September 20101
Portland-Black Rock City-Portland
The Back from Burning Man Issue
L'shana Tova - Happy New Year!

Hello and welcome to this issue of my monthly newsletter, The Eleven, my attempt to bring you my fresh thinking, news, and images of my life and travels.  If, for any reason, you'd like to unsubscribe, there's an opt-out button at the end of this email. 

Well, what a great Burning Man this year offered up!  Near perfect weather, some very interesting natural effects which made things beautiful and interesting.  If you'd like a musical score to accompany this reading, please click here for an hour-long ecstatic dancescape created by DJ Deadman.  To skip to some photos taken by the lovely Tantelope, click here.  All photos here by OCF Photo Guy.

Bliss Dancer

I wasn't planning on attending Burning Man this year.  But when I announced that to friends, one special one, PlayaNurse Flo, wrote back and said, "well, if you change your mind, I have a ticket for you".  And since it was my 11th Burn, well, you can imagine that it wasn't hard for that switch to flip, and suddenly with a week to go, I made plans to travel to the Black Rock Desert, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  This year I was reminded that even if Burning Man weren't happening, I'd still love to find myself in the middle of that desert - looking out at the amazing scenery - white/tan/purple majestic mountains in the distance, incredible sunrises and sunsets, clouds visible for miles (think Big Big Sky country, like Montana).  

So, I started to prepare.  Early entry passes from the BRCPO 2.0 which I've been a part of for 7 years helped ease my way home.  I had planned a ride down with 2 virgins, but their plans changed the night before we were to leave - talk about stress levels rising.  Luckily, my back up plan, my back up man, amazing dancer and friend, Hugh Logan was ready able and willing to pack his gear and get going on Saturday, and we were off.


Getting to the playa can be a real adventure.  There are many attractions along the way, lava beds, hot springs, incredible vistas, and bunnies that one should not swerve to avoid.  I've learned over the years to just keep going - yes, stop for last minute shopping (sunscreen!), make sure you pick up some extra water - thanks to Lakeview, Alturas, Cederville and all the towns along the way that have learned how to handle the rush of campers from BC/Seattle/Portland/Eugene!  

Saturday night we pulled into Summer Lake Hot Springs and had a nice soak before setting up tents and sleeping outside in the open country.  

On Sunday, we woke to find that our friends Ken and Amy had joined us and we all caravaned the rest of the way.  

Finally, Sunday afternoon, we arrived on the playa.  Having the early entry passes was huge, as we streamed home.  I parked myself next to Camp 11:11 @ 3:15 and G and Hugh found Ken/Amy and staked out his home nearby.  Ah, home... 

The weather that afternoon was pleasant and such a nice change from the wind/dust storms I'd arrived during in 2008 and 2009!  I was able to set up camp, hop on my bike and visit the BRCPO 2.0 to see how the set up was coming.  Also, the sunset that night was outrageous.  Heavy clouds, strong sun pouring through.  I can never get enough of the playa sunsets.  

This year my intention was to spend more time deepening relationships and making some new friends, as well.  I got to spend some good time with friends I've made at Burning Man - Duney Dan, Friendly Jen, Miss Direction and The Colonel, and made 2 new friends: Keeth from Devon, UK, and Instant Bro from Camp Gratitude.  

So, the week.  Gosh.  So much bike riding.  Great food.  An amazing rainstorm (harkening back to my first year, 2000) which really calmed the dust down measurably for the rest of the event, and also led to an incredibly vibrant full on rainbow.  The sunset on Monday night was over the top.  I think everyone was so moved by the rainbow, that the sunset in the other direction was largely overlooked, but I watched it for hours.


Then there was the ecstatic dance every day @ Rhythm Wave camp, a lovely reunion with Tantelope who arrived Wens. evening and camped in the walk-in camping area; a Wens. night party celebrating PlayaNurse Flo's 10th year on the playa; holding court @ the BRCPO 2.0 for about 5 hours one day - flexing my management skills, and gaining some new ones; the burn itself was preceded by an awesome fireworks display!  

The art: best year ever.  An incredible sculpture called Bliss Dancer caught everyones' attention (see above), the Temple was lovely and easy to enjoy; and there were 20 other sculptures that I could write a book about, as well.  My favorite piece was near the giant 11:11 steel sculpture (which shot 4 gigantic bolts of white light into the sky each night) - was a simple piece that enabled one to have shade, a breeze, an incredible view of the mountains, a place to sit, and then a collection of world leaders (Ghandi, Chavez, King, etc.) and sayings that others added to the walls.  I brought my new and old friends there to enjoy it with me and ended up spending a lot of time there.

