2. The yuletide Tag Set is open. At the moment, it's still in the error-checking and challenging stage, so some things may need to be fixed/added/removed, but that's pretty much it. There are lots of lovely things in it, but mainly I am sad, because there really is no Blake's 7. I will go back and enjoy all the shiny things that are there soon but... no Blake's 7. I know I said I knew it was ineligible... but no Blake's 7. (I'll get over it in a decade or so, I suppose. Just, you know I miss the ten year rule a lot and hope they bring it back, or a twenty year rule. Or a thirty year rule. or even a forty-year rule, because it won't be that long.)
For those who don't know what Yuletide is - I always forget to explain because I came quite late to it and everyone else seemed to know, but this is actually not true - it is the largest fanfic exchange going and it is solely for rare fandoms and it is amazing. You can take part in several ways.
You can sign up! Sign-ups will start at some point this week and go on for a while. (Okay, details at the main collection profile.) You look at the tag set (linked above) and request fandoms and characters from that you would love to have fic written about and then you offer the fandoms you are willing to try writing for.
Or you can stalk the comms and the pinch hit lists and just write people requests anyway if something takes your fancy. (It goes into the main collection if it's over 1000 words. If it's under, you need to wait till the special treat collection "Yuletide Madness" opens for posting the week before Christmas.) You can also offer to beta for people - most people are writing in different fandoms, so may not be able to go to their usual beta for help. You can (for the moment) even still write for last year's requests and post them in the New Year's Resolution 2013 Collection (and the same will happen again next year with this year's requests).
And, of course, you can just watch the collection and read it when it goes lives and leave comments and kudos and love all over it.
I've done it the past three years, mostly while much too ill to take part, and it's been wonderful even so and I regret nothing (though it's always possible my recipients would disagree). So, if it interests you and several fandoms on the tag set appeal, you could sign up too! You can always default if you find you have to. (There's no penalty if you do it by a certain date). It's my most favourite fannish thing of all. (Tragic lack of B7 notwithstanding.)
You will need an AO3 account, but if you don't have one, I understand the queue for an invite these days is down to about 24 hours on average, so it's easy to get one. Or a friend with an account might have one to give you, anyway.
That doesn't explain the hippos, the bears, the flanicking and other such things, but you can ignore those. Or you could read The Tough Guide to Yuletide.