Archive for Blather

July Zine-O-Matic

Yeah, it’s been a while… again. Sorry!

So Zines.

When I was going to downtown Berkeley between five and seven days a week I used to stop in at Pegasus every few days and grab a zine. Occasionally I would trade them with other weirdos and on occasion have been known to make little mini pamphlet zines.

“Wait!” you demand “A what?” or if you are a bit hip “They still make those? What is this 1994?”

Yes, they do, and no it is no longer 1994, you can put down the Prodigy CD and put on some sensible pants.

A Zine, in short, is a little home-made magazine. It’s a little cheap (usually) slice of someones life and worldview and I love them. If you really want to go deep down that rabbit hole I recommend This Book and This One Too. Also go Here and Here, I’ll wait, I have a couple of things I need to get done anyway.

Back? Great!

So I have been missing my constant fix of little chunks of peoples worlds. There are things to recommend about Bloomington Indiana, but the independent book stores are pretty thin on the ground. I could buy lots of them on Etsy, but it’s not the same as walking in and grabbing the first few zines that catch my eye with no idea what might actually be in them.

Enter Zine-O-Matic.

You give them money every month, they grab a handful of zines and send them to you. It sounded up my alley so I plopped down my dollars and waited.

With Blinding speed my package arrived. Inside were a postcard, two stickers, and six zines. I got the “Super Mondo Size” subscription so with shipping it’s about $22 a month, And I do not feel like I overpaid.

The postcard is pleasantly macabre in a surreal sort of way, and reminds me that I should start sending postcards to people.

The first sticker is of cats in clothes… which cats HATE! It has a puzzle piece on the back of the same image like my Star Wars collectible cards had in the late 70s.

I have no idea what is going on here… It has a sort of David Bowie filtered through a Love and Rockets fever dream sort of thing going on.

The first Zine I opened was Flash by Amara Leipzig. It’s a comic zine about a guy who wants to be hit by lightning. It’s clean and expressive art and the zine is very well put together with the title on translucent paper over the cover image.

Tasteful Insect Nudes by Mullet Turtle Comics is a tiny little book with pictures of bugs and their somewhat playmate-like bios.

It wasn’t immediately obvious what this zine was called… or which way was up or which side was the front. I thought it was called “For Rectal use Only” at first because there is a sticker on it bearing that warning… but it turns out it is issue 3 of KJC by Kevin Uehlein and D.W.  It is a screaming mix of psychedelic art and comics. It is a mix of black and white, color, and a couple transparent pages and makes no immediate sense nor does it need to.

Field Notes on the American Sasquatch is about 22 pages of what looks like hand typed text with a few illustrations about the life of the American Sasquatch. I am going to try to get this into the hands of Aaron Akagi who obviously needs it… It is plain black and white copy-paper either made on a dirty library copy machine or skillfully made to look like it was.

The picture can’t quite show you the title of this zine because it is in braille on a black cover. The title is actually Soliloquy by Bast Armannsson and it is a zine about communication. It includes a Braille card as well as information about Braille, Tap Code, Morse Code, American Sign Language, and Binary. This is an absolute gem packed with interesting and potentially useful information and extremely well designed and executed. It would be my absolute favorite of the bunch if it were not for the next (and last) zine…

Imaginary Homework by Theo Ellsworth.  This zine is a series of surreal homework assignments illustrated in a sort of cartoony techno-mayan sort of way. This zine is so far up my alley that I am afraid it might be about to mug me. I’m super into it.

So all in all I am hugely satisfied with this experience and will continue my subscription with Zine-O-Matic (who have not paid me anything or given me free stuffs for this enthusiastic endorsement… though I am not adverse…)

I’ll keep reviewing my treasures as they come in, and maybe soon I’ll make a few more of my own.

How to repair your scooter in 40 easy steps.

1: Be in a hurry but forget that your gas light had come on the night before. Because of this fail to notice that the corner store gas pump, a gas pump you have used a hundred times, has defaulted to diesel and not gasoline for some reason.

2: Fail to notice this long enough to fill your tank and ride a mile where your motor will die a coughing and gasping death while spewing thick exhaust that smells suspiciously unlike gasoline. This step is very important because without actually riding the scooter you could easily fix the problem and skip almost all of the rest of these steps.

3: Since you will now be approximately equidistant between the corner store and home, push your scooter to your garage where you at least have a few tools. Make sure that there are between three and five hills between you and home for maximum sweat stench. For bonus points make sure you do this while kids are getting off school for maximum humiliation.

