Floating Garbage Island Twice the Size of Texas Aimlessly Spins in Pacific Ocean

The largest dump in the world isn't outside New York or London or Shanghai but in a desolate stretch of the Pacific Ocean nearly a thousand miles from the nearest island. Held together by a slowly rotating system of currents northeast of Hawaii, the Eastern Garbage Patch is more than just a few floating plastic bottles washed out to sea; the Patch is a giant mass of trash-laden water nearly double the size of Texas.Full Article:Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas in the LA TimesQuick Blurb:Oceans of Garbage on Vestal Design

Posted by noahw 10 years ago


Any one from the eastern side of PA?

I just moved out to PA and Im looking for friends. Anyone live near Philly?

Posted by hethlee 11 years ago


As of 11:56 PM Eastern Time (Atlanta).....

As of this very moment (or about a minute ago) there are 328,881 profiles. Just letting you know.

Posted by heavy.metal.nguyen 10 years ago


Free hot tub in Eastern Massachusetts

I have a 7 person hot tub with no pump and an undiscovered leak. Replace the pump and chase down the pipes. Repurpose the wood siding, cover or the shell. This creative community can surely find a use much better than the dump for this resource.

Posted by user866753 3 years ago


I found this ... odd

Couldn't decide if the store is simply weird, or subtly doing their part to keep Mother's Day going. (Guess THAT's how they are in Eastern Pennsylvania.)

Posted by CrLz 8 years ago


YESS!! Fred is no longer #1!

NEWS ALERT: It has been official, NigaHiga has passed Fred in subscribers on YouTube! When: 5:35 Eastern 8/20/09!

Posted by Flumpkins 9 years ago


Lost Entry - Help!

I submitted my entry, "The Window Refrigerator, modernized from the last Depression - a green money saver" before midnight eastern time Nov. 2nd. I did do some editing and revisioning up until about 1am eastern time. I haven't seen it in the contest, although it does appear in the regular instructables. Did I screw up by continuing to edit? I am new at this and want to understand how things are done so I can do it right next time. Thank You, Anima! X

Posted by Anima! X 10 years ago


Unknown bayonet

Hi there, I wonder if anyone could help me identify this bayonet please and tell me something about it. It came from Romanian Eastern Carpatians , where fought in August 1944 the germans, hungarians, romanians and russians. Many thanks,

Posted by spiros69 2 years ago


Intro..

Greetings from eastern Maine in grid FN64.Have been a ham since the mid 80s.Currently hold a General class & will testing for Amateur Extra this fall (07)Only one article posted but hope to do a few more.https://www.instructables.com/id/EH49DWWF4SAQROX/?ALLSTEPS73 all..FN

Posted by FN64 11 years ago


Shuttle Launch This Evening! - UPDATED

11:59pm Launch tonight - we're currently in the scheduled 9 minute countdown hold :)That is only if you're on the Eastern Seaboard (most of you should be able to see something). 80% chance of acceptable weather conditions!This could be the last night launch (only 6 more flights scheduled).Launch CountdownOfficial Countdown

Posted by trebuchet03 9 years ago


Contest prize shipping question

No shipping in South-Eastern Europe? I live somewhere around Serbia and I was just wondering...I wanted to enter the Woodworking contest and...yeah...checked the small writing on right and I didn't see the country I live in. Am I blind or did my eyes see the truth? Sorry for bad English also.

Posted by Serbian Ninja 4 years ago


The Eco Powerplant

  Creating a Permanent IcePack in the Eastern Sierra A permanent Ice pack in a north south valley of the Carson Basin could insure constancy of water supply to Fallon area farmers and ranchers. Creating a permanent icepack in Northern Nevada is technologically and economically feasible, given the right location . This project will be solar powered, and serve as a peaking unit during times of high electrical demand. This technology will produce energy from solar by PV Panels mounted on a giant spanning grid over a north south valley in the eastern Sierra. A properly excavated mine could also serve as a location. Proximity to gas distribution and an electrical sub line are also important . This facilities' economic importance as a producer of LNG from surplus stock cannot be overstated. The upper part of the oval consists of a space grid spanning the valley or excavation. It is covered with steerable PV panels. The PV panels may be inserted into the grid or used to create liquid air , which in turn can be used to produce LNG. The thermal energy storage as liquid air would be contained underground in the mountainside itself.In Northern Nevada, these mountains are usually solid rock formations imbedded in sandy detritus, an excellent insulating material. Vast amounts of wind power are also available during spring and summer.   During summer peak demand, liquid air could be re expanded to run generators.   And most importantly , this plant will produce as a by product of its operation large amounts of water in the desert by freezing the ground on which it operates. Wet air passing over an expanse of frozen mountain rock will condense, and either form ice or rain. The production and maintenance of a liquid air production and re-expansion facility will also produce large amounts of water during times of high humidity.   Suitable locations in the Eastern Sierra would by necessity by close to either the Truckee or Carson River Basin.    

Posted by Mud Stuffin 6 years ago


7 Layer Cake

My baking skills are not good enough for me to do this on my own, but I'd love to see an Instructable on making a traditional 7 Layer Cake. I was surprised to find it in the supermarket freezer the other day and wished I knew how to make it (at least in theory). It is usually only found somewhere where there is a large Jewish or Eastern European influence and there seems to be fewer and fewer bakeries making it so I'd love to have a recipe for posterity should I ever be inclined to give it a try. It was the first time I've seen it in California (and it was shipped from a bakery in Brooklyn no less!).

Posted by randofo 10 years ago


Help! I need a recipe for lamb with dried limes...

Hi folks, the holidays must have cooked my noggin. I could have sworn that there was a recipe on 'ables that involved lamb baked with dried limes. So while in London I procured said limes as this cooking looked so very, very good. Now back at my lair in Wales and can I find the recipe anywhere? Er, no. From memory it was baked low and slow, any help would make my taste-buds sing. Best wishes to everyone for 2009. Bosh.

Posted by bosherston 9 years ago


K'nex War 2015!

K'nex War 2015 will be held in Fremont Ohio on ??? at 12 noon Eastern time! Here is a link to the park the war will take place. https://plus.google.com/102662708119502106245/about?gl=US&hl;=en-US Please comment below if you plan on attending. Hope to see you all there! K'nex, games, community, and BBQ all come together for a day of fun, friends, and learning. This page will be host to many pictures and videos from the event so be sure to check back after the war to view it all. Those committed to showing KILLERK + wife

Posted by Knex Lego Maniac 4 years ago


Sypranic 8 round revolver 2 in work still - though S8rR Modern is out!

It's still a work in progres, the previous moddel didn't work corectly, so you'll be geting the basic idea structure Project Python - AKA S8rR Modern - check the origonal S8rR for it. - should be up by 2PM eastern time. modern is simply a difrent version of the origonal not a big improvement. that the V2 will be baised on and improving the modern (kinda like when you take someones gun strip it down to what you like and build a new thing around that to somthing you like) sorry about any wait I like my things to be quality/origonal rather then quanity and cheap

Posted by Sypran 10 years ago


Sugar Bush Squirrel

Sugar Bush Squirrel is a real, live Eastern Gray Squirrel who is owned and photographed by Ms. Kelly Foxton. Rescued, as a baby in her nest, from a tree which was being cut down, she is now living the 'good life' with Kelly in Boca Raton, Florida. A small, lime-green parrot, named Rio, is her big sister and constant companion.Being an International Superstar and The World's Most Photographed Squirrel, Sugar Bush loves to dress up, and has over 2,000 outfits with matching hats and accessories. Sugar Bush Squirrel has her own, posh studio with an elaborate stage and thousands of stage props, and has posed for over 5,000 photos since her modeling career began. AWESOME!SQUIRRELS!!!:OLINK

Posted by bumpus 10 years ago


want/need to know to take care of a pet snake ?

