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October 22, 2007

¶ Santiago Fire
The marine base was closed again this morning. They let us in for about an hour starting at sunrise, but then the northern part of the base caught fire and so we had to leave. We tried going to the Ford parking lot, but that's directly downwind of the fire and it was raining soot and ash there, so we ended up leaving. Haven't had much luck otherwise, and today has pretty much been a bust for testing. Although considering everything else going on in the area, it feels like we should just be thankful that we haven't been in mortal danger yet.

I found a graphic on www.ocregister.com that gives a good idea of the extents of the Santiago fire, the one affecting us. I added some green blobs to show where our practice grounds and hotel are with respect to the fire. It's a bity scary...

October 21, 2007

¶ Irvine Wildfires
In the end, we were able to get some testing done today. Ford has a big research center in Irvine, and there's a large, unused parking lot that they let us use. It's not as good as an actual urban road network, but it's better than nothing and we were able to do some productive traffic behavior and e-stop tests.

We'd been hearing reports of wildfires spreading throughout the LA area throughout the day, but didn't actually realize how close they were. Then one minute we looked up and realized -- holy cow they're practically right next to us!

Turns out that they were even closer than that. Just a few miles down the road from our hotel, the hills were ablaze. On our way home, we swung by the shopping center where we usually get lunch, and there were dozens, probably hundreds, of people just standing on the side of the road watching Irvine burn. Seth, David, Ed and I stood there mesmerized, looking at these vast expanses of hundred-foot tall flames sending soot, smoke, ashes, and embers flying everywhere. I climbed up on a backhoe to get a better view, and overheard a group of high school students contemplating the fate of their school, which was within a stone's throw of the fires. People began ignoring traffic rules and parked their cars almost in the middle of the road, got out, and just stood there watching. It was quite a sight, and definitely not the sort of thing you'd see in Boston.

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December 4, 2005

¶ Building Fire Nunchaku
2  1' long 1" diameter wooden dowels
1  Nunchaku swivel kit
1  roll of aluminum foil tape
2  bottle caps
2  strips of kevlar tape 2' long, 2" wide, 1/16" thick
4  penny nails
6  1 1/2" wood screws
kevlar tape can be purchased online from www.dube.com or other fire juggling supply store. dowel, foil tape, penny nails, wood screws can be purchased at a hardware store. nunchaku swivel kits can be purchased in Chinatown or at an online martial arts supply store. Bottle caps... go drink a few beers.

This is what the swivel kit looks like.

This is what the dowels should look like


Lathe the last 1" of each dowel to be just barely narrower than the interior diameter of the swivel kits. If no lathe is available, then you can try shaving the dowel by hand, or buy dowels that are already the correct diameter. I like the lathe because the swivel kit fits better this way.

Fit the swivel kit onto the lathed section and mark the hole.

Remove swivel kit. Drill a small hole in the dowel where marked, about half the diameter of the swivel kit hole.

Reattach swivel kit and line up the holes. Hammer the pin into the dowel.

Wrap the unlathed ends of the dowels in foil tape, so that it covers about half of the dowel's length. Be sure to cover the ends as well.

Place bottle cap over taped ends of dowels.

Hammer two penny nails into each bottle cap to hold them in place

Wrap the bottle cap end of each dowel with a strip of kevlar.

Fold in the end of the kevlar. This protects from fraying.

Anchor the kevlar with two wood screws. Be sure to direct them so that they don't hit the penny nalis.

Add a third wood screw on the opposite side. This isn't completely necessary, but I like to do it. Prevents the kevlar from shifting

Finished pair.

While we're at it, why not double the supplies and make two pairs?

And burn.
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