Lately, we’ve been seeing stones and pebbles used to fill odd spaces. Here they patch missing wood in an old floor. We don’t know what these green stones in a little entrance garden in New York City were meant to disguise: perhaps access to a pipe…or maybe they are just there because the owner thought they looked cool… read more…
Mashable recently posted a great round-up of iPhone Apps for the Great Outdoors. You can download guides to trees, wild mushrooms, birds, and butterflies, not to mention ‘scat and tracks’ and the constellations overhead. Given our survivalist ‘what would I do if?’ sort of mentality, we love the US Army Survival Guide ($1.99) which blends a little of everything, from Edible and Poisonous Plants to Temporary Shelters and Basic First Aid: the full book downloads onto your phone so you don’t need to be connected to read it. We browse through it when we have a few minutes on the subway or in a waiting room and always find useful info. Today on the E Train, we read about “Field Expedient Cooking and Eating Utensils” (useful for camping in woods, and at sparely equipped cabins), and “Direction Finding” (we especially love “Making Improvised Compasses” ), and “Clouds, Foretellers of Weather” which would be helpful anytime. Pretty cool.
We especially love the section called “Improvise”:
“Learn to improvise. Take a tool designed for a specific purpose and see how many other uses you can make of it.”
We just heard about the highly rated SAS Survival Guide ($6.99) which includes videos of the author, a former SAS instructor, showing techniques…
Many of these apps also exist as real books, like the U.S. Army Survival Handbook, Revised or SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation…
What is the single most powerful word in the English language?
There are so many wonderful words: IMAGINE, WE, LOVE, JOY…Our vote (subject to change) is YES.
Thanks, Pamela! (again!)
Over the years we’ve collected a pile of favorite books to give to kids we know; many of the books, curiously, are about food, maybe because kids (and we) find it so much fun to mess around with. We’ve just added Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes to the list; it’s got some mighty compelling recipes, like:
…Stink Bug Eggs…
…Hair Toffee to Make Hair Grow on Bald Men…
…Mr. Twit’s Beard Food…
…Eatable Marshmallow Pillows…
…and illustrations by Quentin Blake. What’s not to like?
Related posts: Perfect Kid’s Book: Mud Pies and Other Recipes
We were looking at the recent redesign of Yale Undergraduate Admissions website, masterminded by our dear friend Pamela Hovland, when we stumbled upon an unexpected trove at a distant constellation of Yale’s site that is not part of the redesign: Open Yale Courses. These are free for-real Yale courses that have been recorded and archived for anyone to access via the internet, as video or plain audio. Subjects range from Astronomy to Economics to Physics to Religious Studies. This list of courses outlines Yale’s limited, but potent, offerings. We’ve been listening to ‘Financial Markets’ given by Professor Robert Shiller in Spring of 2008, before the crash as the markets were beginning to slide. Shiller is the guy that wrote Irrational Exuberance, which viewed the pre-crash market as a speculative bubble awaiting correction.
Then we googled “free courses university” and found OpenCulture.com which lists courses available from universities all over the country. There is an amazing array…We love sampling subjects we’ve always wondered about, in the scholarly route of a college course.
What would you like to learn?
We get so many emails from readers telling us about their own improvisations that we decided to create a special ‘improvised life’ Facebook page, where you can share your ideas, improvs and sightings. Write on our wall, and upload photos or video. You can also comment on posts and keep up with our tweets. Or follow us on Twitter @ improvised_life.
We look forward to seeing you there.
I wandered by the Issey Miyake store the other day and was drawn inside to look at the wonderful clothes. I walked around imagining myself in strangely beautiful outfits, and a tall salesman named Jeremiah came over. “How do you like the collection?” he asked. “I love it, totally beautiful” I said. “And the music. What are we listening to?”
“Oh that’s called Supreme Balloon by Matmos, it’s 25 minutes long, made without the use of microphones – completely digitally, no traditional instruments…It’s very meditative.”
…So, from clothes we jumped into music.”What other music do you like?” I asked always eager for a musical hot-tip. “I love White Bird Release by Pan.American. Someone did a study and found that when people listened to it, their blood pressure went down. The titles of the songs on the album are made up of a beautiful quote that Dr. Robert Godard, the brilliant rocket scientist, wrote in a letter to H.G. Wells“. Jeremiah called the words up from his memory bank:
There Can B No Thought of Finishing,
For ‘Aiming at the Stars’
Both Literally and Figuratively
Is A Problem to Occupy Generations,
So That No Matter How Much Progress One Makes,
There’s Always the Thrill of Just Beginning
In 2009, artist Lee Walton exhibited his “destination specific” sculptures: brightly colored, asymetrically-shaped slabs of plywood, dated, with directions for being taken taken out of the gallery and “displayed elsewhere”. He drove one to a field and leaned it against a tree stump. From a distance: a winter field with a surprising blast of red.
We love the idea of placing a vividly-painted geometric shape…around… as a bit of pleasant subversion, say, read more…
Moist von Lipwig is a character from Terry Patchett’s young adult novels Going Postal and Making Money. He is a sweet con man who always finds ways to turn the most dire situations to everyone’s advantage. The real beauty is his game attitude, even when the shit is hitting the fan. Although he’s only a fictional character in hilarious, fantastical novels, we find his words really heartening.
Moist is the guy who also said: ”Luck came to those who left a space for it.”
We love maps of ideas and are inspired by this photo published in last weekends in Sunday New York Times Business Section. It got us thinking about how to create a good-looking erasable wall without having to use chalk. (Chalkboard paint is GREAT in many places, but we wondered about other options.) We thought of the “whiteboard“ often used to graph ideas in board rooms and wondered if there was a whiteboard paint that would make a similar surface on any wall. So we Googled “whiteboard paint” and hit the jackpot (we even found the Times guy’s pumpkin orange color). Checkout IdeaPaint for a one-coat, totally erasable paint that you can write with markers….You can use it on “anything you can paint”…
Related post: Where Good Ideas Come From
Here is the challenge: Build a structure that is…
…has at least two and a half walls
…is big enough to contain a table
…has a roof made of shade-making organic materials through which one can see the stars…
What would you build?
These are some of the Talmudic constraints that twelve design contest winners worked under to make their versions of a sukkah, the ephemeral, rough-hewn dwelling built to celebrate the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. The twelve unique structures are on display for two days in Union Square Park in New York City. Alerted by a friend, we ran over to see them, and to learn about the amazing idea of a sukkah, about which we knew nothing, and which expanded our ideas of both “shelter” and “celebration”. read more…
Steven Berlin Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation is so full of smart thinking, fat salient bits, illuminating stories and revelations…so full of deep understanding of the true flux-and-flow of ideas and innovations, and so compellingly written, that we are knocked out. We’ve dog-eared and marked-up our advance copy to remind ourselves of ideas to revisit or blog about. Rather than spin-our-wheels trying to give the gist, we offer this terrific video.
Read Johnson’s book from beginning to end, and/or open it anywhere to find a nugget, like why, for example,
“Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces us to explore.”…
“Ideas rise in crowds”…
…and just what is
“the adjacent possible”…?
Where Good Ideas Come From will launch on October 5th. You can preorder it at Amazon.