MAX100 The Shows Must Go On

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/max100-shows-zbcz1305.aspx

Don’t pay the ransom, I escaped!

Back in high school, that was the excuse I used when I was late for class. It worked exactly once. More on that at the end of this blog. But first…

Jack and his cars

Manifesting his Posture Of Power, the alien wizard silently levitated back to his landing craft.

Well, not exactly. This camera has a fast timer. I wanted to get a photo of my friend Dave and myself before we hopped in our cars and headed to the Bay Area Maker Faire, which is sort of the season opener for interesting DIY shows. It’s about 600 miles each way (we took the coast route) so we left early Friday morning, May 16, and arrived before sunset to set up our displays … which was pretty dang easy, since all we had to do was drive in and park.

MAX and Maxine

Dave finished MAXine (as described in MAX Update No. 99) about a month ago, and this was its first trip far from home. This was MAX’s first trip with one similar car at its side (previously, I’ve either been solo or with a gaggle), so we both learned a thing or two. Dave learned he can trust MAXine “out of the pattern” as us aviators say (that is, far enough from home that you can’t glide back) and I learned that, to the Maker Faire crowd at least, MAX isn’t the coolest thing on the road: MAXine is.

MAX with hood up

This is a typical photo from that weekend. There’s a guy taking a casual look at MAX on the right, a guy checking out the “Jack’s MAX FAQs” posted on the easel on the left, and as you can see, MAXine is…

Well, you can’t see MAXine, can you? You can catch a glimpse of its roll bar, just this side of the guy in the yellow shirt, but you can’t see much else because there’s a dozen people crowded around it, oohing and aahing and asking Dave questions. I was so jealous.

On our way home Sunday night, we tried to analyze why MAXine stole MAX’s thunder. I was whimpering “But MAX gets better mileage (sniffle) and they don’t even care,” and Dave was saying “There, there,” in a somewhat smug tone of voice. But we did come up with a few reasons for the disparity:

• MAX had its top up, which made MAX harder to look into, harder to get into, and just generally looked less fun than an open roadster (they say that now, but wait ’till it starts raining).

• MAX had its hood up, which made it easier to see that it did indeed have a three cylinder Kubota turbo diesel under there, but it does look slicker with the hood down.

• It’s apparently easier for folks to imagine building themselves a MAXine than a MAX, which is strange (but true nonetheless) when you consider that the only differences between the two cars were the bodies and the engines. Yes, the streamlined body is a bit more work, but not that much more work, now that we have the molds running.

• MAXine’s look-and-feel better fits the steampunk aesthetic of the Maker Faire. To a great extent, the rolling stock at the Maker Faire is an art show, with dragons and submarines toodling around, and I think when a vehicle uses 12 gallons of propane an hour to belch flames out its nostrils, fuel economy becomes a secondary consideration.

Fortunately for my ego, the best shows of the year are coming up — the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fairs — and the first one is this weekend at the fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. MAX and I will be there, and I’ll be giving a talk Sunday, June 2, at 1:30. I hope to see you at the Fair, and if not, I’ll catch you at MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fairs in Pennsylvania or Kansas, later in the year.

I’d like to assure you that MOTHER EARTH NEWS and I are still pals, though a recent update of the blog software has made MAX Updates somewhat less accessible. With Ye Olde Blogge Software of yesteryear, one command would bring up all the MAX Updates in a row, from the latest to the first, but no more.

For now, the best technique I’ve found for scrying previous posts is:

1) Go to the big blue bar at the top of this page.

2) Type the words <MAX Update> in the <Google custom search> box.

3) Click the little magnifying glass icon to the right of the box.

You’ll get 10 pages of 10 links to MAX Updates, listed in order of…man, I haven’t a clue what the order is, but it’s nothing as obvious as phases of the moon or the turn of Tarot cards.