Due to weather and other factors, occasionally we had some down time at BTTI. I’ve recently become obsessed with the AI GPT Chat Bot, so I decided to spend the time having it write me various songs about various topics and it got to be so many I decided to “release an EP”. You probably had to be there… but here is BTTI 2023, in song. (It’s probably actually more like an album)
Almost Perfect was a book that I judged by its cover – a lanyard and a wristband caught my attention. The book starts out at a QueerCon devoted to television shows with queer characters. I was hooked early on when one of the characters said “I’m just so pleased the studio hired an actor with cerebral palsy to play the character. It infuriates me when able-bodied actors are hired to play disabled characters. Don’t you agree?” This character and the disabled character were only bit parts as the queer characters were more of the main characters – but representation matters and as a straight girl with CP – that is what caught my attention.
Our main character, Olivia, meets blogger/writer/journalist Riley and they hit it off at the con. They sneak off for a few meals and then decide to try long distance dating after the con. Of course it wouldn’t be a good book without some drama and Riley says some terrible things to Olivia and they break up for a bit. Will they get back together and have the happy ending everyone around them seems to think they deserve? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
This book was a quick read and I really enjoyed it (yes even as a straight reader) and am looking forward to checking out some more books from this author in the future!
I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.
About the Book
Olivia Duran has made being a TV fangirl her life. Creating fan art sure beats her job as a parking lot attendant, and immersing herself in fictional worlds where girl gets girl helps her cope with her less-than-happy reality. If anyone deserves a little escapism, it’s Olivia.
Queer entertainment influencer Riley St. James has a huge following and an even bigger secret that could tank her career. Somewhere along the way her love for TV turned into a job that pays the bills. She’s never told anyone she sometimes has to fake it.
When Riley and Olivia attend QueerCon, Olivia gifts her favorite actress one of her drawings and goes from unknown to overnight sensation, while devoted fans flock to Riley, who only has eyes for Olivia. Navigating the world of long-distance dating, career crisis, and family obligations, Olivia and Riley begin to wonder: Can their real-life love ever be as perfect as those they see on-screen?
I love to read about Ada Lovelace, who was one of the first computer programmers (yet it’s been predominately a male dominated career since! hmph!) so I was pretty excited to stumble upon Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code from Rebel Girls. The Rebel Girls book series is probably exactly what I needed growing up – a series of books about extraordinary women in history – all written and illustrated by females. In this book, Ada realizes that her father was special and figures that if he was extraordinary, well then she must be too! She seems to be a rambunctious and curious young girl. She gets a new governess, Miss Stamp, who seems to be up to the challenge of teaching young Ada. As she grows older, she knows she will have to marry but is concerned about finding a husband that will understand her. She ends up working with Charles Babbage (another well known name in the programming world) and insisted her name be left absent on the work they did together because men would never take a scientific article seriously if a woman’s name was on the cover (how little has changed!)
I liked how at the end of this book it broke down simply how a computer program works and had little exercises for the reader to try out as a basic intro to programming! There’s even some binary code included.
I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.
About the Book
From the world of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes a story based on the exciting real-life adventures of Ada Lovelace, one of the world’s first computer programmers.
Growing up in nineteenth century London, England, Ada is curious about absolutely everything. She is obsessed with machines and with creatures that fly. She even designs her own flying laboratory!
According to her mother, Ada is a bit too wild, so she encourages Ada to study math. At first Ada thinks: Bleh! Who can get excited about a subject without pictures? But she soon falls in love with it. One day she encounters a mysterious machine, and from that moment forward Ada imagines a future full of possibility—one that will eventually inspire the digital age nearly two hundred years later.
Ada Lovelace Cracks the Code is the story of a pioneer in the computer sciences, and a testament to women’s invaluable contributions to STEM throughout history.
This historical fiction chapter book also includes additional text on Ada Lovelace’s lasting legacy, as well as three educational activities designed to teach simple coding, programming, and mathematical concepts.
