Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

Hey everyone, this post was meant to go up months ago at the beginning of February but feel by the wayside. I can safely say the recipe has held it’s own and it definitely worth trying out. This recipe picks up where my post on cannabis infused coconut oil left off. Hope you like it!

For this recipe I will be discussing more creative types of edibles that cannabis patients can make that are much healthier than your run of the mill pot brownies. As an advocate of cannabis as a medicine I feel medicine should be healthy and not contribute to obesity and diabetes like many sugar/butter loaded edibles do. Some people, like those with a wasting syndrome, need all the calories they can get and high fat/sugar edibles may be advisable, but they’re still better off with nutrient rich food rather than nutrient devoid brownies.

This recipe is a wonderful one for medical cannabis patients like myself because curry sauce is pretty much all fats and oils which can all be infused with cannabinoids. The coconut oil is also healthy saturated fat which may contribute to weight loss and has other benefits. While I have made numerous curries over my past year of branching into this area of cooking this is the first batch I have ever made medicated with cannabis. The curry flavor is also a wonderful way to mask the robust flavor of cannabis. I was splicing together the bits I liked of these recipes and tweaking it to my own tastes.

I’m using the general basic recipe I improvise off (a thai curry with coconut) and adding some optional peanut for more flavor. I make my curries sweet because I have a low tolerance for spicy food but love lots of good rich spiciness in my food. Remember, you can always make a sauce spicier but it is infinitely harder to make it less spicey. If you over spice something your options are add more coconut milk, add more salt, or add more sugar, all of which run the risk of ruining your overall spice balance. I advise to err on the side of sweeter rather than going bold and risking a ruined batch.

I am making this batch to jar and save so I am not adding any fresh cilantro or basil to it, as I would when serving it fresh. I will just be adding dried spices for now, but normally there would be some fresh spices going on. This batch turned out amazing and I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone who enjoys cannabis edibles but cannot stand the taste.

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Step One – Spices: Curry sauce is an assortment of the right curry spices in the proper proportions. While there is a curry tree whose leaves are commonly used in South Indian and Sri Lankan curries, curry does not need to include it and most do not. I make my curries sweeter with coconut milk, soy sauce, and less cayenne pepper, more like a Thai curry than an Indian curry. I advise premixing your spices, making a curry powder, then you can add it all at once to your coconut milk, medicated coconut oil, and for the curry I am making tomato sauce.

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Step 2 – Prepare Your Fresh Veggies: For me this is just garlic, as I am not adding any cilantro or basil until later. To mince garlic first you must get it out of its shell and the easiest way to do that is to crush it under a large chef’s knife, as depicted. This will crack it open and often smash it down beginning the work of mincing. If it has sprouted a green leafy core just remove that and use the rest, this doesn’t mean the garlic has gone bad but it does mean you can plant it and grow a garlic plant.

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Do Any Final Prep Work…
My last prep work consists of crushing peanuts to throw into the mix. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, instead I used the freshly washed bottom of a glass spice jar and a pyrex dish. It worked like a charm.

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This is more or less what your finished curry should look like. Color and consistency depend largely on what ingredients you use. Let me stress again that there are few wrong choices with curry as it tends to vary dramatically from region to region. If something doesn’t work for you try a new blend of spices or start from a store-bought curry powder and add more spices to the mix to make it yours.

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Hey readers sorry for my extended hiatus. I had to have surgery on my broken wrist, which failed to heal right in the cast, which took some time. Then I transferred jobs to a new location, closer to home. But mostly I have been busy writing in my novel and building my own computer. This is my first time ever building a computer myself and it was a real learning experience, one I am ever grateful to my friends for. It is only thanks to the good graces of my housemate that I figured it all out and put it all together.

If you are like most people, including me, the idea of building your own computer seems daunting. For me the biggest issue was I had no clue what hardware actually was required for a computer, and as a kicker the hardware has changed since I last fuxed with upgrading hardware in my old desktop 8 years ago. You are looking at a man who has been using the same laptop with Windows Vista since before Obama was president. This upgrade has been long overdue.

So what are the core components of a computer that you will need for it to run? There are between eight to ten parts, depending on what you view as necessary.

1. Case – You need something to put all that expensive hardware in.

2. Motherboard – This is what everything in the computer attaches to, it IS the computer, for lack of better words.

3. Power Supply – This part converts the power from your wall socket into power usable by your computer.

4. Central processing unit (CPU) – This is the heart and brain of your computer.

5. Random-access memory (RAM) – RAM is short term memory used for processes, as opposed to longterm memory used for storage.

6. Drives – There are two main categories of drives, Disc Drives and Storage Drives. Disc drives hold CDs, DVDs, Blurays and other media to access the data on those discs. Storage drives provide longterm data storage to hold files on your computer.

7. Graphics Card – While you do not NEED a graphics card if you want to play any sort of video games or use adobe photoshop, or really do much more than word processing and surf the web then you want a graphics card. Motherboards come with a built in graphics card but they pale in the comparison to having an add-on graphics card.

8. Cooling Device – Computers get very hot and they do not like that. Heat will damage your parts and you should strive to keep your PC as cool as possible.

