Red Echo

November 27, 2008

New hoodie prototype

This is the latest project for the “Martianwear” line. It’s a cotton fleece sweatshirt with an oversized, fur-trimmed hood. I haven’t made up the light packs yet but there is a velcro strip waiting for them just behind the fur trim on the inside of the hood.

November 22, 2008

I spent the afternoon working on the hoodie. I haven’t completely settled on the cuff design, since I want to hide some wrist pockets behind the fur, but I finished everything else. It fits well, the sleeves are nice and long, and the hood is heavy and comfortable. It’s just a basic sweatshirt, really, but the fur trim catches the eye, and I feel good wearing it. I shortened the zipper so that the top couple inches of the center seam hang open, which helps keep the hood from feeling too much like a tunnel. The hood is nice and deep so you can pull it clear over your face if you want. When I put the lights in, this will make for a bit of a Jawa effect.

The current sleeves are still a bit too narrow around the cuffs to fit lights comfortably. I am going to bell them out a bit when I add the fur trim, but I don’t think it will be enough. I should actually build the slimmer light-pack design one of these days so I can try it out – the legging-style light packs, based on 9V batteries, are too bulky to use in the hood, much less the sleeves.

Winter approaches and it is time for new skis. I took my first lesson fourteen years ago, and have been skiing avidly since I moved to Seattle, but I have always made do with older, second-hand equipment. It’s better than nothing, but as my skills have developed over the last couple of years I have definitely felt like my gear is holding me back. After last season I decided enough was enough; I demoed six or eight models, figured out what I liked, and decided that before I started skiing this winter I would go buy a solid pair of brand-new skis.

Today was the day. Ava and I went down to REI first thing this morning and I headed straight for the ski department. I considered a pair of Völkls but ultimately stuck with my original choice, the Salomon x-wing hurricane, 180cm. It’s a solid, versatile all-mountain ski, and while it might be a little challenging right now, I expect to grow into it by the end of the season.

Can’t wait to try them out.

November 21, 2008

Adam and I met up at the Rocket Factory after work. He had intended to pick his bike up and get ready to work on the valves, but the shop had closed early. Instead he mixed up some cement and continued patching up the hole in the concrete pad under the sewing table.

I started in on the latest prototype for the Martianwear hoodie, using a basic front-zip design with raglan sleeves. I generally use set-in sleeves, to emphasize the shoulders, but this piece will already have enough going on up top with its oversized, fur-trimmed, parka-style hood.

Adam had plans to tend bar at Sahni’s absinthe-themed birthday party, so we downed tools a little after nine and made our way to Capitol Hill. I was tired and didn’t stay long, but it looked like the birthday girl was having a good time. It was an intriguingly bohemian bunch and I would like to have been more social.

November 20, 2008

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered sizable deposits of buried water ice.

How to be a Programmer: a solid, comprehensive article on useful strategies of thought and behavior for computer programmers.

November 19, 2008

This is a very nice picture of Mars, taken by the ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft.

November 15, 2008

I’ve been playing with a DJ program called Mixxx which mimics a pair of CDJs and a mixer. I have a mixer, and have been thinking of getting a D2 Director in place of decks; Mixxx is basically the same thing but all done in software. I’ve always tried to avoid being one of those laptop jockeys, as a stylistic principle; but times change and I’ve been letting some of those stylistic principles go.

The FJ600’s speedometer has been unreliable since I bought it. The whole gauge cluster is in pretty bad shape, plastic cracked in several places. I bought a replacement gauge cluster last weekend and spent a few minutes installing it this afternoon. Everything seems to work, so that will be a nice improvement. I tried to replace the Maxim’s choke cable, too, but the replacement cable was a few inches too short, and I broke part of the choke lever trying to put it back together. Oh, well… that bike has been nothing but a lot of work ever since I got it.

I’ve been thinking for months now about another item for the “martianwear” line: a fur-trimmed hooded sweatshirt with LEDs. I made a prototype out of wide-wale corduroy and some really nice red fur, which effectively illustrated a couple of major problems in the design. Adam and I bought an assortment of sweatshirts at Value Village last week and spent an evening figuring out how they worked, and I have a new idea which I hope to prototype next week. I bought some fur and cotton fleece today; it’ll be solid black with red lights, like the leggings, but other color combinations will be easy once the design is settled.

Job satisfaction remains elusive.

November 7, 2008

Riding in the rain

The legendary Seattle wet season has arrived in earnest, but I am finding that even in the rain, riding a motorcycle to work beats driving a car. I’m safely covered in neck-to-toe leather, so my clothes stay dry and I stay warm (though my gloves could use some improvement, and the over-pants could be a couple inches longer – I’m thinking about adding neoprene cuffs).

The rain definitely adds to the inherent risk, but it’s dangerous in ways that you can feel immediately and make allowances for. In the Rover, with its magical computerized brakes, powerful auxiliary lights, all-around air bags, and battle-tested bumpers, I just plow on through the crud and don’t really change my driving style at all. On the bike, though, I’m always keenly aware of the weather, and cannot help but ride accordingly. I can feel, immediately, how the traction changes when the roads are wet, and I take corners much more slowly and carefully. I know how general visibility changes, and leave a lot more space for other drivers who can’t see me. I can feel how the stopping distance changes, and brake earlier and more gently. But I don’t have to think consciously about any of this; you can feel it directly in your body balance, in the way the machine responds, in the way the other drivers react.

I actually like having to deal with the risk. Driving a car is not usually hard enough to demand my full attention, so my mind frequently wanders. Motorcycle riding, though, always pulls me down into the immediate experience: I have no choice but to be present, aware, focused. It forces all my background threads to spin down; I stop planning and worrying, and relax into the flow of the road and the cars and the ride. When I step off the bike, my mind is clean and quiet and positive, ready for the next thing.

November 3, 2008

Why are all the programming language geeks suddenly obsessed with “DSLs”? What’s the point? Seems to me like a massively over-engineered way to design a plain old library API.