My Favourite Content Creators – Guest Post by Jonas

I’m not young. I remember a time back when we rode dinosaurs. Ok, maybe I’m not that old. But I do remember growing up without the internet. I’m somewhat fortunate in that in my late teens I *did* go to a private school that offered students laptops and internet access. So I had a bit of a jump on the rest of my generation.

There’s a lot of great (and not great) stuff out there. But growing up as a budding nerd, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to share and talk about my passions. Plus I was limited in the opinions I could find based on geography. Sure I could go to a Star Trek Convention. But the only people who I’d be able to interact with were those other people who were there.

Now, of course, you can connect with a fellow nerd who is on the other side of the planet in a few seconds. And it’s so much easier to find and spend time with local humans who may share your passion.

It’s also so much easier to consume media that dives deep into topics you are interested in. Talk about the philosophy of Star Trek. The history of miniatures gaming. A documentary on the making of your favourite video game. I wanted to take a moment to share some of my favourite content creators.

Note they’re all YouTubers mostly because it’s the content delivery medium I am most familiar with and the platform, despite them “optimizing” it on and off, it’s pretty user-friendly.

1. Moviebob

Moviebob *is* my favourite content creator. He dives deep into a whole host of nerdy subjects. And even topics I’m not interested in, I’ll still usually watch. I never thought I’d be interested in Yogi Bear’s collar, I was wrong. Also COMICS ARE WEIRD! (Seriously, search “Moviebob” and “comics are weird” you won’t be disappointed. I mean, unless you don’t like comics.)

Really That Good: Superman:

About Yogi Bear’s Collar:

2. Steve Shives

Steve talks about Star Trek and Social Justice Issues. I don’t always agree with him on both. But I’m always edified by the experience. He just did a video about the new Star Trek: Picard trailer and I enjoyed it.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/user/stevelikes2curse

3. How to ADHD

It’s not nerdy per se. But I think it valuable.  I have ADHD, it’s….challenging. This channel has helped me understand myself better. It’s also helped me know I’m not alone in my struggles.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

4. Lindsay Ellis

Another brilliant media commentator. Also someone who, even on topics I’m less interested in (like Game of Thrones) I’m still interested in her opinions. If I were half as smart as she is, I’d be twice as smart as I am now. Oh! And she was nominated for a Hugo award for her Hobbit Trilogy.

The Hobbit, A Long Expected Autopsy:

5. Noclip

I love video games. I also enjoy learning more about the games I love. Danny interviews industry luminaries and dives deep into how some amazing games came to be. If you’re a fan of the Witcher 3 or 2016’s DOOM, I really recommend checking out those documentaries.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0fDG3byEcMtbOqPMymDNbw

Bonus: Mick Gordon talking about the creation of the DOOM Soundtrack

6. Guerilla Miniature Games

In addition to video games, I also enjoy tabletop games. In my experience, there is a dearth of commentators on the industry who bring insightful industry knowledge and who aren’t governed by “hot-takes”. Ash is one of those and the discussions on issues of the day are well worth listening to.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbO4Vs1vlAA9hz7Ad7IMgug

About the Author

Jonas is a nerd who loves many many different nerdy things…. Except Anime! Anime was a mistake!

If asked what he thinks is most under-rated in nerd culture he’d probably say Babylon 5.

*Note* All opinions are those of the author and not JenEric Designs.

Gold Rush Canada

Who shot the boss? is the question that Gold Rush Canada asked several thousand contestants before releasing them to search for the $80,000 dollars buried somewhere in the Nation’s Capital on Saturday July 27th 2019 at 9 am. Armed only with a special map, a video from the website, and smart phones, everyone headed for where they thought the first clue was hidden.

Image from goldrushcanada.com.

Now, days later, most people (if not all) are stuck on the third challenge of ten. Based on the comments on the Facebook page, people are getting very frustrated. (As of July 30th when this post was written.)

Nobody said that it would be easy.

So why am I talking about an event that is currently ongoing?

Because Ottawa is only the first city of six.

On August 10, Edmonton starts. August 17 is Calgary and Montreal, and August 24th Toronto and Vancouver.

Due to Ottawa’s event taking longer than expected, they have rearranged the dates for the other cities.

Montreal is August 24, Vancouver is August 31, Calgary is September 7, Edmonton is September 14, and Toronto is September 21.

