A Sanguine Neurastheniac

Entries tagged as ‘making’

“Uterine Invader! I mean, happy breeding to you!”

July 18, 2012 · 6 Comments

With thanks to JJ for the quote!

Folks, somehow this ended up in my uterus:
Uterine invader!

I KNOW, RIGHT? I’m as confused as you are, but I suspect that project partner, housemate, and special friend Far McKon may have had some involvement. I raise my eyebrow at you, sir.

Here’s a FAQ about my spawn.

Basic stats?
Due mid-August. Sex unknown. Name TBD. Proto-baby was not planned, per se, but also not a surprise. Anticipated delivery at The Birth Center. Using a doula who has a special interest in this birth, as she also acts as my sister when she’s not applying counterpressure or advising on the latest research on perineal massage.

I’m your friend. Why did you tell the Internet before you told me?
Erm, it’s complicated? I’m really sorry if my failure to disclose is annoying or hurtful.  Parts of the Internet already know and it’s public knowledge to anyone who has seen me in the last couple months. But this is a life milestone that is difficult for me to share spontaneously because, what? I call someone up and say, “Woot, I’m spawning!” and they’re like, “Ok? Should I buy you something now that your normal life is essentially over and the nature of our friendship may fundamentally change?” “Erm, no, in fact I don’t think there’s any action for you to take. Huh, this is awkward. K, I’m gonna go and not drink a beer. Later.”

If you didn’t know before now, it’s not because I don’t care about you. On the contrary, it may be because I wanted to put off changing the perception of our relationship for as long as possible. This is a game-changer, sure, but it’s not a personal philosophy reverser. Chances are that I’ll be a sleep-deprived, hormone-soaked zombie for about 4 months, then start to re-enter the world with a steadily returning ability to consider and converse. I hope that I’ll be as good a friend with-kid as I was without.

Ok, so this is on the Internet now. Are you going to change your profile picture to creepy 3D ultrasound copies or baby pics?
At the moment, this is not an anticipated action. However, all predictions come with the caveat that one never knows what might happen after a major life change. To paraphrase Rick James, oxytocin is a hell of a drug.

Breeding, i.e., the act of promulgating your genetics forward in time and space, is an inherently egotistical act. How do you justify this, particularly from an environmental perspective?
Not particularly well, I admit. The original idea arose from thinking about the kind of household/immediate community I want to live in. I wanted to share resources (done), share ideas and project activities (done), wanted to live in a low-conflict, high-functioning group (done), and I hoped to have inter-generational energy around (pending). It’s true that pre-fab children are available through the foster care and adoption systems and that’s something that’s still on the table. But I figured that maybe it would be better to make stupid first-time parent mistakes on an individual who didn’t come to us already saddled with identity issues that would require care and experience to help with.

Neat! Do you need anything? What can I do or give to show support and/or delight in your reproductive viability?
You know what I would love? Write a note or letter to the spawn about your life now, the spawn’s weird parents, your most encouraging hopes and advice. And cat pictures.

As far as baby-industrial complex crap, we’re mostly set with newborn stuff and storage space is at a premium. There’s a short list of things we haven’t gotten, but mostly we’re in good shape. I wouldn’t turn down frozen food in preparation for the first weeks with Babycakes. There’s a scheduling site that lets people sign up for food and housework shifts, and that would be appreciated for sure. I’ll post the sign-up info later. Used children’s books are always a winner, especially if you sign it or add a note! Also, come visit. Continue to be part of our lives. It’s ok to invite me out for drinks, too. For the moment I’ll just stick with seltzer, but it’s awesome to see you, even without alcohol!

What else? Tell me! Tell me!
Sure! I have some stored up thoughts about the process that I’ll consider pulling out and posting as the weeks go by. Mostly, this pregnancy is absolutely textbook-normal, to the point of being boring. I’ve never been so happy to be so average. I don’t feel controlled by hormonal wildfires, but I am looking forward to being able to tie my shoes without a massive effort sometime soon. Kiddo naps a lot but gets really active a couple times a day. It feels really neat like a lava lamp in my abdominal cavity, despite it being truly reminiscent of Alien.

So…There you go, I’m out! Which is more than I can say for Baby, at least for the next 4-6 weeks.

Categories: Making stuff
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Maker Faire Redux, or I Love Meeting Philadelphians in NYC

September 19, 2011 · 2 Comments

This weekend, Maker Faire touched down in New York.  Sponsored by O’Reilly publishing’s Make and Craft magazines, Maker Faire is a craft and tech expo that happens in several cities throughout the year.  Exhibitioners included robot makers, tee shirt makers, garden makers, radio makers…seeing the trend?

Sculpture by John Belardo made from laser cut perforated metal, inspired by Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes. Got me thinking about the potential for decorative solar concentrators.

It happened at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.  It was definitely a welcome recharge, and by the end of the bus ride back to Philly I discovered that I’d filled nine pages of a notebook with new sketches and notes.  Here are some of my favorite participants that are making me re-think my stance on working alone.

