Monday, October 31, 2011

how about a new computer?

The display on my computer went dark on Saturday. i ordered a Mac after talking with a couple of friends about it. The new one should be here by the end of the week. In the meantime, I won't be blogging much (I'm writing this on my phone).

Friday, October 28, 2011

The one that started it

This is the bracelet that I bought a couple of weeks ago that started my obsession interest in putting my own spin on making something similar. This morning, before I got out of bed, I checked my auctions on eBay (only two of them) and found I had been outbid. I upped my bid from the comfort and safety of my own bed.

As you can see, there's a bunch of elements, copper coils, ladies watch faces, a couple of gears. Next to the rectangular watch face is a little pop of purple, hard to see. It's a small half-domed clear piece of plastic or glass that I think really adds something to the piece. Just a little zap of color. My plan is to work with polymer clay to add another kind of element. Still in development, but I hope to spend some time on it this weekend. Along with hitting the flea markets looking for non-working watches, and learning how to coil wire so it lays flat. The glue I bought smells so strongly, I think I'll have to buy something else. Anyone readers know it that dissipates or if there's a less smelly product?

Once I get done, I'm going to give a couple away to friends to see what the design issues are. I know they aren't particularly durable. The flower-shaped medallion on this bracelet came off when I was putting on my lab coat at work the other day.  My design has fewer points to catch on coats. The other thing I liked about this is the scale. A lot of what I looked at on Etsy was larger in proportion, and I just wouldn't wear it. I like my bling on a smaller scale.

I ended up listing the van on No nibbles yet, but the ad has only been up for a couple of days. I'm resigned to keeping it over the winter until interest picks up in the spring. We had that big snow storm on Tuesday night, and in the end got almost 10" of snow. One of the trees on my treelawn (the patch between the sidewalk and the street) split at the base and two 6" trunks came to rest on the van. I cut those away and the van seems fine. The trees around town took a big hit, though, as many still had their leaves on them. It's tough being a deciduous tree in CO. I'm hoping that the remaining half of the tree is OK, as it provides a nice privacy screen in front of my bedroom window.

Going to see live music tonight! Out with the friend that I dated briefly who likes the same kind of music. No expectations, and I like that. We're seeing Greensky Bluegrass. They've got a banjo player, so it's likely my kind of music.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I see my last post was almost a week ago, and was about this new bracelet project that has caught my attention. I've spent much of the last week's free time continuing to gather materials. It's still a lot of fun, but I'm waiting for a couple more things before I assemble my first set of 5 bracelets (that's as many bracelet blanks as I bought - should buy more).

As expected, Mr W has shown an interest in taking apart old watches for me. I bought a bunch of what ended up being mostly battery powered instead of what I want, which is the windup kind. They will be good for practice, and I will be able to use the faces off of many of them. There were a few old ones, and now I know what to look for, so will concentrate on that kind. It's been cool to watch the kid; he is mechanically inclined and I love seeing how he just picks up the stuff and starts to work.

I was downtown a couple of months ago, and stopped in to the independent bookstore down there. I was in a spending mood, apparently, because I bought three brand new books, which I hardly ever do. One book I got was called, Craft Inc. and is about turning crafting into a business. I have no desire or intention to "go big" with these bracelets, but the book has been very useful so far in terms of some of the planning, business and intellectual property sides of this.

One thing the book mentions, which is pretty obvious, but important, is that one needs to have one's own take on the medium so one isn't reinventing the wheel. This made me think about how to put my spin on these bracelets, and I've got some ideas. Yea!! I will post pictures when I get the first five done.

In other news, we got a big dump of wet snow last night, and it's still coming down. No snow day for the kids, but I need to get dressed and knock snow off the trees. I lost one small branch from one tree, but everything else is bent over and needs to be released. Ah, CO in the fall. It's funny, we reliably get a cold snap around Halloween almost every year. So much so that people sort of plan that into their costumes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It was serendipity. I was in line at the consignment shop with a couple of things, and I glanced over at a little rack that had bracelets on it. I'm not normally a bracelet person, as my wrists always seem to be kind of thick for bracelets (yeah, it sounds goofy to me too). One bracelet caught my eye, and I tried it on. It had to pass the "can I get it on and off by myself" test, which it did. It fit, it was a good price, it was my kind of funky, and I bought it.

