Tag Archives: Jessica

Introduction to Physical Computing

Wissa Wassef, weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt
Wissa Wassef weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt

TechWomen has started its first Virtual Delegation and I am one of the delegates from the Silicon Valley to Cameroon. On 14 June, I gave the online keynote speech on “Building a Global Network.” On 17 June, Maryann Hrichak and I (TechWomen Mentors) are leading a session on “Introduction to Physical Computing” with 100 students in Douala and Yaoundé, working with TechWomen Lead Fellows Janet Bih Shufor and Gisele Beatrice Sonfack.

Maryann and I will introduce the online discussion through the history of computing and weaving, specifically Jacquard looms, considered a precursor to modern computing technology. The idea for this approach came from my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman who was one of the Mentors on the 2018 TechWomen Delegation to Nigeria during which she gave a workshop on “Teaching Binary and Encryption Through Weaving.” Our Physical Computing session this week will be relatively short but we plan to cover the relationship of physical objects (like looms and yarn) to computing devices. We will show parts of the hands-on video “Personal Jacquard Weaving” and will end with a more futuristic view in the video “Knightscope – Present and Future” from Knightscope, the robotics company where my long-term TechWomen Co-Mentor, Mercedes Soria is Executive Vice President of Software Engineering, and Chief Intelligence Officer.

Some key dates from my introduction: 1804 Jacquard loom, 1837 Babbage Analytical Engine (programming by Ada Lovelace), 1884 Hollerith punched card tabulating machine (used in 1890 U.S. Census). Punch cards and paper tape continued in use until the 1990s.

Gisele and Janet will lead the students through an exercise using the MIT Media Lab’s Scratch program. Gisele wrote this about the exercise: “To control a system, or automate its operation, we use the variables which can be random or fixed depending on the type of sensors, we apply the conditions. Loops are uses to do the same thing infinitely. These concepts are the basics of physical computing.” This is their handout.

Here is our 17 June 2021 session plan:

  • 10 minutes – Introduction to Physical Computing (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Arduino weaving video segment
  • 25 minutesScratch activity in two Zoom breakout rooms with about 50 students each, one in Douala (lead by Gisele), and the other in Yaoundé (lead by Janet), with ten TechWomen mentors helping
  • 5 minutes – Reflection (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Knightscope robots video

TechWomen is a mentoring program of the US State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Zoom 2021-06-15
TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Session Planning Meeting 2021-06-15
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17 Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17

Thanks to Jeannice Farrer Samani, Janet Bih Shufor, and others for their recommendations on materials below. During our TechWomen-Cameroon Physical Computing session, I knew many of the girls might have network connection problems or would not  fully understand the Zoom-based presentations because we spoke in English and many of them are French speakers. I want the “References and Resources” to present inspiring materials they could read later. I selected physical computing examples focused on weaving and robotics and included women and girl role models not only from Cameroon and Africa but also from the U.S. I hope that the girls will find these materials helpful!

References and Resources:

Additional Information from TechWomen Mentor Suzette Shipp:

1640 Weaving Room, Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia USA (postcard).

Updated 22 June 2021

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Master of Arts Graduation!

GTU Commencement poster 2021-05-24
GTU Commencement poster May 2021

On 19 May 2021, I was graduated (virtually) with a Master of Arts degree from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California), followed by a second graduation on 23 May 2021 from Pacific School of Religion (part of the GTU consortium) with my Master’s hood and a Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change. My thesis title was “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”. This will (eventually) appear in the ProQuest dissertation and thesis database. Thanks for the loving and patient support of my family, friends, and community. Hooray!

26 May 2021 Update: I am honored to have been accepted into the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program of the Berkeley School of Theology! I am very interested in BST’s new cohort theme of “Racism/Prison Renewal/Reparations.”

Katy Dickinson graduation by John Plocher, 23 May 2021
Katy Dickinson graduation by John Plocher, 23 May 2021

6 June 2021 Update:

Katy Dickinson GTU - MA Diploma and hood, May 2021
Katy Dickinson GTU – MA Diploma and hood, May 2021

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home). Images Copyright 2021 by Katy Dickinson, John Plocher, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and Paul D. Goodman.

