Category Archives: Thoughtful

On Impurity, by J. Seale [for little red sailboat aka Olde Indie]

i emailed out to a few lists “selling” my sailboat for the cost of a poem. The sailboat found a happy new home with Alex H, a MITERS member & Hannah & their baby. I did get another poem though, by someone who enjoyed the prompt, and found it again in my inbox just now:

J. Seale
On Impurity

True voyages are never maiden nor the hands that helm them
Fearful of falling afoul of that form.
Sometimes joyful but always impure the sea is impervious,
Gently hugging the shores it meets,
Lying spread betwixt them and a comingled firmament,
Then mounting and roaring in the face of rocks and spitting gods
in the same unconcerned coupling that brought about the first cell’s split.

In a permanent embrace that stays true only to its indifference,
disrespected creed, code, race, gender are all ignored in favor of
the same militaristic contract known to voyagers across millennia
with its blue-black ink of clicks and luffs
as a pledge to the unknown,
possibly beautiful and possibly vile,
signed each day in whatever bodily issue
might be demanded as partial payment
with trembling hand lashed to the tiller if so bidden.

On pain of death all who greet the cold wind from the rail
with digits raised on both hands
in so doing leave innocence on the dock
and instead thereby pledge to sport this same death as needed
while waking and dreaming, on hand and on brow:
As her breed I will respect the intricacies of the sea.

– For Nancy Ouyang, September 2017

on strange battlebots mind-allergies

watching battlebots just makes me sad.

i don’t how to express it–

as one of my friends put it, he got into battlebots and decided to become an engineer because he watched battlebots 10 years ago.  now battlebots is on the TV again, inspiring more young boys to become engineers.

people participating in battles are overwhelmingly male-dominated. it’s all about competition and destruction.

robotics to me is something that brings me joy, and happiness, and a feeling that i am competent and skillful, a medium for me to express my creative muse.

i want everyone to enjoy building robots. but where’s the TV show that exposes the funny robots, the creative robots, the helping robots and wondrous robots that people build?

where’s the show that will get more girls interested in robotics than boys?

i am sad because i see a future ahead of me where i am always abnormal.

sure, i can be dedicated to my craft and ignore all this and just be badass and build robots so amazing that i inspire all the girls to be roboticists without even having to pay attention to these issues. that’s probably the only way to do it, to have a single-minded dedications and hone my skills in robotics until i’m near or at the top of the field. that’s how all the people interviewed on MAKERS Women in Space seem to have done it. but some part me is just —

watching battlebots — i should enjoy it, because my friends participate in it and find a lot of joy in it. but where are the grassroots competitions and friends for me to enjoy making dancing and drawing robots and educational robots with?

for whatever reason;

watching battlebots just makes me incredibly sad.

Waterjet pastries? Edelweiss Patisserie Plant Visit (April 2015)

Did you know your trader joe’s brownies in Boston are cut with a waterjet?brownies

first, youtube

On the internet, I watched a video about waterjets containing a shot of a waterjet cutting pastries.
A few more (well, a lot) youtube links later,
Inline image 1
Inline image 1
turns out that right in Medford, MA there is a waterjet being used in production at a bakery called “Edelweiss Patisserie”.
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Based on their website, they are essentially a contract manufacturer for baked goods. So cool!

        We produce more than products that fit your business needs—we create pastries that enhance your product line.

Our customers are category leaders in the food industry, including supermarket and club store chains, restaurants and cafes. They demand innovative, unique products to meet the needs of their sophisticated consumers and their own margin and turn standards.

We invest in product development and have the manufacturing flexibility to create almost any dessert our customers could imagine. Our business is driven by what our customers want, and we deliver! When we say we offer only the highest quality products, we mean it.

