I wrote this about a week ago for some friends in L.A. who had a new cat visit them and win over their hearts. Pennycat ended up with their daughter and family and is doing great – and they all enjoyed the poem!

Penny for your thoughts,
mister starving cat
where did you come from?
can’t help but wonder that

Persistent you were
with those big green eyes
charming us with your purr
and to our surprise

We caved in quickly
even Bruno is adjusting
we couldn’t leave you sickly
and you seemed so trusting

Now you’re with us
and it seems so right
having you is a plus
asleep on our bed at night!


For weeks I’ve been telling myself I should have finished this post by now. I think I’m still trying to decide how I feel about having gone to Burning Man. Maybe I should just list a bunch of random thoughts.

Burn In

  • I suspect you can only really know what it’s like by going. I’m glad I went.
  • I met totally awesome people at my camp. I had several deep and meaningful conversations with new friends; that is one of the things I look forward to in this community.
  • Like when you go hiking in a beautiful place, almost no one was grumpy. There was a couple fighting outside my tent one night (“Listen to me! Listen to me!” Then silence … he was listening, so then why didn’t she talk? LOL), but that was the only negativity I can remember personally.
  • Having some sort of purpose there is important. I helped out with an art project and also our camp setup/takedown.
  • I didn’t see all the art on the playa. I didn’t go down all the streets. I didn’t see all my friends who were there. You can probably replace “didn’t” with “couldn’t” and these statements don’t lose any accuracy.
  • In spite of being about radical self-expression, I found myself feeling a little withdrawn. I missed my electronic connections. When the rest of the 50,000 or so people got to the playa I realized I might as well put my phone away, plus I thought it might be good for me to just give it up for a week and so I did. I think I would have been alright if I’d thought up something to replace it with. But I didn’t, and so in some sense I withdrew a little.
  • Adding to that, I found the weather/climate very uncomfortable, especially in the day: hot, dry and very dusty – and this was a “good” year. In a way the whole thing was like a big party; I enjoy but am not a big partier. I was there early and left late. 11 days of uncomfortable partying is too long for me for.
  • I did really enjoy going out at night wearing all sorts of light-up stuff and seeing other people’s illuminated creativity and seeking out good music. Disorient, Space Cowboys, Bass Couch and the Robot Heart… The last time I found the Robot Heart it was on the move, and I was one of dozens of people on bikes, pedaling along on the port side. It reminded me of how dolphins follow a boat. So then I wondered if the sound which boats make as they motor by is like the house/psytrance music from the Robot Heart. I’ll choose to believe that.
  • I already had a burner name in mind for myself and on the way out there explained to some of my campmates and one of them started calling me that: “Sparks”. More on that in some other post 😉

Burn Out

  • As I’ve wondered whether I can wash suede, sussed out how to clean my suitcases, and was rearranging the dust in and around my pickup the other day, I mused about why people burn so much there. And was reminded of what a trailwork friend from California said after he’d been working around poison oak – that he would wash his clothes in the fireplace.
  • Being in some kind of funk after the burn is common. I felt a little like I’d been in a plane that someone else had been driving and they’d suddenly left and left me at the controls. Several people I know came down with physical illnesses. Socially it sounds like we’re walking on shifting sands. Now I’ve mostly got control of the plane again, but it still has a few dips and swoops. But maybe it’s better that way; don’t want to get too comfortable.
  • Those feelings notwithstanding, it WAS worthwhile, I’m real glad I went and I do hope to do it again sometime. Just more comfortably and/or not for so long. Maybe next year, maybe not. If they continue to limit ticket sales, I might prefer to imagine my ticket in the dusty hands of someone who’s never gone before. We’ll see. Shifting sands…
Burning Man 2011: black flowers before the temple

Burning Man 2011: black flowers before the temple

More photos on Flickr.

