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Old 1st February 2013, 04:11 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I tried to get the JREF to fund putting the logo on the dust masks I handed out, but they weren't interested.
I'm not sure dust mask is the best place. If they were worn outside the context of Burning Man, it might give people the impression that JREF was paranoid about germs.
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Old 1st February 2013, 05:07 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I'm not sure dust mask is the best place. If they were worn outside the context of Burning Man, it might give people the impression that JREF was paranoid about germs.
If you wore the mask at Burning Man, it'd be too dirty to see the logo when you got it home.

BTW, painters and other construction workers wear dust masks all the time, it's not just germs such masks are associate with.
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Old 1st February 2013, 08:29 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I wonder if it pays to organize a SkeptiCamp type of thing at Burning Man. Maybe call it: SkeptiCamp Black Rock or SkeptiCamp Playa, or something. Would there be enough interest, does anyone think?

There might be a BarCamp at Burning Man, as there were in some previous years.

There's already a very loose-knit group called the Skeptical Bastards, you might want to seek them out.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 08:10 AM   #44
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Burning Man 2013 (It's never too early to start planning)

Burning Man could do with some skepticism, I think. Lots of newage there as I understand it.

I believe one particular year there was even a Truther art demonstration, in which they attempted to get thermite to burn sideways through a vertical steel beam. Unsurprisingly once lit, the thermite just fell off - repeatedly, through a number of attempts. They then turned the beam horizontally and set a whole bunch of thermite on fire atop it; I'm not sure if it worked or not but in any case the demonstration was naturally pronounced a success.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 10:38 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Burning Man could do with some skepticism, I think. Lots of newage there as I understand it.

I believe one particular year there was even a Truther art demonstration, in which they attempted to get thermite to burn sideways through a vertical steel beam. Unsurprisingly once lit, the thermite just fell off - repeatedly, through a number of attempts. They then turned the beam horizontally and set a whole bunch of thermite on fire atop it; I'm not sure if it worked or not but in any case the demonstration was naturally pronounced a success.
I don't think you can say that because people in a crowd believe X the crowd believes X. Are you suggesting the organizers should control such exhibits?

Burning Man is about art.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 02:57 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Burning Man could do with some skepticism, I think. Lots of newage there as I understand it.
There's lots of newage everywhere! Lots of it at the Hudson River Revival Festival (a folk music and art festival in Westchester County, NY), lots of it at Dragon*Con, lots of it even at consumer electronics shows.

TAM is an island of reason surrounded by other events much more woo-heavy.

But, Burning Man is not entirely all that terrible:

Apparently, there's a very loose-knit group called the Skeptical Bastards, that I might want to seek out....
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Old 2nd February 2013, 06:43 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I don't think you can say that because people in a crowd believe X the crowd believes X. Are you suggesting the organizers should control such exhibits?

Burning Man is about art.
No don't misunderstand; I did not mean to impugn the festival or its organizers. Everyone ostensibly has a voice at Burning Man and that's as it should be certainly.

I only mean to say that, there are a number of voices there praising woo, and it would be nice if there were more voices praising reason.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 06:52 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
No don't misunderstand; I did not mean to impugn the festival or its organizers. Everyone ostensibly has a voice at Burning Man and that's as it should be certainly.

I only mean to say that, there are a number of voices there praising woo, and it would be nice if there were more voices praising reason.
The year I went, the theme was Evolution. New Agey stuff wasn't necessarily dominating. I have a limited view of the event.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 11:55 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
The year I went, the theme was Evolution.
Well, this year, the theme is Cargo Cults. The implication seems, to me, that they think they are worth glorifying. I don't get the sense that they are using the theme as a jumping point for skeptically analyzing how beliefs form.

So, that doesn't help the woo situation very much.

