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Critical Geekery: Talking Representation in Pop Culture with the Nerds of Color

I rarely use the “discover” feature in my WordPress Reader, but am so glad I did today as I discovered this gem. Founder of and writers for The Nerds of Color—a blog I am now following and suggest you do as well—share their current favorite TV shows, observations on how the pop culture landscape has changed over the past three years, as well as the effectiveness of Twitter activism and hashtags.


Now three years old, pop-culture criticism blog The Nerds of Color is going strong, with a range of contributors writing thought-provoking posts, speaking at major events like San Diego Comic Con, and turning the blog into a successful locus for Twitter activism aimed at increasing representation in pop culture.

Founder and editor-in-chief Keith Chow and writers Valerie ComplexShawn Taylor, and Alice Wong talked to us about their favorite shows, shifts in the media landscape, and how we can all support inclusive entertainment.

When was the first time you saw yourself in popular culture (if at all)?

Keith: One of my favorite comics growing up was G.I. Joe. As much as I loved the cartoon and toys, I loved the comics more. My favorite characters were Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, rival ninjas who were former friends. I didn’t know it at the time, but I subconsciously gravitated to those…

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Summer Unvacation Report

Hey y’all. I’m trying something new – posting directly from my phone! It’s been decades since my last summer vacation report, so why not try it out using photos taken over the summer?

But first, I’m not sure I can claim my summer was without a vacation. I took a few days off after a business trip in the middle of September. Does that count as summer? It sure felt like summer. Ninety-degree weather in Washington DC is no joke!

It was my first time in my country’s capital city and it was amazing. I didn’t see enough and will return one day.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument towering in the sunset.

Mount Vernon

George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon.

Oyamel in DC

We saw President Obama leaving this restaurant!


Me and my four chins in front of the smaller then expected White House.

I worked hard this summer. My free time during July was spent researching my 18-year job history at my company and creating a new job proposal for myself. Wish me luck!

In August I had to do something to get out and my soul told me to go to the coast. I took a day trip and it was exactly what I needed.

Manzanita, Oregon

Happy soul at the Oregon coast!

My Mom sold her home and is staying with a friend while looking for a new place of her own in a part of the state she loves. She asked me to come visit. Normally I would say no during such a busy time, but I didn’t.

I had a dose of the coast, now I could have one of the high desert too (I live in the valley). And knowing my Mom, I knew we’d get a hike in and it was glorious!

An alpine lake near Sisters, Oregon

Looking at this pic of me looking at the lake relaxes me.🙂

While most WoW players were enjoying Legion, I was working 10-12 hour days in the final days leading up to my company’s annual meeting, and then 16-20 hour days during the 4-day event. (I got a dose of Warcraft during my flight home from DC. I opted to pay $10 for the movie device and watched the WoW movie!)

Mama Druid at Dinner Event

Tired me at dinner event held at the Smithsonian.

I’m grateful for my #RL adventures and am inspired to continue having them, but I really look forward to adventuring in digital worlds soon.

I’m working another meeting in Chicago at the end of October. This next month will be crazy busy! I’m glad I participated in beta as it gave me a satisfying taste of Legion that’s holding me over until I can truly enjoy it a few months from now.

Until then, I’ll live vicariously through y’all.

Ta Ta!


When Logic Prevails

Focus. Good God Woman, FOCUS!

I quit what I was doing in WoW this morning to write this post because I suddenly realized that what I was doing was not focused and I should quickly commit something to virtual paper for a realignment.

This is what I was doing:

Let’s ignore what I should be doing in #RL for now and start with a quick update of my current gaming situation.

I’m only playing WoW right now. I miss ESO. I love the Elder Scrolls world, ESO is a wonderful game and it seems to be getting better. I simply can no longer play it on my 2009 iMac. I miss SWTOR as well. I setup Bootcamp in order to play it, but it’s just become inconvenient to manage. Additionally, when I play ESO and SWTOR, I play alone and playing with people has become more important to me.

In WoW, I’m starting over on a new server—not a new account because that did not work—and joined a guild for players age 25+ so I can play with people and participate in a forgiving and understanding environment for older players. After nearly 12 years, aren’t we all older players now?

