Ming the Mechanic:
What could you do with a chainsaw?

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 What could you do with a chainsaw?2004-03-17 13:14
34 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

BlackBeltJones writes:
From an amazing story about a woman who moved to a small island off the coast of Finland:
"I had to build a new jetty. I modelled it after others that I had seen. I cut down trees from the forest, and built a chest - a wooden frame - at the end of the jetty, which I filled with stones", she says on the shore. "It isn't hard to build a jetty. All you need is a chain saw and a brain."
Which got me to thinking, what would I be able to reverse-engineer in my mind from memory? Anything? I'm going to try and give myself a quiz, and ask Foe to name 3 things which I then have to sketch the workings of from memory, and perhaps then how I would go about constructing them.

The island-living lady in the story works as a translator over the internet, but it's not clear as to how much she relies on the net as a source of knowledge to be able to live alone in such a remote place.

I've thought before about the web, moblogs and stolen knowledge - collecting your memories of things, proceedures, recipes, constructions through your phone might result in not just a lifeblog, but a life-or-deathblog. Of course, in such situations, it might just be easier to use your mobile phone to give Ray Mears a call...

» Helsinki Sanomat: Living alone on a small island in the Turku archipelago
The story of that lady is quite a trip. She doesn't seem worried at all about living alone in a just about arctic winter, far away from anybody. But she makes her living on the net.

Anyway, I also have a fascination with knowledge of self-sufficiency, survival and sustainable living. Not that I'm really doing anything about it, but I'm somehow very attracted to gather do-it-yourself knowledge. Knowing how to get by in the wilderness, how to read the signs of nature, how to know what plants are edible, knowing how to make a house out of whatever is around. Or, preferably a bit better than that. Knowing how to re-create civilization if necessary. How to find and melt metals, how to drill a well, build a radio, or whatever. These things are ironically almost lost knowledge in our society. Meaning that it is so specialized knowledge that only few people have it. Oh, I can order a book from Amazon overnight which will tell me most of what I need to know. But what if civilization falls apart and I didn't get around to ordering that book first. Or I'm stranded on a desert island without it. What do I do? It is inspiring when people have the kind of comprehensive and practical knowledge that makes them know what to do, even when most "civilized" people have no clue.


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34 comments

17 Mar 2004 @ 13:26 by Danny @63.164.145.161 : Great Idea?!?!
Flemming, that is something to ponder. I have never thought to myself, "what would I do if I became stranded on island." But, I believe if we were, natural instinct would kick in for more down to earth people and they would be ok. When I mean down to earth, I mean people that have actually worked most their lives, not just had the whole world handed to them.  


17 Mar 2004 @ 14:04 by ming : Surviving
The trouble is that there are so many things that have been learned over generations of experience which most of us don't know. Like, what plants you can eat. It was in part learned by people eating the wrong things and getting sick or dying. So everybody else remembers: "OK, we won't eat those purple mushrooms over there again".

My friend Roan went so far as to make the experiment of trying to living in nature on his own without preparation and without bringing any tools. He wore a loincloth, lived in the forest, and tried to get by. He lasted a couple of months, but it went very badly and he almost died. He learned the hard way that he didn't really have much of a clue, despite being a very intelligent and resourceful person.  



18 Mar 2004 @ 01:51 by maxtobin : Standing on others shoulders
It is an interesting conundrum is it not! The plant thingy is easy I'd have thought, if you'd taken kineseolgy 1 thru 3 (could muscle test for what was OK and what not in terms of healthy eating (what I try to remember to do in the Supermarket, just aint much thats good for you there but the poisons are not immediatly fatal like certain fungi are!!). As for the rest well I guess the matches would be soon gone and the trusty zippo would run out of fuel, but hey if the good ol US hangs on for a bit there would be bound to be a coke bottle somewhere so you could break off the bottom and have a lense to start your fire (or is that poison all in tins now days?) Never ceases to a-maze us wat you do dream up for our collective a-muse-ment Flemming.  


28 Mar 2004 @ 13:42 by Ed Knight @68.162.21.55 : Self Sufficiency
This has long been an area of fascination for me. The following are a list of jumping off points to the various avenues self sufficiency can take you...www.papercrete.com, Karl Hess's book Community technology, Lindsay Books features a series of books by the Gingery Brothers; I'm not sure which one, who produced an entire machine shop starting only with basically an aluminum melting furnace. From the Soil & Health Library (on line) there is a book written by a long since grown up teen ager named Dolly Freed. Her and her Dad had no visible means of income yet managed to thrive in a little place outside Philly, PA in the seventies. Also at Soil & Health are the books of Max Borsodi ~ a loveable crank who managed to do much with little.  


17 May 2004 @ 05:42 by damian @62.13.14.2 : inactive existence
this is an amazing subject, survival, which i muse about a lot, but never really do anything about. mostly because the world i/we live in renders the need for survival obsolete. i think this also relates to the psychological state of society, how we are all affected by having the need to do things to survive removed from our sphere of responsibility. instead we are steered into believing that 'survival' = earning as much money as possible to pay for the stuff we need (& think we need).
i love a programme called 'mysteries of ancient civilisations' or something similar, in which the creators gathered teams of people in various parts of the world and attempted to re-create various processes ie. building a rope bridge in the andes etc. beautiful stuff.  



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