Friday, May 25, 2012

You + Skallops = Awesome

Chickenblog wants you to have a new toy, a fresh toy, an American toy, a Make toy that is both fun and super exclusive. It's all part of our Maker Faire excitement, and our love of S.T.E.A.M.M.

¡Skallops :: Skallops :: Skallops :: Skallops :: Skallops :: Skallops :: Skallops!

Curious? We sure were curious, when we walked into the expo, and discovered tables covered in cards, laser cut pieces, and fantastic creations. It's typical of Maker Faire, when you find something interesting, you'll find a creator, a maker, a tinkerer, who says, "Try this! Check 'em out. Want to Make something?" We jumped right in!

In seconds, I made a hat. Skallops were turning out to be simple, fun, easy to use, yet loaded with potential. Nice.

Skallops are scallop shaped semi circles, laser cut to precisely hold playing cards... and the rest is left to your imagination, hence the limitless possibilities! All of the fun of building a house of cards, or a card castle, or a nautilus, or a biplane, or a double helix of DNA, but without the aggravation of instability. Just look at what they've built!

In an entire Faire of marvelous sights and activities, the Skallops booth ranked right near the top, especially with Max and Maria. That's saying a lot considering they saw Adam Savage, and cupcake cars!

Max stood back for a while, in his quiet, observant way, but the cool guys from E & M Labs gently persuaded Max to succumb to temptation and build whatever he was imagining. Max accepted the invitation, eagerly.

A Skallop Skooner?!
William, loving his brother's creations, joins the fun.

And where there are ships, there are fish!

So, the story goes... when Marshall was a boy he wanted to build a house of cards, but he had an even younger brother, who was more interested in collapsing house of cards creations. Marshall designed and made his Skallops... thwarting his little brother's plans, and sparking an inventive future, which is pretty cool, I think.

The next day, we were right back at the Skallops table, even passing our early admission time helping them set up their tables for the Maker Faire masses. Max's help and enthusiasm were rewarded with his very own Skallop Team Shirt. And he continued churning out really cool creations, like a spider, and a scorpion, this bird.

Eclipse of the sun, Dalek, and Skallops biplane = trifecta of awesome!
Skallops sent us home with something for You! Chickenblog has a brand new box of ready to go Skallops, and we are very excited to be sharing this wonderful tool for your own ingenuity. We like Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music, and Math, and when we can spread the joys of S.T.E.A.M.M., while celebrating our Chickenbloggiversary... bonus!

¡Skallops Giveaway!

Leave a comment, here on Chickenblog, and your name will be added to the fez. Link to us on your FB page, and we will add your name two more times! It's about supporting a start-up, American entrepreneurship, and bringing a fun toy into your life.

I like the mission statement at E & M Labs...

Our mission is to make scientists and engineers.

Scientists and engineers are not made in universities. Universities polish them off, but universities don't make them.
Instead, scientists and engineers are made when everyday people discover how the world works.

The problem is that today, all the stuff that's out there has its magic hidden away—either in computer code locked up in a chip or as a gearbox, sealed inside an opaque piece of injection-molded plastic.

We believe that there's a better way.

We believe in making products that put the magic at your fingertips, so that you get a first hand exposure to, and an intuitive understanding of, how things work.

Because that's how scientists and engineers are made, and that's how we're going to make the future.

-Evan Murphy & Michael Woods

So yeah! Comment! You may win a free set of S.T.E.A.M.M.y Skallops!

On May 30th, we will pick a name out of Max's fez!

Chalking It Up

A long, long, time ago I bought a can of chalk board paint. Seemed like a miraculous product...turn a surface into a chalk board? Super! Trouble was, I didn't own any surfaces I could chalk up, and we moved lots, and the can of miraculousness just kept getting packed and stored.

Geoff brought home a fresh, new can of miraculous chalk board paint. These days there are recipes for making your own... anyone who has combed the depths of Pinterest knows this! But I love the can Geoff gave me, and the ease of just popping it open, then voila! It's had more than three days to cure, and today I decided to follow the last step, by conditioning the board.

I loaded the surface with chalk. The board is kind of bumpy. No matter.

When I bring Maria home, and she asks, "Is there anything special today? Are we doing anything fun?" I can say, Yes!

I'll tell her, I counted the number of days 'til we are out of school, and then I will tell her I wrote the number on a special board. She may guess where.

She may guess that the barn doors are ready to be drawn on. I know she'll think that is pretty special.

Hmmmm... those two panels on the bottom look a bit plain...

I think I can fix that.

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Make Our Way to Nepenthe

This is a road trip that that began with a night of camping, and a morning with elephant seals.

Now we pick up where we left off... with Love & Rockets enjoying breathtaking views and Big Sur flavor, at Nepenthe. It was Alex's idea to treat ourselves to the scenic drive along Coast Highway 1, finishing with a Maker-Prom worthy meal. It was a happy choice... even waiting for our table was mellowing and good.

