Quote

“How Do You Dea…

“How Do You Deal With Haters?” -Jin

I got this as a question on my Tumblr, and I felt I could share my thoughts here as well because it seems it’s something a lot of people can relate to. I hope this comes to helpful to any of you guys reading.

I’m certain there are people who dislike me. Some I come to know through whisperings because I have eyes everyyyyywheeeeere.

However, I don’t feel the need to acknowledge them or do anything about it unless they are causing any real harm, especially to people I care about.

There is a popular quote that I like referencing for this topic, which gets the message across in a charming way:

“You can be a juicy, ripe peach and there’s still going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches, so you can either submit to someone’s criticism of you, or you can get on with the business of being your own amazing self who attracts other like-minded people that appreciate you.” — Dita Von Teese

I used to be affected if I found out someone didn’t like me, but I’ve come to learn that people can have very irrational reasons for hating someone.

Sometimes it is simply because your personalities and tastes are not compatible. And that’s fine and normal.

Other times, they can take a part of you and twist it and build up their own negative perception and convince themselves that they are right to hate you. But it doesn’t mean that what they think about you is true. Their image of you that they force upon themselves could be due to their own insecurities.

Although I sometimes say this jokingly, I find that in certain cases it’s not just simply “Haters gonna hate.” I also dislike it when people jump to the conclusion, “They just hate you because they’re jealous.” While it can be true at times, it’s not the ultimate answer. Let’s be real here. It is not surprising for people to feel a sense of dislike towards someone who is truly being a terrible human being. Did you do something that merits you being considered a terrible human being? If the answer is no, then good.

Here’s what you can do: If someone openly throws some harsh words at you, take a deep breath and try to objectively consider what they have to say. Maybe you can ask yourself things like:

- Are they actually trying to offer constructive criticism but are lacking in tact and eloquence? If they seem interesting or intelligent enough, try to converse with them to understand. Maybe you’ll learn something new. If they are just bigots or trolls, pity them for a second, don’t dignify them with an answer or any more of your time, and move on. Be the better person.

- Are they pointing out something you may have done wrong that you weren’t aware of? Do you think they are right? If they are, be humble enough to consider that you might have something to improve on. If they’re not, then just don’t mind them. If someone is really set on disliking you, you’re the last person they will allow to change their minds.

These are just general ideas, because it always depends on the context. But in the end, what’s important is that if you truly believe you did nothing wrong, then disregard them and walk away with your head held high. Hopefully you aren’t a sociopath.

You can’t please every single person in the world. And that’s okay. The people whose happiness and opinions should matter the most are your own, and those of the people you care about and care for you. If you focus on being your own fantastic self, you can feel sorry for your haters because they lost the opportunity to get to know the wonderful person you are.

Jin of BehindInfinity on DeviantArt posted this recently. I found it thought provoking and well thought-out and wanted to re-post it here.

Be sure to check out his DA!

The Nerdtastic World of Japanese Comics

tumblr_m36p76hube1r6h499o1_500Recently, Wil-o’-th’-Wisp was invited to my mom’s Catholic middle school to give a presentation to the kids. They’ve recently discovered anime and manga, but don’t have anyone to talk to them or help them, so they’ve gotten into some very mature series. They’ve also blended the line between reality and fiction, which has caused a lot of problems at school. This has also led to rampant cyber-bullying. We were asked to give a presentation about what anime and manga is, to remember that “you are what you read”, and to address bullying.

Fishie wasn’t in town, so EarMuffs and I drove up to talk to the kids. We went in casual cosplay, sporting Sanosuke’s jacket and the Attack on Titan half-cape. It went very well!

anime_mangaAfter giving a general overview of what Anime and Manga is, we talked about the differences between Japanese and Western cultural morals, and how those differences are reflected in anime and manga. It isn’t bad, but it’s good to be aware of. Whenever you read popular media it’s important to have a good understanding of what you believe and find important, and to find series that match.

After talking about morals and cultural norms, we talked about the story behind the story, that is, the morals and ideas the story reflects. You are what you eat, or, in this case, you are what you read. If you only read one particular type of story, you’ll eventually start believing what it holds. I’ve seen this time and again. After explaining this concept, we went over a couple of case studies and talked about the ideas behind Death Note and Pokemon, two of the more popular series in my mom’s classes.

tifaAs they were thinking about this, I told them about a test that I’ve been using for the past fifteen years the “Hero Test” (when I mentioned that I started using this fifteen years or so ago, I got some strange looks. That’s when I remembered that they weren’t even fifteen years old yet…). Think of someone you really admire and look up to. This is someone you emulate. Then imagine showing them your favorite series, books, music, etc. How do you feel? If you feel embarrassed because it’s “kiddish”, then that’s okay. It’s fine to like things that are “below your level.” But do you feel ashamed or uncomfortable? Why is that? After using this test, I’ve dropped several series, simply because I’ve realized that it isn’t healthy for me, and is contrary to how I want to be as a person. I want to watch and read things that are true to what I believe.

For most of these kids this is their first foray into the wide, wide world of nerds. Most of them don’t know how to express themselves without hurting others, so we talked about fandoms and how to interact with people. Pretty simple things, such as respecting others, not to bully, think about what you’re doing, and that it’s okay to be different. Then we gave several examples of how to show your love of series, such as finding like-minded friends, creating clubs, fanart, fanfiction, fanmusic, and cosplay.

This led us into a conversation of how to be a nerd with others, and went over real-world examples of what happens when things go wrong: elitism, shipping wars, fandom wars, and isolation. We ended with encouraging the kids to be themselves and not to feel obligated to like something or to force others to like things. After all, don’t sweat the small stuff! It’s our differences combined that make us strong!