But, I suppose I could help do something about that. Perhaps buy some copies of books about cargo cults to give out. (I recall one of Michael Shermer's books went into it, but I don't rememeber which one.) Among other things.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 01:05 PM   #50
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Cargo Cults suggests science to me. We know how they formed and that the beliefs were explicable without relying on a real encounter with a supernatural being. They explain god myths and provide natural evidence of how said myths develop.
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Old 6th February 2013, 12:17 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Cargo Cults suggests science to me.
Not the way the topic is being treated, so far. Promotional material, so far, seems to be glorifying the idea that we can believe such things, and to embrace that... rather than being an investigative measure for looking into how we can believe such things, and what we can learn from that.

But, perhaps I am being a tad presumptuous. People are free to interpret the theme any way they want. Maybe the actual attitude will be different while the actual event is going on.


Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out how to decorate my bike. I think "wooden airplane" is going to be too... generic. I need a skeptical/science-minded angle.

(It happens that Michael Shermer is a cyclist, who wrote a bit about cargo cults. I wonder if I can incorporate that, somehow.)
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Old 6th February 2013, 01:36 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Not the way the topic is being treated, so far. Promotional material, so far, seems to be glorifying the idea that we can believe such things, and to embrace that... rather than being an investigative measure for looking into how we can believe such things, and what we can learn from that.
I don't see how that's possible WB. Unless you think people believe real gods dropped cargo on those folks.

Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out how to decorate my bike. I think "wooden airplane" is going to be too... generic. I need a skeptical/science-minded angle.....
Lights, and color.
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Old 7th February 2013, 03:24 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I suppose I can find a way to promote skepticism (and science!) to everyone, in an open, artsy manner, through something like this.

Just gotta find the right angle of funkiness, or something.
I was going to suggest you use thermite to unsuccessfully burn through steel beams under a sign labelled "Truth," but that seems to have already happened.
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Old 7th February 2013, 09:53 PM   #54
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Don't assign too much importance (or expectation) to the theme. Except for a few art projects scattered about, you'll be hard pressed to find any evidence of it.
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Old 8th February 2013, 06:39 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
Don't assign too much importance (or expectation) to the theme. Except for a few art projects scattered about, you'll be hard pressed to find any evidence of it.
Sort of like when TAM used to do themes.
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Old 8th February 2013, 12:38 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Sort of like when TAM used to do themes.

At least you would see moderate evidence of the TAM theme in the t-shirts wandering the hallways.
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Old 8th February 2013, 01:19 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I suppose I can find a way to promote skepticism (and science!) to everyone, in an open, artsy manner, through something like this.
And in turn you can expect to have a lot of science-hating hippies getting in your face and accusing you of regurgitating "TEH CORPRATE PROPERGANDERZ!11" for trying to feed them information that doesn't mesh with their sollipsistic philosophies and pseudo-religious belief systems. Try to act surprised.
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Old 8th February 2013, 04:07 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
Don't assign too much importance (or expectation) to the theme. Except for a few art projects scattered about, you'll be hard pressed to find any evidence of it.
I guess the theme is actually more like the "bird of a feather" topic cards they had on the tables last TAM. If you had nothing else to talk about with your lunch neighbors, you could see the word written on the card, and talk about that.

The theme for Burning Man is there, for those who can't think about what sorta theme their own art should have applied to it, I guess.

Does that sound about right?

Originally Posted by NiceGuyCody View Post
And in turn you can expect to have a lot of science-hating hippies getting in your face and accusing you of regurgitating "TEH CORPRATE PROPERGANDERZ!11" for trying to feed them information that doesn't mesh with their sollipsistic philosophies and pseudo-religious belief systems.
Cool! I tend to enjoy arguing with folks like that, for some reason.

Originally Posted by NiceGuyCody View Post
Try to act surprised.
I usually get better results when I act like I can see everything coming. Although, sometimes, I do "play dumb" to make a point, depending on the context of the discussion.
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Old 8th February 2013, 05:55 PM   #59
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To be honest, I could never figure out what practical purpose the theme has served. They announce it in the fall for the next year's event, Larry Harvey writes thousands of words about it (which can actually be rather interesting), people all over the world go "Oooh! They announced the theme for this year!", artwork is created for tickets and posters, and tens of thousands of attendees... go about doing whatever they were planning to do before they even heard about the theme.

