Wednesday 28 August 2013

The Geek Girl Message Spreads: Operation Batgirl

Recently, Capital Geek Girls (our pet project here, the fanclub for geeky girls) was featured in Geek Inked Magazine.  But it gets even cooler.

Resident roving reporter "Rob" was inspired by our chat, and wrote a killer article called "Operation Truth", where he interviewed about a hundred different people (of all genders) about their experiences with and around sexual harassment and sexism at geeky conventions. He was in attendance at FanExpo in Toronto, and did his research there. Rob's article is fantastic, interesting, and makes me feel like the word of the Capital Geek Girls has been spread a little further with this great continuation and evolution of the geek girl movement. Hurray for cool geeky boys who support geeky girls!

Enjoy the article. Seriously, it's a good read.

Monday 26 August 2013

Ottawa Quad Sessions Kick Into High Gear!

Canada’s capital has a happening hotspot for retro rollerskaters, and the new season is starting this September. Ottawa Quad Session is back for another year, providing a weekly rollerskating ‘rink’, now every Friday night from 9-11pm—and with a great membership card.

The Ottawa Quad Sessions started last year, welcoming people with classic four-wheel rollerskates to come out and spin their wheels each week in the Norm Fenn gym at Carleton University. Starting this September, OQS is back at Norm Fenn with a new regular timeslot—Fridays from 9-11pm—making this a prime social and sporting activity.

“The new season’s regular timeslot is going to be a great draw for skaters of all types: roller derby players who want some extra practice, trick and dance skaters, and even newbies who’ve just gotten into skating,” says Dr Spin, professor at Carleton University and founder of the Ottawa Quad Session. Plans are in the works to try out some theme nights and skaters are always invited to bring their music to play on the speakers.

Here's a video interview I did with Dr Spin last year!

The OQS began when Dr Spin decided he missed having a place to rollerskate, and began renting space at Norm Fenn, inviting others to practice with him. The event quickly became known around town to those with quads themselves.

This year, OQS is offering a new membership package: the indoor skate season will be divided into 2-month quarters (starting with September-October), and skaters can purchase an 8-week for only $60. The Sept-Oct pass is available for sale now; those that purchase their pass before September will have a chance to win a gift card to Neon Skates Ottawa.

Those less able to make it out to every session can purchase a 4-session punchcard which can be used on any 4 sessions in the Sept-October quarter. First-timers can also roll in for a newbie drop-in fee of $15.

Skaters must bring their own skates and helmet (and are welcome to bring any other safety gear they like). Inline skates are also accepted, though Dr Spin truly hopes to help further the resurgence of the traditional quad skate.

“It’s a great activity, for health and fun,” says Dr Spin, “You can make these sessions into whatever you want: a social gathering, a date night, or a workout. Think of it like a fitness bootcamp, except it’s in the evening instead of some dreadful morning hour, and it’s way more fun.”

Those looking for more information can head to the wordpress blog at
or the facebook group at

Thursday 22 August 2013

Handmade Harvest invites you to the Food Show!

If you've read any of my blogs ever, you know about Handmade Harvest: Ottawa's loveliest craft show, hosted in the adorable town of Almonte just outside the city. This twice-yearly show is put on by two smart cookies, Emily and Colleen, and these two gals are up to more hijinx, with the announcement of their first-ever Harvest Food and Drink Show.

I asked Emily and Colleen a bit about the show...

1. Why did you want to put on this show?We wanted to do this show because over the years doing HH we've met so many awesome food vendors and wanted to offer them a new venue to showcase their talent. Also, we love food shows and Almonte doesn't have one!
  2. What will people get for the price of their admission?For the price of admission, guests get 10 sample tickets (a value of $5), entrance into a fabulous door prize donated by our sponsor Heirloom Cafe and access to 30+ amazing food vendors. Vendors will be setting their own sampling "price" depending on the size and value of their product. We'll also be showcasing some foodie experts including Heather Heagney author and blogger  3. What kinds of sampling can people expect? (Any hints?)Our vendors range from sweet and savoury, vegan and meat lovers, alcoholic and non alcoholic alike. We'll be sneak peeking our participating vendors on our Facebook page.
Recognizable names include West End Chiles, Equator Coffee Roasters, Harvey and Verns Old Fashioned Sodas, Ashton Brew Co, The Merry Dairy, Mad Faux Cheese...the list goes on!

