I was one of those annoying kids that took things apart and rarely got them back together. I hope you are like that too, at least in some ways. It leads to a life of analyzing, tinkering, and of generally being able to figure things when the instructions are missing. After a few decades into adult life I've been able to take things apart that are broken and devise ways to fix them. I got a 3d Printer (the Robo R1+) several years ago, so now I can print custom parts instead of using Home Depot and Lowes as a repository for random parts for these adult tinker toys.
Some of these aren't really inventions as much as techniques, but that being said, here are the cool things I've put together over the years.
- A method to make your own carbonated beverages at home using a standard 20-lb CO2 tank, standard regulator and a ball-lock cap that fits 2-liter bottles. Here's a youtube video of that one.
- An automated system for making sprouts (mung bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, that sort of thing) made from a water-hose timer, mist nozzles, some food grade trays and a document container shell. I put an instructional video on youtube, along with a follow-up of some modifications I made after moving to Arizona and after the original timer broke. I also made a time-lapse video of the sprouts actually growing.
- Shortly before moving to sun-soaked Arizona I designed and built a flat-packable solar cooker. It uses a wrought-iron dutch oven at the focal point (since it's black it heats up to 350 to 400F). I don't use it very much but it was a fun experiment. It's still hanging in my garage in case I get the urge to play around more or if my grandson ever wants to check it out.
- After getting my 3D printer and failing on the grandiose plan I originally got it for, I branched out into making more paractical and simple things as well as replacing broken parts for all sorts of things around the house and the camper. Thes include a hard shell case for my glasses, a compact stand for my kindle, shelf brackets to organize the shampoo and hand wet swim trunks inside my shower and lots of other funs stuff. I published the most broadly-appealing items on thingiverse.com.
- On my todo list is an automated ball thrower for my ball-obsessed dog, and a folding camper. Who knows what else might come up between the broken part replacement.
When I split with my first wife around 1990 I decided I needed to lose weight, cut my hair, and generally get myself back into "datable" status. At the time I worked with a guy who was vegan. This guy was snacking constantly and he was skinny as heck. Since I was about 40 pounds overweight I figured I'd try that. The first six month I felt like I was starving, but I had enough will to keep it up. I've been vegan ever since and I wouldn't go back for any reason.
I had to teach myself how to cook something beyond toast and mac-n-cheese. I've thoroughly enjoyed learning how to cook, and I've also enjoyed some of the great results and comical disasters along the way. I highly recommend Veganomicon for anyone interested in the full gamut of vegan cooking.
I also love kitchen gadgets, although my wife keeps me in check about getting too stupid with these. I have an ice cream maker (coconut milk congealed with xanthan gum works GREAT), a Vitamix blender (smoothies! shakes! frozen margeritas! what's not to like?). I also have a spiralizer, a mandoline slicer, an air fryer and an electric pressure cooker.
The typical question I get is "where do you get your protein?" It's really not the challenge most people assume. I eat lots of peanut butter, beans, tofu, and various items made from wheat-gluten (Seiten as well as Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets). Calories aren't much of an issue -- I'm about 15 pound overwieght at the moment.
At age 54 my weight is starting to creep upward despite the vegan diet. I've since eliminated sugar and I plan on gradually moving to a more Paleo version of Veganism. That just means cutting back on breads, grains and prepared foods. That spirilizer means more zuchinni noodles ("zoodles") and little or no pasta. Knowing how to cook means I can put in or leave out anything! It also means not having to eat prepackaged food and restaurant food, both of which are generally unhealthy.
At one point I was interested in the "back-to-the-earth" movement, so I learned how to make my own tofu, tempeh, soy milk, pickles and miso. That might come in handy in a Mars scenario where commercial food processing isn't an option!