4: Giving the service manual a quick one over, begin taking off everything that is in between you, the gas tank, and the carburetor. This is about 1/3 of the scooter.

5: Pull out the gas tank and drain the contaminated diesel mixture into a container almost rated for the job. This is a wonderful moment to explore the incredibly slippery nature of diesel. It is also when you can remove the fuel filter and blow air through it to clear out the oily mix. Note at this time the remarkable similarities between diesel and olive oil, none of which include the concepts of “pleasant” or “maybe destroying my life” which each keeps firmly to itself.

6: With the gas tank slowly drooling its poison mostly into the pan but a fair amount all over your new tarp, it is a good time to attempt to remove the carb. It is an even better time to discover that all the screws are locked tightly in place and seem to be made of lead since any attempt to budge them just strips the head.

7: Panic. This is an incredibly important step. Consider exactly what it means if your only mode of transportation is destroyed at a time when you desperately need to get working and you live about 13 miles from the nearest bus stop.

8: Panic. This may seem very similar to step 7, but this step goes much deeper. Really get into how badly everything could go from here on out. Don’t hold back, let this develop into some grade A existential terror.

9: As the sun sets realize there is nothing useful you can do in the dark with a headlamp and a flashlight. Let the panic burn low into a deep and penetrating depression. This is absolutely the most productive thing you can do.

10: Power up your solar array. Watch British quiz shows you have watched a handful of dozen times already. This will keep you from having to think actual thoughts and let the deep funk draped over your soul simmer in the background until you are exhausted enough to sleep.

11: Sleep. Do this fitfully and wake up often enough so the constantly evolving terror dreams never have to give up their hold on your mind.

12: Wake up with a sort of manic enthusiasm and optimism that today you can fix everything. Put the fuel tank back, fill it with a mix of gasoline and carb cleaner and utterly fail to start the engine. The battery you have been abusing now for hours should at this time go dead.

13: Pull the battery out of your scooter and locate the battery charger you haven’t used in two years. It is best if the charger was the cheapest you could get at the time and entirely unsuited to charge a scooter battery. It is even better if it has been destroyed by humidity. If this is the case, rip the cables out of it and make them into a jury rigged set of jumper cables so you can hook the battery into your solar array. Since the charge controller is not intended to deal with a scooter battery, obsessively check it with a multimeter every 15 minutes until it is obvious that the battery is just as in need of replacement as you have been fearing for months.

14: Consider the problem of the carburetor. Decide that your best chance is to force gasoline into it to displace the diesel. Dismantle more of the rear end of the scooter so you can get to the drain screw. Drain the carb in place. It is important at this point to drench your entire engine block in fuel. Now, with the drain left open wrap your lips around the open gas cap and blow as hard as you can for some time. This will force gasoline to flood the carburetor and dribble all over the engine block as well.

15: Remove the battery from your solar array before you destroy it completely. Install the battery in your scooter and attempt to start the motor. This will immediately drain the battery and will not work at all.

16: Just stand there staring at the scooter for a moment. Really look at all the parts and components that you know nothing about and are utterly unqualified to mess with. Really come to grips with how little you know about the things you are trying to accomplish.

17: Panic. Try to revisit steps 7 and 8. This is a good time to swear at the top of your lungs and maybe throw a tool or two around the garage. Spend 15 minutes trying to find your screwdriver.

18: Do a little more reading and order a new fuel filter, spark plug, and battery. Ideally be at a really tenuous place financially and have this use up almost all of your money so that if this doesn’t work you will just have to embrace really long hikes or maybe just wander off into the woods and survive off of hunting wild turkeys with a pointed stick.

19: At this time remember a trick to break stuck screws that you had told someone about only a week or so before. Find your vice grips and break loose some of the mildly ruined screws.

20: Since your optimism has now had a boost, this is a very good time to discover that at least two critical screws are still locked up tight and you still cannot get the carb out for a thorough cleaning. Walk away from the scooter pretending that you will never have to deal with this problem ever.

21: Watch every video you can find online about repairing your scooter. Really delve into forum posts where people address every problem except the one you are having. Give your optimism a really good kick by finding a thread about someone who has done exactly what you have done. Read response after response of people who, instead of addressing the problem and offering solutions, tell the poster what an idiot he was for not noticing it was diesel and question how anyone with the brain power to stand upright could make such an amazingly stupid mistake.

