No BME World Tour For Me

Filed Under Body Modification, Personal | 2010-03-08, 00:23

For those that hadn’t heard through the Twitters and Facebooks and whatnot:


I just wanted to say I think that you did a really awesome job and I really wanted to take you along but it just came down to my gut feeling on who I thought would work really well together and I think that my final four really did. The other potential final four that was going to go, you were a part of it. It was just a totally different dynamic and one that was more of a “traditional BME” cast of characters.

Unfortunately I’m trying something different with this group and this challenge. Who knows though, I hope that you can kind of be “on call” almost in case it turns out that I need a back up member. You’re definitely #1 on my list. You were one of the finalists that I was trying to make a 5th position for but I just didn’t have the funds to pull it off.

Thank you again for applying and I hope that if I do this again in the future, that you’re willing to apply again.


Oh well, guess this means I get to spend the next three months planning a wedding, helping organize another international fire art run, getting 2pir rebuilt, giving a talk at SXSW, revamping my business (or finding a new job), and enjoying San Francisco. A huge thanks to everyone’s support and words of encouragement through the whole process!

You can check out who won over on the ModBlog post.


A Day in the Life of Ed: 2pir Testing

Filed Under Body Modification, Fire, Fire Art, Personal | 2010-03-02, 20:27

The following is my “extra credit assignment” for the BME World Tour. Thanks to everyone for their support, I’m one of the 9 finalists!! We were asked to do a video, photos, and blog post of our day in order to pick the final 4 (or 5!) people who get to travel the world.

When I got word that I was in the top ten finalists, my heart skipped another beat. Closer and closer to a trip around the world. I could feel my passport tugging on my sleeve, “can we go!? can we go!? please please please!”, but I calmly explained to my anthropomorphized government document that the decision was not up to me. I still had one more assignment to prove I was worthy of such a trip: a blog entry, video, and photos of a day in my life. Luckily the next day had potential to be interesting enough to share with the Internet.

My day started with my fiancée, Heather, waking me up early with the video camera rolling. It was one of those cherished beautiful San Francisco days where the sun was shining and it was actually warm. In between my half-awake grunts, she said goodbye as she was off to hike around Alamere Falls with friends. Shortly after she departed, I crawled out of bed and made myself a gourmet breakfast of Lucky Charms and soy milk. A quick shower and shave and I grudgingly sat down in front of the computer to do some work. The curse of working for yourself is that every day is a possible workday. Luckily addressing my emails and other chores only took about 2 hours this time and I was soon out the door.

Down the three flights of stairs with a laptop, camera, and flip video in tow; I jumped into my car and trekked across the Bay Bridge to Oakland. I was headed to NIMBY, an industrial art space in south Oakland, to work on one of Interpretive Arson’s fire art pieces, 2pir.

For those not familiar with it, 2pir is “a blisteringly interactive large-scale fire toy”. It consists of two circles: an inner circle fitted with motion sensors and an outer circle comprised of 16 large flame effects. When a participant waves their hands, feet, or any other body part over the motion sensor it triggers a large column of flame. While on the inner platform, many people perform their best sorcerer imitation, summoning fire with their hands, while others choose to dance and twirl around, flames following their movement. The beauty of the piece is that the performance is different everytime.

2pir was designed and built by Interpretive Arson, a Bay Area fire art group that I’m a member of. It was originally built in 2006 and has since undergone several upgrades. This year it’s time for another one of those upgrades as the ignition system was no longer up to our standards for reliability. In addition, several components needed to be upgraded in preparation for our second international run in Denmark later this year at Smukfest.

The previous day we had spent some time finalizing a design for new flame effects and built a single prototype for testing. We wanted to make sure one new flame effect worked successfully before building the other 15. Today it was time to actually test this prototype and see how well it performed.

Fire against the sky

We dragged the prototype outside, hooked all the plumbing up to a tank of propane, plugged in the electronics and hit the switch. The resounding sound of combustion echoed off the walls of the warehouse. Success! But it wasn’t perfect. Ignition wasn’t 100% reliable and we wanted the best shape of fire we could get. After a period of tweaking, adjusting, and experimenting we were mostly happy with what we had. We made a quick run to Home Depot to grab a few materials and then stopped off for some burritos to refuel ourselves.

Back at NIMBY, the sun had set and the darkness of the seemingly deserted industrial section of Oakland was just asking for some noise and light. We fired the flame effect back up and enjoyed lighting up the yard and bouncing the percussive sounds of explosive propane combustion off the walls. After a bit of fun it was back to work: grinding, cutting, drilling, and welding the frames for the new effects.

Tom grinds

The work went late into the night before we all decided to call it a day and I headed home. The late night drive across the Bay Bridge on the way back into San Francisco is always one of my favorites times. The bridge is relatively empty and all lit up, as are the downtown skyscrapers and streets of San Francisco. It’s a great time to turn up the music, coast over the water, meander through the empty city streets and clear my mind. My ritual-like return home always includes a hot shower before sleep and this night was no exception. After climbing into bed with Heather, the echoes of our controlled explosions rang in my ears as I drifted off to sleep.

