Burning Man Profile

Megan, Abigail, and I are hoping to go to Burning Man this summer. This would be my first burn in 14 years, yow! As part of the application, they asked me to list the camps, groups, and projects I have been affiliated with. My answer:

– 2004 My first burn, I offered a kava kava drink experience and brought EL wire art.

– 2005 Colossus Honorarium art with Zachary Coffin – I helped build it at NIMBY!

– 2006 Serpent Mother crew with FLG – I spent my spring and summer building!
– 2006 I ran Low Key Peep Flambe Camp – a Peep themed camp where we brought Peep art and gave away many cases of Peeps.

– 2007 OrbSWARM Honorarium art, Michael Prados, Jon Foote, and I were the project leaders.
– 2007 Low Key Peep Flambe Camp – a second year of peeps!

– 2008 OrbSWARM Honorarium art – we were asked to bring upgraded orbs to the playa.
– 2008 Illumination Village – my Ill Vill friends took me in after my bike was stolen

– 2009 I told the “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow” joke to about a hundred of people :-)

– I taught Flame Effects at The Crucible from 2009-2015, some of that fire art ended up at Burning Man!

Colon Prep, Yay!

Colonoscopies are important and good.

I can legitimately say that my shit don’t stink.
It looks more like pee, but it don’t stink!

Hang on, I’ve got to go poop like the Bellagio.

Ok, I’m back.

I feel like I am drinking the entire ectoplasm effects budget from the original Ghostbusters movie! AKA 4 liters of GaviLyte with a tiny lemon packet, and some Gas-X. The tiny lemon packet makes the whole thing worthwhile!

My tummy rumbling sounds like a mini-thunder storm. It’s kinda cute, actually.

At the beginning of drinking, I was like, “yeah, this isn’t so bad. Just drink the drink.” But near the end, it’s like, “oh god, I can’t drink any more! I mean, I can but I can’t but oh god.”

An acquaintance on Facebook wrote:

I heard that in Martin Short’s autobiography he, Steve Martin, and Albert Brooks all do their colonoscopy prep together.
They chug the awful drink…then play poker at the friend with the nicest house/most bathrooms. But they all three sit around trying to get each other to laugh one another into shitting themselves. Then they all go to the dr the next day. Get scans. Then go out for margaritas when it’s all over.

For my first colonoscopy I had propofol and I swear my experience was like having a refreshing light nap in the middle of the day. Highly recommended. I wasn’t groggy or psychotic (which occasionally is a thing with other general anesthesias!) or anything afterward!

Followup at 8pm:Gina I got fentanyl and something and am still a bit groggy from my 3pm or so procedure (no, I could not have gotten home by taxi). Dr found 2 small polyps. They turned up the meds so I don’t remember it at all. I was hoping to see inside my own butt. Oh well!

3D Printing Shelved

A friend lent me a 3d printer for many months. It was frustrating, frustrating, fun, and frustrating. I’m giving it back to him. It’s an Ender 3 Pro with a Volcano Hot End from Matter Hackers.

Key issues for giving up were:
– layer adhesion (parts are always weak in one plane)
– unsolvable elephant foot problems
– poor dimensional adherence (pegs never quite fit holes, tabs never quite fit slots, etc. the new deburring tool helps some…)
– general strength of materials (I could switch to other materials but I haven’t mastered PLA yet!)
– an unsolved problem with filament occasionally jamming in the hot end
– the challenge of trying to fix any problem that takes 8+ hours to manifest, which is all of them!
– related to the last item, I feel like I haven’t learned anything after all my efforts. Solving each problem has been “fiddle with it until it works, now DON’T TOUCH IT!!! because no one knows why it works or doesn’t. But I’ve GOT to touch it to do anything but a beginner project.
– related to the same, there’s a zillion settings on Cura and no intelligent way to manage them. This becomes critical when you want to be able to change something to either fix or improve a setting. My 3d printer guru friend now devotes one of his 3D printers to a single type of filament (TPU) because he got it working and now he doesn’t dare touch it.
– Speed. Overnight prints are tolerable, 20 hour prints are okish. 50 hour prints? 500 hour prints? Blargh. Subjectively it’d be more tolerable if it were in a soundproofed room, and I was able to reliably make stuff, but the speed seriously limits production capabilities.

