It’s time for the biennial update of what I have been up to! I mostly do this for my own historical record, but if you’re out there reading this feel free to get in touch. I’d be interested to know if someone occasionally stumbles across my blog. I don’t do analytics tracking. As I am not trying to sell anything, the only point would be in service of bolstering my own ego… and the results would undoubtedly have the opposite effect.
My sister got married this year!
I landed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) position at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. It was really interesting! I had to break it up into two trips. The first trip, I flew out there and had a very wacky Airbnb experience (I have the whole thing chronicled in a letter I sent to Airbnb, but the TL;DR is that it started great but slightly eery with an empty house, and ended with the host cutting his hand open with a weed wacker at 4am and banging on my door requesting I drive him to the emergency room.) After that I ended up staying at an extended stay hotel, which was much more peaceful, and I had some really fun experiences in that area. I went on a some nice walks and really enjoyed the fireflies. One night I was walking home and I got caught in a thunderstorm and it. was. incredible. It was so warm, and I fully embraced getting soaked and walking through the sunset as it dumped buckets.
I came back to Bellingham so that I could teach some week long workshops to middle school and elementary school kids on Arduino, crafting with LEDs, and learning how to code with Processing. It was kind of cool, but it did make me realize that I’m not that interested in being responsible for large groups of people of that age group. I have too nervous of a disposition and don’t trust kids not to constantly be falling and breaking their necks after tripping on office chairs, or otherwise permanently causing damage to their emotional well being.
I also went to OCF while I was back, and it was one of my favorite years there. My brother Devin came for the first time, and watching him experience a whole new world was really, really fun. It was on par with my first year, going with Rose and Clea.
I of course made a few projects for OCF, including these sick diffraction glasses and this Outrun inspired jacket with fiber optic lining.
Then I returned to Bethlehem, this time driving. I had an amazing time on the way back out. A standout memory was staying at this beautiful camp site in South Dakota.
I also visited Shady Liberty in Pittsburgh, which was done by my good friend, Sheila Klein
When I got back out to Bethlehem, I stayed at the same hotel I did the first trip for a few weeks. Then I attended a bioinformatics conference in Boston. I met some really cool people there, and presented the research project I had been working on.
For my final trip back to Bethlehem, I was running a little bit low on cash and I was weighing what I really wanted to spend my money on: A clean but rather boring and pricey hotel room, or some fun experiences. The latter was obviously the better option, so I bought about $80 worth of camping gear and stayed at a very nice family campground. It was owned and operated by the ladies of the family, and it was great! It saved me enough money that I was able to take a weekend trip to New York and go to Electric Zoo! (I quickly crocheted myself up a rave onesie, which I ended up feeling very self conscious wearing… but hey, you never know until you try.)
That was amazing. I camped in south Brooklyn (yes! You can camp in NYC!) and actually drove around New York City. Driving there is nuts! I also went to House of Yes one night after EZoo ended, and met some very interesting people. I’m really glad I pushed myself to have those experiences.
Around this time I also made myself a new website. I don’t really think of it as a replacement for this site. I like having this one on hand if I’m trying to put forward somewhat more “professional” impression (within reason, I’m still blogging about festivals and butt hugger onesies here), and I like having the historical blog. The new site is more of a portfolio, and also just a fun way to showcase my personality and the things I’m most interested in in this phase of my life.
My dad flew out to PA and drove back with me to WA, and it was fun spending time with him on that trip, too. I got to go to the Field Museum in Chicago, which was a big goal for me on the trip. We also hit up Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Needles Highway. I had the best stake of my life in Montana. It was a lovely trip, through and through.
Not too long after that trip, I took yet another trip, this time to attend Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, FL. I entered a poster competition, and won first place for the Undergrad category. Siiiick.
GHC had a party that was very much up my alley, where Google handed out LED glasses and someone was doing UV reactive face painting. I really felt like I was living my best life at this moment in time, attending a dance party at a conference centered around women in computing after having just won a big competition. And just a few weeks later, I graduated with my shiny new degree in Biology/Mathematics, with minors in Computer Science and Chemistry. I also applied to a handful of grad schools, and was feeling very optimistic about the future.