Emily and Colleen have a knack for putting on great events. The Handmade Harvest craft shows are one of the only shows that I'll a) wait in line for, and b) never leave empty-handed. They've got a gift for choosing a pleasing array of vendors, and for finding some of the most talented artisans at a reasonable price range. I am certain that the Food  & Drink Show will offer a similarly satisfying experience.

So grab a friend and bring your appetite, and we'll see you at the Harvest Food & Drink Show this September 7th

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Geek Fun at Otakuthon 2013

Last weekend I headed out to Otakuthon in Montreal, an anime-focused convention that attracts about 15,000 geeky fanatics of all things Asian. Cosplay (people in costume) was everywhere; I'd say upwards of 50% of the crowd were wearing at least a partial costume. The dealer's room was a wild place and it's where I spent most of my time, hanging out in Artists' Alley where you can find some incredible art done by super-talented people.

I also met up with Rob from Geek Inked Magazine, and he wrote this lovely article about the con, and about Capital Geek Girls. I encourage you to give it a read. I like Geek Inked because it combines two of my favourite things: geekiness, and tattoos. Totally worth checking out and keeping an eye on.

credit: Rob from Geek Inked

I'll let Rob's article do most of the talking today, as I'm still recovering from the convention, but in a nutshell let me say: the Otakuthon crowd does geekdom proud with their fervor and enthusiasm, attention to cosplay detail, and general awesomeness. From where I stood, it looked like everyone had a stellar time.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Monsters in Suburbia: adventures with rodents

Last week at bedtime, I heard a scrabbling sound in the garden. I checked out the bedroom window and couldn’t see anything in the dark, but I was quite certain it was going to be a raccoon or a skunk in our garbage bins. I could just make out some movement, and saw a dark little head poke into a bin before dragging something out to eat.

I tried shouting at the thing, “Get out of my yard! Get out of there now!”, but the creature just kept chewing away. Poor Alan was laid up in bed with a back spasm after an unfortunate roller skating incident, so I had to take matters into my own hand. I ran downstairs, ignoring Alan’s pleas for rational thought. I threw open the back door and continued shouting at the beast, but to no avail.

Then I realized that the neighbours, who couldn’t see what I was doing but could definitely hear me, must think I was yelling at a person—real or imaginary—because who would be yelling full sentences at a raccoon? So I stopped, got a pan and a big spoon, and came back to bang the things together. Of course, this failed to scare off the animal, who was a hunchbacked silhouette noshing away at the far end of the yard. So I ended up shouting obscenities at the same time, and I’m sure this has done nothing to score me ‘non-crazy’ points with the neighbours.

Anyway, it was about this time that I got a better look at the animal, and with growing horror I realized it was a giant, fat, spiky nasty porcupine. A huge one. I slammed the door shut and yelled up to Alan, more just for his information than anything. I heard him stagger out of bed, but I was already running to the kitchen. I needed something to throw at the monster. I think I was running on autopilot, after years of having a dog: a porcupine in the back yard would mean suffering for Mr Darcy. I grabbed a can of soup and managed to hit the garbage can with a loud bang, but the porcupine just looked up at me, raised an eyebrow, and went back to his snack.
A procupine. Except ours was larger. And spikier.
By now Alan was beside me, trying to reason with me. In my heightened state of adrenaline madness, he just appeared to be trying to stop me from defending my nest. I brushed past him and got a mini can of tomato paste, then shouldered my way past him as he attempted to block me in the kitchen. This can landed near the beast, and he seemed to take the hint and left under the fence. Later when I asked him why he was trying to stop me, he said he’d been worried I’d hurt the porcupine. I just stared at him, mouth open; there was a spiked monster in the backyard and he was worried I would hurt it?

When I later relayed this story to my roommate, Bruce reminded me that I’d been desperately trying to convince him we should foster a baby porcupine named Charlotte from the local animal sanctuary. I felt bad then, thinking that this may actually be my cute little Charlotte.

Well, I felt bad for about half a day, until I went out to check on my zucchini plant and found that something with a large mouth had eaten half of both my sure-to-be-prize-winning zucchinis. I’m not joking; these were huge. I was furious.

A couple days later I stuck my head out the window again to spy a big grey squirrel perched in the middle of my zucchini plant, eating the last of the three zukes I’d managed to grow this year. Both Blueberry and I shouted at the thing until it ran out of the plant, into the garden, and stole my last red cherry tomato. It ate this on the fence until Blueberry and Alan went outside to scare it away, ostensibly to stop my tirade of shouts and curses that were again disturbing the neighbours. Also I'm not sure how I feel about having taught a little girl to shout at animals in public.

The next morning I was sitting on my front step when a mangy one-eared black squirrel walked up the path and tried to sit on me. Turns out, this is not as cute and wondrous as it looks in the Disney movies. I screamed bloody murder and it ran away. A few minutes later, Bruce emerged from his room bleary-eyed and wondering what the hell the screaming was about. When I told him he just gave me a long-suffering stare and walked away.

I don’t know if I realized what I’d signed up for when I transitioned from urban life to suburban.

Friday 2 August 2013

Full House: Defining Step Parenthood


This is part I of II. Read part II here or follow the link at the end of this post.

Six months ago, I decided to adopt an adorable fanboy named Bruce and keep him as my roommate. We’ve done pretty well as far as roommates go, and that’s impressive because I don’t always do great with sharing my living space. One time I had a freak-out at MJ for repositioning the couch so we could sit together during movies, because I didn’t want her to always be sitting right beside me in my ‘personal space’. I should note that at the time, we were dating.

Anyway, point is I’m not easy to live with and I like things to go in a certain order. Today I tried parting my hair on the left, for example; I managed to keep it like that for about the length of time it took me to pour my cereal. I just find that life outside my home and personal space is already so chaotic and random that, when I’m in my own space, I like things to be a certain way.

So this week, I invited two children and a man to live with me. Because…well, temporary insanity is my best guess.

On move-in day, Alan’s boxes and giant sofa were piled into my tiny townhouse living room. It looked like the end screen when you lose at Tetris: stacked to the roof and nowhere to move. But Alan dealt with it quickly and efficiently, and now it just looks like a burgeoning hoarder lives here, with boxes and junk piled in the corners.


I’m getting this weird question a lot: “Oh, you’re moving in together? Will you be parenting?” What the hell does that mean, people? What exactly do you define as parenting? Yesterday Blueberry tried to pick up a glass of water and Alan and I both yelled, “Two hands!” in unison…I didn’t know I was going to say it, but I think it’s ingrained into my brain from years of my own parents yelling it at me. I think I actually still hear it when I go to grab a big tumbler. Is that parenting? If I tuck the kids in, or teach Max how to make Alfredo sauce like I did last night, is that parenting? Blueberry had a stomach flu this week; I went to the store, got her medicine and coconut water and various other natural remedies, and helped to make her feel better. Is that parenting?

When did parenting become an insular practice? I firmly believe that the most successfully-raised children are raised by the entire village. When I was a kid, I remember being harangued by any nearby adult in the neighbourhood when I was getting into trouble; do we view this as parenting?

If parenting is defined by the acts of daily living, like eating and getting dressed and peeing, then yeah—I’m parenting. But so is every adult that comes in contact with the kids. We were at a wedding last month and the entire table ended up working together to get Blueberry to eat her dinner.

How do you not parent? A few people have talked about choosing not to ‘parent’ one’s step-kids. I have no idea how you’d live in a house with children and not interact with them in a parenting fashion. Not ‘parenting’ kids in your own home seems akin to having a roommate who sits on the couch beside you, asks you how your day was, and you just stare straight forward at the telly. Then the roommate gets annoyed and starts poking you, and you still stare forward. Then he puts your Gilmore Girls DVD in the toaster because you left him unsupervised.

As far as I can tell, the part of parenting they’re suggesting I skip is the discipline part. But if I skipped that, I’d be all fun and no substance. I’d be a 31 year-old buddy. As much as I’d enjoy swinging lightsabers around the living room with impugnity until we broke a lamp and then just leave Alan to send the kids to their room…I can’t do it. Discipline is how a kid learns to shape his world for good or evil. It’s really the most fascinating part: watching children learn what is right and wrong, and how consequence works, is like having a behavioural sciences lab with live chimps in my house every day.

So yes, I’m parenting, as I consider the mini-humans to be human and to be deserving of interaction befitting their intelligence and maturity. In fact, I've been involved with the kids' upbringing for a while now (and here's a fun post from the early days). This means hearing ‘no’ sometimes, and learning boundaries. If Alan had asked me to back out and just be the fun lightsaber-wielding one, I suppose I would have tried, but honestly I’m not even that happy-go-lucky with my adult companions.

Alas, whether or not I consider myself to be parenting, a lot of the world around me doesn’t seem to be on board…read part II.

Full House: Defining Step Parenthood Part II

This is part II of a 2-part post. Read part I here.