9. PERIPHERALS | Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard – The monitor is what you are currently using to read this text (textception…) I typed this on a keyboard and clicked post with my mouse. None of this would have been possible without peripherals, which is anything that lets you interact with the computer. It is possible to have a computer that runs without any of this, like a server.

10. OPTIONAL | Sound cards, wireless cards, more fans – While you can get a sound card to attach to your motherboard, like a video card, they are utterly superlative and not worth the money. Wireless cards are nice but I prefer to be hardwired into my Internet to avoid disconnects while gaming. I’m not using either of these parts in my build. I am waiting for 3 more LED blue glowing case fans while will both keep my computer cool and keep my computer cool.

 

Now, that doesn’t look so daunting does it? Just nine things really, and some are obvious things like a case, mouse, monitor, etc. You may even have some parts you can reuse from your old computer (monitors, extra hard drives for storage). The next major question is how do I pick the right parts? I used two main websites to figure this out, reddit/buildapc and Tom’s Hardware. These same sites conveniently have links to where you can buy parts. Once I found these sites it became a matter of figuring out my budget and the best configuration of parts I could afford.

Once all your parts arrive it is time to build that computer. I advise buying all your parts on the same day so they arrive around the same time, this will maximize the amount of time you have to trouble shoot and possibly return parts. I had to wait on a second motherboard because I bought an AMD motherboard for my Intel CPU, a totally avoidable newbie mistake that you can prevent by making sure your motherboard is compatible with your CPU. Most returns will be with a refund unless you manage to damage the part; I got a full refund and didn’t even have to pay to ship it back.

Before you build your computer, perhaps even before buying your parts I would recommend watching two videos produced by Newegg. These videos on how to choose your parts and then build your computer are very informative and accessible, as long as you can get past the smug looking tech douchebag with a soul patch. There is a third part on how to install Windows but I am doing my best to remain neutral regarding the OS since there are many valid options. Sure there is Windows and Mac, but there is also Ubuntu, Linux, and Linux’s grandaddy Unix. While Windows kind of dominates the gaming market you can always just run a Windows partition on an Ubuntu or Linux machine.

And that’s how you build a computer.

Hey readers, I’ve got another great cannabis themed blog for you today discussing the various types of cannabis concentrates out there on the market. This isn’t one of my usual cannabinoid profiles but it is just as necessary. Doing a quick Google search I can tell there is a ton of misinformation out there  about concentrates and I hope this post can help clear things up.

A couple notes before we start, pre-empting some questions. While every purity rating given is in THC ever type of concentrate listed here can be made from CBD-rich cannabis making the resultant concentrate also CBD-rich. A method of vaporizing cannabis will be discussed called dabbing, this method is usually done with only super melt hashes but in actuality you can dab anything over 55% THC. Dabbing involves super heating a titanium “nail” with a small blow torch and dropping a hash of sufficient purity onto it, which causes the hash to vaporize.

The Concentrates

Kief.

Kief – Kief is the term for the trichomes of the cannabis plant once they have been removed from the plant. Usually kief is obtained during trimming when it falls off the plant and can be gathered with a mesh screen. Kief can also be made with a machine resulting in exponentially more potent kief, more accurately labelled a kief-melt (a play on full melt hash). Kief generally is between 10-25% THC but at Harborside we’ve had kief test upwards of 55% THC, which makes it potent enough to be dabbed. Kief is always dry sieved cannabis, without any water processing.

Hash.

Hash – Hash can be made through many different methods, the simplest being pressing kief and resin together with ones fingers to make so-called “finger hash,” perhaps the oldest form of concentrated cannabis known. Hash tests a little more potent than most kiefs but not quite as strong as bubble hash, usually between 15-35% THC. Aside from the method of creation, hash is distinguished from bubble hash by the fact that it burns rather than bubbling up.

Bubble Hash.

Bubble Hash – Bubble hash is a water-based hash that is made using a series of bubble bags filled with freezing cold water and ice cubes. Bubble bags are a series of increasingly finer mesh bags that trichomes pass through creating various qualities of bubble hash in each bag level. The trichomes are dislodged from the plant by being frozen then smashed off by the ice. This type of hash gets its name because it bubbles rather than burning, but it doesn’t melt like a full melt hash. These hashes range in the 20-45% THC range.

Full melt hash. Not always this color but always this consistency.

Full Melt Hash – Full melt hash is the highest quality of bubble hash, it is what you find in the bottom bag that has passed through every purity grade. These hashes while still being cold water derived more resemble the oily super melt concentrates I will discuss below. These hashes get their name because unlike bubble hash they do more than just bubble, they melt fully into a liquid form. These hashes range in purity from around 45-70% THC. Here is one method to make full melt hashes that can test nearly 70% THC, without any sort of a chemical solvent used.

BHO/Super melt, this one looks like melted shatter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Melt Hash – Super melt hashes are not made with bubble bags and usually use some sort of a chemical solvent, though so-called solvent free varieties exist. They are called super melts because they  melti super-fast from a solid form into a vapor form, sublimating without fully being a liquid. This is a result of the purity of the product and method of use, not a result of the chemical solvents. Commonly used solvents are butane, isopropyl alcohol, and CO2. Common slang names are ISO hash, Butane Honey Oil (BHO), shatter, wax, oil, dabs, and numerous more.

