Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today's Document

I can't remember where I first saw a link to this blog, but I've put it in my feed. It's from the National Archives, and it's called "Today's Document".

They post one thing a day and I have enjoyed the variety of items they've chosen to show.

My talk went well! I was very glad I brought a copy of it on a jump drive, as they did not have the version I had emailed last Friday. Phew! A couple of people have come up to me and offered to send me mosquitoes, and I'm excited to get some more coverage for the CA study.

And now, it's off to the banquet. I'm tired! But it's good to do this schmoozing. Tomorrow, we're off to Davis for the day to see some of the sites my specimens came from. Looking forward to a good night's rest tonight.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cloudy California

 My plan was to go to the Flower Conservatory today, but alas they are closed on Mondays. So here is the outside of the building. *sigh*

I've been up since 4 am, so I'm fading fast, but wanted to post these. I waffled a bit, but pushed myself a little to go down to Golden Gate Park. I wish I had more time to do it, but I had a good time. It was a three leg trip each way: ride the shuttle from the hotel back to the airport, pick up a train from there to a bus stop and then transfer to a bus the rest of the way. Going over to the airport, I rode with a couple of ladies who were going down to the wharf (The Wharf?) downtown. I imagine if the security camera footage in the train station was ever reviewed, they'd get a good laugh out of the three of us trying to negotiate the ticket vending machines.

The bus didn't follow the same route coming back, so I thought I had missed my stop and had to ask a knowledgable high schooler whether this was the case. That would have been a bummer, but all was fine. It was a little exhausting, all that paying attention, but I'm glad I went. 

Since the Flower Conservatory was closed, I wandered around a bit. I only had about an hour, so didn't feel purchasing admission to the CA Academy of Sciences was justified. I did ask if they had a reciprocity agreement such that I could use my Denver science museum membership, but no dice. I went to the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park and that was very nice. Despite being winter here, things were pretty darn green. There is some cool detail on the roof of this building. One of the ponds had several of the largest koi I've ever seen. Fat and happy. 

I had dinner with my collaborators, and we talked a bit about the work I'm doing as it relates to the research questions they have. So far so good. My talk is at 8:30 instead of 8, so that's good news. And now, I must go to bed. So tired! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twang twang

Tonight I had the pleasure of going to my banjo instructor's studio/house to jam with what turned out to be her and some of her friends (it was open to all of her adult students). At first we crammed into the smallish living room and made small talk and drank some wine, and then moved into the studio and played songs for a couple of hours.

It was a blast! We played several songs that I actually knew, so I could keep up, and then they, because they had acoustic guitars, branched off to Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, REM and Paul Simon. I sort of limped along and tried just to pick with my right hand to keep time for those, but I could see there will eventually be a point where someone can say "it's A, C, Em, D and G" and I'll be able to do that. As it was, I did not embarrass myself, which will be my goal for the short term. It was fun to kind of connect with these people through the music.

Yea! It's been so fun to learn the banjo and see how I'm slowly progressing over time. I had Mr W with me, and hoped he would see how much fun we were having and fingers crossed think he might want to try an instrument again. He accompanied us with a maraca, and plunked on her drum kit a little, so those were good things.

Fun indeed. Tomorrow, we'll head down to the Denver science museum to see their new IMAX film "Tornado Alley" and then I've got to drop off Mr W and Sally at their respective places for the next 4 days while I'm out of town M-Th. I've practiced my talk a couple of times, and I think it's just about there. A few more run-throughs and it will be ready to present.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Sally diet

I took beloved doodle Sally to the vet yesterday because she's got ear gunk. She's got sort of heavy ears, so I do look for gunk occasionally, and this round seems to have developed pretty recently. When we got there, they of course weighed my dog.

70.8 lbs.

Excuse me? Can you do that again? I remember her weighing 80 ish, and at one time 85 lbs. The nice tech reweighs my cooperative non-wiggling dog. Yup. 70.8 lbs.

She's a large dog, but still this is a lot of weight to have taken off in the last year without me really paying attention. The vet wasn't concerned, because she's healthy and she was too heavy before anyway.

