Nerd Life: The Changing Shape of Nerd News

Hey there everyone. My apologies for the delay in posting, but the combination of the holiday hullabaloo here in the US and the chaos that is the last few weeks of my last semester of graduate school EVER had an uncanny flux capacitor-esque effect (which we got to see a bit of in practice with the LHCs newest revelation) . Hopefully those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed some wonderful festivities and that everyone else had a great weekend.

For this week's post I wanted to harken back to something mentioned in passing earlier this month: the departure of Topless Robot creator Rob Bricken from his founding property and his subsequent transition to i09. While it's certainly an excellent opportunity for Rob and one that will hopefully provide him with the personal and professional growth he needs, his migration highlights some of the ongoing trends that are shaping nerd news as we know it.

The fact that we can analyze the present and future states of nerd news as a concerted entity speaks to the depth and breadth of the Nerdaissance. It's almost surreal to see certain media outlets going outside their traditional purview to cover stories in any of the major nerdy arenas (gaming, comics, fantasy/sci fi, anime, cosplay, etc). This increasing amount of attention has given our beloved pastimes an air of legitimacy that's arguably unprecedented in the history of geekdom (curse you lack of quantifiable proof!). Identifying us as a sizable, viable body of consumers spurs movie/TV studios, publishers, game developers, and other industries to tackle nerdy properties. As we've discussed previously, that action is only half of what's steering the Nerdaissance right now. The scales at which all of this is being conducted, of course, necessitates vehicles of communication that can function at a comparable level in order to keep this whole shebang working. That's where nerd news outlets come in.

Most of us can probably recall the early incarnations of these geeky outlets. Five or so years ago the formula was this:

1)      Start a blog about any nerdy topic
2)      Cultivate a following of active readers
3)      Receive tips about recent happenings tangential to the founding nerdy topic from readers
4)      Publish these tips, usually with a smattering of amusing/clever commentary
5)      Repeat steps 2-4 until A) the blog amasses a very large following B) the commentary is honed to a particularly fine quality C) all of the above
6)      Bring in a few friends to help triage the tips/submissions and write commentary
7)      Start selling ad space on the blog
8)      Repeat steps 2-7
9)      Sell the blog to a news ring or other consortium (and hopefully profit)

This is how we went from an array of personal blogs to a smaller number of sites that streamed developments in geekdom to mega aggregators that try to consolidate as many nerdy topics as possible into a single site or a ring of 2-6 "sister sites". Traditional news followed a similar path, but its consolidation is a product of its inability to keep pace with modern technology.

But so what? Isn't it better to have a few central news repositories rather than a constellation of sites and blogs? Our favorites lists and attention spans can only go so far ya know.

Well yes, there's something to be said for the benefits of pooling resources and that conglomerating process is only natural, to a degree. However, the critical takeaway is that it's not the consolidation that's necessarily important, but the quality of the sites that remain to dispense our geeky news. Why?

We, as a subculture, place a great deal of weight and importance on being well informed about the major geeky arenas. It is the lauded individual in your cohort of nerdy friends who is renowned as being The First to Know. Even if you are not this individual, a significant quantity of the upkeep of your nerdy persona tends to be derived from the timely acquisition of accurate nerd news.  Without the dual assets of speed and accuracy, you're either peddling gossip or clinging to relevance. Either one of those last two scenarios will effectively undermine your legitimacy which, given the premium we place on authenticity, can spell disaster on a number of levels. Is that stance sometimes stringent-bordering-on-crazy? Sure. Do we still visit those expectations on one another? Yes.

Furthermore, being well informed is arguably the germane differential that allows industry professionals to distinguish relevant concerns from uninhibited fanboy/girl tantruming which, as we've discussed before, is critical to the future of commercial/geek relations. Without a well-reasoned case supported by facts your discourse stands to be brushed off as simple ranting.

Of course, none of this is anything particularly novel, but it illustrates that there's a bit more at stake here than just having a few talking points to bust out next time you get together with your friends.   

So what, exactly, is the problem?

