Guide to this year’s Techweek in Chicago, as a non-dev/programmer/entrepreneur

This is a guide for people who are more interested in the cultural and societal implications of technology from a non-technical background. (I’d recommend attending all the “future of TV/media”  talks as a  beginners guide to video distribution and social media use.)

Thursday, June 27th:

The US  First Robotics Challenge, from 12pm – 4pm.

“US First’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

KIM DOTCOM WILL BE SPEAKING at “The Downloaded Era: Battle for Internet Rights“, 4pm – 4:30pm,

“The debate around how we should view the concept of intellectual property and copyright in the digital age has continued since the launch of Napster in the ’90′s until today. Why is file-sharing still so limited and how has it affected the world at large?”

Friday, June 28th: 

Funny or Die‘s “When Humor is Serious Business,” from 11:00am – 11:30am, featuring Funny or Die CEO Dick Glover. (I have an inkling what Glover will discuss, but being as I have never heard him speak, he might surprise me.)

“Funny or Die is now synonymous with Internet humor…What makes their business model so successful? How do they acquire high quality content with a low budget? What does the future of Funny or Die—and Internet entertainment in general—look like?”

Digital Art; From Easels to Pixels, 12:00pm – 12:30pm

“Art infilitrates everyday life, and every surface, object, or open space is fair game for medium. See how artists are incorporating technology into their work, whether as a means to an end or as the finished product itself. These people are innovating on what it means to be a traditional artist and the burgeoning interest in creating art meant to be consumed in digital form.”

The very ambitiously titled “How the Second City Can Become the First in Fashion,” 5:00pm – 6:00pm

“Take the tech from the West and the high-end fashion from the East and meet somewhere in the middle. Where do you end up? Chicago, of course. Combining the best of both coasts, a slew of Chicago startups are leading the pack in terms of the merging of high-tech and high-fashion.”

Saturday, June 29

In the wake of Hasting’s mysterious death and the conspiracy theories suggesting his car was hacked I feel compelled to attend “Driverless Cars: Speeding to the Future,” 12:30pm – 1:00pm

“While flying cars are still just a figment of our collective imagination, self-driving vehicles—such as the Google Car—are on the imminent horizon. Not only does this technology have the potential to prevent millions of injuries and save countless lives, it also has the power to disrupt the flow of trillions of dollars in industry revenue. Nearly everyone will be affected: suppliers, automakers, service-and-repair shops, insurers, energy companies, hospitals, and car rental companies, to name a few. Undoubtedly, there will be huge implications for all transportation and logistics—the backbone of every company’s supply and distribution chains.”

Entrepreneurship in Eastern Europe, 1:30pm – 2:00pm

“Eastern Europe’s tech scene is small but growing. Find out what Google is doing to facilitate the growth of the tech sector in Poland and beyond, what ideas are brewing in that corner of the world, and how they plan to impact the future.”

 “Is the Internet Destroying the Middle Class?,”  2:00pm – 2:30pm


Full feeling in my crotch has returned!

snoop1

Alternative title: Why working from home for years as a depressed person injured by a car while riding their bike is a really fucking bad idea! (also, always do your physical therapy!)

Other alternative title ideas: Please look out your windows when opening car doors, and in general as a car driver, please be kind to cyclists. I know you guys and gals currently have a war going on for the road with the bicyclists, but it’s not worth killing, paralyzing, or injuring a person permanently over. 

 It’s been a little over a month since I’ve updated this blog, and so many things have happened in that time – including me smoking weed with Snoop Lion (and then lighting my hair on fire and vomiting in a diner bathroom because marijuana and alcohol don’t mix duh-I-should-know-better)  - that I am having a hard time keeping up. The most important bit of news though, is of course the title of this personal blog post.

I’ve actually been struggling to get any major work done since my emergency doctor’s visit last Wednesday. All I want to do is dance around my apartment, have sex or masturbate, or sleep because damn am I sore and tired now that I can walk and balance properly. The last thing I want to do is sit still and type away on a laptop. I’ve been typing my life away, glued to my Internet machine, for a few years now and it has caused me a world of physical and mental pain. I mean that in the most literal way possible – my sedentary, hermit lifestyle made my injury and depression worse.

See, the last issue left over from my biking accident – which included a concussion, cracked rib, and puncture wound in my chest above my right breast – originally manifested as a mild back pain. When I woke up on the concrete now almost four years ago due to a searing pain in my torso, I looked down at my legs and thought I was paralyzed: my legs looked odd and tangled up in my bike frame. Emergency xrays found nothing broken or wrong with my back, but something still ached as they stitched up the hole in my chest while I was on morphine.

I go back to the ER three months later complaining of what feels like a sunburn directly under my skin around my back, ass, and leg, but the nurse doesn’t think I have a slipped disk. The sunburn under my skin sensation mysteriously disappears during the visit, and feeling foolish (and broke) I sneak out of the hospital without paying.

