Woken Furies by Richard K Morgan

This book has a lot of content and a lot of moving parts. The story is very complex. I had to read it three times before I felt like I really understood the story.

The production of the audio book is completely different from the first two books. I had to take a break before I started this one. It was too distracting right after finishing the first two books. I REALLY hate when production companies change readers between audio books. Expanse in particular was really terrible. This one ended up being good once I had a break from it. I think I might even like it more than the production of the first two books.

This book does a really amazing job of exploring the ideas of revolutionary politics and religion and the problems and strengths with each. There are some really cool examples. The analysis is extremely sociological. As a sociologist, I really appreciate the perspective of the author and the way he explores these important topics.

In particular there are some really cool ideas around the problem of producing condensing symbols to unite disparate factions during revolutions.

There is also some interesting exploration of the problem of interfacing with future alien computer systems and the artificial intelligences that could be created by extremely different types of conscious life.

This might be my new favorite book. I highly recommend it. :]

My 2019 Takeaways

The blue knockoff shift pod was an amazing success. It was so easy to set up and take down. It fits perfectly under a flat top shade structure and it stays cool until after noon. Along with my favorite ear plugs, the blue shift pod allowed me to get more sleep than ever before at a burn. I can’t recommend these highly enough.

I brought a notebook this year so I could write down things I wanted to change or bring next time. Here are some of the things I wrote down;

Bring More Fans: I brought a pair of high speed fans for circulation. When you’re under a flat top shade structure, often times the air outside stays pretty cool. Pumping that in can make a world of difference. And it augments the effectiveness of the swamp cooler. I set up two 200CFM fans with ducts to draw air in from outside. These were on a simple thermostat. They automatically kick in when the temperature starts to rise. I estimated that adding these simple circulating fans gave me about two extra hours of cool temperatures for sleeping in. In the future, I think I will double this set up and bring four of these 200CFM fans while ditching the swamp cooler altogether. The swamp cooler is really large and complicated and needs a lot of water and isn’t super effective. Simple circulation feels like a lot of value for not a lot of money and space, in my experience.

Bring A Parasol: I felt like the only person without a parasol this year. I borrowed one from a friend in order to go to the DMV with another camp one day. Having that tiny bit of shade to bring with you on playa makes a world of difference.

Flat Top Shade Structure: This year, my friends and I brought several large pieces of aluminet. Initially, this was just laid over the blue shiftpods. This did not help at all with the heat. In fact, it created lots of noise flapping around, while not helping with the heat. Our tents were right next to a 20′ by 96′ flat top shade structure which formed the core of our camp’s residential area. I experimented with moving the aluminet to attach to the shade structure and then to poles on the other side of our tents. This means that the aluminet was hanging taught a few feet above our tents, rather than touching our tents. This made a HUGE difference with the heat. That said, mounting the far end of the aluminet to poles stuck into the ground was not ideal because they moved around even though they were guyed down. I  think a more ideal system would be to set up another small flat top twenty feet from our main flat top, then stretch the aluminet between them, and set up our tents underneath. This would mean a lot of extra shade for super cheap. #lowhangingfruit

Failover Switch: My camp provides power to every tent. This is great, but if you’re relying on it for something like ventilation and then it goes down, you will get hot and wake up. I also brought a large battery, but it doesn’t charge super fast. Using it as my main power source would not work. It would discharge overnight and then not fully recharge in time to use it again. The solution is a failover switch. I have actually already written a proposal for using these for our kitchen refrigerators. The idea is simple; a battery charger and a failover switch both plug into the main grid. The battery charges from the grid (or from solar or wind). Then, the failover switch provides power from the grid to all your devices while the battery is charging. If the grid fails, then the failover switch immediately switches to drawing power from the battery. The devices plugged into it don’t even notice. When the grid comes back on, the switch immediately moves back to drawing power from the grid and the battery begins to recharge. This is especially important for ventilation and air conditioning. One morning this burn, the power failed and the tent quickly heated up to an uncomfortable temperature, waking me up. Never again!

Renewable Energy Sources: With the layout described above, the battery can easily charge off of solar or wind rather than the grid. Then, the switch could be hooked up in reverse so that we first use the stored solar power, and then switch over to using the grid. This would offset diesel fuel costs, and reduce our carbon emissions!

Pens, Sharpies, Calling Cards, Ziplocs: Ziplocs are perfect  for storing the many small items which accumulate during the burn. There are many cute examples of calling cards which my fellow campers were giving out this year. Pens and sharpies are extremely handy, especially during strike.

Snacks: My favorite two snacks this burn were frosted strawberry pop tarts and peanut butter filled pretzels. Specifically we had the giant kirkland buckets. I will definitely bring some of these next year.

 

Advanced Playa Air Conditioner

I did another post about building a simple playa air conditioner. I made several major innovations over existing designs, but also repeated a major failure of existing designs. In this post, I will describe my process of addressing this failure and improving further on the prevailing designs for DIY playa air conditioners.