Today, I found myself cheating again. I caught it because I questioned what I was doing with my time. It could save time in the long run, but will I be where I want to when Legion drops? Probably not. How about the pre-patch? Yikes! That’s coming up fast.

So let’s break this down.

Logic: Where do you want to be when Legion drops?
Me: I want my new druid on the new server to be level 100.

Logic: How best to achieve that?
Me: Level her with heirlooms via dungeons.

Logic: Why aren’t you doing that?
Me: I wanted to level her without heirlooms via quests to experience Cata content I haven’t experienced and to add more quest gear to the upcoming wardrobe.

Logic: Let it go.
Me: But it hurts!

Logic: Let it go.
Me: But I want more cloth gear for the upcoming wardrobe and need to level a tailor and their tailoring. I could do that on my level 54 warlock on the old server, which would also help accomplish a secondary “starting over” goal of playing classes I haven’t played. And I could also stuff her banks and bags with crafting materials to jump start professions for new characters on the new server and spend #RL gold to transfer her to the new server.

Logic: …

Well, there you have it folks! It can’t get any simpler than that.

I also have to consider time. I won’t have much of it in August and none of it through the first half of September due to a very busy work schedule which includes a trip to Washington DC.

It’s always refreshing when logic prevails.



Entering the TMI Zone

Beginning with this post, I’m going to start expanding the content beyond the scope of gaming. It’s something I need to do for myself and you are more than welcome to come along for the ride.

A Little History First, Mostly for Me

When I blogged as Mama Druid in 2008, I wanted to use blogging as a tool to enhance my writing and to participate in the WoW blogging community. I also wanted to stand out as a voice for the casual player, which wasn’t heard much back then. My blog lasted eight months before real life commitments—full-time job, two active teenagers, etc.—won the battle for my time.222ec3962f0dcf35c92586c58950ef7883a5a28e9e101c39778db4924eeaaaae

In 2010, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease—Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I started a new blog to document my experience. Once again, I wanted to stand out as a voice for a lesser known/vocal group—those who are treating their disease naturally. If you are curious, read about why I said no to pharmaceuticals.

Blogging = Better Health?

I found that when I was actively blogging, my health improved and I felt better. Here, an excerpt from the last post on MS Newb:

Actively posting seems to help me manage myself better. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but [it] just seems strange to me that my accountability is enhanced by writing stuff about myself in a virtual space that anyone can access. I suppose it’s like journaling… except for the lack of privacy aspect. It’s weird. Blogging to the world is like standing on a street corner reading your journal entries out loud.

Source: Howdy Doody!

At the beginning of this year, 2016, I spent some time coming up with my word of the year—instead of a list of resolutions—and through it learned why blogging personal stuff in a public space works for me. I’m an INFP and Explorer archetype (and player type too!), which means I have an inner desire to live authentically and share my journey, in whatever form that may be; virtual or real. Publicly sharing my goals reinforces my Explorer (sharing my journey) and social accountability helps me achieve my objectives.

One Blog to Rule Them All

As I don’t want to manage two blogs, I’m continuing the types of posts I published on MS Newb here. I have to. While my MS is mild, and I feel quite lucky it isn’t worse and hasn’t worsened since I was diagnosed, the inconsistency in my diet will eventually catch up to me. I must make a permanent change this year.

My word for 2016 is HEALTHY. I truly believe the social accountability aspect of blogging, whether real or imagined, will help me achieve my goals.

Join Me

I’m not sure where we are headed, but I can guarantee you’ll learn something along the way.

Shall we?

I can’t promise this won’t happen.


Ok, maybe not that. I don’t go to bars. But you’ve been warned!

Source: http://de.forgotten-realms.wikia.com/wiki/Elf

Name Your Character: Elves

I spend a lot of time coming up with character names. I have an 11-page Google doc of lists, ideas, and links to favorite resources. I have spreadsheets with multiple tabs; one spreadsheet is entirely dedicated to anagrams for a single name!

There is a method to my madness and the ultimate goal is to come up with a unique name that is rarely used. Regardless what game you are playing, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (WoW) Armory app/website is a great way to determine a name’s rarity. WoW has been around for more than 10 years and the Armory is essentially big data for character names.

I use a sliding scale to determine a name’s rarity. If there are 50 results, but only 5 of them are above level 80, I consider the name to be rare. My rarity threshold can depend on various factors and isn’t 100% consistent. Generally, more than 50 results means try again. Zero results is the ultimate win!

