Red Echo

July 31, 2007

I bought another sewing machine today: this one will live at the Rocket Factory, making life easier during future workshops and clothing-production operations. It’s a basic Singer; someone on craig’s list upgraded to a newer machine and wanted $40 for the old one. It’s in fine condition, all of its features work, and it had no trouble stitching through six layers of denim, so I’m sure it will be up to the sorts of tasks I am likely to throw at it.

Between the Pfaff at the shop and my portable Janome machine my own needs are already well covered, but sewing machine availability has been a major bottleneck at each of the laserfingers workshops, and I have two more workshops planned for this month. This new machine should help, and I may try to pick up another sometime in the next week or two. Maybe instead it would be worth trying to fix up the old table-mounted Singer I’ve had kicking around for years; I’m not really sure.

There is more I would like to say about the Yosemite trip, but it comes out to such a big tale, or set of related tales, that I don’t have time to write it all. Yosemite means a lot to me. My family means a lot to me. Mountain-climbing is deeply satisfying.

July 30, 2007

I’m back home from my California trip.

I love Yosemite. Once again I felt that quick sharp sense of homecoming upon arrival.

Trying something new, I’ve uploaded photos from this trip as a Flickr set.

July 28, 2007

Climb up Mt. Dana

July 27, 2007

Climb up Lembert Dome

July 26, 2007


Dinner at our campsite in White Wolf campground, Yosemite

July 25, 2007

Leaving for the weekend: on my way to Yosemite. I’m going to hang out in Tuolomne Meadows with my mother and a variety of siblings and cousins, then we’re all going to climb Mt. Dana, a 13k peak on the park’s eastern border.

See you on Monday…

July 24, 2007

I want to hold two more workshops before Burning Man. I’m not sure whether I can actually accomplish both of these, but the two laserfingers workshops have been successful enough that I want to try raising the bar a little bit. The first would be another laserfingers workshop, with room for 12 participants this time instead of 8. The second would be a waterpack workshop, using a simplified version of design #5.

Teaching people how to make stuff turns out to be lots of fun.

I showed up at the Garage yesterday for pool night, and – surprise! there were a couple dozen of my friends, ready to help celebrate my birthday. Alcohol, hilarity, food, and even a little pool-playing followed. When it got dark, we adjourned to the Rocket Factory and spent a while doing stupid things with dangerous materials. There were no explosions, but we did manage a fair-sized fireball, and learned some useful Lessons for Next Time. After enough of that we rolled back up to Capitol Hill for more drinking, talking, and flirting.

It took me a long time to get started this morning.

Well, I’m definitely going to Burning Man now; it’s just over a month away, and I finally bought a ticket. This is definitely going to be a much lower-key burn than the past few have been for me, but at least I’ll be dressed well.

July 23, 2007

Birthday shenanigans

July 22, 2007

My dad in a kayak, off Turn Island in the San Juans

July 21, 2007

Me and my dad

Orcas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

July 20, 2007

Last night was the second laserfingers workshop. We made nine pairs and finished up before midnight. The design improvements I made after the last round definitely helped smooth the process along, but once again we had all of the sewing machines running constantly with plenty of work available for more. The goal in future workshops really should be to have one machine per person.

Wiring harness assembly flew together in an astonishing hurry. We had no dud lasers and all of the wiring setups worked fine.

Things went smoothly whenever we were able to set up little assembly lines. Unfortunately the finger and wrist loops have to be sized individually, which slowed things down a lot, and even with individual fitting the finger loops for many people’s gloves came out too tight. Perhaps the next round should use velcro instead of elastic for the wrist straps, so that fit is not so important.

The switch from N to AAA batteries posed no problems. I had been worried about the size of the battery pack, but there was plenty of space even on the smallest hands. These batteries will last longer and then will be easier to replace, so I think it’s worth the increased weight and bulk.

July 19, 2007

Laserfingers Workshop 2

Photo by Geoff S.

July 17, 2007

Here’s what engineers mean when they say things like “hard” or “trivial”.

July 16, 2007

I just discovered the weirdest thing: fifteen thousand hits in my server access logs from someplace called I snooped around and it turns out that one of the participants is using my old sidebar photo as his avatar picture. Huh. Some random guy in Denmark wants his buddies to think he looks like me? I don’t exactly know what to think about that, but I’m sort of flattered in a creepy, mildly uncomfortable way.

July 13, 2007

Life is good. I’ve been riding my motorcycle a lot and getting increasingly comfortable with it. I think I’ve taken my Rover out of the driveway all of one time in the last four days.

