At the end of January, I had built something incredible. A 200 watt, backpack x-ray source, and accessories, capable of taking 80 exposures on a battery charge, and with a beam resolution great enough to see the bond wires in an IC.
On February 2, after working 14 hour days, for 4 months straight, it was time to take a break. I backed up my files on a hard drive, an SD card, and a CD, put everything in a box, and drove to the YMCA for an evening of rest.
When I came back, I was greeted with a smashed automobile, and glass scattered about the parking lot. The box was gone, my computer was gone. Even the flash drive in the center console.
I lost all my work.
I go home, and go to sleep.
The next day, I surveyed the damage to see what could be recovered.
Unfortunately, not a whole lot. My online backups were 2 months old, I had no cad models saved, no circuit designs, no documents... nothing. In haste, I printed up posters, and taped them all over Oakland. Maybe someone would spot the machine? Maybe...?
At this point, I wasn't feeling the best. "There is so much work that needs to be done now", was all I could think about. In fervor, I spent 2 sleepless weeks rebuilding everything from memory.
A new cad model. New code. New PCBs, New everything.
But, life just kept getting darker. Eventually, I set everything aside and just... thought.
It started to set in, that perhaps I was going about life wrong. If I could put 120% into something, and have nothing become of it, what's the point? Why bother?
We all know money doesn't bring happiness. Work doesn't make people happy. Even accomplishment only brings about fleeting jubilance.
What brings profound joy is people. The time you spend with them, how you spend it with them, and the memories and relationships you build with them.
Some of the most fond memories I had were of the time I spent with people, not just with electronics.
I set down my soldering iron, and played the bass guitar with some folks at Sudo Room.
At the end of February, I received an email.
An old man at a nursing home wants to return the x-ray machine for recycling. Perhaps that user manual wasn't a waste of time after all.
You just can't make this shit up.