Don’t get so worked up over small details that you loose yourself. Remember to separate fiction from reality, and celebrate what’s most important in your life. “Let it Go!” It’s a much larger world than just what’s found in anime and manga.

This was a great opportunity to talk to the kids. They were very excited to talk about their favorite series and to ask us questions. They didn’t feel like they had anyone to talk to. I assured them that I had my mom well-trained, and that she would be happy to answer questions or just nerd-out with them.

 

Special thanks to EarMuffs for helping me with this presentation! Check out her DeviantArt (http://nobodypuppetprincess.deviantart.com/)!

Mineko Ohkami’s Dragon Knights

DRAGON KNIGHTS  IS GETTING A SEQUEL!!!! YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW INCREDIBLY EXCITED I AM ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!

THE SEQUEL PROMO

THE SEQUEL PROMO

Dragon Knights  was the first manga I ever got into. I distinctly remember bringing it into class. My friends had no idea what to make of it! Ohkami’s drawing style is very different, and it takes a while for the store to start up, but IT IS AMAZING! To this day, it is one of my all-time favorite series.

 

Dragon Knights

Dragon Knights

Dragon Knights tells the tale of a war between the benevolent Dragon Tribe of Draqueen and the evil Demon Lord Nadil, who wishes to bring the world into darkness.  The Dragon Emperor, Lykouleon sends his powerful Dragon Knights, Rath, Thatz, and Rune, to battle Nadil and his armies.  They defeat and behead him to prevent him from being resurrected more powerful than before.  And this happened before the story even starts!

I can’t believe that there’s going to be a sequel! I’m am SO EXCITED!!!!

 

http://natalie.mu/comic/news/106789

http://thebestsithlord.tumblr.com/post/74901726155/ohkamimineko-okay-so-i-totally-went-to-look

 

Have some Dragon Officers. On the house.

Have some Dragon Officers. On the house.

WYSIWYG

WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get. This was a popular phrase when computer icons first became popular after the old DOS, command-line based systems. You see an icon on your screen, and you know exactly what it is. No more guessing command-lines. The system’s so commonplace, that the term is hardly used anymore.

It’s funny how topics tend to ebb and flow in popularity. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about what is proper conduct given one’s gender. What can boys do that girls cannot and visa versa. Is it okay for boys to play with dolls? Should girls really be cross-playing? What’s wrong with boys who like “My Little Pony”? Girl’s should stick to fashionable, form-fitting clothing.

There has always been pressure on boys and girls to act a certain way and to like certain things. It was very proper for girls to like princesses and big poofy dresses, while boys were supposed to be rough and tumble on the playground. Our society has set standards for how people are supposed to be. If anyone fell outside of that cookie-cutter image, people tend to get anxious and uncomfortable. My question is, who set this image?

In the large scheme of things, does it really matter if a boy enjoys more feminine activities, or if a girl is more tomboyish? To me it shows a very well-rounded individual that had many different ways of thinking. This person can probably understand a wide-range of people, and relate to them. I think that these would be traits we would want to nurture, not condemn.

An individual is very complex, and not everyone is going to like the exact same things. For example, I am a cosplayer who cosplays male characters (cross-player), I collect action figures and swords, and wear my hair very short so that I don’t have to deal with it in the mornings. This does not make me any less a woman than my friend who wears dresses, has long hair, and gets her nails done every month. We’re different individuals with different tastes, but are still very comfortable with our gender.

Lately it has been becoming more acceptable for women to have more tomboyish tendencies than men to have a more feminine flair. Society is so wrapped up in their obsession with manliness, that they tend to reject anything that can tarnish their image. Get over it! Society has become so obsessed with “how things should be”, that they’re blind to how things actually are. If they keep closing their eyes, they’ll never see the beauty in others, or the opportunities they add to the world.

Everyone is different. What you see is what you get. We shouldn’t feel obligated to hide who we are just because we’re different than the norm. If everyone was the same, then this would be a very boring world.

Mightier Than The Sword

Quotes are marvelous things, aren’t they. There are memorable quotes that everyone knows, such as, “To be or not to be. That is the question, (Hamlet)” or “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to, than I have ever known. (Tale of Two Cities)” These quotes have made their way into our culture such that people know them without ever reading the book.

I love quotes. I collect them in notebooks, on scrap paper, and on random documents on my computer. They consist of words that speak of my thoughts more eloquently than I could hope to. I also have many quotes of reminding me how I want to live my life. It’s surprising some of the sources these quotes come from, but they’ve stuck with me. Here’s just a couple of my favorites.

…while some things are just plain awful, most things in life can be seen either tragic or comic. And it’s your choice. Is life a big, long, tiresome slog from sadness to regret to guilt to resentment to self-pity? Or is life weird, outrageous, bizarre, ironic, and just stupid? Gotta go with stupid. It’s not the easy way out. Self pity is the easiest thing in the world. Finding the humor, the irony, the slight justification for a skewed, skeptical optimism. That’s tough.” ~Animorphs

Like most kids in the ’90s, I was a huge Animorphs fan. Before I knew it, I had read all of the Animorphs books in the library. I loved the concept: kids transforming into animals to fight a secret alien invasion. While most of the books weren’t serious, this quote stuck with me since I first read it. Before I knew it, I had simplified it to: “Life gives you two choices: laugh or cry. I’d much rather laugh.” Life can be very cruel, but I’ve found that even in the bleakest of times, you can find things to laugh about. If you keep looking for the humor in life, the dark stuff seems that much more manageable.

