Monday, December 21, 2009

Wonders and Ponderables (Your opinion is requested!)

Natasha is in her 15th week:
The Bubble Project is in its 5th Week: Bernal Hill 2!

Went back to Bernal in hopes of another perfect weather day, but was greeted with rain and too much wind for biggies. The video is even a bit more meditative than the last...but I like it a lot. I made an 11-loop garland with 1 foot/side equilateral triangles which I was pleased to find functions nicely.

Full Screen HD highly recommended for video!!!

As of this moment I am on bubble hiatus, pending your thoughts, hopefully posted here as comments so we can have a group discussion. I want to thank a local Bernal resident for coming up to me to express concerns about the environmental impact of what I'm doing. I truly believed I had given this matter enough thought, but further reflection calls that into question, so I'd like to get folks' thoughts. First, I'm hoping he reads this; I owe him an apology because I was misinformed about my own materials. I insisted that "dish soap" was not "detergent" because at some point I had gotten the impression that detergent doesn't actually make bubbles--that only soap can do that--and for a detergent to foam, they have to actually add more ingredients to consumer detergent products so people will get the foam they like that makes them think "clean" even though it may actually hinder the cleaning process. Be that as it may, I use "Dawn Manual Pot and Pan Dishwashing Detergent," a product made with "biodegradable surfactants" according to the label. So it is, in fact, dishwashing detergent. Anyhow, I told the gent, quite truthfully and sincerely, that I have done this for quite a while and made a point of going back to check places where I have bubbled. Each and every time, I have found literally no visible trace of my having been there. Grass thrives; rain-washed soil does not bubble.

Reflecting on the way home I realized, however, that this is not the point. Negative environmental impacts are often imperceptible to perpetrators, as they result from the cumulative actions of multiple offenders. What the resident said that struck me was, "it's like you're pouring gallons of detergent into the hillside." Again, no, this is not the case, but I am pouring 2-4 cups of dishwashing liquid, mixed 14-1 with water over an area I'd assume is about 1/4 mile in diameter. In each 15 cups (almost a gallon) is a little less than a teaspoon of baking powder and a little less than that of a water-based lubricant powder that is 1/4 polyethylene oxide and 3/4 sucrose. I have (for the moment) abandoned using propylene glycol, but I do use about an ounce (that's 0.83%) of glycerine. Again, I think it's a poor argument for me to make that simply because the amounts are tiny I am doing nothing wrong--seems to me that I see smokers throwing butts into the street each day, making a similar rationalization about a tiny piece of litter in a giant place. So, what I need is perspective from my enviro-conscious and scientific peers. Is it reasonable to spill these things, in these amounts, once or twice on a public hillside in very thin, dispersed layer that leaves no discernible trace? I know of no one else doing this exact thing in these places, and it clearly makes a lot of people happy... but is it wrong? Am I documenting my own bad behavior with a picture of my child at the top of each entry? At the moment I am unsure... Please lend me your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bernal Hill: Bubble Air Heaven?!

Natasha is in her fourteenth week

The Bubble Project is in its 4th Week: Bernal Hill!

A quick hint of what's to come...

Frankly, the weather was perfect and the footage and solutions were great SO...I have to go back next week because I assumed I wouldn't need really big bubble makers. But I assumed incorrectly! Maybe it was a fluke, but I don't want to put together a video and then have to add more... so you'll see the whole story by Christmas! I kept the glycerine as a new permanent ingredient in my basic mix and I added four cups of Gazillion bubbles (blue) to one bucket. And, dagnabbit, the gazillion bubbles were slightly better/prettier. Next week I'm going to do the same comparison with GIANT bubbles, if the winds are kind. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Twin Peaks Success!

Natasha is in her thirteenth week

The Bubble Project is in its 3rd Week: Twin Peaks 3!
Full Screen HIGHLY recommended for the video!

I was short on sleep, getting over a cold, the weather called for rain...and I got up at 5:15 and went anyway...and it paid off! Unfortunately the video doesn't really reflect the most joyous moments--the glycerine REALLY increased the longevity of the bubble mix, so I got some incredible, huge, floopy, morphing bubble serpents and whales... I used Keith Michael Johnson's "garland" design to cope with the windier moments (checkout FanTASTIC site!) and spent time halfway up the hill to get some bigger bubbles going away from the worst wind. Even that early in the morning, folks were stopping and getting out of their cars to watch. I've been working on some hand-bubble tricks, a la Sterling Johnson, and may have to video some of that here soon...but I have a ways to go! Next week, Bernal Hill! Cheers all! Leave me a comment! Come take pictures! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just Paying My Dues...

Natasha is in her Twelfth week
The Bubble Project is in its 2nd Week: Twin Peaks 2!
It's all about stick-to-it've-ness.
I headed up Twin Peaks, earlier and more prepared, with a new solution to check out...and the wind was bad in spite of the weather report suggesting otherwise. So I sighed and went over to Golden Gate Park to try out the new solution...and as of yet any change I make seems to make the solution worse. I added about an ounce of propylene glycol to my basic mix, trying to help the bubbles retain moisture and thereby live longer, and not only did the solution work poorly, but the wands I used in both solutions seemed to bring the badness over to the regular-solution bucket, making for a frustrating morning in the park. I'm going to methodically work my way through the ingredients and then start combining and changing's a long process! At least I remembered to wipe the mud off my shoes before my first client! Onward, upward next week!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Twin Peaks...Almost....

Natasha is in her Eleventh Week:

The Bubble Project is in it's first week:
Twin Peaks!

videoLate start, and low expectations meant I didn't set up the camera so I missed the 3 or four 12-footers that got hoots from the surprised tourists. Definitely going back next Monday--I think I'll put a camera on the North Peak and Bubble from the South Peak... 7am sharp! Join me!

Tried a surgilube solution, got prettier bubbles that didn't last like the baking powder ones... More will be revealed... :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Beginning...

Necessity being the uncle of intention, or some such relative of some such endeavor, I have struggled to find a way to be a new dad and keep bubbling as I'd like.
I realized that I needed to attach a bubbling project to my work day in order to make it happen consistently and not unfairly detract from my Dad duties. SO

Monday mornings henceforth, I will be making giant bubbles upon the peaks of San Francisco! The wind and weather are tricky so the plan is to show up at the same peak, at 7am, each Monday morning, until conditions are just right (and hopefully I get a picture). Then move on to the next, improving my solution all the while. I'll start this Monday at Twin Peaks!
Here's what the view from Twin Peaks looks like (with a little accidental embellishment from my panorama-making software):

Here's the record of me doing much the same thing all in one day, on foot, without soap bubbles. With bubbles I will also do Inspiration Point in the Presidio, Sutro Heights Park above Ocean Beach, Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stow Lake, and other spots YOU suggest where bubbles will be a boon and not a hazard to passers-by.
(The above blog makes more sense if you know I was once 380 lb. anti-exercise kinda guy. So I may have over-shared a little as I celebrated the joy of newfound mobility. :))

If you are in town, you should come!