All posts by Lara

Geeky Gift Guide 2017 – Part One

Part of the fun in attending a geek convention like Clover Con, Dragon Con or the Steampunk World’s Fair, is a tour of the vendors area and the artist’s alley/art show.  Since I don’t have a million-dollar budget to buy everything I like, I pick up vendor business cards for future reference.

Both amazon and elfster have little dashboard buttons so you can automatically add stuff from other websites to your wishlists!  Please consider adding some of these geeky merchants/artists to your wishlist for the holidays!

Geeky Grown-Ups

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Geeks Bearing Gifts

This Etsy shop, run by Thomas Nackid (who bears a bit of a resemblance to Mark Ruffalo) has beautiful geeky jewelry with cool quotes on it.

 

 

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Carrie Hawks – Fantasy Cat Artist at Tigerpixie.com

Pins, prints, bookmarks, stationary and jewelry made with images of the fantastical cats she paints!

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Zombie Love Squad

Beautifully fluffy cat ears and tails, stuffed monster dolls, and a few other surprises!

 

 

 

 

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Celtic and Fantasy Art by Kevin Dyer

Cast paper originals, fine woven tapestries, high quality prints, digital downloads.

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Lagoon – Kitten Dreams & Pastel Things

Pretty fantasy kitty themed art, plushies, keychains, enamel pins, wallets, etc.

 

 

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O Christmas Geek!

So many geeky holiday ornaments! So many fandoms! Game of Thrones, Fairies, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, etc.

 

 

 

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Third Half Studios

Geeky dinnerware, posters, prints.

Old-fashioned arts and crafts like your grandma would make…if your grandma was disturbed in some way.

 

trans Transfiguring Adoption  Your purchase goes to support resources for adoptive/foster families and children. They’ve got shirts, coffee mugs, stickers etc in their site’s shop.

“On average, across the U.S., current foster care rates (of compensation provided by govt.) must be raised by 36 percent in order to reach the Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children (the “Foster Care MARC”)…. In some states, rates are less than half of what it actually costs to care for a child in foster care.”

 If you’d like to sponsor a Foster Placement Surival Kit yourself: Click here

Survival Kit Details

-Welcome Pamphlet
-Papa John’s Gift Card ($15)
When your normal routine is disturbed it causes stress. Having to cook dinner just adds to the stress of the day.
– Nightlight
Many foster children have had traumatic events happen at night. A night light is an essential item that can easily be forgotten on the shopping list.
-Trust Based Relational Intervention DVD
This DVD introduces parents to vital information from Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross that will show foster parents how to handle/understand behaviors in foster children.
-Build-A-Bear Gift Card ($15)
Some children were NOT allowed to bring toys or clothes with them when they left their birth family’s home. Build-A-Bear offers foster parents the opportunity to bond with the child by helping them make a new stuffed animal friend.
-Children’s book about foster care
This tool is imperative as kids will be confused about the situation they find themselves. A book opens up an opportunity for discussion and bonding.
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Book
-Foster – Adoptive Discussion Tool for Harry Potter (First 3 Chapters)
A sample of Transfiguring Adoption’s online tool that allows foster families to open up the channels of healthy and nurturing conversation with the children in their care.
-Wooden Fidget Puzzle
Foster children are dealing with a lot of change that is out of their control and this is paired with all the existing trauma. A fidget is designed for any age person to play with or handle to help calm themselves. These can help parents stop a meltdown as it starts.
-Robbie the Rabbit Foster Care Brochure
Robbie the Rabbit is a series of books designed to help children understand foster care and adoption. The brochure made for children briefly helps a parent talk to a child about foster care and see if the child might benefit from their helpful books.

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Sock Dreams

All kinds of cool socks! Chemistry, math, geeky media, creative patterns, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

shldrgn1 Sundreams & Myths

Plush stuffed animals – featuring poseable & wearable shoulder dragons / dragonets and a veritable menagerie of other mythological /fantasy creatures.

 

 

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Ian Leino – Graphic Design & Illustration

Stained Glass window clings, tshirts, prints, etc. Firefly, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and many more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlie & The Chocolate Factory necklace!

 

Sparkle Designs

Quote prints & jewelry, mugs, lip balm,

 

 

 

More great geeky gift suggestions coming in Part Two!

Hug-onomics – Where We’re Headed As A Global Society.