Iv had a pet Corn Snake a nonvenomous snake native to most of the United states, they are good pets as long as you know how to feed and care for them. REMEMBER SNAKES CAN LIVE OVER 30 YEARSdoes anybody want/need an instructable on snake care? iv also handled and taken care of many other reptiles and amphibians through a volunteer group that are all native to the eastern coast Exsept for: ball python also a great snake to have as a pet is a they only grow about 4 feet long but they get fat. They are calm slow moving (why we use them in our group to teach little kids).

Posted by i make shooting things 11 years ago


MAKE: television debuts on public television this weekend!

MAKE Magazine, now on the tube!Saw the post on BoingBoing, and thought, might as well relay this over to instructables. SHOW DESCRIPTIONMake: is the DIY series for a new generation! It celebrates "Makers" -- the inventors, artists, geeks and just plain everyday folks who mix new and old technology to create new-fangled marvels. The series encourages everyone to invent, revent, recycle, upcycle, and act up. Based on the popular MAKE magazine, each half-hour episode inspires millions to think, create, and, well, make. Broadcast feed starts January 3, 2009, at 7 p.m. Eastern time.I haven't found a link to which stations will broadcast, if anyone does, say something, I'll add it.LINK

Posted by bumpus 9 years ago


Library shelves & storage

I am trying to improve a run-down library where the shelves are almost on the point of falling apart and there are store rooms but no storage shelves or anything really. The library is run down and had hardly much spent on it in the last 20 years. The library is in eastern europe and since the fall of the the communist era and the rise of modern democracy the library has stood still. (Bit of a time warp!)  I am able to make most things in wood and have tools and power tools, bench saw and drill etc. There is also reasonable supplies of timber. (But not that you would find in western europe, think basic..) So the your challenge Instructables is! ideas and suggestions that I could use to replace the old shelves and sort out the storage. Think simple or at least simplistic and give it a go. Regards 

Posted by Billrose 5 years ago


Collection of books taken to preserve human knowlege

What books file would you take to preserve most of the knowledge of the human race? You have a 64 GB flash drive and durable, waterproof laptop capable of getting power from an hand crank used to view files. What would you put on it? My list: Wikipedia and wikimedia stuff. 10 GB Bible and Collections of various philosophers   Korean, Eastern philosophy and major literature Native American culture and method information Database of major languages, dictionary, and grammar rules Instructables, selected ones Some major works of literature from project Gutenberg Songs from Beatles, Micheal Jackson, Elvis, Queen, ABBA Selected Movies Scientific Data, and other information vital to rebuilding society, such as designs for factories and computer chips.  Pictures of major works of art That's my list, what's yours?

Posted by starwing123 8 years ago


Gasifying truck travels 10,000 miles

From the first time he saw Emmett "Doc" Brown fire up the Mr. Fusion home energy reactor in the "Back to the Future" movies, Dave Nichols has always wanted to make a vehicle run on garbage.Two decades after the trilogy, the 42-year-old home builder and auto shop owner from eastern Connecticut isn't traveling through time in a DeLorean, yet. But he's modified his 1989 Ford F150 pickup truck to run on wood, leaves, cardboard and other "biomass" with a fuel system that he says expels virtually no pollution.The technology is called gasification, and it's been around since the 1800s, when it was used for street lamps and cooking. It even powered some vehicles during World War II, but faded away under oil's dominance.Associated Press ArticleRelevant Instructable

Posted by Kiteman 9 years ago


NASA Contest update, updated 2nd March 09

I thought I'd update you all on the NASA contest.Since I'd almost forgotten I'd even entered, it probably means you've forgotten as well.Thor's Shotgun is currently in 57th position, with 243 views.The Cuttlefish Drive is currently 18th place, with 942 views.More views from you, dear readers, will of course improve my results.(You may consider this to be an invitation to spam people...)UPDATEI received an email today:Is your entry to the Create the Future Design Contest among the top winners? Find out on Tuesday, March 10 at 11:00 am Eastern.Join Tech Briefs Media Group and SolidWorks Corp. for a live Webcast announcing the Grand Prize, Category, and Popular Vote winners of the seventh annual contest.Speakers will include Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks, and Linda Bell, Editorial Director of NASA Tech Briefs. Register today for this complimentary Webinar at: http://www.techbriefs.com/ctf2009 Good luck and thanks for participating!Unfortunately, I will be in a parents' meeting during the "webinar", so you might find out before me...(Crosses fingers)

Posted by Kiteman 10 years ago


How to weave a keffiyeh?

Whether you call it a shemagh, coalition scarf, keffiyeh, or ghutrah, it is an eye-catching article of clothing that has hundreds of practical uses aside from looking chic. Unfortunately, in the last couple of decades, the keffiyeh have been associated (wrongfully so) with terrorism and extremism of the Middle-Eastern sort. Yes, Islamic extremists have been known to wear keffiyat, but I'm pretty sure I've heard of them drinking milk, too. The practical uses of keffiyat are almost limitless. Aside from keeping dust and sand out of your face, they retain moisture quite well. The ShamWow has NOTHING on this age-old masterpiece. In a survival situation, they can be used to bind a wound, make a splint, prevent heat stroke, and military applications are limited only to imagination. I've heard stories of Marines using shemaghs as rifle slings, belts, and even mops for cleaning a mess hall.  Anybody can buy a keffiyeh from Army Surplus, or get a bolt of fabric, cut a square of it out, wrap it around their heads, and call it a shemagh, but I'd like to be able to weave my own. Trouble is, I don't know how to weave. Are there any Instructabots here who are both experienced at weaving and willing to devote hours of monotony to making an instructable for this?

Posted by Lt. Duct Tape 7 years ago


Instructables not showing up

Last night (May 23, 2012) between 9:00 PM and 11:45 PM Eastern time i posted 2 new instructables. One of which has been featured. Problem is they are not showing up on the technology page or the Electronics sub page. There have been several instructables posted today that are showing up on the page. They have even been accepted into a challenge or 2. I also posted an instructable back on May 15 2012 and it is missing as well. Since this one has been missing for so long i sent an email to service@instructables.com asking about the issue. The email was sent 2 or 3 days ago and i haven't heard back (other then the auto reply that is sent). All 3 show up on my profile and show up on the Challenge and contest pages they have been entered in. They just don't show up in the Technology page like then should or the sub category they should be listed under. What do i need to do to get this fixed? Here are links to the instructables affected. FM Listening Bug posted May 23 FM Bug Detector posted May 23 Universal USB Power Supply posted May 15

Posted by mpilchfamily 6 years ago


Geology in action: A mid-ocean ridge you can visit on vacation!

