Maker Faire Austin

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yup yup yup. I got back from Austin a few days ago. Monday. After an obnoxiously bumpy pair of flights between Austin, Chicago, and here. So I’m finally back in New York. And after a month of solid traveling I get a nice five week break here before jetting out to Seattle. I’m sick of flying. Sick of flying. I watch too many movies like Alive and United 93. I spend too much time reading Wikipedia articles about famous crashes. Commercial air disasters fascinate me. And the more I feed that fascination, the more I feed my phobia so I can’t do anything while airborne except listen closely for that creak or pop or lurch that will cause the wing to tear off and result in the disintegration of Northwest flight 895 into small crater somewhere in eastern Ohio…

So I went to Maker Faire. The event took place over the weekend of October 20-21st out at the Travis County Expo Center, back a half mile or so east of where I went to high school in east Austin (LBJ High: go jags).


Above, the main indoor portion of the Faire. Here lived the more hacker-techie sorts of projects. Normally this area’s a bit more sawdust-and-horseshit: They do the rodeo here. Yee-haw.

Kate, Gabe, and Rob (not pictured) showed off a handful of ITP projects and pitched the program a bit. Good call, although I kind of feel like Austin’s digital arts scene has kind of fallen apart over the past couple of years. Maybe I’m just out of the loop.

Life-size game of Mouse Trap. I remember playing with that game a lot as a kid. (I’m an only child so a game with lots of fun parts entertained me much more than a game like Monopoly which necessarily required other people to play.) Mason came with the people who put this on — SF-area Burners. Very Burning Man. The night previous we all went out to check out a Haunted Trail in south Austin. Which was fun. Lots of pale zombie chicks wandering around and people with axes jumping out from behind trees. Boo.

Another construction of theirs, part of a series of bike-powered amusement park rides. (Which also included the rolling ferris wheel vehicle in the top picture. More about that in a moment.)

Mike on a bike. They had several “funny bikes” around. Including a few double-deckers like this. And some other various wobbly bikes. One with a hinge right in the middle I found essentially impossible to ride.

Mason on a subwoofer sofa.

Guys playing music with fire. Where, like, the sounds of the fire were the musical sounds. Perfect outside on a hot day like this! But nifty. I only caught the last few minutes — I would’ve liked to have seen more.

More bikes. These were decorated as large praying mantises and scorpions and such.

This guy etched art into dirty car windows.

Battery-powered hotrods. Nice.

Some drummer guy on the Cyclecide stage. Apparently the whole stage ran on solar. I didn’t get to see anyone actually perform on it, though. This guy was just messing around and I liked the shot.

The wheel, again. Yeah, so Mason’s sister’s boyfriend (maybe husband?) makes these things and then has a crew that helps him haul them around the country for fun (although I think they’re primarily Burning Man sorts of constructions). I rode in this with Mike and some other dude for about a hundred yards. Slightly down an incline. It doesn’t move very fast at all, and it’s really not that high. But for some reason it freaked me out. Maybe the creaking metal sounds as it lurched along. My legs also felt slightly too long, like I might slip and get hit by the chair in front of me or something. Or I just have no balls. Whatever the case, I enjoyed it, but wasn’t ready to buy one for the morning commute. We attracted quite a crowd, though. The thing grabs attention. Very fun. And very clever design.

I went home and dawdled about for a bit afterwards and then the lot of us — Mason, Mike, the ITPers, and some others went out for drinks. Tried to crash the Good magazine party in the Hotel San Jose parking lot, but got there a few minutes too late (though I did catch the end of a good blues set. So we went up to Mohawk (ugh — bad, loud indie rock whatever) and then finally landed at Club de Ville. Which has kind of expanded weirdly into their own parking lot. There we mingled with various folks, including Mr. Make Vlogger Bre Pettis. I meet him every few months but he never remembers me. I’m so unmemorable. I need a popular vlog.

So that’s about that! Perfect warm weather. A nice final send-off to the summer — now I’m back in a cold, soggy New York. Mm.