Category Archives: Occasional Travel

Nepal 2013

monkey temple
Swayambhu, or in English, The Monkey Temple in Kathmandu.

As most of you remember, I went to Pokhara, Nepal in December last year to help train women as sewing instructors. I’m so excited to be getting to go back this year!

I’ll be leaving in just a few short weeks to start the nearly 30 hours of flying to get there. Once I make it to Kathmandu, I’ll take a bus through the Himalayan Mountains for 6 hours to the town of Pokhara. It’s a good sized town with a beautiful lake and a tourist village that we jokingly named the Gatlinburg of Nepal.

fish tail
This is Machapuchare, or in English, Fish Tail Mountain near Pokhara. It is sacred to the goddess Shiva so no climbing allowed.

Once we arrive in Pokhara we will meet with our host, Sangte (pronounced Son-TAY). She will be our translator for the week. She is a remarkable woman. Indian by birth, she and her husband felt called to minister to the Tibetan refugees in Nepal so they packed up and moved from India to Pokhara. She and her husband have cared for Tibetan refugee children over the past 10 years. Sometimes she has as many as eight children and teens living with her! She decided that another way to help would be to open sewing schools for women to learn job skills.

It is said that to be born a woman in Nepal you had to have been very bad in a previous life. Girls receive little education and are expected to quit school when they marry. Several of the women we worked with last year worked as seamstresses but also dug gravel and sand out of the river to sell to supplement their income. Sangte’s sewing schools are helping change that. By training women as seamstresses and then allowing them to purchase a sewing machine through a micro-lending program, women are able to start their own businesses in their village to make clothing and household items to sell.

I can’t explain how humbled and excited I am to be a part of this project.

group
Here is our group from last year!

Many of you asked how you could help. If you are inclined to contribute, you can do so in a variety of ways. The group I work with is Global Women. You can donate on that website and please specify that it is for Nepal. You can also help me with supplies I’ll be taking with me. I need: women’s vitamins, calcium, small tubes of toothpaste, yarn, crochet hooks in sizes 5 and 6mm, scissors (Nepalese scissors are very poor quality), sandwich and gallon sized ziplock bags, gum, candy, hand lotion, band aids, or neosporin. I also need fun things to go in a grab bag the ladies can pull from. Fun things like hair ties, nail polish, scarves, necklaces, note pads and pens are things we had in the grab bag last year. If you don’t have time to purchase those items but still want to help you can pass me some cash and let me know what you’d like for me to purchase. You can also paypal me under my name.

Lastly, I will ask you to pray, send good thoughts, light a candle or do your special dance for me and the team traveling to Nepal and for the ladies we will work with during the two weeks. I don’t talk much about my religion here but I will say this: I feel very strongly that God has called me to this place to spend time with these ladies and tell them they are loved and cared for by a community that is on the other side of the world. That they matter and are important to God and to me.

Thank you. It means a lot to me that many of you supported my trip last year and I appreciate what you have done and are continuing to do for this trip.

me teaching

Week 9 of Making Something Every day

Day 57: Mixing it up a bit! Playing with yarn.
day 57
This yarn winding session turned into a full scale stash reorganization. I loved it! It also made me want to ditch the art stuff and play with yarn exclusively for a while.

Day 58: Started a set of rainbow inchies. Yes, that’s a technical artist term.
day 58
Day 59: Sadly my photo treatment of these little guys is better than the actual work. They’re headed to the trash.
day 59
Sometimes things just don’t work out. These little guys made me think I need remedial stamping classes because I mangled it so badly. Truly, the best thing about them are the photos I took. Oh well, moving on.

Day 60: Quick ATC tonight and I am off to take my own advice!
day 60
I had no idea how this would turn out. The paper is silver reflective. I stamped it and then painted it. It was short and sweet to make. Exactly what I needed after the long day I had.

Day 61: Too much likes previous day? Maybe I need new colors?
day 61
Day 62: This is why you tape the watercolor paper down. Back of the blue paper.
day 62
Day 63: Making a book out of the green/blue page. I’ll entertain suggestions as to what to put in it.
day 63
I like making books out of this watercolor paper. We’ll see what it turns into next week!

Thoughts from the week:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the artist community that has sprung up around me as I work on this year long project. I’ve mentioned Mary here before. While she and I don’t practice the same sort of art (she’s a musician) I find my chats with her on creativity and the process of creativity line up nicely regardless of which art we are discussing. I did some design work for her last fall and she introduced me to Starr Weems. Starr did the amazing artwork for Mary’s last album. And I have a bit of working artist crush on her at the moment. The three of us met for lunch one day and formed the Vague Coffee Wavers. I’m pretty sure that’s the name of the artist commune we will start if we ever get around to it. I also have Renée, who is working on a project quite similar to mine in scope but she’s abstaining from the Twitter/Facebook/blog attention seeking that I seem to be engaging in at present. It’s a nice group of women that I enjoy checking in with to see what they are working on. It reminds me a bit of college and my studio classes. I loved being able to come together as a group and work on our individual pieces and then take a step back and talk about what everyone was doing and then offer suggestions. The brainstorming was so valuable to me! It helped me learn to creatively visually problem solve.

Next week I start a letterpress class at our local Printmaking Collective. Amy and I will be going the next three Thursdays to class, so those days will feature some prints! I’m absurdly excited about it. Here’s to finding more artists for the collective.

Eli, Liza and their cousins

From Kansas City to Geek Media Expo Vol. 3

We’ve been going from pillar to post the last few weeks. The bulk of our time was taken up preparing for and then taking a trip to Kansas City to see my brother and his family. Eli and Liza were very excited to see their cousins. The four of them immediately formed a band and posed for their first album cover.

Eli, Liza and their cousins

This is, of course, not how they normally behaved. This is how they normally behaved.

Eli, Liza and their cousins mug for the camera

You will be surprised to discover that Granade kids can be hams, I’m sure. We also got to hear a great concert of Virgil Thomson’s music. Thomson was a composer and music critic from Kansas City. The concert, which took place in the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was part of a planned PBS special. My brother the musicologist was one of the hosts, which meant he got to go up on stage and educate us about Thomson while also being funny.

Before the concert we went to Oklahoma Joe’s, a barbeque restaurant in a gas station. I didn’t include “housed in a gas station” in my rundown of how to choose a barbeque restaurant, but I should have: two of the best barbeque places I’ve eaten at were in gas stations. We dressed up for our night on the town, went to Oklahoma Joe’s, and then went to the concert smelling faintly of meat and awesome.

When we came back I headed to Geek Media Expo, where I did my usual guest schtick of talking about science, My Little Pony, and more science. Crispy and I taped our 100th episode of WhatTheCast there, complete with new theme music and several defunct Zunes to mark Microsoft’s ignominious withdrawal from the world of mp3 players, and the two of us provided sports commentary for the Race of the Tauntauns, in which our racers leapt around a ballroom in ThinkGeek tauntaun sleeping bags. This was highly entertaining, especially in the final race which involved two tauntaun racers checking each other, shoving each other into the ballroom’s pillars, and trying to step on the other racer’s tauntaun’s tail. I also did an unusual thing for me: I wore a costume for part of the convention. If I can find a picture of me being Jamie Hyneman, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of me in my Super Saiyan form that Thomas Kerns took.

Stephen as a Super Saiyan

I’ve got video of my exoplanet talk which I’ll be posting later as well as the 100th episode of WhatTheCast. With luck, you’ll also get to see me wearing a beret and a scowl.

U2 in Nashville

The first time I heard U2 was 1986. A friend let me borrow “The Unforgettable Fire” on cassette tape. I fell in love with “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and was pretty much hooked.

This is my view from the 27th row last night:

The show was UN. BELIEV. ABLE.

