Placement application bureaucracy

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Spent an hour filling out BLM paperwork so far and I've already dedicated another half an hour trying to find form 8730-1 referenced on form 2930-1. I have reread the seven pages of forms I already have several times and I am positive that there is no other information about 8730-1. Google can't find it either. Time to email BLM.


Chelsea (BLM) is on her game. She wrote back right away. However, form 8730-1 is a typo. It doesn't exist. Chelsea says don't worry about it. But stay tuned for more forms coming soon: proof of liability and workers comp insurance (for all zero of our hard working employees), equipment location layout ("The wrenches are going to go here, but sometimes they get moved over here. The spare tubes are here until they're not...."), and of course the post-use report and tax bill due after Burning Man.


The Placement application is pretty much the same from year to year. Burning Man doesn't want us to just copy and paste last year's responses into this year's form, but there are only so many ways you can re-write "bicycle repair" after ten years.

So, in essence, our Placement Application is done before I start working on it. Even the camp layout, which does change pretty significantly each year, is something I "finished” months ago. And yet, somehow I manage to spend days on this thing every year.

I'm five hours into this and all I've done is tweak our layout plan. That is to say, I've been making tiny changes to the layout for five hours. I'm sitting on the couch at home and I'm exhausted.

This is all good stuff. Really good stuff. One of our rules is, "It is worth an hour off-Playa to save a minute on-Playa." One, running Hammer And Cyclery during Burning Man is a marathon-long sprint. I walk 12-15 miles a day without leaving camp. I sleep 6-7 hours and then get up and do it again the next day for 15 days. Sometimes I eat.

So ANYTHING we can do to save time during Burning Man is pretty much worth doing. If it takes five hours to make the camp layout more clear and setup goes just a little bit more smoothly, it is worth it.

And two, Burning Man is only one week of each year. No one wants to waste a minute of it discussing which shade panel to put up first when there are art pieces to climb and people to meet and workshops to attend and on and on. Black Rock City always disappears before I want it to (except in 2017 when I couldn't get out of there fast enough).

I need a break.


Elizabeth and I biked to the shop in the rain. This is something we would never do in October, but because it is spring, we can't wait to be outside.

She is talking triathlons with Dann and I am sending out ticket reimbursement checks and swag. Incidentally, we always come back from Burning Man with extra camp swag. If you see something from Hammer And Cyclery or Stars And Bikes that you think is neat, drop us a line and we'll send it to you (if we have some left).

Former camp swag here



Interactivity. "This is the most important information we are collecting from you." Except that we will award you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in tickets for the DGS based solely on how many people were in your camp last year. Just sayin.

Between the two camps, we are nearing 10,000 interactions per year. That's about a thousand people a day. From 10am to 6pm, that's 100-150 people an hour.

Most of those interactions actually include a one on one encounter with someone from our camp (bike mechanic, lock lending librarian, rental check in/out, and so on) which means they are relatively brief except for waiting your turn.

The average stay in our camp is probably 30 minutes. So at any given moment, we need space to host between 60 and 75 people. Let's add a buffer and call it 100. And their bikes. These people aren't dancing or jumping around a lot. They're learning bike repair or sending themselves a postcard or just waiting in line, relatively stationary activities.

A person standing with their bike (since most people keep their bikes with them in our camp) takes up approximately 15 sq ft (based on the latest scientific research). So we need 1500 sq ft to "house" 100 individuals and their bikes for the 30 minutes they're in camp. We have 5,000 sq ft of shaded public space. Not to mention several thousand more sq ft of unshaded public space. I think we're good.

In fact, from years of doing this, I know we're good. But Placement has a requirement (suggestion?) for camps that host more than 250 people a day: House Manager.

The House Manager, whose name and phone number must be on your Placement Application, is required to be sober. There are a bunch of other requirements, but as there is only room for one name on the Placement App for this role, it appears that each camp that plans to host more than 250 people in a day must have one member of their camp that remains sober and “available to be called on" throughout the entirety of Burning Man.

That's me!

The House Manager is a response to requests from Rangers and EMTs who know that the places most in need of their services are the places overrun with Burners. It should be said that these people sit around on their asses most of the time doing absolutely nothing. But when you need them they come running, stay as long as you need them, perform miracles, run errands for you, check back with you frequently, and are the most generous people on the Playa.

If they say we need it, we need it.

Good thing I have been sober for 43 years.


False alarm. This section of the Placement App is poorly worded (imo) and the description of the House Manager includes several typos, but I definitely read this wrong. A House Manager is required for EVENTS of 250 or more. And I'm going to assume that the House Manager is required only during the event, though, the way it's worded seems to imply that the person who is House Manager remains House Manager (and sober) throughout Burning Man.

On to Schedule of Happenings!


The Placement App is an obsessive activity for me. I don't want to leave anything out. I don’t know what will tip the scales and make Placement like us. There is no rating system other than the MOOP score and "Good Standing" status. If I forget to mention that each of us works four hours per day, will we be relegated to K Street? If I remember to say that we host weekly events in the Default World, will they let us return to the Plaza?

Who's to say? So I am wringing every drop of interactivity description I can from the wet rag that is my brain. If I can just!!!


If you don't know it by now, we rent bikes for Burning Man and people pick up those bikes at our camp.

From our Placement App:

"This makes attendees more able to carpool. Carpools create interactivity opportunities and reduce traffic. Reduced traffic decreases pollution and DUST and increases road safety. We also take credit for reducing the amount of wear and tear the roads and other community infrastructure gets. AND fewer cars means a shorter gate line! We're pretty much solving the biggest problems in Black Rock City, if not the entire world. ;)"

Just because we're making the world a better place doesn't mean we're humble.


After two days, I am done with 1 page of the Placement Application.


The 2017 tax issue is back AGAIN. Or rather, it never went away, I just got the impression our tax accountant had what was needed to make it go away. He doesn't. Still working on it.


Hammer And Cyclery Placement Application done and submitted! I got the confirmation email and everything, but the stakes are so high that I'm still stressed that I forgot some crucial piece and we won't get Placed in 2019.

On to Stars And Bikes app!


Bun mi for Build A Burner night! (We couldn't find baguettes, so we used high class hotdog buns.)


Just dropped off an amended tax form for the shop for 2017. Our accountant included this paragraph:

"Our client apologizes for the improper presentation on the original tax return of gross receipts and will properly report refunds on a separate tax line in the future. Taxpayer assures there was no attempt to evade or avoid the collection or assessment of any tax. In light of the above, we Taxpayer requests the proposed adjustments be withdrawn and the matter closed."

That is a terrifying paragraph to me. First off, the IRS letter did not make an accusation of impropriety and I have often found that the fastest way to incriminate oneself is to apologize for something that no one thinks you did.

Second, that paragraph makes me think that, yes, the numbers matter, but even if they add up, some bureaucrat with a sandwich in one hand, could start an audit (or just have me arrested) if he or she thought we weren't appropriately cowed or humbled or if we just weren't polite enough. "Well, they didn't say they WEREN'T attempting to evade taxes."

I had no idea that the IRS would care if I recorded refundable deposits, that we would not be keeping, as something other than sales. And I sure as hell didn't know that etiquette was what separated me from arrest and having the shop seized and my assets confiscated...probably.

Seriously though, bees are the worst. Bees seem even more capricious than IRS bureaucrats.

Also, the Stars And Bikes Placement Application is done and submitted.


Turns out Burning Man contracted with ShowClix for the Main sale. ShowClix noticed an anomaly in the early part of the sale and tried to do a quick fix. That quick fix led to a cascade of other problems for which ShowClix is "profoundly disappointed."

What happened to the bots?

Read the apology? here.



Finally finished Amy Butler Greenfield’s A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (recommended by Perry). For centuries the best source of the color red was the cochineal insect that grew only on the nopal cactus and only in Mexico. The Aztecs domesticated the cochineal and Spain brought it to the world.

A very dry read. I do not recommend it.



Okay, there are some pretty things on our burningman2d Instagram account now. Go follow us posthaste!

Also, I'm connected to 5Ge. That's new.

NEXT POST: revulsion fracture

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


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