Maker Faire

Well, spent this weekend at the Maker Faire here in Austin. I loved it. There is something energizing about seeing so many creative and talented people showing off their inventions/labors of love. And there were lots of robots :)

I was handing out materials for Etsy and having a great time wandering around looking at everything. The art cars were the first thing that caught my eye. Saw the famous camera van and had no idea it had working tv's on one side.

Also saw the giant mousetrap.
Honestly, if you are curious just go to flickr and do a search for Austin Maker Faire to get all the pictures you could ever want. It is hard to convey the atmosphere of the event. All these people that I'm sure have been called crazy or worse for following their creative impulses, be it mixing dead animal parts into cute sculptures....
or making dancing robots, building their own theremins, or making bicycles out of found objects. There was also the Diet Coke and Mentos fountains. Took about 3 hours to set up properly and all of 2 minutes to explode.

If the Maker Faire ever comes anywhere near you, go!


NY in a Nutshell

Figured I might as well elaborate a bit on my trip. First off, we knew it was going to be a good trip because the day before was so awful. I was almost late to work because the truck broke down. Turns out the brake lines were bad. Wes had to take me to work on his motorcycle, which proceeded to brake down after he dropped me off. He limped home and got into his car to get parts for the truck and the car broke down, too! We went to NY leaving three broken vehicles to deal with when we got home.

So, I was amazed that our plane was on time. I'd heard many scary things about LaGuardia but everything worked out fine for us this time. Though I think my next trip I'll fly into Newark or JFK since they both have trains running from them and we won't have to worry about getting a taxi or paying for a car service. Because LaGuardia doesn't have a train, we took a car service from the airport to Etsy Labs. I'm not sure if taking a taxi would have been better or not. We should have looked up car services before we ever left Austin but we were so busy getting ready for the trip that adding one more thing to the list would have been painful. So we overpaid for a ride but the driver had GPS in the car and without that I'm not sure we would have found the place. I thought I recognized the building from pictures but it was hard to be sure from where we were sitting. We didn't know where we were going at all so I guess I'm glad we paid for the car. A taxi driver would have been a crap shoot I think, now that I've had a bit more experience with the cabs in NY. They either really know where they are going or they expect you to know.

We got dropped off in front of the building and were buzzed in. The Etsy Labs are on the 6th floor and guess what? The elevator was busted. I laughed. We carried all our bags up the 6 flights of stairs and into Etsy. Oh and let me say that along the way we passed Make and Craft magazines and a very cool looking motorcycle shop or museum. Not sure what that was. All I could think was "of course all my favorite things are here. This is NY, where everything cool lives." Wes made sure I was ok, rearranged his luggage and took off for his friend's place in New Jersey. I saw him on and off the next couple of days and was glad he had places he could go. I was so busy I hated to think how bored he would have been if he'd had to stay in Brooklyn with me.

We met Mandi from Scribble Scrabble downstairs then went and had our first experience with street food (well, mine anyway) before heading back over where Becky from Becky Mae Designs and Danielle from Fabfrills met us and we started tackling the mound o' boxes from the rest of Texas street team. We basically moved them to a better room and started to rearrange the front room a little and set some stuff out for that night. Etsy was hosting an event called Handmade Music Night and invited us to set a few things out that might appeal to musicians. No one sold anything but it was interesting and we were a little ahead for Friday.

Friday was a day of hard work but it was fun. Kaite from Katinka Pinka and Christy from Carolina Bleu joined us and we continued to set up tables and display everyone's pieces. We all went to have dinner at Junior's before the show and returned to the labs ready to go. We had quite a few people show up and several people sold items. I sold two, which for me is pretty good. Michelle was entertaining everyone online in the Workshop, showing off everyone's pieces to the camera. We had some raspberry chipotle sauce over cream cheese, various salsas chips and crackers and plenty of wine to feed the masses. We spent the rest of the evening cleaning up and getting ready for the Brooklyn Indie Market on Saturday.

