New to Me: The Tempestry Project Knits Climate Data into Textiles

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Geek out!, Stunt Double, This Is Important

Justin and Marissa Connelly co-founded the Tempestry Project with Emily McNeil to save temperature data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Their twist: depicting the data not numerically but as colorful knits.

Etsy Tempestry Project Yarn Medford MA

Tempestry Project on Etsy.

Emily McNeil describes the project:

“One of the ongoing problems inherent in discussions about climate change is the vast scale of the conversation. The Tempestry Project’s goal is to scale this down into something tangible, relatable, accurate, and beautiful.

“The Tempestry Project blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and our own personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or ‘Tempestries.’ Each Tempestry represents the daily high temperature for a given year and location, all using the same yarn colors and temperature ranges.”

 

Etsy Tempestry Project Deception Pass WA

25 years of daily temperature for Deception Pass, WA, ranging from 1948 (top left) to 2016 (bottom right). Tempestry Project on Etsy.

What a great idea – I love the color ranges as pure visuals for one, but it’s also a fascinating way to turn numbers into a tangible item. Not to mention that I love knits!

Now I’m starting to wonder whether we night have similar data for Finland – I might want to make one for the city of my birth then and now.

Visit the Tempestry Project on their website, on Ravelry and on Etsy.

Found via Mary Anne Mohanraj on Twitter.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Updated Privacy Policies

Ahem Ahem!, This Is Important

GDPR, EU’s new data protection regulation, took effect today. Accordingly, I have updated the privacy policy for both this website and Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy. They explain how I collect, use and share your data.

GDPR and PGH

(Note that the services I use to conduct business, like Etsy, have their own privacy policies; please refer to those for how they collect, use and share your data. If you wish to access, correct or delete personal information held by them, contact them directly.)

If you have questions, please contact me via an Etsy conversation or the contact form here at playfullygrownuphome.com.

Food for Thought: Smartphones and Creativity

Inspiration

On Open Culture, Ayun Halliday writes about smartphones and creativity, extensively quoting cartoonist and educator Lynda Barry.

Flickr Nicolas Nova Smartphone Rituals

Smartphone Rituals by Nicolas Nova on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Here’s one of Barry’s thoughts that especially struck me:

“The phone gives us a lot but it takes away three key elements of discovery: loneliness, uncertainty and boredom. Those have always been where creative ideas come from.”

– Lynda Barry

I’m still mulling over the quote, but I seem to be leaning towards disagreeing. People who are inclined to doodle, people-watch, nap, let their thoughts wander, knit, read or whatnot will continue to do so even with smartphones. Not to mention that it’s perfectly possible to be bored with your smartphone and all the access it gives. Boredom, I find, isn’t dependent on having access to x, y or z; it’s more a matter of what doesn’t inspire you at any given moment. Nor are smartphones a cure-all against loneliness or uncertainty.

Smartphones are undoubtedly a tool, and equally unboubtedly they can be a distraction. My tentative hypothesis is that as the newest and perhaps most exciting devices in the history of human tool use, we haven’t collectively learned to balance their benefits and disadvantages yet.

Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier for those struggling to resist the siren song of instant and interminable access.

Banned Books Week 2016: September 25 – October 01

Books & Mags, This Is Important

The Banned Books Week just started. This year it runs from September 25 to October 01, and the focus is on diversity.

bannedbooksweek.org 2016 Banner

Banned Books Week Coalition / bannedbooksweek.org.

According to ALA, the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 are:

  • John Green: Looking for Alaska
  • E. L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings: I Am Jazz
  • Susan Kuklin: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
  • Mark Haddon: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • The Holy Bible
  • Alison Bechdel: Fun Home
  • Craig Thompson: Habibi
  • Jeanette Winter: Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
  • David Levithan: Two Boys Kissing

James LaRue, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, wrote in a blog post Defining Diversity about the significance of diversity to the Banned Books Week:

“While ‘diversity’ is seldom given as a reason for a challenge, it may in fact be an underlying and unspoken factor: the work is about people and issues others would prefer not to consider. Often, content addresses concerns of groups who have suffered historic and ongoing discrimination.”

He further went on to identify a common thread why many of these ten books may have been challenged so often:

“In collaboration with other sponsors of Banned Books Week, we are highlighting the diverse content in the list of 2015 Top Ten Most Challenged Books. Talking about this commonality may offer some insights into the current concerns of those who challenge materials.

“For instance, four of this year’s titles clearly fall into the LGBT category: Beyond Magenta, Fun Home, I Am Jazz, and Two Boys Kissing. Three books deal with religion, and challengers’ suspicion of it: Islam in Habibi and Nasreen’s Secret School; and Judeo-Christianity in the Bible. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time centers on the disability of the main character, who is autistic. Call it neuro-atypical: a mode of cognitive processing and emotional responsiveness that falls somewhat outside of the norm. OIF staff agree that all of the above fall well into our common understanding of diversity.”

