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|Wednesday, February 26th, 2014|
I'm into his second book, and I'm continuing to be very impressed by Nick Harkaway. I don't mind saying this passage utterly choked me up:
"‘This train is our blood,’ the Keeper says. ‘It is the product of our work. We know every part of it. The designs were perfect, but the materials are not. They cannot be. So we compensated. Does it look sheer? Does it look absolutely true? It’s not. Here we shaved an eighth. There we padded. The rivets are not exactly the same. They are positioned to avoid splitting the wood. They are loosened here and there to allow for expansion. The machine doesn’t know when it is vulnerable. The mechanical drill has no idea when it is destroying the substance it cuts. But we know. We feel and hear. We touch. Touch is a truer sense than sight.’
‘And all this … it makes your machines better?’
The Keeper shrugs. ‘It makes us better,’ he says. ‘Or at least, it means we do not become casual about effort and art. We appreciate the weakness of the world and come to understand the glories and stresses of our selves. But yes. The product is better, by perhaps a single percentage point, than it would be if it were made by machines to perfect tolerances. It doesn’t matter until you stress it. Stress this train, and it will hold. It will hold beyond what the specifications say; beyond what any of us believes. It will hold beyond reason, beyond expectation, beyond hope. Derail it, drive it across sand, twist and heat it. It will do what it can for you. It will hold as if it was alive, and filled with love. And when it fails, it will fail hugely, heroically, and take your enemies with it. Because it has been made that way.’"
|Saturday, February 15th, 2014|
I just submitted an art grant application for this year's Burning Man. But whether or not I get the honorarium, I'll be going forward with the project. I started working on the prototype last September, after all! What is it? Well, I'm glad you asked...
So, that will be a ridiculous amount of welding over the next 6 months. I can't wait. :)
|Monday, January 27th, 2014|
As some of you know, the Royal Observatory Greenwich is hosting Longitude Punk'd
, an art exhibit featuring a steampunk take on the Longitude Prize and some of the less-than-practical inventions it inspired. Part of this was an open competition for entries, which I obviously had to enter. I mean, one of my favorite places on Earth, asking for works in my particular artistic niche, inspired by one of my favorite corners of history? If it was any more tailored to me, I'd be afraid it was a trap.
Part of the reason (I think) was to promote the archive of all the correspondence of the Board of the Longitude, and entrants were encouraged to take inspiration from actual proposals. After poking around, I settled on Samuel Parlour's 1824 "apparatus to render a telescope manageable on shipboard"
, which was itself a reinvention of Galileo's celatone concept. I bought an antique spyglass and a large chunk of brass off eBay, and started work in late December. The work went pretty fast, making extensive use of my new lathe. I'm comfortable saying it's my best work ever for a piece of this scale.(Full photoset here.)
And... I just found out it was accepted. Sometime in April I'll be taking it to London, where it will go on display for the rest of the year. Along with, you know, the Harrison Chronometers. In Flamsteed House. On the Prime Meridian. I can't even begin to wrap my head around that. Remind me to keep putting in applications to ridiculous things. It works far more than it should.
|Wednesday, November 20th, 2013|
Am I just being dense, or is there no way to log into my LJ account any more except when commenting on a post? All the normal login links I can find anymore only list other
auth systems, anything except LJ itself.
|Sunday, October 20th, 2013|
I'm *really* late this year, but I'm not giving up on this tradition. This marks ten years I've been doing it!
From September 4, 2012 to September 4, 2013 I...
...started seriously investing in my shop to allow for more large project in the future (more circuits/outlets, real shelving, very heavy welding table, proper welding cart)
...was featured on the Discovery Channel demonstrating my Cocktail Engine at BarBot
...lived in Germany for 3 months, and visited 6 new countries (Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, San Marino)
...finally drove on the Autobahn, and with a left-handed stick in the UK
...rode lots of high speed trains, including the Eurostar through the Chunnel
...saw so many amazing Scientific/Industrial Revolution sites and relics that it made my head spin
...started developing heads-up applications for Glass, and prototyping my next big kinetic installation piece
...skipped Burning Man for the first time since 2008
Weird year. (But aren't they all?) The Germany thing really blasted a smoking hole in my plans, but it was certainly worth it. It's left me about 6 months behind on getting the lathe for my shop, but at least the delay gave me time to talk myself into moving up a size or two! Those 3 months felt like forever while I was there, and then like a brief dream once I was back. Even now I occasionally think about some of the things I did there, with such a rudimentary grasp of the language, and wonder how I had the nerve. I'm glad I'm still capable of jumping head-first into experiences like that. Ever since the Mackenzie I've been afraid that the extremely negative emotions which always come in the middle of those kinds of experiences will eventually Pavlov me away from making the leap. That day has not yet come.
