It seemed like a good idea at the time
2016 - 2017
Main Sale catastrophe
Placement application bureaucracy
new and old artwork
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). Ugh. 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.
10:16pm 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 OpenTable.com.
Not DGS related.
Mark K lost his mother today. She was 87. This was not sudden. From Mark K's Facebook post: "My Mother Chose Valentine's Day As Her Continuation Day. I Think Because She Is Pure Love. I Love you, Mom."
I didn't know Mary, but if you know Mark, you know his generousity and passion for life. His sister Nancy officiated Elizabeth and my wedding. These are some of the highest quality people I have ever known and that is no coincidence.
Thank you, Mary, for making the world a better place. You will be missed, but your legacy is going strong.
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.
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 (Amelia's dad) or Mary (Mark's mom) and I wouldn't presume to know what they're going through right now, but when Amelia 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 here.burningman.org/my-tickets. 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.
I came across this article once that said you can become a more creative person if you write down ten ideas every day. I don't do this because obviously I'm creative enough already (and have exactly zero will power to dedicate to improving myself). But I can make the camp do it!
According to the article, the ten ideas can be about anything (ten ideas for never having to tie your shoes again), but I think it will help if the categories are related to the camp.
Here's my category idea for tonight's crew meeting: “Ten Ideas for Ten Ideas Lists.” Just kidding.
Elizabeth and I recently got to go to the Christian Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. It was an incredible show and I highly recommend it except that it was like walking through a how to guide for “Creating an unrealistic self-image in one gender relative to another gender.” It was inspiring and terrifying at the same time. Bring snacks.
Apparently, one thing Christian Dior was known for was inserting a single red dress into the middle of his runway shows. This was meant as a signature, but also as pallet cleanser and an interruption that offered perspective. It was a bang to wake up the audience. I'm sure he wouldn't have explained it that way, but that's what I remember from the exhibit.
So we have thousands of people that come to Hammer And Cyclery and wait for long periods of time in line for repairs or rental pickup (or the bike drop or the library or whatever). Really there are just a handful of rush times, but it adds up to a lot of people standing around and some of them get understandably cranky.
So how can we wake them up? How can we refresh them at the moment of interactivity? How can we cleanse their experience pallet just before we deliver the Hammer And Cyclery experience?
Basically, I want people to look at their bike or our bikes with fresh eyes and an uncluttered perspective. I want our best people to be able to fill our participants' heads with the excitement we have about bikes without first having to overcome the tedium that waiting in line may have filled them with just before they got to a mechanic or a Bike Whisperer.
I also want our people interacting with happy people, inspired by our camp, not people who have been just been standing around in the dust for the last 30 minutes.
I've got a few ideas, but I want to see what the group comes up with first. We can't afford to do anything too crazy (money and crew numbers being the limiting factors), but crazy ideas can inspire good ideas, so we'll start with a clean white board and a fresh dry erase marker.
Maybe I forgot to mention that I don't see any reason to limit the number of ideas to ten. Here's what we came up with for possible (or impossible) red dress moments at Hammer And Cyclery:
Again, right now I don't see how we would be capable of delivering 10,000 frozen towels to our participants, and I'm sure as hell not going to subject animals to a petting zoo in the desert at 4,000 feet (heavy petting zoo?), but here is a list of things we can experiment with for YEARS!
I am so excited. Best. Camp. Ever.
For years Recovery Bike Shop operated with with the mission statement, “Real Transportation for Real People.” More of a tagline really. Meanwhile, Hammer And Cyclery drifted aimlessly through the desert with no purpose and no vision.
That's not strictly true, but it was Christian's idea (long overdue) to unite these two very related organizations under one common goal. He organized a mission/vision exercise. He scheduled the meeting. He led the discussion. As the person who hired this staff and recruited the majority of our crew, I could not be more proud to see this effort come from the passion among us instead of me imposing my views on everyone else.
What we came up with a year ago was, “Engaging with the world through bicycles.”
“Engaging” is about creating action in others. It is not about telling and it is not about lecturing. It is a collaborative word.
“With” emphasizes the collaboration. We are not leaders with blind followers. We are down in the dirt working with our communities to make the changes we all seek. We want to work with others even to determine what changes to seek. “With” is an important word here.