Saturday was another trial by car service. They were late and we were standing on the sidewalk with everyone's boxes, a table and a dolly worrying about getting there on time. When the car showed up, the table barely fit and we had to squeeze in best we could but we made it. I really enjoyed that part of Brooklyn. The neighborhoods had people sitting outside their brownstones having stoop sales, there were cute restaurants and shops lining the streets and it was a nice change of pace seeing so many people outside walking from place to place. We set up our tables and took turns manning the cash. A funny little old lady visited us and told us about the vintage bead shop she worked in "just around the corner" so we decided to go see it. Another thing I learned, for New Yorkers, or in this case Brooklyners (?), a little ways or a short walk or just around the corner could mean 10 blocks. We headed off and 6 blocks later found Union Max. It was a great little shop. We bought lots of stuff and then sent the other girls to go see it when we got back. For his part, Wes found a great little Cuban place and a Rolleicord camera at one of the stoop sales. We had a lot of traffic at the market and several people sold quite a few things though we were told it could have been better but Atlantic Antic was the same weekend. We still had fun. And we discovered the best car service. We called and they were there in 5 minutes and they knew where they were going. If you need a Brooklyn car service use Arecibo. We used them again on the way to the airport and they were half what the first service cost and cheaper than a cab.

We got back the labs with all our stuff then proceeded to pack everything up. I think we got back to the labs around 8:30 and weren't done til after 2 a.m. Most of the girls had early morning flights, as in they had to wake up at 4 or 6 a.m. and were real troopers about getting everything done. I won't say we weren't all a little grouchy by the end of it but to be fair we were exhausted. Luckily, I still had several more days and could sleep a little longer. Everything got packed up and labeled and we are still waiting to see if everything gets shipped out ok.

Sunday, we checked into our bed and breakfast. My first view of it was a little sketchy. There is an overgrown lot across the street, trash on the sidewalks and a few of the brownstones were a bit rundown, but it turned out to be a fairly quiet street, especially compared with how noisy it was sleeping at the labs and we were never bothered even when we came home at night off the subway. I do have to laugh a little about the well positioned photographs on their website now. Our room was so cute and the photos actually didn't do it justice. We had AC, cable and the trim and details in the old house were pleasant. They had a kitchenette upstairs and a common room with a computer. The bathroom was shared and that caused a few uncomfortable moments but it is workable. It isn't like you are sharing with lots of people or anything. But I think it would help if it weren't with a French woman who thinks she has to do everything in the bathroom, even things she could have done in her room to be polite. Oh but wait, she's French. Polite?
Ce qui? We stayed in the Franklin room and had plenty of space. Can't say the others would be the same. The pictures of the two other rooms looked tiny though to be honest, who stays in the hotel, or B&B, when they are visiting a new place? So, we checked in, dropped off our bags and headed into Manhattan.

First stop was Gray's Papaya for the recession special. Two dogs and a drink for $3.50. Get the onions on it. Then, we headed for the Met. Wes was still re-acclimating himself to subway travel so we ended up a few blocks away and had to walk. Still, it was nice seeing the city and I don't mind a little walking. Everyone had said that when going there you need at least a couple of days to see everything. Obviously, they don't have any idea how I see museums. I saw everything I wanted in a couple of hours. The Egyptian section, Asian section and the Arms and Armour. Yes, I'd like to see everything eventually but that won't take long next time. Maybe Italy ruined me for museums but I can get through even the most massive in a fraction of the time it takes most people. For one, the medieval and Roman
art was no where near as impressive as the pieces I saw plenty of in Italy. Seriously, it has been a few years and I still have problems passing by the annunciation paintings. If I never see another one it'll be too soon. I tend to gravitate toward key pieces, can ignore the similar items and don't feel compelled to read every piece of material written about the exhibits. I'm a museums ideal customer. Pay to enter and use a minimal of their resources... and still spend money in the gift shop.

We went through Central Park on the way back and decided to eat at Katz's. Anyone from Austin is thinking of the Katz's here. Not even remotely similar and in no way related, though I'm sure Marc Katz would love to charge the same prices. I don't think I've ever had pastrami before. Ok, I thought I had but it didn't taste anything like what I had there in NY. And the knishes with sausage in it. Mmmmm. We made it back to the B&B full and tired.

Monday, we went shopping. H&M, Century 21, Canal Street, Pearl Paint, Pearl River, various shoe stores. It was very damaging to my bank account but worth it. I laughed every time Wes haggled with the street vendors. They would get so angry sounding but if we walked off suddenly the prices dropped. That whole day is a blur of cheap handbags and store clerks looking for our shoe sizes. And Century 21. I wasn't sure if I was excited to be there or slightly frightened. So many people, so many floors, so many things to buy. As for food, we started the day with lunch at Kelly and Ping and some very productive photos taken of graffiti. Turns out it's harder to find Graffiti in NY than you would think. Thanks, Guilliani. We ended the night back in Brooklyn eating the best pizza either of us has ever had. Raymond gave us the suggestion. We got there, sat down, ate and when we were leaving the line was around the building. We went across the street to the River Cafe and spent more on drinks and dessert than we did on the pizza, but don't think either of us cared. It was amazing.

Next day, we were off to see B&H, which of course, was closed for a Jewish holiday. I did get to have my falafel from a street vendor and we made it to the Strand. I think I loved it so much I could set up a shrine in my house to the place. Needless to say, I bought many books with no regard to how I was going to get them home. Also found a little shop that sold Nepalese papers and ended up with a pair of $200 cowboy boots for $30. I love that I bought cowboy boots in NYC. We went to a sandwich place that we suspect is a franchise but the sandwiches were so good I'm still craving them. I had the G4 (Grilled smoked ham and smoked turkey breast with melted Finlandia swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing.) Highly recommended. We then realized we were late meeting some old friends of Wes's from the exchange floor so we rushed over the financial district to meet them for drinks. We ended up in New Jersey afterwards eating Indian food. By this time I have really fallen in love with public transportation. I can even forgive the slimy feeling you have after traveling on the ferries and subways because of how efficient they are. I think I'll make sure I take antibacterial gel with me next time.

Wednesday, we met Wes's friend Dave for a trip upstate. Forgive me for not remembering the places we ate or went but it was a nice change from the city though I would have liked another day to explore Manhattan. We ended up at a winery eating some good bread and honey. We also drove around and I got to see at least the start of the leaf changing season. We ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. Apparently, finding good Mexican is hard for many transplant Texans. They were ok. Not perfect but as close as you can get, but the prices are much higher than for Mexican food back home. El Bandito's review in the New York Times is pretty funny to read.

Thursday, we went back to Canal Street to find some of the 6 for $10 I Love NY t-shirts and finish out our gift buying. After that was done we wandered into Little Italy and ate at Amici II. How many times do Texans get to eat Italian at a place where everyone speaks Italian and the food is authentic? Not often unless you go to Italy. Eat here and be fat and happy. We got back to the B&B, called our new favorite car service and made it to LaGuardia ahead of schedule. I was sad to leave but excited about the next trip up. We'll hit all the places we missed this time: Cooper-Hewitt, MOMA, El Charro for their paella, Peter Lugar for the steaks and everything else I look up between now and whenever I get to go back.

This got longer than I expected, hope I don't bore everyone silly. Oh wait, if you hate reading it I'm sure you will have clicked somewhere else by now :)


Back from NY!

Wow! I don't even know where to start. I love that city. Yes, it's dirty, the people are rude, everything costs an arm and a leg, but somehow that only makes me love it more. The show went ok. I didn't sell much but the experience was worth it. I managed to make it to the Strand, the Met and a few other places. Bought too many clothes and books. Oh and Brooklyn is a very cool place nowadays! Click on the city to see the rest of my flickr set.