Reboot clothing

Green lace hoodie from Reboot

I had a blast talking to Brie and Michael about their Philadelphia area slow-fashion clothing company, Reboot.  They make simple, beautiful sweaters and jackets from the ends of industrial bolts of wool that would otherwise be discarded by large clothing manufacturers.  They are clearly very thoughtful about their work, describing their hesitance to use the word “sustainable” because it’s impossible to know what’s truly sustainable.  But their garment construction is unambiguously solid and well thought-out.  I walked away with a gorgeous hooded sweatshirt and plans to collaborate on a wool-based workshop sometime soon.  We had a great conversation that flitted from the ups and downs of small-scale manufacturing, to technology education for girls.  I can’t wait to watch them grow.

Crystal Radios


Categories: Geekery
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In defense of Solo-working: Because working with certain people sucks

September 16, 2011 · Leave a Comment

Co-working and shared workspaces are all the rage, but every time I hear a hackerspace advocate talk about that sense of community and how it’s better than working alone in your dark basement, I shudder a little.  It’s wonderful that people are finding ways to team up and have more than any of them could on their own, and I love hearing about the serendipitous moments of genius that arise because the right people were in the same room at the right time.

But to me, “sense of community” often means “lots of people I’m not that attached to but spend unjustifiable amounts of time with, and a social contract that I don’t necessarily agree with”.  I feel like hackerspaces and co-working joints come with an expectation that you’re looking for new buddies, but I already struggle to find time to spend with the most important people in my life, and these spaces can feel like a social time-suck.

By contrast, my basement, desk, back yard, etc, are oases of creativity for me.  I have all my stuff, all my ideas, my own kitchen with my favorite teas and snacks, the commute can’t be beat, and most of all, there is quiet space to concentrate and unwind with no social distractions.  This is important because when I’m at my most creative, I’m often very non-verbal.  To be fair, I own my house so if I want to paint a room green, or use a battery of chemicals to clean vintage tile, or take over the kitchen to make hand lotion, by golly, I just do it.

Contrary to, say, the Indy Hall mantra that goes “Because working alone sucks”, the dirty secret is this: I love working alone.  More often than not, I hate working with other people, and that dates back to nursery school. Organizing with other people, teaching, getting past a problem I can’t solve on my own, all great. But when it comes down to making something, whether it’s a sewing project or a server configuration, I’m usually much more comfortable in a room by myself.

So while I like the basic idea of shared resources, I can’t drink the Kool-Aid that working alone sucks or that finding my local co-working/hackerspace/makerspace is the best way to get stuff done. What if my local space is full of people I can’t stand? What if their values are way different from mine?  What if I hate the chairs or forgot my French press?

I guess what I’m getting at here is that working with others is great if 1) you like that kind of thing and 2) you fit in with the clique. But in my experience I usually spend my time at hackerspaces talking to people, introducing visitors, giving tours, organizing and planning, cleaning, etc, and I always get way, way more done by myself at home. You know, hell is other people and so forth.

So this is in defense of those of us who just really love the placid, no-social-overhead, free-form-discovery approach to going it alone.

Categories: Making stuff
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New word: Make-cation

April 11, 2011 · Leave a Comment

With compliments to–and on the urging of–new friend and awesome electrical engineer/artist Sophi Kravitz, I give you my new word:

Make-cation – 1.  Time off to make stuff.  2.  The stuff you do when you’re procrastinating to avoid the other stuff you’re doing.

Usage: 1.  “Argh, I’m working so much lately that I don’t have time to do anything creative.  I need a make-cation!”  2.  “I’m taking a quick make-cation from writing my thesis to whip up a batch of milk paint.”

Example: When you take a week off for carpentry, cabinetry, or welding classes at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, that’s a make-cation.

On make-cation at Yestermorrow

Categories: Making stuff
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Chronicle of a Lab Coat Foretold

March 29, 2011 · 1 Comment

I’ve really enjoyed other Hiver76s’ stories of how they became makers, but I’m a little shy to share like that. Instead, I’m starting a new meme: How I use my lab coat.


Using polishing compound to shine up a piece of titanium that I'd machined on a watchmaker's lathe. Note the fetching eyewear. Damn right I rock the safety gear...usually.


Several of us Hive76 fashionistas have special relationships with our lab coats, from dignified appreciation to reckless abandon. I’m one of those people who shows my lab coat undying affection by using the crap out of it. Every grease stain, every paint smear, every nicked buttonhole is an homage to a project that wouldn’t have been the same without proper mad-scientific attire.

By all rights, my lab coat should have a Cult of the Dead Cow logo on it. It was 2006 and I was at HOPE Six, my first Hackers On Planet Earth conference. My friends and I thought it would be real funny, see, if we poked fun of Sen. Ted Stevens by (more…)

Categories: Making stuff
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