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Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Night the Lights went out in Georgia....I mean...California - A Pre Post-Apocalyptic Tale

When the lights went out........

Last Sunday Night the power-surgically, with great and deafening silence-turned off our refrigerator, TV, computers, dishwasher and dryer, while leaving our light fixtures a mere half glow of themselves. It was like Mother Nature was warning us to reject technology with all it's entertainment value and work reducing niceties-to stop, and pay attention.  We did, and asked each other out loud. "Did you just feel that?"

A short time later, everything went black. Gone was even the amber, half-glow of our living room (proudly Steampunked) lamps.  Replaced was the blackest of black with nary a blinking LED to remind us of the trons that are always communicating something to someone, somewhere....everything went dark....dead....and silent

After assessing that there was no fire (or Zombies)
anywhere in our home. We ventured outside in to the thick emptiness of the night now alive with human lightening bugs shining their hand-held flashlights into the eyes of neighbor after neighbor, emerging from the comfortable nests of our anonymous homes. Many of us, meeting for the first time.

"Are you ok?" We called out and they echoed back. We were meeting people we have lived 2 doors down from, for 2 years and never said "Hello" to, until this evening when the uncertainty of the dead power grid left us all feeling insecure and in good company with our shared concerns for ourselves and each other.

"Is the wife ok, Cole?" we asked our elderly next-door neighbor whose wife June is on oxygen. "Yup. She's got enough portable  tanks to get her through till daylight. What the hell happened?" Said our ex-Military, gruff as they come, neighbor.  We answered in the same voice that echoed all up and down our street. "We have no idea what happened."

More hominid life forms entered the street with faces lit up by cell phone luminescence. All of us desperate to put an "Ah-ha, that's what happened", on the increasingly growing panic in the community forming in the cul-de-sac. Then messages starting coming in via cell phone from Facebook (the bastion of all misinformation)....100,000 + people without power- Explosion at the nuclear power plant-Someone hit a transformer-Possible terrorist attack at Vandenburg Air Force Base- (and my personal favorite) The moon has knocked all the satellites out of orbit.... i.e. Armageddon. 

A lit cigarette ember with a trajectory towards me, sent me scrambling back into the safety of my darkened home to avert an attack of allergic anaphylaxis but to also assess our readiness to get the hell of out of dodge, in case any of those Facebook power outage apocalypse rumors were true.

Cat carriers-Check
Cat food, water for cats and bowls for them to eat and drink out of-Check
Portable liter box-Check

Now that we knew our "children" were in readiness to be evacuated in the relative spoiled care they have grown accustomed to. It was now time to asses the human "Go Bags" or "Bug-Out Bags" as the Ready-for-anything, Survivalists call them.

Human medications in all their oval, round, blue and white pill shaped glory-Check
More water-Check
Luna Bars, Power Bars and Cliff Bars (In a Post-Disaster, Survivalist World, it seems the one with the most "bars", lives)-Check
Flashlights, knives, batteries, radio, blankets, duct tape, baseball bat (there also seems to be hopes of baseball in this dreary new world of refugees)-Check
Medical kit, oxygen, cash, toilet paper, towels, solar charger -Check
and finally, a car with a full tank of gas-Check.

We were ready to go, to bug-out, to leave. But go where exactly? That had never occurred to us. If HERE was where the bad thing was happening, where was the THERE that would be safe?
So we reentered the street, now clear of any smokers, and resumed the talks with our equally stymied, neighbors. Just then the sky turned bright red in the distance. Proof certain that one of the Facebook omens was indeed true. "Look at that!" A scream from a child half way down the block...pitch blackness resumed.... "What do you think that was?" I asked my stalwart husband. "I have no idea", he began.... when fireworks erupted from the North (the bad) end of town. "Ah", he exhaled in a calm fashion that reminds me why, in an emergency, he is the one to watch and listen to. "Fireworks.  Ok, that makes sense. It is the weekend before the 4th of July", he concluded as if it was both expected and completely logical.  

 In my squirrel brain, I was deducing that only a psycho crazy person could think that setting off fireworks during what was increasingly looking like the end of world, would be a good idea.

I wrapped my arms around my body and imagined this new world with silence yet for the odd firework in the sky becoming the new normal. "Idiots". I retorted. "Don't they know this is NOT funny?". "They are having fun", my husband reminded me, his increasingly annoyed, wife.

With no news via any respectable news outlet that our smart phones could reach and nothing on the PG&E website except the confirmation that yes indeed, a massive outage was being experienced by 150,000+ people (seems Facebook gets one right every once in a while), we said goodbye to our new friends/neighbors and went back inside our fortress of solitude to wait it out (whatever the "It" was). 

My husband took a shower and crawled into bed, sure and certain that at some point while he slept, the world would be made right and we would awake to all the lights being back on if only for the sun being up. I lay down, fully clothed with the resolute promise to remain awake and alert in case I had to do something. Although that "something" remained vague in my mind. Just being awake seemed like the brave and responsible thing to do at the time (or at least that's what my squirrel brain was telling me).

At 12 :32 AM  the power came back on in all her bright, gaudy glory. Every electronic device and previously humming appliance, sprung to life and I was so happy, I about cried.  It was going to be ok. Whatever had happened had been fixed, we were safe and life could continue as we knew it before the "Bad" (still unknown) thing happened.

So what did I learn?

1) It is appalling and inexcusable that we did not know so many of our neighbors before that night. I am resolved to make the time to walk the immediate neighborhood and introduce ourselves to each and every one.

2) We rely too heavily on and take for granted, things we should not. Electricity, the Internet, gas in our car, cash on hand, water, food, medications. All these things are precious resources that may be easily available one moment, and gone the next.

