Red Echo

March 31, 2013

Ava and I spent the weekend in Portland with Thomas & Alison. We got tickets for the Vampire Masquerade Ball, which was good gothy fun and a nice excuse to dress up. I wore my tux, and Ava wore the beaded, trained wedding dress she picked up at Goodwill. It was fun and the music was all the good classic goth stuff. The sound quality was terrible, but I think I have become a snob, so it probably didn’t matter.

This morning we took the tram down to the Saturday Market (which operates on Sundays too) and had a great time wandering around in the sunny, happy crowd. We bought a couple of Nepalese scarves, had pierogis for lunch, listened to a talented cellist, and chatted with a lovely couple from Bend who do beautiful marquetry.

Tonight, had dinner at the Twilight in the last fading light of sunset; Barry joined us with his dog Muppet.

Very nice sunny weekend, and it is only March!


March 24, 2013

Hiking with John M. & Isabella

Home-made rocket fuel

Grant Thompson cooks up four different variations of solid rocket fuel using sugar & potassium nitrate. And I do mean “cooks” – his lab equipment consists of a portable two-burner stove, a skillet, and a spatula. Slick production, and he actually builds a small, working rocket using his homemade fuel at the end.

Also useful is his video explaining how to build a fuse, which begins with the immortal words “When experimenting with homemade pyrotechnics” and proceeds with a level of fearlessness I haven’t seen since a ’50s-era science-experiments-for-kids book I checked out of the library back in the ’80s.

March 22, 2013

Git-annex Assistant is a program which synchronizes folders on different machines – a bit like Dropbox, but it’s all under your control.

March 20, 2013

My desk at Mylo

Scalpel is the Macbook on the left, named for its Retina display, running Mac OS X and Windows (via Parallels); Sledgehammer is the tower PC under the table on the right, running Ubuntu 12.10. In the background, a square window with a view of Seattle. You can’t see it in this shot, but the Space Needle is visible just right of center.

March 19, 2013

March 17, 2013

Mt. Si

I’ve hiked up Si with John M. a few times this last month. He carries 60 pounds, trying to maintain the level of conditioning he reached in order to climbAconcagua; for my part, I find that a couple of water bottles and a camera is plenty of ballast for a good workout. He’s been setting a faster pace each week; today we hit the top in 1:55. That’s only ten minutes off the best time I ever hit, back when I was working out regularly, and I don’t even feel wrecked. So that’s good.

I’m a long way from being able to do that with sixty pounds on my back, though!

March 11, 2013

Abandoned ranch house on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i

March 8, 2013

Kilauea steam vents

From the Mylo trip to Hawai’i back in November. Medium-format exposure on Tri-X 400.

I felt so good riding my motorcycle today that I couldn’t keep the laughter in. The morning was foggy and very cold – I had to cook the engine with a space heater for ten minutes before it would start – but there’s something about piloting the fastest, nimblest vehicle on the road that makes me feel like a superhero. I’m just flying, out in space, wind and air and rain all around me; the cars and trucks are just obstacles, not really part of my world at all. Everything else fades, it’s just me and the bike and the world around me, all right there, nothing else to worry about.

I feel a little silly sometimes to get such a kick out of this. Riding fast and beating traffic makes me feel special and awesome, larger than life, but it’s just the bike: anyone else on any other motorcycle could do the same. So where are they? Why are all these people poking along in their cars, feet shifting on the pedals as traffic waves ebb and flow? Why don’t they ditch those cages and come join me out here where life is great and commuting is fun? It’s not that hard! You just have to take the course and buy a bike and wear a bunch of safety gear and then ride a lot so you get comfortable on the highway and then just not care about the weather or the risk…

March 7, 2013

From Metafilter, LiarTownUSA: “an alternate USA where our products, signage, headlines, and fads are all slightly more surreal, sinister, and threatening.” Hilarious. I especially like the ads from “Apple Cabin Foods”, which are all just perfectly wrong, and the fake movies, at which I am laughing so hard my face is starting to hurt.

March 6, 2013

The Bay Lights

Leo Villareal’s project The Bay Lights is the most impressive piece of LED art ever made. It is impressive in a technical sense – 25,000 individually controlled LEDs, lining the vertical stringers along the Bay Bridge – but it also demonstrates a graceful, elegant subtlety of creative thought. There’s no disco strobe effect here, there’s no HEY LOOK AT ME pulsing and hard-edged geometry; the awesome power of the $8 million light network serves subtle, detailed, gently evolving animation effects. Shadows, glows, particles, waves; motions that feel like the sweep of car headlights around a distant curve, the glow under rising fog, the sparkle of frost on a February morning.

If it’s night in the Bay Area, you should watch it for a while. Don’t expect it to do anything remarkable right away – you need to watch it for a few minutes.

March 4, 2013

Hawaii lava flow at dawn

From the Mylo photo trip in October

March 3, 2013


March 1, 2013

Hawai’i lava fields

This is a photo I took on the Mylo trip in October, using Kodak 400TX in my Rollei.