A hike in Yosemite nine months later leaves my right knee horrible and throbbing and limiting my vacation activities on the very first day. While running for the bus drunk one warm day a few months later, my right leg gives out unexpectedly and I skid across the cement, obtaining large scabs on both elbows, forearms, knees and wrists. The next day I tell people at a bar I saved a kid from being hit by a car when people ask about the (rather gross and leaking) bandages, and the story gets me free drinks.

More than a year passes and I start complaining to a resident doctor from the original hospital about my leg feeling off, even being a different size and shape – particularly the muscle on my right thigh – but he finds nothing via x-ray of my back nor nothing wrong with my leg. He doesn’t actually touch it though, and I am unsatisfied with the entire experience.

Doctors at another hospital decide to also x-ray my back but they too find nothing, except what they call a healthy spine. They do send me to physical therapy for my back and while there, the therapist notes muscle atrophy all over my body but particularly the right leg, a really stiff right hip, and bad posture from sitting all day. Since I am there for my back though, the problem isn’t addressed except in scribbles in his notebook.

By now I have joined a startup web publication that has me working from home. My beat has me covering the Internet including the time-consuming YouTube and hackers that only come out to play late at night. I stop regularly spending time outside and hanging with friends, instead living on my couch sitting Indian style or with my foot tucked under my butt… all ways I have been sitting since I was a little girl, and ways unbeknownst to me, would make my pain worse. I stop moving almost entirely, still too afraid to ride my bike, and I start putting on weight. The electric shocks on my right side that sometimes make my muscles twitch also start interfering with what little sleep I get, too.

nerve muscle sensation

Two years post accident and the trip to the liquor store – the only time I am leaving my apartment daily –  starts to hurt. My right leg tingles, feels weak, sometimes burns, and I have to actively pay attention to how I put my right foot down – I really just want to drag it. I also start accidentally swerving into people on the sidewalk. When this happens at a bar, I pretend to be drunk and apologize profusely.

I am now the heaviest I have ever been in my life, and I am ashamed of my body that once used to do ballet but is now inexplicably failing and off-balance. My mate of now-8 years unconsciously starts fat-shaming me.

To make matters worse, sex becomes painful to the point where I can’t come properly any more. When I do, it is a dull, almost numb ache or the exact opposite- it is so sharp I start tearing uncontrollably. It definitely feels different, but given all the problems already on my plate I ignore it. I blame it on mental illness.

Lack of human interaction and cabin fever make me even more miserable and the depression mixed with paranoia I am absorbing like a sponge from my late-night hacker sources lead to a period of intense mania that lasts for months. My mate emails an old therapist, worried I have schizophrenia or manic depression as I have started raving about my right leg being a different size (among other symptoms) and alcohol, weed, and standard over the counter painkillers are no longer keeping me comfortably numb. I have fleeting thoughts of suicide I sweat away in hour-long baths. (If I didn’t have a writing career, a supply of weed and Team Fortress 2, I think I would have offed myself for sure. )

June arrives and I finally get health insurance (for a month), and the chiropractor I go to tells me my hip is out of alignment and that my right leg is longer than the left. I feel vindicated – I may be a little crazy, but at least I am right about this! She snaps and stretches me back into place and I visit her a couple times and become good at walking for a few months. She recommends I do yoga and ballet at home, and when I do, become fully aware of how weak and unstable my right leg is.

The pain returns tenfold by August, however, given lack of funds for chiropractic visits they promptly end. The difficulty level of walking to the store to buy alcohol increases exponentially, with my right ass cheek hurting at a beyond distracting level of 8ish on the pain scale. “My ass is falling off,” I start saying with alarming frequency. No one knows what I mean.

At one point I think I have kidney stones, as it feels like tiny rocks are moving through organic tubes in my hip, crotch and back area. Giant bee stings regularly radiate down my right leg and into my toes, no longer content to live in my hip, thigh and back. I can no longer talk and walk at the same time because if I tried, I would trip. Walking requires that much of my concentration. I fantasize about getting a cane and making it fashionably cool outside the steampunk crowd.

Less than six months later, I eventually save up to go to a new doctor – a female doctor- and she feels my right thigh and notes the swelling by my crotch. She gives me vicodin for what she is determines is severe arthritis in my hip. I refuse to take the vicodin because I hate the way it makes me feel; namely, I can’t write or work while on it as a nauseous zombie.

While visiting a Jain temple in India this February, I slip on the marble and fall on my right side. Somehow the fall lessens the pain enough that by the end of the month we climb Chembra Peak to the lake.

IMG_2353

Promptly upon returning to the States, I start fretting again because my pain has become unmanageable once I settle back into the sitting-all-day-for-work that is my lifestyle. I try stretching, sitting, standing, walking, – none of it alleviates the pain. I take a really long bike ride which seems to work, but 2 days later I am roaring with pain, ready to go to the ER (but don’t because it is expensive). The female doctor prescribes me Prednisone as now she thinks I might have nerve damage; I have begun to properly describe the pain that shifts around my right side. Prednisone is a much needed blessing and I am practically pain free for the week I am on it. She also wants to do a gynecological exam since I told her of my sexual dysfunction, but I don’t have the money so don’t schedule.

Which brings me into last week, into Dr. Heddles care, where he determined my sciatic nerve was not sliding properly along the muscle and bone in my hip. It was getting stuck and rubbing on things it shouldn’t and when it did, emitted signals that basically froze my muscles including my right ass. Instead of working, the muscle just hung there, which was why I kept thinking it would fall off if I walked more than a block. Using ART on the soft tissue, he opened up my hip and almost immediately relieved pressure on my sciatic nerve.

Less than 48 hours after Heddles unstiffened my hip by a little bit, and I find myself watching porn and having orgasm after orgasm from 1 – 4am. My pussy feels almost as it did five years ago. I can’t believe how much I missed it.

I am not out of the clear yet – the pain is still there in my hip and ass, but at a manageable 3 – 6 level. I’ll visit Dr. Heddles a few more times in the coming months sans insurance- but I am determined to do so as I like being able to walk, bike, and feel things in my crotch. I am not paying my student loans currently in order to afford it, but right now my attitude towards those loan companies (which until recently were collecting double my rent) is they can simply suck it.

Long-term goal is to pay for an EMG, but until then, I am making sure I move once every hour. To correct my sitting posture, I keep my shoes on while at home, and when sitting at my desk have a stool between my legs to keep me from crossing them.

Short-term goal? Finally learn how to moonwalk.

Looking back on the years of pain, I see staring back at me an insecure, fearful, lost and irritable woman. Look ahead to the future I can’t really tell what I will look like, but do know there will be a ton of walking, biking, maybe running, but definitely some sweet sweet dancing.



Initial thoughts: TDR&R opening at Maxwell Colette

I arrive a little after 7pm, with three friends, one of whom had redeemed a free zipcar for the night. Our heads are full of “golden oldies,” because that was the only radio station we could settle on.

Maxwell Colette is easy to spot from down the block and across the heavily-trafficked street; tall  bright windows glow a soft yellow. The gallery is full, but not uncomfortably so, yet.

The space is warm not just in temperature and light, but also in sound.

I feel invited.
Text and Drugs and Rock & Roll Show

Read the rest of this entry »


The Printers Ball

Last week I participated in the 3six5 Chicago project.

You can read my post, on ChicagoNow, here.  They are still in need of Chicago authors for later this year, so any writers out there, send them an e-mail!

I was so taken by the whole idea – of writing a personal, casual post in under 365 words, that I decided to do one for days when I do something interesting. Which isn’t that often.

The following is the text I wanted to include in the post, but couldn’t, because it came out to more than 365 words.

I am home now, from the Printer’s ball. “Much fun was had” is an adequate descriptor. I collected free bits of paper like a mad fiend. At the time I imagined throwing them in the air and dancing in slow motion –no, not really, I collected them to make collage art: the lazy art, the art that uses my hands – a preference because Photoshop is also on the magic electronic box.

Later in the evening the results of my foraging– the pamphlets, journals, or magazines that I took two (or three) of because of the graphics or paper–makes my back ache. My bounty is held in one place by a newly purchased linen bag hanging off my shoulder. It dug into the skin.

Sobering up, I realize the follies of drinking on an empty stomach. I also realize why the young man in a baseball cap got as upset as he did — it is not my fault the baseball cap did not fit the daper niceness of the rest of his ensemble. No need for bitchiness…

I felt old among the smelly youth, but young against the mothers with their daughters.

The Printer’s Ball was even like a fairy tale — I lost a large fake jewel from the top of my sandal.

I purchased a piece of art, had honest interactions with good people, and enjoyed cheesecake at Eleven City Diner.


Companion piece to March’s Top Street Art

In case you don’t already know, I write a Top 10 list on Chicago Art Magazine. Somehow the absurdity of a Top 10 list has not translated over well with the street art community, nor has my sense of humor. They’re all cry babies, or hate women. Well, maybe not all of them… :p

Here’s all the stuff I left out of Chicago Art Magazine’s “Top Street Art of March” because as the post was approaching 3000 words I  thought “f*ck that. 3,000 words? Who’s going to read 3,000 words?” It’s cool though, because here, I can display the photos and embed an awesome video -

The Graffiti News Network:  

This Billy guy is pretty rad – and I am not saying that because he stole my cadence and vibes, or because he is male.  The response to his video has been generally positive – and people understand satire easily when it is in video form. I have to wonder if all the misconceptions about my column would go away if I just made videos like his instead of “Top 10″ lists. I think if Billy and I combine – him with his superior knowledge of graffiti crews together with my hated art critic character, we could make some funny videos. Ahh, a girl can dream.   Read the rest of this entry »


Snacki’s Secret Pizza Party

secret.pizza.party

This is a secret street artist show, that now might not be so secret any more. I blame myself.

He did something like this last year.

Here’s the promos for this years party (is this really  a birthday party?), taken from snacki’s  flickr: Read the rest of this entry »


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