3) In an emergency, I panic and want to act immediately, while my husband is the "Wait and see" kind of guy. He's been on two tours in Iraq, including being shot by insurgents in Kuwait. To him, it's all fixable because he has seen the worst it can be. I need to be more like him.

4) And finally, I hope to better appreciate all that I have, the people in my life that are dear to me and the small every day gifts that are hard won, like being able to turn on a light and see the handsome face of my husband, who loves me and all my squirrel-brained, quirkiness. 

The lights might have gone OUT outside, but my inner light went ON inside. It's going to be ok.

Much Love,

~~~~Dr "I survived the Pre Post-Apocalypse" Brassy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Everything Important in Life, that I need to know, I learned from being in the Steampunk Community**

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do, and how to be, I learned from Steampunks. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but out in the Aether, all the Time.

These are the things I learned:

Share my knowledge of makering, but not my trade secrets.

Play at fairs.

Don't hit people, unless their persona enjoys it or welcomes it or demands it.

Put things back where you found them, unless it is a fabulous Estate Sale find, then buy it.

Clean up your own mess of springs, cogs, flotsam and jetsam.

Don't take gears that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody by stealing their art.

Wash the rust off your hands before you eat.

Flush, unless it is a privy at a festival.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you if you finish it off with hot buttered rum.

Live a balanced life. This means lots of cosplay and anachronism.

Learn some a lot and think some a lot and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some a lot.

Take a nap every afternoon in a Tardis.

When you go out into the world, watch for airship traffic, hold gloved hands and stick together against evil pirates.

Be aware and harness the power, of lightening and thunder.

Remember the little seed in the wooden cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and steam goats and white rabbits and even the little seed in the wood cup -- they all die. So do we, then we go to Clockwork Heaven where there isn't a drop of glue, anywhere.

And then remember the book The Time Machine and the second word you learned, the biggest word of all: Time. We only have so much of it and it should be spent with people we love, doing what we love doing.

 **This is based on "Everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten" but with a Steampunk twist to it. I hope you enjoy this and it brings a smile to your face. And that's one more thing to remember. Smile-Early and Often.


Love You All, Dr Brassy

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Steampunk By Dr Brassy- Standing out in the crowd that's getting crowdier.....

Oh the joys and sorrows of something becoming the "It" thing. First it was Disco and there was no way that could end badly. Falsetto voiced, hairy men, in satin pants so tight you could count moles in places only their Prostate Doctor knows about. Now it's "Steampunk" this and "Steampunk" that.....and those of us who have been happily paddling away in our trusty canoes are getting capsized by the sheer volume of the mega ocean liners filled with Steamclones heading to the shores before we can possibly bail ourselves out enough to see the lighthouse.

Steampunk has become the "It" genre (or aesthetic according to Erica "Unwoman" Mulkey), and with it, we have a landslide of newly enamored devotees as well as the bandwagon jumpers that attach themselves to every popular aesthetic, genre, mocking jay or sparkly vampire to cross their paths. 

Don't get me wrong. If you are putting forth an honest effort, huzzah and more power to you. If you are sincerely trying to do Steampunk,  I support and applaud your effort. Full Steam Ahead! 

As the market becomes increasingly crowded, it is becoming more and more critical to remind people why the hand-made makers are different and unique in this new competitive, increasingly flat, world. It's also good for me to check myself from time to time, so you can trust Dr Brassy to do what is right, ethical and not necessarily the get-rich-quick thing that many seem to be embracing (example: those horrific glue a round paper sticker on it and call it Steampunk, mass-produced factory necklaces).  There are so many of these "Shop in a Box" showing up on Etsy that they often dominate not only the first page in searches, but all the pages in the top 10.

 So what is different or special about Dr Brassy

Mass Produced Factory Pieces: First off I am Not a mass-producer or a mass-reseller. I don't buy a bazillion pieces from a factory, often made with pot metal or what we call "Mystery" metal, (that can include anything from lead to nickel to cadmium). Glue a sticker on it and call it a necklace, isn't what I do.  

Sweat Shops and Outsourcing: I also don't employ underpaid overseas labor or have my art "assembled" by others then put my name on it. 

Now that everyone is completely on a downer by the reminder that indeed, there are a vast number of people doing the above, let me tell you about me, Dr Brassy

Made in the good ol' USA: I use Made in the USA materials. I use brass, sterling silver or fine .999 silver plated brass, copper plated brass, glass, crystal, leather and wood. I love using vintage or antique pieces including Czech glass, camphor glass, Swarovski and uranium glass. I put a great deal of effort and time into each piece I make and when it's done, it is beautifully gift packaged and shipped to you. 

One Woman Show: I make, package and ship everything I sell. Unless it is a vintage item, I made it. My hands, my ideas and my passion goes into every piece I make.  I have the scarred hands, the aching back and the 16 hours days that are badges of honor, to prove it.

Charitable Giving: I share my good fortune by donating to charities that support worthy causes such as Animal Rescue, Endangered Species Funds, Spinal Cord Research and Lupus Research. I routinely provide support for Kickstarter's that involved the Steam community.  I give back to the community that has been so good and generous to me, and I always will. 

Supporting Other Artists: There are people who, without their help and support, I would still be the crazy lady who makes stuff out of watch parts, instead of Dr Brassy. I will always give credit to the models, photographers, makers, suppliers and fellow artists I am honored to call friends and acquaintances. Do I promote other artists that make things similar to mine? You bet I do! Encouragement is the gift that replicates it's self.

So I am making my little boat sturdier and more seaworthy, while I have a few more people cheering me on from the shore. I make this voyage and ride the tide in hopes it will be more "Endless Journey" than "Titanic".

In E-Steam, 
~~~Dr Brassy