These hashes contain between 55% THC on the low end to over 90% THC on the high end, most are between 55-80% THC. While these hashes can be made by anyone in their garage the best ones are coming out of scientific grade laboratories; you won’t find someone making 90% pure hash in their bathroom. The most common method of use is dabbing, effectively freebasing cannabis. Many in the medical community have expressed concerns over people getting over-medicated and more serious health concerns, such as lung collapse, resulting from dabbing.

A Note on Super Melt Hash Legality: IT IS ILLEGAL TO MANUFACTURE ANY CONCENTRATE THAT USES A CHEMICAL SOLVENT. Unfortunately state law on this issue lags behind medical cannabis as a whole and the creation of super melt concentrates is regulated under the same law as meth labs. As you probably know making meth is very illegal, a felony; in the eyes of the law making super melt concentrates is also a felony. Be very careful if you are making BHO or any other concentrate, especially is traveling through local areas that are tough on medical cannabis rights. Individual state laws may be different but this is written with California laws in mind.

To quote directly from California state law: “Section 11379.6(a) states: Except as otherwise provided by law, every person who compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance – shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or seven years and by a fine up to $50,000

Back from a brief hiatus from blogging to focus on other projects I’m back to fill your inboxes and thought-boxes with new blog updates. Today will just be a brief guide for my fellow Californians on how to conserve water. While this will be a short post it may be one of the most important things I post given that California is in its worse drought in 500 years. If it wasn’t bad enough it not appears to be getting worse. Things are so bad that the Governor and many cities are calling for voluntary rationing. The life or death question is – why the bloody hell hasn’t anyone made rationing mandatory? Hellooooo guys, worst drought ever, what about that isn’t scaring you into imposing mandatory rationing? My current city and hometown of San Francisco leads the state, using 49 gallons per person per day on average  versus 100.

1. If it is yellow leave it mellow, if it is brown flush it down. We probably all heard this as kids from environmentally conscious parents, I know I heard it enough were it became rote. I would imagine that is a result of growing up in California and dealing with near constant droughts all my life. We Californians should be used to drought conditions by now. This is a major one since your average toilet flush uses over 2.5 gallons of water and is flushed over 5 times a day. That’s over 12 gallons a day for most toilets.

2. Shower less. No really, shower less. If you currently shower daily, shower ever other day, if you already shower less often than daily cut back to less. I’m showering twice a week now and no one has said a peep, it’s amazing what deodorant and changing your shirt daily can do. At Burning Man I went a solid ten days without a shower, that is pretty close to my maximum limit in the dusty context of the Playa. No shower for ten days does not mean not bathing, you can do wonders wiping yourself down with baby wipes (even your hair). Showers account for 17% of residential water use. Most showers average 7-10 gallons a minute, but there are ways to reduce that. Think about that next time you extend that morning shower just because it ‘feels nice.’ BTW, despite that ten days of dusty no-showers I still consider myself a clean freak, just less OCD than I used to be.

3. Develop a system for washing dishes. I’m working on implementing a system in my house with a soaking tub to reuse water for soaking and minimize the use of new water for rinsing. Using cast iron is also immensely helpful since you hardly ever use water to clean cast iron.

4. Cook things that use less water. I love making soup, but soup is half water. Now is not the best time to be making soup if you can opt for cooking things that use less water. Rice and pasta are also pretty water intense. You can always use cooked in pasta water as grey-water for watering plants once it has cooled!

5. Use your grey water. Whenever possible find ways to reuse your water. One thing I often do is use the same water to rinse out multiple bottles to put in the recycling. Oh yea, did you know you’re supposed to wash out your recycling and not leave it filled with food remains? Common courtesy folks and it makes the somewhat inefficient recycling process slightly more cost effective. You can use any water without chemicals in it to water plants; I would not recommend using dish water unless you are using a totally biodegradable/organic/all natural soap. The food waste could be an issue, or compost?

6. Set up a rain capture system. There are various ways to do this but most are variants on a barrel design. You can even pull water out of thin air using a fog capture system, something I am considering for my home in San Francisco.

7. Let your lawn die. Just stop watering it, let it go fallow, then plough that crap under and make a garden. If you are going to use water to maintain plants at least make sure they are drought resistant plants or useful things like food-baring plants/herbs.

8. Stop washing your car. I don’t even have a car anymore so I stopped this years ago. Thankfully cleaning a bike is much more water efficient than washing a car too. At the least create a more efficient system to wash your car, efficiency is the name of the game.

9. Gamify saving water, especially with kids. I like to use gamification to turn mundane things into fun games I can play with myself and the world. One game I am big on right now is “how little water can I use today?” For children you can try rewarding them for positive behavior, such as praise for taking a shorter shower or remembering to leave yellow mellow. I leave the games up to the individual as only the individual will know what properly motivates them to right action.

10. Group showers? What happens in San Francisco stays in San Francisco…

[EDIT]11. Transform sewer water into drinking water. Yep, it’s possible and here is the DIY guide on how to make what you need to do it. I’m ready for the apocalypse.

