Maker Faire Bay Area 2012 Photo Recap

As a company that’s hooked on innovation, we’re naturally drawn to ingenuity. So, for the second year in a row, Esurance jumped at the chance to sponsor the 2012 Maker Faire Bay Area, a 2-day festival celebrating all things nifty, crafty, inventive, and DIY. The seventh annual event took place May 19 and 20 in San Mateo, California, and attracted inventors, hobbyists, tinkerers, artists, and makers galore to show off their imaginative, useful, and downright awesome creations.

Maker Faire Bay Area 2012

Check out some of the awesome inventions, contraptions, and crafts displayed at this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area.

Related link

Read about our Road to Maker Faire Challenge winner

Poems of the Road Contest Winners


“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art.” –Henry David Thoreau

During National Poetry Month (April, for you non-word nerds), the Esurance editorial team found a way to combine our love of words with our love of cars by holding the Esurance Poems of the Road Contest. Throughout poetry month, we invited poets, travelers, and car lovers alike to wax poetic about the glories and travails of the road. And we couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic response.

After a lengthy scoring process, we narrowed the more than 1,300 submissions — sonnets, haikus, free verse poems, prose poems, limericks, and lyrics — down to 3 vastly different finalists and sent them off to Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack) from NPR’s Car Talk for final judging.

Poems of the Road winners

So, without further ado, here are the Esurance Poems of the Road winners. Congratulations to you all!

First place

My Favorite Roads, Khristian Kay

My Favorite Roads are ashen a chalky white of patched and cracked arthritic asphalt aged and bleached there is no centerline no paint no makeup just raw flesh under a midday sun no defined lines limiting access but rather following the collective observable rules of good conduct and neighborly jurisprudence specifically for the
polite travelers the vagabonds trespassing moments
these are not the shiny black roads the glistening star lights
on a sable curtain these are lifelines like varicose veins warped
and stoic and telling the Braille staccato of farm implements
and tractors of horses and bikes and children skipping couples walking over the sticky tar patches plastered like gum or pine sap in the crease of wounded trees these roads tell stories experienced and weathered of time and life of legacy and inheritance of
history whispered through the wind

Second place

Western Equinox, Lara Wilber

The road’s gray cradle rocks
summer to sleep with the dusty hum of electricity
and dreams of cowboys on black horses.

At its most beautiful, the sun spends less time here –
Sneaking off with night to hold hands
at the overgrown drive-in, where the speakers hang
from lonely aluminum outposts in the sagebrush.

The hillsides are dappled with goldenrod, ochre –
inkwells for some radical composition of marigolds,
aspen, and flame. Riots of yellow birds.

This last defiant display like the protests
of a child at bedtime. I’m not tired yet…
I’m not tired. Somewhere in the distance reclines
A boy that turned into a blue mountain while he slept.

Third place

The Road Home, Joe Carvalko

At nineteen, rebellious, blackboard jungle funk, joy
rheostat — zero. Dig-it Daddio? Cool gloom,
smog in the noggin, stumbling through soda-jerk jobs,
joined the Army. One last time, me and my Chevy,
Penelope, blue ’52, skirts, whitewalls,
’47 Caddy V-8, two glasspacks, cruised
the drag, passed the five and dime, factories, passed
the spent on Railroad Ave., the rich on Country Club
Road, landmarks memorized so like Odysseus,
I could return to the familiar and old, but
after “Nam” it took fifty years to come back by
then it’d vanished in a wake of pot-holes, fifty
gallon drums, fast food wrappers, my Penelope
stripped bare, waving Old Glory, welcoming me home.

Thanks to all our poets

A big thanks to everyone who shared a poem with us. Your words made us laugh, reflect, and ponder … and certainly made it difficult to choose just 3 winners. We hope you’ll all continue to hoist those mighty pens and, as William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Related link

The Robert Frost guide to car insurance

Greetings from Esurance: Highway 1, California

At Esurance, we work hard to be there for you whenever you need us. In fact, we offer 24/7 customer service each and every day. But even our hard-working, customer-helping superstars need the occasional vacation. And, unsurprisingly, many of our car insurance experts are drawn to the open road — especially since they know all the best safe-driving tips and tricks.

To kick off summer 2012, we asked our associates to submit photos that capture the spirit of the American road trip. It turns out we have some pretty talented photographers on our staff … and they’ve been to some pretty cool places. Throughout the summer, we’ll be posting photos from their trips, like this one from Nathan in our Rocklin office. Maybe you’ll be inspired to plan a road trip for yourself!

(Click to enlarge.)

Have a favorite road trip destination? Share it with us!

Related link

The recipe for a perfect road trip
3 summer road trip tips for better gas mileage

Prom Tips: 5 Essentials and 4 Nonessentials for Your Night

Prom. It’s a rite of passage for the American teen. For some, it’s a magical night filled with starry-eyed dreams of the future. For others, it’s all the angst and awkwardness of high school wrapped up in a rented bow tie. Either way, it’s a night most of us will never forget (I’m still trying to get images of gold lamé out of my head.)

So for all you soon-to-be-grads, we’ve compiled a list of 2012 prom tips to make sure you know what you need (and don’t need) to make your night special.