“The world” is a bit vague. It's a bit big too. (Actually, for Leilla, it was not broad enough. She thought we needed a term that would include all possible realities. So feel free to broaden your mind.) “The world” can be interpreted however you like. It is all of the people on this giant ball of mud spinning around the sun (as well as anybody on the International Space Station). Or maybe your world is the group of family and friends around you. The world can be whatever communities where you wish to see an impact.
And “Bicycles” is what we do. That's obvious. For us, bicycles are a terrific tool for creating engagement. They help us to interact with the world. They bring us into contact with other human beings. They slow us down (if you're used to car travel) and show us the world in a more intimate way. They are an active tool. You don't just sit and let the bike do the work. You are the power and the speed of your bicycle.
And bicycles go places that other vehicles cannot. They are more nimble, more flexible. They have more access.
Pretty cool stuff. Lofty too. “Engaging with the world through bicycles” is the lofty principle that our group adopted for themselves.
Best. Camp. Ever.
However, all of this is to say that it has been about a year since Christian ran this exercise and it turns out that this mission statement hasn't really been working for us. We had big plans for manifestos and banners, but pretty much this has just been sitting on the shelf collecting dust.
It should not go without saying that the exercise did accomplish the gaol of uniting two related but pretty different efforts under one roof. The bike shop and the camp are now on the same path.
Well here we are a year later and again, without any prompting from me, Jai and Dann recently took it upon themselves to restart this conversation.
Today Jai pulled out the whiteboard, dusted off the dry erase markers, and sat everybody down to discuss why we do what we do.
I know pictures of whiteboards are about as dry as red ink on a shiny white surface, but for me, it doesn't get much more exciting than being a member a community of passionate people working together to make the world a better place.
Here's what we came up with:
Also, we have a crew meeting tonight at 7pm. Be there! (Live stream on Facebook)
The first day of spring (technically). The high today is 46 F. I sat down to reconcile the February bank statement and found it to be the messiest month I've ever seen. Something is way off.
Dann just started doing the daily envelopes in February, so the first thing is to make sure our records match the receipts. This would be the easiest mistake to fix.
Headed to the shop to check the paper copies.
I know this is real exciting stuff, but I made a spreadsheet of the transactions we recorded but are missing and the transactions the bank shows but that we did not record. Looks like we are short more than $5,000! Way more than enough to be over the freakout line.
Did we get hacked?
Once TCF gave our bank account to a business with a similar name. I had 24 hours of panic, but TCF completely fixed it and the other business never even knew they had access to our account. I signed up for identity theft protection before it was over and have been paying for that ever since.
The first time I try to buy gas in Nebraska on the way to Burning Man every year, my credit card gets declined. A phone call to the bank clears that up right away.
Last year when we came out of the desert there were a handful of large transactions that I didn't recognize. I freaked out then too, but they turned out to be things I had charged and forgotten about.
Lots of examples of crises that weren't. I'm sure this is going to end up being one of those situations. Easily cleared up.
...But right now I'm freaking out.
It's not Dann. The paper copies match our records. It wasn't likely to have been Dann, but it would have made things easy to fix. Time to contact our credit card processor. We have two accounts. One seems to be operating normally, which is a good check on the system, but makes me think someone has actually accessed the second account and is redirecting our credit card sales into their account.
First problem identified. The way we pay credit card fees was changed from monthly to daily. Again, real exciting stuff here, but basically I'm used to seeing our daily deposits from the bike shop hit our bank account exactly as we process them at the end of each day. We get a monthly bill and it's easy to track that back to a whole month of sales.
Now for some reason the credit card fees are being charged daily. In essence, we deposit $xx.xx of credit card sales each day, but a different amount shows up in our bank account a few days later. This is a tracking nightmare full of web logins and spreadsheet re-checks and probably emails and phone calls. Now I'm really freaking out.
It's probably going to turn out that I changed something and don't remember (I'm actually really hoping for that right now), but I have no memory of fiddling with anything in this account for the last several months at least.
And, despite paying the credit card fees every day now, we're still getting charged monthly anyway. What the hell?
With this information I was able to track down half a dozen transactions, but most of February's deposits are just missing entirely. We're still out over $5,000. And that just accounts for February. I am too afraid to look at March just yet.
