Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Holiday Project (and how you can help)

Last year, my family put together 3 stockings for local homeless people. This year I'd like to increase our goal by involving friends and family and others in our community. I want to involve others in my effort to grow a community that is whole, united, and friendly while ending the stigma surrounding homelessness.

Homelessness has grown close to my heart over the last few years as I have been struck by how easily it can happen to any of us. Through my conversations with those that are suffering from lack of shelter I have learned so much and been enriched by their knowledge and their stories. It is my hope that everyone will one day be able to look at those who are impoverished and without homes the same as they would look at anyone else, with dignity and respect.

If you have any of the following lying around I would love to turn them into gifts for the less fortunate: purses, backpacks (even the drawstring kind you get at events), holiday stockings, soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste (preferably travel/sample size but full size is ok too) toothbrushes, women's sanitary products, socks, hats, scarves, mittens (any of these can be used, or hand made. They do not have to be store bought), flashlights, batteries, small toys (no larger than a fist), paperback books, refillable water bottles, small candles, small blankets, new or very gently used clothing, anything that fits in the palm of your hand that would be a good gift for an adult, body spray, pens, pencils, and notepads.

If you have something you'd like to donate email me at megan@megan-killion.com and we can arrange for pickup/dropoff or shipping.

Most importantly if you make a donation I'd love for you to write a personal note. One that I have included in the past read:
"Whether surrounded by friends and family, or spending it alone I hope your holiday season is full of little things that bring you joy. You are important. You are special. You are loved. I will be thinking of you."

I'll be buying candy to put in there as well as supplementing any of the things I don't get donated by buying in bulk as the holiday season draws closer. If you would like to donate funds rather than items I would appreciate it greatly. You can do so here. Please add a note that it's for my holiday project, and if you'd like for me to write a card for you what you would like it to say.

I plan to be making drops at Orlando Union Rescue Mission, Covenant House, and the Health Care Center for the Homeless as well as distributing to some of the homeless men and women I know from around town.

Charitable donations as gifts. (Don't read this if you don't want to know what you're getting for Christmas/Birthday)

On my mom's birthday I went to Whales.org and adopted her an Orca. Sometimes if I'm feeling like a baller, I buy her the stuffed whale too.

For Christmas I'm planning to send her and my father a joint present from The Heifer Project: an animal donated to a family in need.

For my Dad's birthday he'll be getting a donation in his name to The African Wildlife Foundation. I usually send the donation directly to protect elephants.

For my Mother in Law's birthday I made a donation to The National Math and Science Institute.

This year, in memory of my Uncle Luther I plan on making a donation to the Association on American Indian Affairs.

I make a donation in memory of my Grandma Atwood to the Daughter's of the American Revolution.

For my Aunt Tracy for Christmas I plan on donating to the Center for Developmental Services

The above, is mostly a list for my own reminder so I can easily find these links again come giving season. But for those of you who are considering charitable giving check out Charity Navigator. Their website helps you figure out how much of what you donate is going to those in need and how much is being eaten up by Executive Expenses. Please don't donate to Goodwill, The Kid's Wish Network, The Cancer Fund of America, or anyone else on this list. There's good advice here on how to steer clear of scams.

If you have the time I highly recommend giving volunteer hours in the name of someone who can't. Let's change the way our community treats holidays, and say no to consumerism.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The US rankings... a sad story indeed (a work in progress)

Abortion Rates According to a study by the journal International Family Planning Perspectives, in 1999 (the year the study was published), the United States ranked twenty-fourth in terms of abortion rates. Vietnam ranked first.
Acceptance of Evolution According to a 2006 study first published in the magazine, Science, the United States ranks thirty-third out of thirty four nations (32 in Europe plus Japan and the United States) in acceptance of evolution. Iceland ranks first. Only Turkey ranked lower than the United States in the acceptance of evolution. A study I like to call "How ignorant are we"

Anxiety Disorders According to a presentation to the IFPE Congress in Vienna, Austria on April 18, 2009, on the results of World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey, 19% of Americans experience a clinical anxiety disorder in a given twelve-month period, which makes the United States rank first in that category.

Armed Forces Personnel According to the World Bank, in 2008 there were 1,540,000 military members in the United States, or 5.6% of the world’s 27,469,342 armed forces personnel. That was enough to make the United States rank third out of one hundred sixty seven countries with armed forces. China ranks first, with 2,885,000 military members, or 10.5% of the world’s total. Ten countries–China, India, the United States, Russia, North Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Brazil, South Korea, and Turkey–account for almost one half (49.5%) of the world’s total armed forces personnel.

Assaults According to data gathered between 1998 and 2000 and published in the Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime, there are 805.21 assaults for every 100,000 Americans, a rate that makes the United States rank sixth in that category. Swaziland ranks first, with 1356.84 recorded assaults per 100,000 people.
Belief in the Separation of Church and State According to the Pew Global Attitude Project’s 2003 report, Views of a Changing World, 55% of Americans completely agree with the statement, “religion is a personal matter and should be kept separate from government.” The United States is tied for twenty-fifth (out of forty-one countries) with Russia and Uzbekistan in this category. Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) ranks first, with 84% of respondents believing in the separation of church and state. This hurts my heart.

Business Freedom According to the 2010 edition of the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has a “business freedom” score of 91.3, which makes the United States rank thirteenth out of 179 ranked countries. New Zealand ranks first, with a score of 99.9.
Carbon Footprint According to the Global Footprint Network, the United States ranks third among all countries in terms of the size of its carbon footprint. The United Arab Emirates ranks first.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Upcoming Nerd Conventions Central Florida 2015-2016 (A Work In Progress)

Comic Cons

Clermont Comic Con is a Comic Convention at 3700 S Highway 27 Clermont, FL 34711 featuring Mitch Hyman and Alex Savuik taking place on November 22nd.

Clearwater Comic Con takes place at the Clearwater Main Library sometime in March and is sponsored by Emerald City Comics.

Tampa Bay Comic Conhttp://tampabaycomiccon.com/





http://www.florida-comics.com/ (Melbourne)

http://megaconvention.com/ (Orlando)

http://infinitytoyandcomicon.com/ (Orlando)


Gaming Cons




http://www.hmgs-south.com/vendors_13.html (Orlando)

http://www.wasabicon.com/ (Jacksonville)

http://www.boardgaming.info/cruisecon/index.html (cruise out of Jacksonville)


http://www.boardgaming.info/convention/ (Kissimmee)

http://www.rapiercon.com/ (Jacksonville)


http://necronomiconfl.com/ (Tampa)

http://www.omniexpo.com/ (Orlando)

http://www.floridaanime.com/ (Orlando)

http://www.spacecoastnerdfest.org/  (Melbourne)

http://www.hurricanewho.com/ (Orlando) October 30th- November 1st

https://www.facebook.com/events/1591498794467876/ (Tampa) October 25th

More: http://www.floridageekscene.com/category/conventions/page/2/

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gun Control (A Work In Progress)

The Second Amendment to the constitution, as ratified in 1791 by Thomas Jefferson, says this:

"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

This seems a little unclear, especially since the term militia in the United States has been defined and modified by Congress several times throughout U.S. history. As a result, the meaning of "the militia" is complex and has transformed over time. The early colonists of America considered the militia an important social institution, necessary to provide defense and public safety. During the French and Indian Wars, town militia formed a recruiting pool for the Provincial Forces. The legislature of the colony would authorize a certain force level for the season's campaign, based on that set recruitment quotas for each local militia. In theory, militia members could be drafted by the lot if there were inadequate forces for the Provincial Regulars; however, the draft was rarely resorted to because provincial regulars were highly paid (more highly paid than their regular British Army counterparts) and rarely engaged in combat.

In the context of the Constitution, each state was expected to have their own militia. Not only to protect the country but to protect each state's residents from the Government should the need ever arise.

The only place I could find a list of existing militias is here. I'm fairly certain most of you don't even know if there is a militia in your state. Mostly because the US gov't works very hard to NOT advertise the legality of their existence.

The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right of individuals under the theory of democratic government. This was clearly the understanding and intent of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution and was a long-established principle of English common law at the time the Constitution was adopted, which is considered to be a part of constitutional law for purposes of interpreting the written Constitution.

So, yes, the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms. Where things get a little fuzzy is how "arms" have changed over the last 250 or so years. There were no automatic weapons when the 2nd Amendment was ratified. Gun violence is definitely prevalent in the United States. But, so are a lot of other kinds of violence, and crime. Every 107 seconds someone in this country is raped. Are we going to start chopping off penises to prevent that from happening? I didn't think so. 1 in 3 households in the US owns guns. Yet there have only been 50 mass shootings in the last 20 years. Is it tragic? YES. Every.single.time. It's sad. It's horrible. I am so sorry for that loss of life. But, did you know you can make a bomb at home? Out of things, everyone can buy at the grocery store? Kind of like the ones used at the Boston Marathon.


My point here is that if you don't like guns, great, don't own one. But don't impede on the freedom of others by rallying for stricter gun control. I think we've all seen where prohibition can take us. And it's not pretty.

