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living in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia


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@winduptoy@merveilles.town


the last decade has had me chasing dollars and building software for the web. with the new year approaching, I am finally ready to lay it down, say no to new clients, diving deep, and exploring new areas where my skills can have a greater impact. I have finally learned to separate "me, the freelancer looking for work online" from "me, the human being," which facilitated the creation of this site.

- november 2022


personal log




notable projects


lichen

ultra-lightweight website builder, implemented as a handful of Forth CGI scripts. your choice of web CMS or static site generator.

lichen


oasis

ultra-lightweight web forum, implemented as a handful of Python CGI scripts.

oasis




about me


from 2007 to 2012 I worked for a local video studio doing production assistant work like hauling lights, stands, and electric (minimum wage) while also becoming their primary After Effects guy (also minimum wage).


I ended up going to design school where I met my future wife. the next decade had us working together and apart at various agencies, startups, and internet companies doing design and, primarily, web development. outside of web work I studied graphics programming and game development on and off, which sharpened my skills with lower-level systems programming and memory management. I did a small stint at a company building animation software.


we married in 2018. my wife is an ambitious gardener, naturalist, and she shares her work on her website.

tickfoot


I ride the mountain service roads and dirt trails of Virginia with friends on my Yamaha XT 250. the best part of riding a motorcycle is when you go a few months without doing it: hopping back on the bike is a swift, full-body reminder of what it means to be alive, something that's easy to forget from time to time.


we bought our first house in 2020. we have transformed the drab, useless yard into an abundant permaculture oasis. we recycled an old shipping container as a garage for garden tools, bicycles, and motorcyles.


for the growing season of 2021 we decided to try farming full-time as we were becoming more interested in health and food sovereignty. we expanded our backyard gardens and leased a plot of land for the season. we wrote a report on that experience:

farming.report.2021


during this time I became interested in dramatically simplifying the most complex things I depend on and embracing low-tech: "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," "simplicity is the prerequisite to reliability," and "if you can't fix it, you don't own it" resonate with me. my primary focus is carrying these ideas throughout my work. open source used to be my guiding compass, but since the Linux kernel, to give one example, is essentially untractable for a mere mortal like me, I have moved on to writing Forth and assembly.


in 2022 I obtained an amateur radio license.



treading lightly


when you stop thinking, you become controlled.



                 
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   -{ + . + }-    (__ ,      
   -{ . + . }-     (______,~~~~
   -{ + . + }-        
   -{ . + . }-   the only way
   -{ + . + }-   to win
   _{_______}_   is not to play
  [___________]
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growing and preserving our own food is important in taking ownership of our nutrition and the health of the planet. we farm with hand tools and without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. we have joined a small local cooperative with a group of friends that supports one another in implementing alternative agricultural infrastructure.


my wife and I share a single small car, a rare decision for our part of the world. this saves us a significant amount of money (maintenance, fuel, tax, insurance) while causing only a mild inconvenience once or twice per year. working from home, or structuring our lives so that we don't have to work (i.e. building someone else's dream) makes this an easy choice.


we bought a very modest house in a low-income area without a mortgage. working hard and being thrifty comes with many sacrifices, but becoming free from monthly rent or loan payments makes it possible to dig deep and find more meaningful work and play.


we have no debts and we pay with cash wherever possible. when cash isn't an option, we try to write a check. the card networks that charge a percentage of each transaction are a parasite on society and we try not to support them. even if the retail "price" is no different between cash and card, the cost of card transaction fees and "cash back" is accounted for by the ever-increasing price of everything.


we go to great lengths to avoid being tracked, marketed to, and information being sold. we started using dumb-phones, deleted Google, social media, and SaaS accounts, and self-host whatever we need. we choose open source software whenever possible and max-out our ad blockers when on the web. we subscribe to zero subscription services.


my current computer has a Celeron CPU, with which I am able to accomplish all of my work by being selective about the software I use and create. I refurbish and recycle computers for anyone local who needs one, and I help them move away from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, SaaS, etc. to become more independent.


by aggressively pruning insignificant junk and opting for simple and open formats we were able to consolidate all of our important digital posessions onto a single small SD card. as encrypted backups these are easy to distribute and hide in multiple offsite locations, are easy to carry in a wallet, are cheap to make and replace, and require no internet connection.