Incidentally, there are two wire transfers INTO our account that I do not recognize. The only time we do wire transfers is when we're paying for the shipping containers to send bikes to Africa and those are withdrawals. These are DEPOSITS.
I can't imagine how these wire transfers could correspond to a hack, but they coincide exactly with when we stopped getting credit card deposits into our account.
It occurs to me that all of this appears to have started on the same day as our mortgage refinance finalized as well. Another bank to call.
Alright, the credit card processor has the correct account numbers. They have changed things back to monthly billing for next month. The apparent double billing is each of the credit card brands getting their fee immediately (daily) and our processor getting their fees at the end of each month. The plot thins.
I have reached out to bank number one—
That was fast. Just got off the phone with the bank. They called back immediately. There are a bunch of transactions I did not recognize as part of this problem because I am an idiot. I have a ton of tracking work to do. I have to match each daily credit card settlement up to a corresponding bank deposit by figuring out what the fees were for that day, blah blah blah. Really fun stuff.
But it looks like it's going to add up to about $5,000. No evidence of hacking.
Just about to leave for a movie with Elizabeth. She is doing some last minute shuffling around of things. Decided to open some mail. Oh look, a letter from the IRS. I wonder what they're up to.
We owe $82,839 in additional taxes from 2017!
The movie If Beale St Could Talk is super SUPER depressing if you just found out you owe the IRS more money than you've made in the previous... I can't even do the math. I'm just sick. Right now I wish I could say that this wipes out our life savings, but this is so much more money than I've ever been able to hold on to after a winter at the bike shop. Just the penalties and interest are almost half of my annual salary.
Obviously this is likely to be another Seth mistake that gets sorted out and I just need to spend a couple weeks going through paperwork and redoing our books from 2017 (and I'll probably have to redo 2018 and 2019 now) in order to make sure our records are in the same format that the IRS likes our records to be in, but if I somehow don't have the right receipts or I can't get our records to match or the IRS simply doesn't believe me, well then we'll just lose everything.
As always, if you want to work on bikes, don't start a bike shop. And if you like climbing on art at Burning Man, don't start a theme camp. Stick with the 9 to 5. Get someone else to pay you to do what you love (unless you love paperwork).
Is anyone still reading this? Do you realize this is a blog about paperwork?
For me this is the nightmare scenario. Bees, bats, and the IRS. Everything else pales in comparison.
Seven pages of documents sent to our tax accountant (not including duplicates) and that doesn't include the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet the IRS included. If there's anything meant to be helpful but more unsettling than receiving a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet from a law enforcement agency, I don't know what it is.
Now the waiting game. Never take sleep for granted, people. At least when I am able to sleep, I'll have stress dreams to look forward to.
I can't believe I have to write something like this again already, but Jesse's mom past away today. Jesse has been going home to North Dakota periodically to deal with his mom's health issues, so it wasn't a surprise.
To have had six months with my dad after his diagnosis meant that I got to grieve while he was still with us. I could not be more grateful for that time, but it doesn't change the fact that you can never have your parent back. You can never again ask them for advice. You can't ever just sit on the couch and watch TV together.
It's a permanent absence and I still don't know when a day will pass that I won't think of him and miss him.
I am so sorry for your loss, Jesse. I wish I had more helpful words. I want you to know that you are important to me and to this community. I hope you feel enveloped by the love and support that we are all putting out into the world in your name today.
Theme Camp Symposium!
Ten years as a Burner. Eight years as a Placed theme camp. Going on a hundred people in our camp. And I've never been to the Symposium.
We couldn't afford to stay at the Kabuki hotel so we're walking the half mile from the Holiday Inn to the Symposium. Coming from Mpls, it's just great to be outside. But San Francisco has always been a town full of great energy.
There is a gifting table!
We're on Mpls time (10:03am), so we arrive bright and early for breakfast which is rather disappointing. Mostly sugar. But hey, yogurt is good for your brain.
It's already crowded and people are excited. Lots of smiles from strangers. Burners are awesome.
Placement just led a presentation on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that makes recommendations for the renewal of Burning Man's permit to use public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Is BLM trying to fuck us? I'm not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but requiring dumpsters at a Leave No Trace event that has passed every litter inspection in more than 30 years of operating seems like an action meant to intentionally destroy the Burning Man culture.
