A third industrial revolution

I was particularly intrigued by The Economist’s latest special feature about manufacturing and innovation.  Not so much because they are reporting on anything that is so groundbreaking to me, or most engineers I would think, but because they gave exposure to the exact kind of thing I do – engineering custom solutions on the fly for customers – that I found it interesting.  I don’t pretend to have any deep insights into what the future of manufacturing holds, but I like to think that being at some point in the specialized process of manufacturing is a good thing going forward.

If there’s any magazine that I routinely read cover to cover, it’s The Economist, and even though in their recent special feature they talk aren’t revealing anything that groundbreaking – nanotechnology, carbon fiber, 3D printing – it’s good validation.  I mean, do you know how cheap 3D printers have become these days?  The only thing holding me back from buying one of these or these is not having the space to put it and a general preference to spend my surplus dollars on bikes instead.

Yes! I am a long way from home


Pioneers! O Pioneers!

(Walt Whitman)

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
blood intervein’d,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call–hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!–swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Yosemite in a day

Waking up among almond trees in Oakdale, Mark and I rode too small bikes with too flat tires into town to pick up our rental car.

the sun is brighter in california

It was sunny and bright and a little chilly but I can’t complain about riding bikes in California.  We were early to pick up the car, so went around the corner to a diner and got fed a mountain of a farmer’s breakfast for $4.50.  Dinner plate sized Mickey Mouse pancakes included.

We hit the road soon after and drove the couple hours straight down Highway 120 to Yosemite.  I really have no idea how long the drive was, because windy, scenic roads have a tendency to distort time in a good way.  We did 3 of the easiest “hikes” in the park, if you can even call them that, because they were halfway paved with asphalt.  If we had the time to stay an extra day, a real switchbacky hike would’ve definitely been in order, but I think we made the most of our limited time there.

looking up


We got sprayed by mist from waterfalls and stared at mountains and got lost a couple times because we didn’t look at the actual trail maps and just hiked in whatever direction we felt like heading.  We fashioned lunch out of the snacks in the trunk of our car and perfected the “opening a bottle of beer with another bottle of beer” technique.


We did our best to stay clear of the crowds, which wasn’t too hard considering it wasn’t the high season, but I can see how the valley could turn into a bit of a zoo in the summertime.  On our way out of the park, we pulled over to the side of the road, cracked open a couple beers, and just sat on the ground next to the river, across the valley from a waterfall, watching water flow in perpendicular directions.  Shadows slowly filled the valley as the sun disappeared behind mountains, and for a few moments, everything was in its right place.  Fog rolled in over the peaks that were still snow capped and we jumped in the car once more before darkness came over us.

evening fog

But! the adventures of the day were not done.  Not even close.  It was getting dark, and we were due to meet a friend of Adam’s who lived in the middle of nowhere as an organic farmer about an hour outside the park.  The directions we were given were along the lines of “you’ll get to a ‘Y’ in the road and you’ll know which way to go”.  Which I guess was technically true, because we took the wrong fork at first and pretty soon after “knew” it was the wrong one.

Somehow we met up with our host at the “market”, which we flew past at first, and then made the “1 beer drive” to her house up some winding country/mountainous road that probably would have been impossible to find on our own and met a few of her other friends.  And what great hosts we had.  There was beer aplenty, and meat of every variety being grilled for a feast of a dinner.  Adam was supposed to meet all of us and join in dinner, but he took back roads and ended up getting stuck.  Keep in mind he drives a Subaru.  One search party was sent out.  No word.  Another search party was sent out.  3 hours later, we were all chowing down and laughing about the whole situation.  Adam had to leave because he still had to work the next morning, meanwhile Mark and I retired to our beds for the evening, which were in this:

we don't know where we are. we don't know how we got here.

And all I could do was smile.  There’s a certain renewal that comes about after being off the grid and hours away from any cell phone coverage and never even seeing a TV that I’d forgotten about.  Being completely disconnected from “normal life” and reconnecting with the little details of the physical world around us.

A brief summary of 24 hours in San Francisco

Our flight out of Chicago was delayed a few hours, but there are only so many $8 airport bar beers I can drink while waiting.  I don’t travel by air that frequently, but I will say from now on, whenever I can, Virgin America is my new airline of choice.  I’d flown Virgin Blue around Australia years ago when I was working in Queensland, and was always impressed by the experience, but I’d mostly chalked that up to the friendliness and laid-backedness of Australians in general.  But I soon realized that the same culture that makes flying pleasant there persists on their flights in the States as well.  After announcing our flight was delayed, the gate attendants distributed snacks to everyone while we waited.  Free snacks!  While we waited at the gate that had seats with power outlets aplenty.  Power outlets!

On the flight itself, the flight attendants actually seemed happy to be there, and the 4 hour flight went by in a breeze thanks to monitors in every headrest that allowed us to watch a Final Four game on live on CBS.  I don’t mean to write so many words about air travel when the real action was still all ahead of us, but after my last bought of air travel on United/Continental left me sleeping in the Cleveland airport overnight, it was stunning to remember that flying could be a pleasurable experience.  So you should all fly Virgin America when you can.  No, I’m not being paid to say this.

Mark and I landed in San Francisco and were greeted with fog and rain.

rain greeted us

Not surprising.  But what was surprising was that that was the last time it rained for the rest of our week in California.  Blue skies followed us wherever we went.  We were picked up at the airport by Adam and drove into the city to meet Bo for dinner.  There was delicious Chinese food, loud music, beer, and some walking the streets before staying the night sleeping on Bo’s floor in the Mission District.

The next day was a lot of walking around the city taking in lots of tourist sites.  We had good coffee and the best donut I’ve had in my life.  We climbed hills.

lombard st

We smelled saltwater air and ate fresh crab.


fresh crab

there was wind

We casually strolled through the streets with no real plan in mind.  People watching, seal watching, stopping for lunchbeers as we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

golden gate bridge


main cable

suspension support

a view from the bridge

We hadn’t quite planned for so much sun when we set out in the morning, so I got sun burnt.

not cold. sun burnt.

But I couldn’t complain, because I wasn’t cold, unlike a year ago in the Smokies.  Every step I took throughout the city was with joy and springiness, and I just stood and stared at all the scenic city that is San Francisco at every intersection and took it all in.  We were in a state where nothing could touch us.

After deciding we’d taken in enough views for the day, we settled into a brewpub in Haight and sat on the patio and drank good beer and watched the sun get lower in the sky and make every shadow longer and longer and the wind chilled us a little but I put away my camera and recorded snapshots with my eyes and brain instead.

We rode the BART to the end of the line in Pleasanton and drove with Adam to Oakdale where we slept on a pullout couch on an almond farm.


I finally got back from spring breaking in California at 3am this morning, so while I readjust to connected civilization and sort through the 600 or so pictures I took, here’s a sampling of Instagram pictures from the week.  And now that Instagram is finally available on iOS and Android, consider following me if you want the latest and greatest – my username is lukeboote.  I’ll probably be over-sharing in the near future.

Highway 1




And if you’re lucky, there may even be some video highlights from the trip as well.

Overall, the trip was entirely great and exactly what I sorely needed.  There’s something to be said for heading into the mountains where there’s not a cell signal to be had, and being in no rush to be anywhere the entire week, yet seeing as much as possible and not sitting still.  I’m not one to sit stationary on a beach day after day.