I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad or worthless thing, but I never saw it realized in any meaningful manner on the playa. It would be fun experiment to leave your camp pretending that you had no idea what the theme is and then see if you can figure it out as you walk around (without, of course, asking anyone).

Actually, it would be rather entertaining to ask random people what the theme was and record their responses. A fair percentage would answer "Parrrrrr-tayyyy!!"
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Old 8th February 2013, 08:07 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
To be honest, I could never figure out what practical purpose the theme has served. They announce it in the fall for the next year's event, Larry Harvey writes thousands of words about it (which can actually be rather interesting), people all over the world go "Oooh! They announced the theme for this year!", artwork is created for tickets and posters, and tens of thousands of attendees... go about doing whatever they were planning to do before they even heard about the theme.

I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad or worthless thing, but I never saw it realized in any meaningful manner on the playa. It would be fun experiment to leave your camp pretending that you had no idea what the theme is and then see if you can figure it out as you walk around (without, of course, asking anyone).

Actually, it would be rather entertaining to ask random people what the theme was and record their responses. A fair percentage would answer "Parrrrrr-tayyyy!!"
Sort of like the topic cards at TAM.

I never sat at a table that actually used them. Most tables didn't even know what they were for. Part of being an adult is being able to start a conversation without being prompted.
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Old 8th February 2013, 10:01 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Sort of like the topic cards at TAM.

I never sat at a table that actually used them. Most tables didn't even know what they were for. Part of being an adult is being able to start a conversation without being prompted.
It was a nice social experiment, though. And a cheap one, too.
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Old 8th February 2013, 10:22 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad or worthless thing, but I never saw it realized in any meaningful manner on the playa.
I figured the theme wasn't really enforced. But, I was trying to figure out how to "work with it", anyway, in some manner.

Given that I don't even like the theme, maybe I'll just ignore it, like almost everyone one else, anyway.

Maybe when I return in 2 or 3 years*, the theme will be a better one, that I can really get into.**

(* I am very likely going back to Dragon*Con for 2014, even if I loved BM.)

(** Please let it be "Hitchhiking Across the Galaxy"! Please!!)

Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
Actually, it would be rather entertaining to ask random people what the theme was and record their responses. A fair percentage would answer "Parrrrrr-tayyyy!!"
...and Burrrrrrniiiiiiing stuuuufff!!! Wooooo!!!!
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Old 28th April 2013, 09:16 AM   #63
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So, a friend of mine was originally going to take a road trip in a van, from NY all the way to Burning Man, over the course of a week or so. But, he doesn't feel like doing that, anymore.

Now the current plan is for both of us to fly to Reno (or somewhere in the vicinity) a day or two before, and rent a camper. We'll reserve one in advance.

I figure there are some things we can pick up while in that area, such as water. (It doesn't make sense to bring all those gallons of water on the plane over.)

Any other recommendations for things we don't need to pack on the plane, but could buy once we're in Reno?


And another question: Although Burning Man is meant to be a gift-based economy, there might be a secret, underground cash economy that emerges within the depths of the event, as well. Anyone know anything about that?
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Old 28th April 2013, 09:44 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Any other recommendations for things we don't need to pack on the plane, but could buy once we're in Reno?
Everything. I'm pretty sure Reno has stores.
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Old 28th April 2013, 11:50 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Everything. I'm pretty sure Reno has stores.
I suppose so. But, I'd like to know, from experience, if anyone knows things that are particularly good to pick up later, rather than sooner.

I know there are some things I'll be getting sooner: A camera that takes good photos in dark conditions, a smaller and lighter tablet-like PC thingy, bike refurbishing with decorations and spare parts.

And, there are some things I'll be getting later: All that water. Maybe some food items.

But, there are some things that could go either way.
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Old 28th April 2013, 06:11 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I suppose so. But, I'd like to know, from experience, if anyone knows things that are particularly good to pick up later, rather than sooner.

I know there are some things I'll be getting sooner: A camera that takes good photos in dark conditions, a smaller and lighter tablet-like PC thingy, bike refurbishing with decorations and spare parts.

And, there are some things I'll be getting later: All that water. Maybe some food items.

