Thursday, February 14, 2013

So you want to go to Burning Man?

An open letter to Sue, John, Gerry and others

YES I have evangelized, extolled and..sometimes..pestered.... about the wonders of Burning Man and its deserved place on your personal bucket list.  Burning Man 2012 just ended and I figured I would serve up a slice of what this year was all about along with my own experiences from 2010 and 2007.
August 2013 is less than a .5 year away and any serious intention of attending leaves you a shrinking window to prepare for the journey.  IF the following seems very complicated - keep in mind - if your schedule is flexible - it can be fairly simple:

1) Buy ticket
2) put bike, tent and stuff in toms van
3) take bike, tent and stuff out of toms van ( 3 weeks later)

 If you are running in a tight time frame - THATS where it gets little more complicated.

The Burning Man website has 20 years of information on all aspects of the event and will give you
a great picture of the experience.

Burning Man First timers guide

Burning Man Recommended reading


People looking for project help at Burning Man

Join a tribe or camp

Before my first trip to Burning Man, I managed to connect with VW Bus Camp. A theme camp created for VW Bus owners attending BurningMan.  My experience engaging the folks who make up the camp was, I hope, very typical of most tribes or Theme camps. Upon making initial contact, I began to engage with members online months before the event and as a result.. i really felt I has people waiting for me at the end of my cross country journey ( and Nebraska for that matter! )  There are a significant number of BM attendees who are not part of a formal theme camp or tribe but actually end up as a psuedo tribe by camping with groups of friends.  And some folks just show up unaffiliated.

I feel that your best experience with the event is through an organized Camp or tribe. It is a fanatisic way to meet new folks with a common thread and share in the whole event. It always helps to have vertern insight around when you need it.

There are 1000's(?) of organized camps and tribes.  I am not even sure how to capture a sample but here goes...

2012 theme camps listing

- if you read through the 2012 list - you will see there is a LOT of funny people out there.  Some theme camps are groups of friends and not looking for additional membership.  Whereas a tribe - tend to be more of a public entity you can join.

Gerry, John....  Just recently... Queer based camps have begun to gain more serious traction and now BM boasts a Gay ghetto. :O)  I myself am planning to engage with one or two aside from my Bus Camp folks before 2013's trip.

Queer Burners site


You are free to stay with me at VW Bus Camp and meet some great folks as well. But you may find that a camp more relevant to you would be the best experience. What does "staying" with a camp mean?  Camps do not provide lodging as far as I know. Members show up with their own lodging and help construct the camp together.  So no canvas based Holiday Inn.  ( $10 says somebody already did that..  :O)     So this leads into actual sleeping details you need to think about for the trip.   I bring my VW bus and that is what I camp in at Burning Man naturally.

YOU CANNOT STAY IN THE VAN WITH ME.    I love all of you.  But as I will mention - Burning Man is quite an intense experience and the van is not big enough to share over the course of 7-10 days in 100 degree weather with anyone.  Tripping around someone while in a DustyTiredNoSleep mood would just lead to someone being murdered by day 4.

So this early note - is to get you thinking about the lodging component of the trip.  Sue - we have spoken about rental RV's  check out this link   People do this.  I think there are places in Reno that will rent RV's for the week.  You will have to consider whether a tribe or theme camp you join will accept an RV... but nothing stops you from setting up in a free camping area next door to a camp or tribe you may join.
There are also many other alternatives: ( in no particular order)

Buy a camper to bring.    IF you are up to the challenge of a camper rehab ( or not ) campers can be cheap. Burning Man is no shortage of 1970 Winnebegos with alot of duct tape on them.
For your information - my VW can tow a very light ( >1000 lbs) trailer.  Burro, Scamp, teardrop to name a couple. If you find an Eriba Puck ( you can find them occasionally on line )- and I could even be talked into buying it from you after Burning Man.

Or perhaps a homemade trailer? People do this with the help of a trailer frame from harbor freight.

Build a Shelter - many folks have spent considerable creative energy devising alternative shelters for the evnet. Some I speculate are the best solutions for the heat and dust actually.  Here are some examples -

DIY shelters at Burning Man

Playa Domes

If I did not have a bus - I would totally be into building something crazy to live in for the week.
Shelter Design!! Woo wee!