When you’re falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly.” ~Babylon 5

This line was from one of John Sheridan’s speeches during a climatic moment in the TV show Babylon 5. It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s stuck with me. After all, when nothing seems to be right, what does it hurt to try to fly? There’s hope in every situation, you just have to reach for it.

Our greatest hope is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~Confucius

See! I get quotes from more than just TV shows and kid’s books! A friend of mine gave me this quote in high school when I was having a tough time. It’s easy to fall and stay down, it’s that much harder to stand back up and keep moving forward. Life doesn’t get any easier, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. I’ve recently gotten through some difficult things, and I now draw strength from the times I had fallen, because I found the strength to get back up.

Natsu and GrayI don’t know what the future brings. That’s why I live and laugh in the present.” ~Fairy Tail

There’s no way for us to read the future, so there’s no point in worrying about it. Sure, it’s fine to plan for the future, but you shouldn’t spend so much time stressing over it that you miss the times here and now. I’ve seen so many people looking to the future that they never realized what they had. Don’t miss the precious moments now by pining for things that are yet to come. After all, we may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness, joy. Oh, divine Master! Grant that I may not so much as be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” ~Prayer of St. Francis

This is one of my favorite prayers, and it is how I strive to live my life.

Quotes can become such an important part of our lives, that we often forget that they were written by a stranger. I guess that just goes to show that we are all more alike than we’d ever like to admit.

All Hallow’s Eve

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

~Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It’s the time of year when everyone forgets about being self-conscious, dresses up in costumes, and pumpkin-flavored goodies arrive in coffee shops. I try to make the most of it every year. This year was no different.

Every year I throw some sort of Halloween party. I began planning my party in mid-September, getting my party games and associated prizes planed to perfection. Of course this year life decided to get in the way, so I didn’t get any actual planning done until the week before the party. The same could be said of my costumes. I had begun making my General Cross jacket in September, hoping to finish it in time for my friend’s Halloween party the Saturday before the 31st. As I started getting underway, life happened and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. This happened with three other costumes until I realized that it was the night before the party. Oops.

Vampire Rath takes to the streets

Vampire Rath takes to the streets

I ran through my cosplays, but none of them seemed quite right for a Halloween Cosplay Party, so I decided to sleep on it. As I was drifting off to sleep, I had a revelation: I would go as a Vampire Rath from Dragon Knights. I already had the wig, and could pull the rest of it together easily. Besides, I had a frilly shirt I had been wanting to wear for a while….

My friend’s party was about 2 hours north of me, but I was going to stop part way to pick up my friend and have lunch. Of course, it was no question that I was going to wear my costume all day. We decided to have lunch with a couple of friends at a Japanese place. We waited in a narrow hallway for lunch, shuffling to the sides when people had to leave. At one point a family with a little girl finished and turned to leave. We pulled up against the wall to make room, but the little girl couldn’t stop staring at me. She was mesmerized by my fangs and wig, and then ran smack into the wall. She shook her head, and then toddled out, turning to stare at me every few steps.

After lunch we climbed back into my car and went to the party. It was a lot of fun! I don’t get to see these friends nearly as much as I’d like, so we spent a lot of it catching up and eating delicious food. Man, you really gotta love potlucks!

Those long straps were too tempting to play with...

Those long straps were too tempting to play with…

I had a day’s reprieve from the festivities, and then Monday drove back to San Jose to visit a Fishie, who was on break from school in Florida. Of course, as per tradition, we pranced about in costumes, drawing strange looks and stares. One of our other friends joined us for our jaunt. Fishie had pulled out her AkitoGito, but those long straps were far too tempting for me and our other friend, and pretty soon we were dragging her long the road by them. We were simply looking out for her well-being. I don’t think she was too amused….

By this time I had a couple of days until Halloween, and I needed to figure out what to wear for Halloween day. I was working in the morning, so I needed something easy enough to move around in that I could fit a backpack. My original plan was to go as a Jurassic Park worker, but the patches I had ordered wouldn’t get there in time for Halloween, so I moved onto Plan B. I had started making a Tigger outfit, but there was no way I could sew it and paint it in time for it to be ready and still get sleep, so I began to get a Katniss Everdeen ready. I probably could have finished her coat, except that the night before Halloween I realized that I had the wrong sized zipper and a horrible headache. Once again I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning I decided that I could just do a casual Katniss. Besides, I already had the wig. And then, twenty minutes before I had to be at work, my patches arrived. I hurriedly pulled out my shirt and hat and ironed them on (I’m SO glad it was iron -on!) before leaving for work. I was so excited! This was the costume I REALLY wanted to do! My main regret was that I didn’t have time to grab my dinosaurs from my parents’.

I love scar make up!

I love scar make up!

I love my job. Almost everyone dressed up, so we ended up paging everyone by their costume rather than their name. Our computer systems also decided that they would play a Halloween trick, so the first few hours of the day the registers didn’t work, so we had to check everyone out manually. Haha.

I got off work early so that I could get ready for my party. I hurriedly cleaned up the house, and, after applying Velociraptor scratches on my neck, ran out for last minute errands. While I was in Target one of the associates started following me down the aisles. Finally I stopped as asked, “Can I help you with something?” She hesitated, and then asked if I was okay. I had forgotten that I had my make-up on, and said that I was fine. She hesitated again and, pointing to my neck, asked, “Were you in some sort of accident?” I laughed and let her see my make up.

My party was set to start at 6:00 pm, but I had posted everything in military time, so people had very mixed ideas of when the party was supposed to start, so most of the games began around 9:30ish. Between costume contests, monster relays, the limbo, and bobbing for apples, I think that everyone had fun. I had a lot of friends drive down that I don’t get to see very often, so it was great seeing them and introducing them to my friends from the area.

