Tag Archives: blog life

Shark Week Blogiversary – Saturday

Isle of Jaws: Blood Brothers –

This is an interesting episode in terms of shark behavior. Great Whites give birth to live young, and so it is entirely possible that they may choose to spend their lives with their siblings. I felt a bit cheated by the discovery that both sharks had already been tagged and had their DNA sampled, but the results not stated in the show.

Andrew Mayne: Ghost Diver –

While interesting, I didn’t really enjoy this episode. I found the premise intriguing. My issue was the main focus of the show, Andrew Mayne. He struck me as someone more interested in the gimmick of an electric suit, not the actual sharks. Still, the episode was great about showing the trial and error process of experimentation and invention.

I Was Prey: Shark Week –

This was the most emotional of all the Shark Week episodes, following two shark attack survivors as they recount their experiences. I was impressed by both survivors’ attitudes. They don’t blame the sharks for doing what they naturally do, and still make a point of going back to the ocean. I was impressed by the warnings at the beginning of the episode, letting people know the graphic nature of the images shown. Even then, the photos of the actual injuries were blurred.

Today’s review is a little bit different. It is a self-review, or an explanation of why I am such a shark nut.

I’ve always been a water-child. I am the daughter of a Navy man, and so most of my early memories involve being around the ocean. I remember hunting sand dollars and playing in tide pools, and visiting aquariums.

I loved dolphins and whales, but the movie Free Willy cemented my love of Orcas. I was obsessed. I wanted to study Marine Biology as an adult. I wanted to work with Orcas. When I was 10, my parents gave me the National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Marine Mammals.

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I still have this!!

I focused all my studies to this goal, and while I did well in High School, College Maths and I did not agree. Between my math struggles and the fact that I had some family members disparaging my passion because “It wasn’t a money-making career.”, I floundered a while. I ended up not finishing college for other reasons and moved on with my life.

I still loved marine animals, but the increasing presence of the internet made clear that Orcas in captivity was not humane. I found the yearly ritual of watching Shark Week and visiting my local aquariums fed my interests. When the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) installed a Shark Touch Tank , I was hooked! I held my hand in the water and was brushed by a Cownose ray and a Cat shark(I honestly can’t call it petting….). The passion was back!

I read tons of nonfiction on Marine life in general and sharks in particular. I follow sharks tagged by Ocearch on Facebook and Twitter, and a ton of shark scientists. I advocate as much as I can for all marine life (except the invasive species), because my dream was deferred, and now I’m living with a disability that makes achieving it nigh impossible.

So I make new dreams, achievable ones. I dream of being able to rent a wheelchair and spend a day at the Georgia Aquarium(Atlanta, Georgia) so I can see a whale shark with my own eyes.  I dream of being well on the days NOAA and Ocearch scientists are giving lectures in my town so I can go see them. I dream of being well enough to volunteer doing data entry on sharks. I dream of being such a weird and wonderful shark fan that I can convince plush makers to design me a Wobbegong plushie (okay..I know this one is really left field, but I still want it to happen.)

Want a chance to win your own Shark puzzle? Giveaway Link: Here!

Disclosure:  The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them. Photo By Warren Tyrer via StockPholio.net

 

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

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Inventory and Plushie Zoo, or how I spend my summers.

I’m finally back home after being away for 3 weeks. Slowly, the cats are forgiving my absence while I rest from hard work and travel. Like most people with a chronic illness, I have good and bad periods. Summer is typically my good time. My Fibromyalgia flares are less, the weather is more conducive to being outside and active, and I feel less fatigued.

For the second year in a row, I went north to Massachusetts to The Dragon’s Lair HQ. The Dragon’s Lair is a convention-only pop-up shop that sells T-shirts and stuffed animals aka plushies.

Nice setup, right? But it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make a good looking booth!

That’s where my summer trip comes in. I’m the inventory minion! At least once a year, the Boss needs to know exactly how many pieces of stock we have on hand; and how many we have lost due to shrink or sales.