The issue at present is two-fold: the diminishing pool of reliable news sources coupled with the dubious quality of certain mega-aggregator sites. The former is pretty straightforward and parallels how you'd go about procuring non-nerdy news. You probably have a handful of sites that you feel are trustworthy and bounce between them depending on the day, the type of story you're looking for, and what sort of mood you're in. Having a variety of sources available, even if you don't necessarily use them all the time, helps maintain objectivity and prevents any authorial viewpoints from skewing the formation of your own opinion. The same is true with nerd news. Consolidating sources does help us separate the informational grain from the chaff, but it also reduces the breadth and diversity of available news outlets.   

Concurrently, the actual content presented to us on nerd news sites tends to decline as the host site expands. This phenomenon is also common and not relegated solely to nerdy analysis: the more you take on, the fewer resources you can devote to each topic. Let's look at i09, for example. The site was explicitly created back in 2008 by media company/blog network Gawker Media to focus on advancements in science and technology (with lesser attention on science fiction and futurism). In the four years since, the site has ballooned to try and encapsulate as much of nerdery as possible, covering everything from board games to what happened on this week's episode of the Walking Dead. If you perused the site two or three months ago, the delineation between the original basket of analyzed topics and those that were recently brought into the fold was stark. Stories outside the founding purview were often posted just a tad too late to be timely and the attending commentary made it clear that the subject was not entirely the author's forte. Not their fault, it's just what happens when resources are spread too thin. So i09 addressed the problem like the manager of a professional sports team and brought in a seasoned talent in the form of Rob Bricken to shore up their weak spots. Rob, in turn, brought with him not only his well-honed and knowledgeable analytic/writing style, but also the features that made his founding property so popular to begin with. Rob seems happy, i09 has reaped immediate benefits from the addition, but Topless Robot is clearly staggering from the loss of its creator.

The problem with this isn't that Rob took steps to further his career, but that there is no one in place to fill the vacuum left by his departure. Just about anyone can take information that's fed to them, grab a few pictures and/or video clips, and toss together a post. It takes skill and a deep existing body of knowledge to write clever, meaningful analysis about nerdy topics (or any topic for that matter). The trend of building news outlets into aggregators of tips from readers leads to whole sites with lots of headlines, but no journalistic "meat". Our limited attention spans may be content with a slew of one-line tidbits of information, but we're doing ourselves, and geekdom as a whole, a disservice if we just stop there.

It's our responsibility to be well-informed and part of that onus lies in how we go about educating ourselves. We can have our one-line items and verbal brain candy, but we also need space in which to think and articulate our designs and desires as a subculture. Seeking out that balance will be key in the next few years. So, next time your fellow nerd says, "you should really check out this site," or, "we should write a submission for site X," give it a try. You might be more than just pleasantly surprised with the results.
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NomNoms: Pumpkinpalooza!

Despite the fact that this year Christmas seems to have made its earliest foray onto the scene possibly ever (no lie, I saw decorations go up as early as October 18th), there is both a month or so of autumn remaining to us in the Northern Hemisphere and we would be seriously remiss to ignore the seasonal goodies still available. So this week's post is a full-on feature of a consummate fall favorite: the pumpkin. 
My pumpkins! Mine!
In the vegetable kingdom, the pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse: low in calories but packed with fiber, vitamin A AND flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants (xanthin ftw!). It's highly versatile, capable of taking on either savory or sweet recipe profiles, and features prominently in many a holiday meal here in the states. The color alone will make pretty much any dish featuring this otherwise humble gourd the focal point of the table. Bonus: pumpkin is up there with the most forgiving of ingredients so I included not one, but three recipes for your kitchen experimenting pleasure.  

Pumpkin Pie
Difficulty: Easy
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: Optional, but recommended
Feeds: 4-8 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 90 minutes (30 minutes of preparation and an hour of bake time)

Required Equipment: A large glass or metal bowl, measuring spoons, a spatula, a pie plate (if not using pre-made graham cracker crust), a cookie sheet, an electric hand mixer.
Optional Equipment: A stand mixer

2 eggs
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 cups of pureed pumpkin
1 can of evaporated milk
1 9 inch (22.86cm) round of pie dough OR 1 tin of pre-made graham cracker crust

*Set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232.2 degrees Celsius)*

Crack the two eggs into your bowl, then beat them slightly (until the yolks are thoroughly broken, but not so much that the whites begin to stiffen). Then combine the remaining ingredients exactly in the order listed above, mixing to approximate uniformity with each addition. The resulting blend will be very liquid and will exactly fit a 9 inch (22.86cm) pie plate. If you are using dough, place this into your pie plate and, using a fork, make about a dozen impressions into the dough with the tines (just an impression, not so much as to poke all the way through the dough). Pour the filling into the dough, then place carefully into the oven. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius), then return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 50 minutes.

