Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Haunted Halloween, Whoniverse!

            Yeah, I said "Haunted" and "Whoniverse" in the same sentence!  Mostly because this is a quickie that will hopefully cover both the Doctor Who cosplay event AND the Historic Haunts tour I took, and it will be just funny enough to tide you over for Halloween AND the first 9 days of November (including Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead).  So, instead of going blabbity blah, let's get right to it!  I've got the Necrofusion full album here (which is by Zak Bagans + Praga Khan), which is OPTIONAL for you!  (If it's too distracting, do some DJ Lorn, with Ancient Realms: Atlantis or Ancient Realms: Anasazi!)  WARNING: Lots of pictures here, so if you are having a hard time loading up pictures, I suggest you try using a laptop or a desktop computer and not some iWhatever device you're using.

Who Was Whose Doctor?  Why I Should Have a TARDIS!!!

            The inaugural Doctor Who cosplay event on Saturday, October 18th, 2014, was pretty good: people showed up in costume that were creative, and I was surprised at how creative they were in their choices.  Let me be honest, though: I should've started way earlier than I did.  I was super stressed, wanting some actual awesome costume to wear.  I was so desperate that I was frantically scanning through ThinkGeek for Whovian goodies.  I wound up wearing a DoctorWho-INSPIRED outfit rather than a full on costume, which actually made Dad a little happy.  It was original, but totally painful for my feet as I was wearing Converse high-tops that did not fit me very well.  Maybe I should've applied duct tape to the situation……

            Anyways, despite showing up LATE and missing most of the action (hence the need for an actual TARDIS with Gallifreyan time-travel technology!), people were there dressed as Doctor Rory, Amy, a Dalek, a Cyberman (there were 2 Cybermen, actually), Captain Jack Harkness……  Even Dan and Kris got in on the cosplay action: Kris was Madame Kovarian and Dan could alternate between a Silence (without the hands) and an infected gas mask-wearing medical doctor from the two-parter "The Empty Child/TheDoctor Dances".

            But just dressing up wasn't enough: Dan and Kris even decked out the store in Whovian decorations, with a (cardboard) TARDIS out front, the gravestones for Mr. and Mrs. Pond, Clara Oswald, and River Song, the Face of Bo, the Doctor's non-fightin' hand….  Some chilled bottled Waters of Mars, some Whovian cupcakes and even marshmallow Adipose pops were available for sale in case you get famished or thirsty, with a scavenger hunt available to cure boredom, with a color/draw-your-own-TARDIS activity for the kids!

            My initial assesment: 4 plungers out of 5.  I could've been there earlier, but that's my own damn fault; I would've gotten great pictures of great costumes between noon and 3pm EDT!  Other businesses had stuff going on, like a London Fog tea available at the café two doors down, and the salon doing Whovian nail designs; I also missed them!  DAVROS DAMMIT!  Next time, after creating a ton of Adipose with my mass, I most certainly WILL have a costume ready!
           MARK MY WORDS, SAXON!  *Schwarzneggar accent* I'LL BE BAHCK!!!!!

(more pictures from the cosplay event is available here: )

Historic Haunts: The Return of the Damned Blogger

            I hope people remember my post about going on the Historic Haunts tour last year.  I decided to go again this year, but with Papa Spock's camera!  This very decision has consequences, however.  I had opted for the camera for one reason: the possibility of capturing something paranormal in an image.  What I wound up with is much different and weirder from when I started—THE ESSENCE OF EVERY GOOD JOURNEY!  Or is it documentary?  Not sure; I should ask Morgan Spurlock….  *picks up that name she dropped, gently prodding it to do more episodes of Inside Man on CNN*

            Anyways, it's the same stops as before, but the details are a little bit different, mostly because I didn't have the awesome tour guide who wore a kilt last year.  This year, it was a lady in a bit of a Victorian Gothic ensemble.  Currently second-best choice, in my opinion.  Then again, I was not paying as much attention this year because I was instead trying to take pictures for my blog post about this tour.  Cue EXASPERATED SIGH!!!!

