flwyd: (playa surface)
It takes me a long time to recover from Burning Man.

By the first day I'm all clean and my clothes are in the wash. So far so good.

Then I've gotta catch up on sleep. This year, I'd pretty much gotten reestablished on sleep and then went to see Buckethead at the Fox. This started at 9pm on a Wednesday night for some reason. And I decided to order a sandwich after the show, so by the time I was done eating that it was like 1:45. Buckethead was totally worth the late night; the cheap middle eastern food wasn't. Then the next night I hung out playing pinball at Press Play after a great Ignite Boulder and went to bed around 1, so I was back in sleep jail. And yet when I'd go to bed on time this week I had trouble falling asleep or I'd wake up in the middle of the night for no good reason, so I'm back to a five hour or so deficit. October better be a good sleep month.

In parallel with sleep is "Clean all the dust off my crap." I hosed down a bunch of stuff in the back yard on the 17th. I also set up our big canvas tent and beat it with a broom. Hosing the tent down last year required a lot of water-removal from the floor, so I figured I'd let it air out and whack some dust off for a while. Due to my week of late night fun events, the tent was still up a week later. And then it got cloudy for a week straight and started raining for several days. If I hadn't taken advantage of a quick dry spell on Tuesday morning the tent would still be in the back yard, two weeks later. It made it as far as a pile in the sunroom, hopefully not folded in a mildew-inducing way. Hopefully it'll be sunny tomorrow so I can shake it out and fold it properly. I also realized I forgot a to add a couple items to the initial hose-off, so I need to do something about my sleeping bag. I've never had tent and bedding care get pushed all the way out until October.

Then there's the "Pack up all the Burning Man stuff, and while you're at it, pack up the summer-only stuff" stage. Last year I didn't really finish this step, so Playa packing this August involved finding some stuff in the pile on my office floor that I didn't have enough calories to organize in the fall or winter of 2016. I haven't really started on this effort yet, but I need to do a better job than last year and add a general office organization step, since even I'm noticing it's a mess.

And of course there's the "Send a bunch of emails and document what worked and what needs improvement" season that just wrapped up for the Rangers. And September also had two "Help my wife shop for a car rather than dealing with Burning Man crap" days. And today was "The house is clean enough, have folks over for games" day. And tomorrow's tent work will be followed by climate tour organizing and a visit to eTown. We've also had a lot of bountiful but neglected plants in our garden, so I should probably do something about those, too.

This is how a two week vacation turns into two months of work. Good thing Burners embrace absurdity.
flwyd: (tell tale heart)
Be Love and a colorful umbrella
The spiritual heart of Burning Man is the Temple, a beautiful, intricate wood structure. It serves as a blank canvas for the joys and sorrows, hopes and despairs, intention and letting go for the city. After three weeks in construction and a week in communal expression the Temple, along with all its messages and offerings, is burned to the ground as thousands watch in a circle of quiet reflection.

For the last year or so, my girlfriend Kelly has frequently asked if I want to marry her. It became something of a game: "Will you marry me?" "Not right now, I'm going to bed." "Will you marry me now?" "No, there's a cat on my lap." Kelly has played along, but I sensed she was getting annoyed by my non-answers.

On Tuesday of Burning Man, Kelly (aka Oasis) and I went on an art tour adventure in the outer playa, with the temple our final goal, hoping to leave offerings to Margot Adler and Robin Williams, two wonderful spirits the world lost this summer. But with construction delays from the August rains, it was not yet open to visitors.

On Wednesday morning, Kelly had a shift scheduled to give manicures to volunteer Rangers, a great way to keep her hands moisturized in the desert. I slipped away to the Temple with something of a plan. I found a good place for my photos of Margot Adler and Robin Williams and wrote Margot a farewell. I then walked around the inner sanctuary and the outer wall, searching for a blank slate that felt right: right shape, right position, right surrounding energy. I found it in a pair of wooden plates at eye level just north of the west door. After a lot of thought and grounding, I took out a sharpie and wrote on the left piece
Kelly, my love, my oasis,
will you marry me now?
Yours forever, Trevor 石胡子
and on the right wrote
Kelly's response? _________
I cried and smiled and then headed back to camp to await the moment of unveiling.

After a hot afternoon in the shade at Ranger Outpost Berlin I eagerly invited Kelly to ride out to visit the Temple in the sunset light. After five days of the environmental stress that makes Burning Man what it is, we were having trouble communicating when we arrived. I could tell she was stressed; my response was to ask lots of questions about what she wanted to do which just led to more annoyance. To ground and prepare ourselves, we walked a clockwise circle around the outer wall, setting a spontaneous intention to each cardinal direction. We then entered the southern gate and turned to face the inside of the outer wall. The first message we saw was someone else proposing marriage. "Will you marry me now," Kelly asked. "Not… right this minute," I replied. She grumped a bit while I kept a poker face. We continued a counterclockwise walk; I placed a hand on her back because I could sense her energy was still off kilter and I wanted to pass on some calm.

On the east side we saw a photo someone else had left in honor of Robin Williams. Kelly posted her photo of Robin and wrote him a message. As we continued along the north wall I realized there was a kink in my plan: she would see my Robin Williams photos before my proposal and I'd have to think of an excuse. She was angry when she spotted it, upset that I didn't wait to enter the Temple together with her. She continued walking along the west wall, a storm of emotion brewing. As we approached the gate, I placed my hand on her back and gently guided her to turn to the right. As she read the words I wrote, the bundle of tired and grumpy and upset melted into a great big kiss and embrace. I offered her a choice of sharpie colors to fill in her response. "Hell yes!" she wrote and then appended "– Dr. Stone." She's coveted my last name for a while.

With a chaotic summer, I hadn't had a chance to be a ring-seeker. I was also hesitant to buy an engagement ring that Kelly hadn't approved: what would be more awkward than a marriage proposal with an ugly ring as the centerpiece? In place of a circle of metal I brought a small bag of Mayan bracelets from a craft cooperative in Zunil, Guatemala. She selected one for me to tie around her wrist and I picked one for her to encircle mine. We kissed and hugged and cried and laughed and hugged some more and took photos and talked about our love for each other.

Took photos and kissed )

After we celebrated our moment in the west we saw a group of Rangers and artists from Element 11, Utah's regional event, carrying a banner honoring the man who ended his life in the flames of their effigy this July. We stepped into the central pyramid and the honor guard made their way to the west, parting the crowd between Kelly and me. We helped hold space as our comrades marked the tragic loss of a community member. Quick emotional transitions from fighting to uneasy to joyous to sorrowful: this compression of intense feeling is why Burning Man holds such a strong draw. We are fortunate that we could share this vulnerability with each other and we had a fantastic community to support and celebrate our choice.

On Sunday the Temple burned hot, serene in the crowded silence. The bones of the structure held strong as the details fell away and then the core collapsed together in a beautiful spiral a fire dance I've never seen before. The pillar with our proposal was one of the last parts to burn, an auspicious sign for a strong union.

Post Script: So… wedding? We're brainstorming ideas for our wedding in 2015. For family scheduling reasons, Memorial Day weekend is attractive, though no firm plans have yet been made. We're thinking about holding a variety show so our friends can help us celebrate through their many talents. We're also talking about making it a multi-day event so guests can get to know each other and enjoy the Colorado mountains in summer. We may also perform a marriage ritual at Dragonfest in August and we're digging through mythic sources in search of a good wedding story to play with.
flwyd: (drum circle w/ fire)
This past weekend, a man ran into an effigy burn and died, apparently as a premeditated suicide. This occurred at Element 11, a regional Burning Man event in the Utah desert. The Utah Burner community and others who attended the event are doing some serious processing and supporting this week and there's a lot of discussion happening in the broader Burning Man community. On my favorite mailing list, someone asked Do we know why people run into fire? I don't know any particulars about why this particular human ran into this particular fire, but I had a lot of thoughts about humans and our general relationship to fire.

There's a lot of symbolism and human cultural context wrapped up in fire. It's long been an element of mystery, harder to predict and control than air, earth, and water. We are often drawn to what we don't understand. Fortunately the discomfort of a fire's heat usually keeps us from playing too closely with fire, though many a young child has received a direct lesson as a result of their curiosity. Many people at Burner events cultivate a state of childlike wonder and, at times, lack of awareness of personal safety.

One of my favorite quotes about religion goes:
There are three ways of knowing a thing. Take for instance a flame. One can be told of the flame, one can see the flame with his own eyes, and finally one can reach out and be burned by it. In this way, we Sufis seek to be burned by God.
Fire and community are intertwined; it's a big part of why Burning Man works. From burn barrels to camp fires to bonfires, humans are drawn to the warmth and the light. Encircling a fire, you can see (because it's light) everyone (because it's a circle) and you see that they can also see you. We tell stories around fires. We cook food on fires. We bring fire to all our major ceremonial events. This is how community grows.

