Geek Etiquette

Living The Life You Want

Oprah

In the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about reinvention, setting goals, and getting the most out of my life. I just celebrated my birthday, I just quit a part-time job to focus more on Geeky Hostess, and in the next month the sprinkles will have arrived and I’ll be wrapping up three large projects that are taking up a majority of my life. My focus will get to be entirely on Geeky Hostess and the brand I want it to be, and with it, I get to focus on myself and the type of person I want to be.

It was serendipity, then, when I was invited to be a part of a media tour for Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend. I was thrilled to get to be in the same arena as Oprah and spend a whole weekend focusing on my goals and becoming the person I want to become. Plus, I got to call my Mom and hear her excitement when I told her I got a +1. (“Are you serious? I want to burst into tears. I think I’m going to puke.”)

The weekend was full of fun activities and inspiring speakers, and one of my favorites was Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love. She spoke about The Hero’s Journey and how that applies to our life.

I think us geeks can often relate to the hero’s journey, and when you put the vision of your life into quest-form, it makes it feel like a game. Your experiences, negative, and positive, help you level up and become the person you are. You have goals and prizes at the end of your journey to keep you going, and you can even gamify certain aspects of yourself and reward yourself with points or treats for doing the things you need to. Plus, just like playing a game, although you have an end-goal, it doesn’t mean you don’t have fun (and maybe even explore some small side quests) on the way.

I’m currently on a quest to make The Geeky Hostess the best it can be. I’m turning what started out as a little blog into a larger brand with a lot of new and exciting things coming in the next year. Along the way, I’m greeted with my fair share of tests, allies, enemies, and mentors. But I keep pushing through until I hit my goal. And I’m not afraid to change and revise the goal(s) as needed.

Are you the hero in your story? What is your quest? Is there something I or Geeky Hostess can do to help you with your quest? Let me know in the comments below!

Special thanks to Procter & Gamble for providing me with tickets to the Life You Want Weekend. It was a fantastic time, and I’m renewed and excited to continue striving towards my goals!

Con*Quest: The Con Adventure Journal

Con Quest

While at NYCC, I came across a fantastic new tool for convention goers: Con*Quest, a con adventure journal. The journal, a successful Kickstarter project, is a way to keep all of your autographs, sketches, prints, business cards, and photos in one place. It’s like a scrapbook or smash book for geeks.

The journal has specific pages for the types of “quests” (autograph, artist, cosplay, panel, etc.), business card pages, pages to hold prints, a zipper pouch for anything small, and a spot to put your trusted sharpie. It even comes with an adorable tote bag (with shoulder-length strap) to carry it in!

While this works for all-ages and is fantastic for any type of con, I can really see this catching on with kids and first-time con goers. It gives you a great idea of everything you can do at a convention, and makes sure you have everything in one easy location.

And if you weren’t already in love with the journal and this company, wait till you hear about their Con*pliment Cards. These cards are a fun, easy, and appropriate way to compliment someone on their cosplay or artwork. It’s a great thing to give to someone after you’ve taken a picture of them (with their permission, of course)–it has a spot for you to put your twitter handle or Instagram account so they know where they can find the picture later! I’m all about spreading kindness and I think this is such a cool idea.

You can purchase a Con*Quest journal (as well as extra pages, a mini journal, and con*pliment cards) at conquestjournal.com, or you can enter below to win your own! Bonus: Use code “NYCC” to save 10%!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s Summer: Treat Yourself!

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I work hard. And in the Summer, most normal people take some time to relax and rejuvenate. So when Robert Leonard Salon & Day Spa asked if I wanted to come in for a cut and a color, I decided to make a mini “Treat Yo Self” day. No, I didn’t spend tons of money on fine leather goods or drink any mimosas, but I did some small things that made me feel great. I wore my favorite fuchsia lipstick, I walked around Downtown Seattle, I took the time to read a bit, and yes–I got my hair done.