Our secret? A smaller scoop for her food. I don't remember what happened to the old scoop. Oh, wait, yes I do. It was an old pint-sized container from a deli and she chewed it up. Take that as you will.

I looked in my vast tupperware library and found something that I could fill to heaping and was the 1 1/4 cups she gets twice a day. And we've been using that ever since. She still gets plenty of treats, so I guess we're doing it right. It was just sort of weird that it was happening without my realizing it.

So now (she says, facetiously) I'm going to write a book on how if you buy my special set of plates and measuring spoons and cups, you'll be able to lose 15 % of your body weight in a year. ;-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When someone you hardly know dies

I learned through FB that a cousin of mine, who I have not seen in decades, has passed away. In the way that families need to be truthful, but don't want to acknowledge stuff that's really no one else's business, I had heard that she was mentally ill for most of her adult life, and didn't live independently.

Such a tragedy.

The cousin who shared the information on FB had a really nice way of putting it: "God takes those like her directly to his side. She is finally at peace."

Her death reminds me that to some extent, it is a roll of the dice that makes it so we continue down our chosen path in life. That illness and accidents happen to people sometimes in a random way, and there is no guarantee.

I was thinking just yesterday how I have been skirting the edges of contentment again. I love when this happens, when things seem like they are humming along and I'm doing my job as a parent, being productive at work, doing some creative stuff. It's a good feeling indeed. I imagine it's a response, but I had a dream last night that Mr W was in his bed and said he kept hearing noises. I went to the back door (which he can't see when he's in bed), and someone grabbed me from behind. In reality, bestest barky watchdog Sally prevents this from happening, so I am not worried about that particular scenario. It was clearly (in my mind anyway) my primitive lizard brain saying something like, "you think you're feeling good right now? There are so many wonderfully scary things to worry about that could happen to you!" I sent her (my lizard brain is named Alexandria) out for coffee and she'll be back some time later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some handmade buttons

Here are the buttons I've made so far. I've divided them up for the shop by color and shape, so a person could buy the six round lavender ones as a set. I was online looking at polymer clay sites and found this, which has a lot of ideas for polymer clay in general. 

One of their most fantabulous ideas was to use a corn cob holder to poke button holes in the uncured clay. Brilliant! I was using a small drill bit, which works, but I have to place each hole separately and get a few off center ones that don't make the final cut.

I have found that I enjoy the process of making the buttons a lot. There's something almost meditative about going through the steps. And I'm a sucker for color, so I do enjoy mixing the colors as well. Last week, I had a little bit of time to kill before picking up Mr W, so I went to the craft store, and thought I'd just see if they had any accessories I couldn't live without. I know darn well that what they charge for a 2 oz. block of polymer clay is more expensive than I can find online. It's not like this store is local, so I don't mind looking for the good deal. 

As an aside, I was poked with a little guilt when I bought a book on Amazon to make it to the $25 threshold for free shipping on some craft supplies. I had planned to buy the book for a book club at a book store downtown, but it was the only thing I could think of that I actually sort of needed. 

Anyway, I make my way back to where they have the clay and, hey! it's half off. Blink. Blink. I select 25 blocks and make my purchase. I felt like I had this treasure; it was funny. I'm still working my way through a couple more purples so I can make pinky purpley all-clay bracelets, and then will get to dive into the new clay. 

I then need to come up with I think one more thing to get on the shop and then need to advertise somehow to get more people to the shop. Only so many hours in the day. I've been busy (still) at work, and for the last week and a half have been analyzing data and working on a PowerPoint presentation. I got a first draft done yesterday and sent it to my boss. I think it's close. I've not quite switched to "hey, I'm going out of town" mode yet. Sally gets to stay with my friend from the dog park, and I think she finds that preferable to being in the kennel. I would! I'm happy to give B the money I'd otherwise give the kennel, too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My advice

I heard that an acquaintance of mine is getting divorced and that it's "getting kind of ugly". I see her pretty regularly, but don't know her well.

I started thinking about my situation, naturally. Divorce was (is) not common at all in my family or my circle of friends. I didn't have many people to talk to who had walked in my shoes, although my family was instrumental in helping me cope.