Fundamentals

All DIY playa swamp/bucket air conditioners work on the same principle called evaporative cooling. The basic concept is simple; you force liquid water to evaporate into dry air. This turns hot, dry air into cool, humid air.

All the designs that I’ve seen use evaporative pads. Water is pumped over the pads, saturating them. Then a fan pulls air through the pad, evaporating the water in the pad. The cold air coming through the fan is ducted into a tent or yurt.

The Problem

Mots of these designs, including the apparent original, share a common flaw; they expose only a few inches of the pad to the outside air. These designs typically feature a bucket with a few small holes at the top to let air in through the pad.

The first problem is that the pad is designed to work across its entire surface area, and exposing just a few square inches of it to the outside air means the pad is not really working as well as it could.

The second problem; the holes are at the top because the bucket is full of water. So even if the pad was fully exposed to the outside air, most of it would be under water.

My First Design

My earlier post featured chicken wire which holds the pad away from the edge of the bucket. This means that the air from outside is able to reach the entire surface area of the pad.

The problem with this design is that the bucket is still full of water. So even though the pad is fully exposed to the outside air, most of the pad is under water.

Version Two!

Here are the two buckets with their lids side by side. The top bucket is the evaporative chamber. The bottom bucket is the water reservoir. Cutting through these is easy with a simple box cutter.

 

As you can see, the first bucket has drain holes which lead down into the reservoir. The evaporative pad sits in a column under the duct, drawing in hot, dry air from all directions.

 

Here is the evaporative pad, surrounded with chicken wire and with two drip lines installed. These are just sections of tubing with their ends crimped with zip ties, and holes punched every inch or so with a hot soldering iron.

 

When the evaporative column is inserted into the top bucket, the lines run down into the reservoir bucket like so.

 

I replaced my previous pump design with this one which is more clean and probably more reliable. These pumps have barrel jacks which run through a splitter and then to a power supply. Also, these are beefier pumps because the USB-powered ones could not lift water up high enough for this design.

 

I also found a beefier 200 CFM fan which can run into the same power supply. I added one duct adapter to each side, and attached an eight foot section of 4-inch dryer duct. This will run into the tent. The other good thing about using barrel jack power is that I have several batteries which will be able to run this newly redesigned system.

 

The same dryer duct quick disconnect runs down into the evaporative column and connects to the fan and duct.

 

This design improves on all the problems identified with the previous design. Looking forward to a cool playa experience!

 

Parts List

Anti-Darkwadding with Sound-Reactive Lights

I’ve been talking about doing this for a while and I finally pulled the trigger. I will probably safety pin these to bags and costumes throughout the burn. I think these would also be cool inside a clear backpack. Check out the video!

Parts List

3x USB-C Light-Up Charger Cord

3x USB Sound-Reactive Disco Light

3x USB-C/A Male/Female Dongle

3x USB-A Female/Female Dongle

1x USB Battery Pack

This is the battery pack that I used for the video. I tried measuring the power consumption of these lights but it was too low to register on my measuring device. Probably this battery is plenty to power these lights for the whole burn. And it’s easy to recharge with a solar panel like the one I’m bringing.

The dongles allow the USB-A Male of the disco light to connect to the USB-C Male of the charging cord like so;

 

Queerborhood Wifi

Phase-One

This is the final draft proposal for the pilot project to tie into the new borg network. If successful, the project could eventually deliver WiFi to the Queerborhood (7:30 sector). There have been several changes of priority since the first draft of this proposal. This final version features a mast with a microwave dish to tie into the borg network, a wifi router, and three range extenders which distribute the connection throughout our camp. This way, later we can add more extenders as well as load balancers in a future phase. This is intended as a first step in a larger long-term project.

For a brief description of my relationship to this topic; I am a licensed FCC Radio Tech (KK6VJX) with two decades of experience in supporting computer networks.

Normally, we would need to install enormous masts to connect to the borg network, but luckily we have three semi-trailers which stay in the camp throughout the burn. This means we can place smaller masts on top of the trailers in order to tie into the network. Specifically, I am recommending a “non-penetrating” mast designed for flat roofs. Instead of weighing it down with bricks, we will use two pairs of three ratchet straps to tie it around the trailer.

Per the borg’s recommendation, the main connection is a Ubiquiti NanoBeam microwave dish. This is wired into the junction box on the mast where a cheap wifi router takes the connection from the microwave dish and distributes it via wifi to the camp.

Throughout the camp, cheap wifi repeaters extend this signal to make sure our network reaches the entire camp. These will be included in the junction boxes of our power grid’s new distribution substations. During the proposed second phase of this project, additional masts will be placed in various locations and tie together via a load balancer which then feeds into our wifi. This means that if there is any problem with any of the masts, the other ones will continue to work. At that point, any neighboring camps that want to tie into Queerborhood.net will simply need to use those cheap wifi extenders to tie into our system since we are doing all the heavy lifting of connecting to the borg network.

