Nine Worlds Convention – How It Helped Me Be Myself

NineworldsIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed a plethora of updates this weekend just gone tagged with #nineworlds. Last year I went to Nine Worlds, a completely new geeky convention launched through a Kickstarter, together with 2-month-old Zephyr in tow. Maybe I was a bit crazy! It was awesome though, so awesome that I decided to go again this year, sans kids, for the full three days and with a room at the con hotel.

Nineworlds-Iris-Zephyr-2013Me and Zephyr last year at Nineworlds 2013

I don’t know if I can fully express how much I love this convention, and how much I loved going. When I try to think about it my mind just kind of goes like “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE PEOPLEWHOQUOTEBUFFYINCASUALCONVERSATION BOARDGAMING INTELLIGENTDISCUSSIONSABOUTSTUFFTHATMATTERS OMGOMGOMGOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This was a big step for me and also a big learning experience. I think in all areas of my life I am so good at talking myself out of things, especially because of guilt or ‘not deserving’ things. Trying to arrange three days away from my kids (especially Zephyr who hadn’t had a night without me since his birth, and still wakes up 1-3 times a night for breastfeeding), on a weekend when Andrew would be working and staying away from home as well, was a huge obstacle in my mind. In the end though, I felt like I wanted and needed to make it work.

I think that ‘wanting to make it work’ and then making things happen has been a thread in my life this past year or so (I think since starting therapy). I really recognise that I have this tendency to let things happen and then complain about it afterwards (bit of a martyr-syndrome), so this year I have been taking charge of my own destiny if I may use flowery language like that! It started with art and taking it (and myself) more seriously, dressing slightly differently (more geeky tshirts!) and generally giving myself permission to really be myself. Not the version of myself I think I should be, or what I think other people want me to be. It’s a constant checking in and asking myself my motivations and reminding myself of my true path and intentions. It’s a huge relief.

Being-Myself-Steampunk-EarringsPracticing ‘being myself’ with some new steampunk earrings!

So, Nine Worlds, the ultimate safe space to be yourself! But scary, because LOTS of people, I went by myself, I’m an introvert, grrr aargh! It was a conscious effort to push my boundaries. To allow myself to be myself, in public, with other people. Probably slightly helped by the fact that I didn’t know anyone, because you’re not working with an expectation of how you should act or the person people expect you to be.

Jennifer describes perfectly the ‘introvert attends con’ experience:

I worried, as usual, that I wasn’t talking to people enough, and that when I did I wasn’t very good at it, or that my need to take frequent breaks meant I was missing stuff, but this is my normal reaction to being in a big place with lots of people.

Trying to shift the attention on to ‘what I am doing’ instead of ‘what I’m not doing’ has also been something I’ve been working on. So often I find myself getting frustrated because I’m in this headspace where the focus is on what I’ve missed out on or what I haven’t done or what I could’ve done differently. It’s a surefire way to drive yourself crazy and in essence you’re choosing to be unhappy with what has already happened.

So the awesome things I DID do, let me tell you them!

A shitload of board gaming. Something I really miss since having kids as it’s harder to go out to the board gaming group I used to attend. I’m totally trying to make my kids into mini board gamers as soon as possible =p

Board-GamesClockwise from top left: Dixit, Firefly, Puerto Rico, Pandemic

Absolutely brain breakingly hard Whedon quiz. Stuff like “what was the first airing date of X” “match these 10 episodes to the correct writers” “which Firefly actors did voice acting for Halo3”. Also, apparently I am very competitive when it comes to these things lol, I get full on adrenaline rush (I think that’s why I like Eurogames, they play down the competitiveness).

Whedon-QuizOur awesome quiz team, we came 4th

The most super awesomely awesome Once More With Feeling and Dr Horrible singalong with piano accompaniment. This was absolutely the highlight of the whole con. A huge room filled with people who know pretty much all the words by heart and who love this as much as I do, singing their hearts out (nobody spontaneously combusted, pleased to say). AND Dr Horrible and Captain Hammer cosplayers acting out the freezeray scene. MADE.OF.AWESOME.