A highlight at the beginning of the year was flying to London, with my mom, to visit my baby niece Ren.
Unfortunately 2018 otherwise started out rocky.
A very sad thing happened at the beginning of this year, which is that my dog Franki (pictured in the background of this very website) passed away. She led a good long life, but it was very hard to say goodbye.
I also did not get into grad school 😔 I did get a trip to Chicago for one of my interviews, and I brought Jason along with me. I went BACK to the field museum, because it’s great, and I got to see some really neat parts of the city.
While not getting into grad school was a huge disappointment, I was able to keep my job as a Web Developer at Western, and actually move into a full time position. Since my entire goal in going back to school was to get a good job, and this is a good job, I’m actually pretty okay with how things turned out. While it makes me feel a little anxious that I have this expensive new degree that is only very tangentially related to what I’m doing as a web developer, I also have long loved making websites so I’m very happy to be doing something that I’m good at and thoroughly enjoy.
And, before I had known I wasn’t getting into any of the schools I applied to I was working as a temporary employee, which mean I had a very flexible schedule (yay 32 hour work weeks!) and lots of time to work on projects and attend a number of really fun (and at times intense) events in 2018. It turned out to be an incredible year.
These are the events I attended in 2018:
- Lucky (in Seattle)
- Oregon Country Fair (duh)
- Happy Little Farm Party in Conway
- Summer Meltdown
- Virtual Self
These are the projects I was able to complete in 2018:
- Rainbow onesie
- Rainbow vest
- FurFur - LED Sculpture
- LED Sparkle Cape
- Multiple tie dye outfits
- Synthwave Sweater
Photos of these projects can be found on masonmak.es. The rainbow onesie is like, my pride and joy. The sculpture was a big project and came out awesome, but that onesie… woo, it is sooooo cooooool. I have another colorway of that same yarn, and I sort of have it in mind that I might make another similar one and this time document the steps/write a build log so I can create a pattern webpage for it. We’ll see if I manage it.
I DID make a pattern website for the Synthwave Sweater!
Now I am settling into the 40-hour workweek. While I don’t have as much free time as I did last year, I still have a number of fun projects planned, and while I had planned on doing less events this year, I already have a lot of trips and festivals planned. They’re just on a slightly different plane of reality than the events I attended last year. I’ve already taken my nephews to Emerald City Comicoon, and I am taking my step mom to OCF in July. My sisters and I are also prepping for a local Renaissance fair in July. In August I’m probably going to Summer Meltdown again, possibly also Subdued Stringband Jamboree. There is also a family Disneyland trip in the works for October. I also have a few trips to see family this month and in May. So, should turn out to be another fun year.
And already this year I’ve been on a knitting frenzy, and have completed three more projects:
In preparation for Comicon, I created a robot costume. It is an EVA foam based costume, and I learned a lot. I think I will do more with the material in the future, but suffice it to say this was a learning experience and not my most impressive project ever created. The boys made their own costumes (with varying amounts of help/guidance from Jason and me) and they both got a lot of attention and photos snapped with other kids and teens, which was really fun to see.
I think that summarizes most of the highlights from the last 2 years. See you in 2021? Maybe 2022? 😜
It’s been a busy last year and a half.
School has been taking up the vast majority of my time. I changed up my major/minor status a bit, and decided I am going to go to grad school. Probably for bioinformatics, though I’m open to exploring other data science possibilities. I’m going to be doing a few data visualization research projects here in the next few weeks, and I’m starting to become more and more interested in that aspect of science. (It’s the designer in me.)