Apogaea 2011: Illuminate

Last weekend I was at Apogaea, Colorado’s regional burn. Similar to Burning Man, but just for Colorado. The website says “Apogaea is a collaborative outdoor arts and music festival held in beautiful mountains of Colorado.” Not sure that really covers it all, but it’s a start. It was my first time, and while I can agree with the above description, it was a lot of other things too. It had the art and the music – mostly electronic music, loud and entrancing until dawn – but also community, collaboration, celebration, fire (burning effigies at the end), things that light up (LEDs/EL wire/blacklights/flourescent paint and materials etc.), interesting activities (I especially liked the High Flying Aerial Acrobatics workshop, Camp Wardrobe Malfunktion was fun too), people in costumes, etc. In short, lots of different things to sink one’s teeth into.

In the days before heading off I made a Day of the Dead costume. While I’ve normally been adding my pretty little LEDs to Goodwill-hunted merchandise, this one was something I designed and made from a raw sheet of fabric, something I haven’t done in a while. Not intending to leave it unLEDed, I placed 1.8mm red LEDs in each of the eyes. The effect was so illuminating that even Facebook thought one of the skulls was a person and asked me to tag them. I was kind of rushed getting it done, no time for lining on this one, but it held up ok considering. My Rainbow Raincoat, Smolder dress and Flower Power dress also came along with me and showed their colors.

I camped with some friends I met through the Boulder Hackerspace who created the Musical Universe of Faux Fur Flowers (MUFFFs) – a sound-interactive art installation with LED strips, faux fur, bent pipes and flourescent paint. It was fun helping with assembly and take-down, and also joining the cuddle-puddle I found one night lying underneath enjoying the lights react to the music and their conversation! Here’s some videos of the MUFFFs in action: Cuddle puddle or with drums

And here’s some photos from the event:

Cool Hot Springs: Kayaking on the Colorado

This past weekend I traveled from my home near Boulder, Colorado to the Colorado River in Boulder Canyon, on the Nevada / Arizona border just below Hoover Dam.

My cousin Tracy, an expert at cramming what normal people consider “vacations” into short weekends, planned this glorious outing a couple months back, and I happily accepted her invitation to come along! There were 9 of us altogether: family and friends from California, Nevada and Colorado. Tracy arranged our trip with Desert Adventures, who did a wonderful job transporting and orienting us for our journey. We split up into 2 canoes and 5 1-person kayaks. The canoes held most of our gear and thankfully none tipped over! Here’s a brief description of our journey, followed by a galleria of photos.

Day 1, Saturday: gathered at 8:15 just east of Boulder City, launched around 9, then traveled 4 miles down-river. The launch point is just below the Hoover Dam. We explored the Sauna Cave, hot springs in Gold Strike Canyon and also some spraying in to the river, etc. Reaching where we planned to camp around 1, we ate, set up camp, walked to a hot springs with waterfall just up the canyon, ate, hung out, ate, paddled, made s’mores, with most of us going to bed before the sun went down.

Day 2, Sunday: 7 miles. We awoke to find a mouse had drowned in a cup of water we’d left sitting out. We ate (but not the mouse), packed up and set out (before 7 I think it was), paddled and enjoyed the water until about 9:30, had brunch, paddled some more, some of us took a swim along the way, the wind kicked up in late morning and there was a hellish mile-or-so long slog heading south into strong winds from the south until our take-out point at Willow Beach, where we then ate lunch, napped, lounged etc. until our pick-up at 3.

Interesting things about the trip:

  • Something about being on the water makes you want to eat all the time. Which we did. Thank you Tracy for packing such good food for us all, we really appreciated it!!
  • Hot and Cold: The water in the river is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty cold to bare skin. In contrast, there are hot springs flowing in to the river in numerous places, some of them pretty scalding, and the air temperature was above 90 F both afternoons.
  • I don’t know if it’s always like this, but it got windy both days near noon, from the south, the direction the river was taking us. I think it canceled the current and then some. This made paddling downstream feel like paddling up hill.
  • They tell you to pee in the water instead of on land. It is hard to feel comfortable doing this after years of conditioning.

More photos on my Flickr.

P.S. Aside from the afternoon wind, this trip was delightful!

Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 Recap

The weekend before last (May 21-22) I attended Maker Faire, the “World’s Larges DIY Festival”, in San Mateo California.

