Red Echo

April 23, 2014


Mail-in-a-Box is a “one-click” script which sets up a mail server, configured for encryption:

Mass electronic surveillance by governments revealed over the last year has spurred a new movement to re-decentralize the web, that is, to empower netizens to be their own service providers again. SMTP, the protocol of email, is decentralized in principle but highly centralized in practice due to the high cost of implementing all of the modern protocols that surround it. As a result, most individuals trade their independence for access to a “free” email service.

Mail-in-a-Box helps individuals take back control of their email by defining a one-click, easy-to-deploy SMTP+everything else server: a mail server in a box.

I had a nice dinner party last night: I made red peppers stuffed with lamb, onion, tomato, green onion, and topped with feta cheese, plus sautéed asparagus and portobello mushroom in a malbec reduction. Rose broiled up some garlic bread, and Coe made a butter lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing and blue cheese, while Llew mixed us all manhattans. Yum. Jessie and Nick joined in and we had a lovely time. Afterward we dried out some wood with the flamethrower and had a fire in the back yard, but the rain kicked back up again so we didn’t stay out long.

Yay. Life is good.

April 22, 2014

I’ve finally started ordering replacement parts for my bike. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long; I have some reluctance to deal with it that I don’t understand. It was a weird identity flip, going from riding almost everywhere almost all the time, to not riding at all – but now I’m ready to be a rider again.

April 19, 2014

I love working on the house

Knate observed that I have put more time per square foot into the downstairs powder room (pictured below) than any other part of the house. It’s true; it was a really elaborate project. It’s a small room, and nobody is going to spend more than a few minutes at a time in it, so I figured it was a great place to go for a really intense effect.

My initial concept was much more over-the-top: inspired by the Unicorn, I wanted to paint it in yellow and hot pink stripes, and I had imagined that the picture frames would be full of super close up pictures of eyeballs. It would have been really intense and unsettling.

After thinking about it a while I realized that I would actually also like the room to look good, and not just to freak people out; I do live here, after all. So this is the toned down version, which has a lot of the same elements without being actively irritating: dark grey over light grey stripes, empty picture frames, and a pale mint green ceiling.

After I got it all done I realized that much of the light in the room was bouncing off the previously-white ceiling, and with the green it all turned kind of sickly. I bought a cheap Moroccan-style candle lantern, turned it into a lamp, screwed in a funky old-style incandescent filament bulb, and wired it into the existing switch. Yee haw, warm yellow light to complement the cold white LEDs over the sink.

I tore out the old exhaust fan while I was at it – during the last renovation someone had sprayed it full of texturing goop, and it made a horrible vibrating grinding noise which echoed upstairs into my bedroom. Not cool. I thought this would be a half-hour project, but it took a lot of fussing and fitting and adapting, and it was three days before I had the new fan working. Oh, well, it’s much much quieter now.

Downstairs bathroom finished

April 17, 2014

Shame spiral photo hung up in my bedroom

This is Michael Holden‘s photo of the Shame Spiral at Burning Man in 2011.

April 13, 2014

What a weekend!

Friday evening we had a dinner party at my house (now called Rock Star Parking, with a sign out front proclaiming it as such). Erik T. brought some slow-cooked lamb; Adam H. brought bread and wine, and helped Candace M. julienne a pile of vegetables for a salad; I made ravioli with brie sauce. So good. We drank a lot of wine, too, then retired to the back yard for a bonfire.

Saturday I built an array of mortars and wired it up with shells.

I dropped by AND for the Great Goat Roast. I couldn’t stay long but it was great to catch up a bit. And there are so many kids! They were everywhere, and I couldn’t keep track of them all or even count them. It was really impressive. I guess this is that time in my friends’ lives.

Ran home from the birthday party, got dolled up, and went out to a wedding reception with Wendy F. It was at the Stables, in Georgetown, which was a fun and funky venue. There was music and a taco-truck style kitchen outside; I don’t know the bride or groom particularly well but there were a good dozen or so friends in attendance so I didn’t feel awkward.

Around eleven I ducked out for a few minutes, set up the fireworks, and let ‘em rip. I had planned to shoot fireworks on the 12th anyway, because it’s Yuri’s Night, but the wedding reception made a great venue and audience. It went off really well – the show lasted 2:44, just a little longer than I had planned, but it was good. My biggest firework show so far.

Went home, helped Nick F. smash up his old box spring with a sledgehammer and crowbar, then set it on fire with a flamethrower. Much fun was had with lamp oil and a spray-mister.

Life is really good.

March 23, 2014

I’ve been looking for a new pair of nightstands for a while now, but nobody seems to make anything narrower than about 20 inches. That’s way too big – I want something no wider than 12 inches. I’ve been using a pair of skinny wooden shelves as a temporary fix, but they’re too tall and not well configured for their job.

Weeks of Craigslist searches turned up nothing. I started thinking creatively. A floating shelf, maybe? No, they’re all too shallow. A pair of cheap picture frames at Value Village suggested a pair of tabletops, but they didn’t seem sturdy enough. Then I saw a Craigslist entry for a dining room table leaf. No table, just the leaf: the finish looked good and the width was perfect. Aha! I’ll make my own floating shelf.

The finish turned out to be much less nice in person, but no matter; I sanded it off, sawed the leaf in half, made a pair of supports out of hemlock 1x2s, glued the pieces together, and slathered everything in nice dark stain. The shelves are sitting on my back porch now, awaiting polyurethane. Once that’s done, I’ll bolt the brackets to the walls on either side of my headboard, and I’ll have a pair of floating tables.

In other home improvement news, I’ve finished painting my bedroom walls red. It’s glorious and cheery. I still need to fix up the trim, but the place has a really nice warm cozy feeling now. I will still upgrade the lighting eventually but I’m happy to be very near a point where I can feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

March 21, 2014

I caught myself feeling grumpy about the way the floor of my closet is always untidy, because I can’t see anything under all the hanging coats and trousers and such, and whenever I shift the coats back and forth, the hems knock my shoes over and tumble them around. Grr. So annoying.

Then I had a thought: It’s my house. It’s my bedroom. Why don’t I just… change it? I unscrewed the brackets holding up the hanger rod, shifted it upward by six inches, and remounted it. Hey presto: I can see the floor of my closet now, and there’s enough space for my boots to stand upright.

What can I say? It’s a tall boy’s bedroom. I’m going to adapt it for being tall.

March 20, 2014

March 17, 2014

Hole in the wall

For reasons which baffle my imagination, there’s a horizontal crossmember about four feet from the ground all the way around my bedroom. This made it hard to run wire down to an outlet from the attic, as Romex is not known for its wood-piercing ability. I had to cut a hole in the lath & plaster, stick a drill inside the wall, bore a vertical hole, and feed the wire. Of course lath & plaster is substantially more difficult to patch than drywall! In this picture I’ve screwed a vertical support in behind the patch pieces, then screwed the little bits of lath to it. I’ll smear a thick coating of plaster over the whole mess, then texture to match the surrounding wall.

March 15, 2014

New costume closet

I’ve been storing my costumes in the closet of the downstairs bedroom, but with Jessie H. moving in to that room, I had to reorganize. Fortunately there was this nice big empty space in the utility closet, where Ava’s garden used to be – a four-foot closet rod fits nicely.

March 14, 2014

100 People of Burning Man is a lovely photo series. One format, one composition, one hundred people; each person has one word describing their “passion”. Many different moods, styles, kinds of people.

I’ll go back this summer. It will be good.

It was a slow drive home from work yesterday and I got to thinking about ways I could try to improve my flamethrower. I mean, it’s pretty cool to have a device capable of producing, more or less on demand, three-foot-long blue flames, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it could do… more?

An hour later I was in the parking lot of a gas station with Adam H. lighting up the flamethrower. The owner of the bar across the street, where we’d previously been drinking, walked over and calmly observed that he knew the owner of the gas station and thought he might not be so happy about what we were up to. This was obviously polite code for “Please stop doing that” so we took the gear into the alley around the corner.

