Radiation Level: Free and clear
Listening to: Royals by Lorde remixed
Yes, today’s the day we celebrate all those fab women of tech!
I usually write about Ada herself, but since I’m in the middle of writing the novel about her, I’m going to include an excerpt so you can get a sneak-peek!
From AdaL by Shanee Edwards:
After breakfast, Ada and Puff climbed out an attic window, reaching my rooftop. Ada thought today would be a fine day for human flight as a flock of pigeons soared through the overcast sky then landed on my uneven stone chimney. Ada brought with her several papers and other materials she would need for her latest science experiment.
Ada laid on her stomach and wrote in her notebook entitled Flyology. Ada paid no mind as Puff chased the birds dangerously close to the edge of the roof. Still in her soft cotton nightgown, Ada’s long, wild caramel-colored hair tangled in the breeze. Her mop of spidery tresses belied the brilliantly organized brain beneath them.
Next to a drawing of a pigeon, she wrote length 11 inches, wingspan 18 inches. Next to a drawing of herself as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (wearing clothing, of course), her arms and legs outstretched inside a square inside a circle, she wrote length 61 inches, wingspan equals X and completed an algebraic equation. With a ruler, Ada measured a pair of large paper wings attached to a harness then trimmed them accordingly. Ada strapped the winged harness onto her back and tied it tightly around her chest.
“The world will refer to me as the first flying lady. Don’t worry, I’ll say I knew you when,” she said to her kitty-cat.
Puff trotted in the opposite direction, scattering the birds. My fox-shaped weathervane pointed eastward. “All I require is a little wind,” said Ada.
In my poppy garden sat Ada’s mother, Annabella and Dr. Cole, who also resided here, at Fordhook. Annabella was in her early forties and had a fragile beauty to her, much like an aged porcelain doll. Her features were small and delicate, her teeth nearly perfectly straight.
Dr. Cole was a rather tall man in his fifties, with a receding reddish-brown hairline and wore a beard year-round. He had been employed by Annabella for nearly seven years, attending to her many nervous ailments (we’ll explore more of those later).
On this morning, Dr. Cole glanced up from his Holy Bible to see the scattering birds. As one of the pigeons landed on a plate of biscuits, Annabella forcefully shooed it away. “Bloody scavengers,” she said with a huff just as a ray of sunlight cracked through a cloud overhead. Her grey-blue eyes glistened like shards of glass, broken and sharp.
“Gospel says birds will fly you to the Kingdom in the sky,” said Dr. Cole.
Annabella quipped, “I’d prefer to walk.”
On the roof, Ada felt the breeze on her face. Determined, she took a running leap into the sky. With her winged harness she soared. Briefly. It was exactly 2.4 seconds before she crashed into my hedge next to where Annabella and Dr. Cole were seated. Her paper wings busted with a loud crunch. “Ow!” she screamed.
“What in heaven’s name?” said Annabella. “Ada?” she called as she raced over to the hedge. Dr. Cole followed right behind.
Ada, with knotted hair and pink face, clutched her ankle. “It hurts!” she blurted. Dr. Cole picked up the girl and rushed her into the house.
As Dr. Cole carried her up the staircase, Annabella barked at Miss Stamp, “She fell off the roof!”
Miss Stamp jumped to attention and began to follow them up the stairs. She said, “But why was the girl on the roof in the first place?”
Ada called, as if it was perfectly normal, “Testing my flying machine.”
Miss Stamp replied, “Needs work I take it.” For which Annabella shot her an irate look.
Dr. Cole poured Ada onto her bed which was in my Scapegrace room, nicknamed for all of the original owner Lord Bloodwood’s ornery nieces and nephews who would visit every summer. Currently, the room appeared to be a mad scientist’s laboratory dedicated to the science of Flyology. Broken wood and paper wings in a multitude of shapes and sizes littered the floor. The walls were filled with sketches of birds in flight, insects buzzing and even a sketch of a steam train with wings. Ada prized her pigeon skeletons that sat on a shelf between her beetle collection and jar of mostly live moths. She herself boiled every dead pigeon she could find until just the bones remained.
Miss Stamp pulled the broken wings off Ada’s arms while Ada rambled to herself, “My wings were directly proportional to the pigeon’s. I had wind, speed. What was I missing?”
Dr. Cole removed Ada’s left boot, causing Ada to scream in pain. He examined her ankle. Annabella sunk her head into her hand as she sat on the edge of the bed. “She’s going to be hard enough to marry off without being a cripple,” she said.
