Sunday, September 30, 2007

Roomba = Cat Terror

OK, another cat post. You've got to work with what you've got.

You ever hear of the Roomba? It's the robotic vacuum that looks like a really thick Frisbee. It wanders around your house, running into walls and vacuuming the place. It is supposed to be smart enough to map the place out and sense dirt and make sure the whole place gets all cleaned up. I've always been skeptical, shocking I know, but I've got to say it works really well. I keep my place really clean and thought I would let the monstrosity loose and see if it could find any dirt. Turns out there WAS tons of it and it got promptly sucked up. My Mom is out of town for a few weeks so she dropped it off on the way to the airport so I have more time to mess with. I'm debating buying a costume for it. Hell, it already freaks the cats out enough as it is but honestly that is part of the fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fixing the ol Gal

Looks like it is time to pull the front end apart on the old Suzuki. The fork seals are leaking so much that I can’t stand it anymore. Hopefully will have it back on the road this weekend.

Not sure how many of you know the story of this old bike. I bought it wrecked back in 1987 and slowly found the parts that I needed to get it back on the road. And by slowly I’m talking years. Not having much money but time to spare, I searched the junkyards and called the parts hotlines (no Internet back then kids). I put it together over the course of about 5 years and about the time I finished it I left to San Jose for college. In retrospect, not sure why I didn't bring it down there with me. How knows. I was riding at the time, my first bike, and worst bike, the notorious crap pile of a 1984 Suzuki GS550ES.

So I stored it at my Mom's house, didn’t drain the gas or oil and basically let it rot. Well college ended in 1992 and I left to South America for a couple years, then to work in Alaska and travel the world for a few more years. I finally settled in SF in 1997-ish and picked up the rotting hulk from Sacramento and put it in my apartment parking space.

Well another year or so later and I finally got inspired to do get it running again. What finally did it was that I went to the Guggenheim in Las Vegas to see the Art of the Motorcycle show and saw my bike, the rotting hulk, displayed as an exhibit in the museum. I waited so long that it was now an antique. So I tried to start it and it did run, like crap. Pouring black smoke out the back, no power… so I finally, finally realized I was never going to take the time or energy to sort it out. It only took me 15 years!

I made some calls and turns out a friend of a friend specializes in these bikes so I brought it to his shop and paid $1500 to have the cylinder head replaced and carbs rebuilt. $1500 to fix a bike that I had hauled around for 15 years. $1500 and I could have been riding it for over a decade. Morale of the story is don’t be cheap.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Welcome to My Life

Just thought people would want to know what I see every night before I go to bed and what I see every morning when I wake up. Two cats curled up on my feet or head or whatever. I've never had two cats that were so into each other as these two. They are always together playing or fighting or cleaning each other. I imagine that they are best friends and hang out all day playing cards and telling each other these wild stories while I'm gone at work. Getting into trouble with the neighbors and then scampering back home and rolling around on their backs laughing. I guess the truth is that when I leave to work they are sleeping on the deck and in the same spot when I come home 9 hours later. Could they really sleep that much?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Burning Man Wrap Up: Default Reality

I didn't expect to go through any adjustment returning to "default reality" as it's called on the Playa. But here it is. As I wander around San Francisco, even as strange as the City is, I find myself wondering where the art cars have gone or the men with push up bras and dresses. It is the energy that is missing as well. The open accepting attitude, easy approachability and playfulness. It's not that I miss it so much as that it just seems weird that it's gone. Hard to believe that I could become so acclimated so quickly.

First let me say that I brought my film camera not a digital and, yeah, I still have one and remembered how to use it. I just had all the film scanned and have uploaded some of the photos.

Some of the highlights of the trip.

Crude Awakenings: Check out this edited down version of "Crude Awakenings" fireworks, explosion and burn. It was amazing. The biggest explosion I've ever seen. The fireball was at least as big as a city block.

The Temple: An amazing Temple is constructed for participants to mourn loved ones or ask for forgiveness etc... and at the end of the week the Temple is burned and we let go of those feelings. The burn itself is a ritual that was the most serious thing I saw all week. Lots of moving moments and crying from everyone. Check out the other photos on the web gallery.

Homouroboros: This was amazing and I don't think I can explain it exactly so read and check out the video (which doesn't do the piece justice) Basically, it is a series of monkeys in sequential positions as if they are swinging from branch to branch. People must bike at stationary cycles around the piece and play drums in a certain rhythm and that will trigger it to spin and strobe lights to flash in time making it seem like the monkeys are swinging. It's amazing when it works, which is about every 5 minutes.

There were lots of other favorites besides my photos so do a quick search on Youtube for some videos or Flickr for some photos.