Whedon-SingalongWhen Dr Horrible wants you to sing, you sing. His wish is your command

Other highlights: Metaphor in Buffy, Free Is a Lie, Women In The Creative Industries panel, Whedonverse and Portrayals of Mental Health discussion, edible knitting with strawberry laces (!! I would show you the bracelet I made but I ate it…) and The Neuroscience of Swearing.

All in all it was three days of basically continuing this journey of discovery that I’ve been on. Finding out who I really am (or who I also am, as well as mother/wife), what I like doing, what I’m interested in.

HURRAH! Awesomely inspiring. Also, so much costume and corset love at this con, I really want to do a series of steampunk art! Whimsy steampunk girls, how does that sound?

Have you ever been to a con (geek or otherwise), what was your experience like?

An Update

If I wait until I have something interesting to say I don’t think I’ll ever write another blog post. I should really set aside some time every week to write something.

Jupiter

He is now about 10.5 months and a real delight! Don’t all parents say that though? I’m not a big fan of other kids (lol I actually feel much more comfortable saying this now than I did in the past) but I absolutely adore Jupiter and could talk about him 24/7.

I’m glad I’m not a full-time mum though (it’s a mixed blessing). Being with a baby all the time is really tough and working full-time (from home though, so I see him a lot, which is great) allows me to have a much better mental balance.

We’re currently introducing a bit more of a routine for him. Mostly focussed around his sleeping at night and napping. He’s really at that point where he needs it (and so do we!).

He’s very chatty, although doesn’t say any specific words yet with any consistency (he may have said ‘dad’ a few times and ‘byebye’). He’s crawling like a trooper, SO FAST. He loves chasing the cat. He’s also pulling himself up to standing along the furniture and ‘cruising’. He can stand by himself for a couple of seconds at a time, so I think he’s well on his way to walking soon!

Violin

My violin playing has really gone up a gear. My friends and I had a little performance before Christmas where we played a few pieces we’d been working on and loads of Christmas carols to which the audience sang along. I was very nervous but it was lots of fun!

We’re currently aiming towards another concert during the Easter weekend and we’re playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It’s bloody hard! Having two lessons a week currently, plus trying to get in 30 minutes of practice a day. I’m really excited as I love this piece but also totally feel I don’t have enough time to really get it into shape.

It’s so nice to have a goal to work towards though, it really helps with the motivation.

Misc

Taking Jupiter to visit my aunt in Holland in a few weeks. Very excited about this!

Signed up for horse riding lessons again (I had to stop when I got pregnant). I’m on a waiting list though, so I have no clue when I’ll be able to start.

Playing a bit of Star Wars online. The single player aspect of it is very strong and immersive, which is good as I only have about 2-3 hours a week to play so it’s pretty much a single-player experience for me at the moment. I miss grouping up and raiding from back in the day when I played World of Warcraft a lot but I just don’t feel I have the time needed to invest in this, nor the desire to be honest. The biggest thing I miss is the people I used to play with. My WoW subscription expired a month ago or so and I don’t see myself renewing it. *small tear*

I am learning to drive!! Been taking lessons since September. I passed my theory test the other month and have my practical booked in about a month’s time. I’m nervous, but still have quite a few lessons booked to really brush up on everything and practice lots.

Connecting or networking a PC running Windows 7 Home Premium to a Mac running OS 10.4 (Tiger)

I recently upgraded from XP to Win7 and since I got everything working it’s been great. However, I had the hardest time connecting to my husband’s Mac (the files on which we both use for work). On XP it was relatively easy to network the two and Win7 promised it would be even easier, however in practice it just didn’t work and Googling the problem yielded very few helpful results. I have written here my specific problems and the solution I found. I hope this will help anyone who encounters the same problem to solve it in a lot less time than it took me.

This article assumes you have already enabled file sharing on the Mac in question and added it to the same workgroup as the PC (default in Win7: WORKGROUP).

The Mac appeared on the Network automatically and when I double clicked the icon it would pop up a username and password prompt. However, underneath the username field there was a path that said: PC COMPUTER NAME\mac-computer-name (indicating that it was somehow looking for the Mac within the PC, rather than on the network). This path was unchangeable wherever I looked. Even if I input the correct username & password for the Mac (those that had worked fine when connecting from XP), it would tell me it was the wrong username/password. All Google searches to fix similar problems would tell you to adjust advanced sharing settings in the “Local Security Policy”, however, this does not exist in Windows 7 Home Premium.