Until recently - I had told folks that tent camping is probably the worst way to go at BM.  But recently a 1st year Burner Alberto corrected me. Apparently - you need the right kind of tent. and they are not at Sears.    Here is more information:

Kodiak Tents

A regular tent at Burning Man -   is basically sleeping in a vacuum cleaner dust pan in an oven/ freezer..
Rolling in an inch of Playa dust and the temperature goes 90 to 45 at sundown and 35 minutes after sunrise - you are back to 90. Hitting 100 + by 1.
Not pretty. Quite miserable actually.

Transportation and Schedule

Previous trips consisted of me setting out across the country 7 days before the start of the festival.  Basically hopping across the country on Route 80. Last time - I was actually Working from my laptop on the road everyday after a stop.

Burning Man 2013 opens August 26 -  September 2nd this year.

WHAT my driving schedule is this year - undetermined.   I could consider a cannon ball run - which basically involves less days and much longer driving per days if other folks can help with the driving.
THE VAN IS A STICK SHIFT.    And the return trip across the country would be approximately September 3 - 7th

There are many options available to you.

Fly to west coast and drive in from Reno or San Fran
Fly to reno and then fly into Burning Man directly
Drive with Tom one way or RT
Fly to Salt Lake city and have tom pick you up along the way

There are many options for transport from Reno Airport - read here

This company provides RT transportation San Fran/Reno/Burning Man and camping spot and Food
as a package  - Green Tortoise     You still need your own tent

You need to explore ticketing NOW - the main sale just started.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Holidays in Syracuse

Well...another photo finish as always.  Eric always reminds me in the fall as i start another project for the party that i need to leave time for party prep.  And as always ..event conspire against me and we end up running around like crazy as the party date approaches.   I will be posting more about our projects later.  The party was as always a great time to see friends, family and neighbors.

Notes for next year!  Bartender!  Pre cooking!  Actual playlist for disco!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thank you Aunt Betty

The fear of an Aunt armed with Iodine

A recent article in a favorite tech blog last week brought back some vivid memories from the past and forced a thankful revisit. The article is coming up but I'll just repaint the picture in my best 1973 memory mindset.

We made our regular trip down to my Grandparents house in the sumer time, all loaded up in our 1972 Vista Cruiser station wagon. I think it was the whole family and of course - our black labrador - Donegal.  This trip was a bit different because our neighbors from back home were with us or met us at   my grandparents house. The Boises were there as well in their big 70's station wagon.  As we pulled up the cinder driveway, the minute the car came to a halt - there was an immediate disembarkation /scramble from the boat. Of course - the shortest attention-spanned were first out - which typically was my siblings and I. However - in this case - the A.D.D. prize went to the dog. The happiest, friendliest Mutt you'd never trust to protect the house from a burglar.  Donegal LOVED all people and the only mean bone in his body was reserved for other dogs and Cats.  I would like to think he loved them as well, he just liked to show it by roughhousing / nibbling on them.

Did i mention Grandma had a Cat?   Not a house pet really.  More like an outdoor / scruffy / greasy  Feral cat that you were never tempted to touch or be friendly too. Smelled a bit too. Grandma usually had a old pie tin on the side porch to feed Smellycat ( which hung out under the porch )

SO, as I mentioned - Donegal was first out of the car and immediately spotted SmellyCat and kicked into warp drive for an side porch Pet Dust-up.  I remember several of us - quickly stepping in to stop Donegal from playing "Shake the Baby!" on SmellyCat .  And I , in a rare act of bravery - stepped in the fur spin-cycle to physically pull them apart and promptly got a Cat Fang through my finger.

Which...being 5(?) years old.... I am sure I was not quiet about.

Lucky (?) for me - other guests at my grandmothers included several aunts with Nursing backgrounds. This included my Aunt Betty. I am pretty sure either my aunt Catherine or aunt Clare was there as well as a co conspirator - but the memory of which has faded.

Well, apparently this whole  Cat Bite thing ~  was a cause for serious concern amongst the family medical staff and prompted immediate RADICAL treatment. the following years I wrote off as some kind of Over-zealous sadistic Old School Nursing.

Being brought into my grandmother's kitchen - I was forced to produce my wound for disinfection. And by this I mean - having someone hold my arm out while Aunt Betty poured half a gallon of iodine down the gaping hole in my finger. The Iodine was basically Hot Lava Battery acid.  Seriously -  I was screaming louder at the treatment than the wound.

