Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some neat Burning Man 2007 videos

I'm still working on my recollections from Burning Man, and I promise I'll get to them eventually.

In the meantime and for your viewing pleasure, here are some videos that have been circulating via email amongst those who sometimes wish they were back on the Playa, caught in a dust storm...

Burning Man 2007 Time Lapse by Phil "Peef" Sadow

Burning Man on Adult Swim

The Prophesy tells us that if DJ Jesus doesn't perform at Burning Man an unholy sand storm will destroy the American west. The wind is rising and everyone's waiting for him, but DJ Jesus gets lost in the desert where Satan is waiting to tempt him with a food court, an electronics superstore and finally a magical place called Temptasia.

Burning Man 2007 on CBS News 9/30/07

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Burning Man 2007 Recap: Tuesday, August 28

Burning Man 2007
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Burning Man: Day Two
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Black Rock City, NV

We woke up bright and early (6:45 AM) on Tuesday to ride out to the Black Rock City International Airport, which is about half a mile south of the city. Mike was scheduled to do some volunteer work at the airport so we left him there, then the kids and I headed back to Center Camp to get coffee.

After getting myself a latte ($4) and Mike a coffee ($2) in our travel mugs, we biked back out to the airport. While there, I took some pictures of the kids in front of the Black Rock Travel Agency (BRTA) tent and of the BRTA plane. I also took a picture of my shadow, which was amazingly long because of the angle of the sun. Being in nature reminded me of how amazing it is to, well, be in nature. Even though Burning Man is an artificial city that pulses and blinks at night with the light of a million LEDs, it also takes place in a beautiful, natural environment where mountain ranges and a big sky can be enjoyed and appreciated during daylight hours.

It turns out that Mike was scheduled to work on Wednesday and Thursday mornings so he was able to leave and go back to the RV with us. We hung out for a bit and did what people do when it's hot and dry: we drank water and napped. In the afternoon I took the kids on a really long bike ride around half of the city. At one point we stopped to watch a dance club camp being built and spoke with a woman who was a belly dancer/fire dancer/poi dancer "all at once." She mentioned she would be performing that night at 2:30 AM. I told her that I didn't think I would be awake and motioned to the kids.

[Aside: Yes, I definitely missed a lot of what goes on at night on the Playa, but I'm okay with that. The truth is that I don't have much interest in staying up until 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning now that I am clean and sober. I don't think I've ever missed out on my nightly 8 hours of sleep unless it was due to drugs of some variety. I didn't get to see the fire dancer or dance the night away in an ecstatic rage, but I did get to spend several mornings riding around on the Playa when the only people who are awake are those taking advantage of the morning light to snap photographs and the few people who are *still* awake. The nights might be hot, but the mornings are cool and truly, naturally magical.]

At some point on Tuesday I donned bunny ears and rode around by myself. Bunny ears attract a lot of attention at Burning Man from men and children. I understand why kids like them, but men? When you wear bunny ears does it mean you want to f*ck like a bunny? Are men turned on by the sight of a woman wearing bunny ears? Not sure. One guy--who looked pretty high, I must admit--said to me as I rode past, "I'm French and I eat bunnies." If his was an offer, I did not take him up on it.

Tuesday night we announced the grand opening of the Tsaobug Movie Theater by walking around KidsVille and inviting our neighbors to send their kids over once it was dark, around 8:15. I think we played Disney's Aladdin. The kids loved it and the parents loved having a place to stash their kids for a bit. The electronic babysitter made it to the desert! Some parents didn't allow their kids over because they don't allow their kids to watch any TV, but nobody got upset at us for bringing our corrupt values to Burning Man so that was good.

After the movie, we rode up and down the Esplanade, checking out the theme camps and dance club camps and other neat and interesting camps that were just coming to life as we were making our way back to our cozy RV home. Like they did every night, the kids fell asleep in the bike trailer so we just put them to bed wearing their dusty, dirty clothes. Before going to Burning Man I was worried that the kids would miss their normal nightly routine of a long, hot bath, but they never once complained or seemed to care about being dirty. Even when their hair got so sticky I started air kissing their heads because I no longer wanted to get my lips coated with dust in the process!

Burning Man 2007 Recap: Monday, August 27

Burning Man 2007
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Burning Man: Day One
Monday, August 27, 2007

San Mateo, CA

We woke up early, 4:30 AM, and made it out the door by 5:17. Our RV was packed and ready to go and we were excited to be hitting the road to Black Rock City, Nevada, home to the Burning Man festival.

Once we hit Highway 80, we started seeing other motorists on their way to the festival. We were in the slow lane, so lots of times we got a honk and wave out the window as others passed us on the left. We could tell others going to the festival by their jam-packed cars and their colorful bikes. Everybody was excited to be on the road.

