Archive September, 2011

Tools of the Zombie Apocalypse

14 September, 16:53, by Simon Clark

Sitting around over beers a while back, we were talking about ways that we can be evangelizing DIY, what we can do to highlight the importance of not letting these skills fade away in our society. Someone made the offhanded comment that if we don’t succeed, then when the Zombie Apocolypse comes, we’ll all be screwed. And hence, an idea was born.

What I’d like to do is put together an historical exhibit titled ‘Tools of the Zombie Apocalypse: How Makers Saved The World‘. It would feature a number of functional battle-scarred artifacts from the great zombie war, items made from the scavenged bones of a failed civilization, and would showcase the ingenuity-under-fire of a small group of geek survivors. On a more practical scale, it would underscore the importance of maintaining DIY skills in a culture that is turning its back on them.

I am currently looking into possible sources of funding, I figure we’ll need somewhere between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on how ambitious we get. But once I reach that goal, it’ll be time for our Zurvival Weekend. Over the course of three days, we will attempt to answer the follow question.

“A group of skilled and ingenious makers are trapped in a Canadian Tire at the outset of the Zombie Apocolypse. They have enough food and water for three days. Survival beyond that will depend on scavenging, rescuing other survivors, growing food, and keeping the local zombie population in check. What will they drive out of there at the end of the weekend?’

We’ll gather interested people from the Guelph community, lock ourselves away for the weekend, and build some fabulous things. Then, of course, we’ll have to battle-test them, write the narrative for each piece, and assemble the exhibit. Eventually, I envision it being a travelling exhibit, something that could go to different galleries, visit maker faires, and similar fringe festivals.

But what I’m talking about here, is the zombie apocalypse done right. In movies, books, games, whatever, everything is done wrong. Stupid risks are taken, poor weapons are selected, and above all, survivors fight instead of cooperating. No-one does it right, because there’s less drama that way. But by telling the story through the artifacts instead of through a narrative, we can have the freedom to do things right, and keep it engaging, and above all else, show how DIY ingenuity can one day save the world.

The Pathology of DIY

10 September, 00:36, by Simon Clark

I think it was Carl Sagan who first said “If you are going to make a patio from scratch, first you must invent the universe”. I’m not sure if Carl was pro or anti DIY (I’d like to think ‘pro’) but it strikes a nerve, nonetheless.

You see, it would seem that I am incapable of doing things the easy way. When I wanted a specific t-shirt design, I couldn’t just get it printed online for $15. It wasn’t enough, even, to drop $100 on a photo emulsion screen printing kit. Nope. I had to make the frames, stretch the screens, mix my own potassium bichromate photoresist, and build a custom drying cabinet for screen preparation. I’m kinda stupid that way.

So when our deck started getting too old to use, and my wife saw that familiar gleam in my eye, she knew it meant trouble.

The first 10 stones

Now, I will admit that I put my wife through a lot, and she is nothing if not supportive of my own particular mental illness. But this time, I think she shares at least some of the blame.

You see, she was the one who first found the hexagonal pattern in a photo of a marketplace in Tenerife. It was a simple repeating hexagon with three partial arcs inlaid into it. When laid down in an inconsistent pattern, the arcs make a spaghetti plate of meandering paths.  She was the one that used it in an art quilt that now hangs in our front hall.

So when we first discussed ripping out the deck and putting in a patio, I pointed at the quilt, and said “I want that”.

Of course, no-one makes such a patio stone. You can’t go down to Home Depot and come home with a carload. You can, however, come home with a 5 pounds of plaster of paris, a custom built carving jig, 2 gallons of brush-on molding rubber, a cement mixer, 120 bags of sand-mix cement, and a bucket of iron oxide colouring. You can do all this, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

People might just call you pathological.