Dead Bug Soldering

While I did give up the idea of getting a PCB printed and back to me in time to hang on the tree, I ran into something last night that gave me a little hope, provided I can get better at soldering, of finishing some kind of ornament.

I was looking at circuits last night on Instagram (heh) and I ran across a term I'd never heard before: Dead Bug Soldering. And I also found an example of the technique that blew my mind.

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A post shared by Mohit Bhoite | मोहित भोईटे (@mohitbhoite) on

His whole feed is a completely different way to think about circuit construction that didn't even occur to me https://www.instagram.com/mohitbhoite/. It's interesting to me because it's low voltage, so it's safe to handle; the support comes from brass hobby rods that double as wires; and the resulting circuit is much closer to a sculpture.

Update: After reading a bit more I realized the correct term is "freeform", where "dead bug" refers to specifically soldering the IC pins in this fashion. Also I added the ability to update my posts so they get updated in your newsreaders. :)

posted on Friday November 30th, 2018

Getting Electric

About a month ago I got the idea I was going to make a circuit (including custom printed circuit board) tree ornament for our tree. Fast forward a few weeks and I now know how to do it, but don't think I'll find time in the next couple of weeks to actually get it done.

Because I still want to hang something on the tree I bought a Circuit Playground Express which is the approximate shape of what I had hoped to make, but with a whole lot more. At least my son and I can spend some time writing programs for it over the holiday break.

You can use the Arduino IDE to write programs, but you can also use code.org to write apps in your browser. My son uses Scratch at school so it'll be familiar to him.

posted on Monday November 19th, 2018

Our Spooky House

My parents’ house was actually a farm-house that’d been moved into the small town I grew up in sometime in the 40s. There was a spookiness to it I could never put my finger on. I even once saw something as a teen I couldn’t explain.

One time over dinner as adults we went around the table and shared stories like that. Small things that happened that seemed odd but weren’t worth mentioning at the time.

Now the story: My mom was home alone in their bedroom upstairs sewing. The house creaked a lot, so odd noises weren’t new, but my mom distinctly heard the rhythm of footsteps going down the staircase.

She assumed it was my dad or maybe the cat, but it the rhythm seemed odd to her. Thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk.

Soon after she needed to go downstairs so she walked down the hall, turned the corner, and saw hung on the wall at the top of the staircase a picture of Elvis. An uninteresting, airbrushed, and honestly kind of creepy looking picture of Elvis.

The thing about it was: there had never been a picture of Elvis on that wall or in our house ever. My mom didn’t even like Elvis. My dad did about as much as anyone who grew up hearing him as a kid. Neither of them would hang a picture of Elvis in the house, much less that spot.

When we had moved out my parents took over our bedrooms and redecorated the rest of the house a little bit.

My mom’s favorite band was The Beatles by far. She had all their albums and would play songs for us when we were kids and we’d dance around the living room.

A picture of them is what my mom hung in that spot (now occupied by Elvis) when we moved out. It was a landscape photo of them from their later years as a band. Much longer hair. Mustaches. Each looking in a completely different direction and nobody smiling. Serious Beatles.

The other thing my parents started doing when we moved out is traveling to the coast with friends. They’d spend a weekend as tourists in towns like Morro Bay or Cayucos. These are towns with streets lined with second-hand shops and craft stores that they were using to redecorate the house.

That’s where she found the picture of The Beatles, brought it home, and hung it at the top of the stairs. And that’s where it hung for about a year until that day it was suddenly replaced with spooky Elvis.

Thinking my dad had hung it up she decided to go downstairs to ask him about it.

Except he wasn’t there. He had gone someplace earlier in the day and hadn’t been back since.

For the next few hours my mom became more and more freaked out about Elvis. Had someone snuck in the house, replaced the painting, and left?? Had it been there for weeks and she just didn’t notice???

Finally my dad came home and my mom told him everything. They went upstairs and examined the Elvis picture. There was nothing special about it. It was cheap and uninteresting. Hung on the very nail the Beatles picture has been. They took it down (because it was so creepy looking) and started looking for the original picture.

Walking back down the stairs my dad noticed at the bottom, behind some boxes they’d been meaning to take up, the picture of The Beatles tucked behind those boxes and against the wall. Suddenly it all made sense.

When my mom had found the picture in the second-hand store it was among a stack of pictures of other bands and singers. The picture of Elvis fit neatly inside the back of the Beatles‘ frame. It snapped in perfectly.