Hey everyone, had a busy week here picking up a couple new jobs, but I will try to get some more regular postings. Without further to do, here is a recipe for some homemade triple sec/citrus liquor. Honestly, calling this triple sec is a bit insulting to it, it’s more similar to an orangecello, though even that isn’t quite right. For this batch I used the peels of organic murcott tangerines that I got from a local farmers market. I usually use dried peels as they have an indefinite shelf life; these peels were from last summer/fall. I finished this batch off with some of the ginger simple syrup I cooked the previous week to create a tangerine-ginger triple sec. Read on and try it yourself!

This is a FLAME HAZARD. If you are not careful watching this and you are cooking on a stove top like me, without a real still, there is a very real chance of it catching on fire. Vodka is definitely flammable, and orange essential oil is extremely  flammable. Combine the two and it is a recipe for a giant 2 foot tall pretty blue flame, like I saw when mine caught on fire the other day. This is my fourth or fifth time doing this now and first fire. The fire is VERY  easy to put out, even easier than it is to start, just put a lid on it and turn the heat off. It is seriously that easy and you don’t ruin your triple sec. This was honestly the best batch I have ever made.

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You will need: An empty jar, vodka or another neutral spirit, sugar, and orange peels (fresh or dried). If you plan to dry your peels to use them make sure they are TOTALLY dried out, or they will mold. I’ve lost peels to that before.

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Step 1: Fill your empty jar with orange peels, don’t cram it full but put as many a you can comfortably fit. Fill the empty space with vodka and leave it for 1-2 weeks. One week is enough to infuse the orange essential oils into the vodka, but an extra week doesn’t hurt.

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Step 3: Pour out your orange peels and vodka into the pot that you will use to cook in. Squeeze residual vodka out of the peels into the mix and add some more vodka to cut down the strength of the flavor.

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Step 4: Bring to a boil covered, then uncover and stir quickly. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SPILL ANY! Alcohol and orange essential oil are  both super flammable, spilling any while cooking is almost a guaranteed cooking fire and no one wants that. As an aside, the giant blue flame I made was very pretty.

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Here is what the finished product looks like, very dark in color compared to usually bland and colorless triple sec. The flavor is rich and multilayered, perfect for sipping by itself or using in a cocktail. If you are interested in some more awesome  recipes check out Punk Domestics. That “Last Gasp of Summer” sounds awesome.

As I said in a previous post, I took some time off from posting around New Years to do some cooking and you all would be reaping the benefits. Time to show you the best method to make medicated cannabis oil/butter. Supposedly it works better to use a crock pot but I have never used that method, I’ve only done it on stove top.

An important thing to know before making your oil is a good ratio of bud/shake to oil/butter. I prefer using olive or coconut oil as they both have more saturated fat than butter and the THC binds to it much better as a result. THC is lipidic, that means it binds to lipids…fats; THC is also hydrophobic, it cannot bind to water. I used about  three ounces of shake for 2 pounds (32 ounces) of oil, and threw some kief in as well. Most recipes I have found online use a ratio of one ounce shake to one pound of oil/butter, for bud it’s more like 1/2 ounce to the pound. I wanted a very strong batch as I have a high tolerance, and it certainly turned out strong.

What will really help the potency of your medicated oil is if you pre-bake the bud in the oven before cooking it on the stove. This is a process known as decarboxylation, this is a chemical process where carbon is evaporated out of the plant matter. All living things are made of carbon and over time exposure to heat and oxygen will cause decarboxylation. Using the oven accelerates this process. This is crucial for making cannabis oil because when cannabis decarboxylates the non-psychoactive THCa and other trace cannabinoids are converted into THC, which greatly raises the potency of your batch. I put my kief into a pyrex dish to keep it separated and cook it better.

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Step 1: Decarboxylate the cannabis. You can either use lower heat (240ish degrees) for about an hour, or a flash heat of 5-10 minutes at much higher (about 300). I am skeptical of the flash heating method as the higher heat runs the risk of burning off desirable cannabinoids and terpenoids. I cooked mine at 280 for about 30 minutes and it was a great success.

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Step 2: While the cannabis is decarboxylating start heating up the coconut oil on the stove in the jars in water. Use a medium to low heat to not crack the jars, it helps to preheat the jars in hot water before turning the stove on. You want the oil/butter to be liquid before you throw it in with the cannabis to cook it all together.

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Step 3: Begin to boil water on the stove, after a couple minutes add the liquid oil to the water. After about five minutes throw the cannabis in and cook it for the next 2-3 hours. You will want to begin on a medium/high heat to boil it and finish any final decarboxylation, but soon cut it down to a low heat, and you will keep it on low heat for the next 2-3 hours. Low heat is important to not burn off the oil or give it a burned flavor.

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Step 4: Let the mixture cool off and put it through a metal strainer, letting the water and oil drip into a Tupperware container. After you use the strainer I would recommend squeezing out the additional oil with cheesecloth, or  at least press it through the metal strainer with a spoon. This is crucial as most of the oil will still be in the plant matter and needs to be squeezed out. Put it in the fridge overnight, NOT THE FREEZER!!