I don’t have time this year for a specific banned / challenged books project, but it occurred to me that in a way my 21 Authors project counts, because the ten newest books (from Lowachee down in the picture below) are mostly by women of color:

21 Authors Project 13 Newest Books

While to the best of my knowledge the SF/F authors on my list haven’t been challenged, book challenges or bans are just a tip of the iceberg. Publishing in U.S. in general is not the most hospitable of environments towards authors who fall outside the perceived norm, whether their difference is of gender, race, sexual orientation, neurotypicality, religion and so on. I’ll use race and gender as an example below.

People of color face many obstacles in getting their stories published that whites don’t. For example, children’s and teens’ literature has “a long way to go” before it reflects the existing diversity, both with regard to protagonists and authors (Cooperative Children’s Book Center). The publishing industry is still overwhelmingly a white business (Publishers Weekly, 2016). Young adult book covers have a whitewashing problem (School Library Journal, 2009; YALSA, 2012). In the speculative fiction market, the number of stories by black authors remains staggeringly low (Fireside Fiction, 2016). Books written by whites are reviewed more than books written by people of color (Roxane Gay, 2012). Also, books written by women are reviewed less often than books by men (Strange Horizons, 2015), which implies that books by black women are reviewed even less.

If talking about banned and challenged books matters, then talking about the obstacles faced by non-white authors also matters. Some of these obstacles, especially when compounded, amount to de facto silencing, which is what banning also is: a way to deny someone their voice.

One step towards redressing that silencing is to create demand for books by minority authors. Reading widely and trying new genres or authors is something we can all do, especially with the help of libraries.

I’ll finish with a short personal experience.

A couple of years ago I started consciously reading more books by women. That lead me to read more about the state of publishing and gender balance in the U.S. market, which lead me to consciously include more authors of color, more QUILTBAG authors and more disabled authors in my reading. As a result, I’ve discovered many, many talented, new-to-me writers to follow and so many books to be excited about. I am loving the fantastic stories and worlds I read nowadays. I haven’t even finished 21 authors yet, and I’ve already got my next reading project lined up.

In addition, my efforts indirectly lead to Husband’s first commercial short story publication. Most likely I wouldn’t have seen the call for submissions for the Hidden Youth anthology had I not started paying more attention to the publishing climate. Hidden Youth, in its turn, has introduced me to another new set of authors I want to check out. It’s a cycle I’m thrilled to be a part of.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Some Self-Promo Stats

Ahem Ahem!, Behind the Scenes, DIY

As any creative knows, self-promotion is hard. Really, really hard. And most likely you signed up for your creative job specifically for the creative part, not necessarily realizing that self-promotion is a part and parcel of that job. I know I did – rather, I thought I knew about the challenges of the promo aspect, but the reality, as they say, has a way of sneaking up on you.

Buy My Stuff

While being excited to share your work with the world is understandable – it’s a product of hard work you’re proud of, after all – it’s easy to lose yourself in the promotional whirl. I can think of nothing worse than to inadvertently cross the fine line from sharing your excitement to unsolicited pestering. In fact, I dread it. Like author Delilah S. Dawson says about self-promo:

“…[I]f you do certain annoying behaviors, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and actively repelling people instead of interesting them.”

The equation often feels impossible. I have marketing needs and goals. I need to get out certain information like holiday schedules or rising shipping costs. I also want to let people know about new arrivals in my shop, like the breast cancer awareness items I made in 2014. Achieving those needs and goals seems opposed to the way I want to promote my business, though. I fear becoming yet another spammer, barging uninvited into other peoples’ spaces with my Exciting!! opportunity to purchase my new Exciting!! thing right at this Exciting!! moment. Also, I can’t have my blog to turn into a boring, soulless infomercial channel; I couldn’t stand that myself.

How much should you be talking abot your business, then? There are various rules of thumb with proportions like 4-1-1, 6-3-1 or 5-3-2:

  • 50-75 % signal-boosting other people’s content / curated content
  • 30-15 % original content created by you / owned content
  • 20-15 % sales-related content / promotional (or, in one version, personal status updates)

Or, more simply, there’s the 80-20 rule:

  • 80 % curated content
  • 20 % owned content

Short, informative explanations of these ratios (and more) can be found by Kevan Lee on Buffer.

To see how I was doing, I pulled some statistics. From mid-2013 to the end of 2015, I’ve written 267 posts here. 18 were in my business promotions / notifications category (Ahem, Ahem), which amounts to under 7 % of all posts.

On the basis of these numbers, I could increase my self-promo posting. I have, in fact, been thinking of writing the stories of how some of my items came to be, from the idea to design to prototypes and making the final products. They take a lot of time and effort, though, so before deciding, I need to have some idea of whether it’s worth spending that time writing or whether it would be better to design and sew instead.