UPDATE Jun 2011:  ScienceNews has a very nice feature about Afar, with an excellent narrative summary of items since the current spreading event began in 2005. UPDATE Nov 2009:  Science magazine only keeps their news articles free for a short time.  The link below requires paid access to read.  Wikipedia has an article on the volcano. A news article in this week's (May 2009) Science magazine online reports on a very unusual volcano. Located directly in the center of east Africa's Great Rift Valley, it is spewing a unique kind of lava. The Great Rift Valley is a place where one of Earth's tectonic plates is actively dividing in two -- the eastern tip of Africa and the Arabian peninsula is separating from the rest of Africa. In several million years there will be a brand new ocean (not a "sea") like the Atlantic, and the Great Rift Valley will become its mid-ocean ridge. This African volcano is essentially an example of the undersea volcanoes that run down the spreading center along the middle of the Atlantic (Iceland is a set of them that are above the ocean surface). If you want to see what was happening when the Atlantic Ocean was forming, and Brazil was being broken away from West Africa, go visit Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania. ADDED:  Besides the world's only active (on land!) natrocarbonatite volcano, the Great Rift Valley also has examples of sheeted dikes forming and breaking through to the surface.

Posted by kelseymh 9 years ago


Light Tube, Skylight Ideas. Free 1 year pro membership to my favourite comment.

Hi Instructablers, Maybe you can help me with a little project I'm mulling over at the moment. I'm thinking of building a skylight to direct the early morning sunlight into my dark, west facing bedroom. My goal is to make something that lets me wake up naturally as the sun rises. I've done some quick research on what is available for sale in local hardware stores, and all I could find looked pretty ordinary and was very expensive. Ideally I would like to catch light from the eastern side of my roof and direct it through a light tube to the ceiling of my bedroom. The distance would be about 4-5m with a couple of bends. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make an efficient light tube? Flexible mirror lining a tube? Optic fibre? Light pipe? In case that's too easy, the next challenge is a bit more fancy. I'm imagining a slim light tube running down inside a wall, from the roof space to a translucent panel made to look like a picture frame or window. It would be a lot like having an actual east facing window. Keep in mind that I'm a complete cheapskate on a tight budget. All ideas are welcome. Mad or Mundane. Crazy or Crafty. Barmy or Brilliant. I have free pro memberships for my favourites. Cheers, Cammers

Posted by cammers 4 years ago


need ideas for a sailing kayak

hello everybody with the weather getting warmer down here in the south eastern U.S. my friend has invited me to go camping/kayaking with him and his family i have been kayaking with my friend's family before and had a great time but when we would race kayaks the girls (my friends sister and her friend) would always beat us (the guys) unmercifully mainly because the girls had the 2 person kayak and therefore more people power now this time i need a secret weapon and while i was thinking along the lines of torpedoes and surface to surface missiles i eventually ruled them out due to the danger aspect but then i got the idea i was looking for you see the objective is to get from point A to point B before the opposition not destroy the opposition then get from point A to point B at my own pace so i decided i would need to be able to travel at a faster rate than the girls so what i am thinking of is a sail now here is the challenge i am unable to make any modifications what so ever to the actual kayak so strapping a outboard motor on the kayak is out this leaves me with the idea of making a sail out of a few tent poles and a tarp but since i do not  know much about kayaks i need to know these things 1. how can the sail be anchored to the kayak without damaging or permanently altering the kayak in anyway 2. any ideas on how i can steer i have a few but i would like to hear yours also i have looked at the project sailyak by zigzagchris https://www.instructables.com/id/Project-SailYak/  and while this is helpful i need more specifics as mentioned above thank you, fidgety2

Posted by fidgety2 7 years ago


Giant Match, Laser Flashlight Hack, Wooden Bike, Water Recycling...

Function clickclear(thisfield, defaulttext) {if (thisfield.value == defaulttext) {thisfield.value = "";}}Sign-up for our newsletter subscribe August 9, 2007 Welcome back! With the Go Green Contest going on we've been seeing some cool new Instructables. The hacker spirit is alive and well. Check them out below. Biotour.org Waste Vegetable Oil Conversion Diesel Bus Get a look at how this bus runs on a diet of nothing but vegetable oil.posted by TimAnderson on Aug 7, 2007 Laser Flashlight Hack!! Turn a MiniMag flashlight into a powerful DVD laser pointer! posted by Kipkay on Aug 7, 2007 Iron body - part II. Breaking stones and concrete Learn the secret behind this strongman classic.posted by sam noyoun on Aug 8, 2007 Giant Match Harness the power of 15,000 matches for an 8-foot strike-anywhere match.posted by Tetranitrate on Aug 2, 2007 Hydroponic Bog Garden (Water Recycling) Treat your waste water and grow a nice little garden in the process.posted by Biotank on Aug 8, 2007 Win a hybrid bike! Over $3,000 in prizes from amazon.com! $5,000 top prize! Growing Mushrooms: PF Tek Learn to grow a wide variety of mushrooms with the PF Tek growing technique.posted by nak on Aug 9, 2007 Earbud cord wrapper in 5 minutes or less! Put any old plastic card to use with just a few simple cuts.posted by spacematters on Aug 6, 2007 Recreate a Vanishing Ecosystem: The Eastern Vernal Pool Create your local breeding ground and help the local critters survive.posted by Tool Using Animal on Aug 6, 2007 Wooden Wedge Bike Build a simple bike that fits many sizes of rider. No welding required.posted by Woodenbikes on Aug 5, 2007 Now go build something awesome, and I'll see you next week! -Eric

Posted by lebowski 11 years ago


A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories - Peak cooking oil?

The interconnectedness of the world can sometime be striking. I noticed yesterday that Safeway, a west coast grocery store chain, has converted it trucks to biodiesel. Due to increased fuel-demand for things that were previously only considered foodstuffs, the cooking oils carried by the biodiesel-fueled trucks were probably significantly more expensive. In Malaysia, this has even idled some plants design to refine oils into biodiesel:Here on Malaysia's eastern shore, a series of 45-foot-high green and gray storage tanks connect to a labyrinth of yellow and silver pipes. The gleaming new refinery has the capacity to turn 116,000 tons a year of palm oil into 110,000 tons of a fuel called biodiesel, as well as valuable byproducts like glycerin. Mission Biofuels, an Australian company, finished the refinery last month and is working on an even larger factory next door at the base of a jungle hillside.But prices have spiked so much that the company cannot cover all its costs and has idled the finished refinery while looking for a new strategy, such as asking a biodiesel buyer to pay a price linked to palm oil costs, and someday switching from palm oil to jatropha, a roadside weed.from the NYT article A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly CaloriesAnd there's more: as more and more baked goods eliminate trans-fats, those fats are often replaced with palm oil, so the pastries carried by the biodiesel-fueled trucks are themselves consuming more edible oil. While this will increase the price to make and ship a snack cake in the US, it has much greater effect elsewhere. Since people in the developing world get such a large percentage of their calories from cooking oil, increased prices have caused riots:No category of food prices has risen as quickly this winter as so-called edible oils -- with sometimes tragic results. When a Carrefour store in Chongqing, China, announced a limited-time cooking oil promotion in November, a stampede of would-be buyers left 3 people dead and 31 injured.