And yes, I suppose finding a unique name is its own game for me. Wanna play?

Let’s start with Elves. They are prevalent in most fantasy role-playing games. And you just may need an elvish name for the demon hunter you plan to play in August, or at some point in WoW’s Legion expansion. Sure, a plethora of name generators are readily available. But what fun is that when you can generate your own, and possibly with some meaning behind it?

Tolkien’s Elvish languages are a great source of inspiration. There is a vast amount of information, dictionaries, name lists, even scholarly linguistic studies influenced by Tolkien’s invented languages. All of them very long rabbit holes, so I decided on a single rabbit hole—the Tolkien Gateway—and used it to search for word and feminine name suffixes (sorry fellas!). The suffixes included here do not represent all possibilities, just the ones that I might like to use. If you geek about this stuff as much as I do, you might have more fun searching for suffixes on your own!

Time to Play

Using the first two initials of my first (al) and middle name (da) to create my very own name element—alda—I was pleased to discover that it is a Tengwar letter that also means “tree” in Quenya. Tree! Can you believe it? How fitting for someone who loves druids! A search for “alda” on the Tolkien Gateway also returns the following names:

In the Armory, there are currently 108 Aldamirs and 154 Aldarions and about 10-12 of each are max level. If I were in love with either name and either were available on my server, I may go ahead and use it in WoW or any other game.

I always take it one step further to see if I can get that win. Adding “a” to the end of each name returns 3 Aldamiras and 1 Aldariona. I may try appending some different letters to see if I can get zero results on the Armory and, more importantly, a name I like.

That’s pretty much how I play my naming game!

Applying a Name Element to Suffixes

Let’s say I’m not happy with any of the results so far. I’ll pull up my Google doc listing the suffixes I like from the Tolkien Gateway—yes, that’s a different Google doc than the 11-page one I mentioned earlier—and begin combining my name element with suffixes. If it sounds good and has few Armory results, it will become a final contender. If it sounds good and adds meaning for the character I’m creating, then it becomes an ultimate final contender.

Using a few suffixes listed below, some options may be:

Aldael (64), Aldaenca (0), Aldaeth (3), Aldaiel (0), Aldandil (0), Aldanwe (0), Aldanya (4), Aldasse (2), Aldaya (12)

The number of characters with these names on the Armory are in parenthesis. With 64 Armory results, Aldael, is out. I like Aldaeth, which would mean “woman of the trees.” I also like Aldanwe, which would mean “treeness.” Both are perfect druid and nature loving character names. They are made even more perfect by winning at my naming game—three results for Aldaeth and zero for Aldanwe!!

This can also be a great way to go about establishing a set of common names for multiple characters.

My Elf Hates Trees

If your elf would rather chop down a tree than hug it, clearly you need your own name element to play this naming game. If you don’t already have one in mind, you can try combining the first two letters of  your first/middle, first/last, middle/last, etc. If you want to remain “elvish,” some links are included in the suffix list below to get you started on exploring the Tolkien Gateway. You can also try any of the other Tengwar letters, explore the Quenya words or Sindarin words, or search this Quenya word list (going for the obvious with demon hunters, you can find “demon” here).

If you want something non-elvish, another option is to explore two of my favorite rabbit holes for name elements that are meaningful to you, the Nordic Names wiki and the Online Etymology dictionary. I’ve spent many evenings past my bed time on these sites!

Help Me!

My elf doesn’t live in Azeroth! If your elf is a mer or drow, look to their racial naming conventions for guidance and toss in an extra vowel or consonant or two (or three). The UESP wiki is a great source for mer (and other racial) names. The Forgotten Realms wiki has a brief drow language dictionary that can get you started.

I hope this has helped! If not, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. I just might have the name you are looking for in one of my many lists or spreadsheets.

The Suffixes

dil: see -ndil

duinë: rare Quenya suffix used for rivers (of large volume)

el: feminine suffix

  • Ailenil = “lake”, ailin, and the feminine suffix -el

enca: meaning “without, -less”

eth: feminine suffix (Sindarin?)

  • Núneth is Sindarin and means “Woman of the West” (from annûn, ‘West’, and -eth, a feminine suffix)

iel: feminine patronymic suffix in Elvish languages. “Daughter of ____”

  • Uinéniel = “Daughter of Uinen”

ielde: feminine suffix in Quenya

  • Elerondielde = “Daughter of Elrond,” which is another name for Arwen.

ien: meaning “daughter”

iën: see -ien

ima: meaning “-able”

indë: feminine agental suffix. The masculine counterpart is –indo

issë: feminine agental suffix in Quenya

  • melissë = “lover” (“mel-” = “to love”; MEL)

mar: pl. -mardi, means dwelling. Although Angmar is a Sindarin name, the Quenya suffix -mar and the Sindarin suffix -bar come from the same root, MBAR.

ndil: added to names to indicate friendship, love, or devotion to an object, idea, grouping, course, occupation or spirit (Ainur) to which one is devoted for its own sake

ndur: is a Quenya suffix added to names to indicate faithful service or servitude.

: denotes a set of something

  • carcanë = “row of teeth” (carca = “tooth”|KARAK)

nil: see -ndil

nur: see -ndur

nwe: has two meanings:

  1. It is equivalent to the English suffix -ness. This can be seen in Manwe (“blessedness”) and Voronwe (“steadfastness”)
  2. It is a dual exclusive pronoun suffix meaning “we, both of us”

nya: pronominal Quenya suffix, 1st person singular possessive, “my” (e.g. tatanya = “my father”)

ssë: denotes abstract or locality

  • Vala = “angelic power, god” (valassë = “divinity”|BAL)
  • laiqua = “green” (laiquassë = “greenness”)
  • hande = “intelligent” (handessë = “intelligence”|KHAN)

vëa: an adjentival ending with the specific meaning “-like” in Quenya. The plural is –vië.

  • elvëa = “starlike” (él = “star”; the long é in él becomes short before the cluster lv)

wen: shows feminine derivation, usually as “maiden”

ya: Quenya suffix of endearment.

  • Anardilya = “dear Anardil”

Beta Spoiler: Trying Out Classes, Deciding What to Do in Legion

Playing beta has got me excited for Legion. I haven’t done much as I’d like to keep the element of surprise and awe intact when Legion launches. But so far, it’s fun! I’m trying each class to help me decide what I’ll do, and a few things are made quite clear:

  • There’s not much of a need to play multiple characters of the same class
  • Same as above, but for gear types: cloth, leather, etc.

I’m not sure if it’s a goal Blizzard has communicated, but with garrisons and flying in Warlords and now class halls and the new wardrobe in Legion, it seems as though they may be actively designing the game for players to focus on fewer characters. I suppose you could refer back to the introduction of Achievements as a beginning for this direction, if it is in fact a direction at all.

Or, it could just be me and my changed perspective. I feel like there’s a lot more work involved to get multiple characters to the max level. I leveled one character to 100. Then I used my free Legion boost on a level 92 so I could get one last profession to 600 for the guild achievement so my solitary guild could have access to the heirloom legs. I already had all but one of the heirloom legs.

That’s my gaming life. Woo! Go me!

Beta is far more exciting. It’s new, and shiny!

The first beta class I leveled to get their artifact weapon was a dwarf elemental shaman. I wasn’t prepared for the… I have no idea what it’s called, mini movie clip? Whatever that is that happens when your character gets their weapon. After the shaman, I was prepared and captured a few screenshots.

Hunter with Titanstrike & Hati

Gnome hunter gets Titanstrike, and Hati. Gnome hunter is new to the class and forgot to unholster her gun.

Demon Hunter with Aldrachi Warblades

Demon Hunter with Aldrachi Warblades

Druid with Scythe of Elune

Druid with Scythe of Elune

Rogue with Kingslayers

Rogue with Kingslayers

Warrior with Warswords of Valor

Warrior with Warswords of Valor

The three leather wearers are sharing similar looks (pieces from the scouting garb set) using the new Wardrobe feature. I hadn’t yet mogged the druid’s new legs… who started out as a Troll, by the way. A nifty feature in the beta is the ability to switch race and faction, making it easy to try out all the race/class combos.

