Friday, August 28, 2015

Ethan Posard's The Shots Book

Be a community immunity superhero!
I meant to do this post at the beginning of the month. I really did. But life finds ways of interfering. In case you didn't know, August is National Immunization Awareness Month. I've posted stuff for NIAM before, like my lineup of vaccine preventable disease wanted posters. I've also written other posts for past Vaccine Awareness Weeks that could fit in well with NIAM, too, like the myth that if vaccines work, then it doesn't matter if you vaccinate your kid or not. Some years, though, I've let August slip past without writing anything specifically for NIAM, even though I have written posts with some vaccination issue as the main topic.

Not this year. I could write about outbreaks of diseases or the activities of the anti-vaccine movement, but I'd rather keep things nice and positive, at least for now. In July, I received a review copy of The Shots Book: A Little Brother's Superhero Tale, by Ethan Posard. Rather than publishing a post about the book right away, I wanted to hold off until Immunization Awareness Month. Then, as sometimes happens, life decided to muck up my good intentions and delay me for a while. Better late than never, right?

Ethan is the younger brother of Camille Posard, one of the talented young high schoolers who wrote and produced the film Invisible Threat, which I discussed last year. Although the film was met with exceptionally harsh criticism from the anti-vaccine movement (without their even having viewed the documentary), the teens who produced it proudly stood up to the bullies that tried to silence them and shut down screenings. One portion of the film follows Ethan as he goes in for one of his scheduled shots, and it's that experience with both the shot and the film that inspired him to write this book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Are You Weird? Not on the Internet! #NeverWeird

Nothing weird or dorky to see here.
Ever feel like you don't quite belong? That something you do, or something you're interested in sets you apart from other people, but not necessarily in a positive way? I've certainly felt that way. I geek out about something or make some dorky joke and just get blank stares, or people suddenly find something intensely interesting somewhere else. Before sci-fi and fantasy were considered acceptable fare by the general public, I was into dragons and magic. I liked Star Trek. Hours ticked by while I played games on my computer. And role-playing games? When, where, and what type of character is needed? Don't play? I'll show you the ropes. Online role-playing games? Woot! I spent a number of years playing a MUD (multi-user dungeon, basically a text-based online game) originally named "F-----" (sorry, gotta avoid infringing on a trademark owned by some ocean-adjacent spellcasters). Eventually, I moved on to be a builder, creating large portions of the world. When the trademark owners decided they wanted to get in on this whole online gaming thing, giving an ultimatum to the owner of the MUD to buy a license or shut down, I spent a hectic several days converting the entire world to remove any trademarked words and change descriptions. I spent hours every day playing, building, and running quests. After a few years, the game took a hiatus. Although I helped start it up again, I realized that it took over too much of my life and that I had to give it up. I scaled way back, ultimately quitting the game.

But no matter how geeky my interests, I still held back a little bit so I could "fit in" (sorta) with "regular" people (not to mention my fear of getting sucked into something that would eat up all of my free [and not-so-free] time). And because of that, I wasn't quite geeky enough for the geeks. The really hard core gamers? I might as well have had three heads when I showed any lack of knowledge about the latest game. I'm weird. And I'm proud of that.

The internet, however, is something of an equalizer. No matter what your interests, no matter how odd your sense of humor, you will find a community online that accepts you and welcomes you for who you are. Online, you never have to worry about being "weird". That's one of the big messages in Felicia Day's new book, You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost).