It seemed like a good idea at the time

2016 - 2017


56 tickets!

We got 56 tickets! Last year we only got 38. And the Main Sale was a disaster. We spent so much time stressing and scrounging for the rest. It hurt the camp.

Okay, really we have been “rewarded” with the opportunity to BUY 56 tickets in the Directed Group Sale (camps only). Oh my god. That’s $28,000.

Okay, okay. This is a good problem. We just have to recruit 27 reliable people (but not too reliable. Save those people for the horrible, horrible Main Sale lottery.). We have to get them all registered for the DGS. We have to make sure each of them has $1,000 on a credit card. And we have to get them in front of a computer between noon Pacific time on Feb 27 and March 1.

Reliable people, in the case of buying Burning Man tickets, are people who have an email address, a credit or debit card, the flexibility to sit at a computer in the middle of a work day for an hour, and the wherewithal to jump through BMorg’s hoops...which are plentiful.

This immediately disqualifies my entire family. My siblings have 9 to 5s that prevent them from “goofing” around until the evening or weekends. My mom is old enough that she routinely orders the wrong item on Amazon or ships it to an obsolete address. These are people that I would consider to be “reliable.”

“Reliable people” are people who have an email address and a credit or debit card and, without time constraints, can totally figure out how not to screw up a ticket order. My siblings will put the date on the calendar and, when they get home, correctly follow instructions. My mom will call me in a panic and I’ll walk her through the whole thing. Plenty “reliable.”

That’s four. 23 to go.

Also, the registration period opened an hour ago. Burning Man changes the hoops every year, but never have they waited until AFTER the registration period had started before telling us how many people we would need. Actually, we didn’t even know we were going to get any tickets.

Still, 56 tickets is a good problem. And we’ve got ten days to pull this off. The window closes again at midday Feb 22 (Pacific time. Always Pacific time).

Burning Man season has officially begun.


Email list notified. Friends texted. Facebook posted. I’ve already gotten some surprising responses from people I did not expect to hear from. Gonna owe some favors after this. Which is great!

The real problem is the Main Sale. I have to keep my eyes on that. And most people are better saved for that lottery. So while I’m up to two dozen responses to my call for help, I’m only up to 9 people on the DGS list. Everyone else is too reliable.


Elizabeth got us reservations at a new restaurant with a recent write up. We had to get there at 4:30 because everything else was booked.

We were the first ones there. The first patrons. We were the first customers in the restaurant. For half an hour. We had the place (and Ashton) to ourselves. Something was lost between Tovola and

Not DGS related.


I’ve been sitting at 9 for two days. Pretty much everyone that is going to respond to my plea for help has already responded.

Time to start the phone calls.


Grateful does not begin to describe the gratitude that I have for the throngs of people that have come out of my present and past to help with this project. The camp means so much to me. It means so much to all of us that have been able to go to Burning Man. But most of the list of volunteers we’ve accumulated have never been to Burning Man, have no plans to go to Burning Man.

They just want to help. My greatest achievement in life has been to surround myself with this group of people.



22 of 27. We’re getting there. We’re in friends of friend territory.

I’ve gotten a lot of no’s from people that don’t understand what I’ve asked. The Main Sale is on April 10. Lots of people see that in the email and think, “I’m busy that day, I can’t help. Sorry.”

How do I write a clear if-this-then-that email that people won’t interpret as if-not-this-then-stop-reading?


Bikes are renting. All of a sudden. Three bikes here, four bikes there. Out of nowhere. Probably had half a dozen rentals before this. Now it's a slow trickle. Weird.

But good, obviously.


The list is set. I can still make changes, but I’ve got a safe 27 (I‘m 28) and I feel pretty good about it. I’m going to send out my reminder email now so that if it turns out someone can’t perform, hopefully I will hear about it with enough time to make substitutions.

10/24/18 (Sunday)


Roof leak!

The flat roof right over the Hammer And Cyclery offices is dripping. We’ve had A LOT of snow during the last couple weeks.

First real vacation in three years (Elizabeth and I did the math). This is my reward.

Let’s see, what do I know about roofing? That would be nothing.


My uncle is a contractor. He says Walker Roofing. They have an emergency number, but no one answered. Left a message.

Also called and left a message with MN Home Improvements.

As a person with a roof leak, I do not appreciate the work week schedule right now.