Posted by ewilhelm 10 years ago


Instructables, Popular Science, and TreeHugger "Go Green!" Contest Results

Instructables, Popular Science, and [http://www.treehugger Treehugger] are pleased to announce the winners of the Go Green contest!The entries were fantastic- check the full list of projects as well as the winners for more great ways to green your life.Grand PrizeThe grand prize winner will receive a Breezer Liberty hybrid commuter bicycle with pedal-powered lights, an Instructables robot t-shirt, a brief write-up in a future issue of Popular Science, and a 1-year subscription to Popular Science magazine.Hydroponic Bog Garden (Water Recycling) by BiotankFirst PrizeEach first prize winner will receive a Solio Universal Hybrid Solar Charger (TreeHugger review here), an Instructables robot t-shirt, and a 1-year subscription to Popular Science magazine.Bicyle Power for Your Television by bdwhaleyGeodesic Dome Greenhouse by yes2techHow to MAKE PV Solar Panels by VIRONPortable 12V Air Conditioner --Cheap and easy! by CameronSSSolar Thermal Water Heater For Less Than Five Dollars by TheNaibSecond PrizeEach second prize winner will receive an Instructables robot t-shirt and a 1-year subscription to Popular Science Magazine.Build your own flat panel solar thermal collector by iwilltryCart Bike by zieakComposter (Drum Style) by jdlinkFree Air Conditioning by VygerGrow organic food without spending $ by gowithfloHack a Toilet for free water by gregorylavoieHow to save water in gardens and small-holdings: the Scrooge Bottle by KitemanMake an Evaporative Terra Cotta Beer Chiller by jolshefskyRecreate a Vanishing Ecosystem : The Eastern Vernal Pool by Tool Using AnimalThe Wind-up Headboard Reading Light by peterwbrownAll winners should watch their inboxes for a private message with prize-claim instructions.Thanks to our judges, who carefully read through all 63 eligible entries:arwen; canida; Dave Prochnow, PopSci; Doug Cantor, PopSci; ewilhelm; fungus amungus; Graham Hill, TreeHugger; John Mahoney, PopSci; Ken Rother, TreeHugger; Mike Haney, PopSci; noahw; numberandom; reno_dakota; seedlingproject; Shayne McQuaid, TreeHugger; stasterisk; T3h_Muffinator; TetranitrateFor more information on how we judged, click here for the full results.

Posted by canida 11 years ago


Silhouette Black Friday Promotion!

Our latest winner has responded!!! Thank you everyone for participating! It is Promotion Time! All you need to get any of the following awesome deals is our super secret special code for Instructable authors only! Ready? Do you want to know it? ,,, ,,, It is... INSTRUCTABLES Just go here to start shopping!  Promotion runs November 28—December 8, 2013. You may be asking yourself, what can I get with this promotion? Well, I'll tell you! A Silhouette CAMEO®, Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition Software, a dust cover (the color is decided by Silhouette), a $25 download card, a hook, a scraper, a spatula, and a pick-me-up® tool for $229.99. Retail price for all of this would total $406.93 (over 40% savings!) A Silhouette Portrait®, Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition Software, a dust cover (the color is decided by Silhouette), a $25 download card, a hook, a scraper, a spatula, and a pick-me-up® tool for $129.99. Retail price for all of this would total $286.93 (over 40% savings!) A Silhouette CAMEO® and a Silhouette Portrait®, plus two $25 download cards for $299.99. That’s right: If you buy a Silhouette CAMEO® at full price, you get two $25 download cards and a Silhouette Portrait® ABSOLUTELY FREE! Retail price for all of this would be $406.93 (over 40% savings!) 40% off consumable products at silhouetteamerica.com. This excludes machines, subscriptions, download and gift cards. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Rain checks not available. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25. This is Silhouette America's biggest promotion ever, so don't miss out! You may be asking yourself, what can I do with a Silhouette machine?  The answer is: Everything!  (or at least almost everything) I've gathered together some of the awesome projects you can do with a Silhouette Cameo or Portrait. Han Solo and Princess Leia Silhouettes DIY Stickers 3D LEGO Card Custom Embellishments from PNG Files Put a Bird On It! | Portlandia Apron - Cut Fabric! Iron On Shirt Stencils DIY Clear Playing Cards ...and that's just the tip of it!  There are so many awesome accessories you can use and so many materials you can cut! We have a Silhouette Cameo at Instructables HQ and I use it whenever I can!  I have done a bunch of projects already and I have so many more planned!  It is great for making greeting cards for every occasion, for decorating shirts, cutting transparencies, making stickers and cutting fabric shapes for sewing or ironing on fabric.  I love that Silhouette Studio is an easy program to use. There are tutorials all over the web to learn how to do everything or you can just mess around and discover all the crazy things it can do (like I did).  Not sure where to start?  Just go to the in application store and look at all the awesome designs they have available.  There is a free shape of the week and they always have awesome designs on sale!  I just bought the awesome 3d poinsettia flower by Lori Whitlock for a cute little project soon to come! Get a machine for yourself, and your mother, and your father, and your BFF, and your boss, and your daughter ..... these deals are pretty darn sweet and if you've ever wondered: Should I get one?, now is the time to do it! *The giveaway will be going until 11:59pm Pacific Time.  The Promotion starts at 12:00am Eastern / 9:00pm Pacific.  The winner for the giveaway will be announced here as soon as it is over! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted by Penolopy Bulnick 5 years ago