Yesterday Blueberry had a flu, so Alan and I arranged for me to wait with Max at his weekly counselling appointment. The two of us walked in together and I explained to the counsellor that Alan had gone home with a sick Blue, and that I’d be here for Max if they needed anything during the session. The counsellor looked surprised and said, “Oh! Thanks for bringing him in!” This irked me because the woman knows me and I’ve even sat in for some chats with her. She is familiar with our family structure and that I’m involved in decision making about the children. I don’t like that her tone implied it was some kind of freaking miracle that the non-biological guardian was bringing a kid in for an appointment.

This is just one example out of a half-dozen that happened this week alone.


I’m incensed that the adult with the fertile sperm or womb is always given top billing, and those of us who make the arduous decision to embrace these little creatures are somehow seen as ‘lesser’. Yes, I’ve only been around for a year now…okay, fine, but that’s 30% of Blueberry’s life, and 90% of Max’s life because even though he’s older, his concept of time works much like a dog’s. You, you segment of the adult population that thinks biology is the definition of motherhood, are dishonoring my role in the lives of these children. You are devaluing our affection for each other and trying to define it by a certain set of tasks or checkboxes, though your list is ambiguous and highly subjective. Stop it.


All this being said, it’s no secret I’m not a kid person and I’m not interested in making babies, and I had no intention of allowing children to live with me if I’d been left to my own devices. So now I’m facing a new kind of dilemma: exploring the unexpected—though often intriguing—introduction of two mini-humans into my world, while still maintaining the goals and plan I had for my life pre-kids.

First step: establish goals

The first step was to figure out what those goals and plans really are. I’m still figuring that out, frankly, but that’s understandable. Until something large comes along that is totally off-script, like the introduction of step kids, we often don’t stop to really define the original plan.

Next step: establish role with kids.

The next step was to really explore what I wanted my role to be in the lives of these kids. As mentioned earlier, there is apparently a ‘choice’ to make about whether, as the partner of a parent, you do any parenting yourself. I am absolutely incapable of standing around and not getting my hands dirty with the kids’ upbringing, so making myself into a parenting Switzerland was no option. But Alan and I are still defining where my role starts and ends.

For instance, I bring a wide array of knowledge about nutrition, behavioural problems, and wellness issues, so I offer that into the mix. On the other hand, I’m a career-focused woman and I like travelling with Alan, both for business and pleasure…so I’ve put my foot down that I will not be playing stay-at-home-mom when he travels for work; I’ll either be by his side and working, or working my own job/career/blog. I’m comfortable at this point with guardianship duties when we’re practicing them together, but I’m not prepared to be sole caregiver on my own. Alan is the Kid Manager, and I’m Assistant to the Manager. We’re both comfortable with this arrangement.

I’ve gotten raised eyebrows on this decision, which is stupid. Many couples with kids will establish roles they do and don’t fill; for example, my mom has a vomit phobia so when we got the flu as kids, Dad was the bucket-holder. It’s the same idea: I am willing to work within my comfort zone while maintaining my sense of identity and direction. And frankly, the only reason I get the raised eyebrow is because I’m a woman. Much fewer people raise their eyebrow at a man saying he’s got a career to think about.


So I’m establishing what I want for my own life and ambitions, I’m defining what I feel capable of handling in regards to childrearing, and I’m trying to find peace between these two (sometimes warring) worlds. It helps that I have a long-standing and fathoms-deep love for my partner born from twelve years of friendship, and loving on the kids feels like a natural extension of loving him. Here’s the hitch: the difference between making room for a childless partner in my life versus making room for Alan is like the difference between bringing home a puppy versus bringing home a giant squid: puppies do require some changes and accommodation, but an octopus requires way freakin’ more: a tank, salt water, gallons of krill, and toy ships to chew. They also take up a lot of space, their tentacles knock things over, they’re always hungry, and they leave everything a bit sticky.

Where was I? Oh yeah:


I am making room and making time for the kid thing. The difference between myself and a more estrogen-laden female is that I am not yearning to be called ‘Mom’, I am pragmatic about my skill level and my interest level, and I don’t suddenly feel like my whole world revolves around the little people.

There’s no easy way to say, “I’m not a kid person and I find this all extremely taxing but I totally love these little mongrels, too.” People tend to fixate on one half of that sentence and come to their own conclusion: that I’m finally feeling maternal, or that I want all children thrown into a T-Rex paddock. Well, I guess I’m saying it’s a little from column A, a little from column B.

I eschew the word ‘step mom’, but I do like ‘guardian’. It sounds like I have wings and a flaming sword. That’s more my style.

Guardian by Jordan Danger

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