Red Echo

August 25, 2007

Done making stuff. Travel bag packed. Leaving. Back in a week and a half!

August 23, 2007

In Austin. Spent the day discussing company status and working on strategic plans for the next N months/years.

I have a lot of ideas about what I am going to do with my new position. This is going to be fun.

There is a bar called Mars just down the street from where I am staying, the Austin Motel.

August 22, 2007

desert preparation complete, sort of

All my stuff is packed. I have bins, chairs, boxes, a table, an electric skateboard, and assorted loose camping gear all sitting out in the front yard where the cargo trucks will pick them up tomorrow.

When I get back from Austin I will run another load of laundry, repack my suitcase, add some big fluffy blankets and a bunch of pillows, and throw it all in the RV*.

I did not get the legging lights finished before the workshop yesterday, though the work I got done went quickly enough that I am totally sold on the new light-swatch design. I have talked myself out of bringing all the parts to Austin and working on them in my hotel room – I’m going to have enough work work to do in my off-hours already. I am still, however, entertaining the fantasy that there will be a few free hours on Saturday, between coming back from Austin and leaving for Burning Man, that I can spend whacking LEDs together.

Time to check the laundry and then pack my suitcase. Two days in Austin working on company strategy and REALbasic development planning, then back home Friday night…

oh, yeah. it’s like flying down the hill on a pair of skis, too fast to stop without crashing, carving left, right, left, paying total attention to every bump and curve because hitting it just right is the difference between staying on track and wiping out…. fast fast fast what a rocket this life is and do I ever love it.

*I am not camping in said RV, merely travelling in it. Rest assured, loyal fans, I am as hard core as ever. Well… sort of… unless you count the huge tent, with its table, chairs, lights, drawers, welcome mat, and full-size foam mattress…

Workshop last night went reasonably well. Ran really long: we started at 7 PM and worked til two. This is a complex project with a lot of little operations. If I do this project again I will either find some way to get custom plastic boxes molded, so we can skip all the tedious drilling and gluing, or break the workshop up across two sessions.

Two people had to drop out of the workshop, and two had to leave before the bitter end, but we ended up finishing eight waterpacks. A few people tried soldering for the first time, which was fun to help out with, and once again I learned some things about the design and assembly process by watching a whole bunch of people step through it.

I have so much to do today that I can barely think about it. I am writing this post mostly so I can have a few minutes of calm while I sip some coffee before I start tearing away at my to-do list. I have to set the dev team up to continue running while I am gone, retrieve a bunch of Burning Man gear from the Rocket Factory, finish packing my bins and place them to be picked up by the trucks tomorrow, then pack up a suitcase and fly to Austin… during which flight I will start actually preparing for tomorrow’s management retreat.


August 21, 2007

Waterpack Workshop

My room is strewn with raver clothes and the floor is covered with half-empty bins. It’s a sea of red, black, blue, white, and silver, shiny, stretchy, furry, and blinky as far as the eye can see. Goggles, backpacks, gloves, hats, suspenders, batteries, bottles, bags, and little knobby things are spilling out of every corner.

I have a large REI bag completely full of parts for the waterpack workshop tonight. We’ll start at 7; a few people have had to drop out due to the storm of Burning Man preparation fever breaking out all over the city, but it will still be the largest workshop I’ve done so far. The waterpack project is about twice as complicated as the laserfingers project, but all of the steps can be assembly-lined and there is not as much sewing to do, so I think it will come out OK.

I’m going to nip down to the Rocket Factory early and whip up some new LED patches for my furry leggings. I have a new, simpler, faster fabrication method in mind, based on hot glue and zig-zag stitches – if it works I should be able to get all four pairs done in just over an hour. If not, well, even just one pair of working light packs will be enough to get me through Burning Man…

August 20, 2007

I couldn’t stop sewing last night, and instead of packing my Burning Man bins I pressed on and made a few more pieces for the red/black dancing ensemble. I’m perilously close to realizing the entire original vision for this outfit: I made a pair of furry arm warmers, using a slick new iteration of the design which has a comfy inner liner, and then started in on the bolero vest. Designing a pattern that would fit onto the remaining piece of red fur took a lot of careful jigsaw work, but I managed to get the shell put together and the lining mostly sewn in before I conked out. Still need to finish the arm-holes and bottom hem. It might be nice to put in a couple of grommets so I can tie the front closed, too, but I probably won’t bother.

I don’t know why I’m awake at six AM, but I can’t get back to sleep. It’s going to be a busy day.

