Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hamster potty training

With all the new modifications and additions, my hamster's cage is getting increasingly difficult to clean. One evening she even decided to turn her observatory into a lavatory and I woke up to find 4 evenly-spaced puddles of hamster pee in each of the nodules. Eew. Ok, that was it. It was time to get Victoria potty trained again. Her previous owner claimed that she had potty-trained her as a wee baby ham, but hadn't provided me with any litter or a box.

Hamsters already have a tendency to pee in only one spot, so litter-box training them is supposedly very easy. So last week I went to PetSmart and bought her a hamster toilet and some litter, cleaned out her cage, put in some soiled bedding in the toilet, placed the toilet in her former potty corner and waited to see what happened. Unfortunately, the toilet doesn't quite cover the whole corner because it's rounded, so she kept peeing in the corner and ignored the toilet. In fact, she started kicking the litter out of the toilet into the corner to cover it up. Tricksie. Very Tricksie. Once I even saw her go into the toilet and carefully position herself so her butt was sticking out so she could pee straight into the corner. Hmmm. I will need to come up with a better solution. 

Posted via email from Stephanie's posterous

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Layers of the Earth

Last week I put together an infographic about the water cycle, but after some reflection, I decided the whole traditional textbook infographic look really didn't fit into my personal art style, so this week I decided to go in an entirely new direction and try out a simple, retro design. This time, it's about the layers of the earth and atmosphere:

Ah, much cleaner and a very different take than many of the other infographics I looked at while doing research (this one in particular was exceptionally bad. I admit I'm no graphic design expert, but that graphic just really made me shudder when I saw it). A larger version of my image and full poster can be found here.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Water Cycle poster

I was watching a Royksopp video the other day and there was a brief scene showing where the water goes after the main character flushes the toilet. This reminded me of all those posters my elementary school teachers would cover their classroom walls with when I was a little kid. You know, the ones with the cartoon pictures showing the seasons or pictures of whales swimming next to scuba divers or cutaways of the Earth's mantle (oooh, that would be a great poster to do next!). Inspired, I whipped together a quick poster on Saturday explaining the Earth's water cycle. All the posters I've made so far were anatomy or biology based, so I thought it'd be fun to do a diagram on meteorology or geology. The water cycle seemed like a good compromise between the two. The full-size poster is here.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Hamster Wheel Upgrade

After many a night of waking up to the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) noise of "squeeeeeeek" from the wheel in Victoria's cage, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Vic uses the same type of wheel as Lizzie did (the Wodent Wheel, which is supposed to be one of the more quiet wheels out there and super safe for little hammy feet), but she runs faster for longer periods of time and I guess the cheap bearings on the wheel just couldn't take it. Temporary relief could be had by liberally applying vegetable oil to the axle, but that would often only last a few days at best. So finally, after a couple weeks of seeking relief at my boyfriend's place (much to the detriment of the hammy, who as a result wasn't let out as much to play), it was time to make some fixes.

The main causes for the squeaking were probably the following: 1) metal rubbing on metal and 2) loose tolerances in overall wheel design. So what is a MechE to do? I decided to replace the crappy bronze bearings with new PTFE (better known by its brand name, Teflon) ones. I figured going with a plastic would help reduce the squeaking and PTFE is super low in friction, which should hopefully reduce the amount of oil I'll need to put on and compensate for the increase surface contact with the shaft. These were flanged to replace the old plastic washers and much longer in length to get better coverage on the wheel shaft to compensate for the bad tolerancing. A hand drill, a hammer and a screwdriver later and it was good to go! Victoria seems to like her modified wheel and was running happily in it last night. I didn't even wake up once! Yay! :-D

Posted via email from Stephanie's posterous

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Graphic on aquatic animals

Over the past few weeks I've been slowly trying to build up the inventory of my newest Zazzle gallery, Infographic. My latest design features various animals that live in the open oceans. My original plan was to show animals at various depths, since I'm fascinated with deep sea creatures, but I quickly discovered that deep sea creatures are not only fairly undocumented but also tend to be on the small side. If I were to put them to scale next to many of the creatures I was planning on putting in the shadows, you'd hardly be able to see them. For example, marlin can be several meters long, but your average deep-sea angler fish is only a few centimeters long. So after some debate, I finally decided to switch the theme to large beasts of the open ocean. Perhaps in the future I'll make a poster specifically for creatures of the deep sea and include cool bottom-dwelling creatures like giant isopods.

Most of the facts I got off of FishBase. You can check out the poster and other products here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010



Every now and then I foray into sewing projects, especially after some friends got me a new sewing machine for my birthday. My most recent creation is a plush moogle I made out of polar fleece that I gave to Chris. Moogles are fictional creatures from the Final Fantasy game series. They've changed and evolved so much (they started out like this and slowly evolved to this, this and finally this) over the different game series that I finally decided to just come up with my own design, but keep the classic moogle characteristics (wings, rounded body and a poof coming out of the top of its head). Unfortunately I couldn't come up with a way to do the poof right in a way that I liked, so Chris amusingly stuck a red sewing pin in the top of its head and its been there ever since. Personally, my favorite thing about the moogle is its purple wings. Flap flap flap!