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Step 5: After a night in the fridge the coconut oil will be a solid again, but the water will still be liquid, this is crucial so you can easily separate the oil from the water. Freezing it will also freeze the water making this impossible or at least *really* annoying and  time consuming…so if you like being annoyed and wasting time be my guest…or put in in the fridge and voila!

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If you put it in the fridge cut out a small corner of the oil and pour out all the nasty waste water. Many people suggest using a double boiler method where the cannabis and oil are in one smaller pot layered inside of a larger one holding the water. Don’t fall for that crap. THC is lipidic and binds into the oils, unlike tannins which go into the water. If you separate the water from the oil those tannins have nowhere to go other than into your oil making it taste awful, by putting it all in one pot the tannins go into the waste water to be discarded.

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Step 6: Chop up the oil into little pieces and put them back into the jars. I personally like to label my medicated things so people know what it is and don’t mistake it for just plain oil.

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That’s what the final product looks like. I’ll be posting up a recipe in the next couple of weeks using this, and it’s not boring pot brownies. Stay tuned to learn how to make a medicated curry sauce.

Hey readers, I’ve recently begun wondering if my blog might be too diverse in focus for my readership and I am debating limiting my focus on this blog and starting another one for other posts or possibly something else. As a person who has many focuses in life and does many things I wanted a blog that reflects that, but I worry people might feel spammed with posts that are not relevant to their interests (you are here for DIY but I just keep posting about politics, or vice versa).

Here is your chance and your place to tell me what you come here for and what you’d like to see more of. You can choose up to 3 options on the poll and even add your own options if I missed something.

This year’s theme for Burning Man has been announced, and it is Caravansary. If you are like me then your first thought was probably, “what the hell is a caravansary?” Quickly followed by the realization that it is a very tricky to pronounce word. A caravansary is a type of walled inn with a large central courtyard that was built along the Silk Road to protect caravans at night from marauders. You can think of a caravansary as a man-made oasis; they offered the same level of protection in their stone walls that an oasis saw from the harsh climate of the desert itself. Caravansaries and the Silk Road were crucial to the flow of information as they served as meeting places for all sorts of people from every corner of the globe, the crossroads.

Now, if you are like me, you probably then realized that this theme doesn’t really add much to the event like previous themes have. Burning Man has had themes for art since 1998, but the art-theme area of the website gives no hint as to the purpose of these themes nor their goal. Perhaps I am off base in assuming the themes are meant to modulate the event to make it somewhat different every year. Sure, Burning Man is always totally different, yet always the same, but the theme offers participants a filter or locus through which to view the event, it points us in a direction and says “go.”

Past themes, like Green Man, Metropolis, Cargo Cult and American Dream have forced us to re-examine our relationships with the environment, our cities, ourselves, and likelihood of realizing the American Dream. While Burning Man is always a leave no trace event, thus environmentally conscious, Green Man took it to new levels with art pieces like Crude Awakening. This was a giant oil derrick which showed humanity’s worship of oil which ultimately erupted into a mushroom cloud of fire when nearly 3,000 pounds of propane and jet fuel were ignited at weeks end. While that might not sound terribly green it is equivalent to “the amount of energy consumed in the Bay Area in one minute” and since the Bay Area was on vacation that week at Burning Man I imagine it balanced out. So while past themes have provided direction to the event in addition to the existing matrix of Burning Man laid out in the Ten Principles, this years theme does not.

Let’s break down this year’s theme. A caravansary is an inn where people from all over the world would get together, drink, swap stories, and perhaps swap more than that in gifts, trade, and lovemaking. By default, in order to be at a caravansary, you were on a pilgrimage of sorts or you worked at the inn. If you have never been to Burning Man let me do a quite comparison for you. If you are at the Burn you are on a pilgrimage of sorts or you work for Burning Man/the Government (“the inn”). Burning Man itself is a caravansary protecting inhabitants from the harsh Black Rock Desert that surrounds, it is our oasis in time and space in a vast sea of dust. Within this grand caravansary there is arranged a smaller assortment of taverns, bars, inns, and lounges, nearly all having some sort of inner courtyard to offer weary travelers repose.

While I am rather underwhelmed by the theme, because it is basically saying “this years theme is Burning Man,” I am similarly impressed. I was forced to learn a new word and I’ve already had my consciousness expanded thanks to my initial opposition to the theme. Sometimes what sounds utterly moronic at first proves to be the best idea imaginable and Burning Man is a great place for testing the bounds of imagination and idiocy. I am also impressed by this year’s Burn because instead of placing the Man ever higher from the desert floor on huge structures, making him ever less ADA accessible, he is returning to the floor of the desert as a MASSIVE effigy.

So how is Burning Man a grand caravansary? And if it is what sort of folks go there on pilgrimage to trade ideas and craft a collective narrative?

Well, there are these kinds of people…

Burning Man – Fun for all ages, old and young.

There are there sorts of people too…

Sometimes a dance floor at Burning Man just looks like a forest of fuzzy coats and furry top hats. This can be both wonderful and very disorienting if high on drugs.

