Archive for the ‘On the playa’ Category

Jaded Veteran’s Guide To Burning Man: Better Living Through Chemistry; Alcohol

August 3, 2019
Previously, on How To Go To Burning Man: Start Your Day the Jaded Way; Minimal Basics for Personal Care
Save yourself endless searching and wondering, all of the links will take you right to what you need on Amazon.

Burning Man is built on bars. Sure, if you ask a random person what Burning Man is, they’ll probably say, “….drugs and boobs?” But there aren’t drugs every other step, on both sides of the road, screaming at you to stop and have one of their shitty drinks. NO. I DON’T WANT YOUR PLASTIC JUG SPICED RUM VOMIT, NO-ICE COCKTAIL. YOU PACKED IT IN, YOU PACK IT OUT.

So, what’s the best way to do alcohol and Burning Man?

  1. Have your ID. It will be checked. Your cup will stay empty. Bars can and will be fined thousands of dollars if caught serving to people without ID. A popular trick is to tape it onto your drinking vessel. I don’t like this idea for reasons: that’s where stickers go, people know how cool you are; what happens if you lose your cup or don’t have it on you at the time?, it’s ugly.

Photocopy your ID (copier at work, scanner at home, Kinkos, etc.). Laminate it. I have several copies: one for my general burn bag, one for my Ranger bag, and one that stays in the tent in case I lose both of those. Laminate sheets are also just fun. Laminate any signage you have to make it easy to adhere to things and keep it from spills.

2. BYOC – Bring your own cup, the end. You want a drink? Some french fries? Stew? Ice cream? You better have a cup on you.

You could have a funny cup. Be That Guy. Have them stocked at your bar so, from afar, you look like idiots.

You could have classy funny cups.

For practical save one huge flaw, carabiner cups rule.

Clip them onto your backpack, your pod belt, your bike basket, your shoelaces. Get the bear one here.

Pros: great size for cocktails, hard to lose, good for stickers
Cons: ain’t no lid.

And the tiny screws are prone to coming out, meaning you might get back to camp from Point 2 and discover your carabiner no longer has a cup attached to it. Problem solved!

In addition to the handles being way more attached, THEY FOLD FLAT.

That is cool. I *just* found these, writing this post, and I want one!

They are much better suited for regionals, as I am walking and not riding a bike over god-knows-the-condition terrain of rocks and dust. I’m saying you need a cup that has a lid because if you try to ride and sip you will regret it. Bouncy, bouncy, not such a good time. Messy. MOOPy. And you’re left with a cup full of sober tears, a trail of Costco margarita on the ground behind you.

If you want to be different, try a viking-inspired wooden cup.

Squishy cups were a thing when I started burning, but I never understood why.

They don’t really save much space, if any. No handle. Easy to knock about/spill. Could be cute as a little shot glass, I guess. Works well for drinks and food. Nowadays you can get squishy wine glasses and rainbow squishy pint glasses. Which is actually kinda cool…

OH SNAP THERE’S A GLOW-IN-THE-DARK ONE!! And they have lids?!? Cute rainbow wine glasses!

I’m supposed to be writing about things I know are awesome, not finding new toys I want to try! And this would be a cute way to keep the dust and roofies out of your drink, if you go the lid-less, spillable route…man, cup life has come a LONG way since I started researching gear in 2006!

In 2016 I did it. I found the perfect playa cup.

Conversation starter.
Pop it out fully, pop it out halfway. Attach it to yourself.


The only thing I don’t like is drinking from the thingie like a toddler – and the accordion folds can be harder to clean. But, it’s so, so worth it for all the pros. I don’t know why it’s not more common. Get you one.

They offer one with a carrying case, which is pretty…

…but I personally don’t know what use the case would have. I like having the carabiner attached to the lid, because then I can’t set it down and lose it! Often I’ll leave it attached to me and just unscrew the cup part from the lid.

I also have my name and camp address Sharpie’d on the lid and the cup part. I lose things. I sharpie my name and camp address on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Headlamp. Pee funnel. Coat. Bike.