Are you ready to reserve your map, solve the mystery, and find the treasure?

Knowledge of Escape Rooms is definitely an advantage.

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 4 of 7

I have wonderful timing, I mean I’m a bonafide prophet. I spun around and shot not one, but two, of those nightmare dog things in the head without hesitation.

They had no eyes, no nose, they were nothing but dark, slimy muscle and teeth. They seemed utterly quiet until they pounced, then they let off a series of complicated clicks.

“They’re blind and hunt by sound,” I told Suzie as we moved through them towards the shuttle.

“Good thing we have lights,” she said before grimacing and adding, “I shouldn’t have said that.” The light died. We both had enhanced vision built into our suits. It didn’t make any difference other than making the whole situation creepier.

I shot another one and then tried to throw a plasma blast. It hit the closest nightmare and seemed to do nothing.

We fought until heard a screech, howl, and louder clicks. Somehow my plasma managed to feed the damned thing I hit with it, making it grow. It was now big enough to shrug off the bullets I was shooting at it.

They swarmed over every surface. I blasted holes into the floor, walls, and ceiling. They still came towards us, but slower. The big one stayed back, barely moving. We killed them as they came at us. By we, I mean Suzie sliced them and I tried not to die.

“Hey Sunny. Lets get that matter transporter working, shall we?” I yelled into the coms.

“Sure thing boss… I’ll see what I can do.” Adric replied.

“Faster is better.”

“Right. Not something I’m going to rush. Stay exactly where you are.”

We were backed into a corner and I aimed the gun to make the biggest bang. Unfortunately all I got was a click, meaning I was out of ammunition. My trusty blaster did nothing and my super awesome plasma attacks made them grow.

“Suzie… I-”

“Not the time Hal.” She was right. I had terrible timing.

“I’m an idiot.”

“Go on.” The nightmares were staying back, having learnt what she could do with a blade.

“I should have told you before. I’ve been having nightmares about these creatures since before my funeral.”

Sighing, she said, “You talk in your sleep. We all know.”

“I really am an idiot.”

The problem with a matter transporter is that it’s unreliable, illegal, and painful. You’re just as likely to get rearranged into a pile of goo as you are to arrive at your destination. Which, in normal times, isn’t an issue since I can use my powers to know when it’ll work. But when my powers are on the fritz, well, that’s not great.

I reached out and touched her shoulder. I was going to say something, but a vision of her death stopped me. I saw over a hundred versions of her dying before I found a plan that would work.

“I love you, Suzie. I know I’ve been an idiot and I know I don’t deserve you. Just make sure you remember me.”

Her face softened for a moment and she looked at me. “What…”

I gently took the sword from her hand and took two steps to the side. “Now, Adric, now!”

“Use the head to figure out the virus. You only have a few months.” The large nightmare creature dove for me but I had already moved out of it’s way. With a swipe of the sword, I cleanly took off its head. It fell where I had been and both it and Suzie were teleported.

“Go into the dark, you son of a third rate pirate!” I heard Suzie’s cursing transition from in front of me to the coms as she was transported to the ship.

When I didn’t say anything, I was too busy fending off the creatures, she asked “Why?” There was a catch in her throat. That catch and the sadness it represented was worse than all the yelling she could have done.

“Because it meant I saved your life. Adric, tow this thing within tossing distance to the sun.”

“Hal No!”

“Last resort, throw this garbage heap into the sun and let Sol work it out.” I was fairly certain that the heat of the sun would kill these things. If they fed off plasma this would kill them from overfeeding and Sol himself should be able to deal with them.

Not to mention my powers would be more… well, powerful. Yes, it was a terrible plan but it was the only thing I could think of. Give me a break; I was fighting of nightmare creatures with a sword on a ghost ship. Sure, it might have been the solar prophet equivalent of wanting my teddy bear when facing nightmares. Thankfully my teddy was a seven thousand kilometre radius ball of fire.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Mal

One of our daughter’s favourite movies is “Uma Mal!”, otherwise known as “Disney’s Descendants”. She calls both the first and the second this, so it’s always a surprise which one she pulls out of the bookcase. to watch (PS the third is coming out this August!)

So when Mal came to our booth, of course we had to grab a picture of her.

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 7


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7


Chapter 7: Landing, Walking, and Disappearing.

