Ursula Sadiq

"Hey, how did I get here?", asks the once and future geek. "Each step made sense along the way, didn't it?" Didn't it?

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I interupt my trip reports on Iceland to share this word cloud. I am involved with a regional burning man event. ~800 people gather in Central PA for this. I took a post event survey, which included a freeform answer field for the question of gender ID.

I then processed the answers through a free online word cloud generator. 

While word cloud is a far from perfect tool (e.g., the "damned" was really part of an entry of "none of your damned business. I don't do labels"), I still find the results cool and worth sharing.

I want to meet the person who put "damned".
Scum, Fox, Pirate and Damned are my faves.
I have my gender listed on Facebook as "Maple." The result is that the ads I see are less painfully targeted. I still get weight-loss-product ads, but they're less offensive.
What's the Burning Man event in Central PA? I've wanted to go to one with a climate that doesn't scare me.
Playa del Fuego. It's in These days. Over memorial day weekend.

I took my 8year old to Iceland for a week. Early June. In a nut shell, there was jaw dropping scenery and it is very easy to be an English speaking tourist there. Very recommended. I do expect I'll go back someday.

I'd never been to Iceland before, and I was overdue in adding a new country to my list. I've traveled a bunch so I'm not intimidated by international travel, especially not to Europe where I've been to lots. I did some research, brunched with some Icelanders before I left, booked a hostel, some bus tours and a puffin watching harbor cruise, and embraced the idea that I'm on vacation and vacation is not a the time to be too frugal.

Early June is before all the tourists arrive, but it's building. We were there June 10-16. Tourist season officially begins June 15. It never gets dark in Iceland in June. The sun goes down for a few hours, but it is still dusk lit.

Flights were affordable - direct from Philly even. We flew Icelandair. No complaints, a basic uneventful flight. Gone are the days of endless drinks and amenity packs for everyone I guess. The 8 year old did get free meal and a play pack, and Icelandair has reduced kids airfare which I had assumed were extinct. I guess just domestically extict (sigh). The 8 year old also got a number of comps this trip. Free use of the "pay to use" public toilets, free seats on some of the tours, free transfer to the airport, next to free entry to the swimming pool. So yay, bring your kid if you got one. These freebies dissipate by the time they are 11 from what I can tell.

Something to know about Iceland - the county is about the size of Pennsylvania or of New York State. The coast is habitable, the interior not so much. About 340,000 people live in the entire country, and 2/3rds of them live around Reykjavik. The whole country has less people than Cleveland. Or about 60,000 less people as we have in here in lower, slower Delaware. To this country of 340,000 come over 2 million tourists a year. Its been growing like crazy, up from 1 million in 2014, or 0.5 million in 2010 when that volcano erupted making everyone think: Cool! Let's go see Iceland! So yeah, tourism is big there. It is Iceland's largest industry these days, eclipsing fishing industries. And in some ways the infrastructure is struggling to keep up - for example our the tour bus planned stops around acceptable toilet facilities. And hotels and tours do fill up. 

Hotels were pricey so I got us a hostel, which was still over $150 a night. Nothing against the hostel, it was a decent one, but next time I'll pay the extra $300+ for a proper hotel. Or an airBNB. But I'm naturally a penny pincher, so I got us a hostel. I just poked around booking.com again, and yeah, for an extra $300 we could have gotten an apartment. Maybe next year. (Though next year I kinda want to go to Spain.) 

Food was also pricey, and a picky 8 year old means we didn't explore the options much. I'm the opposite of picky, which also means I'm not into exploring. If it's edible, I'll eat it.

For food, we did a bunch of supermarket sandwiches. We had lots of pop-tarts, chocolate, bread, chips, crackers, chocolate crackers, cheese, & ice cream. We also split one banana, labeled as grown in Ecuador. For local food, they have a yogurt like thing called skyr (which tastes like yogurt, but apparently is made differently) that we liked. I really liked the lamb soup - kinda like beef stew but with lamb, found at overpriced tourist restaurants all over Iceland. I had 3 bowls on our 6 day trip. We tried the smoked lamb on flatbread and both (!!!) loved it - it's really rich though, more an hors d’oeuvres than something I could do a meal. We drank a lot of water, straight from the tap, like apparently everyone does in Iceland.