About the Rebel Girls Chapter Book Series
Meet extraordinary real-life heroines in the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls chapter book series! Introducing stories based on the lives and times of extraordinary women in global history, each stunningly designed chapter book features beautiful illustrations from a female artist as well as bonus activities in the backmatter to encourage kids to explore the various fields in which each of these women thrived. The perfect gift to inspire any young reader!
Earlier this month I made my way back to Jamaica for Back to the Island Year 10. We ended up going 2 days early this year – although by the time I arrived at the resort it was basically time for dinner after all the travel. The second day, most of my friends ended up doing an off resort excursion so another friend and I spent the day at the pool. That night we tried to see a meteor shower but either didn’t stick it out long enough or were too far south and didn’t end up seeing anything.
When the event officially kicked off, we lined up to check in with Island Gigs to get our color assignment for the event – hoping for Red or Yellow – we got Orange. Which had apparently replaced Yellow. We also got our yearly gifts – the 10 year was an embroidered jean jacket.
During dinner, the guys did soundcheck. A few hours later it was show time! Once again the guys said they were going to try and not repeat any songs. It was a pretty solid setlist starting with a reggae version of Best of Times, going into a Bob Marley medley (that they had done last year as well) and then threw a song I had never heard before in there too – I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow I guess from O Brother Where Art Thou? My lack of movie watching worked against me. Before the event I had sent Zac a list of songs from albums they play the least – and Me Myself and I was one of them and it ended up in this set so I started wondering if maybe he had seen the message and just not responded to me about it? Also of note – there was a shooting star in the sky during GO! This excited us since we didn’t see any when we were looking the other night… and then they sang River and brought all our excitement right back down.
After the show was games with Isaac and Zac for Red and Orange teams. We had selected our team but had no idea what we’d actually be playing. Turns out it was once again Family Feud and the set up had 0 planning whatsoever. Our team didn’t end up picked and it was probably for the best because we wouldn’t have made it up to the stage and I probably wouldn’t have been able to even get on it either. I’m debating buying the game to memorize and cheat for next year because the answers to some of them were… out there.
The next morning was photos with the band. My friend ended up braiding my hair for me. I didn’t have anything planned to say to them which in retrospect was a bad idea – but there was a lot of clusterfuck planning for there being a 10 year photo with the band that got me too worked up to think about anything to say. But when I told them I was a 10 year Taylor said… “I’m not saying I’m better than you… but I’m better than you..” he knows… haha. They also all gave me big hugs and said they hoped I was enjoying myself. We hung around for the 10 year photo in our jean jackets and then hung out until it was time for Zac’s solo show.
Zac’s set was probably my least favorite. He didn’t seem to prepare and his voice was rough and while he usually gives us something new, he didn’t this time. He did do some members only songs but several of them seem to be staples for his solo sets. Someone has to rank #3 out of 3 and this year that honor went to him.
Later that evening was time for show #2 which was by FAR the best setlist of the whole event. I was up and out of my seat singing along for nearly half the set (which I kind of regretted the next morning!) They started with one of my favorites from Against the World – Don’t Ever Change – and then ended up doing 3 more songs that were from my list to Zac – Cut Right Through Me, Running Man (a song never before done at a BTTI event!) and Lucy. Now we were up to 4 so I really started questioning if he had seen my message or not.
We also were hoping for Greener Pastures and for like 3 minutes I thought they were playing it, until I realized it was actually No Matter The Reason. Tell me you don’t listen to Green without telling me you don’t listen to Green…
They also pulled out a bunch of rarer songs and even had Zach Myers join them for guitar on I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Don’t Let Me Down.
