Category Archives: Nerd stuff

Reversing the polarity

As you might expect, I was thrilled with incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall’s decision to cast Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth incarnation of the time-traveling alien who has been saving the universe since 1963.

For those unfamiliar with Doctor Who: The premise of the show is that the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, travels through time and space in a ship disguised as a 1960s police box, protecting the universe from various threats. When a Time Lord sustains a fatal injury, instead of dying, he or she regenerates into a new body.

Up to this point, much of the Doctor’s heroism has hinged on a combination of intelligence, audacity, and male privilege.

For 54 years, we’ve watched the Doctor infiltrate secure installations with little more than an imperious look and a mouthful of scientific-sounding nonsense designed to baffle people into deference. If the writers are honest, the Thirteenth Doctor will be in for a rude awakening the first time she tries that.

Consider: Twice on Facebook, I have put up Doctor Who-themed posts that included the phrase “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” which most Whovians will recognize as the Third Doctor’s catchphrase. Both times, men who ought to know better than to challenge me on anything — least of all a subject as dear to me as Doctor Who — have hastened to explain that actually, neutrons don’t have polarity.

No sh*t, guys. THAT’S THE JOKE. Seven years before Harrison Ford made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, Jon Pertwee reversed the polarity of the neutron flow. Same humor; different fandom.

Pertwee’s Doctor could stand in a roomful of physicists, muttering about the polarity of particles with no charge, and nobody would question him. If a woman tried that, she’d be shouted down by the #WellActually brigade faster than you can say “Vortex manipulator.”

I hope the writers have the courage to address that head-on. The best sci-fi comes with a healthy dose of social criticism, and sexist microaggressions are ripe for it. Done right, this could yield some scathing humor while prompting much-needed conversations about the myriad ways women are marginalized on a daily basis.

Among the issues I’ve seen/heard raised in conversations this week:

* Pockets. Where is the Doctor supposed to keep her TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, and Jelly Babies if all her clothes have inadequate pockets?

* Mansplaining. This is basically the Doctor’s superpower. Not only is she unlikely to get away with it in her new form, but she’ll probably be on the receiving end of it. How will she react upon discovering this regeneration has just reversed the polarity of the bullsh*t flow?

* Street harassment. We know how the Master would handle this, but how will the Doctor deal with being ogled, catcalled, or ordered to smile by some jackass she’s trying to rescue?

* Uptalking. The Doctor has spent decades speaking to strangers in an authoritative tone. If she sounds too confident now, they’ll ignore her or antagonize her. Will she have to frame all her orders as half-apologetic suggestions so she doesn’t threaten some pudding-brain’s fragile masculinity?

What other microaggressions might Thirteen encounter in her new body, and how would you like to see them addressed? Share your ideas in the comments!


P.S.: Comments are moderated, so if you say something misogynistic …

Sunday Self-Care: The Doctor is in

I had a long list of stuff I planned to get done yesterday. I did some of it, but I ran out of steam by the end of the evening and decided it was time for a break, so I let a candy cane and three marshmallows melt into a cup of hot cocoa while I settled in for an appointment with the Third Doctor.

I can think of much worse ways to spend a cold evening than sipping cocoa and watching the Doctor’s most elegant incarnation protect the Earth from Silurians, Autons, and rogue Time Lords while my dogs sleep on the floor beside my chair.


Look what materialized in Cape!

A TARDIS full of books. I hope this isn't a harbinger of an impending Vashta Nerada attack.
A TARDIS full of books. I hope this isn’t a harbinger of an impending Vashta Nerada attack.

You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourselves!

— The Doctor

There is a TARDIS parked in front of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. It’s actually a Little Free Library, meant to encourage literacy while promoting positive interaction between officers and the people they serve.

One of the lieutenants came up with the idea and decided the library should look like the TARDIS, which — as Whovians know — is permanently disguised as a British police phone box because its chameleon circuit stopped working in 1963.

I suggested said lieutenant should be promoted to Brigadier immediately. ūüôā


Eco-Saturday: Walk more; drive less

I spotted the chalk message pictured above — an adaptation of Philippians 4:13 — this week on Themis Street while taking literal steps to reduce my environmental footprint.

I knew walking instead of driving was good for the environment, but it’s something I didn’t start doing much until this spring, when the Subaru broke down and I refused to shell out $8,000 to repair it. We still have two other cars, but mine is nearly 9 years old, and I’d like to pay off some other bills before I replace it, so I’m trying to make it last as long as possible.

We don’t walk everywhere, of course. There are days when it’s too hot, our schedule is too tight, or for whatever reason, we just don’t feel up to it. But we’ve started walking to work several times a week, and on our day off, we often wander around town on foot, running errands or just checking out places we haven’t seen.

To maximize safety and comfort on my walks, I’ve found the following helpful:

Athletic shoes. Buy good ones designed for running or walking; they’ll last longer and prevent injuries.

If applicable, a good sports bra. Opt for medium-impact or better; it’ll save you a fortune in Tiger Balm and massage therapy.

A golf umbrella. Keeps off the rain without turning you into a lightning rod.

A backpack. If you’re carrying anything, a backpack will keep your hands free and distribute the load comfortably.

I could write a whole post on nighttime risk management (and would be happy to do that if anybody would find it helpful), but for most people, if you’re planning to walk after dark, I’d recommend the following:

Use the buddy system. One person is a much easier target than two.

Plan ahead. Walk your intended route at least once in the daytime, and drive it at least once at night to make sure you’re aware of trip hazards, poorly lit areas, potential hiding places for ne’er-do-wells, or other issues.

Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.

Carry a light. I like Mini-Maglites because they’re bright, sturdy and double as makeshift Kubotans.

Trust your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, get the hell out of there. NOW.

Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.
Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.

I’ve really enjoyed walking more the past few months. It’s good for the planet, good for your body, and good for your mental health. Kind of fun, too. You never know what you’re going to see when you slow down and take a closer look at the places you pass every day.


Weekend projects

I used Valspar instead of Krylon this time, mainly because I couldn't find Krylon. We'll see how it weathers.
I used Valspar instead of Krylon this time, mainly because I couldn’t find Krylon. We’ll see how it weathers.

This weekend was all about clearing projects off my plate. Most of them were little projects (moving the quail, putting bird netting in the garden to protect my tomatoes, and starting a new batch of beer), but the big one I’d been meaning to finish involved the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar.

I’ve been neglecting the car for about two¬†years. Oh, not the mechanical stuff — I take it in to have the oil changed and the tires rotated and various belts and filters and things replaced at all the appropriate times — but what makes the Dreamcar the Dreamcar is its Amazing Technicolor paint job, which becomes decided less amazing and decidedly less technicolor after a few months in the sun. To¬†look its best, it really needs to¬†have its hood and roof repainted about once a year.

Last time I repainted it was a couple of days before we left for vacation in 2012.

After¬†spending the brutal summer of 2012 in the Oklahoma sun, it was pretty faded out, but before I got a chance to repaint it, we moved, and I was too busy to mess with it. I also managed to leave all my leftover spraypaint¬†behind when we moved, and¬†I couldn’t really justify spending the better end of $50 on a glorified craft project while we were paying for two mortgages. By the time we sold the house in Tulsa, it was October, and¬†then the holidays hit, followed by ice storms, a rainy spring and a stormy summer, and ‚Ķ well,¬†yesterday was really the first opportunity I’ve had to do anything with the car, so I took advantage of it.

While I was working, I installed a few of my recent acquisitions on the dashboard:

On a recent trip to Memphis, I picked up some miniature rubber chickens at Schwab's. Because if there was one thing my dashboard needed, it was rubber chickens.
On a recent trip to Memphis, I picked up some miniature rubber chickens at Schwab’s. Because if there was one thing my dashboard needed, it was rubber chickens.
Is there a Doctor in the house? From right, the Seventh, Fourth and Second Doctors, accompanied by a Roman centurion auton.
Is there a Doctor in the house? From right, the Seventh, Fourth and Second Doctors, accompanied by a Roman centurion auton.

I painted a TARDIS on part of the car last night, but the sealer I used on it¬†this afternoon interacted badly with¬†the paint and ran all over the place, so I’ll have to sand that area off and start over as soon as I can shake free.


‘Shopping trip

I’ve been dinking around with filters and layers for a design project I’m doing at work, and while I was figuring out a shortcut today, I ‘Shopped up a photo Ron shot of me yesterday at Daily Star Comics in Metropolis:

Eat your heart out, Billie Piper.

Don’t look too closely, or you’ll see where my lines got a little wobbly on a couple of spots I was trying to enhance by hand, but I think it’s still a fun photo. Way better than Bitstrips.

Too bad I didn’t figure out the shortcut before I spent 10 hours tracing posterized edges by hand to convert photos to cartoons. -_-


Geekiest. Theory. Ever.

In honor of the good Doctor’s anniversary today, I think this is an opportune time to share the theory I hatched while Jeff and I were geeking out with a couple of Baby Boomers in the parking lot outside a concert last month:

Judy Collins is a Time Lord.

Here is how I know:

1. Has had multiple, clearly distinct incarnations, as evidenced by a glance at her album covers.
2. Frequently transports people back in time.
3. Has survived multiple events/circumstances that would have killed a mere human.
4. “Slim, and a little bit foxy.”
5. Time Lord technology would explain how a voice capable of filling an entire cathedral could be stored inside such a tiny woman.

Y’all think I’m playing. You watch: The Daleks are gonna show up in the middle of “Send in the Clowns” one of these days, and I’mma be the only one in the audience who isn’t surprised when mah-girl busts out a sonic screwdriver and starts kicking ass.