What do you think – too much or too little as it is? More pictures? More text? Or more of the general Behind the Scenes posts on running a small creative business? Let me know what interests you!

Book Donation to Ferguson

Books & Mags, This Is Important

We’re in the middle of Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 03, 2015). This year I didn’t do a project like last year, but my BBW reading did make me raise my eyebrows.

According to the American Library Association, there are disproportionately more attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about communities of color from libraries and school curricula. Eighty percent of the 2014 Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books reflect diverse authors and cultural content.

Ferguson Book Donation

Earlier this year, I sent a book donation to Ferguson, MO public library as my appreciation for the work they did following the shooting of Michael Brown at the end of 2014: the duology Proxy and Guardian by Alex London. Having seen the latest ALA statistics for challenged books, I’m doubly glad I sent books with a POC protagonist.

Disclosure: Author Alex London was in my class at library school. I wasn’t paid or perked to mention his books, though; just passing along a good thing.

Signal Boosting: Help Families of Charleston, SC Mass Shooting Victims

This Is Important

I’m signal boosting efforts to help out after the mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina. Please consider reaching out for example by:

Screencap from CNN.

Screencap from CNN.

Image above: screencap from CNN.

Banned Books Week 2014: Quotes and Links

Books & Mags, This Is Important

As a follow-up on my Banned Books Week 2014 post, I’ve collected a few interesting and thought-provoking quotes and links below.

Weird Al Yankovic, Neil Gaiman & George R.R. Martin support the banned comics week:

Neil Gaiman Banned Books Week 2014

Neil Gaiman.

Photo from Neil Gaiman’s Google+ profile.

Neil Gaiman is also quoted in the Comic Riffs feature of The Washington Post:

“Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income. …

“That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.”

(The Washington Post / Michael Cavna, Sept 24, 2014)

Barbara Jones, the director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, on why we need gay characters in literature:

“Many of us at one time or another have belonged to a minority. Maybe you grew up a man with many sisters. Maybe you’re the only one who likes a juicy hamburger in a crowd of vegans. Left-handed? Night owl? Deaf? At some point you may have looked to the left and looked to the right and wondered, ‘Where are others like me?’

“Banned Books Week is an annual reminder to embrace the freedom to seek ourselves in books. The First Amendment awards each and every single person the right to read and speak freely. Celebrate the characters that help us discover ourselves.”

(Huffington Post Books, Sept 22, 2014)

In Defense of Banned Comics: 10 of Our Favorite Challenged Works by Robert Tutton at Paste.com. Almost identical to the CBLDF list.

Malinda Lo’s analysis of the most banned/challenged books in the U.S. shows that diverse books are disproportionately targeted for book challenges and censorship:

“I think it’s important to note that the reasons for a book’s challenge may be beside the point when the result is a broad silencing of these minority perspectives. Though some might protest a book’s explicit language, the real result is closing off dialogue and preventing readers from experiencing stories and lives outside the mainstream.

Recent academic studies have shown that reading fiction leads to increased empathy, which suggests to me that it’s more important than ever to make sure books with diverse perspectives are widely available, not censored. I hope we can remember this during Banned Books Week, which takes place Sept. 21–27 this year, and every week.”

(Diversity in YA, Sept 18, 2014)

Maddie Crum’s article puts book ban/challenge information from ALA as graphics (Huffington Post Books, Sept 22, 2014).

Author N.K. Jemisin’s reading of the above supports Lo’s findings:

Edit: Here, finally, is my complete collected ElfQuest set (albums 1-8) and my Banned Books Week library loans.

Banned Books Week 2014 ElfQuests
Banned Books Week 2014 from Library

Banned Books Week 2014: September 21-27

Books & Mags, This Is Important

Long post warning. TL;DR – Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign for the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to reading and information. This year, the banned books week focuses on comics and graphic novels. Below are some basic information and links, and my thoughts and a commitment.

ALA fREADom 2014 ABFFE

Banned Books Week

Your Error Message Was 404 Not Found

Thumbs Down

There are times when I regret I didn’t go into user experience (UX). Even though I am a gamer, I’m not very well versed in the actual IT world. Systems, structures and logistics do, however, fascinate me. Then there are times when I think being in UX would probably suck. For instance, when seeing an error message like this:

Sign-in Error Apr 2014

Part of me is thinking: What in incredibly frustrating and non-helpful error message. If I cannot sign in with a specific account, what possible use could there be in asking me to sign in again with that same account? The other part is thinking: There must be a reason for that specific wording. Or is this a “placeholder” message for misc problems? How would you even design a scalable error message system specific enough to be useful for the good IT folks trying to troubleshoot and generic enough not to confuse your users?

Three days and counting. Thank goodness e-mail customer support is working behind the scenes. And the upshot is that I have time available to tackle tasks I’ve been putting off because they’re not very exciting. Ohwell. 🙂