Let’s think about economics for a moment:  there are various instruments and forms of ‘value’ that are arbitrarily assigned to arbitrarily chosen symbols or objects that can be used in exchange for goods, services, trades, etc. Stocks, bonds, shiny rocks dug up out of the ground, mashed, dried, flattened and colored wisps of processed wood pulp, discs of refined metal ores, pretend ‘money’ dreamed up out of the ether of cyber networks – how is any of it significantly different from the wampum, cacao beans and grains of rice that were used as currency in past cultures?

No difference at all.  It is an artificial system, imposed because of a lack of trust and goodwill, inflicted upon us by greedy, suspicious folks with mega-issues who project their own deviousness in matters of trade, upon others and therefore insist on a form of accounting that they can keep in their sight and in their grasp.

For lack of this ‘money’, people sicken and go without medicine, they hunger, starve and die, live in extreme poverty, exposed to the elements and left to suffer and die, children are bought, sold, violated and murdered.

For want of this ‘money’, babies are injected at birth with poisons that hospitals know full well will result in injury and even death, our venerated senior citizens are abused and languishing in ‘nursing’ homes, despite money having been collected for their care.

For want of this ‘money’, wars are inflicted upon far-off lands, to seize resources that make a very few people even more bloated with ‘money’ than they already are,  bombs are hurled, buildings collapsed, environments are irradiated and floods are unleashed, because at the end of it all, it puts more ‘money’ in the pockets of a very, very, very few people.

Some would say that “Money is the root of all evil.”  It actually isn’t.  It’s the absence of love that is the root of evil.

We’ve already seen what the use of ‘money’ has done to our world, now how about we take a look at how LOVE, in place of ‘money’, would affect our world and our lives?

Imagine for a moment that in an instant, all the ‘money’ disappeared. In its place, hugs would be substituted.

Yes, you read that correctly – HUGS.

Hugs are now the lingua franca of finance and economics, the currency of trade, the unit of redemption for every kind of transaction under the sun.

Want a new tv? Walk into a shop and offer a hug (or a gesture of goodwill and respect, for those who are touch-averse). You walk out with a tv and both you and the shopkeeper have a warm glow in your hearts at having received a boost to your endorphins and the myriad other positive emotional, mental and physical benefits that hugs provide.

In an instant, there is no need for theft – what would a wanna-be thief do with 80 tv’s? Sell them? For what? All he’d get for them would be hugs and those are now free for the asking! So no more need for theft. Need food? A hug is the payment of choice. Even online transactions can use hug emoticons – those brighten up the screen when you see them, they’re so positive and cheery!

With all these hugs going around and bolstering the ‘economy’, folks are much more emotionally satisfied, less lonely, mentally more stable…what need for drug addiction or alcohol dependence?  No need for a war on drugs, heck – between the decrease in theft and the steady decline of addictions, and all the resultant crimes – soon the court systems won’t be as overloaded and the prisons will no longer be filling up with increasing numbers of inmates.  In fact, all those convicted of drug possession and thefts could probably be let loose, because it would be very unlikely that they’d backslide in the new ‘economy’!

No more homelessness, no more joblessness (Did you know that even now there are people who earn ‘money’ by hosting ‘cuddle parties’ and offering ‘hug therapy’?) What to study in school? Whatever brings joy to your heart! School is free in exchange for hugs!

Why not have job festivals where local vendors, artisans, practitioners, etc offer demos of what they do and offer internships to potential apprentices!  Oh look, Tony the Cheese Shop owner is looking for an apprentice to train because he’d like to retire and become a juggler! I’ll sign up for that!  After an apprenticeship has been completed, Tony can just hand over the keys to his establishment and his apprentice will now own the Cheese Shop!

Why not? It really IS that simple!

No crime, no hate, no politics for money, no holding back someone of promising skills, abilities, talents just because they can’t ‘afford’ the training or because the occupation doesn’t pay the same as the 3 other jobs a person would need to juggle to keep their family barely surviving.

Just people – happy, healthy, kind people, doing what they love, without artificial limitations holding them back from achieving their potential. Families without abuse, work environments without exploitation, a world without ‘money’.

Hug-onomics – it’s where we’re headed as a Global Society, and it’s a lot closer than you might think.

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“Hug-onomics” is copyrighted 2017 by L.D. Golubchik, all rights reserved.

