Welcome! I am an engineer, programmer, designer, and all-around geek. You may be interested in some of my electrical and mechanical projects. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt and remember to wear your safety glasses.

Valentine's Day Cocktail: the Boulevardier

This month's drink is a variation on the classic Negroni, with whiskey in the place of gin to make it even more suitable for winter. It's a good cocktail to make on Valentine's Day: sophisticated, sexy, and, well, red. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Stir all ingredients in a “mixing glass” or a shaker with ice, but do NOT shake it. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass—I keep them in the freezer, but you can fill a glass with some ice and water while you build the drink to get it cold quickly. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange.

This month I used some Redemption Rye because it's good and reasonably priced and, whether they realize it or not, so many people have the dangerous practice of treating Saint Valentine's Day as an opportunity for redemption, don't they? Using bourbon instead would be perfectly traditional as well, and might result in a sweeter or richer-tasting drink, while rye will tend to emphasize the herbal character of the Campari and vermouth.

Some variations:

  • Use bourbon instead of rye
  • Increase the whiskey to 1.5 oz. This will further deemphasize the bitterness of this drink.
  • If you really don't like Campari, and many people don't, try Aperol instead. It might help you get into this class of cocktails.

Enjoy!

Link Dump, February 2017

I think I'll try something new and share some items recently interesting to me in the form of a link dump.

  • Last year I followed with great interest youtube machinist Clickspring as he made a mechanical pendulum-timed clock from scratch in his home shop in Australia. This year he begins an ambitious new project, documenting in a series of videos his process of replicating the ancient mechanical computer known as the Antikythera mechanism. Here's the first episode:
  • Neal Stephenson (one of my favorite authors) has announced, with Nicole Galland, a new Speculative Fiction novel featuring time-travel, the Victorian era, and a transition from a world in which magic works to one dominated by technology. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. will be on sale June 13.
  • There's a nice infrared thermometer made by Etekcity for sale at Amazon as of this writing. Even if you don't have any specific need for convenient no-contact temperature measurement, it's a great way to get an intuitive sense of heat transfer and great fun to point at everything you can think of.
  • Speaking of tools for STEM education, there's a project that makes it easy to enable visual programming environment Scratch, popular for teaching grade-school kids to code, to receive input from and pass control signals to things in the real world via Arduino. Scratch 4 Arduino is remarkably mature and easy to get going with.
  • In fact, I'm using it myself to build a system of musical swings (inspired by this traveling exhibit) that will be programmed by a talented student at a local school. Watch this space for more by the end of the month!

A Cocktail for January: the Rye Maple Fizz

This January I've been enjoying the Rye Maple Fizz, a fun and impressive-in-the-home-bar cocktail invented by star bartender Erick Castro at Rickhouse in San Francisco. It combines wintry flavors of maple syrup and rye whiskey with the classic fizz technique, which in this drink means reinforcing the fizziness of soda water with a foam of shaken egg white.

If that frightens you, consider: you're drinking, which I'm going to presume means you're an adult. If you're making a cocktail like this one than you're a more sophisticated adult than most and obviously already comfortable dabbling with a romantic vice and a bit of risk. So go ahead and embrace it already. Adopt an air of unconcerned magnificence and knock back a raw egg white and two ounces of rye whiskey. Nothing will happen to you (at least, nothing has happened to me), particularly if you wash the outside of the eggshell before cracking it.

With the lightweights sufficiently scared away, locate:

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (I used Sazerac brand)
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice (squeezed fresh, of course)
  • 3/4 oz. egg white (After removing the yolk and chalaza one large egg should be enough)
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ground cinnamon

Birthday LED Lights, with Birch Bark, Brass, and Laser-cut Acrylic

This summer I built a series of LED lamps to take the place of birthday candles for four of my family. There's 175 candle-flicker LEDs in all! Watch a video of the result on youtube:

I also added a page describing the process of making these to my projects page. Click here to read more!

Potassium Permanganate, with Glycerin

Adding glycerin to potassium permanganate produces a rapid deflagration. Enjoy.

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