DIY Pumpkin Pi

Hello all! I thought I’d switch things up and post a little how-to for everyone for a project I did this weekend. Behold! Pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin has fall silk flowers on top and the pi symbol carved into the front.

Oh my god, I am the dumbest. But how can I resist a pun like this?!

This was fun and easy to make. Let’s talk supplies.

A picture of a workbench with various tools and a stencil of a pi symbol.

Tools:

  • One craft pumpkin (we opted for the kind with the back pre-cut out)
  • A printed picture of the pi symbol (here’s one from Wikimedia! I resized it in Word)
  • Pins, like sewing pins
  • A pen
  • A sharp tool like an x-acto knife
  • One LED tea light (those craft pumpkins are WAY flammable)

Extra Credit:

  • Seasonal fake flowers/foliage
  • Ribbon
  • A wire cutter
  • Hot glue, zip ties, etc.
  • Maybe a drill!

 

Here’s the step by step for creating your own pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin with an open back sits on a workbench. Crafting materials surround it.

1. Print our your pi symbol after looking at your pumpkin and getting an idea of how tall you want that guy. My pumpkin was a medium size so my pi symbol is about 4.5″ tall. Snip around the pi symbol, cutting in some relief cuts (see picture below) since the pumpkin is slightly curved. Just makes the next step easier.

2. Position the pi symbol on the front of your pumpkin. Use a pin and press it into the craft pumpkin. You don’t need to worry about pressing the pin all the way inside. We just want it to produce a hole on the surface of the pumpkin. So maybe a third of the pin needs to be pressed in?

3. Start pushing in pins all around the pi symbol. You want to get a good outline going.

4. Once you’re sure you have the symbol totally outlined… pull them out. I know. It sounds crazy. Then remove the paper from the pumpkin. Here’s a photo of my pi symbol once I took the pins out.A pi symbol printed on paper with tiny dots outlining it.

See the holes? The holes create a “connect the dots” on your pumpkin.

5. Connect those dots! I used a ballpoint pen and just drew on the pumpkin. Nothing fancy there.

6. You should see a clear outline of a pi symbol on the surface of your pumpkin. Get your x-acto knife and carefully (CAREFULLY) start scoring the pumpkin along the outline you’ve traced. Work slowly. We worked best by scoring an inch or so before cutting in deeper to the pumpkin. The wall of the pumpkin was about 1/4″ thick, so be mindful of that, and don’t press too hard. You don’t want to bust off that middle part or break it.

7. Work around the symbol until you’ve free it! The edges may need some cleaning up so shave them down with your x-acto knife.

8. Put that LED tea light inside and enjoy!

EXTRA CREDIT:

I decided to arrange some fake flowers on the top with a nice green bow. This is more free form. GO FOR IT! but I’ll share some tips.

-Hot glue is your friend.

-So is a drill and a gentle hand! We bundled together the stems of the flowers and zip tied them together. We drilled a hole into the pumpkin’s stem very, very slowly (using a pilot hole) and once it was cleared we pushed the flowers through.

-The bow was zip tied to the flowers.

-Honestly, you could probably get away with just glueing a bow or flowers to it and not that fancy drill stuff. But if you want to try that, make sure you’re far enough down that you don’t just bust off the top of the stem.

-But heck – if you do, glue a flower on top! CRAFTING!

A craft pumpkin with a glowing pi symbol.

YOU DID IT. YOU MADE A FESTIVE, SEASONAL PUN THAT WILL DELIGHT AND IMPRESS! (Maybe!) CONGRATS!

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LOAD “*”,8,1

I saw this gorgeous scarf at an event last weekend.

The pashmina is silk screened with some coding from a Commodore 64 computer programming guide that taught the user some Basic, a programming language. The code is the start of a song.

I never did any Basic coding on the C64 when I was a kid. All we ever needed was this line: LOAD “*”,8,1

I had no idea what it meant. I didn’t need to. That line unlocked the blocky games loaded in delicate floppy disks. The scarf brought me right back there. That chunky text, the waiting forever for things to load…

I kind of miss those days. Nothing was instant. There was a built-in break. Patience was needed. I know it drove me crazy when I was a kid, but I kind of long for that now. But to get that sort of respite in these times, you need to escape technology. You need to hide in the woods or on the road, away from technology or cell reception.

Maybe I need to dig up an old C64. For nostalgia’s sake.

