For the trusting and the hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok!


So, Ebola has arrived, the Black Death of the 21st century and we’re all going to die. Not so fast!

Ok, Ebola is a horrible disease but we’ve gotten a lot of things going for us to be hopeful about. First is that Ebola is not an airborne virus, certainly there is some debate about how easily it spreads via aerosolized droplets, but no one is saying Ebola could spread through a ventilation system in a hospital or office building and unlikely would widely spread through an airplane.

So the virus even if it does get into the US will be hard to spread. You may naturally ask, so why is it spreading so fast in Africa. There are a number of reasons, most are related to resources and infrastructure. In countries like Sierra Leone hospitals do not have adequate quarantine facilities, health care workers do not have proper protective gear, sometimes they don’t even have rubber gloves and masks!

The second thing that helps the spread is a lack of good infrastructure which does not allow for authorities to easily contact trace. Contact tracing is when health workers track down every contact an infected person had once they became contagious. For obvious reasons, this is far more effective in a country like the US where we have easy to find street addresses and the resources to track people down. Not to mention the ability to track cell phones and lots of media to help in locating folks.
The other issue health officials face in Western Africa is a population with a high percentage of uneducated citizens overly susceptible to superstition.Many people in Western Africa do not believe Ebola is real and some believe that health officials are actually killing people. So in many cases when family members get sick they keep them at home and don’t tell anyone, eventually infecting the whole family and others who come in contact with them. In some cases health workers have even been attacked!
In the US we certainly face a percentage of folks who will believe it’s a hoax, but a scared populace and a motivated government will allow for contact tracing to be done very effectively as it has been surrounding the Dallas case.  The second big reason we don’t have to worry about Ebola in the US is that now that the developing world has become truly worried, we’re starting to throw enough resources at the outbreak to help stop it. First the US and other countries have been deploying expert personnel and resources to Africa.  Additionally, a new vaccine is being fast tracked to help out and limit the spread of the infection by GlaxoSmithKline, a US company. This fast track vaccine trial is being publicly funded as well and of course being a US company we’ll have prime access to the finish product and they are already in production of 10,000 doses of the vaccine.
So yes, the Ebola outbreak is bad, it will spread but here in the US we are about as safe as anywhere on the planet, so relax and sweet dreams. ~ ZD Blue
PS – want to scare the crap out of yourself read this: For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!


For the cynical and the conspiracy minded: Ebola, This is the End!