I was hardly out to my car when I thought, "I could make these, and sell them on Etsy". And ever since then, this idea, this thing that wants to get made, this anticipatory feeling like I'm going to make something artsy, attractive, upcycled and cool, has been simmering in the back of my brain like a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. I LOVE that feeling, being in a place where I'm working on something creative like this. There's a great TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat Pray Love" that talks about this kind of creativity, that's worth checking out. She's lovely and humble.

So this idea, these bracelets, have some upcycled pieces on a bracelet blank (as I have learned they are called), and I've been gathering materials this week. A couple of visits to Ebay, a trip or two to the craft store, once to Amazon, rummaging around in my junk drawers. You know, it's got this mad scientist mojo to it that has been fun. I'm waiting for stuff to arrive in the mail before I can really get going on it, but will post some photos once the first ones are done.

And the best part? Well, one of the best parts, is that I'm going to propose going into business on this with Mr W. I thought he'd be good at taking stuff apart, and sorting the pieces so I can use those for the bracelets. I'll pay him by the piece or something, and he can earn some dough while he works with his hands. Z&Me is what I'm thinking of calling our little venture.

Now, if I could just come up with an idea for a Halloween costume.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guilty insured

I had my physical therapy appointment yesterday, bringing the doctor visit total for this knee thing up to three. Doctor, Specialist, PT. The PT was very helpful and showed me how to apply tape to my knee to sort of shift my kneecap to the inside just a bit to help with the pain I was having. I realized, however, that taking the first available appointment like I did probably wasn't in my best interest. As I told the PT, the doc, who was not a knee specialist, basically said to take 800 mg of Ibuprofen before I hiked and that was it. She seemed a little surprised at that, and gave me the names of their "knee guys" if I need to make another appointment. Geez, what a system. We'll do a little test on it this weekend with the single parent group, as I've scheduled to host a hike on one of the trails nearby.

But I was telling a couple of the women at the dogpark about the knee thing, and they murmured their condolences and then we talked of other things. I later remembered that neither of them has health insurance. They can't afford it. They both work as therapists, part time, one for the school district with at risk teens, and the other in music therapy. I felt unduly privileged, and somewhat guilty for taking my health insurance for granted.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I went to see the ortho yesterday. They took x-rays and manipulated my knee this way and that. The place has an assembly line feel to it. I've heard they are good at what they do, but it's sort of a cold place. There was a picture of all the docs (probably 30 of them) at the front desk, along with the physical therapists and other clinical staff. I was a little surprised that there was not one woman on the surgical staff there. All white men. I don't know if it matters.

Anyway, my diagnosis was arthritis in my knee. Arthritis? Really? My kneecap, where it sits on top of my thigh bone is over a thinning piece of cartilage. This explains the very localized pain on the outside of my knee. Nothing's broken (which is good), and they could go in and shave off the bone a bit, but no one wants to do that at this point. If it progresses badly, then they replace the joint somewhere down the line. Since the pain is confined to me hiking downhill, the physical therapist there is going to show me how to wrap my knee so that the knee cap is held a little to the inside. That, gel insoles, a good set of hiking poles, and I'll try again.

All in all, not bad news.

Plus, it's the weekend (soon), and it's going to be another nice one.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Been a while

This hasn't happened for a while. When someone asks, "How's things?" and I can say, "Good, not much going on, no big dramas, things are humming along." What's different? I don't know, probably my perspective. The things that I have to attend to besides the usual work/kid/home stuff all seem dealable.

I feel thankful and lucky to be here.

Work is fine, although I'm still slogging through the last part of a project and it will be done soon. Did I mention that my cubemate moved out? I think so. Not that I was glad to see him lose his job with our group and be picked up by another lab here for a temporary gig, which is why he moved, but getting my own space at work for the first time in five years is FABULOUS.

