Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Burning Man Pt2 - Actually there!

So here we are again with the next part of my exciting holiday in the desert - Stay Awake At The Back There!!

By the time we had made it through the entrance, it was heading for dawn already. Despite Dire Warnings it was pretty easy to find the Burner Hostel area. We parked up, and I started into rum with coffee to keep the cold out (it wasn't really very cold at all). The first interesting site was a very nice couple with a tricycle that incorporated a harp. Which the girl was playing, rather sweetly.

Soon sun rose over the desert and the BRIBH: 

It was time to pitch camp. The tent having been beach tested, it went up relatively easily. The shade structure took a bit more cursing - having tested it in the cool of my Auckland office, I hadn't allowed for it expanding in the desert sun. However I eventually got the thing built - and it stood up through duststorms for the whole week:

Britcamp had also to be finished, so we bolted and tied that together. By the evening we were pretty much sorted. The BRIBH bar was also ready...

I'm not sure what the correct ratio of rum to coke in a rum and coke is. Probably the first ones that Emma made were about right - by about 9ish, it was about a pint of rum with a dash of coke.

Having partaken of That Drink, I then decided unilaterally to go for a wander around the city. There was after all, that exciting total lunar eclipse to see that evening..

Despite it being the first night, numerous bars and dancy places had opened. I found most of them. At some stage I noticed that the moon looked wierd - I wasn't really sure as to quite why. Eventually, I lighted upon a pub that brewed English-style beer - what a great concept!

By that stage, my Cup With A Lid (which one had been instructed to Always Carry) had been left on a bar somewhere. No problem, since I had a convenient Nalgene water bottle that was now empty of water. The people in the pub nicely filled this with beer, so I was sorted!

There follows a blurry interlude. Apparently at some point around this time The Man was burnt. Early. There also should have been a lunar eclipse, but apart from the abovementioned wierdness I can't really recall noticing. I guess I somehow made it home. (I have an instinct for this, usually)

The next morning, I realised that the shade structure was good for about 0900. Not any later and certainly not noon like I'd hoped. The only shade structure that works for that is an RV with aircon and plenty of diesel. I was thirsty as fuck. I reached for my water bottle, which contained the dregs of the (by now very) warm, flat, English beer from the night before... 

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Submission on BZP

Here's my proposed submission to the Health Committee that is considering the Misuse of Drugs (Classification of BZP) Amendment Bill.

I oppose the intent of this bill because:
1. The control of potentially harmful substances, in order to achieve any degree of popular acceptance, should be evidence based.

2. Despite 15% of young adults in New Zealand using BZP, there have been no deaths and no proven long term harm as a result.

3. Comparable drugs which are not to be proscribed by the bill cause 1000 deaths (alcohol) and 5000 deaths (tobacco).

4. Some level of use of recreational substances by young people and others is inevitable in all open, democratic societies.

5. Proscribing a further group of substances will not reduce the overall level of use but will result in users switching to other substances, which may be more objectively harmful (e.g. Methamphetamine)

6. No alternatives to proscription of BZP (such as education, control of outlets, price control through taxation) have been attempted, apart from banning sales to under 18s.

7. The normal presumption of innocence under the Bill of Rights Act is reversed by this act. It is unjustified to remove this basic right for the crime of supplying an allegedly mildly harmful substance, whilst it remains for serious crimes against the person, such as rape.

Any thoughts? The deadline for submissions is the 12th October. I believe that the committee sees a summary of the points raised by submitters, so for maximum effect, submissions should try and include original points that will be included in that summary.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Burning Man Pt1 - the pre-burn

In some ways we Kiwis are not as isolated as we think. Downtown Auckland to downtown San Francisco is a sub-18 hour trip with no changes of plane - some of the Brits had epic journeys involving Atlanta and the like. I got to SFO on a sunny Sunday lunchtime, and after a quick snooze wandered up Haight St in search of blinkies and clothes. San Fran has many areas that reflect events in modern history - from the New Deal (the Coit Towers) through an obscure 1950's literary movement (North Beach) to the great leap forward of the 1960s (the Haight). The latter has more or less moved on into the current world of nu-rave (or whatever one calls it) with all the stores fully ramped up to meet the needs of those adjusting for the Company Picnic (as I understand they call it in the Bay Area).

Having got myself some nice skirts sharongs and a kilt, as well as a few of the aforementioned overpriced blinkies, I was ready to head out. I caught up with Hippie and Pascal, stuffed our faces with Mexican food (cheap and yummy) and headed out of town in my shiny (and soon to be otherwise) rental car. A four hour blast up the freeway later, we managed to find Hageys without a map (navigation kudos to Pascal - no u-turns!) and began my descent into the lower circles of burnerness.

Reno pre-burn was a whirl of shopping, meeting new friends, hanging out in the pool, buying beer, drinking beer, buying more beer, etc. The crowd at Hageys was the usual mix of dotcom millionaires, predicate violent felons and recently released DPWers. Somehow I managed to equip myself with ticket, water, snackfood, more blinkies, (mostly) legal substances and more beer.

One thing you notice as you approach Burning Man is the level of hierarchy and status positioning that happens in a supposingly "radically participatory" festival. Each to his own, but an awful lot of people seem to regard part of their Burning Man experience as being able to set themselves up as a team leader or whatever. I guess they are all self-employed or work for amazingly flat organisations that don't give them enough of that sort of thing in the default world?

Anyways, a group of us decided, since we weren't going to be allowed in One Minute Before Midnight, to go camp at Pyramid Lake on Saturday. Hagey gave us the good oil on where to camp, we managed to avoid getting stuck in the sand (unlike one family of obvious non- burners who drove their soft roader right up to the lake and got it axle deep. Ha ha!) and found an excellent spot right by the pyramid. Us being me, Itamar, Paisley, Keren and Neta (so one Kiwipom, three Israelis and a token American).

After chilling at the beach, kayaking around the pyramid (thanks to Jenna? for lending us her boat) and driving up through the desert, we got to the gates of Burning Man.

Soon (after several hours fluffing around) I finally entered into the altered world of the Playa!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back from Burning Man

I just got back from Burning Man a couple days ago.

I'll post a few articles (with photos) on this next week when I have better computer access, but suffice it to say that it was awesome. I missed the first burn of the "Man" but saw the second one.

Plus I met lots of people and have some great ideas and plans.