So it’s finally here, the global pandemic we have been warned about for decades. Ebola, a once sleepy little virus wiping out villages in the jungles of Africa has gone prime time. It’s a big boy virus now, out of the villages and into the cities of Western Africa. With a 70% mortality rate and projections by the World Health Organization of 20,000 cases by November, we should be scared. Because without some massive global efforts those numbers continue to climb, although large numbers of deaths in Africa are not the problem. The problem of course is the number of infections and Ebola’s 21 day incubation period. That’s how the first case got into the US, the man flying into the US from West Africa showed no signs, and likely wasn’t contagious during his trip, but became sick once he landed. Current screening methods, looking for folks with fevers won’t work when a simple dose of aspirin or ibuprofen can mask that symptom. Given that having a fever at the airport gets you quarantined with actual Ebola cases, and the existence of better care outside of Africa, there is a lot of incentive to get out of Africa if you think you’re sick.  So, it’s going to happen, Ebola cases will get out of Africa and we’ve seen one already in the US.  So Ebola will spread, however, when it spreads to organized, well-resourced countries with solid hospital systems and a high ability to contact trace, the spread will be limited as it has been in Nigeria.
Of course it’s also going to spread to countries with high population densities and poorly resourced countries, with bad hospitals and an inability to effectively contact trace, think Asia as in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nepal. There are likely other countries all over the world that fit this bill. Those countries are very afraid right now and India is preparing and Nepal is very afraid. Many of these countries have poor people who are working in West Africa, how many will come home infected and sick?
So if this will be limited to poor countries why should we be afraid in the US? Mostly due to the economic fallout from large areas of the world being infected with a raging pandemic. This will cause borders to close, travel and commerce to be greatly interrupted as countries, including the US, go into isolation out of fear. This could easily lead to the greatest economic depression in history. Once the dominoes begin to fall on that front things get very, very ugly everywhere for those who are under resourced and particularly for those under prepared.
For the cynics!
A more cynical but less gruesome idea however exists in my mind. You see it typically takes 5-10 years of research for a vaccine to get approved and that’s both a significant time and money investment by a drug company. However, if there’s a raging epidemic of a deadly virus somewhere, hypothetically let’s say Ebola in West Africa, you might just get that time line sped up. On that front GlaxoSmithKline has gotten approval and started vaccinating volunteers with their new vaccine in recent weeks.  Additionally it has been reported that they have already started production on 10,000 doses of the vaccine assuming it works.
Why would GlaxoSmithKline do this, is it out of the generous nature of their heart?
I will propose a more devious reason for this, the best thing that can happen to a drug company from an economic perspective, is for an outbreak to allow them to highly compress the timeline for a drug to come to market. This speeds up the return on investment and in this case they are actually being supported by public funds to help make it happen. Even better, if the outbreak is in the developing world where lots of poor people die far away from the people in countries where people have money to pay for vaccines. Even better yet, if some cases make it to the developed world and really scare the hell out of the masses. Sound familiar?
Scared affluent white people will line up in droves to get a vaccine for the Black Death of the modern age and GlaxoSmithKline will happily provide it and at a premium price I’m sure. To be clear, I’m not saying a drug company planned this, I’m also not saying they didn’t. It is more likely they saw a market opportunity and have jumped on it like good little capitalists.
So sit back, save up your money and wait for GlaxoSmithKline to ride in on its white Bentley to save the day. That is assuming they haven’t miscalculated and the dominoes don’t fall too quickly and the shit really hits the fan. If it does friends, I’m sure like me, you’re prepared, your supplies are in place and your bugout location is secure. Sweet dreams! ~ ZD Blue

PS – for a more hopeful piece check out: For the Trusting and the Hopeful: Ebola, Everything will be ok

If Burning Man was actually what people think it is!


When I talk to people about Burning Man, people who have never been, I’m always amused by the array of the ideas of what they think Burning Man is like.  So this morning I got to thinking about what our experience on the Playa would be like if Black Rock City was really the place they think it is, so here’s a little thought exercise to take your mind off packing lists and ticket delivery dates, oh shit, I’ve got packing to do.



Arriving at Burning Man the excitement always builds, rolling down the dusty road, reading the entry signs carefully placed so that if you’re speeding they are too hard to read.  You start to get dust blasted and soon you arrive at GATE.  Of course instead of getting your car checked for contraband and stowaway midgets, in addition your GATE team would also make sure you’re properly stocked for the event and to make sure, would give you your welcome kit including a full weeks supply of LSD, Ecstasy, condoms and lubricant.

You then merrily make your way, after dropping  a tab or two, on to the GREETERS, which signifies your true entry into Burning Man so of course this is where you get out of your vehicle and take your clothes off.  Once naked you will immediately be felated by your choice of greeters.  This being Burning Man you will have your choice of felators, you can pick from any gender or sexual preference, there is even a special lane of course for group felating.

burning man



Being the multi-everything event that Burning Man is you will certainly have your choice of theme camps.  There will be a wide variety of sex or drugs or rave camps where people are provided with free uppers to keep the 24 hour a day party going.  Of course single themed camps like Bong World are really only for virgin burners as veterans, grizzled maniacs who’ve survived multiple previous burns, are more likely to be able to handle the multi-themed camps.  These multi-themed camps are very popular with the veterans as they often cater to very specific and demented kinks.  Decorum and several state laws in the midwest and south prohibit me from going into details but let us leave it with the names of some of the more popular camp names which include: Angry Dragon Camp, Dirty Sanchez Village, Coke Fueled Felchers, Monkey Wrenchers on Meth, Hot Rocks & Pearl Necklaces, Queefers on E, The Twisted Sisters, Fucked Up Figgers, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Unicorns (Camp LSDU), Fucking Fire and Ice and my personal favorite Ookie, Gookie Cookie Quaalude Camp.