(Pronounced “HUHG-oh-NAH-micks”)

Mama Gets A Piercing

or  Things About Piercing I Never Knew!

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Mama needs a new pair of piercings

Recently I, a 40-something mommy of twin 4 yr olds, decided to visit a tattoo parlor.

No, I wasn’t there to get a ‘tat’ for myself.  Instead, I visited for their other specialty: body piercing!
Just regular, run-of-the-mill earlobe piercings though.  I’d been deprived of my earrings for a good while – 4 years, in fact – in fear that my twins would try to remove them the hard way, and in the meantime my piercing holes had closed up.  Now, finally, my kids are (barely) civilized enough to not rip out my earrings, so I needed to get my ears re-done.

And apparently the only safe way to do that, according to my research, was at a tattoo parlor or piercing studio.

Having chosen to forgo the ol’ ‘sewing needle and ice-cube’ method that I employed with my 2nd attempt at piercing my ears back in ’94, I first googled for the nearest mall chain-jewelry store where they have young women, still in the first flush of college-hood, wielding piercing guns with a jaded air.

Surprising info about mall-style piercing guns

It was during my online search for such a place, that I stumbled across some disturbing information: piercing guns are the WORST way to get a piercing done. (followed closely by the sewing needle method)

According to the APP (Assoc. of Professional Piercers) the guns cause excessive and unnecessary damage to earlobes and cartilage, and despite claims of being sanitary because of the disposable cartridges used, they are not autoclaved.  Autoclaving is the only reliable method of properly sanitizing surgical implements.

The problem of sanitation for cartridge-loaded mall-style piercing guns, is that they have ‘blowback’, the fine aerosolized spray of blood from the blunt force trauma of forcing the piercing through the flesh and cartilage, which stays on the gun and accumulates, user after user after user.

Such piercings are ripe for infections and contamination from blood-borne diseases.

Another problematic feature of the gun-piercings, according to Jorge, the pleasant young man at Jerzey Ink who performed my piercings one Saturday afternoon, is that the earrings themselves that are used with such guns have posts that are too short to allow for the initial swelling. This causes further tissue damage and makes it harder to keep the wound clean while it heals.  The APP also concurs on this point, as well.

Jorge demonstrated with his lip piercing. Indeed the post was a bit longer than what had been used on my ears with my 1st piercing which had been with a mall gun back in ’85, and there was a fair bit of clearance between the skin surface and the post clasp.

Well, Jorge really knew his business, because my ears did initially swell a bit, but were still comfortable and had plenty of room to do so. The swelling quickly went down by the next day, and when it came time to clean the wounds, the longer bar did make it much easier than had been my previous experience using standard sized earrings with my first and second attempts at piercing.

While going over the aftercare instructions, Jorge also cautioned me against another thing that I had done in my previous piercings – using hydrogen peroxide to clean my ears. Apparently it’s not the best choice in preventing or treating an infection with the piercings. He persuaded me to instead try the piercing aftercare spray sold in his shop.

Since he was so knowledgeable, I decided to put myself in his hands and trust him. And after perusing the spray bottle’s list of ingredients, I was quite relieved to find that there were no toxic or carcinogenic ingredients, such as propylene glycol, sodium benzoate or other harmful things commonly found in commercial cosmetic products.

This wasn’t what I thought a tattoo parlor would be like

Jerzey Ink, located in Harrison, NJ was also a lot different from what I expected a tattoo parlor to be. It was bright, spacious, with the clean lines of the minimalist decor giving an air of competent professionalism to the place. In fact, the entire place was scrupulously clean. There were no offensive images decorating the place, and it rather resembled an upscale salon.

The staff there were friendly, helpful, respectful and very patient with all of my questions. They also took no offense at my questions regarding their sanitizing procedures and volunteered to show me their latest spore-count report for the autoclave. They have it inspected every month, and it gets broken down and reassembled every other month.

Aftermath

It’s now several months later, and despite a small setback wherein I learned that I had a metal allergy and had to resort to hypo-allergenic post-holders, my ears are healing nicely without any of the problems I had with my first two attempts at ear piercing.

And so far my twins, after initially requesting a closer look at my earrings (“We’ll be gentle Mama, we promise!”), have left my ears alone. (Update: Lol! I can’t believe I fell for that! The earrings went back in the box once more and the holes have closed back up again. Going to have to get them re-pierced now that the kids are 10! 😀 )

So, if you’re in the market to get yours or your child’s ears pierced, I strongly recommend that you visit the Assoc. of Professional Piercers’ website first, to learn more about how to have a safe piercing.

(This is a re-print of an article I wrote a few years ago for a website that has since been discontinued.)

A Non-Stop Whirligig of Mama

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Have you ever seen a plate-spinner show at a carnival or county fair? The kind with a poor schmuck who carefully balances some plates atop some sticks, gives the plates a spin and then spends the rest of the time running madly back and forth, trying to keep all those plates aloft without them crashing to the ground.  Inevitably, he’s gasping for air, struggling mightily back and forth to give wobbling plates another spin, and practically passing out from exhaustion by the time the final plate’s shattered on the ground.

Welcome to my life this past week…month… 😀

For the past six weeks, I’ve been prepping one of my twins (the homeschooled one) for a placement test (this past week) to get her back into public school.  She finally aged out of the *cough* horrible *cough* elementary school in our district and can move up to the next level of school where it seems the administrative staff actually have functioning human souls.

If they hadn’t been so darn nice when I attended orientation night for my other twin, I wouldn’t have even considered it as a possibility.  But they were VERY nice and willing to work with us on transitioning her back to public school.  The only snag was that since I’d been focusing on going the homeschooling route, we’d used a Waldorf School-based accredited curriculum, which was dandy, however it was not Common Core (ugh – shudder). So in the six weeks before her placement test, we had to cram a bunch of common crap…er…core.  Khan Academy was a great help, but not quite enough.

She really loathed the process and I wasn’t a big fan myself.  But by the end of it, we think she probably did pretty well on the test…for the parts of it she wasn’t horrifically bored by.

You’re probably wondering why the heck we’re even considering putting her back in public school since we obviously are cognizant of common crap’s…er…core’s epic failings.  It’s because I do much better at being “Mama” than “teacher”.  I’ve got a kid that LOVES art, creative writing, poetry, science, and absolutely loathes and detests common core math (although if she bothers to pay attention to it she’s actually rather good at it) and she could give a rat’s patootie for anything else that’s non-fine-arts or science.  This does not make for a comfortable educational experience.

But her twin’s getting all kinds of assemblies and class parties and access to clubs that she’s been left out of (with the exception of a one-day Shakespeare for kids event that I harassed the organizing teacher into letting her participate in, as public school folks usually tend to treat homeschooled children as though they are on par with roaches.), and while she’s had ample socialization (YES HOMESCHOOLERS HAVE ACCESS TO SOCIALIZATION!!!) most of the neighborhood kids have school experiences in common that she’s been left out of (due to the school’s own epic failures at curbing bullying which necessitated our switching her to homeschool this year, though I give massive kudos to her twin’s teacher who made great efforts to deal with bullying that threatened her students).

And while I’ve been homeschooling my child, I haven’t been able to do a thing with my own writing and art.  I don’t regret basically putting my life on hold for a year, my child’s worth it, but I need some me-time, just out of self-preservation. 😀

Then, while we’ve been prepping, my best friend came for a visit about a week ago and a few other things popped up since then that had me running from plate to plate, trying to keep everything in the air.

Also last week, I went to a totally AWESOME 2-day blogger convention and toy expo called Blogger Bash / Sweet Suite, and I’ve been getting my WishStones business off the ground and I’ve got a limited window of opportunity to produce enough WishStones to last me the entire year before the weather turns too cold and wet to make those outside (can’t do it inside, not enough ventilation).

And then there’s the missing 7 or so chapters of the book I’m writing that I wanted to have a 1st draft ready by end of August so I could pitch it to any publishers/agents at a sci-fi convention I’m planning on going to.

And all the follow up with brand reps I met at the Blogger Bash convention.

And general mommy-ing all the while.

Ya know, it’s pretty rude to roll around the floor, laughing your butt off at me, like that. 😀  I totally could have really managed all of that…really. In some alternate universe where I had a time-machine, and a cooperative ‘me’ from another dimension willing and able to help me out…and if I sprouted six more arms and legs…and maybe hired a couple people…

So, I’m a pretty tired mama, right about now. 😀

And things don’t look to be letting up anytime soon.

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