It is super easy to get around as an English speaker in Iceland. Every last Icelander I met spoke perfect English. And they were all very friendly - not Irish friendly who want to talk life story - Nordic friendly. So cheerful and happy to stop and help when asked. Contributing to the good cheer I'm sure was the unusually splendid weather we were having. The Icelanders were saying how it doesn't get better that what we had: 60 Fahrenheit and sunny all week.

<to be continued. gotta do some work now>

good lord. thanks for the heads up on the cost of lodging and food there. the airfares are so cheap that I've thought of going, but not for those sorts of rates on the ground.
I love this.

So my ex-husband was fretting about the cost of getting his guitar refurbished. His guitar buying was one of the things I disapproved of when we were married.  How many guitars does a man need?!?? He has like 10 other guitars, but this is the one he plays all the time, and it needs some TLC.

So he was worried about the refurb cost. Then I said "Why don't you just buy a new one?"

The irony does not escape me.

Still living the dream.


Matt Lichtenwalner made my kid a drawing

And it is wonderous. Just saying. 

Awww shucks! Thank you! I'm so glad everyone (save, perhaps, the cat) liked it! :)
It looks to me as if everyone liked it! The cat, the unicorn, the Golden Snitch, the Lego Nightmare Princess... (?)
This looks great! This might be one of my favorite things you've drawn. I've seen you use the format before to draw the guys that you always have hangin' around your psyche, and I dig it.

But yeah, what is Lego Nightmare Princess' real name? I doubt it's "ArachnaCubicula" which would be my first guess, which I am clearly inventing to be a dork. Never seen her before.
"the format before to draw the guys that you always have hangin' around your psyche" - Those are what inspired the request from Ursula, so I'm glad it shows through!

"ArachnaCubicula" - Well, I don't know the character's actual name, but Ursula gave me a list of topics and among them was "Roblox" (seems like a hybrid between Minecraft and Leggos) and a subset of that game "Grottypuff". I did a little image searching, and voila! I think they should use ArachnaCubicula if the character isn't already named.
I love this piece! I agree with Jillbot, it's one of my favorites ... though my FAVORITE piece of your art is the one on my back.

The expression on the cat's face is pure joy and very catlike ... when they love their people they look just like that.
Thanks! The cat was a particular joy to me. Arguably for the first time, Google Image Search let me down. I kept trying to find reference pics for a cat rubbing up against their human. I finally found one that was vaguely what I was looking for and used it. Then I pretty much scrapped that and reworked the cat until the only thing remaining from the original was the two front legs. So I guess what I'm saying is - thanks - this particular cat really wanted to make its way to the digital page. :)
I love this so much.

I think I'm going to write a manifesto. Largely because I like the thought of answering the constant "what are you up to?" questions with "writing my manifesto". Step one, look up what manifesto means. I'm guessing it is writing down what you want to manifest. 

I have learned in recent years to take February off. "No Fun February" is what I need to recharge after the holidays, which for me started early November and won't wrap until February 4. (Philly! Thanksgiving! New Orleans! DC! Christmas! Philly Again! Richmond for NYE Decemberween! DC Again for sheep* knapping! DC again again for sheep brain updates! NYC for Golden Fest! E's Birthday! DC again again again! . . . plus things I may have forgotten). It was wonderful, but I'm worn out.

So when February hits, I'm planning to slow it way down. Way way down. Meaning, not leaving the state (i.e., Delaware.)(ok, maybe once); not drinking alcohol (ok, maybe twice). It's time to get back on top of my life. I'm going to cook more planned meals, go on more walks, read more books.

But more than that, I'm putting forth a goal to create something every day (with upto 3 days off). This will mostly be with my laser cutter, unless something else inspires. And also, a goal to write a manifesto (whatever that means).

There, I said it. Now that I'm posting this, I'm changing the title from "Commitment Issues" to "Commitment Issued".

*BTW, I have a large plastic lightup talking sheep named Aries Ramball, now in my living room. 

I love your sheep.
He's really cool. And we have like 12 sets of voiceover files we can cycle him through, though I prefer this Barry White inspired one.

He and his herd are usually available for events and outings btw, but ya gotta pay transport and labor. (the rest of his herd is now DC based, but I predict a diaspora is coming soon)
Ursula Sadiq 1/24edited

I've been working on a project that is bringing plastic talking lightup ridable sheep to Burning Man.

I got drafted into making the corral. I designed a barn too, but it got nixed. We made signage for the corral. I spent july asking and asking for people to draw me sheep, robot sheep, sheep robots.  . . and then turned the submissions into signs. I'm still working on ones that says "Baa means Baa" and "Sheep consent to photos, but ya gotta check if the attending humans do". Here are some of the signs art:

With some other sheepsters, I spent yesterday making 5 flags for the corral.  I am very proud of these sheepy flags <3 <3 <3

Also, since I have a glowforge laser cutter in my basement, I offered to make swag. Sheep coaster sets: 

And Sheep pendants (matchbox for scale):

This project has been a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together out in the desert at the end of the month! It's about flocking time!

PS: The sheep themselves look like this. And they talk, each of the dozen sheep have different voices/personalities :-)

8/6 '18 8 Comments
Dessine-moi un mouton.
Brian Rapp 8/6 '18
How about an elephant in a boa-constrictor?
Ursula Sadiq 8/6 '18
This is fantastic!
thank you!
Ursula Sadiq 8/6 '18
I boggle.
That's awesome!
Avocado Tom 8/9 '18
I'm so far behind on OPW but HOLY BALLS this is the greatest thing ever! I love the flags, I love the signs, I love the schwag, and I love the sheep, and I love saying "plastic talking lightup ridable sheep."

Matt just squeeeee'd and fist-pumped unironically in pure enthusiasm. Can't wait to see 'em for realz!
So...are you the originator of the idea, or just one who is participating? I saw a post on my book of faces feed that was singing the praises of one person in particular as the one (seemingly) wholly responsible, and it left me somewhat...miffed.
Avocado Tom 8/15 '18

I signed up for Hungry Root. The first box from this vegan meal delivery service showed up 2 days ago. I've been a vegetarian for 2 days now. 

I figured out that some time ago that I:

  1.  Love veggies.
  2. Am uninterested in planning meals
  3. Dislike food shopping.
  4. Annoyed when the cooking takes longer than the eating.
  5. Not that good at cooking meats

I heard about Hungry Root when recently a campmate cooked up some tasty sweet potato Pad Thai. YUM. All the Hungry Root recipes are 10 minutes or less of effort. Lots of opening bags and sauteing. No chopping! So I bought a box (internet coupon for first one, 50% off activated!) I've had Kale Pesto Shaved Brussels and my own Sweet potato Pad Thai. And I have leftovers for both! I'm thinking Ginger Tahini Yuba Noodles or Kohlrabi Tofu Eggplant Pasta for lunch today. I'm certainly enjoying this box of yummy so far.

I'm not planning on being 100% vegetarian. And certainly not planning on being vegan (because breakfast mostly. And ice cream) But I'm am curious if this diet will change my energy levels. And/or help me shake a these 15 lbs I've gained in the last 2 years. And/or address my increasing tummy issues -which I'm thinking is more likely drinking related not diet related, but I'm not quite at the give up drinking stage. Yet.

Oh, I apparently have a $30 coupon referal code. If anyone is interested 

6/7 '18 3 Comments
How is delivery? USPS? We had a mild problem with Blue Apron delivery.
Well, I’ve only gotten one delivery so far. It came fedex. They left it on my doorstep (which is normal in this sleepy suburban Delaware subdivisions.)
Ursula Sadiq 6/7 '18
Okay, this omnivore is giving it a try. Thank you for the discount code!

