Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I got a free sticker.

I found this on my car this morning and I was so offended. I know I'm abusing the visitor parking, so I only park there when retrieving my car from a tow yard seems preferable to waking up at 5:30 to shuffle the cars so my landlady can leave for work. I like rules, and this notice is so sloppy that it made me feel like the parking enforcement person is not competent. It says "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING," but the sign just says "VISITOR PARKING ONLY." And also I was not parked there overnight, but from 4:21am to 8:47am. And also it says my car will be towed at 7 AM, and it had not yet been towed at nearly 9. And also "TODAY" is not a date.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lead Shot Comfort Objects

Having camera and video camera and phone camera problems, but I am extremely keen to share my new project, so here is a frustratingly paced video
I made a weighted lap blanket, for self-soothing! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Donkey

 At work I have been helping out as best I can with our delivery pods. No part of it is a strong suit for me (I'm not mechanical, I am an average driver, and I am quite handy compared to my old peer group-- I can lay carpet or find a fuse box-- and totally useless compared to my coworkers. Is the alternator important-important? What is weight distribution? Yes, I see that the jack is going back down, that is why I have changed direction.) but that's what makes it so exotic and fun.
This is the awesome gear shift for the Donkey-- the ridealong forklift that fits on the back of the delivery truck. The gear shift (black plastic on the left) is just welded to that little red indicator, so they move together. A regular forklift has a 10k lb+ counterweight (ours is 13k) but the Donkey has to ride on gravel roads and people's driveways, so it has no added counterweight. We use the Donkey to pull 5'x8'x7.5' plywood boxes off the delivery truck and position them on people's driveways, but if the road is too narrow for the delivery truck we park nearby and deliver the box via forklift. I was very nervous to use the forklift to travel the last 1/3 mile to a farmhouse because I am very used to using the counterweighted, solid-tired forklift, which responds terribly to patchy pavement and has even caved in the cement on the lot at my storage center (not while I was driving). But the Donkey has air tires, and I could even take it off the gravel road into the dirt when I was positioning the box. I had to drive backward, of course, because the plywood box on my forks took up my whole field of view. But on the way back to the truck, I got to drive downhill, unencumbered, and I got it up to third gear, which was super fun even though I was riding the brake so much that my supervisor let me know afterwards that it might have been a good time to take it out of 1st.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I kind of love throwing away reusable stuff.

A few days ago my landlady took me shopping on Berkeley to make sure I was out of the house while she fumigated. I got to go to Daiso, the dollar-and-a-half store of housewares and things. I usually get bento boxes there, since I always eventually let mine rot away- for me, reusable food storage containers are not much longer lasting than disposable ones. Everything in Daiso is plastic or silicone or some other synthetic, except the stationery and the food, so I was totally surprised when at the register I couldn't get a plastic bag. 

The same day, I made The Worst Cup of Tea in the World. I put three black tea bags into some previously hot water, and when they didn't steep I remembered the carton of premade chai I had and decided to mix them together. I fished out the tea bags, poured out some of the very weak tea, then forgot what I was doing and filled the rest of my to-go cup with milk. Then I remembered, poured part of it out, and topped it up with the chai and thought, "this is the worst cup of tea in the world." I was sort of looking forward to trying it but instead left it in my house while it was being fumigated, rendering it either dangerous or just scary (I am okay with not knowing the ins and outs of poisons). Then I inadvertently let it sit out and it curdled horribly and very quickly so I  didn't try to salvage the cup. I think I used it for nearly 8 weeks, so that was pretty good. When I throw away reusable cups and bags I try to reckon whether they weighed more or less than the disposable option and I think this time it weighed less  which is probably the first time that's happened. 