Since fire is a key ingredient in story and spectacle, death by fire is often a very public death. Burning at the stake was often a punishment for heresy, witchcraft, and other cultural crimes in which authorities wish to set a cultural expectation with the execution.

The myth of Icarus also shows an ancient warning about drawing too close to the fire and the dangers of hubris and brashness. He didn't even make it to the fiery sun, but his quest to do so killed him nonetheless.

Suicide by fire, much less common than execution, can also reach a much larger audience than many other forms of self-harm. Thích Quảng Đức brought global attention to conflicts between the South Vietnamese government and the Buddhist community in one of the most famous protests of the 20th Century. I doubt he would be remembered today had he died by hunger strike.

I don't know if or how the decedent at Element 11 planned his immolation, nor do I know what message he expected the community to take from the act. I suspect, though, he chose (perhaps subconsciously) this way to die in part because of its publicity; he knew this act would be known to the community. Had he wanted a private death he would have chosen a different method. There were surely inward reasons as well, whether it's fire's symbolism as purification, mystery, dynamism, emotion, passion, or some other way that flame spoke to him.

Fortunately, the community which was shocked by this act can also support each other in recovering. And that community has a larger, encircling community that can provide support for that network of support.

Footnote: Wikipedia's Icarus article has links to a few other cultures' myths of similar characters. Not to mention the cultural mythology of my teenage years, Pink Floyd, with this great live performance of Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun with a gong on fire.
flwyd: (raven temple of moon)
Halloween is Burning Man for normal people.
  • Families put significant effort and money into decorating their home theme camp.
  • People get dressed up in sexy, creative, and unusual costumes.
  • They wander around town checking out theme camps, meeting strangers, and participating in the candy gift economy.
  • Raging parties happen on weeknights.
  • Some folks eat more stimulants and drink more booze than they should.
  • It's a spiritual experience for some, an artistic outlet for others, and a bunch just treat it as a visually stimulating excuse to party.
flwyd: (spencer hot springs feet)
Yesterday was a gorgeous early fall day. It would've been a perfect afternoon to hike the Anne U. White trail. Unfortunately, it's now the Anne U. White jumble of rocks and downed trees, made inaccessible by a river channel running through the parking lot and trailhead.

At 7 pm on Wednesday, September 11th, I was at work making a hilarious meme after three unusually rainy days in Boulder. Kelly asked me to pick up Chinese food on the way home, so I called and placed an order. Listening to Soelta Gael on KGNU, I heard an emergency broadcast system announcement that the rain clouds had just passed through Boulder and were expected to camp out above the Four Mile burn area and flash floods were expected. "Whoa," I said, "I'd better bring the Chinese home to Kelly before a bunch of debris washes up on the road."

With windshield wipers on the highest setting and a pleasant smell in the car, I arrived at the base of Wagonwheel Gap Rd to find two firefighters and a truck blocking the way. I asked if I could drive up to my house, which is just past Bow Mountain Dr. They didn't want to let me in, but suggested I drive through Pine Hills to Bow Mountain where another firefighter pair might let me cross the road. That route was significantly scarier, with hairpin turns in tight fog and deepening rivulets through the dirt road. I explained to the second set of firefighters that I lived in that house right there, on top of the steep driveway, and that I was bringing dinner to my girlfriend and wasn't planning to go anywhere else that night. They let me through; Kelly made a "my hero!" boast post on Facebook.

After dinner, I spent a bunch of time reading the Internet, then started writing some code, occasionally stepping out on the porch to admire the water running down the street, highlighted by firefighters' bright lights. At midnight, the elderly couple across the street, with the creek running strong along their back yard, drove past the firefighters and over the mountain to safety. At 1 am, the power in the neighborhood went out. "Oh my," I realized, "This experience might get a lot more exciting." Without sun, electricity or Internet, I did what anyone would do: went to bed.

At 5 am on Thursday we got a reverse 911 call announcing that electricity and gas would be shut off in our area for 24 hours. At 7:30 the sun, still filtered through clouds and rain, was bright enough to get us out of bed. I surveyed the canyon from our windows and porch, expecting to see a bunch of mud and sticks on the road, perhaps preventing me from getting to work that day. Instead I discovered that an entire 10-foot section of road at the bottom of our driveway had disappeared, replaced by a rushing river and a jumble of rocks. I realized then that this would be much more of an adventure (yet staying in place) than I'd expected.