I'm willing to open up a conversation about ways to better screen customers wanting to buy guns. I acknowledge that perhaps it is too easy in some states to get your hands on weapons of all types. However, ultimately it is my strong conviction that a decision about that process should be left up to the individual states.

The bottom line, though, is that guns don't kill people, people do. In this country, there is not enough conversation about mental illness and addiction. Mental illness is not something to be feared, not when it's treated. But, we don't treat the mentally ill in this country do we? We ostracize them and stigmatize their illness to the point that we cause paranoia and hatred. Regardless of how you define "serious mental illness" and "mass killing", at least a half of  mass killings are carried out by someone with a serious mental illness.

A large portion of shooters commit murder while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Now, mental illness and addiction frequently go hand and hand. So it could be assumed that if we were to treat mental illness like any other harmful disease that we would cut down on addiction as well. But I think it deserves it's own footnote because there are additional stigmas surrounding drug and alcohol abuse beyond what the mentally ill face. 

If you look at the above figures there is no doubt but that mass shootings are on the rise. In figure one, the survey noted that of the 100 cases “63 involved people who made threats of violence before the event…In case after case, family members, teachers and mental health professionals missed or dismissed signs of deterioration.” For example, James Brady “told psychiatrists he wanted to kill people just days before he went on a rampage in an Atlanta shopping mall in 1990.” The survey also reported “much evidence of mental illness in its subjects. More than half had histories of serious mental health problems…48 killers had some kind of formal diagnosis, often schizophrenia.” Among these, 24 had been prescribed psychiatric drugs but “14 had stopped taking them.”

Again, this doesn't mean you should be afraid of people who are mentally ill. That's actually the problem. Our divisive culture is, in my opinion, the number ONE factor to blame for gun violence. Regardless of how you categorize it. Gang violence? Divisive culture. Hate crimes? Divisive culture. Mentally ill person feels ostracized, alone, untreated, and angry? Divisive culture. 

Limiting access to guns is a possible course of action to attempt to limit the casualties of mass killings, but is it really the best course of action? I for one fear my overly powerful government far more than I fear a shooter. Maybe that makes me a paranoid freak, but that's how I feel. So, I feel safer knowing that my fellow patriots have every right to purchase a gun, and that if push came to shove they would defend their families and neighbors from a domestic threat. 

Unity is the answer. That's my opinion anyways. We need to come together. We need to all feel like we're a part of something greater than ourselves. That's how we make our country great again. That's how we cut down on violence and crime. Why don't I steal from my neighbors? Is it a fear of getting caught? Is it because I can't? Or that it would be a hassle to do so? No. It's because they are my neighbors and I feel morally obligated to look out for them rather than hurt them in any way. So what if every person in America was everyone else's neighbor? What if we spread that feeling of inclusion, and moral obligation across our own country, or lofty as it might be, the whole world? What if we felt obligated to protect every human on our planet? Could we shoot them then? 

Stand together in love, rather than hate. Don't point fingers. Don't assign blame. Just, love one another. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Apotheon Review

I got my copy from IndieBox. So it included a mousepad, a USB card copy of the game, a steam code (on the outside of the box incase you're a collector), the soundtrack a map rolled into a scroll and a poster. All for $20 which I considered a good value. You can also just grab it on Steam.

Apotheon is a classic Action/Adventure side scroller set in Ancient Greece. It's reminiscent of Legend of Zelda II and The Battle of Olympus. The characters are a great homage to the History of Greece, and the art-style is homogeneous to that of the time period. The controls are somewhat clumsy but not to the point of ruining the game. The story is... a bit flimsy considering how built up it's claims were (on the outside of the box).

The story is nothing new. God of War, Kid Icarus, The Battle of Olympus, and even Altered Beast all tackle the subject with varying degrees of success. But while God of War has a complex story revolving around a complex hero, Apotheon does very little to establish its protagonist as a person. I know very little about Nikandreos other than that the God's don't care about him anymore.

There's a lot of cool history sprinkled throughout the game. There are enjoyable quotes from ancient writes on the little stone steles explaining the character and purpose of each Olympian. “Hera has reared a violent son whom she has borne to Zeus: Ares, a god irascible, hard to govern, one whose mind knew no respect,” warns Aeschylus on a stele outside the war god’s domain. The design of each God's area is well thought out and reflects their powers.

I liked that the weapons and armor had accurate names. It was cool how they all served different purposes and could be used to devise strategies adding an element of realism to the battle.

While I have mixed feelings about the platforming and inventory management, I have no doubts about Apotheon’s stunning look and feel. I’m smitten by the art style, which pays homage to Greek amphora found in museums throughout the world. Vibrant coral reds and creamy yellows evoke the colorful glazes used to decorate ancient pottery, and real statues and murals are lovingly recreated. (The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is one example). And I love the pinwheel joints and enigmatic expressions of  the characters, which are so emblematic of the Archaic style. The music is just as authentic; the soothing sounds of a plucked lyre while hunting in a sacred forest, and heavy drums booming as I sparred with guards who caught me pilfering jars in the public market creates a great atmosphere.

Watch the trailer below and you can check out some of my gameplay here.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How to write a resume

First of all, you are probably going to want to have more than one resume unless you are zeroed in on a very specific career. Personally, I have 3 resumes: sales, management and general. They all display the same basic information but highlight different aspects of my experience.

  • As a general rule you probably want so get an idea of what you want to be doing before you start crafting your resume and then create the resume based on what a hiring manager in that location would be looking for. 
  • If you are going to upload your resume to the web (which you absolutely should) fill your resume with keywords that recruiters in your industry would be looking for. Mine includes some of these: sales, management, account management, business development, small business, customer service, customer satisfaction, customer experience, word, excel, spreadsheets, salesforce, team building, training, inventory, etc. Here are some more comprehensive directions of how to come up with your list.
  • There are a TON of formats out there for resumes. I use a personal website. I bought my domain for 99 cents from GoDaddy. My "business card" when I was job seeking was a QR code that linked anyone who scanned it to my resume. I also carried around paper copies of all 3 of my resumes at all times. The three common resume templates are: Chronological, Functional, and Combination.
  • You're going to need a heading. Start with your name, probably in bold. The address, phone number and fax number if you have one. I do recommend getting a fax number through an e-fax service if you don't already have one. You should also include your email address, website if you have one that is relevant to your resume. Make sure if your resume has 2 pages that you put a mini-heading on page 2.
  • This is where things might get a bit complicated. You need an objective and "to find a job" is not acceptable.  Your resume objective statement should be as short and quick to read as possible. I set the bar at 10 words or less.
  • You need to summarize your qualifications. Try to make this a mix of general skills and specific talents. A lot of employers stop reading here. Do not let this be where you lose the battle. Market yourself. What about you makes you special and necessary to a company. 
  • Work History is probably the easiest part of a resume to put together. It's facts about your past experiences. However, if you have holes in your employment you're going to need to explain them without attaching another page to your resume. You can choose to fill the gap by listing years of employment, rather than specifying months. That way a future employer might not know how long you've taken off. I've done that and I've put a line into my job history that says what I was doing during that time. Maternity leave, travel, taking care of a loved one etc. Don't make yourself seem like a high risk employee. Try giving the time off a title like "Full-Time Student" "Full-Time Mom" "Independent Study" "Estate Management" etc
  • If you have any noteworthy achievements you'll want to create a section to highlight those. They show that you're a worthwhile employee who will achieve more than mediocrity.
  • If you have education beyond high school, especially if it is relevant to your career you'll want to list that next. If you don't have a college degree don't fret. Leave this section out. Make the employer ASK if they want to know about your educational background. If you've rocked the rest of your resume right they shouldn't be worried about it.
  • If you have served community service (willingly) definitely put that on your resume as well as any professional affiliations you may have that are relevant to your targeted job. Depending on the type of job you're trying to land this might be a good place to list more skills/interests and awards.
If you're still having trouble and would like to use a template I suggest kukook.

This one would be great for a graphic designer:

A touch of creativity gives a standard resume some pop

I think it's best to always add a unique touch.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Favorite Chrome Plugins

Datanyze is probably my most used extension at work. One click and I can see all the technology a website is using. It's not the most reliable system in the world but it gives me a heads up of what I'm looking at. It also frequently has a list (including emails) of some of the people who work there. Score one for the home team.

Intricately Right now I'm using the free trial version but it's one of the best apps out there if you want to know what a company is paying in terms of IP services like Hosting and CDN. If it's something you think you'd be interested in you should totally use my link to sign up. It gives me a week or so of free premium service. Dooooo it.

Pin It Button from Pinterest is one of my favorites that isn't for work. I love being         able to pin anything from it's source directly to Pinterest. I mostly us it to promote       my blog (shhh)

D-Mail FINALLY a way to un-send my emails. Dmail ensures only the intended recipient will be able to read the body of your email. As the sender, you can revoke access to any message sent with Dmail at any time, even after it’s been read.

Shareaholic for Facebook much like the Pin It button this one allows me to share content directly to Facebook from any site. Extremely useful when I find an article I like.

