IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE | APRIL 18th, 2018

Welcome back to another ‘If we were having coffee’ -post were we pretend to meet up for a coffee to catch up with each others lives.

It has been almost a year since our last virtual ‘coffee meet-up’ so I thought I’d give you a brief update of things.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m re-reading The Lord of the Rings again. In my last ‘If we were having coffee’ – post from June 2017, I’ve talked about how I’ve re-read The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, and were re-reading LOTR. Almost a year later, I’m planning to do (almost) the same. I’m currently half-way through reading The Two Towers and have read Beren and Luthien a few weeks ago. I plan on reading The Silmarillion next, but in order to switch things up, I think I’ll read The Children of Hurin instead of The Hobbit afterwards. Very exciting news, I know.

lotr frodo

I’ve given up trying to stay up to date with geeky news. I’ve still haven’t watched many of the things I plan on watching for years and I’ve accepted that I’ll probably never will. I’m still very much in the mood to read and do nothing much but read. At some point I might start writing book reviews…. if I ever manage to get my nose out of a book long enough! In the meantime, the best book I’ve read this years so far is The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov.

I have, however, managed to catch up with one TV show though. During the Christmas break, I’ve managed to watch Westworld season one and OH EM GEE this show is soo good. This show has everything I love about the art form of Television all the way down to even a great intro song. My favourite characters? The Man in Black and Maeve, hands down. I have not seen the trailer for season two and I’m not planning to do it either. I want to surprised by whats to come.

I’ve simply walked into Mordor. A few months ago, Lord of the Rings Online released Mordor as a region, and my Hobbit hunter is finally strong enough to enter and quest in Mordor…well, kind of. Mordor is designed for levels 105 and higher and even though my Hobbit hunter is level 108 (of 115 in total) I’m still struggling to quest in Mordor. Sure, Mordor was designed to be difficult, it is Mordor after all, but still the struggle is very very real! I’m loving it though. Also, LOTRO recently released Laketown, Thranduil’s palace and the Lonely Mountain as Rergions and I’m soooo tempted to buy the region because I really want to quest there!

ScreenShot00019

How about you, what have your geeky life has been like in the last ten months? Have you watched Westworld and if you did which was your favourite character? Leave a comment down below!

Advertisements

Selfmade ‘Today in Middle-earth’ – Moleskine Journal

Several years ago, Moleskine release some beautiful Hobbit edition of its notebooks. As a lover of Moleskine notebooks and all things Tolkien, I had to get one too. While I loved every notebook in this Hobbit series, I settled for this notebook in pocket size.

Yet, until recently, I didn’t knew what to use it for. I wanted to use it for Middle-earth related stuff, but I was also too afraid to use it in case I ruin it. You know, the usual struggle every stationery lover has.

P1130532

A few days ago, as I was thinking of #middleearthmarch I somehow got THE IDEA: Why not use that Hobbit Moleskine notebook to write all Middle-earth dates down?

If you’re like me, March will make you wonder ‘What exactly happened that day in Middle-earth’? The entire year is filled with important days in Middle-earth, but March is, without a  doubt, one of the busiest months in Middle-earth. So whenever I wanted to know what was ‘going on’ in Middle-earth, I’d search the internet. Now, I don’t have to browse the world wide web, I can just grab my Middle-earth Calendar notebook and look up what is going on.

How I created my ‘Today in Middle-earth’ Moleskine Notebook

The most pressing question some of you now might have is ‘Where did you get all the dates from’? The best resouce on the internet is, by far, The One Ring.Net’s ‘Today in Middle-earth Calendar’. It is the most extensive and structured calender I’ve seen so far. No need to reference dozens of different hopepages anymore.

P1130539

Section 1: LOTR events month on two pages

For my own, analogue version, I created two sections. A ‘month on two pages’ featuring Lord of the Rings Events only and a ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section featuring all dates and events. The LOTR  events only section allows only for the most important event on each day. It serves me as a quick overview. My ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section is the one section I’ll use as a detailed account of events.

P1130540

Section 2

P1130543

My system of colour-coding events

In order to make things organized and clear, I’ve decided to colour-code the events in my ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’ section. Black stands for events  significant to LOTR, blue are events of importance to The Hobbit and purple encompasses miscellaneous events such as Tolkien’s birthday. All in all, I used up about two-thirds of my notebook. Depending on your handwriting or added decoration, it my be different for you if you decide to re-create it.

P1130546

Section 2: ‘Chronicles of Middle-earth’

I’m not gonna lie, at times it felt tedious to write everything down. However, for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the process. I’d put on Middle-earth inspired music and pretend to be a Gondorian historian. Now that I’m finished I’m desperate to re-read LOTR again!

