My first name is Erika. Not Erica. Not Ericka. My last name is Hammerschmidt, which has thirteen letters, including five consonants in a row. People still find it easier to spell than my first name.
In college I majored in German and Spanish. I also accidentally minored in art, just by taking so many art classes for the fun of it. I grow my own vegetables. I cut my own hair, but even when a professional barber cuts it, it still sticks out on one side and in on the other. I’m an author, artist and speaker living in Minnesota. I work at Target as well as giving speeches on autism and writing books. I am married to a space alien named John Ricker, who, like me, is on the autism spectrum.
Below you will find my latest news. Add me to your bookmarks! I’m always up to something.
He’s been scratching at a spot on his face for a long time, so much that the feathers fell out… and now he’s scratched so much it started to bleed. A lot.
I’ve put some DMSO anesthetic on the scratch, hoping it will reduce his desire to pick at it, and we improvised a cone out of paper and gauze. He’s frustrated that he can’t preen, but so far it seems to have stopped the bleeding.
Keep us in your thoughts. Thank goodness this at least happened on a Friday night, so we have the weekend to deal with it…
The sequel is called Kea’s Landing, and I think it can be understood without reading the first book. In fact, I want it to be, and I’d like at least one proofreader who hasn’t read the first one, to make sure it can.
(It’s over 700 pages, just warning you.)
If you help out, I’ll credit you on the dedication page!
I’ll just send you a PDF and you can send me your comments on whatever you want, or nothing, if you can’t find anything to say– no obligations.
Here’s the summary:
The coup is over. The Board has been overthrown, and Kea has inherited the office of Optimizer.
Together with Draz and Monarch, she now commands the colony starship that has always been her home. Young, socially challenged and inexperienced with power, she struggles with her fear of making the same mistakes as the dictatorial regime that came before her.
Meanwhile, she’s investigating a mystery. She and Draz have found a hidden folder of journal entries from an enigmatic young writer named Mara, who has created a secret world of friendships and fairy tales, stirring Kea’s empathy and challenging her views about disability and gender.
But nothing prepares Kea and her crew for what they will discover on the planet where they finally land to build their new city.
Without warning, they find themselves in a world that’s both human and alien, caught in an otherworldly conflict involving genetic weapons, extreme body modifications, cloned spies, language barriers… and even parrots.
Through it all, Mara’s journal gets even more mysterious. Is Kea reading the last words of just another casualty from the previous regime? Or will Mara’s story turn out to be interwoven with space colony diplomacy, high-tech espionage, the secret past of Kea’s enemies and allies, and the future of her newly founded home?
OK, here it is. For the last 3 years or so I haven’t been able to shut up about Monolithic Dome Homes, and people have been getting tired of hearing me go on about them over and over again, so here is my masterpost about WHY MONOLITHIC DOME HOMES ARE AWESOME.
(From what I can tell, anyway. I have not yet gotten the chance to live in one, but I AM GOING TO as soon as I can afford it, and I want enough people to know about them so the company will still be in business by that time.)
First. They are homes shaped like domes.
But they don’t have to look boring…
That one, in Pensacola, survived a hurricane:
Because dome homes are INCREDIBLY durable.
This is one in Iraq, where a freaking BOMB dropped in through the roof, EXPLODED inside the dome, and the dome is STILL STANDING.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFPN) — A member (bottom right) of the Combined Weapons Effectiveness Assessment Team assesses the impact point of a precision-guided 5,000-pound bomb through the dome of one of Saddam Hussein’s key regime buildings here. The impact point is one of up to 500 the team will assess in coming weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Best)
They are literally monolithic— all one piece, made of extra-strong concrete reinforced with steel.
They are made by spraying shotcrete over an inflated balloon, laying a grid of steel, then spraying some more.
THERE ARE NO HOLES. No weak spots. Aside from windows, doors, and connections to sewers and electricity, and vents for air, there is not a single place they can leak.
No walls getting eaten by raccoons. No fire damage. No dripping ceilings. Practically no home maintenance. All one piece. And ridiculously energy-efficient too!
Unlike the full-size dome homes, the cabins are not officially rated as tornado-proof, but they will stand up to a lot more dangerous weather than any other tiny house.
And while a 1000-square-foot Dome Home runs about $130,000 to build fully finished, the cabins are under $35,000.
(They all SHOULD be cheaper, considering how easy they are to build, but, economies of scale, bla bla bla. Which is why I want more people to get interested in the dang things!)
There are an endless number of possible floorplansfor the interior.
And speaking of the interior:
And guess what! They are some of the best structures to use for the base of hobbit houses in hillsides!
