Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Power in the 'Verse Can Stop the Drooling Fans

I had never been the type to fall into 'drooling fandom' with television shows, movies, actors, music, and related forms of entertainment. I certainly have my favorites and am always will to share them and encourage others to enjoy them. That is, until Firefly aired.

Firefly ( was a show first aired on the Fox network a few years ago. It's definitely in the sci-fi category, as it's set in a gritty future where space travel is the norm. It's difficult to compare it to other productions in the same category, because while it easily fits in the 'sci-fi' slot, it is more realistic and believable than any other sci-fi show or movie out there. It's serious but full of humor, the characters have flaws we can relate to (as well as traits we admire), and most of the situations are very believable.

Fox cancelled the show before the first season even ended. They gave the typical bogus reasons. And as with any show cancelled before fans feel it was the right time to do so, the fan base was quite upset. But this time, it was different.

The story is really quite interesting, but I'll keep it short here, since plenty of information is easily found. The fans got together in many ways, mostly via the internet, and sent petitions signed by tens of thousands of fans demanding and begging Fox to reconsider. This NEVER works, and this time it was no different. The fans appealed to Joss Whedon (the creator), who promised fans that if DVD sales of the series reached a certain amount, he would make a movie based on Firefly. Fans then came together again and did massive promotions, used guerilla marketing tactics, and did their best to spread the word about the show and the evilness of Fox network. Sales of the DVD easily surpassed Joss's requirement.

The movie, Serenity, did fairly well. It introduced many people to Firefly, creating lots of new fans. But the fan movement didn't stop there. They still wanted the show back.

There have been many petitions and other forms of fan effort, all of which have failed to reignite the production of Firefly. Joss has moved on to other things, though he has discussed many times the Firefly was a major issue for a long time. However, each effort brought more attention to the plight of the show, and with it, more fans and supporters.

Very recently, a huge development put Firefly in the forefront of internet happenings. Science Channel (part of the Discovery network) will begin airing episodes of Firefly soon. With this news, talk of the rights of Firefly began to circulate, and what would happen to them. The fans came together again, and through an interesting series of events (that have definitely 'changed the landscape'), are rallying to help Nathan Fillion (one of the lead actors in Firefly and captain of Serenity) buy the rights.

Many might think it's nuts, Fox network certainly thinks so. But I definitely do not. Yes, I'm a drooling fan. At any opportunity I try to get friends and family to watch the show if they haven't yet. I get very excited when I meet fellow fans. I plan to attend at least one or two conventions dressed as the character I most closely resemble (barely). I've crafted things based on Firefly. I'm a drooling fan, and it feels great!

If you're a fan, or if you're just curious, please follow this link for more recent information and developments: The story about how the fans have kept Firefly alive is interesting enough, and this new issue is truly exciting.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How the White Swan Fires Reminded Me How Cool the Internet Is.

Not the bird, the town.

Last Saturday, a small chimney fire was spread to many homes and logyard in the tiny, unincorporated town of White Swan, Washington. High winds of 40mph carried embers to the dry logs, and fanned by wind they took immediately. More embers were carried to homes that were spread around the small town. About 20 homes were lost, parts of the area are still without power today due to downed power lines resulting from both the wind and fire that had spread to trees.

White Swan is about 45 miles from Yakima in eastern Washington. It is part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and where I spent most of my childhood. I graduated from the high school there, and have been told countless times that I should write a book about the experience of growing up in such an interesting area. I haven't got a drop of Native American blood in my veins, but my stepfather and my mother's adoptive father are both Yakima. I certainly did catch a lot of flak for being red-haired and fair-skinned, but not nearly as much as you might think.

Being so far from anything remotely like a city, it took several fire crews from all over the Yakima Valley most of Saturday and part of Sunday to fully contain all the fires. Most of the people who lost homes are people I know. The best thing about the whole incident is that not one person was hurt. Amazing.

When I heard the news, it was completely by mistake. I was killing time on facebook (I'd caught another cold, felt miserable, and was waiting for some show to come on) and saw one of my high school classmates post "What's burning down there?" She sometimes posts really random things through her mobile, and it is often days before I figure out what the hell she's talking about. Because I'm a smartass, I replied with some off color remark about seeing a doctor for that.