She bought it and hung it like that. The whole time Elvis was tucked behind until that day when the top picture frame popped off and cartwheeled down the stairs and rolled to a stop behind some boxes.

posted on Wednesday October 31st, 2018

Thanks for the email!

Thanks to everyone who sent an email. It was nice to see that people were reading, but even more it felt great to get an email in my inbox from an actual person who typed a subject line and everything.

I am pretty sure I replied to everyone. If not let me know! andre@torrez.org.

Since I stopped using Twitter I've been finding other ways to spend my online time. Most of it has been on Instagram. Some on other places I've hung out on for years (decades?) but in the back of my mind I know I've wanted to hang out here and in my newsreader.

And so I'm trying to get back to it.

posted on Friday October 26th, 2018

Are you reading this?

Hi! My friend Jason Shellen wrote in to let me know my feed.xml file wasn't working in NetNewsWire (also that the CSS was broken 😂) and it made me wonder: is anyone else reading this? I think it'd be nice to hear from you.

Please email me: andre@torrez.org if you see this. Just say "hi" or more. Let's pretend it's 1998 or something.

(Also: if you're using or have access to NetNewsWire could you tell me if the feed is working now?)

posted on Tuesday October 23rd, 2018

LEGOLAND

We just got back from vacation at LEGOLAND! I was unsure if we'd have enough to do for two full days but it turned out there was more than enough and the kids had a great time. We stayed in the newly built LEGOLAND Castle which was the most kid-friendly hotel we've ever stayed in.

I need a good way to reference a set of images and have them magically built into an album. This sounds like a good feature to work on next.

(Or maybe add some CSS 😂)

posted on Monday October 22nd, 2018

Timezones and Feeds

I forgot to make the site generator build a feed.xml file so it does that now. It's funny to go back and look at code you wrote four years ago and realize your style has changed a bit and things you thought were important aren't really that important. It's a bit like reading old blog posts (shiver).

I also forgot to add TZ info to each post so it does that too.

Okay, bye!

posted on Wednesday October 17th, 2018

Rhomboid Strain

I strained my rhomboid muscle (I think?) getting out of bed last week. It might have been the climb I did the previous Sunday up Hawk Hill, but the odd thing is that I didn't quite feel it until the second day.

So I spent the weekend in bed and watched: A Quiet Place👍 , The Party😐, The Big Sick👍, Deadpool 2👍, and Prometheus👍.

Then for TV shows I watched all of Maniac👍 and some of The Haunting of Hill House👍.

It's been years since I've had that much time to just sit and watch television. I'm usually running around making food or cleaning up food or putting away food when I'm home. I still managed to get to my daughter's soccer game and read to the kids at night, but pretty much all the normal stuff I do on the weekends had to be put on hold.

The doctor suggested if it doesn't heal I should consider going into PT, which is funny because I'm already scheduled for PT for another injury to my knee. I had hoped all the bike riding and yoga I do a week would prevent me from injuries, but instead it just seems to be encouraging them.

posted on Monday October 15th, 2018

Speaking of Arbitrary Stupid Goals

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While standing on the playground this morning I noticed kids at the school weren’t just bouncing a tennis ball off the building…

A post shared by Andre (@torrez) on

posted on Friday October 12th, 2018

Arbitrary Stupid Goals

I finished Tamara Shopsin's "Arbitrary Stupid Goal" last night and then "Mumbai New York Scranton" this morning while I was brushing my teeth.

I highly recommended both books. You must read them. And you must read them in that order as the first sets up the second perfectly.

I always intended on reading the books after I saw some good reviews of ASG. Yesterday I was sick in bed and it was on a recommendation list so I flat-out bought it without even starting with a sample.

The funny thing was the name Tamara Shopsin sounded familiar to me for some other reason, and when I looked up the second book I discovered why: I write in her 5 Year Diary every night before I go to bed.

posted on Thursday October 11th, 2018

How It Works

How my static site generator works.

  1. Uses a pre-push git hook to run a script
  2. That script looks at the files being pushed and rebuilds any that live in my sources directory.
  3. Magic is done. I offload most of the work to things like pyyaml, Python-Markdown, and tornado.template.
  4. Upload to S3 using boto (of course). Cloudfront takes care of the rest.

There's a lot left to do at #3.

posted on Wednesday October 10th, 2018

First Post

This is the first post. Testing out my old static web site generator.

It "works".

posted on Tuesday October 9th, 2018