Red Echo

December 25, 2013

Christmas afternoon trampolining

Christmas morning

December 24, 2013

Driving to Sacramento

December 22, 2013

Life is good.

I volunteered to host a stop on the yearly Burner Triangle neighborhood Christmas crawl. It was a lot of fun – we were one of the last stops, so it had petered out a bit, but we still got around twenty guests. I made mulled wine and spiked, spiced cider; MJ brought a bin full of craft supplies and filled the dining room with card-making.

I lit a fire in the back yard, too, but it was rainy so nobody really went out. Still nice to see it roaring away out there, though. Also, it was interesting to prove that you can get a fire started even when your wood is all soaked if you cook it with a flamethrower for long enough.

Being able to do things like this was a big part of the reason I wanted to buy a house at all, so it was deeply satisfying to have people come over and enjoy the place. People I didn’t know, even! Sitting in my living room comfortably enjoying themselves! A clear sign of success, that is. I even had someone fall asleep on the couch downstairs; he woke up and joined the after-party, which ran longer than the event itself. I got to bed around, uh, three? Oh yeah.

I’m tired today, but all I have to do is pack for tomorrow’s drive down to California. Seeing as it’s 8:30 pm, I should probably get started on that soon… I have one last gift to wrap, first.

December 15, 2013

Finished cedar benches

They won’t win any design awards, but I think there’s a certain elegance in a project where $0 in new materials plus two and a half hours of work – with one hand still in a cast, at that – yields two sturdy, comfortable, durable benches. Even better, this stuff is all reclaimed from the ill-starred duck coop project, so every pound of wood used is a pound of scrap I won’t have to pay for at the transfer station.

The white paint is unfortunate; at some point in the future I plan to paint them all some unremarkable reddish brown color, then sand the tops smooth and finish the bare cedar with linseed oil.

The theater seats will go up on a box made of nice heavy plywood, which I’ll stain and coat in polyurethane. I’ll put cabinet doors on the front and use the space underneath for storage.

Today I’m building a couple of benches for the back yard using a bunch of scrap 2x4s. It’s all cedar wood, bought for a project which didn’t pan out, and it’d be a shame to waste such durable material. I’ll put the benches at right angles in the back corner of the yard, with the fire pit in the center. The yard still feels pretty barren, with all that gravel, but defining a seating area should go some way toward making it feel homey.

Doing carpentry with one’s dominant hand in a cast gets a mite tricky. Adam came over to help yesterday, but he’s off to visit family now. I am trying to let the process be slow and cumbersome, accept that I don’t know how long anything will take, and not get too impatient with myself, but it’s difficult when I feel so hungry to make.

December 12, 2013

I have two sets of four folding theater seats taking up room at ALTSpace. They were originally part of some lecture hall at UW, and they’ve been bouncing around the Seattle burner community for at least a decade now, ending up with me. I had this idea that I would use them to set up a little lecture / presentation area, but I was the only person interested, so the seats got tucked under work benches and have been sitting there collecting dust ever since, waiting for me to figure out what they might be good for.

Now I have a plan. I’m going to take one of them home and set it up in the kitchen. People always hang out in the kitchen during a party, and if you have people over for dinner it’s great to have somewhere for them to sit and chat while you cook. These seats have little fold-out tables designed for writing notes – they’ll make great little mini tables for people’s drinks and snacks.

There’s only room in the kitchen for one of these rows, but perhaps I’ll bring the other one home and install it downstairs. I’d eventually like to fill the place up with big squishy couches and things, but that’s a big project which will take a lot of time, and this would be an only moderately inconvenient way to get more seating in the meantime.

Problem is, these seats are designed to be bolted to the floor, and they don’t really stand up on their own. They are stable side to side, but not front to back. They’re also pretty low, designed to be mounted in an auditorium with a stepped floor. I’ll need to construct some kind of base. Surely someone must have done this before? I’ll just search for it on the internet and steal their design!

I can’t find a one. Is this really the first time someone has thought of this? It seems impossible. Help me, o internet: have you ever heard of such a thing or seen pictures of how it was done?

Automatically generating melodies using markov chains and genetic algorithms

A nice article about an experiment in generating music: using freely available MIDI tracks to build a Markov model of melody, driving it with random numbers to produce new melodies of a similar style, then filtering and repeating until the model produces music which is acceptably similar to the input corpus. It’s a clever project and all the code is included, though I don’t see any links to example output.

December 9, 2013

Just made the appointment: the cast on my right hand comes off next Tuesday. It’s been fine – it’s not driving me crazy or anything – but it’ll also be nice to be done with it, mostly because it makes showering into such a production. I’ll have a soft cast for a month or so, then some kind of yet-to-be-determined physical therapy. It’s still looking like I won’t have to miss the entire ski season, so that’s something to look forward to.

December 5, 2013

King James Programming: someone trained a markov chain generator on both the King James Bible and the classic textbook Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. The results are glorious:

In APL all data are represented as arrays, and there shall they see the Son of man, in whose sight I brought them out

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even mention “classes” or “inheritance.”

And Satan stood up against them in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the role of procedures in program design.