“Checklist,” a blackout poem

What I like about blackout poetry is that it’s sort of an inverted version of pinhole cipher, where a hidden message is concealed in printed matter by pinholes under the words of the real message. I used to make pinhole ciphers on discarded newspapers in cafeterias and coffee shops, just in case someone noticed.

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“Checklist. Smile smile smile smile. Imagine the lie.”

If I had nine lives, I’d use one of them to be a spy who retires and opens a coffee shop.  Preferably, the spy part would be in the early half of the twentieth century, before analogue cryptography was completely outmoded.

With blackout poetry, I can just sort of pretend that someone sent me a secret message and pick out whatever words or syllables interest me.

I didn’t have any particular plan when I did this one, but it’s clear to me that this poem explains how I deal with a lot of social niceties, particularly being asked how I’m doing when I’m not doing well, but I don’t want to say so. Smile, smile, find some sort of lie, and try not to sigh depressively.

Not that I would put on such a charade at my spy coffee shop. I like to think I foster an atmosphere of erudite grumpiness.

Why Tarot Cards are Awesome

For someone who’s decidedly not into New Age* things, or into spending money on anything, ever, I own a lot of freakin’ tarot cards. Three-hundred and twelve, to be exact. Four decks. Why do I own so many tarot cards? Because they are awesome. Here’s why.

Tarot cards are like a right-brain pro-con list!

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Well, tarot cards, when you put it like that, I am NOT sorry for what I did, and I will NEVER apologize for eating the last of the chips.

Usually if I need to make a decision about something, I will make a pro-con list. And I don’t mean just for big decisions like: “should we take that apartment?” and “is it worth the money to buy a new computer?” and “face tattoo?” No, I will even make pro-con lists for things like: “brownies or cookies?” and “play KOTOR or read a Star Wars novel?” and  “draw sketch of face tattoo, or excise the thought from my mind?”

Usually, the pro-con list works for me. When things come out a little too even, sometimes tarot cards can help me make the decision. By throwing out a bunch of cards, all the different images and meanings can give me a new angle on whatever I’m mulling over. It’s like talking to a friend to get a new perspective, only you don’t need to have a friend.

In the same way, if I’m stuck on a piece of writing, tarot cards can throw some new angles into the mix.

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Three interpretations, one card. These are the Two of Swords from the Archeon Tarot, the Steampunk Tarot, and the Dragon Tarot.

A deck of tarot cards contains 78 miniatures pieces of artwork.

I like artwork, and also can’t afford artwork, aside from whatever I’m able to make myself. What fascinates me about collecting different decks is that every deck has the same cards, so it’s interesting to compare different artists’ interpretations. Or even multiple interpretations by the same artist.

Tarot cards are mystical!

Finally, on a good day, I can trick myself into thinking that tarot cards are actually mystical occult tools rather than mass-produced pieces of card stock. I’m a skeptic, but would rather live in a world where ghosts are real, and the mysterious forces of the universe can communicate with me though rectangles of tree pulp.

For maximum tricking, make sure to conduct all your tarot activities atop occult fabric.

 

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It’s ok if your “occult fabric” is actually just some scarf you bought at Target one time. Again, the Steampunk tarot.


 

*In  editing this post, I noticed the typo “Sew Age.”  If you are so inclined, I think this would make an appropriate title for a fanatical magazine on sewing, one that takes the view that the apocalypse is nigh and the age of sewing all our own clothes is upon us.  Features could include the column “Notions on Notions” which discusses the best way to stockpile zippers, and whether two-hole buttons or four-hole buttons are likely to become a valued currency.

Paper robots

The internet failed me.

This was back in the Fall of 2013.  I co-organize events for my local NaNoWriMo region, and our group often hands out mini-mascots at our events, things like toy ninjas, army men, and pom-pom bunnies.  That year, I wanted it to be paper robots.  I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding instructions for such a thing on the internet, but nothing came close to what I had in mind.  Everything was either too flimsy, too labor-intensive, or kind of ugly.  Or, all three.

While these appear to be the most awesome paper robots on the internet, making twenty of them was out of the question.

What I wanted was a cute paper robot that could survive a knock from a gift bag granola bar, one that would take me less than an hour to make.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m sure I was visualizing the little robot from Machinarium.

So, because the internet failed me, I devised my own means of creating a paper robot.  I went through a couple prototypes, then got what I wanted on the third try.

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Cookiebot doesn’t give a crap about the steel cut oats. Mostly, the container serves him as sort of a missile silo.

Cookiebot has an electroshock arm that extents from his body and zaps anyone who tries to steal the cookies*.  Including me, and they’re my cookies.  It’s kind of like in Super Ducktales when Bulldozertron or whatever it’s called guards Scrooge’s money bin, and no one can get into the money bin until Gizmoduck defeats him.  Only, I don’t have a Gizmoduck in my life, unless you count throwing Cookiebot on the floor and stepping on him.  But I wouldn’t do that, because he’d probably crawl away in a squashed bundle of spider limbs and have his revenge while I sleep.

Which is all to say, I made a pdf guide explaining how to make the robot.  It’s light on pictures, so I hope the text suffices.  The robot takes about 30 minutes.

You, too, can have a Cookiebot in your life.


 

*Not really.  If I knew how to make something like that out of paper, I would be leading a very different life.

The list that isn’t a list

20141203_231955People with cats and children have it easy because they always have a fast answer to the question “What’s the one thing you’d save from a burning building?” But I’m so rotten at prioritizing and deciding that I can never come up with an answer to that question. It would be easy if I had a single, sentimental piece of jewelry from a long-dead relative that I was very close to, but I neither have such an item, nor do I actually like jewelry all that much.

One answer would be, “You’re not supposed to take anything with you when you flee a burning building.” A snarkier answer would be, “You chose your cats/children/catchildren, but that’s a plural, so pick your favorite.” But those make for crappy dinner table conversation. No one wants to talk about choosing fire safety over their waffle maker, Star Trek movies on VHS tape, or collection of Chinese food menus.

As I said in “Dungeons and Dragons and Depression” I have too many things I want to do, too many skills I want to develop, and I’m horrible at prioritizing. A few months ago, I had the idea to write up sort of an overview of the month ahead, what things were happening, and what I was prioritizing.

I wish I could say that I came up with the idea of drawing my monthly overview instead of writing it because I’m one of those adorably artistic people who fills sketchbooks with twee people-watching doodles and makes the shopping list they scribbled in the corner of the page look like a work of art because they have artsy, legible-messy handwriting rather than malformed tangles. But honestly, I have a lot of lists, and I couldn’t look at another vertical stack of shit to do.

So I drew diagonal lines, and wrote out the three most important things in the largest letters.

Then I added 13 more things, making 16 total. I told you, I’m bad at prioritizing.

Earlier this month, I made my December list.  I managed to get it down to eight things, which is still not effective prioritizing.  This time, I drew holiday orbs for each item, the biggest one being the most important.  I managed to do everything except the most important orb, which is because I severely overestimated just how bad December was going to be for completing that task (which is a rough draft of a novel).

It might not have been an overwhelming success, but it was progress.  As I think about my New Year’s resolutions and what I did and didn’t do in 2014, I’ll definitely be considering how far I need to go when it comes to prioritizing.

The camera ate my color

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Perception and memory interest me. I took the first photo at the community garden where my partner has a plot, and it looks much duller than I remembered. This became even more obvious when I sliced off the top to use for my website’s header. Part of the blame for… Continue reading

Flower inspiration message

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Today I had a wonderful morning, and went into the afternoon with high hopes.  And what do high hopes lead to?  Disappointment. I was going to post this as a facebook status, but the stark naked words looked kind of dramatic.  Hence, I have turned my grumpy sentiment of the… Continue reading