Then there were the amazing theme camps - and I have a few new favorite places to visit in the future.

There is a kind of euphoria that one gets when they're at Burning Man.  Sleep deprivation combined with the amazing scenery and a ice cold frozen margarita will do wonderful things to your heart and mind.  There is an openness amongst the people that is so wonderful and welcoming that it's easy to get into a higher place and be the happiest you've ever been in your life.  I spent a few days in that state.  Welcoming.  Caring.  Being kind.  Being helpful.  Sharing my art.  Sharing myself.  Healing myself and others.  The closest thing I can compare this event to is the Beloved Festival that I wrote about earlier this Summer.  (A side note about my write-up of Beloved: I had 500 people come to my blog to read that write-up, way more traffic than I usually get on my blog!)

There are down sides to Burning Man, too.  Here are a couple of them.  The noise factor can get very intense and its not easy to escape.  The generators, the high-volume techno that's gotten louder and turns the whole landscape into a sonic mush, just plainly sucks.  Not everyone is conscious, and people hurt themselves and others with that unconsciousness.  And it's hot.  And it's dusty.  Those two, at the levels that this year afforded, bothered me little, though riding through the dust storm on Friday night looking for the The Portal, officially known as the "Aeolian Pyrophonic Hall and Whispering Wall" (see 3rd pic from top) was a little challenging - luckily Ein Hammer was in full effect.  Getting out of the event (and for some getting into it) can take a while and can be a frustrating experience.

Overall, though, wow, what a great reminder of how much I like Burning Man.  I think I'd forgotten a little bit what a magical place it can be.  I think 2 tough years in a row helped that happen.

I rode home with the lovely Tantelope who is also featured in the slide show.  We left the playa @ 8pm Sunday night sadly missing the temple burn, and ended up sleeping the car in Alturas, CA.  Then, a visit to McCreedy Hotsprings on the way home and arriving back in Portland in time for a quick unpack and dinner with our friends, Dahra, Eleanor and Eric @ Pastini's.  

I'm still de-playafying - my things, my mind, etc.  And next year is 2011.  That will be a hard year to miss, so we'll see :)  Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you've enjoyed this little picture/window into my Summer Vacation @ The Great Nevada Arts Festival 2010  If you have any questions about Burning Man, get a ticket for 2011 and we'll talk :)  If you didn't make it this year, but usually do, and feel like some schwag, please send me your address and I'll see what I can do.

In other news, I'm working with OR State Senator Chip Shields on creating some legislation to move to an opt-in system for phone books in Oregon.  If you'd like to help the cause, please join on FB here.

I've started a new FB Fan Page for Albertideation.  Please hop on board if FB is your thing.

**** We'll be hosting  wonderful singer/songwriter, Ben Bochner of Eugene, OR at our house for a house concert on Friday, September 24th.  Ben writes:   "If folks would like to hear some of my stuff, there are a bunch of songs available for streaming on MySpace at this address:

There's also one song and a picture of Ben @ at

Ben is also planning on bringing some other musicians with him - in fact, they are sisters: Kriss, Kathy (the twins) and Janey. They are wonderful, wonderful musicians. Kriss and Kathy do great harmonies and Janey sings and plays the flute and the sax. Kathy and Kriss also play violin, mandolin and guitar. You may have heard them at the Country Fair, where they have been playing together for a few years now. With Ben's songs and their musicianship, it should truly be a night to remember."

Today, 9/10, I had my first interview for software QA work in a long time.  It was neat to go through that process and I'm getting excited about possibly working for the man for a while.  

I also have a great group of folks that I'm working with and I'd be happy to recommend all of them to you.  It's great to be supporting friends who do good work in the world - I work with musicians, alternative health practitioners, realtors, you name it!  If you have a project you'd like to collaborate on, or you just need some social networking or website help, please get in touch.  Referrals are also welcome - I have a new menu of my services on-line now, too.

L'shana Tova!  That's Happy New Year in Hebrew - it's the Jewish new year right now.  And the time between Rosh HaShanah (the new year) and Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) is a time for reflection.  Where have I been in the past year, who will I apologize to, and where am I headed this next year.  What a great opportunity!  To take a week to reflect.  

I love how spirituality and life's actions mix.  Burning Man - time in the desert, watching things burn, watching things come to life, the new year, a new moon, new & old.

Thanks for reading along and I'd love to hear your thoughts, poetry, successes, failures, learning, and anything else you'd like to share.  

Take care,

Albert Kaufman, Albertideation