Red Echo

April 30, 2014

Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

A long and carefully argued essay about not wearing a helmet while bicycling:

There is another significant way that the use of helmets harm cyclists: Bike helmets discourage cycling. An Australian study on mandatory helmet laws concluded that laws that required cyclists to wear head protection actually decreased the number of cyclists on the road. The implication of this study? The fewer cyclists on the road, the less likely drivers will be accustomed to sharing road space with cyclists, ultimately increasing the hazards faced by cyclists and further dissuading people from hopping on their bikes.

April 23, 2014


Mail-in-a-Box is a “one-click” script which sets up a mail server, configured for encryption:

Mass electronic surveillance by governments revealed over the last year has spurred a new movement to re-decentralize the web, that is, to empower netizens to be their own service providers again. SMTP, the protocol of email, is decentralized in principle but highly centralized in practice due to the high cost of implementing all of the modern protocols that surround it. As a result, most individuals trade their independence for access to a “free” email service.

Mail-in-a-Box helps individuals take back control of their email by defining a one-click, easy-to-deploy SMTP+everything else server: a mail server in a box.

I had a nice dinner party last night: I made red peppers stuffed with lamb, onion, tomato, green onion, and topped with feta cheese, plus sautéed asparagus and portobello mushroom in a malbec reduction. Rose broiled up some garlic bread, and Coe made a butter lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing and blue cheese, while Llew mixed us all manhattans. Yum. Jessie and Nick joined in and we had a lovely time. Afterward we dried out some wood with the flamethrower and had a fire in the back yard, but the rain kicked back up again so we didn’t stay out long.

Yay. Life is good.

April 22, 2014

I’ve finally started ordering replacement parts for my bike. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long; I have some reluctance to deal with it that I don’t understand. It was a weird identity flip, going from riding almost everywhere almost all the time, to not riding at all – but now I’m ready to be a rider again.

April 19, 2014

I love working on the house

Knate observed that I have put more time per square foot into the downstairs powder room (pictured below) than any other part of the house. It’s true; it was a really elaborate project. It’s a small room, and nobody is going to spend more than a few minutes at a time in it, so I figured it was a great place to go for a really intense effect.

My initial concept was much more over-the-top: inspired by the Unicorn, I wanted to paint it in yellow and hot pink stripes, and I had imagined that the picture frames would be full of super close up pictures of eyeballs. It would have been really intense and unsettling.

After thinking about it a while I realized that I would actually also like the room to look good, and not just to freak people out; I do live here, after all. So this is the toned down version, which has a lot of the same elements without being actively irritating: dark grey over light grey stripes, empty picture frames, and a pale mint green ceiling.

After I got it all done I realized that much of the light in the room was bouncing off the previously-white ceiling, and with the green it all turned kind of sickly. I bought a cheap Moroccan-style candle lantern, turned it into a lamp, screwed in a funky old-style incandescent filament bulb, and wired it into the existing switch. Yee haw, warm yellow light to complement the cold white LEDs over the sink.

I tore out the old exhaust fan while I was at it – during the last renovation someone had sprayed it full of texturing goop, and it made a horrible vibrating grinding noise which echoed upstairs into my bedroom. Not cool. I thought this would be a half-hour project, but it took a lot of fussing and fitting and adapting, and it was three days before I had the new fan working. Oh, well, it’s much much quieter now.

Downstairs bathroom finished

April 17, 2014

Shame spiral photo hung up in my bedroom

This is Michael Holden‘s photo of the Shame Spiral at Burning Man in 2011.

April 13, 2014

What a weekend!

Friday evening we had a dinner party at my house (now called Rock Star Parking, with a sign out front proclaiming it as such). Erik T. brought some slow-cooked lamb; Adam H. brought bread and wine, and helped Candace M. julienne a pile of vegetables for a salad; I made ravioli with brie sauce. So good. We drank a lot of wine, too, then retired to the back yard for a bonfire.

Saturday I built an array of mortars and wired it up with shells.

I dropped by AND for the Great Goat Roast. I couldn’t stay long but it was great to catch up a bit. And there are so many kids! They were everywhere, and I couldn’t keep track of them all or even count them. It was really impressive. I guess this is that time in my friends’ lives.

Ran home from the birthday party, got dolled up, and went out to a wedding reception with Wendy F. It was at the Stables, in Georgetown, which was a fun and funky venue. There was music and a taco-truck style kitchen outside; I don’t know the bride or groom particularly well but there were a good dozen or so friends in attendance so I didn’t feel awkward.

Around eleven I ducked out for a few minutes, set up the fireworks, and let ’em rip. I had planned to shoot fireworks on the 12th anyway, because it’s Yuri’s Night, but the wedding reception made a great venue and audience. It went off really well – the show lasted 2:44, just a little longer than I had planned, but it was good. My biggest firework show so far.

Went home, helped Nick F. smash up his old box spring with a sledgehammer and crowbar, then set it on fire with a flamethrower. Much fun was had with lamp oil and a spray-mister.

Life is really good.