8 Reasons you'll rejoice when we hit $8 a gallon gasoline

This article in MarketWatch written by Chris Pummer mostly matches my opinions. My favorite is #2Here is the text:SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- For one of the nastiest substances on earth, crude oil has an amazing grip on the globe. We all know the stuff's poison, yet we're as dependent on it as our air and water supplies -- which, of course, is what oil is poisoning.Shouldn't we be technologically advanced enough here in the 21st Century to quit siphoning off the pus of the Earth? Regardless whether you believe global warming is threatening the planet's future, you must admit crude is passé. Americans should be celebrating rather than shuddering over the arrival of $4-a-gallon gasoline. We lived on cheap gas too long, failed to innovate and now face the consequences of competing for a finite resource amid fast-expanding global demand.A further price rise as in Europe to $8 a gallon -- or $200 and more to fill a large SUV's tank -- would be a catalyst for economic, political and social change of profound national and global impact. We could face an economic squeeze, but it would be the pain before the gain.The U.S. economy absorbed a tripling in gas prices in the last six years without falling into recession, at least through March. Ravenous demand from China and India could see prices further double in the next few years -- and jumpstart the overdue process of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.Consider the world of good that would come of pricing crude oil and gasoline at levels that would strain our finances as much as they're straining international relations and the planet's long-term health: 1. RIP for the internal-combustion engineThey may contain computer chips, but the power source for today's cars is little different than that which drove the first Model T 100 years ago. That we're still harnessed to this antiquated technology is testament to Big Oil's influence in Washington and success in squelching advances in fuel efficiency and alternative energy.Given our achievement in getting a giant mainframe's computing power into a handheld device in just a few decades, we should be able to do likewise with these dirty, little rolling power plants that served us well but are overdue for the scrap heap of history.2. Economic stimulusNecessity being the mother of invention, $8 gas would trigger all manner of investment sure to lead to groundbreaking advances. Job creation wouldn't be limited to research labs; it would rapidly spill over into lucrative manufacturing jobs that could help restore America's industrial base and make us a world leader in a critical realm.The most groundbreaking discoveries might still be 25 or more years off, but we won't see massive public and corporate funding of research initiatives until escalating oil costs threaten our national security and global stability -- a time that's fast approaching. 3. Wither the Middle East's cloutThis region that's contributed little to modern civilization exercises inordinate sway over the world because of its one significant contribution -- crude extraction. Aside from ensuring Israel's security, the U.S. would have virtually no strategic or business interest in this volatile, desolate region were it not for oil -- and its radical element wouldn't be able to demonize us as the exploiters of its people.In the near term, breaking our dependence on Middle Eastern oil may well require the acceptance of drilling in the Alaskan wilderness -- with the understanding that costly environmental protections could easily be built into the price of $8 gas. 4. Deflating oil potentatesOn a similar note, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently gained a platform on the world stage because of their nations' sudden oil wealth. Without it, they would face the difficult task of building fair and just economies and societies on some other basis.How far would their message resonate -- and how long would they even stay in power -- if they were unable to buy off the temporary allegiance of their people with vast oil revenues? 5. Mass-transit developmentAnyone accustomed to taking mass transit to work knows the joy of a car-free commute. Yet there have been few major additions or improvements to our mass-transit systems in the last 30 years because cheap gas kept us in our cars. Confronted with $8 gas, millions of Americans would board buses, trains, ferries and bicycles and minimize the pollution, congestion and anxiety spawned by rush-hour traffic jams. More convenient routes and scheduling would accomplish that.6. An antidote to sprawlThe recent housing boom sparked further development of antiseptic, strip-mall communities in distant outlying areas. Making 100-mile-plus roundtrip commutes costlier will spur construction of more space-efficient housing closer to city centers, including cluster developments to accommodate the millions of baby boomers who will no longer need their big empty-nest suburban homes.Sure, there's plenty of land left to develop across our fruited plains, but building more housing around city and town centers will enhance the sense of community lacking in cookie-cutter developments slapped up in the hinterlands. 7. Restoration of financial disciplineFar too many Americans live beyond their means and nowhere is that more apparent than with our car payments. Enabled by eager lenders, many middle-income families carry two monthly payments of $400 or more on $20,000-plus vehicles that consume upwards of $15,000 of their annual take-home pay factoring in insurance, maintenance and gas.The sting of forking over $100 per fill-up would force all of us to look hard at how much of our precious income we blow on a transport vehicle that sits idle most of the time, and spur demand for the less-costly and more fuel-efficient small sedans and hatchbacks that Europeans have been driving for decades. 8. Easing global tensionsUnfortunately, we human beings aren't so far evolved that we won't resort to annihilating each other over energy resources. The existence of weapons of mass destruction aside, the present Iraq War could be the first of many sparked by competition for oil supplies.Steep prices will not only chill demand in the U.S., they will more importantly slow China and India's headlong rush to make the same mistakes we did in rapidly industrializing -- like selling $2,500 Tata cars to countless millions of Indians with little concern for the environmental consequences. If we succeed in developing viable energy alternatives, they could be a key export in helping us improve our balance of trade with consumer-goods producers. Additional considerationsWeaning ourselves off crude will hopefully be the crowning achievement that marks the progress of humankind in the 21st Century. With it may come development of oil-free products to replace the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertilizers and pesticides that now consume 16% of the world's crude-oil output and are likely culprits in fast-rising cancer rates.By its very definition, oil is crude. It's time we develop more refined energy sources and that will not happen without a cost-driven shift in demand.

