Success! (And ways to contribute if you missed the Kickstarter)

Running a Kickstarter campaign is not for the faint-of-heart. Five grueling weeks of non-stop self-promotion can really take a lot out of you - even if you're a natural-born extrovert like me. But we did it! We even managed to raise $4,155 over our initial funding goal - though still $3k under our stretch goal to fully fund a Spanish-language version.

Several people have asked if it's still possible to contribute to the project, since the Kickstarter campaign is over and we still need more funds, and the answer is Yes!! We are still able to receive contributions through our non-profit fiscal sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative, and all donations are tax-deductible in the US. ANY amount is welcome.

Another way you can help is by posting a "Worse Than Poop" selfie. We ran a contest to see how many people we could get to post selfies taken next to a mode of transportation that was either "#worsethanpoop" or "NOT #worsethanpoop". Perhaps not surprisingly, the "NOT" category was much more popular, and images are still coming in - this one from Luis Villa of Costa Rica, taken while visiting the Bay Area! (Can you tell what is 'unusual' about the photo?)

Luis Villa at the Palo Alto transit center - our most recent #worsethanpoop selfie!

Luis Villa at the Palo Alto transit center - our most recent #worsethanpoop selfie!

To post your own selfie, just take a photo of yourself next to a clean, or dirty, mode of transportation, and a sign that says either "#worsethanpoop" or "NOT #worsethanpoop". Then post the photo on Facebook or Twitter with a hashtag (that's important!), like this: #worsethanpoop. Or, just email your photo to me at worsethanpoop -at- gmail.com.

 

Elliot & Vanessa Go to Maker Faire

Hard to believe - but somehow, until today, we had never made it to Maker Faire: the incredible two-day festival of delirious DIY-engineering-crafting-creativity that happens every year a short 30 minute drive from our home in Palo Alto.

You know you're going to see cool stuff when the car across from you in the parking lot is an electric Fisker. (Note the solar-paneled roof.)

You know you're going to see cool stuff when the car across from you in the parking lot is an electric Fisker. (Note the solar-paneled roof.)

This year, our friend Christopher invited us to help at his booth: LEDlabs makes an iOS app that drives LED displays - using anything from live video, to shadow puppetry, to photos of the world's youngest climate scientist:

Elliot up in LED lights at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

Elliot up in LED lights at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

We had been warned in advance that Maker Faire was huge, and crowded, and overwhelming. It was all true. We decided early on to treat it like New York City: to accept that we'd never be able to see it all, and that whatever we saw would probably be pretty cool. Overall, the approach seemed to work.

Grace from  Bare Conductive  helped Elliot do some mixology on a paper DIY turntable

Grace from Bare Conductive helped Elliot do some mixology on a paper DIY turntable

My personal favorite: scooter-powered spirograph!

My personal favorite: scooter-powered spirograph!

I got really inspired at a talk by designer/builder/educator Emily Pilloton, of Project H. She shared several projects in which she had worked with teenagers to design and build meaningful, useful structures for their communities - building not only community resources but also resilience and self-esteem. SO COOL!

Emily Pilloton from Project H, sharing incredible stories of what she calls "love and audacity".

Emily Pilloton from Project H, sharing incredible stories of what she calls "love and audacity".

Elliot meets a random wandering robot at Maker Faire 2014.

Elliot meets a random wandering robot at Maker Faire 2014.

Jon Sarriugarte of  Form & Reform  let Elliot ride his electric trilobite (and wear his cool leather helmet)

Jon Sarriugarte of Form & Reform let Elliot ride his electric trilobite (and wear his cool leather helmet)

Maker Faire can be overwhelming - the noise, the crowds, the lights, the constant stimulation. But towards the end of the afternoon, I found the perfect antidote at the SJSU interactive media booth: a biofeedback station that tracks your brainwaves, and allows you to control images of rocks on a screen by making your mind clear and focused. Who knew it would be possible to meditate right next to a Tesla coil powered by the sound of grinding guitars? And that it would feel so great?

Meditation Biofeedback, courtesy of SJSU.

Meditation Biofeedback, courtesy of SJSU.

Elliot Visits the Stanford Solar Car Project

Yesterday, Elliot and I were invited to Stanford University's Automotive Innovation Facility, to see a presentation about the Stanford Solar Car Project

Luminos, the latest Stanford Solar Car, came in 4th in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. Stanford Solar Car Project is America's top solar car team - and the best undergraduate team in the world. 

Luminos, the latest Stanford Solar Car, came in 4th in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. Stanford Solar Car Project is America's top solar car team - and the best undergraduate team in the world. 

Three Stanford Solar Cars were on display. Richard Lui tells Elliot about Xenith, which competed in the 2011 World Solar Challenge.

Three Stanford Solar Cars were on display. Richard Lui tells Elliot about Xenith, which competed in the 2011 World Solar Challenge.

Luminos team member Anna Olson describes the enviable discomforts of driving the solar car in the outback.

