Tag Archives: geek

Museums, Mummies, and Modern Technology

For the last six months, the Queensland Museum has been displaying an exhibition entitled Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb. The exhibition is on loan from the British Museum, and “reveals the life and death of an Egyptian priest and tells his story through an extraordinary 3D film and an exhibition showcasing more than 100 ancient objects”.

As any parent of small boys will tell you, there is nothing cooler than a real, live Mummy. (Especially one that’s been dead for a few thousand years.)

I’ve been meaning to take Big Brother to the exhibition ever since it opened in April. But you know how it is, there’s always something. When I realised that the exhibition closes this weekend, I threw all the excuses out the window and packed the boys off for a grand museum trip.

And it was awesome.

The exhibition focuses around the mummy of a priest named Nesperennub. The mummy was discovered in a tomb at Luxor in the 1890s, and has been a prized part of the British Museum collection ever since.

Over the last decade, he’s been the subject of a really fascinating investigation. Scientists have used modern non-invasive techniques (like x-ray and CT scans) in conjunction with graphic technology to create 3D renderings of exactly what lies hidden under Nesperennub’s linen wraps. And we got to see it all.

The first part of the exhibition was a 3D movie. This described the techniques used to determine Nesperennub’s gender, age, occupation, and cause of death. It also showed how scientists were able to perform a virtual facial reconstruction on Nesperennub, and how he would have lived. Then it detailed the embalming process, and touched on the religious significance of the trinkets and amulets buried with him.

It was fascinating. But to be honest, the highlight for me was that the movie was narrated by Jean Luc Picard.

Oh.

I’m sorry, my husband has just informed me that referring to such a great man by one of his character’s name is insulting and potentially offensive. I apologise.

The movie was narrated by Professor X.

So there we were, sitting in a darkened room at the Queensland Museum, with the Professor’s calm voice washing over us as we watched Nesperennub’s 3000-year-old face take shape in glorious 3D based on nothing more than virtual measurements of a skull.  And all I could think was….

Holy macaroni! The Angelator is real!

Also, the exhibition was good.

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Tell Me a Story About Spider-Man

Photo by Roland Peschetz While we were driving to my parents’ house on Friday night, five-year-old Big Brother asked me to tell him a story.

“Of course!” I said. Because, you know, telling stories is what I do. “What would you like a story about?”

“Spider-Man,” he said.

“Spider-Man,” I repeated flatly.

This shouldn’t have surprised me. Big Brother is obsessed by Spider-Man. But I have a confession to make: I don’t know much about Spider-Man. I may be a geek but I’m not a Comic Geek. My entire knowledge of Spider-Man comes from watching the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie. And that was many, many years ago. (And I may have picked up a few bits and pieces from listening to my Comic Geek Husband tell story after story to Big Brother.)

“Spider-Man,” said Big Brother. He sounded way more excited than I felt. “And Kraven has to be the villain. And I have to be in it, too.” A brief pause. “Okay, go.”

And so I did.

One day, Big Brother was riding his skateboard along the street. He was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt and a helmet because you always need to wear a helmet when you ride your skateboard.

All of a sudden, strong arms grabbed hold of Big Brother and pulled him off his skateboard and into an alley. Big Brother squirmed, but couldn’t get away. When he looked back, he saw it was Kraven the Hunter!

Kraven laughed and said, “You’ll be the perfect bait to lure Spider-Man into my trap! That fool will never be able to resist trying to rescue an innocent child.” Then Kraven carried Big Brother back to a huge warehouse full of cages. A lot of the cages were empty, but some had dangerous animals locked in them.

“What are you going to do with me?” Big Brother asked.

“I’m going to lock you in one of these cages until Spider-Man gets here,” said Kraven with a snarl.

Big Brother was quite scared, but he remembered that being brave means acting with courage even when you’re scared. So he thought very, very quickly. He knew he wasn’t strong enough to get away from Kraven, but maybe he was clever enough. So he sighed and said, “Oh, good.”

Kraven stopped. “What do you mean, good?”

Big Brother said, “I’m so glad you’re going to lock me in a cage. I was worried you were going to make me sit at that table over there.”

Kraven looked confused. He looked at the cage, then at the wooden table and chairs, then back at Big Brother. “So, you want me to lock you in a cage?”

“Yes, please.”

“Ha!” said Kraven triumphantly. “Then I’m not going to! You have to sit at that table over there until Spider-Man gets here!”

On the inside, Big Brother was very happy. But on the outside, he tried to look very sad. “Oh,” he said. Then he sighed. “Well, at least you’re not going to make me eat ice cream.”

Before he knew it, Big Brother was seated at the table with a big bowl of ice cream in front of him. Meanwhile, Kraven paced back and forth in the warehouse, talking to himself. “I’m so clever!” he said. “When Spider-Man gets here, I’ll capture him and put him in one of these cages. Then no one will be able to stop me hunting whatever animals I want to hunt.”

Before long, Spider-Man arrived. He leaped down from the ceiling, shooting webs at Kraven. Big Brother watched (and ate ice cream) while Kraven and Spider-Man fought. Spidey was super-fast and kept jumping around and shooting webs, but Kraven kept breaking free of the webs and was super-strong.

Suddenly, Kraven grabbed hold of Spider-Man’s leg and threw him into one of the cages! Before Spider-Man could get back out, Kraven slammed the door closed and locked it!

Oh no! Spider-Man was trapped!

Kraven laughed. “Now you will be one of my exhibits,” he said to Spider-Man. “And no one will get in the way of me hunting as many endangered animals as I want!”

He turned around to leave, but Big Brother jumped up from his chair and threw his bowl of ice cream right into Kraven’s face! Some of it got into Kraven’s eyes, and he couldn’t see. He staggered around and blinked and rubbed at his face. Then he grabbed Big Brother in his super-strong arms.

Big Brother couldn’t move his arms. He tried kicking his feet, but that didn’t work. So he did the only thing he could do: he head-butted Kraven. And Kraven collapsed!

(“Because I was wearing my helmet!!” Big Brother interrupted.)

Because Big Brother was wearing his helmet. Kraven was out cold! Quick as a wink, Big Brother found the key to Spider-Man’s cage and let him out and Spidey covered Kraven in webs.

“Wow,” said Big Brother, looking up at Spider-Man. “When I grow up, I hope I can be a hero like you.”

Spider-Man patted him on the shoulder. “You already are.”

Big Brother loved it. I have to admit, I was pretty pleased with myself, too. I told my husband about it later, making sure to point out the cool bits. “Did you like the way I foreshadowed the helmet? And the Brer Rabbit bit? And–”

“You know,” my husband interjected. “Sometimes you really overthink things.”

 

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Single White Wii-Fit

A few months ago, we were fortunate enough to have a friend give us a Nintendo Wii, WiiFit Plus and Balance Board. I was a bit dubious about the exercise potential of the whole setup initially, but after doing 30-50 minutes exercise every evening for the last two and a half months, I’m a total convert. I’m losing weight, toning muscles and, best of all, having fun doing it.

Plus, it’s nice to have the highest score in every aerobic exercise, yoga pose, and balance game on there. Competitive, much?

One of the most annoying irritating stupid pointless endearing things the WiiFit does is engage you in a little small talk when you turn it on.

Good evening, Jo. Are the stars looking beautiful tonight?

Initially, I ignored these little gems and pressed the A button as quickly as possible to get to the actual games exercises. But as time went on, I started engaging the WiiFit in conversation.

Good evening, Jo. Don’t forget to brush your teeth before you go to bed.

Thanks for the reminder, WiiFit!

It’s a long time since I’ve seen Pete…

I know, me too. He’s been busy.

Don’t forget to visit every day for best results.

Thanks! I will.

I’d reached the point where I almost looked forward to the odd little bits of conversation each night. But then it happened.

The WiiFit went too far.

It’s one thing to engage me in conversation about the state of my oral hygiene, but another to start offering me relationship advice.

The fateful conversation occurred a few nights ago:

Good evening, Jo. You haven’t missed seeing me all week. I’m touched.

Thanks, WiiFit. I love you, too.

Let’s talk about your husband.

Oka– Wait. What?

How have you noticed your husband has been looking lately: Slimmer? Leaner? Fatter? No change?

Uhm…. No real change?

Oh. Oh, that’s a shame. Change is always good, don’t you think?

Ye-es. Sure. Change is good.

Maybe you should pay more attention to your husband.

What? What are you implying? You think I don’t pay attention to him?

Let’s talk about something else…

Yes, let’s. Good idea.

Scientists have shown that dogs who receive praise from their trainers are more likely to continue their good behaviour.

Wait. Are we talking about something else, here? Or are we back to talking about my husband?

At which point the WiiFit conveniently stopped the conversation.

I’m not going to lie: I had no idea Nintendo was into relationship counselling. But I would have just written it off if not for the events the following night…

There was no conversation at all from WiiFit when I started it up. Very quiet. Sullen, even. And when I clicked on my favourite yoga pose to get started, something odd happened.

The wrong trainer showed up.

Hello. Your normal trainer is busy, so I’m going to be helping you with your training tonight.

Busy?! Doing what?!

Seducing my husband?

