) June 11 Nine Video Games Ripe for Rebirth – Not only was this a great trip down video-game memory lane, but ohmyGod ARCHON IS BACK!!!!

4) June 18 Review: Swim Ways’ R/C Cyber Ray – Well, we got to play with a nifty toy that was only fun for a little while, but I like the way the review turned out, and who knows, maybe Swim Ways has ironed out the wrinkles by now.

5) June 27Nature at Its Closest – With several inches of snow outside needing shoveled, summer seems a long way off. But remembering the clutches of baby robins we got to watch hatch and grow on our front porch does warm the heart. (awwww!)

6) July 910 Things Parents Should Know About Warehouse 13 – It was a good excuse to stay in and watch some SyFy channel with Kelsey, but the truth is, though we though the premiere was OK, we never watched another episode.

7) July 26Bubbles, Zubbles, Toys and Troubles – Although at its heart this is another toy review, I had a blast talking to inventor Tim Kehoe about his 15-year journey from the idea for colored bubbles to the final production this summer.

8) Aug. 13 Activision’s Science Papa Will Remind You Of Mama’s Cooking – Reviewing video games means PLAYING video games, so it’s not like I was going out of my way or anything. Plus I got to write this: “To draw a 1980s toy parallel, it’s Mighty Men & Monster Maker vs. Fashion Plates all over again.”

9) Sept. 2110 Things Parents Should Know About Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – Kelsey and I had gone to see this just for fun, and I was so surprised that I liked it so much that I jumped at the chance to do the GeekDad write-up.

10) October 6Princesses and Mermaids: Who Needs Rescuing Again? – We were introduced to Jim C. Hines and his books at Penguicon, marking yet another reason the trip to Romulus was so memorable.

To circle back to the end of the first paragraph: c) It’s GeekDad, and How Freaking Awesome. Gobs and piles of thanks to Ken, Matt Blum and my fellow contributors and the Wired editors and everyone else I don’t know who makes GeekDad work.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, Games, geek, Ohio, photos, science fiction, Television, video games, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two things almost entirely unrelated:

One –

Wired‘s GeekDad writer Curtis Silver reviewed “Collect All 21!” this week:

To be drawn into an author’s brain and immediately associate and sympathize with his point of view – in the introduction – has got to be a sign that the rest of the book is going to be like a nostalgic walk through your childhood and growing up geek. Guess what? It was.

So that’s very cool.

Two –

Yesterday, I learned that Google-wise, my blog provides one of just three hits  (four if you count the original TypePad posting) for the exact phrase “green olive and bacon pizza,” thanks to my friend Keith mentioning it in a comment.

The other two? A women’s professional wrestling manager’s profile page; and (must….contain…utter glee…) a chapter of what appears to be Twilight fanfic.

I love the internet.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Books, Food and Drink, geek, Web/Tech, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GeekDad post: The Ants Go Marching

I have a post up at GeekDad about a very cool Robert Krulwich NPR piece from earlier this week about an experiment testing to see if ants can count. (For some reason, the video embedding is glitchy, so here’s a link to the National Public Radio story itself, too.)

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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