Red Echo

October 30, 2008

I don’t clearly understand the details of the case, but this appeals ruling creates a new test which significantly reduces the patentability of business methods and software architectures, and that can only be a good thing.

October 24, 2008

Dawn, Ava, and I went over to the shop last night to work on costumes. I spent a while fixing up the serger, then proceeded to rip through a bunch of seams with it. That thing is *fast*. I had hoped to get the top of my outfit done, but ended up spending most of my time helping Dawn with her muppet garb. Dawn’s friend Naurry came by with beer and hung out for a while.

October 23, 2008

I rode the Maxim to work today. It ran fine and felt good, but when I pulled to a stop, there was hot oil all over the left side of the engine and down my pants leg. The valve cover gasket leak is not only not fixed, but actually worse! I’ll take it back to the shop after work. Oh, well. It’s getting there, eventually.

October 22, 2008

I cut out of work early today, when the movers showed up to shift all my stuff to a different office, and headed for Ballard to pick up my old Maxim from the shop that has been working on it for the last month. After chatting with Steg for a while, I paid up and took off.

It has been over a year since I last rode this bike, and it startled me to feel how different it was from the FJ600 I’ve been riding since July. In my memory the bike had become larger and more sprawled-out, cruiser style; it’s actually a compact machine, with pegs in the same position as the FJ600’s, but the handlebars are much taller and there is no fairing. You don’t lean forward; you just sit down and go. That’s great until you reach 70 mph, when the wind becomes a problem. The speedometer doesn’t read past 85; I’m sure the engine is capable of more, but it is hard to imagine exceeding that figure in any comfort.

The engine, it must be said, is in beautiful shape, the transmission shifts with a nice satisfying click, and the exhaust positively purrs. It sounds great and feels solid. The bike has a few remaining problems: I need to tack the seat down more securely – velcro, it seems, is the answer – and I need to find a blinker relay on eBay. Then there is cleaning to do and some paint damage to fix…

October 21, 2008

Beginning of halloween costume

Amare gave me a yard of some kind of scrubby mop fabric a year or so back, and I’ve been saving it for a project just such as this. The fabric pieces are backed by heavy PVC, which gives them shape without making them rigid, and lined with terrycloth. It’s hard to make out the top bit in this photo, but it’s a head-piece, sort of a crest, made of a couple crescent-shaped pieces of PVC stitched together like leather.

The costume doesn’t exactly represent anything specific, but the Hive Mind party theme this year is “Muppet Inferno,” and I’m imagining this outfit as a kind of antarctic gorilla ice warrior character. I’m not quite sure where it’s going next, but my best guess is that it will involve a blue and white lycra bodysuit. I also intend to make similar semi-rigid pieces for foot and hand covers.

October 18, 2008

We painted another wall at the Rocket Factory today. Goodbye dingy, pockmarked, unfinished drywall: hello Nomad Blue.

The color is a bit dark, but having one dark wall works as long as the others are bright. Once finished painting, we plan to stack shelves along the blue wall, which should make it easier to keep all the random tools and supplies off the workbenches.

October 15, 2008

I went over to the shop last night and did some more work on the motorcycle pants. Ava picked up some needles for the Pfaff machine, so I replaced the old, dull fabric needle I broke on Sunday with a nice sharp leather needle. To no-one’s surprise, this made things much easier. I finished sewing in the zippers, trimmed up some of the edges, made hems, and set snaps in the waistband. I still have a few rough edges to finish, and need to do something about the lining, but that was enough for one evening. I wore the pants to work today and they kept me nice and warm. The waistband is a trifle too loose, but I can fix that (or install suspenders) and I might add on the stirrup straps after all.

October 10, 2008

Adam and I got busy with a hammer drill last night and bolted the sewing table to the shop wall. Without the anchors it was not stable, since we designed it with a 2′ overhang; it sits on a raised floor section, and the overhang makes it sort of float out into the room, with no front legs to get in the way.

