Ramble Ramble Ramble

In Slice of Life on February 1, 2011 by ryepdx Tagged: , ,

Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned slice o’ life to shut me up.

Sorry I missed my post yesterday. I could feel the tension from all of you. All six of you. I had stayed up all night working on That One Freelance Job and ended up sleeping through most of the day. Various other errands then consumed the rest of my Monday and I found myself in Tuesday with nothing posted. I’ve made some good progress on that project, though. I could be one or two more all-night coding sessions away from finishing. I just need to gather some of that ever-elusive focus.

Focus is hard to gather when there’s a revolution going on, even if that revolution is halfway across the globe. I haven’t even spent that much time gathering facts about it due to trying to get things lined up to move in to the artist apartments where my bandmate live and working almost nonstop on That One Freelance Job, but there it is, taking up space in the back of my head. The role that technology has played, especially the hitherto frivolous-seeming Twitter, has captured the technologist in me. “When the revolution comes, it will be…” tweeted? That was a surprise.

It has set me to wondering about what good I could be doing with technology and set me to wondering about what my focus is, what it should be. I believe in long-term action, long-term planning. Only the lucky get anywhere without sustained effort. My heritage is Irish, so I definitely can’t count on luck. (Has anyone else besides me wondered how the “luck of the Irish” came to mean “good luck?” A most ironic malapropism, that.)

On the other hand, I think there may be something to being rudderless for a while, if only to find your internal compass again. As Steve Jobs put it:

“…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Well, what do I want to become? How about this: Warren Buffet meets John Lennon meets Cory Doctorow meets Ghandi. Something like that, I’m not too picky about the icons as long as they’re more or less equivalent. But how do I make all these mesh up?

I guess that’s where living creatively comes in. I guess that’s why I’m going to have to work hard at this.

The Universe has at least begun cooperating. The freelance jobs have continued their “just right” trickle into my inbox. All I have to fight now is myself. I’m meeting someone tomorrow about potentially joining a startup. I’ll see what their idea is, whether it’s something I can get behind, whether they want too much from me.

Honestly? There is one project I would personally like to see brought to fruition. As soon as I finish with That One Freelance Project I’ll have to get started on it. It’ll require people who have skills in business theory and psychology, people who are way smarter than me and probably hard to find, but I think it’ll have the potential to do some really cool things for the world as a whole. It’s a need I’ve identified which I’m really excited about trying to fill.

I’ll keep you updated.



The Times, They Are A-Changin’ (cover)

In Video on January 29, 2011 by ryepdx Tagged: , , , ,

Sorry, took a while to get this up, but better late than never, right?

I was going to do a different song, but I decided that this was more appropriate in light of the revolution going on over in Egypt.

I’ve been following the Egypt situation loosely throughout the day. Mostly checking in on Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, since that’s where most of the news from the ground seems to be coming from. Here’s a composite of what I know at this point.

1. The military is rumored to be joining with the protesters in certain areas. I saw a Tweet this morning that made this claim, so it’s only a rumor as far as I know, but it’s one of the best things that could happen for the protesters, I think.

2. The riot police are, for the most part, still trying to put down the protests with non-lethal force, though it sounds like lethal force is being used in certain areas. The government has also turned off the electricity and water to Suez, possibly other cities. Paloma Farah on the primary page used to organize the protests (which can be found at writes:

“To all the people of world

The people in Egypt are under governmental siege. Mubarak regime is banning Facebook, Twitter, and all other popular internet sites. Tomorrow the government will block the 3 mobile phone network and the internet completely. And there is news that even the phone landline will be cut tomorrow, to prevent any news agency from following what will happen.

Suez city is already under siege now. The government cut the water supply and electricity, people, including, children and elderly are suffering there now. The patients in hospitals cannot get urgent medical care. The injured protestors are lying in the streets and the riot police are preventing people from helping them. The families of the killed protestors cannot get the bodies of their sons to bury them. This picture is the same in north Saini (El-Sheikh zoyad city) and in western Egypt (Al-salom). The riot police is cracking down on protestors in Ismailia, Alexandria, Fayoum, Shbin Elkoum, and Cairo, the capital, in many neighborhoods across the city.