At this point I’m planning to do something I’ve wanted to for a long while—play a caster troll druid. The druid class hall cemented that choice. Is it ever glorious! A close second is rogue, 99% due to their class hall. And she will be a Blood Elf because another thing I’ve wanted is a Blood Elf rogue, 99% due to their stealth animation.

I enjoyed playing the other classes—especially hunter, I always enjoy hunters—but I need to prioritize and have yet to play a death knight, mage, monk, paladin, priest, and warlock. Maybe Legion will be about doing things I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

I already started leveling my troll druid. The only heirlooms she’s using are the pieces without XP gains. I don’t want her to quickly out-level content. I’m leveling her by questing, primarily to finally experience zones changed by the Cataclysm and to pick up moggable quest reward gear.

I’m also in a guild (with more people than me, myself, and I) for the first time since Cataclysm. The Elder Council is an Alliance and Horde guild for players 35 and older. The majority of players are 40-59. It’s on a three-server virtual realm; with Legion, you could virtually have 36 characters on one server! So maybe I’ll finally create that stable of hunters, one for each race!

Pshaw! Yeah, right. In my dreams, or when I’m retired.

I’ve got to focus first, on that troll druid. Which is challenging because I’m still trying to get as much gold as I can on my two 100s. For what, I don’t know yet. Perhaps for upgrading heirlooms to 100. And then I get sidetracked by completing that one achievement that’s 99% finished… because squirrel.


But that focus… I’m amazed and inspired by Kamalia and her et alia. Her life is busy, yet her organized approach to doing what she wants actually works. Maybe THAT’S something I’ll try in legion.


On Starting Over

I’ve held onto this idea that unsubscribing my main, 11-year old account and starting a shiny brand new account would be fun and awesome. A blank slate! No pets, mounts, toys, heirlooms, or achievements. My super shiny new characters would have absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back.

Such a great idea!

I finally tried it. I unsubbed my main account and had about half a month of playing time left. I created a new account. First name: Mama. Last name: Druid. Brand new identity. Yes! This is going to be awesome.

This was during the Thanksgiving holiday sale so I went ahead and upgraded to Warlords, which included a level 90 boost. Hmmm… I’ll ignore that. My son and daughter-in-law (DIL) started playing, each a pet class (frost mage and warlock) so I decided to play another pet class – hunter – because how awesome we’ll all be together. And we were all trolls – ya mon! Without heirlooms, leveling is still pretty quick, especially once you hit 15 and can start using LFG.

Apparently tweaking my lower level alts is now ingrained in me. That, and curiosity got the best of me. I boosted a level one Undead hunter to 90, primarily to try it out on a new account and to run through dungeons to get better gear for my original character who really didn’t need it anyhow.

The level 90 boost is pretty cool. I didn’t know a tutorial had been added to the Warlords starting area in Tanaan for boosted 90s. But, as a boosted 90, you can’t skip it (I tried via the secret entrance to Draenor) because you start without your spells and have to progress through the starting area to get them. Well, you can skip it but I don’t know if there’s another way to get your spells.

A few days pass and it occurs to me I can now create a Death Knight (DK)!  I’m slowly catching up to my son and DIL, but I’ll be closer if I create a DK. Oh, and ummm… if I transferred gold from my main account I could buy a few heirlooms for the DK. So I did that. I got really close to them; 65 to their 67s!

At some point in here I decide I should see what boosting a level 100 is like. So I do that. I boost a level one Tauren druid – a feral druid just like the Mama Druid, my solitary 100 on the main account – and experience the joy of insta-level 3 garrison… which has a menagerie. But I don’t have any level 25 pets on the new account. But I know who does.

See where I’m going with this? Can you smell the fail in the air at this point?

Back to the main account, which conveniently has an insta-25 stone for any pet. I transfer all tradeable pets, the stone, and more gold… rationalizing that transferring seed monies and (all?) the pets is ok. Why, I do not know. It made sense to me at the moment!

This doesn’t last long. My shiny new account is now tainted with the stain of my true colors. I’m addicted to the convenience of having all the things… not that my main account has much, but time is money, friends!! And clearly I can’t maintain boundaries and self-imposed limitations. I mean, really, why should I when I have an 11-year old account?

New account unsubbed. Resubbed to main account.

Crazy lady with her crazy ideas has been subdued and locked away.

“The dark times will pass.”
—Random Blood Elf NPC