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Wildflower hunt

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Phillip and I went out looking for wildflowers. We found lots along the roadside and just a few sprinkled beyond that.

We also found the Picket Post trailhead.

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We spotted some cactus wrens, some beat up old Saguaros, and the Silly Mountain Botanical Walk. Yes, there’s a Silly Mountain. With its own botanical walk. My state has some of the most ridiculous place names. (Why, Arizona)

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Anyway, it was a nice little path with some wildflowers and blooming prickly pear cactus.

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It wasn’t what we’d expected, but I’d still call it a success.

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PS The latest edition of the newsletter went out today. If you didn’t get it, let me know.

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The Return of Southwest Maker Fest

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 2 comments

It’s almost time for the second annual Southwest Maker Fest, a free celebration of creativity and collaboration, hacking and tinkering. Once again, there will be lots of workshops, interactive maker booths, and music.

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I’ll be presenting “Make Art Travel Journals Anywhere!” I’ve built on last year’s workshop to make it more hands-on.

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Southwest Maker Fest will be held this Saturday, March 28 from noon to 8pm in downtown Mesa, Arizona. My workshop is at 12:30pm in the i.d.e.a. Museum HUB Classroom (150 W Pepper Place).

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I’m also relaunching my newsletter with the next issue coming out this week! If you haven’t signed up previously, get on the list!

Microblog Mondays

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Amenity anxiety

Posted by on Mar 20, 2015 in Travel | 1 comment

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I was surprised to see the phone light blinking when I got back to my room. Thinking I had a message, I pushed the button for the front desk and wondered who would’ve tried to reach me at the Hilton in San Jose instead of on my cell.

Finding the answer required what seemed like an inordinate amount of keyboard clicking on the other end of the line – like maybe employees have to type out the text of Hamlet before accessing guest information.

“Ah. You have an amenity. Would you like us to send it up to you?”

It was my turn for a long pause.

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To me, “amenities” are offerings, like wifi or a fitness room. No one was sending me the fitness room. And the wifi was already there.

“I didn’t, um, order anything. What is it?”

“I’m not sure. It just says ‘amenity.’ We can send it up to your room if you’d like.” he reiterated.

Since I had no idea what would be showing up at my door, I decided it would be safer to stop by the front desk later on and sort it out there.

He politely said, “Of course,” but I got the feeling he was thinking, “you’re making this harder than it needs to be.”

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When I stopped by the front desk later, the clerk still acted like the fact I hadn’t requested anything was irrelevant to the fact that something was waiting for me. He retyped Hamlet to find my information again.

Staring into the glowing monitor, he could see there was a DND on my room, which means I had unintentionally set something on my door to “Do Not Disturb.” He also could see that the DND was the reason the amenity wasn’t delivered to my room earlier. But he still couldn’t see what the mysterious amenity was. He wrote something down on a sheet of paper and sent a younger guy off to retrieve it, while I waited in suspense.

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My amenity came in 2 perfect little red boxes. Each contained a neatly packed cupcake that said “Lentils” on top with a little maple leaf symbol. So someone sent me cupcakes? Possibly made out of lentils? And maple leaves? There was no note and not even an ingredient list. I mulled this over as I rode the elevator back up to my room.

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I also contemplated the fact that if someone wanted me dead, they could probably just send me poisoned cupcakes, and it’d be all over.

Finally, I remembered that BlogHer Conference sponsors sometimes send swag to attendees’ rooms. I checked the sponsor list and found Canadian Lentils. Bingo.

No one poisons sponsored cupcakes. Especially not Canadian ones.

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Back in my room, I enjoyed an Amenity Cupcake. I still don’t know what was in it. But it was delicious and definitely not poisoned.

I found the DND switch on my door and turned it off. If any other amenities were sent my way, I was ready.

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Shrinking

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Craft | 9 comments

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We had a great turnout for our Shrinky Dinks project at CraftHack!

CraftHack Shrinky Dinks

I think that has a lot to do with the nostalgia that goes along with these.

CraftHack Shrinky Dinks

CraftHack Shrinky Dinks

We started out with clear and frosted sheets of shrinkable plastic and then used sharpies to draw or trace our designs. We cut them out and maybe punched a hole in the top for making jewelry later.

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A couple at a time went into Eileen’s toaster oven. We found ourselves gathering around to watch them transform, the plastic curling up before thickening and setting. It still seems kinda magical.

More photos on the CraftHack Facebook page.

Microblog Mondays

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Her secret is patience

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 2 comments

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Floating above downtown Phoenix is a permanent public art sculpture inspired by monsoon clouds and hot Arizona summers. “Her Secret Is Patience” was created by artist Janet Echelman, specifically for the site it is now suspended above. At night it’s illuminated with the colors changing with the seasons.

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The name comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”


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I’m taking part in Microblog Mondays!

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A Plotter and a Dreamer

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Craft | 0 comments

In case you ever want to print some really big stuff, there’s now a plotter at Gangplank that prints on 3-foot wide rolls of paper. Not like photos, more like black-and-white line drawings. It would be great for patterns, maps, large schematics, and probably lots of things we haven’t thought of yet.

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I was looking for ideas of something we could make with it during the May CraftHack meetup. I’m not sure I found anything that would work for that, but I did come across some interesting stuff.

Modified Plotter Art

XY LED Plotter (University of Illinois) – Stephen Cartwright creates abstract long-exposure photographs with an LED plotter.

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Coal Drawing Machine (Belgium) – Carlos Amorales created an art installation in a former coal mine that features a modified plotter printing with charcoal.

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Cardboard computer and plotter (School of Art and Design Offenbach, Germany) - In an electronic media class, students were able to use cardboard to construct a tiny working computer and plotter.

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Print and fold

I wondered if we could use the plotter for printing larger versions of foldable projects like this Paris city scene or these VW buses.

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Then I fell asleep and dreamed of looking for plotter crafts.

Really. In the mall, there was a store that still had a Christmas display in their window with 3 paper figures that were as tall as I was: an angel with beautiful paper cut wings, a boxy snowman, and maybe a Nutcracker. They had been printed with a plotter, cut out, and folded up (Folidify craft style). So I went to ask the store owners if they would let us have the files for our CraftHack project. They showed me this adorable little papercraft camper that was a cross between a paper VW bus I’d seen and the Fisher-Price camper I had as a kid. (Remember those?) Of course, I still don’t have the files. Because it was a dream.

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But if you have any fabulous real-life ideas for projects that start with a plotter printer, let me know!

Photos via sites as noted, except for the top one, which I took of the actual HP DesignJet 600 at Gangplank.

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