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I don’t normally color my hair, so the prospect was a bit scary, but as soon as I met my stylist, Cara, I knew I was in good hands. I even said the scariest words to utter in a salon: “Do whatever you want!” She put in a subtle ombre that is absolutely perfect for the color-shy. It’s not glaringly obvious that my hair is much lighter, but the colored parts catch light and create more bounce overall in my hair, and I’m in love with it. She then gave me a cut that got rid of some weight in my hair while keeping the length, and styled it with tons of volume.

The treating didn’t end there. I left the salon with two amazing new products, so I can continue to feel glamorous even after my hair is washed and re-styled. I got Oribe Royal Blowout, which helps your hair dry faster and smoother (like you got a blowout at a salon), and Oribe Apres Beach, which was lovingly referred to as “Gisele in a bottle” by Cara. (Apparently it’s what’s used on the Victoria’s Secret models to give them that perfect shiny, tousled hair.) I can’t wait to play around with my hair and the products!

So, by spending some time on myself, I ended up happier and more energized for the rest of the day. Treating yourself is an important thing! What do you do on your “Treat Yo Self” days? Watch a favorite movie? Eat a cupcake? Visit a friend? Get a message? Sleep? Leave a comment below telling me what you do when you want to treat yourself, and you’ll be entered in to win a $25 gift card from Robert Leonard salon! (Still want to comment but you’re not a Seattleite? Just let me know and I won’t pick you!) I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, August 20th and will mail out the card!

EDIT: The winner is Deedee! Congrats! 

I challenge you to do something this week just for you. Whether it’s big (a new cut and color, buying a Batman suit), or small (making your favorite lunch, wearing your favorite shirt), I promise it will change your mood for the better!

Happy “Hug a Geek” Day!

Is he teaching me to be lighthearted and playful, or did he forget he was holding me and is about to drop me? There's no way to know. Ever.

Is he teaching me to be lighthearted and playful, or did he forget he was holding me and is about to drop me? There’s no way to know. Ever.

Last year I decided May 29th would be unofficial “Hug a Geek” Day. Why? Well, that’s when I married Mr. Geek! 3 years ago today we said “I Do” (with a secret “So Say We All” hidden into the vows), and on our anniversary I like to reminisce a bit on relationships with geeks. Two years ago I talked about geek love (and why it’s so great). Last year I talked about how common geek attributes translate into a relationship. This year? I want to chat about the way your relationships change you (hopefully for the better!).

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Geek is responsible for a lot of my geekiness. Before him I had never played D&D, never played European board games, and probably wouldn’t have set foot into PAX. But there’s so much more. He is more outgoing than I am, more adventurous, and more creative. He encourages me to travel, try new things, get out of the house, spend time with friends, and achieve my various goals. I joke that I’d be a mean ol’ recluse if it weren’t for him, but I think there’s some truth in that. Without someone to remind me to have fun, I would work non-stop. And even when he’s not specifically telling me to do something, he’s still inspiring me. His sense of humor makes me step up my game. (I still get really proud when I can make him laugh!) His intelligence makes me want to learn more. And his outlook on life wants me to match his positivity and drive.

So today, go hug the geeks in your life, whether they’re your partner, family member, or friend. Let them know that you’re a better person because of them, and tell them why. (Or better yet, give them a shout-out in the comments!)

(And for those interested, here is the obligatory wedding video link I post every year!)

Geeky-Yet-Inspirational Quotes for Grads

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This past weekend I got to see my baby brother graduate from law school. How crazy is that? I was full of pride, giggles about how everyone looked like wizards, and thoughts of “what am I doing with my life.” I’m guessing many of you are going through similar thoughts and feelings as you or your family/friends graduate this spring. Whether they’re graduating from college, high school, or pre-school, it’s important to give some bits of wisdom and inspiration. But what do you do when your brother’s now officially smarter than you? You turn to the greats. 

Below is a collection of geeky inspirational quotes. Use them for your graduates or whenever you need a quick pick-me-up. Have a favorite quote that’s not listed here? Add it in the comments! (A special thanks to those of you who tweeted me your fave links! Also, holy cow you all love your Firefly quotes!) 