            First thing I noticed when I reached location number 1 (Brethren House): we're all holding candles, we're all following this interestingly dressed character around town, listening to tales of history and the weird happenings of what's not necessarily considered scientific and holding candles while we go through.  Either this is a special traditional journey that has a hint of a religious vibe (as in the candle-lit vigils olden day friends of mine have attended for their churches)……or we look like a fucking cult here.  Seriously, tell me if we look like a cult!

Do you get what I mean?!  Thanks, Jenny Lawson aka the Bloggess, for inspiring that bit of crazy thinking!  I can't wait for the brainwashing to be completed so that I, too, may be collecting weird taxidermy and get raised eyebrows during the annual inspection done by the apartment building's management whenever we get too damn comfortable!  Maybe your husband Victor (who's always wrong—unless he's obviously right) can do the inspection this year—just to make it fun!

            Anyways, more pictures here include us walking, tour guide's "preaching" and nothing out of the ordinary—so far…..

            We hit God's Acre (a cemetery surrounded by school buildings, in case you forgot), and for me, it was photography central!  I wound up staying farther behind to take pictures, hoping to CATCH SOMETHING!!!!!!  *flails*  I think I did….because I took this picture—AIN'T IT PURDY?!

And I took this second one just in case of false positives:

Huh….That's weird…..I'm sure that there weren't any bugs around…  And I doubt that there's any dust in this cemetery.  I am also sure that the lens of the camera was clear…..  Let's take a closer look:

And then I went back to the previous picture…..

Pardon the poor editing—My Photoshop skills are severely lacking….but I lined it up best I could!

            Anyways, ORBS!  Very controversial manifestationof spirit energy.  Most orbs caught in photos and videos are actually just dust particles and bugs and what-not.  In fact, Zak Bagans and Nick Groff each say (in their books) that 95-97% of all orbs captured on film (static or video) are bugs or dust particles or lens flares or whatever and easy to debunk.  It's that remaining 3-5% that is totally weird: they emit their own light, are not caused by any light reflecting off of a random bug or some dust, they manifest IN FRAME, and move in intelligent patterns at times.

            I'm not entirely sure that I caught an ACTUAL orb, and verification on whether I did or not would be appreciated.  (FUCK OFF, TROLLS!)  But in any case, the POSSIBILITY is there!

            After the cemetery, we swung by Boyd Theater (which I hope gets back up and running; please, potential investors!  Help bring this historic icon of Bethlehem, PA, back to life!) and the Hells' Fargo:

FIXED!  Lol, I'm kidding, Wells Fargo!

And then passed through that pedestrian alley by the Underground Lair (Wow, how much advertising are they getting just from me mentioning their store in my blog?!) to get to the Sun Inn.

            Before I tell you about the next photo, let me tell you right now……I AM FINE!  I AM OKAY!  You can tell by my tweets!

And it was all my Davros-damn fault for doing this: I was trying to get a picture of the tour guide in front of the back end of the Sun Inn from a point of view towards the ground angled up—like a worm's eye view type of shot.  I was also holding a LIT candle, and it wasn't one of those fake ones that is powered by batteries and working light bulbs; this is ACTUAL fire burning an ACTUAL wick that's part of an ACTUAL candle made of ACTUAL wax wearing an ACTUAL clear plastic cup used to catch wax drippings so that said drippings don't burn our hands.  I was not paying attention to the way I was holding the candle, and inadvertently held it too close to my hair, setting my hair on fire.  I heard it, felt the flames lightly lick my cheek, and yelped, quickly putting it out with the bare hand that was NOT holding the candle.  *shudders*  I finally went through that rite of passage of setting my own hair on fucking FIRE, which is an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life!  All just to get this shot:

            I was able to check after the tour was over to see if I was burnt (because I didn't feel pain; yeah, adrenaline is fun like that) or not, and seeing what the damage was, I was also able to breathe a small sigh of relief.  Yeah, burning your hair is not fun, but it's even worse if you ACTUALLY get burnt flesh in the process.  I even reassured everyone that I'm okay, and that it was just my hair and ego that were burnt (like I said in my tweets).  No need for an incident report for something as stupid as what I had done!  Seriously, I'm not one of those crazy people who live to sue everyone for every imperfection in their lives!
            Hi!  I'm Lady Eden Pyrithea, your substitute Smokey the Bear mascot, and I say that fire only belongs on the grill, in campfires and in fire tornadoes.  DON'T BURN OUR FORESTS OR HAIR!!!  #INCINERATE