I was proud to be a part of the eTextiles / Wearable Computing Lounge and Showcase. eTextiles and Wearable Computing (which I’ll abbreviate eT/WC from here on) incorporate electronics into fabrics or clothing. See my earlier post for more on what it is and how I came to be interested in this field.

The Lounge displayed the works of about 10 or so designers. The Showcase was an eT/WC fashion show, held at 3 pm on Saturday on the ArcAttack stage of the Fiesta Hall. I never imagined myself as a runway model and although it wasn’t exactly like that, I sure couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sachey, chantey!

(Did anyone capture the Showcase on video? My Mom especially wants to know! 😉 )

For the Lounge, I had on display the 3 items mentioned in my May 9 post: the Rainbow Raincoat, Smolder and Flower Power dresses. For the Showcase I decided to wear Flower Power, but I’m also proud that Lynne Bruning, who brought us the eTextiles Lounge + Showcase, chose to wear my Rainbow Raincoat while presenting! (I should have warned her the fabric is very insulating and not so great for stressful situations, though!)

I was happy to meet many interesting and fun fellow designers and see how each of us is taking the technology and creativity in different directions. Very exciting times! Thank you Lynne for making this event happen!

In addition to my eT/WC participation, I was gobsmacked just walking around the Faire taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes and thought-provoking ideas! It kind of felt like the county fairs I used to go to as a kid combined with Mythbusters and Mad Max.

Photos from the Faire (see my Flickr for more):

Most awed by: the Mechanical Swamp Kirin:

41 Years, 59 Miles

Yesterday was my 41st birthday, so I biked 59 miles.

I got this crazy idea from my friend Burt, who, since turning 50, has set and followed a goal for himself: each birthday he runs 100 minus his age in years, in miles. So I thought, if he can do this as running, I will try it biking.

59 miles

59 miles

I left at 9 am and got back around 3. I decided to head west to Boulder and then north to re-explore some country roads I used to enjoy when I’d bike from my former house in north Boulder. I saw approximately 64 cows, 33 horses, a dozen random unidentified farm animals, 11 rabbits, 43 prairie dogs, 8 squirrels, 2 dead snakes, 1 snake skin, 2 dead birds, 159 live birds/ducks/geese. Around halfway I found myself in Longmont debating about where to get lunch and just standing there I somehow managed to fall off my bike, getting sidewalk rash on my knee and injuring my middle finger. (I’m hoping it’s not broken, if it turns out it is then there’ll be one more bird to speak of…) Anyhow, this is called “making memories“; it was Memorial Day, after all. I added these fresh right-side ailments to my already bruised right foot (where I dropped something on it Saturday) and sore right wrist (fell hard on it snowboarding last week).

A description of this ride would not be complete without mentioning the weather. At the start of the day there was fog and a cool mugginess, which turned to general cloudiness with hints of sunshine. Then when I was enjoying the beautiful but unsheltered St. Vrain Greenway Trail southeast of Longmont, somehow it started hailing and raining. Pea-sized hail falling at 45 degree angles eventually results in one or two hitting your face and this stings a little. I was glad to have a helmet. Heading south from there on County Line Road I noticed a bank of clouds black as night to the east. The image of a man suspended on his bike in the Wizard of Oz briefly came to mind. But, then the sun came out. However, I wished the hail would come back when the 30 mph winds kicked up. This meant my last 8 miles were entirely uphill even on the downhill, being sandblasted and tossed around unpredictably. I was glad to have a helmet.

Typical Colorado weather? Probably. I do like the drama and variety… just not the wind!

In spite of little planning for this ride, I was at about 58 miles when I got back to my apartment so only had to do a little extra tooling around to reach 59. See my route.

I know what you’re thinking: this girl knows how to party on her birthday, huh?

Well, I do find life isn’t complete without both yin and yang. It so happened that someone I know was having a birthday party in the afternoon, at a stunning house in north Boulder with sweeping views, great food and drink, even a dancing violinist and various other activities. His birthday was actually last week but I thanked him graciously for having a party to celebrate. Then 2 of my good friends took me out to dinner + dessert for a bit more of a personal celebration. So I had an all-around great day!

Oh, and on my drive back home I added a coyote to my wildlife sightings. 🙂