Jul. 27th, 2009 11:09 am
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First, we open with a Crazy Headline Joke from Baltimore:

16 Shot In Baltimore, Concluding 12 At Cookout

Though I ought to note that the 12 at the cookout were all wounded and not actually "concluded". Never mind, the headline won't be there when you go look...

Yes, it's been a while and I have been remiss, for those who check in regularly, care what I've been up to and don't already know from meeting me in "meatspace". in the last three weeks I:

- went to UNFIT, an event at Paparazzi Nightclub (which used to be Prism, and which seems to still have largely the same regulars) at which much interesting music was to be played, or so the advertising claimed. The DJ for the most part didn't know what he was doing and blew off [ profile] shadesofwinter, who was only too willing to give him some advice but was rebuffed. DJ did post later that most of what he played was requests, which would have been the only excuse for so much Nine Inch Nails and yes, even Marilyn Manson (who, I have just learned, is coming to our very own Save-On-Foods arena in September! What did we do to deserve that?). Anyway, went to Denny's later for milkshakes and stuff.

- The following weekend took Aki to "Critical Massive", a regional event put on by Seattle area Burners to charge people up for Burning Man (the Man burns in 40 days...). Almost 700 people came to the event near Mount Vernon, south of Bellingham. Aki had never been to anything Burnery before, but he knew what it was about, we had the tickets, he had never been to the States before and we hadn't done any camping so far this summer, so why not go.

We took the Anacortes ferry (which I haven't taken in over 20 years) from Sidney on Friday 16th, got a good going-over by the Customs people (fortunately they missed the propane cylinder I wasn't supposed to have taken on the ferry), and had to wait a bit for our ride of about 25 miles to the site. We played American Roadside Bingo on the way there (1 point for an enormous flag, 2 for a church, 5 for a gun store). When we got to the gate, ther were a coupld of topless people there in tutus, I thought it was just the "Burner vibe" but as we looked for a place to park, I saw a large number of permanent cabins and dug-in trailers with nude people sunbathing outside them and remembered this was a nudist camp! Aki didn't seem fussed and anyway it was mostly middle-aged flesh on display - some of it pretty saggy too. Anyway, we found an out of the way corner to pitch our tent and went back to the centre of things to check in with our friends who had brought the "Beaconator", the Black Rock Beacon's new production van made out of an old ambulance. The Beaconator had everything needed to produce the paper inside it, from ink and paper to computers and a desk, including the RISO duplicator of course. A pretty swanky setup, and we were going to produce an edition of the paper on-site on Saturday night to test everything out.

That night there was a barbecue and a talent show, which last I wrote up for the paper. Later they burned "Celloman", a man-like sculpture about 8' tall made of decommissioned string instruments from local schools. Burned with musical accompaniment by a quartet of guys playing electric cello, bass, some percussion and an electric violin that reminded me of Nash the Slash. But between the late-night sound camps and sleeping on the ground, I got hardly any sleep at all that night.

Saturday morning I wrote up my notes into an article and tried to take a nap. In the afternoon I held a workshop on "How To Do Metal Casting" (I had brought down a cut-down casting kit with a few molds, tools and a pound of metal, along with the propane stove we otherwise used for making tea and heating food). About a dozen people showed up (actually, it was a group of a dozen people who were wandering around looking for something to do, and I told them to "come over here and learn something"). They found it really interesting, I let volunteers cast stuff for themselves and distributed a fair amount of schwag. Later I wandered around looking at stuff, as did Aki though independently. The burn that night was six oil drums stacked on top of one another, with wood and a few fireworks stacked inside. The drums had shapes and letters cut into them for ventilation and illumination as the fire crawled up the "chimney" they had made with them. It took quite a while to ignite and people were a bit underwhelmed, but it was nice to stand near it once it got going because it was a pretty cold night. Aki wandered around a lot by himself, I don't know what all he got up to but I think he found everything interesting.

We got some sleep the second night, and I wandered around distributing copies of the paper that our friends had run off in the middle of the night after they got a few pictures of the night's burn. We left about noon, got a lift back to the Anacortes ferry which we caught at 2:00. At Canadian customs in Sidney they yanked me out of the line for a "random customer check" - didn't search me but asked me all kinds of questions, including the whereabouts of my ex-wife. Guess their databases are not completely omnipotent and connected, for she left Canada four years ago this month.

I think Aki found it fun, at least as much fun as a 14 year old can have. There was a burn ban on and if there hadn't been a few fires around he would have been quite disappointed. Still, I think it will be some time before he might be interested in going for the real thing out on the playa.

