"In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Part-time Geek

"Geek" is a word I don't usually use to describe myself...but, try as I might to deny it, I do have my moments. Never in a die-hard textbook definition sense of the word mind you, so maybe "geek" is too strong a term. Maybe more like "obsessive in spurts"? Who knows. I guess I'll leave that up to the nerds to determine.

Anyways, I had a Lloyd Alexander phase for a couple years starting when I was 9 or so. He's a fantasy author. I read every single book by him that I could get my hands on. There are quite a few! The "Chronicles of Prydain" series was my absolute favorite, and I read it over and over and over. Those characters were good friends of mine. I used to dream of being Princess Eilonwy and having a beautiful white horse named Melangar (which is obviously a better name than Taran's horse Melanlas!). Glu's horse-sized kitty Lyan was another one of my favorites :) And Taran was undoubtedly my hero. I researched a bit about the author and his experiences growing up, his inspiration for writing, etc. and I started writing a book about a girl who read his books and found herself inside one of his stories. I even wrote a song for the movie of the final book in the series "The High King", which would star me, of course. When I found out Disney was making a movie of "The Black Cauldron" (the second book in the series, except the movie covered the first two books if I remember correctly) I was really excited until two of my friends saw it and told me about what happened in it and I critiqued it to pieces because it botched my favorite stories and characters up so badly! I vowed not to watch it because it clearly wouldn't be worth seeing, and to this day I still have no desire to watch it.

The next phase I remember was Harry Potter, which I guess doesn't quite count since I think a good number of us caught that bug for at least a little while. Also, I wasn't into it as much as several other people I know. And definitely not as much as this girl! Buying costumes, wand replicas, or other such things wasn't my thing, but I was very into memorizing details and specifics. My dad would read the books out loud to us before bed and we would do puzzles while we listened. I read all the books at least once if not three times on my own too. One of my cousins had Harry Potter Clue and we played it for hours on New Year's Eve one year. We also starting writing our own Harry Potter Adventure, but I don't think it ever got past the first chapter or so. For whatever reason, I really wanted to be Hermione in the movies, and I looked up information on a Harry Potter fan site about how to audition. Then I took pictures and filled out the by-mail audition application, mailed it, and waited hopefully. I wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling too, asking her if the role had already been cast, or if I could still hope for a chance. I was a weird kid.

Larry the Cucumber was next. A Christian bookstore my mom bought some of our home school books from played Veggie Tales for kids to watch while their parents shopped. Then a couple years later one of my friends was really into it too, and got me a lot more into it. Specifically Silly Songs with Larry. We did a lip-sync of "The Dance of the Cucumber" for a ward talent show. My friend was Bob the Tomato and I was Larry the Cucumber. The song was in Spanish, and I didn't understand Spanish, but managed to memorize the whole song word for word just by listening to it enough. Someone in the Stake remembered liking it so much that she asked us to perform again in a Stake Roadshow the following year. By that point I had bought a Silly Songs with Larry CD and memorized nearly every song word for word, as well as learned to play most of them on the piano thanks to the piano book my parents gave me for Christmas. I can probably still remember all the words to that one in Spanish :)

Lets not forget about Knighthood (one of the first games facebook came out with once it stopped just being a place for pictures and statuses, and started having applications and games). It was seriously like the dumbest game ever. You invited your friends to be your vassals, and you could assign them to build things, or protect your village/castle thing, or get more money. Then you'd build buildings and get supplies, and raid other castles and steal money or capture other vassals and make them work for you, and everything would earn you different amounts of points. What made it so dumb is that you didn't really do anything, you would just click a button that said 'raid' and it would tell you the results. There was little to no animation, just numbers and scores. Basically it was just chance if you did well or not. Well, chance coupled with the number of times you hit buttons. Regardless, I was sooo into the game, and I wanted to have a higher score than a particular one of my friends SO BAD! Huge chunks of my days were spend clicking that 'raid' button, trying to make my friends be my vassals and play so I would get more points, or building things. I think I might have skipped class to play it at one point. Or maybe I just thought about it. Or maybe he skipped to attack me...I really don't remember. In any event, I am ashamed to say, out of the several hundred students at BYU who also played Knighthood, I was ranked in 3rd place. It's true. Such a dumb game. SUCH a waste of time! Don't worry, that only lasted a few weeks of my college experience.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was another phase. My roommate and her boyfriend are responsible for my first exposure. My roommate had all three seasons, and me and my boyfriend James watched that show religiously. For a month or two our relationship consisted of little more than hurrying over to my apartment to watch episode after episode of Avatar until we finished all three seasons! We did other things to, but many of them centered around watching Avatar. Date night? Hurry and make dinner and eat in the living room while watching Avatar. Day at the pool? Bring along the laptop and watch it while sunning. Picnic in the park? Bring the laptop to watch in the shade while eating. Family reunion with no electricity? Charge up the laptop before coming, and watch Avatar until the battery runs out.  We broke up before we ever ended up watching the movie that had just come out, which was probably a good thing considering how much of a let-down it was after falling in love with the TV show. I watched it with Trevor and was thoroughly unimpressed. Trevor hadn't ever seen the show...he was pretty unimpressed too. The show was definitely better.

My current little geek-like obsession is Star Trek: The Next Generation. Trevor got me into it, and...I love it :) I'm really not a sci-fi girl, but I still really like this show. Probably largely because Trevor loves actiony boy movies, and I love chick flicks and fairy tales, so it's nice to have something that we both like, so we can come home from a long hard day's work and relax and both be happy. Plus a show that has almost 200 episodes, teaches good morals and principles, and has lovable characters is just an all-around win! What triggered this post and sort of clued me in to my current geek-ness was two things. First, I had a dream last night that I married one of the characters from Stark Trek. Well, maybe it wasn't exactly him, but someone that looked and acted like a mean hostile version of Worf the Klingon. Technically it was more of a capture than a real marriage. Anyways, the real kicker for me was when I found a facebook status on my newsfeed posted by the mother of one of my best friends growing up.

She (the mom) is a physicist, acclaimed science fiction novelist, dancer, singer, teacher, etc. and her status said that F. Patrick Hubbard, the Ronald Motley Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina, wrote an article for the Temple Law Review called "'Do Androids Dream?' Personal and Intelligent Artifacts" that references one of her books The Veiled Web which focuses partly on "the question of whether or not artificial intelligence can have a moral compass or even a soul". My first thought was "oh my gosh, that's exactly what the episode of Star Trek we watched the other night was about!" The episode I'm thinking of is called "The Measure of a Man", and some scientist wants to take apart Data - against his will - to study him and create more androids like him, so they have to hold a court-type session to determine if he is to be treated as a person or as the property of starfleet. I went to the linked paper, and got really excited while just reading the abstract. All I could think of was "if they had just had this paper written back in that show, they could have won the case for Data easily!". Needless to say, I have downloaded the entire 99 page document, and plan to read it all :) I got so excited I texted Trevor at work and told him all about it, and showed him as soon as he walked in the door after he got off! I am so cool. It's true. And if anyone else wants to be as cool as me, here is the link to the video clip of the trial by Riker against treating artificial intelligence as a person, and here is the trial by Captain Picard in favor of it. And this is the 99 page article :)


Oh and by the way, while writing this post, we have watched two more episodes of Star Trek :)

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