Showing posts from 2016

A short thought about automation and cultural bubbles

My brother and I were talking about the fears of automation and it led to him searching for articles arguing against those who were concerned.  Among them he found this one: "Opinions: The robots aren’t threatening your job" [Washington Post].  It offers the general dismissals of a journalist living in Washington DC in 2015. The Great Robot Freakout of 2015 has begun, and it looks a lot like the robot freakouts that came before it.   In a new survey by CNBC, Americans were asked how concerned they were, if at all, that their jobs could be replaced by technology in the next five years. The level of automation angst was astonishing: About 1 in 8 workers indicated was worried about being displaced. Among those earning less than $30,000, it was a whopping 1 in 4.    ...  Then, as now, such premonitions embraced the so-called   Luddite Fallacy : that technological developments would permanently reduce or even eliminate the need for human labor. But again and again su

Global Warming: It is too late to stop us from stopping it

Recently I've read several articles that excite me regarding climate change. If you know me, you probably know that I have a pet peeve for climate alarmists.  There is a famous scene in Aaron Sorkin's show "The Newsroom" in which a scientist informs the protagonist that the literal apocalypse has occurred, and we are now living in the brief delay between when it happened and when the events foretold in the Book of Revelations unfold.  The concept of the scene is clear: Sorkin is trying to shock his audience with the knowledge that global warming is not something which is coming, it is something which has come.  And that's true.  It's effects have already begun, and by all projections it is too late to shift course before we see catastrophic weather events that may kill thousands.  Which sucks.  But 1.25 million people died in car accidents last year, so lets not confuse what's coming with the literal end of humankind. Panic among those concerned a

The Mozingo Wedding

What a weekend. An old friend, Peter, visited town on his way back to his current home in Uruguay. He came to LA for my wedding, then visited his family on the East coast before returning to Los Angeles to fly home. On Saturday morning we went to the beach with the intention of diving.  The waves were too rough, so we hung out on the beach instead, which was just fine.  Afterwards, we got Mexican food before heading to a friend's wedding. Regan and Schno held a very personal ceremony.  They encouraged all guests to dress in whatever garb made them feel powerful, so their wedding was attended by wizards and a guy who might actually be the real Thor.  Afterwards, we all went back to their house for a party for the ages. Regan and Schno throw great parties on a regular basis, so it should be no surprise that their wedding reception was one for the ages.  It included a variety show, in which I participated.  I can't express how much fun this was.  This is a crowd that inclu

A Requiem for Paul Ryan

This seems like it might be an opinion that is unpopular with both liberals and conservatives, but I honestly feel really bad for Paul Ryan, and I don't think he's spineless at all. Paul Ryan has been repeatedly called spineless for failing to openly oppose Trump.  I've heard many commentators -- Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee -- point out Ryan's own full-throated denouncements of Trump's behavior as evidence that Ryan clearly hates the candidate he purports to endorse.  They then charge Ryan with cowardice for not standing up to a candidate he knows is completely unqualified. I get the logic here, but I see a different set of calculations behind Ryan's actions.  I think Paul Ryan has continued to endorse Donald Trump for two reasons: 1)  He sincerely believes that upholding party unity is a cardinal virtue. 2)  He isn't willing to sacrifice his career for a symbolic protest. Now, there's certainly plenty of room for di

I got married

So, in short I'm burned out.  But in a good way. I got married on the 22nd of September.  Woo!  Married! It was a lot  of work.  Honestly, declaring myself bound to another human being for life was less stressful than the logistics.  Venue.  Catering.  Cake.  Clothes.  Invitations.  Guests.  I just barely pulled it off, and technically I'm not done until I finish thank yous, receive and sort photos, settle payment and rate the vendors who all did a fantastic job.  Oy. I don't know if I made myself sick, from exhausting myself or if I just feel exhausted because I happened to get sick.  In either case, I'm exhausted and a little sick.  But not like, out of work, sick.  It's cool. In addition to the wedding, Julie, myself, and all our friends had a whirlwind week.  Both Julie and myself had family and old friends visiting. I'm just going to break it all down. Sunday the 18th Marge and Zeke arrived. Monday the 19th Jack, Marge, Zeke and I drove to J