I called my manager, thankful we have some corded phones that work without electricity. "I'm letting you know that there's no longer a road at the bottom of my driveway and we have no power." "Do you want someone to come get you?" "No, let me explain: there is no road to my house." "Oh, so you're working from home?" "No, there's no power." "Oh, okay. Stay safe and take care of what you need to do." "Yes, we will. Could you please find someone to cover my oncall shift? I will not be responding to any pages for a while."

We realized that no power means no water when you're in the mountains on a well. We filled a few gallon jugs with the water left in the purification system. I filled a few more from the water container left over from Burning Man. We took advantage of the clogged gutters and continuing downpour to fill four large tubs with water for all our non-potable needs, primarily toilet flushing. We took stock of our food situation: fine. Chinese leftovers, some meat in the fridge, a table full of pretzels, ginger snaps, spam packets, dried fruit, and other non-perishable deliciousness from festival season. Not to mention a cabinet full of provisions and a freezer with slowly thawing meat, chocolate, and Tofuti Cuties. Cooking wouldn't be too much of a hassle, thanks to two camp stoves and a box of propane canisters. Also thanks to impulse Burning Man purchases we were flush with flashlights, AA, and AAA batteries. We found the pack of C batteries I'd bought when I really wanted Ds, thankful for the mistake that let us turn on the radio. Thanks to KGNU, Boulder's community radio station and the National Weather Service, we had a pretty good idea of what was going on: flooding all over Boulder County, and plenty of folks worse off than we were.

Grabbing one of the 20 warming beers in the mini-fridge, I recalled a bumper sticker I'd seen on a computer at Burning Man: Maybe partying will help. It turns out to be a pretty good motto.

We called parents to assure them we were okay and would be staying put for a few days until the river goddess's visit was over. Our landlord called; we assured him the house was fine. He asked if we wanted him to bring us anything. No, people hiking in would just make the situation worse. We've got plenty of food and water and batteries and flashlights. What we'd like you to bring, our upstairs neighbor said, is three pepperoni pizzas. We're fine; we'll band together; we can survive like this for a week. We're Burners, we do this sort of thing for fun.

Over the next three days we had a fantastic, if somewhat damp, time. We met way more neighbors than we had in a year of living there. Potlucking with the folks on either side of our house, we ate steak, halibut, vegetables, omelets, and bacon. We drank beer, wine, and mead. We played Dominion, crazy eights, and a bunch of percussion instruments from my room. After a year of random access clothing storage on top of my dresser, I folded all my T-shirts and put them in drawers. I found my copies of The Hobbit and The Cyberiad that I'm in the middle of and had been looking for since July. We packed and repacked for hike-out evacuation in 21st Century style: two changes of socks, a pair of cargo pants, a warm hat, a Ziploc with cell phones, a tangle of cords, a grocery bag with my Mac Mini and another with my hard drive.

As Thursday and Friday unfolded, we'd saunter down the driveway every hour or two to ogle the river and marvel at how much less of a road we had. There was a car stuck against a tree in the middle of the creek, having floated 200 yards downstream after falling out of a garage. There was also an electric lawnmower at the edge of the paved precipice, arriving by some great measure of cosmic luck or perhaps an uphill neighbor with a sense of humor. As water receded the gas lines were revealed, naked as they ran up the canyon.

A year ago in September there was no water in Fourmile Canyon Creek; a hike up the Anne U. White trail revealed only a few strips of mud. We had a box packed for the cat in case we had to evacuate in a hurry from a fire. Flames were no longer a concern as the soil refused any new water, forcing rainfall to flow down the slope. The minor ditch on the north side of the street–downhill from a totally separate drainage basin than Fourmile Canyon Creek–had become a creek of its own, conjoining with the canyon's main water course several feet below the end of our driveway. I remarked that if we got three feet of snow we could get some fantastic air sledding down our driveway before crunching safely into powder padding the rocks. Yet again, maybe partying will help.

On Saturday morning, the rain took a break and the skies cleared. Dozens of folks were exploring the area, sharing speculative tips on how to hike out and where it might be safe to cross the river. Our upstairs neighbors rescued two cats from a nearby evacuated house. A few guys from the power company hiked in, surveyed the lines, and before noon we had power back on. This changed the fun survivalist game quite a bit. The food in the freezer wasn't in danger. (Cold) showers, dishes, and toilet flushing were possible. Nights would be more normal, less intimate. Without much warning, our upstairs neighbors took the slight rain reprise and crossed the river with three cats and a dog, meeting up with a friend on the other side and hiking up the the road on side of the canyon.

On Sunday the 15th, as we finished camp coffee, tea, and bacon, a UTV of firefighters came down the canyon. They told us more rain was expected through Monday and Tuesday. "That's disappointing," I said, "We were planning to hike out on Monday or Tuesday." The firefighters let us know that they had some trucks parked just up the road which could evacuate us now, and that they wouldn't be coming back in the next few days. Making sure our next door neighbors (who couldn't hike out) were coming, we grabbed our backpacks, put the cat in the carrier we'd prepared with comforts and treats, and gave a big thank you to the BLM firefighter from Rifle with a pickup who drove us out through Carriage Hills, skirting the chasm near the top of the road while a crew shored it up. It was a more abrupt departure than I'd expected so there wasn't much closure; as I looked down from Lee Hill a part of me wished I was still there, enjoying the flood, the camaraderie, and the lack of chaos and responsibility from the rest of the world. It had been a fleeting glimpse of how life was not so long ago in parts of the U.S., and still is today in many parts of the world.

Returning to the connected world, we discovered that several of our friends and relatives were a bit panicked about us and considered hiking in to see if we were okay. We found this a bit amusing, since we weren't panicked about our conditions at all. We were rather glad that nobody hiked in to save us, because we wouldn't have let them hike back out: the river was pretty dangerous and we've got a hammock you can sleep in, not to mention bacon. Furthermore, we were in a far better position to assess the hiking options: we know the curves of the canyon, we know exactly where we live, and we could turn around and retreat to safety if we got to a dead end. If you're concerned about your loved ones in a natural disaster, check the people finder resources and contact the folks organizing the emergency response. Volunteer firefighters who live in your friend's neighborhood will do a much better search and rescue (or search and say hello and leave in place) operation than a pal with a backpack with some trail mix and a gallon of water.

As flood evacuees, I think we're pretty lucky. My parents live in Boulder; they greeted us with open arms and an available master bedroom. Kelly's mom isn't far away either, and her house is a good base of operations for Kelly's weekend classes. The only damage to our house up the canyon was some water that seeped into the carpet in my bedroom; the only damaged objects were empty cardboard boxes. Although our cars are stuck at the top of a driveway which ends at a chasm, we're in one of the best cities in the country for alternative transportation. Before I got my bike situation sorted out I spent a few days walking to work, a 45-minute opportunity to catch up on podcasts from August. Our evacuation expenses have been fairly minimal, too: cat food and litter, a week's worth of clothes and other immediate needs at Target, a couple hundred bucks to my parents for food and gratitude for space.

Cruising around town in the two weeks since the flood has been a bit surreal. Boulder was just the focal point of a major natural disaster, yet after two days of sun there was less visible damage than after any heavy snowstorm in March. Boulder Creek was higher and faster than I've ever seen it before and you can tell where creeks and ditches had overflowed by the red- and orange-tinged dirt residue that's been swept to the sides of the streets. Open areas along waterways are now covered in this dusty umber, a subtle surprise out of the corner of your eye when you're used to seeing a field of wilting green. Several bike paths, which almost invariably follow the water, are still under an inch of gunk.

Yet these evaporated muddy fields and closed bike paths are all part of the plan. For several decades, Boulder city government has displayed an unwavering focus on flood mitigation, pushing back hard on people who wanted to build in 100- and 500-year flood plains. Along came a thousand-year flood and the city came out in fine shape. Fewer than 10 people died in the county and most of the buildings which washed away were in the mountains or in Lyons, which hasn't had as flood-focused a zoning process.

The flood response and rescue effort also highlighted effective government at its best. The National Weather Service provided fantastic and timely information. County and local officials started disaster response on Wednesday night and were (as far as I could tell, with the radio as my only connection to the world) on top of assessment, response, and communication. Volunteer firefighters hiked through the hills to check on folks and prioritize evacuations. The federal government got involved quickly, with National Guard helicopters flying rescue missions as soon as the skies were safe, FEMA organizing crisis response, responders from other jurisdictions joining the effort, and government-supported relief organizations Red Cross and United Way setting up shelters, staging areas, and providing other social infrastructure. Road crews were quickly working hard in tough conditions and Xcel has been on the ball restoring utilities.

