Monday, October 17, 2011

Heavy metal shop.

One of the tricky things about blogging is that it lets you stick every half-baked thought on the internet as they occur to you. That's a bit of a problem because we all (I assume) start things and then, for one reason or another, lose interest and let them fall by the wayside. Fine if you're just thinking about building a bookcase or taking up the banjo, but when you announce your intention to do so and then fail to follow through, it makes you look like a bit of a flake. Too much of that and the Internet's reputation as a meeting ground for serious, intelligent people with well-thought-out positions on things might be tarnished.

I've got a few threads that seem to have trailed off and I apologize for that. My series on the advisability of going to university kind of petered out because, well, I work in an office doing research on the Internet all day and it's tough to ramp up the motivation to do it some more once I get home. Plus it's depressing. Kids these days are really getting hosed.

My Back To The Future series is still going, and I'll be posting some more installments during the cold, dark, blogogenic nights of winter.

As for my ambition to learn some practical manual skills on my own, that's been tricky because I live in a smallish apartment without an obvious workshop area. I can't just haul an arc welder into the dining room, start mounting bottom brackets to angle iron and expect to still have a girlfriend tomorrow morning.

But I've taken some steps. Last week I started an oxy-acetylene welding course at Algonquin College. Community college is a wonderful thing--they offer night courses in all kinds of stuff, and some of it is quite useful. (I knew there had to be somewhere people go to learn to actually do things, since there seem to be things getting done all the time.)

So I'm learning to weld, and next semester I may take woodworking or electricity. It may be awhile before I actually do anything with it, but I'm starting.

Other than that, this summer I learned to sail. I'm hooked, to say the least. Even better, it's a skill and a hobby that fits very nicely into both the comfortable world I'm in now and the rapidly disintegrating one I suspect might be coming. Today I can be a leisurely sailing dork, spending a day on the water before retiring to the clubhouse for a martini or six; tomorrow, I can get busy smuggling penicillin from Hamilton to North Bay under the nose of Admiral Fungus Humungous and his postapocalyptic mutant lake pirates.

I'm all about transferable skills.


  1. In a real, SHTF society you wouldn't be using oxyacetylene, but instead, blacksmithing.

    Might I suggest The Foxfire book series? They were done by high school kids interviewing old people in North Georgia, learning about building log houses, blacksmithing, building forges, in other words creating almost everything from the natural resources around them.

    If I lived where you did I wouldn't be living in a downtown apartment, but I'd have a few acres of bugout land out in the sticks. I'd build a forge, a brick oven, and build a log house or cabanne as you guys call it around a stone hearth that will absorb and radiate heat from burning.... well, anything.

  2. Actually you raise an interesting meta point.

    In your day job, you basically argue people should live within tiny apartments or better yet Star Trek style arcologies, And I can admire that. Living on less, living with less, doing more with less is truly admirable.

    But you want to weld. Hard to do on the kitchen table in a 500sqft apartment, chic and lovely and the darling of both Ikea style minimalist design and socialist social engineering. Likewise, your big dog. Not to crap on your own circumstances, but I've seen a lot of neurotic dogs in New York City. No living space, but it's apparently the in thing in the Big Apple to have Marmaduke living with you. Problem is, those dogs were designed to chase out animals, not park themselves next to the coffee table and wag their tails very very carefully.

    Playing the drums? About the biggest thing that will get a landlord telling you to move out before you move in. heck, even a trumpet will cause the busybody little snit in 2b to bang on the ceiling with her broom.

    Hence, suburbia. You could have kids, play the drums, work on the Chevy, fix bikes, have noisy sex and/or a dog the size of a Shetland pony and nobody could give you any grief.

    Al Gore lives in a world where he explains we all need to use public transit, a total non-starter in the US (nobody wants to be shot and raped by gangbangers) and live frugally and with simplicity, while living in an energy-leaking mansion with a $20,000 a month power bill. But he'll certainly climb into a private jet to jet off somewhere to have a telethon or benefit concert to try and change your behaviour.

    It will be interesting to see in this blog how your budding desire to actually build a life and not live through a laptop conflicts with the reality of living in a shoebox surrounded by people. Though this may seem like a slam against you, it isn't - there's very sensible reasons for living in an urban area and commuting by bicycle, but dear God, what do these cyclists up in Canuckistan do when there's six feet of snow? "How to live ideologically in an inconvenient reality." Now THERE's a new show for HGTV.

  3. To anonymous 2:

    Hard to weld in small appartment, yes- but that's why all these cool maker-spaces are popping up in urban centers.