Burning Man's population demographics lean heavily left. It is not hard to imagine that the current administration would like to see 50,000 rich progressives NOT get together annually for a gigantic celebration each year.
But this is a LOT of money for Nevada and the local communities. Nevada gets $2.5 million just from a Burning Man tax they put on ticket sales. But the economic impact is reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
So probably this is just a way for BLM to draw some more money out of a pot of rich people.
K-rail (Jersey barriers) are supposed to keep cars from entering (or exiting) Burning Man illegally. This is not a thing. The trash fence and a mile of open desert patrolled by DPW has done just fine in the past.
Independent security company. Currently Burning Man performs their own searches at the gate. This is mainly a search for stowaways. Everyone seems to think this new BLM requirement is intended to find drugs. If people have to submit to searches meant to find drugs, we are going to be in line for days.
Imagine if we have to unload (and reload) the Penske. It would be an eight hour search. Where is this going to happen? The gate line would slow to...well it's already a crawl, so it would just lock up. Cars would be backed up to Reno.
My mom and I went to the Infrastructure Speed Dating workshop. The expert at the shade building table had helped build 1,000 sq ft of shade for his camp last year. We built 15,000 sq ft.
I think we've got this.
Turns out most (2/3) Burners live in camps with 50 people or less. There are camps and villages with more than 400 people, so we're still on the smaller end of the spectrum, but it turns out we're bigger than average.
The infrastructure needs and the problems and solutions required at 25 people are pretty different from those at a camp of 100 people.
It would be helpful if some of these workshops were divided by camp size. It doesn't do us a lot of good to sit through a workshop on building a 36” wide cooler shelf when last year we had a 12' flong fully powered refrigerator trailer. And we don't have much to add to that conversation either.
Don't set your greens on ice?
We were supposed to meet up with Kate and Gabriel for Ramen at 7:30, but we're late, they're late, and the line is super long. My mom has already been standing in line for twenty minutes.
It's just noodles and broth, people! And we're in Japantown! There are a dozen other ramen options on this block alone!
We made it inside and the ramen was delicious.
5:32pm The days were packed with great workshops and breakout sessions. I met tons of great people and learned a ton.
I did not have much of a chance to write blog entries.
I highly recommend this event as an energizer six months out and as a networking event full of passionate people. Not sure it's worth crossing the country to improve your camp unless you have specific issues you're trying to overcome. But the event is still rather young, growing like crazy, and likely to be way better next year (as usual).
The best part was getting to share some of Burning Man with my mom.
Right now Amelia and I are making the pilgrimage to Baker Beach, birth place of Burning Man.
Are all Lyft drivers Prius owners?
United is threatening to cancel our flight home tomorrow because of "weather" and they are encouraging us to book an alternative. There is rain in the forecast. Obviously there is something that I don't understand about San Francisco because this would NEVER happen in Minneapolis. A foot of snow might lead to an hour or two delay, not a cancellation.
There is currently 100% chance of rain for an hour 4 hours before our flight. Apparently that is enough for United to panic. Hopefully this is just an abundance of caution.
Trying not to worry about it yet. We'll take a look at the alternative flights when we get back to the hotel.
Amelia and I spent the evening walking from the hotel to the waterfront. We saw the Ghirardelli factory. Lots of hills. Several people sitting in cars (read: living in cars). Several people smoking pot in cars. Van Ness was a terrible walk. Everything was closed. Polk on the way back, just a block over, is a fantastic walk. All kinds of stuff going on. The kind of San Francisco that I love.
We are currently sitting in the hotel restaurant waiting for a $7 cookie baked in a cast iron skillet and topped with ice cream.
Still waiting for my cookie. Amelia is not partaking. The restaurant closes at 10pm.
Still waiting. If I don't get my cookie—
10:02pm It's so good! Worth every one of those seven dollars.
The flight options suck. Right now we are booked on a direct four hour flight at 6:25pm tomorrow. United is offering to change our flight for free, but there are no other direct options and even the connections suck. Get up early, stay up late, or wait till the next day, which of course would mean another couple hundred dollars for another night in a hotel.
We spent an hour weighing about a dozen bad options. We even considered renting a car and driving to Sacramento. SFO is so weird. The alternatives would all cost us a day. Either a day of flying around the country or a day of exhaustion after an all night flight. And the forecast has improved a bit.