22: Since you need some sort of win. Take side off of the engine to fix the kickstarter which has been really sticky and hard to use for a year or so. This will be much easier than you thought and will go quite well. The renewed ease of kickstarting will not be enough to get the fuel pump working with a dead battery however and the engine will not turn over.

23: Watch more videos and read more forum posts. Become very informed on procedures you cannot perform because you don’t have the right tools, materials, or parts and because the carb is still stuck on.

24: Because you have not bothered to actually do so yet, check the spark plug. Be pleased it is working perfectly and be a little annoyed that you have already ordered one, but realize that it is nearing time to replace it anyway and move on.

25: Following the advice of several contradictory posts, sacrifice your ear syringe by filling it with gasoline and squirting fuel into the carb and cylinder.

26: try to kickstart the motor over and over. Each time it fails to work, take she spark plug out and the air hose off and squirt a little more gasoline in. This will not work at all.

27: Panic. You should be very good at this by now and it will come quite naturally.

28: On a whim, research how to jump start a scooter without destroying its electrical system. Be surprised at the amount of positive information there is on this subject and how little it contradicts itself.

29: Try to charge the battery again just in case. This is a very good time for your multimeter to break so you have to just guess at timing. This will not work at all.

30: Since the sun is now gone, scrub the worst of the grease off of your hands and give up for the night. Watch Dr Who so you don’t have to think about things until you can sleep. Have the episodes you watch be particularly emotional, let this trigger a bit of a cry, feel silly about crying over Dr fucking Who, feel silly about feeling silly. Eventually fall asleep.

31: Jump up in the morning with a strange amount of energy, Pull a battery from your solar array and heft it into the garage.  Repurpose the makeshift jumper cables you had made from the dead charger to hook the battery up to the scooters battery.

32: Holy fucking mother of fucking fuck… Start the engine.

33:Disconnect the battery and run the engine for an hour or so, periodically at full throttle to attempt to build up charge. Eat three packets of instant ramen and drink half a gallon of water.

34:  Kill the motor. Try to start it again which will not work. Panic for a few seconds then kickstart the motor which will work.

35: While the engine is running, begin re-assembling everything you have taken apart.

36: realize you have done so in the wrong order. Revisit the versatility of the word Fuck. Take everything apart again.

37: Realize, preferably at the very last steps, that something is not fitting right. Fiddle with an odd bracket that seems made mostly just to vex you. This will take an hour.

38: Realize that you are going to have to take everything apart again in a few days when parts arrive and just set the bracket aside. Promise yourself you will look it up later.

39: Take the mostly assembled scooter for a very rural ride. Run it full throttle for an hour or so to burn off diesel and build up as much of a charge in the battery as you can.

40: Return home. Drink an ice cold soda very slowly. At this time you may wish to collapse on to your sofa. Feel like a total badass conqueror of motors. Feel like you have not let your ancestor monkeys down by both making and using tools. Feel physically and emotionally drained, but with a pleasant edge. You may at this time wish to… Breathe.

Men Die

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

The Cull Begins

When I was away on my journey to the Bear Flag Empire my house was broken into a couple times and a lot of stuff was damaged (though very little was actually stolen). This combined with the fact that I had been neglecting my living conditions for a while in my less than fantastic state of mind meant that the place was a hellish mess. I therefore had begun cleaning, organizing, and trying to get ready to purge some stuff and get out before the basement mold killed me.

This was not going quickly.

My mood combined with the sheer weight of the stuff meant I spent a lot of time shuffling things around, then staring at it…

Then this arrived.

Pictures are best taken directly into the sun!

In any case…

It’s huge and empty and the empty thing has got to change! I am motivated, inspired, and there is a deadline!

So day one!

Followed by day two… cut short by freezing air and light snow and hail…

In another week and a half or so I hope to have a much more manageable life.

Phase 5: Retrospectinating

So some time later I am finally getting to this…

The end of my California adventure came in the form of a train journey back to Indiana. I cannot imagine any better way to travel and from here on out it will be my first choice for any long distance journey.

Highlights of the trip include Passing through Black Rock at sunset, very odd conversation with a celebrity trainer and kickboxing champion, being woken up at 4am by a sherriff and a small army of thugs busting the guy behind me for pot.

I would like to take the journey often enough for taking pictures to be a priority, but this time around it was all about experiencing every mile so no documentation.

Getting back has been an odd mix of crushing isolation and depression matched with an explosion of creativity.