Halloween was amazing fun this year! I can’t wait to see what spooooky surprises next year brings.

The Day the World Catches Up

DocHalloween: The Day the Rest of the World Cosplays. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, after St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas. It’s just plain fun planning out the costumes and then dressing up! Even as a kid, planning and wearing the costume trumped getting candy. I’d spend months planning my costume, and working with my mom to figure out the construction. I had so much fun once a year that I decided to make costumes year round, which led me to the discovery of cosplay and conventions.

I’ve been an avid cosplayer for quite a while now. I’ve attended tons of conventions and have entered many a contest. The funny thing is, despite all of that, choosing my Halloween costume is one of my hardest costume choices of the year! Maybe it’s because on this one day most people dress up, or it could be my history with the holiday. Regardless the reason, I usually have to put a lot of thought into my choice.

This year, like most years, I ran through my list of 20-some active cosplays, and decided that not one of them would work for Halloween Day. I could modify one of them for use at a cosplay party, but I needed something special for Hallowee, especially seeing as I’ll be working ON Halloween.  True to cosplayer tradition, I decided this a couple of days ago. Once I decided on a costume, I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to pull it together (shipping and all…). I can pull together a new costume in a couple of days using nothing but scraps, right? In between planning my party, carving pumpkins, and working, of course.

LET’S DO THIS THING!

In Which Much Fun was Had, Part II

Kraken Con

It’s a squid!!! ^w^

As I mentioned in my earlier post, my cons have been coming in sets. The week after Super SacCon, I found myself at the debut of Kraken Con. I was really excited about this con, not only because it was its first year, but because it’s mascot was a squid. A squid! How awesome is that?! It combines two of my loves: cons and squid!

I knew that this con was coming for a while, so I had ample time to get my cosplay together. It had been a while since I wore White Witch, so I figured that I’d pull her out. Besides, NobodyPuppetPrincess was going to bring her Last Unicorn, and White Witch would compliment it well.

Unfortunately, a couple of days before con I had an Edmund incident: my wand snapped in half, and I had full shifts at work leading up to the con. No biggie, except that I had a major costume malfunction on the dress, too. So White Witch was a no go. So I figured that I’d pull out Sven. He was almost done, and it’d be a good con to debut him, except that I ran out of interfacing and had no opportunity to get more. Finally, the day before I was to leave, I pulled out Gray. Seeing as it’s October, I decided to make him a vampire.

Cue Fairy Tail x Rave OVA

Cue Fairy Tail x Rave OVA

The morning I was to leave, I began packing up my car and discovered that somehow a bunch of red stuff had gotten all over Gray, and I didn’t have any time to wash him. As a last ditch effort, I replaced him with Musica. Of course, because I was in a hurry, I didn’t pack all of Musica, but I pulled it together well enough. On top of that, when I was adding his vampire flair, the fangs decided to not work. Well, regular Musica was fun, too. I guess it was meant to be.

After picking up people in San Jose and at the BART station, we made it to the con just as they were about to open doors. Half of us had pre-paid and half had not, so none of us had to stand in line alone. Ironically, the registration line went faster than the pre-reg, so our friends were waiting for us by the time we got our badges.

This was one of the funnest conventions I’ve attended. There were so many activities that we didn’t have time to do a full-on photoshoot! That hasn’t happened since I first started attending cons. I’ve gone to so many cons, that I often don’t take part in all the panels or events, simply because I’ve done them before. The events here, though, were different.

They had created a bunch of “Kraken Cards,” playing cards that you could play a card game with. The more events you attended, the more cards you got. Each card had its own description and picture. We spent some time running around to collect them.

Here's my picture from the photobooth.

Here’s my picture from the photobooth.

Kraken Con also hosted some very different activities. We started the day with a scavenger hunt that took us all across the vendor room. Then we took pictures at a photobooth, and got a free print. We ran around the vendor room a bit, looking for gifts, and then realized that we were hungry. The con hosted concessions that you could eat in the Maid Cafe. I hadn’t seen that arrangement before. Normally you have to pay to eat the special refreshments in the Maid Cafe, but they utilized the cafe more like a lounge and hang out than a money making venture.

And here I thought unicorns were mistaken for white mares....

And here I thought unicorns were mistaken for white mares….

Our table was hosted by a butler name Koji. He was awesome! He was able to keep the conversation going, and brought out fun board games to play. We played a game where you had a card on your head, and you had to ask questions around the circle to figure out what it was. It was harder than it seemed, and we got a lot of laughs out of it.

Following the maid cafe, three of us made our way to the Cardboard Robot Building contest. That was a BLAST!!!! Definitely one of the highlights of con! Fanime has a similar event called Cosplay Chopped, but I thought that this one was a lot more fun. It was more low-key, and everyone had tons of fun. My friend had a plush Ren with her, so we decided to make a robot for him. Of course, we couldn’t make just ANY robot: we made a snowboarding MewTwo robot. It was AWESOME!!!! We even ended up winning first place! We tried bringing MewTwo home with us, but he broke in the car. Oh well…

MewTwo Robot

MewTwo RobotWe used the whole two hours to make our robots, and when we were done we met up with our other friends to meet Jessica DiCiccio and get her autograph. We voiced Flame Princess from Adventure Time, Ollette from Kingdom Hearts, and Young Viper in Kung Fu Panda. We got in line just in time! The party behind us was the cut-off! Whew!

And there's the beautiful Last Unicorn on stage.

And there’s the beautiful Last Unicorn on stage.

