Red Echo

July 31, 2009

No backpacking for me. My foot isn’t broken, but it is sprained badly enough to get a chuckle out of the doctor when I mentioned that I was about to leave on a week-long hike in the Sierra.


July 30, 2009

Travels have yet to begin. Forty minutes on the bike yesterday and I was dizzy, nauseous, and headachey, classic symptoms of heatstroke. Well, okay, I guess I’m not making it out of Seattle. I spent the afternoon sitting in a tub under a cold shower with a fan blowing, drinking beer and then mimosas, feeling decreasingly grouchy.

I think I’m going to skip the motorcycle trip and fly down tomorrow. I’m distinctly unenthused about the prospect of a week-long backpacking trip in this heat, though, and it’s increasingly tempting just to bag the whole trip and spend a week asleep in the basement.

July 27, 2009

fabricate: way better than make. Well, that isn’t saying much.

I had a lot of plans for all the work I was going to do today getting ready for my upcoming travels. Instead I am just trying to survive the heat: I don’t know what the temperature is, since it’s beyond the upper limit of my thermometer, but it is Definitely Not Fun.

July 26, 2009

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with a backyard barbecue at Sunrise. It was fun; people started showing up around six-thirty and the last few left at two. We drank beer, margaritas, and even some champagne; lazed around on blankets, sat around a fire, talked, caught up, enjoyed life. It was comfortable and fun, and I felt happy and grateful for the company of so many good friends.

Inspired by a backyard party at Divide & Jacqueline’s house last year, I decided to install a firepit. People will happily sit around a fire for hours doing nothing but talk and relax; a fire turns any random patch of ground into the center of a social space. So I dug out part of our sloping back yard, packed the dirt level, and built a three-foot circular brick platform, on which I placed one of those metal fire dish things. It was hard, dirty, sweaty labor – I can’t remember when I last got myself covered in so much dirt! It always feels good to build something tangible, though. And, sure enough, once we set up a bunch of folding chairs, people sat around the fire til the end of the evening, talking and drinking and laughing and enjoying the night.

Today’s project, after cleaning up from last night, was a work party for the groovik’s cube. I took my sewing machine over to G-haus and sewed strips of velcro onto white ripstop squares (the faces of the cube) and black lycra strips (covering the gaps between the faces). It was a lot of work – we have about half of the lycra strips done now, but only seven of the fifty-four ripstop panels. There will be another couple of days at it for sure. The project is going well overall, though – the power boards are all done as of yesterday, which I’d been worried about. It’s going to work.

I’m leaving Wednesday morning for a big trip to California. I’m going to ride my FJ600 down the coast to San Francisco, then hang a left on Friday and take I-80 to Sacramento. Saturday morning, my brother Andrew will fly me and his friend DJ up to Bishop, where we’ll pick up a car and drive to a trailhead, from which we’ll hike up to meet the John Muir Trail. Later that day, or the next, we’ll meet my mother, who’s been hiking down the trail for a few weeks now along with my four youngest siblings. The three of us will unload our packs to resupply theirs; then Andrew and DJ will hike back home, while I’ll continue along for the last week of the trail. At the end, we’ll climb Mt. Whitney – 14,500 feet, the tallest peak in California – and then trek back down to civilization. A day or two to rest, and I’ll get back on the bike and head home, probably the faster I-5 route this time.

I can’t wait.

July 23, 2009

kids love my bike

walking around in central Seattle

July 22, 2009

installing the new taillight on my bike

108 LEDs, 56 resistors, four linear regulators, and 14 hours of soldering later, my bike has what is probably the brightest taillight on the road. Nobody is going to miss my signals!

Also, I’m never going to replace another turn signal bulb; these LEDs will almost certainly outlast the rest of the bike.

July 20, 2009

Hello, world.

July 19, 2009



July 17, 2009


July 16, 2009

This tutorial describes the implementation of a simple compiler using LLVM, an increasingly robust code generation library which is rapidly becoming the obvious solution for any compiler targeting x86.

July 13, 2009

Winding down at Microsoft

This is my desk. Friday will be my last day.

July 9, 2009

Fascinating long-form email post called my evolution as a programmer: mostly about the author’s progress through programming concepts and the process by which he developed abstract thinking about software development.

July 1, 2009


It has been a challenging year, and I feel drained. I’m glad to have friends who can support me through rough times, but it’s time I got my life back to a more peaceful state; time for a change in focus.

I moved to a new house last weekend. It’s a pretty, comfortable, welcoming little place, a 1910-era Craftsman on the eastern side of Capitol Hill – not far from where I’ve been living, but closer to shops and friends and activity. Cat moved in a couple of weeks ago, and Sam will be joining us at the end of the month; the house is maybe half the size of the one I’ve been living in, but there’s plenty of room for three.

The upper floor of this house was designed as a master suite; it’s a sprawling big room with two closets and funky ceiling angles. I’m going to cozy off a little nook to use as a bedroom and turn the rest into an art studio. I feel good when I make things, even more so when I can share them with people who will enjoy them, so I want to arrange my living space around that. I imagine a “clean” work table for sewing, a “dirty” workbench for electronics and general fabrication, a desk with computer and electronic music hardware, cabinets full of tools, a whole closet full of materials and stored projects…

I’ve also given notice at Microsoft. This job has been a frustrating, difficult experience from beginning to end; I kept on struggling through, at first because I thought it was just an unusually difficult adaptation period, then because I couldn’t imagine where else my career could go, and ultimately because I simply didn’t want to abandon an unfinished project. The project is almost over now, and I still don’t know exactly what my next career step will be, but I’ve seen enough to be certain that this job will never offer the kind of work I need – nor, it is clear, are my skills or temperament particularly well suited to the group’s needs. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks wrapping up a few last bugs, writing some design documents, and passing on what little there is to know about the feature I’ve been grinding my way through – then I’m out of here, glad to be done with the Eastside and ready to enjoy the summer.

I don’t know what I’ll do next, but there are a handful of options in the air already, and I have a good long while to figure it out. I’d like to find something a bit more low-key – perhaps another telecommuting position – something I can do well without having to pour all of my free time into it. In the meantime I will probably spend a fair bit of time working on the Groovik’s Cube and riding around on my motorcycle, enjoying the sunshine.