- otherwise, on Tuesday I put up the handrail to the steps that my Dad and I had built up to the second sundeck - well, we built them up, but they go down too. ("And one more leading nowhere, just for show...") It's a lot more convenient having them in.

- uh, what else ... saw a bunch of movies on DVD and PVR, watched "Kings", a miniseries on NBC that was kind of intersting but won't have a second season.... potatoes and zucchini came in fine! Spinach bolted, but not before we got a couple of salads out of it, and the tomatoes I planted from seed are growing grudgingly. It will make a big difference next year, once we get the maple tree pruned (to let more sun into the garden plot) and the fruit trees seen to (the apple and pear are bearing lots of fruit, but none of it very large as they haven't been pruned in years). And we cleaned the house as best we could, and Lianne came home on Friday after six weeks in Sault. Ste. Marie.

BM in 10

Oct. 15th, 2007 10:23 am
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Someone did a time-lapse video of Burning Man 2007, compressing eight days into ten minutes - watch!
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Pretty linear this time, but I was feeling that way too.
Read more... )
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Here are the first somewhat-acceptable casts I have made using soapstone and slate molds.

Last summer I tried to make a casting of a crow in silhouette. I made a good positive in plasticine and painted it over with silicone as I do with my other molds, but I never got it to pour correctly because the rubber would flex when I clamped it, leaving me with a hole in the middle. I thought that with slate molds I would be able to make much thinner and more detailed castings, like the old "flat" tin soldiers one used to be able to get from Germany. It would also make for lighter castings, and allow my metal to go further!

So, these are just experiments... the slate I got from Tile Town, I walked in there asking for any broken pieces of slate they might have, but when I explained what I wanted it for, the lady gave me two good 12x12" ones and said, "no charge". She was either an artisan herself or just wanted me out of the store; probably the latter. The soapstone I got from Opus because they are having a sale right now, but Tim told me the Rockhound shop has bigger pieces for cheaper. In both cases the stone is carved with a Dremel tool, though I also used some old dentist's tools I had for cleaning up lines etc. The hardest work is sawing the stone into smaller slabs and sanding it down flat.

The left one is a lighter, thinner version of the Neubauten man pin I've been making for a while, the centre is an imitation of an Athenian coin featuring an owl, and the right one is a prototype of a "challenge coin" I am making for the staff of the Black Rock Beacon (it's a lighthouse, see) this summer. (Speaking of which, I think my tickets for Burning Man have finally arrived!)
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Constant Readuhs will remember that at last year's Burning Man, I wrote about being in someone's 48 hour film project:

Read more... )
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Tickets for Burning Man go on sale next Thursday.
Starting to think about this year, and what to do, and hoping my back doesn't go out this time.

Meanwhile, the newest tactical innovation from Kamp Apokiliptika, one of my favourite theme camps:

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Hard to decide on a report format to use, as I can't be arsed to think of anything new. Though maybe it should be kind of non-linear, since this year there was no real progression on anything in particular. The one constant was my back going out. Well, here goes:

Read more... )
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Yes, I'm back. Good Burn, except my back went out the night before we left and I had to creep around like a broken beetle most of the week. Fortunately I could still ride a bicycle.

Complete update will be posted when time permits.

Meanwhile, OH Teh Noes!!! The Airfix company is about to shut down.
No more HO scale tank models and boxes of little toy soldiers. They were staples of my boyhood and were becoming so of Aki's.


Aug. 24th, 2006 02:45 pm
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Last day at work and on the Net for a couple of weeks.

Taking Akito to the airport tomorrow. He's sad and so am I. The time went by so quickly, but it's only about another 10 months until he is back.

Then, packing panic! I am sure I will forget something important. Well, doing without is an important lesson to be learned on this annual trip. Early early Saturday morning, we head off to Nevada and Burning Man. We plan to arrive Monday midafternoon and will be forming "Splatter Camp", around 7:00 and Brave, for those of you whom that means anything, and working at the Black Rock Beacon, 9:00 plaza at the 11:30 position (right on the northeast corner).

Full report will be made some time after I return - hopefully I will not be spending all my time working the printing press, my sciatica (have been in a lot of lower-back pain the last 10 days) won't run to it. I have packed my cane just in case. Otherwise the dress theme is either "Maoist Red Guard" or "Officer, 51st Division, 8th Army North Africa".

I have lots of ideas for articles to write for the Beacon. We'll see how many make it into print. Unfortunately F-SPACE won't be there this year, not even its various individual members.

See you on the 7th or so.

Eight Days

Aug. 17th, 2006 11:50 am
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Seven and a half, actually, until Aki leaves.
I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. I knew it would, but that's not the same as actually having it speed away on me.
It was only last week that he started to loosen up and it became really apparent he was enjoying himself, talking freely, etc.
Only a week from now I'll be taking him to the airport, and won't see him again for the next 10 or so months.