What we learned:
- Nitrous oxide injected into a propane flame does not help.
- Nitrous oxide injected into the air inlet of a propane flamethrower causes the flame to turn a sort of brassy color, but does not improve combustion.
- Bartell’s on 15th does not sell lamp oil.
- Bartell’s on 15th does not sell rubbing alcohol.
- Bartell’s on 15th DOES sell lighter fluid.
- A compressed froth of lighter fluid and nitrous oxide, injected into a propane flame, produces OH MY GOD WHAT DID WE JUST DO fire.

WHOA. Eyeball-searing brilliant yellow-white flame, huge gouts of it. SO COOL.

Nobody died. Life is good.

March 13, 2014

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately. It’s a great excuse to hang out with people and do something creative that leaves enough attention free to have a conversation. And then you get to eat a meal together, which is always good for reinforcing a friendship.

Redecorating is fun too. I have more projects going than I can make progress on at once, which is entirely predictable. I’ve repainted my bedroom and am half-stalled on a project to install more electrical outlets, since this is an old house and nothing is as simple as it looks. I’ve got a neat project going in the downstairs bathroom, too. On top of that, a new housemate is moving in – Jessie H. is taking over the downstairs bedroom. Which of course means I have to find a new homes for all the stuff I’ve been storing there… but that’s ok and it’s a great opportunity to clear out some things I don’t use anymore.

Work is keeping me busy, too. It’s nice to see the product coming together.

All in all, life is going a lot better than you’d think it might be given the whole divorce situation. I’m going to be ok.

March 5, 2014

Right, so, Ava and I broke up in October, and we’re in the process of getting divorced. It pretty much sucks and I don’t really want to talk about it. Not here, anyway. But that’s what’s been going on.

February 26, 2014

I don’t think I needed to know that Clavia has produced a Nord Lead 4. What can it do that my “big red beast of audio domination” can’t?

February 14, 2014

rabbit holes, crashed planes, and the Sahara

I’m not sure where I found it, but in the morning’s web-wandering I came across Dietmar Eckell‘s project “Happy End“, a series of photos of the wrecks left behind after remote airplane crashes in which all aboard survived. It doesn’t appear to be in the book, but he took this really striking photo of an Avro Shackleton which came down somewhere out in Western Sahara. I want a print of this picture for my house.

I looked up the crash and found out that it was a former South African Air Force plane which crashed only twenty years ago, in 1994. It’s located way out in Western Sahara, near the Mauritanian border. Some people on an overlanding board got to discussing what an expedition out there would involve, and it really sounds kind of amazing. Someone who goes by “Florence of Arabia” actually tried it.

It’s funny, I was just looking up flights to Nouakchott last week; it’s about two grand for a round trip.

February 13, 2014

Shpongle has a new album out and is going on tour. There will be a DJ performance in Seattle on the 16th of March; I’ll likely go.

But there’s also going to be a very rare full band performance in May, at Red Rocks in Colorado. That could make a good excuse for a nice long motorcycle cruise: three or four days down, big show, four days back…

February 9, 2014

Punching a hole down from the attic through the original ceiling so I can get at the drop ceiling under which a wall was later moved so I can drill a hole into the new wall and then install a new power outlet there. Wheee! Old houses are fun.

February 8, 2014

I fell sick on Thursday, took two afternoon naps, slept for twelve hours, and spent Friday recovering. Saturday I woke up feeling groggy and still a bit congested, but decided to spend ten hours at ALTSpace making a new dancing outfit, then go out dancing in it, at the Hippocampus “Red vs Black” party. This may not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but it sure was fun. It was a good time dancing with friends, feeling happy and connected. I particularly enjoyed Marc von Holzen‘s set… yummy solid progressive & psytrance.

It felt really good to get the garment-making part of my brain working again. I can’t remember making anything new since the playa coat I never wore at Burning Man in 2012. Is it possible? It seems strange that it’s been that long; sewing used to be such a big creative outlet. Oh, well – I’m back now, and it feels good.

