society of dabblers

Doodle kitties

Today has been a long day and I can’t think of anything interesting to write, except that of everything on my “to do” list, the only thing I accomplished from beginning to end was pulling some cash out of the ATM. Seriously, it was that bad. I’m going to have to try again to do most of these things on Monday and I’m not looking forward to it.

I didn’t want to disappoint, though, so you can have the doodle kitties I made for my sister a month or so ago. I kind of like them, especially the Leena one. So there you go.

doodle kitties

joanna irl

Random thoughts on a Wednesday night

I like manatees.

I also like lots of other animals. In fact, I’ve noticed that whatever animal I’m observing at a given moment could possibly be my “favorite.” But if I had to pick… big cats are awesome. Tigers. Lions. Snow leopards, even though they aren’t technically big cats. Y’know, those.

I like scary movies that are psychologically scary but don’t like scary movies that are “slasher” movies or that try too hard and show too much. [side note: I laughed through the entire showing of The Ring when I saw it in theaters. True story. Too cheesy.]

I like chocolate-covered fruit, but also chocolate dipped shortbread. This was a new thing tonight when I happened to have leftover dipping chocolate (having just made strawberries and cherries for a potluck) and had two shortbread cookies in the fridge. Naughty but yummy.

I think I might have a mild case of insomnia. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve had it since childhood because I can remember distinct periods in my life (including the last month or so) when I would go weeks without getting a good night’s sleep. We’re talking lying still in bed, lights out, but wide awake. I remember it happening as early as when I was 7 (first grade, I’m thinking) and as recently as two nights ago when I lay there until after 2am. What gives with that? I really, really want to go to sleep. Right now, for instance, I have to get up at 5am but it’s almost 11pm and here I sit, blogging. If I was genuinely tired, you wouldn’t get this much written. Seriously.

I like chocolate dipped cherries but not the candy ones with the filling stuff.

I like watching British TV. And when I have time to sit and watch the premier of “The Hour” I’ll tell you what I thought of it.

I’m excited for Doctor Who in 10 days.

I really love the color green.

I’ve also discovered that I like floral prints. Not weird ones, but very classic looking ones. Subtle.

I met someone tonight who just graduated from Duke divinity school and who goes to a church I attended a long time ago and who knows a lot of the places (and some of the people) I know and I sort of cornered him, but he didn’t seem to mind at all and it was nice to talk to someone who speaks the same language as me.

The languages I speak include American, English, Geek, Military (with a Navy dialect), and Southern. There are probably a few others, but that’s really the main group. And the interesting thing about all of these is that if you don’t “speak the language” you can get completely lost while talking to someone. Military and Geek speak are especially jargon prone and you really have to know it well or you’ll get quickly out of your depth. The nice thing about it is that once you start to talk to someone, if you know 75% of what they’re saying and then act really interested in the other 25% they will usually explain it to you. So there’s that.

I really, really need to try and go to sleep. Really.

joanna irl

Giant Waterslide of Winning

You know how sometimes things seem like a good idea at the time and then in execution just don’t work? And then there are times when the idea works so much better than you could have anticipated.

building the waterslide

On Saturday morning the youth leaders gathered at the church’s driving range (we’re located on a golf course, long story) and started pulling out rolls of 20 foot wide, industrial strength plastic. We had been generously loaned the driving range for a large chunk of the day… so over the course of 2 and a half hours we used the plastic, some tent stakes, a couple of hoses and a very large quantity of dish soap to create a 250 foot long water slide.

Wide view of waterslide

See? I’m not exaggerating.

Sliding on innertubes

People started coming around noon and by 1:30, we had a huge group. Some were wearing costumes but most just came in bathing suits. Everyone got soapy and soaking wet and even muddy (when the slide got too slick and people shot off the end of it) but it was such an awesome experience. Everyone had a blast.