I emailed the contact email, and lo and behold, a few weeks later, the very kind owner of the place replied! He was held up by the Easter holidays.

plant visit

Thus, one spring day we drove over to Edelweiss.
edelweiss_outside
We got a sweet tour of the place by the owner himself. The place is gigantic (the pictures don’t do it justice). Here, the owner talks a little about the supply chain and inventory management needed to run the place.
tour
There was a recycling machine that crushed boxes
recyclemachine
into neat cubes, WALL-E style 🙂
recycle
Industrial quantities of strawberries
strawberries
and trash bins full of tapioca starch put the batch ingredients we use for putz’s (where I lived during undergrad) liquid nitrogen ice cream event (cryofac) to shame.
tapiocastarch
Vat of oil half as tall as me.
oil
There were horizontal bandsaws used to plane pastries
planars
horizontal_bandsaws
Here’s just a few croissants
croissants
croissants_closeup
The ovens were pretty cool because
oven
they had this mechanism inside that would lift an entire rack of pastries up so that they could be rotated and evenly heated while baking. Sort of like an industrial version of the toy vending machines with the claw you use to try to grab plushies.
ovenmechanism
 Giant chocolate machine, chocoma (I think the name is funny)
chocoma

waterjet machine for baked goods

Note: This waterjet uses water only (at 60kpsi), no garnet (it’d get all over your cake! :P)

Finally we came to the highlight, a waterjet from ?Spain? that cuts baked goods (and is in use all the time when the plant is running).

waterjet

machine_side

Here’s a closeup of the interface.
bats
The designs are pre-programmed, there’s a simple shape editor, and then other designs are emailed in to the manufacturer to be converted into DXF or whatever

video of it cutting

in more detail

what was cut:

hearts

filters

filters

right side (pump?)machine_rightside

left side (intensifier?)machine_leftside

They told this awesome story of the seal on one of the components breaking, and then they cut it themselves on the machine. Secretly, they are engineers now too 🙂
Here’s the part they fixed (maybe a water trap??), which is to the rear of the machine on the left side:
watertrap
chiller
chiller

 

The mechanism

waterjet_mechanism

mechanism

The grille
grille
The grille was a little worn!
worn_grille

misc. technology

 face detector for a high-tech version of punching in and out
 face_detector
labelmaker
labelmaker
wrapping
wrapping
all ready to be shipped!
croissants_shipready

and our going away present

brownies

The end.

edelweiss_box

gallery

same pictures in more modern webdesign look (idk what is google doing with all their photo services):
https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipP4l6DjOm33q_sNXtFdvoF0heVceXYI27uKR_BQ

nail saloon parties: laseretched stamping plates, water marbling / hydrographic printing, toner transfer, and magnetic nail polish

nail saloon

I’ve been holding nail saloon parties at my place, the idea being it would be a place where people should feel welcome to ask questions about things they might feel awkward about normally, and also a chance for me to learn about other people’s experiences that I don’t know much of anything about.

Although it turned out to be mostly preaching to the choir, I’ve improved friendships through it, learned about other people’s lives, and also experimented with nail art with folks!

Here’s a few “pieces”. I drew this with the applicators that came on the bottle (and a toothpick, I think)

laser-etched stamping plates

I tried to make stamping plates (lasercut) — here’s how the professional ones look: https://youtu.be/HxIFgvfPC1c?t=1m29s — however, I think, because I was in a hurry, the etch depth was not deep enough

(and also, we were using test tube stoppers instead of soft round stamps that conform to your nail more).

newspaper toner transfer

One person successfully did newspaper transfer, but that was perhaps one successful one try out of ten…

Here’s the instructions, using rubbing alcohol.

And if you’re not having luck, just fake it with sharpie 🙂

ombre

aka, a color gradient. this is a simple technique, just take a cosmetic sponge, put two or three colors next to each other, and then dab away — tada, you have a gradient!

the middle finger is “ombre” here

magnetic nail polish

it works! turns out you need to get the magnet patterns.

the thumb and fourth finger have gold magnetic nail polish applied

Update 8/16/15: For those wondering about MRI compatibility — it so happens I had an MRI done recently with some magnetic nail polish still on my nails. It was totally fine (not even a slight pull), and they also have a nifty device that checks if you have metal things on you before you enter the MRI room.

stickers

these sadly only lasted maybe a few days, even with a topcoat applied on top of the stickers

tools

I hunted around for a local source of things like dotting tools (for making dots) and eventually found them right at Target!