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Yoda, Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back

“You don’t need a reason to help people.” Zidane Tribal, Final Fantasy IX

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

“Never give up, never surrender!” Commander Peter Quincy Taggert, Galaxy Quest

“Be excellent to each other. Party on, Dudes!” Bill and Ted, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!” The Legend of Zelda

“No power in the ‘verse can stop me.” River Tam, Firefly

“I aim to misbehave.” Mal Reynolds, Firefly

“Everything’s shiny, Cap’n. Not to fret.” Kaylee Frye, Firefly

“We are who we choose to be.” Green Goblin, Spider-Man

“If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!” – Winston, Ghostbusters

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter

“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.” — Q, Star Trek: The Next Generation

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, Dune

“With great power there must also come — great responsibility.”  – Amazing Fantasy #15 

“I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we’ve exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going will very much miss the part of you that is staying.” G’kar, Babylon 5

“Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” – Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Anybots: Send Robots in Your Place

Anybots

Do you have a wedding, important conference, or other big event coming up, but you just don’t feel like going? (Hey, we’ve all had those days where the siren song of sweatpants and Netflix marathons drags us away from the outside world.) Get a robot to go in your stead.

Anybots has created a “Virtual Presence System” that consists of an “avatar” attending an event on your behalf, while you’re back at home, viewing the festivities through the bot’s eyes. You can communicate with others at the event, see everything going on, and even dance if the mood strikes you! If you’re in the San Francisco area, Anybots can even send out an escort for the avatar to make sure they don’t miss anything.

Anybots are available to rent for $325 for a day or purchase for $9,700.

Would you rent a robot to attend an event on your behalf? Would you rent one for an event you’re planning? How would you incorporate a robot in your festivities?

Find out more at anybots.com.

Hat Tip: New York Times

Contest: Win an Unplugged Vacation in Vermont

AmeeFarmLodge

One of my new year resolutions (like many of you) was to unplug and find time away from electronics. It can be so nice to have the time to connect with your loved ones, with nature, and with your activities without the distraction of new emails and tweets. Well, Vermont Perfection heard us loud and clear, and they want to help. They’re giving one reader an unplugged 2-day vacation at the Amee Farm Lodge in Pittsfield, Vermont.

The prize is a $600 value and includes:

  • A 2 night stay at Amee Farm Lodge (based on availability)
  • Deluxe Continental Breakfast each morning of your stay
  • Gift Certificate for Lunch to Original General Store
  • Welcome Basket/Bag from Riverside Farm

It does not include transportation to Vermont. But if you have some airline miles to spend or happen to live close enough to get there on your own, you need to enter. The area has 30+ miles of hiking and biking on the Green Mountain Trails,
yoga classes, snow-shoeing, skiing at Killington and Pico, tubing on the Tweed River, kayaking and fishing at Kent Pond and Tweed River, and on-site massages.

I’m ridiculously jealous that I can’t go and desperately want to hear from whoever wins. But after the trip. Put your phone and laptop away while you’re there, bring some board games and a good book, and get ready to relax. Find out more at vermontperfection.com and enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tara’s Resolutions for 2014

Nothing is Impossible

Before we get into my resolutions for 2014, I want to share a bit about the above picture. This is the product pic for a necklace my dear friend Liz gave me. Whenever I need a little pick-me-up or am about to handle something big and scary, I put it on. Although grammar-lovers may notice the double negative, I think the phrase is absolutely perfect. You see, “Anything is possible” sounds like anything could happen at any time purely out of coincidence. “Nothing is impossible” makes me feel like nothing is out of reach if I work for it. And that’s the big thing: if you work hard, nothing is impossible. Remember that. 

Yes, I know resolutions are a silly thing. We all pledge to better ourselves, and most resolutions barely last a month. Well, that’s a month more than you may be motivated to do otherwise. So while in the past I’ve resolved to not have resolutions, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on myself and how I want to improve. Why not start now? (If it helps, think of resolutions as a chance to give yourself a “yearly review.”)

