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

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Week 37 of Making Something Every Day

Day 251: Starting on Peace. Kinda a lake of paint at the moment.
Day 251

Day 252: Hebrew in pink for Joy Week.
day 252

Day 253: Sneak peek of the panels in the sanctuary. (Got words & stained glass shapes drawn on all of them today!)
day 253

Day 254: @Obajoo came over and helped me paint today. We got SO much done! So pleased!
day 254

Day 255: Blankie is big enough now that it’s starting to be hot work, especially in the car.
day 255

Day 256: Painted for a couple of hours tonight. Getting there.
day 256

Day 257: Picked up the blankie that’s been on pause & realized I’m much closer to finishing than I thought.
day 257

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Week 36 of Making Something Every Day

Day 244: got the purple background done on Hope. Cut shapes for the stained glass. (1 of 4)
Day 244

Day 245: one corner with solo cup for scale.
Day 245

Day 246: progress report.
day 246

Day 247: I’ve got 20 inches of 55 inches made. It’s starting to look like a blanket.
Day 247

Day 248: Gluing things down.
Day 248

Day 249: Working on logo for the Naomi Center in Bucharest, Romania. No art to show off yet, though!
Day 250: More work on the logo for sewing school in Bucharest. Will be sure to post the idea the client chooses at the end.

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Week 35 of Making Something Every Day

Day 237: I dream in CMYK.
day 237

Day 238: Treasured ATC.
day 238

Day 238b: Liza brings her journal home from school and @Sargent & I write in it. Here’s art I did for her this week.
day 238b

Day 239: Explore the Minor Chord postcard.
Day 239

Day 240: Circles pages.
day 240

Day 241: 1 of 4 mock ups for a soon-to-be-announced project.
day 241

Day 242: Peacock stitch blankie.
day 242

Day 243: All 4 mock ups of the soon to be announced project.
Day 243

It’s been a crazy ride this week! So here’s the big announcement: I’ve been asked to do four paintings for our church sanctuary to hang during Advent (4 weeks before Christmas). Each painting is 4 feet by 3 feet. The first is hope and is purple, the second is peace, also purple, the third is joy, it’s pink, and the last is love, also purple. I’ve been painting like mad because they all have to be finished before I head to Nepal at the beginning of November. So stand by for the next few weeks to be nonstop purple extravaganza in my daily posts! I’m so excited I can’t hardly stand to be around myself!

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We Did Mad Lib Abstracts for Science

As part of our fundraising to hold a DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon, we promised to perform acts of whimsy as we hit funding milestones. We’ve passed $3,000, which is amazing and means we’re halfway to our goal. (Feel free to donate money at this link to help us reach it, by the way!)

It also means that we’re starting to perform our Acts of Whimsy. We’d passed $2,000 by Friday, so as promised, we played Mad Libs for science. Twice! We chose to mutilate one of my old abstracts and Torrey Stenmark’s thesis. Nicole “Noisy Astronomer” Gugliucci gathered us all into a Google+ hangout last Friday and we were off to the races.

The event veered quickly in a non-work-safe direction, as you can tell from what happened to my abstract.

We report on the observation of a highly degenerate, strongly smarmy Fermi gas of chairs. Fermionic lithium-6 atoms in a kind trap are evaporatively escaped to degeneracy using a taxidermy to induce strong, resonant pony. Upon lovingly releasing the hair from the trap, the gas is observed to run rapidly in the blue direction while remaining nearly big-assed in the axial direction. We interpret the expansion bronies in terms of tart superfluid and collisional tarts. For the data taken at the longest evaporation penises, we find that wooly hydrodynamics does not provide a smelly explanation, whereas vagina is plausible.

Vagina is plausible indeed. What about Torrey’s? It involved dudebros, palladium-catalyzed douche balloon reactions, and oxygen-containing Corgi. Watch the video for more, or grab the PDF of the results.

Since we’ve broken $3,000 since Friday, we’ll do another Mad Lib abstract. If you want to join in the fun later this week follow @NoisyAstronomer for the details. It also means that I have to re-write Prometheus for sock puppets. On the plus side, Dr. Rubidium has to listen to Nickelback, so there’s a silver lining to the socks.

To sum up: Sockmetheus! Dr. Rubidium suffers through Nickelback! Another chance for someone’s abstract to remain big-assed in the axial direction! Best of all, we’re going to get to spread the joy of science to GeekGirlCon attendees. We’re halfway to our fundraising goal. Care to help us reach it?

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Week 34 of Making Something Every Day

Day 230: One Wish Postcard.
day 230
Last week I talked about the pieces that I wonder later who made that super cool thing. ‘One Wish’ is that for me this week.

Day 231: 9 new postcard backgrounds.
day 231
On the Mommies Run Away from Home weekend trip to Pigeon Forge, we went to the scrapbook outlet and I got some old newspaper pages. I cut those up and glued them to a piece of watercolor paper. I added my favorite brown, bronze, yellow and green paints then cut them up for postcard backgrounds. They ROCK as postcard backgrounds and I am inordinately pleased that I had the foresight on that shopping trip to buy a bunch of that paper.

Day 232: France Postcard.
day 232
Lots of folks oohed and aahed over this one on Facebook.

Day 233: Youthful Days postcard.
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Ahh, the good old days. Funny how we collectively remember times past in a way that is sometimes completely inaccurate.

Day 234: Friends postcard.
day 234
Love how the colors came together in this one.

Day 235: New, tiny art journal! 5.5×8″ spread. Accidentally started at the back, resulting inspirational end quote!
Day 235
I bought this tiny little book in the Dealer’s Room at Dragoncon. It was the first time an art supply store had a table and I thought it was so brilliant I had to support it. I wanted to give this little book a try since I had such a hard time art journaling in my larger format book. It’s closer to the postcard size I’ve been working on so it makes me feel more comfortable with the space. Maybe I can work my way up the sizes. Also, since I accidentally started painting at the back of the book, I flipped it around and then had to come up with something to end the book with. It’s twice as funny to me since it’s actually the first page in the book I made.

Day 236: “Mom, you should write ‘Be kind to people.’ in your little book.”
day 236
I sat down at my art table this morning before the kids went out to the bus. I wanted to get a background started so it could be drying while I waited with them outside. She told me I should write ‘Be kind to people.’ I thought it was a fitting way to start the book and a fitting thought for September 11. So I added some butterflies, since those are her favorites, and there it was.

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Help Us Hold a DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon and Make Me Fix Prometheus

DIY Science ZoneOne of the things I love to do is to help people discover how awesome science is. One of the best ways, hands down, is hands on: give people the opportunity to commit science themselves. GeekGirlCon agrees, because they’re letting a team of us hold an all-day-long DIY science zone!

Why am I excited about this? Let me count the ways.

We’re offering a range of science activities. We’re extracting DNA and building neurons. We’re offering genetic taste tests and showing you how to find latent fingerprints. The experiments are for a range of ages and cover a bunch of different areas of science. C’mon, who wouldn’t want to make fossils out of coffee grounds, especially in the heart of Starbucks country?

We’re offering them to an under-served group. Despite the great strides made in the last decades, too many people still view science as being for males. GeekGirlCon celebrates women in geek culture, and that includes the sciences. Here’s our chance to help bust the stereotype of science as being a “guy thing”. Any time I can kick against that stereotype, I will.

The attendees will get to see real-live scientists who aren’t lab-coated stereotypes. I tend to forget that most people don’t know scientists personally or ever meet them. Is it any wonder that, when asked to draw a scientist, many kids draw an older white dude with Doc Brown hair? It’s pervasive enough that characters on The Big Bang Theory were going to be in lab coats before the showrunners met actual science graduate students and realized that t-shirts and jeans were more common. One way to combat that stereotype is to let people meet actual scientists.

Our team is diverse. We’ve got younger and older scientists. Most of our team is female; many are not Caucasian. I want people to realize that science is open to anyone. If we had a team that was all older white guys, then the subtext is, “Science really is just for white dudes with Doc Brown hair.”

We can make Dr. Rubidium suffer by making her listen to Nickelback.

See, to make the DIY Science Zone happen, we’re raising $5,000 to $6,000 for supplies, banners, lodging, and airfare. We’ve all signed up to perform different Acts of Whimsy as we raise more money. Our fearless leader has agreed that, for every $500 we raise, she’ll listen to a different Nickelback album live on a G+ Hangout. And she haaaaaaaates Nickelback. She’s even got a “No Nickelback” sign posted on her lab door.

Dr. Rubidium hates NickelbackBut! She’s trying to weasel out of it! People are now marking their donations as being either pro-Nickelback or anti-Nickelback! Because so many people have marked their donations as anti-Nickelback, she’s not going to have to listen to “Curb”!

This cannot stand. Help the pro-Nickelback forces by donating to our cause. Plus there are a lot of other Acts of Whimsey that’ll happen. Live G+ Hangouts where we take our paper abstracts and make Mad Libs out of them. Seelix’s cat dressed up as Avengers! Heaven help me, I promised that, at $3,000, I’d fix the science and logic errors in Prometheus and re-enact the movie.

With sock puppets.

But if Dr. Rubidium has to listen to multiple Nickelback albums, it’ll all be worth it.

Please. Donate money to make the DIY Science Zone happen. For science. For education.

For Nickelback.

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Week 33 of Making Something Every Day

This week plus of work had a Dragoncon-sized intermission in the middle of it. I deliberately didn’t take any materials with me to Con to see what it would feel like to take a break. Answer: I missed the daily 20 minutes terribly. I couldn’t wait to get home to work. Best of all, I looked at Con this year through the lenses of 220+ days of creating. I saw so much good work! People being creative and playful and imaginative. I’ve been to Dragoncon for many years but this was yet another side of the Con I hadn’t seen before. It energized me to keep up my own work.

Day 221: Serenity ATC.
day 221
I like this one for the texture and the color but mostly because the background is a piece of packaging I reused because it had a cool pattern.

Day 222: Lost Ocean ATC.
day 222
If there is anything better than blue shellfish I don’t know what it is. This reminds me of the summer we went to Cape Cod and I found out there was such a thing as blue shellfish.

Day 222b: Beach Bum postcard.
day 222b
This one makes me giggle. I like the idea of a seagull being a beach bum.

Day 223: Experiments in candy making.
day 223
Stephen decided to cosplay Heisenberg from “Breaking Bad” this year at Dragoncon. We decided to make broken glass “meth” candy for him to hand out. Both the costume and the candy were a hit.

Day 224: Fly postcard.
day 224
Some of you have figured out by now that if you profess a love of a postcard when I post it, then you might end up seeing it in your mail. This one went to my friend Ellen who went to Nepal with me. She can’t go this year because of a schedule conflict and I am still nursing my hurt feelings over it.

Day 225: Make a Wish ATC.
day 225
Sometimes these pieces come together in such a way that when I look at the finished product I wonder who made that super cool thing. I think, “I like the style of that, it speaks to me.” This is one of those for me.

Day 226: When in doubt – wing it! ATC.
day 226
The “When in doubt – wing it!” clipping was supposed to be on the fly postcard. But in the process of cutting it from the larger sheet of paper, I dropped it and couldn’t find it in my basket of paper. I was so mad! But then I found it and used it with this kaleidoscope of butterflies. These things have a way of working themselves out.

Day 227: Ocean Dreams, in progress. I’ve been working on this one for about a week now. 8×10″ board.
day 227
It’s all about the beach and the butterflies with me.

Day 228: “Recognizing power in another does not diminish your own.” 3×5″ tag.
day 228
My friend Ally was involved in the writing (and filming) of a super cool Dragoncon video this year. I was thinking of you when I made this one, Ally!

Day 229: Ocean Dreams 8×10″ board. (Added a few hard to see details.) Finished.
day 229
I finished this one up this morning and was thinking I wasn’t as happy with it as I should be. But the fans love it on the Facebooks so that makes me happy.

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Week 32 of Making Something Every Day

Day 214: decided to make some solid color squares for the border.
day 214
I’m almost out of boarder yarn so I’m slowing down for a while on this project until my yarn supplies are replenished!

Day 215: Pink Butterfly postcard.
day 215
This is the last of these pink cards with music on them. Just means I’ll have to make more.

Day 216: Brighten Beach postcard.
Day 216
I crack my own self up with the play on Brighton Beach!

Day 217: finished ruffle scarf.
day 217
Love this blue!

Day 218: 4 new postcard backgrounds.
day 218
I have so much fun making these postcard backgrounds. I just never gets old.

Day 219: Splash postcard.
day 219
One of my favorite ones I’ve made in a while.

Day 220: Fly Away With Me postcard.
day 220
Stephen asked where I got the big plane. Out of one of these 4 boxes of of parts, I answered.

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My Dragon Con 2013 Schedule

It’s that time of year again, when I go to Dragon Con and talk science and space and so on and so forth. Do you dare to stalk the wily Granade?

The Dragon Con Late Show. Every morning at 9:00 AM, Hyatt Centennial I-III.
Every morning at 9 I and my co-hosts Brian and Ally will go through the latest news, schedule changes, and what’s hot for the day. And this year: guests! We’re growing up into a real morning chat show.

Your Lying Eyes. Friday, 7:00 PM, Hilton 202.
You think in high resolution, but you don’t see in it. Discover how optical illusions show how much of your sight is really in your mind.

This is a fun one. I show a lot of nifty visual illusions and you get to learn how much your brain lies to you about what you’re really seeing.

DOOM! Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow. Saturday, 2:30 PM, Hilton Crystal Ballroom.
Homebrew nuclear reactors! Liquid nitrogen kitchen recipes! Plus a new Evil Plan will be revealed!

This year we’re taking evil plans from the audience, auditioning for new minions (since the old ones have a bad habit of catching fire), and in general having some fun with science.

What The Cast – Live! Sunday, 10:00 AM, Hilton 203.
We’re doing a live taping of our long-running WhatTheCast podcast. Bring your finest convention stories to amaze and amuse us.

Disasterpiece Theatre Sunday, 11:30 AM, Hilton 203.
Sometimes you gotta kick around ideas to formulate Hollywood movie pitches.

Alex, Brooke, Matt and I will propose the finest movie pitches ever, for certain values of “finest” meaning “most horribly terriblest”, and yes “terriblest” is so a word shut up. We’re planning on a secret guest, and rumor has it we may be pitching a movie based on Welcome to Night Vale.

You Can’t Get There From Here. Sunday, 2:30 PM, Hilton 309-310.
Jump in that rocketship and fly directly wherever you want… never mind about orbital trajectories, velocities, and gravity wells.

I managed to schedule myself for three nearly back-to-back events on Sunday, so it should be fun seeing just how fried I am by this panel. But it’s going to be fun — I’m going to turn everyone into rocket scientists in 55 minutes with only three equations and one graph.

Phew, that seems like enough for one convention.

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