Sidekick by hubspot not only tells me when my emails are being read, but also if someone clicks one of the links I send them. It also allows me to integrate my gmails into SalesForce.

SimilarWeb links me to other websites/apps that share common factors with whatever I'm looking at. It's amazing for finding prospects or when I'm boycotting a certain site but still need a similar service

Lazarus recovers form entries for me when my browser crashes or if I do something idiotic and delete everything or go back a page.

The Great Suspender
At work I tend to have... well let's not talk about how many tabs I have open at a time. This extension automatically suspends the tabs I'm not using so they don't use up CPU.

Invisible Hand let's me know when an item I'm looking at would be cheaper somewhere else. It's like... the worlds best shopping assistant.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Social Gaming Sites

So far Gamurs is my favorite social gaming site. It gives me the option to integrate Steam, Xbox, PSN, and League of Legends. Which is basically all I play. I highly recommend you join this one, and use my referral link:

I downloaded the Raptr client today. So far I've dug using it. Not only is it a cool social way to interact but it gives me points for activities I would do anyways. Those points add up and can get me discounts on stuff I'd buy anyways. So, fits my lifestyle.

I JUST discovered Gamers Hive at Orlando iX this weekend. They're a fresh new local start-up and I'm giving them a shout out here because they deserve it. The website needs some tweaks to run smoothly but I have faith that they're going to rock the social gaming world in no time.

I opened a Playfire recently and while I think the platform is cool I've encountered some glitches with xbox and playstation integration that I wouldn't expect from a site that's been around as long as they have. I did read in the forums that sometimes the integration just takes a while so we'll see how things go.

Let me know in the comments if you using any social gaming sites/platforms that I haven't mentioned and I'll check them out. Thanks for reading!

Highlights: Day 2 Orlando iX

Indie Box is a unique new subscription service (that of course my husband and I had to try out). They send you a new indie game, plus a bunch of extras each month for $17.99-$25 depending on whether or not you have a coupon code and how frequently you'd like to be billed. We ended up buying an already released box Apotheon AND subscribing because well, it's that good. Apotheon is a 2D action game based on Greek Mythology. I personally cannot wait to play. Don't worry I'll share my un-boxing with you a little later.

Tacopacalypse by Cherry Pie Games recently got Kickstarted and is just a few votes away from Steam Greenlight. I highly recommend that you go vote for them. I mean have I ever steered you wrong before? This game is an extremely fun multi-player taco delivery game set in the apocalypse. It has 0 respect for the laws of gravity and that's part of what makes it so cool. It's another one of the games my husband and I are chomping at the bit to get access to, and they've obviously got our vote on Steam.

Gamer's Hive is a ridiculously cool social networking site for gamer's where you can go to set up matches with others who play your games and otherwise just network with people you have something in common with. The UI needs some polishing but I can really see this idea taking off. You can see MY profile here. Add me, and we can play something together.

Stack'r by Outhouse Games is a mobile game available on android or ios. It is extremely simple... you stack blocks, but I found it to be an addictive time waster for those moments when you just need some mindless fun. 

Famous Afterdeath makes sweeeet art. I've got 2 pieces hanging on my wall. He doesn't sell his art online, you'd have to catch him at a show for that but he DOES sell his t-shirts at teepublic. I HIGHLY recommend checking him out. I'll definitely be buying from him again. He also let me know that there's a Clermont Comic Con which I never in a million years would have guessed at. You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram

Honorable mention goes to Sun Sentinels because my husband won't stop talking about this Tower Defense game,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Highlights: Day 1 of Orlando iX

Grabbles was definitely my favorite game of the day. I haven't played a casual multiplayer that's that much fun in ages. It's one of those games you can totally stink at and still have a great time while playing. It's being produced by Noble Whale Studios. I didn't play any of the single player levels but they look like challenging levels with a puzzle feel. They've already been greenlit by Steam. You can watch some game play here but it definitely doesn't do the game justice.

Sttartup is a cool new crate box offering that sends you 2 startup t-shirts each month for $39. I couldn't find much trace of them on the web, but I'll update you as I get more info. If I weren't already knee deep in recurring monthly charges I would totally subscribe to this. (That and my t-shirt drawers are overflowing)

Deadwood is another game I'm really excited to see launch. The graphics look awesome and the premise is something I could see myself getting into. It's an action/adventure game turn tower defense after dark. It's the first action/adventure of it's kind I've seen with this survival twist. Also greenlit on steam

Honorable mention goes to CatFish. While it's not something I could see myself playing for hours on end I respect it's original concept. It's definitely a viable game I'd buy for my kids or husband. They've been greenlit as well.