The government is preparing to crackdown on the protestors in all Egyptian cities. They are using tear gas bombs, rubber and plastic pullets, chemicals like dilutes [diluted?] mustard gas against protestors. Several protestors today have been killed when the armored vehicles of the riot police hit them. Officials in plain clothes carrying blades and knives used to intimidate protestors.

All this has been taken place over the past three days during the peaceful demonstrations in Cairo and other cities. Now, with the suspicious silence of the local media and the lack of coverage from the international media, Mubarak and his gang are blocking all the channels that can tell the world about what is happening.

People who call for their freedom need your support and help. Will you give them a hand?

The activists are flooding the net (youtube and other sites) with thousands of pictures and videos showing the riot police firing on armless [unarmed?] people. The police started to use ammunition against protestors. [A] 15-year old girl has been injured and another 25 year old man has been shot in the mouth. While nothing of these has appeared in the media, there is more to happen tomorrow. Will you keep silent? Will you keep your mouth shut while seeing all these cruelty and inhumane actions?

We don’t ask for much, just broadcast what is happening.”

3. There may soon be protests at various Egyptian embassies around the world. Someone created a Facebook page at today in an attempt to organize international demonstrations of support for the protesters in Egypt.

4. This is more of an idea than something I learned. Ahmed Hefny writes:

“Egyptians suggested that we should call random numbers in Egypt especially in Suez, Ismailia, Port Said, Alexandia and Cairo. We need to support our people there. We need to post the spirit. We will ask them not to surrender and to continue protesting until Mubarak regimen is down. Freedom is a week away. We will not let Egypt down.”




What the hell, Egypt?

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2011 by ryepdx

In recent news, Egypt has disappeared from the Internet.

Okay, that’s not entirely true: there are still a few small ISPs functioning. But the vast majority of Egyptians are now without access to the Internet. This is going to do a number on their infrastructure unless the block is lifted soon.

It’s not Friday and I haven’t really researched this much. This only came to my attention about five or ten minutes ago. I’ll try to get a much more complete post up tomorrow after more details start coming out. But this is too big a deal, I think, to not at least write something about it right away.

The outage appears to be linked to protests which were planned to take place just a few hours before. Most of what I’ve read so far seems to imply that the government may have shut down the nation’s four largest ISPs in order to keep the protesters from organizing. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out after the dust has settled.


Gutting Microwaves

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2011 by ryepdx

I finally figured out how to get videos on my blog. It turned out to be easy, which only makes the fact that I couldn’t figure it out before somewhat embarassing.

I didn’t make the video above, but I thought it was sufficiently impressive to warrant sharing. I suddenly have an urge to visit Oslo, Norway. :-3

Lauren and I have been busy practicing for our show on February 9th. We’re going to try performing with pre-recorded beats to get around our drummer-challenged status. I’m not nervous about it yet, but I know I’ll be getting a case of the jelly-legs come the day of the show. I’m a little concerned about what the audience’s reaction to canned drumming will be. Still, I figure it’s worth a shot.

I took apart another microwave today. “Wait, ‘another?'” I can hear you say. Well yes, I suppose I did forget to blog about the first one I took apart. My parents’ microwave died and, seeing as I’m an eccentric technophile, they asked me if I wanted to take any parts from it before they sent it off to be recycled.

Did you know that you can make an arc welder with two microwave transformers? Neither did I, but I found out after about five minutes of searching Google. I took out the transformer, along with anything else that looked interesting, and then camped out on Craigslist, checking the “free” section a couple times every day for another microwave.

I lucked out today. Someone out in Tigard was giving away a microwave whose only problem appeared to be a blown turntable motor. Everything else? In working order.