Luminos team member Anna Olson describes the enviable discomforts of driving the solar car in the outback.

Definitely not a comfy seat! Solar Car racers take 4-hour shifts behind the wheel, to keep from falling asleep or dying of heat stroke.

Definitely not a comfy seat! Solar Car racers take 4-hour shifts behind the wheel, to keep from falling asleep or dying of heat stroke.

Bike to Work Day!

Today was the SF Bay Area Bike to Work Day. Elliot and I got up an hour early, to greet people at the CalTrain station.

Kathy Durham, Palo Alto's Safe Routes to School/Commute coordinator, gives Elliot goodie bags to hand out.

Kathy Durham, Palo Alto's Safe Routes to School/Commute coordinator, gives Elliot goodie bags to hand out.

We made a giant poster and handed out flyers - along with free bagels, coffee, and goodie bags. Elliot even dressed up in his professor costume. Crowd funding has made us shameless.

Vanessa and Elliot, in between waves of cycle commuters.

Vanessa and Elliot, in between waves of cycle commuters.

 

Sven Thesen at 7am, waiting for commuters and chanting "Worse Than Poop!"

Sven Thesen at 7am, waiting for commuters and chanting "Worse Than Poop!"

Towards 8am, more people started  arriving - including the Mayor and the City Manager.

Elliot & Vanessa with team Bike Palo Alto - including Kathy Durham, Mayor Nancy Shepherd, Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez, and City Manager Jim Keene.

Elliot & Vanessa with team Bike Palo Alto - including Kathy Durham, Mayor Nancy Shepherd, Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez, and City Manager Jim Keene.

One cyclist, when he heard about Worse Than Poop!, asked Elliot to sign his flyer.

The lucky recipient of Elliot's very first autograph.

The lucky recipient of Elliot's very first autograph.

Of Psycho Butts and Strange Coincidences...

Elliot has been reading a lot lately. This morning, he was too busy reading a very funny book called "The Day My Butt Went Psycho" to feed the cat. I decided not to get mad; I let him read, and fed the cat myself. The book is actually really funny - and I want to support Elliot's reading habit. 

Later this morning, at our local farmer's market, Elliot and I ran into Eugene Cordero: friend, science advisor to the project, and "the genius behind the Green Ninja". He was with his wife and her cousin. "Let me introduce you to Andrew," he said. "He's visiting from Australia, and he writes children's books." So we shook hands and chatted for a few minutes. Elliot ran off to get something to eat with his dad.

Eugene told me to tell Andrew about our project - so I did, and when I got to the part about pooping cars, Eugene said - "Andrew should find that familiar territory. He just wrote a book about psycho butts." 

It took me a moment to register this. "Hold on." My brain was searching through inner recordings of Elliot's non-stop monologues about his favorite authors. Who was it that wrote the psycho butts book? "Are you..." click, it came to me: "Andy Griffiths?"

"Why yes!" he said. He looked surprised.

I uttered an expletive. "Oh my god. Wait! There is someone you HAVE to meet." I ran off to find Elliot.

Elliot, Andy Griffiths, and Eugene Cordero at the California Avenue Farmers Market

Elliot, Andy Griffiths, and Eugene Cordero at the California Avenue Farmers Market

Andy/Andrew turned out to be not just Eugene's wife's cousin, and house-guest, and one of the most famous children's book authors in Australia - but also an incredibly nice guy. He indulged Elliot in a long discussion of the intricacies of several of his titles. He told Elliot all about how the books get made. He even promised to sign Elliot's book copy when he comes to Elliot's school next week for an author visit. (He's currently on a book tour of the US.) 

Could the world be any smaller?

Earth Day, here we come...

It's Sunday night, and we launch our Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday. Less than 48 hours to go! I'm nervous, and exhausted. Tonight at dinner, we asked Elliot if he remembered when he first heard about the project and agreed to do it. "I remember you came to pick me up after school, at Kids Club," he said. "And I remember, you said, 'I've got an idea!...'"

The rest, as they say, is history. Or soon will be.

Yikes! We launch in less than 48 hours! (From our first "Professor Elliot" photo shoot, June, 2013) 

Yikes! We launch in less than 48 hours! (From our first "Professor Elliot" photo shoot, June, 2013) 

As we prepare for the intensity of the campaign, a few people have pointed out to me that not everyone knows what a "Kickstarter campaign" is. So, in a nutshell: it's a way of crowdfunding a project - in this case, by using the Kickstarter web platform.

Crowdfunding is a way of gathering financial support through many individual donors, most of whom donate small amounts. Running a campaign is supposed to be by turns grueling, mortifying, and exhilarating. Missy Laney, of the Sundance Institute, told me it's like having a newborn baby in the house. You spend every waking moment on it - and you don't sleep much. (You can see why I'm feeling nervous!)

In our case, we are also running an "all or nothing" campaign - meaning we won't get a penny unless we raise at least our goal: $21,000. This is the bare minimum it will take to make Worse Than Poop! the film we know it needs to be. In reality, it will take more than this - but $21k will get us far enough to make it happen. And as with all crowdfunded projects, the more people who find out about it, the more likely we are to meet our goal. 