Posting more crafts: Last year's Chicken Coop

I finally posted an overview of the build process for the chicken coop.  I'm hoping that it gets selected as a 'featured' project, completing a hat-trick setup by the Captain America costume and the Arc Reactor. I started building that coop in March of 2015.  I finished it officially in October of 2015.  I meant to share an overview, since as my posts and this website attest, I'm trying to improve my skills in not just building things, but documenting how I did so and compiling all such projects into a kind of portfolio (which is this blog).  I'm very proud of the coop, but I was pretty daunted by the process of compiling it.  The challenge to get a third featured post on Instructables motivated me, though, and I'm really proud of the result. As proud as I am, it's humbling to see the entries people submit to Instructables contests.  People build and program drones from scratch, and present a summary of their approach with better communication skills tha

I'm making Kambucha now

Recently, Julie and I discovered kombucha. We were at a vegan restaurant near our house.  Although their food is great and as a vegetarian I appreciate the service they provide, vegan restaurants tend to incorporate certain elements which feel very 'new-age'.  This is stuff Julie and I generally want no part of.  Imagined gluten allergies, for instance.  Or GMO alarmism. So it was on a lark that Julie purchased a bottle of kombucha.  It's fermented tea, which happens to be two of yuppies' favorite words.  To both of our surprise, it was great.  It's tangy and carbonated.  It tastes a fair bit like hard cider, although it has negligible alcohol.  It's like soda, but it's only got 30 calories.  Of course, that shit's going to be like $4 a bottle. So out of curiosity, I looked online to see how it is made and discovered that it is supposedly very, very, easy to make. You make tea.  You sweeten your tea with sugar.  Then you add kambucha to i

I'm having fun posting how-to guides

I'm feeling really good.  I just posted the full set of instructions on how I made Julie's Arc reactor on Instructables.  If you haven't seen it, is a website where users can submit instructions on how to make something.  It's pretty remarkable.  You can find instructions for changing the bulbs in your headlights, recipes for brownies, or an guide to making friendship bracelets.  Among these are a lot of electronics projects. It's odd and inspiring to see how much can be made with such cheap, available parts so easily.  I recently looked to it because I had an idea at work, and found instructions on how to build an ohm meter from $30 of parts.  It's exciting to be able to access so much knowledge. At some point, I decided that it'd be cool to be able to provide that level of usefulness.  Fortunately, you don't have to produce a college course, you just need to do a good job documenting a project well done.  So I started taking pictu

Julie and Andy Go to ComicCon

Last weekend, Julie and I went to ComicCon. This was the second time I'd gone to a comic book convention, but the first one was much smaller. We went for a couple hours on Sunday, so we only experienced a slice of it, but that was more than enough. Someone gave her free tickets, so we went. Obviously, she went as Tony Stark and I went as Captain America. It was a lot of fun, despite the incredible burden it was for Julie. She spent the day walking around a bustling convention hall, which was a hell of a way to get back into walking now that she has her walking boot. While eating lunch, a stranger was gushing about what a great Drunk Tony Stark costume she had. She chuckled and sighed and explained that it had just been a regular Tony Stark costume when she'd left the house. Julie met Eric Powell, the creator and writer of The Goon .  If you haven't heard of it, the Goon is an incredible, funny, and original comic that is really worth buying.  If you have hear

Fourth of July

Enjoy some pictures of a fun Fourth of July weekend.

Julie's out of her cast

Julie got her cast replaced last month, and this month she finally got it off, after three months wearing it.  Take a look.  Be warned, there is a gnarly lookin' foot picture in this album.

I'm an uncle

Last month my sister and her husband had a daughter.  This last weekend I went home for her naming.  I had a great time.  It was fun seeing family and the few friends I was able to say hello to during the 48 hours I was in town.

I have turned 30!