“Holy Mother-Of-Stars, the micro-star is sentient?” Annie’s surprise was uttered in a silent voice as they rushed through space. The station hadn’t sent anyone to escort them back yet and Annie was hurrying to make sure that didn’t happen.

“Yes, and we think the techno-mages having been hiding it the whole time.” Seren sighed at the implication that she’d come to believe. Their civilization, who’s guiding principle was to learn about and respect life, prospered on slavery.

They told each other everything that had happened and even after Annie explained that the star shaped ships had saved someone, they all held their breath as they passed the line of ships orbiting the planet.

When they’d passed the star shaped ships, Jan said, “Wow. There are a lot of them.” They were right; the ships seemed to have completely surrounded the planet with a hole where the station was transmitting something to the surface.

As the passed the line of ships, they saw the planet. Lush and green, it seemed to have more vegetation than anything else. The oceans were only forty percent of the planet.

Scans showed that under the plant life were ancient metropolises. “This planet must have housed hundreds of billions of people.” Seren sounded excited.

“Whoa! Can a planet even sustain that many people?” Jan asked.

Annie was the one who answered, “Not for long. I’m guessing they either left or died out.”

There were cities all over the planet according to the scans, but eight metropolises dominated the landscape. The eight formed a star pattern similar to the ships.

Scans also showed that each city had a giant building that hadn’t decayed and was shielded from sensors.

In the centre of the geographical star was an enormous version of these buildings. It was larger than most cities on the planets they’d visited. It was also where the station was transmitting information.

“Where should we land?” Annie asked, fully expecting the answer.

“We should go to the largest one. If the station is sending a signal, there must be someone to receive it,” Seren said, while taking deeper scans of the planet.

Jan had been looking at their screen and finally asked, “How did they get this much material? Those buildings are impossibly big. I can’t find any quarries or sign they recycled parts of the cities.”

“We’ll have to ask them when we get there.” Seren was practically vibrating in her seat. Annie expected her to dash towards the door and jump out.

The building was massive and had no obvious doors or landing places. The transmissions from the station was being sent to a small area of the building. Since it was the only reference they had, they landed nearby.

There was a small opening in the jungle that let them land, but the walk to their destination was going to be over harsh terrain. They had machetes to cut through vines in the survival packs but kept them sheathed. It was standard procedure to avoid slicing a sentient tree by accident. There were no paths, which was unusual. It meant there were no large animals.

The planet was definitely not dead, however, and they could hear bird songs and other small creatures.

“The larger animals would have no way to get up here!” Annie exclaimed. “We might look like we’re in a jungle, but we’re on a giant building’s roof. Big animals wouldn’t come up here since there are no large water sources.”

Jan looked impressed. “I thought you weren’t paying attention in school, spacebird.”

“I love flying, but I spent a lot of time with Seren and her curiosity is contagious.” They all laughed.

The laughter startled a small flock of birds and the sound of their wings was enough to bring the three back on task. They walked for over an hour before they reached the middle of the building, according to their devices.

There was no indication in the foliage or the ground to show this was the spot. Seren took out a scanner that would let them see what was under all the plant life.

She synced it to her computer and scanned. Watching the screen of her computer, she could see there was something under the plants, but it must have been blocking everything out. Just as she was getting frustrated, she saw an outline of a square.

Annie watched from over her shoulder and said, “I’ll go check it out.” She walked over to the square and started feeling for it. It was definitely an indent. She crawled slowly forward and when she was fully inside the square, she disappeared.

Seren yelped and ran forwards to help Annie. Jan’s strong arms stopped her and said, “Wait. If she’s been disintegrated or hurt, running into the same trap isn’t going to help. We need to study it some more.”

Her heart hurt at not rushing to help her friend but Jan was right and they had to be careful out here. She got closer and started to run scans on the area, hoping beyond hope she hadn’t lost Annie.

Read Next (August 2019)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out previous serial stories:

Blush: What’s a doula? Why do I want one? – Guest Post by Tricia Surette

Follow Tricia Surette here!

Part 1: What’s a doula? Why do I want one?

Pregnant women often say that what matters most is the health of their baby or babies. Our society focuses heavily on the arrival of baby often to the detriment of the mother. One of my favourite quotes is, “the moment a child is born, the mother is also born,” and according to the internet it is attributed to Osho, a controversial figure. But the quote captures a truth about childbirth.