And yes, they’re out there too…the infamous sparkleponies.

A wild herd of sparkleponies have appeared. Not always female, know a sparklepony by their sass, ass, and magical ability to vanish whenever it is time to do work.

Burning Man is representative and inclusive of everyone, including the aforementioned stereotypes of sparkleponies, people wearing furry coats, and naked old people; honestly, they make the event what it is, God bless the sparkleponies and shirtcockers. Past the usual stereotypes and tropes, Burning Man has a lot of techies. Hordes. It’s like SF moved to the desert for a week. The Burning Man census reveals this to be true, showing that over a third of participants still come from northern California, mostly the Bay Area. Most participants identify as being white/not a person of color; the question has been asked in different ways in different years yielding different results.

There also are retired army generals, like former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark, who was hanging out at this last Burn in conversation with John Perry Barlow (an EFF founder and Grateful Dead lyricist) and Larry Harvey (the main co-founder of Burning Man and its informal mayor). It sounds like the start of a joke; a Dead-Head,  a retired General, and the founder of Burning Man all walk into bar to sit down for a drink. It would be funny if it wasn’t real and didn’t have major significance. The usual belief is that Burning Man is only a place for the fuzzy hats and that clean-cut Good-Ol’ Boys would scarcely want to go let alone be accepted there. Only he did want to go there, no one is forced to be there other than the police and Burning Man staff who provide the crucial infrastructure to keep the event functional and safe. Not only did General Clark go to the Burn he also was accepted and given a rather warm welcome.

Everyone knows that world-class DJs are at the Burn every year, such as Junkie XL, Paul Oakenfold, Beats Antique, and The Crystal Method, but many people don’t realize that non-electronic artists also go to Burning Man, they just aren’t performing yet. P Diddy was sighted around this last Burn as well, sporting a stylish pink parasol. Hopefully P Diddy will join the vast legion of performers who gift their crafts to Black Rock City every year. As previously stated there are hordes of techies at Burning Man, this includes the God-child of all techies, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is not alone, he is joined by the whole cast of The Social Network, including the identical Winklevoss Twins and Dustin Moshkovitz. Moshkovitz wrote a great piece about why the presence of techies and plug and play camps should be embraced rather than spurned. I still have mixed feelings about plug and play camps, but much of the bad taste has been cleansed from my palate. Some people need a very sterile environment in order to enjoy the Burn, sometimes for valid medical reasons; who is any one person to deny them that experience? I’m not that guy and I don’t care to meet him.

Mostly you find lots of people like me. We dress however the hell we please regardless of where we are; I wore a three piece suit many days this last Burn, then other days I looked like a “steampunk hobo wizard” to quote a friend. People like me do work, often more than our fair share because we recognize that without someone doing work Burning Man doesn’t happen. People like me are kind of artists, maybe writers, often wearing many hats at different times filling many different roles in camps and in life. We’ll gift you things at the Burn unprompted and without any expectation of return, the way any true gift should be given.

The only people who are not welcome are asshats like Krug champagne who either cannot read, can’t be bothered to read the rules, or worse of all read the rules and think they are exempt from them. Burning Man makes it very clear that you are not to exploit the event for marketing or promotional reasons; this isn’t your photo-op to make your brand seem edgy. Krug thought it would be in the Burner ethos to have a huge invite-only champagne party out on the Playa, exclusively to take promotional photos. They then felt it would be neighborly to leave the place trashed; isn’t that one of the Ten Principles? Oh wait no, it’s not “leave it trashed,” it is leave no trace. Way to go asshats. Some Burners did come by to help clean the mess up, but it wasn’t their mess and that really wasn’t fair to them, but then when is life ever really fair? Burning Man often teaches us, sometimes brutally, that life is not fair (see the yearly ticketing melee).

All things said and done, I love Burning Man as much as ever and would love to make it back out there this year, though I worry about the chance of that given massive medical bills. People complain every year about the theme, how it’s not like it used to be, and how it used to be free, etc. Nope, it’s not how it used to be, no one is driving over tents in the night or shooting guns in city limits. Nope, it isn’t free either, but there are bathrooms provided and other services (an awesome medical system with 3 major locations in the city). Burning Man used to embrace anarchy more than it does today, now it is radical self expression that is embraced. I prefer what it is today, a temporary experiment in city building and the world’s largest living art museum/gallery, and I for one love being part of that grand social experiment in the most famed caravansary of our time.

The second short story I am posting from my novel and the first of which coming from the Burning Man section of the book.

Branded

It was Sunday, that made it God’s day out there in the Christian world. Here at Burning Man, Sunday means it is time to burn the Temple and bring the formal Burn to a close. Tomorrow will be the last official day of Burning Man, but you can stay longer. Right now, tomorrow feels like it is a lifetime away.

For me, Sunday also meant my facial wound from an amazing and daring swordfight was now healed enough to begin flaking off, and the fight itself legendary enough to earn me my own Playa name, Captain Safety. I was amazed by how quickly I healed out here and suspected it had something to do with the climate or alkaline dust. If I nurtured this facial wound right during healing, in time I could have a real bad boy scar. You know, one of those scars with a story, a scar right over your eye. This Sunday also meant I’d regained enough serotonin to be my normal talkative self again, mostly.