            So, back to the Sun Inn, after carefully eyeing the candle for the rest of the tour, and taking a picture at the HISTORIC Hotel Bethlehem (which still has a Room With a Boo I would LOVE to stay in; in fact, I dare skeptics—especially Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait—to spend a couple nights in this room.  Yeah, it's expensive and got a HUGE waiting list, but I swear, the memories will be WELL worth it!), I was able to head home, call Papa Spock to inform him of the events that took place within that hour and take my second shower of the day.  It was a long day, and I swear, despite the short burst of fear and panic I had, it was……okay.  I disliked the amount of issues I had prior to the tour (Buses should NOT break while people are in transit to their audiologist appointment; the bus drivers should also NOT take ten minutes to stop the fucking bus and try and fix it themselves, due to said people being ALREADY late to their audiologist appointment and do not need to be even later!), but I have to quickly sum it up as a VERY LONG DAY.  I was so tired that I wound up falling asleep on my own couch after the shower and a mug full of milk.

            Seriously, I should get a reward for surviving all that.  Not something big, just…maybe, a new pair of headphones that are long overdue?  Or a large tub of delicious mint gelato decorated with cannolis?

            Out of exhaustion, I say BLEHHHH.  Anyhow, I hope everyone enjoys their Halloween (which is my BIRTHDAY!  Yeah, totally my birthday!  Just like Vanilla Ice!  And the two other babies that were delivered that same day in that same hospital I was born at, all scheduled at the same time because the obstetrician was about to go on vacation, which turned it all into a race! #FIRST) while I spend it with my parents before heading out on another trip to locations within my sector.  Remember last year, when I spent a snowed-in Doctor Who Day at a hotel in Pittsburgh that SHOULD HAVE an elevator in it and not just be a converted apartment complex?  Yeah, it's same that trip again, only with a real hotel with a REAL elevator (not just an imaginary one), and it's much earlier in the month.  Bonus: I get to bring my dice rolling game, and possibly get Mama Squirrel and Papa Spock to bring the Princess Bride game I gave them for last Christmas on this trip.  Hopefully, we'll get to have a Starbucks Popular-Seattle-based-coffee-shop-chain gaming night again.  It was fun trying to conquer Tokyo, but perhaps we can play some other games, like said Princess Bride game or my Roll For It game or……some other game.  It was fun—CAN WE PLEASE DO IT AGAIN?!

            Anyways, while I'm gone (and absently publishing a blog post scheduled to be released next week), I hope you ENJOY YOUR HEALTHY HALLOWEEN TACQUITO!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Contagion—Part Deux: The RECKONING (Or The Vaccination Recommendation)

            I know it's been a while since I posted that rant about wisdom teeth and their lack of valid purpose, but I had take the time to recuperate and clean my apartment.  Which I did.  A lot.  By sleeping in and taking the proper amount of pain pills and getting hooked on the new CBS docudrama </scorpion>, after Mom refused to let me watch FOX's Sleepy Hollow on their LCD HDTV.  But the break was worth it, even though the Pre-Op Gremlin Diet was a pain in the ass, I had to chew on one side of my mouth for a while, there was no liquid diet (so as to not let my jaw lock up, according to the doctor) and I'm stuck being round with no way of getting a Nutritional Counselor through the Adult Autism Waiver.  Yippee.
            On the bright side, I now have a real doctor (a Primary Care Provider and not a pediatrician, if you will) and he's genuinely concerned about my health.  And after the initial new patient appointment, I'm ready for this year's flu season.  And if I'm ready, and you're not ready, well….you're fucked because I'm not going to be your nursemaid unless I'm the only healthy person left in the world and left with no choice.  Especially if you're against vaccinations for various reasons; which brings me to offering this (optional) full Contagion soundtrack for this blog post on the importance of vaccines, Autistic Spectrum Disorders not being caused by them, and how everyone is panicking over frickin' Ebola.