I went to my doctor yesterday to get a referral for my knee, which has hurt when I hike downhill for a few months now. The hike with Mr W really tweaked it, and I've got a bit of a limp still. I can still do my Spin class, though, and for that I am grateful. But I called the ortho right away and have an appointment for today to have a specialist look at it. This is Colorado, I have to be able to walk downhill! And I want to be able to hike as I please without worrying about it. Someone in my Spin class suggested hiking poles, which is a great idea. I have a staff, but can see the utility of poles.

I feel like a used car saying this next bit, but I was already in the files of the ortho place because I had hurt my shoulder a few years ago. I was riding my bike downtown in the dark in March and hit a snowbank that was in the bike lane. I hadn't biked all winter and most of the snow around town was gone. Just a stupid accident, but I got thrown over the handlebars and landed on my shoulder. No, I wasn't drinking. No, I wasn't wearing my helmet (but I have, religiously, since that incident). Yes, I got a really bright headlight for my bike. Anyway, I saw the "shoulder guy" who said I could have the surgery to repair my shoulder if I wanted, but I'd probably be OK. I opted not to, and it is fine now (I'll never be a professional drywall hanger, though).

This time around, I feel like if I have to have a procedure, I've got people. People who could drive me to the place, people who could do an errand or two for me. I haven't always felt that way post-divorce, and I'm glad to make a mental list of folks I could ask to help me who likely would. Lucky indeed.

Oh, and I wanted to mention how much I've been enjoying the banjo - when I don't feel like I have to practice-up right before my lesson. I was getting a little stressed about not practicing enough and showing adequate progress at lessons, which as you might guess, was starting to suck some of the joy out of the process. I've adjusted, and now I'm just playing the thing. Practicing, and understanding that it's simply time spent doing it that's going to make me a better player, not forcing more practice into the time that I have, if that makes sense. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some nice little instructions

From this website.

1: Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.  2: Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.  3: Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.  4: Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.  5: Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.  6: Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.  7: Try not to work for stupid people or you’ll soon become one of them. 8: Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.  9: The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.  10: If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bonus time

I had the day off yesterday as one of the generous number of government holidays afforded by my job. Most of the time, I work these days, and bank the time to use later, but yesterday, I had the urge to organize my basement, so I took the day. It was like being gifted with some bonus time, and I felt like I got a lot done.

No, I did not tell Mr W, who I took to school as usual. Yes, I feel kind of bad, but there you go.

My basement is not unusual for an old house like mine. There are two rooms, one with the furnace and washer/dryer, which has exposed beams in the ceiling and I'm guessing the original linoleum floor. The other room has been finished, and has a bit better flooring, but the walls and ceiling have been stuccoed and it's a pretty nice space, except for one thing. The ceiling is about 6' high. Yep, they made people shorter back then or something, but it feels cramped down there unless there's space open in front of me. The finished room has a desk, a futon and a carpet remnant (and until yesterday lots of boxes and assorted stuff I didn't want to deal with), and my thoughts have always been to have it be a talking spot if the kid has friends over (for them or for me, not sure).

The futon, however, has served as convenient space for the last (gulp) couple of years for comforters that are not quite dry out of the dryer, sweaters that have been purchased at the thrift store for project, extra fabric, sleeping bags from camping, etc.

To my horror, I started looking underneath the rubble recently and saw mouse poop. Ugh. LindaCO: habitat creator. Well, nothing motivates me like having to clean up poop, so I bought some plastic storage boxes (which always feels like a bit of a concession - I want less stuff, not more) and set to work cleaning up.

After about 4 hours, a large pile of recyclable cardboard and 4 bags of stuff for Goodwill, I can now use the space, and all that stuff is put away. Feels good indeed.

In other news, the Occupy Wall Street movement has come to my town, and I'm thinking of joining one of the protests this weekend. I'm ambivalent about the value of protests. Stand there with a sign with like-minded people doesn't seem to change anything. But there's also some value in standing witness to something you believe in. What do these people believe in? It's hazy, but they are tapping into the discontent with the banking system, and the ever-growing inequality between rich and poor in this country. I can get behind that.

So what will my sign say? This was not hard at all. I'm all about getting information, so my sign will have these two websites on it: 

Mr. Reich is an accomplished analyst (yes, he leans left politically), but talks about the economy in a way that makes sense to me.


