Monday, October 17, 2016

Public TV Broadcasting $ 🎓🎓🎓 💪

Public TV Broadcasting on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network is free.  That's the cheapest you can possibly get.  Anyone that lives in Manhattan can give them a recorded TV show to broadcast at no cost to you.  If you live in Manhattan you can also sign up for classes on how to use video and sound equipment - cameras, lights, microphones AND computer software to learn how to make a TV show.   Not only is putting your videos on live public TV free, but some classes are free as well.  Others cost a low price of only $25 for registration.  This is all for access to training that you could easily pay thousands of dollars for.  It is one of the BEST deals in New York City, but is not easy to do.   Once you are certified as passing the class, if you live in Manhattan, they will let you use their equipment to make your TV show, again for free. 

All of this is funded  by the cable companies.  In exchange for the legal right to offer cable to Manhattan residents, the cable companies pay a fee to the borough of Manhattan.  The city uses these fees to fund the program above.

While classes are basically free (aside from that registration fee) the classes are not easy.  It is hard work to put on a TV show and they are teaching you how to do, not doing it for you.  It doesn't take a lot of muscle, but expect to put in some real time and effort learning how to do stuff.

Also, if you watch public access cable TV, you know you can get some strange people - or at least people willing to say some really strange stuff on TV.  Be prepared to meet them.

You can do a one off show, or if you really like it, have a weekly show.

It's gender neutral, but the hard work makes it not the best for kids.  While they do have a youth program, (mainly for kids 16+) most of the real work will need to be done by adults.  This can however be a good joint project where the parent does the hard work and the kid is just the 'on air' talent.    

It's not easy to do - but it can be very sociable. You can really be a TV Producer and ask people appear on your real cable TV show.   You can do a talk show, make a sitcom, do whatever you want - except advertise.  That is a no-no, it is public access TV, not advertiser supported TV.

Ye, some people have used the program offered by MNN to springboard into a career.  Not easy to do, but it can be done. If you are poor, live in Manhattan, this is great resource.

Click here for information about the Manhattan Neighborhood Network:

If you don't live in Manhattan, there are different rules.  Sorry Brooklynites.  There are similar program in other cities, so do some googling.  I know Boston has a Boston Neighborhood Network. (

Monday, October 10, 2016

German Wheel $$ 🎓🎓 💪💪

Another really fun circus skill you can learn.   The German Wheel is basically two large man sized circles, with crossbars connecting them.  You stand inside the wheel, on the crossbars, grab hold of handles, then shift your weight back and forth (similar to using a swing set).  Your weight shifts get the wheel rolling.   Then you do circus acrobatics inside the moving wheel.  It is a bit amazing.   Think of it as a tool to make somersaults 1000x cooler.   If you still are not sure what it looks like, take a look at Delgado's website listed near the end of this post. 

This is one of the easier and less scary, but still incredible circus activities I have tried.  

You can get a single class for fairly cheap $35 or so, but honestly you won't learn enough in that class to really do anything.   You need at least two or three classes, which is why I called it moderately priced.

It does take practice and some but not a lot muscle.

This class tends towards more woman than men.   Kids are welcome, as long as they are tall enough.  Obviously if you can't stand in the crossbars and reach the handholds, it can be a problem.

You need the right shoes - a thin, hard soled, canvas top shoe.  Converse is good.   Thick sneakers, sandals, heels, are all bad ideas. 

I took lessons at STREB Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM).  The teacher's website is here:

STREB's website is a bit confusing and does not easily send you to classes, you have to look around:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Laser Rapid Protyping $$ 🎓🎓 💪

There are two kinds of automated milling  machine, also called computer numerical controlled (CNC): Additive and Subtractive.

  1. Additive CNC machines go by the common phrase "3D printing".   They slowly add more and more stuff - usually plastics, but metal and/or glass are possible - until you achieve the programmed result.
  2. Subtractive is the opposite. You start with a big block of something and carve away, removing the stuff you don't want, till you achieve the programmed result.

Laser Rapid Prototyping is a laser subtractive CNC machine that burns away wood, plastic, etc. till you get the desired result.

NYC Resistor is a 'hacker collective' in Brooklyn that offers space to do projects, as well as a ton of interesting classes about how to do projects.  They are part of the "Maker Movement".  Note, while Laser Rapid Prototyping is not itself social, NYC Resistor is a very social group.  I suspect that any other group that offers similar access to a laser rapid prototyping machine will be similarly social.

They offer both a class:

and the right to use the laser (minimal supervision) after you complete the class.  You can carve plastic sheets, wood, plywood, and similar objects with the laser.  You can also etch stuff into aluminum - but their laser is not powerful enough to cut something made out of aluminum.  (with the possible exception of aluminum foil).

You can make everything from signs to complex machines - I made a rubber band gun.

The laser class is moderately priced, and while it takes some effort for most projects, no muscle is required. 

Gender wise, it's fairly well balanced - NYC Resistor offers everything from sewing to computer construction classes so they tend to attract a wide range of people.  It does trend younger - 20's, 30's more than 40's or 50's.   Kids are generally welcome.

