Posts Tagged stuff

#17: Making Things

I think these days, with so much of my job going into computers and not much physical to show for pretty much anything I do (a few pieces of cardboard, or the rules of a game on a shelf), I am under where I’d like to be in terms of creating useful things in the physical world.  I’m been inspired by what my friends have made in the past – everything from fancy clothing to huge mechanical elephants – and I don’t think I do enough to hone the Macguyverish urge to put together something useful on my own, something that lasts and stands on its own, apart from other people’s systems.

I’m leaning more toward something of grand scope, like an arcade console (which I’ve made abortive efforts to do on my own in the past) or a fixture/piece of furniture.  A few random ideas I had:

  • Two-tier couch or seating area
  • Transportable hammock chair
  • Gaming table
  • Clock or wall-mounted “organizer” with digital components

Regardless of what idea I end up trying to execute on, I do think I should spend more time working with materials to make something that lasts.

17. I resolve to spend a month planning and then building something out of physical materials, like a piece of furniture.

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Crafting (Regular, IRL)

I didn’t really want to frame this as a review, because it’s more of a catalogue of discovery and my associated learnings/feelings.  Today, basically as a side project while we drafted another rotisserie, I created my costume for the Birthday/Halloween party lovingly referred to as “Birthoween,” over at Casa de Davidson.  My plan was clear in my head: Repeater, from Plants vs. Zombies.  As with most plans, the execution is the tricky part (the devil is in the details) and I feel like I really reconnected with some of my crafting behaviors of high school and backward.

One of the things I love about creating an arts & crafts project is the MacGyver-ish phase where you kind of inventory your available materials and skills and determine whether you will be able to make the picture in your head into the item in reality.  I feel I am well-off in some areas (duplication from reference, innovative use of materials) and poor in others (general lack of “crafty” skills, aesthetic sensibility).  Still, it’s kind of like a little puzzle for each step of creation, trying to figure out whether I need to learn to do something new or if I can cleverly assemble what I already have into the solution.

For this project in particular, I found it amusing that many folks suggested I sew together the Repeater-hat I wanted, but in the end I ended up using staples as the “poor man’s sewing kit.”

I think this activity has inspired me to create more.  I definitely feel like I should have taken more opportunities to build stuff while I was in college, since so many folks in Blacker were into doing so, especially Nate.  The key to keep me interested, I think, is the subdivision into many smaller tasks and a separate part of my brain keeping track of the overall strategy.

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Brand New Day

Today, I was moving myself down into the Magic R&D area, affectionately called “The Pit,” and I realized how much random stuff I collect (or have collected, I guess) over the years.  On a day to day basis, how much of this do I actually use?  My initial guess is that I don’t use anything other than my computer, my notes and a couple books/Magic cards.

Why is this true?  Well, I think it’s because I am unconsciously practicing one of my principles: stuff is way less important than experiences and people. I would also include pets in there, which I guess are mid-way between people and stuff. :)  Interestingly, I get upset at myself sometimes for not taking pictures (stuff) when I am on trips (experiences) because my memory is not perfect and I therefore miss out over time on some of the experience.  Pictures are really a physical representation of experience but my categorical rejection of the importance of stuff prevents me from retaining them (or bringing along the necessary equipment to take pictures).

I have very few things from earlier in life.  I also feel pretty great whenever I do a Great Purge and throw out a bunch of stuff I have collected.  In fact, I was considering doing just that as I moved my desk.  I’m going to put it off a bit, though, because (1) I do have the luxury of time to think on this move, since it is “at your own pace” as per my managerial chain, and (2) I don’t want to make the mistake of letting my anti-stuff emotional motivation rule me before I have a chance to logically judge the stuff I do have.

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Packing Problem

Yesterday, Kelly, Monty and I were chatting about travel and packing for said travel.  Monty’s thought was to have a packed set of clothes for a week away at all times.  As I was thinking about it later, it jogged my memory that I once endeavored to reduce my worldly possessions to what I could carry in a suitcase or two.

This was in college, so I didn’t really have much stuff, but it was still exceedingly difficult.  Especially when some of the stuff you own is like, a computer monitor or a TV.  However, as time passes, the technology bits get miniaturized.  And some of the media that was once bound to large-volume objects (TV and movies, for example) is now available on miniaturized technology (laptops, iPhone via Netflix).  Is the dream of being completely mobile still possible?

I can see one major problem: living space.  When you live in an apartment or dorm where the place is furnished, this isn’t a big deal – you just drop the existing furniture (which you don’t own) and move on.  But in most places, and everywhere you have a contract for payment, getting up and walking away is not really an option.  Maybe in the future we’ll have a miniaturized version of furniture (a chair that turns into a tiny parcel?) or digital adaptive futuristic material that makes furniture out of the fabric of the home (a souped up version of the furnished apartment, with all of the conveniences of “your own furniture”).

Why did I have this dream?  I enjoy travel, and sometimes it bugs me that I can’t do as much as I want, not because of money but because of fixedness.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for solutions to the problem of “stuff” – technology has been doing a lot of heavy lifting (har har) in this respect for quite a while.

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