Prom essentials

  • Righteous wheels. Getting to prom in style is key. If you can afford a limo, more power to you. It’s a reliable and classy way to get around on the big night. More important, it could help keep you safe. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study (PDF) found that the risk of fatality for teen drivers quadruples when they have multiple passengers under the age of 21 in their car. So leave the driving responsibility to a professional if you can.If you’re allowance doesn’t cover such extravagances, do your best to limit driving distractions like loud music, rowdy friends, texting, and getting dressed behind the wheel. And to class things up, try giving mom’s minivan a makeover. A few small touches, like flowers or tulle, will do the trick. But if nothing else at least get a carwash.
  • A memorable soundtrack. The days of mix tapes may be long gone, but making a prom playlist is essential to set the mood. Think about the songs that mean the most to you, your date, and your friends and play them on the ride to and from the prom.
  • A plan. Let’s rephrase that: a solid plan. Don’t just assume your buddy is going to pick you up on his way to the dance. Have clear arrangements for getting to and from the prom before the big night arrives. If you’re going to an after-party make sure you have a reliable ride home or the number of a cab company.
  • Pictures. You’ll appreciate them later.
  • Comfy shoes. This one’s more for the ladies. If you’re going to be dancing all night, bring along a pair of flats, or even socks, to relieve your feet from the pain of high heels.

Prom nonessentials

  • A date. Believe it or not, you can have a lot of fun going stag. Especially if your friends are going stag too. You’ll save money (corsages/boutonnières aren’t cheap), and with no date to impress, you can spend more time scoping out the hotties and showing off your swagger.
  • Drama. Your best friend is going with the person you wanted to go with. Your date was late. Your frenemy is (gasp!) wearing the same dress as you. You can spend all night seething or let it go and enjoy yourself. Your choice.
  • Breaking the bank. Sure, you want to impress your date with all the amenities. But you’re young. You shouldn’t be expected to spend all your money on one night. Thought and creativity can go a long way. A handmade corsage/boutonnière, a decked out minivan, or a homemade dinner or picnic will tell your date you put time and thought into the evening (and will save you some cash).
  • Booze (and drugs). You’re too young to drink, but we’ve all seen the after-school specials. The cool kid sneaks booze into the prom. You’re caught between your morals and the desire to fit in. What do you do? We say, avoid it like the plague. For starters, most schools have a zero tolerance policy, so if you’re caught with alcohol you could end up in some serious trouble (and right before graduation). Not to mention the trouble you could get into with the law (and your parents).Plus, it’s probably no coincidence that May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month. Statistics show that one-third of alcohol-related teenage driving deaths occur in April, May, and June — very possibly due to the parties and excitement surrounding prom and graduation.

Don’t be a statistic. Take care of yourself and stay safe. But, of course, most of all have fun!

Sweet ride or eyesore — what kind of car are you taking (or did you take) to prom? Tell us!

Related link

6 safety tips for teen drivers

The Road to Maker Faire
Challenge Winner: The Vardo

Check out our photo recap from Maker Faire 2012.

Back in March, we invited inventors, tinkerers, and makers to enter their custom creations in “The Road to Maker Faire Challenge” for a shot at Maker fame, an Esurance sponsored booth at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012, and 2,000 big ones to help them get there.

And we have a winner!

The Vardo, home on wheels

George Crawford’s “The Vardo” is a tiny, highway-worthy home on wheels inspired by nineteenth century Gypsy wagons. The Vardo, whose namesake comes from the Romani word meaning “a wagon to live in,” evokes that bygone era when people took to the open road and called it home.

Simple in design, built without plumbing or electricity (on a very limited budget to boot), the Vardo melds minimalist living with old-fashioned whimsy and modern wanderlust. Though it’s small, this towable trailer makes maximum use of its micro space. The expansive interior houses a bed, stove, cooking gear, lanterns, dining nook, shelves, a small library, and oodles of charm.

To date, the Vardo has traveled more than 10,000 miles around much of New Mexico, southern and northern Arizona, up to Missouri and North Dakota, and now west to the Bay Area to showcase at Maker Faire.

The making of the Vardo

George formulated plans for the Vardo about 6 to 7 years ago after reading The English Gypsy Caravan (bibliophiles beware: the book is out of print and is, alas, very expensive).

Back then, the Internet — that behemoth of knowledge — didn’t provide much info on these predecessors to the modern RV. So George gleaned what he could from old articles before settling on his design and building the main body in a little over 3 weeks.

But it wasn’t perfect. Though it met his criteria of being small, light, and inexpensive, the Vardo prototype still had a few kinks. But after a few months and a few thousand miles on the road, the interior layout was finalized.

Insuring the tiny home on wheels

Since the Vardo’s not equipped with plumbing or electrical wiring and is towable, the DMV considers it to be a cargo trailer. This means it doesn’t need special insurance to travel, since a typical car insurance policy covers basic liability. But should George want extra coverage for his one-of-a-kind custom ride, we know where he can get affordable travel trailer insurance (wink).

About the maker extraordinaire

George Crawford, maker extraordinaire by night and professional archeologist by day, spends his spare time making everything from footwear to furniture to pre-industrial technology. You can follow George’s creations on his blog dedicated to primitive technology, archeology, and simple living.

If you were at Maker Faire Bay Area this past weekend (May 19 and 20), you may have seen George and his Vardo next to the Esurance booth. If not, here are a few pics from the event.

george crawford and stacey bennett
George Crawford, Maker extraordinaire, and Stacey Bennett
vardo interior
Photo by Christina Maul
vardo bookshelf
Photo by Christina Maul
esurance charging station
Photo by Christina Maul