Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Steam 7/16/11

These handcrafted pens have real watch gears and pieces embedded in the finish:

Made by BG Artforms; prices vary


Not exclusively steampunk, but I love this copper pipe pot rack:

Found by Kristie via This Old House

Not to mention it would be a fab DIY project. The plumbing aisle should have everything you need!

In case you didn't get enough geeky bling the other day, feast your eyes on these:

Found by Des S.; "Epic Keys" by DeviantArt user *Drayok

So gorgeous, it almost hurts.

Hit the link for lots more, or visit the artist's Etsy store, Keyper's Cove.

Since I get e-mailed his amazing Steampunk laptop at least several times a week, I need to finally mention Datamancer and his spectacular steampunk keyboards and computers:

I've actually been a fan for years, and I've been just as excited to see his new line of Art Deco inspired creations:

For lots more, check out his site - just be sure to put a cloth over your keyboard first, to catch all the drool. :)

Oh, and fun fact: if you're a fan of Warehouse 13, you've already seen Richard's (aka Datamancer's) handiwork; he built Artie's keyboard:

image via NotCot

Warehouse 13 has such a fun steampunk vibe. If you've never seen it, check it out!

Here's an art print that caught my eye:
Found by Megan W.; "Clockwork Wings" by Amy Houser

Must... resist...unladen swallow... joke.

And finally, a gorgeous music video:

"The Islander" by Nightwish, submitted by Mechel

Isn't it pretty? I love the Celtic flair - I may have to buy this one!

Seen anything deliciously steamy this week? Share your links in the comments!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Geek Chic Jewelry

Not only are Boardaments necklaces and key chains made with circuit boards...

...they also light up when you plug them into a USB port!!

Ok, so I don't know why you'd plug your necklace into a USB port, other than to see it light pestering me with logic, you! It's COOL. (And only $9.99!)

This one is actually jewelry for your dog, since it's an ID tag, but it's hand stamped and awesome and I kind of want one for me:

$26.50 from Make Your Dog Smile

Hey, have you noticed I haven't raved about Portal in a while?


$20 for both at Lickety Cut

These Portal necklaces are being billed as friendship necklaces, but I'd totally wear both.

And maybe cry a single, lonely tear over the state of my friendlessness.

But then I'd see my awesome necklace and feel better.

Jen B. sent me a link to the adorable Chandler the Robot necklace:

Chandler is apparently famous now because a contestant on the Voice wore him on the show, so he's currently sold out. However, I'd guess his maker will have more available eventually, and there are a few other 'bot styles at the Chandler the Robot shop.

Plus, he'd go great with this copper binary cuff:

If that's not geek chic, I don't know what is.

Here's another adorable 'bot:

Sleepy Robot 13 also sells tons of these cute little 'bot figurines, dressed as everything from ninjas to nerds. And at around $12 each, I'm pretty sure you'll find one or twelve you can't live without. (The necklace is $9.50.)

Khara Ledonne hand paints tiny pictures inside vintage ball lockets, with the most delightful results:

She paints everything from rocket ships to little birds, and there's even a cute seahorse! Each locket costs between $36 and $38, and I honestly can't seem to pick a favorite; I think I want them all!

Marcy K. found this cutie:

"Orbit Girl" from marmar, $28.00

Oh, and several of you have been telling me about all the robot necklaces at Forever 21, so I went to see for myself last week. There are at least four or five cute styles, starting at $2.99 (WOW), so definitely go check 'em out if you have a F21 nearby!

And finally, this working miniature Rubik's Cube necklace brings a whole new level to playing with your jewelry:

$10 at Naked Tile

So fun! And with only four tiles per side, maybe I'd actually have a shot at solving it.

Seen any good geeky jewelry lately? Share your links in the comments!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Much is Too Much? 5 Ways to Avoid Blogger's Remorse

Whether you write about cakes or cars, funny stuff or politics, every blogger faces the same dilemma: finding the line between "charming personal anecdotes" and "TMI."

This is especially true when the bad things in life wallop us unexpectedly: an angry e-mail, a sudden financial crisis, a death in the family. Suddenly we're at a crossroads. To share, or not to share?

After all, odds are your readers are there because they like you, and probably wouldn't mind knowing you better. And, as writers, our knee-jerk reaction is to write. We use the written word not only to express ourselves, but also to slough off excess sorrow or anger. For us, nothing is more therapeutic than dashing off a post in the heat of the moment.

On the other hand, most of us aren't out here to blog about conflict and grief; we're here to blog about cakes, or geeky stuff, or finances, or what-have-you. For some of us, it's even our livelihood. And to put it bluntly, nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

So where's the line?

Over the years I've seen bloggers both rise and fall to the occasion of handling hard times. When it's handled well, I've had my respect and admiration for a writer increase tenfold. When it's handled poorly? I cringe and watch the melee from the sidelines, wishing someone had been there with a quick word of caution before "publish post" was clicked.