A few quick notes on this recipe:

  • You want to introduce as much air as possible into the pie filling as you are adding the ingredients. Adding lots of air will result in a sinfully smooth, almost velveteen texture that will have people asking how on earth you did this. For this reason, I highly recommend using a stand mixer if you can get a hold of one. If that's not possible, an electric hand mixer will do. Only use a whisk if there are no other options available to you. The pie will still taste good, but it will be denser and will lack that coveted airy texture.
  •  For easy handling of the pie once it's been in the oven, put the pie plate on a cookie sheet.
  • You can use either canned pumpkin or pureed pumpkin that you've made yourself. Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling.
  • Making graham cracker crust from scratch is actually pretty easy if you wanted to give it a go. I typically use this method and recommend doing so right before you start making the filling, as graham crackers go stale quickly.

Pumpkin Bread

Difficulty: Noob
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: None
Feeds: 3-4 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 75 minutes (15 minutes of preparation and an hour of bake time)

Required Equipment: A large mixing bowl, measuring spoons, a large wooden spoon, a spatula, a loaf pan.
Optional Equipment: None


1.5 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
1 pinch of ground ginger
sprayable cooking oil/cooking spray

*Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius)*

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Stir until the mixture is well blended (it should look like thick orange brownie batter). Using your sprayable cooking oil, spritz the inside of your loaf pan until it has a thin, even coating. Now pour the bread mix into the loaf pan and put the pan into the oven. Let the bread bake for 1 hour. The bread is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan and a toothpick inserted in the center can be removed cleanly.

Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt

Difficulty: Noob
Availability of Ingredients: Common
Gadgetry: Optional
Feeds: 1-4 nerds
Time Till Noms: About 20 minutes if using an ice cream maker, about 60-120 if using other means.

Required Equipment: A large glass or metal bowl, a large spoon, measuring spoons, a spatula (and a whisk if not using an ice cream maker), an ice cream maker.
Optional Equipment: None

1 cup non-fat standard yogurt
2 cups 2% milkfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*

*You can typically find this in your spice section of your local grocer. If there's none to be had, you can substitute 1/8th of a teaspoon of each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger.

Combine the ingredients in your mixing bowl until the sugar is wholly dissolved, then give it a quick taste test. Akin to our friend, peanut butter fro-yo, this recipe is a base that you can modify to your heart's content before setting it to chill.  

If You're Using and Ice Cream Maker: Add your concoction to the chilled drum of the ice cream maker. Turn it on and leave it to churn for 18-20 minutes (time will vary slightly based on the model of your maker). Remove your freshly chilled noms from the drum. Woot for frozen goodies in the fall!

If you're NOT Using an Ice Cream Maker: Using your whisk, mix the ingredients together for 20-30 seconds, then put the entire bowl in the freezer. Wait 20 minutes, remove from the freezer and whisk again. Repeat this process until the yogurt takes on a semi-frozen state (it will be physically resistant to your mixing). Once the yogurt reaches this state then give a woot for frozen goodies in the fall!

A few quick notes on this recipe:

  • Feel free to experiment with other types of yogurt if you'd like, but I highly recommend starting with the 1:2 ratio of standard to Greek yogurt to get a handle on how the dessert is going to taste. Since the pumpkin has an intrinsic sweetness to it, the tartness of the standard yogurt tends to counter it nicely.
  • If you didn't want to use vanilla extract for any reason, golden spiced rum serves as a perfect substitute. However, just as with our peanut butter frozen yogurt, some sort of alcohol base is required to prevent our dessert from turning into a solid brick once we chill it.

Happy kitcheny experimentation and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating this week!
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Nerd Life: The Late Blooming Geek

Before we delve into this week's post, I wanted to give major kudos to the voters of Maine, who brushed aside a torrent of anti-gamer rhetoric and elected the first Orcish-American to their state senate on Tuesday. That, I promise, will be the extent of any political content on the blog.