We stopped in Reno to eat our last take-out meal at P.F.Chang's China Bistro and to stock up on water. We had to go to two grocery stores to get enough water. We also stopped in Target, and it became obvious from the stares and comments that the general mood in Reno is anti-Burning Man. That probably has something to do with the aftermath of the event, when thousands of dirty people dump their garbage in random Reno dumpsters on their way home. At least one checkout person warned us to "be careful" and that there would be "weird people" at the event. We were happy to be back on the road and on our way to Black Rock City with the rest of the weirdos!

We made it to the line of cars waiting to get into the event around 3:00 PM. It probably took about an hour to make it to the front, where two surly women checked out our RV to make sure we weren't hiding any "dirty hippies," people who were trying to sneak in without a ticket. We were harboring no dirty hippies and made it through the gates to the greeter station, where a naked man gave us four welcome packets and exclaimed, "Welcome home!"

We drove straight to our camp, KidsVille Village, and figured out where to park our RV and set up our home away from home, shade structure, and Tsaobug Movie Theater. We started setting up camp and had the whole thing ready by sunset.

As soon as the sun started setting, the moon started rising. That night was the full moon, and as was the custom at Burning Man, people started whooping and clapping when it made its appearance. In general, people at the festival clap and cheer for all natural events, such as the sun rising, the sun setting, the moon rising, and rainbows. Tee hee.

We were tired Monday night from our day of travel and only went out for a bit, riding around the Playa with the kids in the bike trailer, checking out the art that was already up and watching some of it in the process of being created. I remember seeing a woman wearing nothing but a bikini, a welder's smock and hood welding a sculpture (It might have been Koilos). Alas, I did not have my camera with me to capture the moment.

We also spent some time in the exhibit hall at the base of The Man. I'm sorry I didn't wander around more in there, as it was closed from then on due to the premature burning of The Man that night by arsonist Paul Addis.

Speaking of The Man burning, that night I did hear a collective noise of the crowd while I was sleeping but didn't get up to investigate. I thought it might have been from the total lunar eclipse, but it probably was in response to The Man being on fire.

I do know that cozily ensconced in our RV, I was one happy camper -- happy to be at Burning Man and happy that everything had come together like it had. The greeter was right, it did feel like coming home.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Welcome Home

Burning Man 2007
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We're back from Burning Man and it was a great time. Seriously. One of the best vacations we've ever taken.The kids loved it! More about that later...

I wasn't able to blog while I was there; the wireless was spotty at the RV and I couldn't risk taking the laptop into Center Camp when I also had to watch the kids. But after we got home yesterday evening, I spent hours putting our photos online. Here's a link to the Flickr set. Start at the beginning and work your way through to get a good idea of how we spent our week.

Today we cleaned out the RV and started cleaning all the stuff we brought with us and putting things away. Back to reality. Tomorrow we return the RV and continue the cleaning process.

I've got a lot to put down in writing, of things I want to remember. Like Emily telling me on our third day there, "Mommy, I'm not scared of fire anymore." And Thomas asking me tonight at dinner, "Why aren't we at Burning Man?" I hope I get the time tomorrow to write a longer post.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

RV Packed, Almost On the Road

If you see us on the road, honk
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We got to El Monte RV in Oakland this morning at the stroke of 8, surprised to see one group of burners had beaten us there. We watched the requisite movie about taking care of our temporary home, then got through the paperwork and were presented with the keys to our beauty.

The process took only an hour and was a great start to our adventure since the RV place is Burning Man-friendly and has pictures and Burning Man memorabilia up all over. Not to mention that four or five groups of people clearly on their way to the Playa came in shortly after us. Woo hoo! I heard at least one guy on the phone to Home Depot, trying to find 5-gallon water jugs.

We brought our baby home and spent about three hours loading her up. She's got lots of storage space, both inside and in a cargo hold. We were able to easily fit all of our stuff in appropriate places. On the advice of fellow campers, I taped painter's plastic down on the floors and covered it with old throw rugs (saved for just this purpose!) When we get to the Playa, we'll cover all the chairs with old sheets. These things should help with clean up.

The RV has one main sleeping section and another sleeping area over the cab. Both have the equivalent of full-size mattresses. I made everything cozy and as much like home as possible. This RV will be our little retreat from the sometimes (okay always) crazy world of Black Rock City.

Two awesome things the RV has: a good-sized refrigerator and a mirrored closet door. Both of these things will come in handy at Burning Man.

Now we're relaxing and about to go to dinner. Tonight I'll cook some food that we'll bring with us to the Playa -- taco meat, ham-n-macaroni salad, and spinach dip. I'm doing some last minute laundry and straightening up the house. I am imagining it will be nice to come home to a clean house.

We're hitting the road at 4 AM. This is my last blog post before Burning Man. See you on the Playa!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Packing for Burning Man: Nerd Alert!

