6 Things “Making” Can Do for You

I’ve been a “maker” my whole life! From a young age, I was encouraged to build, cut, paint, and sew my way out of both boredom and problems. Believe me, I wasn’t great at all of it.

That said, Maker Groups are great places for you to practice your craft or learn new skills.  Here are just six of the benefits of stopping by your local Maker Space:

1. Community

While making friends isn’t usually the first thing going through a maker’s head, it’s really the first thing you’ll notice (and if you don’t, it will sneak up on you, all epiphany-like). At my local Maker Group, we ask our members for supplies and tools, such as plastic cutlery or new scissors, and these items appear with astonishing alacrity. Our group puts all membership fees towards building needs which keeps these fees low and gives members a chance to contribute to the space on their own terms. Moreover, no one’s membership fees go to something he or she will never use.

2. Extra Space

We all have hobby spaces in our homes.  Some are bigger than others, but then again so are our homes (proportions need not matter). But, if you’re like me, this space, though adequate, remains unused. For me, I don’t like crafting alone. Also, it’s a challenge to cut out 6-foot pattern pieces in a 3-foot by 3-foot area.  You only need more room for a short while, so moving everything out-of-the-way often takes longer than your project… That’s where the maker space comes in! The space if open, clean, bright and multipurpose. No need to clear things out-of-the-way, just pick up when you’re done.

3. New Skills

There is always something new, fun or interesting going on at the Space.  You can watch and learn, ask for help with something you are unfamiliar with or teach someone else.  All of these expand your skills in both social interactions and whatever activity you’re doing. Speaking of, if giving a speech is a fear of yours, the space can help you conquer that, too.  At my local space, anyone can present to the group on just about anything maker related.  It’s a great, low-pressure environment to share something you already love while working on your presentation skills.

4. Teamwork

Granted, this may sound similar to community, but stay with me. Some projects are just too big for one person.  This might be as simple as asking someone for help carrying your now-larger project to the car, or it could be half-a-dozen folks coming together to build a power wheels car from scratch to compete for glory (well, a good story at least).

5. Expand Your Horizons

Since our space doesn’t pay for food, we encourage our members to bring their own.  This often leads to sharing of new or different things, like adult beverages or strange snacks, when one might not want to buy a whole 6-pack or package. I’ve personally learned what beers I like (and don’t like) in the last few years, because of our community and sharing.  On a project level, seeing what others do with different projects can spark inspiration in your own endeavors.  

6. Follow-through

It’s so much easier to leave projects undone when no one else sees your progress.  It’s also easier when no one is counting on you. The Maker community can give you one or both of these motivations.  I’ve fixed, made and finished more projects in the last year than I have since high school.  

 

As you can see, there’s a lot to gain from making. The maker movement will help you in unexpected ways, and I promise a visit to your local space is worth your time!

TIL: Quick Whipped Cream

Homemade peaches and cream

Homemade peaches and cream

Today I learned that you can make whipped cream in a Magic Bullet (TM).

I put about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream into the small bullet container and let it whip for about a minute. Please note, this is much longer than the manufacturer’s recommended time for blending.

San Mateo (Bay Area) Maker Faire

There’s writing and then there’s writing

After some careful thought, I’ve realized that blogging isn’t my strong suit. For the most part, I’m going to focus my attention on fiction writing.  That’s not to say that I won’t post things anymore, because this is my little soap-box and it bypasses the ephemeral nature of Facebook and other social media.

That said, I would like to find a format to showcase my writing, in some way. It’s not as easy as it sounds, since everything comes out of my head in disjointed pieces, with no real flow to the story. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that’s fairly normal, but that leaves a reader confused and unsatisfied. Any suggestions would be more than welcome!

Wacky Brain Shit

It says something very telling about our society that talking about my sexuality (I’m bi) is more accepted than my mental health (I struggle with depression).  While I’m glad this new age is making it more acceptable to speak about both subjects, it’s striking how marginalized mental health truly is.

 

Anecdotally, I posted about an episode of Star Trek: Voyager via Facebook:

I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: Voyager lately, and I just re-watched “Extreme Risk”. In this episode, B’Elanna is depressed, but I can’t get over the fact that the episode depicts depression as something so simple to fix. It only takes a few stern conversations and a single “breakthrough” confrontation, before B’Elanna is suddenly fine again. As I’m watching, I can see through the tropes, and I feel like our society can’t really understand this disease if our portrayals are so skewed.

Some of the responses were about as skewed as the show’s depiction:

Well, she is half Klingon :)

It’s also distressing to realize that while exercise is one of the best treatment methods for depression, health insurance doesn’t cover anything in that vein.  However, they will cover pills that have more side-effects than benefits (or at least that’s how it feels.  There are some very effective medications out there with minimal side-effects).  For a lot of medications, medical science doesn’t even know what those chemicals are actually doing to your brain.  They just know it works, and are marginally sure they won’t kill you (according to the FDA).

