Blog

Update and Sitrep

Let’s see where things stand.

We did our first big trip with the family out west this summer to the Tetons, Dinosaur National Monument, and Yellowstone. I was initially worried about crowds at Yellowstone, but our trip was excellent. A totally, unmitigated success.

There are several new projects at work to stand up- two new Master’s programs, several smaller grants & stand alones, and a slightly higher degree of support for some existing programs (some instructor turn over and whatnot).

Bike projects about- I’m starting the long-term prep for a potential go at the D2R2 ride in August 2020. I’m currently considering the 100k option (which, like all the routes, is mostly unpaved, unmarked, and very hilly). The full-banana is a 180k option, but there’s an ungodly amount of climbing, and I’d rather start somewhat more conservatively on a first attempt. Anyway, that means the gravel bike (which has so far been mostly assembled as a proof-of-concept) will need to be brought up to full-spec. Drivetrain changes are sorted, but fenders, brakes, and rider fit need some ongoing refinement.

I’ve made some progress with the studio- though not as much as I’d like. Summer was, predictably, super busy, and there weren’t as many opportunities to invest large blocks of time as I might have hoped. Still- a bunch of stuff put into storage, some better organization, and I’ve opened up a good amount of floor space. I’m pleased it’s a much more efficient space to create in- that’s a major priority for me- but I think the next phase will further improve it’s function (and aesthetics)

I’ve been teaching myself to braze. Joining metal together is a powerful skill- it allows you to build things that mostly aren’t possible any other way, and brazing is (I think) the lowest cost entry into that world. I’ve brazed aluminum before, but that’s a much lower temperature (and much less strong) process, so I really wanted to get into brass brazing steel. It’s super fun, and I still have loads to learn, but it’s rewarding and maybe even useful.

Updates

I’ve updated the layout of this site- I’ve made the home page of the site static, and I’ve moved the Blog portion to the left side menu.

I’ve been updating my status blog for three months now, every day. Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll continue to do that.

I’m itching for a couple of larger building projects for the studio. The full-sized rack mount, a turntable stand (with aux gear) on casters, some large format art storage, and one or two other smaller bits. It’s so close, and I’d just like to get this phase sorted all the way.

There’s a long-term project I’m spending some time prepping for, too- travel with the family. That means a bunch of gear, so I’ll be busy designing/building/testing some of that in the coming months.

SitRep

Still here.

  • I’ve moved most of my sitrep style posts elsewhere- I couldn’t help but feel they weren’t doing that much help here, and I thought they might be cluttering things up, here. Maybe I’m wrong, but I like the separation regardless.
  • I’ve been working on some custom visual reference books for myself. There are some things I really do prefer analog for, and this is one of those times. Sure, I could have a folder on my computer stashed with all manner of visual notes/inspiration/reference, but… what about when I’m out and about? What about when I want to scribble a note on a picture, stick a flag postit on an image, or otherwise interact with the content? No. I’m laying the would-be-content of those folders out for full color printing. I’ve done a short run 2019 version already, but I’m working on the longer form “timeless” version. They aren’t meant to be precious- these are designed to be used. Not for sale, either.
  • Bike projects are slow right now (what with this being New England and the winter and all). The I’ve got a couple of upgrades/changes to make to some of the bikes, but I’ll save those for another time.
  • Bag development continues. The shoulder bag prototype has seen some heavy use and has suffered muchly. That’s a good thing, here, as it reveals weak spots in design and construction that I can take into account in the eventual re-design and construction of the final product. I’m glad I’ve not rushed this, as I’ve had time to come up with a couple of innovative changes that will make the bag much more functional in my day to day use.

SitRep

Updates, I suppose.

  • I worry my riding season might be over- the weather has been rubbish, I’ve been sick, and there’s been very little time. I’d like to get another ride or two in before the year is over, but… we’ll see.
  • My prototype bag has been in heavy use now for a few weeks- and, oddly enough, it’s holding up (thus far). I still haven’t ordered final fabrics, but that’s ok, as I need (at least) a few more weeks of testing before I’d even think about finalizing. Still, I’m leaning towards the X-Pac V42 for the body of the bag- with something much lighter for the liner.
  • Studio 3.0 has made much progress, strangely. I still need to build the new rack mount cabinet to hold gear, but a lot of organization has been done and things have moved along nicely. Obviously, some odds and ends linger, but I figure I’m 2-3 good efforts away from v3 being finished.
  • I haven’t put out a newsletter in… a while. I’ve had one pretty much done for weeks, but I’ve just not had the… I dunno- energy? to send it out. I don’t know if that means I’m done with sending them (I’ve been putting them out pretty regularly for three years or so now), or if I’m just stretched too thin emotionally to stomach the inevitable unsubscribes that follow (regardless of how good the newsletter is). And yes, I know I shouldn’t take unsubs personally.

 

SitRep

And so.