Unfortunately school has left me with less time for creative endeavors. I have still been doing things, but not keeping up with styling them/photographing them/showing them off. I also haven’t been knitting very much in the last year or so, only a few small things for myself. I sort of burnt myself out last winter making everyone gifts, and also fucked up my shoulder. When I’m hunched over in school taking notes/on the computer all the time my shoulder doesn’t feel so great and knitting/crocheting immediately makes it worse. So motivation for that has been low lately, but I think this is a temporary lull. (I also think that the general lack of exciting designs that I’ve seen on Ravelry in the last year has contributed to my lack of feeling creative/inspired in that department. The knitting world in general feels like it’s in a lull right now, but that’s probably just be me hardcore projecting my own feelings onto the whole thing.)
Also contributing to the fact that I’m knitting less is that I started getting into new hobbies: hobby electronics. Shortly after my last post (in August of last year) I started getting into E-Textiles. I made a little scarf from some supplies that a local maker space gave me to experiment with in exchange for them being able to keep the scarf and show it off to people and I got super pulled into the whole Arduino/Adafruit/Processing world. So here are some of the projects I’ve worked on during the holiday and summer breaks over the last year or so.
For Oregon Country Fair this year I put together a pretty nifty costume. I made a crop top with an LED matrix.
I also made some sweet ass light up horns.
And I used some old costume pieces to put together this sort of Sorceress deal.
I also wore this costume to a medieval-ish-themed feast I went to with my sissies.
And I reprogrammed it with creepy green lights for my halloween costume, and did some nifty looking makeup to become a Lich.
The LED shirt was pretty challenging and fun to make. I learned a lot and realized some things I’d do differently in the future, but am overall very satisfied with how it came out. I hand soldered tiny little individual 5050rgb LEDs into a flexible matrix, and while it took forever I am very glad I did.
It is very flexible and has held up very well so far to wear and tear. Originally I had made this vest, and I had used stainless steel yarn to sew all of the LEDs. But it was kind of a disaster. The LEDs would short out all of the time, and the ones at the end of the line were much less bright/would do weird things with colors because of resistance in the stainless steel. Thats why I upgraded to soldering a wire harness, it works out a lot better in the long run.
As can be seen in some of the above photos, I have also gotten into some art makeup (because the makeup world is crazy right now, I have been ~influenced~) I go through phases of being more or less enthusiastic about doing crazy makeup, but here are a few of the looks that I’ve done that I really like. Obviously I’m not about to be instagram famouse with my makeup skills, but I really enjoy being able to do it for myself or a friend for special occasions, or like, a Monday when I’m feeling extra sassy.
I bought an Adafruit Pi Grrl kit and made it. I 3d printed the case at the local maker space. It was an awesome experience and I used it to learn how to solder and put all these components together, and it was fun to learn how to use the 3d printers. The finished product was pretty underwhelming. I don’t even know that I took a picture of the final thing. It worked–you could totally load it and play games. But it wasn’t fun to hold or play at all! It was satisfying to finish but the ABS plastic made it feel pretty cheap, and I think I must have messed some circuit up in my rookie status because while you could play games you couldn’t press more than one of the round buttons at a time, so trying to play SNES games was impossible because you couldn’t run or do anything besides like walk and jump.
I recently picked up a new little case for the raspberry pi and transferred it to that. I’ll recycle the other components into some other project, and I still haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to use the pi for but I’m excited to have it to SOMEDAY mess around with.
One of my weirder miniature obsessive moments that I quickly got over was last summer when I decided I wanted to get into doll makeovers. I got so far as to half make over one Monster High doll and then got on with life. But she has a pretty cool looking face I guess.
New Electronic Toy
I bought my nephews Adafruit’s MiniPOV kit for Christmas, and I got myself one too. Partially so that I could put one together before I tried to sit down with them to do it, and partly because I just wanted one. This thing is sooo much fun. I dont’ really know what I’m doing with the photography yet, but I really am looking forward to experimenting with light painting and stuff, because its very much up my alley and with my sweet little programmable toy I can see making a lot of fun things. The boys also (I think) had a lot of fun putting theirs together. It was really fun watching them learn to solder, they both picked up on it very quickly and I was very impressed.