the sticker “masks” above did not work too great, but the dotting tool was handy 🙂

testimonial

“I guess I never noticed how often I take off my socks in the presence of other people until now. An eye-opening find on it’s own! I think I shall paint them from now on. It’s like the personalization of a tattoo without the peril.” — K. S.

water marbling

This is just dropping different colors into a cup of water and dipping your nails in it. I did this successfully (you want solid colors usually, and some nail polishes do not work (just dissolve into the water)). Here’s a friend’s:

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Here’s the coolest water marbling of nails I’ve seen

Here’s the fun technical equivalent at SIGGRAPH

conclusion

Overall, quite a bit of fun 🙂

Addressing the “skeptics” on reddit: Woman up and talk to people in real life.

as before, posting my response here because I’ve handed off my reddit account to a friend so I can’t keep trying to fix the internet. I’ll re-post to reddit when I get access again in a week.

In response to “he said she said” comment, as replicated below:

guh-internet-suchfail
4:29 AM: the point distro is now 3 for miotoss, 1 for me, instead of 2:2 as shown here. love you too reddit

I’m sure an arrest would satisfy your desire for truth [/sarcasm].

The fact that there are laws against something is evidence that it happens (so we make a law against it, e.g. no one is seriously making laws against murdering unicorns), not that it doesn’t happen. For instance, there’s laws against speeding and jaywalking, and they definitely still happen. Another example, rape is illegal and people do get arrested for rape, yet people still doubt it happens. Therefore, nothing you read on the internet will convince you, especially if you start from “everyone is lying to me / people are all liars” and the thought is on the tip of your tongue ready to leap out the second you read something contrary to your beliefs.

So seriously, just go talk to people in real life—everyone will be much happier, you and I included. In real life, you will have to look people in face and stare them in the eye and deal with the fact that you could end up feeling sh***y about yourself when you call your friends a liar to their face.

I tell my friends in real life when they are being wittingly or unwittingly sexist, and I feel sh***y as f**k all when I do so. But I deal with it, I deal with their anger and resentment and backlash, I deal with them saying “bulls**t” to my face, I deal with them saying “I’m too busy dealing with my own life and issues to listen to you”, I deal with them saying “I only care about hardcore technical issues and I’m proud of that”, I accept they will tell me “I don’t care about your pet cause, stop talking about it”, I listen to why they are feeling the way they do—I do all this so that we can grow together, and because I’m a grown-up woman and I’m their friend. Because I accept that, if I want them to listen to me, I need to listen to them too.

I listen to them, because I know what it feels like to not be listened to.

I’m far from perfect at listening instead of reacting in anger, because I’m human. But at least I try.

I’m challenging you to do the same. Get off the internet and go talk to people in person. Woman up, like I did, and confront them in real life. Engage with people in order to grow your empathy and understanding of why other people believe what they do, instead of trying to prove to yourself what you already believe. And don’t sleep easy until you do.

It will take effort and time away from honing your technical skills. You will have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and distressed. You will have to accept people’s anger and distrust and hurt and discomfort and apathy and backlash at you. You will have to work to seek out opposing opinions instead of shutting them down. You will have to work to gracefully accept criticism when you inevitably get angry, fail at listening, and fail to hold yourself up to your own standards.You will have to acknowledge the limitations of statistics and the limitations of your knowledge—you will have to put all your opinions aside so that you can fully be there when your friend is asking you to listen to her. You will have to work to broaden your circle of real friends, not just token friends, so that you can talk to people with diverse life experiences with whom you have a history of doing things for in return, instead of just demanding their knowledge and opinion and attention in a one-way relationship—you will have to ask for their trust in you, instead of asking them to lay their painful life stories before your skeptical eyes for you to tear apart while you call them liars “who have zero issue lying” and give them no trust nor respect in return.

And this is the effort you have to put in to be a grown-up woman.

tl;dr Woman up and talk to people in real life. Don’t sleep easy until you are better at listening than at arguing, until you are comfortable doing to your friends in person the things you do to strangers on the internet.