Because there was a child involved, I took what was going down very seriously. This couple does not have kids, but I think what I'm going to say still applies. I thought (and this continues) that it was very important to keep things civil for Mr W's sake. Because his dad, my ex, is part of my life for a while yet. I believe it's easier on the child when their divorced parents get along well enough that decisions are made in the best interest of the kid.

Hate is a difficult thing to carry around with you. I know some folks who still hold to so much hurt and hatred for their ex-spouses, that they have had trouble moving on. I'm not saying that one's feelings, however strong, shouldn't be processed and dealt with. But making decisions that deliberately hurt someone who has hurt us can escalate a situation. And it takes time to come back from that level of spite and anger.

That is my view anyway. I was terribly hurt that my life as I knew it was going to change. (OK, that's a bit of an understatement). But somehow I knew that if I sank to a place where I was dealing with my ex in a way to deliberately screw him over, that that would leave a residue on me that I'd have to work to wash off later. So I have tried to keep things civil, and as a result, get flexibility in the parenting schedule, and an ex that kicks in his share of the expenses.

I didn't come out of it unscathed; I'm still wary of getting the rug pulled out from under me again. But (and this is the important part, I think) I came out of stronger and more resilient, which I think is important because life doesn't stay the same for very long.

My two cents'.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We apologize for this unintentional exposure

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I'm pretty sciencey. I also work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevention is one of our things. So, not surprisingly, we get how vaccines work and support their use. In my mind, it's not a matter of belief. Every parent gets to make their own decision, but the facts are this: the more people who are unvaccinated, the more people are going to get sick from preventable (there's that word again) diseases. The cost of not vaccinating can be pricey, too, as this article shows. Health departments still have to contain and quarantine. Not a great use of public money, in my opinion.

Will your kid die from chicken pox? Not likely. And perhaps that is the thinking, why risk side effects (perceived or otherwise) of the vaccination when their child won't die of the disease?

This extremely narrow view of disease irks me.  The point of having a high rate of vaccination is so that babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, people who either can't have the vaccination or for whom it is not as effective, are protected because they aren't exposed. It's called Herd Immunity.

Anyway, Mr W has been vaccinated with the full battery of recommended immunizations. He's going to this weekly program at my church and a couple of days ago, I got an email with this post's title in it. A kid in the group exposed everyone to chicken pox at the meeting this week. That's how it works. If the parent had seen spots on their (I'm guessing unvaccinated) kid, they would have kept him or her home (or I hope so, anyway). But kids are contagious a day or two before they get the spots. That's how it works.

I'm not worried that Mr W will get it. I'm not worried that I'll get it. However, I had to write to Mr W's dad and tell him to keep Mr W away from his grandma (ex's mom) who is elderly and should not risk exposure. It annoys me that I have to make accommodations like that when on the other end, if the kid was unvaccinated, that family didn't make accommodations for the rest of us. It's part of living in a society.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hitting the wall

I have a small house. It's basically my bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, Mr W's tiny room, and a largish living room that is probably 12 x 25. It's a good space, but I have been slowly filling it with crafting stuff and things that need to be sorted and put away. I don't qualify for a spot on Hoarders yet, but I'm not happy with the current arrangement.

I've hit an organizational wall and am looking forward to doing something about it tomorrow. My banjo teacher (who sadly is having her senior citizen dog put down today) said she'd take a bookcase off my hands that I got at a garage sale and is too big for the space. If I can wrangle someone to help me, I also have a love seat that I want to donate to the thrift store and get it the heck off my front porch. It's an enclosed front porch, so no one can see it (thankfully). I wanted to put it down the basement, but we couldn't get it through the door. I guess a hundred years ago when people built cellars that later turned into basements, they weren't thinking about accommodating upholstered furniture.

From where I sit, the fact that I've had a love seat on my porch for a year, intending to do something with it, is the epitome of living by myself. No one really cares if it's there except for me, and I must not be too concerned, or it'd be gone by now. Ditto with the vacuum cleaner that's been in the living room for 2 weeks, waiting for me to use it.

