Wednesday, August 12, 2020

John & I Are Starting A New Company. Help Us Name It?

I've re-written this post so many times that for a while I decided it just didn't want to be written, so I shelved it.

Now, nearly two months later, I think the problem was me: I've been so unsettled, so unsure about the direction of what I'm doing day-to-day, that telling all of you what John and I've been up to felt too final, too decisive, like I was announcing some big change for Epbot.

The reality is I'm just like you, just making this up as I go, just trying to survive a world in crisis, and help other people do the same.

But I'm also excited about what we've been doing, dang it - so I want to tell you about it!

First, to sum up a long and not-so-tragic backstory, I fell into a hopeless place for a little while. It got dark, it got bad. I'd always been so sure this was what I was supposed to do, so sure that my purpose in life was to bring people together online and encourage them, but suddenly, poof. I questioned everything. Had I ever really helped anyone? Made any kind of difference? Would I ever? And what could help a world this broken, anyway?

I know a lot of you can relate. We've got a lot of empaths in this group, and the amount of anger and hopelessness being screamed into our online spaces is palpable. We can try to limit our exposure online, but cutting out social media entirely can also leave us alone and adrift. So how do we find the right balance?

After many long conversations with both John and my therapist, we kept coming back to the same thing John and I actually started 2020 with: that we wanted to go back to work together. Not online work, where we're in separate parts of the house stressing over servers and the opinions of virtual strangers, but real-life work, where we can be side-by-side painting or fixing a widget for someone who needs it. We wanted to make a tangible difference somewhere offline - maybe not full time, but enough to remind ourselves there's more to life and people than what we see on the internet.

And the part that got us both REALLY excited? The thought of doing all our real-life work for free.

So the past couple of months, that's what John and I've done: we've gone back to work. The same work we were doing back in January and February, in fact, before the lockdown stopped us. We put out an open call on Facebook, and then, taking all the necessary safety precautions with masks and distancing, got to it. We've been painting, repairing drywall, cleaning out closets, hanging ceiling fans, replacing faucets, fixing faulty wiring, and even building more custom furniture. We do about 2 jobs per week, all for free, all for fun.

And you guys, it has been INCREDIBLE. The amount of joy we've had, the utter delight when we get a new list of broken things to fix, when we get to walk into someone's house knowing we're going to leave it a little bit better? It's intoxicating. It's the balance my weary soul needed. John's, too. With Epbot I try so hard to help people, but that help is intangible, often invisible. This is my way to help up close and personal - while in masks from 6 feet away.  ;)

I haven't been taking pictures, but here's an office in progress for my friend Melanie. I loooooove working for fellow geeks.

What I'm saying is, in all this uncertainty and fear and grief, this is my next right thing.

For a time, when I was still drowning in my own mental darkness, I thought this meant the end of my online career. I thought I had to move on to something offline to protect my own mental health as well as John's. That thought sent me spiraling into grief. During my brief time away I only missed this community more, and finally, with John's help, I had to admit that Epbot is still my heart and passion. I love this place, and I love all of you. So eventually I began to see this "real life" work as just another extension of Epbot. We can film tutorials, share before-and-afters, maybe even do more fun themed builds like the Sherlock Room to share here alongside my usual Epbot crafts and silliness. So maybe - maybe - I can do both?

Here's where you come in.

First, we need a name. We've already purchased the necessary insurance and licensing so we can legally work for anyone, and since this is technically a new company, I'd like a snazzy moniker. (Then we can order official shirts to wear with the Epbot wearing a hard hat, because that would be adorable.) Since I'm hoping to still feature some of what we do here on Epbot, it could have that in the name, like "Epbot Works" or "Epbot On Location" - only better?  Or it could be something like "The J Team" or "Crop Top Bots," both of which John has already vetoed because he HAS NO SENSE OF WHIMSY. So what do you think, any ideas?

Next, though our personal social circle has kept us busy 'til now, eventually we're going to need more people to work for - and we'd like to work for you. Are you local to central Florida? Do you need something inside your home painted, organized, fixed, replaced, or decorated? Do you have something small & geeky you'd like us to build? OR - do you know someone local who needs help but can't afford to hire a pro? Then please, tell us! We have over 10 years of professional experience as both painters and licensed handymen, and we love a challenge. Our only caveats: no exterior work (it's too darn hot) and for big projects you may have to cover the material costs. Our labor, however, is free.

Send your work wish list (with pictures, if possible) to Projects@Epbot dot com, and we'll be in touch.

(Eva and Suki say hi, because I feel like this post needs more pictures.)