I actually made this ages back, I think I even made it before my last blog post in the summer of 2015. I’d like to paint on it some more (probably some like geometric rainbow shit) because there is still a lot of white space on it, but it’s pretty rad. The bird is painted with glow in the dark paint on some parts, so if you run a flash light across it it looks pretty cool. It’s very small, so its a very cozy fit for two people but I do most of my festival camping solo anyway so it works. It’s not super weather proof, because I had summer festivals (namely OCF) in mind when I made it, but last year it was super rainy at OCF so I am probably also going to come up with some plans to weather proof it a bit more. It can handle a light rain no problem, but deluges are more worrisome.
A lot of people think it’s a crow for some reason. I wouldn’t expect most people to know what a pitohui is, but it’s funny to me that people default to crow rather than assume that it’s just some kind of bird they don’t recognize. (Which is definitely what I would do because I am really bad at identifying birds.)
I have been working on campus for the last year and a half doing web development.. I designed and help to develop the website for the magazine they send out to alumni. This was a good learning experience as I had to learn AngularJS and how to import things like JSON data (which is populated from Drupal) so I have got lots of new good skills from that. I’ve also done some of the development on some of the campus websites. It’s been pretty good all around. I won’t pretend like I don’t wish it paid a little more (definitely a big pay cut from some of the other jobs I’ve had in recent years) but I can’t complain about the great learning opportunities for obtaining useful skillsets it has provided. It’s also very convenient working on campus.
I also taught a coding class to middle schoolers on campus, along with two other women. I’ll be teaching more classes on my own this summer in coding and also some Arduino art projects, which I’m looking forward to. I learned a lot from this first class (which is my first time ever teaching anything in a formal setting, and first time working with kids this age) and I have a lot of ideas for improving the lesson plans going forward. It was pretty cool though.
Onward and forward
I have many electronic projects in mind that I plan on making over the Spring/Summer, so maybe in a year or two I’ll post about those. I’ll also be graduating either in the Fall or Winter, so I’m sure in the time period after that and before I start grad school I’ll have some time to get lots of cool projects done. Til next time!
A few weeks ago I finished a knitting pattern I had been working on since earlier this spring.
You can buy this pattern on Ravelry, if you want.
The special thing about this sweater, as stated in its Ravelry description, is that all of the shaping is done on the back only. This pulls the front around one’s body in a very flattering way, and also allows one to direct focus in only one complicated thing at a time: the shaping when working on the back/sleeves, and the patterning when working on the front.
This is the pattern I wrote in Python, as a sort of learning project/way to practice the language, which is why I named it Python. My program is nothing to write home about, but it does the calculations just great! I’m really stoked in the idea of writing patterns this way, though knowing what I know now the next time I start a new design I’m going to go about things a little differently.
I’m not throwing the program completely to the wayside just yet, nor this general design. I’m actually currently working on recreating a very similar sweater in crochet. I’m not going to make it the exact same sweater–the front isn’t going to be the same at all, it’s going to be something new and interesting in crocheted design (maybe lace? maybe not interesting at all, but just plain? still tbd.) The back is going to have the same shaping, but fashion shaping (where the increases & decreases are visible) in crochet isn’t nearly as interesting to me as it is in knitting so all of the decreasing and increasing will be done at the edges only. I’m also going to modify the neckline slightly, and do something a little different with the collar.
Overall, I am really really satisfied with the shaping of this sweater, and I really think it’s high time I released an adult crochet pattern. I have plenty of crocheted baby sweater designs, but I consider myself a knitter and crocheter in equal measure (or at least, NEARLY equal measure) and I haven’t designed a single accessory or garment for crochet. Not to mention there is, generally speaking, a huge gap in the number of interesting/non-hideous crochet sweater patterns as compared to knitting patterns. There are definitely some jewels out there in the crochet world, I don’t want to come across as not recgonizing that. But there are far less jewels than in the knitting space, and I think a big part of what is lacking in the crochet design spaces is straight forward garments that are flattering and not overly fancy. There are a lot of awesome and interesting things you can do with crochet, but if you’re clothing aesthetic tends to lean towards the “plain, but with close attention to detail” there just isn’t very much. I think this could possibly be due to people’s general lack of interest in crocheting row after row of half double, but I also feel like there’s just not enough of that being put out into the world. There are legion of knitters who love doing nothing but row after row of stockinette or garter, so there must be crocheters who are down for miles of half double. I know I’m down for miles of half double. It creates great looking fabric, and is easy to do while otherwise semi distracted with movies or podcasts or whatever.