Anyway, I've been using the table we eat at to do all the bracelet stuff except gluing, which I do in the basement. There's usually something crafty on it all the time now, and that irks me a bit. I've got a corner desk on the other side of the room that has no lighting (easily remedied) and holds a plant and the wireless router. The plan is to move operations over to that side of the room and have it so I can leave out work in progress, but also have enough bins or drawers or something to put it the heck away if need be.

I'll take pictures of the after.

It's has been a warm and dry January here in Colorado. I need to get the van sold, still. I'm waiting on any home improvements until I do that, so need to get it in gear. Not surprisingly, I've softened a bit on the price, but need to get it advertised and outta here.

I vow this is the year (I've done this for the last 4 years or so) that I put in the deck off the living room. I may or may not do anything with the kitchen, but the other day when I was cooking and, as usual, had about a 1.5 square feet of counter space to work, I thought, there has got to be a better way. After living here this long now, and seeing Mama Pea's remodel, I think replacing the door between my kitchen and bathroom with a pocket door could get me some needed space.

Something about after Christmas that prompts me to plan.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Before I start my little rant, I wanted to mention that yesterday was my sister's birthday. She would have been 49. It will be four years next month that she's been gone. I exchanged a couple of emails with a family friend who mentioned that Kris's passing fell on the same date their dad died. February 22nd. I remember because I was 15, and the friends in that family were around the same age. For some reason, I didn't know or didn't realize the events were on the same date. Anyway, she is dearly missed, and would be so proud of her boys (now just about men).

On to my rant.

I had some medical stuff to attend to a few months ago. Nothing serious, but needed a follow up appointment six months down the road, and that happened last week. The results of that have me making another appointment, but then I should be all done but for a few follow ups.

I get home from work last Friday and, as I usually do, put my work bag down, and am ready to get the dog and go immediately to the dog park. There's a message on my machine, which I press the button to listen to. It's the nurse with the results of the follow-up appointment. She says something like, "I just tried your cell, and can't get you with this number. I don't want to leave a message, but it's not bad, at all. I'll be here for another 15 minutes, or you can call Monday."


So I look at my cell phone, which was silenced in my purse, and she had called about five minutes prior. I just missed both calls. It's about 4:15. I call the office and.... "Our hours are 8-4 on Fridays". She was probably there, but I couldn't reach her.

I'm getting peeved just writing this again. Everything was fine, and in retrospect, because her news was so not-shocking, she must not have seen what she did as any big deal. I, on the other hand, was pushed into that panicky state where clear judgement was not close at hand. I talked myself down off that ledge, and had a pretty normal weekend, although I kept remembering that I didn't know what the results were.

I know I've stated that medical people can leave messages at either of those numbers, I just don't remember if it was that doctor. But I have trouble comprehending how the nursing staff can be so out of touch as to leave people hanging over the weekend. Don't call me after hours! Just call me Monday.

Anyway, I call yesterday, and a different nurse calls me back. She tells me what the doctor wanted to do, which does not make sense to me, and I had the logical question of "why would she want to do that?" She is unable to answer, so I press her a little and ask her to get back to me with the answers. She says I need to make an appointment, and had the appointment people NOT let me make that appointment, I would have not known everything I needed to know. The appointment person said, "No, the nurse has to make that kind of appointment for you". So I call back again, leave a message, and then she calls me back, again, and tells me what's actually going to happen, which is kind of what I was expecting, and fine and all that.

She does tell me a bit about the post-procedure stuff I'll need to do, but does not offer anything on the other end, so I ask: "Is there anything I need to do to prepare?" And she, I wish I was able to record the conversation, says, "No." And then she says something like, "Oh, besides taking Ibuprofen before hand" as though I'd somehow know to do this. I ask, "How much?" and she tells me.

So many things about this process are not as they should have been handled. The doctor is not some yokel in some tiny outpost. This is a large established practice, and I can't believe the person was following their protocol on informing patients and following up with results. I'm going to write an actual letter, I believe, now that I've gotten some of what happened out in this post.

It does point out, though, how complex the exchange of information is. But not so complex that they couldn't get it right the first time here. I'm thankful I don't have anything serious, or else I'd be scared that I wasn't getting all the correct information.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who's got the button?

There is a story that Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat Pray Love fame) tells in a TED talk that I've mentioned here before. It's about the singer Tom Waits, who once was in traffic and got an idea for a song. He didn't have paper and pencil, and was quite busy driving. He cried out in frustration something like, "Can't you see I'm driving?" The idea being that sometimes creativity seems to come and get a person, as opposed to being something that one just sort of pulls the lid off of and has.

I'd like to think of myself as a sometimes creative person. I get ideas that seem neat to follow up on. I was surfing around Etsy and looking at the things people do with polymer clay. In a great example of how there are very few original ideas, I saw some buttons on the site and thought that my stamped clay medallions might make good buttons.

Here are a few of my first efforts. I think I will offer these in sets of 6.

In other news, Mr W and I watched Howl's Moving Castle last night on Netflix. I don't know what it is about some of the anime stuff out there, but I loved this movie. I had seen it before, but it was great to see it again. I dropped the DVD part of my Netflix subscription a few months ago, and since then have not had much luck finding the things I specifically want to watch offered as streaming video. But this movie was offered in that format.

I'm funny with movies. It's hard for me to commit two hours to what part of my mind sees as "just sitting around". I feel like I should be "doing" something. I suppose I could knit, or work on some bracelet stuff that doesn't require a lot of mental effort, but for whatever reason, I don't like to double up like that. So, I don't watch many movies on my own, and that's OK.

We've got two engagements today that involve restaurants. We're going to lunch with friends from the dog park, and celebrating M's retirement. Then, just a few hours later, the single parent group is getting together for an early dinner at a restaurant down the street from the first. In between, I'd like to pop over to work to see if some of my DNA sequencing results have been uploaded so I can see them.

I've pushed myself to get these results in order to have something to present to our collaborators, and I'm really hoping that they show something interesting. This process has been kind of exhilarating, and I've enjoyed work for the past few weeks, going through this process of finding differences that help solve a taxonomic puzzle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Way too early for that

At work, my boss and I have just about put the final touches on a manuscript that I have been working on for a while. One of the measures of progress in the job is to publish in peer-reviewed journals, so the more good papers that our lab puts out, the better.

This one will be a good one, it just took too long. I'm ready to send it off for review.

When we were done talking about the paper, I showed him some results of something else that I had been working on. Another kind of DNA marker called SNPs (people usually call  them "snips") which stands for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms. SNPs are used a lot in human genetics work, and one of the results of the Human Genome Project has been to associated groups of SNPs with a higher likelihood of something, like a disease.

If I find SNPs in coding regions of DNA, that is, within genes themselves, as opposed to the extensive amount of DNA in organisms' genomes that doesn't code for anything then those are differences that might help us with our efforts to tell groups of mosquitoes apart taxonomically, AND (which would be a really cool thing) in our efforts to characterize differences in these critters' ability to carry and transmit disease.

I think that's the longest sentence I've ever written.

I'm excited about this. There are labs where there are teams of people working on the same thing, but there's lots of genes out there, so I'm optimistic that we can make a contribution in this area of research. I have been able to find differences between two of the species we work with, which are closely related, so it's so far, so good.

After we got done with that, I asked H if he had heard anything about the budget for next year. He said he hadn't, but that it was going to be another fight. For a while, I started to feel the familiar anxiety about losing my job that I had for a good part of the spring and summer last year. And you know what? It's way too early for that nonsense. Not only do I have almost seven months yet on my contract, after seeing how it played out last year, I know they'll do all they can to keep me on, and that (more importantly) I'll be OK. So I let myself off that hook.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Growing up

I was telling someone the other day how my kid at 10 still has this sweetness about him that I love dearly. His vocabulary and wit make him seem older than he is sometimes, but that sweetness pegs him as a 10-almost-11 year old. This person lamented that by 12, that sweetness can take a holiday for nearly a decade. Darn.

He is growing up, right before my eyes. It's not a bad thing. We were talking the other day about what he would do the summer before he started middle school, which will be 2013. He'll be 12, and so all of the day care things we did since he was a wee tot aren't available anymore. He asked what he'd do with that summer time. I said that I figured he'd be in some kind of structured program for part of the time, would volunteer somewhere for part of the time, and would be able to hang out at home (gulp!) alone for part of the time. My next thought was, "I am thankful that cell phones are so ubiquitous these days".

Along with his maturing mind of course is the onset of puberty. I've seen those subtle changes and it's only a matter of time before the hormones start to course through the kid's veins. It's a weird time for kids. I remember feeling somewhat ashamed of the changes that were happening in my body because my mom never talked about it. She said later that she figured if I had questions, that I'd ask. For some reason I didn't feel comfortable asking. Or, more likely, I didn't know what questions to ask. I don't know. My recollection of the time was that I wished I had more information.

I want my son to have some facts and be able to talk to his peers and responsible adults (besides his dad and myself) about all this stuff. The church I go to has a program for almost-middle schoolers on sexuality that starts this week, and I've signed him up for it. Two of his good friends are in it as well, which is a good thing. They cover body and mind issues. Respect. Tolerance. I like knowing that they'll cover all the things that are important to me for him to know, and then he'll more informed.

When I lived in Ohio, I did a very short stint as a substitute teacher, and one morning was in a 7th grade classroom. A girl came up to me and said, "Want to see a picture of my baby?" I stammered and stumbled, but did say, "You need to stay in school!" It is my hope that getting information to my kid about sexuality and relationships will encouraged more informed choices. Ones that take into account possible consequences. Knowledge is power, right?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The kidless stretch

I dropped off Mr W's new computer and some school work to his dad's house last night and realized with a sigh that I kind of liked having the kid around as much as he was during the holidays. We've got a nice little routine here. I think he appreciates that it's just me, him and the dog, so things are pretty peaceful. It's his dad's weekend to have him and he'll be with him for the next few days.

Not that his dad doesn't take good care of him. Financially, and time-wise, his dad has always stepped up and done his duty as a father. I'm thankful for that, and don't worry that my kid will be mistreated. He likely won't see fresh vegetables at his dad's house, but one has to pick one's battles. I hear stories, good gravy, I hear stories of the extent to which parents shirk their duty (yes, I'm using the word deliberately) to their kids, and I shudder.

So, I miss Mr W, but a kid needs a dad. I had a dream last night that his dad showed back up and wanted to move into my little house. And I was sort of scratching my head saying, "Didn't you just get married? And anyhow, I don't want you!" Even for the kid's sake. Funny.

I do get a twinge of envy when I see him settled into his new life with his nice wife and plowing money into remodeling their house. But I don't begrudge them their happiness. I would like my own, thanks. And I'm fairly confident that I'll someday look back and see how it all led to being with the guy I end up being with.

In other news, I went to my first old time music jam with my banjo. They are at this place that is so very Colorado in what it offers: it's a bike repair shop, coffee shop and bar all in one. I had Mr W that night, and he didn't have school the next day, so was happy to play on is video game thingy. I got him a hot chocolate, and tried to not embarrass myself.

I've got a really long way to go on this banjo thing, but it was a good experience to sit with these folks and just try to keep time. They tell me that eventually I'll be able just do simple chord changes (C, D, G) and keep up. I sat next to E, who is a really good player, and watched his hands a lot. There were three banjos, three guitars, three fiddles and one mandolin. I heard that's on the small side of what they sometimes get.

Anyway, I am more motivated now to keep at it and get better. I enjoy the songs themselves, which all do kind of sound similar, but you can see civil war-era ladies in big dresses dancing to them. Or two little girls with pink cowboy boots, as was the case Tuesday.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Another link dump

There are lots of good end of the year round-ups out there and I'm having trouble reading them all, so I'm going to tuck them here with the hope that I'll get back to them. Sooner rather later.

OK, here goes.

From a radio program that I like and admire called OnBeing, where they explore issues of spirituality and talk to folks of all stripes regarding their faith and beliefs. Tolerance and respect all around. This piece is on sacred choral music.