Over two weeks, a crew established a replacement road for the sections of Wagonwheel Gap Road that had transformed into Wagonwheel Chasm. It's not paved, and it's one-lane in several sections. It also, unfortunately, leaves a large gap at the bottom of our driveway, so our cars are still camping out, wondering when partying will help. Our house is one of the few in the county without gas, though they expect to be ready to turn on the pilot light this week. It will be a week or so until our carpet can be replaced–you won't be surprised to learn that there's a backlog of carpet orders in Colorado. In the mean time, I'm boxing up all my books and moving all the ends and quite odds from my bedroom into the living room. It's a bit like moving, with the object placement rejiggering and the "I probably don't need most of what's in this box but I don't have time to go through it" sighs and the "where am I living" angst and the "I have other things I'd rather do with my spare time." Other things like hiking the trail. I'll miss out on so many great colors of leaves and crisp breaths of air. I'm glad I was present for this experience, though. It's rare in our modern world to see up close the dangerous power of water, the abysmal and how it handles the obstruction of a mountain keeping still. We got to watch local geography be made.
flwyd: (Shakespeare bust oval)
I saw A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this weekend. If you're near Boulder, plan to see it in the next two weeks.

The Athenians were dressed in a 1920s style, which worked pretty well. The fairies had a very Burner asthetic, which worked excellently. In a departure from other productions I've seen, Puck had quite a bit of Grumpy Cat in him, sporting a dusty tuxedo coat, a beer belly, and a rotating collection of found hats. Totally a Burner.

The association got me thinking. Someone should record a Midsummer Night's Dream adaptation at Black Rock City. Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena are camp mates, at Burning Man for the first time. Lysander and Hermia are dating; Demetrius and Helena hooked up a few times, but now Demetrius has the hots for Lysander's girl. Annoyed with his lechery, the two head out for a night on the playa, planning to have a personal wedding ceremony at the Temple at dawn. Helena mentions the two's plans and then chases after Demetrius as he tries to track the couple down in the blinking and burning wilds. The two have an ongoing argument about love and its unrequition as they stumble from bar to dance camp to bar in search of their camp mates.

Oberon, a Cacophanist leader and long-time Burner, sees Demetrius and Helena arguing up and down the Esplanade. He tells his pal Puck to grab some of their crazy aphrodisiac drug and covertly slip it to both his sometimes-lover sometimes-competitor Titania, another Cacophanist leader, and to the arguing virgins. "You'll know them by the Reality Camp outfits and lack of headlights or glowsticks." Puck finds Lysander and Hermia, also poorly lit and boringly dressed, sleeping on two couches, part of an art installation in deep playa.

Meanwhile, there's a bunch of white collar guys at their camp (also birgins) rehearsing for a performance in center camp later in the week. Most of them lack any theater experience and one of them is cutely uncomfortable with the idea of dressing in drag, even though, hey, it's Burning Man. Puck happens by unseen, having found Titania asleep on a cozy pillow-laden art car parked across the street. As Bottom, the drunk actor with the big ego, exits the stage and ducks behind the camp's shelter, Puck trips him into a food scraps tub and then rolls him into a pile of costumes. Smelling strongly of bacon grease and cheap beer and with butt costume piece stuck to his head, Bottom rushes back to the play. His camp mates get wigged out (maybe they were peaking) and split. Too drunk to be fully aware of his situation, Bottom tries to chase them, running straight into Titania's hammock. Titania falls immediately in lust, licking Bottom's neck where she can taste the bacon. Titania tells her friends to drive around the playa at her new beau's direction while the two of them cuddle in the most comfortable part of the car.

On the other side of the playa, Helena has lost track of Demetrius but then trips right over Lysander's couch. Under the drug's influence he starts trying to get in Helena's panties and the she gives chase. Hermia wakes up and can't find Lysander. She freaks out and runs off in a different direction. She runs into Demetrius, who got distracted by a dance party where Oberon and Puck happen to be hanging out. She starts accusing Demetrius of doing something terrible to her boyfriend. They get in another tiff and she storms off toward the other side of city. Demetrius starts to give chase, followed by Oberon on bicycle, but gets tired and crashes out on a bench by the Man. Oberon sees Helena and Lysander approach and slips Demetrius an aphrodisiac dose. Upon hearing "Whoa, it's Demetrius" from his friends, he wakes up and immediately starts a testosterone battle. Puck has meanwhile found Hermia and said "I think the guy you were with earlier tonight is over at the Man." She shows up, is insulted by the guys who were trying to get it on with her mere hours before, and hilarious drama ensues. The guys insist they take it to the Thunderdome, but get distracted by Puck with a really cool blinking light and spooky sound setup and get drawn to a hammock camp in the city where they pass out and Puck slips Lysander a hangover remedy.