August 19, 2007

I finished the red & black dancing pants, at long last. First I thought I was going to get them done in time for the mixer on Friday, then I thought I’d wear them out last night, but today I finally got them done and wore them over to Leo’s 33-1/3rd-birthday barbecue, featuring a rotisserie goat. This is basically the only piece of clothing I’m actually going to finish from the very long list of creations I had originally intended to bring to Burning Man. [Oh, no, wait: I forgot the big black fur kimono coat.] I’m happy with them; they feel good and look good, and I learned a couple of things while putting them together.

Now it’s time to run another round of errands and then start packing. It’s a week til I leave, but I’m flying to Austin for two days, and Tuesday evening is the waterpack workshop, so I basically have to get this done today.

August 16, 2007

MSF motorcycle course

Second day of the course. Lots of practice, and I passed the test. Yay.

August 15, 2007

I took the day off today for the Evergreen Safety Foundation’s motorcycle training course. It really makes no sense whatever to do this right now, but the courses are booked up months in advance, and this was the first date available when I bought my motorcycle. So here I am, three weeks from the ship date of a product I am suddenly responsible for, less than two weeks from Burning Man, and I’m taking the day off to go ride motorcycles. Oh, well, it’ll all work out somehow.

Time for bed now. Tomorrow is day 2, and the course starts – across the lake in Kirkland – at 8 AM.

August 14, 2007

Zabaglione Test Assembly

Setting up our Burning Man shade structure, affectionately known as “Zaba the Hutt”

The electric skateboard I ordered arrived yesterday. I bought it from some guy on eBay, thinking it would be fun to have at Burning Man. It’s a surprisingly well-made piece of equipment, considering it cost all of $80 – it’s sturdy, has a nice big motor, a solid suspension, and even came with a little tool kit and a spare drive belt.

It hadn’t occurred to me that riding a skateboard was a skill, something that I would have to, you know, learn.

August 13, 2007

I got a promotion last week and this is my first day with the new responsibilities. I began by calling in sick. Half a day of extra sleep did me a lot of good, and now – wow, is there ever a lot to do. There’s a schedule to write, a dev position to fill, all kinds of status information to collect, and on top of that all my existing bugs to fix. I don’t expect to have much free time for the next month or two.

It’s exciting, though. I can use a new challenge at work. I have a bunch of new skills to learn if I am going to pull this off successfully.

This is going to be my lowest-key Burning Man ever. I had already decided to cancel all but a few partially-finished sewing projects, and now I’m thinking about abandoning those, too. I can always just scoop a bunch of clothes into a bin and sort it out when I get there, and my existing arsenal of blinky laser toys should be entirely adequate. I just had so many new ideas I wanted to try… oh well, there’s always next year.

August 10, 2007

John M.’s Birthday Party

August 6, 2007

Today’s projects:

– fixed some bugs in my code
– replaced the old, rusty, partially broken light fixture in the bathroom with a nice shiny new one
– finished the hem on my silver & blue vest-jacket
– replaced the taillight on my motorcycle and took a stab at wiring it up

I’m up to seven confirmed sign-ups for the waterpack workshop and I only sent out the first actual “here’s when it is and how much it costs” message this morning. I need to actually announce the last laserfingers workshop soon so I can stop worrying about it. Tomorrow morning, maybe.

Tonight I’m off to a potluck dinner, then later I’ll swing by pool night. If I’m not completely beat when I get home I will probably start cutting out pieces for this slinky pair of black & burgundy dancing pants I want to make for Burning Man.

August 5, 2007

Adam & Mars install an air conditioner

It took a little while to get moving this morning, but I have the energy going now. It is such a good feeling. I’m going to sand down the joint compound around the bathroom ceiling (where I took off the old molding) which will leave it ready to start painting. Project list after that: send out the announcement for the last laserfingers workshop (August 22nd!), finish the silver/blue vest, and possibly go install an air conditioner in the Rocket Factory. If I still have time after that I will do some work on my motorcycle.

On my way over to Eric & Leah’s barbecue yesterday I saw a wooden headboard sitting on the side of the road with a “free” sign. I drove right by, then reversed down the street and stood there looking at it, and then took it home. Fits my bed like it came that way. Um… okay then.

I have a huge purple bruise on my thigh and no idea how it got there.

At the motorcycle shop yesterday there was a little set of red LED marker lights in the impulse-buy section. On impulse, I bought them. My bike may be a bad-ass cruiser, but it wouldn’t really be my bike without some high-tech glowy stuff.

August 3, 2007

Geoff & Laura’s anniversary cruise

August 2, 2007

I gave a short talk at Dorkbot last night, all about how to make a pair of laserfingers.

I’m planning to have one last laserfingers workshop before Burning Man, probably about two weeks from now.

August 1, 2007

Another picture from the Mt. Dana climb, just because it’s funny