So will I go next year? Who knows. I'm not planning on it but I am really glad that I experienced it and encourage everyone to go at least once. I think that as this grows every year, we'll see how it influences mainstream society as well. It think this could really be culturally significant. We'll see.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Burning Man: Google Bikes

Burning Man

I felt bad writing the last entry cause by the time I had wrote it I had already begun to acclimate to part of what was going on here but felt like I needed to blog about my initial experiences. So there you go.

Day 2: I have to say two things directly shifted my cynicism on Friday. First, I was so beaten up by the non-stop blasting Techno parties till about 4 or 5 AM that I was destroyed from lack of sleep. I headed over to Center Camp to get some coffee, grabbed the daily rag, Pee Clear, and as it turns out last edition ever of it. So I plopped my tired ass down on one of the many couches and listened to some singer songwriter stuff and chilled.

Shortly afterwards Heather, a BM veteran - well are there any other types really. Sorry, sorry I’m getting negative again but let me diverge for a moment. I realized that that is how you know when something is “over”. When, and I’m not exaggerating here, SO many conversations are about how it used to be different, how commercial it is now “BUT WHEN I first started coming to the burn back in 1830 blah blah….”

So Heather was very nice and we chatted a bit about things. Having recently realized (not sure why it took this damn long) that I don’t like dealing with jam-packed crowds, I asked her for her advice about the more chill places to go and things to see. Got some great tips and had a nice conversation about the world and things.

First realization: I realized then that everyone here is nice and just so damn pleasant and helpful. In fact this affirmed something I’ve thought for some time, that this is inherently how people want to act. In San Francisco, I know I’ve had the urge driven out of me by the constant small time street swindlers and I imagine living has done that to most of the rest of us as well. So here people collectively decide to be nice. That is a good thing. A bit weird at first but very refreshing. In fact it makes it so much easier to strike up a conversation with someone, not worrying about ulterior motives. It goes across sex, race and age.

So I spent the rest of the day walking deep out into the Playa to visit the various art installations and just kind of poke around. That’s when I discovered the Google bikes. What I heard was one of the Google trillionares buys a pile of bikes for folks here to share. The deal is that you can’t modify them, lock them, hide them or sit on them naked.

Let me tell you about being naked here, I’m so sick of seeing man junk that I can barely drop trou to pee. I’ve seen more dick in these past few days than a Catholic Priest at the boys orphanage. The final straw was the nasty Santa naked from the waist down except for his ass-less red leather chaps. Check out shirtcocking on the interweb.

Anyway, I grabbed one of the bikes and blasted around the entire place! What was taking me literally hours to walk around in the blazing sun now was a few breezy minutes. I could see everything and barley notice the stifling heat. It was really great and the second thing that transformed the experience of being here.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to get some photos together cause it was at this point that I think I got to see, what for me, was Burning Man.

Burning Man First Day: Bobo Shanty Town

So I'm borrowing one of the editing stations from Current TV / TV Free Burning Man (as it's being branded here in Black Rock) so I'll make this quick-ish and unfortunately no photos yet.

Caught the red eye out of SF Wednesday night to Reno to catch up with the Current TV folks. They are letting me mooch off of them a bit and sleep in their RVs, use their showers and gave me a pass to the Burning Man commissary. Sounds like a great deal. Haven't had to do any work yet but we'll see by the time this is over what happens.

We all took the rented van from the Peppermill Hotel (where I mooched a room from Current TV - I just have to keep pointing that out I guess) in Reno out to Black Rock City. Middle of nowhere and I guess that's the point. Got caught up in the howling dust storms on the way in. Total white out. We eventually made our way to camp, right in the damn center of this whole thing. For those of you in the know, right on the Esplanade at 6:30. I tell you it was a bit weird and I hadn't thought of it at the time but I had just said goodbye to all these folks and here I am again. I just keep showing up.

So two things struck me right away. Oddly that I brought the perfect book with me. “Bobos in Paradise” and the how decadent it is here. The book perfectly captured what at first glance seems to be the crowd here. Bourgeois Bohemians, aka "bobos". The new wave of yuppies that have the resources to build an entire city for 45,000 people in one week (miles of RVs, trailers, tons of food, water, booze….) coupled with the Bohemian counter culture values. The book puts it rather snarky and I don't mean it that way exactly. I just think of the opportunity and resources that all these people must have to be able to do this. It is NOT cheap to come here. You are spending some considerable amount of time, money and personal energy to drag a city into the dry lake bed in the middle of Nevada. This doesn’t happen by accident. I keep thinking that this is a Bobo Shanty Town

All that said, it is an amazing place. Phenomenal and surreal.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Filler Post

OK guys, I'm working on the Burning Man post but thought this would keep you entertained for a bit. Nothing like a good old fashioned cat fight. Look at those tails go. Enjoy!