The real question of course is how do you win at Burning Man, you know, get into the best camp in Black Rock City.  Quite frankly it’s not easy, it takes years of debauchery and depraved indifference but if you can survive 10 years on the Playa, you may get an invitation to the most sacred and secret camp at Burning Man, The Full HST Experience Camp.  Out of fear and loathing  for my safety, I cannot tell you anything else about this camp.


Burning Man


Art at Burning Man

Let’s face it folks, the art is really nothing but a cover for the depravity, but it has to be made to look good.  That’s why professional art crews are flown in from around the world, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Florence to install massive art structures on the Playa.  I mean seriously, how would a bunch of naked, stoned hippies and ravers have the time or the wits to install giant art installations.  Also, this is the explanation for why the tickets are so damn expensive, seriously, did you think it costs over $400 to camp on a desolate and dusty lakebed in the middle of nowhere?!

burning man, bliss

Burning Man

fix shark car

Burning man, Thunderdome


Gift Culture

One of the best things about Burning Man is the lack of any kind of commerce, except of course when we sell things.  For those on the outside they understand that what truly happens is an “underground” commerce.  Sure, we don’t exchange cash for drinks at a Playa bar but we all know a gin and tonic costs a hit of “E”, a Margarita a hand job, and specialized cocktails go for, really, kids might read this for fuck sake, I’m not writing about what happens if you ask for a specialized cocktail on the Playa, don’t you have an imagination, sheesh.

Burning Man, Barbie


Burning the Man

Our New Years Eve equivalent, the big party, but people know what’s really going on here.  A drug fueled frenzy where cocaine is weaponized into a fine mist-like powder and sprayed through the crowd.  Of course the price of entry to the big burn is a hit of your favorite hallucinogen, a few caps or several drops of liquid LSD.  The best part of the man burn is when people watch it online from home, the confusion is epic.  You see there actually is no burning of the man, each year the drugs, group delusions and hallucinations allow the participants to watch the most amazing fire experience of their life and it doesn’t even happen!  Folks watching at home watch as the crowd grooves and dances to the imaginary fire while crews of technicians dissemble and remove the man dumping a pile of burnt rubble in its place.

burning man


Being Dirty

One of the things I always hear from people is I can’t go to Burning Man, I couldn’t be that dirty for a week, I need to shower.  I try to explain that there are both showers and also non-showering ways to stay clean but they no better and of course this is what we all look like all week.



The Temple

I’ve written pieces on The Temple including calling it The Heart of Burning Man, but people on the outside know what the Temple Burn is really all about.  Our friends at have already blown the lid off this one so I let you read all about it there, however this quote really says it all doesn’t it.

Heathen children utter the written lyrics from post-modern Satan-worship bands the The Atheist Phish, Snoop Lion and DJ Kalafi, until sweat drips down their brow and they summon The Burning Man himself, Satan. 


Burning Man

photo credit ~ Katrina Blum

Burning Man: My Complete Gear List, Virgin & Photo Guides

fix final temp shroom

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

~ Scott Adams


So it’s been awhile since I did my original virgin and photography guides part 1 and part 2 for Burning Man.  However, one of the things that I didn’t include with those guides was a really complete gear list, and let’s face it, getting your gear together is one of the bigger tasks at hand before heading to the playa.  So here you go, my complete gear list compiled over 6 burns, items are not listed in order of importance.  Two disclaimers, first I’m sure I’ve overlooked some things, feel free to add to the comments.  Secondly, my list has evolved every year, feel free to hit the comments section with questions and I’ll reply snark free. 🙂

First couple of things should be incredibly obvious, ticket, parking pass, directions to Black Rock City and DON”T bring things on the prohibited list, GATE people will turn your ass around and send you home.  Please leave your pets at home, the playa is a nightmare for them and dogs are prohibited.  Bring your schedules for any volunteering you’re doing, you are volunteering right? 🙂



shade structure (2) – 11 foot metal poles, with T connectors, tarp 8 x 12 & 6 x 10, rebar, old tennis balls to cap the rebar, 100 ft of clothing line rope.  This is a simple and basic structure, keep it tight so that it doesn’t flap and it’s damn near indestructible.  The picture below is a similar design with a better view of the structure from one of the Alternative Energy Zone folks, mine uses steel instead of wood and I also hang camping clothesline wire around the side and have sewn fabric panels I hang for decoration and privacy, punch holes in them so the wind doesn’t catch in them.

burning man, shade structure

Here’s an external shot of my set up:

burning man, shade structure


work gloves

surveyor tape to mark out camp and flag camp lines


water jug cooler – fill with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks

electric fans

home made AC for tent

Music source w/radio function – BMIR 94.5 is funny and gives good info, there are usually a couple of small radio signals on the playa.  I bring an old boom box with a CD player but you can get much fancier.

