Making, Friends and Influencing People
Video by Nick. Words by Jay.
MakerFaire, day 2
We arrived at Dolores Park to find 5 other folks who were riding to the Faire. The guys who organize this ride work with Rock the Bike, and were responsible for the pedal powered sound stage, here and at other events. They're also responsible for some videos Nick and I had seen, of a bamboo and fiberglass tall bike called Boolander, and el Arbòl, a tree tall bike, that we had initially thought were the same. The ride left without either of these, but about two/thirds of the way through a flat, relaxing and well paced group ride, Boolander, which has an electric assist, appeared in our midst! To my mind, the coolest thing is when it needs to stop, two arms are deployed by the rear wheel to act as landing gear and keep the design upright and the rider on their seat. Nick spent a while talking to the rider/designer, and we were able to inspect it more closely later. More impressively on this ride, Mark, our navigator, who was riding an extended rear cargo bike, demonstrated his surfing skills. We lost our collective jaws when he stood on his top tube and rear rack going downhill, but then, he started leaning into corners. It was incredible! The miles to the event fairly flew by. Maybe also because Nick had all our cargo and I was riding an aluminum Cannondale CAAD 10 with much nicer gearing. It's going to be rough going back to the Giant.
The bike ride hadn't left until nearly 10am, so it was just about noon when we arrived. First stop, the ladies giving away KIND bars for snacks, then drop our bag with Liz except CamelBak. We tried to check out the drone fighting, but there was nothing going on. Along the way there were numerous electric cars and motorcycles, and those were fascinating. A home built “Locost” Lotus 7 replica was hanging out there, too.
I tried to catch a ride in one of the cupcake cars zooming around on tiny trikes or mobility scooter bases, because, obviously, I AM a cupcake, but they were apparently for the owners, only! We did get to go play with Cyclecide today though. They have a bike with both wheels laced beautifully off center so it bucks and rolls, a “backwards-steering” bike with twitchy handling that neither of us could get for more than a ¼ pedal stroke, several very long extension swing bikes, a sociable, and other monstrosities that we toyed around with. Even their rides seemed less scary with children populating them. As we had spoken to them yesterday, they also let us take their tall bikes for a spin. Nick chose an aluminum framed “Mars Rover” and I had the aptly named “Schwinn-Schwinn”, two Schwinn cruisers arranged to oppose each other and share a bottom bracket. It's the first tall I've ridden with a coaster brake and was a bit scary going through crowds. Because obviously, we took them and went riding around the Faire, doing tricks as we went. What else would a SCUL pilot do?
Examine other weird metal things, of course! Former Asylum folk helped design and build the MegaBots Mark III, and their were car punching demos to be had. The first time we tried to watch, their was a small hydraulic leak in one arm. When we returned, there seemed to be less punching and more snuggling. Hello, 12 ton HugBot! I can get behind that. For a machine that's only been fully assembled for a few days, we were impressed either way.
We stopped to see the giant Tesla show, too, but it was loud, set to techno, and not terribly exciting, at least compared to Boston Museum of Science. There was a flaming moth sculpture, too. It was also incredibly loud, and probably looks better at night. When it was performing, it could be heard everywhere! The life-size Mousetrap, next to Cyclecide was another story. Painstakingly gathered through yardsales and free piles, it looked just like a giant version of the childhood game, and was as silly as we remembered.
And then, there was cheese. I have dipped my toes into aged dairy waters before, making yoghurt and kefir regularly for long periods of time, and watched the mozzarella dance almost daily for two years. But Camembert and Brie, fuzzy-exterior cheeses, have been beyond me. We giggled, the demonstration took the scary out of it. Knowing that I have easy access to bacterial cultures at home, we will probably try some variations when we get back, even knowing that without a wine fridge, it will take us five weeks! to get fancy cheese. But, it'll be fun! There are some other hacks to maintain a 55 degree partial humidity environment too, that might speed the process along, but I guess you'll find out if you receive a tiny cheese in your future.
When the presenter was through, we wandered the future food exhibits, tasting drinking chocolate (not enough to get a good sip), mushroom jerky (I would totally eat this if I could borrow someone's dehydrator), fancy French puddings in jars (very creamy), jams of interestingly combined flavors (can I come back and taste more tomorrow?) and other such curiosities.
Outside the food hall was a booth occupied by Tinker Kitchen, a food Maker space being born in SF. I have a LOT of feelings about this. Many of the pieces of modernist, molecular gastronomy can be prohibitively expensive, be it gums, gels, carbonators or what have you, and also very intimidating. That extends down to the basics of baking and decorating cakes and making molded chocolate, or cheese, or any number of food processes people don’t perform every day. Ideally all I want to do in life is teach people these skills and more. Artisan's isn't zoned for edible classes, it's not foodsafe, and I feel a little alienated from the maker community because of it. It's awesome to learn all the other tools, but I want to teach, exhibit my skills and work on long term projects I don't have space for at home, too. The Tinker Kitchen is just designing their space now and so there isn't an example to see what this looks like down the road, but it's definitely the kind of community I would love to help start and grow and incubate at home.
Another area that's often under-represented is soft crafts. There's a corner of one building that we walked through Friday while vacant for hand work, and I was curious to stop here. We were treated to an explanation of machine knitting, and how basic coding is used to program these analog processes. One uses punch-cards, the other had a computer program. They take up little space and can churn out pieces with complex patterns in a fraction of the time. Through the demonstration, I kept looking at Nick with giant puppy eyes, as programming punch cards is well within my reach, and I adore the comparison of knitting as basic code. Be on the lookout for new, machine-knitted SCUL colors.
I talked to the embroiderers guild of America, and we saw demonstrations of weaving and felting and other hand crafts, which I'm slowly in the process of learning all of, while I think Nick was bored to tears.
We missed the talk he wanted to attend, spending an hour at Liz’s booth, making pins, magnets and zipper pulls. Who knew I'd have to come all the way to California to learn to be a mission pinner. I struggled with the process for making zipper pulls at first, though the other seemed easier, and Nick had tons of practice. We encountered several people who were “obsessed” with pins, collected them and wanted to make lots, but got distracted finding the perfect pictures. There were fits about someone having gotten to someone else's Pokemon first. By and large, my favorites were the Calvin and Hobbes pins, but if you find yourself in need of a Super- wallet, bracelet or light switch plate, Tracimoc (it's comic art, backwards) has your back!
Thoroughly exhausted and in need of snacks, despite having brought lunch, we repeatedly visited the KIND bars, with me stealing bites from Nick while squirrelling mine away. When he finally demanded to know why I insisted on sharing, I reminded him how happy we were with the Bike-to-work Day snacks, and how nice it would be to have fuel for Sacramento. We also acquired chocolate milk (the best way to feel like a kid again) and multiple yoghurts from Clover, who were proud to show off the various feeds their cows enjoyed. This before we dug into the pasta salad we packed. That finished, it was nearly 7, and closing time. Hauling Nick off the floor, we headed out, ogling more silly vehicles as we made our way out.
Since its much later than we planned *SURPRISE* we are once again on the train. But there are two guys here with us from Monkelectric who also are doing the bike/train thing, and we'll be talking about touring rigs until we get off the train, so for now, I'm signing off. Until tomorrow, Maker Faire day three, here we come.
Total: approx 30 by bicycle, several walking
Have some bonus tiny robots: