Saturday, May 29, 2010

Long Live Maker Faire (and Maker Faire Posts)

Don't leave!

Take the Chickenblog poll. Amuse me.
Don't read "Chickenblog?" Don't know where you are?

You are here, and it is good here. We have fun, we share, we laugh together. We ask the big questions, then we have cake. Chickenblog is a "Blog of Note" and, confidentially, Blogger doesn't like to mention this, but 9 out of 10 people who read and leave comments on a "Blog of Note" blog are healthier, and their wildest dreams have an increased probability of coming true. Just saying.

I took six hundred photographs at the San Mateo Maker Faire. Geoff had his own camera. We were only there for one day. We spent more time driving there, than at the Faire, and then we had the long drive home. But it was so worthwhile, every SteamPunking-Cupcake car-ArcAttack-Maker moment was truly awesome.

So, can you blame me for wanting to share more Maker Faire magic?

Breathlessly, with a wide grin, I told William, "I am going to have about a hundred new things to post about on Chickenblog." I consider William one of my editors. He gently, thoughtfully suggests ideas for posts, and says encouraging things to me, like when 54% of the people taking this week's poll say they do not read Chickenblog, and are not sure where they are.

We are pretty close to updating the look of our 2003 Odyssey. I find inspiration everywhere. Maybe it's time to get the Lego bricks out of the van, and put them on the van.

Look, here it is... Maker Faire is beautiful, because it is a place full of imaginative, creative people, and those same people are enthused about what they imagine and create, so they share, and they teach, and they laugh out loud. It is amazing spending time in this kind of environment. It is encouraging and affirming. It erases fear and cynicism. It is genuine ingenuity, and patriotism, and it is the real kind of initiative that can keep our country great, and make the world a better place.

So, long live Maker Faire!
And long live Dorklandia!

We felt like ice cream... jajaja

Seriously, this ice cream cart, loaded with felt ice cream plushies, was adorable.

And long live Blinky Bugs!

Enchanted by the Blinky Bugs.

Ken Murphy was in the Make Shed, demonstrating how to make Blinky Bugs, and he showed me his kit-book, which is available for pre-order.

I felt like I was from Dorklandia, greeting and meeting every artist, author, scientist and geek, with my usual enthusiasm and zeal. Makers and Thinkers and Tinkers are my heroes.

Long live cycles... large, small, many wheels, mini-wheels, many pedals, new and old, all of 'em!

Out for a ride.

Tiger ride? He can swish his tail, of course.

This. is. my. swing.
I want this real bad.
'cause it looks real good.
I would even settle for it without the patterned shower of water that rains down from the top.

They make music at the Faire.

They make it look fun.

Speaking of fun, you don't have to build a walking, talking giraffe, or plug an oil leak to contribute at the Maker Faire. You can be as craftily creative as you please, which is what makes it fun for young, and mature, immature, and unsure, for all.

Which is why I loved meeting Binka in theTeacher's Lounge-Educational Outreach space. She sent me ideas and links for our family plans for future Maker Faire-Maker Club-Science Sunday ventures.

Still with me?
Even if you just look at the pictures, and cannot bear to read one more enthusiastic-geek-zealous word, you gotta admit, this is pretty cool stuff.

It's cool stuff, made by cool people, like the students from the You Made It! Jamboree.

Please visit their website. They are doing great stuff. Children are learning. It's beautiful.

Look at what Dylan made! This is awesome.

And look!
Look at what these kids have done!
We met these boys in Sequoia Hall, and they were demonstrating and selling the science and project kits made by them.

I brought home the circuit kit and a crossbow kit. I love reading their story, with the list of tools and machines they used to make their creations.

Having spent plenty of time designing and building in a metal shop, Alex was both impressed and encouraging. I think his FIRST experiences give him insight and appreciation for fellow science and technology enthusiasts. He knows FIRST outreach is a respectful exchange within his team, and between his team and his community.

I can keep going. Dare me?