Tools (vice grips (not cheap ones, you use this to pull rebar that has become cemented in the playa by twisting and wiggling it out, have a veteran show you how), hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties (various sizes), pliers, staple gun, nails, screws, 5 pound sledgehammer, 3 in 1 oil, tie downs, bungees, knife, scissors, etc…

tent stakes – but supplement them with rebar on your tent and no dinky stakes, at least 8 inch metal.  I have seen a tent airborne in a dust storm

bucket and rebar – bucket for holding rebar, tools etc… bring extra rebar various lengths

ground cover – I look all year for cheap old carpets, however, if the edges are frayed they can be a huge MOOP problem, I’ve duct taped the edges before going out, works ok.  This year an experiment I’m using a canvas drop cloth, I’ve also seen artificial turf used.

lighting – camp lantern, flashlights, head lamps are essential, I also use cheap solar ground lights and some decorative hanging solar lights as well

Folding table

Sun shades for the inside of the car to keep it from getting super hot inside

camp chairs

small camp table

Shower, evaporation pool – 1 metal pole with hook, solar shower bag, thick black plastic .6 mil (not garbage bags), wood for frame, small platform to stand on, shower chair

Below is a picture of a similar set up from a shot on the web, don’t have a pic of mine, but do some research there are a million shower designs out there, mine is the most basic

burning man, shower


Dr. Bronners soap – can use it to wash dishes, teeth, body whatever

Big bowl and wash cloth – alternatives to showering, bowl (sponge bath) and baby wipes are the most basic alternative




Sleeping tent – and years when camping with others I’ve brought a garage tent for storage, including a stand up mirror, usually use the garage for costumes, food other things I want access to that don’t involve sleeping

plastic painters tarp – put over your mattress, sleeping bag, pillow to keep dust off during the day

sleeping bag


air mattress


small hand broom to sleep out tent


burning man

Dr. Megavolt




can opener

pots, pans, glasses, plates, utensils, etc… – if you go environmentally friendly, bring a bucket for dish washing and remember to evap the grey water, DON’T dump it on the playa

camp cup – if you want a drink at most camps you’ll need to have your own cup

ziplocks – they are great to protect everything from dust

stove – I go minimalistic Mountain House camp food (Beef Stroganoff is awesome) and a pocket rocket or other way to cook off of propane.  However the options are unlimited, camp grills or even full sized propane grills.

extra cooking fuel


burning man



A minimum of 1.5 gallons per person per day, I bring 2.0 to be safe, it allows me to share and lets face it, you don’t want to be short on water.  Don’t forget you do get to buy ice, I fill one drinking cooler just with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks.


spnonge bob, burning man



This list is utterly personal, I like having my main meals as dehydrated camp food and lots of easy food.  Some fresh stuff for the first day or so, but I avoid things like bananas that leave green waste that will end up stinking.


fix a1 sunrise



I bring my by good cameras but that’s a choice, the photo guide will give you more info.  Using your phone for photos will open up your phone to a lot of dust.  I recommend cheap digital cameras or even the temporary digitals if you’re just recording fun shots.  If you’re shooting more seriously take a look at my photo guides part 1  and part 2 for more info.  One warning I have had cameras die after being on the playa for one burn.


