Monday, October 31, 2016

Holographs $$$ 🎓🎓 💪

Holographs are 3d pictures made using a laser on film.  You shine the right light on the film (doesn't always have to be a laser light), and you get the 3d picture popping up.  Holographs are actually better resolution than normal printed photos - theoretically you could take a holograph of a leaf and use a microscope to view the nucleus of bacteria on the leaf. 

All you need is a dark area to take the holograph, the right laser(s), the right film, and a bit of knowledge.   And a good subject for the holograph.  I used a small fire hydrant I made in a glassblowing class.

It is a bit expensive - both to learn how to do it and to set something up in your home.   It's not that hard to do any one kind of holography, but there are a lot of techniques and variations to learn.   So to truly master it, you can easily spend thousands of dollars.   Also, you are working with film and chemicals, not merely computer chips, so there are quite a few expendables you need to purchase.   But it takes no muscle.

Holography trends male, and older.  Yes, kids like to view holography, but it is just hard enough to deter all but the most determined teenagers from trying it.   Classes are very small - you work in a dark room.  That's another reason why it is so expensive.

I took classes here:

Monday, October 24, 2016

Indoor Sky Diving $ 🎓 💪

Picture a multistory building with a glass tube in it, more than 5ft across.  At the bottom of the tube is a grill.  Underneath the grill is the biggest freaking fan you have ever seen - totally filling the tube.   This is a vertical wind tunnel that can let you fly like a bird.

When the fan is turned on, the wind is so strong that it literally BLOWS YOU UP INTO THE AIR.  You wear a special suit - that is loose and baggy to catch the wind, helmets, etc.  Sneakers are fine - but no loose shoes (flip flops).

You can use it to learn how to skydive - or just for the shear FUN of doing it.  If you do it often enough you can learn how to do tricks, but the first time you try it you will need an instructor to show you how to simply stay floating.  They will also show you some

It is very safe.   You can't fall very far even if the power is cut (the fans slow down gradually, bringing you down gently).  They say you don't have any trouble breathing in the wind, but I think they are underestimating that issue.  If you have allergies (runny nose), asthma, or similar issues you may have some issues breathing.   I would at the very least take any appropriate medication.  Basically, stick your head out of a car window at 55 MPH  If you can breathe fine while doing that, then you won't have problems.  But it is at the very least very annoying.  Do NOT do it if you are sick.

The cost for a simple try was reasonable - but they "get you with add-ons".   Anything besides the most basic experience costs more.  Want a 'high' flight?  Costs more.  Want a video?  Costs more.  Want to rent a nicer helmet - that makes it easier to breathe?  Costs more.  The training for your first flight also makes it more expensive than later ones.   Also, location and time will change the price - weekend premium.  They offer group pricing, which helps somewhat, as does bulk purchasing for one person.     If you are a teenager and fall in love with it, you could get a job doing it.

It is not that hard to do the basics, but it takes a while to learn to do the harder stuff.  It doesn't take any muscle - young children can do it.

While this is cheap, easy to learn and easy to do, it is not located near everyone.

It trends young and male, but there are women doing it.  Kids as young as 3 can do it.  There is no upper age limit.  They do have a weight limit.  But you can do it even if you are a paraplegic.   They do offer parties, if you have the money.

I did it twice, once in Vegas

and again with my niece and nephew while in Austin Texas  at a chain iFlyworld

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.