Another risk-factor for depression is allergies.  As allergy season is gearing up near me, I can feel my mood slipping away from me.  Besides copious amounts of allergy medication, the only other option available to me is allergy shots, which are expensive and time-consuming.  However, in Europe, they have had a treatment that was both cost-effective and doesn’t require weekly office visits.  It’s called Sublingual Immunotherapy.  I’m just going to rant here and ask why this treatment, that’s been in Europe for decades, isn’t approved by the FDA?  From a medical perspective, it’s better for the patient on several levels, including both safety and cost.

For me, depression is mostly genetic and chemical.  It seems like consistent exercise can help, but when I’m feeling so lethargic I’d rather skip out on everything than face the day, and that’s a huge stumbling block.  Conversely, I have relatives who seem to have bypassed the whole morass of mental health issues, and I suspect it’s due to their healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately, in order to test said hypothesis, they would need to stop exercising for an extended period of time, and I feel like that would just be unethical to ask of them.

There are several celebrities that speak openly about their depression and other mental health issues (i.e. Wil Wheaton) and other people who make their living blogging about their own experiences with depression.  So I decided it was time I also speak out about this.  To be candid, I had started this post well before mental health month (May) and had hoped to post it then.  Well, Opps!  But here it is. Finally.  This is me admitting that I am just as subject to the human condition, and all it’s faults and failings, as everyone else (and sometimes a little bit more).

Fixing all the things!

Never let your playmobils play with screwdrivers in the neighborhood of your camera by Fdecomite

Never let your playmobile play with screwdrivers in the neighborhood of your camera by Fdecomite

So, sometime last year, I managed to get sand in my little point-and-shoot camera. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I called the camera repair shop, and they said it would cost over $100 dollars to fix it! Armed with this “proof”, I priced out a good replacement camera. The camera I chose was soon-to-be last year’s model, so I waited. I put the replacement on my wish list, and set a reminder on my calendar for the day the new model came out.

Then I decided I should crack open my broken camera. I had nothing to lose! My goodness, I am glad I did! I found a repair guide on iFixIt, and set to work. The gentlemen down at my local Maker Space gave me some good advice about fixing it as well.

Pretso! My camera is taking photos like new.

I know that next time I’m tempted to replace something, I’ll take a whack at fixing it first.  If nothing else, I’ll learn something new.  (And maybe you should think twice, too!)

Relaxation and slowing things down

Relaxation By MeaganJean

Relaxation By MeaganJean

So along with this minimalist thing I tend to follow (or like to think I follow… it’s more reading lots of articles about it and wishing I were more like that), I also try to spend enough time for myself, and relaxing. In today’s society, it’s pretty easy to plug-in, but it seems really tricky to unplug. So, I thought I’d to share some things that work for me.

I really enjoy the outdoors, but even so, I don’t get out as often as I would like. However, when I’m out there, I like to set-up my hammock. Making one is actually pretty cheap, as long as you have a place to anchor it: How to make a hammock on Kinfolk. While I’m out there, I spend a lot of time reading or writing, but I’m almost never doing nothing.

As for what I read, well, that’s varies.  I love romance, science fiction, but also some non-fiction, mamby-pamby self-help books, too.  I’ve found the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout group on Goodreads is a great resource for finding good romances to read.  I also enjoy the podcast that drives the group.

Another thing, which I’ve mentioned previously, is cooking.  It’s something I wish I did more often, but I seem adverse to washing dishes.  Cooking falls into the larger category of “making things”.  Not everyone enjoys crafting, cooking, or building things, but I most certainly do.  I was very excited to learn that there’s a maker space in my city!  You can see if there’s one near you: http://makerspace.com/makerspace-directory

Sooner or later, I’m hoping I can add exercise to this list.  Right now, however, I’m still not quite there.

Writing and Inspiration

Inspiration By AlicePopKorn

Inspiration By AlicePopKorn

If you didn’t know, writing prose and writing a blog post is a completely different experience. The tone, the diction and even the part of my brain that I use (anecdotally, but it certainly feels like it) vary widely between the two.  Inspiration for what to write for a blog post can come from anywhere, but is almost always rather mundane.  “Oh! I could write about costuming!” I think as I am finishing my Halloween costume.  Where as inspiration for prose seems to come out of the blue, at least for me.  My imagination just comes up with things, and I write it down.  Sometimes I guide my imagination, but I’m mostly as it’s mercy, like it is its own entity.

Some other differences are more obvious.  I write all my blog posts (at least as of now) on the computer directly, via keyboard.  But my prose?  I have found that I write better with pen and paper.  I even tried to get a tablet and stylus, so it would at least be digital.  But that didn’t work out so well.  The stylus is off by just a hair, and I can’t really adjust the size of my writing on the fly (like when I’m at the end of a sentence or word riiiight by the margin).  I also haven’t found a good way to organize my work in the tablet.  I thought it would be just like my real-world notebooks, but I can’t just flip through it casually.  There’s evidence to encourage using a pen and paper when writing, though, because it activates more of the brain.

Inspiration for prose usually happens when I’m bored (or trying to sleep, or trying to work, etc.).  But there’s nothing like sitting down, when I’ve carved out time to focus on writing, and that blank white page is just taunting me.  Some people call it writer’s block, but I feel like it’s more due to a lack of content in my creative buffer.  The words and ideas just aren’t ready to come out yet.  They need a bit longer to finish “baking”, if you will.

Blog posts just take their own shape, and fairly readily.  Maybe that won’t always be the case, since I’m just starting out, and I have plenty of ideas I haven’t expressed yet.  When I hit blog post 200 or 2000, I suspect I’ll run into some writer’s block.  Much like Tom Foreman did when he was writing to the president every day.  Luckily, I have time on my side.  With more time (and life and experiences) in between my posts, I should be able to stumble upon something to write about, or at least I hope I do.

So here’s me, stumbling along, looking for things to write about.  It’s a crazy world, and I’m glad I can share my perspective with you, fictional or non-fictional.

Pet Peeves

We all have a pet peeve (or two, or three…), but how do these affect our day?  In general, I forget just what my triggers are for this kind of annoyance until it I run into again.  For example, there’s a perfected ratio for chair to table height.  If your chair is too short for your table, you’ll have to lift your arms more than is ergonomically comfortable.  If your chair is too high, there isn’t enough room for your legs under the table (or at all) and you’ll have to bend down to use the table.  This is just one of the reasons tables and chairs are sold in sets.  I, personally, don’t have to struggle with this issue most of the time (though I’d imagine it’s a daily issue for the wheel-chair-bound), but it’s still annoying when I run into this.

What are some of your pet peeves?  Any enlightening suggestions for dealing with pet peeves (besides “get over it.”)?

Goals for GeekyLogic

Eyes On Your Goals by Gurdonark

Eyes On Your Goals by Gurdonark

Among some of my personal goals, I’ve written, “write more.” Which isn’t terrible quantitative, but whatever.  So, while I tend to write prose and sometimes poetry, I think GeekyLogic will be a great tool for me to learn how to write blog posts.  Blog posts are much closer to my work correspondence than prose.  Also, writing blog posts will give me a place to post my opinion, and I feel that my opinion is worth the time, effort and money to create and maintain this website.  Said website, in general, gives me a chance to fiddle with all the technical bits that go along with buying web hosting, domain names, and setting up the content management system (and then converting to another one), etc.

For now, I’m not making any money on this site.  In fact, I’m spending money on this site (I’m not even trying to break even).  But it’s one of my hobbies, so I’m not really too concerned about it.  I certainly could be spending a lot more on a hobby, in the grand scheme of things, so I think I’m doing alright.

That said, I’d love some constructive feedback!  I’ve enabled Disqus comments, but if there’s a better format, I’m open to suggestions.  You can also shoot me an email, chat, etc.  Right now, I’m pretty set on Word Press and this theme, but I could use a logo (or suggestions about a logo).  Lastly, I’m not sure if I want to make a schedule for blog posts, because I’d like to emphasize quality over quantity.

Some other things I’m hoping to do include do-it-yourself tutorials and retrospective articles for some of my more complicated artistic endeavors.  When I get around to creating an e-book (I’m being optimistic here), I’ll link to that.  Maybe I’ll even have a giveaway contest or something kitschy like that.

Here’s to looking forward!

 

Day 145/365 Show me the money! By Alex of Gothenburg

Managing Money on a Manic Monday

Day 145/365 Show me the money! By Alex of Gothenburg

Day 145/365 Show me the money! By Alex of Gothenburg

There are hundreds of debt-consolidators, pay-day advance and other shady ways of handling money now-a-days.  It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to realize that most of these things are scams, or at the very least, a bad idea.  Then there’s the average way of handling money, such as buying things on credit, getting a loan for your car, your house, and your education.  This isn’t the greatest either, but it’s pretty much the standard for most Americans (some interesting stats on this over at NerdWallet.com).  Lastly, and the least popular, is to live within your means.  Which, I understand, is much trickier than you’d think.  (Of course, there’s always some mix of all of this, depending on your perspective.)

I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but I do know that Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover changed how I think about money.  It all came about when my brother bought me this book about money.  My mother doubted that I’d even read it (she told me so)!  Some of it I’d heard before, and some of it was common sense.  But that’s the thing, common sense isn’t that common.

Since then, I’ve also managed my budget using Mint.com.  It’s free, but ad driven.  However, it will give you a good idea of where your money is going (if that’s something that eludes you, like it did for me).  Then again, there’s the thought of planning ahead for every dollar, with something like You Need A Budget (YNAB).  YNAB is not free, but it has a wide user-base, nonetheless.  I figure that once my important expenses are accounted for (including savings), it’s all gravy.  On the other hand, that means that I check my bank account almost daily, which could be considered a hassle but it also means I’d see any fraudulent charges almost immediately.

Now that I do have my money under control and headed in the right direction, I can plan ahead and splurge on things like a bottle of wine for all my friends for ladies night.  And spending money on other people, and experiences, are both proven to increase happiness better than just buying another bauble.

I hope my big brother realizes just how much that simple book means to me.  He’s helped become a happier person!  Thanks, Big Brother!