Packing like a nerd
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Like a good little burner, I'm packing all of our clothes in ziplock baggies and putting the baggies in plastic bins. The plastic baggies are probably overkill since we're in an RV and I expect it won't be as dusty as if we were tent camping. However, I did it anyway because I like to over-prepare. And it was a good way to separate my clothes into outfits so when it's hot and I don't feel like picking out something cute, all I have to do is grab a baggy and I'm good to go.

When Mike saw all of my clothes in ziplocks he went, "Nerd alert!" This is an Austin Powers reference.

We pick up the RV tomorrow and I hope that goes smoothly. El Monte RV is refusing to schedule appointments; they will help people on a first come, first served basis. Like the guy on the phone today said, "It will be like the DMV." Great. We're planning on getting there at 7:55; they open at 8:00. Wish us luck!

I'll post tomorrow for the final time before we hit the Playa. I have to say that all of this packing is giving me a headache. I'm ready to don something skimpy and forget about my nine-to-five, if you know what I mean.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Feeding a Family of Four on the Playa

Countdown to Burning Man: 3 Days

I got a lot done today, including decorating my bike, planning our meals, and getting most of the food shopping done. I'm going to end up spending about $200 total for our food and drinks, not including water.

We plan to be on the Playa for five full days and one half day. That's six breakfasts, five or six lunches, and five dinners to prepare for a family of four. I'm definitely not going to make gourmet (i.e., from scratch) meals, but I do want to eat better than I did last time I went when all I brought was a case of spaghetti-o's. Pair that with Mike's carton of Tasty Bites, and I get a little depressed just thinking about it.

This recent Google video taught me how to set up a temporary kitchen on the Playa. We are lucky to be in an RV with a refrigerator but very little of what we're bringing requires refrigeration. We also have a stove so I will be able to heat water and do some one-pan meals. I don't want to do anything more elaborate because it's the clean-up--whether you're in an RV or not--that's a nightmare. I'll be using a spray bottle to spritz dishes and wiping them with paper towels. We'll use a plastic dish pan instead of the sink and an evaporation pond to get rid of gray water. The best trick is to clean up immediately after eating to avoid food becoming caked on dishes.

BurningBeach has a ton of Playa recipes. I got lots of ideas there. I also thought about the heat and the kids's needs. I'm figuring we'll eat three meals a day: breakfast, a light meal, and a bigger meal. We'll also have healthy snacks on hand and lots of water, juice, sparkling sodas, and natural sodas.

Here goes...


Dehydrated strawberries and/or apricots
Milk (Horizon Organic, no refrigeration necessary)
(may be repeated)

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Oatmeal (Quaker Oats, instant)
Dehydrated Strawberries and/or apricots and/or raisins
Milk or juice
(may be repeated)

Scrambled eggs with Whole Foods cooked bacon bits
Permesan garlic & herb Pita Chips (Stacy's)
Milk or juice

Strawberry Toaster Pastries (Nature's Path)
Milk or juice

Pancakes (Bisquick Shake-n-Pour)
Dehydrated strawberries and/or apricots
Syrup (Mrs. Butterworth's -- couldn't find maple in plastic)
Milk or juice

Light meals

Gazpacho (Sierra Rica)
Smoked Oysters (Crown Prince) on crackers (Ritz)

Salami with Monterey Jack cheese on Triscuits or Wheat Thins
Corn (canned)

Miso noodle soup (Dr. McDougall's, instant)
Crackers with salami and Monterey Jack cheese

Pasta in Tomato & Cheese Sauce (Annie's, canned)
Beef jerky, regular (Whole Foods)
Mango slices (Trader Joe's, canned) or applesauce (Trader Joe's)

Rice noodle soup bowl, garlic or spring onion (Trader Joe's, instant)
Beef jerky, teriyaki (Whole Foods)
Mango slices (Trader Joe's, canned) or applesauce (Trader Joe's)

Peanut butter on rice cakes
Green beans (S&W, canned)

Big meals

Bengal Lentils, Kashmir Spinach, Tandoori Pilaf (Tasty Bite)
Puppodums (Indian flat bread by Tiger Tiger)

Burning Ham Salad (homemade)
Crackers (Ritz)
Corn (canned)
Pineapple (canned)

Ground turkey tacos (ground turkey with Bearitos taco seasoning)
Crispy taco shells (Whole Foods)
Monterey Jack cheese

Creamy tomato soup (Pacific Natural Foods)
Steamed rice (Annie Chun's, ready made)
Hot dogs (Hebrew National, low fat)

Cheesy Ravioli (Annie's, canned)
Hot dogs
Baby corn (canned)

Fruit leather
FruitaBu smooshed fruit
Dry roasted, unsalted almonds
Chocolate chocolate chip cookies (Newmann's Own)
Chips (Garden of Eatin') and salsa (Various)
Pita chips (Stacy's) and spinach dip (homemade)