Burning Man 2008

Lots of people have asked me what my experience was like at Burning Man in 2008. I find that it’s hard to explain. Really. Really, it’s HARD to explain!

I volunteered at Burning Man and learned a lot as a result. I met lots of interesting people. Then, in one of the “Burner” mailing lists, I came across this little tidbit and I thought to myself, “Yeh, this describes it.” At least it’s the best attempt at describing what is more or less an event impossible to describe to someone who has never been there…. So, here it is. Author unknown…

Tear down your house. Put it in a truck. Drive 10 hours in any direction. Put the house back together. Invite everyone you meet to
come over and party. When everyone leaves, follow them back to their homes, drink all their booze, and break things.

Buy a new set of expensive camping gear. Break it.

Stack all your fans in one corner of your living room. Put on your most fabulous outfit. Turn the fans on full blast. Dump a full vacuum
cleaner bag in front of them.

Pitch your tent next to the wall of speakers in a crowded, noisy club. Go to sleep. Wake up 2 hours later in a 110+ degree tent.

Buy a new pair of favorite shoes. Throw one shoe away.

Only use the toilet in a house that is at least 3 blocks away. Drain all the water from the toilet. Only flush it every 4 days. Hide all the
toilet paper.

Pay an escort of your affectionate preference to not bathe for five days, cover themselves in glitter, dust, and sunscreen, wear a skanky
neon wig; dance closely naked with you, then say they have a lover back home at the end of the night.

Visit a restaurant and pay them to let you alternate lying in the walk-in freezer and sitting in the oven.

Don’t sleep for 5 days. Take a wide variety of hallucinogenic/emotion altering drugs. Pick a fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

Cut, burn, electrocute, bruise, and sunburn various parts of your body. Forget how you did it. Don’t go to a doctor.

Spend a whole year rummaging through thrift stores for the perfect, most outrageous costume. Forget to pack it.

Spend weeks preparing and freezing tasty, nutritious food and then forget it in your trunk for a few days of 110 degree heat. Eat it
anyway – and like it.

Listen to music you hate for 168 hours straight, or until you think you are going to scream. Scream. Realize you’ll love the music for the rest
of your life.

Get so drunk you can’t recognize your own house. Walk slowly around the block for 5 hours.

Sprinkle dirty sand in all your food.

Mail $273 to the Reno casino of your choice. (price of average BM ticket in 2008)

Go to a museum. Find one of Salvador Dali’s more disturbing but beautiful paintings. Climb inside it.

Spend thousands of dollars creating a deeply personal art work. Hide it in a funhouse on the edge of the city. Blow it up.

Set up a DJ system downwind of a three alarm fire. Play a short loop of drum’n’bass until the embers are cold.

Have a 3 a.m., soul-baring conversation with a drag nun in platforms, a crocodile, and Bugs Bunny. Be unable to tell if you’re hallucinating.


Spore: Winky the Ass Pirate

Lots of folks at work have bought Spore and are having a great time with it. I’m a bit afraid to get it. I think my kids will love it and want to play all of the time, or enough that they will want a copy for their computer. I’m not sure how the licensing model works and I don’t want to buy multiple copies!

Still, if I can run around and conquer the known universe with an Ass Pirate, all is good in this world.

Dyson Shell

The Dyson sphere (or Dyson shell) was originally proposed in 1959
by the astronomer Freeman Dyson in “Search for Artificial Stellar
Sources of Infrared Radiation” in Science as a way for an
advanced civilisation to utilise all of the energy radiated by their
sun. (Link)

Dyson spheres have always fascinated me. I read Larry Niven’s Ringworld where the Dyson Sphere’s little cousin, a Ringworld, is discussed at great length. You can see a rendering over at Jeff Russell’s Starship Dimensions page. Many times I have bookmarked various links to FAQs, but I’ve never spent the time to read them. Until now.

The FAQ is fascinating. It’s written by Anders Sandberg with contributions by a number of other folks familiar with physics, chemistry, and geology. The FAQ goes on to discuss, “What if a Dyson sphere were real?” What would be it’s characteristics? What would it be made of? What would it look like from the inside/outside?

There are two types, Type I and Type II. Type I is a cheat. You simply have zillions of mini satellites (called Statites) arranged in a spherical shell around a star. The Type II is more interesting as it consists of a rigid shell that is pretty darned complicated to construct.

Toward the end of the FAQ I read something that made me laugh and so I fired up my blogging tool. It was a note within the question, “Can a Dyson sphere be built using realistic technology?” Within the answer is this gem:

A rigid dyson shell would require superstrong materials, and its
construction is complicated since half a shell is unstable. One could
conceive of some dramatic capping process, where a number of
previously freely orbiting structural components at the same time
moved inwards to lock together into a shell (for example twenty
spherical triangles). This would require tremendous precision, but
since supertechnology is already assumed for building a rigid shell,
it seems almost trivial. As somebody put it, if you can build a dyson
shell you don’t need it.

Why I find this so fascinating is likely due to the late hour and the caffeine running through my system.