Went on a bit of a tangent there, but yes. This is a new design by me, I am very very happy with it, I love love love wearing this sweater, and I’m looking forward to squeezing at least a little bit more use out of the program I wrote to do all the calculations before throwing it onto the “learning experiment” digital scrap heap hehe.
In other news, I may have some new hobbies on the horizon. More on that soon. I also have a big project I worked on earlier this summer that I would like to get on here, as I am very proud of how it came out, but it requires a little bit of setup/cleaning up from actual use, and I haven’t had the motivation to get it photographed just yet. I will hopefully get around to it soon. I’ve been very very motivated to be making things recently, though school is going to be starting back up very soon and it’s going to be funny to see how I end up balancing creative time with studying this quarter. I haven’t really been getting into gear at all, though I have a feeling in the next week or two getting reorganized for that part of life is going to be kicking into high gear.
This year my grandparents will have been married for 50 years. I made this little invitation to the celebration we are throwing for them. You probably don’t know my grandparents, but this is a very accurate portrayal of them on any given day hanging out around the house.
To be clear, I am not inviting you. ;)
It’s finals week! And last night I came down with a nasty ass cold, so that’s fun. I’m feeling optimistic, though, as my final today isn’t until late this afternoon which gives me plenty of time to take it easy and hopefully feel a skosh better. Also, it’s my computer science final and not to brag (but to totally brag in the most shameless possible way) I currently have 100.4% in that class so I think I’m in pretty good shape despite any mental grogginess that may accompany me on my test.
Tomorrow’s test is the only one I’m ‘worried’ about (I’m not actually much of a worrier about anything, it’s just the one that I’m studying for the most) because it is in calculus, and my grade in the class is currently teetering on the edge between an A- and a B+. Whether I can nudge it towards the A will actually very much depend on whether I can manage to get an A on the final or not, and since I’ve only gotten an A (a low a) on 1/3 of the exams and quizzes, whether or not I’ll actually be able to do it is a little up in the air. I have been doing lots of practice problems and review, however, and I am feeling generally very comfortable with integral calculus at this point. What it will basically come down to is if I can manage to not make enough careless mistakes (like randomly switching x-1 to 1-x halfway through the problem, or calculating the area of a cylinder instead of the area of what is clearly a cone) that the partial point deductions don’t take me below 91%. I really wouldn’t mind getting that A-, as it would mean I’d have gotten all A’s this quarter, and that would be siiiiiick.
It’s been an awesome quarter, I’ve really been loving being back in school and sucking up all this knowledge. It makes me all excited about the world around me and eager to continue with the sequences I have started. I’m also taking Physics in the fall, and that is going to be pretty mind blowing I’m sure.
In the meantime I decided not to take classes over the summer, and I am very glad that I did decide that because it will be very nice to enjoy the fun things I’m going to be doing like visiting my mom (unfortunately under unhappy circumstances, but I will be glad to be spending time with her nonetheless), going to OCF, stringband jamboree, etc, without having the worry that I should also be studying or work my schedule around tests and whatnot. I’ll also be working a ton this summer, which will be a good boost to the finances since I’m now spending a bunch of money on tuition. Happily, I won a scholarship so one of my quarters will be covered by that next year, which is fabulous. Then in the fall it will be nose to the grindstone again, as I’m not planning on skimping on units any more than I did this quarter.
Now I’m off to do a little more studying, as well as some zoning out and taking it easy before I head off to start my week of testing.
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