It was made better by getting to go with some of the people who know me better than anyone in the world.

Gals, let’s not wait another 20 years to see them again, huh?

Birthday Week was a WIN! Do I have to wait a year for another?

There are not enough words to describe the awesomeness of my trip to Atlanta to see U2 and visit with friends. The show was full of awesome. A friend of a friend said that Bono was the best worship leader that she’d ever had and I’ll have to second that. I think the show was specially tailored to show off their “We’re all about that love and peace business.” side. Here’s the set list:
Breathe
Put on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stand By Me
Stuck in the Moment (acoustic)
No Line on the Horizon
Magnificent
Elevation
End of the World
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (very wacky remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
MLK
Walk On
One
Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name
Ultaviolet
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

I loved every minute of the show but I was/am a bit taken aback that my favorite song of the show was “Ultraviolet.” It’s never been a particular favorite of mine but the song combined with the light show and the smoke was really eerie, interesting and moving. My other highlights of the show was Danielle nearly pinching my arm off during the remix of “Crazy Tonight” and her leaning over to tell me that the name of the song “MLK” was “MLK” and then my reply that I knew that because I’ve been singing it to my children at bedtime for the past five years and then the lady behind me giving me a funny look because of it. And the dancing and the screaming of the “Woo!” There was much “Woo!” screaming. I had a blast.

Danielle and Kat and I also visit Ikea on Tuesday where I proceeded to buy the place out. I love me some Ikea. If my house ever burns down and I have to start over from scratch, I’m doing everything in Ikea because it’s so cool.

While Mom was here this past weekend, we redid Liza’s room with some of Ikea purchases. She’s now in the big girl bed and doing really well with it.
DORA! (and Liza!)
More pictures to come once we get the new light fixture hung.

I also got a ton of books as birthday gifts:
Crafty Book Stash
All of them are awesome! Thanks to everyone who bought me a new book! It’s gonna take me a while to get through them all but I’m so excited about each and every one. The bonus awesome goes to Fahmida for the book she made of our trip to Japan. It’s made me so homesick to go back.

And lastly, if you’ve made it this far you deserve a cute kid photo:
Hiding in the shower
They thought they were hiding in the shower. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that if they are shrieking at the top of their lungs, they are pretty easy to find.

What I’m Doing at Dragon*Con 2009

Because you are all desperate to know what I’m doing at all times, here are the talks I’m scheduled to give at the Dragon*Con SFF convention this weekend. If you stop by any of the panels, come say hi!

Creating Dragon*Con TV
Friday 4:00 PM, Hilton room 204
Join the folks who write, and produce Dragon*Con TV; now a popular video podcast. You watched, you laughed, you relate – now come see how they do it.

(How we do it: we all get together and frantically make jokes in an attempt to fill the dead air.)

What’s Wrong With Gravity: The Pioneer Anomaly
Friday 5:30 pm, Hilton 203
Pioneer 10 is being dragged towards the Sun & we don’t know why! Is the slow down because of the probe itself, or, is something wrong with gravity?!

(I swear, I didn’t put either that extra comma or the ending exclamation point in the original description.)

Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow: 7th Annual Recruiting Session & Bake Sale
Saturday 4:00 pm, Hilton Crystal Ballroom
Professional EGs discuss methods of taking over the world for fun & profit while avoiding common mistakes made by film & TV villains.

(It’s a Q&A-type panel where I also get to explain how I’m going to take over the world using biology.)

What The Cast – Live!
Sunday 10:00 am, Hilton 204
Brian, Crispy and Patrick (also of Dragon*Con TV) bring their chaotic and hilarious “What The Cast” back to Dragon*Con.

(I’m in there as well, honest.)

Quantum Encryption – Is It the Perfect Encryption Technique?
Sunday 5:30 pm, Hilton 202
Encryption has long been an arms race: every new cipher leads to better code-breaking tools. Have we finally reached the end of that arms race?

(Hint: no, and no.)