In 2017 I found perfect burn cup #2.

It’s the opposite of what I like, big/bulky and hard. Attachable, but not nice to have hanging from your waist like the Hydaway or a carabiner cup.

Super sticker-able. Super spillproof. Insulated, so unlike the Hydaway it will keep cold drinks colder, and hot drinks hotter – without the outside getting moist/hot to the touch. The cork lining on the handle is actually quite nice and it’s easier to find a carabiner that fits the handle. And now it comes in purple!

So, you’ve got your ID. You’ve got your cup. Hit the town.

Tips on ordering: know what you want when you get there. Avoid mixers that aren’t club soda or water. One party cup of booze, one party cup of water (bonus: this helps keep your cup clean). Burning Man amplifies everything, including hangovers. Electrolytes! Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Don’t go to bed drunk without eating food and ibuprofen. Seriously, eat. Throwing up at Burning Man is awful. You’re face-first in the porto, which will make you throw up for different reasons. You’re in your tent and because you’re a Real Burner TM, you don’t have any plastic grocery bags. Get some bags made just for this reason.

Having had to go the plastic grocery bag route twice, now (not bc of drinking), I wish I’d thought to have something like this handy. Hanging onto bags of puke, or trying to empty them into a porto is…just…just get the bags.

Most, if not all, “hangover cures” are lies. Read labels, y’all. Don’t pay 5x as much for a multivitamin you’re already taking. I tried Flyby for the Kesha cruise

And didn’t notice any difference. It does have at least one ingredient that’s got some actual research behind it, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC).

The only way to not get hungover is to:

Stay. Hydrated. Water and electrolytes. No sugary mixers. Vodka soda is your boring, boring friend.

Eat. Before you go to bed eat something as substantial as you can figure out. Piece of bread with salami and cheese. Two hard-boiled eggs and mayo. I always go for protein/fat/carbs, to help soak it all up and feed my body, so make a sandwich before you leave for the night. Drunk you will cry tears of joy.

Sleep. FOMO is a harsh mistress, but sleep repairs you. Alcohol destroys sleep, so not only do you have fewer hours of sleep, but you have little restorative sleep. Do what you can to get as much sleep as possible, when you go to bed drunk.



Jaded Veteran’s Guide to What You Need: Wake Me Up Before I FOMO

August 2, 2019


Wake up in the morning feelin’ like…you just slept for one hour, consumed gods-know-what all night long, and FOMO is kicking you out of bed. Or even better, you’ve got a volunteer shift to show up for.

  1. Hydrate: I fill up my camp bottle* when I go to bed so it’s ready to chug when I wake up. This OXO bottle rules because you can scoop powder into it without looking like Scarface afterwards. And, ICE! oxo-strive-advance-bottle-0What powder? Vitalyte, of course. My first year I was miserably, physically thirsty until Thursday. I was drinking anything I could find – IRL I mostly drink water, coffee, and booze. Out there I was drinking Coke and other sodas (huge deal, I don’t drink them ever, never have in my life), flavored milks, ANYTHING I could get to try and stop being thirsty.

“Have you been taking electrolytes?”

…d’oh. This is a MUST. That first bottle of water of the day has a scoop, I take a scoop before bed, and whatever in-between. Vitalyte’s lemon is my favorite, but it’s hard to find these days.

Why Vitalyte and not one of the others? It’s only-what-you-need ingredients, invented by a chemist, mild flavor, instant dissolution (even in champagne), and the fact that it absorbs directly into your stomach lining.

If you’re going to mess with your keto diet during the burn, this is where to do it.

2. Morning Pills:

  • Ibuprofen for inflammation aches, preventative measures, and handing out to people who will now owe you a favor.
  • Naproxen Sodium for headaches, especially those induced by alcohol.
  • Probiotics for pooping.
  • Poop pills if you’re horribly clogged and have to do SOMETHING. Take two in the morning. Within 8 hours, relief. Trust me on this one. This is my miracle pill year-round (yay celiac’s). Can also take one before bed, to try and keep things flowing.