We're sticking with our original flight and hoping for the best. If we change to a different flight, it is going to suck. If our flight gets cancelled, it is going to suck. Not a lot of incentive here. The biggest risk is that, in the event of a cancellation, we'll immediately be in line with 150 other people competing for very limited space on other United flights out of SFO.
The forecast has gone from eight hours of threatened rain to three hours of possible rain with the highest percent chance now at 50%. So glad we didn't abandon our direct flight. It would have been a disaster. I hope a bunch of people switched planes and we'll have tons of elbow room now.
We're walking around the Tenderloin district. A little rougher than the rest of town (that we've seen on this trip). Lots of homeless. People talking to themselves. Off-leash dogs (all seem to be with people, not strays).
We had lunch at Dotties True Blue Cafe. Got a breakfast sandwich with rosemary potatoes. The sandwich was fine. The potatoes were amazing.
Amelia got zucchini bread something or other. The server assured her that it was vegan and it arrived with poached eggs on top. So I also got two poached eggs.
It is legit raining now. I bought a $7 umbrella at a gift shop, but my feet are soaked. Time to quit and head for the airport.
I love trains. Actually, I've only been on one "train" from Paris to Avignon. High speed train. Pretty sweet. But what I really mean is that I love subways. Which is to say that I love urban rail transportation. I don't really care if it's a "sub" or surface -way.
There's something about public transportation on a track. If you are confident that you got on the correct line, there is hardly any chance that it is not going to get you to your destination. And if you didn't get on the right line, you just get off and wait for the one going back to where you came from. You're in the system the whole time.
Trains are so simple. So straightforward. Better than a bus. Better than a cab. I love 'em.
The hardest part was buying the BART pass. $9.65 a piece, but you have to spend in increments of $10. There are two pass options, a handful of strange maps, and several price and time charts. We spent ten minutes walking around the station going from chart to map to kiosk and back trying to figure out how to get through the turnstile.
Eventually I stuffed the credit card into one of the machines and tried to navigate the options fast enough to avoid pissing off the locals in line behind me. A homeless man called out flawless second by second instructions from twenty feet away. I love this town.
We're more than three hours ahead of our flight and almost to SFO. The rain lasted perhaps an hour and has stopped completely. We're in great shape.
One hour of rain and United freaked out. I presume that our airplane did not fly into our airport. That one hour of rain meant a canceled flight from somewhere else. Otherwise it seems like we'd be facing a delay.
And with only three hours until our flight? That's as much notice as they could give us?
Let's assume that United let us know as soon as they knew that the flight would be cancelled. Then, let's work backwards from our flight departure time to see how they treated the customers on our incoming flight.
It takes about an hour to turn over a flight after it lands. It has to taxi to the gate, deplane, get cleaned, resupplied, and so on. The next flight has to load and the passengers have to be told how to put on a seatbelt.
Our flight had to be coming from relatively far away. Otherwise we're still three hours from flight time and, with no weather to worry about now, United still has time to get that plane boarded, hop over here, and turn over for our flight with maybe only a slight delay.
No, this plane is coming from more than two hours away. Which means, with three hours to go and no cancellation, they were still preparing a more than one hour flight to leave. The passengers on our arriving flight were at the airport or on the plane or even in flight when someone made the decision that our plane wasn't going to land at SFO. Which didn't happen because by the time we were informed of the cancellation, IT WASN'T RAINING ANYMORE!
No, they canceled our flight hours ago and just didn't tell us it wouldn't be coming for us until the passengers for our flight were about to go to the airport or, in our case, just arrived at the airport.
I know this doesn't make for great writing, but I'm super frustrated by United right now.
(Disclaimer: I have been on a lot of airplanes, so I am pretty sure that I am a flight scheduling and safety expert.)
They've rescheduled us for tomorrow and we had to go into the booking system at the airport to even figure that out.
Amelia is trying to get us re-rebooked on a 9:40pm flight tonight so we don't have to find a hotel (which United would not pay for).
Just a quick jaunt to DC on our way from San Francisco to Minneapolis. I don't think I've ever seen both coasts in the same day.
I am not less frustrated with United.