            If you're like me, you rely on modern medicine and science to keep you alive and healthy for a lot longer than the Dark Ages of childhood.  Seriously, science has been advancing medicine and medical practices to the point where we can treat diseases with proper procedures and improve the outlook of cancer patients without the application of bloodletting and establishment of haunted quarantine facilities located on islands made of human ash (*cough, cough, whisper* Povegliaaaaaaa…..).  Anyways, unless you have a compromised immune system that requires careful monitoring and drug cocktails that turn druggies green with envy (and nausea), we're doing great!  Mostly….  Unfortunately, there are always crackpots (on pot) spouting bullshit from both ends.

            Let's address the first issue: the Ebola Panic Pandemic!

E-BOLA: Not Just a Bowling-Themed Computer Virus

            Lately, there has been a lot of uncertainty with a particular virus that manifested in Western Africa.  Ebola has been the subject of news channels for the past few days (maybe even weeks), and with the help of idiots of the Fox News Channel, panic is being spread faster than the flu virus in a room full of phlegmers.  Seriously, just tune in at any point of the day and you'll see them talking about either ISIS (a valid concern, but only if it's without the Obama Blame-a-thon) or the Ebola virus, saying that it'll make you bleed from every orifice, that it will cause delirium, that it will make your dick sprout wings and fly off!!!!  (Thank you, South Park gluten episode, for that joke.)  Seriously, the experts are saying that it's not super, super, super airborne contagious, Fox News Idiots!  Why continue with the fear-mongering even after their repeated statements that basically translate to "CHILL DA FUCK OUT"?!

            And before the conspiracy theorists start flooding the comments box with statements of, "They are just saying that to make it so you can get sick and the doctors and medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies can get a lot of business and profit from this outbreak," please do yourself a favor and read the fucking Hippocratic Oath carefully; lying to hurt us or get us sick is a violation of that oath.  I kid you not, it is often believed that part of that oath says, "I will do no harm."  Any deliberate actions to cause harm (even to make money off of it, though most of the money comes from the insurance companies) is considered malpractice.  Or fraud.  Or something along those lines—Dr. Drew, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, back me up here, please!

            So, even though there was one case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas (and many more in Africa), I doubt that it's going to spread like zombie wildfire.  There could be one other person, but only if they have been exposed to an Ebola-infected individual's bodily fluids, including but not limited to blood, feces, urine, or spit.  Just calm down, breathe and stop reading WebMD; you'll just freak out more.  (That goes double—no, triple for you, Jenny Lawson!)  Unless you're a doctor or nurse, stay away from yellow people you see bleeding weirdly—and call emergency services, because even though they appear to be the victim of the Horseman of Pestilence, they're still human and deserve a fair chance at surviving this illness.  (Unfortunately, it's too late to save the Simpsons' universe; they're all jaundiced!  OH MY DAVROS, THEY ALL HAVE CANCER!!!!!)

            Which reminds me: who is the last person to touch my hand sanitizer?!  *flails*

Vaccinations: A Good Defense Makes a Mighty Fine and Painful Offense

            Vac∙cine—n. (vak'-sēn) a modified and hence harmless virus or other microorganism for inoculation to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating antibody production.

Yeah, that definition excerpt is from the Webster's Universal English Dictionary that I got as a gift one Christmas.  It's been handy for looking up words I don't understand or want to share the definition of.  And this definition definitely has the demand for sharing.

            Ever since the dawn of the commercially available Interwebz, there has been a rise in a virulent strain of crazy people who insist that vaccines are more harmful to children (and other people) than the illness it "supposedly" helps the population create an immunity in response to.  I'm serious, with Jenny McCarthy (Wow, that name sounds familiar!) writing books (that get published) about how she "discovered" the "link" between autism and vaccines—which is complete bullshit—there has been a rise in stubborn ignorance and stupidity!  And I'm on the Autism Spectrum; I can verify how bullshitty this reasoning is!

            Let's start from the beginning: I have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis of Asperger's (under DSM-IV, and I can keep it thanks to the fine print in DSM-V); up until now, only about….90?.....people know I have it, including family members and friends.  (Due to this, I'm also a recipient of services through the Adult Autism Waiver—YAY GOVERNMENT!  But that's not what we're here to discuss.)  And since the diagnosis, we (meaning family members in addition to myself) have been able to identify that I inherited the genetic trait from my father.  Yes, my father has an undiagnosed case of Asperger's; why else do you think I call him the non-Leonard Nimoy, non-Zachary Quinto Mr. Spock?  But if you take a closer look, it's possible to trace that back to his father (my grandfather), who believes he, too, has Asperger's.  So, yes, Autistic Spectrum Disorders have a genetic root in all this mystery—but that's not the entire answer to this Paladin-level puzzle people have been trying to put together for years.  It could be caused by something in the environment, the amount of oxygen we're getting at birth, etc.  So far, we don't know what the source is—we're still looking for it.

            But with the Internet came false information: "Vaccines have chemicals and harmfullevels of lead that WILL cause your kid to get autism!"  It is to the best of my (probably faulty) knowledge from an English college course that this theory came from a fraudulent research paper, with a message popularized by Jenny McCarthy and Oprah and the series premiere of Eli Stone (remember that TV series?)—truth be told, the whole damn cake was a lie!  And yet, the idea spread and connected like-minded vaxxers to create this movement based on this lie.  And after a while, there are now Autism organizations that are working to promote this idea and saying, "Let's get rid of vaccines for good!"
            Everyone.  Please.  Cue the facepalms.

            How about we set this allll straight?  First of all, lead in vaccines is completely bullshit to me.  The FDA and whatever other organizations that are in charge of regulating drugs that require injection is not going to let any drug onto the market if it has any harmful levels of lead in it, including levels that  "cause autism."  Not to mention that I have no idea if any other drugs or chemicals cause autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  From what I've learned, it's not about the blocking of chemicals to certain areas of the brain like lead can (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 7, "The Clean Room"), but rather a different way of wiring the brain.  We think differently, process information differently, express ourselves differently from neurotypical (NT) people due to this "faulty" wiring.  And even though it's frustrating to a lot of people (especially mothers like mine), it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with us—we're just a lot more different from everyone else.

            But anyways, vaccines do serve a real purpose.  It helps your body identify what viruses and bacteria are not good for your cells and organs to metabolize.  Once identified and eradicated, the body then knows (how) to produce the correct antibody for that particular virus or bacteria so you don't wind up hospitalized and getting your food and air through a fucking tube shoved down your throat.  This way, you can't get SUPER sick from flu or chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox….   For a while, these diseases were only found in the virus vaults of the Centers for Disease Control and developing nations.  Now, with the anti-vaccine bullshit spreading through the masses faster than Bubonic Plague at the Olympics in Autumn, they are making a comeback.  Which is not good, because not only will we get sick (from POLIO—DO YOU WANTPOLIO?!) at worse levels and intensities, but it will also mean that Mama Squirrel's contribution is completely moot.  She was one of the vaccine pioneers, which makes her sound older than she really is, but I'm pretty sure that she is part Gallifreyan, so she can't really age like you and I do.  The only people who shouldn't get a vaccine are the ones with compromised immune systems for whatever reason: immunosuppressants, HIV and AIDS, etc.

            In the end, the fear of having a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder should NEVER take priority over keeping yourself and your family healthy (and alive).  Besides, what is there to fear?

Neurodiversity: When It's OKAY to Have Autism

            So, to quickly recap, Autistic Spectrum Disorders are a bunch of "disorders" that vary in symptoms and intensity, is NOT caused by vaccines, and has more to do with neurology than the immune system.  Oh, and I should mention that there is no cure for this.  (It's also NOT caused by Ebola, for the confused readers.)  No diet (gluten-free or otherwise) is going to heal/cure/"manage" the symptoms of an ASD, no matter what the vaxxers and gluten-phobes claim.  Seriously, I think y'all are crazy for saying, "OMG, GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS, I NEED YOU!"  I'm sure that soon, there will be markets for "gluten-free" toilet paper, underwear, feminine supplies, condoms, soap, cars, houses, tanks full of oxygen…..  Please don't start that; I'm forbidding anyone from using this "idea" (read: crap) as an excuse to keep the phobia alive.
            Much like pi, this fear is irrational, and it doesn't seem to end……

            Anyways, people haven't exactly understood what it means to have an ASD; growing up (and going through hell school) in a small town in the middle of FUCKING NOWHERE (in a place that Verizon can't seem to find on the map), I was ostracized by about 85% of the student population for being different this way.  At first, I couldn't understand why, but now we know; it was a tough battle to get the diagnosis, though, as I didn't get it until I was 15 and in high school. (What's worse is that it was initially "Asperger's tendencies"—what a way to half-ass your practice, Dr. [name hidden]!)