|Friday, January 25th, 2013|
|Ten-hundred job description
Using the Up-Goer Five Test Editor
I help people tell computers how to see how big things are. The computers do this by touching the things many times with a little stick all over. I also make sure that they tell the computers how to do this in the right way. It is important that the computers get the right answer for how big things are, so the things can be used in making other things.
|Monday, October 1st, 2012|
|Monday, September 24th, 2012|
I just can't let this tradition die, even if my LJ posting rate has otherwise dropped to 0.
From September 4, 2011 to September 4, 2012 I...
...invented a new musical instrument.
...built a chainsword.
...finally developed a personal look beyond t-shirts and jeans (aka generic geek).
...received a Burning Man art grant.
...ran a successful Kickstarter project.
...got much, much
better at welding.
...designed, built, installed and operated a large scale kinetic/fire art piece on the playa.
Kind of a weird year, in that almost everything was concentrated in a single giant project, the Harmonic Fire Pendula. I'm still in the dazed post-project phase, starting to poke at a couple new things but mostly just trying to wrap my head around the last 6 months. It definitely goes up there with grad school, the Mackenzie trip and the space robot in terms of overwhelming, life-consuming experiences. I have plenty of other giant projects on my backlog, of course, but I'm just going to enjoy working on small, low-stress stuff for a while.
|Monday, June 25th, 2012|
|Shameless self promotion: Kickstarter edition
I'm working on a rather large installation piece to take to Burning Man this year. (And Maker Faires next year.) It involves physics and fire and a whole lot of steel. Basically, I'm making the following thing but about 3 times as big:
To help defray some (and only some!) of the costs, I'm running my first Kickstarter. It's slightly over 50% funded as I write this, which is good, but there is still quite a ways to go. If you like giant kinetic fire sculptures, please consider making a pledge. Or even just reposting a link to it -- something like this can't get funded without eyeballs.Kickstarter: Harmonic Fire Pendula
(LJ isn't letting me embed the Kickstarter widget, weird.)
|Wednesday, October 19th, 2011|
The project I was working on -- and mostly finished -- for Steamcon last weekend. I'm really quite proud of it. :)
So far the response has been very positive. I'm curious to see how far this one gets shared...
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/355358.html
where it has received
|Saturday, October 1st, 2011|
It's that time of the year again!
From September 4, 2010 to September 4, 2011 I...
...completed several new Attoparsec projects (Lightsuit, etched brass fan, artificial window, Skinner Box)
...started working on the Hexapod, a project bigger than anything I've attempted before
...revisited and successfully completed the Kalamazoo
...started down the slippery slope towards management at work
...got a team together to compete in April Tools
...got paid for a customized Attoparsec project by a complete stranger for the first time
...designed a circuit board and sold it as a (somewhat) mass-produced product
...completed 10 years of (almost) daily entries to my personal journal
It's funny, in many ways this has been my most satisfying year in a very long time. I'm feeling very... centered. (From people's changing reactions to me, I think it shows, too. Confidence is sexy!) But the list above is one of the most anemic I've posted in the 9 years I've been doing this. I guess I'm just not flailing randomly in all directions looking for self-identity anymore, so all the crazy stuff I'm doing is more or less the same type of thing. At least I'm still doing crazy stuff!
While my track record for predictions here isn't great (life is what happens while you're making other plans...), I think the next year will be more of the same. I want to continue working to make Attoparsec a visible brand for my projects, laying down the groundwork for my very long term plan to eventually make a living at it. The hexapod continues to be my primary ongoing goal, even when I'm working on other things to clear my head. There is a lot else I could be working on, but in the end that more than anything else has the potential to really showcase what I want to be doing.
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/355254.html
where it has received
|Tuesday, September 27th, 2011|
I get the week following Christmas as vacation. vixyish
will be out of town during that period. It strikes me that I should do something interesting instead of just sitting around the house. Vacation time is one of my most limited commodities, after all. I like the idea of doing something... nonstandard, but I'm having trouble coming up with ideas. A week isn't actually all that long, nor is the dead of winter timing helpful. (And, yes, the southern hemisphere sounds great, but I probably can't afford that.) Turns out polar bear season in Churchill ends in November. Ideas, folks?