Princess had entered the costume contest, so after getting our autographs we jumped in line to see that. That costume contest was one of the best I’ve attended! It was emceed by Martin Wong, who did a FANTASTIC job! He kept the ball rolling, was entertaining, and helped the cosplayers on stage. One of the cool things in this contest was that it wasn’t just a walk-on. Wong did a mini interview with the cosplayers, asking them about their character and how they made their cosplays. I definitely got some good ideas for my own cosplays!

We ended our excursion at IHop. Princess had never been to IHop before, and the rest of us decided that this was inexcusable. We spent a lot more time there than we excepted, laughing and sharing stories.

It’s hard to believe that this was Kraken Con’s debut. It was very well organized and implemented. I can’t wait to see how it evolves!

In Which Much Fun Was Had, Part I

Lately my con-going has come in sets of two. Fanime and SacCon started the summer, and SacCon and Kraken Con ended it.

One of my favorite cons to attend is Sac Con. This is a very small convention that comes around about three times a year. This was the very first convention that I attended, and used to volunteer there with my friends. It’s been fun seeing it evolve. I had been out of the con circle for a while, so it’s been interesting going back to my old stomping grounds. The con had taken quite a few changes, but this past September was one of the biggest. The fall Sac Con had become -drum roll-

SUPER SAC CON: A two-day extravaganza!

It was tons of fun, to say the least!

My buddy NobodyPuppetPrincess and I rolled into my parent’s place Friday afternoon, and set ourselves to fine-tuning our cosplays. My mom joined us later in the afternoon, and we spent the evening with her, gallivanting about the town.

Princess and I got up early on Saturday morning, but lounged about the house a bit. By the time we got to con the line had all but disappeared. We both debuted new cosplays on Saturday: I pulled together Musica from Rave Master, and Princess was the Last Unicorn from The Last Unicorn. We were both a bit worried about the durability of our cosplays, but they performed admirably.

Here's the spread from Volume 30 that inspired my cosplay.

Here’s the spread from Volume 30 that inspired my cosplay.

Here's the result of my labor

Here’s the result of my labor

I had been working on my Silver Ray since May, but did not have any success. Then, two days before SacCon, I had an epiphany on how to make it. Of course, part way through constructing my Silver Ray, I realized that I would have to have the rest of the cosplay, too. I have been working on a Musica outfit for a while, but would not have his jacket done, and the rest of his outfit looked dull without it. So, after perusing the manga volumes for a while, I happened across a spread in volume 30. And, after tweaking, re-sewing, and painting, I had a Musica to debut for the hot, Sacramento weather. I really like how it’s turning out, and I can’t wait to finish it!

Here's the Last Unicorn!

Here’s the Last Unicorn!

Princess had been working on her Last Unicorn cosplay as long as I’ve been working on Musica. I had been seeing progress photos, and it was great seeing it in person. The pictures really did not compare! She did a beautiful rendition of the unicorn! She’s such a creative person!

We began our weekend, as we begin most cons, in the Artist’s Alley. SacCon has a very small Artist’s Alley, but it is always fun to see who shows up. I had a couple of people recognize me from previous conventions, and it was great chatting with them and comparing con notes.

A highlight o fthe con was finding a Phantom ring! The Phantom was one of my favorite heroes growing up, up there with Iron Fist, but it is very hard finding any merchandise with him, so I was stoked to find it! Now I have an extra incentive to finish the cosplay!

We spent a good amount of time in the Vendor’s Hall, making an ever-growing wishlist as we looked for presents. One thing I love about small conventions is that you generally get a more specialized selection of booths. Larger conventions like Fanime attract very similar vendors, but SacCon had everything from old Disney figures to anime posters to sentai to comic books. When I first started attending SacCon six… seven years ago it was an anime-centric con, but since then it has branched out into the toy and comic crowds, too. It’s been really cool seeing the progression.

After a few hours I got a phone call from a buddy of mine that lives in Sacramento, and we made plans to meet for lunch, and he texted me the directions. It seemed pretty straight forward, only a couple of exits away. One of the annoying things about Sac, though, is that there are several different freeways all called the 80. I needed to get to the 80 west, so I jumped on the 80 W, but we couldn’t find our exit. It was then that we discovered that we actually needed to get on the 80 East to get to the 80 West. Oh, Sacramento.

Yum... I'm getting hungry again...

Yum… I’m getting hungry again…

We eventually made it to the ramen shop. The ramen was delicious, with homemade noodles. It had been a really long time since I had ramen, and Princess had never had real ramen before! Our cosplays drew curious looks, as per usual. A couple and their baby were sitting at a nearby table, and their baby could not get enough of Princess’s unicorn cosplay. Every couple of minutes she would turn and stare at Princess. Princess eventually went over, and took a picture with the baby.

We eventually made our way back to the con. It was fantastic how many people recognized Princess cosplay! We were a little worried that everyone would take her for a pony. Her blue butterfly help identify her, I think. After buying a couple more presents, retreated to the Scottish Rite Grounds to sneak in some photoshoots.

Photoshoots are one of my absolute favorite things about cosplay! It is so great fun getting into character and interacting with your environment like your character would. You can take a wall and play with angles to turn it into a ship or an engine room. We had both worked hard on our cosplays, and were excited to get some good shots of them.

The Scottish Rite Center boasted good, concrete corners, parking lots, and A/C fans that really complimented Musica.