I finally retired my rough cut cardboard and duct tape phone/tablet stand and made one out of dead tree and lasers.

I followed that up by making a box for my friends awesome card game.

Then, since I need to sculpt a little Shoggoth to go with the game I made another box based on the same design for my sculpting tools.

THEN I made a little backdrop for photographing miniatures on and painted it up.

And for good measure cyberpunked up a keyboard for a quick trip to New York.

And these are just the ones that are not in progress! Wheeeeeeee!

I also rescued my instagram account from whoever was using it and started posting pics of things and stuff there.

So I’m back, Hi! More making stuff and distracting myself from the cold cold void to come.

The Safety Pin

So yes, I robbed my travel sewing kit and have a safety pin on my hoodie.

I have seen a few backlashes against the safety pin thing and the ones I have seen fall into three categories.

1: White supremacists are co-opting it.

yeah, well, fuck them.

2: Why do people, especially white men, get to fuck up everything everywhere and then spend 2 cents to feel good?

I can’t answer for anyone but myself, but for myself this isn’t to feel good, it’s to show people (especially myself) that I intend to back up my thoughts and feelings with action.

3: Putting the pin on is an arrogant sign of privilege.

Sure it’s a sign of privilege, Having been born with a certain set of genetics I am unlikely to be directly targeted by the shitstorm to come (though as a poor liberal weirdo with these genetics I am going to feel it lots I assure you). I can continue to ignore the privilege or I can use it, and if I can use it I can sure as hell use it to help those that don’t have it.

So wearing it means you can come up to me and say “help me” and I will, and if I see a situation I think can help, I will. The tiny little bit of cheap steel is a visible sign of my promise to myself and the world.

I also just ordered a Jedi patch for the same hoodie… because Jedi.

Phase 4: Hi! Bye! Be right back!

So… back in the real world after living the agricultural life for a month and a half!

 

It was a whole lot of work, but enjoyable, and I met a lot of wonderful people doing it. A lot of very thinky time was had and occasionally there was dancing.

I got back just in time for Halloween, and had the most halloweenie Halloween I have had in years! Now I have a couple days to pay bills and relax before I go and harvest olives for another couple days. What happens after that depends on the results of some crunching of numbers and some thinking that I am putting off until Monday.

Also my utility laptop died and my backup laptop is starting to show signs of falling apart… so I got a new one. Be warned that I may rant a little about Linux in the near future.

On to Phase 3!

Having gotten back from the desert, dusted off a lot of things, done all the laundry in the world… I got a couple days of relaxation before I’m off to the next part of all this.

From here on out internet connection is going to be sparse at best. I may be able to squeeze out a few tweets (which you can see on the lower left of this site, or automatically redirected to Facebook if you are reading this there) but I am unlikely to get much of substance out.

so… If you don’t hear from me in the meantime… See y’all in November!

A few pics from the desert

The little bootleg Go-Pro camera I was using was not really ideal for the task (or for any task really… it was very cheap) so there weren’t a lot of decent pics in the meager few I took.. but here are some!

Duane and Jess’s battle scarred trailer.

SUNP0002

The fun of packing.

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Everything I was bringing… it looks like a lot, but it’s much less than I am used to!

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We barely even massively overloaded the poor little thing!

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What the tire looked like after it spewed tread all over the interstate south of Reno

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Long dusty lines of cars waiting to get in at one or two in the morning SUNP0008

But we eventually made it!

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I did not kiss the ground… but I admired it. SUNP0010

Even as built up as the city has become early on… there was still open space around us.

SUNP0012

A shot of the centerpiece of my tent… a light/fan combo wrapped in fairy lights.

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Sunsets in the desert are unlike any others… this does not do it justice.

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There was much glow… I would have loved to play with this if my ability to stand the proximity of other humans was not at an all time low at that moment.

SUNP0019

This was something like a quarter mile of giant sound reactive rings… the light travelled down them at the speed of sound so that by the time the last ring reacted… the music it was reacting to would be there too.

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This does not in any way accurately depict the audio and visual madness of the playa at night.

SUNP0027

Packing up. A camps worth of trash and recycling to haul back to the real world… and a fantastic dust storm about to crash down on us.

SUNP0029

So yeah… a few images that entirely fail to show the amazingness. Some day I will figure out a solution that captures good images AND allows me to experience the event without constantly feeling like I have to record it. Some sort of body mounted auto-camera… or brain shunt… or unpaid personal intern… I am totally accepting applications for that last one.

