Tag Archives: University of California

21 Years at the Lair of the Bear – Camp Blue


Last night, we celebrated Paul’s 22nd birthday at the University of California’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. We have been Lair campers since before Paul could walk! We started in 12th Week and have slowly moved to earlier weeks as school start dates crept back into August. This is our second year as 9th Week campers. My niece and nephew start classes on Monday. Paul starts at San Jose State University in a few weeks.

My brother Pete, sister-in-law Julie and kids, with friends Steve and Olivia and their son are also with us. This week, other members of the family have been going on hikes, running, and swimming in Pinecrest Lake. We also went rafting on the Stanislaus River out of Knights Ferry. Our immediate family has mostly been playing board games and enjoying Advanced Lounging with Electronics. Jessica and Matthew celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary with pinatas full of candy and little plastic dinosaurs.

Jessica and I have been in email communication from Camp Blue Lodge with Susan Rodger (Professor, Computer Science at Duke University), collaborating on the design and content of our Notable Women in Computer Science and Wikipedia poster for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to be held in October 2014. GHC14 is almost sold out – as it has been every year since at least 2009.

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Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick, or, the card game


This week my family has been playing “Moby Dick, or, the card game” almost daily at the University of California at Berkeley’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. This game was a Kickstarter project by King Post that I invested in last year. I gave it to my son-in-law Matthew, who loves games of all kinds. “Moby Dick” is great fun – we plan to buy more copies! The card graphics are interesting and well-executed. The game play is fast and dependent on both luck and strategy. An added benefit is that the classic 1851 whaling story Moby Dick by Herman Melville is one of my favorite novels.

Matthew, Jessica, Paul and I made some rule changes to improve play:

  • You cannot progress past the first chapter until a whale has been fought (this allows players to get some oil – so that more sailors can be hired).
  • Any time there is an uneven number to be distributed, we roll a die to see which player got more.
  • We designated any sailor without a specific name as a forecastle sailor.

Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Women of Vision, King Abdullah of Jordan, TechWomen


Last week, I sat with the Anita Borg Institute Advisory Board at a gala celebrating Women of Vision, and in particular, the well-deserved award for Leadership honoring Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College here in California. I am dating myself to write that I remember when Mudd was an all-male institution. Maria and her team have grown Mudd from 10% women in Computer Science to 40% – and have kept that 40% stable for years. This unique accomplishment deserves some celebration! Maria is amazing – she is also #17 on Fortune’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders.

The other inspiring winners were Tal Rabin (Research Staff Member and Manager cryptographic research, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center) for Innovation; and Kathrin Winkler (Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC Corporation) for Social Impact. Bank of America won as the 2014 Top Company for Women in Computing.  Also attending the event were many of my sister mentors who have served in the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program for scientific and technical women in the Middle East and Africa, including: Jameeka Aaron (of Lockheed Martin), Larissa Shapiro (of Mozilla), Andrea Leszek (of Salesforce), and Rahima Mohammed (of Intel).

Yesterday, my husband John and I drove to Berkeley to see His Majesty, King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein of Jordan speak at International House on the University of California campus. I was pleased to see the slide saying that 30% of Jordan’s tech industry workers are women – better than the 26% in America as of 2013.

I have never seen the King in person before, although last year I was honored to meet his cousin, Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan. Also, when my daughter Jessica and I were on the bus to Petra in Jordan, we watched “The Royal Tour“, a video featuring King Abdullah riding his motorcycle to show off his country. Yesterday’s talk is yet-another event that entered my life because of TechWomen. Mentor Lucie Newcomb (of NewComm Global Group) posted information about the event – including how to get tickets.

TechWomen 2014 mentor sign ups open soon! Please consider expanding your mind, experience, and heart to join us!





Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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P-Phenylenediamine – Allergy to Hair Dye


I have regrettably developed a severe allergy to P-Phenylenediamine and possibly other dye substances. Over the last month, this has taken the form of violent Contact Dermatitis (think about what happens when you touch Poison Oak): inflammation, rash, blisters, itching – all the nasty ways your skin tells you that it is very  unhappy about something you touched. I just finished taking Prednisone for several weeks – Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid drug that is particularly effective as an immunosuppressant – and am getting ready for a full allergy test at University of California at San Francisco – Dermatology Clinic.

I am writing this blog not so much to share my woe as to spread the word in case my readers may also experience this allergy. It certainly took me by surprise!

Paraphenylenediamine turns out to be a very common substance, found in:

  • hair dye, coloring rinse, comb-in hair tint, shampoo-in highlight, lowlights
  • skin paint, dark makeup, dark lipstick
  • henna tattoo
  • dye for socks, support hose, shoe dye
  • textile, rubber, and fur dyes
  • violin chin-rest stain
  • antioxidant in antifreeze, fuels, corrosion inhibitor in oils, gasoline sweetener
  • plastic manufacture, rubber antioxidant
  • printing ink, antiozonant
  • milk testing reagent, water testing reagent
  • retarder in acrylate production
  • lithography, photocopying
  • photo or x-ray film developing

A generalized reaction to PPD can also occur from taking closely related saccharin sweeteners, thiazide diuretics, sulfanamide antibiotics, sufonylurea antidiabetic agents, PAS, or celecoxib.

Some persons allergic to PPD will also react to black rubber mix, parabens, benzocaine group anesthetics, PABA family sunscreens, and azo dyes, especially orange and yellow, often in ballpoint pens.

This information is from the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS).

More information:

Image Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson – detail showing vanity – from a stained glass window at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, California by Mark Adams

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Discover Cal with Chancellor Dirks


I just attended Discover Cal, part of a traveling lecture series for family and friends of the University of California at Berkeley. Moderated by Guy Kawasaki, author/entrepreneur and Cal parent, tonight’s star was new Cal Chancellor Nicholas Dirks

…in a casual but stimulating conversation on Berkeley’s renewed commitment to its public mission through new initiatives that are built around his three interconnected priorities: How can we redefine the undergraduate experience so that students feel more connected to their studies, professors, and each other? How can Berkeley respond to an increasingly globalized world? How can our research innovations be brought to bear on the pressing needs and interests of society?

In addition to enjoying the official presentation about my alma mater, at the reception I was delighted to meet Margret Schmidt who is Vice President, Design & Engineering, Chief Design Officer at TiVo, and winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television. Margret is not only listed as one of the Notable Women in Computing but also was an Engineering-110 student at Cal! Engineering 110 “Venture Design, the Start Up Company” was offered through the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley for nearly 20 years. E-110 was conceived and lead by my father, the late Wade Dickinson, and his brother, my Uncle Wayne. I helped teach this class for twelve years. The course was designed to help creators of new technology to better understand the challenges of commercializing their ideas.  It was very exciting to talk with an E-110 student – especially one who has made such a remarkable success of herself!


Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Getting Ready for Rwanda


Last week, my son Paul asked why I was looking so sad. I explained that I was reading a series of books about Rwanda, and in particular about the genocide of 1994. I will be traveling with the TechWomen (US State Department mentoring program) delegation to Rwanda next month and am learning about the history of that area of Africa.

As disturbing as my reading is, I know the importance of advance preparation when traveling. In 1979, after I graduated from U.C. Berkeley, I backpacked for six months through Europe, ending up with a long stay at the Kibbutz called Ashdot Ya’akov near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. After the Teheran hostage crisis developed in November 1979, I headed home, ending up in an almost-empty youth hostel one night on Mount Carmel. One of the other hostel guests was a young woman from Germany who had come to Israel for a vacation during her college break. At the time, German schools did not teach about the Holocaust. When I met her, this girl was deeply shocked after someone told her about the history of her homeland and the place she had come. She spent the night sobbing with grief, saying over and over “I did not know. I did not know.”