And it got worse!  Aunt Betty insisted on a 3(?) times a day repeat disinfection!!  The whole weekend!!    I was seriously convinced she was doing this just to be mean to me. To this day - to speak the word iodine - brings this all back.....

So it was a bit of shock last week when I spotted this article online where the author got a friendly nibble from her pet cat.   ( click on title for article - its pretty startling....)

Why Cat Bites Are Pretty Much the Worst Thing Ever

It is interesting to take a burned-in childhood memory and make a needed revision. It is unfortunate the memory was written in the prism mentality of a 5 year old.  Sadly my aunt passed away just a short time ago. It would have been nice to make the revision together.

Thank you Aunt Betty


Monday, August 27, 2012

American Sign Museum!

Mr. Eric and I headed to Ohio this past weekend for some vacation. The main plan was to head to Cedar Point for our typical Summer roller coaster love fest. As Eric would attest - I am a Double Booker and could not leave well enough alone - so our first stop was actually Cincinnati.  The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati just recently relocated to their new home in June and it was time for a visit. As a triple bonus, we looked up my friend Jason, who joined us for the Museum tour.

The museum was terrific and a must see for anyone with an eye for electricity or vintage nostalgia. After the museum and a needed nap - we met back up with Jason and Mike for dinner and a small tour of the city.  A very nice first visit to Cincinnati and great Triple booker weekend.  :O)

Check out the museum here!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New York New York 2

A road trip adventure this week!  Nephew Thomas and James, Sister Catherine and myself headed to the big apple to celebrate Thomas's high school graduation.  We headed into NYC on Sunday evening in the hope of skipping most of the holiday tourist crowd.  We did pretty well on that front - but managed to run head on into a NYC heat wave.  OH BOY was it a warm weekend to hustle around the city.    We headed out on Sunday night to Time Square to see the Photon Tourist splendor.

Monday morning - we headed straight out to the Empire state building to gape at the splendor in 360 degrees. ( It almost felt that hot too..) 

Afterwards, tt was off to Central park to continue the march of sweat and tears - where I nearly lost the entourage to heat stroke. We did get a pic with the angel Bethesda ( one of my favorite spots )

After Central park - a quick detour to FAO Swartz and the 5th ave Apple store to wonder at the Glass elevator. It was almost like Willy Wonka!  That evening - we topped by a pinnacle of Kitch - the famous Trailer Park lounge.   We were lucky to get seated at the Elvis and Hula shrine.  There were Cheddar cheese Bacon and chili tator tots.  Nom Nom NOM!!

Tuesday morning consisted of a Double decker bus tour of lower manhattan and a stop at World Trade Center.  We wanted to tour the memorial - but did not have reservations. So planning to return the next day, we headed back up town to catch a boat tour of lower manhattan.

And the march continued after a much needed nap!  We headed to our dinner destination in the meat packing district by way of the newly opened Highline.  A elevated train track running part of the length of manhattan that is now a popular park.  From there it was on to Thai dinner! nom nom NOM!

Wednesday morning we headed down again to the World Trade center for an 11:00 tour of the WTC memorial site. On our way, we took a detour to visit Chinatown in search of "Rwolexes"  Our previous day guide pointed us to "Mott street" for the real china town experience". Well... it was too real in my opinion.  The street was an open air food market and there was ( too) much to see. It left me a bit Scheving.  We stopped in several stores to shop the wares.  I was in the back of one store when I spotted someones lunch on the back table
Pizza, take out and a soda right?

While moving on to the racks of Cats with waving paws and Lead painted toys, I thought I could hear a distinct scratching noise. After looking around from where I stood, I glanced back at the lunch table. With a little squinting, it became clear I my pizza assumptions were in error.
The WTC memorial was very inspiring and quite sad. I thought it was interesting to see certain names in the memorial with their finish rubbed off.  A must see for anyone.

From the memorial, we grabbed a cap to head uptown to stop back at FAO Swartz for a candy stop. I *thought* the cab would be more efficient than a 3 connection subway ride. But is was midday and I was in tragic error. But as an upside, The rest of the group found the cab ride to be an adventure in itself while I dozed off on our trip. So I guess it was a bonus right?  

A fine trip!  Hopefully more to come  :O)