Burning Man 2023

We’ve got tickets to Burning Man! Planning on joining up with Kidsville. You?

Standing in Line for Burning Man Tickets…

I haven’t done this in many years. It’s a thrill!

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!


OLED Laptop Computer Screens?

I’m considering getting a Lenovo Yoga 9i laptop with an OLED screen but I strongly suspect the screen will look like shit in a year because OLEDs burn in. Thoughts?

Repair Your Prius MFD

The MFD (Multifunction Display) / computer screen in our 2008 Prius started misbehaving. It would show a black screen or a weird sort-of out-of-focus screen, or wacky light effects. Entertaining as it was, we had to fix it.
Our mechanic fixed it for $800 last year and it failed again. Since our mechanic had retired in the interim, we were on our own. I ended up buying one on eBay for $415 and installing it myself.


Make sure you buy the exact model number as a replacement. Mine is a 86110-47220. The model number is written on it. There are some upgrade-compatible units (look around on PriusChat) (for instance, the model 86110-47230 might have worked for me, but it’s easiest to just stick with what you know will work. I followed instructions from this video to remove it. It took me 30 minutes the first time, and I broke a plastic piece, 10 minutes the second time, 5 minutes the third time! I tried to use this MFD repair guy in Indiana for $300 but my MFD was already a refurbished unit and he couldn’t fix it. (yes, you can drive around with a missing MFD). The folks in Indiana were awesome and if you have an original MFD that has broken, I’d definitely recommend you try their service!


Cunk on Earth!

Two words: Cunk on Earth!
First I thought it was silly, then kinda fun, now my sides hurt!


In a year, our house has gone from owning 0 chess sets to 7 sets!

– Storytime Chess. I’m so happy the Siedlecki’s got it for Abigail. The silly storybook really got her to learn how the pieces move!
– 2 sets for Abigail’s Aftercare program. Abigail generally refuses to play any game if I ask her to. Grumble grumble. But if everyone in the room is already playing, it’s kind of a given that we’re going to play. DO NOT tell Abigail I bought those sets until she’s old enough to know the truth!
– My dad’s chess set. He gave me this amazing set that he got in college. The pieces look to me far more like a “proper” chess set than the very popular Staunton style.
– A set Megan got for me for Christmas (Thanks honey!)
– Another set for Megan’s work. A student of her’s refuses to play with the set Megan got for me! Hurumph! Chess snob! ;-)
– I think Megan just bought a travel set for the Hawaii trip

– And there’s another set at my work too, loaned to Autistry by a mentor. So we can play when I haven’t brought one of my sets to work.

I’m getting to play a bit!
Today I watched two first graders play chess at Aftercare. It was ah-dore-able! No one knew how the pieces moved so they were just moving pieces around and having fun! Last week Abigail and her friend M. challenged me to chess; we played for a while until it devolved into tears. I play about a game a week or so at Autistry against students and sometimes besides mentors (hi Tim!), which is nice.

Today I was buying replacement pieces for those lost at Aftercar and I ALMOST bought a chess book. Then I thought, “Studying chess might be a sure-fire way of muting my enthusiasm!” so I skipped it. Maybe next year!

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 leads.
– 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.

– 2009 I told the “Brown Chicken, Brown Cow” joke to about a hundred of people :-)
– 2009 Illumination Village – my Ill Vill friends took me in after my bike was stolen

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

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.