Note, NYC resistor has other classes as well - but Lasers are the hottest class.   And the coolest class.  They also offer a good social environment to work on various projects while surrounded by the kind of people that have interesting hobbies.   If you live in NYC and have room mates, this alone makes them worth taking a look at.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Stunt man classes $$ 🎓 💪💪

Ever want to  learn how to do a stunt fall - falling 20+ ft onto a giant air bag?   Or how to survive a staged hit by a car?  Perhaps you want to look fly though the air (on or off a wire) just like your favorite kung fu movie?

Then a stunt man class is for you.  The High Falls class is the reasonably priced, but if you want the really cool stuff it gets expensive.   It's pretty easy to do, and while physical, it doesn't require you to be in good shape.   Very interesting and fun.

They also do trampoline classes - perfect if you want to learn how to do a flip.  Note, many of these classes are more athletic, the high falls class is the only 💪💪 one.  The other stuff is often very tiring, takes a lot of muscle.  Consider them 💪💪💪

High Falls is not as scare as it sounds, after all, all you do is jump/fall, so it is hard for you to screw things up as long as the bag is properly inflated.   The Trampoline is a bit less safe - a bad bounce could send you off the trampoline or into something or someone - don't have two people on it at the same time.

I did not take the 'get hit by car' class.

It's fun and something most people never actually do.

This tends toward male, but a lot of women like it as well.   You have to be older than 10 years old (at least for the cool stuff).  They do parties for kids / business events.

Is this going to make you the next Heidi Moneymaker? (Google her IMDB page, very impressive) Probably not.  But you can have a lot of fun doing it.

You want sneakers.  No sandals.

I took classes in Brooklyn here:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Blacksmithing $$ 🎓 💪💪

You can take blacksmithing classes in Brooklyn.    Full forge, you can make everything from jewelry to knives.  Welding, furniture, sculpture, tools, and all sorts of practical stuff.

I made some art, a small axe head, and an ice cream spoon that WILL NOT BEND no matter how cold and hard the ice cream.   The spoon is by far my favorite - I use it all the time.

It's fairly easy to do, if a bit expensive if you want more than one day workshop.  But you can get single lessons for less than $100.   It takes some muscle, but not a huge amount.

Gender at the female taught school I attended was balanced, but I could see a more masculine group via a more masculine teacher.  Especially if it focused on weapons or armor - so if you find your teacher at a Ren Faire, don't be surprised if it is mostly men.   It was more of an older crowd, with most people in their 40s but a few younger people as well.  They teach kids as young as 12.
Clothing is important - there will be hot sparks flying places and you don't want it to land on a bare toe, arm, or worse a flamable piece of clothing. 

I was taught by Marsha Trattner, of "She-Weld", in Red Hook Brooklyn.   I found her via The School of Visual Arts.

Here is some information about her classes:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trapeze $ 🎓🎓 💪💪💪

There are two types of trapeze - the 'flying' one which involves multiple trapezes and large swings, and the static trapeze that is more acrobatic.  This post is mostly about the flying Trapeze.

The static trapeze is similar to doing yoga while in the air.   It's fun, but everything get's better when you start swinging.
Everyone knows about "The Daring Young Men on the Flying Trapeze".  You climb up a rope ladder, grab hold of a swing, swing out then get grabbed by a more experienced person, stronger person on another trapeze.  Then they let you go and you fall into a hammock like net.  I think of it as a more grown up version of the playground equipment.

They start you out with a safety harness.   In my opinion, it's safer than being driven somewhere in a NYC taxi.

It takes some muscle, takes a bit of work to learn how, but it is cheap - if still on the high side of cheap to try.  If you weigh more than 205 lbs or so, it becomes more problematic but not impossible to do.

It tends toward a younger crowd - mostly 20's and 30's.  They take kids as young as 6 - they even offer birthday parties.  It trends a bit more female than male, but there are plenty of men.

The scariest part is actually climbing up the ladder to the platform for the flying trapeze.  Once you actually get on the trapeze, everything happens so fast that you don't have time to be scared.  If you are nervous but not terrified of heights, this is a good intermediate step to cure you.  I came away with less fear of heights than I had after.

I had a lot of fun.

My first flying trapeze lessons were taken at:
 They have schools in four other major cities, so check out the link even if you don't live in NYC.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Watch Making $$$ 🎓🎓🎓 💪

I am talking about the old style analog, mechanical gear watches here, not the electronic versions.

Analog watches are complex arrangements of gears, springs, and an escapement to slow down the transfer of energy from the spring to the gears.

They get built by hand.  You can learn how to do it.  It's very finicky work, but you come away with a really nice watch.  It's not easy, can be very frustrating, nor is it cheap.  But it doesn't take much muscle.

You get to pick what the watch looks like - skeleton versions that show 'the action' are popular - and what gems to use as friction-less pivots.

You also come away with a whole set of interesting tools for micro work.  For me, that was a plus.

My class was small (3 people) 100% male, and all adults, no senior citizens.  It's a nerdy hobby.   Kids could do it, except it's expensive.

Even fifty years ago, NYC was a major center for watch making.  It's still cheaper to buy a watch on the streets of NYC than most places, but few people are making them by hand anymore.   It's a great hobby if you can deal with the extremely delicate, fussy bits.

I took classes here: