Author: Tara M. Clapper

Review of Space and Star Wars Rides at Walt Disney World

Store outside of ‘Star Tours.’Photo: Tara M. Clapper While vacationing at Walt Disney World, I was able to get my geeky self on some seriously fantastic rides–including some with an outer space theme! Here’s a brief overview of the Star Wars and outer space rides at Disney World as well as an idea of wait times, tips, and tricks for each ride: Mission SPACE The experience: Mission SPACE takes you on a trip to Mars. When you enter, Gary Sinise assumes the role of your trainer. He briefs you on your mission and assigns a job to you. In your ‘pod’ of four, you’ll be responsible for part of the mission (pressing buttons on the console). In actuality, you’re not entering a spaceship–you’re heading into a centrifuge, the type of equipment astronauts use to train. Wait time: You’ll definitely want to grab a FastPass for this ride if you go early. If you head to it later in the day, you’ll have a 5-10 minute wait line (we went off-season in August). Tips: This is a great ride if you like to get dizzy (like on the tea cup ride) and spin around. To keep from getting too dizzy on the ride, you should keep your eyes open. If you get motion sickness, avoid this ride. There’s an ‘intense’ and ‘less intense’ level. Star Tours The experience: Star Tours...

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On Friendship: Women and Gardening

How’s your garden lookin’ today?Photo: Parkseed, public domain. “The fool who gives advice about someone else’s garden is not tending to his own plants.” -Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light: A Manual As a writer and a communicative woman, I know that it’s often easier to talk than it is to listen. Lately, I’ve been really involved in keeping things in my own life running smoothly, and I think it shows in various aspects of my life, including my work. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been giving better advice to others. Maybe this is because I’m seeing to my own problems first–and I wasn’t doing that before. I think it’s also because I try to wait until someone asks for advice before giving it. Otherwise, are they really ready?This is particularly relevant among female friendships. Going back to the Coelho quote, I’m glad I learned to usually tend to my own plants before criticizing someone else’s garden. It’s still a work in progress for me, but having taken a step back, I notice how frequently this happens in friendships between women. I think it’s one thing to have an opinion; another to over-advise. When I get offended at the unsolicited advice of another, further contemplation usually reveals that her own criticism is due to her poor handling of a similar situation. In the age of social media, all of...

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New Firefly and Thor Tees: Awesome, But They Don’t Fit

TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society)makes a tee in women’s fitted medium!Photo: Richard W. Clapper, 2010. I adore online storefronts that sell specialized geeky tees. I like ordering from them and I don’t mind paying just a bit more for a shirt that says exactly what I want it to say! When I received an e-mail notification announcing a new Firefly tee for women from one of my favorite stores, I took a pause in my workday and clicked on the link. Lo and behold, I found awesome shirts displaying quotes and jokes from Thor, True Blood, Transformers, Ghostbusters, and more! I was in heaven. Until I went to order the Thor shirt. Sometimes female Browncoatshave to suck it up and wearmen’s tees instead.Photo: M. Billig, 2010 I’ve worked hard to lose weight, and I’m down to a women’s medium! Yay! However, that’s not small enough. Apparently us geek ladies are supposed to be girls. You know, not bigger than a size small. Because if you want a fitted tee shirt from some of these online retailers, you only get the option of junior sizes. By design, I’m pretty short. However, my swimmer shoulders (even though I’m not a swimmer) wouldn’t fit into a junior tee even if I dropped thirty pounds or three sizes. That’s because I’m a woman, not a girl, and so I fit into women’s clothing....

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Geeks and Depression

Geeks could be more susceptible to depression.Photo: Anna Cervova, public It’s a fact that women suffer from depression more frequently than men. My casual observation has also led me to understand that a high number of geeks and roleplayers in particular suffer from depression and related issues. I’ve dealt with anxiety on and off, and I find that writing as a form of escapism is preferable to taking pills, but if my symptoms were more severe, I doubt I could cope without therapy or medication. Depression and gaming could be related in a few ways: Gamers tend to move around less, and sedentary behavior is related to depression. Gamers and geeks are often introverts┬áby nature. A lack of positive, hobby-related motivation for geeks to exercise and eat better, which may increase risk for depression. This always leads me to wonder about my hobbies and how they could negatively contribute to my attitude and outlook on life. As a female, I’m already more likely to suffer depression at a higher frequency than men; as a writer, my job indicates a sedentary lifestyle. Add gaming and writing for fun to that and I’m sitting–frequently. Here are some things I’ve done to combat the blues: IRL. I can’t get too caught up in a game world or real-life stress and deadlines pile up and cause anxiety. Weight management. Since losing weight,...

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A Geek’s Guide to Navigating Alternative Culture

“Nice dirigible. Wanna make out?”Public Domain Image, WikimediaCommons The fun and the funky. Renaissance faires, costume events, LARPs — immersion and escapism. As a geek and gamer, I’m all about these types of things, but as in any hobby, everyone has his or her own preferences. While I enjoy spending time with friends who participate in alternative culture and alternative lifestyles, that doesn’t always mean I want to join in each and every activity. Yesterday, a friend said that he really liked steampunk, but that the ‘goth crowd’ had sort of merged into it. As this particular genre grows, there’s also a community need or desire to have 21+ events and underage events. While some take this as a means of being exclusive, I think that it’s responsible. As someone who has managed events before, I wouldn’t want to mix underage participants with a crowd that is drinking, nor would I want to alienate a crowd that wishes to enjoy beverages socially. But there’s another aspect to geek subculture, including steampunk and not limited to it: the point of being uncomfortable. Formal and casual events alike focus on the aesthetic — think about costuming at LARPs or the renaissance faire. But on top of mingling and being checked out for your clothing, there’s the alternative culture layer. When my husband and I went to an event a few months...

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Ladies on Star Wars: The Old Republic – SWTOR

I know I’m not the only female gamer seriously drawn to SWTOR, BioWare’s upcoming Star Wars MMO. After reviewing the classes, I decided on playing a Jedi Consular with a Sage spec (force user/healer). When LARPing and playing MMOs, I like playing various roles, but I’m most effective as a ranged fighter and healer–especially when there are some good tanks around. My strategy in text-based RPGs and tabletop games is stereotypically squishy! I like to power up my character’s magic as much as possible. Once I trust the other players (and once my character trusts the other characters), I don’t mind operating this way. I feel like I can really contribute. Usually I like to hang onto a few different pieces of armor (depending on what I’m allowed to wear in the game) to change things up depending on the situation. If I’m running without my husband or trusted tank friends, I’m likely to add a bit of defense to my character using armor. I’m hoping the armor/clothing usage won’t be too complicated in SWTOR and that I can switch pretty easily. In everything but the recent SWTOR Jedi Consular preview, I’ve noticed that the Jedi Consular example is female. Back when I was just playing in the Star Wars universe in tabletop, I was already drawn to this class and this leads me to wonder why. I think...

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