So far, I have read:

Of course, I am also working on all of the other preparations needed for a big trip, particularly since I will take a few days after the delegation period to trek with Ecotours to visit the mountain gorillas. I visited the PAMF Travel Medicine department and have new Yellow Fever, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), and Typhoid immunizations. I tried out my old hiking boots and got a flat (see photo below). So, I am now getting used to a new pair of Lowa – Renegade boots. Ged Caddick of Ecotours has warned us to expect mud, so I also bought new rain gear at REI.  I have binoculars but I am still thinking how to pack without zip lock bags…


Images Copyright 2013-2014 by Katy Dickinson


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How to Tie Dye – at the Lair of the Bear Family Camp


One of our annual Camp Blue Art Grove activities at the Lair of the Golden Bear – University of California at Berkeley family camp – is tie dye. This craft is particularly associated with the 1960s hippie youth movement, and with U.C. Berkeley. After vacations at the Lair for 21 years, I have developed a reliable system for producing vibrant tie dye results in a camp setting. Tie dye is messy, so you may want to wear old clothes and wear gloves. Or, you can enjoy the mess – like my husband who paints “Lair socks” on his bare feet.  This is a good craft for all ages – with little kids getting as good results as adults.

Camp Blue provides:

  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic bags
  • Soda ash in a tub
  • Dye in tubs – with squirt bottles
  • Instructions

You need to bring:

  • Cotton shirts, pillowcases, socks, underwear or anything else you want dyed from home.  100% cotton works best. Wash and dry in advance.  This year, I brought a white Coldwater Creek dress blouse that had a unremovable stain – it came out a nice plum color with white bands on the sleeves. Walgreen’s sells good-quality plain and patterned t-shirts ($12 for three). I brought shirts that said California, San Jose, and Willow Glen and worked the words into my pattern. Note that the white stitching may not absorb dye, so design around that.  You can buy white t-shirts at the Camp Store but be sure to wash them before starting your project.
  • Clothes line and clothes pins
  • Plastic clothes hangers
  • Laundry soap

My tie dye process:

  1. Follow posted camp instructions to create patterns using rubber bands on the dry cloth.  The fabric squeezed by the rubber bands will absorb the least dye.  There are many tie dye projects and patterns available on the web if you want to plan in advance.  Starting with a simple bull’s eye pattern is easiest. Place the pattern center mid-chest (not mid-tummy) for better results.
  2. Soak the rubber banded cloth in the soda ash tub to help it absorb the dye.
  3. Dip, soak, spray, or otherwise color the cloth with one or more dyes. Go from light to dark (yellow then blue, not the other way) and plan for dye colors to interact.  Use the dyes on the first day they are available – dye that has been sitting out does not work as well.
  4. Put the dyed cloth in a plastic bag (one item per bag). Tie the bag at the top and poke a small hole in the bottom. Hang the bag on a clothes line out of the sun – so that the excess dye can drip out the hole. Leave the bag closed for 24 hours. Do not walk under where the dye is dripping – it is still potent!
  5. After a day, use scissors to cut the top off each bag and snip each rubber band to remove it. Touch the cloth as little as possible. Immediately hang each item on the clothes line before going on to the next.  (Pick up all of the plastic bits and throw them away!)  You can use clothes pins or hangers – hangers are better.  Keep the items separated so that they do not drip or brush together.  Do not wring or rinse at this time. Leave hanging for 24 hours.  If it rains, bring everything inside and be resigned to having pale colors.
  6. Once the items are dry, wash in cold water. At Lair Camp Blue, you can run a washer load of dark laundry (jeans and items that will not show any dye) with the tie dye. If you use a camp washer, be sure to run it again (on empty or with another load of darks) so that no dye remains to surprise the next user. Alternatively, you can rinse by hand in the laundry sink but this is tedious and does not work as well.  Dry everything on a warm setting.

I have dyed shirts with this process that have not faded after five years.



Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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