Examined Self

"The unexamined life is not worth living."



Things I’ve worked on distilled into something between step-by-step guides (how I did it) and reflections (what I would have changed). These projects take many forms, from the maker/DIY-space to self-improvement. [Explore All Projects…]


Places and situations I’ve found myself in, from the literal to the metaphorical. While this category is something of a public journal, you may find something inspiring or useful here. Stories from the road mix with the occasional life lesson as I bumble my way around this swiftly titling planet. [See All Journeys…]


I’m a Michigan-raised, California-distilled male of about thirty years. I’ve been a student, athlete, world-traveler, video game designer, startup-founder, engineering manager @Airbnb, author, and otherwise lived a life for which I feel very fortunate. I enjoy nothing more than to consume and create new things. This blog is a projection of my collected interests. [Read more…]


Latest stories

The Plan to Build a Van


About a year ago, a friend first told me that he was buying a “sprinter van” to live in. Knowing the friend, I laughed and shook my head at the prospect — something I’d later learned is called #VanLife. Come to find out, there’s a whole community out there of people who convert vans into tiny homes. Skip Ahead… Insulating a Van for Summer and Winter Living Installing...

Day 1: Insulating a Van for Summer & Winter Living


The first thing I did to my new Ford Transit van was rip out all of the factory-installed cargo gear to make room for insulation. Insulation Needs I wanted to be able to park my van to the base of a ski mountain, like Tahoe, so that I could get first runs in the morning. In order to not freeze my butt off, I knew I’d need some good insulation. Heat retention in insulation is measured by its R...

How a Puppy Trained Me


At six months old, Azuli is quick to make friends. Her innate personality played no small role, but there are a few things I did to enable her to become smart and well-behaved. Still, she taught me as much as I taught her. I suspected this might happen, but I’m still surprised what I’ve learned so far. Communication There’s an old joke amongst enigneers that goes something like...

Day 2: Installing a Passenger Swivel-Seat for Maximum Living Space


There’s not much living space in a cargo van. A swivel-seat installed on the passenger side can help fix that. What to Know Swivel seats can rotate 180 degrees so that a seat is facing backwards. In the case of a van, this increases the effective living area by turning the cabin into more seating for the living room.   It’s hard to capture just how much of a space difference this...

The First Time at Burning Man


Some subjects are indescribable… which is precisely why so much ink has been spilt upon them. I’ve been putting off this post for months, not because I had nothing to say, but because I had no idea how to say it. Still, I’ve been asked so many times with (apparent) genuine interest about my experience at Burning Man that I need to write down my thoughts… if only to...

Times I’ve Lived in a Car


Sleeping in a car is something about which people have strong opinions… most of them negative. The allure, for those who feel it, comes from what it represents. What is lost in creature comfort is gained in flexibility and freedom. As I work on building a tiny home in a van, I’ve been thinking back upon the few times I’ve lived out of a car. What started as a cost-cutting...

That Time I thought I had been Kidnapped in China


Just over ten years ago, on the eve of my 20th birthday, I arrived in Beijing without a return ticket back to the United States. All I knew, vaguely, was that I wanted to go somewhere far away and do something personally challenging for a year or so. So I applied for a leave of absence from college and embarked upon what would become one of the biggest adventures of my life. I wasn’t...

GraphQL and GRPC Speed Test using C# and Ruby


I recently implemented a GraphQL + GRPC server, with a bridge between the two. This way, clients can connect via GRPC or via GraphQL but have complete feature parity. In this post, I’ll analyze the performance (speed) of each. The Setup For this test, I created a complicated GRPC function that needed to load an item from the database, update it, and then return a huge amount of nested...

Days 2-6: Installing Sturdy, Good-Looking Plywood Walls in a Van


Walls are the thing that that first transformed the way my cargo van felt. It went from an industrial/shipping vibe to… something vaguely cozy within just a few days. Why Plywood? I liked the idea of a wood aesthetic, but I didn’t want the walls to look too rugged. The idea was for a little woodgrain to show through lightly-stained walls to improve the sense of spaciousness in such a...

Building a GraphQL Gateway to a GRPC Server


GRPC and GraphQL are both fantastic technologies. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve long wondered if a server could easily allow the client to choose to use either. In this post, I’ll discuss how I built a C# server which serves GRPC calls over HTTP/2, and then added a Ruby on Rails gateway such that web (or other) clients could fall back on GraphQL over HTTP 1.1...

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