Top of the slide

To take a little break mid-way through the slide (so everyone could catch their breath and we could acquire additional dish soap), they broke out the water balloon launchers and created a game out of shooting them from the top to the bottom of the driving range and having people try to “catch” the balloons with boogie boards.

Balloon launcher

All in all, it was a pretty wild day. And I have a feeling it’ll become an annual thing.. ^_^ This is a video made by one of the people there and it captures the event better than the photos I think.


I will post a few more photos below the cut, but more on the photo blog when I get a chance. ^_^

Continue reading “Giant Waterslide of Winning”

joanna irl, story spinning

The North Dakota Conspiracy

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. Of why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings!”

If you have ever been on a road trip with me, or otherwise confined with me for any length of time whatsoever, I’m sure you’ve at some point heard me say that I don’t believe in North Dakota.

North Dakota is not a real state. It’s a government conspiracy, and exists to house military bases in order to protect us from Canada. Canada is secretly a huge threat; the friendly nature of Canadians is just a front. They will smile at you until you don’t suspect a thing!

Anyway, I’ve been pointing out for years just how far the conspiracy goes; North Dakota is carved into monuments, has a star on the flag, even has its own state quarter with all the rest. But that’s what they want you to see. All of the “Look at that lovely state, North Dakota!” is only there to distract you from the truth that North Dakota is fake.

Don’t get me wrong, there is real land up there. And Fargo’s a real place. I’ve been. I cuddled baby goats there at the Red River Zoo.

But for some reason the highways all run along the borders of the state, and there aren’t any major cities or towns that aren’t along the edges. The entire middle is just a vast area of farms. With silos. You know, the sort that can easily conceal secret military arsenals.

Farm? Or military base?

Almost everyone you meet from North Dakota is either in the military or their spouse or parent is in the military. Occasionally you will meet farmers from North Dakota, but don’t let them fool you. They’re all part of the cover-up.

The most telling thing of all? Look up North Dakota‘s history. (<—There are four links there, by the way.)

Nothing important ever happens.


The “important events” that have happened since North Dakota “became a state” all happened in South Dakota. Seriously.

For years, people have laughed at me, assumed I was being ridiculous, and dismissed my theory…

..but today I found out that I am right. North Dakota is not a real state, and I have a historian (and also a congressional bill) on my side!

See? I was right.

Seven years later: An update

It’s interesting to me that this silly little blog post has continued to be my biggest draw, traffic-wise. It was written to be entirely tongue-in-cheek, and yet (as you can tell if you skim the comments below), it doesn’t seem to be taken that way. But let me emphasize: this was a joke, and is accompanied by photos of my visit to North Dakota. It is meant to satirize conspiracy theories, which I enjoy but are nearly all pieces of absurd fiction.

I have now closed comments.

If you want to know more about me, why not check out some of my other blog posts? 🙂

And if you’re into sci-fi and time travel, why not check out my YA book, Threadwalkers?

joanna irl

Friday night zombies

So the “Meet an animal” will have to wait one more day because it’s late and I haven’t had time to write it today…. so instead I’ll tell you about the night game we play on Fridays.

It’s pretty much a zombie apocalypse scenario game where there is a zombie (or a pair of zombies, as the case may be) hiding in the building and you have to go find them. The rest of the (usually large) group fans out and searches the building. When the zombie is discovered, he jumps out and yells the code word and then tries to tag as many people (and thereby “infect” them to turn them into zombies) before they get back to home base. For the next round everyone who’s a zombie goes and hides (all together in a group) and waits for the other people to find them. It keeps going until no one’s left to go looking.

So that’s the game. Simple enough, and sort of a sardines/capture the flag/scare people game blend. We play with as many lights off as are allowed (some are security lights and so always on) and there tends to be a lot of running and screaming. It’s fun. I’m bad about getting caught, though, usually because I think I’m never really scared when I find the people hiding, so I don’t have the running reflex. Maybe I should work on that. I have a feeling that in a real zombie apocalypse I would not have very good survival skills.

joanna irl, society of dabblers

Marching on

It feels as if this year is going by so quickly. Already we’re a week into March and I’m making summer plans and doing my spring cleaning.