I used to take multi-vitamins, Emergen-C, B-12, etc. but I don’t take them in real life, so I don’t take them out there. If you plan on really…”partying,” then start your 5HTP prior to the event, it’s not a miracle day-after cure. It needs to build up. I really like this brand, and I’m almost positive their melatonin actually helps me get to sleep.

I have a pillbox like this one, organized by pain/sleep/energy/emergency. For bigger stuff like the probiotics me and Reggie Watts swear by, I just take the bottle and use it for whatever other vitamins/supplements. Can be a pain shaking it all out to get to what you need, but saves space/trash bottles.

If you need to travel with pills, these cookies are totes adorbz and super great gifts. 


Also, Plan B. 

Eyeballs: Ok, now that you’ve chugged some Vitalyte water, taken your meds, moisten them eyeballs. Perfect time to lay back down and question your life choices.

Theoretically, single-use is best; remains the most sterilized. Also great to have on you as you go about your day. PRO TIP: DON’T USE THEM IN A DUST STORM IN A PORTOJOHN. I’ll explain later. (I’m not going to explain later, just trust me.)

I’m vain so I like to do Visine for redness (also works if you have blooming pimples, to lessen the redness of your skin) then moisture stuff. Post-LASIK we tried EVERYthing, and this was our favorite.  I used to try the overnight stuff, it’s basically just vasoline.  If you’ve already got dry eyes IRL, you might want to try it. Everyone is different, of course, and there’s a lot of variables determining how your skin, nasal passages, nail beds, and eyes will react to the desert. Better safe than sorry applies no where more than it does at Burning Man.

3. Face: Everyone has a thing that just makes them feel better. For me, it’s washing my face. Water and soap. This routine probably isn’t for people with dry skin and/or who don’t have to worry about acne.

  1. My holy grail face soap
  2. Korean scrubbie
  3. towel to keep soapy water from hitting the dust, a must-have when I did contacts, to catch the saline
  4. towel to dry my face – If you haven’t used these “camp towels” before, it’s weird. Trick is you don’t use it like a normal towel, rubbing and buffing. You wipe yourself dry. Also useful for catching spills, but not as thick as the Sham Wow. Hang INSIDE your tent to dry or it will be useless!
  5. Face sunscreen – Yeah, it’s expensive. But crying in my tent because I have a big zit on the way costs more. For years I used Elta MD. I switched to Nia 24. I think it might make my skin look better…not quite as greasy as the Elta (which would be a downside, for some).
  6. Tattoo sunscreen – The tube I’ve got is almost gone. I’ll probably switch to a straight-up zinc stick, maybe?
  7. Rest of me sunscreen – Natural, poisonous, cream, spray, stick: I’ve tried them all (except expensive fancy ones, like Super Goop, which I’m dying to try!). This keeps being my favorite.  Neutrogena gets second place, too. Sunscreen is difficult for me because I don’t like lotion and feeling greasy. But hoo-boy, you think you burn easily…wait til you get to the desert. After the first grease-up of the day, keep a smaller size on you to touch up as needed. 
  8. Weleda Skin Food for any spots that still feel dry, after slathering on the lotions. I was using Nivea and whatever other thick creams I could find on sale. Then I found Skin Food on sale. Insanely worth the cost. Pat it under my eyes several times a day/night and apply as needed elsewhere.

Now that you’ve taken care of your flesh and bones, it’s time to eat!

And of course by eat, I mean drink coffee until you vibrate.

  1. Boil water – this Jetboil is all we take, no more stove.
  2. Add instant coffee – I am a coffee snob, die-hard French presser, but eff that noise out there
  3. Or instant Thai tea

Or add the Thai tea packet to your coffee! Works like creamer and sugar in one. Half/half is one of my cooler items, if you know a powdered/non-cooler creamer that’s GOOD (not Coffee Mate, not powdered milk), please let me know!

Y’all know I love my collapsible drinking vessels. Nalgenes are stupid. Camelbaks are stupid. One exception:



Why? Spill-proof. Keeps hot hot and cold cold without burning your hand or dripping condensation anywhere. Cork-lined handle is comfortable and fits a carabiner. Ooooooooooooh snap, now they have purple!!