After it was games for Green and Blue and we tried to get ourselves in a good position for watching and ended up right in the front once things were set up. At least until 2 people decided to climb in front of us and sit on our feet. They had absolutely no spacial awareness and seemed to be mad we were there, when they sat on us? The dude kept moving closer and closer to me too, which made me joke that I had just given birth to him. His friend ended up getting up and putting a bracelet on Zac and wanting to try and get on teams she wasn’t signed up for. Zac handled himself very well and then at one point ended up kicking sand our way and if it was accidentally on purpose at those people and we just got the excess, I’ll take it. It was just the weirdest thing. AMMM also joined a round of Family Feud which was a ton of fun as well and perhaps in future years if we’re still doing Family Feud Taylor should host and have Isaac and Zac on separate teams with fans (or some other combination thereof).
The next morning we went out on the glass bottom boat that the resort offers. It was about half an hour and we saw some starfish, fish, sea cucumber, a sunken boat and a couple of sunken planes. We also stopped at one point and fed some fish so they’d come closer to the side of the boat. It was pretty fun but getting on/off the boat was stressful, but I did it! Just about as soon as we got off the boat it started raining, so we decided to duck into the resort lobby for a bit and then it absolutely started to POUR. Perfect timing.
Isaac had the solo show and was about 20 minutes late. He started off strong and I think if he flipped his setlist a bit and started with the same ‘ol same ‘ol and ended with the rares it would have won him some more points – but he did Make It Through The Day which otherwise was only performed in 2009 at a members only event and during his quaranstreams which definitely got him some points. But Hand in Hand, Deeper and For Your Love? Meh. (Granted he does have a lot less of a pool of songs to choose from and he did make some tracks for some of his other songs which took some time and effort)
That night was the AMMM set – they were a lot of fun and had Taylor and Zac join them for TLC’s “Waterfalls” and Isaac joined them for Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me”. The beach bonfire had some Jamaican patties which made us pretty happy. Later that evening, Taylor did his pool party DJ party. We hung out in the lobby and had some patties, watched the bats dance to NKOTB and had some New Zealand candy that a friend had so kindly sent for me.
Our final day of shows brought us to Taylor’s solo show in the early evening. He won the solo set, but just barely over Isaac. We were hoping he would do “All I Know” (and it seemed like he was thinking about it based on friends who asked him during photos) but he had said that he got a lot of requests and was going to have to let some people down and he’s not like Isaac so he won’t play any songs he hasn’t practiced! We did end up getting “Climb” which had not been done before. I could have done without Save Me and Sound Like Joy, though.
Before the last show, we were supposed to have a beach banquet but it was raining. Things got pushed back a bit and moved into the buffet area instead. It was PURE CHAOS. I always enjoy the steel drum band, but shoving everyone in one spot to eat all at once before the final show is always the most stressful.
The final show of the night was the one most reminiscent of the RGB Tour – which looking back probably would have been a better show for Night 1 – but they did throw in some mixups – including song #5 that I had asked Zac about – Dying To Be Alive. As well as a brand new cover – Don’t Worry, Be Happy! The lighting changed to the typical reggae red, green, yellow and was really cool. To finish out the set their encore was members only song “Dressed in Brown Eyes” with AMMM’s Zack Mack on harmonica and Back to the Island with AMMM joining in.
After the show, AMMM set up on the beach and did a couple of hours of songs without a set list – including one of my favorite Ingram Hill songs – Almost Perfect. Isaac and Zac were around mingling and we got to talk to Isaac early and put in some requests for next years guests as well as confirm that it did seem to go by fast and was probably one of the best BTTI events. We ended up finding Zac as well so I could ask him if he did get my message or not – since they played the songs – and he said he didn’t think he had seen it but if they played them I must have asked him for them by using the force and that they had tried to throw some rarer tracks into the setlist. I confirmed that Running Man had never been played before and they also hit some of the lesser played tracks off of the albums. (If he didn’t see my message, I guess my reporter interview gave them a complex instead!)
Even with the dance party being the night before, it was a nice way to end one of the best BTTIs ever! (It’s too bad all the drama for me trying to get home – totally ruined such a great vibe I was planning on riding back home!)
I am looking forward to booking for year 11, soon!