Here are my resolutions for 2014:

Be More Active
Sure, losing weight would be great. But overall, I want my goal to be more active. Working on the computer all day means I struggle to get any bit of movement in. I pledge to take more steps, make time to exercise, and attempt to relax by going for walks as much as I relax in front of the tv. I’ll be monitoring my progress with my FitBit. Do you use FitBit? Friend me and we can keep each other motivated!

Try a New Recipe Each Week
For the last few years I’ve resolved to cook more at home, and I’ve gotten better at it each year. Making meals at home is healthy, less expensive, and is a fun, relaxing hobby. This year I pledge to go through the recipes I’ve bookmarked in my recipe books but have never made. The goal is to try something new each week, whether it’s a quick snack or a full meal. I’m hoping to broaden my cooking/food horizons and find a few more staples in the process! I’ll keep you updated on any amazing recipes I try.

Set Boundaries
When you work for yourself, you never stop working. I do social media marketing, I run the Geeky Hostess blog/brand, I make online videos, and I do whatever other projects come to my mind each day. I don’t stop. This year, I will. I want to set clear boundaries on when I will and won’t respond to emails or spend time in front of the computer. I want to disconnect from my phone and connect with my friends and family. It may mean someone will have to wait a few extra hours before they hear from me, but in the long run, I think it will help my sanity, relationships, and time management skills. Do you take time to disconnect or set hours when you work for yourself? Any tips or suggestions?

What are your resolutions for the new year?

10 New Year Resolutions for the Geek Community

New Year's Resolution Tee available at shirt.woot.com.

New Year’s Resolution Tee available at shirt.woot.com.

New Year’s Eve is tomorrow. Do you have your resolutions picked out yet? If not, I’d recommend including some of these. These resolutions will help you strengthen your geekness and become a better person. And some of them are just plain fun.

1. Pledge to get fit
And by “fit” I don’t mean “skinny.” Make yourself feel better and help your body perform better by keeping active. Come convention season, you’ll be thrilled to see that you’re not dying after the first day on the convention floor. There are so many fun and geeky ways to get motivated, whether it’s by playing fitness games on your new console, keeping track of your steps with tech like FitBit, or training for a zombie-themed marathon. Find some other geeks who enjoy the same things as you, and have Dance Central nights, or compete to get the most steps each week.

2. Finish that game
We all have it. An unfinished game. A “To Be Read” pile of books. An unopened RPG guide sitting on our shelf. Make the time to finish it. Schedule it into your calendar if you must. Your mind will thank yourself for giving it one less thing to feel guilty about, and you’ll enjoy having some scheduled time to do something you love!

3. Introduce someone new to your fandom
Share your love with others! While they’re geeky or not, introduce your friends and family to something you love in a non-threatening, non-crazy way. Remember that you were noob once too! Tell them why it means so much to you and encourage them to give it a shot. Want to bring a non-geek over to the dark side? Start slow. Maybe watch The Avengers and ask them if any of the characters stood out to them. If they loved Iron Man, then introduce them to some of the other movies, or to some good issues of the comic. Find points that they will relate to that you can talk about.

4. Try a new fandom
There’s a whole lot of geek out there, and there are fandoms you probably haven’t even touched. Ask your friends for recommendations, or do a “fandom swap” and try out each other’s favorite show/movie/book/game. I, for instance, have never seen an episode of Star Trek (although I have seen the recent movies). I’d love to be able to check that out in 2014!

5. Don’t read the comments
Simple as that. Don’t read the comments on  your work, and don’t read the comments on others’. If you need to leave a comment, imagine you’re saying it to someone’s face. When in doubt, don’t be a dick.

6. Support those you love
Your favorite authors, artists, filmmakers, musicians, bloggers, and game makers need your support. Many of them crowdfund their new works and/or accept donations. Tell them you want to see more from them by supporting them financially when you can. Don’t have the money? Not a problem! Help spread the word about their new projects, ask for some of their merch for your birthday, and let them know what you think of them. A kind word or two can mean even more to an artist than money. If you have a convention or event near you that needs speakers or exhibitors, suggest them. You’ll help them grow in popularity which will enable them to create more of the work you love.