burning man, temple




seat post rack – particularly good for carrying ice but if a bigger camp bring a little kids wagon

tie downs, bungees – to hold ice on the bike rack

bike pump

extra tubes, patch kit

bike lock

items to decorate your bike with


burning man, bliss



backpack – I bring both a small backpack and my camelback that has a bladder a small amount of storage space

goggles – really, sunglasses just don’t cut it in a dust storm

dust mask & bandanas

crocs, sandles or other shoes for late night porta potty runs

personal lighting – EL wire is best, glow sticks are MOOPey, but don’t be a darkwad on the playa

cold weather gear – layers to warm up, gloves, warm hat, sweat pants to wear in your sleeping bag if need be

hats – for sun protection, warmth and decoration


burning man



Completely personalized but remember to have costumes for all the potential temperatures, something for sunny hot, warm evenings or freakin cold nights.  I’ve seen every temperature from 115 to 35 on the playa.


burning man



1st aid kit

Emergen-C, aspirin, ibuprofen any other meds you ordinarily use

vinegar – helps with playa foot (the acid counterbalances the alkalai)

baby wipes

hand sanitizer

car battery charger – this is a stand alone car battery charger I bring to be able to jump other cars or mine 🙂

garbage bags – for your trash and MOOP pick up, don’t throw your bags on the side of the road on the way out, there are lots of trash drop options on the way back to the default world

batteries, bring extra

sun screen

skin lotion – your skin will dry out on the playa

chap stick

toiletries and toilet paper – the porta potties usually have some but be safe and remember nothing but toilet paper and your bodily products in the porta potties, NO BABY WIPES in the porta pottie.

personal items – anything from sanitary products, to condoms to whatever you might need

journal, pens – I’m a writer so I spend some time on the playa writing

List of locations where people told you they are camping.

extra car key to hide in your camp

night time potty alternative if you don’t want to walk to the porta potties, here’s a final image for you


burning man

Art Project – if you are doing a project you know what you need


Gifts – bring something to gift people who have been helpful or nice or just because you want to.


burning man







Burning Man Is Not A Damn Music Festival

burning man

Every burner has lived through a similar moment many, many times because of the confusion that exists in the general public over what Burning Man really is all about. In this particular instance I was sitting in my mother’s kitchen back east with two of my brother’s friends, these guys are about 15 years younger than me and they knew that I go to Burning Man.  They were excited to talk to me because they too were planning to go that year.  You see they had met a band, whose name meant nothing to me although I could see in their eyes that I was supposed to be impressed.  This up and coming band they had befriended had told them that they were playing the main stage at Burning Man and these guys were going to get back stage passes if they showed up.  I blame Woodstock, Glastonbury  and Coachella.  You see there are some commonalities between Burning Man and these types of large gathering multi-day festivals.  However having attended a couple of them and spent several years on the Playa, I can tell you there are some major differences.

fix robot 991

There certainly is tons of music on the Playa there are radio stations, entire theme camps dedicated to nothing else but cranking out 24 hour dance beats, I have visited blues camps and jazz cafes and I’m quite sure there are a myriad of music based theme camps that I’ve missed in my years in the dust.  Individual musicians and bands have shown up and even played on the Playa, hell Joan Baez probably holds the distinction of the only artist to play Woodstock and sing at Burning Man.  However, Burning Man is not centered around the music, the music is just another art form at the festival.  There is no main stage, unless you consider the small stage at center camp to be the “main stage”, but if you’ve been there you would not confuse that stage with the main stage, or even a side stage at Coachella.

fix a6 barbie

A huge difference is that every music festival I’ve ever been too, not matter how hippy driven the vibe, is highly commodity driven.  There are food vendors and booze vendors, you can buy t-shirts and knick knacks and a full assorted range of shit that once you get it home you wonder why the hell you bought it.  At Burning Man you can buy, ice, coffee, tea and lemonade.  Burning Man is a no trace event, there are principles involved, hell the community builds an actual physical community for a week, infrastructure and all.  The venue if you will, is a dry lake bed in the Nevada desert, there is a lot of fire, there is more art than you could imagine, did I mention the fire?

fix fire car

So what’s my point with this piece?  Simply that if you, as the ticket deadline is approaching are thinking about going to Burning Man for the first time understand what you’re getting into it.  There is a lot written about what the festival is and what it means to people, I’ve written virgin guides, 30 days worth of warm up pieces, hell 70 pieces in total on this blog.  There are tons of other pieces written as well, the organization’s website and even their own awesome survival guide.  So know what you’re getting yourself into, Burning Man is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it’s not a damn music festival. ~ ZD Blue