As a pop-up shop, we don’t have a warehouse or brick-and-mortar store. Everything is either in our 12 foot trailer or the Boss’s front porch. So I end up emptying the trailer into the garage and then opening each bin of shirts and box of plushies before reloading the trailer.

Five bins high, four bins across and an extra column of bins equals 25 bins, full of T-shirts! This was a single days work, and I was super tired at the end. The Dragon’s Lair stocks T-shirts from adult smalls to 5x-larges.

This is my standard plushie inventory setup. I lay out a handful of empty boxes to sit on and have a clean place to lay out each box’s plushies. Each one needs to be counted by sku number and checked over for any damages. Any missing or mangled price tags are replaced.

I find all sorts of fun and different plush!

It takes roughly 3 to 4 days to go through all the boxes and to fill the trailer.

Now inventory is only part of the story! It is something we do annually, but conventions are something that happens several times a month!

When we arrive at a convention venue, the trailer and back of the pickup must be unloaded, then myself or another minion/booth bunny/assistant (there is a rotating schedule of minions depending on the convention) build the grid-cube wall that is a staple of our plushie zoo.

This usually takes between 3-5 hours depending on how large the grid-cube wall is to be and how many minions are working on it. Then we use whatever time we have before the close of the dealer’s room for the evening filling cubes with plushies. The Boss’s Wife is Queen of the T-shirts, so all I need to focus on is plush. Usually, there is a few hours the following day to finish filling the booth before the dealer’s room opens for business.

Tada! One epic booth including T-shirts and the Plushie Zoo!

Our next 2 conventions are Otakon on July 26-28th in Washington DC and DragonCon on August 29th-September 2nd in Atlanta, Georgia. If you are going to attend either con, come see us at in the Dealer’s Room!

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Feeding the Troll, Blogging and Services Rendered.

Spouse-Critter says “Arguing with a troll is like wrestling with a pig. Both of you will get dirty, but only the pig is having fun.” He is most likely right, but I need to post this.

Back in December, I received this comment on my Day 8 Christmas post. I didn’t see it until after December 22, as I’d been in New York on family business.

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This person, hereafter referred to as Troll, chose not to leave a name or email so I could not contact them.  Now, as a point of order, I have to, in fairness, point out that there is no reliable way to convey tone within text. So the little disapproving “church lady” tone I read this comment in is entirely in my own head.

I was hurt, and at the time did not have the words to explain. So I spent a few months being alternately angry/frustrated and depressed. Never a good combo. I fought my way to the surface, spoke to my representatives at various companies, and spoke to both professional writers and other bloggers. I was introduced to a novel concept. If I’m being trolled, then I’m doing something right!

So I started blogging again. I put myself out there, solicited new companies for reviews and worked out a schedule that worked for me.

Then I woke up this morning to this:

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Sorry Troll 2.0, this time I have the words.

The thing is, every product I receive must be logged at either wholesale or retail value and I MUST pay taxes on them. The IRS doesn’t care; I cannot pay my taxes in puzzles and coloring books. I can and do sell some of the products I receive after doing my reviews, but that doesn’t generate enough income to pay taxes, much less regular bills. Other products  I donate to my local VA, senior center, and children’s hospital; because I believe in sharing.

I am disabled, but I fall in that not-so-small category of people who are in the process of applying for benefits, but not receiving any yet. Spouse-Critter works a good job, but his job doesn’t include health care or much in the way of extras. If I want to buy products to review, like LEGO® or high-end wooden puzzles, I need income to do so. That is why I have both Patreon and Ko-fi set up. If you read my Patreon, you’d see that I have it set as a way to sponsor different projects.

I’m of the opinion that if professional authors and other bloggers have Patreon accounts, then there is no reason why I cannot as well. Patreon is a platform to pay for services rendered. I write and do projects, and I recieve money for services rendered. Effectively, it makes my hobbies into a job. As for the accusation of being shameless and asking for money? Have you read my disclaimer at the bottom of each post? I’m not begging. I ask you to consider it. Being a patron is a choice!  You can choose to be one, or you can choose not to. Simple.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Adventures in the offing, and Courageous Conversations

This last week has been crazy. You see, SC and I are heading off to the first of our big three conventions. During the Spring and Summer, I work as a part time vendor selling plushies (stuffed animals) at anime and science-fiction conventions. However, once a year I get to switch my seller hat for a buyers one. We start our year at Toy Fair!