Ada looked over at her and said, “I almost made it!” with indignation.
Dr. Cole interjected, “Everyone calm your nerves. Appears to be just a sprain.” Annabella sighed with relief. “She’ll need to stay in bed for a least a week, he said.
“But tomorrow I’m fixing a pair of wings on a steam engine,” Ada said vehemently. Annabella picked up a hand mirror from Ada’s dresser and held it in front of Ada’s face.
“Look there. What do you see?” Annabella asked.
“See?” asked Ada, not grasping her meaning.
“In the mirror, child.”
“Me,” answered Ada.
“Any thing else? Feathers? A beak?
“Of course not,” quipped Annabella. “Because you are a girl. Girls do not fly.”
With that, Annabella thumped Ada on the head with the silver-backed mirror.
Ada scrambled to make her point, “But Flyology will change the word!” she said.
Annabella collected various books and handed them to Miss Stamp to dispose of when Annabella, using a handkerchief, reached for a dead crow on Ada’s shelf. Ada shouted, “Don’t touch that!” and jumped up to stop her mother from taking the crow, but her ankle gave in and she fell short. Underneath the crow was a book. Annabella stared at the book for a moment as a slow fury built on her face. The book was Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron. Knowing the book for forbidden, Ada looked at Miss Stamp for help, but she scuttled out of the room.
Dr. Cole also felt the need to escape and offered, “I’ll get a cold compress.” No soul with a sound mind wanted to witness the tongue-lashing that was sure to follow.
Annabella closed her eyes and shook her head. “Now I understand everything.” Ada took a moment to gather her courage. This was the showdown she’d been waiting for.
Calmly, Ada asked, “Is it so wrong for me to read my own father’s poetry?”
The question hanged in the air for what seemed like minutes (unlike Ada’s flying machine). For seventeen years, Annabella anticipated this question, secretly hoping it wouldn’t be asked. But now was the time to reveal just a morsel of Ada’s dark history.
“Lord Byron is so dangerous a poison, I do not wish his name to even touch your lips,” she said with a solemn certainty Ada had not witnessed from her mother before.
Ada replied, “But Miss Stamp says he’s the most brilliant and handsome man in all of England.”
Annabella’s fragile facial features grew severe, “He is a monster. There’s a reason God marked him with a clubfoot. His mangled toes are evidence of his vile soul. He…” But she could not finish her sentence and simply left the room, taking the book Child Harold’s Pilgrimage with her.
Ada called to her mother, “Please, I need that book!”
But Annabella was gone and Ada couldn’t walk on her damaged ankle, making her consider her father’s clubfoot. What exactly was a clubfoot? Could it be walked upon without the assistance of a cane? Could it be repaired by a surgeon? Or should it be amputated altogether? A clubfoot must look like a club, but how much so? Does it have all five toes? Are the toes monstrous? Or, is a club foot a regular foot that appears to be beaten with a club? If only she knew. Cursed or not, Lord Byron was her flesh and blood – her father. Ada couldn’t help but feel as if she were also cursed.
To read more, leave a comment below!
Radiation Level: Binary and Laudanum
Listening to: Carolyn’s Fingers by Cocteau Twins
Ada, you are my BFF! I’d give anything to share a bottle of claret with you today and celebrate – maybe go to the horse races or just talk about the amazing future. If only you could see me typing away on my laptop, blogging about YOU!
See, Ada knew she would be famous after her death. So being the subject of the Google doodle proves her prophecy correct – such a smart girl!
If you don’t know Ada, you can do a quickie-Wiki here. What I can tell you is that she lived and breathed the future of computing. The daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron, she worked with Charles Babbage to help others understand the genius of his Analytical Engine.
The Countess of Lovelace is controversial. There are haters who think she’s overrated. Of course these haters are men.
To me, Ada is an unbridled spirit, incapable of accepting the status quo for women in the 19th century. She had big ideas and wanted more than anything to touch the glorious promise of the years to come.
To me, Ada is a friend. A companion I’ve spent thousands of hours with, writing my bio-pic screenplay about her and now, a young adult novel. Ada Lovelace is my muse.
To me, Ada is a heroine. She spoke up to the Royal Science Society and to anyone who would listen about Babbage’s engines.
Ada, shine bright today and lead the way for women all over the planet who want to excel in the sciences. Our planet needs them.
