Humpday Links for January 2

One thing that won’t be going away in 2013 is Humpday Links, because, a) I’m always finding cool/disturbing/cool stuff on the internets I want to share, and b) I’m lazy.  So love ’em or hate ’em, here are your first Humpday Links of the year!

– I need a pair of these (keep it clean, you!) to light up my gaming room.

– Contrary to the stereotypes this video asks the important question, can D&D make you more confident and successful.  I think yes, but you decide.

– Apparently Sony and Universal reaaaally wanted to up their view counts on YouTube, and YouTube had to take away 2 billion fake ones.  Want view counts?  Here’s an idea: post things people want to see.

– Ocean Liner crashed on your beach?  Here’s some ideas on what to do with it.

– For my fellow Whovians: Once again, somebody made something that has me shouting, “Shut up and take my money!” I give you, a model TARDIS that is bigger on the inside.

– Also for the Whovians: If you were smacking a Dalek pinata, what else would you use as a blindfold?  Also, I don’t want to brag (okay, just a little), but I’m the proud owner of that scarf

– It is once again time for Paizo’s RPG Superstar.  This time, the first round is voted on by the public.  See how it’s going and cast your vote!

– Jenny Breedin over at The Devil’s Panties pretty much sums up my attitude to New Year’s Eve.  No I just need the footy pajamas…

– Get ready Tolkien fans, we’re gonna bust this joint up!

– For my Shadowrun gaming chummers, 2013 is officially The Year of Shadowrun!

xkcd demonstrates why I never really make New Year’s resolutions.

– For any of my readers with babies, or who know people that have freshly spawned, Seams Geeky has you covered in the nerdy environmentally-friendly diaper department.

– And finally, ever had a great idea for a nerdy shirt you know would sell? Can’t be arsed to produce it yourself? Teespring has you covered.

That’s it, that’s all!  As usual, feel free to share a link in the comments.  Until next time, happy internetting!

Edmonton Nerdery and Future Plans

Today is sort of a two for one post; I have some local nerdery to promote, and I want to talk for a bit about my plans for Renaissance Dork.

But, nerdery first!

Costuming Help 101: An Informal Affair

Join the Edmonton Steampunk group for a casual afternoon of costume planning and instruction!  If you have questions about steampunk costumes, need some inspiration or just want to hang out with an awesome bunch of nerds, this is the event for you!  Taking place at 2pm at the Elephant & Castle downtown (10200 102nd ave), this is an all-ages event so don’t be shy.  With Pure Spec just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to put the finishing touches on your steampunk array…

22nd Annual Folding Festival

Curious about the mysterious art of origami?  Ever wondered if you could do it yourself?  Pop on down to the Folding Festival and find out!  With a mix of origami displays and hands-on instruction, the Folding Festival is your place to explore this beautiful and deceptively simple-looking Japanese art.  Running two afternoons in the Edmonton Room at the Stanley Milner Library, admission is free to the public.  Come get your fold on!

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Okay, that’s the nerdery.  Don’t worry, there is more coming, I just don’t want to spoil the surprise too early.

On to Renaissance Dork!  Since I started running fairly regular Edmonton Nerdery posts, I’ve had a really good response from readers.  Obviously there was a niche to be filled for a local “What’s On for Nerds” type of site here in YEG, and I am quite frankly happy to be the niche-filler.  Edmonton nerdery is there, no question, but some days I think it needs an amplifier to be heard properly.

So I am going to be that amp, brethren and sistren, and I go to eleven!  In the next while you’ll see a separate page go up with a list of the regular and ongoing geekery around town (things like the Social Media Breakfasts, monthly events at Metro and so on), with links to find out more.  As well, unless there really is no nerdery to report, the Edmonton Nerdery posts will continue on a weekly basis.  If I have to skip a week I will be a very sad panda, so keep those geek events coming!  Seriously, if you are organizing a nerd event or have an ongoing event you’d like on my event page, contact me at brent.jans(at) with the details.

In addition to promoting YEG geekery, going forward you will start to see interviews popping up in the posts.  I am reaching out to people I know in the geek community, to chat with them about this and that.  I will then post our chats here on Renaissance Dork for your edification and enjoyment.  It turns out I know a lot of really interesting nerds, so it seems fitting I should introduce you.

Last but not even least, I am opening the door to guest posts.  I have a few people that have expressed an interest in writing the occasional bit of geekery, but don’t have the wherewithal to set-up their own blog.  Down the road I will provide a home for these orphan posts, and I thought it only right to extend the offer to my tens of readers as well.  So if you have a nerdy piece you want to write and you need a place to post it, talk to me.  It can be anything; editorial, review, amusing anecdote.  Just drop me a line at brent.jans(at) with a query (or even the finished piece) and we’ll talk.