7. Attend a con
There is no better feeling than attending a convention for your fandom or hobby. It’s like a giant slumber party love-fest of meeting people that “get it” while learning all of the coolest news, trying new products, and meeting your idols. GO. There is likely one near you, and likely one for just what you’re into. You don’t have to go to one of the big comic-cons. Start small if you want. Just try one.

8. Dress up for your next game night
Show everyone that geeks can look good. Instead of throwing on the closest jeans and t-shirt and heading out the door (I’m guilty of doing this), take some time to put together an outfit that makes you look and feel amazing. Who knows what may come of it: you could meet a new friend (or lover), encourage your friends to start regular “Dapper Days” in your game group, or even play better with your new-found confidence!

9. Find a healthy go-to gaming food
Yes, Cheetos are delicious, but are they the best thing you should be eating? As my friends and I get further away from those days in high school and college where we can eat anything, we’re trying to find healthier alternatives to our favorite snack foods. Try veggies and hummus, air-popped popcorn, or a homemade version of something you normally get from a drive-through or a convenience store!

10. Disconnect
I know, I know. You’re tech savvy and your job and hobbies all revolve around your phone, computer, and tv screen. But find some time to disconnect. Set daily limits for the amount of time you’re gaming or on reddit. Don’t refresh your phone looking for new emails after 10pm. Pick up and read a physical book instead of grabbing your Kindle. Eat dinner with friends or your family without the tv on and with phones put away. Sure, you won’t be able to take a selfie or tweet about your meal, but you’ll be able to reconnect with the people that are right in front of you. It’ll be worth it.

Any other resolutions you think the geek community should make? Let me know in the comments! And come back tomorrow for my personal list of resolutions.

Black Friday Tips From the Hunger Games

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You’ve volunteered as Tribute to stand out in the cold and get the best deals for your house. What can you do to make sure you return a Victor and don’t just become a cannon shot in the sky? Follow these tips gathered from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire! (Warning: If you have not read the books or seen the movie, some of these tips may contain spoilers.)

Form an Alliance: You may have the best stamina for waiting in lines, but you’re nothing unless you team up with someone who can see over crowds, someone that can hold a lot of bags, or someone that can function in the early morning. Team up and form alliances–that way one person can wait in line while the other shops or does a coffee run.

Stay Hydrated: There won’t be any trees to get water from, and there may not be a water bottle in sight, either. Bring your own from home and refill it whenever you pass by a water fountain.

Have a Supporter Back Home: Have someone back home that can come to your rescue if things get too intense. They may not be able to parachute anything in to you, but they can provide you with valuable information. Call them to check up on sales/deals, ask them to have food prepped and waiting for you, or just to hear a non-crazy voice.

Prepare: I sure hope you haven’t gotten rusty since the last Hunger Games! Make sure you know the layout of the stores, the model numbers and sizes of the items you want, and the ideal shopping route. And stretch. Seriously. It also won’t hurt to practice lifting heavy bags.

Wear the Right Attire: The Hunger Games uniform is always made to be best in the environment they’re in. For most of us, that means you’ll want to dress in layers and something you can walk a good distance in. Waiting outside? Make sure you’ll be warm enough, but can shed those layers once you’re in the store. Walking around a mall? Leave the bulky coat in the car so it’s one less thing you have to carry. And don’t forget about side braids–a surprisingly fashionable way to keep hair out of your way!

It’s a Clock! Deals come in waves, and many are on timelines. Map out the stores you want to hit and when you want to hit them, and then keep an eye on your watch.

Know When To Sacrifice Yourself: Sometimes the deals just aren’t worth it. If it looks like a stampede’s about to break out, get yourself out of harm’s way. If a sweet, young couple is in danger and has a shot of winning that big screen tv that you don’t really need, let them have it. A bit of compassion can go a long way.

It’s Just a Game: Black Friday is just a game. It’s just one day of deals and gimmicks. Get the shopping done that you can, and think of it as preparation for the real war: The weekend before Christmas.