Tuesday, January 27, 2009

7 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

The rules:
  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.
I was tagged by Alix Han.
I've tried to choose things most folks won't know. So to those of you who knew some of this already and feel shortchanged: Bonus points for already being a good friend! 
  1. My first childhood dream was to become a singer. I was in a choir. I even wrote 3 songs. All this and I still managed to never learn how to read sheet music. (I just memorized the tune when others sang it)
  2. I had a secret first girlfriend in Junior High school. It was very benign -- we never did more than hold hands. I don't remember much of it because it ended badly and as such I told myself it didn't count and blocked it from my memory. Which was surprisingly effective, as I only remembered it a few years ago.
  3. I wrote a rap song to help my Ultimate team get into Potlatch last year. The song was about a quirky Ultimate player who had attained legendary status at Cal. It took like 2 days to write and ended up with about 45s of audio. My appreciation of rap music grew a thousandfold. 
  4. A (presumably unusual) high percentage of my ex-girlfriends give the thought of dating girls a whirl shortly after dating me. Some of them were just temporarily experimenting, while others truly were more into women after all, and I was simply their proof by contradiction. 
  5. Before there was a YouTube, I was one of the kids who got a webcam and put video of me talking on the internet. Most of it was crap, but when I got video editing software I had a fun time editing it and got some good episodes out of it. When I went to college, I made a trailer for the "College Edition" of the Chris Show, but then had too little free time in college to actually keep making it.
  6. I want to get a tattoo, but don't have a clue what it would be of or where I would put it. I also want to try giving myself a different hairstyle, but don't know what else would look good on me. I had long hair at one point in college, and put my hair up with a hair tie to keep it out of my eyes. The nickname "Samurai" lasted a few weeks. All the ladies said I looked better once I cut my hair short again, so short it's stayed.
  7. On completely separate occasions, I've had someone threaten to kill me, a gun pointed at my head, and got in a fight that was started by my friend's mother at my friend's birthday party. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nerd Wallets!

I decided to make myself a new wallet. There were some problems with the old one, and the ones I could buy didn't have what I wanted. 

The Old Wallet
My old wallet was the first one I actually made myself. Doing my best to be a faithful nerd, I decided to make it entirely out of Duct tape, because what nerd doesn't want a Duct Tape wallet. In fact, the wallet it replaced was a Ducti-brand Duct Tape wallet that I got as a gift. But I wanted to make one for myself, and so I did. 

It only took a few hours, and there wasn't much forethought. Really all I had thought out was how long I'd have to make the pieces of tape so that the fold could hold money. And that's literally all I had thought about. So a few hours later all I had was a foldable pocket for cash, only to realize that I also wanted to carry around my ID and credit cards and the like. Whoops. 

Some ad-hoc planning later and I eventually figured out how to make pockets. I wrapped some tape sticky-side-out around a credit card, and then just stuck the card in the wallet where I wanted a pocket. Voila! Instant pocket. Problem solved.

But, it's not lasting. The Duct tape is wearing away -- there are some holes around the corners and the stickiness is beginning to rub off on my credit cards and whatever else is also in my pocket. And I had kinda jammed too many cards into my afterthought pockets. So I wanted to make a new wallet with the following goals:
  • Not made of Duct Tape so that sticky thing doesn't happen.
  • RFID-blocking so I don't need a special sleeve for my ID
  • An external pocket so I don't have to open my wallet to show the bus driver my bus pass
  • Enough pockets to fit all the cards I actually use in my wallet.
  • A high degree of nerd factor where possible.
The New Wallet
I must say, this is a pretty freakin sweet wallet. I was poking around for tape in my closet and I stumbled upon one of my boxes of aging computer parts. Inside, there was a bag of connectors that had never been used and it hit me. 2 parallel ATA cables could be used to make the wallet. Hell yes.

The dimensions worked out almost perfectly. It turns out the length of a standard PATA cable from Asus is about twice the length of a wallet. So, I got crackin. I hacked away at the connectors so I just had the cable, cut the PATA cables in half, and ironed them flat. Yes, I ironed plastic & copper because THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

Once I was convinced the PATA wallet concept could work, I actually did a bit of designing. I played a bit with paper prototypes to see what kinda size I could make and where I could put pockets. I tried to mimic my old wallet as much as possible, because I do like it. But I also planned out where each of the cards in my current wallet would go before I made the pockets. Which I feel might be a bit obsessive. But I didn't want to end up with not enough pockets or some other glaringly obvious omission at the end. Not again, anyway.

Without going into the extreme detail of its construction (which may only be interesting to me) I managed to get everything I wanted. I did some fancy stitch work with needle & thread to hold everything together. The pockets are made of a different, lightweight material I cut out of a free blanket bag I stole from the Company Meeting. The horizontal pockets on the inside of the wallet are also lined with aluminum foil because early tests showed that the copper in the cables alone weren't enough to fully shield the RFID card. But, they're tastefully hidden inside the pocket, so it's functional and fashionable!
The result is one sturdy, fairly lightweight wallet. That is also UBER AWESOME.

I didn't think of everything, however. After the first day of use, a problem became apparent. The ends of the wallet still had exposed copper (which I thought was cool) but it was rough to the touch, and would bend and get caught in my pocket. I considered doing some fancy stitch work to put some material over the end, but instead, I decided to go with a bit of nostalgia. 

As a bit of a homage to my first wallet, I put some black Duct Tape over the ends. Problem solved.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Proper Vacation, For Once.

Just got back from a great weekend in San Diego. Mid to high 70's, a cloudless Saturday at the beach getting a tan and a beautiful sunset after strolling around Balboa park on Sunday. It was a lot to do in a weekend, and in my usual "get there first - plan things later" method of vacationing, I owe a great debt of thanks to Mignon & Chi, who always knew the cool thing to do next, even if they had trouble figuring out how to get there.

Leaving was tough. This was the weather I missed. These were the people I missed. How could I go back to Seattle? I was beginning to think I had failed.

I had failed because the point of this vacation was to reinvigorate me. Seattle has had an absolutely shitty winter. The holidays ruined my drive at work -- either I was at work struggling without the aid of my coworkers who were on vacation, or I was on vacation having all my energy sapped out of my by family interaction. I was burnt out from being at work, and from being away from work. For my productivity, and for my sanity, that needed to be fixed.

I needed another vacation. A break from work that, for once, also included a break from being stressed. So, I booked a weekend trip to San Diego, to clear my head, regain my sanity, and be more ready to get shit done at work.

Also, Mignon was bugging me to visit.

As I was sitting on the plane back to Seattle, awaiting it to take off, it had appeared that I simply hadn't gotten that hat trick. Yes, it was an amazing time, I had cleared my head, regained my sanity, and truly enjoyed myself. But the last thing I wanted to do was go back to work -- to go back to Seattle. To go back to the cold, the rain -- away from the beaches, the sunsets, the stars, the close friends.

The fact that my return had become an unwanted one only further eroded the work ethic I had attempted to rebuild.

But, the flight was 2 and a half hours. That's plenty of time for a man to think. This particular brand of thinking involved a $5 rum & coke and a bunch of Texas Hold 'em on my iPhone. Two things hit me. One: Meg did a pretty damn good job of teaching me how to play poker. Two: This was just a vacation high. It will fade, and hopefully overall I'll still have been a bit rejuvenated from the experience.

When I got off the plane, the familiar & cold Seattle air hit my skin once again. Except, to my surprise, it felt oddly... refreshing. Pretty damn good, actually. It was like waking up after a full night's sleep. The impact of it intensified once I got out to my car. Instead of the oppressive, omnipresent cold that I had left, the cold was now reduced to a belligerent bully who nobody likes but no one has stood up to yet. And now that I was back, I was ready to kick its ass.

I drove home full speed, with the windows down. A passing sign reported the temperature to be 37 degrees. I laughed and drove faster.

Turns out I hadn't failed after all. I'm back, and the troubles I left here only a few days ago are all pissant douchebags in need of a solid ass kicking. And, instead of just ditching and going to another party, I'm ready to put up my dukes and defend this one.

So: work, weather, whatever -- bring it on. I'm ready to do what needs to be done.

Sunday, January 04, 2009