Lauren the Math Ruiner

In 5th grade I was chosen to be on a math competition team for my elementary school. As a kid I was in many split grade classes, meaning I would do the classwork of the next highest grade but I never actually skipped grades. This meant I was doing 6th grade math and doing it pretty well, so I made the team. The competition was held at a local high school, which had different timed sessions in different classrooms. I felt like one of the big kids having to keep a schedule and move from class to class at a high school. This brief encounter with a more structured educational environment, along with the free cookies provided at snack break, would become the highlight of my experience.

Now, I was pretty good at math when I was younger. But my anxiety would always get the best of me and I’d sort of… forget everything I knew. This would prove especially disappointing to everyone else on the math team, because the school scores were cumulative. Did I mention the math team was made up of all the really cool 6th graders? And some kids that actually skipped 5th grade? I was sorely outclassed in every way. My math performance was a disaster and I was blamed for the lackluster performance of my elementary school in the district standings.

There was an award ceremony at the end of the competition and I’d considered just calling my parents, going home, and bawling my little eyes out. But our assigned faculty member asked a favor of me. Some kids had won awards for their specific performance overall. Jamie, easily the most popular girl in school, had to leave early. If her name was called, could I walk up and accept it on her behalf? I gladly accepted the responsibility. Surely there was no way I could screw this up! I could help in my own little way! YES! REDEMPTION!

At first all the kids that didn’t win personal performance awards were called up one by one to receive a participation award. Later in my adolescence I would despise these awards for the dry fart they are, but little 10 year old Lauren was very starved for positive interactions. I tightly clutched the printed certificate in my hands and waited.

It was on to the individual performance awards. When Jamie’s name was called out as the winner for something like “Best Score”, I gasped loudly. She had won! How exciting! I ran to the stage as the auditorium clapped. I leaned into the woman handing out the awards, “I’m not Jamie, that’s why I came up earlier when you said Lauren. But I’m accepting this on her behalf because she left early.” Pretty sure the lady just stammered out ‘uh okay’ or something equally brief and dismissive.

BUT YOU SEE, in my excitement I had missed the cries of “no, wait, Lauren, no” from my classmates. During the beginning of the awards, Jamie had run to her parents who were waiting outside, told them they were wrapping up, and come back inside. She was completely available. But she had no idea I was her stand in. I had no idea she’d come in the back. So when Jamie started to walk to the stage, THERE WAS THE SCHOOL MATH RUINER rushing the stage to accept her award. Jamie was upset with me. The kids all hated me. For months afterwords I was picked on, but honestly probably not anymore than I would have been anyway.

For some reason the next year, when I was invited to a science team day, I still accepted. How did that go? As well as you could expect.

My “Must Listen” Podcasts

I love podcasts. I used to bike to and from work for years, listening to podcasts with one earbud in. I started with NPR – a ton of NPR – but then comedy podcasting started taking off. Comedians I loved were putting out content for free. What they lost in time they gained in notoriety and new fans. Then there were shows diving into weird, niche topics that only I really cared about and I couldn’t imagine why they existed… except to entertain me. The bike has been replaced with a car, but I still fill my commute with podcasts. They fall into two categories: serious, interesting stuff and dumb, silly comedy stuff. Folks are always asking me what I’m listening to, so here’s a list of my go to podcasts.

Oh, and if you have a show to recommend, let me know! I am always looking for new stuff to listen to.

Here’s the interesting ones!

 

Oh No Ross and Carrie: Ross and Carrie investigate different religions and spiritual/pseudo-science experiences… and they do it from as neutral a place as they can. I was introduced to them when episode one of their series on Scientology dropped. They’re nice people and not looking to expose – just experience and report. Which is why I think this show is so good. Episode to try: Going Preclear (Part 1)

Criminal: This show profiles different crimes and the criminals that commit them. While the topic seems like it would be very narrow, just a rehash of those true crime TV shows you see on all the time, the podcast is fresh and intriguing. Episode to try: Episode 40 – Pappy

Reply All: This show is still all about the internet and still one of my favorites! I’ve talked about them before, but this is a reminder that you should be listening to them. Episode to try: #47 – Quit Already!

 

If you’re a big dumb comedy nerd like I am, try these out!

 

Comedy Bang Bang: CBB is my must listen to podcast every week. Comedians come on and become silly characters and have an improvised conversation. It is often weird and raunchy and is sort of the quintessential improv comedy experience through your ears. It has introduced me to characters I love. It has a TV show now. It is not 100% Grade A every time, but it makes me laugh. If you’re a serious comedy nerd, I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. Everyone else will probably just find this weird and judge me a lot. Episode to try: #338 – Be My Guest, Literally! They usually don’t just have regular people in the studio but their special guest plays along really well. If you like this, I’d listen to the “Best of” episodes to see if you’re in.

