Look at all them crazy gadgets, ma!

Steve and I went to the Maker Faire this Saturday in San Mateo and we were totally unprepared for just how many people were there. Honestly, I have never seen such a back up to get off the highway or line to get into the event. So, in the spirit of generosity, I will begin with my 2 tips for getting to the Maker Faire.

1) Pull out a map and know the alternate routes. Here in the Bay Area, I think a lot of people have GPS navigation systems in their cars. And those that don’t use MapQuest or Live Maps or some other online mapping utility to get directions. But all of these electronic resources say the same thing: Take 101 and get off at the junction with 92 West, then take the Delaware St exit. And so, everyone was going this way and the backup onto 101 was incredible. Steve and I took 92 East instead and used surface streets to find our way to the fairgrounds and I’m sure this saved us at least a half an hour.

2) Buy your tickets online in advance. Always looking for a deal, I scoped out the ticket situation in advance and found that we would save $5 by buying our tickets online. Once we finally pulled up to the fairgrounds, we were stunned by the line that wound around the block. Fortunately, this was the line to buy tickets, not to get in, so Steve and I just strolled through the gate with no delay, saving us another 30 minutes to enjoy the fair.

crowd

And we did enjoy it, although I didn’t always understand what I was looking at. In the first building, there were a few times when we were looking at something particularly circuit-y and electronic-y; Steve was just amazed and would turn to see the lack of enthusiasm on my face and asked if I could see or was bored or whatever. I finally, had to just tell him that I have no experience with or exposure to how these things work and I just didn’t know what I was seeing. A few fair information booths were selling t-shirts that said “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it”. That’s almost a relief because it means most of the crap in our house isn’t mine so it’s not my problem, right?

We were both really impressed with all of the children’s activities that were going on and agreed it was a great event for exposing kids to engineering and we really wished there’d been something like this when we were growing up.

I may not always have understood everything I was looking at, but I knew enough to get excited about the giant Tesla Coils brought as a 1:12 scale model of the Nevada Lightning Laboratory:

Tesla1

Tesla2

Tesla3

And, of course, fire, fire, heh heh, fire:

burninglady

Gas prices being what they are, we explored alternate methods of transportation, too.

buscycle

We also spent some time looking at the gray water exhibit and agreed that one of the many things on our wishlist for our dream house should we ever get it is a gray water system. However, we both drew the line at the waterless composting toilet. Exactly how do you explain to guests at a dinner party how much straw they should sprinkle over their waste in the toilet?