Last week J and I bought a new camera, a nice shiny Nikon, and I’ve been practicing with it ever since. What this means is that I now have very high quality photos of my cats. They are always the test subjects when I get new a new camera and this time is no exception. Leena likes to pose and Caspian purposefully looks away or closes his eyes. Go figure.

This entry will be short, as I’m mostly writing because it’s been nearly a week since I did and I feel that I should. Really I need to get back to my cleaning, though. Today’s task is a closet audit– I have too many clothes again (about every other year I take a serious look at my clothing) and would like some more space in the closet, so a good bit is going to be donated. I might take a look at our other belongings in the coming week and see what we can pare down and give to someone. Moving on a fairly regular basis makes you have a whole different view on clutter.

So that’s it! Here are some of my test photos. There are others in the March 365 section. ^_^ (I’m putting a cut in for the main page so you’ll have to click to see the rest.)

pink bouganvilla Continue reading “Marching on”

the geek life

My life in movies

You can learn a lot about a person from the movies on their shelf. For now let’s take a little trip into the movie shelf in my head.

Films That Remind Me of Childhood:
Back to the Future is still the first movie I can remember seeing in theaters. My “first movie” was Follow That Bird, but I don’t really recall seeing it. Back to the Future was vivid; we went to the Fox Theater (which is a memory in and of itself) and I especially remember the opening bit with the giant amp and speaker, and then I remember having a crush on Michael J. Fox for a long time, as much as a three year old can crush.

Roger Rabbit was one that I distinctly remember. I’m pretty sure we saw it in theaters and I vaguely recall my parents thinking they shouldn’t have taken me, but having seen it as an adult I can honestly say that the adult parts were completely over my head. Jessica Rabbit got chalked up to Red from the old Tex Avery cartoons.

The Rescuers Down Under came out when I was about seven, so going into second grade (I think). My favorite part was the goanna lizard named Joanna, and how she kept stealing eggs. “These are NOT Joanna eggs!” was one of my kid-catch-phrases (a la “There IS such a thing as privacy!”) that stuck for a while. Also this Rescuers movie was a lot more fun than the original, and really shows the huge change that happened in Disney’s studio between the 1970s (and all of their dark, serious movies) and the 1990s when the Disney revival happened. I would even argue that this movie set the tone for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King.

Home Alone was one I saw a couple of times in theaters, and I remember going with my cousin. We all quoted it in school because in middle-elementary it was the “cool” movie.

Childhood Films Where Removal was Necessary:
Ghost Dad really upset me in the theater and I asked to leave. Other than that, I can’t really recall being removed from any movies. I’m sure the channel got changed a few times.

Films that Defined My Teens:
Men in Black is one I still enjoy watching. It was the first blockbuster movie when I got to high school and pop culture references become a big thing at that age so it stuck with me.

The Matrix came out between my sophomore and junior years of high school and that became the next huge pop culture defining movie. The first one was very good but I didn’t like the other two.

Labyrinth is a movie that should’ve been a childhood movie, but I don’t think I saw it until I was a teenager. This is one that my friends and I would quote incessantly at one another and we enjoyed that most people our age had no idea what we were referencing. It was this great inside joke. “Don’t go that way, nobody ever goes that way!” and “One door leads to the castle at the center of the labyrinth and the other door leads to BA BA BA BOOM! CERTAIN DEATH! Ooooooh!” are two I especially recall.

The Fugitive was the first in a long line of action flicks I rented from the local video store. There was a whole wall of them and I went through and rented a huge number, trying to see as many movies as I could. Action is still one of my favorite genres, though I tend to like suspense in the mix (much like The Fugitive) more than straight action movies.