Toy Fair New York is a trade show for just about everyone involved in the toy industry. Buyers, sellers, inventors , and investors, they will all be there.

For four days, SC and I will browse through a mindboggling array of booths looking for both plushies for the Boss and for new blog material for me. There are roughly 1060 vendors there, I’ve managed to winnow it down to a list of 200. Still, that’s a lot of people to see and talk to!

Let me introduce you to Jæger. He’s my ESP(emotional support plush). He’ll be popping up on both my Twitter and Instagram while I’m at Toy Fair.

That’s the fun part of this weekend, the not fun parts? We’re taking a train to NYC from Virginia. I love traveling, but hate the fact that my illness doesn’t agree with sitting for long periods of time. Also, NYC in winter is usually not my cup of tea. I hate being cold! The worst thing though, is that this year I’ll be renting a wheelchair.

I use a cane about 90% of the time, except on good days in my own home or at the homes of friends I know really well. I really only use the motor carts at the supermarket as an absolute last resort.

I don’t want to need to use a wheelchair, but after spending 9 hours on a train, arriving at 2 in the morning, and walking around Times Square to get to one of our favorite 24 hour diners (Tick Tock Diner), I’ll be completely wrecked. We did it last year with me on a cane and I ended up exhausted. I can’t do my job exhausted, much less out of spoons.

It sucks, and I had to deal with several anxiety attacks over the idea of transitioning to a wheelchair, even if temporarily. I fight constantly to keep as much of my independence as I can, and detest feeling like a burden.

SC, bless him, does his best to help me. He was the one to fight for me going to a cane instead of leaning on him for balance. I hated that back then, but he was right, once I got used to my cane it gave me back the pep and vigor I’d thought lost for good. Hopefully, using a wheelchair for a day or two will save the spoons I need to do my best at Toy Fair.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Travel, Illness, Trolls, and the Feeding Thereof.

So it has been a while since my last posting…Understatement, I know. The latter half of December went more than a little haywire, courtesy of the topics in my title.

Firstly, travel: I got called back to New York for a Happy Family Emergency. I’ll post that separately, as it’s a fun story; but the travel home was hellish. Said hellish travel feeds into the other two topics, illness and trolls.

Illness is self-explanatory, I hope. If not, well, you are obviously not someone with the messed up immune system that most people with a chronic pain/autoimmune/genetic disorder have. If I stress, I get sick, if I’m exposed to crowds, I’ll most likely get whatever ick is in that crowd. If I’m exhausted from traveling, having been exposed to crowds and temperature extremes and being stressed at the same time??? SOOOOO Sick. If I come home from this only to find a disapproving Troll on my blog posting negatively?? Cue Sick and Depression Meltdown!

I’ve spent from December 22nd to January 14th in a haze. Depression is made of suck, and it hits everyone differently. Christmas was a haze of blah, despite everything SC did to make things better. A cold that settled in my chest left me with little energy and Depression ate my motivation and all color. Yes, Depression is capitalized. It’s a proper name; Depression is a monster I battle. It wins a few rounds, mostly because it cheats with stress and pain, or I win a few rounds. It’s a cycle. This time it won 3 weeks of my life. I marathoned 12 seasons of both Ancient Aliens and Forensic Files. Mostly because I didn’t have to think while watching them. I did develop a great theory on Giorgio Tsoukalos’s hair.

Thankfully, I have a good support network of friends and family, both IRL and online. They were there when I started to climb my way back out of the colorless Blah of Depression. This is life. My world has color and purpose again; I want to finish the posts I’d planned for Christmas and start my 2019 posts on National Puzzle Day on January 29th, 2019.

And my Troll? I’m going to face them. I’ve found that I have a lot to say. I’ll feed my anonymous troll and hope they choke.