The finish is not quite as perfect as I’d hoped it would be. I’d like to come back some day and add another couple coats of polyurethane, but odds are I will never get around to it, because it is probably good enough as is.

I am going to sell off both of the table-mounted sewing machines. They take up a lot of space, one of them needs to be repaired, and the shop has plenty of hardware already. If I start doing workshop classes again I can always pick up another portable machine on craigslist.

This weekend I might spend a day bashing through electrical projects. I want to add strips of outlets along both new work tables, and a bank of lights along the underside of the loft. I’d also like to clean up the east wall and prep it for a coat of blue paint.

The other project I’m considering for this weekend is a pair of motorcycle pants. It’s gotten really cold, and this being Seattle it is not infrequently somewhat damp, so I’ll need some leather for the lower half if I’m going to keep riding through the fall. I want something I can put on over my work clothes, like a pair of chaps, but stylistically I’d rather wear a full set of pants. So I bought a pair of oversized leather riding pants at Red Light: my plan is to cut the side seam, overlap the edges to form a placket (using up the excess width), and sew in a full-length separating zipper. A stirrup strap should keep the cuff from riding up.

October 8, 2008

My typewriter arrived

It’s an eBay find, of course: a 1922 Underwood Portable. I’ve wanted one of these for a couple of years; I tried to buy one earlier this year and got ripped off, but this time the goods arrived as described, and I am charmed.

It needs a bit of cleaning; the “figure” key sticks, and the space bar doesn’t always work. Still, it’s exactly what I was looking for, and I intend to fix it up and take good care of it.

October 7, 2008

Finished sewing table

October 6, 2008

The skies were clear when I rode in to work, but it was pouring rain on the way home. I got soaked. I felt secure enough on the highway, but traction was hard to find on Lake Washington Boulevard. I’m a bit concerned. I’m really not interested in going back to car commuting, but the weather is making this motorcycle business increasingly challenging.

After I dried off and warmed up, it was time for another trip to the shop. I sanded the sewing table down with 400 grit, thinned down the polyurethane to make it more of a glaze, and brushed on another coat. I think this will be all it needs. If I’ve succeeded, it will be time to shim the front legs (since the floor isn’t level) and bolt the back legs to the wall (since the table extends a couple feet over its front legs).

Now I’m back at home, sipping whiskey and working away on Radian. It’s a small project, but it keeps my brain active…

October 4, 2008

The sewing table is very close to completion. I sanded it down with 220 grit to smooth out all the little bumps, cleaned it with some solvent, and painted on another layer of polyurethane. Once this layer dries, I’ll go over it again with some 400 grit, then add a final finish coat. It has been a lot of work, but the table looks good, feels good, and won’t snag fabric.

I stopped by Felony Flyers this afternoon to check on the Maxim. It looks pretty random right now, with the seat off and wires everywhere, but the work is coming along. I will apparently be able to pick it up sometime next week – I am looking forward to it!

October 2, 2008

I happened to drive the Rover in to work yesterday; even taking back roads to avoid traffic on 520, the trip home took an hour and a quarter. It was raining a bit this morning, but with that memory fresh in my head I rode the bike in anyway. I think I am just going to get a rain suit and keep going this fall: I’d rather deal with the wind and rain than the miles of backed-up traffic.

I ended up spending a good bit of yesterday evening over at the shop. I put another coat of polyurethane on the work tables, which are glossing up nicely, then Adam and I set to work on his bike. It is a hulking great 1100cc Ninja, repainted black long ago, with most of the plastics broken or at least loose. Adam likes the black, and the powerful engine, but he wants more of a streetfighter look; we took off the lower fairing altogether, then cut the front fairing along the line of the forks. We stabilized the remaining mini-fairing with some bolts through the windshield frame and called it good.

Going to the shop feels less like a trek if I go there straight from work instead of stopping by home first. I think I will leave some boots and overalls there so I don’t have to get my work clothes dirty.