Monday, September 20, 2010

Every time there is a possibility of performing at a festival with my robots, or the Hand, or whatever, there is always a period of bargaining between me and the promoters of whatever event is in question. This bargaining can have varying levels of ferocity, but the bottom line is usually the same, which is that the promoters (despite the fact that their events typically bring in tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars) always have only a few grand for art. In other words, the money they have available to pay artists like myself is typically BARELY enough to cover everything.

Some time ago, I made a decision that I would actually SAVE money by owning my own truck. (I've touched on this topic briefly before...) I think in the long run, this has proven to be true. Especially when one considers the fact that there is no truck rental in Taos, and so a round-trip to Santa Fe or Albuquerque, usually eating up a whole day, is necessitated at either end of the trip.

Herman, my crane truck

has done the job for me thus far. But Herman has some limitations. He is slow, especially when loaded, and not tremendously comfortable.

My semi truck (not yet named)

has some severe limitations too, namely that it is not yet road-worthy, and I do not yet have a Commercial Drivers License, which I would need to drive it. But with some time and work and money, the semi could really be fantastic. This is a little photoshop of what the semi might look like when I am done with it....

I think about this crap a lot.

Here is a little chart that I made to help me decide which way to go on the truck issue...

The bottom line is that I will almost certainly just work on the semi slowly, as time and money allow, and use Herman in the meantime. Then one day, when the semi is ready to roll, I will decide what to do.

Of course there is another option, which is to play such hardball in the budget negotiating phase with these festivals that there would be enough money to have the projects professionally trucked. That would be safer. But if these festival promoters really have as little money as they say they do, it's not going to go that way anytime soon. After all, I am trying to make a living here. And if 40 or 50% of my budget goes to a trucker, I won't be paying any bills! And so why perform at all?

I welcome any comments on this pressing issue.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lately, I cannot get enough of the Magnetic Fields' 3-part magnum opus, 69 Love Songs. The lyrics and melodies are so good, that I actually think I am becoming a better singer through singing them to myself all the time! The truth is that songs from this 3-album work make up about 95% of what I sing to KB, too! KB is already a fan of the Magnetic Fields!

Current favorite songs are:
• Long-Forgotten Fairy Tale
• Grand Canyon
• Reno Dakota
• Papa was a Rodeo
("Papa was a Rodeo" might be my all-time favorite... I sing it to KB ALL THE TIME.)

In other news, Christina's sculpture was a big hit at Burning Man.
The weather is beautiful. I'm riding my motorcycle. The shop is clean. The semi truck's radiator has been re-installed. The Hand is just about ready for El Paso.

And, last Sunday, KB hit term! That means that he or she could come out anytime, and be fine! WE ARE IN THE BIRTH WINDOW!!!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I finally got somethng creative done!

I have been working on this for an embarassingly long time. But yesterday I simply decided it was time to finish it, so I did.

It's a "data glove" or maybe more accurately an "input glove". It captures what each of my fingers does with five individual slide potentiometers, for controlling some other mechanical device.

That "other mechanical device" is not built yet. And the fact is that it could really be almost anything with five functions, like a mechanical hand or a four-legged robot with a flamethrower.


Taken on the same stormy day.
The Pasatiempo Article

Like I said, it was a little difficult to actually get to the Pasatiempo article through the newspaper's site, so here it is:

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

Sorry that the navigation is a little caveman, but if you open those links in a new tab or new window, you can click back here for the next page.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Burning Mesa 2010, dude!

I have always wanted to use the Subjugator, my flame-throwing tracked robot, to set the MAN (the Burning MAN, dude!) on fire! Well, tonight I did!

Christina and I hosted "Burning Mesa 2010" this evening, a sort of orphans' Burning Man - an evening of bonfires, barbecue, and flame-throwing robots for all the Burning Man attendees from Taos who, for one reason or another, did not go this year. That group does of course include us, because of the little incoming KB. (KB, by the way, started as the initials for Kidney Bean, which is approximately the size of your unborn kid when he / she is about 6 weeks old. For some reason we liked the initials KB, and came up with a name that matched. And for the record, it is NOT Kevin Bacon, or Ka Boom, or Koala Bear!)

Our good friend Peter Kolshorn made a kick-ass replica of the MAN, and for everyone's enjoyment, I used the Subjugator to BURN him!

We also had multiple bonfires, excellent food, fire-spinning, annoying techno music, and fireworks. The only stuff missing was the dust-storm whiteout, the awful porta-potties, and the 10,000 ravers keeping you up all night!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Multi-Topic Stream of Consciousness Blog Post

Sometimes it seems to me that I have a character flaw, which is to focus on the things that aren't working. I can tell you - that's a surefire avenue to depression. As many wise people, including the great Jack Kornfield, have rightly pointed out, it's not the external circumstances of your life that cause you pain or joy, it's the THOUGHTS you have about those circumstances...

After writing (and thinking) the other day about how frustrating my money situation is, I got a bit glum. But I can tell you, if I didn't give a shit about the fact that money is so tight, the actual circumstances of my financial situation wouldn't bother me a bit!

But there is a subtlety here that is important. To improve the situation, I MUST think about the situation. And so the answer is not to simply ignore it, but rather to intentionally have certain types of thoughts, instead of others. Solution-oriented, proactive thoughts tend to work better!


On that topic, I continue to brainstorm income generating solutions that would fit my life here in Taos. The ideal scenario would be one in which I could work 10 or 20 or 30 hours a week doing something creative and/or problem-solving in nature, and then use the internet to sell that product or service. Working through the internet would be good because then I would not have to deal directly with people, which can be time-consuming and unpredictable. Also, the internet reaches a lot more people than the Taos phone-book.

Gunsmithing is one possibility that came to mind. I am sure I would be very good at it, and I probably have most of the tools already. However, it's not really an interenet thing; in fact I might have to deal with republicans or gangsters.

I am also continuing to attempt to fix my CNC milling machine. So far, I am having no luck. If anyone wants to read the forum thread I have been running on this topic, click here. I am pretty sure I could come up with a way to make money with this thing, if I could get it working.... I keep trying.


Today Christina and I took the day off from improving the house, preparing for the baby, and working in the shop. Instead we drove to Abiquiu lake, not far from where Georgia O'Keefe hung out and painted. We sat around and read and went swimming with the dogs. Nice.

Oh, and does everybody know that Christina is pregnant, and we will be having a kiddo in about a month? (!!)


Not too long ago I posted a list of books I was ostensibly trying to read. However, I also confessed that I rarely finish the books I start. Well, I did not finish any of those, although there are a few that I am still imagining that I might get back to. But I do have a few new books that I am trying to read!

They are:

Wearable Robots: Biomechatronic Exoskeletons, by Jose . Pons. This is a very dense book, and the first book to focus exclusively on wearable robots. I am actually getting through it, slowly. Although a lot of the scientific equations and calculations are above my head, it's a great volume. Entire chapters are devoted to topics such as kinematics of the human body; cognitive human-robot interface technologies; and sensor, actuator, and power supply technologies. When I get around to building my man-amplifier, I will be glad I read this.

Mythology, by David Leeming. I just started this book about world mythologies, but it seems like a well-written, entertaining read. I picked it up at a used bookstore in Pasadena.

The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff. I actually have not gotten this book yet; it is in the mail and I should receive it soon. From what I know, it discusses the some of the differences in the ways we Americans rear our children, and how it is done in the rest of the world. In certain South American countries, for example, children are often worn on backpacks while their parents continue life as usual, and the result is that children learn a tremendous amount and tend to successfully integrate into their culture much sooner than American children. Or something like that. Like I said, I haven't started it yet. But it sounds great to me!


Also, Christina and I got a pretty good writeup in the entertainment section of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Its a bit of a pain to read it on their site, because they make you sign up for a free trial or become a member, so I will upload it elsewhere, and post a link to it soon, here on this blog.


And lastly, I learned not too long ago that I have a giant (9mm) kidney stone lodged in my right ureter! AWESOME! I will post the entire heartwarming story soon...

Until then, drink lots of water, everyone!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I took a bunch of pictures of the newly completed baby room, like this one....

But then once it was done, and we moved in the crib and all the other unbearably cute stuff, I decided to take a video!

Plus, a video gives a much better feel for the room in space.

I hope that I am not getting too precious about the kid and kids room.... but hey, it's only going to get worse!