So, to date we've discussed a handful of the somewhat thorny, occasionally misunderstood aspects of what makes up nerd life for many of us. These sorts of beliefs and behaviors not only color how we interact with one another, but are also often the basis for how we, as a subculture, are regarded by everyone else. What's interesting, if not actually surprising, is that the majority of both our communal self-regard and the opinions of those peering in from the outside are rooted in the same assumption: that we've all been geeks pretty much since birth.

Any number of nerd-based media, personal conversations with other geeks, and marketing tactics used to target and portray our subculture would have you believe that this is uniformly the case. Though we've begun to move away from the stereotype of the bespectacled, acne-ridden,  painfully awkward individual encased in a full-headset retainer, a collective of new archetypes have risen to supplant it. These range from the overweight, basement dwelling troglodyte who aggressively trolls internet forums or the chat feeds of any given MMORPG/MOBA to an older version of that socially inept teenager (typically sans retainer and perhaps with better skin) now obsessing over Faster Than Light and rigorously dissecting the possibilities wrought by Disney's purchase of LucasFilm. You, as a geek, are assumed to fall somewhere in that spectrum. 

We can roll our eyes and shake our heads, taking stock that, though there's some truth in those stereotypes, we know that we're more than a collective of self-possessed individuals who refuse to grow up. Furthermore, as we've discussed, it's extremely difficult to even put a definitive definition to 'nerd' or 'geek'. However, despite being fully cognizant of this, we then expect that everyone who self-identifies as a nerd/geek will likely possess a certain body of knowledge and said information often came at a high social cost during our formative years. These two elements are generally regarded as the foundation for your nerdy credentials. Hell, the construction of this base of learning is Nerd Commandment #1 according to Topless Robot founder Rob Bricken (who I wish all the best as he heads over to write for i09). But what if your geeky development didn't follow such a nice linear path? What if your parents didn't let you have comic books or gaming didn't appeal to you until undergrad? Or what if you partook of some things, but didn't have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in that book series/game franchise/anime run?

The majority of these "late bloomers" possess a number of nerdy qualities but, due to any number of reasons, were not exposed to one or more of the major geeky arenas: gaming, fantasy/science fiction, anime, comic books, or the hard sciences during their formative years. Not gonna lie here guys; I was one of these. Though my youth was spent enthralled in fantasy/science fiction and the hard sciences, I didn't have the chance to experience comic books until I was nearly done with high school and didn't roll in my first RPG until nearly two years after I'd graduated university. Things like studying and working had an obnoxious tendency to encroach on the fun times (and still do ) and I found myself in my early-to-mid twenties wrestling with the absurd notion that I was hopelessly "behind" on nerdery as a whole.

Must. Know. All..the things.
That sensation may seem downright silly to some of us, especially since we've already established the enormous diversity that gets covered by the proverbial geeky umbrella, but it's not entirely without merit. Though we like to think of ourselves as a highly tolerant and welcoming collective, let's be real; sometimes we can be everything but. Our penchants for raging and territoriality don't scream "this is a welcome environment for self-expression" or "the learning curve is shallow and easily surmounted." This is especially so right now, in the midst of the Nerdaissance, when the introduction of so many beloved properties to mainstream audiences has made authenticity a rare and dicey thing. Trying to introduce yourself to something like the Song of Ice and Fire series now that HBO has made it a household name is likely to be met with something between skepticism and straight dismissal. Unless you actually take the time to read all five books currently in print, your love of the property is probably going to garner some distain.

The nerdy knowledge base is the proving ground. Your credibility as a geek stems entirely from your ability to recall from and continually add to that foundation. Ideally, you'll become "tapped in" to one or more of the major arenas to the point at which you can help keep your friends abreast of developments within that discipline.

Given this, it's a little more understandable that someone might not endeavor to fill the "gaps" in their nerdy repertoire or, for that matter, attempt to join the community. These misgivings are entirely needless and the conditions that foster such can be easily amended.

First off, Eleanor Roosevelt was spot-on when she stated that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Just because someone else has read all of Tolkien's works, or watched each episode of every incarnation of Star Trek, or has logged 151 hours on XCOM doesn't mean that they are a more legitimate geek than you. As competitive as we nerds sometimes are, being geeky in itself is NOT a contest. Seriously. We cannot utilize the basis of our authentic selves as the propellant for participation in some neurological track meet. With few exceptions, the vast majority of us cannot be wholly nerdy 100% of our daily lives. Finding your own Nerd-Life Ratio is key to getting comfy with your own knowledge base and recognizing this Ratio in others can go a long way to helping us relate to one another.