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Monday’s Top 5

This first link is a bit late, and probably should have been included in last week’s Top 5, but somehow I overlooked it. So I hope Katy from Storytelling Nomad will forgive my tardiness. Head on over and check out An inside look at Pottermore. I didn’t even think I was interested in Pottermore until I saw this post. So, thanks Katy. I think.

There have been a few posts this week dealing with mis-spelled words and mis-used grammar, and these conversations seem to inevitably come back to that Alanis Morissette song. You know the one. The one whose mere mention incites every geek and nerd in the room into a lather of righteous grammatical indignation. To allow you to better understand and combat this phenomenon, I give you The 3 Most Common Uses of Irony.

A quick question for you: Are you subscribed to Kim Pugliano’s blog – The G is Silent? If the answer is yes, you don’t really need the link to this highly amusing (and relatable) post called I’m Kim. Just Kim. If the answer is no, you need to jump on over there and find out why you should be. (You can show her you love her by clicking the ‘Follow’ button. Just a hint.)

Speaking of hilarity, Sonya from Magnet for Foolishness shares A Conglomeration of Pontifications, including a rant about why she doesn’t want a Louis Vuitton purse.

Meanwhile, The Surfing Pizza has gone and gotten himself married. I’ll leave you with an excerpt of his post, and I highly encourage you to click through and read the rest. It’s funny, sweet, and strangely romantic. So, you know, everything a wedding should be.

So getting married is fun. You get to ride in limos, drink champagne, and take lots of bizarrely-posed pictures next to trees and stone mill walls. Then there’s adorable miniature foods on toothpicks, fancy cake, fancy napkins, dancing, and some bearded dude who looks like a lumberjack busting it up on the dance floor. Oh yeah, and you get to have a beautiful bride all done up and decked out in a wedding dress. And the bride, well, she only gets me. But I do come with Ninja Turtles.

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I’m Proud to be a Geek, but that doesn’t mean I’m a Nerd

The list of blog posts I want to write is getting longer and longer, and the free time I have to write them seems to be getting shorter and shorter. But since I don’t want to disappoint my avid *cough* fans, here’s a quick diagram (courtesy of Neatorama) to explain the difference between a geek and a nerd. Just in case you needed the clarification.

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If you could invite any three people (living or dead)…

…to a dinner party, who would you choose?

Have you ever been asked this question? It’s one of those “getting to know you” icebreaker questions that gets trotted out in interviews, conferences, and other places people gather and try to find something interesting to talk about. I’ve been asked more times than I care to count. For most people, it’s an interesting cerebral exercise. For me, it’s a nightmare. This question fills me with the same kind of dread I’d normally save for those times I’m standing on stage about to play my rock band’s latest hit and I realise I’ve forgotten how to play the guitar… and I’m not wearing pants.

Why? I hear you ask. Let me explain.

My first thought on being asked this question is, of course: Why would anyone want to invite a dead person to their dinner party?

My second thought is: Who in the world would I invite? And what would I say to them?

I’ve taken a bit of a poll and discovered that 87.4% of people (approximately), when faced with this question, include Nelson Mandela as one of their guests. Great. Inspirational man, yadda yadda yadda. But… what do you say to him? I mean, seriously? Picture the scene. Nelson Mandela is sitting across the table from you, nibbling on a piece of garlic bread, and you say:

a) So… how’s freedom working out for you?
b) Hey, have you ever been big game hunting?
c) Hows about that local sporting team?

 Alright, maybe you’re more eloquent than me. I’m prepared to accept that. But… Nelson Mandela?

I’m pretty sure the only thing I have in common with him is a goodly portion of DNA. If I was going to have a dinner party with three other people, I’d want them to be people I had something in common with. People I could relate to. People I admire and respect, but…

What if I invite someone I admire, and he/she turns out to be a terrible conversationalist? Or, even worse, what if I’m a terrible conversationalist?

Thanks so much for coming to my dinner party. I’m really pleased to meet you. We have a lot in common. I mean, I’m a writer, and you’re all writers. Ms Rowling, you’re amazing. And your writing is– and you’re– I think– How awesome is that we’re both named Jo? *crickets chirp* And, Mr King, I’m such a big fan. Like, really big. I haven’t actually read any of your books, but I really respect the way that you just keep writing them, and… and… I want to be just like you. *silence* And, Mr Pratchett… Sir Pratchett? Sir Terry? I think… Oh, um… I don’t remember what I was going to say. *uncomfortable silence* I didn’t… I wasn’t… Could you excuse me a moment? *footsteps* *door opening and closing* *car starting* *screeching tyres*

You see, I suffer from an over-abundance of awe. I completely freeze at the thought of talking to someone I admire. But not everyone has this problem.

My husband, for example, was tragically born without a sense of awe. His dinner party would rock. Within half an hour, he’d be arm-wrestling Stan Lee and telling stories to try to out-geek Wil Wheaton, while  Neil Gaiman started off the karaoke with his version of Pretty Young Thing.

I’d much rather be at his dinner party than mine.

So maybe the best plan is to steer away from guests that I admire. Instead, I’ll invite actors. So, instead of writers, I’ll be sitting at the table with Johnny Depp, Mark Harmon, and Aragorn. (Okay, it would really be Viggo Mortenson, but he’d be dressed as Aragorn.)

…And I’ll be giggling behind my hand and feeling like a gangly, spotty, 15-year-old with glasses and braces all over again.

Clearly the best plan is not to invite anyone I either admire or find attractive.

And that brings me to the hardest part of this whole exercise. Because now, anyone I choose for my cerebral dinner party is going to know I think they’re boring and ugly.

So I have only one choice.

I’d like to invite three dead people, please.

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Can I Buy a Clue?

 

On my 8th birthday, we moved house. It’s something that would always be difficult to forget. But, in this case, it’s impossible not to remember.

We didn’t just move around the corner, or down the street. We moved from our little house in suburban Melbourne, Australia to St Louis, Missouri, USA. On the bad side, that meant leaving everything and everyone I’d ever known and venturing into the Great Unknown. On the good side, my birthday went for 2 days due to the time difference. (Sadly, I didn’t get two sets of present. I don’t even remember getting one set of presents. But I did get to visit the cockpit of the first plane we flew on.)

When we arrived in St Louis, my Dad started work pretty much immediately. (His job was the reason we moved. He had a two-year contract with a US-based company.) My Mum, 6-year-old brother, 2-year-old sister and I spent our days in the hotel we were staying at, trying to find ways to entertain ourselves without toys, or anything familiar around us. We were there for about six weeks before we moved into a house.

The memories I have of those six weeks go something like this:

  • A 3 hour stop in Honolulu, where my poor Mum tried to take us to the toilets. She she discovered that she needed to insert a quarter to use a cubicle. My parents hadn’t changed any money prior to leaving Australia, and all Mum had was traveller’s cheques. Nowhere at the airport cashed traveller’s cheques. So, with three kids in tow, all of us crying because we had to pee, she stood impotently in the public toilets until some kind woman handed her a fistful of change.
  • An overnight layover in LA en route to St Louis means staying at an airport hotel. My parents were too tired (3 kids on a plane for 16 hours) to try to enforce any kind of healthy eating. “Sure. Let’s order banana splits for dinner.” Those banana splits were, by far, the biggest items of food I’ve ever seen. Apparently in LA, a banana split is bigger than a 2-year-old child.
  • At the hotel in St Louis, we had the exciting situation of 3 separate hotel rooms. (Dad’s workplace was paying for accommodation.) I had a room to share with my sister, my brother was in the adjoining room, and my parents had a room across the hall. We were all happy with that arrangement.
  • The hotel also had parkland behind it, with walking paths leading around a beautiful big pond. The pond had ducks and geese. Every time we walked around it, the geese chased us and tried to bite us. I’m terrified of geese to this day.
  • Last but not least, I remember the joys of cable TV. Back in Australia, we’d only had 3 TV channels. Suddenly, we had “thousands”. But, even better than that, when we liked a show we could watch it more than once. Enter the best moment of my young life.

 

 We must have watched Clue a million bazillion times while we were staying at that hotel. At least, that’s how I remember it. The classic lines became part of our everyday language.

“To make a long story short…” “Too late!”

“No, communism was just a red herring.”

“Yes meaning yes, or yes meaning no?”

“There’s one thing I don’t understand.” “One thing?”

Time went on, and years passed before I saw Clue again. But from that day forward, Tim Curry was always referred to as “the butler from Clue” in our household.

 

It wasn’t until I’d moved out of home, and happened to find a copy of Clue in a video rental shop that I relived the wonderment of this movie. And, even ten years later, I loved it.

“Monkey’s brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington D.C.”

I watched it at least another squizzillion times. And then I made every boyfriend, girlfriend, and close friend sit and watch it with me. repeatedly. Possibly ad nauseam.

Perhaps I need some kind of twelve step program.

In any case, other than the occasional need to quote the movie

“Let us in! Let us in!” “Let us out! Let us out!”

my life went on without me thinking about it over much. Until I heard the news. They’re planning a remake of this classic film.

What?!

 Yep. You can read about it here. But all I have to say is, “No! Nyet! Never! Please?”

“Armageddon is almost upon us!” 

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