Examined Self

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

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Hi. I’m Zane. Here you’ll find some projects I’ve worked on and the stories I’ve collected from the journeys along the way…

Projects

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…]

Journeys

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…]

AbouT

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…]

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Latest stories

The Plan to Build a Van

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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. Van Journeys This page is mostly about how I built the van. It features:...

Day 1: Insulating a Van for Summer & Winter Living

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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...

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

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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...

How a Puppy Trained Me

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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...

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

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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...

The First Time at Burning Man

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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...

Van Build: Cork Floors and Wooden Ceiling

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My parents helping me work

With the walls up, my van was almost starting to feel like a living space. The ceiling and floor was all that was left to hide the industrial cargo shell. Wood Ceiling Time: 1 day Cost: Under $100 At this stage of the project, I was still in San Diego with my parents working on the “frame” of the van. I wasn’t sure how to approach the ceiling, but my mom suggested using shiplap...

The First Week with a (Mini American Shepherd) Puppy

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It took me a long time to decide that I wanted a puppy. I’ve generally traveled a lot and not felt that I’d have the time. After nearly 6 years living in San Francisco, though, it seems that I’ve become relatively stable. What’s more, the travel I have planned for the future is domestic and much more focused around camping and nature. Like many computer programmers, I find...

A Million Ways to Spend Time Poorly

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I’ve always held an entirely unsubstantiated and implicit belief that we all have much more time than we think we do. But it escapes us. Slips through the cracks. We mostly suck at spending time, and so we cope with it either by leaning in or dropping out. Most of our neurosis seem attributable to the feeling that tomorrow is coming either too fast or too slow. I’m not much better...

Architecting a Networking and Database Library

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For one of my projects, needed to build a networking and data layer as a library which could be used in my Unity game. I wanted a single library which would provide data model classes, handling both persistence (database) and client/server transport (networking). It made sense to build the project using C# .NET 4.6, meaning that it’d use the same language / framework as Unity itself...

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zane

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