That’s all for now!  The game is five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky’s the limit!

Comments go in the Comment place!


Speak Out with your Geek Out: Feedback

So the first Speak Out with your Geek Out has drawn to a close, and overall I think it was a great event.  It was certainly a nice change to speak in an unashamedly positive way about my hobby, as well as reading the posts from everyone else.  I had hopes that this might do well enough to become a regular event, and it seems the event creator, Monica Valentinelli, agrees.  To that end she has asked for feedback, and I thought it appropriate to answer her feedback questions here.  If you wish to provide your own feedback, I encourage you to post it in the comments section of her post (as well as below if the spirit moves you).

Question One:  Do you feel Speak Out was a positive experience? Why or why not?

I think the event was a much needed positive experience.  Too often, especially on the internet, geeks can get so mired in the latest arguments about the state of geekdom, they lose sight of the geeky things they love.  Face it, none of us got into our hobbies just to fight and argue all the time.  We became geeks because we found something we loved doing, something that gave us a spark.  I think this event reminded us to pay more attention to that spark and celebrate it as much as we can.

Question Two:  Would you like this to be an annual event?

Ideally, I’d love it to just be the status quo.  Failing that, yes, I think Speak Out with your Geek Out should be an annual event celebrating our collective geekdom.

Question Three:  Did you understand participation was voluntary? That there was a reason why “geek” was never defined?

I did understand that participation was voluntary; how could it be any other way?  And I’m glad there was no attempt to define “geek” for this event.  I think that any attempt to do so would have led to the sort of divisiveness the event was trying to avoid; as it was, there were still a few people that tried to steer the conversation in that direction.

For myself, I don’t think geekdom needs definition.  I know people just as excited about Lego, tropical fish or model trains as I am about role-playing games.  Their enthusiasm earns them the title of geek every bit as much as mine does.  Personally, I think the “what is geeky” question overlays a motive of determining the geek status of the questioner.  After all, you can’t determine who is geekier until you define terms, right?

Question Four: Is there anything that can be done differently for next year?

There may be one or two things to tweak, there always are.  But I can’t think of any off the top of my head.  I did want to say a big thank-you to the organizers and volunteers who took the time to support the event with their time and creations.  It is that kind of community feeling that makes geekdom so appealing to me.  I’ll also take this opportunity to volunteer for next year; if there is anything I can do to help, just let me know!

Question Five:  If your answer to (4) was yes, how would you feel about a Kickstarter to help fund those goals?

I’m not opposed to a Kickstarter, if there is a legitimate need for it to help the project grow.  All I can say at this point is, when it is proposed I’ll look at it and donate if I can.

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If you were following the blog last week, you may be wondering where my Day 4 and 5 posts went.  I’m wondering the same thing.  They gave every indication of being successfully posted, but didn’t show up in my blog listing.  Once I sort that out and hopefully recover those posts, I’ll put them up on the site to read.  For now though, onward!

Comments?  Below.

Why I Prefer to Hang with the FanGIRLS!

There has been a lot of back and forth on geek acceptance and geek ladies recently.  I was originally planning to write a post promoting the “few” female blogs/sites I follow, intending to demonstrate that none of these ladies are poseurs in any way.  And I came to an interesting realization…

Out of the 67 geek-related blogs I follow, 43 of them are written by women.  And another 8 have regular contributions by women.

I don’t post those numbers to brag, not even humblebrag, as The Nerdist Chris Hardwick would say.  Truth is, I knew I followed a fair number of geek girl blogs, but I never really payed attention to the numbers.  Gender is never a factor for me when scoping out a new blog.  My cunning scientific method for determining whether I follow a blog goes a little something like this:

  • Read blog. Is blog interesting and well written?
  • If yes, add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy.
  • If no, do not add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy not wasting time on boring blog.

Pretty simple, right?  So then I went back through the blogs I am following and the blogs I used to follow and stopped AND the blogs I chose not to follow.  Because there had to be a reason I was more interested in female-generated content than male.  The obvious answer, that my first criteria (interesting and well-written) was culling the pack towards women was possible, but I didn’t think it told the whole story.

And reading back through blogs I had dropped or never followed in the first place confirmed that.  Because I had dropped some very well-written and, at first blush, interesting blogs written by fellas.  So I read back through those, three or four postings deep, and that is when I found the common thread that bound their exclusion from my Reader.