I love this wall of benches, the cushions, the view. It's not hard to imagine the legendary parties out on the patio, with a bon fire aglow in the Big Sur mist.

Do you know about the family that started Nepenthe? There are small bits and pieces of the story at their website, and even more to absorb in the book by Bill and Lolly Fassett's granddaughter, Romney Steel, My Nepenthe. I enjoyed reading the stories about a place familiar to me, a region dear to me.
Some places have a vibe, right, Eli? You get a warm welcome, a comfortable setting, the fresh air, and whatever other elements are at play that spark smiles and creativity. It is a genuinely restful stop.
Max senses it, too, I think.
There was hardly any wait, or trouble, seating the eleven of us. Some of us remembered enjoying this same table, almost two years ago.
It's only fair to caution you: if you go, bring your whole piggy bank. The prices might feel a bit brutal if you are on a prom budget and super hungry. Maybe don't arrive feeling ravenous, because it's a shame to skip it all together on account of price. Going there is about more than just the meal, which will be tasty. There is the whole vibe I was talking about... it feels good there. Good feelings can be very filling. And honestly, my only real complaint about the place is that they stopped serving their sweet potato-pecan fritters and curry dip. I am not quite over this loss.
I recall good memories, other road trips, children growing. This is a good life.
What will they recall, years from now? What memories will make them reflect wistfully, smile?
Geoff recalled a bit of play, some kinetic art he made for me, so he ordered me a Duvel. Good, Belgian beer. And he got to work with the cork and wire that wrapped around it. It's there, on top of the ketchup bottle, spinning, balancing.
Here it is, again, now balanced on Eli's knife. Physics and art. A toy. The play we make.
We played a lot. Laughed, too.
The waitress said, "Oh. That's a new one." And we said, No, we've done this before, to ourselves, happily recalling our make and play.
"It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how!"

Do you remember who said that?
Smart Cat.
I remember when I wished we could stop here. Now we have, so I have a new wish... I wish we could stay, into the night, maybe all night. It should be open ended... that would be great.
A last balancing act before we continue north, to Maker Faire, and more play.
And, one last note: Happy Chickenbloggiversary! Ten years ago, this very day, I wrote about wishes, daydreams, and some chickens we'd just brought home. Thank you for sharing the journey, for comments, gifts, encouragement, visits... what a very, very good life we enjoy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Road to Maker Faire, part I

Our first night was spent camping at El Capitan State Beach. "The windiest night of the year," according to Dave, the park host who came to check on us in the morning. We felt it, and the guys "sleeping" in the tent really felt it! The next morning, Alex, Eli, and Cameron described the suspense and agony of waiting to be slapped and pinned by tent parts, all through the night. At least dinner, the stars, the campfire, and the beautiful ocean view made it a worthwhile stop.

Now that Grant, Suki, and Cameron were caught up with the rest of us who rode in the RV, we were ready to begin our caravan in earnest. We turned our wheels north, and hit the road.
So... what makes a girl leap like this?
Answer: Pinnipeds! Which is exactly what Suki squealed when we arrived at this beach, just north of San Simeon. Specifically, elephant seals big ones, noisy ones, beached ones, and swimming ones. All the many ones.
The elephant seals are such an amazing sight. There they are sunning themselves and living their pinniped lives in this beautiful coastal stretch. It's always a worthwhile stop to make, to see them, to contemplate their sealness.
I love all those colors, silvery, grey, black, shadow, browns. They look, at once, huggable and formidable. We opted to consider them mostly formidable. Rumor has it that they are fast, even on land.
Up on the bluff, the wind milder than the night before, we stood in awe of all those seals, the low tide, the flowers in the fields. We felt far from home, at the beginning of our adventure.
Have I mentioned? This trip to Maker Faire was taken in lieu of senior prom. Instead of rented tuxes, and limo rides, Alex, Bambi, Suki, Grant, and Eli chose what we called Maker Prom: a weekend with thousands of artists, scientists, makers, thinkers, tinkerers, celebrating and sharing all that is made, created, clever and innovative. It really was a brilliant choice.
I only ever heard of one possible regret, that there would be no corsages, but that turned out rather nicely, too.
It's quite refreshing to know young people happy to follow their own paths, make their own traditions, and who can make roadside corsages.
Every road trip should include a stop among the wild flowers.
These lupines were abundant, and had a beautiful fragrance.
Two years. That's how long it's been since our last visit. We were due. Maria was pouring out adjectives, and long, admiring sighs of appreciation for everything she saw.
We all were... sighing and appreciating.

Have you had a chance to practice your seal stance, lately?

We didn't get tired of watching the seals, but we had miles ahead of us, and thoughts of lunch, too...
A lot of captions come to mind. I promise: no one rode to Nepenthe hanging on to the back of the RV.
Well, almost no one. At least he's strapped in. Brave, Sir Robin.
Stopping here was Alex's idea. Every Maker Prom should include a memorable meal with friends. And what better place to enjoy this than Nepenthe?
There's more to come. After all this is just the beginning.