Posted by Keith-Kid 10 years ago


The Middle East and the Global Hackerspace Movement

Please follow me and imagine this. You're in a city and are taking a rattling train somewhere to the edge of town. The buildings get shorter as they get wider. You are entering the industrial area where the jobs dried up long ago. Where there are more broken windows than whole ones in each building. You pass the streets your parents warned you about and a street covered in "DO NOT CROSS" tape. Two stops later you get off at the stop your friends told you about questioning your sanity and wondering why your friends brought you out there. The graffiti is beautiful though, and somewhere in the distance you can hear the thump of heavy bass. The address your friend gave you can't be right, you look up and see a massive complex thankfully this one seemed to have more of it's windows intact. You push the rusting door noticing the rough texture and surprising heft. You walk in and see a roughly refinished hallway. The drywall isn't yet painted but it appears that this massive factory has been transformed on the inside. You pass a few drywalled off artists studios on the first floor and they smile at you with plaster in their hair. It smells like lavender and you notice you just passed an artist making candles. The "hackerspace" your friend told you about is on the second floor. So you walk to the cargo elevator and push the call button. It makes a horrifying rattling sound as it descends to meet you, instead of a door it has a grate. You take it up and as it slowly moves you can see concrete, then wood and suddenly the thumping bass get's louder - Hello Skrillex. It's too much to take in at first, you only notice the chaos. There are tools everywhere and in every state of operation. A wall of computer monitors lines the back wall. There's someone binding books in the corner, and what appears to be a viking with knitting needles sitting in what appears to be a lounge, he looks up and smiles at you and says "welcome to Scrumspace*!" you've arrived at your first hackerspace. Notice an open basket of dollar bills and place a 2 dollar donation in the basket near the fridge and grab yourself a drink from the fridge in the kitchen. You walk into a common area painted like a scene from Super Mario with what appear to be server racks painted as the tubes. Finally you see your friend. He walks in with a scorched shirt and you see his eyes twinkling through the welding goggles. "Told you this place is awesome!" he says. Hackerspace Values and Culture Hackerspaces like this exist almost all over the world. These places collect (and perhaps helps inspire) people who are passionate initiators. Walking into one you might find someone who wants to share a new iPad application which monitors the GPS on the weather balloon they've released -"It's over //CHINA// right now!!". People in hackerspaces are happy to share, it's a part of the culture! Interacting with them is often uplifting and inspiring. They are building and creating things they think is amazing. They may be playing with technology or science or art without concern for the categories. The only apparent question they ask themselves is how AWESOME is this!? It's a contagious atmosphere of capability where people learn from each other constantly. They can't help it! People are so passionate about what they are doing, they inadvertently teach. The other feature of a hackerspace which is more important is that they give people a venue. It's an open space that is owned by the members. Need a place to host a workshop on hat felting, it's yours! Need a place to build the first prototype of your product? Just make sure you pack it in the lockers when you're done working on it! The atmosphere is fundamentally collaborative. It can't be anything except participatory because of the way the spaces are most often organized and run. There is no single owner. Everyone pays for a portion of the rent, and more importantly everyone brings something new to the table. They might bring with them a new tool, their coffee machine, a desire to set up a program to run a STEM program for children. The spaces become a snapshot the local community of amazing people and their projects. Many of these people started developing their projects during their final years in university. But their is a gap between a school project and feeling capable to take it and turn it into something yourself. I'd love to start here. With these fresh graduates. These young people who (perhaps not coincidentally) are also the driving force behind the revolutions of the middle east. This is a great place to start. These are the young people changing their countries today. They feel empowered to change long standing traditions and the culture of oppression in their governments. Perhaps it's also time to give them the tools to do the same for their local communities. Where they have the ability to have a more direct impact. Who the heck cares about the government if you are free to repave your roads, create alternative energy from solar power, clean your own water and start your own online webstore distributing products that are rapidly prototyped and drop shipped to other places around the world. Sure you might call this line of reasoning anarchistic. But when the systems around you are falling apart, banding together to pick up the pieces is the admirable thing to do. Social entrepreneurship in the states often focuses on countries outside the states. They basically act as for profit NGOs. Non profit organizations as they operate in America don't exist in the middle east. Thus I'm beginning to think that the concept of social entrepreneurship might just be a great way forward for these countries. Doing well by doing good! This concept is a development hack, and one that could possibly have it's roots in the Hackerspace scene. There are features of hackerspaces that I see can give rise to more DIY social entrepreneurship in the middle east. They are: 1) The culture of good. Make something wonderful. Share it with others online and off. Be inspired and inspiring. 2) The availability of tools along with the docracy culture. If you want to see it, do it. 3) A supportive global and local community which has within it stories of other successes to emulate. Where does this culture come from? It appears to be derived from the open source movement. Open source technology is often spearheaded by a few individuals but is maintained, built and supported by a global community of makers who want the tech for themselves as well. Do you want to see that feature? Write it? But don't edit the program and keep it to yourself! Share! That's a doocracy combined with the culture of sharing that the internet helps so much to support. All of this seems to be directed by the common value for people of all ideologies. The golden rule. Do for others as you wish to have done for yourself. Do you want free tools. Freedom. Access to clean water? A cheap space to build projects? Free vector drawing software? Be a doer. Be a part of the change. And then share with others. Your vision is what makes the future. These are some of the amazing features of these spaces. This is why I am in love with hackerspaces, open source technology and makers of all types. They are beautiful people who come from all types of backgrounds who get together to create a culture of sharing and collaboration that enhances their local communities and connects them globally. If you have not visited your local hackerspace yet, visit it. If you live in a place without a space, put your name up on hackerspaces.org, I'm sure you will find like minded people who crave this type of community. Hackerspaces in the Middle East Now that we have described hacker culture and hackerspaces can a space like this become a the hub and home of amazing people in the Middle East? Does the west have a monopoly on awesome. Absolutely not. Are middle easterners creative Heck yes! Are they inspired to work collaboratively? Heck yes! Are they educated? Heck yes! Do they want to fix the problems they see around them? Heck YES! Are they powerful? Heck YES! Again and again I've seen example after example of the young people in the middle east (yes, those that are 30% unemployed) showcasing example after example of incredible projects. And talking to them a message I hear over and over is that they want to show the world that in Beirut, Baghdad, or Cairo things other than violence is created. They want to create positive news that goes out to the world. They want to reach out to the world and participate in sharing! Here's a short list of incredible people I've met personally in my two short trips to the middle east: Bassam Jalgha Tarek Ahmed Ahmed Tohamy Salma Adel Rami Ali's Smart Breadboard Marc Farra Maya Kreidieh Cairo Hackerspace Book Scanner Project An awesome home automation system in Baghdad Iraq Mustafa Elnagar Furkan Alp Pehlivan Hind Hobeika's Butterfleye Project Jad Berro's Tank Robot Mounir Zoorob Octocopter! Here's a video of Munir's octocopter: Beirut is beautiful:   One incredible graduation project by Cairo Hackerspace organizer Salma Adel is one that focuses on the very heart of the maker movement and looks at the artisan as the creator of value. How do you take new design, match it with old technology and create amazing new products. I'm proud to know she's an active memeber at Cairo Hackerspace:  I hope I have shown you that there are already "hackers", makers and entrepreneurs there in the middle east. People with the open source attitude Arabs with the culture of sharing and collaboration. There are many here that work with the Google Technology User Groups or other open source initiatives. Linux user groups. Tons of coworking spaces. And some incredible incubators and entrepreneurship cultural development projects. Android phones are more popular in Egypt than the iPhone from my own small survey. It might have initially started as a cost issue has turned into a passion with Ubuntu, firefox, Android and other open source technologies really taking off. A few things were missing though. If you read hacker news you will begin to think that anyone with a desire to make foursquare mashups is an entrepreneur. In the middle east we have incredibly skilled people languishing after college while their counter parts in the west are out attempting to recreate Facebook. Why?! I think it has to do with the lack of proper story telling about entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Wamda seems to be helping greatly in that regard, but we need more publications talking about this issue! This also comes in concert with an inability to find cofounders. Why? A lack of collaboration? Why? A lack of self initiated projects? Solution? Do stuff. Just do it. Where? Here. At your local hackerspace. Do you have an interesting idea you want to try? A drone to take ariel pictures of the pyramids? Or a service like Utlub which delivers soap to bathers who are wet and realize they ran out of soap. Well in a space like a hackerspace you can do it! The tools are there. But more importantly you will find collaborators! People who are willing to jump on board to help!al Patterns of Propagation The Arab world is not just ready for Hacker culture, hacker culture is already there. My work with GEMSI is simply to connect the right people together and showcase the awesome possibilities hackerspace afford their communities and attempt to create the right environment to allow these amazing people to take their own future into their hands like they already are, but to do it not only politically, but financially, and with direct community education and organizing. Before I went to the middle east I was privileged to participate in the rise of the hackerspace movement in the United States. In 2007 there were very few (if any self identified) hackerspaces in the United States. That same year Mitch Altman, Bre Pettis, and Nick Farr went on a trip to Germany visiting the hackerspaces that were there. Being filled with inspiration and the realization that these spaces were created by PEOPLE who wanted to set them up. They came back to the states and started Noisebridge, NYCResistor and HacDC respectively. Due to the culture of sharing, they started putting up projects online. They shared the process of creating these spaces. And slowly at first people started noticing that they too could start their own local community spaces for creation and we started seeing them grow rapidly. The mathematical name of the function that describes this type of growth is exponential. The more spaces that existed that have this culture of sharing the more people heard about them and wanted them in their own cities. Then something wonderful happened. The economy collapsed in 2008 which had two very positive effects on the development of hackerspaces:  People were freed from their jobs  Space was becoming cheap as tons of manufacturing facilities were abandoned. Check out this chart which shows the rapid growth of hackerspaces and the acceleration around 2008/9. Hacker culture is an attitude that anything can be done by any resource available. MacGyver will make you a mouse trap from your sunglasses and your underpants. A hacker would use it to make a one way privacy screen for your cellphone. But how do you transmit a culture? This is why a space is so important. Having a place where people can sit with others and recognize the possibilities. To see the value in the stuff they know, to share it with others and to build together. The first few hackerspaces that are being set up in the middle east have the same property of viral transmission as we saw in America. Istanbul Hackerspace and Base Istanbul are both hackerspaces in Turkey. Istanbul Hackerspace being in the European part and Base Istanbul in asian section. As widely spread apart as they are, they both have something in common. Both founders had visited a hackerspace, one in Japan and the other in Germany before coming home and deciding they wanted to start one there. It's kind of incredible to see the same pattern repeat in the middle east. This appears to be a universal need, the need for community, creativity and having a open space to build your future. The pattern has been proven in Egypt as well. Alexandria's hackerspace initiative was galvanized after a delegation of students visited  Cairo Hackerspace two hours to the south. It's exciting to see the very same forces at work that took the hackerspaces from being a concept barely known to having a large impact on the American Entrepreneurial and cultural landscape in five short years years at work in Egypt. Cairo Hackerspace currently is without their space but is actively seeking a new one and it's one of my current goals to help in any way I can. Let's conclude with the list of hackerspaces just starting up in Egypt and Beirut. This is just the start. Keep an eye on these guys and know that there will be many many more to come: Egypt: Cairo Hackerspace El Minya Hackerspace Alexandria Hackerspace Mansoura Hackerspace Egypt Fablab (Same idea ;) Lebanon: Beirut Hackerspace (link coming soon) If you'd like to talk more about the global development of hackerspaces. Let's continue talking online at GEMSI's facbebook group. *Scrumspace does not exist as a hackerspace. If you like the name take it!