Wednesday night, Joey McIntyre did an intimate show at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater. The tickets were an absolute pain to buy (thanks for nothing, ticketmaster) but in the end it was worth all the drama. He started the show in a black zip up and black pants in a chair and did 30/90 from Tick Tick Boom and added in a few lines about turning 50. Then he did a quick change into the sparkliest red suit I think I have ever seen. He went into New York New York and at one point gestured wildly with his arm and it sent his bracelets flying. One was found on the stage but it seemed like a second might have still been missing. After a couple more songs he invited Shoshana Bean on stage to do a few songs.
During “When Somebody Love You” a single piece of confetti fell and after he finished he said “Did anyone see – ” and the whole crowd went “YES” so he said it must’ve been Dottie sending it down from the rafters. (Later a second fell and he said only the first one counted and he wanted it laminated and on a plague and then after a 3rd fell he said fine – 3 pieces fell. Each one was a different color though – red, blue and then white!)
He then made a comment about how he had a lot of Leos in his life and rattled off some birthdays – one being Donnie Wahlberg’s which got someone in the crowd to yell “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME”, maybe thinking Donnie was there? But it was Emanuel Kiriakou (EMan) which was awesome because last time I had seen Joe solo EMan was there too and they did an amazing rendition of ‘One’ and that ended up being the next song!
Monday, after one of the best BTTI events ever, I made my way to the Montego Bay Jamaica airport to head home. I’m posting this first to get all the negativity out of my system first. My flight was set to board around 3:14pm and depart at 4:09. After a wheelchair pusher got me to the gate, it ended up changing to one on the other side of the airport. We tried to flag someone else down but no one was around and once we did they took so long I started walking. There was a lot of crowding and lack of seats at the gate – probably partially because there were 35 people trying to get on the flight as standby. Eventually we were told there was a delay and the pilots were doing their check. As time passed, we ended up getting delayed to 5:30, 6:00, 6:30 and then 7pm. As things got pushed later, I knew I would miss my connecting flight so I got in line to get things sorted and was assured by the desk whatever the problem was they were actively fixing and we *would* be taking off but I’d have to spend the night in Atlanta and had a ticket for the first flight out. I once again asked for a wheelchair and was told to sit close by so they could get one – but shortly after I sat down we were informed that the flight was canceled. Of course, everyone was incredibly frustrated and pissed off. The plane had some sort of hydraulic leak they thought they could fix but the crew was going to time out and they’d get it fixed overnight and take us out in the morning instead.
We were informed that transportation had been arranged and that hotels had been secured for all of us. We would have to go through Customs and Immigration (sort of) and get to the transportation. Once again, I went and asked for a wheelchair. No one came. One of the staff members ended up pushing me and she had no idea how to steer. (Fortunately I wasn’t injured but we did hit several things) Communication was at a minimum and I was loaded on a bus having absolutely no idea where I was going. After the bus was full, someone asked the bus driver where we would be going and he said “to hell if you don’t pray” and then made a comment that he’d need drink money since we were making him work (as if we had a choice in the matter) It was then that we got an alert that the new flight would be at 10:30am.
We ended up at the RIU not too far from the airport. The bus driver took out about 8 bags and then apparently left us all to fend for ourselves, but I managed to move 2 bags to get my own. (And he wanted drink money?!) Then everyone ended up in a super long line in the lobby where I was told I couldn’t keep my bag with me. It had been a long day and my legs were not happy – so I said I’d need the luggage to balance myself. One guy thought that was fine but then another woman had a problem with it and told me “that’s what my stick was for” (to help me balance) Lady, I’ve been disabled my *whole* life. Trust me,I know what I need. Once I told her I needed it or I’d need help from her once I fell, she backed off.
While waiting, I did a quick google of the resort and saw they had no elevators so I made sure to ask for an accessible/first floor room and they gave me one in the building closest to the lobby. I would have liked to have had some dinner, but unfortunately it was all a buffet and carrying my own plate doesn’t happen on a good day so I wasn’t about to attempt it and ended up having candy I had in my bag for dinner. On the plus side, the shower was Katie approved and I was able to shower before attempting to sleep.