Have you done anything similar? If now, what do you think of my little project? Leave a comment down below!

Disability & Pop Culture: An Amputee’s Point of View

Whenever you think of disabled characters in pop culture, you’ll probably think of Geordi La Forge from Star Trek, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from Star Wars, and maybe of Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump. Disabled characters, whether they have a physical disability, an intellectual disability or have a chronic illness, are far and few inbetween in pop culture. There is a greater variety of vampires, ghosts, and aliens than disabled characters (or any other minorities for that matter).

I was born one-handed (don’t worry, I have no difficulties with typing this) and for the longest time, the only characters in film, tv, or books that looked like me, and by that I mean characters with missing limbs, were Luke Skywalker, Lieutenant Dan, and the occasional villian such as Darth Vader or Azog from The Hobbit. Naturally, most of them immediately became my favourite characters of that film or tv show regardless of whether they were good guys or even well-written characters. Seriously, no matter who the characters is, I’d get excited beyond words just to see someone ‘like me’ on screen, even if it was murderous Orc.

IMG_20170108_174207_026

Me, a few years back.

A statistic by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative from 2015 revealed that “just 2.4 percent of characters in the top 100 movies who spoke or had actual names had disabilities. That’s a significant gap between fiction and reality, since the Census Bureau has found in 2010 that 56.7 million people, or 18.7 percent of Americans, have disabilities. ” I’m sure the numbers will be the same for many other countries as well.

Here is a detailed breakdown of what this study uncovered:

Characters with disabilities appeared in 55 of those 100 movies. And of those characters, 61 percent had physical disabilities, 37.1 had mental or cognitive disabilities, and 18.1 percent had communicative disabilities. Characters with disabilities were overwhelmingly male; just 19 percent of characters with disabilities were female. Characters with disabilities were likely to be relatively marginalized in the movies in which they did appear: 10 of the 100 top-grossing films from 2015 featured characters with disabilities as leads or co-leads. Of the 11 movies that Smith and her colleagues classified as ensemble, two featured characters with disabilities as part of the core ensemble. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

The number of disabled actors on film and tv is similarly small. In fact, whenever I see a disabled character portrayed, I automatically roll my eyes thinking “ah yes another abled-bodied actor”. The exceptions to this are characters with dwarfism or down syndrome. These are the only examples that come to my mind where disabled actors are always chosen to portray a character that has the same disability as them. When it comes to other disabilities, more often than not, an able-bodied actor is chosen.

tumblr_l6pvhp1jqt1qd2z99o1_500

Luke Skywalker

I can still remember, years and years ago, when CSI: Las Vegas came out how I reacted with cynicism upon seeing the Coroner Dr. Albert Robbins walking with a crutch. Even more so when it was revealed the character of Dr. Robbins is a double-amputee. Only later did I found out that the actor portraying Dr. Robbins, Robert David Hall was, in fact, a double-amputee himself! Over the years my interest in CSI: Las Vegas dwindled, especially after the departure of actor William Petersen, but I kept on watching it just for Dr. Robbins. Finally, I’ve found a character whose disability was just one aspect of his personality and not a walking-talking stereotype, nor a villain.

For most of my life, I didn’t really think about this issue in-depth. I just accepted the low numbers and sometimes terrible representation without question. However, as I get older and started my academic career in culture studies, with a focus on literary studies, I began to think critically and eventually began a Ph.D on disability in literature. For a year now, I’ve been reading and researching books and short stories in science fiction featuring disabled characters and let me tell you it wasn’t very easy. Not all summaries online will tell you that a book or short story deals with disability issues. Some books, I’ve stumbled upon by accident on amazon while browsing for another unrelated book.

lt-dan-1_1643

Lieutenant Dan

Initially, I intended this to be a brief “x amount of disabled characters in Science Fiction” – list. However, I realized very early that this is not an issue I can summarize in just a few sentences, hence, my Ph.D project. I could go on an on in this post, but it is too long and to “here and there” already. In other words, I want to write more blog-posts discussing disability in pop-culture. I don’t know, nor can I promise anything, how long this series will be or how frequent these type of posts will be. However, I will try, at the very least, to contribute a bit to the discussion of disability rights. I’m over 30 now and if a few random posts here and there end up helping a young person growing up with a disability to feel more confident and find characters that “look just like themselves” then I’ve succeeded.

So what’s next up? A short list of science fiction books and short-stories I’ve recently read that feature disabled characters. Moreover, there are numerous movies, tv shows, or books with disabled characters that I haven’t watched or read yet. So I think it’ll be nice to give brief reviews of my first thoughts on these characters.

