Small, barefooted people prepare to be humiliated. On the right, MB does an ancient dance of Canadian nerd rage. In the center we have Townsend: stunned; Leif showing his ability to slouch and lean on an invisible wall; Dale Dougherty and Philly, eyes asparkle, documenting. In the background are mocking reminders that we once had a space program. (Photo by gluetree on Flickr)
After a frenzied week of work the Bulls and all that was required to make The Show (costumes, signs, t-shirts, scheduling, kicky little neckerchiefs) got made and done, we got the things set up and running.
I WORE MY PLAID SHIRT JUST TO RIDE THE BULLS WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO TAKE OFF MY COWBOY BOOTS?
Photo by (Andrew Kelly for New York Hall of Science)
They did not work for more than a half an hour at a time, and were getting repaired more than they were running, but it is “Maker Faire”, not “Works every time right out of the box without a hitch Faire”, and we got a nice demonstration on the whole concept of weakest link.
The controls are just for show. Colin waves his hand, people fly off. That is how it works. He can do the same trick with your hat or your head. Do not piss off Colin. (Photo by Andrew Kelly for New York Hall of Science)
Cleaning the shirts you find in the trash is such a hassle, and kind of bougie sell-out. We just leave them encrusted with the hobo vomit and garbage juice, slap a silkscreen on, and call it “Dirty Merch”. You cannot complain about the smell if we warned you.
A part would break or shear or bind up- we would fix it, and then the next weakest bit would fail. Pins sheared, steel plates bent, welds broke, universal joints seized- the Bulls would work perfectly for a good twenty minutes, then start laboring and acting wonky. We would run increasingly unthrilling rides until the over-stressed motors would cause the electrical system to burst into flames, then we would shut down, repair. Repeat with new problem. With that said we got some great runs out of the thing, were one of the cooler things at Maker Faire, and made a child cry. Even better than making the kid cry was his mom, who berated him for being such a wuss.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are barely working, at best. The big problem(s) was with the complicated moving parts we made from scratch- steel wheels on a steel plate, rocker arms and drive shafts. For some reason (and this is especially embarrassing to me, as I have devoted a good portion of my life to ripping off and reusing) none of us ever stopped to think “why the fuck are we re-inventing the wheel” (and in this case the metaphor is the literal thing. That is a rare enough phenomenon I am not sure there is a word for it. In this case, we were literally reinventing wheels, with crappier, less-round wheels.), and instead got bogged down in the turd-polishing of a complicated system where corners we did not even know existed (anyone think about case-hardening the wheels, or tempering the plate? Neither did I. I barely even know what that means.) got cut. Slow collapse ensued.
Becky included this photo just because she looks cute. (Photo by John De Cristofaro)
The guy in the middle spent days working on his costume, then took three hours of public transportation to get to Maker Faire. He was pissed at first that his was not the only bull-themed thing, but he came around quickly.
Gaylen had the “well, duh” moment, but not until we were humping the Bull base into the back yard- why didn’t we use a truck hub and axle instead of making a complicated, breaky one from scratch? A finished, rated, road-tested axle, a part that rests on millions of dollars of R&D and thousands of hours of work from trained engineers, a part that is backed by the whole of industrial civilization and the constant threat of lawsuits, a part that is designed to withstand stresses we will never encounter (fat dude on the bull vs two thousand pound truck turning a corner at forty miles an hour) every day, all day, for years and years. That part that does the job so much better than the thing we sunk tons of money and time into costs $50, and I have a pick of different styles. Amusingly, it is a solution we have used numerous times, a solution that never occurred to me.