gthing (gthing) wrote,

Home again

Jake and I made it back from the Maker Faire today.   We had a great time!  Here's a rundown:

We drove out Thursday all the way to San Francisco.  We got in pretty late and slept in the back of the Tahoe in a Wal Mart parking lot somewhere outside of SF.  In the morning we woke up with the sun and headed into SF to tool around a bit.  We went to H&M to do some shopping, and walked around the city a bit.

I have to say that I love that part of California.  Everything seems much cleaner and nicer than the southern part.   San Francisco is a really cool city, and there are plenty of incredible bridges to admire.  The whole city is like a big amusement park ride, you even have to pay $3 to get in (bridge toll).

After that we went and prepared for the faire.  We like to do things at the last minute.  We found a shopping center that had everything we needed: Wal-Mart, Michaels, and Kinkos.  We set to work making our signs and buying materials and things. 

We spent a large part of the evening in Kinkos designing and printing out sheets about our projects that we would be showing at the fair.  That night we slept in the Wal Mart parking lot again.

We found out (the hard way), that the long standing Wal Mart policy of allowing people to camp out in their cars in the Wal Mart parking lot had been changed.  A security guard came by at about 1am and told us we couldn't stay there.  I gave him the puppy dog eyes and he said we could stay tonight, but had us move to the very end of the parking lot.

The morning came quickly and we were off to the fair.  We got in and set everything up and took a look around.  We were stationed right next to the big Yahoo! booth in the first and biggest maker hall.  The bell rang, the fair started, and for the next several hours we were busy showing our projects to everyone at the fair.

Our projects were quite a bit more simple then many of the other projects being shown, so we took that angle that we wanted to show simple projects that anyone could do - not big complex robots or mechanical computers - just every day things modified to do interesting things. 

The three projects we showed were Retro Cellphone handsets, the ECG, and the infrared camera.  We had pictures and explanations of the projects and promised for full information on the website (which we have yet to do) later this week.

About an hour before the show ended, we packed up and put a sign on our table that we would be back tomorrow.  We then had a chance to walk around and see some of the projects.  I wish we had had more time to talk with some of the makers, but we had to make sort of a quick run around.  I did meet Bre Pettis from who promised to come by the next day for a video interview.

He did come by the next day, but I was in the bathroom.  He said he would come back in a few minutes, but we nevewr saw him again.

Anyway, after the show on the 1st day they had a BBQ for all the Makers.  Everyone got a free tri-tip sandwhich and one beer.  The sandwhich was the worst ever, and I don't drink - so the beer coupon went unused.  They also had a band play - The Phenomenauts, but I think the guy mixing the sound must have been asleep because I couldn't make out much of anything the band was playing.

We took off south to the nearest walmart and slept in the parking lot again.  We parked closer to 24 hour fitness to avoid trouble from the security there.  By morning I decided I was smelling pretty bad (having not showered the entire trip), so I went to the Wal Mart and bought some wet wipes and took a white-trash wet wipe shower in the wal mart bathroom.  I do not recommend this, but it was better then nothing.

We got back to the fair just as it was starting and got to our table.  The germans next to us figured we had been drinking all night and thats why we were late. 

The second day was much busier then the first.  For example, at about 11am I set to task to eat a stack of 4 oreo cookies.  By 4pm I had had time to eat to of them.  We talked to people until about a half hour after the show had ended.

Overall, people loved our projects.  I think people got excited seeing something that was easy and they could do when they got home.  Out of all the projects, very few of them were simple enough for EVERYBODY, and we had stuff for almost everyone.  Most people appreciated the humor of the retro cellphone handsets, and a lot of people wondered why we weren't mass-producing ECG's for doctors in malaysia or wherever.

A few times I got stuck talking to crazy people who had invented the universe, wanted to modify our IR camera to see heat, or any other numerous crazy things people wanted to talk to us about.  One guy who had seen us the first day came back the second day with some really cool old phones and a lineman's phone he wanted to convert to bluetooth like we had done.  Also, the guy from stopped by and showed us his dial cell phone modification. 

The fiar was awesome.  We met some really cool people and saw some really cool things.  The mythbuster's were there, as well as Steve Wosniak, and a bunch of other famous people.  I wish we had had more time to shmooz with these people, and I really wanted to meet Phillip Torrone (the blogger for Make).  We did meet the Make Editor, who came to check on out booth, and the we got to see the graffitti research people's bus.

After the show we went into SF again so I could return some jeans I had bought from H&M that I decided no longer fit.  We didn't want to park so Jake dropped me off on the side of the road and said he would circle around the block.  I jumped out in a rush and forgot to grab my cellphone. 

I went and took care of the return at H&M and returned to the corner where I had been dropped off.  And then, I waited.  There I was, all alone in the middle of SF all alone with no cellphone - just wondering when and if Jake would ever come back.

While I was waiting I was approached by some guy who explained that I could relax because he worked around the corner and knew everyone in town (???).  He then proceeded to list off a bunch of drugs and asked which one I wanted.  I explained to him that I didn't want any drugs.

He asked me if I wanted weed, and I said "I don't smoke weed."  He gave me a look like I was from outer space and said "Never?"  and I said "never."  He sat and thought for a moment with a bewildered look on his face.  Then he said; "Okay, in that case can you help me out, I'm just trying to get some food at this place around the corner."

Ha - this guy just explained that he was in posession of what I would assume to be several hundreds of dollars worth of drugs, drugs so commonly accepted that if you don't use them you get looked at like a crazy person, and he told me he had a job at a restaraunt, and now - after realizing that I was a "good" person because I don't use drugs - wanted me to give him money!  I told him I didn't have any cash, and then he asked me about 8 more times if I would give him money.  After a while he walked away.

I waited for a long while, and finally Jake showed up - he had been lost apparently.

On the recommendation of a friend (you know who you are) we decided to go check out a restaraunt called "The Lime."  It looked pretty cool from the website.  As we made it over to the end of town where the restaraunt was located we noticed the town changing.  Rainbow flags we hanging from every light pole, and rainbow stickers and flags were in every store window. 

Men walked hand in hand down the street.  This was the gay part of town.  Billboards said things like "SF is ready for the cure to HIV." and stuff about gay movies and whatnot. 

We finally located the Lime and decided against going there - because it appeared to be a trendy spot for gay people to hang out.  No, to be clear, I have no problem with people who have such lifestyles, but I was tired, smelly, and in a bad mood.  I didn't want the night to end up in a gay club/restaruant place.  Under different circumstances perhaps I would have visited such an establishment.

We decided to drive as far as we could back home that night and slept in a Wal Mart parking lot again.  In the middle of the night a security gaurd came by and yelled through his big PA system at a camper that was parked near us.  He kept repeating they couldn't  stay there and would need to leave.  They didn't.  I don't even think they noticed us.

We woke up and drove home and that was it! 
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