mailing my worries away (if only)

Here it is, November 1st. It’s hard to think about much else beyond the impending U.S. Presidential election, not to mention all the other critical down-ballot races near and far. I’ve been channeling some of my nervous energy (read “anxiety bordering on panic”) into voter outreach efforts, including good old-fashioned mailing. (Bonus: support given to the US postal service!) I participated in a variety of mailing projects to reach voters, including helping to stamp and label more than a thousand postcards for a couple of local candidates I support. I also coordinated the writing and sending of over 4000 pieces of hand-written mail to voters in various states, mostly swing states. I recruited dozens of people to help me with these projects, and it was very satisfying (if occasionally stressful). And I personally wrote over 645 postcards and notes. I spent a lot of quality time with my pens. For some of the projects, there were pre-printed postcards. For others I had to provide my own cards. I bought quite a few printed cards, but also enjoyed making a bunch of my own. I was able to direct my doodling urges into voting-themed designs. Here are a few of my projects.

1000 postcards to Michigan that I took charge of. I distributed almost 800 of them to local friends, and wrote the other 200+ myself.

November means that it’s that time of year when I remember that I have a blog with a bit more regularity, and try to post every day. I think this month is going to be a rough ride, so perhaps this outlet will help.

destination doodle

This was a doodle I made last year that was inspired by my trip to Poland. poland-doodle

Inspirations included stained glass, architectural details, food, and folk art. Can you find any of the elements?

Here are a few stages of the doodle.

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I’m sad to say that I have hardly doodled this year. (I did, however, manage a couple of big trips, so I have many more photos to share.)

Dude, where’s my doodle?

Back in September, my blog rolled over the 1 million pageviews mark. In anticipation of this event, I had given people the opportunity to guess the date of the upcoming rollover, and offered these fabulous non-cash prizes:¹

Guess the day (and a time, too, if you like) that my blog will hit 1,000,000 pageviews. Whoever gets closest will win a choice of one of the following:

• An original crayon doodle in the style of my blog header created by me
• An original haiku created by me
• An original dust bunny created by my extraordinarily subpar housekeeping skills
• A walk-in appearance in my next novel. (I’ve never written a novel. But I might some day, and you’d totally get to be in it.)
• A walk-in appearance in my dissertation, should I ever actually write one. (Expect delayed gratification. Very delayed.²)
• A post here on the topic of your choosing
• A surprise, chosen by me³

Maria, aka Madame Meow of A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!, picked the actual date of the rollover, and I therefore declared her to be the winner. She chose the doodle prize, which felt like as much of a prize for me. A reason to doodle! I immediately put “doodle for Maria” on my to-do list.

Here it is, over 4 months later, and I have yet to mail Maria her doodle. I had a little bit of a sense of déjà vu. I had a little bit of a sense of déjà vu. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) You see, I had a drawing back in 2008 for some chocolate I’d brought back from Brazil, and Maria was by chance the winner that time, and I was “slow” to follow through.⁴ It’s funny how back in June of 2008, I felt like I was being slow by waiting a week or 2.⁵ Here we are over 4 years later, and I am barely embarrassed to be running 4+ months late.

In any case, I did doodle for Maria. Over a month ago, even. I used some of the difficult-to-work-due-to-no-childcare time down at my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving. (I also used only the crayons that were available there, which were a bit of a mixed bag. The black that I used for my outline was a little stub of a thing, and a few were really waxy, poor-quality ones. But mostly it was fun to work within the constraints. Plus it was fun to draw with the kids, both of whom were inspired by my doodles. (Maybe later I will share their versions.))

So, here is your doodle, Maria. I photographed it in stages (against the background my mother-in-law’s tablecloth), which can be viewed in the slideshow below. At some point, I will mail you the paper version. But first I will have to find it.

Because I don’t remember what I did with it after I packed it up to bring home after Thanksgiving.

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¹ Note that the footnotes in the quote below are from the quoted post.
² See footnote 1.
³ Hi.
⁴ Note that my post title for that post was, “Dude, where’s my chocolate?
⁵ Note that back in June of 2008, I as yet had only one child (not counting the bun that was in the oven).

I do doodle. Do you?

I doodled today. I do like to doodle. (I also like to say the word doodle. Also noodle. I may well have to doodle a noodle just so I can talk about it.) Anyhow, here is what I did doodle.

My doodle, as photographed by John.

Today we went into Boston (John, Phoebe and me) to go to a computational linguistics meeting. We (that is John and I, not Phoebe) were part of the group’s foundation almost 6 years ago, and were very active in the group for several years. But for that past few months, the group has been largely hibernating. (Not the people so much. They’ve been largely awake. But busy.) We’ve decided to reanimate the group, though. Which is great. I did, however, volunteer to do actual work for said group, before my mind had a chance to catch up with my mouth. And as such, I have given myself even more metaphorical bagel over which to spread my figurative cream cheese.

After the meeting, John wanted to go to a camera shop in Cambridge. This seemed fair, especially since all during the meeting, John had been pretty tied up with Phoebe. (Don’t worry, not literally tied up. We used duct tape, not rope. No, no, no, I mean John was busy keeping Phoebe occupied.) We’d brought a few toys, but they didn’t hold interest her for long. John and Phoebe went wandering for a bit, and came back with, among other items, a new box of crayons and a pad of drawing paper.

By the time the meeting finished, over an hour past Phoebe’s usual naptime, Phoebe was both wired and tired. Within a few minutes of being back in the car, though, she was out. (As in asleep. But still in the car.) So when we stopped at the camera store, I decided to just hang out in the car with Phoebe so she could nap. I figured I had my laptop to keep me busy, anyhow, and I could even do some work. However, my laptop ran out of battery within a few minutes. And I found myself with no reading material other than a sort of sad little board book we’d gotten from the pediatrician’s office.

So I decided to take advantage of the crayons.

Here’s what I doodled while waiting in the car. (I did a bit of the coloring after we were moving, but discovered that I get carsick when drawing in the car. Not something I’d known. I can’t read in the car, but I didn’t realize doodling would be a problem.)


I added a bit more to it while John was giving Phoebe a bath.

Then I finished it up once Phoebe was in bed.

I also fiddled a bit with the levels in iPhoto, since I had trouble getting the color right in the picture. (These 4 photos are ones I took, by the way.) And I stumbled across this weird effect: when I boosted the saturation and the contrast, there was a point in the levels adjustment where the white paper appeared black, and the opaque crayon bits came out white. Nifty, huh?