Wednesday, May 29, 2013

why we love Oakland

OK, one reason, anyway. One night a couple of weeks ago, we wanted something to do, so we just googled for stuff to do in Oakland and came up with this festival. There's a big warehouse called American Steel Studios in west Oakland, just a few blocks from where we used to live, and it's been converted to art studios that individual artists rent out. They were having a small festival, where you could take tours inside and also check out their fire art. with gushing flames. nbd.

Jon wants to make his own fire art now, so watch out. (He was already itching for a warehouse, so this only made it worse.) Also, just outside the building, they have these gigantic, awe-inspiring metal statues of people, which you can drive by and see at any time. We've been by the outside of the warehouse a few times to check those out, but we had never been inside. Here are a few statue shots my friend Esther got awhile back. I particularly love the chains-for-hair thing.

And here is a tiny model of them, that we saw in the warehouse, and a cool photo of them done by "Eileen, Kneela, and Epiphany":

Other random things include a model Golden Gate Bridge stuffed in a corner behind some plywood and how we saw our friend Joe Aliling from church there! Oh, also the warehouse filled with studios (there are several aisles like that, and there's that much space again behind us.

Also, some fun pictures Jonny got:

We love Oakland, and in particular we miss living in west Oakland. Yay for fire art!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the enemy's gate is down

Years ago, Jon donated to KQED (the Bay Area NPR station - yes, the name is a little hilarious) and received two free passes to iFly, an indoor skydiving place. (Fact: He told me about the passes when we were first starting to date, and you can measure the growth path of our relationship by my degree of certainty that I would be the lucky +1 to use the second ticket.) Well, a few weeks ago, we finally used those passes to celebrate our anniversary.

How it works (according to Jon): They had a couple of really big fans that would pull the air through this tunnel. It's basically like blowing on a feather to keep it up in the air. The force of the wind blowing on you is enough to counteract your weight, and they could change the speed of the fan. The way you shape your body also changes how much the wind pushes on you. The wind was going 100-130 mph, depending on the person and they were using 200-300 kw of energy to do it.

We signed some waivers, watched another group for awhile, watched a safety video and learned a few tips, and then we suited up and headed for the wind chamber. Each person got two one-minute turns. Here we are, flying!

Here are some other people doing the same thing as we did (but we have video of them and not us).

Here is an instructor demo (he's showing off and doing tricks - our instructor was more fun to watch, more Spiderman-y, but we couldn't take cameras in during our session. And this guy is fun too.)

Here's what we thought:

Jon, overall: It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be impossible to control, that I would just be flying around randomly, but it turned out that my movements around happened very gradually. it took some time but I figured out how to kind of stay in one spot. It was fun. It was more work than I expected - afterward, I found that I was more sore than I expected, because of the way they have you stretch your arms and chest and shoulders back. It was pretty fun. I think it was definitely worth going once for free. I don't know if I would pay the full price to go that first time, or to go again. I thought it was going to be a little more freaky than it was, but it wasn't really scary to me at all.
Brooke, overall: I had fun. Their first-time prices are higher than their after-that prices, and I don't know if it would have been worth the first-time prices for our isolated experience of two minutes each. I think if you were going to go more times, it would be more fun once you got good enough to be able to do tricks and stuff. It's just, I naively expected it to feel like zero-gravity or something (hence the blogpost title), but it didn't at all - you feel almost completely supported while you're in the air. It was fun to think about the fact that you weren't being supported by anything solid, though. The instructor had done both indoor and real skydiving, and he said the main difference was that in regular skydiving, the air is harder, but past that it didn't feel much different. So that was cool.

Jon's hardest part: It was hard to control where I was going. I wasn't too concerned about being very good at it, though, so that didn't bother me too much. I couldn't move forward or backward on command, I was bouncing off the walls pretty regularly.
Brooke's hardest part: I COULD NOT CONTROL MY SPIT. Seriously, I was wiping it off my forehead at the end.

Jon's most-fun part: I think it was fun when I got to the point to where I could think about it enough to realize I was floating in the air. It was also really fun to watch Brooke. I did not notice any drool at all. She looked like she was having lots of fun.
Brooke's most-fun part: I loooved the end when the instructor would hold onto you and whirl you up high (like in the first video). Except, it was weird because I had kind of a hard time breathing during that, at first. But it was a rush.

Overall, we both had fun, even though we both wanted it to be more like floating. Yay for indoor skydiving!