Red Echo

September 29, 2008

A group called Congress for the New Urbanism has released a report listing their picks for the top ten in-city elevated highways that ought to be knocked down and replaced with something more livable. The Alaskan Way Viaduct here in Seattle, of course, is first on their list.

The only good thing about the viaduct is the spectacular view of the city and the bay from the upper (northbound) deck. I’ll miss that when the old wreck is gone, but I have no doubt that the city will benefit from the change.

September 25, 2008

The FJ600’s electrical problems are definitely fixed. I’ve been riding all week and it has had no starting issues.

I’ve been able to avoid the legendary Seattle drizzle until today, when squelchy little drops started to splatter all over my helmet as I cruised down 520. I don’t mind the cold, but soggy pants are no fun. I think I need some gore-tex. Of course I have a design in mind for a custom riding suit I’d like to make, but given my current dearth of creative time it’d likely be next summer before I had it finished.

The worktables at the Rocket Factory are coming along. I went over the other night with Ava and put on another coat of polyurethane. I’m going for something kind of like a bar-top finish.

September 22, 2008

Weekend report

  • hauled my Maxim over to Felony Flyers for a long list of minor repairs
  • cleaned up the Rocket Factory sewing table with a strip of molding and some filler
  • went out to dinner at Dragonfish with Ava, Nick, and Adam
  • skipped the Equinox party at LRS because I was too tired
  • cooked breakfast
  • sewed the sleeves onto the martianwear hoodie prototype and added fur cuffs
  • sanded down the workbenches at the Rocket Factory and applied the first coat of polyurethane
  • implemented more expression parsing code for Radian

I’ll give it another couple of days before declaring success, but the FJ600 is running fine, so maybe the new regulator worked.

September 19, 2008

I’ve been getting a lot of comment spam lately, up to a couple dozen posts a day. I filter it all out before it ever shows up on the site, but it’s annoying. I noticed that real people always post to recent articles and spam-bots almost always post to old articles, so I implemented this technique for disabling comments on old posts. If you are using wordpress and have a comment-spam problem, it’s worth a try.

I spent a couple hours working on my motorcycle last night. The battery doesn’t charge while riding, and runs down after a day or two. Replacing the battery did not solve the problem, so I’ve been plugging it in to a charger every night. Jenna suggested that the regulator might be at fault; this made sense so I ordered a new one, which arrived yesterday.

I rode over to the Rocket Factory after work, stopping for a brief visit with Ava. It was really nice to roll into a warm, well-lit, well-equipped shop and go to work, without having to sit on gravel or improvise work lights or make do with an inadequate toolbox. The old regulator had fallen off the battery box and was hanging free inside the body of the bike, so I had to scrounge up some appropriate bolts and bushings for the new one. After hooking it up, I poked around with a multimeter, and found that the voltage is now 12.8 at idle and about 14 at 2000 rpm. This is still a little on the low side, but should be enough to keep the battery charged, so I’m going to stop using the charger for a couple of days and see what happens.

I also replaced the speedometer cable, but that did nothing to solve the speedometer problem. I’m not sure whether the issue is with the speedometer itself or with the sender gear in the front wheel hub.

September 16, 2008

I accidentally upgraded to iTunes 8. It comes with a new “Genre” column in the track browser. This feature is wasted space to me, but there is no menu item or preferences checkbox which will disable it. You can turn it off by pasting the following text into a Terminal window and pressing enter:

defaults write show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE

Relaunch iTunes and the Genre column will disappear.

When I was a kid, astronomers were not sure that other stars would have planets. Now they have a photograph of one.

September 14, 2008

Sand castles, Ocean Shores

Ava, Dawn, and I went camping on the Washington coast this weekend.

September 12, 2008

Tango at Century Ballroom

This TV-B-Gone sweatshirt is clever, if a bit ugly. Of particular note is the zipper-based switch mechanism. I came up with a similar idea for a light-up jacket I haven’t assembled yet; it’s nice to see that the scheme actually works.

I’ve been riding my motorcycle a lot lately. I take it to work every day, and I run all errands via bike that don’t involve carrying lots of stuff around. It feels good. It’s fast and fun and I love sitting out in the middle of the world.

Dawn came by last night. We had sushi and then did a little sewing. She was tired and left early, but I pushed on, finished cutting, and started stitching my new project together. This is going to be a light hooded jacket, made from wide-wale corduroy, with fur trim around the hood and cuffs. It’s a prototype for a future product in the Martianwear line, so I’m keeping the pattern simple.

It appears that I did not buy nearly enough of the dark silvery-grey corduroy from Mood last spring. Perhaps I was thinking of a vest rather than a jacket? After rummaging through bags of remnants, I found a piece of the same corduroy in a creamy tan color. My first thought was to make the sleeves out of the tan and the body out of the dark grey, but Lesley suggested splitting it front-to-back instead. This seemed like a fine fun idea so I dug right in. I’m putting a seam down the middle of each sleeve; the back and hood will be dark grey and the front will be tan, with dark grey accent pockets. It will be a more light-hearted garment than I had originally intended, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

My sister MJ flew in late last night and will be staying for a day or so. She’s leaving Saturday on a bicycle trip down the coast to San Francisco. Wow.

September 10, 2008

Work is frustrating today. I feel like I’m drowning in Process. At least I am no longer drowning in Complete Ignorance. I got no actual work done today, which is disappointing, but in a minute or two I am going to get out of here and go ride my motorcycle, which always makes me feel better.

Alex’s rules for computing happiness are practical and straightforward. I find the idea of an enumerated list of such rules more interesting than the specifics; he has turned what is clearly a history of frustration with computer technology into something positive and useful. It’s definitely a more productive outlet than the classic geek pastime of redesigning everything “the right way” in one’s head.

I bought some motorcycle parts over a week ago and used Paypal, thinking it’d be convenient not to have to send my credit card information to some random vendor. Big mistake: they took five business days just to process the payment! I had expected to get the parts in time to install them over the weekend, but found out this morning that the vendor hasn’t even shipped them yet. Lesson learned: paypal is not worth it.

September 8, 2008


Saturday morning I did a little work on my bike, replacing the turn indicator light I busted when I crashed a few weeks ago. I went over to Kirkland for lunch with Ava, then we headed up to Capitol Hill and had a look around Red Light. She found a really sharp cafe-racer style motorcycle jacket and some boots. No more borrowed ski jacket! We’ve been riding a lot lately, since I’d pretty much always prefer to ride the bike than drive the Rover when I have the option, and I’m really glad she has some nice solid gear of her own now.

Saturday night we headed out for Phil B.’s housewarming party. It was a fun little event – Alexis was there, Amy S. showed up with her neighbor Marlo, but otherwise everyone there was new to me. We munched on vegan cupcakes and talked about music. After a couple hours we bopped over to Ellen’s punk-rock-princess birthday party. We didn’t bring costumes, but showing up in motorcycle gear was close enough.

Sunday we had a lazy sleep-in, then I did some gardening while Ava attacked her new boots with shoe polish. After then working her way through a bunch of my shoes she got bored of it and came down to work on the garden. We planted a few big clumps of redwood-sorrel, which has been thriving along the entryway, and half a dozen salal bushes next to the driveway. A new ninebark in the raised planter bed should help spread that area out, and Ava put in a couple more violets since the one we tried a few weeks ago has been doing so well.

After that we went over to the Rocket Factory and cleaned up all the Burning Man gear. We got thoroughly playafied, but all the bins, chairs, cookstoves, tents, and other accessories are now out of sight up in the loft. We even got the sewing table and one of the workbenches cleared off, and dumped a lot of the random trash that had been hanging about. We worked hard and got a surprising amount of work done in only a couple of hours.

We wound up spending the evening over at Adam & Janet’s playing poker. Janet won.