The best way I’d discovered to spend the long, hot hours in the middle of the day was with hookah, friends, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR was a fine beer, with a better flavor and usually a lower price than Budweiser and other cheap beers. Yet one had to cope with the hipster stigma attached to it. A devils bargain, but everything was a trade off.

At Burning Man no one seemed to care what you drank or wore, in fact I don’t recall even hearing the word hipster all Burn. Most burners complained more about tourists than hipsters; tourists were people at the Burn as observers, often considered to be not true burners because they didn’t fully embrace the burner ethos. But tourist, like hipster, was in the eye of the beholder and a pejorative applied to a person by a stranger who knows nothing of who an individual really is, other than the caricature they are presenting at a given moment. And moments are merely snapshots in time. Maybe I looked like a tourist, maybe I looked like a hipster. Neither one was relevant when we were all covered in the same dust.

We were relaxing in the long shade created by the RV by the afternoon sun; the whole crew was assembled. There was the Trio de Chicas Locas, the three gorgeous and fierce girls Foreman had helped out earlier in the week when one of them got a concussion. It was nice having a medic in your camp. There was, of course my camp, Coffee and Cigarettes, our leader Rhyno, Foreman, my friend Chyutknee, and various others. We were based after comedy movie of the same name and gave away the very obvious and appropriate coffee and cigarettes, as well as having nightly open mic comedy. We also had some new faces. The Chicas had managed to find a Trio de Australians and brought them over. Two of them looked like decent blokes, and one of them looked like a fucking butcher. It was something about his eyes, kind of shifty and not trusting, which made him seem out of place at the Burn and not trustworthy to my drug addled brain. His eyes and his Mohawk, which was held together by some combination of Elmer’s glue and safety pins, made him look rather menacing. Matching the mis-matched pins through the glue-ridden unicorn horns of his hair were two larger safety pins through his ear lobes. They looked to be the same thing he pierced the holes with originally, who knows how long ago that was.

Ramona, easily the most loca of the trio, was soberly and then drunkenly telling us how this was her last day out here and she had to leave before the Temple burned. Missing this experience was something she was not okay with, but she had a backup plan. She insisted on having an image of The Man branded on her. She wanted a true hot iron brand, cowboy style, though maybe not hog-tied. This gorgeous young girl wanted us to leave a mark on her physically, as we already had emotionally, and specifically she wanted that mark on her ankle.

Her ankles were slender and beautiful. I could wrap a hand around one and touch my finger tips together. In all ways imaginable this was a less than ideal location for a brand. We were in a desert, over 100 miles from the closest hospital. Instead of getting the brand on a nice fleshy area, like her gloriously round ass, she picked her dainty yet boney ankles.

One of the Australians, not Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin, but The Butcher, offers to do the deed. “Oy, I’ll burn it on you,” he says with a sly, suspecting, and suspicious grin, “let’s go back to my camp where my tools are.”

When he says tools I see a twinge of something cross his maniacal face and I know what he means.

“My Gods,” I exclaim loudly in my head, still not fully able to articulate speech after the MDMA crash. “This scheming bastard with a rat’s nest for a head wants to take her back to his camp and work her over with his tools. He wants to whisk her away and have his way with her. By the looks of him he’ll rape her, chop her up, and then maybe eat her and only maybe in that order.” You can never tell how depraved these types can be. Retrospectively I am not sure how much of this was the drugs talking to me and how much was legitimate worry for a new friend.

I come back to the present moment, out of my head, to see Ramona beginning to fall into this twisted cannibal’s plot. I grab her by the shoulder, gently but urgently and pull her aside. “Don’t go with that kangaroo fucking madman, you cannot trust people who fuck marsupials. Besides that, did you see the look in his eyes? He sees you as meat, fresh, warm, red meat for the slaughter. The man is a butcher, a kill you first and fuck you later type. Jeffrey Dahmer dressed in a t-shirt and furry boots, every safety pin jammed through his body a former trophy. I count six trophies Mona, do you think this crazed wingnut likes symmetry? I doubt it! Do you see what I am saying?”

She was hesitant to reply, looking torn between perplexed amusement and sage decision making, “I think…”

“What I am saying is we have a propane stove, vice grips, and hell we even have the saran wrap and medical tape we need to doctor it up right. We have you covered, stay here with friends.” She nodded, I had won her over.

“Oy, are we doing this or not?” The Butcher was getting antsy to leave; he knew I was onto him. I could smell his fear.

“Yes, but I’m staying here. Coffee and Cigarettes has everything I need and I would rather not walk a bunch after branding my ankle.”

As a man of many talents who had traveled the world over, Chyutknee offered his services at this crucial juncture. “I’ve branded cows and sheep before how different can this be?”

At this utterance The Butcher dejectedly signaled to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin that it was time for them to piss off. He scowled at me, a crudely mohawked savage with pins through his ears and murder in his eyes. They walked out of camp into the dust laden winds and were soon nothing but a memory.