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/354913.html
where it has received
|Sunday, September 25th, 2011|
|Burning Man 2011
A bit late, maybe, but time for my yearly Burning Man writeup.
This was my fourth year, and the first time I was really with a bunch of close friends. (I have camped with friends before, but they've always had kids or Ranger duties to attend to.) It was a very different experience this way. It was nice having a dense social network available, but I found myself interacting with strangers a lot less. That was a bit jarring, as usually the playa is the one place in the world I'm a complete extrovert. But being able to share the experience with keystricken
was really special. I'm sure I can find a balance eventually. :)
My big projects for this year were the Skinner Box and the Kalamazoo for its second year. (See below for pictures.) The Skinner Box worked great, but didn't get quite the attention I wanted it to. And I found that I didn't enjoy sitting around camp waiting for people to use my art. I'd much rather be wearing or driving my art, out interacting with people more actively. Still, a lot of people really enjoyed it, particularly those who understood the joke, and the el-wire sign was a great landmark for navigating at night.
I won't quite say the Kalamazoo was a triumph, but it was as close as I got. I'm very, very glad I bothered to upgrade it and drag it down again this year, as its more or less complete failure last year had been wearing on me. It's now both beautiful *and* functional, thus righting a offense to my moral sensibilities. jadine
and I drove it all the way around Esplanade on Wednesday -- a trip of about 3.6 miles if I'm doing my sums correctly. This took 7 hours and I pretty much wanted to amputate my arms by the time we were done. But I damned well did it! The Kalamazoo got a lot of favorable comments. Those who got it *really* got it. There were also a certain number of jackass comments, particularly when we went out to the Man burn Saturday night. (The energy of that night is a lot different.) But I eventually got into the right mood of unleashing a torrent of abuse right back at them, aided by my superior platform, and that ended up being kind of fun.
The laser helmet was acting weird, I think maybe the laser modules are failing. The lightsuit was well received, just awkward to wear in that environment. I might save it for local cons in the future.
I'm thinking I might take a break next year. It took me a long time to get into the event this year, and I don't want to burn out. On the other hand, I still have plans for some big projects. So we'll see. If nothing else, I really need to change my arrival plans. Spending 5 hours in line Monday afternoon is a real bummer, ruins the whole day. Early entrance, maybe, or just get there at night. Might as well not be baking while sitting in line.( Lots of pics, of courseCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/354763.html
where it has received
|Monday, September 12th, 2011|
|Kalamazoo/Dragons music video
When we took the Kalamazoo out on the scientific expedition last month, I made sure to ask people to get lots of footage. Why? Because I wanted to do a music video. I had coincidentally become totally hooked on Caravan Palace not long before. It was a perfect combination, so I went for it. Of course, Burning Man got in the way, but better late than never. Here it is!
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/354378.html
where it has received
|Wednesday, August 24th, 2011|
|Monday, August 22nd, 2011|
|radial addressing yay
The time of the great migration is once again upon us! If you're going to Burning Man, and you wouldn't mind seeing me, what will your address / camp name be?
I'll be with Camp Strowler, somewhere near 5:00 and F. Look for the Skinner Box, we'll be trying to get good frontage for it. I'll register at Playa Info eventually, but don't hold your breath Monday.
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/354175.html
where it has received
|Friday, August 19th, 2011|
|almost goodbye/Skinner Box
So, yeah, I kind of switched to using Google Plus as my main blogging substitute. Look me up there, if you haven't already. I'm still not officially decommissioning my LJ, but it sure does seem inevitable at this point. Kind of sad, I was hoping to make an even 10 years.
But I can't resist posting this, the demo video of the Skinner Box I've been working on for the last few weeks. It is a new level of ridiculous contraption for me!
This entry was originally posted at http://gfish.dreamwidth.org/353855.html
where it has received
|Monday, July 18th, 2011|
|Monday, July 11th, 2011|
We took the Kalamazoo out for a roadtest yesterday, to see how the new flywheel handled.
(I'm also wearing my new hat, which I'm terribly fond of.)
|Friday, June 17th, 2011|
|Kalamazoo: flywheel and steering
I just put up a new blog post
with video of the new Kalamazoo upgrades. But all of the content is really in the video, so I'll embed that here as well.
I'm also giving up on taking it to the Fremont Solstice Parade tomorrow. Some stuff broke at the last minute and even if I had time to fix them, I just couldn't be confident that all the bugs of that nature had been worked out. For those who were interested in walking along with it, sorry. There just wasn't enough time once my laziness was factored in.