Yves Smith is the pseudonym for Susan Webber, who knows a ton about the mortgage crisis and the financial world and, more importantly, explains things in terms I can understand.

Yep, those two websites and a call to inform oneself about things that affect our lives. Sorry to stray into the political here, but this stuff seems pretty important to me right now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hike and the first volley

I went on the epic hike yesterday, and it was epic. It rained and snowed on us, glad we had our rain gear. The very very best part of hiking with my 10 year old kid was that he wanted to hold my hand sometimes when we were hiking. How cool is that? And that he wanted me to be there. There was another mom there, whose kid ducked and dodged away from her when he saw her arrive. That would break my heart, no matter how I tried to chalk it up to pre-adolescent goofery. The only downside was that my knee was killing me on the way down. Almost scarily so - some kind of tendon or ligament thing on the outside of my knee. Very painful to hike downhill these days. But today it's OK.

I've sent an email to Craigslist regarding my ad to sell Graycie being flagged. We'll see what they have to say. It is a good forum to sell the thing, and I'm hoping they can help. I did check the terms of use, and the words "price" and "pricing" are not in them. So again I say, PHTTHTHTHTPT!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've tried to post a Craigslist ad to sell Graycie the campervan three times, and each time the post has been flagged and removed. The first time I thought it was a mistake. The second time, I posted to a forum (populated by people who apparently spend their days offering their wisdom on why peoples' posts are flagged and removed - amazing), and they scoffed at the price I was asking.

I posted it a third time, with a line at the top that said, "This posting has been flagged and removed twice already. If you're flagging it, please send me an email and tell me why." Sure enough, I get an email from someone that says it's because I'm "charging" more for the van than it cost new. That's all.

I replied that it was of course my choice to set the price as I saw fit, and if no one wanted to pay that price, the van wouldn't sell. Sounds simple enough to me. I then asked if he had any experience with these vans, as I had done my research and set a fair price. I didn't hear anything back, but my posting got removed a third time, so apparently he/she was unconvinced.

This troll has made me very frustrated, but I'm done with Craigslist as an avenue to sell the van. I am flummoxed and bewildered that apparently one person can wield so much power that he/she determines whether I can list my van for sale. I mean, really, it's a free classifieds site, the price I set is my business, I really don't understand why this person cared so much.

But it's done. I'm going to advertise in the local papers, and put a sign in the van and park it out front (now that it's not in danger of being ticketed for expired plates). I was tossing and turning a bit last night over this - the strange sort of powerlessness that I felt, and how easy apparently it is to bring someone's ad down on Craigslist. I mean in theory it's a great system. Flag the smut, the postings that are in the wrong place, the stuff that's not supposed to be sold on the site, fine and dandy. But this was so arbitrary, and I still can't picture why this person would care, although I did think maybe he/she was also selling a van and wanted to oust the competition. Nah, couldn't be...

So that's my Craigslist story. To them I say PPPTHTHTHTPPPPPBBBTT!!!

In other news, today's the epic hike with Mr. W. Preemptive Advil has been administered. Sally the dog saw me get out my backpack, and it's really hard to tell her they have a "no dogs" policy on the hike, and that we'll hike on Saturday morning. Sorry, pooch.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I spent a chunk of time at work the last couple of days trying to figure out how to get some data formatted properly so a computer program would read it. It wanted what's called a distance matrix, which is a listing of the names of the mosquito populations I'm working with for this one study along the top, and in the same order along the side of a spreadsheet, and then the distance in between each pair of population is there where the two pops intersect. There's actually two copies of the info in the matrix, mirror images. Not sure why the programs aren't smart enough to do what they need to do with just one copy, but I'll do what they want.

Except this time, it wouldn't read the file correctly, and smushed the numbers over to the side and left some spaces blank, so I proceeded to tweak the file, rename it (geofile2, geofile3, etc.) and try again. I got up to geofile19, and that worked. It looked suspiciously like the first ones, but I had the names in the wrong format at first.

I don't really mind this kind of puzzle-solving. I did it a lot when I was in school, and the software for population genetics is mostly freeware and it all has its quirks. But I'm afraid there were some colorful words said in the lab (I was by myself) when it wouldn't work and I hadn't come up with the next tweak yet. But now, the program should be running over the next couple of days, and give us some good information.

In other news, I listed Graycie on Craigslist this morning, with a little bit of a heavy heart. The circumstances of my life just aren't quite right for me to have this as a second vehicle, although her practical-ness still is so appealing. The apartment on wheels.

And in other other news, Mr W is going off on a three day field trip with school today. He's been so excited, it's been fun. Also a good experience for him to run down a checklist of stuff he needs, and make sure he's got it all. They invited the parents to go with them on their "epic hike" tomorrow - an eight mile hike that includes something called "Heart Attack Hill". Man, if my Spinning hasn't let me hike at the same pace with a bunch of 5th graders, I'm going to be bummed. Actually, I'm not so worried about keeping up cardio-wise. I am a little concerned that my knee and back have hurt some when I've hiked earlier this season. Preemptive Advil and stretching are in order for sure. Should be fun.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Small world - freakishly so, sometimes

When I take the dog to the dog park, there is a group of people who all go there around the same time of the day and we chat and usually walk around together. It's a social thing as well as good for the dogs, so everyone wins. They are so nice to my dog, I really like that. I also like how the dogs seem to know each other, and even if they don't play, they hang out together very peacefully. Nothing elicits "awwww" better than three friendly dogs drinking out of the same water bowl.

I was on my way out yesterday, and a person mentioned something about the town where he was born. I stopped in my tracks and said, "(name of town), New York"? "Yeah". I said, "My mom grew up there!" Unbelievable. "What's the last name?" I told him, and he knew my grandfather. "Oh, Doc (last name)! He was a vet. Nicest guy. You could take any kind of animal to him and he'd fix it. He knew about small and large animals, such a nice guy."

He knew more about my grandfather than I did! Oompa (is what we called him) died when I was about 5, so I didn't get a chance to know him. I knew that he was a vet, but thought he worked only with cows. Such an extraordinary coincidence. Although if you want to hear an hour-long program about the likelihood of such coincidences, Radio Lab has a really nice show on it.

Anyway, I don't know exactly how old my dog park friend is, but probably 15 years younger than my mom. I'm looking forward to hearing more about people that he knew. I should get my recorder and see if he's got some good stories. Also, his mom is still alive, so he's going to talk to her about my mom's family as well. Just such a coincidence.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bring on the woo

Must be New Age month here as casa LindaCO. I went to another Meet Up meet up a couple of days ago, this one was a group guided meditation. The theme was about getting more in touch with your soul, or something woo-woo like that. This was after I attended the haunted history tour with this group a week prior. I don't know, I think the sciencey me has always been curious about these things, but I haven't made a point of attending events.

So at this most recent event, we sat in one of the little theaters in town, and listened to this guy tell his story for a while, and then did two guided meditations, one sort of short primer one, and then a second longer one. It is perhaps an indication of where I am on my spiritual journey that I kept getting pulled out of it by the woman behind me who coughed every couple of minutes. Ah, well. But I wanted to share this one interesting thing.

We were supposed to be trying to feel the Divine (however we defined it), and I was visualizing having this sphere of light all around and inside me. So far so good. Then I "looked" down (with my eyes closed if that makes sense) and there was this valley where my chest was. How to describe it. It was a flat-bottomed trough, about 6" wide and ran down the length of my chest, and there was nothing in it. I wasn't surprised, or scared or anything, it was just kind of there.

But as we went on, I "looked down" again, and the trough was gone. I couldn't conjure it back up, it was just my regular solid form. Now, I mention this bit of it because one of the things that interests me is the interpretation of what goes down. Afterwards, I thought of the trough as a gap between the sciencey, analytical part of me and the creative side. With the outcome being that I can merge these together; they aren't really separate. I told a friend about this experience yesterday, and he said, "Oh, you feel empty, I've felt like that too". See how he projected his experience and perspective on his interpretation? I told him I hadn't thought of it like that. Who's right? I guess it's whatever I decide feels rightest. Please feel free to throw in your 2 cents in the comments.

I feel sometimes like these experiences are self-congratulatory BS, but at the same time, I think a little affirmation of things we would like to think of as true about ourselves is OK.