It’s Chemistry Time!!!
Mark did a great blog post on both day’s and her experience in Utah at our workshop.
You can read about it here:
Click Here To Read Girl Marks Blog Entry
Well, we made it past Day 1 of the workshop without any issues and then came Day 2.
It all started well enough….
I drove home from the workshop the night before, basically crashed and slept and then got crackin’ early the next day for Day 2 of the workshop.
I got the truck repacked, got everything ready & started heading toward Salt Lake. I live about 30 miles North of Salt Lake City in a place called Syracuse (yep, it’s named after Syracuse, New York). The drive is about 35 minutes on a Saturday morning and about 45-50 minutes in rush hour. This morning the traffic was great, the truck was doing well, I was flying down the freeway in my dad’s Biodiesel Powered rig (I had way too much stuff to bring to use my old Isuzu), life was good….
And Then The Exit Was Closed!!!
As I started to get off the freeway I noticed a cop at the top of the off ramp. “Hmmm” I thought to myself, “must’ve pulled someone over”….
What I saw when I reached the end of the off-ramp just about made my heart sink. THEY’D CLOSED MY FREEWAY EXIT TO THE WORKSHOP!
Now, I know, you’re thinking, “whoop-t-doo…big deal…it’s just an exit, right”? WRONG!!! This exit happened to be THE exit I’d published on my map to the workshop.
The other exits were miles away and my map didn’t show them or even how to get to the workshop using alternate roads.
But Wait, It Gets Worse!!!
How could it get any worse you ask?
Well, not only had they closed the road to my workshop, but they’d also closed THE ONLY TWO ROADS THAT LED to my workshop.
If you look at the map above, you’ll see 400 W.
Also, if you look ABOVE 400 W you see the freeway exit.
They’d not only closed the exit, but they’d also closed 400 W AND 300 W AND 400 N AND 300 N.
It seems on the one day I chose to do my Workshop, The Great City of Salt Lake decided to run a HUGE race for “Race for the cure”, which is a 15K race dedicated to helping find a cure for cancer.
So I’m sure you’re thinking, BIG DEAL, so cut through the barracades & drive around to the workshop…right? Easier said than done.
You see, several of “Salt Lake City’s Finest” were guarding the streets to the Utah Symphony & Opera Warehouse. I pulled up my truck to one of the streets & said, “What gives?” (OK, I was a little nicer than that) “I need to get to that building (my finger pointing at the place).
Somehow the cop had mercy on me & let me take my big, honkin’ Dodge through the closed off street and I was able to pull into the parking lot.
No sooner had I parked my big rig, the race started.
Now, this wasn’t some peuny little race….noooooo….this was a 15,000+ Participants race! Everything from the super in shape folks to Grandma pushing the stroller of grand kids immediately began to fill the street on 400 N.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!!
Not only did the race go down 400 N, but it went PAST my off-ramp street and then they turned right, ran over to 300 W (see map above) and RAN BACK TOWARDS my workshop space, right past it, turned another corner ran back over to 400 W and proceeded to run the loop again!
So, let’s review:
1- My exit I published to my participants is closed (mind you, I had folks come to this thing from all over the place. Canada, New Zealand, California, Oregon…oh yeah, and a few folks from Utah.
2- The only TWO DAMN STREETS to my facility ARE BLOCKED OFF BY COPS!!
3- 15,000 people began to run down those “blocked off streets” fairly soon after I got there
4- I have a WORKSHOP that’s supposed to be starting in 15 minutes & I’m the only one there!
Can you say a disaster waiting to happen?
Well, luckily the race didn’t last tooo terribly long, but none-the-less, NONE OF MY PARTICIPANTS can get into the parking lot now!
Let’s just put it this way….the workshop didn’t start on time.
The Worst Was Over
Luckily, that was the worst hiccup in our day & the workshop finally got started & went off really well…..
Well, ok, there was this one part that didn’t work too well.
I was tasked w/ measuring out the 1 G of Lye to 1 Liter of water in preparation for the workshop, and for some reason I’d got the measurements off and we had to make new solution to which Mark said, “Uhm, well, that’s never happened before”….
Guess I’ll stick to my own titration methods….he he he.
Anyway, after that the workshop took off & went really well.
I just have to say that Mark is one hell of an awesome teacher. It was so much fun watching her teach. While all the students took copious notes of what she taught, I took notes on HOW she taught. In between notes and tag-team teaching, I had my camera out and was taking pictures left & right.
Call me the Biodiesel Camera Man, but I love snapping pictures at biodiesel events and of anything biodiesel related. Throughout the day I took over 100 pictures to preserve the event.
Here’s a sampling from the gallery:
So, once we got all the kinks ironed out, out came the oil, the titration materials, the black magic markers, and Biodiesel Chemistry 101 began.
Mark did an awesome job of taking a somewhat complicated topc and making it simple to understand for everyone. It was a lot of fun to watch.
After some basics on biodiesel production, we split the class up into several groups and out came the labware and the toys and everyone had a chance to make their own biodiesel!
Every class participant had the chance to titrate oil and make a mini batch of biodiesel. It was great! Each participant walked through the steps and had full hands on interaction with the chemicals, the oil, the methanol, and the rest of the stuff we use to make biodiesel.
It was a lot of fun to watch everyone’s eyes light up as they realized just how easy it was to make biodiesel (Honest, it really is quite simple!). I tell people that if they can bake a cake they can make biodiesel. It really isn’t that hard!
Soon we had several test batches made up that were ready to begin settling.
After we made a bunch of mini test batches it was on to the lessons on how to look for water, how to test for quality, and a myriad of other useful topics for making biodiesel.
Even I got into the act:
After that the class got to take their “practical knowledge” and put it into practice. Yep, more testing and more fun!
The workshop was a phenomenal success and after we finished up I opened up my “mini store” and sold a bunch of goodies to folks so they could head back & start brewing.
Overall, I was thrilled with the turnout and the way the thing went off. I was honestly floored by the response we got to this workshop. We had a guy that’d flown all the way from New Zealand to come to this workshop and then, after it was all done, he came & purchased a completely built processor that he then shipped to New Zealand. Talk about dedication!
Overall, it was an incredible experience. One that I’m sure I’ll get to experience again (since I’m obviously committed to this stuff…that and I have a ton of fun doing it too).
So, that’s how it all went down!
To all those participants that came and enjoyed the workshop, THANK YOU!
To the city of Salt Lake and their race planners, DON’T DO THAT AGAIN!
And to girl mark, who so graciously put up w/ my hairy schedule as we put this together, I give a HUGE thank you too.
It was her presentation and information that drew in the crowd. It was just phenomenal.
So….watch for more workshops from us in the future. I’m sure we’ll be having them.
The Rabid Biodiesel Nut