Silver Claimer

Air Ship

musica1bWhile the plethora of concrete was great for Musica, it was a bit harder to get good shots of Princess with it. Fortunately, we had stumbled across a rose garden during our misadventure to lunch earlier that day. On our way to the car we were stopped by a very excited kid, probably in middle school or high school. He was on a con high and very excited about my Silver Ray. He grabbed her out of my hands and started swinging her around, pretending to be in Final Fantasy. I jumped in front of him and yelled at him to stop. He grumbled that he thought that it was more durable as he friends apologized profusely. Unfortunately, he had damaged my Silver Ray’s base. Con etiquette, people!

Did I mention that there was a lake there, too?

Did I mention that there was a lake there, too?

We made it to the rose garden, and I babied my Silver Ray during the photoshoot, but we got some awesome photos! It was barely twilight when we got there, and, for the most part, the sun worked in our favor. I’m really happy with the pictures we got of Princess, too! The Last Unicorn was just made for a rose garden!

I love her tail!!!

I love her tail!!!

A high school homecoming party had come there to take pictures before heading off to their dance. They were super excited to see a unicorn in the garden, and insisted on taking pictures with her. That’ll be a homecoming they won’t forget!

What's a photoshoot without some funny shots?

What’s a photoshoot without some funny shots?

Um... Princess?

Um… Princess?

The next day we pulled out Guy and Luke from Tales of the Abyss. Guy is one of my all-time favorite cosplays, and I hadn’t pulled out his original outfit in quite some time. It was thanks to ToA that I met Princess! We both showed up to the Tales Of Gathering at Fanime, and really hit it off. We hadn’t had a chance to run around in Tales since then, so we were excited.

Watch where you aim that thing!

Watch where you aim that thing!

Even Mieu had fun at the vendor's booths!

Even Mieu had fun at the vendor’s booths!

We got an early start the next day, and made it to the con just as the doors were opening. We made good on our wish lists from the day before and, before long, had a nice collection of commissions, pins, and plushies. Another thing I love about small cons is bartering. Local vendors are much more likely to barter with you than big-time vendors. I don’t think we really paid full price on any of our finds. We both found treasures to get excited about! I found a new Iron Fist and Kenshin figure to add to my collection, but Princess found a Sephiroth! He needed a good home, and Princess’ Zack figure needed a friend. It all worked out!

On our way to one of the rooms, I was stopped by the guy to grabbed my Silver Ray the day before. He didn’t recognize me, though, and yelled, “Luke! You’re awesome!” I smiled and said, “I’m glad that you think I’m awesome, but I’m not Luke. I’m Guy. ” I pointed to Princess. “That’s Luke.” The guy shrugged and said that he hadn’t really played the game, and then tried to impress us by his knowledge of the game, except that he didn’t actually know anything about it, save for a very vague idea of the summery. We waved and continued on to the vendor room.

My friends joined us at the con around lunch time. They didn’t bring anything to eat, so we all piled into my friend’s car to head to Subway. Princess and I had bought sandwiches from Mr. Pickles (An AMAZING sandwich shop!), so we figured that we’d eat at the con picnic-style. Once we got back, though, we discovered that I had left the sandwiches at my parents’ place… oops. So off we went again, back to Subway so the rest of us could eat. Haha!

Once we got back, we meandered about the con, picked up our commissions, and grabbed our last couple of treasures. My friends made their purchases, and then we wandered outside to get some photos. It was nice having another person there to take pictures, so we could get pictures together. Our cosplays weren’t complete, but it was a lot of fun!

"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Asche?"

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… Asche?”

You were saying....?

You were saying….?

Once a bro, always a bro.

Once a bro, always a bro.

After our photoshoot, we made our way back into the con to see the costume contest. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SacCon’s costume contest is always a lot of fun. The cosplayers and audience are supportive, and everyone gets recognition. This year, though, there were pretty much only walk-ons, no skits. The attendance was also way down. There are usually around 30-35 submissions, but there were barely 20 this time. The audience was also pretty tired. But, after two days of con-going, most people would be a bit tired. All the same, it was SO MUCH FUN!

This was one of the best SacCon’s I’ve attended! I can’t wait to go back!

Stay tuned for Part II of my Con-tastic week!

Heh heh. You're welcome, Princess.

Heh heh. You’re welcome, Princess.

Y’all should check out NobodyPuppetPrincess on DeviantArt! She is very talented!

http://nobodypuppetprincess.deviantart.com/

It was a dark and stormy peak

The 8000m Challenge is an annual event put on by Big City Mountaineers as a fundraiser. They invite all of the outdoor retailers to summit the three tallest peaks in Southern California, Mt. Baldy (San Antonio), San Gregorio, and San Jacinto. Also known as the Three Saints, all three peaks are in about an hour’s drive of each other. The challenge is in summiting all three peaks in 24 hours. You start at 05:00, and have until 05:00 of the next day to finish. There’s a catch, though: you have to make it to the third mountain by 20:00 to catch a tram that will bring you to the base camp. Over all the challenge is about 38 miles.

I’ve tried to participate in the challenge the past two years. The first year I had something come up and wasn’t able to attend at all. Last year I injured myself right before the event and had to bow out. This year I was finally able to compete. Just in time, too, as my endorsement program will be finishing up in March-ish, and, as I don’t know where I’ll end up, this could be my last chance at finishing.

We had a total of four members on our REI Marina team this year, two hikers and two drivers. They made sure that our packs were ready for each mountain, that we had food and water, and would drive us to each of the peaks, and finally back home to Monterey after we had finished. The challenge started on Thursday, September 4th, so we decided to head down on Tuesday to acclimate and, after a late start, we rolled into Manker Flats on Mt. Baldy close to midnight.