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Helping the Holy Land

TechWomen at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City, Feb 2016
TechWomen at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City, Feb 2016

During this violent time in the Holy Land, our family just made a large donation to Episcopal Relief & Development which supports the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City (which I visited with TechWomen mentors and mentees in 2016), and the Middle East. We have asked for a corporate match for our family donation. Please consider donating – and keep the Holy Land in your prayers. We also donated to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (as requested by Ryan Sturgill, Director of Gaza Sky Geeks).

I put this information on my own Facebook account but when I tried to re-post a version of it, Facebook blocked me. Apparently Facebook objects to posts about praying for Gaza and making charitable donations to the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. Please continue to pray and donate anyway.

Our 2016 visit was an unofficial TechWomen delegation by five senior mentors who wanted to visit their much-loved Gazan mentees. TechWomen is a program of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – Exchange Programs, managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE). I am re-posting some of my pictures here from our trip to Gaza City so that you can see what it looked like before the current violence. You can read some of my 2016 posts with more photos, Traveling in Palestine, Three Border Walls, Where We Stayed in Palestine, and Understanding Gaza.

Facebook post rejection 20 May 2021
Facebook post rejection 20 May 2021

25 May 2021 Update:
In addition to donating to Episcopal Relief & Development which supports Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza (including the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City), here is the list of reputable first responder organizations recommended by Ryan Sturgill, Director of Gaza Sky Geeks:

Palestine Red Crescent Society, https://www.palestinercs.org/

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, https://www.pcrf.net/

Medical Aid for Palestinians, https://www.map.org.uk/

Doctors Without Borders, https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

UN Population Fund in Palestine, https://palestine.unfpa.org/

Thank you for your prayers and generous donations.

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home). Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and Jessica Dickinson Goodman.

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Good Year for Cactus

Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and terrible air quality, my cactus garden has been happy this year. Several species which usually only flower once a year have bloomed again. The local honeybees are delighted to roll around in the pollen of huge flowers. There was enough prickly pear cactus fruit that my daughter Jessica made syrup from it, and John made pancakes to celebrate!

More on the WP668 railroad caboose.
Updated 21 Oct 2020.

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right on Katysblog home). Image Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson and Jessica Dickinson Goodman.

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20th Wedding Anniversary on 4 July


John and I are looking forward to our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend. Thinking back on some of our adventures and looking forward to many more. It is fun to be married to your best friend!

2020 virtual family dinner
2020 Mother’s Day
2018 family vacation
2018 Paul SJSU graduation
2018 St Andrew’s
2017 Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 20172017 Reno
2016 Ashland
2016 Ashland
2016 Jessica Matthew John Paul Dunsmuir CA2016 Dunsmuir
2016 John Katy Klamath River CA2016 Klamath River
2015 Amtrak trip
2015 St Andrew’s
2014 John and Katy Lalibela, Ethiopia2014 Lalibela Ethiopia
2012 St Andrew’s
2012 Katy John Natural Bridges CA2012 Natural Bridges
2012 Jessica CMU graduation
2011 Jessica + Matthew
2011 Jessica Matthew wedding2011 Jessica + Matthew
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family camp2010 Lair of the Golden Bear camp
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family campLair of the Golden Bear camp 2010
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Aswan Egypt Katy John2010 Egypt
2010 Paul John Cairo Egypt2010 Cairo, Egypt
2008 John flying to Baja Mexico2008 Flying to Baja Mexico
2008 Katy flying to Baja Mexico2008 Baja
2007 Katy India2007 India
2007 John India2007 India
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 Caboose move
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 move
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John St Petersburg Russia2006 St. Peterburg, Russia
2006 John Katy St Petersburg Russia2006 Russia
2005 Katy John Beijing China2005 Beijing, China
2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China 2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China2005 China
2000 Katy John wedding mementoes 2000 Katy John wedding ketubah2000
2000 wedding
Paul Katy John Jessica wedding 4 July 20002000 wedding