Once I got settled in, it was about 10:30 and I called the front desk to see if they knew when the shuttle would be. They didn’t know and said to check back “in a few hours” aka when I wanted to be sleeping! At 11:30 I decided to just try to sleep and wake up early and take a cab – only to see an alert that the 10:30am was canceled and we were now on an 11:15am flight. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to make it through customs, but Delta text support told me I would. (This was my 3rd ATL-BDL flight) I once again called the front desk and was told the shuttle would be leaving at 7:30am, but at this point I decided I’d just take a cab and avoid the chaos and decided to attempt to get some sleep.
Just before 7am I took a cab to the airport, only to find out when I went to print my tickets that the 11:15am was delayed to 12:48pm and I’d miss my connection AGAIN and they had rebooked me to a flight leaving at 8pm from Atlanta (amounting to a 5 hour layover, but I have spent so much time in that airport it didn’t even matter anymore) I called my travel insurance to see what my options were for reimbursement or booking a new flight and the only thing they could change me to was a 4pm to ATL so I decided to ride out the initial flight.
When the flight landed at about 11:45am, everyone started clapping and woo’ing. When the crew arrived sometime later, they got quite the round of applause. But… we didn’t start boarding on time. Finally, they called for pre-board and some first class people jumped in front of me, but I made my way down the jetbridge and was handed a letter that Delta would like to give us a “gesture” for our inconvenience. I’d like to give them a gesture, too. Then… we waited to board. Then.. the plane just sat there. Apparently the toilets needed servicing because we couldn’t not have them for a two and a half hour flight and there was also a problem with the catering cart and they were fixing that. We ended up leaving around 2pm and I ended up having about 2 hours in Atlanta.
My second flight went off without a problem and I got back to my house just after midnight – just in time to get a nastygram from work since I didn’t put in any time on my timecard for the day since I absolutely thought I’d be working!
Now I get to deal with flight insurance and delta for reimbursements… (And the ‘gesture’ was 10,000 miles. HA. cute.) And another DELTA flight ended up stranded that night, I’m not sure if it was the 4pm or not, but… it probably was so I made the right choice – paired with the FAA computers all going down the next morning – I got home just in time! (They never did seem to end up fixing my original plane since we got on a new one that flew in – so I don’t know what happened with the broken one)
While “No.” is a complete sentence, many people have trouble saying no. (I am certainly one of them) 100 Ways to Say No teaches you techniques and ways to stop saying Yes when you mean No. It also had little illustrations to make it a lot more fun to read. I like how it gave you a bit more to say than no – especially in situations where you were forced to say No due to financial issues or other issues you don’t really have control over. If your friends invited you to a destination wedding you couldn’t afford – tell them that you can’t make it – BUT offer to celebrate them in some other way after so you’re not feeling totally left out. There was a lot of really great information in this book and I will definitely be carrying it with me through the new year to try and make sure I don’t end up with too much on my plate because I just don’t know how to let anyone down!
I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated
About the Book
Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no?
From the creator of the popular Instagram account Scribbles by Nicole comes this collection of funny and relatable illustrated “scenari-nos” for overcoming your inner people pleaser, setting appropriate boundaries, and getting to no.
Recognizing it’s not always easy to say no, Nicole takes readers through real-life examples familiar to anyone who has found themselves saying yes when they really didn’t want to, providing guidance on how to:
- Say no effectively and appropriately in any situation
- Use techniques that come naturally to make saying no as stress-free as possible
- Fend off unwanted invitations nicely but firmly
- Set healthy boundaries with loved ones, family, friends, and colleagues
- Tell yourself no when you need to
- Let go of guilt, worry, and regrets and do what’s right for you
Everyone needs healthy boundaries—let this charming book help you set them and make learning to say no much easier.