***

“Alright, if we’re going to do this we’re doing it by the books, as best as we can.” Foreman settled into his role and drew from years of experience as an EMT to make sure our semi-sober selves did not make a complete mess of things. “Captain Safety, get your medical tape and vicegrips. Rhyno, start wiping off that metal necklace you were gifted with this sanitary towelette, we’ll use that as the brand. Chyutknee, get some gloves on. I’ll turn on the stove and grab the saran wrap!”

This process, while done with the utmost expediency, was being conducted on “Burner time,” meaning time became quite relative. Two beers later we were all assembled and ready to go. Ramona was propped up in the comfiest folding chair in the camp, the one with all four legs and no rips in the fabric. Her intended leg was elevated, bare, and erected for this moment of great anticipation. While the necklace was being transmogrified into a hot brand, Mona cracked open another beer and we toasted to her decision.

I had always hoped to witness a live human branding someday. I just never expected to see one so early in my life, or to be so intimately involved in the experience. I even had my camera there to get photos.

The brand was ready and we readied Ramona with a cloth bit in her mouth. With a big grin, the grin of a proud craftsman birthing a new creation, Chyutknee let the scalding, blistering hot metal kiss the delicate ankle of our dear little Ramona, gently, like a politician kissing a baby. As one would expect, she squirmed from the pain but took it well and ended up with a very decent looking brand of The Man. We wrapped it in saran wrap, taped it down like one does a tattoo, iced it, and she was good to go.

Like a real champ, while many of us were still paralyzed with wonder, Ramona laced up her boot over the newly minted brand. She stood up, chugged the rest of her beer and was ready to go party. I was awestruck by this beautiful, tough as nails desert flower who just bloomed before my eyes. This girl was of a breed too strange to live and too rare to die.

Hey everyone! Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and that 2014 is treating you well so far. I took a few days off over the holidays to spend time with friends and do some serious cooking and crafting, which will be seeing over the upcoming weeks in some great recipe/DIY blogs.

In this post I’m teaching you a pretty basic recipe to make an infused simple syrup, which just happens to create a delicious bi-product of candied whatever. In this case my whatevers are organic ginger and Buddha’s Hand. Though widely known in Asia it is virtually unknown in the West, Buddha’s Hand is a very unique fragrant citron with no actual meat, it is 100% pith and zest. The flavor and scent are reminiscent of a lemon mixed with roses or some other flower. It can be a little pricey, but it is definitely worth it for this recipe which yields a dual benefit for one single hand.

Note: It is possible to make a cannabis infused simple syrup through this method but I have never tried it and question if it really works. I have found many recipes, including in Culture magazine, but without any fat I question what the cannabinoids bind to. I have tried medicated honey sold at the dispensary I work for and it certainly works, but I am utterly clueless on the science behind it.

01

You Will Need: Water, sugar, and whatever you want to infuse the syrup with (options include: citrus fruit, mint, lavender). Recipes range in a 1-1 to a 1-2 water-sugar ratio, that means that if you use 1 cup of water use at least 1 cup of sugar potentially up to 2 cups.

02 (Buddha Prep)03 (Ginger Prep)

Step 1: Prepare the Buddha’s Hand and ginger by chopping them up. I would recommend chunks no bigger than your pinkie fingernail for best candying of harder things like ginger. I left the ginger in larger disks and it did not cook through and was barely edible due to the residual intense burning. I tend to use as low amount of sugar as possible to make it render into a syrup, if you use too little sugar it won’t get syrupy and will stay runny. I personally don’t mind runner syrup with a lower sugar content.

Note: If using ginger it is crucially important to peel it first, for most other things, like citrus, you want the rind for flavor.

04 (Cooking)Step 2: Combine the water with Buddha’s Hand/ginger/whatever and begin to cook on high heat. Add the sugar once it begins to get hot and stir frequently.

06 (Boil It)

Step 3: Bring to a boil continuing to stir frequently and keeping a close watch on it. It will boil over if you don’t stir it enough. Leave it uncovered so liquid evaporates, helping the thickening process.

07 (Cool Down)

Step 4: Cook until the Buddha’s Hand is translucent, for the ginger cook until it becomes tender. The ginger will take a lot more cooking, especially if you leave it in huge chunks like I did.

08 (Drain)

Step 5: Strain the chunks out of the syrup using a metal strainer; I never use plastic for hot things as a rule because plastic melts and might leach toxins into your food. Strainers with prongs like this one are awesome because they rest on the lip of the container you are draining your syrup into.

09 (Sprinkle Sugar + Seperate Syrup)Step 6: Separate the syrup into its final container and the candied Buddha’s Hand/ginger onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle sugar all over the still wet and syrupy chunks then let them dry overnight. Place the syrup into the fridge to let it thicken over night.

[EDIT: Consider letting your candy dry longer than one night. Mine just molded the other day and it was pretty much the saddest thing ever.]

Voila, come morning you will have both candy and syrup. Uses for the candy include fruit cake, cookies, and other baking projects (or just eating with your hand). Uses for the simple syrup include cocktails, waffles, and in the case of my flaming strong ginger syrup as a cough syrup. Get creative with these. I’ve used the ginger simple syrup for making homemade ginger/tangerine triple sec (hint hint, might be a future blog post here).