Posted by lamedust 6 years ago


TEDxBaghdad - Iraq - violence, dust storms and open sourced manufacturing

Baghdad Iraq. It was once the jewel of the Muslim empire and epicenter of knowledge in the Eastern world. Now it is best known for corrupt governance, bombings, and dust storms. It was also my parents’ home. After visiting once in 1991 as a child the few memories I have of Iraq seemed to be shouting matches as my parents yelled over the phone making overseas calls. Names of Uncles I had never met were mentioned and a phone was handed to me and I was left to nervously fend for myself with my weak Iraqi slang and an Uncle who apparently knew all about me while I knew nothing of him. The country was an impenetrable black box to me that would spit out another refugee somewhere in the world every few years or so. Sixteen years later the first wall between Iraq and me was broken. In 2007 my nuclear family had traveled to Syria and for the first time I met family members who still lived in Baghdad. I knew them now. My uncles and cousins grew flesh and blood. I could feel their prickly faces as we greeted with the traditional Iraqi 4 sided cheek kiss. They could graciously give me their dishdashas as gifts. Names finally had faces, but those faces were deep, sunken and afraid. 2007 was a bad year of sectarian war in Iraq, which is why the Damascas district of Harasta was flooded with Iraqis. The sound of construction continued through the night to keep up with the massive (ab)use of the "tourist" visas. I saw something in the Iraqis in Syria that I hadn't seen before; something that scared me. I saw hopelessness. It was then I settled on a long-term project to return to the country and share something that I had just discovered around the same time: the future doesn’t come prepared -- we make the future. The do-it-yourself attitude that was growing in America was being combined with the culture of sharing that you find in hackerspaces, at instructables.com and in open source technology. This atmosphere made anything possible. You want to build a vertical generator without any spinning parts? Sure! How about a walking quadraped robot with a sofa? Do you want to quit your job, write zines and sell them in the crafting circle? Sure! Start a business! Write a novel! Organize a benefit concert! Sure - sure - sure! “Make your own future” was the message. It was a message of hope - it was the message that I wanted to share in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq. In 2011 the opportunity to work on sharing this beautiful message in the Middle East presented itself to me, so I quit my robotics job and took it (sorry Andrew). A few friends and I started a tiny organization called GEMSI - The Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative. We funded ourselves through Kickstarter and our first project was a Three-Day Maker Space hosted at Makerfaire Africa. We were hoping to let people experience the feeling of the Maker Movement first-hand. We collaborated with Emeka and the team from MFA, Cairo Hackerspace, along with many amazing egyptians from all over the country. We had a successful first attempt at sharing the message of "Yes you can!” It was a great start, but Iraq was still an impenetrable fortress to me. It took till 2012 and a chance encounter with friends in Cambridge, MA for me to find my first avenue back into Iraq. Via my friends, I met someone who’s friend was affiliated with TEDxBaghdad. A few steps removed, sure, but when I heard about TEDxBaghdad I knew I had found my way in. I knew TEDx and the types of programs they hosted; I knew they were hopeful, inspired, and shared a vision for a brighter tomorrow. I started communicating with Emeka from MFA, who also works with TED, and he put me in touch with Yahay. After my first skype call with Yahay I knew I was going. Someone else had done it - someone broke that barrier, did amazing work in the country, and survived. It wasn't the death trap my family was telling me it was. There was a new narrative being woven and I knew what I needed to do. I booked my flights before I even finalized any workshops. I needed to meet the TEDxBaghdad team. Later, I called my parents and told them I was going to Baghdad and they said, "Shinu?! Inta Makhabal?!" That probably means exactly what you think it does. Needless to say, they had their concerns, but I was going regardless. Now that the tickets were bought, we started planning. Yahay put me in touch with Abdal Ghany, one of the Iraqi organizers living in Baghdad. He coordinated everything. It was amazing. These guys kick some serious planning butt! Ghany basically told me, “Show up and give your workshop. We'll take care of the rest.” This was a welcome change from the hours of facebooking, planning, and coordination I usually have to go through to schedule events. It really seemed like this was possible. I was going to give an Arduino and 3D printing workshop in Baghdad and I was really excited! I sent an email to Sparkfun and Makezine asking them for open source electronics donations since I knew bringing my electronics box through the airport wouldn't be a good idea. They sent me a nice goodie-bag of beautifully packaged Maker products. These two organizations have given me a tremendous amount of help throughout the years, for which I am extremely thankful. I packed a suitcase filled with 2 3D printers, 25 Arduinos, an assortment of other open source hardware and sensors and headed out looking a bit like a bomb development lab. Yeesh! Somehow I made it through China, Saudi, and Turkey without any serious interrogation. Mostly just really quizzical looks from my unzipped bag up back to me... "You're a teacher?" they ask. "Yes," I say, "yes I am." Turkey was the stop before Iraq. Turkey was brilliant, sunny, lush, and seemed to be comprised of mostly happy smiling people walking by the sea. Coming from the deserts of Mecca, this was a welcome sight. I let the green of Turkey wash away the dust of Saudi Arabia. The mishmash of cultures, sounds, foods, religions gave me a great feeling of liberation. This was a lively place and the two hackerspaces I met up with there, Base Istanbul and Istanbul Hackerspace were fantastic hosts. Furkan and I spent a lovely day together chatting about Maker culture as it spreads through the Middle East and then in the end we had a potluck BBQ with members from both hackerspaces by the rocks of the sea. It was great to see these two Turkish hackerspaces and to be reminded that this movement is truly global. My dream of hackerspaces empowering people globally is really possible – and it’s great to know that it is a dream that is shared by others. I left them full of enthusiasm and flew directly to Baghdad. Landing in Baghdad was strange and a bit concerning. Looking out of the window all I could see was a brown cloud. We were landing in a dust storm. I had heard about the turab (dust) of Iraq, but this was the first time I saw it in person, and it would be one of the things most often on my mind. Getting a visa for me was surprisingly easy, except for the fact I forgot my passport on the plane and two guards had to escort me one to each side back to the airplane to retrieve it. But once I had my passport, I told them my laqab, which is the full name that includes ancestry. Showed them a copy of my dad’s passport and my Iraqi birth certificate and I was in. I was hoping for a nice stamp, perhaps with some Iraqi relic on it. But they took my passport and wrote in it: "Originally Iraqi", so there it goes, it's official. Ahmed, my cousin, was not at the airport when I took my paper work and headed out to the lobby. The airport was sparsely populated and heavily regulated. I barely managed to snap a picture before a guard came up to me and had me delete them from my phone. In the lobby I met a man just released from a Swiss prison. The Swiss had given him the option to be sent back home to Iraq, or be jailed. He chose to leave and come back to Iraq. This becomes a theme later as I see more and more people, all of whom desire to leave the country to become refugees elsewhere. It seems that when hope runs out for the country you live in, the only option is to find a new one. This story is one of a million various stories of struggling to find a new life. Each varies in its details, but all have survival at their core. Ahmed arrives 30 minutes late, apologizing. He's wearing jeans and a polo. His hair seemed freshly cut and his face was serious. We had never met before. The only thing I knew of him was that he thought I was reckless for coming. He had been spending hours on Skype with me attempting to convince me that coming would be a bad idea: "You have no idea how bad the bugs are. Just wait till you see the dust storms. The heat will kill you... etc" But once I saw him in person it all changed. I didn't think I'd grow to like Ahmed, but I grew to appreciate his ways and he became like a brother to me before I left. He took me to Mansour, a neighborhood in Baghdad, telling me stories about Iraq as we travelled. This is the neighborhood where the house my dad designed and family built stands. On the ride home we had our car checked for bombs at least 4 times by what Iraqi's call Saytarat, which is the equivalent of a checkpoint and, to me, seemed a total nuciance. They were the reason he was late. What would normally be a 20 minute drive can