The woman is as integral to the process of birthing as the baby is, and her importance and her need for support is just as important as the health of the child. The act of labour is a symbiotic relationship between the woman’s body, mind, and soul working along with the movements of the newborn descending through her birth canal. The more we can allow that process to happen unhindered and for women to be free to listen to the intuition of their bodies, often the better the outcomes are for both the mother and child.

Here a doula holds a woman in early labour, providing support through the intense surges of her labour, as her body works to bring her baby earthside. Image taken by Nicky Rhea De Souza and shared here with permission.

Unfortunately, our highly medicalized birthing system in North America has forgotten the power of the female body – but this is starting to change.

Women are remembering, they are learning to trust themselves, and they are demanding more support. One of the forms that support might take is a doula.

“[A doula] is somebody who helps you see your strengths, helps plan, helps craft questions for your healthcare provider,” says Courtney Holmes, the family outreach and birth companion support worker at Mothercraft Ottawa. “They really help instill a sense of confidence and empowerment moving through the experience.”

Mothercraft Ottawa provides doula services to at-risk women in Ottawa. At-risk includes new immigrants and low-income mothers. The support the doulas provide those women is invaluable.

“How women feel about their labour and delivery is a huge marker for postpartum mental health issues afterwards,” says Holmes.

Pia Anderson, a local doula and Hypnobirthing teacher, has been a doula for over 14 years and has supported hundreds of women physically, emotionally, and informationally through their journeys of birthing their children.

Anderson tries to meet with each family at least three times prior to the birth. This helps build her relationship with the woman and her partner.

She is a big supporter of a birth plan, not because she expects everything will go according to the plan, but it gives a chance for the woman and her partner to explore their options and be aware of the different scenarios that might come up, as well as to explore questions they might want to bring up with their healthcare provider. It also gives them a chance to voice any fears or worries. Anything that can be addressed ahead of time or can be anticipated to come up during the birth, can help increase the chances of a positive birthing experience.

Anderson worries about the mothers who make a birth plan that they are too attached to.

Birth is not a predictable process and getting too entrenched into an idea of how it should go, ie. having your heart set on a “natural” birth (meaning no epidural, vaginal delivery, etc…) can set a woman up for disappointment if anything deviates from her vision. The birth plan is a great tool for educating yourself on what could happen and to help you be prepared for various outcomes, but it’s important that it’s viewed as a tool to help create an optimal birth in spite of anything that happens, and not a carved in stone agenda. Very few births go completely according to plan.

Melaina Landriault is a mother of three in Ottawa. Her first birth was a c-section as her daughter was full breach and stuck, but her two subsequent pregnancies were homebirths with doulas. Her second birth didn’t quite go as planned. It was supposed to be a hospital birth, but the hospital sent her home thinking she was still hours away from delivery. Her daughter had other ideas.

“I delivered her myself,” says Landriault. “[My doula] caught the baby!”

“We really believed what the doctor and midwife had told us and I’d never birthed before,” continued Landriault. “Then I remember pushing and [my doula] was like ‘Don’t push!’ and I was like, ‘I can’t stop this!’”

Landriault’s daughter was born in her living room with only her doula to support her. Her midwife arrived after the birth and an ambulance arrived to check everyone out as well.

This is not a typical scenario for a doula and most doulas will actively avoid a birth without any medical practitioners in attendance, but this one thankfully had a happy ending.

Unfortunately, if a doula attended a birth with no medical support and it didn’t have such a happy outcome, the doula could be open to a lawsuit with devastating results and charges could even be laid if the outcome is deemed the fault of the doula in any way.

Doulas are not medical practitioners and should never provide medical advice on your pregnancy or how you choose to birth. They can provide information to help you make a decision and will direct you back to your OB/GYN or midwife for answers, but they should never tell you how or how not to do something. The main goal of a doula is to support you in whatever choices you make and to help you achieve the best outcome for your birth so that everyone, including the mother, is healthy.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 in two and four weeks respectively.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 3 of 7

Things got worse after we heard Teddy scream. We all just took off running and shamefully didn’t notice what happened to Fry.

When we reached Suzie, she had cut one of the creatures from my nightmare in half. I froze and had to fight off urge to run, puke, or both. When I finally felt confident I wouldn’t, I looked at the thing that had been haunting me for the better part of the past few years.