Oberon spots Titania's art car and follows it by bike for a while, grinning widely. When they stop for a nap, Oberon slips a hangover remedy to Titania. She wakes up, totally embarrassed that she's been making out with a foam ass and wondering why her clothes smell like bacon. (She's a vegan.) Oberon explains the prank, Titania admits he got her good and the two make up. They take Bottom back to their camp and wipe him down with baby wipes, then set him on a couch on an esplanade.

Dawn breaks and the birgin campers find themselves cuddled in hammocks and madly in love. They decide to do tandem weddings at the Temple later that day. Bottom wakes up with a head full of crazy dreams and wanders to the Temple to journal and process. As the campers are getting ready for their weddings, he hears them mention that they want to see this play at Center Camp they read about in the What Where When. Remembering their theatrical plans, Bottom hops a community bike and dashes back to camp. His friends are worried and sad that they won't have their stage opportunity when Bottom busts in and stirs everyone up. They put on a production that would be panned in any normal theater but which is ridiculous enough to amuse everyone in Center Camp.

The end.
flwyd: (Trevor over shoulder double face)
Talk about what you know. Demonstrate who you are.
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
I've posted my good photos from this summer to Picasa (or Google+ if you prefer that interface). Based on a conversation on a Google+ post a few weeks ago, I've adopted the following face-tagging policy:
Feel free to tag yourself in my photos. Please don't tag other people unless you know they're okay with it. If you see someone you recognize in a photo and don't know if they've seen it, send them a link.

2011 Winter and Spring
2011 Beltania
2011 Apogaea - Illuminate
2011 Dragonfest
2011 Burning Man
2011 Summer Misc
flwyd: (sun mass incandescant gas)
I finished my ranger email art project at a quarter to ten last night.
I finished packing clothes, food, and camping gear at half past midnight.
I finished loading the car at 1:30 AM.
It's now almost noon and we're just about ready to hit the road, meaning we should arrive at the campground near Diamond Hot Springs at a reasonable evening hour.
And hey, I've been getting practice not getting tons of sleep :-)

If you need to get in touch with me in the next week, send correspondence to
Ranger Stonebeard
Ranger Outpost Berlin
3 o'clock and C
Black Rock City, NV 89412

Even if you aren't going to be covered in dust all week, I hope you have a fantastic time.
flwyd: (playa surface)
So it's a week before I'm driving to Burning Man and I have a gift ticket I need to pass on. The various folks I was going to gift it to don't need it for one reason or another. I don't want it to go to waste, so I'm spreading the word more broadly, but I'm also trying to avoid a total deluge of email, so don't go posting this to every BM list in the world.

I'd like the recipient of this gift ticket to meet all of the following criteria:
* Able to go to Burning Man (on this short notice). And if your plans fall through, you must gift this ticket to someone who can go. "Don't sell a ticket for more than you paid for it" is a community value I want to maintain.

* Wouldn't be able to make it without a gift ticket. That is, "I procrastinated for four months and didn't buy a ticket when they were $360" isn't a good reason.

* Has something to gift. And I don't mean trinket necklaces. What I want to know is: Why will Black Rock City be a better place with you there? How will you be gifting your time and energy?

Some criteria that are nice, but not mandatory:
* A member of the Colorado community. With the event selling out this year (and quite possibly in the future), I'd like to help build community in my neck of the woods. Also, if I can meet up with you in Boulder, the ticket can't get lost in the mail.

* Rites of Passage tie in. Is this year's theme particularly special to you? Did you just go through a rite of passage? Do you need to? Will this year's Temple burn be particularly meaningful for you?

If you'd like to receive this gift, answer these questions in the comments or email me at tstone at trevorstone dot org. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, don't ask for a ticket for a friend: share this with them and let them answer the questions in their own words. Please share this directly with people who may be interested, but don't plaster it all over the Internet -- I have things I want to do this weekend besides read email. I plan to pick a recipient by Sunday night so I can mail the ticket on Monday if need be.
flwyd: (pensive goat)
Spinning LightsI've been rather busy this year, so I haven't devoted much time to maintaining my digital life. (Ironically, I've been working all year on a tool to help people manage their data in the cloud.) But since most folks spend the week around Thanksgiving looking after their offline affairs, I've had plenty of low-distraction time to upload photos. I also discovered a bunch of files sitting around on my hard drive which I didn't need, so I've got more space to fit more photos :-)

Bliss Dance at Burning ManSummer 2010 featuring, among others,
I gave Burning Man 2010 its own album.