become three hours long because every car is checked for bombs. They are everywhere; throughout the city, on every road. We passed the guard who watches over my family’s neighborhood, and he takes his hand off his machine gun to wave at Ahmed, and I begin to recognize that weapons, car inspections and burned out cars are normal here, so they don't think to comment on it - like an empty lot in Detroit, or the homeless in San Francisco. We got to my family home with no time to rest. I had to leave to meet up with Abdul Ghany and the crew at a Cafe in an hour and then conduct the workshop in two. Ahmed comes with me - he doesn't trust people we'd never met before and won’t let me out of his sight. I trust first till proven otherwise, he has learned to do the opposite. It’s a telling sign of how different our lives are on a day-to-day basis. As soon as I met the TEDxBaghdad crew, I felt at ease. MNA, Abdul Ghany and the entire crew were thoughtful, hardworking, and inspiring people. I was really happy to have intersected with them and they helped me in more ways than I could count. We first met up at Everyday, a local Mansour café. Everyday cafe was hyper airconditioned and everyone seemed to think it was hotter than it was. The crew was awesome, they were really a great first introduction to the excited young people of Baghdad and they certainly have the famed Iraqi hospitality. But here's a tip: do not order a fajita in Baghdad ;D. Mohammed Al-Samarraie pulled out their iPads and started showing me video production work he was doing for TEDx. Abdul Ghany comes a little late and we have head out to the workshop. The workshop was held in a two story office building surrounded by palm trees. Looking out the the tinted back window we could see the muddy river run past, winding and dark. Slowly the TEDx people started trickling in. Then I started to get nervous. The checkpoints didn't bother me, the tanks in the streets were not an issue, but here were these people coming to learn something from me. What could I share that would really matter to them when they had so much to deal with daily? What could I share that could be relevant to people who see bombings as I experience lightning storms? I have been to other places in the world to share this kind of information, and some of those places have had political problems and ongoing revolutions. But Iraq was the first country I had been to that really seemed like a war zone. I decided that first I needed to learn from them! What were their projects? What did they hope for? I hoped they would learn from each other and get excited about their projects and I wanted to be able to share things that were relevant to them. Thus, everyone was encouraged to talk about who they are, how they learned about TEDxBaghdad and to share their project, share with us their mission, or share an inspiring story. I was amazed to hear about all the incredible initiatives the crew was doing. From intercultural exchange programs, to street clean ups, to historical artifact preservation, each of them shared and I started realizing something. They were not as interested in new technology as they were interested in arts and culture and after hearing about a few of their projects I started realizing why. Learning about culture and paying attention to the arts gives people the ability to pay attention to details. They can look at another human being and see all the subtleties that make us who we are. We each fall in love, we struggle, we question, and have doubts. Arts give depth to a black and white world. Sectarianism is difficult when we pay attention to the commonalities that tie us all together. What would the world be like if anyone who wanted a weapons license was required to have visited India, could pass an art history exam and could play stairway to heaven on the guitar? We were in a sort of office building near the river which ran by dark and muddy looking through the tinted windows. One by one, they stood up in front and gave their short presentations. There were doctors, engineers, and designers in the crew. They each stood up and told the story of how they found out about TEDxBaghdad and it was incredible. Each of them had a friend recommend it to them, and it was mostly done through Facebook. Some people's projects were related to health, culture, antiquity preservation, and connecting Iraqis with the rest of the world. While they spoke I made a graph of the things that connected all of their ideas together. It was a beautiful thing to see. The common themes were to help Iraq as a country through the integration of new ideas and how to bring a new face of Iraq and present it to the world. To have the news about Iraq be about amazing things, inspiring things, rather than explosions. Being in that room with that energy made me feel like we were already on our way. I pulled out the boxes of donations given to us by Sparkfun and The Make Shed and now it was my turn. I told them about my story coming into contact with my friend Alex through instructables.com, how being in San Francisco and Cambridge opened my eyes to a new way of entrepreneurship using communities and open source technology. And how they could make anything they could imagine if they got together to do it. We discussed how sharing and collaboration was a common value that held the entire system together. I used the concept of the LED throwie, which is a simple idea by Graffiti Research Labs to connect an LED to a coin battery and a magnet. They used it to throw at ferrous buildings as a form of electronic graffiti but once they uploaded it to instructables the idea was out there and people were inspired to take it and derive many other projects. You can never know what will happen when you share something or when you create a tool and share it. People created outlined throwies, LED floaties in balloons and finally we start seeing LED floaties which are sequenced to act like a light show at a phish concert. Hahaha! We then talked about the Arduino an easy to use microcontroller designed for artists. It's a bit of technology that is a simple and easy to use platform to build interactive projects. We talked about how the open nature of the project people can use the Arduino and then use shields to add features like being able to connect to the internet or play MP3s. Open source tools make building new products a lot like using legos. We were in the middle of using some of the sensors The Maker Shed had sent us to make a DIY heart rate monitor when the power went out and all went dark except for the LED throwies we had made. It suddenly felt very intimate. We put all the LED throwies in the center of the room and huddled around it for story time. The feeling of connection was palpable for me. Sure the lack of power meant that we were not going to be able to 3D print, but being in the dark with TEDxBaghdad was one of my favorite memories of this trip. The lights went on and we had a long question and answer session / photo shoot. Some of the doctors were interested to use the Arduino based heart rate monitors to replace the broken ones in the hospital. I heard about this and was flabbergast that the most basic and cheap tools I had brought with me might have a direct impact and may even save lives. Technology might not solve the political problems of the country but it seems that there was a lot of room for development and that the crew I was with was creative and excited to make use of it. I passed out 20 Arduino kits that day, including the Lillypad which is a version of the Arduino intended to be sewn into clothing. Although there were very few engineers in the audience, everyone seemed to be buzzing with ideas and ways to use the Arduinos. What a great workshop! I was super excited because not only had they understood the message, they seem to have been infected with the feeling of capability! Now to seal the deal, we were all going to go out and eat a classic Iraqi dish Simach Masguf. Ahmed has been calling me hourly making sure that I was OK, but I felt safe enough with my new friends so we all headed out to a fish spot by the river. Hours go by, lots of fish is eaten, and lots of juice is drunk. Some of the crew smoke some sheesha. It was like I was with new old friends. My Iraqi slang was improving hourly and although we had just met I knew me and TEDxBaghdad we're going to be working together again very soon. I would have stayed all night eating and chatting about future projects and the problems to solve in Iraq, but the cerfew was about to set in and we had to jet. Yeah, there is still a curfew. On the ride home my head is filled with contradictions. Hope and confusion mix in my head as my family rings 4 more times. I get home safe and decide that the only way to deal with the complicated situation in Iraq was to act with irrational hope and optimism. That's the way TEDxBaghdad seemed to work. And that's going to be mine as well. The next day there were five explosions in Baghdad so TEDxBaghdad and I decided against going out to the Iraqi National Museum even though we had to request permission to go. We meet instead back at Everyday and there we solidify our commitment to working for a more beautiful Baghdad and a country which will become a producing nation once again. Sharing with the world it's art, science and literature like it once did years ago. +BG

Posted by lamedust 6 years ago