This is why you, dear reader, are so important. You have the power to forward this post to your friends, to like us on FaceBook, to follow us on Twitter, and to tell everyone you know about Worse Than Poop!  Starting on Tuesday, for as little as $5, you can become part of the solution, part of a movement that will change our world for the better, one pooping car at a time. We'll also have many awesome and fun rewards for you - fabulous tokens of our affection that you won't find anywhere else. So stay tuned... and if you haven't already, please take the Poopie Pledge to support us on Tuesday! 

Countdown to Kick-Off

It's official: we are launching our Kickstarter campaign in 15 days. Or should I say Kickstartr? It seems they have changed their name again. (Just kidding. Note the date on that post.) At any rate, I am now madly preparing for what everyone tells me will be a very grueling (groveling) experience.

On April 22, Earth Day - one year to the date after the idea for a pooping cars movie popped into my head - we will go live, and find out how many people actually want to see a gas car take a dump.

If you're still reading this, I'd be ever so grateful if you'd head over and take the Poopie Pledge to support our campaign! Every little bit of support - moral, financial, and social - really makes a difference. 

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EV Shopping with Elliot

Our family went shopping for an electric vehicle last weekend. Elliot was thrilled - he even passed up a play date with his best friend so he could join us.

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First, we tested a Ford Focus EV. It belongs to our optometrist, who wants to sell it so he can get the new Rav4 EV.

At first I wasn't too keen on it - the styling feels dowdy to me, though Elliot & his dad thought it looked "sleek". But inside it was pretty sweet - the good doctor got leather seats, and the Focus driver seat comes with an electric adjustment nob that rivals a La-Z-Boy for comfort & adjustability. Upside: a 6.6kWh charger means it fills up on a level 2 charger in 3-4 hours. Downside: no DC fast charger.

Later we test drove the Chevy Spark, and Elliot asked about that:

Our last test drive was in a 2013 Nissan Leaf, so new it was still covered in plastic! (And seriously off-gassing. I told Elliot to hold his breath until we could roll down the windows.)

Elliot - high on that 'new car smell'.

Elliot - high on that 'new car smell'.

The 2013 Leaf also has a 6.6 charger, and a ChaDeMo DC quick charge port, and a "braking regen" drive mode that feels almost as fun as the BMW Active-E (and helps increase range).

While there was no clear winner, we felt that the combination of 3.3 kWh (read: slow) charger and current lack of fast-charging infrastructure for the Spark put it in last place. I liked the look of the Leaf (in silver, anyway), and the braking regen is a big draw. Plus the Leaf is a clear winner on trunk space. And most importantly, the speed of quick charging on the Leaf makes it a viable car for longer distances - and a better model for encouraging others to go EV.

But the cost of the Leaf (we were quoted $362/month for a three year lease) is almost double the cost of the Spark ($199) and significantly higher than the Ford ($225).

The upshot: we're going to wait until after we do our taxes to see how much we can afford - and hope that in the meantime the 2013 Leafs come down in price!

 

An all-EV Weekend

Vanessa and Elliot attended a screening on Friday of Chris Paine's epic film Revenge of the Electric Car. Elliot's goal now is to become like Gadget, and help his dad rebuild our 1995 Honda Civic as an all-electric car.

Elliot and his pal David Gershon at a recent screening of Revenge of the Electric Car

Elliot and his pal David Gershon at a recent screening of Revenge of the Electric Car

Elliot (aka Robin Hood) gets a ride on an electric tricycle.

Elliot (aka Robin Hood) gets a ride on an electric tricycle.

 

On Sunday, we participated in EV Day at our church, to celebrate a new EV charger (and Halloween - a few days early). Elliot ditched his Robin Hood bow in order to catch a ride on an electric tricycle. 

We also got to ride in a brand-new Fiat 500e (with eyelashes!)

 

 

Vanessa with Richard and his brand-new all-electric Fiat 500e (photo by Elliot)

Vanessa with Richard and his brand-new all-electric Fiat 500e (photo by Elliot)

What Makes a "Safe" car?

Elliot has become obsessed with electric vehicles. I need to remember to start recording our conversations, because some of the things he says are so funny. ("Mommy, I think we need to buy the electric Honda Fit. I mean, I'm just not too keen on the look of the Leaf, and Daddy isn't either. With those bulgy eyes & everything.")

But yesterday Elliot said something that I thought was particularly prescient for an 8-year-old. He was asking about Volvo's. He wanted to know what was more polluting - a Volvo or a Subaru.

Me: "They're probably about the same. Subarus have all-wheel drive, which reduces their mileage. Volvos are generally considered to be the safest cars, so they're heavier. And most of them are pretty big. But people buy them because they're really safe."

Elliot: "But I mean, how can a car be SAFE, if it's polluting all that CO2 and wrecking the planet? I think an EV is much safer." 

Gotta love it.