Lord of the Rings. That is all. Actually, I spent a good bit of high school and then early college obsessed with these movies because I was obsessed with the books long before any of my friends had heard of them. For years LotR was “that weird book (my name) reads all the time” to my friends. When it became a blockbuster, then I wasn’t so weird. Then I could answer questions. Incidentally, the site I linked for the movie title used to be the homepage on my browser, back when it was a white background with some photos on it and filming information was scarce. Heh.

Films Seen Multiple Times at Theaters:
I saw Fellowship of the Ring no less than eight times in theaters. Please see the above paragraph.

First Date Film:
While I had a couple of “only dates” (so not really “first dates”) to movies in college, Alien vs. Predator was my first date with J. Yes, he picked it. It’s okay, though, since I’ve picked a massive number of the movies we’ve seen since then and he has discovered several things about movies, namely that musicals are AWESOME, that cartoons are still so much fun, and that when I say things like “The King’s Speech looks really good, we should go!” it’s better to just agree with me.

Nightmares from Films:
E.T. No lie. I will not watch that movie to this day. I don’t know what scared me more: the monster coming into the room, the monster hiding in the stuffed animals (I had a TON of stuffed animals as a child), or the part where the monster almost dies and the whole house gets quarantined. I fail to see anything cute or charming about this movie and find it disturbing in the extreme. In fact, I’m getting worked up just writing about it. *shudder*

Also The Lorax— I had LOTS of nightmares about green arms coming out of dark holes to grab me. For years I had this recurring dream where a hole opened in the middle of our (built on concrete slab) downstairs and that I couldn’t walk within a certain distance or green arms would come out and grab me. Sometimes the hole with the arms would shift to be under my bed. For years I had to sleep with my cat quilt (it’s covered in cats dancing ballet) and with a huge stuffed animal blocking me from the edge of the bed because I was convinced that those would protect me from the green arms. I also think I never told my parents about this fear and they probably wondered what compulsion made me sleep buried under stuffed animals… Well, now you know.**

Films that are Guilty Pleasures:
Josie and the Pussycats came out my freshman year of college and it was just the kind of silly girl movie that I related to at the time. It also helped that I really didn’t like boy bands and that this movie pretty much lampooned the music industry and the boy band craze.

I saw Mystery Men in theaters and loved it for its quirkiness, but no one else seems to have liked it.

Last Film I Saw at the Theater:
Gnomeo and Juliet was very cute, but I liked the opening monologue (along with the other snarky Shakespeare references) best. You should know that I detest Romeo and Juliet (though I generally love Shakespeare) and that this movie was fun anyway, so take that as you will for a recommendation.

Favorite Film Nobody Else Seems to Know About:
Prancer is my favorite Christmas movie but I almost never meet people who have seen it. Shame, as it’s charming.


*This is a borrowed meme, and it took a little digging, but I eventually found its source: a list of blogging memes from squidoo. I’m thinking of doing another BEDA (Blog Every Day in April this time) and using the memes from the site.

**How weird is it that I grew up to work in the conservation field when the poster-child conservation book and movie gave me such nightmares? You’d think I would be traumatized or something.

joanna irl

Twelve Trivial Traits

I have been challenged to come up with a list of a dozen things that you may not know about me and post them here. This is difficult for me as half of my readers are probably related to me… but I’m going to try. So here you have twelve mostly useless things to know.

1. I like fairy doors. I have one in my house and have been looking them up online recently and have decided that my new hobby is going to be making them. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them (sell them, maybe?), but I want to make some. I have also been known (as an adult, no less) to make “fairy houses” in parks and then leave them there with no explanation, hoping someone will find them. I suppose this is “art.”

Fairy Housea fairy house J and I made in 2008

2. I really like daisies and tulips better than other flowers. Roses have too much cultural significance and lilies make me sneeze.