Until recently I just wanted hot coffee in the morning, no matter how hot the air was. I don’t know. Just did. Thankfully a camp mate brought a bottle of Stok’s, and I learned how amazing iced coffee can be.  I can go through one bottle myself while I get ready.

Another awesome cold treat, any time of day, is espresso coconut water.

NOT THIS ONE. Though try them all, see which one you like best. Me, Coco Cafe is the best. Coming back to camp after riding around or volunteering all day, one of these cold out the cooler is just….just a real treat. They’re often on-sale at the grocery store, and I’d buy whenever they were and save them up.

Lastly, brush your teeth. MOOP-free with these toothpaste “nuts” and a box you can burn. Spitting into a water bottle/mason jar can get gross. Spit out onto these, and burn them.

Side note, I was super anti-Wisps, the disposable travel toothbrushes until a surprise vomit incident. The people I was visiting handed me one and it was the most amazing feeling in the worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrlduh. So, if you’re prone to vomit or away from your toothbrush, consider killing the planet a little more with these things. Give it a second to activate the toothpaste/soften the bristles.

So, to sum up my morning routine: hydrate, medicate, moisturize, clean and sunscreen, caffeinate.


Jaded Veteran’s Guide to What You Need to Survive Burning Man, and Maybe Even Have Some Fun: Personal Care

Jaded Veteran’s Guide to What You Need to Survive Burning Man, and Maybe Even Have Some Fun: Personal Care

May 13, 2019

Note: Amazon is evil and must be punished. However, before their amoral employee practices were brought to light, they were my go-to for burn supplies. The embedded links are “affiliate” links, so if you end up buying something from my link, I might make like, $00.005! YEET! (note: still not sure what yeet means.)

In the 10+ years I’ve been going to Burning Man and regionals I’ve acquired extensive experience with gear. I know what I thought I needed, what I need, and what I don’t need. My suggestions, over the years, have been embraced by virgins and veterans alike.

Number one recommend of ALL TIME: Pstyle. If you are someone who needs to pee standing up, you need a Pstyle. Not a She-Wee. Not a GoGirl. You need and want a Pstyle.


You want at least two, really. One to keep on you at all times, and one to keep in the tent for when you lose the other one. It’s the easiest to use, the most discrete, it’s a women-owned and run company and as you can see, not just marketed to cis women.

pstyle 3

It shakes clean and dries instantly (except for if there’s a lot of thicker blood). Stick it in your pocket. Stick it in one of their cute-azz Pstyle carrying cases.

pstyle case

It’s a game-changer, a life-changer, and great for dive bars with no toilet seats, road trips, and just about anything you do that involves emptying your bladder. I’ve been using it for almost 10 years!

pstyle 4

My search for a way to pee that didn’t involve sitting was inspired by the L Word and, thanks to Pstyle, didn’t end up involving catheters.  Sadly it looks like the Pstyle song isn’t online anymore! It was riot grrl realness.

Runner-up: Freshette. Freshette was my first pee funnel and it does have advantages. First, the way it forms a seal and does more to prevent over-flowing (which I’ve only done twice, with a Pstyle, because I wasn’t paying attention). Second, the tubing is nice for directing the stream away, but then you have a second piece to deal with and it’s not as easy to clean as the Pstyle. I lost the tube, but keep the pink part in my tent; it’s perfect for the pee jug. Speaking of, learn from my mistakes and pee-covered tent floor. Get a big container with a handle for your pee jug!

I recommend this water, or an Arizona tea jug.


Not a little Gatorade bottle, not a coffee can, something with a lid for when it’s not in use (again, please learn from my mistakes!) and a handle to make it easy to carry and empty. If the idea of being seen with a bottle of pee is keeping you from using one, or emptying it properly, decorate it.

Now, onto the rest! I’m going to go in order of your day, from waking up to going to sleep.