Topography

 

Parts List For First-Phase

Discussion of Conscious with Sam Harris and Annaka Harris

In this episode of his podcast, Sam Harris interviews his wife Annaka about her new book, Conscious. This book explores the current state of the art of our knowledge about the nature and purpose of consciousness.

In this interview, they go over three main “interesting” questions she poses in the book, and the answers she gives to these questions.

  • How could any amount of non-conscious stuff become conscious in certain arrangements?
  • Is there anything we can observe from the outside which proves conclusively that something/someone is conscious?
    • Locked-in
    • Robots
    • People we see in dreams who don’t even exist
  • What is consciousness for/ what does it do?

Mirror

You can also check out the book itself by clicking on it below. I am planning to set up a book club around this in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Conscious by Annaka Harris

Lying by Sam Harris

Lying by Sam Harris makes the argument for radical honesty. This is an interested book which is very different from his previous books, but connects to them on the theme of reasonable and rational discussion of their topics.

Religion, he seems to imply, can only exist in a world where people are comfortable lying to themselves and others. His actual argument in this book is simply that we should be honest, and that it’s always better to be honest.

Lying by Sam Harris

Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Letter To A Christian Nation is a very direct critique of Christianity from the perspective of rational Americans. He attacks head on the basis of Christianity and its many arguments, as well as the argument that it is a good thing for anyone.

Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam HarrisThere are many very excellent arguments in this book which I am already using and will continue to use. This is a book that any atheist or humanist should read.

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

The End of Faith was Sam Harris’ first book. He published it while he was still a graduate student. This book is an excellent indictment of Christianity in America and the many externalities it perpetrates on the world.

The End of Faith by Sam HarrisI think if I had read this book twenty years ago, it would have had a dramatic impact on my intellectual journey. As it stands, I already agree with essentially every point he makes. Still, it was a good read that will help me to consider deeper rebuttals of Christianity and its arguments.

Learn To DJ: (4) Getting Gigs

2019-07-26

6:30-7:30

Are you DJ-Curious? Comfort & Joy is hosting free DJ workshops for anyone interested in learning this magical art. The workshops will be led by seasoned disc jockeys from very different parts of the DJ industry. You will learn how to set up sound and lighting gear, how to mix music, and how to pick tracks.

Food and drink will be provided. Anyone who attends all four workshops will receive a very special gear gift from C&J.

At this fourth workshop, we will learn about the history of the vocation of DJing, and how to find work today. We will have several local big names on hand to answer questions about the work itself and finding gigs.

Workshop Outline

  • Meet and Greet
    • “What kind of gigs are you interested in?”
  • History of DJing
    • Challenges and advantages
      • Then: Heavy, expensive crates of music
      • Now: Cheap controllers with MP3
    • Client expectations
      • Are you video mixing?
      • Are you bringing lights?
      • Are you taking requests?
    • Selling gigs
      • Schools
        • Find the decision maker
        • Keep bugging them
        • Sign exclusive seasonal contracts; offer free work as an audition with the option to cancel the contract if they don’t like it.
        • Play top 40/ contemporary
          • Have edited music crates
        • Typical pay is about $100/hr.
      • Weddings
        • Mostly word of mouth
        • Start with friends/ family
        • Win over wedding officiants
          • Make a special effort to network with them at weddings
        • Talk to wedding venues about being their recommended vendor
        • Typical pay can be $600-$1200.
      • Dive bars
        • Easy sell, low hanging fruit
        • Check local newspapers for bars with empty nights. Ask for a tryout.
        • Typical pay is a percentage of sales or a flat rate: $100-$200 plus a free bar tab for you and your guests (we’ll come back to that).
      • Clubs
        • Need to know someone or have a reputation
        • Pay ranges wildly from minimum wage hourly to high flat rates depending on the venue and the night.
      • Look for weekly/ regular gigs!
        • One-off parties are fun, but weekly gigs offer stability and reliable income.
        • Working three nights a week at dive bars pays about $20k/year and sets you up for bigger things.
        • Weekly dive bar gigs are a great reputation piece for selling larger gigs.
        • Exclusive contracts with schools are a great reputation piece for selling more school gigs.
    • Guerrilla marketing
      • Flyers only help if they come at the end of a conversation.
      • Talk to people. Invite them.
      • Go visit similar events.
        • Set up collaborations
        • Invite guest DJs to spin a few tracks during your sets while you take a break. Buy them a drink on your free tab in exchange for them telling people to come to your party. Check in and tag them to reach their following online.
      • Have a larger cause/ purpose
        • Nonprofits will bring enormous numbers of people to your party if they get a cut of the sales.
        • People feel better about partying if it’s for a good cause.
    • Q&A Panel
    • Mixer