But, there are some things that could go either way.
Make a list so your buying in Reno is well planned. Bring the fun stuff like costumes that light up.

I wouldn't be as worried about the gift based economy as you are. You spend a few bucks a day on iced coffees and people buy ice blocks. Some people advertise events, like a pancake feed. If you don't get there when they start, they run out anyway. Some people pass out drinks until their small supply is gone. I'm not saying people aren't friendly and all community oriented, but don't expect to find a commune.

The biggest expense people spend on each other is on the incredible pieces of art they build to share and all the fire and explosions that are part of the art. The show must cost a ton. You don't need to give anything in exchange, just ooos and ahhhhs.
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Old 28th April 2013, 06:15 PM   #67
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I think I said it already but the things I was most glad we had were the camping potty (didn't have to go find an outhouse at night), shade and sunhats, and the usual campground stuff. Everything else was superfluous.
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Old 23rd July 2013, 07:56 AM   #68
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Bumping, in case anyone else has anything to add. I think I have most of my stuff ready.
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Old 23rd July 2013, 07:58 AM   #69
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I think this has been canceled.
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Old 23rd July 2013, 10:30 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
I think this has been canceled.
Somehow, I don't think that statement of yours is going to stop all 50,000+ hard-core burners from showing up, anyway.
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By the way, my first name is NOT Bowerick!!!!
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Old 23rd August 2013, 08:28 PM   #71
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I leave Sunday morning. Any last minute advice?
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SkeptiCamp NYC: http://www.skepticampnyc.org/
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By the way, my first name is NOT Bowerick!!!!
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Old 23rd August 2013, 08:48 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I leave Sunday morning. Any last minute advice?
Take lots of pictures.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 09:32 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Take lots of pictures.
Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot what this low-light camera was for.
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Old 30th August 2013, 07:34 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Everything. I'm pretty sure Reno has stores.
One.

Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
Somehow, I don't think that statement of yours is going to stop all 50,000+ hard-core burners from showing up, anyway.
70,000 expected this year. Have fun!
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Old 2nd September 2013, 02:39 PM   #75
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Well... THAT was... different.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 03:09 PM   #76
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And now the fun really begins! No matter how well you scrub and wash and clean everything, you will still be finding hints of playa dust six months from now.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 05:45 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
And now the fun really begins! No matter how well you scrub and wash and clean everything, you will still be finding hints of playa dust six months from now.




That dust is still behind the instrument panel plastic. It entered through the dial hole a couple years ago.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 09:12 PM   #78
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A friend has been on a regular crew for ~9 years now. I'm waiting another day or so to call him, don't know if they're staying on for cleanup and whatnot.

He just got an RV even older than mine but didn't take it this year because of the dust. I had to laugh at him because he tried to get me to take mine, back when I had just gotten it back in '07.

I'd probably take it now, having beat on it for 6 years, but I've never gone and pretty much don't care to. Summer on teh Playa... yeah, no thanks.
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Old 3rd September 2013, 04:25 PM   #79
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People were eating directly off of playa dust, so it MUST be fairly inert stuff... right?
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Old 3rd September 2013, 10:13 PM   #80
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There is so much to say about the Burning Man experience. But, if I had to sum up what makes it special with only one point, I would say this: Over 50,000 people participating in one giant, wild rave; and they leave barely any litter on the ground afterwards.

Imagine being the one who has to clean up after any wild party: Mardi Gras, spring break, New Year's Eve, etc. But, you get none of that garbage at Burning Man! Everyone is tremendously devoted to picking up after themselves. Just incredible!

I am definitely going back! But, perhaps not for two years.

Wowbagger shall Return to the Burn in 2015!

(You can pronounce 2015 as "twenty-fif-tern" so it rhymes better, if you wish, and don't mind sounding stupid.)

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Our cheap thrift store bikes were useful, go with fat tires.
I ended up buying a $50 Burner Bike (a used bike from last year) on site. I called ahead to the bike shop in the Sands hotel in Reno, and reserved their last one! And, afterwards I donated it to a pile being collected on the side of the road, presumably to "people in need", but I did not check the veracity of that claim: I just wanted to ditch the thing in a legal spot, and it seemed convenient enough.

Thus, I avoided the cost and pain of bringing my bike on the plane. The only downside is that my own bike would have been more comfortable, with a better seat and grips. I had to engineer something better with duct tape and towels, on the first day.

My decoration effort fell kinda flat. Hardly anyone, except a small number of Douglas Adams fans, really cared, at all, about some of the details I put into it. (I called my bike the Grebulon Express, because I figured the Grebulons had some cargo-cult like qualities.) Next year, I know that I really should just go for big and bright!

Originally Posted by Gilmar View Post
Yup, Camelbak hydration systems are good.
For some reason, I opted for a standard, insulated water bottle. Then, it was stolen at a Doctor Who party. Which, I might add, took place right before the more-important Burning Nerds cocktail party. Had to miss part of that second party hunting down a temporary replacement to use as a cup.

I suppose I should be happy that that was, in fact, the worst thing that happened to me at Burning Man. Well, other than the damned stiff bike seat and grips I had to work around, at first.

Originally Posted by Gilmar View Post
And a headband-mounted LED flashlight.
I forgot to get a ready-made head-mounted flashlight. But, I did bring an assortment of other flashlights, large and small. I was able to tape a small one to the top of my bike helmet.

Did I mention that I was one of the very, very few people who actually wore a bike helmet?! I suppose I looked really dorky out there, with it on. But, I didn't want to ditch it, either. So, I pasted a sign that said "Safety Third!" on top. Thus, encouraging people to laugh with it, instead of at it.

Next time, I think I will make the "Safety Third!" sign light up, and make it the theme of my presence.


Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
You'll hear any references to "playa time" and you'll soon learn that it's a very real thing. Someone says they'll meet you in Center Camp at noon? They might wander in around 2:30 the next day.
Yep!

Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
When you arrive, the Greeters give you a booklet called the What Where When guide.
(snip)
Consider the guide to be a mere suggestion of things that might happen at some time at some place... but probably won't.
Yep!

That book was a joke!

They also set up a digital version at center camp that was, in theory, to be updated as the week went on. Though, that hardly happened either.

Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I wonder if it pays to organize a SkeptiCamp type of thing at Burning Man. Maybe call it: SkeptiCamp Black Rock or SkeptiCamp Playa, or something. Would there be enough interest, does anyone think?
I never bothered with SkeptiCamp Black Rock. The Play)A(skool dome had its own Unconference scheduled, but it hardly had any participants.

Ironically, most of the potential participants were listening to Spark talks. (I thought someone said Burning Man wasn't about talks!)

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I tried to get the JREF to fund putting the logo on the dust masks I handed out, but they weren't interested.
That would have been a bad idea. Logos, in general, seem to be frowned upon there. There are a few exceptions: TEDx, and some biotech company had some logo on their camp, for some reason. But, I don't see a JREF logo doing any particular good out there, anyway.

There is a bot of woo to be found, especially in the names of the variety of massages being offered. But, other than the inaccurate explanations, I don't think it was a particularly dangerous aspect.

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Cargo Cults suggests science to me. We know how they formed and that the beliefs were explicable without relying on a real encounter with a supernatural being. They explain god myths and provide natural evidence of how said myths develop.
You know, I must say that I think the theme worked out well. There was an edge of sarcasm in the works, since they seemed to over-emphasize the occasional links to UFOs: A normally obscure aspect of cargo cults.

There is a sense that they respected people's faith, a little. But, without taking the whole thing too seriously.

And, the key works of art were very nicely done: The "Out of Control Tower" for example, and the most excellent flying saucer shape of the Man Pavilion!

Incidentally: The burning of The Man is now The Best Pyrotechnics Show I Have Ever Seen! The 2012 fireworks show at Disney's Magic Kingdom have fallen into second place.

And, people who bring their kids to this thing, I think are awesome parents!
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SkeptiCamp NYC: http://www.skepticampnyc.org/
An open conference on science and skepticism, where you could be a presenter!

By the way, my first name is NOT Bowerick!!!!

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