Ah, eyeballs. To use mine properly I needed contacts. Which meant clean hands and saline, all liquidy and drippy-droppy. I came up with a little contacts corner, where I kept wipes to initially clean my fingers and a bottle of saline to rinse again, before touching my eyeballs. Sham Wow made it easy. It absorbed the saline instantly, keeping the tent floor dry. It dried quickly, no damp cloths lying around, caking up with playa dust. This also meant I could keep the contacts case nice and clean, rinsing and adding fresh saline every time (just dumping the used saline onto the Sham Wow).

Sham Wows ended up being fairly handy for things like the aforementioned pee jug incident (ok, ok, incidentS, lessons learned and re-learned). I’ve had the same two or three for years, now (I don’t know where they came from). They wash clean and are good to go again and again.

Baby Wipes: For my first two or three years, I didn’t use baby wipes. So MOOPy. Smelly. Don’t they leave a sticky film/gross feeling?

Also, I’m not a baby.  Please click on that; I can’t embed Tweets.

Then one year, my campmate offered me one from his cooler. It was magical. So get you some wipes. Use them to clean yourself, your gear, blow your nose, clean the inside of your nose, etc.

I go barefoot indiscriminately. Again, around year 2 or 3, I learned me some lessons. Playa dust will do things to your skin you didn’t know possible. It’s a point of pride to look as dusted as possible. If you look clean, you clearly aren’t doing it right.

However. After a particularly bad year of skin so dry it’d beat Norm McDonald in a stand-up competition, I began a skin care routine that has served me well.

  1. Moisturize. Non-stop. Cuticles and inside your nose, especially. Swipe a Q-tip through some Vasoline and get up in there. I’ve found the new cocoa butter flavor to be pleasant.

Listen, people joke about playa dust, it’s considered that thing you just have to learn to love, but it is not good for your body. It is not good for the inside or the outside.

dustWhy Do We Act As If Playa Dust is Safe?

It’s not sand, it’s not dust, it’s a bunch of chemicals that will, scientifically speaking, fuck your shit up. 

After being in sandals all day, I thoroughly clean and moisturize my feet before putting on boots and socks. I also clean any skin that’s going into tighter clothing. Most days, especially as warm as nights have been the past several years, I don’t change into warmer clothes. If I do swap from shorts into leggings, I clean the skin to prevent chemical burns. Nivea cream, or anything with all the heavy moisturizing ingredients, works well. When I take boots and socks off for bed, I probably clean again, depending on how uh…”tired” I am, slather on more cream, and sleep in cheap little socks. 

Sleeping in socks – sleeping in anything – is gross. Not as gross as sitting in a hotel room, crying, because your feet and hands are splintered, red, bleeding, and burnt.

I try to do a pretty good wipe down, before bed, to keep the bed cleaner. For….at least five years I’ve had the same queen-sized air mattress from ALPS.  It’s comfortable, holds air well, the rechargeable pump has never died on me, during the event. The reverse air-sucking means it will fold up tight. Sleep is SO important to me. I can’t nap, so when I’m down, I want to stay down and sleep well. Having a foam top the last few years has been bougie and beautiful. My burn bed is so comfortable it’s hard to leave.



Contacts in, skin wiped and slathered, sunscreen time!

The sun at Burning Man is RELENTLESS. Put it on, and never take it off. If you pass a table with sunscreen, spray some on. I don’t care if you just left camp. Spray, squirt, rubbidy dub. This is the one time of year I splurge on fancy sunscreen, both by Neutrogena.

Usually I hate scented stuff, but I like this one. 


Yes, I’m aware that it’s putting on enough and putting it on often that does the trick, SPF numbers are fairly meaningless. I don’t care. The desert is trying to kill me and I’ve never gotten a sunburn when I use this.

To super protect my tattoos I keep the 100 on me.


They both go on evenly, dry quickly, and don’t leave me feeling like a greased pig.


Space bags STILL SUCK.

August 10, 2016

I’ve posted enough about trying them out. The ones you vacuum can shrink stuff, into a brick that may make packing more difficult. But then once you’re there, who’s got a vaccum? My friends are trying it anyways, claiming their air mattress pump will work.