Not the most uplifting blog out there, Naked Capitalism connects the dots between the goings on in the complex world of finance and your and my pocketbooks. These are her 2012 predictions.

A year end review from one of my favorite science writers (EVER!), Carl Zimmer.

Civil Eats is a food blog that deals with sustainability issues. These are their picks for the top food stories of the last year.

Ed Yong is another great science writer who blogs at Not Exactly Rocket Science. These are his year end picks. A link dump from him is This.

I guess there were fewer than I thought. Now they're here for safe keeping.

1-3-12: Found one more. This is from a Wired blog that deals with public health issues. It is my opinion that if people want to know more about things sciencey, they should start with public health. This has stories about things like the CO Listeria outbreak, the downsides of sleeping with your pet, the cost when an unvaccinated person gets a preventable disease, the rise of antibiotic strains of bacteria, and other important topics.

On a brighter note, I've been looking for a new wallet, and I think I found one! A-dorable!!


Here's my third take on the clay pieces for bracelets. I made a few and need to get them photographed better to get them on the Etsy shop. These are bigger and sassier, but very light.

In the name of produce development, how much would you pay for one of these? The metal is nothing special (i.e. not sterling silver). The piece measure a whopping 8 1/4" with the clasp that it came with. For smaller wrists, I'm thinking I'll have to remove one link. I think the clasp looks little cheap, although it's very sturdy. But if I change out the clasp, I'll have to take out at least one link. Hmm.... Maybe I'll offer it all as 2-3 options. 

Below are the orangey/copper/warm neutrals I made for the second color scheme. I was iffy about these but they look nice in the finished pieces. Did you know that if your oven is too hot, polymer clay produces smoke that is stinky and fills your kitchen so you have to open the window in January. Yes, yes it's true. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New

I'm going to indulge in the tendency to review the previous year for just a few sentences here, and then am going to get on with it. With the flood of reminiscences, my first thought was, "it was a good year". Then I remembered that for 4 months or so I operated under the assumption that I was going to lose my job, and that was indeed a stressful time. I think that was part of what started me on the path to making bracelets. Perhaps taking matters into my own hands a bit in case I had to start doing what a lot of people do these days: piece together a living from several different jobs. 

But it didn't happen; I was renewed and kept my job. The folks at work aren't talking about next year's money yet, but will in a couple of months, and I do fear that there will be a repeat of getting let go. For my part, I'm trying to learn how to do a couple of new things, and hope that that will continue to demonstrate that I am valuable to the organization. Fingers crossed.

The most important things in my life, then, continue to be in place. The health of me and my son, who will be 11 next month. A good job, a nice little house, a goofy dog, a few creative outlets like the bracelets, banjo and I think I remember how to knit, a supportive family, and good friends. In particular I've been pleased by the friends I've made through the dog park and the Spin class. An unexpected benefit. Still looking for a nice guy who is a good fit for me, and am looking forward to getting on with that part of my life. 

Thanks for reading this blog, and for leaving insightful comments. :-)

So here is my latest take on the bracelets. I'm not looking to change direction, but to expand the offerings. Above is the bracelet I made for my friend D's birthday. She's less into the mechanical pieces, so this one is all clay pieces. I like these a lot and will make them in these pinks/purples and then in blues/greens and orange/copper. 

Along the same lines, I bought some other clay cutters, with the intent of making larger pieces (about 3/4" - 1") to go on some bracelet blanks I bought that have 8 larger pads (instead of the 11 glue pads of the original blanks). I also bought a new (unmounted rubber) stamp for the clay, and came up with a better way to evenly make the stamps' impression on the clay.

Not surprisingly for me, I made the first set of these larger clay pieces in blues and greens. The smaller rectangles and ovals will try to be earrings. After I baked these and put the pieces on the table, it was fun to run my hands through them, like they were puzzle pieces, or coins.

It's sort of addicting to mix and work with the clay. I eschewed cleaning the house yesterday to mix more clay, this time coppery colors. I probably won't be able to resist getting the pieces made today, and vow to  fit in vacuuming as well.