Once upon a time I lived and worked in Los Angeles as a Gaffer. That’s “Chief Lighting Technician” to you. A fellow Gaffer I knew had been dabbling in making custom Steampunk lamps and Nixie Tube clocks. I loved these little light-up-numerical display bulbs, and being a dabbler and an overly curious individual I thought if I could get my hands on a couple of these gadgets that I’d try and see if I could make them myself.
Well, around the same time a guy (also a programmer like me, who also apparently dabbled in filmmaking like I did) had the same infatuation and idea to dabble with them and see if he could figure out how to make them. His name is Dalibor Farny and he lives in the Czech Republic.
Anyway… Dalibor had created an online business that did well enough that he was able to fund his own Nixie tube research lab, and, well… He figured it out (BOY did he!) and I’m insanely jealous. Luckily, he made an awesome video that documents the entire process of making a Nixie tube.
I’m Austen Hoogen, and I think I’ve probably had a blog or a website in some form of disarray going on 20 years now. I always say I’m going to pay more attention, but they always file for divorce and leave anyway.
Probably for the best, since this last iteration is the most sparse thing I’ve ever put out in quite some time. Hopefully I can make up for that with some stellar content on all things that make me squee. “Cat videos,” you ask? It is very likely that it could happen, but mostly I want to use this blog to track the things I do for a living, the things I wished I did for a living, and all the things I fill my time between.
The tricky part, of course, is making enough room in all those things to sit at my desk and plunk out stupid messages like this in the hopes that I can attract the attention of frantic Googlers, searching desperately for something else but wind up on this page nonetheless. I’ll do my very best to help them, but I am a procrastinator still searching for my Panic Monster; it may take a while.
I’m a Software Engineer
I brew beer
I’ve been doing it for God knows how long (which is 12 years). I love everything about beer and can probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the process, its history, the industry, etc.
Someday, I will have a brewery. You should come by my fantasy future brewery and have a beer. No need to bring your own, I’ll sell you one.
No, seriously, I’m crazy about this shit. One time, in between jobs, I decided what was really missing in my living room was a yeast propagation lab. Well let me tell you, my living room is not missing a yeast propagation lab anymore! I have a homemade temperature controlled incubator with heating and cooling (via a homemade propylene glycol chiller housed in the freezer portion of my homemade kegerator) and about as much microbiology lab equipment that one can reasonably fit in their apartment living room. (I super love my 2000x trinocular microscope!)
I dabble in electronics
Microcontrollers, embedded systems and BTLE sensor projects mostly. If I’m working on something it is probably trying to build or automate something in my beer making. Current projects include better temperature sensing and system controls on my incubator, a BTLE in-line thermometer, and other brewery automatia that suits my fancy.
And of course there’s the programming of these things. I like to work on projects making better software for brewers who want to manage their brewing lives. Seriously, with all the engineers out there brewing beer you’d think there’d be better software!
I make food
I love cooking. Especially if it involves fermenting. Yogurt/sour cream/creme fraiche/cultured butter/bread. YUM! And I make a borscht that will bring tears to your eyes.
I dream of having a workshop just like Adam Savage
I like to pretend, quite often, that I am friends with Adam Savage and get to hang out and build lots and lots of shit. What kind of shit? Who cares! And then I like to pretend, quite often, that I had a shop like his, because my apartment really is a terrible place to try and build messy things (no, I didn’t build my incubator in my apartment…)
Also, there’s the things like welding that just don’t go over well with the downstairs neighbors when you roll out your tig on the top-floor balcony. Extra space is all that jazz!
I learn new things
I love reading and learning new things. I have this delusion that I can actually know everything about everything. And I try, oh my God do I try! If it is science fiction, or fantasy, or non-fiction or academic I’m probably reading it. If it has to do with beer I’ve probably already read it.
YouTube and Wikipedia rabbit holes are one of my favorite pass times. Currently I’m in love with Khan Academy. The Internet truly is amazing!
Am I a snob?
In many more ways than one; I’m more than half German in ancestry which adds to the allure, I’m sure. But I’m not an asshole about it, I promise! Pay no attention to my face that looks like I’m ready to murder people! I’m a super nice snob who likes to share, I just can’t help that my face is sending people mixed messages (I am INTJ if you care to follow that). It usually doesn’t change its threatening shape for several encounters at least…. Just give my face some time, eventually you’ll see the signature Hoogen smile!
I’m a snob just because I know what I like, is all. How do I know? Because I try everything. And I will happily report that I prefer Tillamook to Kraft, pFriem Pilsner to Rainier Lager (although I love their commercials, being a NW native and all) and that I prefer a good, crusty loaf of Ken’s Artisan Bread to just about everything.
If we differ? To each their own. Everybody likes what they like. Who am I to tell people what they can and can’t like?
If I went around acting like Fred Phelps I’d be, well, an asshole. “Don’t be like Fred,” my mother used to say! Best advice if there ever was any.