When I asked experienced friends for help, they didn’t have solutions to these issues.
I asked one friend about layer adhesion. He said, “oh, no problem, I just print in a different orientation.” I replied, “Yeah, but… so that big piece you showed me a minute ago, if you held it up and tried to pull it apart in the other directi…. ooo, it broke! Yeah, sorry.”

A maker acquaintance, Nick Anastasia reported to me on Facebook when I asked about teaching using 3D printers : (take note of all the pitfalls he reports)

I echo what I’ve seen from others so far. 3D printers are fiddly, even the high end ones. Figure out how much time you can budget towards both the instructor(s) getting super familiar with the ins and outs of the machine and having time to maintain them. This will always take twice as long as you think.
I’ve worked with middle school and high school kids on Creality Ender 3 printers which are super cheap and when they’re setup right they work well enough but can get out of wack in the blink of an eye. My strategy with them has been to have one or more hot spares ready to go. If a print fails rather than debug it on the spot just start it an another machine.
With high school students I was working in a robotics class so I turned tuning and adjusting the machines into mini mechanics and control software lessons. If you can fit that into your lesson planning and the students ability and interested allows go for it. Encourage tinkering and if you’re using super cheap printers they’re not going to break something particularly expensive if they mess up.
As for 3d design I start all my kids programs on tinkerCAD. It’s the quickest way I know to go from zero to 3D design in under 30 minutes. If kids are really into it then you could try to introduce more complex CAD but they will probably figure out the limitations of tinkerCAD and work around them to get the more complex shapes they want anyway.
Happy to be a sounding board for ideas.

Christine Mytko, “I agree with Nick Anastasia 100%”

My friend Tim Aidley reported similar challenges:

So a big thing about FDM 3D printers is that they still require a lot of handholding and fiddling with to get working well. The Prusas are very good in that in general they are set up very well out of the box, and are fairly reliable. However, you are likely to still get prints that fail partway through, or prints that fail to adhere to the bed etc.
It’s vitally important that whoever runs it knows how to fix these fairly common problems, otherwise you’re likely to end up with a bunch of machines that don’t really work in fairly short order.
I think the suggestion to have several identical printers is a good one. At the makerspace at my previous employer, there were for a while three 3d printers, all of which were different, and it was much too easy to accidentally use the slicing settings for the wrong printer, which would almost always screw up your print and had a fairly good chance of screwing up the printer.
Another thing about these printers is that they’re pretty stupid. The slicer program converts your 3d object in to a set of gcode instructions that the printer blindly executes – so on many printers it’s very possible to try and force the print head through the print bed if things are incorrectly calibrated. I have a printer with a nice scratch on the print bed from just such a thing happening, so you would need to have processes in place that would try and prevent such a thing from happening.

My friend Luke says:

working a 3d printer or a milling machine is a real skill. It is basically a tradesman skill job, specialized and worth having students learn. Like most useful skills, there is probably a fair bit of frustration as you go up the learning curve

Meredith said:

Huh. My ultimaker 2+ is an absolute work horse, and has been for 8+ years. All of my major issues were of my own making- not following basic upkeep, usually. My Form 3L’s main issue is that it’s on an unsteady shelf and I have to re-level it all the time, which I keep a steady supply of magic:the gathering cards for.
Having set up a few labs in my time, ultimately you have to know the difference between a project and a tool. The cheaper 3D printers can be projects in of themselves, while ones more consumer or prosumer oriented are tools. It’s also just a skill set and learning curve- adopting a new technology is. Even impact drivers have them.

So, it’s possible to use a 3D printer as a tool and not a project unto itself. I just haven’t gotten there.

Good Local Things

Some random thoughts that came up chatting with a good person.

If you’ve got kids, the El Cerrito local “Wildcat” 4H is worthwhile. Getting on the google group and watching what transpires for a while is a good start, to see their schedules and such. Here’s the Wildcat 4-H Program main page.

If you’re volunteering for a school outing, it’s really important to get all the chaperones and the teacher’s mobile number in case a kid gets lost or somesuch. Consider making a texting group.

Library Elf is a good service to help unify your library experience. All I use it for is to know when anyone in my family’s item is ready for pickup or due back. It also can log your lending.

Until last year, I kept a book list of what we gave Abigail to read and how it went over. You might get some reading ideas from it. Look at the Ratings column and consider as a starting point, to get any books rated 7 or higher. Abigail’s Book List.


Mealviewer Can’t Print in Landscape

OMG, our school district just switched to using Mealviewer.com so we can view school lunches.

Their monthly meal calendar won’t print in landscape?!?!? Who can read that tiny print?
They had one job!

The Bay Lights Are Shutting Down, Long Live the Bay Lights

Beautiful things come.

Beautiful things go.


The Bay Lights has been running for 10 years. Wow, that’s kind of a long time though it feels like they started just a moment ago.

They are looking to raise $11 million to replace the old ($2 million, I believe) set of lights to last longer and be more illuminatey.



Unsolicited Phone Service Suggestions

Here is unsolicited phone service advice. (a friend asked me about phone service recommendations)

TL;DR: Mint Mobile good. Use the referral code below to save $15.

I’m very happy with my Pixel 5, bought used on Swappa.com last year, they’re now available there for ~$130. I’ve been happy with Cricket Wireless for ~5 years. I switched to Mint Mobile a month ago and I’ve found that service is exactly the same as with Cricket but 40% less expensive. Mint uses T-mobile towers while Cricket uses AT&T towers if that matters in your area. About 10 years ago, AT&T had better service in my area than T-Mobile but service has filled in apparently!

After the first 3 months of service, to continue getting the $15/month rate that Ryan Reynolds keeps touting, you’ve got to sign up for a 12-month plan (see image below). I’ll be doing that ????.

If you use my phone number or this referral code when signing up, you’ll get $15 free money

Actually, I like Mint Mobile better than Cricket because they allow me to use my phone as an internet hotspot and wifi calling works. And the Ryan Reynolds Youtube commercials give me a laugh too. :-)

I’m very happy with my phone case from Crave

Fun Weather Recently

First, we made this on our sidewalk on Tuesday!

Yesterday at College of Marin, we had a bit of rain interspersed with freezing rain! Some of the rain drops left crusty clear specs of ice on my jacket!

And on my way home, a rainbow!

Last night it rained like crazy. At 11pm, a few lightning bolts were so close and the thunder cracked so crisply, shaking the house suddenly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lightning bolt hit the house itself!

This morning on my way to work over the Richmond bridge, I spied snow on top of Mount Tamalpais!

Making Whirlpool Refrigerator Light Bulbs Fit

We got a new Whirlpool refrigerator last week. The light bulbs in it (model w11125625) suck: they have a color temperature of about 7000k and they flicker like crazy (they flicker fast, not everyone can see it, but OMFG I can!).

What is far far worse is that Whirlpool made a proprietary light socket! The socket requires that the bulb be narrow far longer than a regular bulb.

I felt trapped with Whirlpool’s crappy bulbs! After scratching my head and getting a hint from my local hardware store, I was able to fix it. I bought a E26/E27 base adapter to candelabra base adapter. Then I had to take a Dremel tool to the adapter to get it to fit. Then I put a candelabra-base bulb in it. Problem solved.


The light bulb also goes by these model numbers: W10311527, 2260802, W10194423, WPL-4396822

Borrow Your Camera?

Can I borrow your digital camera with manual controls?

I’m trying to capture something called the phantom array effect using a still camera. This is how some LED lights flicker, making what looks like a series of dots across your vision. I’m working with scientists and regulators to decrease this growing problem in the lighting world. I’m trying to make a compelling demonstration photo but my smartphone won’t do it! Are you bothered by flicker as well? I’d love to hear from you! More.