I might just be too old to make it to Mars, but then I'm assuming I'll get the 75-year lifespan, which could be wrong! The last 20 years have been game-changing when it comes to life extension. The technological progress curve is exponential. My hope is to volunteer for Mars when it comes up, but then if I get rejected for being too old I'll wait for either age dial-back technology or an artificial body. If not, I had a good enough run! I'm not the type to give up too early though. Cool stuff is happening, rapidly, in bio-technology.
I'm following various emerging research topics, but because I'm not an expert in any of these fields I've decided to enhance my own learning as far as I can across several broad topics pointing in those directions.
Things I'm following in the news and by lookup up details online:
- Energy We got solar panels for our house in 2015, but I continue to follow other possibilities. My favorite long-shot right now is "Lattice-Enabled Nuclear Reactions". This is what people initially labeled as "Cold Fusion" and concluded it was fraud. Luckily it has been pursued anyway, and has been found to be a real phenomenon, and has been studied extensively. Theoretical models to explain how it's possible have been proposed. If this could be commercialized it would mean the end of electric bills and gasoline pumps. My fingers are crossed.
- Space Flight SpaceX has plans to build a system capable of going to Mars. If possible at all I plan to go. That's a lot of the driving motiviation behind my self-education and learning goals. I want to be a valueable asset! I'm already a problem solver, tinkerer and junior inventor not to mention a seasoned computer programmer. I plan to make myself into even more of an asset.
- More Space Flight The cannae drive and em drive are also on the list of things that seem to work, theoretically should not, but keeps producing results in the lab (like LENR). These are similar designs for a propellentless thruster. Having something like that would make space flight a lot simpler. We'd still need rockets to get up and out of planet and moon-sized gravity wells, but a propellentless drive, even if far weaker, would mean more distance and more capacity for any spacecraft operating away from the big gravity wells.
- Aging mitigation and reversal We all age at this point, but there are currently available strategies to slow this down (notably meditation, physical exercise, mental exercise, and healthy diet). There are also several fields of research dedicated to reversing aging. These include biological and nannite solutions to do things like repair DNA within the cells and re-generate tissues. Think about it this way: If each of your cells (except those in your brain) was repaired to how it was when you were 25 years old, how would that be any different than if you actually were 25 years old?
Fields I'm pursuing further through online courses:
- Master in Applied Computer Science (UWG, in progress)
- Chemistry (in progress, Coursera), Organic Chemistry (to do), Biology (took one elective at UMUC, more to do)
- Electronics and Electrical Engineering (to do)
- Mechanical Engineering (to do)
- Physics (to do)
And I'm keeping my mind open to anything else! We'll see what happens. I'm thinking at this point I might focus on something like water recycling
I've had a lot of other hobbies an interests over the years which I'm not active at right now. I don't know if any of these will spark my interest in the future. Others are not earth-shatteringly important but I figured I'd list them anyway.
Amateur Radio I'm a licensed "Amateur Extra" HAM radio operator, which is the highest rating. I got my "extra" license back when we had to learn morse code and be tested on it. A year or two after that they changed the requirement so morse code wasn't needed. Sigh. I don't do anything active with this at the moment but I did enjoy the hobby for a few years before selling all my radios.
Writing I wrote maybe 20 short stories and a first draft of a novel while involved with the Silver Spring Writers Group. I still have the files, and it did get me to pay much more attention to all forms of writing that I do. It's a strange art, and one has to keep doing it for a while to get into a productive and creative groove. I enjoyed it but I anticipate that I won't pick it up again in the forseeable future.
Scuba Diving I'm a PADI certified "Rescue Diver." That doesn't mean I work for the fire department or anything, it just means I got the "Open Water" then "Advanced Open Water" certifications, then I did the next one after that which is called "Rescue Diver." The next thing would be "Dive Master" but I don't plan on doing this for a living. I was going to Cozumel about once per year but moving to Arizona in 2013 kind of derailed that. Half my reason for going (to escape winter weather) evaporated. I still want to try to go in Spring 2018. I need to drag my dive buddy Chris back into the water as well!