3. The more time I spend around animals, the more difficult I have choosing a “favorite animal.” It used to be tigers, and I still love big cats the best, but really I just love animals in general. Except for spiders. And primates are fascinating, but they’re at the bottom of the list for me.

4. I like to paint. I’m not great at it and I don’t have much outlet for it at the moment, but I can sit and paint for hours.

5. I’ve been on one roller coaster in my life. I had a panic attack halfway through the ride. There have been none since then and now J believes that I’m not exaggerating when I say, “No, really, I’m very VERY afraid of roller coasters.”

6. I use my hairbrush on Caspian. You might think this is weird, but he sits patiently on the counter when I get out of the shower and am brushing my hair so that he can be brushed, too. He’s got OCD, I know.

7. I suspect that I was a little OCD myself as a child, as I had a real need to count everything out in even increments, usually of ten. I also had to mirror everything I did with one hand or foot with the other and would repeatedly do the same behavior until I got them to match exactly and then I would freeze and have to hold perfectly still (including holding my breath) for ten seconds before I could stop. If I froze successfully, then I could move about normally, but if I didn’t make it, I would have to start over at the beginning. I also have no idea where that behavior started.*

8. I am allergic to rats. I’ve never had trouble with mice or gerbils or anything like that, but domestic rats make my skin break out and my eyes swell and itch, and I get congested. We discovered this at a previous job where rats were one of the education animals and I kept having allergic reactions in the van on the way to programs.

9. I document most animals that I rescue with photos. I could probably show more of them than you’d care to see, but over the years there have been birds, snakes, lizards, squirrels, kittens, and a few other things.

baby squirrelbaby squirrel in 2007

10. I tend to poke my chin with either one of my fingers or with a pen when I’m taking notes (in a meeting or something), or if I’m just thinking really hard.

11. The two TV channels I watch the most are BBC America and SyFy… and my guilty TV habit is that I really do like those shows where people go in search of mythological things like the Loch Ness Monster or the yeti or even ghosts. I don’t take them seriously by any means, but the shows themselves (and the people who look for those things) fascinate me.

12. I leave little business-card size notes for people (especially servers and cashiers) telling them that they’ve done a great job or that I appreciate their help. I try to leave it on the way out the door so it’s a surprise after I’m gone, and so far I’ve been good about being anonymous. People need anonymous pick-me-ups, I think.

So there are some random things about me. Did you know them all? ^_^

*I should probably specify right here and right now that I no longer do this. I don’t recall when it stopped, but I have a vague memory of freezing for a really long time at some point and then just being done with the whole thing.

joanna irl

Accidental Debut

A funny thing happened to me the other morning.

On Thursday evening a new-to-the-ship friend emailed me to ask if I wanted to join her for “something fun” on Friday morning. As she’s a professional photographer, I thought it must be something along those lines; maybe she needed me to help her carry equipment or maybe she was hiking to a new photo spot and wanted company. I agreed and she said she’d pick me up at 6:30 Friday morning, and gave me a short list of things to bring, including a bathing suit, a towel, sunscreen, etc.

Friday morning I packed a beach bag and my point and shoot camera and she picked me up and we headed for the leeward side of the island. I don’t go over there much, not only because it’s a long drive, but because it’s one of those places you need to know where you’re going before you start. We had an address, though, so I wasn’t worried. After about 40 minutes, we got to a beach house with a big sign out front and a lot of other cars.

And then I found out about the “something fun.”

She’d signed us up to be extras in a Pepsi Max commercial.

I am not kidding.

Not only that, but there were a couple of very well-known pro football players there as the “talent,” since they’re all here for the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

Again, I am not kidding.

We spent the day being at a “beach party” until… Well, I’ll wait until it’s online (as it’s part of an online campaign) and let you see for yourself. I’m hoping it will be funny.

I would like to add to this that this job (because I definitely got paid $100 for a day’s work) is the first paying job I’ve had since I moved to Hawaii. Oh, the irony.