  • The new prototype bag I’m building has been stuck at a half-done state for a week now- I’ve been waiting for fabric samples and zippers to come. Those showed up yesterday, so it’ll be time to put in the top, zipper, handles, and strap- and start testing this thing. Leaning towards X-Pac for the final bag, but nothing’s set in stone yet.
  • I’m barely riding right now- it’s gotten very wet and pretty cold, so it’s not been too possible to get out much. I hope this isn’t the end of my season, but that’ll depend on what the weather does. I just started debating a group ride this weekend- I’m uncertain about it. I went last year and didn’t have a very good time. I’ll take some of that blame, as I seem to have gotten in the wrong group- but it wasn’t an overly friendly group. We’ll see if I go this year.
  • When I put in my fabric order for my bag, I’m going to get some other cuts as well- new seat rolls (I’ve been running prototypes of these for a season, and it’s time to finalize). It’ll be fun to have some new stashes of high tech fabric kicking around.
  • I’m still shooting/editing/posting lots of videos. I dunno why, really- maybe it’s taking some of the place of writing these updates? Some sort of public record of what I’m up to? Regardless, I’m enjoying thinking about how to tell these (little) stories, and that’s good for my brain.
  • I finally finished setting up my PiHole kit from Adafruit. Seriously: think about getting one. It’s a much better browsing experience.
  • Things will likely get quiet here for a bit (what with the craziness of the holidays and whatnot), but rest assured: I’m still on that grind (is that a thing people still say?).

SitRep

Better late than never.

  • I’ve been putting up YouTube videos much more regularly. I’m doing a variety of topics (bikes, making, literature…), and I’m trying to keep to something of a release schedule. Gotta keep the creativity moving. No idea what my end goal here is.
  • As part of that effort, I’m working on a new bag for commuting. It’ll be a shoulder bag (or a soft briefcase), and I’ve got the basic design sorted. It’s time to build the prototype out of cotton duck cloth (10-12 oz), and we’ll see how the design works. Then I’ll have to build a finished product out of the actual materials (which I still haven’t settled on).
  • My mountain bike continues to evolve- recently, that meant a pair of flat pedals and a dropper seat post, and now I’ve pulled my stem back from 100mm to 60mm. We’ll see- that puts it much more inline with modern bikes (in terms of total reach), but that doesn’t mean I’ll like it.
  • I’ve been recording many/most of my newest videos with external audio- I’m using a lavalier mic run into an iPhone in Voice Memo mode. Honestly? Better than it has any right to be. And since I’m editing in iMovie for simplicity and speed, even syncing two cameras to an audio track isn’t too bad.
  • I kinda want to buy a serger. Maybe.
  • I’m tired.

SitRep

Progress on many things.

    • Got my @ManifestButter -style patch made, and I’m pleased thus far with how it turned out. Time to make more!

       

      View this post on Instagram

       

      A post shared by Tim Calvin (@nothingfuture) on

    • Built some new wool felt pouches for better organization of my bike riding tools & parts. Inferred how to make better labels from @ryannagata and added those, too.

       

      View this post on Instagram

       

      A post shared by Tim Calvin (@nothingfuture) on

    • I’ve been doing a better job of making videos- and while my production values haven’t gone up (per-se), my frequency has, and that’s something. I’m figuring that instead of endlessly mucking about in an attempt to some day make one “perfect” video isn’t an especially good route. Instead, I’m trying to make less than perfect videos much more regularly, and I’m wagering that the higher volume of production will improve my quality.
    • I’ve been shown the neat keyboard work of Andy Clymer, and now I kinda want to order some boards and build some periphery input keyboards.
    • I ended up on a mountain bike ride with a high school team over the weekend- totally unexpectedly. I bumped into them on the trail, and I happened to know two of the adults leading the ride, so that was kinda fun. It was only my second ride with platform pedals, so that was… interesting. I was not at my best, let’s say.

Research List #44

Topics of interest.

  • Uni Posca Markers
  • better Cordura and Tyvex sourcing
  • Heat Transfer Vinyl
  • Modern hardtail mountain bike geometries (especially effective top tube lengths)
  • Home-made velcro patches with Cordura faces
  • “Reasonable” 60mm 31.8mm MTB Stems (that is to say, good quality but not status pieces)
  • Cleaning electrical contacts (pots, mostly)

SitRep

On the mend.

  • The Pi Hole kit from Adafruit came- it’s up and running now, though I still have some configuration of the display screen to finish and whatnot. Still- a lovely thing. And considerably better experience web browsing for everything in the house, now.
  • I finally bit the bullet and ordered a dropper post for my mountain bike (and some platform pedals). I’ve gotten back to the point of comfort and control on the bike and I’m now hindered by the equipment- so it was time to join the modern masses. I’m cautiously optimistic about it. Now I’m thinking about a (still) shorter stem, too. I’m at a 100mm right now, but having reviewed the numbers on my frame (and some current-geometry frames), I’m thinking about going shorter.
  • I’ve been making videos more regularly again- so that’s good. I’m still sorting out a decent workflow and method- what the general process for a shoot for me should be, but it’s nice to have a creative project like that going.
  • I’ve taken yet another swing a building a camera strap I like. I struggle with these for some reason (despite their apparent simplicity). This one is adjustable with a strap adjuster, and I’m hoping that makes the difference. It’s attached to my Canon EOS M that I use for video work, and I’m hoping to make it easier to carry it more often (with the vague hope that bringing it with me more often will mean I shoot more often).
  • I’ve become somewhat enamored with the folks at Manifest Butter. They’re doing one-of-one design work on all-weather jackets, and all of those things are super interesting for me. Now it’s got me researching what sort of markers and paint pens are the right move. Testing testing testing to follow. (and, clearly, none of the paint markers I already own will possibly work for this)