This was a missed opportunity: I should have bought Mark Frauenfelder's book in the Maker Shed. I can still get the book, but it would have been so cool to get it signed. I loved the things he was sharing, and thumbing through "Made By Hand", talking about backyard chickens... I soon realized I was chatting with another kindred spirit. I love that he covers the "joy" and "frustration" of a family going for a Do-It-Yourself life.

Plus: He is playing a cigar box guitar. He made it himself. There is meaning in that.

Long live the Tour de Maker!

Friday, May 28, 2010


That sure got my attention.
It seems that last month Chiciekenblog C.h.i.c.k.e.n.b.l.o.g. was a Blogger Blog of Note.

Yeah, April 27th.

Not sure how I missed that. Well, actually, I missed it because I forget to scan the Blogs of Note, and because until yesterday, it did nothing to readership here.

Welcome new readers!

Check out the cute, new chicas!

Meet Lady Betty Orpington.
She has no idea about her new coopmates.

I hope you like it here. I hope you like a mix-up of Geekness, gardens, sewing, cooking, science, art, robots, travels, whining, deep thoughts, and musings that merely scratch the surface. I hope you will stick around. Leave comments. Join the conversation.

This honor was bestowed upon Chickenblog once before. That was such a thrill. I waited seven years hoping to make that first mark in the Blogger realm. It was fun. It was surprising. It is fun and surprising to be here again. How do these things get decided? When, and why, did Chcikenblog become notable? When will I ever be able to type Chickenblog correctly, on the first try?

Well, now that I am famous, or at least "notable..." jajajajajaja...

Just kidding.

I know. I still get to drive the magic school bus, turn cruddy socks right-side out, and prepare fabulous meals for six.

Okay, except for the cruddy socks, I got it good, and that is mostly why I blog, so that I can reflect, with love and humor, on the man I love, our four children, Chango the cat, Joe the rabbit, Benjamin Franklin Thunder-Cat, the Ratty-rats, our dear Betty hen, the new chicks: Puff, Zoe, Zelda, Trudy, Temple, and Tesla, on Maker Faire, art and science, friends, family, domestic perils, and our lives in a home with a view. The view is in my mind. My mind is connected to my heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mysteriousness & Brevity & You Guessed!


Now for super field trip lunches, and carpool-mom...

Gee. I am less mysterious than I thought. Wonder what gave me away?


I know, right? What was I thinking?

It's that they were so tiny, and no matter how many I picked, they still didn't amount to one, whole chicken, so I picked one more... and then, suddenly, there were six.

Hmmm... just this morning I imparted some of my wisdom on someone: The events preceding an action do not necessarily justify said action.

I might consider paying attention to my own wisdom.

I am in so much trouble.

And Susan and Sylvia... you ladies know me pretty well, I guess.

Meet Puff.
Maria named her. She is a black Silkie. She has feathered feet. She will be a hen.

Say hello to Trudy. She was named by fans of a certain blockbuster movie... the one that did not get Best Picture. Trudy is a pilot.
She will be a hen.

Here is Zelda. Max named her. She is less yellow than her Silkie sister, Trudy. They have feathered feet like Puff.
She will be a hen.

This is little Miss Zoe. Alex named her. Another sci-fi inspired name. "Firefly" anyone? Zoe is an Araucana.
She will be a hen that lays green or blue eggs!

And the Polish sisters are Temple and Nikki Tesla. Named for two highly respected scientists, Temple Grandin and Nikola Tesla.
They will be hens.

Hello Temple. I love your Polish puff.

Sweet little Zelda.

I am in so much trouble.
Oh well.
At least they will all be hens.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ArtfulEngineering :: SteamPunk

I wouldn't call it a fashion, a trend, or a hobby. I wouldn't suggest it can even be clearly defined or neatly categorized. SteamPunk can be described, discussed, and shared, and it can be enjoyed by anyone that knows how to blur the lines between play and work, dreams and reality. I think SteamPunk is Victorian futurism, artful engineering that captures a bygone era with modern fantasy. SteamPunk is repurposing treasures, thrifted bits and romantic touches to make Edwardian and Victorian era fashions, with an eye toward science fiction, and to make new inventions, and old inventions. Think of H.G. Wells, dirigibles, Jules Verne, and steam powered engines, Mary Shelley, airships, bow ties, goggles, skirts, and waistcoats, top hats, bloomers, candlelight and steam engine trains.