According to Amelia: electrical is off, buckets are in place, roof shoveling in process.

But now there may be two leaks. The joys of long-distance problem solving.

So far no damaged camp memorabilia.


The five gallon buckets are filling up at a rate of an inch per hour. That should last the day, but that’s a lot of water. Ari has volunteered to start shoveling the roof. No small task. There’s gotta be two feet of snow up there but that has to be the problem, so it needs to be attacked immediately.

I really hope weight isn’t the issue. The roof of this building has already collapsed once in its 119 year history.


They can’t get on the roof because there’s too much snow on the roof hatch.


Shoveling has begun.



The leaks have stopped. Amelia went into the shop early to check on the buckets. (Thank you, Amelia.) There’s some water, but at some point in the night it must have stopped.

Seems temperature dependent. It got pretty cold last night and we turned the thermostat down inside. Whatever water was getting in has probably frozen.

It sounds like Ari and Tony did a bunch of shoveling too.

Still haven’t heard from the roofing companies.


Walker finally called. “Emergency” is not the word that they would use to describe this situation.

The explanation I got was that the massive amount of snow has created an insulating layer that traps heat from the building and allows melt water to stay liquid and pool until it finds a way in.

In any case, Walker doesn’t think there’s much that can be done until spring. Too wet to find the leak. Seems ironic. Otherwise they’d have to get “heat guns” to melt all of the snow and completely dry the roof. Then they can start water tests to find the leak. I don’t understand what that means.

I guess we will shovel the roof from now on. Ugh.

To be continued....


...and Graham. Sounds like Ari, Tony, and Graham all got up on the roof and threw snow. Thank you all.


Happy birthday, mom! So glad you exist...because...well, you know...otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Also, you’re super cool.


The DGS has started! Burning Man season is officially underway! Woooooooooooooo!!!

Some weird things so far. The mailing address and billing address have to match. That is going to mean our tickets will be scattered to the winds. A whole new snafu to untangle for 2019. Solvable.

A handful of our crew were online and made their purchases right at 2pm. (Burning Man time is 2 hours later in Minneapolis). Very exciting.

Otherwise the system is very simple this year. Two pages and you’re done. No switching over to TicketFly and checking email for registration links. Of course as a veteran Burner I hate change, but I think this one is going to work out.


Wow! The Michael Cohen hearings are incredible. Reminds me of Nixon and the Watergate era. Highly recommend the Slow Burn podcast.


Chris can’t get tickets. His DGS link sends him to a page that informs him that the ticket sale hasn’t started. He used the email link. He tried logging in directly from the profiles page. We tried a fresh browser with no cached pages. All with the same result. Time to reach out to ticket support.


Amelia’s dad died in a car crash. I don’t want to breach her privacy more than this, but nothing worse could have happened.

I spent all day with her. Joking around, listening to the Michael Cohen testimony, watching the new HVAC unit get lifted to the roof on a giant crane. Such a normal day.

The Build Your Own Burner Bike event was winding down when we found out. And nothing has been the same since.

I didn’t think I would have to write this. I’ve been thinking about making this blog for a long time, but I didn’t want to start this blog with the words “My dad died.” But I didn’t know Ron. I didn’t know Amelia’s dad and I wouldn’t presume to know what she’s going through right now. Anyway, when she got the phone call, I immediately thought of my dad. I tried not to, but it just doesn’t work in a time like this.


My dad died. Dec 18, 3:20am. I held his hand as his breathing changed and became more shallow and eventually stopped. My mom sat on the other side of his bed as the cancer finally took away his life. It was so hard to sit there and let him go. By that time it was what he wanted, but to do nothing, even if there was nothing to be done...

We had six months after the diagnosis. Those were about the hardest six months I’ve had and I could not be more grateful that we got them. It was time enough to say all of the things you wish you had said. And we said them over and over.

Everyone came from all over the country to see him and say goodbye. And they came again to celebrate his life and support us at his funeral. Not since my wedding have I felt so surrounded in love.

I spent half of those six months in Nevada either at Burning Man itself or working on bikes and the camp infrastructure. That’s what it took last year. It was a hard year.

He came just once to see what this whole Hammer And Cyclery thing was that his son was doing in the desert every year. And he was miserable.

