Friday, May 22, 2015

Tante loves drop cloths, vol. 1

I have an unhealthy love for the canvas drop cloth.  It is a useful thing.  Today's utility: slipcover.

This couch is comfortable, but very ugly.  I have neither the money nor the inclination to make a real slipcover- and my pets are going to make a mess of it no matter what.  Enter the drop cloth (I think it's a 9'x12').

Wash it first, or it's a little stiff.  Line up one edge against the front bottom of the couch....

And the opposite against the back bottom of the couch.

Escort your cat from the room, and then line up the side edges with the side bottoms of your couch.

Stuff the excess into the cracks between the cushions, back, and armrests.  Again, remove cat from the room.

Pull the loose corners together (this is hard to photograph without help, and the cat doesn't seem to have the thumbs for it).

Tie the corners together in a tidy square knot.  DAMMIT ZIPPY STOP HELPING.  Repeat on the other side.

Tuck the excess loose bits.  A nice, neutral, washable solution to an ugly problem.

Add decorative cushions and feel pleased with yourself.  Total cost: about $27.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Maker Faire 2015

Well, this year turned out better than last year's dog-eye-cancer-extravaganza, and I actually got to go to Maker Faire Bay Area.  I am a shitty photographer, so none of my exhibit pics make any sense to anyone but me, but there are good pics of the event on their website.

Here's the pics I can describe.

WHY ARE YOU PUTTING CLOTHING IN A BAG, BIPED?  So I can go to Maker Faire, Zip.  AM I COMING WITH YOU?  Umm, you're going to stay with Oma.   IS THE DOG GOING WITH YOU?  No, the dog will be with you at Oma's house.  I WILL COME WITH YOU IN YOUR BAG.  Dude, no.  I promise, you don't want to ride in the overhead compartment.
JWA with my father, who was my partner in crime for this little adventure.  Taking off out of JWA is like being shot into space.  I don't know what my face is doing in this pic.  I look like my dad, though.  Hi Dad, you're on the interwubz.
The motel Dad originally booked was a little.... creepy.  It was also not very close to the venue, so Dad decided to search for someplace a little less... itchy looking.  Seriously, this pic does not capture the true "dead hooker in the box springs" vibe this place was giving off.  It had 1.5 stars on TripAdvisor.  Yeah.
The only place within a few miles that had a room for less than $1k a night was also sized for Hobbits, and had an immediate drapery malfunction.  They managed to move us to the only other available room with two beds, which was the handicapped-accessible room.  Hard flooring and an enormous bathroom.  I had zero allergy issues all weekend, once again confirming my theory that carpets are 90% of my problem.
Day One was completely overwhelming.  We had to park 1.5 miles from the venue on some side street, and walked in.  Whatever, no biggie.  The place was an absolute sea of humans, and it was tough to take it all in.  Seriously.  Wall-to-wall people.  The things that stick in my mind from Day One:  Pancake printerbot.  Playa art cars.  Drone fighting.  LifeGlider mobility assistance devices.  Canjos.   Pedal-powered stages.  A present bought for a friend.  Steampunk gears that actually DO something.  Giant sculptures that belch fire.  Folding kayaks.  The sunburn on my nose. 
Day Two we had an agenda- get there early to score parking, and speaker-hop through as many presentations as we could.  We got there before 10am, and waited with the rest of the throng of nerds for them to drop the barriers and release us all into Nerd Wonderland.  We hit presentations on simple robots, Flotilla electronics education systems, wearable electronics, papercrafting/mechatronics, and the Eepybird mentos-coke grand finale.  There was a guy on a stage playing an electric shovel and giant robot giraffe.  
There was much Maker Faire swag to be had- bags and buttons and LED-blinky pins (if you went to the Learn-to-Solder tent).  I scored this patch by telling the guy at the booth a terrible joke.  Thanks, Booth Guy.  I like patches.
Some people buy shoes, some people buy toys... I buy information.  "Making Simple Robots," "The Maker Manual," "Tinkering," "Making Makers," and "Zero to Maker."  I also bought a red Maker robot bandana (I collect bandanas), and scored a tote, five buttons, a tin that says "If you can't open it, you don't own it" and a patch.  The yellow ribbon thing was my wristband for the weekend.  Dad bought a mini drone.  It was a bitch to pack everything into the carryons.  I had forgotten about that part of traveling.

All in all, I am extremely glad I went.  I have a lot of reading to do about electronics to expand my ever-growing toolbox of knowledge.  I have many ideas sloshing around in my brain.  I haven't felt that spark of interest in a while.  I am a learning junkie, and I just found a giant community of people who are absolutely willing to enable me.

World Maker Faire is in New York at the end of September.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Waiting is the hardest part.

Boris is dying.

Today was our annual Spring Faire fundraiser at work.  It's also the grand opening of the butterfly house for the season, and I am in charge of the butterflies.  I had planned to get to work at 7 to get things done.... and that meant that I had to get the dog peed and the cat fed and the rats checked on before that.

The dog peed.
The cat ate.
The rats.....

Vincent came right out when I turned on the lights in the Rat Room.  I called for Boris a few times.  Boris is a little older than Vincent (although they're both over 2 1/2, which is rather elderly for a rat) and has a bit of hind end paralysis, and has always slept quite hard.

Boris was very still.  His breathing was shallow.  His eyes weren't totally shut.  His hind legs were a bit twitchy.

I have been the human caretaker of 11 rats in my lifetime.  9 of them have already followed the Death of Rats to the other world.  I know what's coming.

As much as it killed me to go to work, I had no choice.  It was too big of an event to miss, and already understaffed.  I petted Boris before I left, and cried, and told him that he could go whenever he needed to, and not to wait for me if the Death of Rats came.

I spent the next 8 hours pretending I was okay.

As soon as I got the last guest out of the butterfly house, I bailed.  I didn't stay to clean up.  I hope my coworkers understand that I am very serious about being there for the dying.

He's still alive.  Barely.  I have been sitting with him off and on for the last six hours, arm in the cage, pinky finger barely touching him, whispering

i love you it's okay you can go i'm so sorry it's okay you can go i love you i'm sorry i'm sorry i'm sorry i love you i'm sorry please forgive me i tried i don't know how to make this easier i love you i'm sorry it's okay you can go i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you

I leave the room to walk the dog, to eat something, to shower, to cry, to vomit out words onto a screen.  Sometimes Death likes to work in private, and won't come if someone is watching.  I try to leave all the options open.

Vincent has been sitting with his friend for the last 3 hours.  Occasionally he grooms him, or puts his paws on Boris's face.  I lure him away with a cheerio so I can see if Boris is still breathing.

He's still breathing.  Barely.

I will continue my vigil until I cannot stay awake a second longer.  I will take a catnap, and then I will wake again to repeat this process.  I have to be at work again in 11 hours, and I don't think my heart can handle leaving him tomorrow if he is still alive.  I do not know how he is still alive right now.

Please, Death of Rats, please, come for Boris.  Come for my friend.  Lead him to that other world.  Let his poor tired body rest.  Please.

Oh Boris.  I'm so sorry.

I hate the waiting.

I'm so sorry.

EDIT:  Boris died sometime between 10 and 11:30 this morning, while I was teaching.  He had seizures all the way till the end.  Vincent was with him, in a travel carrier on my desk.  I wish it was not so hard for the Death of Rats to lead my friend away.  28+ hours is a long time.  Still, I am grateful.  Death is not all that bad.  It's the dying part that's hard.

Tomorrow, Vincent begins his new life as a Briefcase Rat.  He's coming to work with me every day so he doesn't get lonely.  We will have each other to lean on as we grieve.

My heart hurts.