Spontaneanation: Comedian Paul F. Tompkins didn’t start out as a king of comedy podcasts, but he is now. Prolific and a great improviser, he’s a frequent guest on other shows. But did you know he has his own?! Yes! It’s a funny improv podcast of a different sort. Paul has on a guest, that guest has a conversation with him and then he and his “improviser friends” make up a scene based on the chat. I am especially fond of improv and PFT so, again, if you’re not a deep comedy nerd maybe not your thing. Episode to try:  #4 Savannah, Georgia. It’s just a silly time with silly voices and gives you a good idea of what this show is all about. BONUS RECOMMENDATION: Watch PFT and puppets on ‘No You Shut Up!’ on YouTube.

How Did This Get Made?: Paul Scheer from “The League” sits down with his wife June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (one of my favorites) to review terrible movies. Comedy and terrible movies are two of my favorite things, so this is just a natural win. Fun fact! This podcast is the reason why I went back and watched all of the Fast and the Furious movies! Episode to try: If you see a movie on their episode list you’ve watched, go for that, but otherwise try #53 Anaconda. You can listen to this without having watched the movie because they do a good job talking about it, but… you also pretty much know what you’re getting into.

Star Wars: The Fandom Menace

r2d2and1

This is the time I met R2D2. I was dressed as Princess Leia.

I’m excited for Star Wars.

Star Wars was always a big part of my geekdom. My brother and I had been watching Ghostbusters 1 and 2 in a never ending loop until the trilogy entered our lives. Then everything changed. The VHS tapes ran non-stop during my pre-teen years. We read the books and played the games. We pretended to be stormtroopers and rebels fighting each other. Star Wars was our thing.

When my husband and I first started dating, I said “I love you” first. He would respond with, “I know.” This is, of course, a quote between Leia and Han before he’s frozen in carbonite. For some months this exchange would happen between us until he finally said, “I love you too.” (Sucker. Hee hee.) We would eventually play a piece of music from Episode 4 at our wedding. (TO BE FAIR you can’t really tell it’s from Star Wars. At least the part we chose. The video starts there.)

 

Oh yeah, and I met the author that killed off Chewbacca in the books. (Now noncanonical.) Crushed him with a moon. He was delighted to sign this custom image I created commemorating the event:

Squish the hairball.

I’m trying to say that this series has meant a lot to me. But I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan.

I can’t rattle off trivia and lines. I don’t know specs of imaginary ships and weapons off the top of my head. I don’t enjoy the prequels but I won’t get in a fist fight about them. I care – but not that much. Sometimes people have a huge problem with that. Unless you’re a diehard biggest and baddest fan in the galaxy, you’re nothing. A poser. A loser. In the current political climate, you’d think we’d have more divisive issues. But right now it’s all about Star Wars and how serious of a fan you are.

And since when did NERDS of all people turn on ourselves this way? Calm down everyone. Sheesh. Anyway.

I just would like to remind everyone that there is a group that hovers above the casual fan but below the super hardcore people. We like this universe and we’re excited to see what happens next. We’re just a little more mellow than you polycarbonate clad scruffy nerf herders. Maybe you feel like this makes you better than us. And really, that’s okay. You can go all out. You do you! The thing is we’re all fans. There’s no reason to be That Guy.

Unless you like Episode One. Then you’re just on the wrong side of history.

“It’s a show about the internet.”

When I heard those words I was already hooked. I love learning about the internet. Not only did the internet change almost everything about our lives, there is just a wonderfully fascinating culture that has emerged from it. My status as a total nerd is pretty well established, but my love of all things internet just affirms this.

Reply All is a new podcast that I have been devouring. There are so many stories they cover… situations and tales that wouldn’t exists without the internet: An ex-girlfriend breaks up with her boyfriend, only to use an app later to hire a stranger to deliver a message to him in person: I fucking love you. A man invents the pop-up, much to the ire and upset of the rest of us. A man who has dedicated his Sunday nights to amending Wikipedia of one specific grammatical mistake. These are stories that I have loved hearing and learning about.