The next evening was the welcoming ceremonies for the 8km Challenge. As per usual, there was an excited energy that filled the room when the coordinator stepped up to welcome us to the event and give us an over view of what to expect. This year cut-off times were implements. If you didn’t reach the peak by that time, you’d have to turn around so that you could make the tram to the last mountain. After talking about upcoming ventures, the guest speaker, an ultrathon runner, gave her presentation and Q&A. Around 19:30, we all departed, excited and nervous for the next morning.

It seemed as if no time had passed between going to bed and the alarm sounding at 03:45 Thursday morning. After a quiet breakfast, my hiking buddy and I reviewed our packs and left for the first mountain. All 130 hikers were gathered at the trail head, headlamps on and packs cinched down. And, at 05:00 sharp, the coordinators let loose the floodgates, and we started up the trail. The fastest hikers and runners quickly made their way to the front of the line and left the main group behind while the trail was still wide. After we hit the junction that led to the summit, though, the trail narrowed and hikers could only hike in single file. Slower hikers would step aside to allow faster hikers to pass them by and visa versa. We looked like a bright Congo line as we serpentined up the mountain.

It did not take long for the elevation to kick in. I very rarely get altitude sickness, but I definitely started to feel it there. Even with the extra days, it’s hard to go from 0ft elevation to 11,000ft! I felt short of breath and lightheaded; I perpetually felt like I was going to hurl. Each step I took was heavy, like wading through a pool. I fought my way up the steep slopes, focusing on my goal. My hiking buddy and I took turns leading. All the way my hiking buddy was encouraging, cheering me on and giving me tips.

Mt. Baldy’s terrain was steep and rocky. You had to be careful about your footing so that you would not twist an ankle. This was not the tallest peak, but it is the most technical trail. My climbing pace felt frustratingly slow. I had trained for this, but the altitude was intense. While I had climbed other mountains during the summer, that was after I had spent at least a week at elevation. But, I kept moving. I rarely allowed myself to stop and slowly, I finally made it to the summit at 07:15.

Mt. Baldy’s summit was spectacular. The sun had breached the ridgeline, and the valley we had just skirted lay spread out before us. A brisk, cold breeze washed over us, cooling us after our climb. After checking in with the coordinator at the top, we began our descent with a second wind.

All I can say about Mt. Baldy’s descent is that it was tons of fun! It, coupled with the view from the top, made the climb all worthwhile. I ran down the mountain, leaping from boulder to boulder, and taking advantage of the banked corners. I didn’t race down it as fast as I used to, because I had to be conscious of my feet. If I pushed it too much my feet would give our due to my tendinitis and planter’s fasciitis, and I wouldn’t be able to continue the challenge. Despite my care, I did catch myself once on a rock and pitched forward. I caught myself, but I found out later that I had scratched and bruised up my knee. Pulling myself up, I continued onwards, and we made it off the mountain at about 08:35.

Our drivers had the car prepped and ready to go, with our new bladders full and food on our seats. My hiking buddy and I were hungry, and knew that we had to pack away calories for the next mountain, but we were over bars. I tried my best to eat my Cliff bar, but it was completely unappetizing after all the bars I had eaten on Mt. Baldy. My hiking buddy felt the same way, and we decided that it was mandatory that we make a quick detour to a fast food joint. After quickly consulting Google Maps, my hiking buddy picked out a nearby McDonald’s. Our driver did not hear the name of the exit. As the exit was approaching, she merged over to pass a car, and then returned in to the carpool lane. My hiking buddy cried out in horror as he watched the exit pass him by, and held his head in his hands. Needless to say, our driver made sure to stop at the next closest Carl’s Junior, where my hiking buddy got his burgers and I got my lemonade.

San Gregorio is the tallest and longest peak. It is about an 18 mile trek to the summit, though it is not as steep at Mt. Baldy. One of the most difficult things about the trail is that there are three false peaks right before hitting the summit.

We headed down the trail for about a quarter mile before we began our climb up the switchbacks to pass over the first ridge and into the mountain range. As with Mt. Baldy, my uphill pace was much slower than is typical of me, but we used my hiking buddy’s GPS watch to help keep our pace steady so that we would reach the summit in time to catch the last tram for the third mountain.

After about four miles my feet began to act up. I varied my pace, increased my water intake, and kept going, but they continually got worse. By this time I really should have turned around, but I had psyched myself up for this the past couple of years, and knew that, physically, I was in shape to finish. Except for my feet. My reasoning was that I didn’t want my feet to stop me from doing what I love, that is, hiking ridiculously long miles on hard, technical trails. And so I kept going.

As I continued forward, not only did my feet continue to get worse, but my hip and knee where I had fallen on Baldy also began to act up. I had slowed to a snail’s pace, but took advantage of flats and slight downhills to make up for it. Continuing forward, I knew that I could make the summit.

It had been pretty warm for most of the hiking, but as we were coming up on the first false peak the temperature began to cool and a light cloud cover blocked the sun. We didn’t think anything of it, and were grateful for the break in temperature. A few miles more and we had broken through the tree line and were on the exposed ridge when it began to rain. After a time, the rain began to turn to hail, and suddenly the light cloud cover turned dark, and a downpour of hail the size of peas came down, and then the thunder started, first in the distance, but quickly made its way to us. This sudden onslaught gave us pause, but when we saw our first lightning, we turned tail and began to run down the mountain into the cover of trees. The storm got worse and worse, and the hail came down heavily. Soon my arms and neck were covered in small, red welts from the hail. The thunder cracked directly above us, and lightning bolts came crashing down less than a hundred yards away. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

As my hiking buddy and I were sprinting for the first cover, I miss-stepped in my rush and put too much weight on my left foot, causing it to go out, pitching me forward and over onto my back. My backpack got stuck in the hail that covered the ground, and I couldn’t get up. After several failed attempts, I rolled myself over and pulled myself up, racing for the cover of trees. Before long, more people joined us, and we did everything we could to race down the mountain and out of the storm.