It is your turn now. What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you have a movie, tv-show, game, comic, or book featuring disabled characters that you absolutely love or hate? Leave a comment down below!

My 7 Bookish Resolutions for 2018

The end of 2016 and the entire year of 2017 have been times filled with changes for me. I’ve graduated from uni with a Master’s, travelled to New Zealand, started a Ph.D and am currently on the job hunt, trying to build a career during my Ph.D. In other words, I found myself with more time on my hands than in the previous years and I did what I’ve always wanted to to in the past: read more books. Looking back at the quantity and quality of the books I’ve read, I can happily say that 2017 has been a good year.

However, 2017 was a year filled with an abundance of physical purchases. I’m trying to live my life as much under the principle of minimalism as possible. For me, minimalism means to only surround myself with things that serve a purpose (eg.: kitchen supplies) or things that I absolutely love. I’ll delve more into the struggle of trying to live a minimalist life while also loving to collect things in a future post. For now, I can summarize that whereas I’ve spend most of my money in the past on travel, I’ve spend all of my money on physical possessions in 2017.

I don’t regret my purchases for the most part, but a part of me wants to go back on the road at least once in 2018. In order to do that, and since I don’t have a steady job at the moment, I need to save money. Now, my desire to travel is not the only reason I want to spend less on books. For the most part of my adult life, I’ve fallen into the trap of collecting books, but never being able to read all the books I’ve purchased. There were times were I owned more unread books than read books. In 2017, I’ve noticed how I’ve fallen back into that trap. Now, there is nothing wrong with having unread books, but I want to own more read than unread books.

As a way to keep my bookish purchases more in control (& an attempt to save money), I came up with 7 bookish resolutions for 2018. So let’s take a look at them, shall we?

My 7 Bookish Resolutions for 2018

1.Buy less physical books
Rather self-explanatory, isn’t it?

2.Buy a physical book only after having read 3 physical books you already own.
I’m not trying to kid myself by putting myself on a complete book-buying-ban. I know I couldn’t stick to such a ban. However, I want to reduce the number of unread books. So I decided to allow myself to buy a book only after having read 3 existing physical books I’ve purchased in the past but never got around to reading. I hope this rule will inspire me to read more from my book collection.

3.Loan more books from the library.
My university library isn’t the biggest nor the best out there, but it has a decent collection of books published in the English language (my preferred language to read in). So if I really want to read a book, I’ll try to get it from my library before purchasing it.

4.Buy only a Tolkien related book after having read 5 physical books (Tolkien or non-Tolkien)
I think the sole reason I don’t call myself a minimalist is my ever growing Tolkien collection. I love Tolkien and his works and I love collecting books and other things related to Tolkien and Middle-earth. However, I want to be more conscientious about my collecting habit. So instead of completely banning myself from adding stuff to my collection, I’ll try to have it more controlled. Knowing that Funko will release another batch of LOTR Funkos, it’ll be a bit of a struggle. I don’t want to punish myself in any way if I fail a rule. However, I do want to re-evaluate my purchases and minimize my purchases as much as possible whatever that means.

5.You can repurchase an e-book as a physical book only when you gave it at least 4 out of 5 stars.
For the most part, I want to limit my bookish purchases to e-books. However, I do want to own my absolute favourite books as physical copies at some point. So with rule number 2 in mind, I’ll slowly repurchase some of my favourite e-books as physical books.

6.You can only buy an e-book after having read 2 existing e-books.
E-readers are a great thing. With only a click, you can read a book after a few seconds of waiting. The bad thing about e-readers is that with only a click, you can read a book after a few seconds of waiting. I don’t know about you, but I’m much more tempted to randomly buy a book as an e-book because it is so easy, fast and doesn’t really feel like I’ve spend money. Quickly, small sums here and there can accumulate to a greater sum. So in an attempt to keep my e-book purchases in check, I’ve came up with this rule. The exception to this rule a free e-books.

7.Read more out of your comfort zone.
I really want to widen my horizon and knowledge so I need to force myself to read more books out of my comfort zone. For fiction, this means that I’ll try to read more authors I haven’t read before. For non-fiction this means reading more books on science and history. Also, whether fiction or non-fiction, I’ll also try to read more books that were written authors from, or published in, countries outside of Europe and North-America (my preferred reading horizon).

This will be an interesting experiment, for it really feels as if the outcome is uncertain, for me. I want to have regular check-ups throughout the upcoming year and discuss how my progress is going. However, I’m not sure how often I want these check-ups to be. Maybe I’ll do them every 3 months, who knows.