And the day after that, we leave for Nevada. This year we are taking my dad's pickup truck with a camper on it, which will save tremendous amounts of time, money and setup/organizing angst. We have a camping zone picked out (right now, in the area of 7:00 and Brave, or maybe Chance if that's too crowded). Lianne is trying to get me to cut down on the amount of kit I take (in fact, I don't take very much at all, it was just that more of it was in evidence on the tent floor last year, while most of her stuff stayed in the truck - therefore, I took more stuff than she). I might get whittled down to two Kleenex boxes and a hat.

This year will feature working on the Black Rock Beacon, and I want to write art reviews of smaller art projects out on the deep playa that might be neglected.

Okay, back to work - time seems such a precious thing right now.
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Sorry, but a formless wail/sigh/groan is what does it for me right now.

I have been so busy the last two weeks! Aki has been here for 18 days and goes back to Japan in only 23 more. We've been having a lot of fun, he was kind of subdued the first few days but has adjusted. He actually beat me at chess the other day, after we went to see the new pirate movie, what's its name, uhhh... anyway, he was proud, and rightly so - I don't throw games.

Kids are a lot more resilient than I thought, or at least more than they let on (you ever notice how, when they fall, they look around to see if anyone's watching before they start wailing?).

Lianne is back today, after more than a month in Sault Ste. Marie! Details will not be aired at 11. I am not anticipating any Aki/Lianne problems - he met her several times last year, at his request.

Leaving for Nevada in 24 days. PANIC PANIC! This year we will borrow my dad's pickup truck with camper, so we don't have to fuss with a tent, and can just pick up and go. But there are so many other things to do -
- write stuff for the Black Rock Beacon,
- check and service equipment (Pantzooka, water pump, bicycles, stoves)
- assemble stores (tools, food, sleeping bags, rope, chairs, carpet, water, gasoline, clothing, other gear)
- make new casting molds (thoughts: vampire fangs, better bat head, Golem head, Herman Munster head, suggestions?)
- do some actual casting (I had 45 pieces on consignement at "3 Crows Music and Notions", a store around the corner from the Starbuck's in Cook St. Village, then the place closed and I don't know if I can get them back - that's a day's casting), fortunately I have a new load of Cerrotru metal,
- and so on and on...this does not even mention "paid" work, and there is so much of that I am unsure I can get even a fraction of it done...
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I have a big collection of board games. I mean, really big. Not everything gets played and for the last couple of weeks I have been trying to trade away a lot of the dross in my collection - not bad games necessarily, just things I don't think I will ever play, to trade for things I have always been looking for.

It was harder and more expensive than I thought, though I did make a lot of trades and have mailed a lot of packages in the last two weeks. Waiting for the other ends of the various deals to make their way to me.

But boy, postage is expensive! I suppose I'd feel better if Canada Post were both bumbling and ridiculously cheap, but it's actually quite expensive and the service is no better than it ever was.

Burning Man tickets arrived this week. One step closer to the playa. We are thinking of getting a small trailer and hitching it to Lianne's car, but I don't know if her 4-cylinder has enough guts to drag even a small, light thing like a Boler ( all that way. We won't be carrying much gear, the water is equal in weight to an extra person and there are a few items like bikes that weigh a bit. But we are tired of tents. Well, she is anyway.

Also, we got our plane tickets for the Phoenix game convention trip - both of us, there and back, for less than $700 Canadian! That's about half of what our trip to Sault Ste. Marie cost. The only hitch is we have to get to Seattle ourselves - flying from there is substantially cheaper. So we will head down and stay with friends in Federal Way, whom we wanted to see anyway!


Jan. 18th, 2006 12:16 pm
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Tickets for Burning Man go on sale online at 1200 hrs California time. I go to the site at 1200 hrs California time and there is an ad page telling me how great InHouse Ticketing is and how they will solve all my problems as an event planner.

That's all. Servers must have gone blooie within a minute.

So, while I'm waiting for something to happen, I will talk about pickling. "Pickling" is the term used by um, uh, people for putting a patina on or otherwise etching or changing the surface of a metal object by immersion in a solution of some kind, usually an acid. I use two kinds of pickles for my castings:

Simple and safe: three parts hydrogen peroxide in 3% solution (i.e. the disinfectant you buy in big bottles at the drugstore) and one part ordinary white vinegar (3-5% acetic acid in solution). The vinegar is a catalyst; the peroxide does the pickling. Lay the pieces in the bath (warm solutions work better) or better yet, suspend them. You can tell it's working when bubbles appear on the surface of the casting. Brush the bubbles off with a feather or Q-tip to let it work. Leave it for a short or a long while, then put the casting into a container of undiluted white vinegar. This halts the reaction and the "smut" comes off the casting as a white precipitate. Rinse off with water and clean with an old toothbrush.