The storm was terrifying, awe-inspiring, and beautiful. The raw power that surrounded us was breathtaking, and you couldn’t help but be stunned by it. As I was running down the mountain, watching the lightning get closer and closer, I had four thoughts run through my mind. The first was that if I were to die on the mountain, that REI Marina would have to hire a new Sales Lead, and I wondered who that would be. The second was that I was pretty sure I knew exactly where my fleece back home was. As I contemplated my situation, I quickly realized that I could die up here on the mountain, but as soon as I thought that I decided that I refused to die on the mountain.

Our small group made it to the cover of trees, but we weren’t out of trouble yet. We had trouble keeping to the trail as hail covered it like a thick layer of snow. By this time most of us were completely soaked through, and the temperature was quickly dropping. We had to get off the mountain fast so we wouldn’t get hypothermia. After a reminder, we made sure that we ate to help keep warm and had to keep moving. If I stopped, even more a moment, my teeth would start chattering.

Thanks to the adrenaline running through my system I couldn’t feel any pain. I knew it was there, but I was too preoccupied with being cold to care. I kept moving as quickly as I could, gripping my trekking poles to try to increase circulation in my hands. My hands were almost completely numb, and my legs and arms were slowly losing sensation. I kept my focus on the trail, and pictured a hot coffee and shower at the other end of the trail.

When we first began our climb San Gregorio was dry. There was only one creek that had water in it. Now, as we descended, all of the creeks were swollen, and we had to take care of flash floods. The trail, being the path of least resistance, had turned into something of a creek itself, dislodging rocks and eating up the trail. As I continued down, I knew that if there was a flash flood, it would head straight for us, but we had no other way of getting down the mountain.

After a time, the rain started back up, this time accompanied by wind. Each turn I made seemed to pull me into the full brunt of the wind, chilling me. All the while I kept my eyes focused on the trail. I had to keep moving, no matter what.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, we dipped down into lower elevation and the temperature began to rise. It felt like my body began to defrost as I slowly regained feeling in my extremities. It felt a joy to be able to feel my fingers again. Unfortunately, as I grew less numb, all of my pain returned. My feet were pretty much dead after pushing myself so hard to get off the mountain. I felt shooting pain with each step I took. I also had tweaked my shoulder worse than I thought, and I could barely grip my trekking pole, much less put weight on it. My feet gave out several times on the hike down. Once my hiking buddy grabbed my backpack to keep me from falling, but the other times I caught myself with my trekking poles, inflaming my already hurt shoulder. As a result, I supported myself with my right trekking pole, over exerting my right shoulder, too.

As we neared the trail head, our radio buzzed. Our drivers had heard about the storm and were very worried about us. Upon finishing the last switchbacks and turning back towards the check-in point, we found a group of firefighters waiting for us. After making sure we were okay, they asked us if we had seen anyone else on the mountain, before sending us to the check-in.

Everyone waiting by the check-in cheered as we came into view at 18:35, relieved that yet another group had made it off the mountain in one piece. Our driver wrapped a towel around me as I double-checked that we had been checked in. Then my hiking buddy and I hurriedly changed into dry clothes and I pulled on my thick puffy. It was around 85 degree out, but I was very, very cold. I kept adding on layers as we ate. We were done with mountains, the cold, and the 8000 m Challenge. We were both tired of being cold, and wanted nothing more than a hot shower and real bed. The last mountain we summated was the third floor of a La Quinta in San Bernardino.

The next morning around 0930 Our driver received a phone call from our store. There was a miscommunication with the 8km Challenge coordinators, and our team had never gotten checked-in after San Gregornio. They were about ready to send out a search and rescue team to find us.

And now, two strained shoulders, strained feet and tendons, and a scratched and bruised knee later, I am very thankful to be alive.

When I got back I did some research about what to do when caught in a storm. Do not take shelter under any lone objects, like trees or picnic tables. It is better to take shelter in a short stand of trees, but take care not to touch the trees. Lightning will more likely strike the tallest object, and the current can be conducted down the tree and into you. If you are above treeline, like we were, make a bee-line for the lowest area you can reach, preferably an area with shelter and boulders. If your pack or poles have metal in them, keep them at least 100ft away from where you are hunkered down. Metal attracts lightning. If you are in a group, don’t huddle together. This will help prevent multiple casualties if someone IS struck. If there is no shelter available, crouch down on the ground on the balls of your feet.

This experience was a reminder to always hike with your ten essentials, even if you’re only planning a day hike.

1. Navigation

2. Sun protection

3. Insulation

4. Illumination

5. First-Aid supplies

6. Fire

7. Repair Kit

8. Nutrician

9. Hydration

10. Emergency Shelter

This time I had almost all of my ten essentials, but the ones I had left behind were the things I needed the most. The worst part of the story is that I knew better, and usually pack my ten essentials. The one time I didn’t to save some weight and space I almost died. If anything, let this story serve as a lesson to myself and all of you to always be prepared. Nature can be unpredictable and dangerous. This shouldn’t stop you from trekking, but always be prepared.

Here are some good articles that I highly recommend reading:

Storm Safety:

 http://hikingdude.com/hiking-lightning.php

http://sectionhiker.com/lightning-storm-safety-for-backpackers/

Ten Essentials:

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html

Preparation:

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/mountaineering-summit-adventures.html