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Images Copyright 2000-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Making a New Vegetable Garden

Katy Dickinson San Jose backyard April 2020

Inspired by my daughter Jessica’s gardening efforts, I am branching out. I have always been a serious gardener but mostly focused on flowering plants and cactus. Jessica’s enthusiasm for gardening edible and native California plants is infectious. We have lived in the San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen for over twenty years – on the bank of the Guadalupe River. Chuck and Kathleen Purdy who owned our house before were great gardeners. They passed on to us many fruit and nut trees, including a small orchard.  Some of the fruit trees have died over the years, leaving space for my son Paul to store his curing logs for woodworking, and for me to create a market garden next to the prickly pear and yucca hedge.  Paul and John used some old steel beams we had for the six foot by eight foot raised border. Jessica brought over some of her seedlings and 12 bags of garden soil with fertilizer which I have dug in to create a good planting bed. Paul also took the wheels and handles off of two old wheelbarrows for small beds. (Other than the new soil, plants, and mulch, this new planting area was created with materials I already had.)

So far, I have planted:

  • Three Sisters (a gift from Jessica): corn, beans, and squash (with a sunflower) – 6 sets
  • Cherry tomatoes (“Husky Cherry Red” and “Cherry-Red”) – 3 plants
  • Marigolds for edging

I am getting ready to plant carrots, potatoes, snow peas and snap peas as well. I bought seeds from Plants of the Southwest – and added a 3-sided trellis to support the pea and bean vines. A Meyer Lemon I planted many years ago is thriving next to the apricot, apple, and white peach trees. I added a brick border for the lemon trunk and tossed in all of the stones I dug out of the planting bed for decoration. Three garden cats (only one of whom is actually ours) – Princess, Ketchup, and Charlie – help us manage the property. I am concerned that the raccoon marauders will dig everything up – I may have to add a wire cover to the planting bed like that of our neighbors.

Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
lemon tree - Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard April 2020
Princess cat April 2020
Ketchup cat April 2020
Charlie cat April 2020

22 April 2020 – everything planted!
Katy DIckinson San Jose backyard 22 April 2020

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Updated 26 April 2020

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Redesigned WP668 Web Site

2007 WP668 over trees by Danek Duvall

I just redesigned the WP668 caboose website. I am still reviewing and posting old photos but the basic structure is done. It is restful during the coronavirus lockdown to make progress on a project I have been wanting to work on forever. After reviewing hundreds in our online family archive, I keep discovering wonderful photos I had forgotten.  I have finished 2006 and am about half done with 2007 now. More about WP668 :

WP668 is a historic Western Pacific Railroad caboose being restored by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher, a private family in San Jose, California, USA. More information and pictures are added as WP668’s story evolves.

For a summary of the WP668 story, see Katy’s May 2017 Western Pacific Historical Convention slides: “The Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668”. WP668 is the office for Mentoring Standard. Please join the WP668 Western Pacific Caboose Facebook group. WP668 was originally built as a boxcar in 1916. In 2018, the Mayor said that WP668 was the coolest office in San Jose!

As always: Please tell me if you have pre-1960 photos of our WP668 caboose. Thanks to all who have already contributed historic caboose images – especially Don Marenzi.

Thanks to John Plocher and Jessica Dickinson Goodman for technical web support!

2006: SN1642 and WP668 cabooses, at the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco
2006 WP668 moving from GGRM in San Francisco2006: WP668 caboose on truck
2006: WP668 on Highway 101
2006 WP668 on 4 May in San Jose2006: WP668 in storage in San Jose
2007: WP668 in the air over the trees
2007 John Paul Katy Jessica in WP668 caboose2007: family on WP668 in their San Jose backyard
2007 WIllow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007: WP668 on the front page!
WP668 in 2020

Images Copyright 2006-2020 by Katy Dickinson, John Plocher, and Danek Duvall

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