Radiation Level: 332 Electoral Votes
Listening To: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours by Stevie Wonder
Thursday I went to teach my science classes. I walked in at 3pm on the button, having barely made it past the construction on Overland, and greeted my 12 boys and one girl, Darci.
All the boys sat in the first few rows, smiling, throwing things, wrestling. Darci always sits alone, in the back. All the other girls are taking a class on fashion design, and I can’t say I blame them. I would have done the same at their age. But not Darci.
Darci is a thoughtful, often serious girl but grins widely when she answers questions correctly. Today, though, alone in the back of the room, she was crying.
When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “No matter what, they always make fun of me,” pointing to the group of wily boys.
The boys got quiet, guilty looks on their faces. I don’t tolerate bullying, and when it’s a group of boys ganging up on a girl, it really makes me angry. But I also don’t want to coddle my female students. It IS hard for women and they DO need to be tougher, especially if they want to succeed in a male-dominated environment such as science.
I said, “Darci, come here,” and I took her just outside the classroom. I brushed one of her blonde curls behind her ear as tears ran down her face. I said, “Boys like to tease each other. It’s just what they do.” She looked up at me, knowing this was true, wishing it wasn’t.
I crouched down to her eye level and said, “You deserve to be in this class, just as much as they do. You are just as smart, just as capable as they are, so don’t ever let them make you feel that you’re not.” The second-grader nodded, wiping her tears away. “If they ever say anything mean to you, you just tell them “forget you!”
I felt her pain. All the challenges she’ll face as a girl, because she’s a girl, flashed before my eyes. I didn’t have the heart to tell her how hard it’s really going to be. But something in me told me Darci was going to do okay.
We walked back into the classroom and I looked at my students and said, “When we’re in this room, we are scientists. Scientists MUST work together as a team. Do you think we could have ever made it to the moon or put a rover on Mars without working together?”
The boys understood this. Will it keep them from taunting Darci? Probably not. But the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves — for science — did appeal to them. I don’t want my boys to simply tolerate girls. Girls are necessary, important, particularly in science.
I said, “On the count of three, we’ll all yell teamwork: one, two, three!
And we all yelled teamwork. Darci smiled. Balance created/restored. Learning is good.
Radiation Level: Buzzing in the treetops
Listening To: Love Interruption by Jack White
It’s been one long, mother of a week. That said, I wouldn’t have changed one piece of it. Here’s a detailed account of what FalloutGirl was up to…
Monday: Pick actor up in Venice at 7am. Drive to West Hollywood for shooting my short film Wink. My foray into directing. Yes, it’s taken me this long. Of course I made films this year with kids, but this was different. This was my script, with real (AMAZINGLY TALENTED) actors. I was in charge. I was oh so nervous. I made my iPhone home-screen a photo of Aubrey O’Day, a girl who wins the award for most confidence ever and channeled her whenever I was feeling insecure. It worked. Though there are a few things I wish I had done differently, the performances were truly wonderful and I can’t wait to edit it together. THANKS TO ALL WHO CONTRIBUTED!
Tuesday: Back in West Hollywood at 7:45 am. This time I’m dressed as Ada Lovelace to perform a monologue and teach elementary school kids about binary code and computer programming.
A quick lunch at PF Chang’s (yum) and I’m off to the Valley for two science classes on blood. I delighted in giving all my students fake wounds with corn syrup and red food coloring.
Then a screening of Hit and Run which I can’t really comment about yet.
Wednesday: Worked on movie reviews then went to two screenings. The first was a top secret screening of Katy Perry’s new doc. The audience was filled with little girls and then – Katy showed up! She was delightful and the film was super interesting.
The next screening was Rock of Ages which I thought was going to be too campy for me, but I loved it. Really entertaining!
Thursday: Search for black dress and pink accessories to wear to Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger’s birthday party at Koi. Do hair and make-up, then teach FIVE science classes. The kids were so darn sweet, telling me I looked beautiful. Hate to admit it, but I will miss them.
After changing into stockings and a dress in an elementary school bathroom (don’t try this at home), I drove to Koi on La Cienega where I live blogged about the Patti’s party until midnight. Did I mention I was exhausted?
Friday: Went to see a 10:25 AM screening of That’s My Boy. Wrote a quick review then went to teach my last two science classes for the school year. After that, I went to a little gathering of some of the teachers I work with. Good food. Good wine. Good night.
Saturday: 10AM screening of Brave. Then a delicious nap.
Sunday: Pick up a director friend of mine at the U-Haul place and deliver her to her car. Now, coffee, cereal and blogging.
