Note: All my posts on the ’60s are gathered under “The ’60s,” above. Being a blog, these posts are in reverse order. If you want to read them from the beginning, scroll down. Chapter 1 is at the bottom, chapter 2 above that, etc.

Night Vision Binoculars

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Foster Huntington was arriving after dark Tuesday and I texted him, got a flashlight? He texted back … got something better than a flashlight.

When he got here we walked out into the dark. He said, “Close your eyes.”

Whereupon he fitted this helmet with night vision binocs on my head and said “Open your eyes.”

The dark night was alight! 10 times as many stars. I could see a galaxy. Trees, road, paths, animals all bathed in ghostly light.

It’s like a third world: formerly I had day and night. With these you have lighted-up night. Sure, you can see at night with a flashlight, but it doesn’t light things up 360°. Also, people and animals aren’t aware that you can see them. Foster says he’s been out at night with them, and he can walk right up to rabbits.

Surfing in primo spots at night (they are waterproof, but you sure wouldn’t want to lose them); hunting for mushrooms in secret spots; mountain biking at night without visible light — possibilities are endless.

The only problem is that apparently, the good ones are really expensive.

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Tiny Home on Wheels from Recycled Materials in Australia

Dear Lloyd,

I’ve been meaning to write you this email for some time now, it feels long overdue.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for the inspiration that I have taken from your books (specifically Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter) which have helped lead me on a wonderful journey of DIY carpentry, natural building and constructing my own tiny houses on wheels from recycled materials. This book was the first time I’d ever seen a tiny house on wheels (8 years ago) and it blew my mind! I love the concept of being able to build and own my home without crippling debt, as well as separating land and home ownership. It has provided me with an ethical, soulful, affordable and flexible housing solution as a stepping stone to something bigger and more permanent in the future, as I know that I do not wish to raise a family in such a small space and am now getting into my mid-30s. Building my first tiny house took me out of the office as a left-leaning progressive town planner and into the world of creative carpentry and the DIY makers movement where I could lead by example and walk the talk. I’ve also now run workshops and helped on many other sustainable building and tiny house projects since taking the leap.

I designed and built my house in the eclectic woodbutcher’s style, which I know you were a part of pioneering in the ’60s and ’70s. A mix of recycled doors, windows and lovely cedar, Oregon cypress and Baltic pine, much of it old-growth timber reclaimed for free from old houses here in Australia. I even ended up with a beautiful geodesic dome lead-light window, a result of a carpenter mentor with a very mathematical brain who came up with the design and helped me to build it — but lesson learned, I don’t think I’ll be making too many more domes. Waterproofing them effectively is certainly a challenge…

Here is a link to some photos and a video tour of my first tiny house and recycled bathhouse in Byron Bay: www.livingbiginatinyhouse.com/tiny-home-with-bath-house-made-from-salvaged-windows

Read More …

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Dunbar’s Number

Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships — relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships. Dunbar explained it informally as ‘the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.’

Evan and I were just talking about the great podcasts of Chris Ryan, and he mentioned that Chris and Joe Rogan often refer to this number.

A lot of wonkiness on the subject (and a few fascinating factoids in “Popularisation”) in Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

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Grandpa Built a Car

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When my father was 5 years old, he was riding a tricycle on the street in Alameda and a train came along and the wheel cut off 4 of the toes on his left foot. When he was in the hospital, his dad promised him he’d build him a car. Which he did. I just discovered this photo in the family archives. My dad didn’t let the injury slow him down, he played tennis in high school and was an avid duck hunter and fisherman. I’m so proud of him, for his courage, and grandpa for his soulful kid’s car (with bicycle wheels).

(I just discovered this photo in an old family album, with my dad’s explanation written on the back; I’d never heard the story.)

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Icosahedral Pumpkin and Model

We recently got a letter from architect James Horecka, parts of which are excerpted below:

I figured I’d recreate a geodesic pumpkin that I had carved-up back around 1990, shortly after I visited the Buckminster Fuller Institute (back when it was still in Los Angeles).

…on Monday morning, I came up with the idea of making a Geodesic Jack out of EMT, as I had some laying around. Over three evenings of a few hours each, I knocked it out.

The basics:

  • 1v Icosahedron (obviously).
  • Struts: 8″ long pieces of ½″ EMT. Two 10′ sticks yielded the 30 struts required.
  • End tabs flattened in my 20-ton hydraulic press. They are long because I was originally going to just stack the joints, ‘Burner’ style.
  • At the last minute, I decided to use hubs instead of stacking (cleaner look, less hassle). The steel discs are 2¾″ diameter cover plates for repairing holes where operating hardware has been removed.
  • I drafted the Hub templates CADD; glued to the metal, center-punched, drilled, and deburred.
  • Fasteners are ¼-20 × ½″ stove bolts & nuts.
  • Two-tone paint: Honey inside (flesh), Amber outside (skin), plus Black.

Anyway: Creating this from scratch over just a few evenings was good fun.

I’ll probably go back and make another dozen hub plates, for the inside face of each node. With those and the bolts & nuts painted black, the assembly will look a little sharper still. Though now that Halloween is over, I’ve no idea what to do with this thing until next year! Cat House?

P.S.: I continue to enjoy reading your books. Cover-to-cover, one after another.

Sincerely,

James Horecka, AIA
Staff Architect, A&FE
Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

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Optical Illusionary Carpentry in British Columbia

Lloyd: greetings from Victoria BC. Some five years ago I shot this pic … up north of here. I was up there to play at the island art festival. It’s likely that you have been there on your long and winding road. We took a little drive and when I saw this fabulous wall I shouted … STOP. I jumped out and grabbed the shot. I didn’t ask the owners permission as there seemed to be no one at home. I rediscovered the shot and have been admiring it again. Much love and gratitude to you.

Stuart

I wrote Stuart and asked if this was a painted-on optical illusion and he replied:

“No it’s not a painting. I walked up to it, sized it up, started laughing, and it’s just a very well made optical illusion in wood. Gobsmacked … I was a little.”

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