Don’t get me wrong. He was proud of me and amazed at Burning Man, but he was 73, out of shape, and happened to join us in 2017, the hottest year since my aunt Kathryn dragged me out to the Playa for the first time in 2009. But he pitched in and made friends and helped make Hammer And Cyclery what it was that year. And I was proud of him and I felt privileged to get to share my experience with him. It gave us even more in common and he became one of the few of us that understands what Burning Man is. It is wonderful to get to share that with a parent.

So even though he never wanted to go back, I will add him to the list of people that I take with me to the Temple each year. To say that I look forward to that would be misleading, but I need it and I am always glad to have that place in my life.

Amelia, we are thinking of you. We wish for you to be surrounded in love and support now and forever.

To everyone else, go to that person that means so much to you and tell them exactly what they mean to you. Then do it again and again and again forever.



I can’t sleep. Thinking about Amelia.

About half of our people registered for the DGS have bought there tickets. Time to reach out to the other half. Email, phone, text, Facebook. I’m coming for you all and I won’t stop until we have 56 tickets or noon Pacific time tomorrow.

I’m getting lots of emails from our people apologizing for screwing up the shipping address. Not their fault of course. But the tickets FAQ is remarkably unhelpful. Lots of dead links.


Sasha solved the shipping address issue! If you are still grappling with this, go to There are a few hoops to jump through, but it’s pretty straight forward. I assume this option will be available even after the sale closes tomorrow. Tickets don’t start shipping until June (I think).



Chris got a working link from Ticket Support, but he is in meetings all day and may not be able to get the tickets. What a nail-biter!

Ticket Support wrote to me too, but all they said was, “The person with the issue has to contact us.”

Not sure how we’re supposed to get Ron to contact Ticket Support either.


Chris got tickets. Squeezed it in between meetings. Plenty of time to spare!

2:00pm (Mpls time)

Done! We lost two tickets due to miscommunication, but we still have a record 54 tickets coming our way. That puts us in great shape for Burning Man 2019 and takes a lot of the Main Sale pressure off.

Thank you, everyone! I am so grateful for the family and friends and friends of friends and family of friends that stepped up to help us get tickets this year. You continue to make this an amazing life. What a community we have built.

On to the Main Sale!

If you can help, get in touch! We need all of the bodies and credit cards we can muster.

Time to put $28,000 in the mail.



Spent the morning on the roof. Used up all of the gas in the snowblower. Almost finished. Too exhausted to continue. Have to do the sidewalk at my house. Then it’s off to Chris’ house to work on a software and hardware solution for on-Playa rental check in process. It is long since time to move away from index cards.


Water dripping down the walls in our living room. Turns out ice dams are a real thing. This isn’t really Burning Man related, but if you rent a bike this year and we pull your name out of a plastic box, this is why.

Off to Home Depot to buy an ice rake and an extension ladder?


This Old House recommends using a box fan to blow cold air under the part of the roof where the leak is occurring. Done.

Home Depot has been sold out of roof rakes for days. Thankfully they had ladders. Stopped by my brother’s house to borrow the family roof rake. Two more hours on another roof slinging snow. Another pair of jeans soaked.

I desperately want to attack the six plus inches of ice with a hammer, but Elizabeth insists that every single person on the internet strongly recommends against using a hammer for this purpose.

Mercifully, Chris and I have been able to reschedule for tomorrow. Coincidentally, he has a heat wire (probably not a technical term) that I can borrow to melt the ice like a civilized Minnesotan.

Though I am very intrigued by the other This Old House recommendation to fill pantyhose with calcium chloride and use these “tubes” to create water channels to allow the melt water to escape. No joke.


The sun has set. I’m on my third pair of jeans and second pair of shoes. The dripping has stopped. Enough for today.


Up at 8:30am. Roof raking by 9:00. Brunch with Amelia and friends at 10:00. Second brunch with the fam at 11:00. Coding with Chris by 1:30pm.


Well that’s not quite how it played out. First brunch didn’t start till 11am, so I missed that almost entirely. Second brunch was just a bit behind schedule and went long. And as soon as I texted Chris to let him know I was on my way, he canceled.

The only real triumph of the day is that I got the roof raking done and had the foresight to bring it with me to my brother’s who, it turns out, needs it just as bad as me now.

Hammer And Cyclery and Re-Cycle, Inc share no official affiliations with Burning Man or Black Rock City, LLC.


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