There are burner conferences. MALC i.e., Mid Atlantic Leadership conference is one I just attended. Words that I captured (not mine mostly, but the resonated):  

"We are in the practice of creating safe space for the expression of the full spectrum of human experiences"

"We have the Demonstrated ability to create the world we envision"

"It's not my job, it's just my turn"

"Allows you to be, Invites you to do"

"Exclusive to people who want to be inclusive"


BEAUTIFUL SIDE PROJECT < I want this to be my burner name

ART CLAVE < I wanna do a popup store called this. Is this possible in my town??​​​​​​​

The difference between me and my campmate exemplified on day 2 of the conference: ME: I lost my notebookHER: I lost my vape

He did a Pop up maker space? Who'd have thunk it? Is this possible in my town??

Housing gentrification: things to think about. 6 values: Equity, Inclusion, Creativity, Self determination, Responsibility. Also "Triple bottom line"


Below, my more detailed notes/musings:

We have evolved (are evolving) from throwing kick-ass burns into extending our culture into the outside world. Just look at what is happening at Museums like the Heritage Norfolk or the Renwick in DC. WHAT IS OUR CULTURE? (insert a lot of fuzziness here) AT WHAT POINT IS THE MAINSTREAMING TOO MUCH? (inserts more fuzziness here)

Acculturation. Partnering with the Burner Adjacent fold.  (meso cresso, figment, all those others I'd have to look up)

HOW DO I BRING THE AWESOMENESS OF A BURN BACK TO MY COMMUNITY? I personally struggle with this, because I'm a smallish town burner, where we lack critical mass. It's natural to want to share an awesome experience. It's natural to want to share what one has worked on.

There are folks who do this actively. Bring some of the values home: immediacy, gifting. Showing artforms that are less familiar to new audiances. 

THE TOPIC OF ARTIST PAY: the artist says "If I feel strongly about the event, especially a free event, I'll gift my time/effort. And sometimes I'll work for minimal pay for the joy of sharing my craft. One key to this is having clear expectations set and payment defined before we start"

"Attainably priced workforce housing" goes over some much better than the "Affordable housing" term.

And also we gave out $1500 in grants. (Our comminity needs coaching on grant writing). 

Gotta run, more later. (maybe)

4/27 '18 10 Comments
I love this. I particularly love the idea of a popup maker space.
I love "It's not my job, it's just my turn."
Condolences on the passing of Larry Harvey. I've never been, but I admire the fire.
Brian Rapp 5/1 '18
I met Larry once (that I recall). He rolled up to a large project we were building at Burning Man 2014 and suddenly all progress ground to a halt. We all got hugs. Then I got to play grumpy foreman who scowled at everyone until they disengaged from Larry and got back to work.

I do so appreciate how he ignited an event that means so much to so many, and burns on so brightly. Hopefully it continues the brightness for many years to come
Ursula Sadiq 5/2 '18
He came to my bar one night when the bar was essentially empty (we were hosting Bootie elsewhere in our "village") and just hung out, drank beer, and listened to Fela Kuti and Miles Davis with us. Said his name was Hairy Larvae and we just treated him like a normal dude. It was great and low key...and I'm glad we could just be cool people around him without making any fuss. Good stuff.
Avocado Tom 5/16 '18
I am so happy that you are completely inspired by the community.

I ran out of gas and ended up being *very* frustrated by BMOrg Leadership who almost seemed to go out of their way to not support our community here. The classic example were that it took them five years to deign to interview a second regional coordinator (and that only happened after duress and semi-public shaming). When DC's RC announced his retirement it took them 6 months to bring in THREE new RCs.

When I went to the "Global" Leadership meeting in the Bay Area, it was something of an echo chamber, but there was also a lot of positive energy, which I appreciated.

I have lots of thoughts on bringing the spirit to your local community, but the easy ones might be:

1. Host a monthly gathering somewhere you don't mind being anyway, so that people interested in the community have someone to talk to. I did it at a bar. I met many wonderful people who have since become wonderful members of the community, all they needed was someone to help them learn about it and talk to.