They were all negative posters.  And negativity, at least in the long run, is not interesting to me.

What do I mean by negative?  Of the posts I read through, most were of the, “Have you seen this thing and how much it sucks!?” variety.  I can appreciate a post like that once, if it is something the writer feel very strongly about.  Reviews, for instance; I enjoy a stinging, well-written, negative review as much as the next.  But if I’m up to my metaphorical elbows in your blog and every entry is that same level of anger and contempt, then I’m calling it and scrubbing out.  Worse than that, it seemed that most of these bloggers had no love for their hobby.  They wrote like someone who was forced into getting a degree in geekology, and then used their degree to write scathing deconstructionist essays.

To be fair, there were a number of female-written blogs that had that same problem.  And they got dropped, just like the nega-dudes.  Because negativity is boring in the long run, and I have far too many blogs in my reader (I’d say low three-digits, only to not frighten you with the actual number) to waste my time on boring.  I want to read blogs that share my love of geekery, that match or approach my level of enthusiasm for the hobby.  And as it turns out, more women than men tend to write blogs like that.

I haven’t carried this through to other blogs in my reader.  After all, only 67 of the [number redacted] blogs I follow are geek-related.  But I will save that experiment for a day when I actually have the time to sort that many blogs.  I would be interested in that final number, though, and whether it held up.

So to the 65% lady-bloggers and 35% gentleman-bloggers I follow for my geekery, I say thank-you and keep up the excellent work.  To the male/female split going the other way I say: Maybe you need to examine why you are in the hobby, and especially why you are blogging about it and what you want to communicate to the rest of us.

So what about you, gentle reader?  What do you look for in a blog?  What makes you start/stop following?

New Site, Same Old Dork!

Yes, it is true.  After years on Blogspot I decided it was time for a change.  Having heard such wonderful things from several people about the green, green grass over at WordPress I decided to give it a go.  The verdict so far?  Smoother, easier to use and a lot more writer friendly.  Plus, Blogspot was doing some weird stuff, dropping pics and such.  Hard to miss a site that makes parts of your post disappear.

So feel free to reset your RSS feeds and bookmarks, it looks like I’ll be here a good long while.  I’ll also being tinkering a bit, here and there, to spruce the place up.  But in the meantime, on with the show!

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I’d like to talk a little bit about perfection, and what an absolute pile of horseshit it is.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to geekery with the next post, I promise)  I struggled with being a perfectionist for a very long time, and I can tell you from firsthand experience it sucks.  Not just because it puts so much stress into even the simplest acts of creation; that in itself would be bad enough.  The constant, anxious focus on making sure that every…little…piece fits just so into what I’m creating is quite frankly draining.  No, the real suckage that perfectionism brings is all the projects never started because I couldn’t get them perfect in my head, or the situation wasn’t just right, or my life somehow wasn’t in exactly the right spot.  And that has been the real challenge for me, to stop using perfection as an excuse to keep myself from trying.

I watch a show on HGTV called “Holmes on Homes” (this may seem like a digression, but bear with me). For those that have never watched it, Mike Holmes is a contractor who comes into a different person’s home each episode and fixes what a previous contractor has screwed up.  I get a very comfortable feeling watching Mike tear out crappy work and replacing it with good work.

But here is the reason I bring it up: at one point in an episode he talked about the difference between something being “straight” and being “true”.  He basically said that it is very unlikely that you can make anything in a home renovation “straight”.  Angles won’t be perfect, cuts have been done fractionally wrong, floors have settled and so on.  And if you try to make things “straight” you’ll end up with something that doesn’t look right because nothing around it is straight.  But if instead you try to make it “true”, that is, try to match it to the existing imperfections while at the same time balancing them out, you will give the appearance  of “straight” because what you are building fits.

So that is what I am going to work on from here on out.  I’m going to stay less focused on making sure that every angle is perfect, and instead look to make sure that what I’m working on is true.  Whether that is my writing, employment, gaming, weight-loss, whatever; I am going to look at ways to make it fit with what is already here, instead of trying to get everything in some nonsensical “perfect order”.

And for me, an important component is going to be adding the fun back.  Once upon a time I used to enjoy writing, a lot.  It used to bring me joy to write gaming material and short stories.  I can remember that, from way back in my teens.  I looked forward to the times that I could write and I resented anything that took away that time.  If things are going to be true I have let that joy come back.  Because I’m starting to realize that without that I’m not going to get very far with anything I decide to pursue.

Okay, so that was my HGTV-inspired epiphany.  Thoughts?