Radiation Level: Mega Moon
Listening To: Missing Pieces by Jack White
Okay, so I have some new projects in the works, yo! Let’s see what fate has in store for FalloutGirl.
New Project #1!
I’m directing a short film. Yes. Not with kids. A real short narrative film that doesn’t involve fake blood, bar mitzvahs or a history lesson. The film is called Wink and is based on my play Ring Around the Collar which was produced in Arizona last year. Wink is about the perils of internet dating and hopefully will make every guy on Match.com think twice before “winking” at a girl he doesn’t truly fancy.
The exciting thing about this project is so far, everyone I’ve
begged asked for help has said YES. I’m used to NO, as in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women saying NO. NO is my default and easier than YES because it means I’m stuck and can’t move forward and it’s everyone else’s fault. But this isn’t the case right now, so far, here’s what’s happened:
Hey can I shoot at your apartment?” YES
Will you be my DP? YES
Will you be my art director? YES
Will you, a professional casting director, help me with casting? YES
Will you be my actor/actress? YES
I am humbled by the yeses. So now, I have to step up and move through the safety of NO and embrace the wild unknown of the YES.
New Project #2!
I have officially started writing my YA novel about Ada Lovelace. It is pretty crazy to go from screenplay to novel, it’s usually done in the other direction. It’s a pretty big adjustment to go from thinking visually and using minimal dialogue with heavy subtext to using as many freaking words as I want. It’s intimidating and 50,000 words seems like oh-so-many-words, but I’m going to do it.
With summer coming, I won’t be teaching and I’ll have the time to get the words in (when I’m not shooting/editing my short). When I write a screenplay, I try for two to five pages a day (seven to 10 if I’m on a caffeine-induced roll and on deadline). Can I do 1,000 words a day in novel format? I’m guessing that’s a bit ambitious. It’s going to be a great summer!
Radiation Level: Deep Seeded
Listening To: Black Coffee in Bed by Squeeze
New Movie Reviews: Hunger Games
This week has been something strange. I find myself constantly doing things I never imagined I would be doing. I guess this is exciting, however I’m not doing many of the things I really want to be doing. I have three new screenplay ideas and one takes place in the 19th century…OH YEAH!
Monday: I made a worm farm with kids. Yes, a farm of earthworms. At 8am, I took a large styrofoam container out of a science lab fridge and opened it to find it packed with squirmy, blood red worms. The sight was pretty gross. But I soon came to terms with these earth-makers and, after letting the kids harass them for a while, we made a farm with broccoli and newspaper.
Because I believe in the power of stories, myths and legends, I insisted on naming the farm. Most kids suggested calling it “The Worm Farm.” One particularly rowdy kid suggested “The Cowboy Worm Farm” and I thought that was perfect. What stories may grow from this fabled farm of Cowboy worms? I told the kids to think about the worms as they lie in bed and fall asleep.
Or, The Cowboy Worm From? Love it.
After teaching, I went to see The Hunger Games. I hadn’t read the books, but I was excited to see it. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in Winter’s Bone and it was as if her character Ree was magically transported into the dystopian world of Panem. Though the film was no Sparticus, it was pretty darn good. And, oh, those eyelashes! FalloutGirl has a new obsession. Anyone know where I can get the ones Katniss wore?
Tuesday: I programmed a Lego robot to walk. Yes, using a computer. Now, having said that, I’m not exactly confident I can actually teach someone else to do it. I’m really, really hoping the kids already know how to do this kind of thing.
I then taught a class on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Golden Horn Bridge. I must have a Zome tool in the pocket of every pair of pants I own.
Wednesday: I taught neuroscience at 8am. My own neural pathways don’t fully function so early in the morning, so it was an interesting class. I then dressed up as Ada Lovelace for an educational event. So. Loving. The. DRESS!
Then I taught a class on math in music. Ugh. These are gifted kids and almost all of them play an instrument and are experts in music theory. Filling up bottles with water and blowing on them (GERMS!!) didn’t go over so well, especially when they decided to start spilling the water on each other. Luckily, one tiny little pipsqueak of a girl said she could play the piano that was in the room. I took off the front panel of the ancient upright, so they could see the guts (I remember being fascinated by this as a child) and let her play. Mozart, no less! She was concert quality! Thank you, dear. You saved my class…
Thursday: Taught 5 garden science classes in a row. This kids are great, they have tons of energy and will literally eat ANYTHING you put in front of them. I can’t tell if they are underfed or just growing and hungry to feed their cells as they expand. I did a lesson on seaweed and then we made veggie sushi rolls. They devoured them. One kid even drank two containers of soy sauce. They wanted more. They want to make sushi again next week. I was shocked. I didn’t try sushi until I was 25 and had to learn to like it. Go figure.
