Archive for August, 2015

Year 34; Sazeracs for Science

I marked the beginning of my 34th year with a Sazerac Crawl. The Sazerac is a classic cocktail and an excellent diagnostic drink to test the quality of a bar program and the bar staff. The crawl shall be defined as one Sazerac per bar stop. The goals; fun social drinking and drunkenness, no getting cut off at bars (which has never happened to me-really, it hasn’t), and  finding the best Sazerac in San Luis Obispo… in theory.

Results from 21 August 2015; listed best to least with number indicating sequence of the bar. To protect the reputations of these bars, only first initial is used, though if you are a clever internet searcher I’m sure you’ll figure out which is which.

3. G; 2. S; 1. L

While the goal was to find the best Sazerac in town, I found this one experiment just raised more questions and further research is require; future Sazerac crawls will be necessary. All good science has repeatable results; what if each Sazerac just tasted better because I was more inebriated at each stop? And to make this more scientific, further variables need to be tested. Next time, I’ll make note of day of the week, time of day, busyness of the bar, and the initials of the bartender.

I’ll republish when the experiment is repeated. Then I’ll hire someone for analytics and pay them in Bourbon. I can test how well they analyze while drinking…



August 22, 2015 at 12:20 am Leave a comment

The Dome; My Biggest Sewing Project– Take 2

My improvised workshop in the dome.

My improvised workshop in the dome.

Lately, I have been trapped under small mountains of ten-ounce canvas behind my minimalist sewing machine parked in front of the telly watching Alias on Netflix (rolling my eyes hard at the cultural stereotypes and ridiculous Rambaldi mythos). It’s a big job. I’m shocked that my consumer style sewing machine (which I used to feel ambivalent toward) could muscle through it all, though it helps to have the needles for denim and strong upholstery type thread. Truth be told, the timing might be slightly off now. So happy, but I still find the machine frustrating at times.


Miss Partner made all the struts with galvanized steel conduit. There she is with her power tools. So cute!


The enormity of this project petrified me when Miss Partner suggested it.

As indicated in the title, this is the second time I’ve made the dome for our Burning Man– wait for it– Dome-isile. (Haha! Slap your knees, folks; that was a good one.) Perhaps, you are wondering what was wrong with the old dome cover. Yeah. Well. It was 2013 and I started a month before Burning Man–first mistake is not starting earlier. I followed all the directions to the pattern published online. Four 12′ by 15′ canvases had to be washed and shrunk and then sewed together into one massive canvas, and not kidding, weighing about 50 pounds. I measured twice before I cut the canvas. I spent many a late night and dusk till dawn rushing to get it all sewed up in time. I confess, there was some procrastinating. It was super heavy and awkward to lug around the living room. Folding it up was impossible; it had to be rolled and then half thrown over my shoulder and half thrown under the other shoulder and the rest threatening to burst out of my arms. After all that work and anxiety, Miss Partner and I pulled it onto the dome and… it didn’t fit. It gaped wide and didn’t close. There were large gaps between the floor and the bottom of the canvas cover. I cried in great frustration while standing on the ladder in the dome using leftover pieces and upholstery needle to close the dome by hand. I felt like such a failure, so embarrassed, and being sleep deprived exacerbated my emotions. On top of that, I was extra anxious because we would have to live in it, because Burning Man was starting the next day. I was already terrified that I would HATE Black Rock Desert because it reminded me off all the uncomfortable conditions I experienced as a biologist at Oceano.



Miss Partner emailed the guy who posted the pattern to let him know it wasn’t right, and he replied, paraphrased, “Yeah, other people were making too much money off this information so I left the wrong pattern on the website.” Thanks, guy. I hope you go to the special hell with people who put gum under their seats at restaurants.

Last year, I failed to redo the cover before Burning Man; I didn’t want to tear it all apart and then be rushing to have it finished before we left– not again. During the fest while resting between events, I laid down in the hammock and looked up at the dome to design the new cover, one that allowed venting and would be more manageable to move around. I worked out an 11 panel system, one top panel that would allow for a vent and 10 side panels of 2 different designs. I started on it as soon as we got home. I cut apart the old cover and washed all the panels. I put together partial sections of the dome to use as patern pieces; I put the canvas over the sections and drew guidelines right on the canvas. I cut up the previous dome and used all the pieces, making the cover look all patchwork and Franken-dome. Canvas is all one boring color so I made it interesting by buying all colors of thread. By October I had the first 6 panels completed and binged on listening to Serial and This American Life, the whole 2015 season. I took a long break until July and finished all the panels at the beginning of this month. This last weekend, Miss Partner and I set up the dome to test the panels on it. They all fit! There is plenty to overlap, but more button holes were needed to completely close the dome. We tested how it might do in the rain also (basically, we’re fucked in a downpour, but the cover will protect us in a light rain).


This is how Krausen helps.

Finally, I’m proud of this work. Still needs eighty more button holes, but I think I can get that done before September. We’re also thinking about painting the dome, making it all burning man artsy; and it’s canvas, like works of art are on canvas. Get it? I over-bought extra canvas to fill in the gaps on the cover, so I made a carpet and also started a few corsets. We can make the corsets match the dome with painting. Or not. We’ll see, and will post pictures if this happens.

August 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm 1 comment


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