Checkout line impulse, Swiss Gear ones. More expensive, “name brand,” maybe they’ll be useful this time. 

Misc. clothes (ie not total outfits that can go in their own ziploc bag):

On the left, a plastic zipper bag that probably sheets came in. Right, the empty space bag. Transferred – the sliding closer clip came off before I’d even opened it (per usual). I filled it with the clothes, smushed it below the fill line, went to roll, POP! Well, too much stuff. Halved it, made it nice and flat. Started to roll, POP! Took everything out but a skirt and bikini top, made sure to squeeze excess air out before rolling, started rolling, POP!

They’re just thicker ziploc bags with a useless plastic sliding tab. How did you get it to work? What do you use to compress stuff for packing? I’d use a compression bag but the plastic keeps stuff clean, and the see-through means less rummaging, which also means keeping it cleaner…


August 9, 2016
I’m not finding any info on what can’t be mailed to BRC PO…which seems odd. Not even a “don’t Prime us, assholes!” update, in these years of Amazon. 
One year my campmate had fresh chocolate covered strawberries delivered.
Mail is a beautiful thing, just the smallest postcard is special. Everything I ever got is hanging on the wall or in my burn box. If you want to surprise someone the format is:
name: doom
camp name and address: Stag Camp 815&D
anything else potentially helpful: (in the monkey hut with Ghini)*
Black Rock City NV 89412-0149 (this is the same for everyone)
*delivering mail is AWESOME, I recommend everybody do it. No official sign up, just swing by the PO around Center Camp, tell them where you’re headed, and they’ll give you what they have along that area.
Descriptors can help because shit gets packed in there, several times I was at the right camp and right address but nobody knew the person on the envelope.

It’s a little long for a mantra, but the next time you find yourself surrounded by 20,000 morons covered in fur and glitter with shitty taste and music,

August 8, 2016

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Slaughterhouse Five

Name it. Claim it.

August 8, 2016

As you’re packing, be sure to write your name and location on/in EVERYTHING. Back of your headlamp. Bottom of your water bottle. On your backpack. I’ve had my 3 favoritest hats EVER outright stolen, when I set them down with my coat inside a bar. Won’t help that. But if you do lose something (I’ve lost my pee funnel, even), having a name and camp location will increase the odds of it being returned. If they don’t feel like finding you they might turn it into Playa Info , which keeps a running list of found items.

Slowly filtering through pictures and videos to share

September 14, 2011

From the Big Picture, captions are lacking ( “the Burning Man”) but some nice photographs. Including

 tea ceremony with Ken Hamazaki

I was very honored to be in the camp that hosted Ken and a small contingent of Japanese – one fun little anecdote for me was when I was rangering perimeter Saturday night, and they walked by and recognized me and we waved and laughed and hello’d at each other.

Why the Nose?

September 14, 2011

From MyDisguises. is dedicated to the act of wearing a clown nose, in order to make people smile. It’s really that simple. In a world filled with distractions and distrust, you’d be amazed at how many people (of all ages) have lost a sense of innocence. Or maybe you wouldn’t…

Wearing a clown nose is fun, it’s childlike, it’s easy and it’s free (if you already have the nose). We’re not trying to sell anything, we’re only showing you how easy it is to change someone’s day.

Wow, that’s crazy and weird and hilarious.

September 9, 2011

One of my bookmarks, Superpunch, links to Burning Man videos from Cory Doctorow. And just guess which quadrant he was sitting in when he shot the Saturday night burn…that’s right, that’s me in the braids. How RANDOM is THAT!!! I barely take any pics, don’t go looking for any and the very first thing I see/watch when I get back is a famous guy’s videos that have me in them.

I’m a BRC Ranger, now – over half of the people who started the day with me didn’t make it. I could’ve cried. It’s intense. Maybe more on that another time.

I don’t know what I’ll have much to say any time soon. But I’ll try to keep up with any interesting links or photos I find. Like his brief video of the jellyfish.