On Saturday, May 14th, Jack and I celebrated our 30th birthday.  Leading up, we'd had a few discussions about what we wanted from the party. I meant to post about the party after the actual party, but May was a busy month.  I'll cut to the chase: it was the best birthday party I've ever had. I try not to fall into the trap of assigning too much significance to birthdays.  Our lives are not lived for one regularly-spaced day every year, and it makes no sense to judge our live by the events of such a day.  That said, birthdays tend to be times of reflection and self-assessment, and having a bunch of awesome people party their asses off makes for a very positive self-assessment. The planning inspired a rare disagreement between Jack and myself.  He wanted to keep it casual and easy-going.  I wanted a spectacle, and I wanted the party to effect a mature impression.  I don't want red solo cups when I'm turning 30.  I don't want a party that looks like an attemp

Jack is leaving Grad School, by way of Japan

This was a tumultuous month.  Jack's been preparing for a trip to Japan to conduct research for the summer.  In advance, however, his adviser explained to him that she doesn't see a path for him to finish his PhD in her lab.  This didn't preclude his completing his PhD in another lab, but Jack concluded that he'd tried several advisers and it seemed clear that grad school was not a productive environment for him.  He's still going to Japan, though. It's a situation I'm familiar with.  I left grad school at the insistence of my guidance committee two years ago.  It is a lot like a breakup.  Often, it is for the best, but that doesn't change the fact that it requires a major change in lifestyle and a period of uncertainty.  In my case, I can say from experience that it was definitely for the best.  I feel far more productive and positioned for long-term success in my current job.  I hope Jack finds the same outcome. In the meantime, he's going to J

Building an Arc Reactor, Part II: Success!

In preparation for Civil War, I pushed hard to finish the Arc Reactor prop I described in Part I .  Afterwards, I posted it to Reddit on the DIY forum .  It got a total of 3599 'upvotes' and 207 comments.  The next day, Jack told me that a coworker asked if his brother was Andrew, because she'd stumbled across the post, which had been reposted to another site entirely.  F' yeah. The finished product The inspiration Wearable Arc reactor prosthetic DIY

Captain America: Civil War!

It has been a wild month.  On the 13th of April, Julie SMASHED her leg.  Totally f'd it all to h.  Then on May 6, we went to see Captain America: Civil War in theaters, in costume.  I was Captain America. This is the third time we've dressed up (cosplayed, it's called) for a movie.  My mom asked, "Is that something people do?"  Kinda, Mom.  Kinda.  People do it occasionally, although for a movie this size it's not quite as common.  Still, the reaction is fantastic.  People take pictures with you and geek out.  It's a lot of fun.  It's better with more people, and this time we rolled deep: eleven people were in our group, five in costume. This costume was a real milestone for me.  I've always enjoyed making costumes for Halloween and such.  Usually, I've relied on resourcefulness and lucky finds at Goodwill.  Often, the key is distilling a character's look into a few key items/colors/shapes/icons etc to make it clear who you are without

This was supposed to be a full post, but it's a month behind

Julie broke her leg when she got hit while riding her motorcycle.  This happened two weeks ago, so anyone reading this probably already heard.  She'll be fine, but for now her left leg is in an external fixator, which is a bunch of rods and pins holding her bones in place though her skin. While I'm on the subject, though, I'm going to describe my observations while Julie was recuperating at Dignity Health -- formally California Hospital -- in down town LA. The short version is that Dignity Health is a bad hospital.

Zika research: Science in a hurry

Recently headlines have declared that Zika has been confirmed to cause microcephaly.  If you haven't been following, Zika is a viral infection similar to Yellow Fever or Denguy Fever that has broken out in Brazil over the last year.  At the same time, Brazil has witnessed an epidemic of a severe birth defect called microcephaly.  It's alarming both for it's consequence and it's mystery.  Microcephaly is a terrible birth defect in which babies are born with small, malformed brains.  But although it seems likely that the microcephaly epidemic is the result of an outbreak of another virus occurring at the same time, we don't actually know how Zika causes microcephaly or how often microcephaly occurs in women with Zika.  This is a huge question. In order to firmly establish that Zika is actually CAUSING birth defects that are occurring, researchers in Brazil grew neruons in a dish and then infected them with Zika.  When they did, the neurons died. What's funny a

Why you should vote for Sanders: possibly not the reason you thought

If you're one of my friends then statistically speaking you're already voting for Bernie Sanders.  But if you happen to be an outlier, then I'd like to offer a reason why you really should vote for Bernie Sanders in your state's primary.  It's because his candidacy has a forced attention on to critical issues going on in our country and we all are benefiting more the longer this discussion goes.  I think that even if you don't actually agree with Bernie Sanders, you still might agree that the attention being paid to things like income inequality and the roles that our political parties play in modern politics is long overdue. Right now I'm assuming that if you aren't already voting for Sanders it's because you've considered his strengths and weaknesses against those of Hillary Clinton and you've concluded one or more of the following: either he's too liberal for you or he's too liberal to get elected. Although I disagree, I won