What about you, how have your reading habits changed in the last 12 months? Do you have any bookish resolutions for 2018? Leave a comment down below!

Reading Habits Tag

It is no secret that, over here on Travelling Geek Show, we love books and tag posts. So when I stumbled upon this ‘Reading Habits Tag’, we couldn’t resist. I stumbled upon this very old tag somewhere in the depths of Youtube and was surprised at how much I enjoyed watching people talk about their reading habits. If you’re curious about our reading habits, then keep reading!

Reading Habits Tag

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Alice: I love to read in bed, but also at my desk. I have a very comfortable IKEA chair that’s perfect to stay there for a long time.

Maria: It’s either my bed or my reading nook. I tend to read in the evenings, shorty before going to bed so most times I end up reading in bed. However, throughout 2017, I’ve lowly, but surely create a reading nook for myself. Well, actually it is a Tolkien reading nook.

P1120218

Maria’s reading nook

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Alice: I prefer using bookmarks, but only if I’m reading for pleasure. I’m not sure why, but when I read books for University, I tend to sticky page flags rather than actual bookmarks.

Maria: I used to be a ‘random piece of paper’ – kinda gal, but over the years I’ve accumulated some beautiful bookmarks which I’m now using. Personally, I prefer bookmarks with elastics that keep the bookmark in place no matter how much the book gets thrown around

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
Alice: I usually tend to stop reading at the end of a chapter because it makes it easier to remember where I left for me.

Maria: Usually, I tend to stop reading after a chapter. Unless I’m very tired and that chapter is very long! In that case, I’ll just stop reading anywhere.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Alice: Nope.

Maria: Most of the time, yes I eat or drink while reading. Reading is a relaxing hobby to me so a good cup of tea alongside some biscuits is a must!

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
Alice: Nope again. I hate listening to music or TV in the background. I don’t mind noises, but only if I can’t hear words, otherwise I would be completely distracted.

Maria: That depends. I can’t watch TV anymore while reading, but I can listen to a certain type of music while reading. In general, I can listen to any genre of music as long as there are no lyrics and singing involved. Having song in the background where a person sings is too distracting or me.

6. One book at a time or several at once?
Alice: I would always choose one book at a time, but sometimes I find myself reading more because I prefer carrying the Kindle in my bag during my commute rather than a bulkier physical book. However, I know for sure that I’m going to read one book at a time during the Holidays since I’ll be at home.

Maria: I wish I could say that I read only one book at a time, but I tend to read two or three at once. At the moment I’m reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station and are listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula on audiobook on Youtube.

1c5e533d6b4b8ee21454e4e5999c92c9--bram-stokers-dracula-notebooks

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
Alice: While I prefer reading at home, I also do it during my commute and everywhere I have the chance.

Maria: Mostly at home since I get too distracted outside. However, whenever I read outside, then it is either in a park or in a café.

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?
Alice: Silently, hands down.

Maria: Reading silently. Reading out loud takes too much time and is too exhausting for my voice.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
Alice: I don’t like skipping pages, to be honest, I don’t see why I should do it.I don’t like skipping pages, to be honest, I don’t see why I should do it.

Maria: No, I don’t read ahead, nor am I skipping pages. When I want to know what is happening later on or want to know how a cliff-hanger is resolved, I simply check Wikipedia.

Alice_Reads

Alice reads

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Alice: I’m pretty proud of myself for taking so much care of my books. I love to keep them like new and I never enjoyed when my mom read my books because she always broke the spines, ugh. That’s probably the inner librarian in me.

Maria: I love breaking the spines and I’m not ashamed of it. If I’m about to disappear today, my books with broken spines will be a testament to what I loved. People can pick any random book of my shelf and tell which book I’ve read and how often. Which brings me to the next question…

11. Do you write in your books?
Alice: Only if they are books for school. One of the reasons why I love my Kindle is that I can highlight stuff without damaging my books.

Maria: Yes, I write in my paperbacks. Now, hardbacks, especially collector’s editions are somewhat tricky, but I love to highlight passages in books (with actual highlighters). I also love to annotate my books while reading them for the same reason I love breaking the spines of paperbacks: I want to engage with books to the extend that they become an extension of myself. So in decades to come, when I’m an old granny, my children or grandchildren can pick up my books and get an insight into the person I was.

12. Who do you tag?
Maria: I know I do this all the time, but I tag anyone who wants to do it. Whether you just want to answer one particular question or do the entire tag, go ahead. Either leave as a comment with your answers or leave a link to a post of yours with this tag!