Imagine it. Imagine having a house that never leaks, barely requires maintenance, gets 50% better energy-efficiency than anything else, and stands up to FREAKING TORNADOES and HURRICANES.
And looks like an AWESOME BUBBLE!
I know it’ll be a long road. They look awesome and they’re environmentally friendly, and city governments LOVE to outlaw and tear down anything that fits those descriptions, so for the moment, it’s very hard to get away with building them inside a city.
But just think about how much money and effort and time and stress is wasted every year on freaking home maintenance, and freaking energy bills, and how much of that we could just freaking STOP with these bubbly miracle houses, if they just got popular enough to be accepted, and…
Just got back from Wiscon 40, my first-ever time attending Wiscon… it was amazingly great! I had a dealer table and art show table, and I sold soooo much jewelry, and met so many amazing people and had so many great conversations! I am definitely going back next year!!
In addition to being a very successful dealer-room event, it was also a great vacation. I went with John and Alex, and we drove through a lot of fun areas before getting there. Here is a scene from a rest stop on the way, where a robin had (for some reason) built a nest on the ground in a corner.
Here we are on the first night, which we spent at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells on the way to Madison. This is such a fun place! Great waterpark! And they unexpectedly upgraded our room to a suite, which was a nice surprise.
Here’s a view in Mirror Lake State Park, on the way from the Dells to Madison.
And here is my Wiscon table! Thanks to everyone who came and made Wiscon so great this year!
Sirius the starling has shed a bunch of feathers on the side of his beak… they started to grow in again, but then they were gone. The other side of his beak hasn’t done it.
I’m not sure if this is a normal part of the spring molt or not. He hasn’t done the full spring change, any of the years since we got him (his beak has never turned yellow) but something is different this year.
John recently made friends with the owners of Andrea Pizza, which just opened a new branch in Dinkytown, near where he goes to school. (Seriously, this is a great pizza place! GIANT pizzas for very good prices, with tasty sauce and a crust that is chewy and satisfying in just the right way. Go to http://www.andreampls.com/locations and check it out if you’re in the area.)
They needed art for their walls, so John and I donated a bunch of our paintings and photos! Here are some pics of what’s up so far (once they get more hooks they’ll hang the rest).
We’re thinking of making a habit of creating art to donate to restaurants. We’ve got a lot of canvases and paint that we haven’t used yet, and painting is fun, and sharing our art with local businesses can only be good publicity.
If you know a restaurant or other business that needs art on the walls, let us know! It may be a while before we have anything new to donate, but we will eventually.
All we ask is that they keep our pictures up for customers to see, give customers our contact info if they ask about the art, and, if the restaurant closes or they can’t keep the art for some reason, donate it to some other business that could benefit from it.
Hey, remember when I posted about buying bugs from Arbico Organics?
Well, they found that post, and liked it so much they sent me some more treats for Sirius, to say thank you! Another bag of dried flies, and a little canister of dried fly pupae (“Cocoon Capers”) which he was delighted to try!
Look at him eat those little things. He’s adorable and soooo happy.
I can only reiterate: Arbico Organics is a great company!
After about ten years at Target, I have moved on to a new pharmacy tech job at Merwin LTC.
I had gotten to work in the Target pharmacy for a couple years, starting as an inventory specialist and eventually becoming certified as a technician. I really enjoyed it, and was very sad when downsizing and system upgrades eliminated my pharmacy job and I was moved back into the stockroom.
After a few weeks of this, Greg, a former coworker of mine from the pharmacy, started posting on Facebook about his new job at Merwin, and how great it was, and how they were looking for new techs.
So… I decided to give it a try, and sent them a résumé listing Greg as a reference. I got an interview, which ended in a job offer, and next thing I knew I was learning to be a pharmacy tech again.
It’s closer to home than my former workplace, and on better roads for bicycling, though not on any very good bus routes. I’ll be riding my bike most of the time.
Actually in the winter I’ll be riding a trike, for stability in the snow. My parents are lending me one. Someday I hope to have one of my own, preferably with a fairing, and a narrow enough wheel base to fit easily through my door. This one is a bit of a hassle to get in and out, but we’ve figured out a pretty good system for it.
So far I really really like the new job! I’m picking up the work pretty fast, and the time goes by fast because there’s always something to do.
And the people seem really nice. The day before Halloween a lot of people came in wearing costumes, and there was pizza, cookies, ice cold soft drinks, and candy for everyone. It’s a very friendly and happy environment.
I’m hoping to learn about the super-cool prescription filling robot soon.