This makes a dark or iron-gray patina when there is lead present, doesn't react to tin or bismuth so the Cerrobend castings I make have to use the other method:

Be Careful - I use a solution of muriatic acid and brush it onto castings, or place it in a dilute bath. You can get muriatic at most hardware stores - I got mine at Capital Iron. Be careful with this stuff - use it outside and wear gloves at least. Also remember that if you are diluting the acid, pour the acid into the water, NOT the other way round. Depending on the strength of the solution, this will also give a grayish patina.

When I get around to cutting out those copper bat wings, I will see which works better on that metal. Either is supposed to work.

Servers still down. I think I'll take a walk.

[EDIT:] Later now, and I see they have paused sales at 1330 to "fix an electrical circuit problem" (probably someone kicked the plug out of the wall in a rage). So maybe I'll get a ticket today, and maybe I won't. But I did get some interesting-looking videos - Taras Bulba and The Second Civil War - at VdeP, as well as an old Parker Pros. racing game, Formula 1, in the long box.

['NOTHER EDIT:] The Borg says they resumes ticket sales at 1515, but I still can't get past the same 'overload' screen. Sod this.

[FINAL EDIT:] Got them with no trouble at 0853 Thursday, not the lowest price but close enough. So, that's done!

Black Rock City, here I come...
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Yeah, this one is done kind of linear, but let’s not be all McLuhanesque about it.

Read more, much more - pictures too! )
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I'm leaving for Black Rock City in three days. Yikes.

I spent the weekend putting piles of gear into different piles, stuffing them into bags and the like - had the foresight to label them this time: "Bike Repair Stuff", "Night Ops Bag", etc. Still lots to do, including sorting out clothing for the week down there, but it is all slowly falling into place. Or falling out of the truck on the way there...

Food is sorted.
Camping gear and tools sorted.
Pantzooka has been test-fired.
Money, tickets, passports sorted.
Lodgings on the way there and back sorted.
Transport sorted. Many thanks for Gary for bringing us two fine two-wheeled Playa Rockets. They might be PsOS up here, but they will be very handy down there!
Casting material sorted. Made up some new molds last night - a side view of a brain, an F-SPACE I Ching button, and the face plate of a skull - and added a lot of RTV to some thin-walled molds in an effort to make them come out flat and use less metal in doing so. I used a lot of paint thinner so they are going to take a while to cure. Hopefully less than three days. I must be patient.
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... is how I feel these days when I think about all I have to get done in the next while. Fortunately I have help.
Read more... )
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As promised, here are a few shots of the metal castings I made and gave away at Burning Man. Apologize for image quality but I was going for small file sizes.

see, see, see... )
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After Action Report (AAR) 

Exercise BURNING MAN 2004

 27 August – 8 September, 2004

Black Rock City, Nevada, USA



The general purpose of BURNING MAN 2004 was for the writer’s unit to deploy from its base in Victoria, BC, participate in this event with host nation (HN) personnel as part of “Camp Gothalot”, and to redeploy to Victoria.


Read more... )

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OK, instead of writing the BM thing all boring and linear, I am just going to hang out a bare schedule of narrative blocks and jam in a bunch of HTML anchors so you can just flick off to different sidebars and anecdotes, all jumbled together at the bottom of the page. In the end the whole story will be here in one piece, just not all at once. OK? (Not that you have much choice, though I can feel your interest waning already...)

Read more... )
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Yesterday I got my ticket for Los Angeles, the real point of no return for going to Burning Man. I will be going down to "LA" (I guess I can call it that now, or do I have to wait unitl I've actually been there?) via Alaska Airlines on Friday, August 22. My editor friend Joe will pick me up, we'll have a Saturday to stock up on last-minute items and explore, then we're going to one of the legendary Goth nights at a club (Bar Sinister). Sunday we head out for Nevada in Jo's friend's vehicle, overnight in Reno and set up in the desert midday Monday. Then ???, then we leave Sunday August 31, back in LA Monday night. Tuesday to sleep in and wash the dust off, then Joseph has a course to teach that night that I will catch (he joked he could bill me as a guest speaker on low-intensity conflict), then back to Victoria early on Wednesday September 3. Thursday I'm back at work!

I'm really looking forward to this trip - I haven't had a vacation where I've actually gone and done something other than sit inside and glower out the window and wank (usually not at the same time, though) since I went to Europe in 1989.


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