I can't make any promises, because I have no idea where this new road will take us, or even how long it will be financially feasible to keep working for free two days a week on top of running two blogs. I also know it's affected my posting here a little, though hopefully not TOO much. Maybe we'll do this a few more months, or maybe it will be the launch of our next 10 year chapter. All I know is that today we worked two different jobs, fixing all sorts of things first for a school teacher who's about to risk her life for our state's kids, and then for a sweet couple who are both out-of-work and couldn't afford to hire anyone. Tonight I know we've done something good. Tonight, that's all I need.

Wherever you are right now, whatever awfulness 2020 has thrown at you, I hope you've also found your next right thing. If not, then keep your eyes open for it this week! Find something small, something achievable, something tangible that brings you purpose and joy. Maybe it's messaging a different friend every day to check in on them. Maybe it's making masks to give away. Maybe it's finally making that call - the one you've been putting off - to get yourself the help you need. Take the step, spread some light. Do it for yourself, for others, or just for Suki's tiny tongue blep:

 You must admit, it's a very convincing blep.

(Also Suki says you should take more naps.)

If you already know what it is, then tell me what your next right thing is this week. Then tell me what to name our company! I need ideas!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Rainbow Plague Doctor Mask, Miniature Muppets, & The Cutest Mermaid Camper

How've you been this week? 

Do you identify more with this green pepper Isabella discovered?

 Big 2020 Mood.

Or would you say you're more like Andrea W. and feeling a little...

... Goofy?


Seriously, though, we need more Disneybounding and closet 'bounding with masks. Anything to make them more fun, to bring a little nerdy whimsy when you're out and about.

John's favorite mask has rainbow cats all over it, and he reports that it gets so many smiles, he never wants to wear a "boring" mask again.

So hey, John, have you seen Kirsten's mask?

Bahahaa! Omigosh, I LOVE IT. That quilting is amazing, Kirsten.

As always I have so many saved goodies from the Fans of Epbot group on Facebook - you guys brighten up my feed every day - so let's see how many more things I can cram into one post. 

There's a gift exchange on FOE called QUACK where members make & send each other nifty nerdy things, then share pics with the group. I keep forgetting what "QUACK" stands for, even though we've had 9(!!) rounds so far, but here's one of my favorite creations from last May:

Sherry G. made this miniature Muppet Show stage shadow box - complete with needle felted Muppets!! - for Nicole C., and there was MUCH rejoicing. And Kermit-flailing.

A closer look:

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Introducing "TapStick" - The Gruesome DIY That Will Push All Your Buttons

You ever get an idea that is so wrong, but also super funny, so you have to inflict it on other people?

That's the only explanation I have for what I'm about to show you.

Well, that and John and I sometimes have to leave the house and get in elevators, or type in security codes at drive-up gates, and I figured we needed a better solution than using our elbows - which is especially tricky at drive-up gates.

In fact, it was when John was fishing an old McDonald's receipt off the car floor to use to tap in another code that I first mused, "We should really make some kind of pokey stick for pushing buttons. Like a sacrificial finger. Yup. A spare sacrificial finger." ::snerk::

John, clearly stunned by my brilliance, said nothing.

"But with a cap on it so it doesn't spread the germs around," I continued. "And it'd have to be purse-sized, and kinda spy-gadgety to make it fun. But also super disturbing to freak out any people nearby, because that would be hee-larious. Hmm."

More silence.


And now, a few weeks and far too many attempts later, here it is. Move over, ChapStick, here comes... TapStick.  


(We also debated calling it "TipStick", but that sounds more like a wang than a finger - and wang lipsticks already exist, because of course they do.)


The retractable finger sensation that's squicking out the nation!

 Just imagine pulling out one of these bad boys the next time you're in an elevator. Or at an ATM. Or when you just want to give someone the finger.


Available in 5 awesome colors that are sure to be real nail-biters:

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Fractious Cats, Rampaging Figments, & THE QUEEN IS COMING

Some days you're the calm, cool, collected vet tech, other days you're the fractious cat:

Admit it, you needed this laugh today. :p


And for the days you like to imagine yourself gleefully stomping buildings:

One little spark
Of devastation
Is the fun part
Of imagining burning it all down because COME ON 2020 CAN'T WE SKIP HURRICANE SEASON JUST THIS ONCE? ...Please?



I've had so many of you recommend the new She-Rah to me that I immediately thought of y'all when I spotted Sami Bess' cosplay:

She also does an incredible Xena!
Give her a follow for more.


I've been following Sky since she made her jaw-dropping Spaceship Earth dress, and she just unveiled her latest Disney park icon: