Here I am, sitting in the shady comfort of my dome home at Burning Man. We arrived on Sunday night and set camp. Monday the dome went up and Tuesday I left Burning Man.
You see, I’ve been sick for like 2 weeks now and I really wasn’t having a very good time. Between the heat of the day and the cold of the night I was not getting any better. So Tuesday came and I left the Man for Reno. I spent the day and night taking all the drugs I could find for colds, flu and sinus issues, slept in a happy Motel 6 and woke up feeling fine. After a brief excursion to the world’s liquor vendors I headed back to the Man and it’s been just fine ever since.
We just did a long tour of the entire area which I wasn’t feeling up to before. There is some really impressive stuff happening out in the middle of nowhere including the biggest rubber duck the world has ever seen. Alex told me that this morning a plane crashed a bit away from camp. Aparently the pilot forgot to put the landing gear down AND completly missed the runway. He’s alive, so I hear.
I finally got some infos on The Mermen. They’ll be playing Thursday and Friday for scheduled shows and then randomly throughout the week. Alex just read me a “rumour” from the paper that says Jim Thomas (the front man, guitarist) quit the band this week and has been replaced with a violinist. I am pretending he didn’t say anything for now.
For anyone wondering, there are lots and lots of naked people.
As we made the trek to the Man and during the first few days we learned some important lessons. The first, and most important is that everything you have read is a lie. Except the dust. The dust is true. The weather is beautiful. If you can handle a mild day on the beach you can take Burning Man. The nights are cool and pleasant and the wind has not been bad enough to blow the dome away yet.
The day we arrived in Reno we stopped at Walmart to finish out last minute shopping. We pulled into the parking lot and ended up right next to a truck that was quite obviously going to Burning Man. He had trees on top. We met the guy who owned the truck inside at the bike department and he and I kinda went back and forth over the same bike. It ended peacefully and I am now the proud new owner of a blue ladies mountain bike which I have modified with a non ass reaming seat. Total cost: $60. Walmart was a total riot. EVERYONE there was going to Burning Man and the Walmart people didn’t know what to do. Some were putting out displays of water and camping gear. Some were trying to manage the crowd and some (like the bike department guy) were just standing there slack jawed and shell shocked. You would think the biggest store closest to Burning Man would be used to this by now but I guess they have enough turnover that it’s a new batch of monkies every year.
I’ve taken lots of cool (I hope) pictures so far but I am using film for almost everything so I won’t be cool like Alex and upload any until I get back.
That’s all for now. The sun is considering setting and I am feeling better than I have in a week or more. Tonight I will really see the place at night and hopefully make some new friends.
By the time you read this we’ll be travelling sleepily along I70 towards Denver. We decided we were too excited to wait around till morning so off we go. Wish us luck and hopefully I’ll be able to write from the Burn. Bye!
There are only two days left until we hit the road for California and then Burning Man. Alex and I both feel like we’re forgetting something huge and important. We keep going through the lists like: Dome, Rebar, “You know what you’re eating?”, “You know what you’re wearing?”, water and so on. We can’t figure it out.
Last night we finished cutting the rebar and I bent the pieces into mostly “U” shaped spikes. I also went to the doctor and got a tetnus shot for the cut I got from the rebar the previous night. Which brings up an interesting point.
Doctor’s don’t give advice any more. I guess they are too worried about getting sued. I explained to the doctor what happened and that I thought I should probally get a tetnus shot. She said, “Okay.” and handed me a sheet of paper and said, “Read this and decide if you want a tetnus shot.”
So I read it and it had all kinds of warnings about how tetnus shots are good but they can kill you in horrible ways.
The doctor comes back and says, “So do you want one?” and I say, “I don’t have much of a choice do I?”. She goes on to explain how of course I have a choice and it’s my decision and such. I ask if she recommends I get one based on my cut and situation and she says she can’t make that decision for me. Eventually I say, “Well, I guess I will get it. Seems like I should.” and she just says, “Okay”.
This whole exchange leaves me wondering why there are doctors for this kind of thing at all. Effectivly I self prescribed a tetnus shot to myself and got it done. A drug store that stocked the stuff would have done me just as well.
Has the threat of a lawsuit gotten so bad that a doctor can’t even give recommendations on my health? The reason I go to a doctor (which doesn’t happen often) is becuase I believe a doctor knows more about how to keep me alive than I do and I am paying for some of that knowledge.
It’s a brave, new, self medicating world.
Last night Alex and I finished the dome.
Thank you, thank you. No, you are too kind. Thank you! Everyone sit down please!
I loaded up all the cut and smooshed conduit into the Jeep and headed for Alex’s house after work. We had to take a short detour to the hardware store for various bits of wood, metal, nuts and bolts. We were also forced to stop by 7-Eleven and get gallons and gallons of Slurpees. MMmmm.
Anyway, once we got everything settled we got down to building jigs. We needed a jig to hold the pipes as we drilled them and we needed a place to mount a vise to bend the pipes. Alex described it in more detail than I want to bother with here so go read all about it.
Finally everything was drilled and bent and assembly time was at hand. There was a minor moment of panic when we decided to make a test pentagon on the ground. We put the 5 spokes in and started hooking the bounding struts up. We got to the last one and it was about a foot too short! We ran upstairs to look at the picture and everything looked fine. After a few minutes I realized the problem was that we didn’t bend at all. The spokes that meet in the center needed to be pulled up and then it was perfect.
The actual assembly went very smooth and was fairly easy. We built from the bottom up and had no real problems. The dome is a little taller than I can reach but Alex is able to stretch to get the top layer of struts affixed.
Once we were done we painted some of the vertices to make things easier next time and we walked away. Saturday we will try to come up with a suitable covering and then tear it all down for next weekend.
Many thanks to DesertDomes.com and The Home Dome for providing tons of valuable information.
Photos of the events are available from Tessier.com
Final Dome Construction
The Finished Dome By Day
I just discovered that The Mermen will be at Burning Man. This is perhaps the most exciting thing so far to me! I went to Java One in 1999 and saw The Mermen at a party hosted by Sun. They were instantly one of my favorite bands and I stood mesmerized the entire time they played. I bought all their music when I got home and I have been addicted ever since.
Unfortunatly, they are a fairly small band and they don’t travel far from the west coast so I have not been able to see them in concert again. Now I will. This is great!
While reading Alex’s destroyed Burning Man plan I was inspired by his mention of a dome. I did some research that discovered that making a cool geodesic dome isn’t all that hard or expensive and would allow me some small bit of style at Burning Man. That’s really all it took to convince me.
One of the biggest problems people seem to have with making a conduit dome is flattening the ends of the conduit so that holes can be drilled for bolting. Some people recommended a vise, which really doesn’t work well. Some people recommended various hammers which they said would be hell. Some people used a arbor press which worked well but broke often. Everyone said a hydraulic press would be THE WAY to go.
These are pictures of my new hydraulic press.
I went to Home Depot after getting the press and bought 36 10′ pieces of 3/4″ conduit. This will give me all I need to build a 2v 8′ raduis dome. That gives me about 200^2′ to live in at Burning Man which should be nice and comfy!
I just keep getting more and more excited about Burning Man. Every day I read someone’s story or see someone’s pictures and the idea that I will get to participate and have my own story thrills me.
I have never really done any serious camping (that I can remember) so the idea of being tested in the desert is both exciting and frightening. Reading accounts of 70MPH wind and “eyes caked with acidic dust” makes me hope that I will be prepared but I know I won’t be.
It’s unfortunate that I decided so late in the game that I wanted to go this year because I think I would really have liked to have a more serious camp. Alex had previously planned to build a nice dome before his plans fell through which I think would have been cool. I am concered about having a suitable structure for shade during the days so I think I will probally try to at least take some kind of pre made structure. Coleman sells some cheap, decent things that will surely be destroyed by the wind, but hey… cheap.
As it stands now I will either have a tent of my own purchasing or be borrowing one of Alex’s uber tents. I’ve been looking at a Marmot Equinox which is a nice tent and is on sale at Galyan’s but I wonder if I will be happy with it for normal camping and not just Burning Man. Fortunatly a monster size, regular, non Burning Man tent is like $39 so if I need another that’s no big deal.
I realize you don’t care about my ramblings but I have a lot of nervous energy to burn 🙂
I am really terrible about losing things and forgetting things so I am going to take some notes here since I will always know where they are. You are welcome to read them if you like.
[/] = Partially Obtained
[X] = Obtained
[*] = Packed / Ready To Go
Stuff to Take
[X] Coleman 2 burner stove
[X] (6) Coleman propane tanks (have 2)
Pots / pans including something to steam rice in
Fork and spoon
Spray on SPF 5000 sunblock
[X] Umbrella (ha!)
Liquid hand soap
[X] Face mask (handkerchief or dust mask)
[X] Hand lotion
[X] Hat (bald heads burn, burn, burn!)
[X] Strike anywhere matches (Got lighters)
Rope (lots, for dome)
First Aid Kit
Sponges or something to clean cooking gear with
[X] In filing cabinet under Living/Burning Man
Things to Do
[X] Buy or borrow tent (Alex will let me borrow)
[X] Bike rack for vehicle (Alex has)
Figure out what to barter with (seems to be important!)
So I am driving home from work in the center lane of College Blvd. A woman in a silver car in the lane to my left kind of drifts over a bit in to my lane, just barely crossing the line. I move over a bit just to be safe and wait for her to notice. I glance up and see she’s on the phone. She continues to drift over into my lane, very slowly like so I give a friendly “You are in my lane dumbass” honk and look over. She doesn’t even flinch. Now she is more than half way into my lane and I am more than half way into the right lane so she doesn’t hit me. I lay on the horn and she finally glances up. She gives off a “What is your problem” kind of vibe and then glances ahead finally noticing where she is and moves back in to her lane.
We end up going the same direction onto 435N. I get in the left lane so I can get the hell out of there and she gets in the right. Before I take off I see her merge into the exit lane without looking, cutting off a car which swerves into the right lane to miss her.
She’s still on the phone.