Black Rock didn’t really quench my thirst for novelty this year. The obvious solution was to set back in the most roundabout way possible.
Our first stop was a bit sobering. A dear friend found out they had cancer shortly after the event and urgently needed surgery. They’re doing better now, but cancer still sucks. We admired their live-in, bathroom frog while staying on their farm. He watched everything.
San Francisco followed. We spent an afternoon on this porch with Lisa Marie Wiley
, a former Army Sergeant and interrogator. She was charming and disconcerting at the same time.
Our friend Dara
, a 3D printing superstar, was amazing and toured us around some advanced fabrication facilities. Tech Shop
is a world-class maker space born out of the Bay and the first series of nationwide, public-access workshops. The shop tour was bland, but the tools and robots were extraordinary.
We stopped at 3D System’s
design studio. They design, manufacture, and sell 3D printers. It was a small facility stationed in an old apartment Eduardo Saverin
used to live in. They were in the middle of making things for a fashion show and samples lying all around. No one knew where these giant arms came from.
The most mind-blowing place was Pier 9
, Autodesk’s design workshop and fabrication space, with resident pioneer and author Micky McManis
as our tour guide. This place was incredible. I’m holding a raptor designed in Tinkerplay
, a tool for creating customizable creatures and characters. One of the primary software designers was even around to give a demonstration.
This tiny, tiny gorilla was made using a stereolithographic 3D printer
, which creates objects by using a laser to harden liquid plastic. The ultraviolet light traces a cross-section of the design over a thin exposed layer of plastic resin, turning it solid, before the unused material is disposed of. The process is repeated layer-by-layer until the object is complete, and produced the most detailed prints of any of the printers we observed.
After the tours, I worked some burner magic and managed to become a Latitude Society member while we were still in town. This entailed a strange and complex process, much easier to summarize in person. Sadly, the society lost it’s primary benefactor just days after my induction and has since posted an epilogue to the project. I was incredibly privileged to have to opportunity to experience it.
Back to Los Angeles! Vaughn’s cat Venus greeted us in a box.
I watched Going Clear
this year, a fantastic HBO documentary by Alex Gibney on Scientology. I couldn’t help but visit their first church and large recruiting center known as ‘the complex’ on Sunset Boulevard. I convinced Christina and her brother to come along, who I thanked repeatedly for appeasing my cruel curiosity. I met a real Scientologist! I played utterly oblivious while they showed videos and tried to sell us Dianetics. We lasted about an hour before I got tired of saying no to everything except the free DVDs.
I was quite done with California traffic by now. Onward to other desert pastures. We stopped at the Carlsbad Caverns
in the Guadalupe mountains of southwestern New Mexico to see some giant caves. We stayed for the bat flight
, where the 400,000 resident bats fly out of the cave at dusk for the night’s feeding.
We spent a couple days in Fort Worth, Texas, to visit my sister Misty. It was a solid dose of suburbia. My nephew there is a Yugioh Dragon Duel
champion, so we stopped to see the regional event he competed at. This is what 1200 Yugioh players look like.
Christina’s cousin Jared lives in Tyler, Texas. He gave us of the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge
, where we works and play’s ringmaster. They provide rescue and rehabilitation of big cats who have been abused, neglected or displaced. They had 41 cats when we visited, including tigers, lions, bobcats, pumas, mountain lions, serviles, and a leopard. Also, a monkey.
Jared thoroughly destroyed any notion I had of how majestic lions or tigers might be. Apparently, they’re just big, stupid cats.
We stayed a night with Jared and his girlfriend. Their house was a zoo unto itself. They had five cats, two dogs, two snakes, a gecko, hedgehog, and were in the process of nursing this baby squirrel every two hours. It was hilarious.
We stopped and saw the National World War II Museum
in New Orleans. Our friends in L.A. has done some work for the 4D exhibition. It was excellent. I learned a lot about every aspect of the War throughout the visit. Why is the national museum in New Orleans Mike?
Because they manufactured all the U-boats
there and D-Day was one of the most decisive battles of the war. It used to be just the D-Day Musuem, but they decided to make it about more than boats.
We went to visit Ree in Valdosta, Georgia and Christina’s brother in Fort Meyer’s Florida. We drove back through Valdosta so Ree, Christina, and I could day-trip to Panama City, Florida and fulfill my life-long dream of swimming with wild dolphins. A resident expert
took us out on a pontoon with a diving platform so we could search and mingle. Sorry, wild dolphins aren’t really photogenic. It was still awesome.
To the Northeast! We spent the next couple days in D.C. This was my favorite exhibit at the Newseum, a museum on news and journalism. They receive a copy of hundreds of newspapers all over the world and most US states to put on display every morning. The bombings in Turkey were the most common story.
We visited the Capitol building. Unfortunately, it was under construction, inside and out.
The tour was excellent, filled with lots of great history. I also experienced my first auditory ellipse in the National Statuary Hall.
The mezzanine above the main reading room at the Library of Congress was open because it happened to be a holiday. Natives discovered Columbus or something.
All the museums! The Natural History had whales and lots of rocks. Too many rocks
, but probably the most impressive array I’ll ever see again.
We drove by the NSA headquarters on our way out of town, so I figured I’d see how close I could get. Apparently, I could have scheduled a tour, but I would’ve needed to plan weeks in advance. We went to the National Cryptologic Museum next door instead. It was a bit small and old, but they had some real Enigma
machines you could play with.
There were some planes on display outside between the museum and the headquarters. They were incredibly adamant we not take pictures of the buildings behind them unless we wanted a different kind of tour.
It’s not a mystery what it looks like. They just don’t want you Watching the Watchmen.
We got to hit the water on our first night in New York. Meatbag’s friend Chris was awesome enough to give Joe, Christina, and I a moonlight Hudson River tour in his tiny raft-boat.
The water was so open and empty compared to Manhattan. You could get surprisingly close to the statue of liberty as well. There was just a ring of buoys marking a boundary around it.
We stopped to see the One World Trade Center and memorial pools. We missed out by not going up to the observation deck.
I found a Toynbee tile
while we were walking downtown! I guarantee this is lost on absolutely all of you, but there’s a great documentary from 2011, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles,
about their meaning and origin. They’re incredibly rare, so it blew my mind to stumble upon one so fresh and intact.
We stopped at the Museum of Modern Art. Lots of Picasso and iconic pieces alike.
I brought Joe and Christina to the NYU campus to hear professor Richard Wolff’s monthly talk. He’s a well spoken marxian economist who analyzes recent and major economic events. We were in the audience during this taping.
Christina and I went to see Sleep No More
, an “immersive theatrical experience”. The performance spans five floors and over a hundred rooms where audiences are allowed to wander and explore while actors play out a loose interpretation of Macbeth
. The show repeats three times over the course of three hours so people have the opportunity to see multiple scenes, but the performers still end up running from room to room and disappearing behind locked doors at times. I could write quite extensively about my thoughts on it, but I won’t embellish them here. Christina and I had very, very different experiences. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it does favor the bold.
We stopped in Wappingers Falls with Joe on our way out of New York to visit the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors
, Alex and Allison Grey’s
sanctuary for transformative art. Alex is a legendary visionary artist. This particular piece, Cosmic Christ,
has been my long-time favorite. The level of detail is astounding.
They were hosting an event
in conjunction with monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery who were sharing their philosophy and rituals. They were making this sand mandala
, which would be ceremonially dissolved at the end of the day. Joe had been watching the relevant House of Cards episode
just the night before, oddly enough.
We stopped in State College, Pennsylvania to visit my friend Ryan. Although he possess godlike math abilities, I mainly know him for his MTG skills and vintage deck. This card is worth over $4,000
Pittsburgh! We’re getting closer to home now. We stopped and had lunch with an old friend and saw some interesting technology he’s working on and I’m not supposed to talk about it. Great views up the Duquesne Incline
Christina had a few friends in Lexington. It’s the horse capital of the world, or something, so we stopped at Man o’ War’s memorial. Unfortunately, the Creation Museum was closed the day we drove out.
So close we can taste it. I decided to swing us through the mess of Chicago for some pinball at the Headquarters Beercade
. We did something similar while we were in New York, but this went so far beyond that. All the games were FREE and they had tons of machines. Nostalgia city. They were having a Back to the Future party so there were a few Marty McFlys running around.
And we’re back. 9,000 miles and three months later, it seems like a whirlwind. Fargo definitely operates at a slower speed than some cities, but I’m adjusting. There’s so much I couldn’t fit or didn’t make it in here, but I hope you enjoyed the visuals. Thanks to everyone who hosted us and we got to visit along the way! You made this summer easily one of the most memorable of my life. Until next year.