Of course it turned out to be something pretty horrible. More people from the small town of White Swan starting posting updates... this many homes lost, the wind is spreading more fires, the logyard is burning, etc. I watched these updates like a hawk; I live in Oregon and there was no feasible way for me to attempt to help from so far away. It felt pretty helpless, not being there to at least comfort friends.

Then something really cool happened. Someone posted about the live scanner in Yakima. Apparently, many cities have sites where you can tune in and listen to police and fire scanners... I had no idea! My father was a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Port Angeles, and we always had a scanner in the house for when he was on call. The last thing I knew about scanners was that it wasn't legal for 'civilian' types to have them or to be able to tune in on their bands. I still remember what all the tones mean.

I listened for about 3 hours, and knew at a certain point late at night that they finally had a fair grasp on all the fires. It really made me feel better to at least know the current situation.

Now everyone there is pulling together, trying to get donations of food, clothing and toiletries for all the displaced people. Again, with the internet, news spread fast and they have a lot of goods flowing in. They already had to find a location with more room!

So yeah, the internet is awesome. Without it, I may not have known the plight of my little home town even now; my mother lives in Yakima still, but didn't know about it until I called her.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Other Egypt

When people think of Egypt, they usually picture pyramids and pharaohs, right? But with the last couple of week's worth of newsworthy happenings from modern Egypt, people are thinking more about rebellion and the ousting of a leader.

When I think of Egypt, I first think about a game I've played off and on for several years called A Tale in the Desert (for more info: It's an online game that falls in the 'massive multiplayer' category, though there are roughly 1000 to 1200 playing now (well, maybe a bit less, the most current tale is smaller than usual) rather than hundreds of thousands. There's no killing, but there is definitely conflict. There are pyramids, there's a pharaoh, there are rebellions, several degrees of conflict, and yes, every once in a while, a leader (of sorts) is ousted.

I love this game for so many reasons. You start out with very little and knowing how to do little more than shape mud into bricks. As you learn more and acquire skills, you can do more things, take on more tests, and advance within the game. Tests range from scavenger hunts to being elected into power (power = being able to ban other players), building huge obelisks and creating puzzles for others to play.

Every 'tale' (tales last about 18 months to 2 years, at the end of each tale all is wiped clean and a new tale begins) has its drama. This one is no different, and to coincide with the 'real' Egypt's disquiet, the virtual Egypt had some bannings, public lynching (of sorts), and lots of nasty words. The irony made me giggle, as well as appreciate that the Egypt I frequent was virtual (and by choice). Overall, the game is a kick in the pants, and I've met some really wonderful people while playing. No other MMORPG I've played has the sense of community nailed the way A Tale in the Desert does... I've written a couple of forum articles about this game in the past, as I strongly believe other games could really take a few lessons from this little known game.

If you're ever tempted to log in and give it a shot, do say hello... I go by Ketta.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Current Events

I'm trying to commit to blogging at least once a week and starting again. I often think of topics to talk about that have been interesting to friends, family, classmates or online groups, and often encounter great blogs by other people who actually do the blogging thing.

I'm currently attending my local community college and working on a transferable degree in biology to a four year university. This is the time of year when the NSF (National Science Foundation) REUs open up for application across the US, and most are due at the end of the month. So, on top of homework and other related deadlines, I've been writing essays. Lots of them. Most of which have to do with talking about yourself and why YOU are so wonderful. That's not easy for me.

After I've done homework, and when I should still be doing homework, I'm either playing A Tale in the Desert or sewing. Current sewing projects are all cross-stitch; the first (which will take a few years of off-and-on work) is of Serenity, the ship in Firefly; the second is of a species of cuckoo bee. Both are 'photo-realistic' and on 28 count cloth. The effect when finished is very striking. When I master uploading and inserting images here, I'll post updates on the projects.

At home, my husband is currently working on texturing and painting the walls in the mobile home we bought a few years ago. It's a 1970 model and wood paneling stabs the eyes in all directions... classy. He's already done this type of work on another mobile, and the finished effect is wonderful. Instead of paneling, it looks like any other textured and painted wall in a home with sheetrock. All the carpet has been ripped out as well, and faux wood flooring will be put down. If we were keeping the place, we'd go for something a bit better, but we know now that in a couple of years we'll be selling, so we fixing up more to increase resale value. Considering we now have a new furnace and heat pump and that the place is in great shape for its age, we should do well.

Other events include: trying a new diet, trials of a young teenage son, a very old cat keeps on living (nicely), and spring is coming early.