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Brainwaves, welding helmets, nerdy men, oh my.

January 25, 2010

Saturday brought with it a trip to a Hackerspace, Pumping Station: One (PS1).  Have no idea what I just said?  Neither do I.

According to the ‘net, Hackerspaces are community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects.  PS1 is near Elston/Belmont, a raw space room in a warehouse that also has a lone hairstylist chair and a bunch of mismatched though comfy armchairs and couches.

Our over-arching goal is to facilitate creativity in and through the merging of art, technology, and culture.  Weekly meetings are held at 8:00pm every Tuesday at the space, and are open to the public. Visiting at other times requires accompaniment by an existing member, but we’re pretty friendly.

PS1 has occasional presentations on various topics.  The one I went to was on neurofeedback.  Have no idea what I just said?  Neither do I.  Basically, this is what I saw/took away:

  • A mom and son team, the mom a psychotherapist who uses neurofeedback with her patients, became big fans when it cured her narcolepsy and migraines, as well as lessened her ADD symptoms
  • A volunteer got hooked up to various wires that went to a screen we were watching, and began to listen to music
  • We watched as he manipulated the music with his brain, consciously and subconsciously – i.e. clenching his teeth would cause the colored bars, which represent different parts of the brain, to jump
  • A typical neurofeedback session lasts 10-30 minutes
  • The aim is to end each session with the client feeling relaxed and alert
  • You can use it to train your brain for increased focus, improved meditation, and to alleviate various medical conditions
  • It’s a personal trainer for the brain

You can become a member of PS1 which allows you open access to the space, for $30-$50 a month, depending on whether you want voting rights and a locker if I remember correctly.  They also offer random free/low-cost classes that anyone can take, from woodworking to electronics to Arabic.  It seems like a lot of people just go to hang out there, like I would a coffeehouse.  Everyone I met was very friendly.  Members toured us around with the type of glee I imagine I might have when touring someone around my first house.   I’m not sure why one would need a huge phone booth type structure, with “Police Booth” pained on the side, but they were certainly excited to share it with us!  Supposedly, it does time travel.  One of the members told me he saw in the future that I become the first black/white female President.  So there’s that.  And an unexpected highlight – we were sitting next to 1/2 of the Dollar Store team and member of the band Baby Teeth, Abraham Levitan.  He always wows the Dollar Store crowd with his ability to whip up catchy, intelligent and funny diddies based on performances he saw play out just minutes before, that he then sings and pianos.  And added highlight to that highlight, he was wearing sexy footwear!  Which of course I told him, which I’m sure was the peak of his night.

The evening was interesting.  Probably any place you go where the first thing you have to do is fill out a liability release and where you find yourself in a welding helmet will be interesting.

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