Tag Archives: tools

Preparing for the house of tomorrow

I’ve been thinking about technology of late and the world our boy will grow up in. Many of the things we can barely imagine already exist as working prototypes today. I’ve felt myself dismiss new technologies like Google Project Glass as quirky and unnecessary and wondering why people need anything other than a good old fashioned keyboard and I have to kick myself out of this aging process.

In 15 years time, things like those glasses won’t just have passed the prototype-early-adopters phase, they’ll be old news. They’ll look about as modern and exciting as a Nintendo 64 does today.

He will never know what it’s like to get a computer for the first time, or the Internet for the first time, and the one thing I can’t get out of my head is that he may never get to (or need to) drive a car.

Think about cars. Either resource scarcity and compounded global economic crises render cars un-affordable, or the human race manages to solve some of its current problems and another 17 years of technological development make self driving cars the norm. I doubt you’ll need to own a self driving car. Just imagine how cheap it will be to run an electric powered taxi service when you don’t have to pay a driver’s salary. It’s not the world as we know it, and it’s not a world in which anyone will be able to offer advice about living well. He will grow up among pioneers.

We can only do our best to prepare him for a world we will never fully understand.

I come back to this verse often in my day:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

- The Prophet on Children

“For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams”

In our quest to live a simple live, we must not fail in preparing our son to live in a complex world. We must provide him with opportunity. He will choose the level of simplicity he wants for himself.

We can’t possibly hope to educate him in a system we won’t ever fully understand, but then my parents didn’t educate me in the Internet. They gave me the opportunity to work it out for myself. With plenty of worry and a reassuring amount of trust. They didn’t know I’d miss whole nights of sleep trying to get websites to render properly in Netscape Navigator then go to school and piss about in IT lessons that I thought were a waste of time. The education system wasn’t ready for a world with the Internet. And only the time I spent breaking the rules helped me to prepare for the world I live in.

While I can show him the value of carving a spoon with a knife and his own hands, I must also show him the value of printing your own spoon with a model you’ve made on a computer.

If someone had put it on YouTube I’d be linking to a song right now. But you’ll have to settle for the lyrics instead.

I can see we’re really close to something
It’s a feeling so near
But I got no time for the Luddites
Always lookin’ back down the track
Saying, “Can you spot one more detail, Jack.”

You gotta live in this world, go diggin’ the new
Live in this world – boy, tran or girl
Live in this world, oh, get diggin’ the new

Crashing head-on into the future
It won’t even leave a dent
Just walk in like you own it
Remember, it ain’t set in cement

- Track 7 here

It ain’t set in cement.

Tartine bread, cast-iron combo cooker alternative

Photo credit to an endless banquet

If like me you’ve read Tartine Bread, but can’t find any shops nearby that sell the lovely cast iron double dutch oven combo cookers recommended, there is an alternative.

Or at least I thought there was…

Then before I’d finished writing this post I ran into a problem.

Emile Henry tagineOur Emile Henry tagine is meant to be invincible to heat. The manufacturers claim you can move this straight from a freezer into a 500 degree oven without causing any damage.

But after a few weeks of (very successfully) baking bread every day ours has cracked.

Maybe this isn’t the cause of the problem, but I can’t think what else would do this after 5 years of use.

Cracked Tagine

So moving on, I had a look at dutch oven combo cookers for sale online, but ended up ordering a La Cloche Baking Dome instead. It looks made for the job.

Fingers crossed.

Sorting out our tools

Tools for the job, including ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’

The other morning, I got out early to try and clear the aquaponics patch before the heat of the day sent me back indoors. I sharpened up my ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’ (official name is a mystery to me) and stepped outside to thunder and lightning. Now my years of playing golf as a child are very useful for using the ‘Golf-club-like hacking device’, but they also taught me not to swing a metal stick about in a thunderstorm.

So I did the slightly less exciting job of sorting out the tools we dumped here on our last holiday. We have an odd bunch, some are extremely cheap and others much more expensive with nothing much in the mid range. The cheap tools were from the very time we first had a garden and didn’t know what we were doing, and the expensive tools came a year later once we had come to care about working in the garden. The only reason the cheap tools are still in once piece is that they are so horrible to work with they rarely get used. But I can’t bring myself to throw them out, as they might be a useful backup sometime.

I also found a toolbox that always puts a smile on my face. While some of our tools are cheap, and others are expensive, these ones are priceless…

My first toolbox

It’ll be another few years before our boy can start playing with these, but I hope he gets as much pleasure from them as I did. Please note the metal hammer, and the real blade in that plane. I don’t know if toys still come with sharp edges these days so I’ll be looking after these carefully just in case they don’t.

Goal: Carving spoons and other useful things

In our new life, I plan to make more time for spoon carving.

I’ve done a bit in the past, but my tools are now in France so I’m itching to get back to them.

Shoehorns I carved for Christmas presents last year (Lime and Hazel)

Spoon carving is not and never will be a job for me. It’s a craft, or maybe a hobby; an alternative to television that’s infinitely more engaging and rewarding. It’s a great way to pass a winter evening by the fire, or a summer evening in the garden.

With a small hatchet and a couple of knives that I’ve learnt to sharpen myself, I can turn a branch into a tool. And in doing so, I can show my son something of the real value of human time. The pure economic madness of carving your own utensils is itself a challenge to the madness of ‘pure’ economics. Because time is not valued only in terms of money. In carving spoons (or other utensils for that matter) there is experience, history, skill, resilience, self-satisfaction, art, relaxation, meditation, utility, exercise (mental and physical) and the ever present chance of cutting off your opposable thumb if you don’t pay the job enough respect. I concentrate when I’m coding websites, but never like I do when I’m swinging an axe to carve a spoon.

One day I hope to be as good as this:

This learning is not to be rushed.

Shake out.

Goal: Building a shaving horse

This goal is nice and simple; build one of these:

19th century knowledge carpentry and woodworking shaving horse 1

This has been on my todo list for a while, but it wasn’t worth starting once we began planning our move to France.

After I’ve knocked one of these together, I’m looking forward to working with the draw knife that came with my Erik Frost carving set. It’s been untouched until now as no modern clamps or tools do quite the job quite as well as an old fashioned shaving horse.

And if I recall, I think there were shaving horse plans in my favourite book, William Copperthwaite’s ‘A Handmade Life‘, so this feels like a good time for a quote:

“I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.” -William Coperthwaite

Shake out.