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    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 16/Grade 11, 14/Grade 9, and 13/Grade 8.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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Tonic and toast

Last night the kids and I were on the way home from swimming when we caught the tail end of an interview with Freddie Yauner, a new graduate of the Design Products program of the Royal College of Art in London, on the CBC radio show “As It Happens”.

Mr. Yauner, 26, is making waves at the moment for his Guinness World Record-setting Highest Popping Toaster in the world (2.6 meters, or 8.5 feet, up in the air), which he has nicknamed “The Moaster”.  Mr. Yauner launched the toast the other day as part of the Royal College’s graduate show (running through July 5 for anyone in or near London); he built the Moaster in three months using a high-pressure carbon dioxide gas system and mechanical ram.  The contraption is, according to this website, “powered by a microchip which times the filament and then sends a 24v charge to a solenoid, which releases the gas into the ram, which pushes the pivoting arm upwards very very quickly”.

The toaster is part of Mr. Yauner’s “Because We Can” project, which

aims to produce extreme or superlative products, ‘the biggest, the best, the fastest’, as a critique of the current state of design and consumerism. We want to associate ourselves with objects that pretend to make us better or fulfil our dreams, always offering us more. We are, consciously or unconsciously, allowing ourselves to be told what we need and what will complete our sense of self as we see it in image form, and are content in ‘hyperreal’ space. Self-deception is so easily accepted, that it is almost a necessity.

Yauner is equally happy developing new products for consumer markets, as he is working on critical research projects. He brings the same processes and ethics to both areas of design, with emphasis on user engagement and interaction.

Some more of his thoughts and quotes, which I found online because I wasn’t able to copy down parts of the interview while driving, and which I find impressive and thoughtful and a true tonic:

From Freddie Yauner’s page at the Royal College website,

Today’s consuming culture encourages us to want everything bigger, better and faster, leaving us living our lives in a hyperreal world, where we are willing to self-deceive to fulfil desires.

From his website page for another project, “The Fastest Light in the World”:

Today’s consuming culture encourages us to want everything bigger, better and faster, leaving us willing to self-deceive in order to fulfil conformist desires.

Should we design to encourage this?

And this:

Funny how little money and lots of effort is often so much better.

You can find a variety of interesting things at Mr. Yauner’s website, many that would inspire the youngsters at home, including

Be the hit of the next science fair with a “Make Your Own Moaster Kit”, coming soon; if you’re interested, send an email to freddie [at] freddieyauner [dot] co [dot] uk

a time line of the history of time, created as research for his “World’s Fastest Digital Clock” project (digital time to a millionth of a second)

the slow water project: “We want to address this problem of water usage in the garden, encouraging the usage of as much rainwater as possible, making the task of rainwater collection one of enjoyment that works in harmony with the garden.”  More here in this Slow Water article.

And don’t miss his dissertation (awarded with distinction), “The Importance of Being Idle“, on the idea that “Idleness is not laziness, it’s productive creative thinking time”, with the conclusion that “idleness needs to be deliberately factored into the cramped working timetable of the modern creative artist.”  Just the thing to read on a slow, summer day.

*  *  *

Various links, inspired by the inspiring and imaginative Freddie Yauner:

Two from Vance Packard, both of which I have in the original paperback (would you believe 35¢?): The Hidden Persuaders (1957) and The Status Seekers (1959).

A Nation of Sheep (1961) by William J. Lederer (co-author of The Ugly American), about the foreign policy implications of complacency, lack of creativity, and the power of propaganda. True then, truer now.

Inspired: How Creative People Think, Work and Find Inspiration by Kiki Hartmann and Dorte Nielsen

Jerome K. Jerome‘s Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) and Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1898)

In Praise of Idleness (1923) by Karel Capek

In Praise of Idleness (1932) by Bertrand Russell

The Idler magazine, founded in 1993 by Tom Hodgkinson (see below) and Gavin Pretor-Pinne; the title comes from Dr. Samuel Johnson’s essay series, published in 1758-9.

How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson; out recently in paperback (though minus the delightful original cover artwork), and a book for the hammock if ever there was one.  Hodgkinson also authored the recent How to Be Free and edited, with Dan Kieran, the new Book of Idle Pleasures.  This last title puts me in mind of Barbara Holland’s Endangered Pleasures.

**More to come, I hope in this section**


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2 Responses

  1. Ah yes idleness and creativity. It is amazing how often folks need to be reminded…

    The toaster put me in mind of the (otherwise perfectly normal) toaster that my roomate had in college. It popped so high that if you placed your plate right it would come right out and land on it. Very useful quality in a toaster.

  2. [...] these thoughts swirling, I saw this post at Farm School.  Some very cool ideas there.  Then I went to the library and found How to Be Idle by Tom [...]

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