Category Archives: general


Back online

Whew – things were dusty around here!

I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I’ve updated around here. Image my surprise when I discovered the site was offline!

Well, that’s all been corrected, the software has been updated, and there are a few announcements I want to make, so watch for a few new blog entries.


Yes we finally got married

Marriage Certificate

On October 3, 2013 Harriet Eckstein and Alan Irwin officially got married. We’ve been in a relationship for 28 years, but this year DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Prop 8, the California marriage discrimination law, were both thrown out as the obviously discriminatory legislation that they were.

So that led us to the Santa Barbara Courthouse at 4:00 pm on October 3. Gayle, Harriet’s recently discovered sister (a long and wonderful story for another time) was in town visiting and served as our witness. No one else knew in advance, and so no one else could endow the marriage with more ceremony than we wanted. Half an hour later (and after leaving the county clerks laughing  from our “performance”)  we were married. It cost us $237 (Harriet was outraged).

I wanted a simple Facebook status change to be my announcement, but Facebook makes a “marriage” status change into some huge announcement, so I scrambled to get some sort of picture posted with it. Harriet put together an official announcement which I’ve posted, below (click on the Announcement).

We appreciate everyone’s congratulations.  I understand the motivation and desire to somehow express approval and appreciation of the relationship that Harriet and I have. And I want to make it clear that we are in a committed relationship to each other, it’s just that we’ve been in that committed relationship for 28 years. The marriage licences has in no way changed our commitment, our relationship, and our intents. It has just changed certain aspects of our legal and financial situation. Those aren’t insignificant, it’s just not the typical aspects of marriage that are assumed in social discussions (“hey, congratulations on taking advantage of tax laws covering inheritance of real property you crazy kids”).

Yay social contracts!


So much for resolutions…

Okay, I’m bad at carrying out resolutions. Okay, maybe bad isn’t the right word for it, since I haven’t made ANY entries for 9 months. Okay, maybe that last sentence wasn’t strong enough because I haven’t made any entries since I resolved to make entries every day.

Okay, maybe I should just shut up and make some entries….

Hey, but I made a change to the blog’s format! And now it’s mobile friendly! (okay, I’m such a nerd/geek/dork/whatever). Ooh, that gives me an idea for a post…


New year’s resolutions 2013


I would say that most people who know me, know that I have a lot of … interests. When I’m asked about my hobbies, my short response is that my hobby is hobbies.

I come from a crafting family, I grew up with a broad interest in the sciences, I read a lot of  science fiction, and I watched a lot of (what would now be called) genre TV. In college I had a hard time deciding on a major and so graduated with two degrees and a huge overload of units. Since then I’ve filled my home and workshop (to Harriet’s distress) with a wide range of tools, collections, books, and supplies reflecting 56 years of quick study and short attention span.

I don’t necessarily think this is admirable, and I wouldn’t advocate this lifestyle. But I’ve come to realize that most folks I know are unaware of the crazy range of my interests. I don’t talk about them very much. Not because I’m embarrassed by them (although I do see Harriet cringe from time to time), but because I think most would be bored by them.

As a separate issue, in the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my writing ability. I write a lot of technical material for my work: manuals, papers, and training materials. They are dense, factual, and tend to be written for others who already have a basic knowledge of my field. I find it time consuming, grueling, and just not fun. I would like to be a better writer, which includes being faster, clearer, more casual, and just..more. I would like to have fun writing.

In the last month it’s finally occurred to me that I can use this blog to deal with both issues at the same time (see how I avoided the overused two birds with one stone metaphor) (oh wait – did I just forfeit my clever moment by pointing it out?). I can just write about whatever project I’m working on, whatever conference I happen to attend, or whatever happens to catch my eye. I’m not trying to capture eyeballs, pontificate to an audience, polish my resume, or create a portfolio. I just need to practice my writing.

So, here’s my new year’s resolution for 2013. I’m going to write in this blog more often. My goal is an entry a day, but I don’t think I’ll be able to sustain that. I’ll start out with good intentions, and probably keep up the entries for a few weeks, but I know me and how my interests wax and wane. I’ll start dropping a day now again and feeling guilty. Then it all becomes an obligation and a burden. So I’ll leave the resolution as a vague “write in the blog more often”.

There, the first entry has been made.

P.S. I meant to make a list of hobbies, avocations, and interests I’ve had over the years. Here’s what I can think of right now: improv, wood-turning, collecting comic books, costuming (cosplay), cheese-making, role playing games (D&D), collecting art, beekeeping, molecular gastronomy (modernist cuisine), knitting, watchmaking/clock repair, collecting slide rules, science fiction, knife-making, robotics, embroidery, video games, board games, live action role playing (LARP), drawing comics, collecting bookmarks,  constructed languages (conlang), armoring, game development, health and fitness, kinetic art, metalworking, puppetry and puppet making, tatting, gardening, and geek culture (which I will use to cover a wide range of genre franchises – Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy, Firefly, Fringe, Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Harry Potter, superhero movies, Steampunk, and a bunch of others that are even more obscure). I’m sure there are others, but I’m falling into my embarrassed place, so I’ll let them come up in my future posts. As you cans see, there won’t be a lack of topics for future posts.

Casa Mañana

img_4857.JPGWow, it’s been 5 months since my last entry. I was definitely having trouble getting back in the habit of blogging again, so I thought a quick note of catch-up would help unblock the muse.

The last entry indicated we were having trouble with our inter-web access from Guatemala. That problem wasn’t resolved until we got back to Santa Barbara, and then events just kept us from finishing the last entries about our trip. At some point, Harriet and I will make those final entries and complete our Guatemala trip report, but we’ve named the old homestead Casa Mañana for a good reason. We’ll get to it … tomorrow.

In the meantime, we’ve been busy with quite a few projects, activities, and trips, so I’ll be interspersing current events with ‘retrospectives’ on what’s been happening the last few months. We’re all friends (and family) here, so let’s keep it informal. I’ve got other blogs for the formal stuff.

Okay, that’s the ‘just get started again’ entry. Now on to the more interesting stuff.

Fair warning: I’ve been doing a lot of travel the last couple of months, and much of it is pretty nerd/geek centered. My favorite quote came from Debbie, who responded to my dilemma of trying to decide between a slide-rule collectors’ convention and WonderCon (a comic book convention) with “That’s the geekiest thing I’ve heard you say.”