I saw Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

On Tuesday I went to see the new Batman Superman movie with Ryan and Jack.  It was truly abysmal.  I knew going in that the movie wasn't made for me, and so I tried to go in and watch it for what it was trying to be.  But boy did it stink. There are lots of movies that don't quite work.  2006's "Superman Returns" for example was another Superman film that flopped.  At the time, I was an apologist, because I could see what director Bryan Singer was trying to accomplish.  He failed, but I could appreciate that he had picked his version of the character and made his creative decisions, even if the pieces never quite fell into place the way he'd hoped. But this film... Zach Snyder and David Goyer join the ranks of George Lucas, M. Knight Shyamalan, and Damon Lindelof as creative minds with terrible taste and complete confidence in themselves. Like the other three, this writer director team created a movie which could only have come to exist because the drivi

Julie and I got engaged!

Days after celebrating our three year anniversary I proposed to my girlfriend Julie.  To answer some basic questions: The ring was a simple custom solitaire with a filigree engraved into a palladium band.  Palladium isn't as popular as platinum because it lacks the name recognition, but it's a fantastic metal. I proposed to Julie at a restaurant near us called Post and Beam.  It's a great place.  To add some personal flair I revealed the location and time in the form of a puzzle.  I didn't want to make it as simple as a pen-and-paper word substitution cipher so instead I thought I'd add a twist by making it something that couldn't be solved without the aid of a computer.  To do this I set up several fake email addresses and built a story around it.  Two of the addresses discussed plans that revealed the time and location of our dinner.  The other two contacted Julie to request her help breaking into one of the two email addresses.  I supplied her with a user

Building an Arc Reactor: Part I: Failure!

Failure is actually an overstatement.  But it's clear that the current approach won't meet my expectations, so I'm going to call it a failure and strive to do better. I've been designing an arc reactor that Julie can wear for cosplay or just when she wants to feel like a bad-ass . The initial design was based on a prop she ordered.  It was just LEDs and a battery holder.  I figured I could do the same thing, but miniaturize it and improve the construction. This is the original that served as inspiration for my design.  Notice the big bulky LEDs. The main improvement was to replace the big chunky LEDs with Surface Mount Device (SMD) LEDs.  See, LEDs are actually very, very, very small by nature.  When you see the kind that most hobbyists use, most of their bulk is actually to make them easier to hold and solder.  Miniaturizing them isn't really an issue.  You just manufacture them normally and then leave out the bulk.  The result is a little tiny light t

I'm trying to build a robot and a movie prop, and it's paying off at work (???)

I've been working on a lot of projects lately.  I haven't finished  anything substantial recently, but I've got ambition.  So I've started several personal projects.  Mostly electrical.  And I'm excited, because recently some tasks at work have dove-tailed with the personal projects I've been working on in remarkable ways. The two main ones are these: 1) An Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) 2) A wearable replica of the Arc Reactor used by Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies The ROV has been this long-time goal of mine.  ROVs are used to explore the bottom of the ocean.  I saw one in operation on an expedition back when I was studying oceanography.  Here is a picture of the one we used: it's a widely popular one used by most of the field of deep sea biology called Jason 2 . I miss the exploratory aspect of natural science.  I've always liked space and the ocean.  The thing is, there are ways to enjoy a pursuit like this without doing i

Andrew's Endorsement: Gasp! It's Bernie Sanders

For those curious where I stand on the 2016 presidential race, I support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders because of his very vocal acknowledgement of the alarming decrease in upward mobility taking place in America today. There is a reason why Bernie Sanders has been consistently finding overwhelming support from voters 30 and under.  First: younger Americans are much more aware of the shortchanging they're receiving.  Secondly, as with all generations, it is the young who are willing to reject the notion that the way things have been done in the past is the only way that they can be done.  Social security was once an ambitious new idea.  The highway system was once new.  Medicare and Medicaid too.  Also, these are all completely socialist programs which most Americans are extremely fond of. Is Bernie Sanders electable?  Absolutely.  He's already shown himself to be a formidable contender against Hillary Clinton.  Furthermore, with the impending nomination of Donald Trump...