William says SteamPunk is... "a creative re-imagining of points in the past in which steam power was widely used." Alex, Max, and William love to discuss and debate the genres and sub-genres of SteamPunk. Whether you agree that it should include diesel age engines and "SkyCaptain" retro futurism, or should remain strictly pre-WWI in style, art, and technology, I think everyone would agree SteamPunk is about do it yourself creativity, and fantasy, with high regards for expression and scientific romance.

And, if "SteamPunk" is ever packaged and shelved at W@lmart, please walk away. It is about making. It's about playing and creating, but mass production, retail sales in big box stores is definitely not SteamPunk.

Never mind.
I mostly just know that I like it. I like the creative, talented, generous people that gather and consort, that enjoy turning junk in to treasures, love reading and writing, inventing and playing. And I like romantic clothes, and what-if robots were steam powered and we wore brass jet packs to tea parties in rose gardens.. kind of dreams. What if the looking glass is in our own imaginations... then we could visit a wonderland every day...

... then we might have as much fun as The League of S.T.E.A.M. It seems that they aren't always working on supernatural and troublesome ectoplasmic apparitions management. Sometimes they invent things that are simply too beautiful for those kind of adventures. Rose, for instance. Professor Jager introduced his lovely creation. Rose sang and danced, and made a fast friend of Maria.

Rose, or Reanimate Optimized Search Engine, was created for "use in high risk situations" but I think her best skills are enchantment and charm.

Alex, William, and Max have been admirers of the League for quite some time, and seeing them and all their creations and great outfits at Maker Faire was a great treat. It was good for me too... putting all those names and faces and inventions in order in my mind... thumb up.

Maria was deciphering the mystery of the Phantom Monkey. It made a monkey-load of noise, but it never made an appearance. She found this quite interesting.

And here... I believe this is the very same net launching cannon that was used to catch the phantom monkey. Ingenious.

I think Jasper and Baron Von Fogel are retelling the monkey's tale here...

Crackitus Potts. Nice goggles. Reminds me of the goggles Alex enhanced for the Sky Consortium Ball.

Speaking of enhancements and building... Alex had a nice visit with Anthony of Anthony Hicks Illustration. His artwork and SteamPunk sculptures were on display and he was more than generous about sharing his inventions and thoughts.

I am not going to give away any of Anthony's secrets for making repurposed treasures, and retro-futuristic weaponry.

Anthony's illustrations and Tinplate Studio creations can be found at Maker Faire, and in his Etsy shop. And they are well worth the visit.

We were welcomed to Maker Faire by the Crew of the HMS St Clair, and their cleverly creative airship mail delivery program.

Visitors were invited to dip a nib in to the inkwell and pen a letter. Captain St Clair himself taught Alex how to make an envelope, and Alex had it hand stamped, before it was delivered by airship at the Faire.

Someone asked Alex, "Who are you?" A question you might hear at Halloween, at a costume party. Alex hasn't completely developed his look, but he answered, "A baron." It never occurred to me to ask who he is supposed to be. Black gloves, a vest, bow tie, dress shirt, goggles, and a fez, fedora, or newsboy cap... it's just Alex, every day, except at FRC... and even there he wears the goggles, gloves and fez!

League of STEAM have all manner of tools and accessories...

Ah... the Short-Range Jump Pack. I may see about having some of these made for school mornings when driving four directions at once is too much for me.

Alex and Jake Von Slatt.

If "The Steampunk Workshop" were a university I think Alex would start on his application and essay today. In fact, after seeing his Steampunked bus, I think even I would go back to school to learn some of those make skills.

He dumpster dives! How cool is that? I wonder if he's read Gever's Book?... #33

I know a lot can be accomplished when fishing around for cool stuff that someone's castoff... Alex made a point of proving that in his first science fair project.


I am happy to recall all of these wonderful moments, creations, and people from Maker Faire, and I am also left awestruck and inspired. Next year... I cannot wait for next year. I wonder what we will make?