Our 4 hour booked flight has turned into 11 hours of travel time on two different planes with a three hour layover and arriving a day after our scheduled arrival time. We will arrive in Minneapolis exhausted and tomorrow will be a wasted day.
And nothing from United. I'm sure there is a good reason for this "inconvenience,"" but a $25 credit on United, a meal coupon for the next flight, access to a nice lounge, ANYTHING to recognize that the service we paid United to deliver is not being delivered would go a long way in helping me disassociate my frustration from United and place it on whatever issue has lead to this result.
Hell, I'd love access to an overhead bin on my next flight.
Home. A beautiful sight (even if it's still frozen). That's Bde Maka Ska beneath us and Lake of the Isles above that.
Had the privilege of spending the day helping Alhagie and his family move into their newly built home! Congratulations!
Main sale! Actually I totally forgot. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed (which I just signed up for yesterday. So far it is 90% photos of half naked women. Is that really what Instagram is for? Maybe I shouldn't have followed everything Burning Man? Which is supposedly only 35% female. Sheesh.)
Someone posted a photo of the Main Sale schedule. I'm in panic mode. I don't need to be. I have all of this scheduled in multiple calendars. I have email templates ready to go out. But I have dozens of dreams every year about being at Burning Man with no ticket, no crew, and no camp. This feels like that.
Hey, Comrades! Get ready for the very exciting Main Sale registration period reminder email! Wheeeeeeeeee!!!
Well that took all day for no good reason. I compulsively rewrite all of the scheduled reminder emails to the crew. I don't know why I even bother keeping the old versions. Then I figured out that my crew email list was a mess and had to completely overhaul that.
Incidentally, it rained twice today for about 30 minutes each time. Praying for all of the United passengers stranded at MSP.
Kianna, Tony, my mom, and I went to First Thursday's open art studios at Northrup King today. One of my favorite things about Minneapolis. The vase? vial? whatever on the right is an ancient red dye called cochineal. It is made from delicate insects that grow on a specific cactus in the Central Americas.
It is awesome because of what a powerful red it creates. It is awesome because of how it changed the world when Europeans discovered and plundered it from the Aztecs. It is awesome because of how much labor it takes to make (which is what Emily Donovan is doing here).
As a camp with a pretty high red content, I thought you should know.
Finally got a call back from the tax man. That's how I refer to our tax accountant.
It sounds like the $80,000+ 2017 tax issue is going to work itself out. What the IRS calls income, I call deposit returns. Our tax guy says that if an accountant says this in tax-speak, our crushing tax bill will go away.
Crisis averted! Resume your regularly scheduled sleep patterns.
Also, this is what passes for an art car in Minneapolis. #StreetLegal
NEXT POST: Main Sale catastrophe
Hammer And Cyclery and Re-Cycle, Inc share no official affiliations with Burning Man or Black Rock City, LLC.
Burning Man on bikesIn Burning Man's own words, "having a bicycle at Burning Man is crucial." But what kind of bike to bring? How do we park bikes at our theme camp? Do I always need to lock my bike? Yes. ...
Bicycle survival guide for Burning ManBicycle travel is the most practical way to get around. The Playa is not like a soft sandy beach. It is more akin to a well trodden dirt road and it makes for a surprisingly good cycling surface. ...
On-Playa bike repairSomebody you know is going to have a problem with their bike. Bring some basic tools and become familiar with some common problems that can arise in one of the most punishing environments your bicycle will ever endure. ...
Learn to ride a bicycleThis is your chance to taste the freedom that bike riders have been enjoying for more than a hundred years. ...
A tube change on the PlayaSo your bike has a flat tire. You're out on the Playa, hundreds of yards from anyone that can help. Don't worry, you can handle this. ...
Burning Man Yellow BikesA Yellow Bike is a bicycle that has been given to the public. Anyone can grab an unoccupied Yellow Bike, take it to their destination of choice, and leave the bike in an obvious place for the next rider. ...
Cleaning your bike after Burning ManMix up a solution of water and vinegar (half and half) and use a spray bottle to apply the mixture to your Playa bike (and anything else you want to use next year...or next week, like your lock). ...
HAMMER AND CYCLERY
(Playa address announced in July)
Open Daily 10:30am-5:30pm
Saturday Aug 29 - Monday Sept 7, 2020