This weekend looks like it will be packed full of goodness. Tonight I’m headed to Dawn’s bacon-themed birthday party. There are about six different completely awesome things happening tomorrow night, and I have ambitious plans for the bathroom-renovation project, the laserfingers project, and the motorcycle project.

It really hasn’t been much of an outdoorsy summer for me. I’ve gone out paddling a couple of times and that’s pretty much it. I had wanted to tag along with Mez’ climb up to Camp Muir tomorrow, but I decided to stay in town and work on projects instead. I do have one climb coming up, though: I’m going to be flying down to California in another couple of weeks to climb Mt. Dana with my family.

July 9, 2007

My first bike crash

Oops. I knew this was going to happen sometime, but it still came as a surprise today.

I’m fine – this is what all that leather is for. Shoulder’s a little sore.

Bike is a bit annoyed with me now, but it’s nothing an afternoon of wrenching won’t fix.

July 8, 2007

My mother and her mother

My brother Joel, after raiding my toybox

July 7, 2007

July 6, 2007

July 5, 2007

Joanna works the poi

My sister Joanna, who is 14 years old and first picked up fire poi about a month ago, put on this show last night:


Ohhhh yeahhhh. Why did I wait so long to try this?

July 4, 2007

Independence Day at Adam & Janet’s

July 3, 2007

It has been a full day. I didn’t have to work, since Real Software took a company-wide holiday today (and yesterday), so I ended up spending almost all day on projects of one sort or another.

After brewing up some coffee, I cracked open the tub of drywall paste and went to work in the upstairs bathroom. On Sunday I got fed up with the absence of outlets in there and replaced the rusty, broken wall-mounted heater/fan gadget with a nice simple GFCI outlet. Yesterday I patched up the gaping drywall hole thus created; today I sanded down yesterday’s drywall paste, slathered on another layer, and smeared it around until it looked reasonably smooth. I’m not very good at this and may have to repeat the process tomorrow.

Then it was time to go look at a motorcycle. I’ve been thinking about buying a bike for years, off and on; the rising cost of gas and the beautiful summer weather have recently pushed me back toward “on”. I was talking to Peter Z. about this situation last week and he volunteered to help me pick out and fix up a cheap craigslist bike, so this afternoon we drove out to Newcastle and checked out an ’82 Yamaha. Our impressions were favorable, so I bought it, and we spent the rest of the afternoon dealing with U-haul employees (hard) and wrangling the machine home (easy). Sometime soon we’ll fix up the carburetor so it’ll actually start, and then I’ll go riding.

Back home: time for some gardening. There’s a big bush next to the entry which has always annoyed me – it sort of leans over the walkway and makes the front door feel hidden and cramped. I pruned it back a few weeks ago, which helped, but today I decided it was time for more drastic measures and cut away all the low branches. This revealed a lot of dead dry ground covered in dead dry leaves, so I shredded up the leaves, churned up the earth, soaked in a lot of water, and mixed in the leaf pieces. Then I planted some woodruff, which has been growing very successfully in the raised planter bed on the other side of the front walk, and some native oxalis. I’m not sure this is the right long-term choice, but it’s at least something to get started with.

Now it’s midnight and I’m sitting at my desk with some coffee. For some reason I feel like writing code. I think I’m going to run with that impulse for an hour or two and then get some sleep.

Now I have a motorcycle

It’s a 1982 Yamaha Maxim 650.

I think I am going to put aside work on the “tree of light”. I still think it would be beautiful, but my heart just isn’t in it. Wearables have my attention right now: jackets, pants, lights, lasers, waterpacks, coats, fur, lycra, webbing, silk. I’m feeling pretty low-key about Burning Man this summer, actually, and the idea of showing up with no major art project in tow sounds more like a relief than a disappointment. Instead I think I’ll continue to put my energy into these workshops, in hopes of getting all my friends decked out in lasers and lights like a tribe of expat Martian ravers.

July 2, 2007

I went up to Seattle Fabrics this afternoon and bought a piece of neoprene for some experiments in laserfingers design. It’s fun stuff: flexible, stretchy, springy, and durable. It’s easy to cut, easy to sew, and cut edges don’t fray.

The store was exciting: this is where you go to get outdoor and sports fabrics. Cordura, lycra, spandex, primaloft, gore-tex, webbing in every color, more buckles and fasteners than I knew existed – next time I make some kind of backpack, this is where I am going first.