Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

As of late, this saying has rung true for life. The meaning in English: All hours wound; the last one kills. It is seen on sundials, and is found in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which by the way is where I first remember learning it. Life isn’t all like this, of course, but at times like the one I and my family is going through, it certainly feels like it.

My father-in-law has taken a turn for the worse and is in the hospital again. We are having a very hard time making sure that he takes care of himself. We hope that when he is released he will again come stay with us instead of insisting to staying at his home.

It’s not an easy thing for me to talk about, and not something that I usually talk about here. It is something that I am pushed, to do otherwise I won’t be able to deal with it productively.

There isn’t much we can do other than hope for the best and plan for the worst. His room is still made up in our house, and he seemed to enjoy the time when he was in it.

In my own personal beliefs, life should be fought for, cherished, something you only ever get one chance at. It boggles my mind how some people waste it, or are content to be miserable while living it. Even if you believe that there is life after death, why would you want the life you are living to be miserable?

Quality of life, the oh so subjective standard that we look at people who are terminally ill or toward the end of their lives, is terribly important. It is the last chance to enjoy what time you have left, with yourself and those you choose to spend it with.

This post hasn’t been entirely lucid, I know. This is one of the things that has been weighing on my mind of late, and causing my thoughts to scatter. I am hoping by putting some of these things down here, that I can focus on the things that need doing.

It’s a dark tunnel right now. I feel that it’s going to get darker before I come out into the light. Right now, each hour hurts. The difference for me is that I embrace that pain, make it my own, and see it through until the end. Since there is so much more worth seeing and doing. Erin has a saying she loves from a movie. Unfortunately, I don’t remember either the movie, or the actual quote, paraphrased though it’s: “Another sunrise, another day alive.”

Those are the mantras I live by. To live, and love, life itself.

Thanks for listening.

One project down. On to the next!

So yesterday, I talked about all of the projects I have been doing this year, and how I’ve finished a few. Today I can chalk up another one done.

The laser engraver that I have been reworking is finally running smoothly. The small one I had posted about before has been up-sized to be useful for what I wanted it for in the first place, that being cutting vinyl templates for etching glass. It’s cutting second template right now. Well, not now as you read it of course, but as I write this. There are still some kinks to work out by dialing in the settings, and the electronics all need to go into an enclosure, but the bulk of the work is complete.

Pictures? You want pictures?!? *sigh* Ok, here’s pictures. The original, next to the new version:

IMG_20131006_200858

As you can see, the new one is quite a bit bigger than the original. I haven’t used the whole bed yet, and I may not, since the part you can see in the picture is actually all I need for what I had originally planned. Perhaps larger templates are in my future.

I just looked at the image again, wow, what a mess! That’s boxes from the office, my dog’s feet, an old QuickCam from my Quadra 660AV days, and some plaster molds. As you can see, I still have a lot of cleaning to do in the basement.

What next?

Well, I have the deck still, though I got in all of the posts for the main portion this weekend. Given all the delays with getting holes dug, and family emergencies, I am going to have to get an extension on the building permit. Hopefully they actually give extensions. It’s coming along though, and the octagon’s posts should go in tomorrow, weather permitting. After that are the beams and inspection, before moving on to the joists and decking. That will be my main focus over this next week while daylight permitting.

Work is research right now. I’ve reached out to a friend, Jim Van Verth, to help me with some of the higher order math involved. At least it’s higher order enough to me that I don’t know what the symbols mean. I am sure Jim can shed some light on them for me. Thanks in advance Jim!

I’m also working on AngularJS, since it’s something I’ve been seeing worked on more and more. I have a nice little test project for learning it. It’s an interface to a home kegging system for beer. The original project Kegerface, was php and a flat file with beer information. I’m using it for inspiration, but will be completely rewriting it in AngularJS and running on a NodeJS server. More on that in the future, and links to my Github repo when I’m ready for people to hack on it with me.

Don't forget to wear these. Your safety glasses.
Don’t forget to wear these. Your safety glasses.

Work on the secret project also got done this weekend, and it’s running even smoother now. If I can dial in the base rotation system, I will be just about done with the prototype. I’ll keep teasing you with the details until I can talk about it.

I could keep going, but I have more to get done!

A final note. When working with lasers, don’t forget these, your safety glasses. (With thanks to Norm Abrams.)

I am now the answer to life the universe and everything.

I tried to get this out on September 27th, when it was actually my birthday, but… well, you know how things go some days.

What has this last year been like? What have I gained? What have I lost? What do I look forward to?

As much as the answer just asked more questions in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, turning 42 is no different.

Over the last year at work, I have worked on several great projects. One for a major sports franchise doing an app for SmartTVs. Another for a major creator of yearbooks and rings. I’ve worked on the Randori framework, an open source project that allows developers to work in the language they like (currently ActionScript is supported), and have  it output to HTML5, with abstractions for allowing designers to now have to touch the code. I worked for a large bank, doing enterprise development work that handled billions of dollars of reporting data. I even wrote a book!

At home, I’ve been writing more, and raising my wonderful daughters. I’ve been working on building a deck, which has been no mean feat so far, maybe I can get that done before I am 43. I’ve been working on a secret project that early in 2014 I can talk about. My father-in-law has moved in with us, and my own parents have moved from Tucson to Indianapolis so we can see them more often as well.

It has been a full year.

So what have I gained and lost?

Time, in both senses. When I started working on the book, I had such a short set of deadlines to get the chapters in that I cut out all of my computer gaming entirely. Since I had been playing the Champions MMO, that had been a not-insignificant change. I miss the people there, and the role-playing of the life of a super hero. I don’t miss the time it took from me though. I am constantly surprised still at the amount of time I have for the rest of my life.

I have less time now too, both in my overall life, and in my day to day. How so for the day to day, David? You just said you have more time since you cut out gaming! Well, yes, but a vacuum likes to be filled. That time was filled with writing, with being more with my kids, with other projects, with going to bed at a reasonable hour. So I do have less time, however, I *feel* better about it than I had been. I have been more productive overall, and that makes me feel that time is well spent. Overall, a net positive.

I have slowed down my pace, though if you look at the list of things to do I seem to have increased. The difference has been focus. Doing one thing for a span of time, rather than trying to multitask, has been the key. Right now I am writing, but I have my laser engraver, my deck, and my secret project to work on today. Right now, I am writing, not doing all of those. Which has been the key to getting things done for me, your mileage may vary, but it works for me. It’s why you will see this post, instead of having it sit as a draft for another month.

What do I look forward to?

This year, everything. Life right now is really good. I’m employed, I have a great family, and the projects I am doing have been things have scratched a Maker itch that has been pestering me for a long time now. There aren’t many clouds on the horizon, and I hope that it stays that way. I have always believed that people make their own fate, though I have not always followed that belief. Now however, I am. I have the reigns firmly in hand, and I am controlling this horse called life.

What do I have planned for this year?

Good question! I have a lot of things planned. Not all of them will get done, but I will get to them as time allows. I plan on finishing the laser engraver within the next month or so, as long as nothing further goes awry (more on that in a future post). The deck certainly needs work. I am planning on writing a series of short books on 3D printing, now that the first one is out I realize there is a lot more that I can say on the matter to help people get into the hobby side of things. The secret project definitely needs work. I had a breakthrough late last week, and it was what I needed to get my enthusiasm for it ramped back up.

On the horizon is editing the fiction book I co-wrote with Katherine Guevara-Birmelin, working title of Sky and Storms. It’s massive, and written over email, so it has a *HUGE* amount of editing to do. I have a setting for another fiction novel in my head, spawned by the fallout from having to cancel Vegas After Midnight. Mick still has the fire in him to get his version out, and I encourage you to check it out.

From my desk here in the basement (moved here since the office is now the father-in-law room) I hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs, which sound much larger than they used to only a few years ago, I know I need to wrap this up. Until next time, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Slowing down, to get more things done.

If you have been reading along, or know me personally, it is no surprise that I go from subject to subject, project to project. I’m a consultant for that reason. I normally on a project for a short time, from two weeks to three months, and then I’m off on the next one. It suits me. I have enjoyed working on longer term projects, as long as when I am, I am doing new things in that project.

The problem with that process outside of work, is finishing things. I generally have several projects going at one time. It’s not new for me. Recently, though I have been handling it differently.

In the last several months I have cut out 99% of my gaming. The MMO I was playing has some great friends and roleplayers on it, but it just took up too much of my time. Television via Hulu and Netflix have been cut down to almost nothing as well. It’s amazing how much time you have to become a producer when you cease being a consumer.

I haven’t stopped altogether though. I’ve been reading more, and researching for the projects that I am working on. I’ve also been selectively consuming mass amounts of YouTube videos. Not all of them project related, some for just entertainment, but even in those I find inspiration now. All of them are DIY, even when they have become successful, they have been at one point a small operation.

Refocusing and becoming a producer of things instead of trying to do projects and consuming entertainment media has helped me with focusing on finishing my projects. Since most of the things pulling at my attention are projects of mine, I am getting those projects closer and closer to completion. I’ve completed several over the last few months, like the small laser cutter, a bookshelf for my oldest daughter, and general things around the house.

Deadlines also help as well. I finished a book recently, which you will hear more about soon, thanks to a set of deadlines I had from the publisher, as well as my own word count goals. I’ve also set deadlines for my secret project, and my building permit for my deck runs out soon. Those keep me focused as well.

It’s not perfect, but it’s still better than before. Over the next month, through the rest of the year, I will be keeping up the pace. I invite you all to keep me honest and on my toes if I start slipping behind.