2. Can you set up an art project or booth at a local fair or farmers market? Could be as easy as having a costume exchange and/or face painting. Take is as an excuse to buy fabulous clothes from thrift stores, then offer free costumes: you help people pick and give them the confidence to be fabulous. You can also accept old "costumes" (read: fur and fun stuff) at PDF or other burns and bring them there. Do it once a year so it's not a burden. Or do it more! Have some sort of interactive crafting to get people involved? Set something up at the Pumpkin' Chunkin' (sp?) like a pumpkin decorating booth where people can bring their pumpkin and you help them decorate, then take photos (polaroids or other) and post them on a board throughout the day..

3. Invite regional burners to come to a once a year event you set up. Is there an outdoor summer movie series nearby? Host a pillow-fight at one movie a year? Or create an esoteric and fun event that will draw attention:
(a) The Ides of March March (Pittsburgh started this years ago);
(b) A fun costume bike ride on decorated bikes one day a year;
(c) Enter a float in a parade with all burners having fun;
(d) Host a Mardi Gras [costume party at a bar | parade | king cake party | etc.]
(e) Invite people with Art Cars to do a "shriners parade" or just gather in a very public/central parking lot for one day a year

Above all, just keep being you and keep kicking ass. If all the burns do for you is recharge your batteries so you can be a more awesome you, that's still a big deal. Just use it to shine your positivity into the local people. It doesn't have to be burner-y, it can just be you being awesome. Then people will want to be cool like you and will want to start doing cool things with you. Collaborators and critical mass can help us all do more awesome things.
Avocado Tom 5/16 '18
I love a lot of these ideas. I imagine I'll run with one/some of them at some point. I do have a challenge of "lack of critical mass" - I live in Delaware. We don't even have a RC. And I don't really want that job.

I'm on the PDF board these days and that is spreading me pretty thin. We move to two different events at two new sites in the last year, so it's been a crazy year to join the board. But I hope as I learn the ropes, and as things settle down, it will get smoother. Then maybe I"ll have energy to figure out something for this area.

The BORG I think is recognizing that regional are the future. BORG speakers how supported this event said as much. Maybe they were pandering, but I didn't get that impression. They canceled GLC this year because I think they too were getting the echo-chamber vibe and wanted to rethink things.
Ursula Sadiq 5/16 '18
They keep saying they've seen the light, but I don't think they have. There needs to be a serious change in attitude and some support, especially for cities that aren't NYC, Boston, DC, LA, etc. I remain hopeful, but until I see some real motion, I will remain unconvinced. (More than happy to discuss in more detail offline)

I honestly think the monthly happy hour - especially if you have a bar you'd be going to anyway - is an easy win. You'd be surprised who randomly turns up. And regarding being RC: I understand being stretched thin and not wanting the job, but at the same time, if you can just be a local point of contact (and set boundaries for yourself) it might bear fruit. Just a thought. Again, happy to discuss in more detail offline.
Avocado Tom 5/16 '18
I'd like to chat offline. It's been too long! But after Memorial day (i.e., the NEW Playa del Fuego Event! Now with no swamp, no built in spectators, no amenities, and possibility of bears!)
Ursula Sadiq 5/17 '18
Sounds like a plan!
Avocado Tom 5/17 '18

It's time to make camping swag again!

A week or so ago, I went with some campmates to the Renwick Gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian, in Washington DC.  The Renwick is currently hosting an "Art of Burning Man" exhibit. Highly recommended. Inspiring. (In case you are wondering, my camp is called Balls Camp. We favor Ball Gowns.)

I saw a trinket there that inspired me to make a more complex necklace for camp swag than I have in the past. Not saying the designs won't continue to evolve, but I'm pretty happy with it. . .and I'm starting to wonder what an acrylic version would look like. . .

4/14 '18 2 Comments
These are beautiful.

Sometimes I wish I had the constitution for Burning Man.
Ya, I hear you. Mostly I camp here on the east coast, because trekking to and enduring the desert is so much effort. A bunch of localish regional burnereque events have sprung up over the years, so I am much more likely to hit a few of those a year instead of the big burn.
Ursula Sadiq 4/17 '18