That being said, the best way to delve into/renew your connection with geeky arenas is to enlist one or more friends who are highly familiar with the subject matter to act as an ambassador and guide for you. If none of the people in your immediate social circle can fill this role, then seek out friends of friends or even supportive online communities (yes, they actually do exist). Be honest and forthright about A) your limited experience with [insert nerd forte here] and B) your genuine curiosity/willingness to learn. Coming straight out and saying how much you'd like to get into a given avocation goes a long way in smoothing relations, as you'll assume the mantle of a geeky apprentice rather than the hated visage of the wayward poser. Like any other hobby, this will be an investment of time and effort. Ideally, this process can turn into an exchange of skills or ideas rather than a unilateral outpouring of information.

Finally, keep in mind that this is all supposed to be FUN. This is the process of learning about and/or building a new skill set because it's something you have an interest in. It can be overwhelming. Trying to take in the whole of geekdom is akin to trying to sip from a fire hose. Be patient with yourself and with those out there who are also trying to learn. Our community can only stand to benefit from a myriad of viewpoints and experiences and, remember, we were all noobs at one time or another.
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Sandy's Aftermath: NerdCorps Assemble!

Good thoughts and vibes to all those out there recovering from Sandy's wrath. The Care and Feeding of Nerds was very fortunate and weathered the storm with minimal damage but countless others along the Eastern Seaboard were not so lucky. If you're looking for ways to help out, PayPal and iTunes have both set up donation sites while dozens of major retailers have teamed up with the American Red Cross. The guys over at NerdWallet have also put together an excellent compendium of links to donate program rewards, points, or airline miles you may have accumulated with your credit card. Donations of non-monetary items, such as clothing, furnishings, or home repair supplies can be dropped with Goodwill or United Way.

If you'd like to give of your time and partake in active service towards the relief effort AmeriCares, Habitat for Humanity, and food banks associated with Feeding America are accepting volunteers. The Humane Society and the ASPCA are also on the lookout for individuals willing to help with their efforts to recover and/or foster pets while their families return home or rebuild.

Blood is also a desperately needed commodity that can be given from any number of sites (click here to find a donation center near you). It's something that nearly everyone can do, but the notion of being interrogated and then poked with a needle tends to drive most folks away. Funny that. Blood donation is something I've done for years and, in actuality, it's neither an arduous nor a painful undertaking. So, in an attempt to tamp down some of the anxiety surrounding blood donation, here's a brief rundown of how the process goes. 

The Basics: In the US, you need to be at least 17 years of age (16 if you get written consent from a parent), in good health, and weigh at least 110 pounds (49kg) to donate blood. The entire process takes about an hour from start to finish, but only 8-15 minutes of that time is spent actually having blood withdrawn.

Phase 1: Pre-Donation Screening -  The majority of the screening process is a fairly sizeable questionnaire that may be administered electronically (just a survey on a computer) or interpersonally with a nurse or attendant asking you questions and recording your answers. Depending on your donation site, the questionnaire may end up being a hybrid of both and/or can be completed in advance over the internet if you make an appointment. The questions themselves range from basic biostatistics (age, height, weight, etc) and any pertinent allergies to fairly specific inquiries about your recent travels and extracurricular activities. 

Are they going to ask me about my...history shall we say?
Short answer: yes. They're going to ask you if you've had unprotected sex, if you have a habit of sharing needles, or if you have or have had a persistent viral infection or certain types of cancer. You know, common sensical questions to get an idea if your blood is safe to put into another human. More surprising questions that will come up are those pertaining to any recent vacations or significant time you may have spent abroad. This may seem kind of weird, but the practitioners are looking to see if you've been in contact with a specific set of infectious agents: namely Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human version of Mad Cow) or malaria. 

That's a lot of personal information. I'm not sure I'm comfy sharing all that.
Which is fair; it's a lot of information. However, your anonymity as a donor is under federal protection. Aside from basic administrative data, like your address or email, no information is maintained after the donation session. Your blood will be tagged with a long series of digits and will be traced back to you only if something comes up in post-donation screening (more on that in a minute).

So, long story short, it's a lot of information, but it's not going anywhere and it's only garnered to protect those individuals who may receive your blood.