This is going to sound odd, but I love the ads too. Podcasts, for the uninitiated, are ad supported. Most shows just read off copy they’ve been handed, rattle off the website and coupon code, and back to the show. But these guys, PJ and Alex, are using their ads as an extension of the show’s concept in an entertaining way. They have a conversation about how they use the vendors they’re advertising for, which are all digital services that exist thanks to the internet. For Squarespace, where you can build your own webpage, Alex created a page dedicated to whether PJ has met his new baby. Well, HAS HE? You can check out that page here and find out: http://haspjmetalexssonyet.squarespace.com. They also talk about their MailChimp e-mail list, and how, whoops, they forgot one week to send the newsletter. “Obviously, what you’ve just recorded is our ad.” “MailChimp! Works great if you actually send your newsletter out!”

It’s also doing something I didn’t expect: it’s teaching me about the internet. Things I had no idea were happening. Not that I thought I was the end all be all of internet culture, but I thought I was pretty savvy. For example, there’s a thing called swatting where someone as a prank will phone in a threat at someone’s house who’s doing a livestream on the internet. The result is a SWAT team raiding them, live online. Just mentioning it makes me nervous.

This universe is wide and weird and wonderful and awful all at the same time. I suppose that’s part of the reason I’m so drawn to it. I think the other reason is because this culture is my culture. Its history is my history. Much of the family and friends I have are from the internet, as I’ve discussed in previous blog posts. I’ve always said that my dream job would be to become an internet anthropologist, but there’s not a real clear road map for how that would even be a thing, and at age 30 I think I’m a little late to figure it out.

I can’t wait to see what Reply All has up its sleeve. Do yourself a favor, head over to replyall.limo (yes, .limo, since the .com was taken, which is hilarious to me). Check them out. And keep up the good work, Reply All. I’ll see you on the internet.

About the time I pretended to be my own Swedish twin.

Today I am visiting a local social media conference. (Hello world!) Since there might be new visitors to the blog, I thought I’d share a good one this week. So here it is: the story of the time I pretended to be my own Swedish twin. This might be painfully awkward to read. You’ve been warned.

This takes place around the fourth grade, which means I was about 8 or so. My brother hung out with the Bergston boys who lived a block away from our house. Their parents were both very fit, very wealthy accountants, if my memory serves me, so they had all the best outdoor toys. Moonshoes. Rollerblades.  A trampoline. Basketball hoop. Everything.

I was a girl, so I was of course NOT ALLOWED. Sometimes I’d go over pretending to need to find my brother… then I’d just hang out for awhile. “Oh? I uh. Mom said to make sure to drink a lot of water. Are… are those moonshoes? Do you use them while on the trampoline so I can jump super high?” My true intentions were always quickly discovered and I was chased off.

One time I came over to the house looking for my brother and he wasn’t there. The usual namecalling and uncomfortableness commenced and I hurried back home. But this time was different. This time I decide to do something truly ridiculous.

I was going to charm them, not as Lauren… but as my Swedish twin.

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to recall the fake name I used, and I keep coming back to Vilka. I’m fairly sure that was it. I would make them laugh as Vilka, they’d see how cool I was, and we’d hang out and I’d be doing flips on that sweet trampoline in no time!

For some reason at this point in my life my mother dressed me in ridiculous sweaters. Usually black, with pictures knitted into them of cats or flowers in red, purple, or white. Why did she do this? To ensure my reputation as a total buzzkill and coolness ruiner? Who knows. I had been wearing a t-shirt, but changed into a sweater to feel more eccentric (as I imagined Swedes to be). I am like a quarter Swedish, but I’ve never met any of those people, so I was pulling the whole charade straight out of my ass. I managed to find a pair of thick framed glasses to complete the illusion, and charged out the door.

I walked up to the Bergstons boys and announced that I was Vilka, Lauren’s swedish twin. I was wondering if they’d seen Lauren around.

The best part might have been the accent I affected. Think of the Swedish Chef if he was from Minnesota and couldn’t stop bouncing up and down.

The boys immediately started poking holes into my story.

“How are you Swedish and her twin? Lauren isn’t Swedish.”

“Uh, I wus sent oooh-ver seas!”

“Why didn’t we hear about you before?”

“I wus a secret!”

“Can Lauren and you show up here at the same time?”

“Uh uh uh uh… if I cun find her!”

The boys told me I was full of crap, but like any true performer I never broke character. I thanked them for their time, cheerful as can be, and bounced down the street, still certain that I had charmed them on some level.

A few minutes later I showed up as Lauren asking if they’d seen Vilka. I was told to shut up and leave. So I did.