Thursday, 15 September 2011

Geek and Proud!

This is my blog post for the Speak out with your Geek Out week, a movement set up, initially in reaction to the latest (well, it was the latest, but that was a couple of weeks ago, so I'm sure there's been another one since) geek bashing post on the internet. I'd link to it, but I've since discovered that the lady who wrote it gets paid per person who clicks onto the page, and suffice it to say, I don't want her to get any more money!

(I had intended to do multiple posts this week, but as this is the first night I've had in so far, and I'm not going to have another evening 'off' until Sunday, I think it's just going to be the one!)

The week is designed for all of us geeks, of whatever flavour, to consciously post about our hobbies and to show the world that we exist. Whilst there are enough of us who are loud and proud about being a geek, there are also plenty of people, children, teenagers and adults, who think that they are the only ones. There are also plenty of people, children, teenagers and adults, who still think that being geeky, particularly if it is to do with Sci-Fi / Fantasy, is a legitimate target for mocking. I had an example of that this very week, where a friend was very disparaging of the fact that I was going to be staying in on Thursday to watch the NZ broadcast of the first Doctor Who in this second-half series. If I'd said that I was staying in to watch whichever Rugby World Cup game was on at the same time (quick Google later - Russia vs USA), would I have had the same comments? Fortunately, I have a good enough relationship with my friend (and a thick enough skin) that I could take his attitude in the tongue in cheek manner in which it was obviously intended, but I was a little bit disappointed that the comments had come up in the first place.

I was fortunate in that my parents had plenty of sci-fi and fantasy round the house when I was young; I look back on the bedtime stories that I was read, and the majority of the ones which stood out seem to have been sci-fi or fantasy of one sort or another. That didn't stop me from being teased about it at school, but it meant that I always knew that I wasn't a complete outcast - if my parents liked it, it had to be ok!

From that young age, with the discovery of (amongst many others) John Wyndham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Robin Jarvis, Roald Dahl, I moved on to Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clark and so many more. I read the school library out of sci-fi and fantasy books - it was a very proud moment when the head librarian asked me for recommendations for more books to get in. As a family, we watched series such as Red Dwarf, Robot Wars, Neverwhere, Crime Traveller and Scrap Heap Challenge. Now, as an adult, my primary reading material is either sci-fi or fantasy (though at the moment, my bedside book is called Cooking for Geeks, all about the science of cookery, and I'm reading a business book on the way to and from work), I very rarely watch anything that doesn't have some form of sci-fi or fantasy content, I go board gaming once a month (and occasionally have friends round for 'in between' gaming sessions), I belong to two science fiction clubs, as well as an orchestra (slightly classical-music geek, too) and I'm starting to turn into a bit of a craft geek, just because I don't have enough things going on (I am teaching myself to crochet, and really rather loving it). So - I may be a 'scatter gun' geek instead of a one-hobby, in depth geek, but I'm still proud of my obsessions.

So - why it is important that those of us who are loud and proud about our geekly ways are able to shout about it? We need to show those who are being teased, whether it is gentle mocking or outright bullying, that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that they are not alone. The internet is a great socialiser for this - there is a world of knowledge and connections at people's fingertips that just wasn't there when I was a teenager, but there are still people who feel alone, or ashamed of not being 'normal' in what they enjoy.

However, I have news for them. Anybody can be a geek, about pretty much any subject - it isn't just those of us who have the entire Terry Pratchett collection, or who can quote whole chapters from the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or lines from the Goon Show). How is the football fan, who plasters his bedroom wall with posters of teams through the ages, goes to every game he can, sleeps under a team duvet and has replica home and away strips hanging in his wardrobe any different to a Star Trek fan, who has posters of the stars hanging over her bed, watches every episode when it comes on TV, sleeps under an Enterprise duvet and has a replica uniform hanging in her wardrobe? It just takes knowledge and enthusiasm to be a geek, whether you recognise that's what you are or not.

I sign off with one of my favourite quotations from The Divine Comedy (MasterMind) (another latent obsession of mine): "So tell me what the hell is normal, and who the hell is sane? And why the hell care anyway? The dreams that we have had are gonna prove that we're all mad, and that's OK."

Sunday, 11 September 2011

What a match!

Wow! We're just back in from the Ladies' Finals - and I can truly say that it is the closest game of hockey I have ever played. We were 2-1 down at half time, with excellent play from both teams. We came out of half time with a bang - two goals in quick succession (one from a penalty stroke) got us 3-2 up. Then, with 10 minutes to go, they scored from a penalty corner. The ball was flying up and down the pitch as the minutes ticked away; every time it got up the opposition's end, I was longing for a last minute goal, then as soon as it started coming back our way, I was determined not to let one through. Then full time whistle blew.

For the Finals, it couldn't just end on a draw, so each team had to take two players off the pitch, and we had another six minutes of play, with the 'Golden Goal' rules (i.e. first team to score, wins). We kept on pushing, with a couple of really close misses, but at the end of the six minutes, it was still a draw. So, another two players each off the pitch, and another six minutes of play. Still no goal.

Then, the moment I'd been dreading; penalty strokes. Each team picks five players to go alternately against the goalie. No pressure at all, then! The walk into the goal each time was the longest of my life - I could hear the supporters cheering from the sidelines, but could only concentrate on the little white ball sat on the penalty spot. And I let the first one in... (I moved in the right direction, which was small consolation) We'd missed our first shot, so now we were 1-0 down. Our second shot went in, their second shot went wide. Our third shot went straight to the keeper's pads, their third shot was lifted into the left corner - somehow - I'm still not sure how - I got my hand to it and knocked it clear. Our fourth shot went in, their fourth shot pinged off of the post. Our fifth shot went wide. So - 2-1 up on the penalties - now down to the last stroke... And it went wide!

So - Upper Hutt Ladies are champions of our grade, and, more than that, we go up the grade into the Premier League next season. A fantastic end to a wonderful season of hockey. I think our supporters would have appreciated it not being quite so wearing on the nails!

Monday, 5 September 2011


We're through to the finals!

Not doing too badly for a team that came up the grade at the start of the season...

It was a really good match, not just because of the fantastic score line, and the fact that I really didn't have to do a huge amount - but because both sides played nicely. There were no temper tantrums on the pitch, even when people got knocked or tripped in the heat of the game (one spectator did point out that the rugby field was behind us...), there was no answering back to the refs (who were fair and even handed throughout), and after the match, a number of the opposing members wished us good luck for the finals. Roll on next week!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

4 Years ago...

I promised - From this day forward, no matter what life holds for us, I pledge to give you my support, friendship, faithful companionship and undying love.

In four years, we have seen many changes from life, but that promise is still as sincere and as true as the day I spoke it. Here's to many more years to come, and I'm looking forward to the next life challenge.

In other news - we finished the round robin at the top of our grade in hockey, so it's semi finals this week - please keep your fingers crossed for us Sunday morning...

We had our orchestra workshop last weekend - it went brilliantly. We had a fantastic teacher for the oboe sectionals, and I have learnt so much. I was even enjoying the Firebird by the end of it (rather relieving to understand that the professionals have ways of 'cheating' their way through the music, too). It is such great fun to be able to spend a whole weekend playing music and feeling a whole orchestra improve together - the difference in our playing between the Friday evening when we did our initial tutti run through and our final rehearsal on the Sunday afternoon was immeasurable!