It looked like a cross between a wolf, an alligator, and a human. Everything about it ate light. My eyes had trouble focusing on it, but what I did see showed that the insides were the same greasy light-absorbing substance as the outsides.

What was left of Teddy was all red with some splotches of brown. I bent over to look at him, but he was dead.

“Teddy shot that thing eight times and it just ate the plasma bolts like they were nothing. Thankfully it couldn’t defend against my sword.” That sword had been made by one of the first Sunspeakers, forged from solar alloys in the heart of Sol itself. I don’t like swords so I gave it to the assassin turned bodyguard who’d been using them for her whole life.

Hoff’s mouth was agape when she said, “This is it. This is the thing the virus was designed to kill. Except it’s not affected. The thing’s body just ignores the virus.”

Suzie sighed, “Great; an unkillable enemy. Let’s get the hell out of here before more of those things show up.” She looked around. “Where’s Fry? Adric do you have a location on Fry?” Everyone was starting to move more frantically. I could tell they were trying to act cool, but it was starting to get to them. After spending enough time around me, people develop a thick skin but this was too gruesome, even for me.

I said a small prayer over Teddy’s body and turned to Hoff. “Take a sample and treat it as the highest biohazard level. Go back to the ship and send the shuttle back on autopilot. Travis, go with her.” Hoff looked relieved and I could see her hands shaking as she took the samples. The command effectively left me alone with Suzie, something I wouldn’t mind, minus the horror show going on.

Travis nodded. He was a mild Precog; enough to be a damn good pilot but not much else. He liked the feel of a pilot’s chair and buttons to press. This was not in his comfort zone and he looked damned relieved to get out. He held his swords out and the two of them retreated to the shuttle.

“Your crew respects you too much,” Suzie said. “Leaving you behind with only me as defense in this situation is a great way to get you killed.”

“Or maybe they’re terrified and want to get the hell out of this place before they die. If I thought you’d listen, I’d have sent you with them.”

“I guess you’re not a complete fool.” She stopped and looked at the man in the cryotube. He was dressed in what looked like robes and he had a calm frustratingly smug look on his face. “He makes me think of you.”

“Oh?”

“He gives off a feeling of power and authority.”

“I thought you said he reminded you of me?” I joked.

“I did… but there’s something missing, something cold. Even asleep he scares me. You’re warm and you only scare me in that you care too much.”

Adric’s voice cut in, “That’s really deep. I found Fry’s signal in the armory. Two levels down.”

“How do you know it’s the armory?”

“I have the ship’s schematics now. Along with how to build those engines.” He sounded inappropriately happy, considering.

Taking off her ear piece, Suzie turned to me and said, “You know he’s probably not alive, right?”

I only nodded. I knew she was right but I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. These people were my family and they far too often died for me. The walk to the armory had me less nervous than before. My enemy was here and now I could deal with it instead of waiting in horror.

When we got to the doors that would lead us to Fry, Adric told us he hadn’t moved and that Hoff and Travis had made it onto the ship.

“I’m going first,” I said and she rolled her eyes. “It’s not a macho thing. I can just take a lot of damage if it’s a trap.” Her eyes rolled again and she gestured with her sword.

The armoury was filled with swords and projectile weapons. It had been centuries since we’d used that sort of weapon. Plasma blasters were cheaper and easier to make.

In the centre of the room was what was left of Fry. Mostly his head and his earpiece. They were precariously balanced on a chair. There was no blood anywhere and the whole scene felt like it was meant to unnerve us.

Inside, I looked around and tried to figure out why he was displayed. “These things aren’t dumb. They bated us here.”

“Oh great. It’s a trap. I never saw this coming,” Suzie deadpanned.

I instinctively grabbed a weapon and a few cartridges. As I loaded the weapon, I said, “Suzie… I-”

She cut me off by saying, “Not now Hal. For a smart guy with the ability to see the future you have terrible timing for personal talks.”

“But…” I trailed off as she walked away. I followed her out of the armoury and back the way we came.

“I’ve waited two years. What’s another couple of hours?” Suzie quipped.

The lights flickered and I turned around to shoot the first creature in the head as it seemed to fly towards us from behind.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

The Louvre

I knew that the Louvre was considered one of the biggest museums of art in the world, but I wasn’t prepared for just HOW big that meant. We couldn’t see the full size of the building on this day, but the Seine cruise the night before really showcased the immensity of the building.

And this? This is just the entrance.

Breathtaking.