Eric Hodel




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Build a zeppelin (read all 4 entries…)
Ribs

I’ve built two ribs, so my hands are now thoroughly covered in superglue. I laminated three layers of 3/32” x 3/8” balsa in a spiral. Each rib is about 20” in diameter.

While building the spiral I used pins to hold the balsa in place while the glue set. The first rib was a bit more difficult as I pinned down the strips in too many places. The second I only pinned the ends down and glued longer sections. This gave fewer voids in the lamination, too.



Build a zeppelin (read all 4 entries…)
New Tools!

Today I went out and got some balsa wood and various tools to begin construction of my zeppelin. I started by cutting a piece 3” by 6” by 1/32” sheet of balsa into 3/8” strips using this method, then I put some nails in a 4’ x 4’ sheet of plywood in a circle. I stopped after seven because it seemed too loud.

With 36” strips this thin, I won’t need to soak the balsa to get it to bend, which means I won’t need to clean my tub for soaking.

I’ve already sustained an injury, which can only be a good omen, as almost every other time I’ve built something awesome I’ve drawn blood. This time it was from hitting my elbow on my counter as I retrieved my x-acto knife.



save 6 months of living expenses
High Burn

I figure that if I have six months of savings and need to use it, I’ll probably burn through it at double the typical rate. I won’t be working, I’ll be having fun, so I’ll have all the typical expenses plus the vacation-like activities I’ll be enjoying.

So far I’ve got two months regular expenses covered. By the end of 2007 I should have 6 months covered. I’m making 20% more than my previous job and I’m directing most of that right into 401k, but the remainder has been chewed up by more conference travel.

The higher 401k deferment should also keep the cash/investment balance decent. Right now I have 1/4 liquid and 3/4 in investments.

Also, having 6 months of double the minimum I need to get by gives me plenty of money to draw on for something like a down payment.



hike in the dark (read all 2 entries…)
Full Moon!

I went out to Rattlesnake Ledge again last night, and the full moon made a flashlight almost unnecessary. I did use a flashlight a bit on the descent since there were some nasty shadows near the top.

The awesomest thing about a full moon in away from civilization is the pictures you can take. With a 15s exposure on my camera, I got pictures very close to daylight, but grainier. Behind me is Chester Morse Lake, source of almost half of Seattle’s water.



learn jujutsu (read all 11 entries…)
Urgh!

I was planning on making January a good month for practice, but then I just had to go and injure my shoulder (fortunately, only a minor injury).

Had I not been injured, I’d have worked on ude garami, an arm lock. Now I probably won’t be able to practice for two weeks :P



make a difference
Untitled

I usually attack the small things like littering and other anti-social behaviors, but sometimes go for the bigger things like stopping assault. (Oh and there’s the whole giving platelets and open source software thing.)

The world won’t get better all by itself.



sleepy under a mossy log
Untitled

I had to do this for my wilderness survival badge.

I survived.



Learn to clean, load, and shoot several types of guns (read all 2 entries…)
Wade's

Today I shot:

  • Glock 9mm
  • .38 Special
  • Springfield Armory 1911A
  • .357 Magnum

I was most accurate with the Magnum with five rounds in three inches, but it was also the gun I took the most care shooting. Focusing on the front sight and aligning with the out-of-target focus gave me better results than focusing on the target and aligning out of focus sights.

The Glock had a nice, light trigger pull, but was so light I was very unsteady with it. The 1911 was heavy and steady, but the trigger pull was so hard it was difficult to shoot straight, I kept twisting my wrist down and to the left.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Untitled

As I’ll be at The Robot Co-op all of one more week, this is no longer feasible.



use an airplane oxygen mask
Untitled

While flying over North or South Dakota a slight breeze went through the cabin and the oxygen masks deployed. I couldn’t use mine right away because it wouldn’t let go. (So the oxygen masks aren’t perfect.) I wasn’t too concerned since the plane hadn’t completely lost pressure.

We went into a swift but not too steep dive down to 10,000 feet. On the way they were playing with the pressurization causing severe ear pain until I equallized the pressure. One poor kid couldn’t get his ears equalized and screamed for five to ten minutes.

The oxygen mask didn’t seem to do anything, but it may have been because the plane wasn’t completely depressurized.

We ended up landing in Bismark, ND. They’ve ordered forty pizzas and we’re waiting for our plane out which will arrive 3 AM local time. Our other option is to sleep overnight and fly back to Minneapolis then back to Seattle, which is uncool.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
DB Tweak

The database memory limits were a tad conservative, so I increased them and performed some tweaking. The database looks like its much happier now.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Images

I ripped out our old image generation API over the weekend and replaced it with the newer one. Since our test coverage isn’t complete there are still a few dark corners I need to poke at to get things working 100%.

The new API will work after the loss of a disk (by rebuilding images from redundant copies of the originals), while the old one wouldn’t which will make the site more robust.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Zeitgeist Memory Leak

We were allocating over 25M per zeitgeist page, which occasionally would cause our processes to run out of memory.

Now we aren’t, which is great!



Balloon Bounce
Balloons

We were thinking about this.

We’re looking for used LARGE military or weather balloons. Preferably a lot of them. The best we’ve found were some new (and expensive) Chloroprene/latex weather balloons and we’d have to buy 15 of them at their max volumes. We also found some 24 year old Kaysam balloons on ebay that have a lifting capacity of 118kg per so we’d only need about 3-4 of those…

— Ryan Davis



swim in a volcano (read all 2 entries…)
Can't wait!

Thursday!



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Oops

Two little bugs slipped out for a bit, both having to do with entry editing. But they’re fixed now.

Also, I made the ad parsing code much faster by parsing the ads with a regular expression instead of REXML. It doesn’t really take much time, but REXML is just bloat, bloat, bloat.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Launched!

Tomorrow I’ll be able to tell what kind of difference it made.

Of course, the change will be slight.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Entry body caching

I just checked in a change that caches entry bodies which will eliminate the load of formatting entries over and over. Hopefully it will go live tomorrow.



Make 43 Things Faster (read all 8 entries…)
Faster!

The website is a bit slow in places, and we don’t take advantage of enough of the nifty new things that Rails offers.

We just pushed an update using Rails 1.1 and converted a bunch of views to using partials on our slowest pages. This will give us the ability to find which parts of the page are slowest and optimize.



swim in a volcano (read all 2 entries…)
Untitled

This is going to be so worth it.



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