So now I have the guts from two microwaves sitting in a corner of my room. I have to figure out what to do with all the motors and the two magnetrons. What am I going to do with two magnetrons? I have no idea. I need to find a project for those which isn’t likely to cook my innards. I feel like there aren’t many of those kinds of projects out there aside from, you know, making a microwave.

My bandmate’s right. I am Bob the Builder.

More music in video form coming Friday. Stay tuned!

Safety tip: If you’re ever gutting a microwave, make sure you drain the capacitor as soon as you get the case off. You can do this by using a screwdriver with an insulated to bridge the terminals on it. If there was power in the capacitor, you’ll hear a loud “pop.” A lot of manufacturers these days just connect the capacitor to the case with a resistor, though, so it drains on its own after being unplugged for a while. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take a few seconds to make sure the capacitor really has been drained.


I Got New Books!

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 by ryepdx

There’s a story that goes with this one.

A few days ago I took two boxes full of books to Powell’s City of Books. (Most people just call it Powell’s, but this often confuses me as there are no less than six different Powell’s bookstores in Portland, two of which I spent a lot of time around in high school and neither of which are the City of Books.)

Usually they look through my trade paperbacks and inspirational/evangelical books still left over from my Christian days and find nothing they need. It’s always somewhat embarrassing when that happens, like I have bad taste in books or something. I know that’s not the case; probably has to do with inventory or something; but there it is.

This time they found things they needed. Naturally, I took store credit. Or, rather, my girlfriend (who was with me at the time) did, because you need photo ID to take store credit and I have a terrible habit of leaving the house without photo ID.

Policeman with radar gun.

Most people call this the radar gun. I call it the "Oh shit, I left my driver's license at home AGAIN, didn't I?" gun.

So I returned later with my girlfriend, ready to spend the $40 in store credit I’d earned. Powell’s City of Books is a pretty popular place. Not hard to believe, since it’s only the largest used (and new) bookstore in the world. A whole city block of bookish goodness stacked three stories high. One room from this place is about the size and inventory of your average neighborhood used bookstore. It’s a bibliophile’s wet dream. A bookworm’s orgasmotron. And it’s open thirteen glorious hours every day.

Running into people one knows should not be surprising, given the draw of the place, and yet at the same time… it is.

I had just finished drooling over the stacks of Cory Doctorow books and was meandering over to the wall of manga (it’s a sickness, I know) when I found myself being hauled by the shirt collar into the adjacent cafe.

“She’s here!” My girlfriend whispered into my ear.
“Who’s here?”
“My ex-roommate.”

“My ex-roommate” is not strictly a technical term. It does refer to an ex-roommate, but she’s had many roommates in the past. There’s only one person I’ve heard referred to as simply “my ex-roommate,” though. It’s a little like saying “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” instead of “Voldemort.”


Now, I’m sure I’ve seen a sociopath up close. It is estimated that something like 1 out of every 100 people in North America are sociopaths. But I’ve never seen someone in person who I already, before even meeting them, strongly suspected to be a sociopath.

“Where is she?”

After getting her description, I wandered back into the Gold Room, like Steve Irwin on a hunt. “We have to be very careful with this one,” I felt like whispering. But my accents have always been horrible.

It wasn’t very exciting. She looked like anyone else. I frowned and made a note to get my “sociopath radar” fixed.

Lots of meandering and browsing ensued. Then, up in the Pearl Room, among the stacks of music books, who should I spy but Tweaked Out Elvis Costello (from my bandmate’s blog) and his girlfriend?

My gut instinct? Hide.

Except I walked right past him and did an over-the-shoulder “wait, is that really who I think it is?” as I passed. Except I hid myself on the opposite side of the very bookshelf he was looking at. Except I couldn’t bring myself to say anything lest he hear and recognize my voice, trying instead to communicate with hand signals as my girlfriend kept asking me what was going on and why I wouldn’t say anything.

Somehow that worked.

But then as we were leaving the Pearl Room about fifteen minutes later, I glanced over my shoulder just as TWOEC was coming around a bookshelf. We locked eyes. Pretty sure I looked like a deer facing oncoming traffic. (This is why you should never look back when attempting a daring escape.)

The Great Escape

And THIS is why you should you never, EVER respond to English when escaping a POW camp dressed as an Nazi officer.

“Oh, hi,” I said.
“Hey,” he said.

Awkward silence.

“How’s it going?”
“Pretty good. How are things with yourself?”
“Pretty good.”

Awkward silence.

“Well, see you later.”

Not sure why I was so concerned about meeting him. Maybe it’s because last time I saw him I was in the rain, hauling my guitar back to my car after a band practice. He tried to start a philosophical debate with me. I remember it now…

“What is the role of the troubadour in modern society?”

Troubadour, eh? I thought. Does he mean “troubadour” in the historical sense, as in “one who chooses a lady of the court as his muse and waxes poetic about them,” or in the broader, popular sense of “one who writes music with lyrics, intending to make a person think?”

This came out as: “Define troubadour. Are we talking courtly love and all that, or Bob Dylan? I mean, this could extend out as far as to include Lady Gaga, really.”

My feathers were already somewhat ruffled. It was cold, rainy, I was ready to go home, and here he was trying to start a debate that sounded like more like a philosophical pissing contest than any kind of earnest inquiry. I get terse under those circumstances.

But at the same time I do love a good debate.

“I mean someone who wanders around, playing songs on their instrument for people to hear.”

“Oh, you mean a busker.”

“No, I mean someone who goes out into the woods, into nature, writing songs and stuff.”

Pissing contest. No, wait. Worse. I took a look at his girlfriend, who was standing with him in the stairwell, at the tiny little smirk under his pencil-thin mustache, at the oversized hipster glasses, at me in my button-up shirt, and I knew exactly what was going on.

I’m not quite sure how I got myself out of that one. It was the precipitation, I think, and the cold that kept me from standing there and tearing his logic apart. The bloodlust was upon me, so to speak, but so was the rain. I took my chance when he turned to his girlfriend to get a light for his cigarette.

“I should get going. See you later!”

I was amused and yet somewhat angry. I had gotten quite a bit wetter and colder for his intellectual chest-beating, but the whole encounter was, taken as a whole, laughable. I added this to the stories I already knew about him and moved on.

I thanked sweet Athe that I hadn’t gotten dragged into a repeat of the encounter above. I had things to do and Powell’s (City of Books) was closing in about half an hour.

Just to top the night off, I then met a much more pleasant individual from the same apartment as TWOEC. He remembered my name; to my chagrin I did not remember his. He complimented me on my band’s music, I thanked him and wished him a good night, and then we were off.

Three people I was somehow connected to in one night. I’m always amused and comforted when that happens.

On a closing note, I got two new books. One called The Checklist Manifesto (by Atul Gawande) and another called Overclocked
(a collection of short stories by Cory Doctorow.) I am more excited about the Cory Doctorow book. I feel like I need the checklist book more. :-p

I look rather manic in this photo. Maybe I'm just excited to have a copy of The Checklist Manifesto? :-p

Read books!


I Got A Tumblr!

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 by ryepdx

I got seduced into starting a “micro-blog” on Tumblr. It’ll have less focus and more content than this blog, but you’re invited to go find and follow me there if you like.

My URL is


I Got A Ukulele!

In Slice of Life on January 24, 2011 by ryepdx

Look what came in the mail for me today!

A ukulele!

Yeah, I’m pretty stoked about that. Maybe it’ll make its debut in my video this Friday? Perhaps…

I texted my bandmate about this recent acquisition.

Me: Guess what just came in the mail? 😀
Her: 😀 tiny tim time! is it beautiful? have you named it yet?

I don’t normally name my instruments. I have enough trouble remembering people’s names, so why would I want to make my life harder by giving my instruments names?

Oh well. Maybe I’ll call it… mini-me? :-p