I then met up with RosieGirl and AmishGirl for Pinot Noir and pizza. There’s nothing like having great friends.
Friday: I’m going to see a screening of Chimpanzee, and after that, I’m going to see American Idiot with LutheranGirl. Looking forward to both!
Saturday: CPR training and certification.
Sunday: Write Bar Mitzvah screenplay.
Yeah, that’s a strange week. Even for me…
Radiation Level: Solar Storm
Listening To: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
FalloutGirl’s Movie Reviews:
Last weekend I had a scratchy throat. But it seemed like it was on its way out. I went to Richard Simmons on Saturday and worked out extra hard for some reason. I was exhausted after and the sore throat got worse. I rested on Sunday, I don’t even think I left the house. Then Sunday night BurbankGirl asked if I wanted to help her strike props from the set of the Bachelor. The pay was good and I had the daytime free. So I said yes. THEN she said I had to be there at 6am.
I tried to cancel, see if she could get anyone else, but there was no one. It’s not that I can’t get up at 5am, it’s just I knew my sore throat may not go away. I was right.
Monday: Striking props from the Bachelor: I was tired, but it wasn’t that bad. I did a Starbucks run. I did an In N Out run. I worked from 6am to 2:30pm. I came home, thought about sleeping but I had a meeting at 6pm for my upcoming math and technology family night. I went. Feeling tired and my voice was getting scratchy.
Tuesday: Taught Zome class. I tried not to speak over my students, but they get so darn excited. We made the Great Wall of China, after all. My voice was barely in tact at the end of the class. I was happy to sit silently through two screenings – Intruders with Clive Owen and John Carter in 3D. Voice completely gone.
Wednesday: Was supposed to start Weight Watchers and go to a meeting with DanishGirl, but being mute seemed to make it moot. I postponed it. I had to teach my last historical mockumentary class. I emailed the other teacher to said I would not be able to speak. He said fine. I actually used the speech tool on my Final Draft software when I needed to say something. The kids got a kick out of it. Then, Family Night as Ada Lovelace. Would I have a voice? I’ve heard of singers getting cortisone injected into their larynx when they lose their voice. That seemed a bit extreme. So instead I decided I would take an anti-inflammitory and gargle with olive oil to lubricate my vocal chords. It worked – at first. My monologue as Ada Lovelace went swimmingly, including my hair piece falling out (big laugh) and then I stuffed it into my shirt (bigger laugh). But as soon as I started teaching, the coughing started. And wouldn’t stop. My lesson was on binary code which I never had a solid grasp on in the first place, then trying to teach it using as few words as possible? Let’s just say there were plenty of confused kids and parents. Did I mention I had THREE classes in a row?
Thursday: I spent the morning finishing up my movie reviews, trying to conjure up cheeky titles. Did I succeed? Judge for yourself by clicking on the links. Then I taught science – 5 classes in 3 hours – no way to keep my voice in tact. Then a screening of Mirror Mirror. Then I had to prep my M.C. Escher costume – but where the f*ck is it? I looked EVERYWHERE, texted my bosses. Couldn’t find it…
Friday: Found costume in the garage (whew!). I played M.C. Escher from 8am to 2:30pm. Teaching all day. Voice rough and raw. So tired. Feet hurt.
And that was my week. I’m hoping to go to Richard Simmons tomorrow, but I probably should take it easy. then I’m supposed to have a bar mitzvah video meeting at 3pm…
Work is good. I like to be busy. I’m exhausted. (wine)
Radiation Level: En Vogue
Listening To: Jar of hearts by Christina Perri
I love this dress. So would Ada. I can’t wait to explore her further…Ada UNLEASHED!
Radiation Level: Icelandic
Listening To: Crystaline by Bjork
If you don’t know what Ada Lovelace Day is, I can tell you it’s a smashing celebration of women in science, technology and mathematics! If you don’t know who Ada Lovelace is, click here.
On this day, men and women all over the web, choose one of their favorite women who inspired them scientifically. Today I choose Bjork.
Her new CD Biophilia is “released as 10 in-app experiences that are accessed as you fly though a three-dimensional galaxy that accompanies the album’s theme song Cosmogony.” – The App Store
And the app is FREE!