Cliff Flinging: Stage 1: Complete!

We have returned from The Man What Burns Dustfest 2016!

I started keeping a journal of what all was going on but had a bad day and lost all interest so you are spared such things as a nerdy chart of the temperature of my forehead from day to day. You are welcome.

There are a very few pictures as well, but the camera I was using was not really suited to the task so I didn’t really try terribly hard. I’ll post a few later if any of them are any good at all.

The Good:

Burning Man continues to be an expanding and evolving explosion of unbridled creativity. The things happening there are mind-meltingly amazing on all kinds of levels and it is absolutely impossible to accurately describe the many encounters and experiences that make up that very strange week in a place humans were not meant to survive.

I was able to spend time with old friends, meet new ones, connect with people who I would otherwise never meet. I got to use my problem solving skills to help rescue someone who found their outfit  had become integral to their bicycle and made martinis for strangers in the middle of the night.

Our camp, Briny Depths, was one of the easiest to set up and tear down of any I have ever been a part of. Our nights of serving Ramen (Chicken and Miso broth with seaweed flakes, onion, baby corn, and lovely noodles) were highly successful and fun. The camp-mates I already knew were people I was delighted to spend more time with and the ones I did not were people I am now happy to know.

The weather was… really nice! I never felt terribly hot, or so cold that I needed much more than a lab coat. I think this is partly because it was a very mild year and partly because I am used to living somewhere where the weather is trying to kill you most of the year and barely tolerable for about three days every season.

Despite one of them injuring Damon a little… most of our neighbors were really pleasant, amusing, accommodating, and not at all annoying. Since almost every year there has been a camp nearby that made me want to strangle the entire world to make them stop… that was pleasant.

The Bad:

I have been reading for a few years about the propagation of “plug and play” camps where very rich people essentially have a camp created and delivered for them with cooking and administrative staff and the like… and they were certainly in evidence. A certain kind of person seems to come out of these camps and that kind is very entitled and not very invested in the community and city. Softening that a bit however, they seem to have somewhat displaced the last minute frat boy explosion that used to occur… and since they have people to clean up after them, the playa seemed less trashed the night of the burn.

The city has grown a lot! The downside of this is that there is no way you can go, nowhere you can walk, to find a truly dark and quiet place. Even with early entry you could walk into the deep playa and turn in circles and not see a dark spot in any direction. With this explosion also comes and explosion of art cars… which are really neat, and some are an absolute wonder to behold… but many of them are mobile sound systems that would get clubs shut down for violating urban sound ordinances, and the sound overlaps and combines into an arrhythmic drone of unending dance music and terrible hip hop. This has always famously been the case to some degree, but the intensity has been turned way up!

Tents suck! Even with the mild weather, a tent that does not have additional shade and wind protection is a terrible place to be. In the past I have always brought some sort of extra shelter if I was using a tent, or used some sort of shelter other than a tent… but as I was flying in to California then being entirely dependent on others a tent is what I had. I made it as homey as possible but it made a terrible retreat from the world.

One of the tenets of Burning Man is “Radical Self Reliance.” I absolutely pride myself on having everything I need to survive and the ability to improvise anything I need to conquer whatever challenges arise out there. This year I was very much dependent on my camp-mates which (as much as they were awesome and amazing and provided everything I needed) vexed my sense of self. This is a mixed thing and something I sort of feel OK with and sort of like I am not OK with it enough.

The Ugly:

When I was making martinis someone gave me a cookie. I kind of expected it was the sort of cookie that made you giggle too much and crave macaroni and cheese. What I was not expecting was to spend over 24 hours unable to do anything more than sit very still with my eyes closed. Breakfast took three and a half hours to eat and if Jess hadn’t been feeding me water every so often I would have dried up and blown away. Very Yikes! I would have very much liked to have spent that time exploring and meeting people.

I also missed a bunch of time wallowing in a very deep and uncomfortable pit of depression and self reflection. I have a lot of very difficult things demanding my attention and facing them is part of why I am doing all of this. It did put a damper on my (perceived) ability to leave camp and wander the city. I think I saw the requisite big art pieces… but missed all the little things you find wandering the streets.

So in summary… In some ways this was one of my best years out there and in some ways it was my worst… but I still want to go back and my brain is churning with art projects and things I want to do out there.

Time to jot down notes, make lists, and recover a bit before the difficult days on the horizon!