A selection of photos: 20100228-2pir Testing


I’m a Finalist for the BME World Tour!

Filed Under Body Modification, Personal | 2010-02-26, 01:33

The short version: Holy crap, I’m one of 18 finalists in a contest to tour the world and meet/interview/photograph/video people involved in the body modification community. It’s a trip of a lifetime. Please vote for me!

The long version: So there’s this website called BMEzine (or just BME) that you’ve probably heard of if you’ve ever looked up info on body modification. It’s the site for body mod online and has been around for years. I’ve been reading it for as long as I can remember. They’re running a contest right now for a group of lucky winners to take a trip around the world to interview people involved in the body modification community. There are essentially 3 jobs on the tour that need to be filled: a writer, a photographer, and a videographer. I would love to jump into any of these roles and have essentially applied for them all. This is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that comes along that are impossible to pass up. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want this.

In order to apply for the tour we were asked to submit an application along with an audition video. I sat down and spent almost an entire day trying to come up with an audition video I was happy with (the end result that you see above) and then I sent in my application with a long list of the stuff I’ve done. It was tough, exponentially harder than putting together a resume due to a desire to present who I really was and my personality rather than just cold, hard skills.

Today the 18 finalists were posted to BME’s ModBlog. I’m in awesome company and there are a number of people I would really enjoy traveling with, let alone the actual trip itself. Rachel, the Editor-in-Chief of BME, is asking for everyone to vote for your top 4 favorites. If you feel I’d be suited for this job, please head over there and vote for me as well as any others that you think would be good for the tour. This opportunity really means a lot to me and I’d love to have a shot at it.

The voting doesn’t necessarily dictate who will go in the end but it can’t hurt! But hurry, voting ends on March 1st 12:01PST so there’s only a few days to vote.

A huge thank you to BME and Rachel for offering this contest and picking me as a finalist. Additionally, a big thanks to everyone for their positive comments and votes!

P.S. To all you guys out there who know that PollDaddy has vulnerabilities, please don’t exploit them for my sake. I’m serious, this is too important to me for that stuff. Thanks!


Large Gauge Ear Piercings + Hearing Aid

Filed Under Body Modification, Gadgets & Hardware | 2010-02-11, 17:55

In the past, the handicaps of people were generally politely concealed and sometimes considered embarrassing. It makes me very happy that this is changing. Now there are people like Aimee Mullins in the spotlight. For those not familiar, Aimee Mullins lost her legs at birth due to fibular hemimelia. I highly recommend watching her TED talk. Rather than let this hold her back, she has gone on to become an athlete, actress, and model who speaks all over the world about her dozen legs that have been built for her. Her legs are amazing; ranging from custom designed pieces of art, like the wooden legs carved from solid ash, to high tech legs that help her run faster than your average human. Technology has advanced to the point where what was once considered a disability is now merely an opportunity for an improvement both in function and form.

The latest concept in this realm of body advancement are the deafinite conceptual hearing aids. As someone with ears that are already stretched to 1/2″, these things instantly caught my attention. The concept hearing aids basically combine the form and fashion of large gauge ear plugs with the technology of hearing aids which has gotten infinitely smaller over the years. Embedded in the plugs are several microphones that pick up sound, amplify it and deliver it to the wearer through a small earpiece. The result? a fashionable hearing aid that people (who are willing to stretch their ears) can show off.

But the idea of this as just a hearing aid is short-sighted. It’s not a far leap to take this concept and make actual headphones out of this. My 1/2″ plugs are great at ensuring I don’t misplace my pen or sharpie marker, but they would be incredible if they could also function as headphones I never leave in the pocket of… which pair of pants did I wear last Tuesday? Dear tech producers: please make these. You’ll have a small niche market, but that niche will be incredibly happy and I would be willing to pay a small premium for these.

images via designaffairs


How To Pronounce Labret and More Fun Facts

Filed Under Body Modification, Education | 2008-12-29, 10:00

A common misconception about the popular below-the-lip piercing is how it’s pronounced. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard people say “It’s French, the ‘t’ is silent!”. Consider this your Body Mod Public Service Announcement for the day. The ‘t’ is pronounced. It’s not French, it actually comes from Latin: labrum meaning “lip”, and -et meaning “something worn on”.

If you’re interested in more information on the labret piercing, ModBlog (aka BMEZine, one of my favorite sites) has an article and even a wiki page. Did you know that the labret is part of cultures in Alaska, South America, Africa, and even ancient Babylonia?


The Fuel Girls, aka hot chicks

Filed Under Body Modification, Fire | 2008-10-17, 14:02

The Fuel Girls are a kick ass, ultra-sexy, fire breathing rock and roll, dance and stunt show! We perform all over the world, with a passion for FMX shows, rock festivals, motorshows, rallies and WILD parties! Our crazy no holds barred attitude and our awesome mad-max rides mean you get a bit more than you bargained for when you book our show!

Become a Fuel Girl:

Personality is equal to looks and fun, geeky, mischievous characters are always welcome to apply! The Fuel Girls show requires MASSES of sex appeal and an individual twist – whatever that may be. We love tattoos, dark hair, punk rock and glamour in equal measures, rock and roll, fire, saying YES, indie, real boobs, excitement, dare-devils, black cars, fast bikes, getting wet, mischief and naughtiness… yeh!

That’s what their site bills The Fuel Girls as and what they’re looking for in new members. I stumbled across this and I’m still not really sure what I think just yet. On one hand: hot girls, fire, body mod, and industrial art (we’ll use that loosely) are right up my alley. On the other hand: it all feels kind of like high-fructose pop-culture performance. But even if it is a guilty pleasure, damned if it doesn’t look hot!

It’s of course hard to tell without seeing it in person, so hopefully they’ll make their way to San Francisco sometime in the future. In the meantime, YouTube will have to suffice (NSFW for most of my readers):

Obviously they need more fire (girl with flamethrower = sexy!) and some suspensions to really crank it up a notch in my book. Then again I guess the typical car show guy crowd might not be so big on that.


Critter’s New Tattoo: Fail Whale

Filed Under Body Modification, Twitter | 2008-08-21, 12:05

Fail Whale Tattoo

Wow, Critter already sealed the title of “Best Geek Ink” long ago with his Seesmic, ColdFusion, and Adobe Air tattoos. (Did I miss any Critter?) Oh yeah, there’s also the Twhirl tattoo. But now he’s taken it one step further to get another piece of the web tattooed on him. This time it’s the ever lovable Fail Whale from Twitter. He says the white on the whale will show better once it’s healed up.

UPDATE: Of course he had to go and upload a Qik video of it being inked:


What if Lasik screws up? Get a retinal implant

Filed Under Body Modification, News | 2008-03-12, 15:57

Retinal Implant

The number one question in my mind that deters me from laser eye surgery to correct my vision is “what if the doctor screws up and I’m blind?” My sight is an important part of my life, as it is for most people, and I can’t imagine trying to function in life without it. I’ve joked in the past that I’ll get lasik when they have replacements on hand in case something goes wrong. Well, now they will. It has taken them 20 years, but the Boston Retinal Implant Project has designed an implant that will “provide patients with a sense of their surroundings – to detect shapes and obstacles in their pathways”. It’s not a perfect replacement for your natural eyesight yet, but it will allow you to get around on your own without a guide dog or a white cane. Most of the hardware is kept outside of the eye, with only a small strip of plastic actually implanted. This plus the reports that LASIK can improve eyesight beyond 20/20 continue to make the procedure more attractive to me. If you want to check out more info on the retinal implant, there’s a good article on The Boston Herald with more details on how it was designed.


LASIK improving vision past 20/20

Filed Under Body Modification | 2008-01-13, 14:44

A lot of the time, people forget that the term “body modification” extends beyond tattoos and piercings. Plastic surgery, removal of misbehaving organs, and correction of damaged senses are all still under the umbrella of body modification. For years I’ve been wearing contact lenses because my vision is, shall we say, less than perfect. It’s not much of a hassle for me as I’m used to them and the cost is not a huge impact to my budget so when I heard about the different surgeries to fix eyesight I wasn’t running to get it done. But now that I’ve heard that LASIK surgery can improve vision beyond the normal 20/20, I’m much more interested. According to Slate, LASIK is pretty consistently providing people (primarily pro athletes) with vision better than 20/20 in almost 85% of people who get LASIK done with the new “wavefront” technology. As with any body modification, there are the risks of LASIK. These risks have been significantly reduced however, and studies show that under 1% of well-selected patients have complications. I’ve had a couple friends and family members (my mother who is a physician) undergo LASIK and for the most part I’ve heard good things. But please don’t consider this an endorsement or condemnation of the procedure. It’s your body, you need to weigh the risks and benefits before modifying it.

thoughts sparked via


Electronic Ink Tattoos

Filed Under Art, Body Modification, Gadgets & Hardware, Video | 2007-10-23, 22:26

Every day it seems like we’re living in a Neal Stephenson book more and more. While the thought of tattoos that change via technology is not necessarily new, this is the first time that I’ve really seen someone illustrating the concept in a video. And on top of the sexy video, the people behind this are none other than Philips.

They describe this project as such:

Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.

The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers.

While the video really touches on the possible sensuality of a tattoo that changes with arousal and emotion, there are also practical applications for something as incredible as electronic tattoo ink. Imagine a simple text display created in electronic ink. Nothing more complex in display than a character LCD. Add bluetooth (or some other form of wireless) support to that with a small implant. Now you can display any text you’d like. Use your cell phone to pull the latest weather, sports, stocks, RSS feeds, or subjects from your emails as they download. Your latest twitter scrolling across the nape of your neck, or perhaps the song currently playing on your mp3 player. Or more importantly, serious medical information that provides EMTs with life-saving info right on your chest. The possibilities are endless, and not really that far off.

In fact, way back in the dark ages (1995) there were some people that had a similar idea. There is a patent filed by Andrew J Singer and Sean White from Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, CA. This patent is for an implantable and programmable LCD that might actually be possible with today’s advances in technology. Unfortunately Interval Research closed their doors in June 2006. *sigh* Maybe we’ll have better luck with Philips in 15 years.

via BehindTheInk