Metaphoto with glass sphereI've taken a lot fewer photos this year than in years past. Maybe I've spent more time fully engaged in activity rather than trying to capture it. But a significant reason is that my SLR is pretty bulky to carry around all the time, especially now that a bicycle is my main mode of transport. So I bought a compact camera (a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 if you're curious) yesterday. The proximate motivation was wanting to take some pictures in New York City next week without carrying a camera bag everywhere I go. But the ultimate motivation is to have a camera on me at all times so I can restore my "Hey, this is a great sunset" tendencies.
flwyd: (sun mass incandescant gas)
Ignite Boulder is coming on Wednesday, December 8th. I proposed a talk, "Sorrow, Joy and Release: The Temple at Burning Man," and you can vote for it and other sparks that sound interesting. My description: Every year, a group of artists build a beautiful monument; tens of thousands of people contribute memories and wishes; then the whole thing is set aflame. What's the point, and what can we learn from it?

Ignite is the public speaking cure to the PowerPoint curse. Each presenter has 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds, whether they're ready or not. The best presenters can pack a lot of humor, insight, education, and inspiration in five minutes. Boulder is the largest Ignite in the world, and has sold out the Boulder Theater and Chautauqua Auditorium for the last year. If you haven't been to an Ignite, join the fun in Boulder or at an event near you!
flwyd: (spiral staircase to heaven)
Two hours ago I got back to Boulder from Burning Man. There's a lot to be said about the past week and a half, but this is not the occasion to say most of it.

Every year at Burning Man, a crew builds a large wooden temple. The attendees then write messages on the temple, attach offerings to its nooks and crannies, and have a good cry inside. On Sunday night of the event, the temple is burned as thousands of people look on in near silence, appreciating the symbolic release of all the words, objects, and memories they placed there. The majority focus on death, but many people seek release from old relationships and personal hardships, while others add messages of philosophy and joy.

I liked a lot about the temple's design this year, but I didn't connect as strongly with the messages people left as I have in years past. Perhaps that's because I wasn't yet ready to release: the important death to me had not yet come.

Our old family friend Clover has been in the hospital and hospice for the last few weeks. We all knew his days were numbered, but when I called before leaving cell phone reception behind as I crossed the desert, he was doing well. I'd hoped to see him one last time when I got back, to give him a send-off in person. Sadly, Clover passed on Monday, around the time I turned from 447, Black Rock City's highway, on to I-80 and the default world.

Clover liked to do things in his own way and at his own pace, and there will be lots of time to honor our good friend Big Red. My dad, who shared so much with Clover in the last three decades, will be helping organize a memorial, perhaps at Halloween. I'm sure we'll be visiting our cabin soon, a place Clover lived in and looked after with his skilled woodsman ways. Perhaps we'll save a plate for him at Pie Night in November with a slice of some of the community's tastiest pies. And I've got a whole year to come up with a tribute to be burned at the temple in 2011.

I'll sure miss this old quiet, steady, dry, sharp guy. I'm glad I had the chance to grow up around him. And I'm glad I got to share my last words with him in the hospital, a moment containing both hope and acceptance.

Playa Bound

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 12:09 pm
flwyd: (playa surface)
My stuff is all in the car. My bike is secured on top. Just need to pick up some fruit, then pick up Zane, unpack the car, repack it sensibly with both our stuff, and hit the road. The goal is to spend tonight at Diamond Hot Spring near Spanish Fork, UT, tomorrow night at Spencer Hot Spring near Austin, NV, and be at Burning Man around midday Monday. Hooray!

We tested out a minimal shade structure from borrowed parts last night. The shade cloth was still covered in playa dust. In the intervening year I think I'd romanticized it a little. It still smells interesting, but it's annoying to breathe in. It also got all over my hat :-/

If you need to get in touch with me, send an email (or track me down at 8:30 and Guangzhou or Ranger HQ). I'll spend much of the latter half of next week unwinding and catching up, so I'll get back to you then. I'm planning to catch up on past LJ entries too, but if you think there's something I really ought to know, bring it to my attention.
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken circle man)
This shot on The Wedge is one of my favorite pictures from burning man because it captures, better than most, the energy and immediacy of the moment as well as the creative repurposing of everyday objects. NSFW if your work is nipplephobic.
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