            Anyways, yes: we're socially awkward, we're highly intelligent, we can have laser focus on topics of interest…..which is funny, because isn't that the definition of being a nerd????  Oh my Davros, it actually is!  Nerdism can have neurological and developmental causes!  Clinical nerdism—what a breakthrough!  I should totally blog/talk about this—at another time!

            Well, besides that, there are a lot of us on the Spectrum who find it very difficult to think of living without an ASD.  It is a part of us, a part of our identity, a part of who we are.  Yes, ASDs have their drawbacks (which sometimes makes it frustrating to interact with the members of society on the spectrum), but it doesn't mean that ASDs are a bad thing to have; it's simply a different way of functioning in the world.  However, it also doesn't mean that ASDs are what define us as who we are: we have them; it doesn't mean that we ARE the disability, that they have us in their tight grip and there's no hope for us.  There are lots of resources out there that can help you understand your daughter/son/sister/brother, and it isn't really that hard to accept ASDs as a part of life: You have to live with it, rather than suffer from it.

            Acceptance is the first step.  That's what's key to being a happy parent of a child who's on the spectrum: just accept it.  I'm not asking for you to surrender (actually, I sort of am, but only by a factor of 5%), but rather to realize how you can't create the perfect child; so they have an ASD—so what?  Do you see any Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding through the streets?  Is the diagnosis of an ASD so earth-shattering that it literally causes an earthquake in your area that registers at 12.0 on the Richter scale?  Is it so horrifying to have an ASD that it's akin to terminal cancer or lupus?  (Is it Obama's fault?  Is it the work of the Freemasons or the Illuminati?)  The correct answer is: HELL NO!  All it means is that you should learn how to speak their language and understand them on a deeper level.

            (Also, any diagnosis of an ASD should be double-checked.  That's what second opinions are for!)

Medical Dalek says "VACCINATE!"

            So, let's wrap this up: FOR FUCK'S SAKE, JUST GET THE VACCINES!  There should be legitimate medical reasons why you shouldn't, like real allergies to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine, or compromised immune system, or some other legitimate issue.  (I do not consider money to be a legitimate issue; there are places out there—and I'm referring to "outside of my home base but still in America"—that offer free vaccines.  I'm serious!  Even my college, Marshall University with their free basic healthcare for full-time students, would hold free flu shot clinics for the students every year.  Just locate one near you, and go there!)
            As for the whole "fear of needles," that's a bit understandable: it can hurt, it's frightening, etc.  But I've had to deal with needles my whole life (most recently with an IV needle for my oral surgery) for medical reasons.  I can tell you from experience: all you're going to feel is a painful pinch, and then it's over.  If you need to, bring a good friend.  But you can do it!  I believe in you, even though I don't really know you!

Good places to check out for more information:

~Bad Astronomer:  He's a blogger, a skeptic, a pro-vaccine critic, a scientist, an astronomer, a nerd, an all-around smart and funny dude, and he's worked on the Hubble Telescope—SQUEE!!!  He can weed out the bullshit and get you the truth.
~Centers for Disease Control: They're the master experts in America on infectious diseases and other sick-making stuff.  'Nuff said.
~Mayo Clinic: More top-notch medical people.  (Warning: their pages cast a negative light over ASDs.)
~Autism Speaks: Even though I initially thought that this organization was anti-vaccine, I took a look and I was wrong.  However, I'm still a little leery...but I recommend them!

            That's all I can come up with for now.  Let's just hope that the Ebola virus doesn't evolve into a zombie virus and DESTROY US ALLLLL!  (If you're a zombie, I'm sorry: just stay the hell away from me and my human colony.)