I love my replacement to-go cup. It is a plain white ceramic cup in the shape of a paper coffee cup and the sleeve and the sippy lid are both green silicone. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vanity Postage from Stamps.com

 I tried vanity postage from Stamps.com and it is extremely cool and also a headache. I love it so much that I was in denial about what a mess the process is until I found myself trying to explain to my housemate and fellow mail artist, Dawn, how she could use my credit to get a page of vanity stamps of whatever she wanted:
       "If, in the next week-- before my trial period ends I have to cancel my subscription or it is $16 a month-- you want to order stamps, you can definitely use my credit to order the photo stamp blanks (the stickers), but the credit doesn't apply to postage so you can either use my remaining balance, which is a couple of dollars, or if you want more you can buy it in whole dollar increments of at least $10."
And those are just the hoops remaining after I signed up for and installed all these things and navigated the stamps.com labyrinth and the one in the mandatory desktop version. I have worked for the post office, have the First Class Mail rates memorized by mailpiece and by ounce, read postal regulations as a pastime and found this process inscrutable I honestly don't know who would find the ordering process and billing manageable.

I found a gift card at the Goodwill for half off of $2.99 and thought it was worth checking out, and it was redeemable for $21 in postal supplies but no postage. But, signing up for stamps.com comes with a welcome kit (designed for small businesses) with a $5 postage credit. The welcome kit coupons are really clever, they are postcards redeemable for $10 in postage if you send them in using stamps.com postage after your trial is up. I have already put the cancellation date in my planner, even though I love my vanity stamps, because the subscription is just way too expensive for private use.

This page of stamps is a drawing I made of a triceratops skull at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
This is a photo of my dad. The printing is over saturated. He's in a gorilla suit warming up to peddle his pontoon paddle boat in a river parade. 

I feel weird cancelling a service that is so neat, but it is really not priced for personal use. I send more mail than anyone I know and I use under 200 stamps per year. Just subscribing to stamps.com costs twice as much as those 200 stamps, and anyway there are always new fantastic commemorative USPS stamps that I want- vanity stamps can't replace them.

 For example, one year a panoramic stamp came out depicting the cherry trees around the Washington Monument to celebrate the centennial of friendship between the United States and Japan. I had an application for teaching abroad due, and since I was living in the capital I delivered it to the Japanese embassy by hand. They asked for a self addressed, stamped envelope for replies. I used the cherry blossom stamp and they sent it back saying no thank you. So that worked out well for everyone.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mike Kistler

My grandfather was proudly riding the early, avoidable death train the entire time I knew him, with the exception of the year he was 74 and got treated for cancer (I think it was because he was a newlywed). When I was little and was taught, sans nuance, that smoking kills, I would lecture him all the time and he would laugh it off. He continued smoking even after the mother of his children died of a heart attack brought on by getting by on just the one lung for years. Probably the sweetest death train story is that he wore a seat belt until it was legally mandated, and then he never wore one again. He also ate what he liked in the face of diabetes and didn't care to exercise. He retired at 55 and spent decades going on cruises around the world with his second wife. When they split up, he got together with his high school sweetheart. I am sorry we didn't get in some long, meaningful coffee dates before he passed, but we did get to say goodbye, at least, while he was lucid.

The checks he sent me every birthday and Christmas used to be wonderful when I was a kid- I would plan how to get to the bank, when to cash them, what to put the money towards, and then when thanking them I could specify what books I'd bought. Since then, though, I have used the checks toward groceries or paying bills and I appreciate it of course but it's not the same as that thrilling glimpse at adulthood. I am so grateful that this last Christmas present was something tangible, a flashy set of cocktail jewelry. I wore it to his deathbed. He said it was sold as jade but was probably just glass, and that I didn't have to wear it at all if I didn't like it. We have always just talked about me. I don't know who I thought was going to tell me how he became an engineer or where he met his French wife or what his family did for fun when he was a little boy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soapstone Seal

Seal Impression in Wax
Soapstone tiles

A friend picked up some soapstone tiles for me for Christmas, and I had a couple days off this week to work on projects so I rounded one off and carved my initials with a pin and a paper clip. Then I found an old pool cue in our pile of sticks and pipes and sawed off a 3 1/2 inch piece to use as a handle. The pool cue was much, much harder to sand than the soapstone, so I left it squared off. I drew from this tutorial: http://myceliae.deviantart.com/art/Tutorial-Personal-Wax-Seal-169771200