Trying to connect to other Macs on the network running a different OS (Leopard & Snow Leopard) was no problem. The specific problem only existed when trying to connect from the Windows 7 PC to the Mac runnning Tiger (OS 10.4).

What you need to do to fix the problem is edit the registry. Credit for this fix goes to a user on the Overclockers forum. I have given step by step instructions with pictures as editing the registry can be intimidating and it is not recommended if you don’t know exactly what to do.

Press Start, type ‘regedit’ (without quotations) and press enter:

The screen goes grey and a window pops up to ask you if you want to allow the program to make changes. Press yes. The registry editor will open:

Use the little triangles to expand the items as follows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Lsa. Make sure Lsa is selected (you can check the path at the bottom of the window to see whether you are in the right section). You should see a list of items displayed on the right (click to enlarge pic):

Right click inside that window on the right (at the bottom of the list) and select: New > DWORD (32-bit) Value

Enter ‘LmCompatibilityLevel’ (without quotations), then press enter:

Find the entry you have just added in the list (it should still be at the bottom where you added it, but if you don’t see it you can find it easily as the list is alphabetised), and double click it. In the box that pops up enter ‘2’ for Value data and leave the radio button on Hexadecimal (it is the default), press OK:

That is it! Now when you go back to Network, double click the icon of the Mac you were trying to connect to. Enter the user/password if applicable (in my exerience it only asks for this once, then it will remember it afterwards, big improvement on XP where you had to enter it every single time you wanted to connect) and you’ll be in!

Vegetarian Cottage Pie (with a cheesy twist)

I made this recipe the other day and it was yummy, so I thought I’d share it! I can’t take full credit for the recipe as my aunt used to make something similar, which this is based on although I can’t remember it 100%

Vegetarian Cottage Pie with Cheese (serves 4)

Ingredients
-300g Quorn mince
-5 medium sized potatoes
-1 onion
-handful of raisins
-2tsp gravy granules
-1tsp mixed spice

For the cheese sauce:
-25g flour
-25g butter
-250ml milk
-100g mild cheese, grated

You will also need a largeish oven dish.

Start by boiling the potatoes for approx 25 minutes, so they are soft enough to mash easily. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Cut the onion into rings and sauté with some olive oil over moderate heat. Add the Quorn mince and mix it all together. Add the gravy granules and mixed spice with a little bit of water, then add the raisins. Stir occasionally and leave it on a moderate heat for about 10 minutes so it is heated through.

Drain the potatoes and mash them until they are smooth. You may want to add a little bit of water or milk to make mashing easier. You want a firm consistency though.

Put your Quorn mince mix into the oven dish so it covers the bottom evenly. Add the mashed potatoes on top to create another even layer. You can use a spatula or wooden spoon to make the top smooth. Put the dish in the oven.

To make the cheese sauce you will need a small saucepan, non-stick ones work very well but it’s not a necessity. Over a low heat melt the butter in the saucepan, once it is melted add the flour and stir everything together. Leave this to simmer for a minute or two, then start adding the milk bit by bit while stirring continuously. Continue until you have added all the milk and you should have a smooth pale yellow sauce. Stir in the cheese bit by bit until it is all melted.

Take the dish out of the oven and pour the cheese sauce on top. Smoothen it with a spatula/wooden spoon so it is an even layer. Return the dish to the oven for approx 15-25 minutes or until the cheese sauce looks golden brown.

Serve with pepper to taste (it shouldn’t need salt due to the cheese & gravy granules, but add whatever floats your boat. Andrew likes to eat it with tomato ketchup which I find rather mind boggling!) and maybe with a side salad.

Note: I am not a vegetarian, so if you want to make sure this is really vegetarian, use vegetarian gravy granules and make sure the cheese you use is vegetarian.

Note 2: Alternatively you could make it specifically NOT vegetarian by replacing the Quorn with real mince meat. In that case you should probably not add water with the gravy granules (as meat tends to hold more moisture than Quorn) and also cook it for longer to make sure it is fully cooked.

The all important ice stone

I know some people might be confused or unclear on this. But just to dispel any doubts about whether the ice stone has melted:

http://hastheicestonemelted.com