Phase 2: the Mini-Physical: After completing the questionnaire, a nurse or medical assistant will take your blood pressure, your pulse, and your temperature. Immediately following will be the first of two encounters with a needle during the donation process. The nurse/med assistant will determine your hematocrit/hemoglobin levels by administering a pinprick to one of your fingers. It's very fast and can be on any finger you choose. In all honesty, this blink-of-an-eye puncture tends to be more painful than the actual donation. I recommend using your ring finger on your non-dominant hand, as this digit tends to get less use than your other fingers. It will take only a minute or so to obtain the necessary data and determine if you're not anemic. Once that's been established, you'll move on to the donation itself.

Phase 3: The Donation: So it's come down to this, your date with donation. As mentioned above, this part is going to seem very quick compared to the questionnaire and the mini-physical. The majority of people volunteering to donate will make an 'allogenic' (a.k.a. a homologous) donation of whole blood. You'll be asked to lie down on a padded chais or table and select a donation site, typically from one of the medial cubital veins on one of your arms (the ones you can easily see through your skin at the crook of your elbow). It's generally a good idea to choose your non-dominant arm for this, as you'll have to contend with some bandaging at the donation site for much of the remainder of the day. The extraction site will be prepped with sterilizing agents, usually iodine, and a tourniquet of rubber tubing may be affixed around the bicep of the arm doing the donating. After this is the actual insertion of the needle. It may seem absurdly large, but only because it's far bigger than what's typically used for a vaccine or the application of an IV. The actual insertion is a momentary pinch. It would probably be more painful if you tried to replicate the process by pinching yourself in the crook of your elbow. After that you just lie back and relax for a few minutes while gravity does all the work of donating for you. You may be given a soft foam ball to squeeze to provide added pressure and help keep the process moving.

Related aside: There are handful of different types of blood donation, of which allogenic is only one. Depending on your unique physique and the facilities available at the donation site, you may be asked if you'd like to make a different type of donation.  The most common variant is apheresis, which is a process of extracting blood, running it through a centrifuge to obtain certain blood components, then returning the remainder of the blood back to your body. Subtypes of apheresis are used to garner supplies of blood plasma, platelets, and pure red blood cells. The physical requirements for this sort of donation differ from those for allogenic donation, so check with the administrators at your donation site to see if you qualify if this interests you. Bonus: apheresis uses smaller needles than standard whole blood donation.

Phase 4: The Recovery:  Immediately after donation, you'll be asked to lie flat and relax for a few minutes, then gradually move into a sitting position before being allowed to stand. Fainting spells resulting from shifts in blood pressure are the most common side effect of donating and these almost always occur immediately after the donation is finished. Not to worry though, as you'll be in the capable hands of a technician the entire time. Once it's clear that you are able to stand and move under your own power, you'll be guided over to a recovery area to partake in some light refreshments. You'll be encouraged to have a snack, usually something starchy or sugary, and at least 8 ounces of water. Take your time, relax, and enjoy your snack. Once you've finished nomming, you'll be cleared to go about your merry way. That's it! You've donated blood!

So...what happens now? I just go home?
Yep, you just go about your day. You'll want to avoid heavy lifting or rigorous physical activity for the next 5-8 hours and drink extra water but, other than that, it'll just be a normal day. The donation site may be a little tender or exhibit some minor bruising for about a day, but you probably won't even notice.

What happens to my blood?
It'll be treated with anticoagulants and subjected to post-donation screening to ensure that no infectious agents are present. Technicians tend to look for infections that are asymptomatic for some of their tenure in your body, like Lyme disease or Syphilis. You'll be notified immediately if anything should pop up during this screening. Otherwise, your blood will make its way into a network of hospitals and clinics to be used by patients in need.

This still sounds unpleasant. Does donating really accomplish all that much?
At worst the donation process is enduring some minor discomfort for a short while. On the flip side, your one donation can help save the lives of up to three people. That's a crazy ratio right there. Blood is something that's needed on a constant basis and, until we come up with excellent synthetic versions, there are no substitutes for actual human blood. You get to be a hero, potentially for three different people. Not many other types of donation have such a direct impact.

Even the smallest effort can create powerful ripples and will be appreciated. We stand in solidarity with those impacted by Sandy. You guys are tough and will be back on your feet in no time, but we'll happily help you get there.
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