February 5, 2014

February 3, 2014

I figured that a “Wonderland” themed party would attract dozens of Alices, mad hatters, white rabbits, queens of hearts, and caterpillars, so I decided to stand out by dressing up as the most nondescript character possible: an arbitrary playing card. The costume: silk appliques on a smart white shirt, over a pair of red corduroy pants I made ages ago, and a pair of white canvas loafers. The shirt glowed gloriously under blacklight.

February 2, 2014

I went out dancing last night, at the Wonderland party put on by Opulent Temple and Bassdrop. Kept going til the music stopped, got home at 6 AM, aching and happy. It was really good to get out and move. I felt like myself again: dancing to good music, out with my people, wearing a costume I sewed up a few hours earlier, loving life. I’m paying for it today, but, you know, that’s part of the game.

January 31, 2014

I’m an uncle

My brother Andrew’s daughter Clara was born early this morning, the first of her generation. Andrew is fourth of the eleven siblings in my family; the fifth, Olivia, will be having her own baby in another few months. It’s strange to have babies arriving in my family, after so many years. Our cousins, spanning basically the same age range, have so many kids now I can’t even guess how many there are, but we apparently weren’t in any hurry to get started. I don’t think any of us eldest three will get around to it; I certainly don’t plan to.

Still, kids are fun. I look forward to flying visits of mayhem and adventure. I will probably seem impossibly ancient to these wee’uns, though; I’ll be fifty by the time little Clara hits her teens! But I’m sure I’ll still be rampaging about on motorcycles and setting things on fire. There will be fun to be had.

January 27, 2014

American Tin Ceilings makes a variety of pressed tin ceiling panels called Snaplock which are designed to be installed over plaster or drywall. Ordinary tin ceilings are designed to be installed on furring strips or plywood: rather more work.

January 23, 2014

Push it, my friend. Crank it up a notch. Yes, really. Yes, like that. Faster! Are you scared yet? No? Then push it harder – really, I mean it. Yes, now you feel it! That pulse, that energy, that heartbeat hammering away? Okay, now you’re ready – PUSH IT HARDER. YES! Go faster! You can do it! Yes like that, go go go go go! FEEL THAT ROAR! LIFE IS AWESOME!

January 21, 2014

Life is going pretty well right now. It’s a nice change!

January 19, 2014

Theater seats in my kitchen

These seats originally came from a UW auditorium. They have been collecting dust at ALTSpace for most of the last year after bouncing around the local burner community for at least a decade. An idea struck me a couple of weeks ago and this is the result: a custom oak and poplar base which stands them up comfortably in my kitchen, where people can sit and enjoy a drink or a snack during a party, or chat with me while I cook dinner.

January 8, 2014

Hello, 2014

I toasted the new year with the Hadlocks, John M. and Adam H. there too. The kids, who’d been having their own party downstairs, came up to light sparklers at midnight.

Adam and I split off, grabbed a couple of mortars, and put on our own little show. It ended early when one of the shells blew up early, destroying its tube – SO LOUD! – but it was still fun. Fireworks look so good in the fog, and there’s something graceful about the high-frequency sound attenuation.

Heden was still rocking at 1 AM and I spent a few more hours catching up with friends there. It was good to reconnect. I met a couple of new folks too, but mostly I wanted to stop being such a stranger…

The next couple of days I spent getting ready for my own New Year’s party, which I threw on Saturday the 4th. It was a great excuse to clean and especially to redecorate. I set up the downstairs living room as a big lounge, with lots of seating and cushions, and spent some time sorting out the office.

The party went really well. Divide and Jacqueline parked their Tiki Tank in the back yard, so we had funky lights and loud music on the porch and out by the fire pit. We set off three dozen roman candles at 11 pm – it was a wonderful racket, the back yard full of smoke and people cheering. People came and went all night – I think the last guests arrived around 2 am – and the house was always full but never crowded. I think I went to bed around five, and there were still at least a dozen people hanging out downstairs talking and listening to music.

It felt really good. This was one of the major reasons I wanted to buy a house in the first place. I’m looking forward to more.

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