Burning Man: The Dissolution of Normal

fix my grn penis 2

I love Burning Man and I’m able to say that almost all of the time.  I don’t love it as much watching some of the comments I see by Burner’s online, or watching them transition from peaceful, loving desert dwellers to maniacal default world drivers 10 feet outside the gate.  I really can’t say it during Exodus.  However I love Burning Man in the middle of 70 mile an hour winds, I loved it in the rain after a brief meltdown over my obliterated tent was washed away with a double rainbow and a tub of homemade chocolate chip cookies I remembered I had.  I’ve love Burning Man in the well over 100 degree heat and at 34 degrees shivering in my tent all in the same 24 hour period.

Dr. Megavolt

Dr. Megavolt

I love Burners on the playa, amazing creatures who exude love and light and snark all at the same time.  A glorious cacophony of colorful freaks who will give until it hurts, take care of those who sometimes don’t deserve it and teach virgins the ways of the dust.  Burners contain a higher than imaginable number of insane geniuses, spectacular artists, and folks who create and burn in ways I never thought possible nor practicable.  A place and a people who can eat the focus of your life so intently for a week that you blissfully forget the other life you had mere days before.

I’ll seek the dust again this year for perhaps my last time, I’ve spent a number of years on the playa and I’m seeking new adventures, new stimuli, a new collection of freaks to expand my mind.  Seems appropriate as I will turn 50 on the playa this year, my own unofficial theme this year, my playa name is The Dean, will be Deanapocalypse 2014.  You are all invited to the party!

fix a1 double bow

The thing that I find most amazing about Burning Man however is not the art, the insanity, the relaxation or even the Playa Magic.  No what I love the most is something I call the dissolution of normal.  You see I think one of the problems we all face in the default world is that we have been fed the idea that there is something called normal.  Given that the actual reality of normal is nothing but an artifice of statistics, we all, in so many ways are not normal.  We constantly find ourselves falling above or below the line, not normal and conventional wisdom tells us normal good, not normal freak.  This paints freak in a negative connotation which I refuse to accept, some of us have found ways to embrace our inner and outer freaks even in the default world.  What did this for me was the dissolution of normal.

freak flag

At Burning Man, stop wherever you are, slowly rotate 360 degrees, carefully take in the crowd around you and I promise you, within that view, you are not the biggest freak, never.  Do it every day, five times a day, you will never be the biggest freak and if you are, find me because I want to know you and I’m sure as hell buying.  This realization is incredibly freeing and truly allows you to let your freak flag fly.  This is why I love Burning Man because if you embrace it, merge with it, normal dissolves and the real you can emerge, is accepted by the community and if you’re lucky you can carry the real you back into the default world.

fix a1 bliss

See you in the dust ~ ZDBlue aka The Dean

The Burning Man Season Begins: Tickets & Theme

fix man s7

Well my friends the Burning Man Season has officially started.  The kickoff of course is the announcement of this year’s them Caravansary.  Personally not my favorite theme but some people seem to really like it, I guess that is the way of if every year isn’t it.  For me, I hope to be celebrating my 50th birthday on the playa this year so my personal theme, my playa name is The Dean, is going to be Deanapocalypse 2014, you’re all invited to the party.

Also the ticket process is underway, including the massive irony of implementing a vehicle pass fee the same year you make a theme about caravans, want to bring a caravan, it will cost you this year.  I truly hope the irony was not lost on the org and they got a chuckle out of it.  Pre-sale tickets, those of the guaranteed type are as usual mighty pricey, but if you’ve got the cash and you don’t want to worry about tickets $650 a piece will give you peace of mind.  Anyone feeling the need to gift me one for the Deanapocalyspe celebration, drop me a note and thank you in advance.  Otherwise I will be queuing up with the rest of the mass of humanity for ticket registration and purchase.  Good luck to all of you, the playa will provide and don’t freak out if you don’t get a ticket through the process, there is always the STEP resale process and lots of tickets floating in the community as the event comes near, and other than the pre-sale, which purports to help subsidize the reduced price ticket program, remember to never pay above face value for your tickets.

See you in the dust ~ ZDBlue aka The Dean