So, in the interests of seeing less crash-and-burn blogtastrophes, here are a few of my own words of caution, learned either first-hand by experience, or second-hand from the sidelines.

1) "Shut up and smile" is NOT the answer.

Look, we're writers, and we're human. Showing our readers that we face the same crappy stuff they do from time to time will not only foster better relationships with them, it's also the only honest, honorable thing to do. The key is simply choosing those times wisely, and sharing in a way both you and your readers will be comfortable with. So don't quash your feelings, use them wisely.

2) Write now, post later.

By all means, write that scathing rebuttal, or describe your day spent crying into a pint of ice cream - but when you're done writing, wait. Emotions are fickle things, particularly anger. Take a few hours to cool off and/or gain a little more perspective before committing to a published post. Remember: once on the Internet, always on the Internet.

Case-in-point: A blogger with some of the best writing chops I've ever seen destroyed her blog and substantial following with an increasingly bizarre barrage of posts detailing both her and her husband's infidelity - calling out "the other woman", etc - and culminating in what she later claimed was a drug-induced hallucination about attempting to kill her dog. Even deleting those posts within a few hours wasn't enough; it was a very public, very messy breakdown.

Within days all of her sponsors had fled, along with even her most devoted followers and any chance of having her book published. The last I checked she now works two jobs to support her family, and no longer writes online at all.

Obviously that is an extreme case, but the moral is: don't do that.

3) Try to see things from your readers' point of view.

Our emotions color everything, and shrink the world until all we can focus on is our own immediate crisis. Sure, you may be wracked with grief, or reeling from anger, but odds are your readers are not. Throwing a big jumbled ball of negativity on them will be out of character at best, and a shocking turn-off at worst. If you don't feel objective enough on your own, enlist your spouse or a friend to pre-read.

4) Rewrite

Once you've waited a few hours or a few days, go back and adjust. Odds are you'll need to soften the language, since we tend to write in extremes when our emotions are in the driver's seat. Ask yourself, "What in this post could come back to bite me?" Are you portraying relatives or friends in a bad light? Are you starting a war you'll regret?

Then consider how you're portraying yourself. Do you sound catty? Vindictive? Whiny? Just looking for sympathy? In other words, will your readers still respect you in the morning?

With these questions in mind, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

5) A little humor goes a long way.

As a humor writer, I freely admit I'm biased here. However, nothing softens the sting of negativity like a little wry self-deprecation or irreverent one-liner. Yes, your readers are there because they like you, but like it or not, they're also there to be entertained. Don't reward their loyalty by dumping a bucket of ice-cold horror on them - give them some virtual breathing room by granting them permission to laugh.

Here's a positive case-in-point: I follow a few fashion bloggers, most of whom are just pretty faces in pretty clothing to me. However, when Keiko Lynn detailed the painful few days she spent nursing her terminally ill horse, suddenly she gained a new dimension in my eyes. Now, did I expect that kind of sadness on a fashion blog? Of course not. However, the human connection Keiko forged through that post made me a more devoted reader, and I respected her all the more for it.

I've been told my own memorial post about Sweet Baby James achieved something similar on Cake Wrecks. Was it shockingly out of place on a humor blog? Absolutely. However, with rewriting and a lot of thought and by ending with a smile, it let me share what my heart demanded while also sparking an avalanche of reader response (I still hear from readers about James), only one of which was critical.

Which bring me to: yes, it's a gamble. Yes, you risk exposing your weaknesses and open yourself up to criticism and ridicule.

But if it didn't carry that risk, would it really be worth writing?

Let me end by saying there are exceptions to nearly every "rule." Sometimes you can't wait. Sometimes you can't crack a joke. Sometimes you just have to express yourself in a raw, shocking, get-it-all-out-there-before-you-explode kind of way. However, even then, I truly believe keeping these tips in mind will help you express yourself in a way that both you and your readers won't have cause to regret.

So tell me, guys, what did I miss? How do you handle sharing the "bad stuff" online? Any additional words of advice?

Monday, July 11, 2011

John's Heaven

No lie, I think John would give a non-vital organ to be the guy in this vid:

Found via Wimp, John's favorite video-sharing site.

Well, up until that last second, anyway. ;)

John has a huge soft spot for big cats; he can't get enough of 'em. He's always showing me pictures and videos like this, and asking if we can get a serval. In fact, I suspect he's over-feeding Tonks (now up to 15 pounds, thankyouverramuch) just so he can have a monster cat here at home.

Someday I'd love to bring John to Tiger Island in Australia. You know, once they invent the stasis chamber so I don't have to be conscious for a 20 hour flight.

UPDATE: John just offered this correction: he would in fact give a vital organ to be the guy in that video. I suggest you all link to your favorite big cat pictures and vids in the comments below to help ease his pain. :D